WW2 Ship, history MV Hauraki capture - Ships Nostalgia
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WW2 Ship, history MV Hauraki capture

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Old 16th December 2007, 04:48
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WW2 Ship, history MV Hauraki capture

BILL- A MARINE ENGINEER

I first met Bill in the late 1960’s when he worked for a large Corporation based in Wellington New Zealand and I was with the Auckland office of an international energy engineering company.
At the time our Company was the biggest single customer of Bill’s group so he invariably looked me up when visiting Auckland and, in the good old days of Corporate excesses, usually took me to lunch which often extended into an afternoon off but justifiable as we claimed to conduct as much business this way as we would in the confines of an office. He was a generation older than I but we had a lot in common from our early training in similar apprentiships, our times spent in the Merchant Navy as Marine Engineers plus our current engineering activities which gave us plenty of common ground to form a good friendship.
A year or so later circumstances changed at my office and rather than accept an undesirable “promotion’ I took an opportunity to join the Auckland office of Bill’s group and knowing of our individual engineering business contacts and associations throughout the country the Head Office Management of my new employer deciding to send Bill and I on a fortnight’s trip through New Zealand’s South Island in order to introduce his contacts to me, mine to him and to generally allow us to spend time ‘bonding’ and really getting to know one another well
We had a great time ‘chewing the fat’ with many old friends and acquaintances, drank a lot of beer and generally ‘fed well’ and it was while we were eating lots of green salads to counteract the calories of the prime steaks that were our staple fare when on a Company funded jaunt that I noticed Bill’s reluctance to eat cucumber which he always carefully weeded out from his lettuce and tomato. As a lover of cucumber I swiftly scooped it on to my plate and accepted his explanation that he simply did not like it however, after a week had passed we had established a closer relationship and after a few drinks before dinner I pressed Bill and he opened up with an explanation as to why he disliked cucumber and a fascinating and sometimes horrific story began to unfold..

Bill completed his engineering apprentiship just before the out-break of World War Two and had gone to sea as a Marine Engineer with the Union Steam ship Company serving on the passenger liners ‘Tahiti’ and ‘Aorangi’ on the North American run before transferring to the cargo ship MV ‘Hauraki’ in early 1942.( not the NZ shipping Co’s post war Hauraki)
The Hauraki, the Union Company’s first diesel powered vessel, was launched in 1921, displaced 7113 tons and was designed primarily for cargo work but with accommodation for twelve passengers. She worked extensively on the Trans-Pacific run, mostly Melbourne, Sydney to Vancouver via the Pacific Islands during the 1930’s but in 1940 after the out break of WW2 she was requisitioned by the British Ministry of War Transport and the ship, manned mostly by New Zealanders, was used on wartime ‘special services’.
Hauraki, loaded with war supplies for the Middle East, sailed from Wellington to Fremantle for re-fuelling then and left that port on 4th July 1942 bound for her destination via Colombo. Eight days out while in the Indian Ocean she was ambushed by Japanese armed Merchant Cruisers Hokoku Maru and Aikoku Maru and being unarmed and unescorted she was not able to resist being captured.
The ship was forced to sail under armed guard to Japanese occupied Singapore where the passengers and non- essential crew members were placed in camps and prisons such as Changi Jail while the engineers and deck officers were made to steam the ship up to the Mitsubishi Dockyard in Yokohama Harbour. Yokohama is the sea port for Tokyo and was a very large base for both the Naval and Merchant ships of the Japanese fleets
The Hauraki then had some modifications and repairs done, some to rectify the sabotage damage inflicted on machinery by the NZ crew, before being re-named Hoki Maru and sent to sea on the task of carrying defence materials to the Japan held Pacific theatres.
She lasted about eighteen months at this job until, on February 17th 1944, she was caught at anchor in a lagoon east of Eten Island, then a Japanese stronghold and major airstrip in the Truc group of Melanesian Islands, and an Avenger bomber from the Aircraft Carrier USS ‘Bunker Hill’ hit the port side with an aerial torpedo igniting the cargo of fuel and destroying the ship. Other torpedos also made their mark as proved by the many gaping holes in her hull when she was found in later years.
She was discovered in the 1980’s sitting upright on a sandy sea bed at a depth of less than 50 metres with her superstructure and hull badly damaged but with much of her cargo of bull dozers, trucks, steam rollers, runway matting, aero engines etc, all items useful for forming and maintaining island air strips, still intact in the holds after more than sixty years on the sea bed.
It is not surprising that the ship is now a well known and patronised Scuba dive site known in diving circles as the ‘Bulldozer Wreck’ and is promoted by Michael McFadyen’s Scuba Diving Company as a perfect dive site.

