Posted by EyeDoc
As you know our family suffered a great loss on Jan 12, 1945. It is the day my father and your grandfather’s ship was attacked in Saigon by the Americans. He lost his life at age 31, together with many other physicians on board. They were all draftees from Taiwan as members of the Medical Corps of the Imperial Japanese Navy. You have never met him of course. Even I was only one year and 2 months old at the time when he perished, so I do not remember anything about him at all. Your grandma seldom mentioned him except in passing that they had a successful medical practice in 淡水Dansui, named 興亞醫院. That the patients sometimes paid in foodstuff in lieu of cash. And that he enjoyed a cold beer with lobsters after seeing patients. This peaceful life did not last long, though. Your grandfather soon received a draft notice ordering him to report to duty and to go on a transport ship in Kaohsiong. The ship 神靖丸 (Shinsei Maru) left the Port of Kaohsiong on Dec 1, 1944. I remember seeing, years later, a postcard which he mailed home in late Dec, 1944, from Hong Kong before sailing on to Saigon. Grandma had written an autobiography (in Chinese) and the parts that describe this period with her reaction to the news of his death were emotionally charged as you can imagine. I will try to translate it for you at some point.
And thanks to the internet, now I have a somewhat complete story of what happened on that fateful day as well as the circumstances leading up to it. I have now put together a narrative for you, so you can learn a most important chapter in our family history.
I am sure you recall the movie “Midway” which we watched together not long ago. In which I have pointed out one character, Admiral William Halsey, to you and mentioned that this person was the one responsible for the attack on Shinsei Maru. However, that was an over-simplification. The Battle of Midway occurred on June 4 –7, 1942, soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (Dec 7, 1941). The Pacific War intensified after Midway and the battleground gradually moved westward through Guadalcanal, the Solomons, and eventually to the Philippines. The Japanese Empire was in retreat. And the Pacific Third Fleet Commander during that period was Admiral Halsey. This sets the background.
What I have found about Shinsei Maru are the following:
The ship was built in 1943 in 函館船渠 (Hakodate Dock Co) in Hokkaido with a tonnage of 2,700 tons. It was owned and operated by 栗林商船株式会社(東京) - Kuribayashi Shosen, Inc of Tokyo. Both companies are still in existence today.
It was docked at Cape Saint Jacques when hit by a torpedo from a Grumman F6F Hellcat and sank at 9:55AM, Jan 12, 1945. According to a book "Diary of a Military Doctor" written by a survivor Dr WU Ping-Chen, out of 59 doctors, only 18 survived; all 3 pharmacists died; 80 physician’s assistants, 25 survived; 200 medical workers, 52 survived. All together, of the 342 Taiwanese on board, 247 died. In addition, 12 soldiers - 6 died and 30 crew members - 10 died.
Inside Port Saint Jacques, in addition to Shinsei Maru, 6 other ships were also destroyed. Outside Port Saint Jacques, and inside Saigon Harbor, 9 ships in each location were also sunk. Port Saint Jacques is 120 km by land and 80 km by sea from Saigon.
The air raids were quite intense according to a US Naval Analysis interrogation report of Japanese Naval officers who witnessed the wave-after-wave attacks on Jan 12, 1945. And in the same report, the officer in charge of the transport operation for the whole region turned out to be one HORIUCHI Shigetada, Rear Admiral, I.J.N. He was a permanent officer of 31 years service. His principal war time combat experience was in the First Southern Advance Fleet in the latter half of 1942 and was charged with air protection of convoys during the last eight months of the war. Despite his extensive experience, he certainly had failed his duty in providing air and sea escorts for the transport ships. And yet he blamed it squarely on the High Command, see: http://ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/USSBS/IJO/IJO-47.html
“Q. What were your most important missions?
A. The most important missions in my area were: first, to protect the shipping of oil from the south to the EMPIRE; second, the supplying of the PHILIPPINES. I must confess that both missions failed. It is my opinion that although the officers assigned to convoy duty fully appreciated the vital strategic importance of maintaining supply lines to keep the Combined Fleet able to operate at all, the high command took the counsel, short sighted, of the Combined Fleet Staff in allocating insufficient strength to the maintenance of the vital supply lines. Convoy officers were only specialist auxiliaries of the Main Force and became therefore important (sic, should be 'impotent')."
He died in 1984 at age 87, without having to pay for his war-time dereliction of duty. Indeed, the Shinsei Maru convoy (of perhaps 5 transport ships all together) was escorted by only one tiny mine sweeper (the No 102) en route from Kaohsiung to Hong Kong. And by another 500-ton gun boat, sunk in an air raid, from San Ya to Saigon. I hold him, on the Japanese side, personally responsible for the demise of Shinsei Maru.
