Tulagi - Ships Nostalgia
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  #1  
Old 23rd May 2009, 22:53
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Question Tulagi

Hi!
Does anyone know of a ship called the Tulagi? A friend of mine's father was Radio Officer on her during the Darwin raids in WW ll.
I don't know if she was a Union Steamship ship, but might be known by some members of this forum.
I believe the ship ran between Australia, NZ & PNG. My friend believes that the Tulagi was bombed in PNG. The Radio Officers name was Len Palmer.
Cheers!
Dickyboy

Last edited by Dickyboy : 24th May 2009 at 07:30. Reason: Changed a typo in the ships names spelling
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  #2  
Old 24th May 2009, 01:20
Bernard McIver Bernard McIver is offline  
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Hello Dickyboy,

The ship you are referring to is MV Tulagi owned by Burns Philp & Co. Sydney which was sunk by U532 in the Indian Ocean on 28th March 1944 with only seven of the crew surviving. Eight others survived with them on rafts for 52 days before being separated and lost.

I have researched this story and written an account based on the survivor's reports. The "Tulagi" crew list for 8th March 1942 (Darwin) shows L.Palmer 1st Wireless Operator. He was not on the ship when it was lost in 1944.

You will find a lot of information on the ship from postings on this website:
http://www.mercantilemarine.org/

Feel free to contact me by private message on ships nostalgia.
Regards, Bernard
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  #3  
Old 24th May 2009, 07:45
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Hi Bernard! Good to hear from you, and so quickly to!
I have just logged on intending to change the spelling of the Tulagi a typo on my part.
Thanks for the info on her. My friend is the daughter of the Radio Officer during that period. She was born & bought up in PNG of ex pat Australian parents, and knows very little of the ships her father sailed on. Though she did do a voyage on the Tulagi once as a young child.
I believe she said to me once, that her father survived an attack in PNG.
Thanks for the link by the way, I'll have a look there shortly.
Would there have been any distinction between "Radio Officer" & "Radio Operator" (These things are still quite important to some people )
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  #4  
Old 24th May 2009, 10:53
Bernard McIver Bernard McIver is offline  
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Hello Dickyboy,

The correct designation is "Radio Officer", sometimes incorrectly called "Wireless Operator" or "Radio Operator". The Tulagi carried 3 Radio Officers. On the crew list of 8th March 1942 these were:
L. Palmer - 1st Radio Officer; J. Cooke - 2nd Radio Officer; D. Masters - 3rd Radio Officer.

I myself served as 2nd Radio Officer during WW2. Good luck in your search and let me know if I can be of any further help.
Regards, Bernard
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  #5  
Old 24th May 2009, 11:14
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Dickyboy,

Details and photo of 'Tulagi' can be found at http://www.merchant-navy-ships.com/i...?id=30,0,0,1,0

Dennis.
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  #6  
Old 24th May 2009, 13:49
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Many Thanks Bernard
The infomation is very useful, I'm sure that the lady I'm enquireing about will be pleased to know that L Palmer was The 1st Radio "OFFICER" (She's that sort of lady )
I can't delve too deeply into too many threads of course, or people in those threads, but may I ask where and what you served on during the war? I have the very highest regard for people who went to sea during war, especially in unarmed ships.
My seatime was all in peacetime of course.
Cheers!
Dickyboy.
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  #7  
Old 24th May 2009, 13:52
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Thanks Dennis, Got it!
Tiny by todays standards wasn't she!
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  #8  
Old 25th May 2009, 03:42
denisewels denisewels is offline  
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Tulagi

Thank you very much for making the enquiry, Rich-- especially as I am the kind of "lady" who requires a connection to be a First Officer and not a lowly deck hand! For that matter, you could have said he was the Captain.
Also, I never travelled on the Tulagi, my dad was English, not Australian, he was in the Darwin Raids and was not bombed in New Guinea.
I would be interested in reading anything that anyone knows about the Tulagi.
Back to scrubbing the decks, now, Sirrah!
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  #9  
Old 25th May 2009, 04:36
trotterdotpom trotterdotpom is offline  
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I recently purchased a book called "An Awkward Truth" by Peter Grose. The book is about the Japanese raids on Darwin in 1942 and I purchased it at the ABC shop in Brisbane.

