my first thought was: an explosion of one of the boilers. We all jumped up which caused an enormous scramble for the only steps leading to the deck. A few seconds after the first explosion there was another bang…, and gun-powder smoke came into our hold…The ship’s sirens started blaring and then we realized that we had been torpedoed. A panic followed… Our ship was still high up in the water, but without further thinking, I went to the railing jumped into the sea”.
Men jumped overboard. Others threw life rafts over the side. I helped some climbing out of the hold. A mob of panic-stricken men crawled, trudged and wormed onto the one single iron ladder. Scratched, beaten and bloodied, some reached the deck. The bowels of the ship were belching up… I was a 19-year-old P.O.W. when I saw more than 5,000 men perish before my eyes…”
Behind the flagpole of Ereveld Leuwigadjah, there is a small court where the Junyo Maru Commemorative Plaque established. This monument was donated by Stichting Herdenking Junyo Maru (Junyo Maru Memorial Foundation), in memory of casualties in the years 1942-1945 who died at sea in the South-East Asia. The plaque was inaugurated on 21th of September 1984. Ereveld Leuwigadjah is located on Kerkhof Jl. Tjibogo 16, Tjimahi. It was about 10 km west of Bandoeng, West Java.
The Japanese cargo ship Junyo Maru left Tanjong Priok Harbor in Batavia on the 16th of September 1944 with the destination to Padang.There were 6.500 people on board consisted: 2.300 Dutch, British, American and Australian Prisoners of War (POWs) and 4200 Javanese slave laborers. On 18th of September 1944, the Japanese Cargo ship Junyo Maru was torpedoed in the Indian Ocean, by the British Submarine H.M.S. Tradewind. The submarine commander had not known what Junyo Maru was carrying POWs. About the 6500 passengers, 5620 perished.
Final count of survivors picked up by the Japanese boats was about 680 POWs and 200 Javanese slave laborers. That is only 880 were survived, in other words a number of 5.620 has perished! It will be the largest maritime disaster of World War II. The 880 survival men were employed (romusha) on the 220km of Sumatra railway line between Pekanbaru and Muaro untill 1945, fortune and misfortune. Therefore, it would be the largest maritime disaster in World War II.