FEPOW Repatriation Ship List

I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of Allied mercy ships (and air-craft) which were used to recover and repatriate British Commonwealth Far Eastern Prisoners of the Japanese imperialists (FEPOW) including civilian internees.
See end for disclaimers and addendum’s.

There are currently 77 entries in this table. Use the next button to move down the list. Columns can be sorted to put the ships in alphabetical order.

 Name of vesselDepartureArrivalNotes
01HMHS TjitalengkaYokohama (Tokyo) via Manus (PNG)
9 Sep 1945
3 Oct 1945
Dutch Hospital ship with British crew. 400 sick POW/internees
02USS Rescue (AH-18),
previously USS Antaeus
Yokohama (Tokyo)
9 Sep 1942
12 Sep 1942
liberated prisoners were triaged on Rescue in harbor before transfer to other ships.
03HMHS KaroaSingapore
10 Sep 1945
Madras to a hospital in Bangalorefirst ship to leave Singapore, 400 men/women all stretcher cases
04unknown shipRabaulSydney
10 Sep 1945
18 British Soldiers
05HMHS unknownSingapore
9 Sep 1945
UK via Madrasfirst ship to be loaded in Singapore
117 civilians, 27 British officers, 118 other ranks
06Speaker and Ruler, aircraft carriersJapan
10 Sep 1945
Manila500 Britons
07USS OcontoYokohama (Tokyo)
12 Sep 1942
18 Sep 1942
1000+ liberated Allied prisoners. Ship arrived in Yokahama on 9th Sep
08Monowai14 Sep 1945
8 Oct 1945
1000 PoW and 200 internees (left Colombo abt 19 Sep)
09BOAC Sunderland flying boatsCalcuttaPoole, Dorset
6-22 Sep 1945
abt 25 RAF in groups of 4-14 men over the week
18 Sep 1945
700 PoW/
50 internees
112 x Dakota planesCalcutta
15 Sep 1945
1st plane: Lady Thomas & officers
2nd plane: 12 other ranks
12HMS Victory, carrier supply ship
1 Oct 1945
40 British internees
13OxfordshireHong KongSydney
22 Sep 45
200 POW
Royal Navy Hospital Ship (via Brisbane) 6 died enroute
142 x unknown shipsMadras
22 Sep 1945
2,800 British and 651 Indian POW
15Gerusalemme, hospital shipHainan
25 Sep 1945
Manila139 patients incl 56 Australian. Troops will join Maunganui
16VindexHong KongSydney
30 Sep 1945
113 AIF PoW
17ManundaSarawak, BorneoSingapore
5 Oct 1945
438 PoW/internees incl children
Australian hospital ship
18MaunganuiChina Coast?Wellington
due 5 Oct 1945
Hospital ship POW/internees
19Largs BayBrisbane
7 Oct 1945
993 PoW via Darwin
20Corfuprobably from Siam or SingaporeSouthampton
7 Oct 1945
1,534 ex-prisoners
1st ship back to UK via Colombo (19 Sep)
21Indrapoera8 Oct 1945(may not have had any PoWs)
22Ordura9 Oct 1945
10 Oct 1945
dutch hospital ship
11,000 PoW, 800 internees (arr Colombo 20 Sep)
10 Oct 1945
1000 PoW/internees
10 Oct 1945
AustraliaUp to 12 AIF via Hong Kong
11 Oct 1945
1772 PoWs
via Colombo & Gibraltar
20 Sep 1945
1700 POW incl 600 male civilians, 5 women, 2 children
28Empire PrideRangoon
20 Sep 1945
13 Oct 1945
POW: 853 soldiers, 3 sailors, 2 airmen, 51 civilians, via Colombo
20 Sep 1945 approx
13 Oct 1945
1742 soldiers, 1 airman, 1 civilian via Colombo
301 x Liberator aircraftJavaWestern Australia
13 Oct 1945
6 PoWs
Sun 16 Oct 1945
52 prisoners
32ManooraLabuan & MorotaiBrisbane
15 Oct 1945
33Speaker, aircraft carrierManilaSydney
15 Oct 1945
659 AIF PoW. The speaker made many trips from Japan to Manila
34Nieuw HollandSingaporeLiverpool
15 Oct 1945
702 service personnel, 250 civillian.
351 x catalinaSydney
16 Oct 1945
16 Oct 1945
