Dutch Merchant Marine in Australia during World War II

Dutch Merchant Marine in Australia during World War II

Klemen
Klemen

September 3rd, 2011, 10:24 pm #1

Just saw this link in my inbox.

Dutch Fleets: Royal Packet Navigation Co. of Netherlands East Indies (NEI)

There is virtually no record in Australia of the contribution that KPM ships, their officers and crews made to the Allied war effort during World War II, and in particular in the Battle for Australia in the years 1941/1945. The following narrative briefly sets this out. Some thirty KPM ships were involved in the New Guinea campaign in the South West Pacific area and these were superintended by KPM staff from the Sydney office after Batavia (Jakarta) was lost to the Japanese.

KPM commenced operations late in the 19th Century, advancing the increasing Dutch influence in the area. It became one of the largest shipping companies in the world, and then during World War II, half of what was left of its battered fleet after Japan over-ran Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, played a crucial part in slowing then repelling the Japanese advance on Australia during the critical days after Pearl Harbour. (The fleets other half deployed to other oceans, the Companys five largest vessels contributing notably to the war effort as Allied troopships.) On 10 May 1940, the full might of the German armed forces was unleashed on Holland, stores and supplies of all kinds from home-based infrastructure for their fleet of 150 ships operating in the NEI ceased, logistical problems mounted and the operations formerly run by the Batavia Head Office now became more reliant on supply from Australia, carried in KPM and Burns Philp cargo ships.
[....]

URL:http://www.merchant-navy-ships.com/alli ... ch-fleets/

Best regards,

Klemen
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Joined: October 13th, 2013, 6:27 am

October 13th, 2013, 6:35 am #2

Hi
I am trying to find information on Dutch ships that sailed from Melbourne to Freemantle in Australia in 1941. When I try this link http://www.merchant-navy-ships.com/alli ... ch-fleets/' I get an error message I do not have permission. Can you help me get information on Dutch ships in Australia during that period.
Thanks
Chris
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Felix
Felix

October 14th, 2013, 3:52 pm #3

Just saw this link in my inbox.

Dutch Fleets: Royal Packet Navigation Co. of Netherlands East Indies (NEI)

There is virtually no record in Australia of the contribution that KPM ships, their officers and crews made to the Allied war effort during World War II, and in particular in the Battle for Australia in the years 1941/1945. The following narrative briefly sets this out. Some thirty KPM ships were involved in the New Guinea campaign in the South West Pacific area and these were superintended by KPM staff from the Sydney office after Batavia (Jakarta) was lost to the Japanese.

KPM commenced operations late in the 19th Century, advancing the increasing Dutch influence in the area. It became one of the largest shipping companies in the world, and then during World War II, half of what was left of its battered fleet after Japan over-ran Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, played a crucial part in slowing then repelling the Japanese advance on Australia during the critical days after Pearl Harbour. (The fleets other half deployed to other oceans, the Companys five largest vessels contributing notably to the war effort as Allied troopships.) On 10 May 1940, the full might of the German armed forces was unleashed on Holland, stores and supplies of all kinds from home-based infrastructure for their fleet of 150 ships operating in the NEI ceased, logistical problems mounted and the operations formerly run by the Batavia Head Office now became more reliant on supply from Australia, carried in KPM and Burns Philp cargo ships.
[....]

URL:http://www.merchant-navy-ships.com/alli ... ch-fleets/

Best regards,

Klemen
There was a bit written about the KNIL in the fourth Ally by Doug Hurst, and in "Allies is in a bind" by Jack Ford.

Not much, but it does drop a few clues about the immediate post war situation, where Australia sided with the republic and not their allies. A book about that peculiar position is "The return of the exiles" by Bennett. In there the KPM part is discussed too.

Besides, the vessels were not operated by the Australians, but by the US Army and the British Shipping Committee, either on bare-boat or full hire. The bare boat displaced crews ended up in camps in Australia. There wouldn't be many Australian record other than at the shipping agencies or the Australian corporate offices.

In my estimation, the cold relationship between Australia and the Dutch is probably the main reason why KPM does not get much attention.



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Gaynor Lovett
Gaynor Lovett

October 30th, 2013, 12:38 am #4

Just saw this link in my inbox.

