Today: 75 years ago....

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Colombo: (not so) inconspicuous arrival

16th of April. Abbekerk approaches Ceylon with her crew knowing from overheard radio signals that the Japanese have wreaked havoc and that it is not unlikely there are still enemy forces in the area. Everybody is on full alert. A...

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Abbekerk under way and Colombo under attack

5th of April 1942. In retrospect,  Abbekerk’s officers were rightfully sceptic with the ‘safe’ route they were given by the navy. Without knowing it they follow, just one week behind, the Japanese battle fleet Kido Butai which is going to...

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Fremantle. Ready for another long voyage

30 March 1942. After a short journey Abbekerk again arrives at Fremantle. Here she bunkers and the last part of her cargo is being loaded. Bags of wheat destined for Ceylon en Persia. By now the heavy Stanier 8F locomotives on...

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Bunbury. Timber floats and can’t explode.

The entrée into the little harbour was very nice. In a long line of sandy dunes there was a gap with a creek flowing out into the sea. Along this creek was a stout wooden wharf where our ship could...

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Fremantle: bombs away and a well earned rest

After having lived on board ship for three months Perth was a welcome change. The city was completely lit-up in the evening and at night. That was unique after two years of war. What we noticed more than anything when...

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Safe at Fremantle: “We thank you God!”

Just before dawn on March 4, as I sat up on that cold, windswept deck, I sighted a flickering light.  It was the beacon outside Fremantle Harbor!  And what a sight it was! The pilot boarded our ship a few...

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1200 mile south of Java: Beggars can’t be choosers.

More than ever I realized that working in the engine room during wartime one never got used to the fact that you could hear or see nothing of what was happening outside. Particularly if you were aware that not too...

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800 miles south of Java: You can run but you can’t hide!

Men still speak of the miserable, sick fear that assailed them on that moonlight night. A blind hysteria pursued the ship. There was a feeling of utter disorganisation. Two men tried to kill themselves. To add to their troubles, the...