December 31, 1941 – This Day During World War ll – American passenger ship Ruth Alexander

December 31, 1941 – This Day During World War ll – American passenger ship Ruth Alexander, en route from Manila, Philippine Islands to Balikpapan, Borneo was bombed and damaged by Japanese flying boat in the Makassar Strait.
On 9 December 1941 Ruth Alexander arrived in Manila from San Francisco to learn of the war coming to the Pacific. The ship survived three weeks of bombing in the harbor before attempting to escape on 28 December to Australia or any safe port. Manila had been declared an open city on 26 December, yet had been subject to massive air attacks and multiple waves of Japanese naval aircraft directed against the port and shipping on 27 December that continued on 28 December. The government and military, except for rear echelons of Army headquarters, had already evacuated to Bataan and Corregidor. Captain F. P. Willarts left under cover of darkness short seventeen men, all to become prisoners of war of which three died (two aboard the Japanese prisoner transport Arisan Maru), who were left ashore in the hurried escape. The ship was heading toward Borneo in the Dutch East Indies, an area already under attack and partially occupied by Japanese forces. During the transit from Manila to Balikpapan the ship was bombed and damaged by a Japanese flying boat in Makassar Strait on 31 December 1941, finally sinking on 2 January

SS Ruth Alexander

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