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Keith Smalley
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Clarence H. Smalley's log

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July 20 2013, 12:32 AM 

My father, Clarence H. Smalley, graduated from Pennsylvania State University in spring of 1941. He also received his commission as a 2nd Lt. Infantry in the U.S. Army upon graduation. He attended Infantry Officer's Basic course at Ft. Benning, Ga. from 6/25/41 until 9/19/41. On 10/22/41 he received orders to the Phillipines. On 11/6/41 he received orders to sail on 11/21/41 Ft. Mason, Ca. to Manila, Phillipine Islands. He did so on the Bloemfontein.

He kept a typed log from when they left San Francisco Harbor on 11/21/41 until 4/15/42. The entries relating to the Bloemfontein's route are as follows:

Nov. 28 Honolulu, Waikiki
Nov. 29 left Honolulu Harbor
Dec. 6 crossed the equator
Dec. 7 The Japs opened up on Pearl Harbor
Dec. 9 crossed the International Date Line
Dec. 10 lost this day over the date line
Dec. 13 Suva Fiji Islands
Dec. 14 left Suva
Dec. 22 put in the Bay of Brisbane
Dec. 27 moved on the Bloemfontein
Dec. 30 Started for Darwin
Jan. 6 arrived Darwin

As far as I know that was the last my father was on the Bloemfontein. From his military records I believe he left Australia in the spring 1944.

 
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Nelson
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Re: Clarence H. Smalley's log

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July 20 2013, 4:52 PM 

Keith,

Your dad was just one of many men traveling to the Philippines in the capacity of casual officers (i.e., not part of a military unit in transit). As far as I know, ALL such casual officers on Bloemfontein disembarked at Darwin, while the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery, and Headquarters, 26th Field Artillery Brigade, continued on to Java aboard this transport. Eventually, the brigade headquarters was ordered evacuated from that Dutch island, and except for its C.O., Colonel Albert C. Searle, did return to Australia. The battalion of the 131st F.A. of course remained on Java to put up a brief fight before the general surrender there.

Nelson

 
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Tom Harrell
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M.S. Bloemfontein

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July 28 2013, 6:51 PM 

I have in my possession my father's card that he received for crossing the equator on June, 4th, 1944 on board the M.S. Bloemfontein. He was a Sea Bee bound for Los Negros at that time.

 
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Allan Shaw
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SS/MV Perida

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August 22 2013, 12:29 PM 

Hi Bob,

I came across your thread while doing some research for my Grandfather who has a certificate for crossing the International Date Line on the Perida, could you give me any information based on the message below?

My Grandfather is George Herbert Gregory, Army Number 4979538, POW Number 5225 and he was interned on 28th November 1942 at Fukuoka 4B, Moji, Kyushu in the Moji YMCA Building.

He has fairly well documented his time as a POWhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peop...a6451120.shtml but has huge holes in his memory regarding repatriation, he was returned via Canada (his Domain of the Golden Dragon certificate has him crossing the International Date Line on 23rd October 1945 and the vessel is written on the certificate as "Perida" but this might well be the USS Perdido (then HMS Trouncer). I have since found mentions of the SS Perida or MV Perida in this area so this might well be the correct ship. He vaguely remembers being in Canada but does not remember his journey back to the UK apart from arriving in his home town of Belper (dates are sketchy but his first PO coupon was cashed 05/02/46.)

What I would like to find out is the boat he left for Canada on (I thought it may be Implacable but his certificate for crossing the IDL rules this out as Implacable arrived in Vancouver on October 12th.) his arrival date in Canada, his whereabouts and period of recuperation and then the boat he came back to the UK on and the date and port of arrival.

Anything you can do to help will assist this old soldier in resting a little easier at night.

 
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Nelson
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more than likely SS Perida TO Canada

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August 22 2013, 2:47 PM 

Allan,

My money is on SS Perida, not only because that is what your grandfather's IDL certificate apparently specifies, but because she was still a troopship at that time, rather well known for service in the Pacific Theater. Troopships were of course the vessels of choice for bringing home men (and women) about to be separated from the service, including former prisoners of war in a sufficient state of health that a hospital ship was not the more appropriate means.

Previously owned and operated by the Danish Maersk shipping line, German-built Marchen Maersk took refuge in an American port (likely New York) upon the German occupation of Denmark, and with a lot of other foreign-owned vessels was eventually acquired by the U.S. under the June 1941 Ship Requisition Act. Legality and the potentially conflicting Neutality Act required some smoke and mirrors, and Marchen Maersk became for a short period SS Caldera under Panamanian registry. The declaration of war by the United States not longer required such artifice, and in early 1942 she received yet another name as SS Perida, very likely at that point undergoing modification to a troopship. As far as I can determine, all or most of her service took place in the Pacific. For more details, see

http://usstryon.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/tryon-departs-for-white-poppy-part-3/

It's quite safe to rule out escort carrier USS Perdido (CVE 47), because she was still serving in the Royal Navy as HMS Trouncer (D85) until early March 1946, when she was returned to the U.S. Navy.

