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  Akikaze (秋風)
Minekaze class destroyer

1,234 Tons (standard)
1,367 (loaded)
319' 11" x 336' 7" x 29' 3"
4 x 120mm guns
6 x 21" torpedo tubes
2 x 7.7mm MG
16 x mines
IJN circa 1923
via AWM

Ship History
Ordered 1918, built by Mitsubishi shipyards at Nagasaki. Laid down on June 7, 1920. Commissioned on September 16, 1921. Named Akikaze (秋風) "Autumn Wind".

Wartime History
This destroyer participated in the Second Sino-Japanese War. At the start of the Pacific war, the Akikaze departed Takao Harbor to provided air-sea rescue during the initial attacks on the Philippines during December 7-12, 1941.

Execution of Civilian Prisoners
After departing Rabaul the Akikaze moved to Wewak from March 8, 1943 to deliver medicine and supplies, then to nearby Kairuru Island. On March 17, 1943 at 11:00am. Forty civilians: German missionaries, nuns and civilians, also Chinese civilians were delivered to the destroyer by the Navy garrison on the island. They were treated with dignity, even given a rear cabin and tea, water and bread and sea sickness treated by the ship's doctor, and were treated as neutral civilians.

That night, the destroyer anchored off Lorengau on Manus Island. Twenty more civilians were brought aboard from Manus area, German missionaries, one Hungarian missionary and Chinese, six of the group were woman. Now there were a total of sixty prisoners aboard the ship.

The next day, the destroyer briefly anchored off Kavieng and accepted a message, then departed back to Rabaul. At sea, the captain Lt. Commander Sabe assembled all officers, and informed them that 8th Fleet HQ ordered them to dispose of all the POWs. He commented that the order was regrettable, but must be carried out because it was an order.

On March 18, 1943 on their trip back to Rabaul, all the civilian prisoners were moved to the forward cabin. With the destroyer steaming at full speed, behind a white sheet, to avoid alerting the other POW of their pending fate. Each POW was removed from the cabin and hung by their wrists from a rope and pulley, then shot. Since the ship was moving, the wind then knocked the body overboard, minimizing blood staining on the deck, and the noise of steaming at full speed avoided any undue suffering. The men were executed first, then the woman. Two Chinese children were taken from their mother's arms and thrown overboard. The total execution took approximately three hours. Captain Sabe then ordered a funeral service for the executed and instructed the crew not to mention the execution to anyone. The destroyer arrived at Rabaul on March 18, 1943 around 10:00pm.

Sinking History
On November 1, 1944 departed Mako, escorting Junyō and Kiso to Brunei. Spotted by USS Pintado (SS-387) and torpedoed 160 miles west of Cape Bolinao, Luzon (16-48 N, 117-17 E). The number of survivors, if any, is unknown, but captain Lt. Commander Yamazaki was killed in action.

War Crime Investigations
Survivors of Akikaze (unknown if aboard during sinking, or served prior) were interrogated in conjunction with the investigation of the POW executions in January - April 1946.

Hidden Horrors pages 171 - 178

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Last Updated
May 3, 2016


Tabular Movements

Route & Sinking


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