M. S. Bloemfontein


December 26th, 2010, 12:19 pm #51

Thanks Ate,

The information you provided came as a nice little Christmas present for me!
It fills in a couple of gaps that existed, particularly her movements after war broke out in Europe.


I have translated Ate's text into English for my own purposes, so here goes:

The voyages of M.S. Bloemfontein 1939 - 1944

A summary of the voyages made by the ship between 1939 and 1944, compiled by the then Chief Engineer, Mr. J. Bor. This is the only source in existence that precisely indicates the voyages of the ship. To date, there exists no detailed description of the voyages. (Source; Typoscript, Mi 95-0111, Netherlands Shipping Museum and letter dated 25-04-2002 from Mr. C.p.p. van Romburgh, dept. Information Netherlands Shipping Museum).

22nd voyage
Amsterdam-Lisbon-Cape Town-Sabang-Belewann Deli-Batavia-Java Coast Soerabaia.
Departed Amsterdam 23 Nov. 1939, Lisbon 1 Dec. 1939, Cape Town 16 Dec. 1939, Sabang 30 Dec. 1939, Belawan Deli 3 Jan. 1940, arrive Soerabaia 11 Jan. 1940
Total nautical miles 12 921

23rd voyage
Departed Soerabaia 15 Jan 1940, arrive Bombay 8 Feb. 1940
Total nautical miles 4 701

24th voyage
Bombay via Netherlands East Indies, Philippines and West Coast USA, returning to Bombay
Depart Bombay 10 Feb. 1940, arrive Bombay 13 June 1940
Total nautical miles 29 002

25th voyage
Bombay-Vancouver via NEI and Philippines Honolulu Vancouver
Depart Bombay 15 June 1940, arrive Vancouver 4 Sep. 1940
Total nautical miles 15 656

26th voyage
Vancouver via Philipppines, NEI to Basrah.
Depart Vancouver 13 Sep. 1940, arrive Basrah 29 Nov. 1940
Total nautical miles 15 671

27th voyage
Basrah via NEI, Honolulu to Vancouver
Depart Basrah 30 Nov. 1940, arrive Vancouver 10 Feb. 1941
Total nautical miles 15 021

28th voyage
Vancouver via Philippines-NEI-Bombay.
Depart 14 Feb 1941, arrive Bombay 24 April 1941
Total nautical miles 14 690

29th voyage
Bombay via NEI, Manila-Los Angeles
Depart Bombay 3 May 1941, arrive Los Angeles 5 July 1941
Total nautical miles 14 155

30th voyage
Los Angeles via Honolulu, Philippines-Soerabaia
Depart Los Angeles 14 July 1941, arrive Soerabaia 6 Sep. 1941
Total nautical miles 12 488

31st voyage
Soerabaia-Los Angeles
Depart Soerabaia 27 Sep. 1941, arrive Los Angeles 31 Oct. 1941
Total nautical miles 9 802

32nd voyage
Los Angeles via Honolulu-Suva-Brisbane-Soerabaia
Depart from Los Angeles 11 Nov. 1941, arrive Soerabaia 11 Jan. 1942
Total nautical miles 10 543

Note: six days after departing from Honolulu, Pearl Harbor got bombed!

33rd voyage
Soerabaia via Wellington-San Francisco
Depart from Soerabaia 28 Jan 1942, arrive San Francisco 4 March 1942
Total nautical miles 12 855

Note: Converted to troop transport

34th voyage
San Francisco via Port Vila-Papeeta-Panama-Newport News
Depart San Francisco 13 April 1942, arrive Newport News 23 June 1942
Total nautical miles 14 877

35th voyage
Norfolk via Panama-Borah Borah-Wellington-San Francisco
Depart Norfolk 6 June 1942, arrive San Francisco 31 Aug 1942
Total nautical miles 15 899

36th voyage
San FranciscoAuckland-San Francisco
Depart San Francisco 1 Oct 1942, arrive San Francisco 13 Nov. 1942
Total nautical miles 12 273

37th voyage
San Francisco-Auckland-San Francisco
Depart San Francisco 21 Nov. 1942, arrive Auckland 10 Jan. 1943, arrive SanFrancisco 25 Jan 1943
Total nautical miles 14 597

38th voyage
San Francisco-Auckland-Noumea-San Francisco
Depart San Francisco 18 Feb. 1943, arrive Auckland 11 Mar. 1943, arrive Noumea 21 Mar. 1943, arrive San Francisco 5 Apr. 1943
Total nautical miles 13 737