Dutch Fleets: Royal Packet Navigation Co. of Netherlands East Indies (NEI)

There is virtually no record in Australia of the contribution that KPM ships, their officers and crews made to the Allied war effort during World War II, and in particular in the Battle for Australia in the years 1941/1945. The following narrative briefly sets this out. Some thirty KPM ships were involved in the New Guinea campaign in the South West Pacific area and these were superintended by KPM staff from the Sydney office after Batavia (Jakarta) was lost to the Japanese.

KPM commenced operations late in the 19th Century, advancing the increasing Dutch influence in the area. It became one of the largest shipping companies in the world, and then during World War II, half of what was left of its battered fleet after Japan over-ran Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, played a crucial part in slowing then repelling the Japanese advance on Australia during the critical days after Pearl Harbour. (The fleets other half deployed to other oceans, the Companys five largest vessels contributing notably to the war effort as Allied troopships.) On 10 May 1940, the full might of the German armed forces was unleashed on Holland, stores and supplies of all kinds from home-based infrastructure for their fleet of 150 ships operating in the NEI ceased, logistical problems mounted and the operations formerly run by the Batavia Head Office now became more reliant on supply from Australia, carried in KPM and Burns Philp cargo ships.
[....]

URL:http://www.merchant-navy-ships.com/alli ... ch-fleets/

Best regards,

Klemen
If you use the Australian navy website - www.navy.gov.au - go to publications under media room go to the very end of the list and you will find merchant ship movements in WW2.
http://www.navy.gov.au/media-room/publi ... -australia
It helps to know the name of the ship you are looking for but it does include Dutch merchant ships. I have been doing research for work on this subject and have found it extremely helpful in identifying when ships were in Darwin during the war.
I have the feeling that the other link has been lost to us.
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Joined: July 19th, 2014, 11:53 pm

July 20th, 2014, 12:01 am #5


New to this site . Thought I would let you know my father was ships engineer on a number of KPM ships during the war from 1938 to 1945 . Ship wrecked on St Bees in the Cremer . Looking for the ships bell which he took , without permission , and ended up with a girl friend in Adelaide . Have a few stories I can relate to you of his experiences if interested .

Geoffrey Moesker
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Joined: November 3rd, 2014, 2:46 am

November 3rd, 2014, 3:03 am #6

I cannot believe I have found someone else with the same history. My father was a ships engineer with the KPM during the war and before. I'm not a 100% sure but I think the ship was called the "Karsik". His ship was part of the fleet that evacuated Singapore and I have a photo of the first bombing of Darwin taken by a box brownie while they were anchored out in the harbour. No birth available. His name was Harry (Hartog) Deen. He was born 21/01/1907 and was raised in Hilversum. He met my mother in Brisbane during the war. He never returned to Holland. I'm not sure what else to tell you now but I would be happy to answer any questions you may have. I have most of his paperwork. Katrina
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Jacques
Jacques

November 7th, 2014, 3:09 pm #7

Hi Katrina,

Yes, very likely the S.S. KARSIK was the ship your father served on during the war but this ship was not at Darwin when the bombing raid of 19 February 1942 took place and was also not at Singapore during the evacuation of early 1942. There are other possibilities though - one, that KARSIK evacuated women and children and/or non-essential personnel from Singapore to Java during late-1941. She was not equipped for carrying passengers but because of the short steaming time between the two ports, quite possible. Two, that she witnessed one of the 64 Japanese bombing raids on Darwin during her only visit to that port, on 24 October 1942.

This makes the box Brownie photograph in your possession, of the bombing of Darwin very interesting and of value to this forum. Please, please, post it! If you have any difficulty in doing so, I'm sure that the webmaster (Jan Visser) would gladly assist you. Much has been written about, and many photos are available of the first bombing raid on Darwin, but virtually nothing is known about the later raids. I have not been able to find any information about a bombing raid on Darwin on the day that KARSIK called there.

