All Comments

  • From Jaap van der Boon on Stories: A.W. Kik's memoires

    Geweldig! Mijn vader was artillerist aan boord van de Abbekerk, Cornelis van der Boon (1917) inmiddels al 32 jaar overleden. Wel wat verhalen van hem gehoord, maar dit is veel meer gedetailleerd.

    Jaap van der Boon

    2016/09/07 at 7:28 pm
  • From Don on Home


    I found your father’s story quite by accident, searching for maps that showed where Oosthaven (NEI) was, since I am reading a book about the USS Stewart in the early days of the war.
    I’m excited to read your father’s story – thank you keeping this webpage going!

    2016/05/02 at 6:01 am
  • From Bruce on - February 1942, Tjilatjap

    My grandparents were aboard a Dutch vessel departing Tjilatjap on March 1 1942. Boarded in the afternoon and left port in the evening. They arrived Freemantle Saturday March 7th. According to a letter my grandfather wrote, the ship was a liner formerly on the transatlantic run. He described it as normally accommodating 150 passengers but carrying significantly more people leaving Tjilatjap. Quite possibly the MS Zaandam.

    2015/08/13 at 7:38 am
  • From Aidan Tuckett on The Ship


    My father was an officer on HMS Wallflower. I have in my office a brass compass binnacle and the compass which came from a lifeboat they found during the war. It may be from MS Abbekerk, I’m afraid we have no way of knowing now but I remember him saying he went onto this lifeboat quickly to get a souvenir before they sunk it. I can send you photos of the compass if you like

    Best regards

    Aidan Tuckett

    2014/08/04 at 7:35 pm
  • From Dave on contact

    Dear Peter: Most excellent story.Would you have a copy of this remarkable event in W.W.2 Merchant Ship History? Please advise as,I would very much like to have it for my records,Many thanks,Dave

    2014/03/15 at 7:33 pm
  • From Dave on Home

    Hello Neils ,Excellent story,enjoyed it very much and well written.Do you have this story in book form? as,I would love to have a copy,I am a Marine,Merchant Navy ,Navy researcher and very interested in these topics. Best Regards,Dave

    2014/03/14 at 2:55 pm
  • From Albert on - February 1942, Tjilatjap

    Kheon Hoea (departed Tjilatjap 1 March 1942, arr Fremantle 7 March
    MV Zaandam (departed Tjilatjap 1 March 1942 arr Fremantle 7 March
    Generaal Verspyck (departed Tjilatjap 2 March 1942 arr Fremantle
    SS Tung SOng (departed Tjilatjap dusk 2 March 1942 arrived Fremantle 13 March).
    MV Janssens (departed Tjilatjap 4 March, arrived Fremantle 13 March).

    2014/01/25 at 9:59 pm
  • From Sylvia Herbert on Abbekerk's gunners (I), Lt Geoff North's story

    Just to say that thanks to this site, I was put in touch with Peter North, son of Geoff North, and got a lot of information about camp life from him. I understand the original papers shown here are now in the Imperial War Museum.

    2013/07/25 at 11:54 pm
  • From adam elliott on Fragments

    I guess you have read “Under Ten Flags”? It was written by Captain Bernhard Rogge who skippered the German merchant ship Atlantis armed as a raider. This ship operated in areas including off the coast of Africa and Australia and assumed the identity of the MS Abbekirk for a time. I do not have the book here with me but enjoyed reading it very much.

    2013/06/05 at 9:53 pm
  • From Walter on Home

    Thank you for recording your father’s story.

    My own father spent most of the war, 1942-45, in Singapore as a PoW, and travelled on the WS12Z / DM1 convoys to get there, of which the Abbekerk formed part. It is only in the past year I have rediscovered some of his old papers and started my own research – your work has both encouraged me and been helpful, so thank you.

    My father was in the 85th Anti Tank regiment, which left the UK 12/13th November and arrived Singapore 13th January. I would greatly appreciate any information regarding which ship(s) this regiment travelled on for the journey, if you or any visitors to the site have any such knowledge.

    Once again, thank you for this labour of love, for preserving this history.