1000 POW from Siam
37TakliwaHong KongMadrascaught fire on 17 Oct 45 and 811 Indian + 9 British PoWs transferred to HMS Safoin
16 Sep 1945
18 Oct 1945
1000 Europeans incl 75 civilians ex Sime Rd
39Queen ElizabethNew YorkSouthampton
18 Oct 1945
484 PoW via New York
Fri 19 Oct 1945
8th repat ship to arrive from Singapore
313 Officers, 1390 other ranks, 20 civilians
41IndrapoeraFar EastSouthampton
18 Oct 1945
Sun 21 Oct 1945
4,500 troops from Far East (not sure if she carried POW)
due 21 Oct 1945
39 PoW/internees
due 22 Oct 1945
arr 29 Oct 1945
due 23 Oct 1945
POW incl 52 Forresters
1 Oct 1945
due 23 Oct 1945
47Empress of AustraliaHong KongLiverpool
due 23 Oct 1945
arr 27 Oct 1945
1775 army, navy, RAAF held up in Mercyside
48Georgic Singapore/Burma via BombayLiverpool
approx 24 Oct 1945
23 PoW/Internees incl 15 officer PoW
due 23 Oct 1945
132 civilian internees
503 x aircraftSydney
23 Oct 1945
AIF 23 officers, 18 other ranks + 1 NZ + 3 merchant navy
51Sobieski Singapore
27 Sep 1945
23 Oct 1945
Polish motorship
700-odd men British 18th Division
(last PoWs to sail from Singapore)
52Moreton BayFremantle
24 Oct 1945
1166 PoW/internees
due 24 Oct 1945
arr 27 Oct 1945
biggest RAF (2720) repat held up in Mercy (storm)
54Felix RousselRangoonLiverpool
due 24 Oct 1945
arr 5 Nov 1945
55HMS Glory,
Aircraft carrier
Japan via Manila
abt 2 Oct 1945
26 Oct 1945
1,300 troops incl stretcher cases
56Highland MonarchHong Kong
3 Oct 1945
Liverpool or Southampton
hospital ship
26 Oct 1945
58US Navy transport shipShanghaiHonolulu
9 Oct 1945
1500 British and Canadian internees
28 Oct 1945
900 PoW/civilian
60Ile de FranceHalifax, Nova ScotiaSouthampton
1 Nov 1945
3787 POW/internees
61Moreton BaySingaporeWoolloomooloo, NSW, 1 Nov 1945approx 480 AIF, 1 NZ
62Queen ElizabethCanadaSouthampton
5 Nov 1945
1150 FEPOW & 1884 troops
63Reaper, escort carrierAuckland
20 Nov 1945
Sydney198 British FEPOW
64Empress of ScotlandBombay8 Nov 1945
65OrbiterRangoon9 Nov 1945
66Duchess of RichmondSingapore15 Nov 1945
67HMS Nelson, battlecruiserColombo
abt 14 Oct 1945
Sat 17 Nov 1945
600 army & navy repats via Suez
68Implacable, aircraft carrierBalikpapan, BorneoSydney
20 Nov 1945
2126 AIF PoW, army & airmen
69Implacable, aircraft carrierManila
abt 3 Oct 1945
Esquimalt, Canada
11 Oct 1945
2,000 British prisoners
70Somersetshire, Hospital shipBombayLiverpool
21 Nov 1945
116 PoW, 348 wounded military, arrived late at night (no official welcome)
Swedish liner possibly from New York
72Duchess of BedfordBombay23 Nov 1945
25 Nov 1945
5864 returned personnel, POW & internees. The last POWs from Japanese territory.
74OxfordshireHong KongSydney
5 Dec 1945
Hospital ship, stationed at Hong Kong 1 Sep 45 and Philippines 7 Sep 45
75HMS Atlantispossibly Singapore
poss 4 Oct 1945
19 Dec 1945
Hospital ship, wounded POW/internees. Arrival filmed by British Pathe
18 Dec 1945
UK3600 troops/v (992 from Cape Town)
77MaunganuiWellington via Lyttleton, Australia
23 Nov 1945
10 Jan 1946
British FEPOW taking on board the 198 from Reaper
78Stirling CastleWellington
9 Nov 1945
abt 19 Jan 1946
via Sydney/ Fremantle
2000 RN personnel, 260 service families & repatriates SE Asia
79Stirling CastleSydney
abt 20 Mar 1946
14 Apr 1946
originating Wgtn Mar 4th
4000 RN/RM/RAF/etc
incl ex-POW repatriates from SE Asia/Africa + German POWs from Australia