Bill’s story as he told it to me was that immediately the shot across the bows heralded the enemy they knew that they were in a ‘no win’ situation so the engineers worked to a contingency plan and began throwing spare parts overboard and commenced a planned ‘high wear’ regime for the main engine and auxiliaries such as running them with too little cooling water and inadequate lubricating oil pressures, not enough to be obvious or to immediately cripple the ship, but at a level that would ensure undue wear and unreliability in the medium term and the need for a relatively early refit. The boarding party included engineers from the Japanese ships who occupied the engine room on each watch together with an armed guard so this slow destruction technique could not be too obvious but otherwise the voyage to Singapore was uneventful apart from the anxiety as to what would become of them.
The ship managed to send out a distress signal warning of the pending capture but other than that the NZ Authorities or crew’s families and loved ones were not to know of their fate until after the Japanese surrender.
Today as I try to write from memory of a traumatic story told to me thirty years ago in a self effacing and matter of fact manner I am able to search the internet for reinforcing information.
Several sites, including the official NZ History “The middle phase of the war against Japan - June 1942 to December 1944”all confirm Bill’s story and if anything, exposes his version as told to me as being somewhat modest and understated when you review the historic conditions that are so typical of the other documented Japanese acts of barbarism of this period.

I quote now from accounts documented in the New Zealand War History.

Quote

“When the ship finally arrived in Yokohama Harbour the engineer crew members were taken to the infamous Ofuna Camp about ten miles from the port, put into small cells and forbidden to talk to anyone. Here they were given just enough food to stay alive and were subjected to an exhausting regime of exercise. They also experienced and saw the mass and individual beatings which helped give this camp the title of ‘Torture Farm’’
After being softened up in this manner they were interrogated several times during their six weeks stay before being drafted out to individual working camps in Yokohama.
The 20 members of the Hauraki had been at least fortunate in the fact that they had been able to travel from Singapore to Yokohama in relative style aboard their own ship rather than the overland and sea journey endured by the other prisoners in the back of goods trucks and ship’s decks without seating or bedding and having to squat for hours on end for several days.
Men at this working camp (Yokohama D1) were allocated to the Mitsubishi Naval and Merchant Shipyards and re-accommodated in a large old goods shed about 2 miles from the yard and at first, when there were only about500 men they were not overcrowded. The building however was filthy and the straw of the sleeping platforms soon became infested with rats, lice and fleas. There was a concrete floor and negligible heating so in the freezing winter months of 1943 many of the men contracted pneumonia.
There were almost no medical supplies and the camp diet consisted of a cup of rice grain and a cup of thin fish or vegetable soup three times a day. These factors combined to make it very difficult to resist disease. Sick men were often forced out to work and nearly 50 of the camp strength died in the first year.
Reveille was at 5 am and after the 2 mile march to the shipyard the men began work at 7 am, worked until 5 pm then marched back to camp where lights out was at 8 pm.
There were the usual bashings to maintain discipline some times varied by making the whole camp stand to attention until midnight.
The shipyard work consisted of all the heavy manual tasks connected with building and overhauling of ships and the “Hauraki” herself came in for a much needed overhaul in January 1943 and eventually went back to sea in September 1943.
At the end of 1944 Allied air raids began to be both daily and nightly occurrences, the shipyards being a prime target so both prisoners and their captors spent much of their time sheltering in snow lined trenches or what ever protection was available”