    2013/02/21 at 1:12 pm
  • From Nigel (Wooldridge) Killeen on April 1942, Abadan

    I remember vividly the incident of the British plane being fired at by the Abbekerk, seeing the tracer bullets arcing into the sky. I was 10 years old at the time and was traveling with my Mother from Fremantle to Columbo to rejoin my Father who had escaped from Singapore Mother and I had been evacuated from Singapore on the Orion I remember there was another incident when we arrived at Columbo in the evening The ship ran into the anti submarine nets and flares emerged from the water to illuminate us for the benefit of shore batteries which fortunately did not fire at us Thanks to the Abbekerk we survived the voyage and thanks to the crew who gave me a birthday cake on the 12th April

    2012/07/22 at 12:25 pm
  • From Anthony Galvin on Home

    Hi Peter. Fascinating story, and well presented. I am writing a guide to the history of the Thames in London, and would love to quote briefly your father’s experiences. Would I have your permission to do this?
    All the best, Anthony Galvin

    2012/06/11 at 10:30 pm
  • From Ian Collison on Home

    My parents sailed on the Maaskerk in 1943. My dad was in the Navy. I’m not sure why my mum was on a boat during the war! Thanks for these memoirs – they’ve given me an insight into what the trip must have been like for my parents.

    2012/05/10 at 7:11 pm
  • From Bob Dailey on Home

    As a 14 year old in 1942 I started work in the heart of London and later became an engineering apprentice. I became a ship’s engineer. In 1956 I took a one-way “Run-Job” from Holland to Cairns
    in the Konanda (Google it)and was an engineer on various Australian rust-buckets. I worked for ‘Australian Dredging’ (a subsidiary of Adrian Volker Dredging) for a few years and on an Australian Dredging contract in the port of Tjilatjap in 1970. Tjilatjap had been badly bombed by the Japanese and was derelict up to 1970 owing to the many wrecks and munitions laying on the river bed. The wrecks were dragged out of the river by cranes and torn apart by Javanese workers with hammer and chisel for scrap. Later, The Russians were also interested in Tjilatjap (Sukarno)for a submarine base, but that’s another story. I was re-travelling some of my own journeys when I chanced upon your fathers story.

    Kind Regards

    Bob Dailey

    2011/08/09 at 2:47 am
  • From Peter on contact

    The pictures are now included in the pictures of the sixth voyage

    Many thanks!


    2011/07/06 at 5:28 am
  • From Roy Terry on contact

    Dear Sir
    My Father served on HMS Wallflower and I have a sequence of 5 photos from first sighting of MV Abbekerk’s lifeboats to the picture you have of one lifeboat alongside HMS Wallflower.
    If you do not have the other photos I can scan and email them to you if would like them.
    Roy Terry

    2011/06/29 at 5:35 pm
  • From Jim Crane on Home

    Peter: I just finished the newly published book on “Bull” Halsey exploits during WWII in the Pacific and I read it in tandum with the Japanese naval interpretation of their naval activities at Midway ( The Battle that Doomed Japan – Midway by Mitsuo Fuchida, former Captain & Masatake Okumiya, former Commander – published Ballantine Books, 1958). I was always fascinated by the fact that the Abbekerk made it to Australia and my father, a flight surgeon with the 13th Air Force in Lembang, Java said almost all of the convoy was destoyed by the Japanese Navy. I wanted to share with you a passage that I uncovered in the book which sheds some light on what happened to many of the ships leaving Java and how skillful the crew of the Abbekerk was, breaking away from the convoy and evading the Japanese Navy.

    Note: the Nagumo Force was the Japanese naval group that hit Darwin on Feb. 19 with 188 planes

    page 49 – “The Nagumo Force withdrew to Staring Bay(also known as Teluk Bay), on the southeast coast of the Celebes, but did not stay there long. The invation of Java, culmination of the southern operations, was to begin on 1 March. To support it, the Nagumo Force, together with Vice Admiral Nobutake Kondo’s Southern Force Main Body of four battleships, was to skirt around to the south of Java and cut off any possible enemy reinforement or escape. The combined force sortied from Staring Bay on 25 February and headed into the Indian Ocean through Ombai Strait. On 3 March, a 180 Plane strike was launched from our carriers against the south Javanese port of Tjilatjap, netting a bag of about 20 ships sunk. In addition, up to 5 March, 3 enemy destroyers and 14 transports were sunk trying to escape southward, and three other transports were captured. The landing operations meanwhile went off on schedule, and on 9 March Java surrendered. The Nagumo Force returned to Staring Bay to await orders. ”

    I have always considered my father’s escape from Java one of the most harrowing experiences in his war career even though he started the 801st Air Evacuation Squadron in New Caledonia, flying wounded out of Guadalcanal in the Solomons.

