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November 7 2014 at 4:09 PM
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Jacques  (no login)
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Response to Hi Geoffrey

Hi Katrina,

Yes, very likely the S.S. KARSIK was the ship your father served on during the war but this ship was not at Darwin when the bombing raid of 19 February 1942 took place and was also not at Singapore during the evacuation of early 1942. There are other possibilities though - one, that KARSIK evacuated women and children and/or non-essential personnel from Singapore to Java during late-1941. She was not equipped for carrying passengers but because of the short steaming time between the two ports, quite possible. Two, that she witnessed one of the 64 Japanese bombing raids on Darwin during her only visit to that port, on 24 October 1942.

This makes the box Brownie photograph in your possession, of the bombing of Darwin very interesting and of value to this forum. Please, please, post it! If you have any difficulty in doing so, I'm sure that the webmaster (Jan Visser) would gladly assist you. Much has been written about, and many photos are available of the first bombing raid on Darwin, but virtually nothing is known about the later raids. I have not been able to find any information about a bombing raid on Darwin on the day that KARSIK called there.

According to the Royal Australian Navy movement cards:

S.S.KARSIK traded between the Netherlands East Indies and Australia during late 1940/early 1941 and arrived at Singapore on May 19, 1941. No movements were recorded until 26th December 1941 when she departed from Tjilitjap bound for Melbourne where she arrived on 8th Jan 1942. During the latter part of 1941 she reportedly operated as a train ferry out of Batavia, outside of the Royal Australian Navy's jurisdiction and therefore no RAN movement reports were made. KARSIK left from Fremantle on the 17th of February with convoy MS.4, bound for the NEI. This convoy disbanded on the 21st and KARSIK returned to Fremantle. From here she sailed to the East coast of Australia and for the duration of the war worked between Brisbane and New Guinea with only 1 stopover at Darwin – 23/24 October 1942.

From the Australian War Memorial Collection, the following:

“Formerly the German Soneck, and impounded in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI) when war began, in May 1940, the 2,191ton steamer SS Karsik (as it was renamed) was used as a train ferry at Batavia until the Japanese invasion. This meant it was well suited for the later job of carrying much needed tanks to the Allied forces in New Guinea. In June 1942 the Karsik transported supplies and equipment to Milne Bay. In December 1942 she brought tanks from Milne Bay to Oro Bay for use in the assault on Buna from December 1942 to June 1943. She took part in Operations Lilliput and Accountant, transporting Australian and American troops and material to Oro Bay.”

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Message to Geoffrey: Please also let us have more info about your father's wartime experiences.



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