Today: 75 years ago....

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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...

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300 miles south of Java: Abbekerk under attack!

28 February 1942. With over 1700 people on board Abbekerk sails due south, alone on an empty sea. With calm weather and not even half loaded her two large diesel engines power her to a speed of over 19 knots. She...

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Tjilitjap evacuation: “We were human cargo”

26 February 1942. More and more troops from all over the island arrive at Tjilatjap, uncertain of what is to come and anxious to leave the island. They are not impressed with the ship that will be taking them. When...

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The Tjilatjap Exodus: evacuation ship

25 Februari 1942. The following week Abbekerk and her crew find themselves in the middle of what later will be known as the “Dunkirk of the Dutch East Indies “ and the “Tjilatjap Exodus”. In these desperate and chaotic days...