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Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Monuments for the Merchant Marine

I could not finish the story of following my stepfather's footsteps, without finishing it with the Memorial statues.After more than 50 years after World War II ended,these memorial monuments are dedicated to all the Sea services Navy, Marine Corps,Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine.
Dad,I wish you could have seen these Memorial Monuments.Specifically the one they build at the foot of The Golden Bridge, San Francisco. The Harbor you sailed from so many times during World War II. 1941-1945.

Always Remembered.

The Lone Sailor in Marine County Ca.on the north of the Golden Gate Bridge, dedicated to all the Sea services Navy,Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine.
The plaque at this sculpture is unique to this location and reads:






My step father sailed on the Boschfontein, which was a Dutch ship, which was sailing for the Allies.The ship was stationed in San Francisco and was transferred into a troop ship in World War II.

Dad I came upon this poem, and it says it all! I am so proud of you.

The Merchant Marine

We seldom get their names,
In spite of all they do.
They're merely mentioned in the press
"As members of the crew"
Yet they're the men whose courage,
Arms and clothes, equips and feeds,
The boys in every battle zone
Who do the glorious deeds.
We speak of them as Merchant Men,
Yet when they once set out,
No matter where their course may run,
Death follows them about

They're stalked by death from port to port,
When once the anchor is weighed,
From master down to cabin boy,
They're Sailors unafraid,
They know the lurking submarines,
They've seen them break the wave.

And still with little means to fight,
The cruel odds they brave,
Sometimes they are struck in the dead of night,
And into rafts they fall-
And drift about and pray to God,
To save them all.

We think of them as Merchant Men,
But when the war is won,
They too must share the pride,
For duty noble done,
And when the world is free once more,
And home the boys from sea,
When from the foxholes come,
The lads with us once more to be
When from the skies the boys slip down
Let all remember then,
The courage of the Yankee youth,(for every Nationality)
Who sailed as MERCHANT MEN.

This poem written by Edgar A. Guest, a well respected American Poet, wrote this poem during WWII.Obviously,along with World Leaders of the time, he respected and honored the men of the Merchant Marine. This poem tells it all!

This Monument is In New York. A power full memorial for the merchant Marine in Battery Park.
The sculpture by Marisol.

The water splashed up against the side, and every time it receded the head and shoulders of the man in the water came into view. A very power full memorial statue.

This memorial statue is in Rotterdam. The Bow-National Merchant Marine Monument at Leuvehoofd-Boompjeskade at the Harbor of Rotterdam, Holland. It stands on the corner of the Erasmusbridge.

You can see the Statue on the corner of the Harbor.

Never been forgotten.

Time has passed but we've finally been told
About the men on the ships who carried more
than their load.
The first men to die even before the war was declared,
Loving fathers and sons, hardly any were spared.
More seamen perished, more than any other
branch it is said.
One seamen out of thirty-two gave his life and
are dead.
The scars still remain, but the story is told.
And the monuments speak for themselves, the honor
It's respect to their comrades who gave their life
to the ocean.
Now their relatives can remember them with devotion.

Located on the Lake Ontario Waterfront, in a beautiful setting in Spencer Park, Burlington Ontario Canada, The Memorial Monument was unveiled on May 14 1995.The memorial is dedicated to the memory of 31 warships and the 2024 Naval Personnel of the Royal Canadian Navy and the 75 ships and 1466 merchant seamen, who were lost during World War II at sea.
Lest not Forget.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

part VII, Following my stepfathers footsteps.

The Boschfontein docked at Tandjong Priok, Batavia, March 29,1946

In March 1946 the Boschfontein docked in Tandjong Priok Batavia Indonesia, my stepfather was on board again..The ship had troops on board. The troops had to restore order in the Dutch Indies, they embarked the ship and repatriates (mostly women and children) boarded the ship the Boschfontein to be taken to The Netherlands.My mother and I were among them. We had no home anymore, we had lost everything.

