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Dutch Maritime Disasters in the Dutch East Indies, 1941-1942
(December 7th, 1942 - March 8th, 1942)


Passenger Ship Rooseboom   (Capt. M.C.A. Boon)
The greatest loss of life happened with the sinking of the passenger ship Rooseboom, who was carrying about 500 persons from Emmahaven to Colombo (Ceylon), mainly British military personnel and civilians from Malacca. The Rooseboom was sunk by torpedo from IJN submarine I-59 in the Indian Ocean, West of Sumatra on March 1st, 1942. Nine days later only two survivors were rescued by the Dutch freighter Palopo, that had left Padang for the same destination and later safely reached Ceylon.

Passenger Ship Van Imhoff   (Capt. M.J. Hoeksema)
After German invasion of Holland in May 1940, all German citizens and Dutch Nazi sympathisers in the Dutch East Indies were arrested, including many missionaries, hospital nurses and German Jews, who had fled from Hitler's Germany. The same happened in December 1941 to the Japanese citizens and the people from Formosa, then a Japanese colony. In January 1942 two ships with the Japanese internees were sent to Australia and three ships with German internees to Bombay, India. Four of these five ships reached their destination, but the Van Imhoff with 476 internees aboard was sunk by Japanese aircraft in the Indian Ocean, west of Sumatra Island on January 19th, 1942. The crew saved itself with the lifeboats, leaving the rafts for the internees. From this group only 65 managed to reach the island of Nias three to four days later, while 411 of them died.

Freighter Poelau Bras   (Capt. P.G. Crietée)
The Poelau Bras had left Tjilatjap on February 28th and was allready out of reach of Japanese aircraft when it was recalled by the Government to pick up high civilian and naval authorities from the Wijnkoopsbaai. Among them was an American "Associated Press" journalist William H. McDougall, Jr., who later wrote a book about it, and Rear-Admiral J.J.A. van Staveren, the second-in-command of the Royal Netherlands Navy in the Dutch East Indies. The Poelau Bras was sunk by aircraft from IJN carrier (CV) Soryu, North West of Christmas Island on March 5th, 1942 with approximately 340 people on deck. Many of them died. Among those who did not survive the sinking was Rear-Admiral J.J.A. van Staveren. For further details please read the interview with Frans J. Zantvoort who was aboard the ship when it had sunk and survived.

Passener Ship Sloet Van Beele   (Capt. C.L. van Dierendonck)
After the loss of Palembang, Sumatra Island, the Dutch authorities dispatched the Sloet Van Beele on February 16th, 1942, escorted by the RNN destroyer Van Nes, to pick up the KNIL garrison of approximately 400 soldiers from Billiton Island (Riouw Archipelago), from the port of Tandjung Pandan to Tandjung Priok (Batavia). On the next day, February 17th, both ships were attacked by Japanese aircraft from IJN aircraft carrier (CV) Ryujo and sunk. Only approximately 225 men were saved by a Dornier and a Catalina flying boats from the MLD or by reaching Bangka Island with lifeboats. About 200 persons died.


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Copyright © Klemen. L. 1999-2000
Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942

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