The Ho¨fuku Maru was sailing from Singapore to Miri, Borneo as part of convoy SHIMI-05. The convoy consisted of 10 ships, 5 of which carried, in total, 5,000 POWs, all in appalling conditions.
At Borneo, the Ho¨fuku Maru left the convoy with engine problems, and sailed on to the Philippines, arriving on 19th July. She remained in Manila until mid-September while the engines were repaired. The POWs remained on board, suffering terribly from disease, hunger, and thirst.
On September 20, 1944, the Ho¨fuku Maru and 10 other ships formed Convoy MATA-27, and sailed from Manila to Japan. The following morning, the convoy was attacked 80 miles north of Corregidor by more than 100 American carrier planes. All eleven ships in the convoy were sunk. Of those on the Ho¨fuku Maru, 1,047 of the 1,289 British and Dutch POWs on board died.
More information can be obtained on the survivors of the sinking by visiting the Philippines section of the Roll of Honour and ‘Hell in Five’ by Jock Symon who survived the sinking and the war.