The sinking of the Lisbon Maru in October 1942 by an American submarine off the Shanghai coastline is one of the second world war’s least reported events. Unbeknown to the submarine’s captain the Japanese flagged vessel, was conveying nearly 2,000 British and Commonwealth prisoners of war from Hong Kong to Japan. When the vessel was sinking by the stern the Japanese ordered all POW’s below deck and secured the hatches to the three holds having first evacuated all Japanese personnel om board. Although a number of POW’s managed to break out of the holds more than 800 drowned inside the vessel or were shot in the water as they escaped the ship. It was a heinous war crime.
Major Brian Finch served in the Middlesex Regiment in the 1960’s with a survivor of the sinking and has developed a life long interest in this tragedy. After his military service he joined the Foreign Office and was a member of the team based in Hong Kong which oversaw the transfer of Hong Kong to China. He is fluent in spoken and written Mandarin. He has written a record of the Lisbon Maru translating from the records of local fishermen who gallantly rescued 300 survivors from the water under Japanese fire.
Presently, there is a documentary film being made of the Lisbon Maru incident by Laurel Films, a leading Chinese film company. Extensive interviews have been held with relatives of personnel who were on the Lisbon Maru. Brian Finch will shed further light on this in his talk as well as drawing attention to the work of the Lisbon Maru Association.