FEPOW Repatriation Ship Notes

Although comprehensive, this list is in no way complete. I estimate that it comprises only a half of the ships used to repatriate Commonwealth FEPOW. I will gladly add in any omissions and am also happy to make corrections, with proof. Note that personal dairies often contain wrong dates, but nevertheless are an important source of information, and I welcome being told about additional ships/planes that I’ve not mentioned. I hope that this list may be of use to other researchers, one of whom will hopefully enlarge and complete it.

Most of my initial research has come from newspaper clippings announcing the arrival and/or departure of FEPOW and civilian internees from Singapore and initially I ignored other Far Eastern ports. But as I got more and more interested in the subject, I went back and included all Far Eastern Commonwealth repatriations that I could find. Sometimes so few PoWs were on board that the papers didn’t mention them. In other instances, I found reports of expected arrivals but not the actual arrival. Therefore the arrival dates may be wrong by a few days for some entries, as ships were occasionally held up by: weather, wharf strikes, passenger walk-offs, destination changes, waiting at Suez Canal, etc. I have not initially included the prefix for ships, as most of them are well known troopships or hospital ships and newspaper reports of the day did not always use a prefix. In some cases naval vessels were used, and where known I have noted those.

The very first 100 FEPOW to be rescued, were taken by RAF Dakotas which landed at Don Muang airstrip 13 miles from Bangkok. They arrived at Rangoon on 29 Aug 1945 and then flew on to Calcutta. This was a risky operation considering the August 15th surrender was not formalised until September 2nd, and Allied forces only landed in Japan on August 28th.

The list is especially incomplete in terms of flights. Right from the start aircraft were used to remove a fortunate few.  Catalinas, Dakotas and Liberator aircraft are known to have been used, especially for flights to Australia and India. It was decided very early on, that the ex-prisoners were in no condition for long flights to the United Kingdom. That being said, there were a limited number of POW arrivals in Poole, Britain, often repatriated RAF or air-crew. I’ve included a few flights in the list to give an idea, but there were many more.

In Singapore the first British Navy cruisers to arrive in the Harbour were the Sussex and Cleopatra along with their minesweepers and destroyers. Once they had cleared a path, the first convoy came alongside Keppel wharves on Wednesday 5th September 1945 and repatriation began on 7th September. These first embarkations of relieved FEPOW began to arrive in Colombo from about 14 Sep.

Liberator class used to repatriate FEPOW
An example of the Liberator bomber. Imagine being a passenger on one of these.

The list is focused solely on British Commonwealth repatriation of PoW and Internees. Occasionally other Allied nations were included on these ships, but generally the Netherlands were responsible for their own citizens in the Dutch East Indies, the french were responsible for french Indo-China, and USA, China, etc for their own citizens. Dutch and french recoveries ran into their own problems and many had to wait months for repatriation. Whereas the British operation was largely finished by the end of November with the stragglers coming in by Feb/Mar/Apr 1946. Recovering the thousands of Australian citizens was the responsibility of the Australian Government, but coordinated by the local RAPWI authorities (Recovery of Allied Prisoners of War and Civilian Internees.)