39th voyage
San Francisco-Suva-Noumea-Auckland-Wellington-San Francisco
Depart San Francisco 18 Apr. 1943, arrive Suva 3 May 1943, arrive Noumea 13 May 1943, arrive Aukcland 20 May 1943, arrive Wellington 24 May 1943, arrive San Francisco 16 June 1943.
Total nautical miles 15 075

40th voyage
San Francisco-Tonga Tabu-Noumea-Norfolk Island-Wellington-San Francisco.
Depart San Francisco 28 Jun. 1943, Tonga Tabu 16 Jul., Noumea 24 Jul. Norfolk Island 31 Jul. Wellington 3 Aug. Arrive San Francisco 24 Aug. 1943
Total nautical miles 14 323

41st voyage
San FranciscoNoumea-Esprito Santo-Guadalcanal-Tulagi-Esprito Santo-Noumea-Suva-San Francisco.
Depart San Francisco 2 Oct 1943, arrive Noumea 19 Oct. 1943, Esprito Santo 26 Oct. 1943, Guadalcanal 29 Oct 1943, Tulagi 31 Oct. 1943, Esprito Santo 5 Nov. 1943, Noumea 8 Nov. 1943, Suva 11 Nov. 1943, arrive San Francisco 27 Nov. 1943.
Total nautical miles 14 435

42nd voyage
San Francisco-Port Hueneme-San Francisco-Esprito Santo-Guadalcanal-Tulagi-Russel Island-Guadalcanal-Noumea-Tassataronga-San Francisco.
Depart San Francisco 12 Dec. 1943, depart Huenema 17 Dec. 1943, depart San Francisco 20 Dec. 1943, depart Esprito Santo 6 Jan. 1944, depart Guadalcanal 8 Jan. 1944, depart Tulagi 9 Jan. 1944, depart Russel Island 13 Jan. 1944, depart Noumea 21 Jan. 1944, depart Guadalcanal 27 Jan. 1944, arrive san Francisco 12 Feb. 1944.
Total nautical miles 15 567

43rd voyage
San Francisco-Port Huenema-Pearl Harbor-San Francisco.
Depart San Francisco 25 Feb. 1944, arrive Port Huenema 26 Feb. 1944,
Arrive Pearl Harbor 5 Mar. 1944, arrive San Francisco 18 Mar. 1944.
Total nautical miles 4 772

44th voyage
San Francisco-Noumea-San Francisco
Depart San Francisco 30 Mar. 1944, arrive Noumea 15 Apr. 1944, arrive San Francisco 5 May 1944.
Total nautical miles: 11 924

45th voyage
San Francisco-Port Hueneme-San Francisco-Morobi-Manus Island-Morobi-Milne Bay- Sydney-San Francisco.
Depart San Francisco 16 May 1944, arrive Port Hueneme 17 May 1944, arrive San Francisco 21 May 1944, arrive Morobi 11 Jun. 1944, arrive Manus Island 15 Jun. 1944, arrive Morobi 28 Jun 1944, arrive Milne Bay 30 Jun. 1944, arrive Sydney 9 Jul. 1944, arrive San Francisco 30 Jul. 1944.

In total, a distance of 332 861 nautical miles.

Afterwards another voyage of 17 200 nautical miles took place (according to a hand written note on the typoscript) although not closely described, makes it a total of 340 061 nautical miles which is 15 ¾ times around the world.

Other voyages of M.S. Bloemfontein:

Ronnie van Drongelen
After completing the training, we received 14 days leave. Just had I received a message that the Bloemfontein on which my brother Anton worked as a cooks mate would visit Norfolk. I asked my captain if I may spend my leave there to visit him. I got this answer; You will see enough of him, the Bloemfontein will take us to India, look for another place to spend your leave! Of this I naturally knew nothing and spent my leave in New York. Our ship departed on 11 Dec.45 in company of six other cargo vessels with materiel such as weapons, tanks, vehicles etc. We arrived 15 Jan. 1946 in Singapore. Via Malakka to Soerabaia and served at the 2nd Infantry, nursing and arming. With the Volendam we came back to Holland on 26th January 1948.

The Bloemfontein thus made the following voyage:
11-12-1945 depart from Norfolk
15-10-1946 arrive at Singapore

In the newspaper of 26-08-1946 stood the following:
Yesterday morning at seven o clock, the M.S. Bloemfontein with 950 evacuees from Australia arrived in Schiehaven at the terrain of Rotterdamsche Lloyd. At 9 o clock disembarkation began. Most arrived at their destinations yesterday, thanks to the good care of the service for repatriation. Particularly on board, the numbers of sick fell. They are cared for by the community medical service.

Regards and best 2011 wishes to all!