Because you've raised the subject, I'm curious during which campaign Out East had your grandfather been captured? Hong Kong? Singapore? Java? Burma? How long had he been out there?

Nelson

 
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Willem (Wim) L. Buker
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Passenger on the Bleomfontein

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September 8 2013, 4:07 PM 

I was a passenger on the Bloemfontein. I boarded her in Amsterdam on April 5 1957, a young recently graduated civil engineer with his passage paid by the Dutch government. After 15 days (brief stops in South Hampton and Las Palmas) arrived in Capetown. From there a 3 days train ride to Lusaka and from there by Landrover to Fort Jameson.

 
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johnday3
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Passage aboard Bloemfontein

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December 2 2013, 10:48 PM 

Jacques
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.
John

 
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johnday3
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Pensacola, PLUM, Bloemfontein

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December 3 2013, 12:43 AM 

Nelson
I would like to contact you. I am impressed with the accuracy of your postings concerning the Pensacola Convoy and am interested in learning who you are and the nature of your sources. I have one small note to your posting - The Bloemfontein sailed from Brisbane on 30 Dec 1941.
johnday3@sbcglobal.net

 
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johnday3
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Casual Officer aboard Bloemfontein Darwin

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December 3 2013, 1:50 AM 

Keith/Nelson
My father was a Casual Officer aboard the Bloemfontein in Darwin. An Army Captain at the time, he was assigned to Col. Searle as Headquarters Battery Commander for the 26th Field Artillery Brigade while in port in Darwin. There were three other casual officers assigned to the 26th at the same time. All the other remaining Casual Officers got off the Bloemfontein in Darwin. My father went on to Soerabaja, Singosari, and eventually was I believe the highest ranking officer among the group that evacuated back to Australia aboard the MS Abbekerk. I am in possession of his daily diary for the period, and would be pleased to discuss the story with you. For the record, I am writing a book.

I must say I have been impressed with the accuracy of Nelson's postings on the events of the Pensacola Convoy and would enjoy contacting Nelson?

johnday3@sbcglobal.net

 
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johnday3
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War Diaries - USAT Republic, PLUM, Bloemfontein

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December 3 2013, 2:12 AM 

Nelson
I am not sure if your use of the words "War Diaries" has a special meaning?

I am in possession of two wartime daily diaries covering the period 21 Nov 41 aboard the USAT Republic, continuing through Brisbane, Darwin, Soerabaja, Fremantle, Melbourne, Brisbane, into New Guinea, Leyte, and Luzon. There is more.

I am late coming to the website, and would enjoy a dialog with you. Please contact me.

johnday3@sbcglobal.net

 
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Nelson
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Re: War Diaries

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December 6 2013, 8:39 PM 

John,

Have contacted you at your email address, as per request from Jan (I'm just back home last night, and this morning our email service was down).

War diaries, sensu stricto, are official documents generated during wartime. Each ship, naval station, headquarters, division, squadron, task force, fleet, etc., maintained such a diary from their first day of war to their last (the latter of which in the instance of a ship could well have been her date of destruction). Staying with ships' diaries, their contents much resembled those of the deck logs. There was a significant degree of overlap in the deck log and war diary, but there were some details appropriate for a deck log not appropriate for inclusion in the war diary, and of course vice versa. Locating these war diaries from WWII can be frustrating. I've found only those from Brooklyn class light cruisers, a few of the naval installations in Casco Bay, and 16th Naval District Headquarters in Manila Bay. Those from the Pensacola convoy may well prove highly interesting.

Nelson

 
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Nelson
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Re: Passage aboard Bloemfontein

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December 6 2013, 9:15 PM 

John,

Just to remind, the former USAT Republic had become the commissioned naval transport USS Republic in late July 1941. Guys aboard during the course of the Pensacola convoy spoke to the end of their days of USAT Republic, because surviving signs and other indicators specifying her USAT status were apparently common. But 'twas no longer so.
[see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Republic_(AP-33)]

Might as well get it right.

Nelson

 
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W.C. McLeod
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M.S. Bloemfontein Carried Contingent of the American Volunteer Group in Summer of 1941

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February 10 2014, 11:23 PM 

In July and August of 1941 M.S. Bloemfontein of the Java-Pacific Line carried twenty-five members [Pilots and Ground Crewmen] of the American Volunteer Group [later nicknamed the "Flying Tigers"] from San Francisco to Singapore.

The following quotations are taken from pages 41-50 of Tale of a Tiger by R.T. Smith, published by Tiger Originals in 1986. Clarifications in brackets are mine.

"We were all notified on the evening of the 23rd [23 Jul 1941] that we were to sail the following day at noon, and that transportation by bus would be provided for the short trip to the pier. All of us were on hand in the lobby [of the Bellevue Hotel in San Francisco] at 10 a.m...."

"We were rushed through the formalities of Customs and Immigration offices in a corner of a huge warehouse.... Moments later we were out on the pier and heading for the gangway of the Bloemfontein. She was a good-sized vessel of about ten thousand tons and perhaps three hundred feet in length, predominately black in color with areas of tan and white on her superstructure. The name BLOEMFONTEIN appeared in large block letters on her stern, and just beneath in smaller letters the word Batavia, her home port in Java."

