Training in Australia
to Singapore |
Training in Malaya
Arrived Fremantle 6/8/1941
Arrived Singapore 15/8/1941
In late July 1941 a convoy was organised to transport 8th
Division troops to Singapore. The convoy included three Dutch passenger
ships, and escort ships from the Royal Australian Navy.
After returning from New Zealand, the Dutch liner, Johan Van
Oldenbarnevelt, arrived in Sydney harbour on 25/7/1941. The 2/30th Battalion
had travelled from their training camp at Bathurst by train to Darling Harbour.
transferred by ferry to the Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo to board the
Johan for the voyage to Singapore.
An additional ship, Katoomba, was used to carry more
8th Div. troops between Sydney and Fremantle, including over 600 members of the 2/15th
Field Regiment. This group were to be transferred to another troopship when
the convoy reached Fremantle. The Johan Van Oldenbarnevelt (HMT
FF) and TSS Katoomba
sailed from Sydney on 29/7/1941, and headed south towards Melbourne, escorted by HMAS Sydney.
The Dutch liner, Marnix Van St. Aldegonde (HMT EE) had undergone
conversion to a troopship in Singapore, and arrived in Melbourne on the
23/7/1941. She set sail again on 30/7/1941 with the cruiser escort, HMAS Canberra, to meet up with
the other ships in Bass Strait. Over 2,000 troops from the 8th Division
were on board Marnix, including members of the 2/26th from Queensland,
and the 2/29th Battalion from Victoria, who had
both travelled by train from Bathurst camp.
Marnix contacted the other ships at 1600hrs on 31/7/1941 and after
meeting at the rendezvous point, HMAS
Canberra took over as escort, and HMAS Sydney headed back to
Troops on board
Marnix van St. Aldegonde
in Melbourne, 29/7/1941. Australian War Memorial - ID No.
Johan van Oldenbarnevelt on the way to Fremantle,
1/8/1941. (Naval Historical
Collection) Australian War Memorial - ID No. 303452
The ships in the convoy ventured
south of the normal shipping lanes for the voyage across the Great
Australian Bight, in sometimes windy and rough conditions. During the
voyage to Fremantle, on 4/8/1941, the two Dutch sister ships came
alongside each other and the "....Regimental Bands played alternately
to the troops".
The third troopship, Sibajak (HMT DD), had
been in Singapore for repairs. She left on 25/7/1941 and arrived in Fremantle
on 31/7/1941. The other ships arrived at Fremantle on 6/8/1941. During the voyage
across from Melbourne, there was an outbreak of mumps aboard the Marnix
and on arrival at Fremantle she was quarantined for a day due to a case
of meningitis. The troops who had travelled across to Western Australia
by train embarked Sibajak, and because Katoomba was
staying in Fremantle,
the 8th Div, troops, including the 2/15 Field Regiment and all their equipment, were transferred to
Sibajak for the remainder of the voyage.
Convoy US11B, comprising the three
troopships, and the escort HMAS Canberra, departed Fremantle at
8/8/1941. The ships carried the 2/26th, 2/29th, 2/30th Battalions and their 1st
Reinforcements; 2/15 Field Regiment, 27 Brigade HQ, 2/6 Field Park
Company, 2/12 Field Company, 2/10 Field Ambulance, and RAAF
On the morning of 15/8/1941, the ships
arrived at Keppel Harbour in Singapore and the Johan Van
Oldenbarnevelt berthed at Wharf No. 10.
27th Brigade 8th Division
troops disembarking from Johan van Oldenbarnevelt in Singapore, 15/8/1941. (Negative
by Nichols) Australian War Memorial - ID No. 009434
Troops of the 27th
Brigade 8th Division 2nd AIF disembarking at Singapore, 15/8/1941. Australian War Memorial - ID No.
Plowman, Peter - Across the Sea to War (Rosenberg Publishing Pty
Ltd, 2003); Whitelocke, Cliff - Gunners in the Jungle
(2/15th Field Regiment Association, 1983); Olsen, Wes - HMAS
Sydney (II) in Peace and War (Wesley John Olson, 2016);
AWM52, 1/15/14 - DRO [District Records Office] Eastern Command [Whole
diary - 10 items] (Sep 1939 - Jun 1942); AWM52, 8/3/26 - 2/26
Battalion Unit Diary; AWM52, 8/3/29 - 2/29 Battalion Unit Diary;
AWM52, 8/3/30 - 2/30 Battalion Unit Diary; Makan No. 248
(2/30 Battalion AIF Association); NAA: Various B883 Service
Records; ; NAA: MP729/7, 26/421/51 - Machine guns and
ammunition for transports of conveys US 11A and US 11B; NAA: B6121,