We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Sinking of the Lisbon Maru

Britain's Forgotten Wartime Tragedy

Tony Banham

Publication Year: 2006

The book will be of interest to anyone wishing to know more about the "Hellships" that caused the deaths of almost 20,000 Allied Prisoners of War during the Second World War, or the experiences of Allied POWs in Japan.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU


pdf iconDownload PDF (170.0 KB)
p. -


pdf iconDownload PDF (209.4 KB)
pp. vii- viii


pdf iconDownload PDF (160.5 KB)
pp. ix-x

Dramatis Personae

pdf iconDownload PDF (217.1 KB)
pp. xi-xii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (193.8 KB)
pp. xiii-xiv

I am sitting in my 'study' - little more than a cupboard, but acceptable by Hong Kong standards - wondering how I will ever find a survivor That hold, in the middle of the vessel, had housed the Royal Artillery contingent of the British POWs being shipped, at the end of September 1942, from Hong Kong to work in the mines and docks of Japan. They ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (440.5 KB)
pp. xv- xx

In 1990, when I first started gathering material that eventually resulted in this book, there were perhaps one hundred survivors of the Lisbon Maru still with us. When I began the serious work of putting the book together...

read more

1 - Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF (381.3 KB)
pp. 1-4

July 2003: A typhoon is approaching Hong Kong. The trees lining the road outside my study are leaning at impossible angles, leaves flowing away from their branches in a maelstrom of airborne flotsam and jetsam. They relax for a moment, the screaming wind at my window dies down, In the middle of this tempest, I am trying to summarize the story that I ...

read more

2 - The Loss of Hong Kong

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 5-18

Surveying the smoking ruins of the once proud Crown Colony of Hong Kong, Gunner Jack Etiemble of His Majesty's Royal Artillery threw down Ammunition Boots. The order to surrender the village of Stanley - the last part of Hong Kong Island holding out against the Japanese invaders - had just come through, and Jack had blown the retreat and last post ...

read more

3 - Prisoners of War: Hong Kong, 1942

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 19-34

On 29 December 1941, Jack Etiemble and slightly over two thousand men captured with East Brigade in Stanley marched over Wong Nai Chung Gap, under Japanese orders, to North Point at the centre of Hong Kong Island's north shore. They were a mixed bag of Gunners, Middlesex, Royal Rifles, Volunteers, Royal Navy, and stragglers from many other units. It ...

read more

4 - The Ship: Lisbon Maru

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.3 MB)
pp. 35-50

For the second transportation, the Japanese demanded two thousand 'fit' men. As well as providing slave labour for the docks, mines, factories, and ports of Japan, this would free up enough space at Sham Shui Po Company: "This was a most difficult time for our officers. They refused to select men who were obviously unfit for the journey and, in the end, ...

read more

5 - The Boat: USS Grouper

pdf iconDownload PDF (941.6 KB)
pp. 51-62

Submarines were the great hope of the Allies in the Pacific in 1942, The Allied naval losses in the Pacific battles of late 1941 and 1942 had been horrendous. The Royal Navy had lost the Repulse and Prince of Wales ...

read more

6 - "Hot, Straight and Normal!": 1 October

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 63-76

There was nothing silent on the Lisbon Maru that night. Men groaned and writhed at the discomforts of their diseases and hunger, the overcrowded conditions, and the primitive accommodation; adding to The lookouts on the bridge did not see the ...

read more

7 - "Abandon Ship!": 2 October, a.m.

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.3 MB)
pp. 77-92

No light, no air. Stripped-off men lay blindly in their own sewerage and waited. This night no one slept. They all panted for breath; there was no water to replace their sweat. Despair had stifled most, but not all, of the Bill Spooner: "It was pitch dark, there was a wooden gallery above the floor of the ship on which the bulk of the men were lying, the men ...

read more

8 - The Long Swim: 2 October, p.m.

