k. Melbourne Maru — On January 13, 1945 approximately 500 POWs that had arrived in Takao, Formosa on the Hokusen Maru on October 24, 1944 plus some survivors of the Arisan Maru boarded the Melbourne Maru. The Melbourne Maru also carried about 20 British survivors of the Manila to Takao segments of the Oryoku Maru, Enoura Maru and Brazil Maru voyages. These men were part of a group of 37 British and Dutch POWs taken off at Takao on January 9, 1945 just before the Enoura Maru was bombed. The Melbourne Maru sailed from Formosa on January 14, 1945 in the same convoy with the Brazil Maru; however, the Melbourne Maru arrived in Moji, Kyushu, Japan on January 23, 1945 – six days ahead of the Brazil Maru which had slowed to tow a crippled ship.
g. Hokusen Maru (known by many POWs as the Benjo Maru or the Haro Maru) — On October 1, 1944 approximately 1,100 POWs boarded the Hokusen Maru at Pier 7 in Manila. They suffered in the holds until October 3rd before the Hokusen Maru joined a convoy and departed Manila. The convoy was attacked by submarines on two different occasions and the Hokusen Maru was one of only four ships left in the convoy to arrive at Hong Kong on October 11th. The Hokusen Maru remained in Hong Kong harbor (where it survived some air attacks) until October 21st when it sailed for Formosa. It arrived at Takao, Formosa on October 24, 1944. The following photo of the Hokusen Maru and the photo of the Melbourne Maru in paragraph 2 k. below were provided by Abel Ortega, Jr. whose father, Abel F. Ortega (“A” Co., 192nd Tank Bn)., was a POW on the Hokusen Maru and on the Melbourne Maru.
There’s a really good chance Ernest was on the Hell Ship Hofuku Maru.
The roll of honour at http://www.roll-of-honour.org.uk/Hell_Ships/Hofuku_Maru/html/l.htm lists many men from the 4th Battalion Suffolk Regiment.
Labour Force:-From Thailand/Burma Railway via Singapore
Notes:-Alias: Fuji Maru, Fuku Maru, Toyofuku Maru. Hofuku Maru was sunk 1944/09/21 by US aircraft
http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/20064-hofuku-maru/ really interesting! War Crimes Trial relating to the Hofuku Maru