I haven't read it yet but, according to the index, there are several mentions of the Tulagi - a quick glance identifies her as a troopship. Why not mosey into your local ABC shop and, if the book is on the shelf, check out the references and see if there's anything of interest. The book received a good wrap on the ABC Radio Bookshow.

Good luck and good reading.

John T.
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  #10  
Old 25th May 2009, 05:22
denisewels denisewels is offline  
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Thanks very much for that, John. I frequently check out the ABC shop.
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  #11  
Old 1st September 2009, 02:29
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M.V. Tulagi

Hi Denisewels, an open google search will bring up many stories of the TULAGI.
She was built in Hong Kong at the Whampoa Docks and lauched 1939. She was built for the Solomon Islands timber trade and i believe made a trip to America but I don't yet have original documentation for that run. The Tulagi helped evacuate the Solomons and other island ahead of the Japanese advance...This can be read in the book "The Big Death" a compilation of survivors accounts put together by the University of the South Pacific Solomon's Camus..I have one stray page from an unidentified file sent to me by the Archives stating that the Tulagi landed Coast Watchers in the islands disguised as missionaries.
The Tulagi was used as a troop ship to carry the 148th Idaho Artillery regiment to Timor and was chased back to Darwin...She was escorted by the HMAS Armidale which was sunk but the Tulagi blew black smoke and pretended to be hit. When she arrived back in Darwin she was holed in the harbour attack but the Captain beached her in Crocodile Creek and ordered "abandon ship"...He later invited crew back on board to man the guns which several did. The Tulagi was patched up and sent down to Sydney with survivors of the raids and their effects.
She regularly did the trip from Sydney to Darwin carrying war supplies through "Bomb Alley" round Thursday Island. My Father made one account to the Admiralty and you can down load this from the Australian Archives Record Search "Machine Gun Attack on the M.V. Tulagi" December 1943.
She left Sydney on 10th march 1944 carrying mail and flour to Colombo. For this last trip she was taken over by the British Admiralty, i.e. British Navy and was rumoured to be joining the Fleet Train...I believe for the retaking of Burma. I have not yet located the original documents.
Some accounts put the M.V. Tulagi as being dogged by a submarine before she was sunk at midnight 27/28th March 1944 but from Kreigsmarine signals I have not yet been able to verify this. There were survivors of the sinking who endured an epic voyage through gales with little food which ran out as did the water.. At first there were 15 who survived the sinking and these were divided onto two rafts. The personel on the second raft did not survive and drifted from sight on 19th May 1944. No one knows their eventual fate from the three surviving Burns Philip Officer's accounts. Searches of the Seychelles and the Chagos were conducted and some thought they may have eventually got to Madagascar. The Lascar seamen's accounts I have not yet been able to locate. The accounts can be read on Mercantilemarine.org. The Log of the U-532 under the command of Otto Heimlich Junker for this incident exists as part of our war reparation payments but I have not yet been able to locate a copy. By plotting the positions of submarines as radioed to Berlin and from information in "Monsun Boats in the Indian Ocean" I have been able to ascertain along with a signal from the Govener of the Seychelles that the submarine that surfaced after the sinking was the UIT-24, which was the ex-Cappillini which was under the command of Pahls but was being given to the Japanese. The UIT-24 was in a bad condition and was being nursed back to Penag . The U-532 had aborted her fifth patrol back to France and had several rendezvous in the Indian Ocean to refuel other submarines and exchange the new "book part" of the Enigma code. It is my belief that the Tulagi blundered into a set rendezvous. The U-532 remained in the quadrant several days to meet with another submarine under Doenitz's orders confirms this supposition I believe. Many accounts state there were only seven survivors of the sinking ignoring the struggles of the other eight from 27th March to 19th May.. I am gradually having the Tulagi records in the Australian Archives digitised so that all interested in this ship can view the original records.
The bombing of Darwin was investigated by a Royal Commission in 1942 and the report was presented to the Australian Parliament in 1972 with 119 of its over 900 pages still censored.
Those who survived the sinking and the drift on the rafts received British Decorations and John Ward the Chief Engineer also received the Llyod's Silver Medal...the Merchant Marine equivalent of the V.C.
I will be placing a wreath for them all at the Merchant Marine Memorial at HMAS Cerberus on 3rd September, Merchant navy Day. My father was the Petty Officer Gunner on board the Tulagi for her final voyage and several others. Prudence.
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  #12  
Old 15th September 2009, 09:22
denisewels denisewels is offline  
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Thank you very much for that information about the Tulagi, Prudence. I wish I had logged in earleir, so I could ahve thought of you placing the wreath on September 3.
My dad, Len Palmer, the Radio Officer, died many years ago, alas. There are so many things I wish I had known to assk him, but I guess that is always the way when someone dies much too prematurely. He had only just retired from being Manager of OTC in Rabaul, New Guinea.
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  #13  
Old 17th September 2009, 10:57
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Thumbs up Tulagi