    2011/03/27 at 6:33 am
  • From Sergey on contact

    Good afternoon. My name is Sergey. I beg of you please tell me where you can view photos AMERSKERK 1941 – COBURG? 3 ship of this type. I do not believe that there are no photos of this ship! There should be some photos of what MS AMERSKERK! I look forward to your reply. With respect to you, Sergey

    2010/12/12 at 2:48 pm
  • From Dave W. Campbell on contact

    Hello Would appreciate this story of your Father.Please send in English.Thank you,Dave

    2010/10/27 at 12:54 am
  • From Gerrit Bon on - February 1942, Tjilatjap

    Ian, my mother’s nephew and his parents would be evacuated via Tjilatjap. When they arrived in the harbour, they had something to eat next to the ship. During this ‘lunch’ their ship was bombed in the harbour with all their posessions on board. They had to walk back via the train-track.

    Could anybody shred a light on what vessel this could have been? I would be very thankful!

    Gerrit Bon.

    2009/12/08 at 11:29 pm
  • From Peter on The Ship

    Hi Kyle

    I think I can help you some, but I dont have youre email adress.

    Can you please email me:


    2009/11/30 at 8:17 pm
  • From kyle on The Ship

    hope you see this because this project is worth half of my grade.

    2009/11/29 at 11:11 pm
  • From kyle on The Ship

    i am making a project about a boat named ss hato but because i can not find it i an going to do it on this boat. iF YOU FIND ANY INSIDE LOOK OF THE boat could you post it on the website before december9. Also if you have any special features could you also post it. Kyle

    2009/11/29 at 11:08 pm
  • From Sylvia Herbert nee Whimster on Abbekerk's gunners (I), Lt Geoff North's story

    I am one of the late Lt Col TC Whimster’s four daughters and I would be very grateful to receive a copy of the original letter above or to be put in touch with anyone who has memories of him.

    He spoke little about his time in Changi or Kuching. As a child I remember seeing a simple exercise book with a record of the deaths of POWs in the camp. I have found three photos of him in the Australian War Archive collection, taken the day after Batu Lintang was liberated by the Australians and know the ship he was transported on from Singapore to Borneo – the SS De Klerk which was renamed the Imbari Maru by the Japanese. The wreck of this former steamer lies off the Lubuan coast and it is now known as the Australian Wreck.

    Look forward to hearing from anyone who can give me more information.

    2009/11/11 at 7:11 pm
  • From M.F. van der Starre on contact

    Bij toeval stuitte ik op de website van MS Abbekerk,als inwoner van Abbekerk werd mijn interesse gewekt.Ik wist van VOC schepen met de naam Abbekerk en van een naoorlogse Abbekerk.Maar dit schip en bemanning was mij nog onbekend.
    Daarnaast ben ik geinteresseerd in het verhaal – in overleg en met toestemmming – om dit te publiceren in het jaarboekje van de stichting Historisch Abbekerk en Lambertschaag.
    Ik wacht het antwoord af.

    2009/06/15 at 6:34 am
  • From Peter on The Sinking of Abbekerk and other war memories (Dutch)

    After Abbekerk leaves Port Of Spain on August 15, 1942, the 3de mate writes they encountered a lifeboat of a Norwegian ship. The survivors – with Trinidad in sight – refused to come aboard and sailed on (in retrospect a very sensible decision).
    I tried to find out which Norwegian ship this could have been and the most likely candidate is de D/S Bill:

    The lifeboat reached Trinidad that same day.

