Introduction Ship Transports


                                                                                                                                                                            January 7, 2011



Described herein are the ship transports used to relocate Allied prisoners of war.  The Japanese used POWs as slave labor in the construction of airports and railroads necessary for their war machine, and often transported them by ship to Burma, Sumatra, the Moluccas and Japan, among other destinations. Many POWs died on these transports, partly because of the wretchedly poor conditions on board, but also because these ships were torpedoed by the Allies (not realizing there were Allied POWs on board).



The ship list referenced herein was created in a database (EXCEL), whereby each vessel was identified by name, date and point of departure, date and point of arrival, number of POWs on board, and number of POW deaths occurring during transport. If the ship was torpedoed en route or sank for any other reason, the word "sank" is indicated before the destination entry.

Available data sources differ considerably with respect to the number of POWs on board a particular ship and these figures are sometimes completely unknown. It is therefore impossible, even with current data, to accurately estimate the total number of POWs on board any particular vessel, or on all vessels combined.



Research has shown that a single ship sometimes sailed under different names. The names referenced herein are those used by G. F. Michno in his book "Death on the Hellships" (2001). Michno's book was selected because it references the most transports as well as many details about them.

It appears that Michno’s book was not complete, as a number of transports of (mostly) Dutch citizens, well-known from Dutch written history, are not mentioned in his book.  These concern particular ships in transports involving the Moluccas and Japan. The names of these ships have been added to the list.

Occasionally, a single ship appears several times on the list, with different departure dates. In such cases, chronological reference numbers have been added after the ship’s name. If the name of a ship is unknown, then it has been temporarily assigned the name “NN Maru”.



If a ship is identified in a known document by a different name than the one used in Michno’s book, then this name is specified in the separate list of Alternative Ship Names, with a reference to the name Michno used.



Ships have been sorted by name under "Alphabetically by Ship Name”.



Transports have been sorted by date-of-departure (see "Chronologically”). A shaded row delineates the beginning of each year.



Partial lists can be created by "filtering" for point of departure / arrival; for example, all transports from Batavia, or any ships that traveled from Singapore to Japan. A list of all ships that sank can also be compiled.  These are but a few examples.



For each ship / transport, an individual webpage is provided with details of the ship (tonnage, year built, alternative names) and transport, such as number and origin of POWs on board, destination, transit ports, weather conditions, morale on board, etc. In cases where the destination was a POW camp, then (if known) these camps have been identified. Data sources and website references are also provided.



Index          Ship Transports