Unquote

Reverting to Bill’s own personal account, beyond his somewhat downplayed précis of the above, he mentioned that he was at one time an amateur wrestler of reasonable skill having won a provincial championship in his light weight class and one morning in the Yokohama docks, after the march from the camp and while waiting for the gang plank to be lowered to board ship and start work, he and a fellow crew member felt light hearted enough to take up the stance of a wrestling match hold then fooled around for a few minutes only to be observed by the Army Colonel Engineer in charge of the prisoner labour force in the dockyard who was a wrestler himself.
He could see from Bill’s style that he was trained at the sport and after a discussion via an interpreter Bill found himself booked for a bout with the Colonel on the jetty the next morning.
They proved evenly matched as far as tactical skills went but Bill’s half staved body did not have the strength to match that of the well fed officer and in any case Bill imagined that if he was able to overpower or tactically defeat the man the loss of face and humiliation might see him grievously punished. After several bouts the match became a regular morning fixture for many months on end as the Officer enjoying Bill’s skills and the work-out it gave him but realising Bill’s malnutrition was hampering their competitiveness he ordered that Bill was to be given extra rations. These consisted of extra rice and, for some reason that was never explained, several cucumbers each day. They had no nutritional value what so ever but Bill ate them at the Colonel’s insistence to avoid any repercussions and overall found that his health and strength marginally improved to allow him to even derive a bit of enjoyment out of the morning tussles himself.
His daily appointments with the Colonel saw a strained and fragile friendship develop which seemed to provide a buffer from the brutal treatment often meted by the overseers and guards, usually for little reason, and this “protection” spilled over to Bill’s companions, the other engineers from the Hauraki crew who had managed to stay together as a team.
Although it is not tabled in the NZ History account Bill mentioned that the Hauraki’s engineering crew were later taken from the Yokohama D camp and housed in a shed on the end of a dockyard jetty partly so they could spend longer hours actually doing productive engineering maintenance work, some of this being on their old ship and they were sure that the extent of work needed on their old vessel was attributable to the “abusive” treatment they had given to the equipment during the voyage to Japan.
As Bill saw it, being accommodated on the jetty was also another of the Colonel’s concessions to his group which freed them from some of the main camp privations and terrors.
The same harsh cold sleeping conditions existed as did the food rations but with a little more quantity and always with Bill’s cucumbers.
The work they did was in line with their engineering skills and was no doubt very valuable to the Japanese war effort but any thought of “shoddy” work or attempted sabotage was quelled by the example of punishment meted out to a young Japanese apprentice. The lad was working on a small auxiliary engine in a ship’s engine room near the New Zealander’s work area and was trying to undo a flywheel nut not realising that because of the engines rotation it had a left-hand thread. The kiwis stood back and laughed at his antics in a good natured way but an overseer appeared and realising what was going on laid into the lad with a pinch bar and would have killed him had the
NZer’s not intervened. This was all because of the perceived humiliation that the boy was creating in front of the foreigners and was an example of how the Hauraki men might fare if they did any thing untoward. Again Bill was sure that his association with the Colonel was the only reason they escaped punishment for acting on the boy’s behalf.
I recall asking Bill if they ever thought of escape and he confirmed that once they were quartered in the shed on the jetty they did conjure up several plans but each fell by the wayside as they checked them with a fine tooth comb.
Security was fairly lax, just one armed guard on night shift and often he fell asleep but the doubts of a successful plan were always there,
Firstly they were Europeans with only a smattering of Japanese language and a shore based escape would see them stick out like the proverbial in a land of many millions that probably did not have one European person roaming free.
The only other avenue was a boat or ship but neither of these were practical as steaming even a small coastal vessel out of the harbour would raise an immediate alarm and a smaller launch or patrol craft would not clear hostile waters, which then stretched for perhaps 1000 miles, before a faster boat or even a Zero drive bomber was sent to sort them out.
Their physical condition was another discouraging factor as they never had the real continuous will to carry any plan through.
The most harrowing time of their captivity was the latter stages of the war when the Americans started their large scale bombing raids on several cities especially Tokyo and strategic ports with naval dock yards like Yokohama.
These raids were the first indication that the war might be progressing in the Allies favour as up
until then there was no unbiased war news reports at all. What little news they could glean from the few partly friendly civilian dock workers was laced with propaganda about his Imperial Majesty’s constant defeats of the Americans and their Allies in all theatres.
The only comfort from these raids was the fact that at least the Yanks seemed to be getting the upper hand but that was where it ended as the raids themselves were more fearful than anything they had had to endure over the past two or three years. It was almost a rule of every man to himself while the raids were on and the deadly accuracy meant that there was little comfort in seeking refuge in the bowels of the ships hold or engine room as these vessels were the prime targets and a direct hit would probably see you trapped below. Bill recalled that they spent many of the earlier raids perched on the piles under the wharf hoping that a bomb would not come through the decking.
As the bombing progressed the Americans started to use incendiaries with devastating effect and as the dockyard became uninhabitable and they were sent back to the main camp

