Return to Index  

Still nothing new.

June 15 2015 at 7:22 PM
No score for this post
Jacques  (no login)


Response to A very big THANKYOU Jacques; so I wonder……….

 
KD, I'm in full agreement with Nuyt -despite him stealing my thunder!happy.gif

To make sure we're not missing anything, I've again done a translation of the complete excerpt while trying to stick as close as possible to the original wording - have a look yourself:

THE MURDER OF THE "AUGUSTINA"-CREW

On Friday 27 February 1942, the s.s. "Augustina", of approximately 3 100 GRT, property of the Netherlands Indies Steam Tanker Company, left the harbour of Tandjong Priok in ballast. Outside the minefields the captain Moerman informed his officers and crew that he had received orders to take the ship to Australia through one of the easterly situated straits. Apparently, through scouting, it was known that Sunda Strait was already closed off by the Japanese Navy. His orders were also to scuttle the ship if it was to fall in the hands of the enemy. The first two day went by without any hindrance, but on Sunday 1st March, just after lunch, the captain was warned by the officer of the watch, that trouble was threatening. It appeared that a number of Japanese bombers and also float planes came into sight but that they left the Augustina unmolested and flew in a Southerly direction. A short while later water spouts from exploding bombs were visible on the horizon. After half an hour the planes returned but also this time no notice was taken of the ship. The floatplanes however, came up right to the ship and therefore captain Moerman sent everyone down below to seek shelter in the destined shelter prepared amidships. He personally took the helm and went through repeated course changes to avoid the attacking planes. These followed every manoeuvre of the ship yet did not drop bombs nor fired their machine guns. After a while smoke was observed to the Northeast and very soon a Japanese destroyer at full power bore down on the "Augustina". As soon as he was convinced of its Japanese nationality, Captain Moerman stopped his ship and had the boats lowered, while at the same time the order was given to release the outboard cocks in the engine room and the tank cocks were opened. Well-equipped, the boats left the sinking ship at three p.m. The Japanese destroyer immediately came closer and ordered the boats to be brought alongside. Thereupon the captain and the chief engineer were ordered aboard and when they stood on deck, were first sprayed with a disinfectant sprayer. After about a quarter-hour both came back again and said that they have to return to the "Augustina" to close the cocks. With one boat from the destroyer they were taken back. The rest waited tensely for almost an hour in the boats, when the captain returned saying that the tank cocks were closed but that in the engine room there was already too much water to again bring the cocks to the closed position. Japanese sailors then got down into the boats and they removed all pieces of equipment. Captain Moerman was again taken to the destroyer's commander and after a quarter-hour he was brought back to his boat. Then the Japanese started their engines and took the boats in tow. It was already dusk and the men from the "Augustina" saw that the Japanese sailors brought a couple of chests on deck and also some guns. Many were terrified because the Japanese were already notorious for their cruel behaviour. After it was almost completely dark, the destroyer's commander stopped his ship and allowed the boat lines to be released. It was made clear to the occupants that they were to row away. The boats found themselves, one each, on both sides of the destroyer and when they were a small distance away, the murderers opened fire with machine guns and rifles. Different men were hit, some saw their salvation by jumping overboard. To this group belonged the 3rd engineer, Mister L. Meijer. Through the panic caused by the shooting, one of the boats drifted against the destroyer and Mister Meijer saw a sailor armed with a tommygun, jump into it and mowing down those still alive. Also at them, those in the water, he directed his firing and by diving, Mister Meijer escaped the massacre, though the bullets hit the water close to his head. Although he was still close to the boat he could not hear any signs of life anymore and after ridding himself of his clothing and with good luck he swam off into the darkness. After some time which he could not estimate, the swimmer suddenly saw a large dark mass close in front of him. It appeared to be the "Augustina" , which already had taken on a 35 degree list. Just as he wanted to climb aboard on the low side, he heard Japanese voices. To explore, he swam carefully around the ship and on the high side, he saw a destroyer lying, presumably the one that committed the atrocity. Fortunately it quickly came under steam and after once more swimming around the "Augustina" to explore, he climbed aboard. The work boat was partly lowered outboard on the low side. As well as he possibly could in the darkness, he put the boat into the water and tied it up, so that he could escape as quickly as possible, because the "Augustina" was getting more of a list. Completely naked, he wanted to protect his body and was so lucky to quickly find a dressing gown in one of the cabins. More crawling than walking on the heavily listing ship, he reached the mess room , the timepiece there showing one o'clock. His purpose was to find supplies and in the dark he found a pack which he thought to contain bread for the officers of the watch; he also found a filled bucket. With some effort he successfully got the bucket and pack to the work boat and worried that the ship might capsize, he released the boat, the wind driving it free from the ship. Tired through everything that he had experienced, he fell asleep and only woke up when the sun was already high. Hunger and thirst began to felt but he was satisfied with himself that he had supplies in the boat. He was deeply disappointed to find that unfortunately the pack contained dirty work clothes and the contents of the bucket was dirty washing water.
At a distance of four miles lay the "Augustina" with a heavy list still above the water. Immediately Meijer decided to return to the ship to collect supplies and water. With fear he discovered that there only was one oar in the boat and that the stern was damaged so that sculling apparently was not possible. The boat was still drifting further away from the wreck of the "Augustina" and Tuesday morning at sunrise only the masts and funnel was still visible. A new day of suffering through hunger, thirst and searing sunshine broke for the castaway and the chance of rescuing him was very small. That afternoon one Japanese plane came into view that apparently spotted the boat, for it came right at the boat. Having experienced the bloodthirstiness of the Japanese, Meijer jumped overboard to seek cover. The precaution appeared not to be superfluous because the Japanese gave one burst of machinegun-fire as he passed the boat. After living through this emotion and again in the boat, the castaway, tortured by the harsh sun, hunger and thirst, began to hallucinate. Every moment he thought he saw land, it then just appeared to be clouds and by evening on the second day, numbed by his suffering, in deep sleep, out of which he was woken by a bright light which shone right in his face. Frightened he jumped upright, heard a motor boat, but also voices speaking in the so hated Japanese language. In mortal fear, Meijer jumped out of the boat and swims away, but was brightly lit by a searchlight, taken out of the water by a motor boat and brought to a warship.
Realising that it was important to keep quiet about his fate, Meijer dished up a story at his interrogation, that comes down to him lying in bed when he woke up on his ship, finding that it was sinking and that the other members of the crew left hastily so that he had to resort to escaping by means of the damaged work boat. The story was believed and the castaway was not treated badly. A few days later, at sea he was brought over to another naval ship where he found the crew of the American destroyer "Pope", which while on 1 March escorted the English cruiser "Exeter", was sunk by bombs from Japanese planes. On 7 March Mister Meijer was brought ashore at Macassar, first locked up in the prison and afterwards interned in a prisoner-of-war camp.
In the camp, he made a statement in front of Kapitein-Luitenant ter Zee (Commander) H.C.W. Moerman, from which this story is taken. Two Chinese landed on Java made very similar-sounding statements. Commander Moerman realised that, if the Japanese discovered what Meijer had experienced, they undoubtedly would have him disappear because he was the sole survivor of one of the worst breaches of International Maritime law in wartime. The registration of all prisoners-of-war was then not completed and so he could be included in the technical services of the Navy, without being noticed. Afterwards he was taken over to Japan where he was freed in 1945.
The "Augustina" -drama was one of many war crimes committed by the conscienceless Japanese.

