Attempted escape from fall of Singapore, 1942. - Ships Nostalgia
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Attempted escape from fall of Singapore, 1942.

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  #1  
Old 2nd July 2007, 09:27
Chouan Chouan is offline  
 
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Attempted escape from fall of Singapore, 1942.

This is a long shot! My father insisted that his uncle, Tom Wilson, who had been a Second Engineer, was involved in an attempt evacuation from Singapore. He was then a Planter in Malaya, and had reached Singapore, fleeing from the Japanese. The story goes that, when Singapore was being evacuated, there was a ship laid up, or at least, out of commission, that was thought useful for the evacuation. My father said that his uncle was involved in getting the engines ready, and making the ship ready for sea. The ship sailed, with refugees onboard, but was sunk by the Japanese within a day or so. Tom was capturede by the Japanese and spent the rest of the war in Changi.
I've looked for years at every book I could find on Singapore in 1942 biut have been unabler to find any evidence to confirm or deny the story. I never met my greatuncle, and never got round to getting any more details from my father. You know how it is, you'll talk about it next time we meet etc etc.
Any suggestions, or any clues anybody?
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  #2  
Old 2nd July 2007, 10:04
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Chouan
There is an account similar to the one you describe on the BBC site
http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/categories/c55050/
The story is 'Another Door' by Tom Simkins MBE, Chief Radio Officer from the Shell Tanker 'Pinna' and involves 4 small tankers, Kepah, Kulit, Gewang, Ribot and a launch Makota.
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  #3  
Old 2nd July 2007, 13:56
Chouan Chouan is offline  
 
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I'll have a look.
Thanks,
Peter
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  #4  
Old 2nd July 2007, 17:17
Billy1963 Billy1963 is offline  
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Another possibilty:

Cargo ship Redang, 531grt, (MOWT, Straits SS Co.) had escaped from Singapore with a skeleton crew of 19 and 70 refugees just before the city fell into Japanese hands. On the 13th February 1942, the Redang was attacked and shelled by the Japanese Destroyer Asagiri North of Batavia in the Banka Straits. 58 people onboard were killed; the remaining 31 took to the last remaining lifeboat and landed in Sumatra two days later only to be captured by the Japanese.
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  #5  
Old 2nd July 2007, 23:08
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This from the Straits Steamship Company website; SS Vyner Brook taken over by RN:
H. M. S. Vyner Brooke had been ordered south to Tandjong Priok and was to become yet another victim of Japan’s Invasion forces. Her Captain was E. (Tubby) Borton of the Sarawak Steamship Company and he’d sailed from Singapore on the night of the 12th with 64 Australian nursing sisters amongst his 192 evacuees. On entering The Banka Straits he was attacked by nine Japanese planes at 1pm, Tubby Borton zig zagged Vyner Brooke in an attempt to out manoeuvre the planes. Vyner Brooke was hit repeatedly with the Bridge being totally destroyed, the steering gear out of order, the ship on fire Captain Borton gave orders for the ship to be abandoned. In just over twenty minutes H. M. S. Vyner Brooke sank, Captain Borton was in the water for eighteen hours before making landfall at Mungtok Lighthouse. Most of the other survivors who also spent all afternoon and night in the water landed on a beach near Muntok where they set up a camp and commenced tending the wounded. A couple of days later on the 16th they were discovered by a Japanese patrol which consisted of ten men and an Officer. Those that could walk including Chief Officer W.S. Sedgeman and Second Engineer J.J. Miller were marched round a small headland lined up and shot, those who were lying wounded were bayoneted to death, one survived the bayoneting. The nurses were then ordered to walk into the sea, on reaching waist height the Japanese commenced to machine gun them and all were killed save one, Sister Vivien Bullwinkle who was shot through the throat. Vivien Bullwinkle said in a later interview that she lay floating for what seemed hours before raising her head to find the beach deserted save for her dead comrades floating around her and those that had already died on the beach. Mr. S.A. Anderson, of Ritchie & Bisset wrote ‘She was brought into the former Labour Lines of Banka Tinwinning group which already housed many prisoners. There were two Doctors, Dr. Paddy West from the Federation of Malaya and Dr. Reed of Mata Hari. She was unconscious and in a terrible mess from sun and sea exposure. Life was barely there. Her chances of survival were very slim. Because of sun blisters, her mouth was completely closed and eventually the doctors fed her through a small opening at the corner of her mouth by means of a small glass dropper’. After recovering Vivien was able to relate to others what had actually happened on the beach but was ordered to stay silent for her own safety, the Japanese certainly wouldn’t have allowed the only surviving eye witness of this massacre to go on living. Vivien survived the War and was one of Australia’s Official Representatives at the dedication ceremony of the Kranji War Cemetery Memorial in Singapore.