Hi Denise, yes we did get to Cerberus...Unfortuneately the ARMY here in Australia has stuffed up and allowed suspect ne'er do wellls to wander around holsworthy Army Base in Sydney to uss it out to do what amount to acts of war on our military personell. So...the navy hs been ordered to clamp down on security...My daughter who came with us was not allowed to enter the base as she had left her picture ID at home...However we placed the wreath, said a prayer and the navy historian at Cerberus came with us and brought their RED DUSTER. I have been trawling the national Australian Archive RECORD SEARCH and found "THE LOWE REPOIRT'...this is a shorted version of the ROYAL COMMISSION into the bombing of Darwin Harbour in 1942 just four days or so after tht Fall of Singapore. Most of the ?AIR FORCe and other big wigs were off at a conference in Java as they were anxious to protect the oi8l around there..The fleet and air arm that hit Darwin was the same one the flattened Pearl Harbour the December before. That fleet was later beaten by the AIRFORCE at COLOMBO when the Japanese tried to take that base. The full Royal Commission Report was tabled in the Australian Parliament in 1975 having been ultra secret but 119 of its 937 pages were still secret. The LOWE report a brief precis of two days of hearing in Darwin and a month later two days in Melbourne makes pretty hair curling reading. I am about to have some TULAGI LOGS digitised and will post when this is finally done...they will be free then on the net. I did do my block on another site as the writer of a book on the bombing of DARWIN did not know the difference between the Captain giving the order to "abandon ship" and the crew deserting...I was very angry as many of the crew came back after the order and manned the guns to fight the planes attacking all and sundry. The Catalinas based at Darwin at the time could have made a difference but their crews had been withdrawn. This incident of courage tends to be overlooked in the literature. When the logs are up you will get an idea of where the ships was when and when the radio operators were on duty. So far i have only digitised documents that were when the TULAGI was under the control of the ADMIRALITY. A search for M.V. Tulagi 1939-1948 will bring up the complete list of archive holdings and you can trawl down to find the documents so far digitised. She was quite a ship..Prudence.
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  #14  
Old 19th September 2009, 00:45
Bernard McIver Bernard McIver is offline  
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Hello Prudence,
The medal awarded to John Ward Chief Engineer of MV Tulagi was Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea. This is not an Imperial Award and can not be compared with the Victoria Cross which is generally awarded to Service Personnel but may also be awarded to Civilians for "valour in the face of the enemy".
The only equivalent to the Victoria Cross is the George Cross.
Regards, Bernard
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Old 21st September 2009, 03:40
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Medals