December 26th, 2010, 12:28 pm #52

Dear Sirs: I noticed that you said your grandfather in charge of theship bloemfontein in ww2. I was on the ship for many days in november 1942 to december 1942. My question is ---did he at any time mention the Mutiny in the harbor of New Caledonia? It is very important for me to find out as I was there and saw the whole thing. Enought time has passed so that no one will be hurt with the truth. Thanking You I remain h.lasswell@ comcast.net
Dear Harold,

I for one would be very interested in hearing more about the mutiny incident. Was this amongst the Dutch crew or U.S.troops? What were the causes, actions taken and the outcome of the mutiny? Please let us know.

Best wishes for the New Year,

Louis Dorny, CDR, USN (ret.)
Louis Dorny, CDR, USN (ret.)

December 30th, 2010, 9:23 pm #53

Thanks Nelson,
I have not even considered the (very real) threat from German surface raiders. Have a good trip and be sure to take the safest route!
The United States started escorting its maritime traffic to the Philippines as a result of the July 1941 decision to defend the Philippines. Several Pacific Fleet cruisers performed such escort assignments, including CHESTER, ASTORIA, and LOUISVILLE, and others. BOISE and PENSACOLA were simply the last ones. All had made Central Pacific crossings until PENSACOLA was routed further south due to the suspected and impending outbreak of war with Japan.

As to why cruiser escorts, by mid-1941 the threat of German raiders was largely but not entirely past - and HMAS SYDNEY vs KORMORAN is germane. A cruiser escort, aside from the intangibles of image and presence, was little defense against anything else.


December 31st, 2010, 6:54 am #54


> All had made Central Pacific crossings until PENSACOLA was routed further south due to the suspected and impending outbreak of war with Japan. >

Sorry, bud, that statement is simply wrong on two counts. First, you missed one of the cruiser escorts, USS Portland (CA 33), which escorted U.S. Army Transport Liberty to the Philippines by the southern route nearly seven weeks before the Pensacola convoy headed west. Here are some snippets from Portland's deck log:

Oct 13, 1941: Portland departed Pearl Harbor and joined with USAT Liberty.
Nov 1, 1941: Sighted Port Moresby signal station; received pilot and reserve naval officer; transited Torres Strait; both vessels dropped pilot.
Nov 8, 1941: Liberty ordered to proceed independently (continuing north through Makassar Strait).
Nov 9, 1941: Portland entered Tarakan harbor and took on bunker oil; stood out.
Nov 12, 1941: Entered Manila Bay.
Nov 26, 1941: Portland back at P.H.

USAT Liberty never returned, being torpedoed on Jan 11, 1942, by I-66 while entering Badung Strait en route to Soerabaja.

The following two convoys after Portland's, escorted respectively by USS Louisville (CA 28) and USS Boise (CL 47), sailed directly west through the Mandates and San Bernadino Strait, before the next one taking the southern route, the lucky Pensacola convoy. And neither of the southern route convoys did so due to the suspicion of impending war. Despite the Magic intercepts, no one really had a clue, and in fact the southern convoys were so directed to vary the routings and predictability of the U.S. convoys to the P.I. (though the options were pretty slim: either bull directly through the Mandates and San Bernadino Strait, or go via Torres Strait then variously to Manila Bay, a long way around that was seldom used).

> A cruiser escort, aside from the intangibles of image and presence, was little defense against anything else. >

All but Boise were of course heavy cruisers, bringing to bear 8-inch guns, but as your statement implies, all of the heavies were treaty tinclads. The cruisers had an additional advantage over a DD escort: they could steam to the P.I. without refueling, whereas tin cans, with their short legs, would have had to refuel more than once.

Best check Portland's log at NARA II.



December 31st, 2010, 7:19 am #55


When I penned, "....or go via Torres Strait then variously to Manila Bay, a long way around that was seldom used," I was writing strictly about convoys, specifically those escorted by USS Portland and USS Pensacola. There were quite a few chartered merchantmen, however, carrying military equipment to the P.I., and sailing independently, that were directed to take the southern route. Among them was freighter Don Jose of Philippine registry, transporting the Bren gun carriers, trucks, and other equipment of the two Canadian infantry battalions being sent to Hong Kong to bolster the defenses there. Because of her round-about route, Don Jose so lagged behind the troopship carrying the rifle battalions that she was caught in Manila Bay upon the onset of war. Because of the IJN's command of the air and sea, she remained at Manila, the Canadian vehicles in her holds were sold to the United States and used in the defense of Bataan, and she was eventually sunk in the bay. I believe she was raised by the Japanese and eventually salvaged.