My comments with regards to your questions:
1. After clearing the minefields at Tandjong Priok, AUGUSTINA steamed Eastward to exit the Java Sea through one of the straits to the East of Java - nothing else is known about the route chosen.
2. Meijer admitted to not seeing land or the peaks of Bali whilst adrift in the work boat. He might have been hallucinating at the time but afterwards realised that he only saw clouds and reported this in his statement at the Macassar POW camp. No doubt, Commander Moerman (not to be confused with the master of the AUGUSTINA, A.J. Moerman) would have wanted to record the approximate positions of where the massacre took place and where the wreck of the AUGUSTINA was last seen. Moerman would have pressed for any possible clues.
3. There is no mention of the identity of any of the Japanese warships encountered by Meijer. If Meijer had known the name of the warship responsible for the murder of his shipmates, I have no doubt that he would have divulged this in the statement made in Manila after the war, if not, for fear of his life at the POW camp in Macassar. Both Commander Moerman and Consul-General Bos would have pressed for this information, in order to eventually bring the guilty to book.

Regards,

Jacques

 
Scoring disabled. You must be logged in to score posts.Respond to this message   
Responses

  • Thanks Jacques - nuyt on Jun 15, 2015, 8:31 PM
  •  
    Find more forums on Network54Create your own forum at Network54
     Copyright © 1999-2018 Network54. All rights reserved.   Terms of Use   Privacy Statement