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 93-108

At this moment, some 1,750153 British Prisoners of War were in the water. Non-swimmers unable to find anything to cling to disappeared first, but for those who could swim or who had adhered themselves to the plentiful flotsam, the situation - initially - seemed survivable. The sea temperature off Shanghai at the end of the summer is not unpleasant, ...

read more

9 - Survival and Death: 3 and 4 October

pdf iconDownload PDF (645.4 KB)
pp. 109-116

Away from the rescue ships and the islands, hundreds of hopeless and abandoned men had already drowned. Hundreds more were still drifting away to the open sea, in ones or twos in the water, or clinging to whatever Amongst them, Bill...

read more

10 - Shanghai: 5 and 6 October

pdf iconDownload PDF (446.7 KB)
pp. 117-122

Those men who the Japanese patrol boats had plucked from the sea were the first to land. These smaller craft took the paws straight to the mainland, and they disembarked at the Railway Wharf of the ...

read more

11 - Back at Sea: 7 to 9 October

pdf iconDownload PDF (488.2 KB)
pp. 123-128

On board the Grouper, the submariners gasped in the foul air. Submerged since attacking the Lisbon Maru, they were now struggling to breathe in It was now some time since they had heard the last depth ...

read more

12 - Japan: 10 October

pdf iconDownload PDF (539.8 KB)
pp. 129-134

The Shinsei Maru arrived at the port of Moji, gateway to Japan's inland sea, at noon on 10 October. Three more men, Francis Cassin of HMS Cicala), and Murdo Stewart of the NZRNVR, had already been buried at sea that morning...

read more

13 - Prisoners of War: Japan, 1942 to 1943

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.0 MB)
pp. 135-162

And then they dropped like flies. Eight hundred and twenty-eight men had been lost in the ship or the waters round it, and a further six had died on the way to Japan; these were not fit men. All had survived ...

read more

14 - Prisoners of War: Japan, 1944 to 1945

pdf iconDownload PDF (836.7 KB)
pp. 163-174

However, less than a month into 1944, Weedon's memories of 'sky high morale' were forgotten. In the cold of January he noted: "Heated row in mess over question of giving cigarettes to cooks. How glad most of us will be never to see each other again. We really have got a motley crew." The final two years of war passed with much of the same routine as ...

read more

15 - Liberation

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 175-192

In the camps, the situation was rapidly becoming chaotic. Ross Lynneberg bombing of Osaka. "Then while out working near the camp one day a B29 went over and later we heard an explosion and saw a column of smoke rise skyward with a large mushroom...

read more

16 - Reunion

pdf iconDownload PDF (928.5 KB)
pp. 193-204

And now another American submarine, the Bullhead, steams into our story. She made her first patrol in the South China Sea from the latter part of March to the end of April 1945. She failed to make any enemy ...

read more

17 - Epilogue

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.0 MB)
pp. 205-230

And there the story of the Lisbon Maru ends. Yet life continued for the survivors, and the families of those who had perished. Without the glue of war, they spread out from Australia to Canada, from Hong Kong to New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, and every part of the United Let the pages of this epilogue pull their stories back together. ...

Appendix 1: Judgement: The Trial of Kyoda Shigeru

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 231-246

Appendix 2: The History of the List of the Men on the Lisbon Maru

pdf iconDownload PDF (454.6 KB)
pp. 247-252

Appendix 3: Statistics

pdf iconDownload PDF (162.1 KB)
pp. 253-254


pdf iconDownload PDF (2.3 MB)
pp. 255-284


pdf iconDownload PDF (246.4 KB)
pp. 285-288

read more

Color Plates

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 289-313

E-ISBN-13: 9789882203662
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622097711

Page Count: 342
Publication Year: 2006

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Naval operations -- Submarine.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Prisoners and prisons, Japanese.
  • Shipwrecks -- Pacific Ocean.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Naval operations, American.
  • Prisoners of war -- Great Britain.
  • Lisbon Maru (Ship).
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access