"We ...sailed from San Francisco at about noon on the 24th... Once outside the entrance to the bay all hell broke loose; we ran into heavy seas, with what appeared to be at least fifteen-foot waves, and the old 'Bloom' as we had immediately nicknamed our ship, began to bob like a cork. At least half of the complement of passengers got sea-sick..."

"We had each received a copy of the passenger list from the purser and it looked like a future United Nations roster. Of the eighty-five passengers aboard, only a handful besides our group were Americans. The rest were mostly Dutch, Chinese, East Indian, and Swedes.... About thirty of the passengers were missionaries.... The rest were mostly businessmen or low-level diplomatic officials."

"Early on the morning of the 28th the island of Oahu could be seen in the distance and a couple of hours later we were off Diamond Head and could see the Aloha Tower on Honolulu's waterfront." [They sailed from Honolulu on the afternoon of the 29th headed for Manila]

[From a letter to his Parents] "August 9, 1941. Somewhere on the Pacific Ocean. Dear Folks: I don't know exactly how to start this letter, as I don't know where in hell we are, where we're going, or anything else. But I will give you a summary of events following our departure from Honolulu.
After we were about three days out of Honolulu, supposedly headed for Manila, the Captain of the ship called a meeting of all passengers and made a little speech, which went something like this: 'My friends, due to the war situation, namely the presence of German surface raiders and the tense situation between Japan and the East Indies, we have been forced to change our course and take a route to Manila which will take about a week longer, making a 3-week trip of it. Please cooperate in the blackout of the ship at night...."

"That was about it. He didn't tell us what new route we were to take or anything. We are now about eleven days out of Honolulu and have seen only two or three islands to date. We have been heading southwest, and crossed the equator about 5 days ago. There has been much speculation about where we are going, etc; some of our navy guys who have studied celestial navigation go on deck at night and gaze at the stars, and they insist we're heading for Australia. ... At any rate, when we do get into a port I'll mail this and tell you in a P.S. what the dope is...
Aug. 10. Sure enough, we pulled into Brisbane, Australia, early this a.m."

"Our stay in Brisbane was brief, just long enough for the ship to take on fuel and water and some fresh vegetables. We sailed at about noon the following day, August 11, this time headed north, and once again our next port of call was said to be Manila...."

"We arrived in Manila on the 19th of August...."

"We sailed from Manila on the morning of August 22nd, expecting to arrive in Singapore about three days later."

"Our soaring spirits took a nose-dive after we'd been back at sea for nearly three days. With ... Singapore dead ahead and less than a day away, the Bloom changed course to a heading of due south. Our navy guys spotted the change in direction immediately.... the ship was heading for her home port of Batavia...."

"...we arrived [in Batavia] on the 26th of August ...."

"We arrived in Singapore on the morning of Sept. 1. ... in Singapore we were to part company with the Bloemfontein. ...our ship would not be going on to Rangoon...."


 
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Sharene Hamrock
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MS Bloemfontein - Order of the Royal Dragon - Nov 1944

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March 24 2014, 10:00 PM 

My father. Donald Hamrock served aboard the MS Bloemfontein and recently sent his Order of the Royal Dragon card to his grandson. It it dated Nov 23, 1944. The destination is "Censored".

 
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Sharene Hamrock
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Re: MS Bloemfontein - Order of the Royal Dragon - Nov 1944

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March 24 2014, 10:10 PM 

I am trying (unsuccessfully, I think) to attach the card, because it is a nice piece of history that may be of interest to those of you who are putting together the pieces of the Bloemfontein's puzzle. It does show that it was in service by the US in November of '44.

 
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M Reeves
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US Marines on Bloemfontein

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March 25 2014, 2:46 AM 

I have a certificate of my father's for crossing the equator aboard the Bloemfontein on 1July1942 on the way to Guadalcanal. It appears this was on the 35th voyage of the Bloemfontein. Does anyone know of a way to view the manifest to see what USMC units were on board, when ship arrived in Wellington, and did it participate in the Guadalcanal initial landing?

 
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R. Hill
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My Father

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June 9 2014, 4:02 AM 

Embarked this date 16 December 1943 aboard the M.S. Bloemfintein for foreign duty in the Southwest Pacific

 
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WW 2 Connections
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SS Bloemfontein

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June 11 2014, 10:49 PM 

Departure Date: December 20, 1943
Departure Location: San Francisco Port of Embarkation
Troop Ship: SS Bloemfontein
Arrival Date: January 4, 1944
Arrival Location: Espititu Santo

Richard V. Horrell
WW 2 Connections

 
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Bob Burns
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Boschfontein

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June 13 2014, 4:37 AM 

Drop me an email and I will send you what I have on Boschfontein movement.

 
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John Nobel
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Second wave

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January 23 2015, 10:31 PM 

... I think you'll find the first wave of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour started something like just before 8 in the morning local time.
The second wave came about an hour later, and at that time Jagersfontein was entering.
It tied up at about 0915, according to a report from the Dutch Consul in Honolulu at the time.

 
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