To honour those who served their country

“In this their finest hour”

Royal Scots-tn



Donald Walker MacDonald


1922/07/06 - Born Overtown, Glasgow

Son of John and Elizabeth MacDonald

Royal Scots

2nd Battalion



Wounded in the Battle of Hong Kong and taken to the Royal Naval Hospital (which implies he was wounded in the defence of Wanchai)


Japanese PoW

1941/12/25 - Captured Hong Kong

Japanese Index Card - Side One

MacDonald-Donald Walker-01

Japanese Index Card - Side Two

MacDonald-Donald Walker-02

1942/09/27 - Boarded the Lisbon Maru for transportation from Hong Kong to Shanghai, China with 1819 PoWs. The naval men, and artillery men were in a hold aft of the bridge, about 900 of them and the rest forward of the bridge. The holds sleeping quarters was packed earth, no blankets and very cramped space. Mostly everyone in the draft, was stricken with some disease and malnutrition.  Large numbers of wounded Japanese soldiers were taken aboard, filling all the available space above the PoWs.

After three days at sea, hugging the China coast, the ship became a hell in which survival was slowly but surely drifting from  the PoWs.  During the day, food and water was lowered down to them in buckets. They were allowed on deck, in groups one time per day to go to the toilets which were wooden structures built out from the side of the upper deck.

Lisbon Maru-2

1942/10/01 - At about 7am an almighty thud was heard and the ship seemed to shudder to a halt, then start to settle down in the water.  Panic seemed to spread among the crew.  There was the ringing of bells, whistles and shouting and the ship’s guns were blazing away.  A torpedo from USS Grouper had found its mark.

Lisbon Maru map2

Sinking of the Lisbon Maru

Map supplied by Geoff Coxon

The sound of rushing water could be heard and it was clear that the ship was sinking and there was a rush for the ladder leading out of the hold but the Japanese battened the holds down and placed machine guns covering the hatches. Their intentions were clear no one was to escape.

The ship was sinking slowly by the stern and no attempt was made to let light or fresh air into the hold which was stifling.  As the hours passed messages in morse code were heard being tapped out on the steel pipes running along the ship.

After twenty four hours since the torpedo had struck the Lisbon Maru the PoWs knew the ship could go down at anytime as the rear  end was under water and all the men in the aft hold were feared drowned. A slit in the canvas covers covering the hatch boards was made and a hole widened enough to be able to push up a hatch board.  Several other hatch boards were pushed up and aside. The first few men out fell from bullets, but the machine gun crew were quickly despatched to a watery grave. The hold was quickly opened up and a rush started for the ladder leading out of the hold.  In the mad rush to the side, the ship heeled over and water started pouring into the hold.

Lisbon Maru - 1tn

The hold was filling rapidly and the ship was beginning to go down quicker. The PoWs jumped and swam from the sinking ship grabbing anything to hold on to. The survivors who were picked up and landed at Woosung not far from Shanghai.

The survivors were left with very few cloths sitting on the cold stone of the quay.  No attempts were made to supply warm clothing or a blanket. There were about 800 survivors out of the 1819 who boarded the ship.

1942/10/06 - A few of the prisoners had perished from exposure, or had simply given up and let their life slip away. The rest received a loin cloth, to cover themselves and boarded the Shinsei Maru to continue their journey to Japan.

1942/10/10 - Arrived Moji, Japan and transported to Osaka

New PoW No. I 5844

1945/09/06 - Liberated Osaka B2 - Fukiai-Ku, Kobe-Shi

Age 23



Joan MacDonald

Tony Banham

James McHarg Miller

‘Sinking of the Lisbon Maru’ by Tony Banham

KEW:- WO 361/1744, WO 361/1744/2, WO 392/25, WO 345/33, WO 361/1964, WO 361/1963


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