Sunken Ships in a Naval Port Post-World War IITragic "Ukishima Maru" Also Caught on U.S. Military Film
The archived 22-minute film, titled "BEACHED, SUNK, DAMAGED JAPANESE SHIPPING," was shot by the U.S. military between April 12 and May 31, 1946. Maizuru Bay is shown in the last five minutes of the film which includes various survey sites, including Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture and Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture.
The Ukishima Maru was transporting workers and their families from Aomori Prefecture back to Korea, when it exploded and sank off the coast of Sabaka in Maizuru Bay on August 24, 1945. According to the Japanese government, 524 Koreans and 25 Japanese crew members were killed.
In the film, the Ukishima Maru's two white masts and radar equipment jutting out of the sea can be observed from all directions. Jajima Island in the bay and villages in Sabaka are also shown. It explains that the Ukishima Maru "hit a mine in Maizuru Bay."Several vessels were introduced as having been "attacked by U.S. warplanes on July 30, 1945." In the background of a former Imperial Navy ship's control tower sticking out of the sea, red brick buildings, many of which still remain, can be seen. The air raids on Maizuru were carried out on the 29th and 30th, killing 180 people. The raid on the 30th mainly attacked vessels of the Japanese Navy anchored at Maizuru military port.
An 83-year-old man from Sabaka, Maizuru City, who went to rescue the Ukishima Maru by rowboat, watched the film. "I remember that day when local residents went to aid the ship. Heavy oil was pouring out, preventing us from getting close by rowboat," he recalled. He said he saw the air raid attack around the Navy’s facilities from a distance, and added, "I came under machine-gun fire while at sea. War is horrible."
The film also records a crippled Italian steamboat and the "Teiritsu Maru," a huge cargo-passenger that ran aground due to a mine. Mutsumi Nagamine, a curator at the Maizuru Repatriation Memorial Museum, said, "In this color video, we can see the sunken vessels recorded in war memoirs. It will help us convey the historical truth in an easy-to-understand manner." The film is available on the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website.(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)