World War II had ended on August 15,1945, but in the Dutch East Indies it was a mad house.The euphoria of Peace did not last long. The terror had returned.Gangs were plundering and murdering . It was a scary time. Every men and boy who was not Javanese from the age of 16, also Indo men were picked up and slaughtered. The Dutch Indies wanted to be independent and the Dutch government was not ready for it.Civilians had to pay dearly. Thousands who had survived the occupancy of the Japanese were killed in the Bersiap period.
For the repatriates, freedom started when they boarded the Boschfontein on March 29,1946.
My step father told a newspaper when he was interviewed , that he would never forget the sight of these poor women and children  climbing up the gangplank from the Boschfontein , most of these women had lost their husbands,and the children their fathers. To see them walking up the gangplank with a few belongings in tow had been one of his voyages on the Boschfontein he could never forget.
But on this voyage, when the ship had left the harbor of Tandjong Priok, Batavia, the Dutch Indies (now called Indonesia) he found the love of his life.In the interview of this Dutch newspaper he tells the reporter that one day he met this little girl, with white hair and blue eyes on deck and she was crying.He asked her why she was crying. The little girl told him that she was so scared. He asked her, what was scaring her. She told him that she had to wear this bubble jacket and that they might have to jump in the ocean if the ship was sinking. Apparently they had done this drill where the crew teaches them what to do in case the ship would run on a mine.This little girl had been scared to death. So I told her not to be afraid and that she did not have to jump. I told her, just look for me and I will hold your hand.I also told her a lie and told her that the life jacket was full of chocolates, which we could eat if we had to leave the ship in case of an emergency.Then this little girl asked me the most heart braking question. She asked me if I would like to be her father, because she was looking for one.I told her that her mother had to agree.
And that is how my step father met my Mom, on this voyage to the Netherlands on the Boschfontein in April 1946.
This little girl with the white hair and blue eyes was me Tetske T. van der Wal.And that's how Leendert Jacobus Molenaar became my step father, my best friend.
My step father did many more trips to Tanjong Priok, Indonesia, to pick up repatriates.After 1951 he sailed to South Africa and did many trips on this line, and still on the Boschfontein. In 1958 after the Boschfontein was sold he sailed on the Randfontein until he retired in 1967.By that time he had sailed the world for 42 years, how he missed the sea.
His life had been full of adventures and he was a true sailor, he loved the ocean, although he could not swim.He passed away in 2003, two weeks short of his ninety sixth  birthday.

Lest we forget.

Now see the old seaman
Not a word has he said
In silence and tribute
He remembers the dead.

Some young people question
Most veterans don't know
What it is he remembers
From so long ago.

How quickly forgotten
How sad they don't know
How they died on the oceans
Of so long ago.

He's a Bosun, a Wiper
The others as well
They sailed in harm's way
In battle they fell.

Now the band they are playing
A tear or two shed
It's flowers of the forest
For our sea faring dead.

Now see that old seaman
Whose chums there had died
He's twenty years younger
His chest swells with pride.

Some young people question
Most veterans don't know
Of the great price they paid there
So long ago.

written by Ian. A. Miller.

This poem in honor of the Merchant ships with their crew, who sailed in harm's way, to deliver troops and supplies, where ever needed during World War II.

Tandjong Priok, the Harbor in Batavia, Indonesia, where my mother and I boarded the Boschfontein on March 29,1946.
Repatriates are being picked up by trucks from Adekkamp in Batavia to the harbor of Tandjong Priok, March 29,1946.My mother and I were one of them.

Register before boarding at the harbor of Tandjong Priok.

Repatriates awaiting to go on board.
Another truck has arrived with repatriates.
Repatriates waiting to be registered for boarding.
The wounded are getting on board..
Dutch women and children are getting ready to board.
Repatriates ready for boarding.
Ready to go on board.
Repatriates looking up at the Boschfontein.
 On the top of the gangplank is my mother and I, it was very scary.
 A sailor from the Boschfontein is carrying a little boy on board.
Boarding the last repatriates
The sailors helping the older repatriates on board the ship.
We finally were all on board the ship of the Boschfontein. It was March 29.1946 and ready to leave for a new life in The Netherlands.Many tears were flowing, and many stayed on deck until the Dutch Indies was a speck on the horizon.
Little did we know that we would not get a very warm welcome in The Netherlands.
These were our sleeping quarters on the Boschfontein.
In Ataka Egypt we had to get off the ship and were loaded onto trains. We were getting dressed. We needed to get shoes and warm clothes, it was going to get cold once we arrived in The Netherlands.On arrival of the Boschfontein in Egypt we were loaded on trains.
  The train that took the repatriates to the clothes depot.