Most of the Hauraki group survived but I recall Bill saying that one man passed away out of sheer despair and malnutrition while another died in a camp hospital from wounds and burns received during one of these raids.
An internet site that I have visited contains a speech of conciliation given by Yoshiko Tamura in Japan on Anzac day 25th of April 2004 when he mentioned that a detailed search of Japanese war burial sites had found the graves of several prisoners of war and he mentions that the grave of William Brodie had been found and inscribed by his family after the war and identifying him as the 5th engineer on the MV Hauraki who had died on the 10th of August 1945 at age 30.He died of severe burns as a result of the bombings and just five days before the Japanese surrender
Bills first indication that it was all over came when the Colonel came to him one day and asked him to sign a document, written in Japanese and supposedly stating that all the Hauraki crew had received fair and just treatment from him as their captivity commander. This conciliatory move illustrated that he was not your usual type of Japanese career Officer/Warrior who would have fallen on his sword rather than surrender or show any compassion but just a civilian engineer caught up in the conflict and given a high military rank to enable him to have enough clout to perform his job which was keeping ships at sea.
Bill agreed and within a few days they were transported to a more comfortable camp to await the American troops and Bill never heard of his sparring partner again.
Bill admitted that it was a love/hate relationship at the time but as he got older and often dwelled on those days he realised that this common ground of a mutual sporting interest had certainly resulted in preferential treatment, albeit stilted and without any emotional display but it had undoubtedly eased the trauma for his group, perhaps even saved their lives.
I asked Bill if he ever felt like contacting the Colonel in the post war years and he replied “Often but my enthusiasm for it always faltered as I thought of the other side to our treatments and really did not want all the reminders”

The trip back to New Zealand was reasonably swift thanks to the US Air Force and they finally arrived in Wellington for a very brief reunion with their families before being again interrogated by local intelligence officers.
Bill finished up marrying the young lady that had been his questioner and counsellor during this de briefing period.

It was a long story with a happy ending and told to me over several nights of quiet conversation and while there are other anecdotes that I should recall I feel that I have captured the essence of the man who largely downplayed his own privations and talked more of the plight of others and it is only my internet searching that has disclosed the true horrors of these times that Bill largely glossed over. .

A year or two later I was out to dinner one night with Bill and his wife and while he was away talking to friends at another table I was able to talk to her about Bill’s ordeal and she was surprised that I knew so much and commented that he must of trusted and liked me a lot because it had taken him many years to tell her as much and in the original de briefings on arrival back in Wellington his lips were almost sealed
Bill got on with life; he was cheeky by nature with a great sense of humour but with an attitude that accepted no flack from anyone. When ever we had Japanese visitors to the office, and there were many due to our Japanese agencies, he would excuse himself and go off some where for the day. The sight, the sound of their voices, his understanding of some of their Japanese language talk between themselves etc all bought back harsh and sad memories, just like the smell and the taste of cucumber.

Bill reached 60, the compulsory retiring age for the Company’s staff and left with a good pension and the intention to play golf for the rest of his life but alas those years in captivity had no doubt left their mark and he died less than two years into his game.