Many repatriation ships carried returning troops for demobilisation, rather than FEPOW. I have not included these unless they had at least one known PoW or civilian internee on board. Repatriated naval officers occasionally hitched a ride on naval vessels. Some ships also carried German/Austrian/Italian PoWs who were sent to camps in England.

It is not known exactly how many Allied civilian internees were captured because records were either not kept or were destroyed. Estimates put the number at about 130,000 (not including local Asian populations.)

An estimated 10 million Chinese were killed by the Japanese invading forces, including entire villages.

Oranje nurses
The Dutch ship Oranje II was handed over to the Australian & NZ governments in 1941 for use as a hospital ship.

By October 18th, 1945 the situation in Singapore alone was:

  • disembarked 5 hospital ships
  • embarked persons on 7 hospital ships.
  • disembarked 34 big trooping ships
  • embarked personnel on 43 troopships.
  • disembarked 48,491 personnel and
  • embarked 34,600 rescued POWs plus 3,300 sick in hospital ships
  • embarked a further 3,300 military personnel for other destinations.

There were well over 220 concentration camps, Kempetai jails, or other PoW facilities in the Far East (some reports run to nearly 500). Nearly half of these were in Japan itself. Many were never reported to Japanese HQ and some had already closed before Japan surrendered. Some camps had only a few prisoners. Others were huge, such as Tjihapit in Java which held 14,000 prisoners. Some kept PoWs separate from civilians and most kept women and children separate from men and teenage boys. Some were horrific hellholes and others were merely ordinary houses with severe curfews. Some were nothing more than a camp at the side of a river or were hidden deep in the jungle. Many were located adjacent to potential RAF targets. Countries where Allied prisoner camps were situated are: Japan, Hong Kong, China, Philippines, Java, Federated Malay States including Singapore, Burma, Siam (Thailand), Borneo, Korea, New Guinea, and Formosa (Taiwan).

The most easily accessed camps, in places like Singapore were evacuated first. As outlaying camps were discovered and relieved, the prisoners were sent to larger areas, such as Singapore and Manila. Camps like Sime Road in Singapore were renovated and reused as Transit Camps for newly recovered Allied citizens. In general, Australians were sent to hospitals in Moratai and Labuan. British were sent to hospitals in India or New Zealand.

Australia refused entry to large numbers of other Commonwealth refugees as its Government struggled with political issues around the cost to tax payer, although in 1946 it relented and took in 3,000 Dutch refugees. New Zealand, on the other hand opened it’s doors to 1,000 British citizens on a temporary basis and later 1,500 Dutch refugees. Canada was also a popular route home for British ex-prisoners. It was thought that some of the more seriously ill might not make the lengthy journey through the tropics to the United Kingdom. Many, especially those from eastern seaboards, were shipped up through Pearl Harbor to Canada, where they were taken by special hospital trains to the Atlantic for shipping home.

Order of Silence

PoW’s on some British repatriation ships, eg: HMNZS Monowai, were warned by the O.C. not to speak about the contemptible horrors they had witnessed when they disembarked. The reason given was two-fold. First they were told that hearing the truth would only bring untold misery to those who had lost sons and husbands. Secondly, they were warned that if the press got hold of their names and addresses, every man and his dog would be telephoning to see if they had heard of their missing relatives and knew what had become of them. Medical staff in some hospitals encouraged the PoWs to talk about their experiences, as they thought it would aid in recovery.

It is often reported that the general public were disinterested in the PoWs on their return. From what I’ve read in the newspapers, this can not be quite true. Actually thousands of people came to meet the majority of repatriation ships that arrived in October and November 1945. Photographic and film evidence depicts thousands waiving flags with bands playing and volunteers readily donating transport and billets. However, it is true, especially in the case of PoW’s and government employees, that the public were sometimes kept away from the areas immediately adjacent to the wharf to allow for efficient disembarkation and/or because of potential infectious diseases. PoW’s were then generally required to report to camp for demobilisation and release or sent to hospitals. Special trains and/or volunteer caravans were arranged to transport new arrivals. Relatives were sometimes told to welcome them at camp rather than on the wharf. But the majority of repatriated citizens, especially civilian ones, were welcomed at the wharf. That being said, many PoW had trouble finding work, because jobs were scarce and PoWs were underrated.