Joined: February 9th, 2011, 2:16 pm

February 9th, 2011, 2:28 pm #56

The Ship Movement Report Cards as they are called are in the NARA's Record Group 38, part of the Tenth Fleet WWII collection. Also included in this collection are the Naval Armed Guard Reports for U.S. Flag merchant and U.S.A.T. Transports and Convoy records. I was told by an NARA Archivist that the NARA has no Deck Logs or War Diaries for U.S.A.T. ships (they were all destroyed). The Ship Movement Report Cards are made of a heavy stock colored paper, about 12" X 6" and are written mostly in pencil(!). They include U.S. and Allied ships, U.S.A.T ships and a few U.S. Navy auxilaries (APs,AKs and AOs). I brought my camera in hopes to save time by taking photos of the many cards I wanted to copy but it would have been almost impossible to read them afterwards, some were extremely hard to read as it was just holding them in my hands. I had to copy them by hand, not fun. To get a good idea what they look like, the Australian Govenment website has some of their Ship Movement Cards online (including Boschfontein) at:

h--p://www.navy.gov.au/Publication:WWII_Mercha ... _Australia

I have the movements of USAT Frederick Funston to Guadalcanal between January 1, 1943 - January 13th, what ships she was with in that time period if you are interested.

Hello Bob

I am researching my father's military career and am trying to establish when and where he arrived in the Dutch East Indies. I know that he mustered in on the Boschfontein in March or April of 1941 in Vancouver(The record states 8 March, 1941 but I suspect that is incorrect) I also know that he left on the Boschfontein from Vanciouver on or about April 8, 1941, arriving in Seattle on April 9, 1941 and departing for Tacoma on April 10, 1941. What I would like to know is what the other ports of call were on this sailing of the Boschfontein with dates arrival in or near the Dutch East Indies if possible. Would you be able to provide this for me? Thank you very much for your help.

Bob Burns
Bob Burns

February 10th, 2011, 3:30 am #57

I wish I could help. My records begin in 1942-45. Will keep looking.

Stan Yucikas
Stan Yucikas

February 18th, 2011, 7:16 pm #58

Hi Nelson: Here is a break down of TF 62.6 I pulled from War Diary's, Admin logs from the President Adams, President Jackson, President Hayes, Crescent City, Libra, Hunter Ligett, but not for Frederick Funston. In a letter I received the FF war diary was not available and the first WD for this ship start in April 24, 1943.

The information below is from the WD of the USS President Adams:

TASK FORCE 62, TASK GROUP 62.6: New Caledonia to Guadalcanal
(January 2, 1943 to January 5, 1943)

Task Organization: Task Group 62.6 - Captain Reifsnider.

(a) Transport Unit No. l (62.6.1) - Captain Kiland.


(b) Transport Unit. No2 (62.6.2) - Captain Reifsnider.

(c) Landing Unit No. 1 (62.6.3) - Colonel Jackson.
Sixth Marines, Reinforced.

(d) Landing Unit No. 2 (62.6.4) - Lieut. Col. Landers.
221st Field Artillery Battalion.
Third Echelon, 25th Division.
Battery F, 214th Coast Arti11ery Battalion.
Battery H, 244th Coast Artillery Battalion.
Section, Advanced Depot, 7th Medical Supply.
Detachment Co. C, 60th QM Laundry Battalion.
Rear Echelon, Americal Division.
51st Ordnance Co.
Marine Air Depot Squadron.
Naval Construction Battalion Personnel.
Miscellaneous Naval Personnel.

(e) Embarkation Unit No. 1 (62.0.5) - Colonel Sims.
Seventh Marines, Reinforced (JACKSON, ADAMS, HAYES)
Aviation Group, Cub CUE (CRESCENT CITY).

(f) Embarkation Unit No. 2 (62.6.6) -Lt.Comdr. BLUNDER.
Sixth Construction Battalion (HUNTER LIGGETT)

(g) Escort (62.6.7) - Commander BELL.
I've been able to find very little about the Funston befor or after it was commissioned as a Navy vessel. However, from the early history of the 87th Armored Field Artillery Battalion....

The later part of February the Battalion again returned
to Fort Davis, and shortly before departure from Rio
Hato, Major Douglas G. Dwyre assumed command. Usual
garrison duties were performed until 30 March, 1943, at
which time the entire Battalion embarked at Cristobal,
Canal Zone for a permanent change of station.

At 0730, 31 March, 1943, the 87th sailed aboard the
United States Armed Transport, Frederick Funston, under
the escort of one destroyer. The Funston was making its
return from Australia through the Canal to New York with
many casualties of the battle of Buna and the Owen
Stanley Mountains in New Guinea.