Bob Jenkins 9/3/06
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Old 16th December 2007, 09:01
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Wonderfull story Bob ......thanks for posting it. I was ex Union Co 1974 - 1986 did we ever meet, your name seems familiar.

David Barnes
Westport
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Old 16th December 2007, 09:31
Ted Else Ted Else is offline  
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A great story Bob - it had me glued for several minutes to my screen - I do hope that it is seen by our younger generations - thank you for telling it here.
Rgds
Ted
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Old 16th December 2007, 13:46
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Bob,

What a wonderful story and thank you for sharing it with us. Little do we know of the hardship and privation that men like Bill had to put up with.

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Old 16th December 2007, 13:56
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Excellent stuff.
I too was glued to the screen.
This sort of personal story normally disappears because of the reluctance of the participants to discuss such traumatic times.
Thank you for recording this so we can share the story and remember them.
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Old 16th December 2007, 18:22
raybnz raybnz is offline  
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A very interesting story. Lets hope there isn't another event such as WW2. There are so many untold stories of this time.
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Old 16th December 2007, 20:09
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A wonderful story indeed - I was given a copy many years ago of the Chief Engineers report of the capture and what followed that he wrote to the Union Company Engineering Superintendent on his release from the prisoner of war camp in 1945

Butters.
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Old 16th December 2007, 20:32
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truly great story bob,

many thanks and best regards from cumbria, england
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Old 17th December 2007, 02:17
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MV Hauraki

David

I don't think we have met, I left the sea in 1960 and joined Babcock and Wilcox in a shore job. I note that you live in Westport though, went there often on the collier Kaitangata. My ex father-in-law was born there and went to sea as a boy at 15 and finished up as a long time Union Steamship Co Master. His name was Bernard Avery ( Bluey) and he died in 2000 aged about 85. His brother was a long time Westport public accountant. Bluey told me a few stories about his seagoing days which included being on the USSCo "Awatere" which was sunk off North Africa? This ship was the pride of the fleet and probably their all time glamour vessel

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Wonderfull story Bob ......thanks for posting it. I was ex Union Co 1974 - 1986 did we ever meet, your name seems familiar.

David Barnes
Westport
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Old 17th December 2007, 09:27
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Thank you Bob

A very sad and moving story.
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Old 17th December 2007, 23:22
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Well Bob I sailed with your ex father in law many times from when I was an apprentice in 1967 and actually was second Mate with him on his retirement voyage .
My late father who died in 2001 aged 90 also sailed as Ordinary Seaman & A.B. with him in the early 1930's
I enjoyed sailing with him as he could tell some interesting stories about his life at sea and i was an avid listener being a third generation seafarer.

Regards, Butters.
Lindsay Butterfield / Napier
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Old 22nd December 2007, 02:13
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BILL- A MARINE ENGINEER (2)




After posting my thread about Bill I decided to check on the history of the American bombing raids on Japan that lead up to the dropping of the atomic bombs in 1945.and again Bill’s account of his experiences can be seen as a modest one and in line with the reluctance of most men who have suffered the real personal experiences of war to talk about, glorify or glamorise it.
.
The first American airborne assault on the Japanese Mainlands in April 1942 was lead by General Doolittle of the USAF when specially modified Mitchell bombers were taken as close as possible to the Japan coast without being detected before being launched from the Aircraft Carrier USS Hornet which had its flight decks strengthened to cope with the extra weight.
The aircraft could only carry enough fuel for the raid plus sufficient to over- fly to a landing on the friendly China Coast as they were too big and cumbersome to land back on the carrier. Most planes hit a target but it was almost a semi-suicide mission as some ran out of fuel and crashed into the sea and others crashed or were shot down by Japanese forces but although the effort was only a pin ***** militarily it was seen as an American propaganda victory after the devastating embarrassment of Pearl harbour.
The advent of the B29 Super fortress bomber with a fly and return range of 1500 miles with a 9 ton bomb load allowed later raids to be mounted from the coast of China but the first of these in June 1944 was not very effective as only 47 of a squadron of 68 aircraft managed to hit the target area when bombing from a safe height of 30000 feet. The next raid in November1944 with a fleet of 88 aircraft saw only 10% hit the targets from high altitude and it was not until the Allies captured bases like Guam and later Okinawa that the were able to plan and carry out lower level raids with full bomb loads.