    2009/06/12 at 1:16 pm
  • From Wicher van de Veen on Home

    Mooi verhaal en goed te begrijpen door een oud

    2009/05/19 at 7:33 pm
  • From Wicher van de Veen on Epilogue

    Mooi verhaal en goed te begrijpen door een oud

    2009/05/19 at 7:33 pm
  • From on Home

    a great epitaph to a true seaman

    2009/05/07 at 7:57 pm
  • From Peter on The Ship

    Hi Niels,

    Good question. What exacly was the reason to name her Abbekerk I don’t know.
    The VNS (Verenigde Nederlandse Scheepvaarmaatschappij) named most of her bigger cargo ships after places in Holland that end on -kerk (Which means church in Dutch).
    examples: Bovenkerk, Serooskerk, Maaskerk, Aagtekerk, Heemskerk, Amstelkerk, Hoogkerk etc. (I’m not sure if these places really all do exist:-)
    The passenger ship often named -fontein (I guess thats because VNS had several lines to Africa and fontein (fountain) is a common ending for the names of towns in South Africa). Examples: Rietfontein, Boschfontein, Oranjefontein etc.
    After the war, some ships that sailed lines to west Africa were often called -kust (meaning Coast), like Dahomeykust and Ivoorkust, but -kerk was by far the most used ending.
    Ship names were often re-used after a ship was sold or scrapped. Or sunk.
    On the VNS website you can find a lot of information on the ships. (VNS is now part of Nedloyd)


    2009/04/28 at 5:40 pm
  • From niels on The Ship

    why did they called it ‘Abbekerk’?

    I live in Abbekerk (N-H) in the Netherlands.

    Best regards,

    2009/04/25 at 2:10 pm
  • From ian robinson on Tweedale's war (BBC People's War)

    Harry Glad you made it. I was on the Kota Gede
    and kept a small diary. We departed Tjilatjap a t 8 p.m. on Feb 27th. I have a book by a Japanese pilot who wrote that they went to bomb the ships in the harbour on th 28th and found they had all left.
    The important thing is we got away. We mayhave been hungry and very thisty for about 10 days but much better off than those who were left behind Regards Ian Robinson

    2009/04/09 at 10:02 pm
  • From ian robinson on - February 1942, Tjilatjap

    I was in the R.A.F. and boarded the Dutch vessel Kota Gede at Tjilatjap at 5am on Feb 27 41. We waited all day and left the harbour at 8 pm. The captain steered a S.W. course and then altered course for Colombo Ceylon.
    I think we were the last ship to leave.
    I have a book by Saburo Saskai, a renowned Japanese fighter pilot, he was on a mission,12 fighters and 12 Betty Bombers, to bomb Tjilatjap harbour on the 28th. He wrote we found the harbour empty all the ships had left. Ian Robinson

    2009/03/18 at 1:17 pm
  • From ian robinson on Home

    I read your most interesting account of your father’s account of his day (feb 27 in the harbour at Tjilatjap). I was in the R.A.F.and boarded a dutch vessel Kota Gede at 5.30 a.m. on that day. We waited on deck all day and left the harbour at 8.00 p.m.
    I think it was the last one to leave. I have a book by aJapanese fighter pilot, Sabaru Sakai. He was in flight of aircraft which was sent to bomb Tjilatjap 0n the 28th. He wrote every ship had left the harbour ;so we just got out in time. Many allied service men owe their lives to the Dutch sea men who got them out. Regards Ian Robinson

    2009/03/15 at 9:34 pm
  • From Walter Macnab on Home

    I was browsing the Web the other day and came across the most interesting account of your Dad’s account of the voyage made by the MV Abbekerk from her sailing from Gourock on the Clyde until iis demise in the north Atlantic in August 1942. Iwas on board this ship at the time, being one of a group of four DEMS Gunners.(Later called Maritime AcAc Regiment). I could go on but rather than do so I would prefer you to contact me for further information if you have any questions to ask.
    Best wishes
    Walter Macnab

    2009/02/23 at 3:17 pm
  • From Peter on March 1942, Fremantle

    Taken from
    In the following month after Singapore had fallen to the enemy, vessels crowded with refugees
    arrived at Fremantle, taxing accommodation to the utmost in the inner harbour, whilst as many as 30 took up all anchorage in Gage Roads. In the inner harbour, it was, therefore, a common sight to see up to as many as four vessels of substantial size lying in tier, and it was due solely to the circumstances forced upon the port and the prevailing weather conditions that such a state of affairs could be permitted. Altogether, some 75 vessels were using the inner and outer harbours at one and the same time, and in the fortnight ending 20th March, a total of 103 vessels, Naval and merchant, and mainly seeking refuge, arrived at the port. Until these vessels could be ordered to some other destination, acute conditions persisted at the port for some weeks.