As the Funston made her way north out of the tropical
seas of the Caribbean under the quiet gleaming stars of
the Southern Cross, peace reigned throughout the first
two nights. To the men aboard these two small
insignificant ships, the war, indeed, seemed far away.


"Wolf Pack" was the cry, as general alarm sounded
throughout the ship on the morning of the third day.
Lookouts and troops together, anxiously scanned the grey
horizon for the dreaded sight of a periscope or the
white wake of an enemy torpedo.

Our escort cut back across our bow dropping depth
charges, and the Funston raced on leaving the escort
far behind.

To tropical troops landing in New York April 6, 1943, it
was the coldest day ever experienced. Yet the thought
of at last being home, easily overcame any of these

Jan Willem Schotel
Jan Willem Schotel

April 6th, 2011, 11:59 am #59

I've been following the career of the motorship Bloemfontein.(named after my home town in South Africa) She was built in 1934 as a passenger/cargo liner for the Holland Africa Line, making regular sailings from Europe to Southern Africa. I have record of voyages on this run up to March 1939 but after that things got blurry. She was reported somewhere to be working in the East Indies during 1940 and I know that she was leased to the U.S. Army sometime towards the end of 1941.
On December 3rd 1942, the Bloemfontein left San Diego with 4000 Marines on board bound for Espritu Santo. The voyage was apparently less than memorable but what I found amusing is that the Marines from VMD-154, in their newsletter of April 2000 referred to her as a "converted ice breaker"! Fact is that she had a Maierform bow - built for improved speed and seaworthiness but not for breaking ice.
My questions follow:
1. It is not likely that her voyages to South Africa ended in March 1939. Has anyone got any information about her career from that date onwards?
2. The website ww2pacific.com places her in the company of the "Pensacola Convoy",at sea and passing through the Phoenix Islands on December 7th 1941. If the Pensacola Convoy were on their way to Manila, what were they doing so far south?
Thanks for your efforts to dig up information on the history of the M.S. Bloemfontein. I entered this world on this ship on August 9 1946 (latitude 4 degr 0 min North - longitude 56 degr 26 min East). On this trip from Melbourne to Rotterdam the ship repatriated Dutch citizens. Among them my then-pregnant mother and my sister.

Mitchell Schwartz
Mitchell Schwartz

October 26th, 2011, 8:13 pm #60


In the months and weeks before the coming of war in the Pacific, the U.S. ran a number of escorted convoys to Manila in order to reinforce its army and navy elements there, but primarily the army's garrison in the Philippines. The U.S. Army fervently hoped for war to be delayed long enough so that it could build up sufficient reinforcements in order to mount a fierce defense, at least of the Island of Luzon.

The U.S. Navy had the final word in the routing of these cruiser-escorted convoys (though with consultation with the army, to be sure), and in so doing attempted not to display predictable habits in their sailings. Some convoys were routed directly west, past the U.S. possession of Guam in the Marianas Islands. For example, the convoy just prior to the Pensacola convoy, escorted by light cruiser USS BOISE (CL 47), ran the Mandates gauntlet, arriving just before the outbreak of war. But as time approached that ignition point, other convoys and more and more merchantmen sailing independently were sent by the southern route: SW and W to and through Torres Strait between Cape York, Australia, and Papua New Guinea, continuing west, and lastly north to Manila Bay. The Pensacola convoy was slated to take that southern route, thus its presence among the Phoenix Islands, and it was not that much of a stretch to be diverted to Brisbane (with the approval of the Australians, of course, but one assumes that was readily given, considering the speed and proximity of the Japanese advance).

The Plum Convoy changed its route with the sudden onset of war.

1. As pointed out, while a single cruiser was a fine escort against a German surface raider, it was not a defense against aircraft or submarines - or a larger group of surface vessels, and the USN had to suddenly admit that it had lost track of some number of Japanese Surface vessels (like those that supported the invasion of Malaya and supported the air attack on Pearl harbor.

2. The first day's air attacks in the Philippines left doubts as to the effectiveness of any air umbrella provided by the US Army Air Force in the Far East (USAAFFE). Losses amounted to almost half of the fighter force (further losses in the next few days brought the total to more than 2/3s of the fighter force). Air strikes had occurred all across the Philippines, and Manila was an expected target. Allowing the convoy to continue would seem foolish.

Unrelated to that decision, the Bloemfontein's voyage that departed Los Angeles in July 1941 went to San Francisco, where it picked up some 30 fliers and ground crew destined for the American Volunteer Group in Burma and carried them (slowly) across the Pacific. They disembarked from the Bloemfontein in Singapore and took a coastal trader to Rangoon.