detailed physical description of the ship
of Surviving Crew
from Christine Best, daughter of internee M. Scott
Malcolm Ingleby Scott left North Shields, Tyne and Wear,
England, aboard the merchant ship S.S. Kirkpool on 27 January 1942. He
was the ship's Radio Officer.
SS Kirkpool was originally en route from the UK to Lorenco Marques in
Mozambique, Africa. However, her orders were changed at Cape Town, S.
Africa to go to Durban to pick up coal bound for Montevideo, Uruguay,
She was nearing the Cape on 16th March and was in Durban on 24th March.
After picking up her cargo and heading back out into the South Atlantic
ocean, the SS Kirkpool was tracked and torpedoed by the German raider
[Thor was a German disguised
merchant cruiser, 3,862 tons, Built by Deutsche Werft AG
Hamburg-Finkenwarder in 1938, 379.7' x 54.8' x 26.5', 17knots, Six 5.9
inch, one 60mm, one twin 37mm, four 20mm, two 21-inch torpedo tubes,
One Arado 196 aircraft. Captain Gunther Gumprich.]
Thor sighted Kirkpool on afternoon of April 10th in poor visibility and
tracked the vessel until near dark when she closed to track again using
her early version radar. She closed range until 2007 hrs at 2,420 yards
range torpedo launched, for a miss, and gunfire opened up. Of four
shells fired in second salvo, three struck the Kirkpool. Thor ceased
fire at 2011hrs with the steamer on fire. The Kirkpool turned to ram or
maybe lost steering control and gunfire was resumed for another minute.
Thor stuck around for three hours searching for survivors. The 17
survivors (out of 46 crew) were picked up from the sea. Thor later
transferred the survivors to the SS Regensburg. This ship already held
POWs from the sinking of the Nankin, (who were also held in Fukushima
camp).They were moved again, this time to the SS Dresden, a merchant
ship bound for Japan, and then finally transferred to SS Ramses.
They were handed into Japanese custody by the German authorities on the
10th of July 1942 on board the S.S. Ramses in Yokohama harbour. On the
night of the10th /11th July 1942 they were taken north by train to the
town of Fukushima and reached their destination, a Roman Catholic
Convent on the outskirts of town which had been turned into a Civilian
Internment Camp. There, the civilians were placed in the charge of a
special branch of the local police force. One death and one birth were
reported shortly after arrival.
After their imprisonment in July 1942, the first contact the internees
had with the outside world was in August 1945 when packages were
dropped by a VB#88 plane from the USS Yorktown. [Photo dated 25 Aug 1945, first food drop 28
They remained in the camp until the 10th September 1945 when Task Unit
30.6.2, (comprising USS Garrard, Rescue, Nicholas, Taylor,
Gosselin and Runels, HMS Wizard and Wakeful
and HMAS Bataan and Warramunga)
left Tokyo Bay for Sendai on another recovery mission.
The minesweepers were occupied in sweeping to the north as the Task
Unit approached Shiogama, the port of Sendai,
and its entry into the harbour was marked with explosions every few
minutes. On arrival contact teams were landed and by the afternoon of
the 10th September all the internees from Fukushima internment camp
were being dealt with on the hospital
ship, USS Rescue.
The survivors then boarded HMAS Warramunga and were
taken back to Yokohama.There they transferred to HM aircraft carrier 'Ruler'
bound for Sydney via Manus in the Admiralty Islands. They were near the
Equator on 20th September 1945 and were off the Australian coast on
25th September. The Kirkpool survivors arrived in Sydney (apparently
the first from the Japanese POWcamps) and signed their conveyance order
back to the UK on 26th October.
The HMT Andes brought them home from Sydney to
Southampton, England via Fremantle, Bombay and Suez arriving in time
for Christmas 1945 (when there was much celebration!).
Malcolm Ingleby Scott was subsequently awarded the South Atlantic Star,
the Pacific Star and the 1939-45 Star in recognition of his war
service. His family was told in 1942 that he was missing and presumed
dead. It was not until 1944 that they heard he was a POW in Japan. He
married his fiancee Patricia Whalen in February 1946. Despite the odds,
Patricia refused to give up hope that he was alive. They had one
daughter, Christine, who has researched this history.
Malcolm never recovered from his experience in the camp, and was later
diagnosed as suffering from what is now called 'post
traumatic stress disorder'. The effects of cardiac beri-beri
and shrapnel wounds coupled with PTSD eventually took their toll and
Mr. Scott died of a coronary thrombosis on 26th November 1959. He was
53 years old.
i. Letters and documents of M.I. Scott
ii. German Raiders of World War 2, August Karl Muggenthaler
iii. Australian Naval Archives