So who were those US raiders and where were they based? We can surmise from WW-II time-line in the Pacific recorded in http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/pacificwar/timeline.htm#1945 which listed the following (partial list):
January 3, 1945 - Gen. MacArthur is placed in command of all U.S. ground forces and Adm. Nimitz in command of all naval forces in preparation for planned assaults against Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Japan itself.
January 4, 1945 - British occupy Akyab in Burma.
January 9, 1945 - U.S. Sixth Army invades Lingayen Gulf on Luzon in the Philippines.
January 11, 1945 - Air raid against Japanese bases in Indochina by U.S. Carrier-based planes.
Notice the last entry: The key is “US Carrier-based planes”. The question is which carrier(s)?
According to http://www.cv6.org/1945/1945.htm:
“Enterprise's first strikes of 1945 were against airfields on Luzon, Philippines, followed by raids into Indo-China, and five major strikes on shipping and installations along the Indo-China and South China Sea coasts.” Therefore USS Enterprise is the prime suspect; although there were other carriers as well. This is further confirmed by http://www.sandcastlevi.com/sea/enterprise/voych09c.htm:
“By December 1944, the Enterprise was officially operating as a night attack carrier with the USS Independence. In this role, she participated in attacks in January 1945 as part of the invasion of Luzon. During this operation, the American carriers sank a total of 300,000 tons of Japanese shipping and destroyed over 600 aircraft, to a loss of 200 American planes."
There is another entry on Jan 12, 1945, in http://www.cv6.org/ship/logs/vtn90/vtn90-4501.htm#19450112
This is the VT(N)-90 Squadron (The Avenger dive-bombers) based on USS Enterprise:
“Thursday [i.e., Jan 11, 1945] evening we had an extensive briefing session on the Camranh Bay and Cape St. Jacques areas which were considered among the most likely hiding places for the Jap fleet.”
And on Jan 12, 1945: "The pilots on the strike were Lt. Kippen [Russell F. Kippen], Ens. Jennings [Joseph F. Jennings], Ens. Landon [James D. Landon], Lt(jg) Ashton [John M. Ashton], Lt(jg) Cromley [William L. Cromley], Lt. White [Melber A. White], Lt. Cummings [Ralph W. Cummings], Lt. Collins [C. B. Collins], Lt(jg) Brooks [Charles E. Brooks] and Ens. Atkinson. Four VT and 12 VF from the Independence also joined us in the attack. The convoy was located in Kanfong Bay and turned out to be a group of fifteen ships (the convoy and its escorts). There were three DDs, four DEs, three SA, two FTC, two TB and one CL of the Katori class (though the latter was not positively identified until later). Kippen led the attack, going for the CL and scoring a straddle with some damage done. Jennings went after a DD scoring two hits and strafed an SA. Landon made runs on a DD and an SA getting a direct hit on the stern of the latter, leaving it settling and dead in the water. Ashton and Cromley both attacked SAs with no hits, and both were hit by enemy fire in the wing or elevators. Both returned, scared but safe. Lt(jg) Brooks and Lt. Cummings both went for DEs and DDs but scored no hits.”
There was, however, no mention of an attack on Cape Saint Jacques. It is unknown if this was an omission or a wartime confusion. It did mention that the mission was joined by fighter planes from USS Independence (i.e., the VTs and the VFs). It is possible that one of the 12 VF fighters (i.e., the Hellcats), rather than the ones from the Enterprise, might have been responsible for sinking Shinsei Maru. The fighters from USS Independence did destroy 9 merchant vessels during several tours of duty. The pilots mentioned in the log above all died later when attacking Okinawa and Taiwan.
Even more details can be found in http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=25513&page=47
In which the destruction of Shinsei Maru was recorded, among a very long list, as “… oil tanker Kumagawa Maru and transports Shinsei Maru and Toyu Maru off Cape St. Jacques, 10°20'N, 107°45'E…"
"Combined, TF 38 sank 41 ships on this day.”
This was known as “Operation Gratitude” carried out by Task Force 38 under Vice Adm John S. McCain (who was the grandfather of Senator McCain). And TF38 turns out to be a large scale operation consisting of 5 Groups. And one of which TG38.5 had USS Enterprise and USS Independence as the core carriers. The VT squadron mentioned above was part of this group.
We know the Third Fleet Commander at that time was William Halsey, Jr (1882–1959). In January, 1945. As a fleet commander, Halsey was then responsible for the death of Shinsei Maru. More directly involved, in executing the war plan as the commander of TF38, was John S McCain Sr (who died in 1945). The pilot of the Hellcat who administered the fatal blow to Shinsei Maru remained un-identified.