The younger children were at first very skeptical to board these trains, we had very bad memories from train rides.But at least there were no screaming pushing Japanese, all these men were so nice, so we quickly overcame our fear.After all it had been so nice on the ship.
The sign at the entrance of the clothing depot in Ataka.

Arrival at the clothing depot in Ataka. Egypt.
Arriving at the clothing depot in Ataka. with a welcome sign.
The repatriates are getting a big bag for their clothes.
The repatriates are trying on coats.
This little girl is getting a coat for the very first time.Look at her smile!
How exciting we are getting fitted with clothing. All smiling faces.
The shoe department. How exciting, I never had shoes.
The repatriates in line to receive more clothes.We needed everything.We received underwear, socks, shoes, coats, hats, caps for the boys, etc.
Trying on clothes at the Depot in Ataka. How much fun that was.
Tired children at the depot. Trying on all these clothes makes you tired.
This repatriate is getting overwhelmed.
The repatriates are getting a meal at Ataka.
A nice meal in Ataka. What a treat.
We have arrived at the ship again and have to board. Ataka Egypt.1946
At the Harbor of Ataka, waiting to go back on board the Boschfontein.
My Mom's I.D.card, with the list of clothes she received in Ataka. Egypt.
This is my I.D. card, it tells what I received on Clothes in Ataka.Egypt, in 1946.
We had a wonderful trip on the Boschfontein. It made it extra special, because we spend almost every meal with the man who became my step father.
The Boschfontein arrived on April 25, 1946 in the Harbor of Amsterdam. My step father had to go on many more trips to Indonesia to pick up more repatriates.

And this is where my story about following my step father's footsteps end.
I love you Dad and I hope your last journey was as good as all your journeys at sea. May you rest in Peace.

All my years;

I live in a world; I've made for myself
Years have taught me, no need for wealth,
The basic needs of life is Love
On that you build, far and above,
Necessities yes, but you work for these
The comfort of a home makes you proud and pleased.
As years pass, contentment you find
A family entwined, understanding and kind,
Nothing in the world is free
But Love and understanding, it can be!
For money is a cold and calculating thing
If you allow it to control,
No piece of mind, is a dreadful thing
Take heart and mind contentment and peace
You will find, will be your release.

A beautiful poem by Win Rainer.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Part VI, Following my father's footsteps.

June 8, 1945 the Boschfontein with their crew left the harbor of Manila. They had unloaded their "Goods" for this city so in need. They left this city with so much sadness in their heart, and were wondering if it would ever end. So much destruction, how can mankind destroy so much beauty.What is this all fore?? OIL??? GREED??? It makes no sense!
It was June 8, 1945 and my step father told me that was the first time on the ship he was really scared.He had not been home for so long,how was Holland doing? They had heard there was Peace now in Europe. The Germans had lost the war. How much longer did they had to fight the Japanese? There were rumors that the Japanese were losing. The Japanese would fight to the last man standing, for their emperor Hirohito of Japan.
How many more men had to die? So many merchant ships were lost at sea. Many of these merchant ships have never been given much publicity, many not even mentioned in historical documents. But they were serving ships, contributing a just cause to the war effort of the country that they represented.