In Britain, mercy ships came in to Liverpool or Southampton, with just a few naval vessels docking at Portsmouth. In Australia, repatriation ships usually released ex-PoWs at Fremantle, Sydney or Brisbane and occasionally at other ports such as Darwin and Woolloomooloo.


Historical photograph of RAAF Liberator A72-97 belongs to Jenny Scott from the personal collection of Peter Barlow RAAF O210684. Used under Creative Commons 2.0 licence.
The photograph of Australian nurses setting up the Dutch Hospital Ship Oranje in 1941 belongs to the collection of the Australian National Maritime Museum, and has no known copyright restrictions.
Thanks to the FEPOW Family for the copy of the Order of Silence


I have had a web site crash early 2018 and my backup was six months old.

16 thoughts on “FEPOW Repatriation Ship List

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  1. Some great work! Well done. Westland Lysander aircraft were also used for moving POWs from far flung areas. They were very small planes that could take off from short air strips

  2. Great to find this information and thanks for sharing via CoFEPOW. This is a lynch-pin that is growing each year as more people become aware of the horrors these poor men went through and had to endure for 3 and a half years – for some 4 years – at the hands of a manic regimental nation headed by an untouchable Emperor. Thankfully their descendants are not like them these days. I was hoping to find the list of ships, I know they are on the memorial plinth at Liverpool, and it’s nice to know there is film footage. Some people didn’t get all the attention on their arrival and it was all a bit flat for them. I think my Dad was on the earlier boats, but he recounts that he came to London by train then he took the bus home from Balham, after jumping in a taxi that was going there. There were a lot that were left bewildered being told to not say this and that; finding their relatives if they had arranged to meet them – or miss them – as my Dad did, as there was no organisation once they got to their London destinations. They were all glad to be back on home soil and to carry on and not look back.
    If anyone has an interest in the CoFEPOW organisation from West Sussex / South London, please get in touch. I am the Area Co-ordinator for the county and my Dad[s roots were South London.

  3. My father, FEPOW, Able seaman William Coates Nicholls, who passed away in 2007, aged 87, told me that he left Singapore, soon after the Japanese surrender on the Cruise Ship, ‘Canberra’ and he had a photograph of the ship. He landed in Portsmouth and got the train to Bridgwater where he lived. The town Mayor and various dignatories were at the railway station to greet him. Unfortunately Dad slept through the stop and woke up at Taunton. He caught a train back to Bridgwater and all the we coming party were still there to give him a fantastic welcome home.
    After taking six months to recover, being only 6 stone on release and nearly blind, his sight recovered after large helping of Marmite (vitamin B) he took over his father’s hairdresser’s shop -father having passed away in 1943 due to gas from the 1st. W.W. – and Dad made a success of the business, retiring in 1984 to live at Burnham-on-Sea. Mum and Dad were married for 58 years and she passed away in 2003, four years before him.

    1. Hi Keith, I’d like to add this ship into my list. But I can only find HMAS Canberra which apparently sunk in Aug 1942 at Solomon Islands, P&O Cruise Ship Canberra which did become a troopship during the Faulklands War but wasn’t launched until 1961 and USS Canberra which was in Boston undergoing repairs between Feb-Oct 1945.
      Was there an older cruise ship named Canberra? Does your photograph have any more identifying information on it, such as the cruise-line? With the limited information I’ve got, I’m thinking it’s a possibility he may have been on the Australian navy ship Canberra when he either arrived in Singapore or was captured and left on a cruise ship, but has muddled the two names?
      It is wretched to hear your grandfather passed away in ’43 before your father came home. We can only imagine the stress these parents must have lived under. I know of another father who died in his returning son’s arms when he went to meet him on arrival in the UK. It’s all so terribly sad. I think we could maybe begin to move on if the Japanese government would only own up and admit they did wrong, apologise and possibly compensate.