The Enterprise suffered severe damages not long after; the last one on May 14, 1945 incurred by a Japanese Kamikaze pilot. 14 died and 34 were wounded.
And unexpectedly in the archives of 神奈川新聞 (Kanagawa News) http://www.halmoni-haraboji.net/exhibit/archives/disp00/S0016.html, I came across the following:
1955.05.26 - 戦時中米軍機にサイゴン港で撃沈された神靖丸の引揚 元日本兵300名の遺骨を発見 元乗組員の生存者は「軍が台湾高雄市で徴収した台湾現地人で身分は医務工員だ」
This is a collection of headlines. Surprisingly, news on May 26, 1955 reported that the wreckage of Shinsei Maru was discovered and the remains of 300 Japanese soldiers found. There is a key phrase here "引揚, Hi-Ki A-Ge", which means “sent back to the home country”. The survivors (in reference to 1945) were identified as soldiers from Kaohsiung City in Taiwan and were Taiwanese medical workers. No one informed our family of this discovery, though. There was no international communication between Taiwan and outside world at that time, at least not for our family.
We have known since 1989 when Grandma finally located your grandfather, enshrined together with 28,000 other Taiwanese war-dead, in 靖国神社Yasukuni Jinja in Tokyo. In late October this year, I have also visited Yasukuni and was directed by a friend to the nearby 千鳥ケ淵戦没者墓苑 Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery. Which, to my utter surprise, was built in 1959 to receive the remains of WWII war-dead, including those recovered from Indo-China. In one instant, I realized that this was where the remains sent back from Vietnam in 1955 were buried. It has 6 floors all underground. This is your grandfather’s final resting place!
The Americans started air raids on transport ships on Jan 11, 1945 and Japan surrendered on Aug 15, 1945 – a mere 7 months later. According to one of the survivors Dr WU, they were all on deck enjoying the scenery, then your grandfather decided to go below deck to study. And soon after, the torpedo hit. The ship sank head first and that was where the doctors’ quarters were located. Your grandfather could not escape his fate – and our family suffers the consequence to this day. It is important to remember that we must not dwell on this tragic past (we never have, not your grandma, nor I). I am also so very grateful that Grandma stayed with us for so long; although Christmas dinners without her will never be the same. One consolation maybe that they are now finally together, after 63 years.
Posted by EyeDoc at 12:08
Posted by EyeDoc
根据近代世界艦船事典 (The Encyclopedia of the World, Modern Warships) 記載:
神靖丸一行 [屬"ホ104船團" - 其中包括華頂山丸,此船在神靖丸遇難後,於1945年3月23日4:28PM 被美第58特遣隊戰机擊沉,見下引] 於1944年12月1日清晨8:30從高雄出發,12月3日早上11點抵達香港.船隻總數不明,可能是5艘货船,但只有一條掃雷艇 (mine sweeper) 護航 (第102号).
華頂山丸 [Ka Cho San Maru]
2427(3878)T 284.0x42.0x(23.3)ft R 1200hp 12.31knt. [註:此船排水2,427 噸,与神靖丸相當,滿載排水3,878 噸; 尺寸: 284x42x23.3呎; 1,200馬力; 速度: 12.31 knots]
据作家前橋松造先生報導 (2006/平成18年12月11日), 華頂山丸最後孤單的遭遇如此:
"...錦江湾 [註:鹿児島県] から沖縄・台湾に向かって輸送船が数多く出るが、ことごとくトカラの沖で潜水艦から撃沈される。錦江湾を出た船団、昭和１８年１２月８日～昭和２０年３月２１日に全部で１６船団（延べ１９７隻）、その中でも悲劇だったのは「華頂山丸」という船で、桜島沖で待機していたらB２４に空爆を受け同行の３隻は沈没し、残った1隻の「華頂山丸」は沖合に向けて出発せよという命令を受け出発、大島の笠利沖で沈没する。..."
另,第102号掃海艇船史, 見: http://wpedia.mobile.goo.ne.jp/
1944年(昭和19年) 9月28日竣工｡日本海軍籍に編入､横須賀鎮守府籍｡第2遣支艦隊に編入する｡ [註:第二遣支艦隊負責華南, 下轄第十五戰隊旗艦"五十玲"輕巡洋艦, 下轄砲艦"嵯峨","橋立", 廣東方面特別根據地隊, 廈門方面特別根據地隊, 特設第四掃海隊等.]
