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stepping stones of maritime history



The sinking of the Junyo Maru was one of the world's greatest sea disasters. 5620 dead. 723 survivors were rescued only to be put to work in conditions similar to those of the Burma Railway. The list of casualties contains the names of 1382 Dutch, eight US and 56 British and three Australian POW's, but not those of about 4000 Javanese enslaved laborers who also perished. About 100 Dutch survived the sinking of the Junyo Maru, and ten of these died on the railway.

The disaster

At about 05:30 Monday morning there was a large explosion in the bow of the ship. Moments later another explosion hit the stern. Soon it was realized the ship had been struck by torpedoes. There was little panic in the beginning; none when the engines were turned off, nor when the steam from the boilers was released, nor when the sirens were turned on. But when the stern started to sink and the bow lifted high out of the water panic did set in.

Survival for those that made the water, and many did not, consisted of staying afloat as long as possible by hanging on to a life-raft or any other floating material that was around. The Japanese had commanded the life-boats. The escorts were seen picking up people but seemed to favour the Japanese.However they continued to pick up survivors and ferry them to Padang some 6 hours away up the coast till late in the night.


Freighter built in 1913 in Glasgow.
Torpedoed by British submarine H.M.S Tradewind on 18 September 1944.

The sinking of the Junyo Maru was one of the world's greatest sea disasters.

The Junyo Maru was fitted with extra decks constructed of bamboo subdivided into cages of the same material. The Junyo Maru was a transport for prisoners of war: 1377 Dutch, 64 British and Australian and eight US besides 4200 forced workers from Java.

Junyo Maru.

Length403.6 feet (123 m)
Width26.2 feet (8 m)
Beam52.5 feet (16 m)
Displacement5065 ton

Down on 1 October

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