  4. Hi Ally, I have tried to find my Fathers route home for a long time without success.
    I only know that he said in around 1963 ‘when I was at New Zealand there was nothing much there’.
    Eventually through another researcher (now a dear friend) a 1950s magazine clipping was found commenting on a named Argyll in a NZ Hospital….and a picture of him with a highland looking cattle. He had other named (I think) ex prisoners with him.
    You have provided vital information never seen before…..at least by my eyes. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the story further…

  5. While this is dry reading, I found it fascinating. My Dad was in the Philippines and was neither wounded nor captured, but this gives me a window into the world he experienced and would never talk about.

  6. I’ve been trying to find out how my Dad got home, he was RAF pow – we have an airmail letter he posted from Bombay dated 3 Sep 1945 saying that they were “about the first to be evacuated and start for Blighty”so maybe he was on one of the flights. In any case, thank you for the work you have done to give us all this information; it means a great deal to all of us.

  7. I have been trying to follow my fathers route of his repatriation from Japan to England. After initially serving as a POW in Thailand on the Death Railway he was sent to Japan to work in the mines. After the Jap surrender he returned via Vancouver & Halifax, he wrote a letter home while on the USS Oconyo bound for Manila. in the letter he says that he was originally taken off (presumably where he was a prisoner in the mines) by the USS SanJuan but does not say where the transfer to the USS Oconyo took place. As he states that he was bound for Manila I am assuming that he was transferred to the HMS Implacable which you show left Manila 3 Oct 1945. After arriving in Vancouver he always related his journey over the Canadian Pacific Railway to Halifax, so we know this was a definite part of the route. From Halifax my father nether did relate which ship he had from there but I have been told that he most probably embarked on the Queen Elizabeth to Southampton but I see that the Iie de France sailed 4 days earlier so he could have been on that one.
    If you have any details of the USS Oconyo I would be very much obliged.

    1. Thank you for alerting me to USS Oconto. This was a Haskell class attack transport belonging to the American Navy for the purpose of troop transport. Operation Magic Carpet was the repatriation by sea of US personnel (POW and demobilised troops) back home. USS Oconto was one of several ships that took part in this. My research has primarily been centred on British and Colonial civilian internees. However, many of this group were repatriated by US Navy, including, it seems, your father. USS Oconto was part of the first convoy to arrive in Tokyo Bay Click link to read more about Operation Magic Carpet The US hospital ships Rescue and Benevolence initially stayed in harbour triaging POW. You also mentioned USS San Juan (CL-54) a light cruiser, which also arrived in Tokyo Harbour on 29 Aug 1945. Its naval personnel transported prisoners to the bay and onto hospital ships.

  8. Hi all, I have finally published my novel “Her Road From War”. It is available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle. I will be doing a proper launch in the new year (2017), but for now if you wish to get in some Christmas reading, the prices have been kept deliberately low for those who are most interested to get in first. Cheers and merry Christmas everyone, Ally McCormick

  9. Hi Ally, my Dad Eric Barnes an Argyll and Sutherland Highlander liberated from Japan completed his final leg of the journey home from New York to Southampton on the Queen Mary… he arrived on Nov 7th 45….
    He left Moji Japan on an unknown hospital ship….

    1. My paternal grandfather was OIC Troops on the Queen Mary (troopship) for an early trip from NZ to Egypt. As such he got to stay in one of the smartest rooms – something he would never have experienced in peacetime. Once in Egypt, he tried to abscond so that the ship would leave without him and the NZ Army would be forced to make use of him in Egypt. But the military police rounded him up and he was sent back to NZ. It was a bit of a joke, since he was the highest ranking army officer on board. He spent the rest of WW2 in the home guard as area commander.

  10. My dad William Davie 14 Section RAOC came home on the Chitral to Southampton on the 28/10/1945. He told me a line of German POW’s carried their kit bags off the ship for them.

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