    2009/01/28 at 3:00 pm
  • From Peter on July 1940, Belfast

    On 21 july 1940 the SS Troutpool was sunk when she hit a mine leaving Belfast Lough. 11 crewmembers were killed.
    Abbekerk was lucky here: she didn’t have maps of the harbour and therefore her master anchored at the entrance on the 21st and refused to move on before she had maps and a pilot. Troutpool sank between Abbekerk and the spot the port authorities had wanted Abbekerk to anchor.
    More on this event:

    2008/11/26 at 12:03 pm
  • From Peter on Pictures

    Two remarks on the pictures after some research on the website of the dutch maritime museums:
    The one from the book with the officer overseeing the demolition of cars: this was taken in Oosthaven (Sumatra) a week earlier.
    (Situation was quite simular and Abbekerk was there at that time too)
    The folders are now confirmed from before the war since I found a folder/timetable from 1938 with the same pictures.

    2008/09/03 at 7:15 pm
  • From Peter on March 1941, London

    This mortar like granade thrower was probably a Holman projector:

    According to the movement card from the Britisch National Archive, Abbekerk was also armed with a 4″ poop gun at this time (and not a year later, as my dad describes.)

    2008/07/29 at 7:23 am
  • From Peter on April 1941, Liverpool

    The planes were not Spitfires but Hurricanes

    At this point not Singapore but Persia was the convoys destination. The locomotives on board were to be used on the railwayline engineers on one of the troopships were building to Russia.
    Only when Pearl Harbour was attacked part of the convoy was rerouted to Singapore. In Durban they managed to unload some of the locomotives but some were still on board when she sailed for Singapore. Since the locomotives were build for a specific track-width, they had difficulties “getting rid” of that cargo later on.


    2008/04/12 at 3:19 pm
  • From Peter on - February 1942, Tjilatjap

    The plane was a Kate (Nakajima B5N) single engined bomber/torpedo plane. This Kate was on patrol from one of the carriers close by and did in fect drop a single bomb. All the guns firing from Abbekerk missed, but the pilot himself missed as wel and returned safely to his carrier.

    Thank to Bill Bartsch for this confirmed information.


    2008/04/12 at 3:12 pm
  • From Peter on November 1941, Gourock

    * This was actually the battleship ROYAL SOVEREIGN, not Warspite
    ** Abbekerk went to Durban this time, not Capetown where it had been several times before.

    2008/01/25 at 7:24 pm
  • From Wiebe Visser on contact


    Wellicht is het goed om nader contact te hebben. Mijn vader (Jacob Visser)was tweede stuurman op de Abbekerk toen deze verging. Mijn moeder heeft de VNS verwittigd van het verlies.

    Mijn vader heeft zijn memoires uitgewerkt, welke ik tot mijn beschikking heb.


    Wiebe Visser

    2007/12/30 at 8:12 pm
  • From Berend on Contact

    Hoi Peter

    Was je e-mail kwijtgeraakt door een stomme fout maar had het wel gelezen dus maar hier posten

    Maar het was inderdaad 16 januari 1940 die krantenartikel foutje van mijn kant.



    2007/12/17 at 9:17 pm
  • From William Vroombout on Home

    Mijn vader heeft ook op de abbekerk gevaren en is ook gebombadeert en getorpadeert met de abbekerk. heeft daar wel over vertelt maar is in 1989 op 88 jarige leeftijd overleden ik kan nog wel wat verhalen herrinneren vindt het erg leuk om er iets over terug te vinden op het internet.