The first significant raid on Tokyo came on the night 23rd February 1945 when 174 B29’s carried out a low level 5000 feet altitude fire bombing raid that destroyed one square mile of the city.
This fire bombing was carried out using incendiary bombs which were dropped from the aircraft in clusters that fragmented into small 6 pound packs as they fell to earth. Each pack was designed to bounce and split as they hit and spray a sticky chemical solution that burst into flame on coming into contact with any object and this virtual torrent of tiny missiles caused a fire ball that consumed everything in its path. These incendiaries were the type that Bill described raining down on the Yokahama Docks

Another raid on 9th March 1945 saw 334 B29 bombers drop 1500 tons of incendiaries in one raid creating a fire ball that roared through the many flimsy wooden dwellings in the city to destroy 16 square miles and killing an estimated 100,000 people. These raids continued and were extended to attacks on other targets in the Tokyo Bay area including the dock yards at Yokohama with similar devastating damage and loss of life. In total, over a ten day period, the B29s dropped nearly 9500 tons of incendiaries on Tokyo, Nagoya, Yokohama and Kobe
.
Raids of lesser magnitude continued but as there was no sign of a Japanese surrender the American Government made the decision to drop the Atomic bomb on Hiroshima having cast aside an earlier plan to drop the device into Tokyo Bay as a “non lethal” demonstration of its awful effect without the huge loss of civilian lives.
On the 6th August 1945 “Enola Gay” dropped the first Atomic bomb on Hiroshima with catastrophic effect and after three days without a response from the Japanese Authorities, mainly because they could not understand or comprehend what was happening, the Americans dropped the second bomb on Nagasaki which brought about the unconditional surrender on 15th August 1945.
We all know of the enormity of the destruction and after effects of these two bombs which has left the world in fear of any future nuclear warfare but the reality at the time was that the “conventional”
Bombing of Tokyo and surrounding cities wrought more havoc and killed more people than both the A-bombs put together and some retired US military men argue that their use was unnecessary as the Japanese were actually formulating their surrender before it happened while others argue that the nuclear bombs hastened the war end, saved American lives and demonstrated to the whole world the evils of nuclear warfare and so prevented its use at a later date, perhaps during the USA/ Soviet cold war that followed, one that would of resulted in retaliation had the bomb’s power been demonstrated in combat in these later times.

Paul Tibbets the pilot of ‘Enola Gay,’ who died on 1/11/07, always maintained that he or his crew were never told about the destructive power of this ‘special’ bomb and claimed that the crew were doing their duty.
Asked by President Truman- “What do you think?”
Tibbets replied- “Mr President, I think that I did what I was told”
Truman- “You’re damn right you did and I’m the guy who sent you. If anyone gives you a hard time about it refer them to me”


The events of the Second World War clearly demonstrated the barbarity of the Japanese at that time but after researching this information from reliable war history files on the Internet, the other side was probably not very far behind. Such is war.

Bob Jenkins
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Old 10th April 2008, 13:50
JT McRae JT McRae is offline  
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Terrific stories Bob, they make for compelling reading. Thanks for your trouble.

Tim (USS Co '78 to '87)
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Old 10th April 2008, 20:08
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Thankyou for a very interesting and moving story..
Stan
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Old 14th December 2008, 10:09
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The Hauraki Boys

The attached photo is from Ohasi, Japan. It is the crew of the Hauraki, and the prize crew from Hokoku Maru.

The Hauraki members present should be; (not in photo order):
Bill Brodie, Capt Creese, Bill Falconer, Bill Hall, J Harland, Bill Holland, L Hughes, CT Hurley, JD Innis, Dick mcCallum, E McCready, W porteous, RL Thomson, Bill Todd.

