Death of the Awa Maru
This is taken directly from the wartime memories of the subject; especially and exclusively for Sharkhunters. Remember, these are first-person memories of World War II - not from some 'researcher' who reads a few files and comes to some conclusion. This IS the story of WW II directly from the veterans who lived it ..those who wrote this history.
Charles Levine was the radioman aboard USS QUEENFISH
Several articles have been written about this action and while they were very good, the most poignant article was an interview with Admiral Loughlin conducted by the Naval Institute's Oral History Program on 5 September 1980. In this interview, our Skipper clearly stated the circumstances as 'damned if he did and damned if he didn't'.
I would have thought that this should have put the matter to rest and I was quite perturbed when anyone would refer to the sinking of a hospital ship by the QUEENFISH. Nothing could be further from the truth.
First of all, the Japanese ship that was sunk was the AWA MARU, one of Japan's newest and fastest merchant ships. This ship was guaranteed safe passage by the U.S. Government to pick up medical supplies for the benefit of Allied prisoners of war being held in the jungles of Southeast Asia.
Initially, the Japanese were reluctant to undertake this task but soon realized that they could use this to their advantage so they agreed to cooperate. The AWA MARU was ordered to pick up medical supplies at Vladivostok, the principal Russian port on the Sea of Japan. The AWA MARU reached Singapore safely in February 1945. The Japanese government then proceeded to transport over 2,000 Japanese including high ranking Army and Navy officers. They also loaded the ship with war material that was badly needed to conduct the war. It is believed by many that a great amount of valuables, such as artifacts, diamonds and other precious metals were on board. Whether or not this is true is the subject of another article. Suffice it to say that this was not ever a hospital ship.
EDITOR NOTE - This wolfpack was known as 'Laughlin's Loopers'.
During an interview, Admiral Loughlin stated, "The only thing I knew about the AWA MARU was the message we got the night before which said that it will pass through your area. Let it pass clear. And I said to myself and my officers, what area? What are they talking about? It ranged from Australia to the Aleutian Islands. Every submarine in the Western Pacific was given this dispatch."
Perhaps some people may have gotten the impression that the AWA MARU may have been a hospital ship because of the fact that white crosses were painted on the side of the ship. Not only were the white crosses invisible, but the lighted ship itself could not be seen because of the dense fog in the area.
Indeed it was a tragedy for which both Japan and the United States share responsibility and the QUEENFISH and her Skipper should be remembered for their efforts in bringing the war to a successful conclusion.
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EDITOR NOTE - One of our Members, a CIA asset who does not wish to be identified, told us that a good portion of the gold and silver from the Philippine treasury was aboard AWA MARU as was the "Peking Man", the remains of prehistoric man in that area. Both this CIA asset and CHARLES LEVINE were Members of sharkhunters.com.