According to the Royal Australian Navy movement cards:

S.S.KARSIK traded between the Netherlands East Indies and Australia during late 1940/early 1941 and arrived at Singapore on May 19, 1941. No movements were recorded until 26th December 1941 when she departed from Tjilitjap bound for Melbourne where she arrived on 8th Jan 1942. During the latter part of 1941 she reportedly operated as a train ferry out of Batavia, outside of the Royal Australian Navy's jurisdiction and therefore no RAN movement reports were made. KARSIK left from Fremantle on the 17th of February with convoy MS.4, bound for the NEI. This convoy disbanded on the 21st and KARSIK returned to Fremantle. From here she sailed to the East coast of Australia and for the duration of the war worked between Brisbane and New Guinea with only 1 stopover at Darwin – 23/24 October 1942.

From the Australian War Memorial Collection, the following:

“Formerly the German Soneck, and impounded in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI) when war began, in May 1940, the 2,191ton steamer SS Karsik (as it was renamed) was used as a train ferry at Batavia until the Japanese invasion. This meant it was well suited for the later job of carrying much needed tanks to the Allied forces in New Guinea. In June 1942 the Karsik transported supplies and equipment to Milne Bay. In December 1942 she brought tanks from Milne Bay to Oro Bay for use in the assault on Buna from December 1942 to June 1943. She took part in Operations Lilliput and Accountant, transporting Australian and American troops and material to Oro Bay.”



Message to Geoffrey: Please also let us have more info about your father's wartime experiences.


Regards,

Jacques
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Joined: December 23rd, 2007, 11:46 am

November 9th, 2014, 8:26 am #8

New to this site . Thought I would let you know my father was ships engineer on a number of KPM ships during the war from 1938 to 1945 . Ship wrecked on St Bees in the Cremer . Looking for the ships bell which he took , without permission , and ended up with a girl friend in Adelaide . Have a few stories I can relate to you of his experiences if interested .

Geoffrey Moesker
Hi Geoffrey,

Mr. Henk Meurs is the caretaker of the archives of the Netherlands Shipping and Trading Committee. The archives include the personnel achives, which includes the crew rosters of ships during World War II. These include both Dutch and foreign merchant navy personnel. I know Henk to be very helpful in answering questions like yours. You can contact him through the guestbook on his website:

http://members.ziggo.nl/hmeurs/

Kind Regards,

Jan
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Joined: July 19th, 2014, 11:53 pm

November 10th, 2014, 11:03 am #9

I cannot believe I have found someone else with the same history. My father was a ships engineer with the KPM during the war and before. I'm not a 100% sure but I think the ship was called the "Karsik". His ship was part of the fleet that evacuated Singapore and I have a photo of the first bombing of Darwin taken by a box brownie while they were anchored out in the harbour. No birth available. His name was Harry (Hartog) Deen. He was born 21/01/1907 and was raised in Hilversum. He met my mother in Brisbane during the war. He never returned to Holland. I'm not sure what else to tell you now but I would be happy to answer any questions you may have. I have most of his paperwork. Katrina
Hello Katrina , Jacques and Jan

Back on the site and saw your reply . Dad joined the KPM in the thirties and was at sea when war broke out . In 1945 he stayed in Australia after the war , the Dutch authorities chasing him to go and fight in Indonesia which he refused to do. He was born in Groningen and my grandfather was an engine driver for the Dutch Railway . If you would like to catch up my email is geoffm@ozgse.com.au or phone me on 0412029700 .

The ships bell has a fair bit of sentimental value to the family and it would be nice to know its whereabouts , along with his medals and stamp collection . He left these with a girlfriend in Adelaide , Miss Adelaide , during the war . Another story to be told .i think we have a few photos of his exploit during the war .

Thanks to all in anticipation of more stories about our fathers . Could make a good film about their exploits .

Will follow up soon . Have a hectic week working at Brisbane Airport for the G20 .


Cheers ,

Geoffrey Moesker
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Joined: May 16th, 2015, 1:02 am

May 16th, 2015, 1:39 am #10

Hello Katrina , Jacques and Jan, and Geoffrey,

This is my first post. I too am a KPM "baby". My father joined the KPM in 1939 and sailed during the war mostly on the Straat Malakka, but also the Tasman, Treub, Boissevain, Tegelberg and others.

I am very proud to say that my father has just been recognised for this service by the Ministerie van Defensie. Whilst I believe there should also be recognition by Australia for all KPM crews I recommend that if you have not already gained Dutch recognition for your father you can do so now. I am happy to help point you in the right direction.

Cheers
Piet
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