Posted by EyeDoc at 10:57
Iris Liu 提供給EyeDoc一個新竹市文化局網頁, 其中提到:
謝謝您, Iris Liu.
Posted by EyeDoc at 20:18
If you prefer Chinese version please click the link below:
Posted by BH
More than two years ago, we traveled to Hawaii to attend my husband's 40th college reunion. After the reunion cruise, we decided to visit Pearl Harbor. While watching a historical film that vividly depicted the Dec. 7, 1941, raid on Pearl Harbor, I couldn’t help but think that if Japan had not raided Pearl Harbor, perhaps my dad would not have lost his life at the young age of 32. Tears streamed down my face as I thought that if the Japanese hadn’t attacked Pearl Harbor, the United States might not have entered WWII and there would not have been war in the Pacific Ocean between Japan and the United States.
I do not harbor hatred against the culprits of Japan or the Americans who sunk the ship “Shinsei Maru” on which my father served as a military physician, It was not until recently by this blog, I learned that the Task Force 38 had sunk “Shinsei Maru”, thus I lost my dad even when I was still in my mom’s womb. Back then, the vice Admiral of the Task force 38, John S. McCain SR. happened to be the grandfather of the Republican candidate for President of the United States this year, (Note: now he has lost the election) . This discovery hadn’t made me not want to vote for Mr. McCain, unless there are other legitimate reasons for me not to. No, I could still have voted for him because I think that in international affairs and wars, he should have a better understanding and insights, because he had been a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. Generally speaking, Republicans care more about international security issues and perhaps more favorable towards protecting Taiwan’s democracy. What I am trying to say is “I have neither hatred against those who caused my dad to die untimely, nor hatred against their descendants. ” ( p.s. I wrote this part long before the election took place)
Recently, a friend of mine in her e-mail to other friend (c.c. to me) mentioned that my father was a former military doctor, serving the Japanese imperialists…etc. She didn’t criticize my dad purposely, yet I felt my feelings was hurt. Her comment was extremely unfair for those who had been drafted by the Japanese government to the Pacific War. Just as Eye Doc. said in this blog:
『Taiwan's post-war phase was kind of being awkward. After the defeat and the withdrawal of Japanese government from Taiwan, there came Chinese Nationalists. It was like changing dynasties, the new political power liked to judge beyond time and history: those who survived "Shinsei Maru" were sometimes called Chinese traitors or Taiwanese traitors, because they had served China’s enemy Japan. They were not able to argue and defend themselves since they were simply politically incorrect. Just think, after Japan had governed in Taiwan for 50 years, if the people of Taiwan identified with Japan as their own country then, was it unreasonable? They had been through Japanese education, all their lives. Should we criticize them if they had developed a kind of mentality of being Japanese citizens? How can we criticize and blame them then?
Although my father had the opportunity to run away from the Japanese Navy, he did not run away. Although some people had urged him to escape long before he went to serve as a military doctor. For example, my maternal grandpa had told him that when his ship landed in Hong Kong, he should run away. Because my grandpa's generation started far before Japanese rule in Taiwan, of course, he could not identify with Japan as his own country. In Dr. Wu Ping Cheng’s book “ A Military physician’s Diary”, he mentioned that my dad, as well as a few others had the opportunities to see their relatives or acquaintances in Hong Kong or Vietnam, they certainly had a great opportunity to run away. (Of course, if the escapees were captured, they would be condemned to death penalty.) However, Dr. Wu also mentioned that if anyone ran away, the rest of the comrades in the ship, would all be punished to lose their freedom. Therefore, I think my upright law-abiding dad, wouldn’t violate any military laws, let alone escape. My dad wouldn’t like to penalize his comrade-in-ship, and most likely, he probably thought it was his duty to defend Taiwan and Japan, he had to do it that way, no turning back at all. (Now, we may consider that they had been brainwashed by a foreign government Japan and had developed silly loyalty to Japan. That was unfair to them.) I happened to know that some people used “red envelope” money to avoid being drafted; it is an unfair world, honest people died as victims, but bribers got to keep their lives. I heard that Dr. Kuo Hong-Wen was not originally on the drafting list, however, another doctor used red envelope, to avoid being drafted, and recommended Dr. Kuo as his younger substitutes. Once a cousin cheerfully told me that it was his father’s luck, not to be a doctor, or else his dad should be the one who died, not my dad, because his dad was my dad’s eldest brother, and only one doctor would be drafted from a family.( He had to hear this drafting information from his dad, my big uncle, as each regional physician bureaucracy has slightly different priorities of drafting.) I listened with sadness, because my dad was determined to be a medical student out of being a filial son, in order to take care of his father's clinic, so that his father could have an early retirement. I heard my dad’s eldest brother wouldn’t study but fooled around all the times so he couldn’t get into any medical school at all. You wouldn’t think the one who was filial and studied diligently would harvest early death, while the prodigal son would keep life as his reward.