If I've missed anyone, or made an error in those names: let me know.
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Old 14th December 2008, 12:57
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Neen,thanks for that and for your PMs, I will reply in detail tomorrow.
William Porteous is my old mate while William Brodie was the 5th Engineer that died toward the end of hostilities and was buried in Japan.
The photo is indeed a find and I will try and identify Bill if I can.
I think that Bill Falconer was later a businessman involved with the Taranaki oil industry?

Regards Bob
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Old 14th December 2008, 16:43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob jenkins View Post
I think that Bill Falconer was later a businessman involved with the Taranaki oil industry?

Regards Bob
I'm not sure on that one. According to the book 'Ships and Sailormen' by Allan Kirk he was with the company until retirement. His last job supervising the installation and running in of the Kawerau before retiring to St Heliers in Auckland. The book has a chapter on him and his part in the capture of the Hauraki.

Also, Martial Day's story (steward on the Hauraki) can be found in the book 'POW. The untold stories of New Zealanders as prisoners of war' by David McGill. which is evidently taken in part from the Radio New Zealand Sound Archives. He was one of the 'lucky ones' left behind in Changi when they split the crew.
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Old 14th December 2008, 20:25
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This is a bit off the subject but I have just remembered a little incident that I put to paper a while ago that concerns this thread's subject Bill and in a way illustrates the man's fortitude.

THE BIG RACE

We were a hard working office group in the wilds of Penrose but the half hour lunch break was sacrosanct and we spent the time grouped around the secretary’s desk in the main office eating our lunches and discussing any thing, apples to zebras, so long as it was a topic away from the pressures of the office day.
Norris, my boss of many years, promoted this interlude as therapy and we certainly covered a lot of ground.

There was Terry, Norris’ secretary, a mid thirties, slim, angular and handsome woman of part Maori blood always immaculate and with very healthy dietary habits.

Then there was Norris, a Pom, originally from Darby, ex Indian Army during WW2, highly qualified and a very stuffy attitude in the past but now letting his hair down as the final years closed in.

Arthur our service Engineer, a Geordie with a diabolical sense of humour and a ‘yarn’ library and telling ability above anyone I have ever known.

Then there was me.

It was early December when Terry had consumed a small pot of natural yogurt and a couple of thin rice wafers for lunch, while I tucked into my trademark cheese and vegemite sandwiches that I had enjoyed since primer one, that I commented,
“Keep eating like that and you will fade away to a shadow”.
This earned a retort of,
“Better that than become a big fat pig from eating all those cheese sandwiches.”
To which I replied,
“Listen Lady, I will race you around the block any day”.

The banter went on for a while then back to the daily grind but Norris who was almost sixty years of age and was indulging in a bit of body work by attending the YMCA every morning saw this challenge of mine as an opportunity to stir things along so he started the rumour that a big race was to take place on 23rd December, the day of our Christmas break up.
The story spread up and down the street with great rapidity, as fast as the old office rumour and new film “Apparently She Doesn’t Wear Underwear” to the extent that I realized that having shot my mouth off with the challenge I was now being forced to go with the flow.
As D day approached the course was set from the office in Fairfax Ave up to Station Rd and home via Wall’s Rd. A fair old trot for a forty plus, out of condition bloke who’s main contribution to exercise was mowing half an acre of steep lawn and a bit of dinghy rowing but little else. So ill matched with the lean Terry some ten years my junior, and with Norris who was old enough to be my father but super fit for his age and now also an entrant in the run.

In desperation I hatched a cunning plan to cheat by arranging for Arthur Brown to park in his Morris Minor van out of sight around the first corner so that I could set a cracking pace, get ahead and out of sight and be driven part of the way to conserve energy for the finish.
The Offices of Cable-Price Corporation, a company that I was to join in the New Year, started a book offering varying odds on the three starters and I was the rank outsider


The day arrived and with the race time set for 11 am several C-P staff arrived at our office with a crate of beer and the betting note book just after 9am so by 10-45 the alcohol had started to kick in and the office was a mass of noise and revelry as the contestants donned their running gear ready for the start.
During this melee the office door opened and in walked a tall young man, a stranger dressed in a sports coat, collar and tie, who asked the question,

“Who is in charge here?”