Not going to argue but I have seen the Llyod's Silver Medal described in publications as the Mercantile Marine equivalent of the Military Victoria Cross.
There was at one stage also a Naval Victoria Cross which sported a blue ribbon.
who can say what action recognised or recorded is equivalent Don't want to argue. Lost too many family, too many friends strewn in little pieces round the globe. Prudence
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  #16  
Old 24th September 2009, 18:24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prudence View Post
Not going to argue but I have seen the Llyod's Silver Medal described in publications as the Mercantile Marine equivalent of the Military Victoria Cross.
There was at one stage also a Naval Victoria Cross which sported a blue ribbon.
who can say what action recognised or recorded is equivalent Don't want to argue. Lost too many family, too many friends strewn in little pieces round the globe. Prudence
Bravery is bravery no matter who issues the medal in my book. The Boy Scouts have a bravery medal, is that less important than any other bravery medal? Did every Maltese deserve the GC? Given to the Island for all Maltese? Are those people who don't qualify for the VC or the GC less brave than those that do? I think that anyone who goes to sea or war, willingly, deserves more than a campaign a medal. I think especially at sea, one can't duck into a hole when a torpedo strikes, nor can one run away or surrender, and they know it.
Are Conscientious Objectors brave (No medals for them) I believe they are, if they stand up, often in court, and stick to their beliefs. Many Conscientious Objectors did medical work at the front, and died there unarmed. Are they not brave as well?
Of course most if not all medal "Winners" are deserving of their medals, but it seems to me that if you don't get a medal you're not brave enough to warrant one, and that's rot.
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  #17  
Old 25th September 2009, 09:47
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Bravery

Hi Dickyboy, thanks for posting. As as ex-nurse I have some hairy stories to tell. If you don't mind I'll post this one. I knew a bloke now deceased, who went up the Kokoda as a forward scout with one other...they smelt smoke. They crept along and here was a Sally brewing tea waiting for the boys with chewing gum. he was informed he was 20 miles in behind Japanese lines and he'd better put the fire out and move back a bit ...he did. I make the excuse for posting that he had to get there by ship.
A pretty good book on "Concies Quakers and Queers" is The Charioteers by Mary Renault. It is an examination of how they were accepted and worked in Britain during the war. Sorry I don't have the ISBN. It is also an examination of Greek thought as it has permeated down in the English eduction system. Mary Renault spent some of her formative years playing in the ASHMOLE Museum . She was hooked on ancient Greece ever after. She wrote a fascinating series of books on various periods there. She was a nurse and worked as a writer in South Africa and was a leader in the white writer's group there in the anti-apartheid movement to her cost. Prudence
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Old 23rd April 2010, 17:16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prudence View Post
Hi Dickyboy, thanks for posting. As as ex-nurse I have some hairy stories to tell. If you don't mind I'll post this one. I knew a bloke now deceased, who went up the Kokoda as a forward scout with one other...they smelt smoke. They crept along and here was a Sally brewing tea waiting for the boys with chewing gum. he was informed he was 20 miles in behind Japanese lines and he'd better put the fire out and move back a bit ...he did. I make the excuse for posting that he had to get there by ship.
A pretty good book on "Concies Quakers and Queers" is The Charioteers by Mary Renault. It is an examination of how they were accepted and worked in Britain during the war. Sorry I don't have the ISBN. It is also an examination of Greek thought as it has permeated down in the English eduction system. Mary Renault spent some of her formative years playing in the ASHMOLE Museum . She was hooked on ancient Greece ever after. She wrote a fascinating series of books on various periods there. She was a nurse and worked as a writer in South Africa and was a leader in the white writer's group there in the anti-apartheid movement to her cost. Prudence
Hi Prudence
Thanks for the info.
Ending up twenty miles behind enemy lines through no fault of his own makes him a hero in my book, not because he was behind enemy lines, but because he was brave enough to trust someone else to put him in the right place.
Sorry about the delay in replying, as things move down the list they tend to get forgotton by me.
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