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On 25th September 1942, 1816 British prisoners of war were assembled on the parade ground of Shamshuipo camp, Hong Kong. The prisoners were loaded on 27th September into lighters from the pier at the corner of Shamshuipo camp, and taken out to a freighter of some 7000 tons, the "Lisbon Maru." On the night of 30th September 1942, the U.S.S. "Grouper" (SS 214) of the 81 st division of the U.S. Pacific Fleet Submarine Force, was engaged in its second War Patrol in an area to the South of Shanghai. It was a bright moonlight night, and about 04:00 "Grouper" sighted about nine Sampans and a 7000 ton freighter, the "Lisbon Maru." At 07:04 "Grouper" fired three torpedoes at 3200 yards, her closest working range. None of which hit. The "Lisbon Maru" stayed on course, "Grouper" fired a fourth, and two minutes ten seconds later heard a loud explosion. "Grouper" came up to periscope depth and saw that the "Lisbon Maru" had veered about 500 to starboard and stopped. "Grouper" then lined up abeam to starboard of the "Lisbon Maru" for a bow shot.|
The precise site of sinking of the "Lisbon Maru" is near the isle of Qingbang, Dongji Islands, in the eastern Zhoushan Archipelago. At the time of sinking, Chinese fishermen from Qingbang, Miaozihu, and Xifushan isles risked their lives, and rescued 384 prisoners of war from the sea. Survivors received a formal invitation from the City of Zhoushan to visit the site of sinking this month (April, 2005). To the best of our knowledge, they will be the first foreigners to visit the site of the sinking of the "Lisbon Maru" since the war.
According to Mr. Wang Baorong, 81, who, with his brother-in-law, Mr. Tang Ruliang, saved 20 lives, there were about 30 sampans that participated in the rescue, and no Japanese patrol boats nearby. Mr. Shen Agui, also 81, was only 19 at the time of the incident. He lived on Qingbang isle, and was woken by a big bang at the dawn that day. About an hour later, a ship not too far away were seen to start to sink, and many onboard the "Lisbon Maru" jumped into the water. Mr. Shen, his father and his uncle got into a small boat and rushed to the sinking site. Seven british were brought back to the isle on the boat, and Mr. Shen's mother fed the wet, starving prisoners.
(to be continued)