Convoy US11B

 

 

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Departed Sydney 29/7/1941
Arrived Fremantle 6/8/1941

Departed Fremantle 8/8/1941
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. They were 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 (HMT K) 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 Port Jackson.

   

Troops on board Marnix van St. Aldegonde in Melbourne, 29/7/1941. Australian War Memorial - ID No. 008545

 

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 1030hrs on 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 reinforcements.

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. 009249/07

 

Advance Party

  • Train - (by train from Bathurst to Western Australia)

Troopships

Escorts

  • HMAS Sydney (Sydney to Bass Strait)

  • HMAS Canberra (Bass Strait to Singapore)

(Sources: 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, 240)

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Last updated 14/05/2020