Furthermore, I have never thought of my father and the "Yasukuni Shrine" being connected, until China protested former President Lee Teng-hui’s visit to "Yasukuni Shrine" to commemorate his brother, I thought then perhaps my dad’s name was in that famous shrine too? Later on, Eye Doc. Confirmed my guess was correct.
Just as Eye Doc. said that those who survived the sunken Shin-sei Maru were seen as traitors to Taiwan, because KMT then took over Taiwan. Such a serious charge against them, was very unfair indeed.
However, people shouldn’t continue to live in the past and keep thinking, "If something had not happened that way, how nice would the world be! …etc." or "what if something happens this way or that way…etc.”, the "what if" monsters will create unfounded, unnecessary fears for the future. To keep living in the past with endless regrets, remorse and "what ifs" is very unwise too. What is more important? Isn’t it "the present" ? what does God want us to do now? Shouldn’t we treasure our time now to do something to glorify God and benefit others?
I used to think that it was very unfortunate that I was born posthumously. But now I think I have been very fortunate to be born as if to catch the last train before my dad left for the war. During the air raids of WWII, I brought so much troubles to my mom and grandpa. It was fortunate that grandpa was a doctor and I could be born at home in his own clinic. However, my grandpa had to blacken the windows of a delivery room just in case if I was born in the middle of night when there were air raid sirens, a light could still be on inside the dark delivery room. Of course, I could also be born a worm, right? The evolutionist wants us to believe that we humans are not different from other animals . (In one of Kafka’s novel,” Metamorphosis”, he described the terror of the main character waking up one day in the morning only to find himself having turned into a bug.) From another point of view, since we are all born humans, we have already won the lottery, because we have defeated the odds of not being born, being aborted or just being born a worm, not a human being.
Torpedoes, bullets, bombs don’t have eyes, they kill anyone passing through their paths. Task Force 38 didn’t know my dad’s ship was a medical ship because there was no red cross mark or flag on it. Or else, perhaps they wouldn’t have bombed the ship. I do not harbor any bitter resentments towards Japan or US, but I am well aware of the pain and sorrow the war could bring to any family just like my family. I’d hope that there is no more war in our world and no longer there is any family who suffers the loss of their loved ones as a result of the war. However, it is easier said than done; people do have different religious beliefs, there is racism, bigotry and so on ..., it is really hard to have real peace on earth. Only by looking up to the cross, listening to how He forgave those who nailed Him to the cross, that we would be able to forgive our enemies with the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Jesus said: "Father, forgive them because they did not know what they did."
Posted by BH at 19:39
我於一九四四年九月二十五日接到命令，九月二十八日在高雄港集合，這時已經是我受訓完畢後六個月了。我們這一梯次出發以後，戰局惡化。美軍控制西太平洋，日軍便無能力也無船隻可載人出去。也末能逆料這一批台灣人，竟遭美軍擊沉於南中國海，而成為台彎人沉船死亡最多的一次，計有: (從略 請參看本部落格存歿名單)
後記 (posted by BH): 非常感謝吳醫師的「軍醫日記」，我終於知道我爸爸沉船的名稱「神靖丸」。我爸爸的沉船叫什麼名字，一直是一團迷 ， 我們一無所知， 直到吳醫師的文章見報 (太平洋時報)。老實說，我起先的態度是不想也不忍心知道詳情，因為太痛苦。所以都睜一眼閉一眼, 掃瞄而過，不想仔細讀呢。說來慚愧，辜負吳醫師的用心良苦，也不曾在他生前向他表達謝意。
吳醫師的日記本放在他的衣袋中，陪他在洶湧的西貢海，渡過了美軍的轟炸，又泡了一整天的機油與海水，早已破爛 ; 這本日記保存了四十二年才發表見報。(他在他的「前言」裡說道：『本來戰後就想好好重寫，因為原文是日文，寫得又簡單，子女也看不懂，改寫漢文，自己又無自信，遲遲未實現。經長子光太鼓勵，下了很大的決心，寫給子女、親戚、朋友作為一頁歷史，並獻給戰友們以及家眷，也表一番心意』。)
P.S. Here is a link for you as an extension reading to Dr. Wu's foreword in his “A Military Doctor's Diary”, it is my personal family story and testimony. Any comments are very welcome! (Or if you prefer to read in English click the English link below: these two links are twin of the same article.)
Posted by BH at 18:39