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Passage aboard Bloemfontein

December 2 2013 at 10:48 PM
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johnday3  (Login johnday3)
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Response to M. S. Bloemfontein


The Bloemfontein was in the Pensacola Convoy. The convoy sailed from Honolulu on 1 Dec 1941 bound for Manila via the southern route to avoid Japanese war ships. The planned route was south to Fiji and south of New Guinea through the Straits of Torres. After Pearl Harbor attack of 7 Dec 41, the convoy was diverted to Brisbane Australia where they docked on or about 22 Dec 1941. Troops were transferred to the Bloemfontein from the USAT Republic and perhaps other(?) ships in Brisbane. The departure was delayed apparently after a disagreement between the Dutch captain and the US Army over the route to Manila. The Captain wanted to go around the south of Australia, rather than through the Torres Straits to Darwin, but the Army was in a hurry to get the troops delivered. Finally, the ship sailed from Brisbane on 30 Dec 41, passing through the Torres Straits in a convoy that included the Bloemfontein, Holbrook, and Chaumont, arriving in Darwin, NT Australia on 5 Jan 42. They were escorted by the USS Pensacola up to the Straits, then after the Straits they were escorted by the USS Houston. It appears that while in Darwin, their destination was changed from Manila to Java because of the deteriorating war situation. There was fear the ship would never reach Manila since the sea was under Japanese control. The Bloemfontein sailed from Darwin on 8 Jan 41, arriving in Soerabaja, Java on 11 Jan 42 where the troops disembarked. I have no information on when the ship left Soerabaja.

The description I have of the voyage is that the food was really good. Officers were assigned cabins, but some soldiers were sleeping on the deck under canvas (and it rained). The ship was described as very crowded with some stoves on the deck to feed the enlisted men.

Please tell me the official Dutch designation for the ship? VMS? TMSV? thanks.

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