Norris answered,

“I am, how can I help you?”

The man replied,

, “My name is Detective Sergeant Oram”, flashing his warrant card around the room as he said so,

“I have reason to believe that there is an illegal book being run on a race and this is contrary to the gaming laws.”

His words were met with a stony silence but the first reaction came from the accountant of our subsidiary company next door who had been in to ask me a question relating to a business invoice and he scuttled from the office faster than the removal of a bride’s nightie to report to his boss that Babcock was being raided by the police.
Within seconds his boss, who incidentally was a lay preacher and the then current Moderator of the Presbyterian church of New Zealand, was out in the adjoining car park along with most of his office staff and peering across to the “crime site” with eyes agog.
Meanwhile the policeman started taking names and the three Babcock runners provided theirs along with our employer’s name.

Then came the Cable-Price staff’s interrogation,

Firstly Brian the Manager whose worried countenance could be read as;

“How will I be able to explain to head office why I and half my staff were in a gambling den and drinking during working hours and especially at that time of the morning”.
He then covered his tracks by providing his name and home address in lieu of his company name
.
Secondly Jeff , a mild man who normally only drank a couple of beers, as more gave him a migraine, suddenly had that pained look etched on his face after only half a glass.

Thirdly Bob H, acting as the book-maker, but who at that time was starting to embrace a new Christianity with The Assembly of God Church, had developed a pale and pasty look reflecting his feeling that all his new efforts climbing up the steep hill to salvation were suddenly turning into a very slippery slope back toward damnation.

Finally it was Bill Porteous’ turn. Bill was in his late fifties and had spent three and a half years as a virtual slave in the Mitsubishi Dockyards, Yokohama Japan after being taken prisoner from an NZ merchant ship in the Indian Ocean during WW2. He had spent this time being brutalized and at times near death from starvation but had survived and was now enjoying his later life but with plenty of attitude.
His response when asked his name was to stand with feet apart, arms folded, a boiled look on his face and a retort of,

“Get Stuffed, I don’t have to tell you anything, where is your search warrant anyway”?

A wave of horror swept across the other’s faces at this affront to authority but the policeman ignored him for the moment, picked up the betting note book that lay on Terry’s desk and said,
“Who is running this book anyway; you might as well tell me now as our handwriting experts will soon find out.”

Bob H knew his number was up and anxious to avoid further deception and a deeper fall out of grace confessed,
“It’s me”


The policeman paused for a moment then pulled five dollars out of his pocket and said,

“OK give me five bucks on my big sister”

First the utter relief on the faces of the duped, then the abuse of those that planned it. Terry had known that the morning would turn out like it did so had arranged for her young brother to be at the Penrose Police station awaiting her call and the timing was perfect. I was unaware of her plan but had met her brother previously so it was easy to go along with the spoof and be able to observe the genuine anguish of the others.
Within a couple of minutes every one warmed to the joke and admitted that they had been fully taken in but after all we had used a genuine policeman.
Then with ongoing revelry the runners went to the race start.
We ran until we were round the corner and out of sight, I flagged my free ride away and the three contestants agreed to shorten the circuit to stroll a new course via Olive Rd as we were due at Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant for our Christmas lunch at 1 pm and wanted to avoid the over exertion.
When in sight of the finish line we ran three abreast to cross in a dead heat and so cancel all bets.


A slice of life


Bob Jenkins 18/3/06
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Old 5th February 2013, 03:59
stevotrish stevotrish is offline  
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Photo

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Originally Posted by Neen View Post
The attached photo is from Ohasi, Japan. It is the crew of the Hauraki, and the prize crew from Hokoku Maru.

The Hauraki members present should be; (not in photo order):
Bill Brodie, Capt Creese, Bill Falconer, Bill Hall, J Harland, Bill Holland, L Hughes, CT Hurley, JD Innis, Dick mcCallum, E McCready, W porteous, RL Thomson, Bill Todd.

If I've missed anyone, or made an error in those names: let me know.
Hi ,
Great photo. I believe the gentleman second from the left, back row is Bill Falconer.
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