There's plenty more on this subject if you have the stomach for it.
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  #6  
Old 2nd July 2007, 23:43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevecz View Post
Chouan
There is an account similar to the one you describe on the BBC site
http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/categories/c55050/
The story is 'Another Door' by Tom Simkins MBE, Chief Radio Officer from the Shell Tanker 'Pinna' and involves 4 small tankers, Kepah, Kulit, Gewang, Ribot and a launch Makota.
I've just spent several hours reading this. Thank you for posting it,
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  #7  
Old 13th July 2007, 11:39
Chouan Chouan is offline  
 
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An interesting story, clearly not the "same" story, but it still gives an insight into the kind of thing that happened. He does mention other small ships involved in the evacuation, perhaps one of those? Probably too late to find out for certain now. In any case, thanks for the interest and the insight gained.
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  #8  
Old 13th July 2007, 18:38
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Whilst serving as an apprentice on the Shell tanker Achatina, the Ch. Engineer was a chap by the name of Dick Lowe. A true gentleman. He was captured by the Japanese when they invaded Singapore, and was incarcerated in Changi jail. There was no love lost between him and the Japanese. Capt.Williams writes in his book "Tankerman" that Dick Lowe was the boxing champion of the place and his level of fitness probably helped him to survive. What a hell hole it was.
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  #9  
Old 13th July 2007, 19:25
BrianP BrianP is offline  
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Escape from Singapore

My wifes uncle, Stanley George, was a soldier during the fall of Singapore. The story is a bit vague, along with others they commandeered a vessel and set off to an Island to put distance between them and the enemy, once ashore they headed of into the hills and into the safety of some caves.The Japs found out and set off in pursuit after them, on landing at the island they made the local inhabitans inform on the location of the fleeing men.they were soon all rounded up and taken back to Singapore,were they ended up in Changi jail.
He ended up working on the Burma railway and one day, along with others at the camp, witnessed a huge flash, followed by a giant column of cloud on the horizon. They did'nt know it at the time, but they had seen the bomb fall on Japan.
He was so thin and weekened by his treatment by the Japenese, that he had to converless in Canada before being allowed home. His only recollection of the journey home and where he was been taken, was when he passed the local war memorial and only then, thinking he must be back in Norfolk. His wife, Ruby slowly helped to get her husband back on the road to a normal life again.
I only met him once just before he died around 1996, he never used to talk about his experiences during the war, but to a stranger, he did tell me a little of his time in the far east. The following day we bumped into him while out shopping in the town, he had bought some ingredients make sweet & sour pork, even after all this time, he still would eat rice dishes, like he did in the prison camps, because his system could only cope with simple foods.
A privalige to have known him, a gentle giant of a man, I wish I could have known him more.
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  #10  
Old 16th July 2007, 01:05
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BBC website

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevecz View Post
Chouan
There is an account similar to the one you describe on the BBC site
http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/categories/c55050/
The story is 'Another Door' by Tom Simkins MBE, Chief Radio Officer from the Shell Tanker 'Pinna' and involves 4 small tankers, Kepah, Kulit, Gewang, Ribot and a launch Makota.
Hi stevecz,

Many thanks for the link to the BBC web site. Fascinating reading, I could spend weeks reading all the stories.

Trader.
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  #11  
Old 12th November 2009, 21:52
rodgoodwin rodgoodwin is offline  
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The Maatsuyker

It is my understanding that the last refugee ship to successfully leave Singapore and reach safety in Western Australia was a Dutch coastal trader called the Maatsuyker.

This would have been early in 1942, and one short jump ahead of the Japanese.

The women and children were hospitalised on arrival in Australia, so it is a fair assumption that conditions on board would have been crowded and difficult.