Yesterday I spoke to somebody from the Netherlands. As of today the Dutch people have no idea what went on in the Pacific. It seems like they still believe that World War II only was fought in Europe, and that they were the only once who had suffered.I still was told; it was not so bad in the Pacific. Those ships which were in the Pacific did not have to face what the ships had to face here in the North Sea.I was told that the North Sea was full of mines and that the ships on the Pacific ocean did not have to face these dangers.I cannot believe how ignorant people can be, or is it a lack of knowledge? They have no idea what these ships had to face. Do they know about the Japanese Kamikaze fighters, the suicide pilots.An uncle of mine was on the O16 a Dutch submarine,all 42 men were killed when the submarine run on a mine. The Japanese had run numerous of these mine lines in the Pacific. They have no idea that numerous islands in the Pacific were occupied by the Japanese and that the civilians suffered tremendously under the occupancy of the Japanese.These civilians were driven out their houses and put behind barbwire.The Japanese took over when they occupied these islands and the civilians starved to death, and were used for slave work, until they succumbed from hunger and torture.They still think that it was paradise in the Pacific.My mother and I were in Japanese camps on the island of Java.The people from Holland did not even want to listen to her what had happened to their country men in the Far East.It was much worse here in Europe, what do you know about war, is what they said. They still have no idea that the Americans were fighting two continents,Asia and Europe.The Pacific was fought against a Japanese Force so disciplined, and suicidal, a Japanese Force that would do anything for their Emperor Hirohito of Japan.
Hirohito after the war was  made out as a nice peaceful gentleman.How is that possible? His whole family were crooks and would go to any length to conquer the world.He was like Hitler a Lunatic, and let nobody believe he was anything different then that.
So far from home.

They sailed the dangerous waters of the Pacific, these merchant men;... so often not remembered...These men who all sacrificed so much for Liberty.

After the Boschfontein left the harbor ( or whatever was left of the Manila Harbor) they sailed to Guadalcanal where they arrived on June 18,1945.Ten days at sea, zigzagging in these mine lined waters, never knowing if they were spotted by a Japanese submarine. Never knowing if a Japanese fighter plane would suddenly spot them.These merchant ship with these men on board faced danger every time they were at sea.Destruction of war is all they saw, which ever port they docked. 
The docks in 1945.Guadalcanal Solomon island.

Japanese wrecks every where along the shores of Guadalcanal, Solomon islands.
Guadalcanal was one of the first major Allied military battle in August of 1942, fought against the Emperor of Japan.
It is known as the Battle of Guadalcanal, known as (Operation Watchtower) The Allied fought with the objective of denying their use by the Japanese to threaten the supply and communication routes between the U.S, Australia and New Zealand. The Japanese had occupied the Solomon islands since May 1942. After heavy fighting the Japanese conceding the island to the Allies. The Japanese abandoned Guadalcanal in Decemeber 1942, and the island was declared secure in February 1943.
The Boschfontein had docked in Guadalcanal  in October, 1944 and now they were here again,it was now June 18,1945 almost a year had passed.

Today , which ever island in the Pacific you will go, this is what you will find. Memorial plaques, with stories about that horrible time. World War II.      Lest not forget.
Unknown American soldier memorial plaque.
Sky-line ridge memorial map. World War II.Guadalcanal.
The Boschfontein stayed in Guadalcanal till June 26,1945 and left on another short voyage to Hollandia where they arrived on June 30,1945.
The ship left Hollandia the next day July 1,1945  with supplies for their next destination Manila, where they arrived on July 8,1945. the sad city, the dead city.
The Boschfontein stayed for nine days and left Manila on July 27,1945 on their way to Leyte,then to Tacloban, which harbor they left on August 2,1945 to a voyage to Ulithi 
This building was used for Navy personnel
Ulithi Harbor in the Pacific during World War II was transformed into a mighty naval base. Today Ulithi is once again a peaceful tropical paradise.
From Ulithi the Boschfontein left the next day,August 6,1945 on their way to Eniwetok where they arrived on August 12,1945. On August 15, 1945 they heard that the War with Japan was finally over.
My step father returned to the Netherlands from these islands of Hell, only for a short time.
The Boschfontein left the Netherlands on it's next voyage to the Dutch East Indies(now called Indonesia) My step father was once again on board. Braving the oceans full of mines.

Battlefield by Win Rainer.

Years ago battles were fought on a battlefield,
One side would win, the other would yield,
But not today, Oh no neither side gives
No longer the battlefield, but in places one lives.
Through centuries one would think we'd learned some sense
But no, blood shed and bitterness, for just a few pence.
The more educated we become, the greater the strife
Surely something is wrong, can this be a good way of Life?

Win Rainer was a Jap POW ( as he described) Clearing the Jungle for the Jap for their railway.Win Rainer was a young soldier, he made it out alive.He has written numerous Poems about World War II during his life.
He passed away not long ago. May he rest in Peace.

Will continue.

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