Accidents happen, be it in our everyday lives, and especially in times of war. While it was almost inevitable for lives to be lost during the times of conflict, there were times when the loss of these lives was unnecessary and could have been prevented, just like the time when Lisbon Maru sank, costing the lives of almost 1000 Allied soldiers.

About to be Transported

In September 1942, the Japanese troops had with them 1816 British and Canadian prisoners of war who were to be transported from Sham Shui Po Camp in Hongkong to Japan, where they would work as slave laborers in the dockyards and ports of Japan. Hong Kong fell in late 1941, and these soldiers were captured. The prisoners were hoping for early release, but at that point, it was apparent that it would not be happening. Even though Sham Shui Po was an overcrowded and filthy camp with no medical supplies and death was a common thing, the prisoners of war didn’t want to leave the place to be transferred to Japan.

Most of these prisoners were from the Royal Scots, Middlesex Regiment, and Royal Artillery under Lieutenant Colonel HWM Stewart, the Officer Commanding of the Middlesex Regiment. Before boarding the Lisbon Maru on September 27, the prisoners were divided into groups of 50 men and given a thorough but ineffective medical exam.

The prisoners knew not to expect anything good aboard, and they were right. All 1816 men were stuffed into the three holds on the ship, each divided with wooden separators with no more than 18 inches of living space for each person. If you’re out of luck, you would be placed on the lower levels, where they were basically showered with human wastes from the sick soldiers above.