Tuesday, September 19, 2006

World War II history : The last corvettes to leave Tjilatjap

Tjilatjap (Cilacap) is situated on the East Coast of Java in then Dutch East Indisch.
The following corvettes were the last vessels to leave the harbour with evacuees in year of 1942, while the Japanese invasion took place.

HMAS Ballarat (Lt Cdr A.D. Barling, RANR)
On 13 February 1942 she was bombed by Japanese aircraft in the Banka Strait, but escaped damage and on 14 February 1942 she rescued 213 survivors from The British vessel Derrymore, torpedoed the day before nort-west of Batavia. She was active in the evacuation of Sumatra and on 19-20 February 1942 she took a party of RAF personnel from Batavia to Oosthaven where they salvaged a quantity of essential Air Force materials.
She was the very last vessel to leave Tjilatjap on 3 March 1942. Having remained behind to scuttle
HMS Gemas, a small unseaworthy minesweeper. She reached Fremantle on 9 March 1942.

HMAS Bendigo (Lt S.J. Griffith, RANR)
On 5 February 1942 in Singapore, she rescued 78 survivors from the Empress of Asia from which HMAS Yarra had had embarked 10804 troops. On the night of 6 February 1942, She was the second last war ship to leave Singapore before that city fell to the Japanese.
From 18-20 February 1942 she embarked evacuees from Palembang (Sumatra). After that She berthed at Tjilatjap in company of HMAS Burnie. Having embarked 73 evacuees she sailed for Fremantle on the night of 1 March 1942 and arrived on 8 March 1942.

HMAS Burnie (Lt T. Christy RANR)
On 16 January 1942 Lt T. Christy took over command from Lt G.E. Gough.
She took part in the evacuation of Sumatra from 18-20 February 1942 and stood by at Oosthaven, where she took off the rear guard after the demolition of the installations and took them to
Tanjong Priok. On 28 February 1942 with HMAS Bendigo she rescued survivors from the Dutch vessel Broero on Java Head (where they had landed after their ship was torpedoed two days before), and took them to Tjilatjap.
She left for Australia on 2 March 1942, having on board the Commodore Commanding China Force: Capt. John A. Collins, whose broad pennant was hoisted at Burnie's masthead. She reached Fremantle on 8 March 1942.

HMAS Goulburn (Cdr B. Paul, RANR)
After the fall of Singapore she operated at Oosthaven during the evacuation of Sumatra, in February 1942. With Burnie she brought out troops and material in the face of enemy air attacks.
She left Tjilatjap 2-3 March 1942 and reached Fremantle on 9 March 1942.
HMAS Maryborough (Lt Cdr L. Cant, RAN)
After leaving Singapore Maryborough participated in the evacuation of Sumatra and Java. Maryborough departed Tjilatjap at 8 pm on 2 March 1942. She escorted the Dutch vessel Generaal Verspeijk and both reached Fremantle on 10 March 1942.

HMAS Toowoomba (Lt. Cdr. P.H. Hirst, R.A.N)
On 3 February Toowoomba and Ballarat left Singapore, escorting two small British minesweepers to Palembang (Sumatra). On the way Toowoomba rescued the crew of SS Loch Ranza, aground off Abang Island in the Rhio Strait. Later both vessels were bombed (Toowoomba was slightly damaged), but both reached Palembang on 6 Febraury 1942. On 12 February 1942 she left Palembang with a convoy for Batavia (Jakarta), after which she was employed in submarine patrols and escort duties between Tanjon Priok (harbour of Batavia) and Merak (Sunda Strait). She survived several bombing attacks. Finally with the rest of her flotilla, she sailed through the Sunda Strait to Tjilatjap.
She left Tjilatjap on 2 March 1942 and reached Fremantle on 9-10 March 1942.

HMAS Wollongong (Lt G.A. Keith RANR)
On 5 February 1942 after embarking the remainder of the survivors, including the ship's master and chief engineer from the burning troopship Empress of Asia, she left Singapore on 6 February 1942 and sailed to Palembang. From 18-20 February 1942 she took part in the evacuation of Sumatra. On 28 February 1942 she was part of the last Allied convoy to leave Tajong Priok before the fall of Java.
While in this convoy the tanker War Sidar ran aground in the Sunda Strait, an Wollongong tried unsuccessfully to tow her off. Later she towed another tanker the British Judge, who was torpedoed, to Tjilatjap.
She left Tjilatjap 2 - 3 March 1942 and arrived at Fremantle on 9 March 1942.