    2007/12/06 at 8:37 pm
  • From Lynn Barkus on Home

    I am currently typing up all of my father’s memoirs of the war and his time in Singapore. He passed away in 2001. Whilst piecing together some stories, I came across his memory of leaving Tjilatjap. My father’s troop had walked most of the way from Batavia to Tjilatjap – and were triumphant to see the sight of masses of troops on the main quayside. After reporting to the Army RTO, they were directed to the Abbekerk which they had to cross to board the ship tied next to it – the “Kota Gede”. They sailed on this ship for about 14 days to reach Columbo but before mainland was reached, they found out that the Abbekerk had been torpedoed on its way to Australia. This was one of my father’s very narrow escapes with his life.

    I hope you find this of interest and good luck with all your research.

    Regards, Lynn Barkus

    2007/11/08 at 11:43 am
  • From Jan Vel on Home

    Hartelijk dank voor Uw bericht en website.
    Wij zijn momenteel bezig een klein boekje te schrijven over de Nederlandse bijdrage aan de strijd om Australie. We willen dit uitgeven bij de onthulling van een gedenkplaat hier in Adelaide voor al diegenen die een bijdrage in WW2 geleverd hebben.
    Ik neem aan dat U geen bezwaar heeft tegen het vermelden van enige feiten in uw website in het boekje.


    Jan Vel

    2007/08/28 at 7:33 am
  • From adam elliott on Home

    The german heavy armed merchant cruiser Atlantis, skippered by Bernhard Rogge, assumed the identity of the MV Abbekerk around May 21, 1940. The Atlantis had been posing as the Japanese Kasii Maru but allied wireless declared a Japanese merchant ship had been identified as a possible raider operating around Ceylon. Rogge made the changes and continued to operate in the the indian ocean before moving to the sunda strait. He kept the MV Abbekerk disguise for some months. The Atlantis was eventually sunk in November 1941 while on it’s way back to Germany. Refer to Rogge’s book ‘Under Ten Flags’

    2007/08/14 at 10:36 am
  • From Adm Gurita on Home

    Hi Mr. Kik / Goedenavond meneer Kik,

    As a Dutch Japanese Navy freak I would like to direct your attention to the following:

    and especially the 10 January 1942 entry, of course! 🙂

    Being one of the very few Dutch frequenting Nihon Kaigun ( and, it was my pleasure and privilege to provide a substantial lot of the information for the ‘Shokaitei!’ (captured patrol boats) section, Dutch chapter, of the magnificient Nihon Kaigun website. Besides, I took a look on the NEI Forum after a too long absence there – and I saw your message about ABBEKERK.

    The next minute, so to say, the connection was made.
    I have a deep appreciation for your site and your father’s memoirs (one immediately recognizes the
    Sailor pure and simple – his story is to-the-point and honest). It seems there are not many like him left today… this self-promoted clubman-seat Admiral does not count himself among them, for instance).

    Als Nederlandse Japanse marine-gek zou ik graag Uw aandacht vestigen op de volgende link:

    en dan vooral het onder het kopje ’10 januari 1942′ vermelde! 🙂

    Als één van de weinige Nederlanders, die Nihon Kaigun ( en frequenteren, was het mij een genoegen en een voorrecht een groot deel van de informatie te leveren voor het ‘Shokaitei!’ (veroverde patrouilleboten) hoofdstuk, Nederlands onderdeel, van de magnifieke Nihon Kaigun website. Ook nam ik, na veel te lange afwezigheid, weer eens een kijkje op het Nederlands-Indisch forum – en toen zag ik Uw bericht over de ABBEKERK website.

    Het volgende ogenblik was de link gelegd, zou men kunnen zeggen. Ik heb een grote waardering voor Uw website en de memoires van Uw vader (men herkent meteen de Zeeman, puur en eenvoudig – zijn verhaal is relevant en recht-door-zee). Het lijkt alsof er tegenwoordig niet velen meer zijn als hij… deze zelf-benoemde leunstoel-Admiraal rekent zichzelf daar vooral niet toe).

    Kind regards, / Met vriendelijke groet,

    Adm Gurita (A. Gritter)

    2007/08/02 at 10:18 pm
  • From Oscar M. Rudie on Home

    I was a Marblehead casualty and sailed in the
    Abbekerk from Tjilatjap to Fremantle, she was a fast
    ship and a clean ship. I was quite relieved to get
    out of Java just ahead of the Japs.

    Oscar Rudie

    2007/07/18 at 6:38 am