The refugees were aware that another ship that left after the departure of the Maatsuyker did not make it.

I was one of those refugees on the Maatsuyker, but too young to recall anything about the circumstances of the voyage.

Most of the women on board had left their menfolk in Malaya. Many of those men - civilians - fought alongside the Australian forces defending Malaya and Singapore. Those that survived the invasion ended up in Changi. Some of them also survived the war.
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  #12  
Old 10th March 2010, 02:24
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Prisoners of the Japanese

The Australian National Archives has a document from the International Red Cross of all this held by the Japanese and their movement from camp to camp..One has been digitised as is free to view and down load. Names and occupations are noted and place captured as well. There is a second massive document that has not been digitised.
Just google Australian National Archives Record Search, then sign in a a guest researcher. Then you will be asked for search terms...as for RED CROSS and plug in the years 1938-1945. There are several documents regarding RED CROSS entries into both civilian and other prison camps in Europe as well as negotiatons that were made attempting to get contact with prisoners. Those searching make find information they have been seeking.
If you have a strong stomach PICTURE AUSTRALIA has pictures of Changi taken from a hidden camers, pictures taken in Japan after liberation and pictures of the only war trial held in Australia. A friend of my Uncles who was in charge of Aviation Medicine in WW 11 in Australia was WEARY DUNLOP. He took forty years to decide to reread the noted he had kept all through his imprisonment in Changi and other camps. He has written his biography and as he was in charge of Medical services in the camps it is heart rending but informative reading.
My last information was that it costs $16-50 AUS to get a document digitised and make it free on the net. The second file not digitised on prisoners of war of the Japanese is as massive as the first and make cost more..i don't know. An enquiry would not go astray especially if you are tracking your family.
There are also depositions from prisoners of war who were rescued from sunken Japanese prison ships. Photographs of their rescue are also in PICTURE AUSTRALIA
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  #13  
Old 10th March 2010, 14:12
John Hebblewhite John Hebblewhite is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chouan View Post
This is a long shot! My father insisted that his uncle, Tom Wilson, who had been a Second Engineer, was involved in an attempt evacuation from Singapore. He was then a Planter in Malaya, and had reached Singapore, fleeing from the Japanese. The story goes that, when Singapore was being evacuated, there was a ship laid up, or at least, out of commission, that was thought useful for the evacuation. My father said that his uncle was involved in getting the engines ready, and making the ship ready for sea. The ship sailed, with refugees onboard, but was sunk by the Japanese within a day or so. Tom was capturede by the Japanese and spent the rest of the war in Changi.
I've looked for years at every book I could find on Singapore in 1942 biut have been unabler to find any evidence to confirm or deny the story. I never met my greatuncle, and never got round to getting any more details from my father. You know how it is, you'll talk about it next time we meet etc etc.
Any suggestions, or any clues anybody?
Try reading SINGAPORE BURNING by Colin Smith Penguin books.
My mother was evacuated along with her sister and mother on the Empress of Asia which was amongst the last vessels to get out. She always said that this book was a good account. My father(Merchant Navy) who did not escape(captured in Palangbang) spent some time in Changi as guest of the japs.


Rgds John
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  #14  
Old 10th March 2010, 20:40
KenLin39 KenLin39 is offline  
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RE: Empress of Asia

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Originally Posted by John Hebblewhite View Post
Try reading SINGAPORE BURNING by Colin Smith Penguin books.
My mother was evacuated along with her sister and mother on the Empress of Asia which was amongst the last vessels to get out. She always said that this book was a good account. My father(Merchant Navy) who did not escape(captured in Palangbang) spent some time in Changi as guest of the japs.


Rgds John
Hi John. My neighbour was on the Empress of Asia one of thousands of troops sent to reinforce Singapore, the ship never reached the island being sunk 5 miles from and 10 days before the fall of Singapore. Ken.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Empress_of_Asia

Last edited by KenLin39; 10th March 2010 at 20:42.. Reason: addition.
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  #15  
Old 25th April 2010, 15:37
daisy1942 daisy1942 is offline  
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attempted escape from Singapore

Hi Chouan,

It is possible that the following books might help you track down further information on the ships you seek: SINGAPORE'S DUNKIRK by Geoffrey Brooke
and THE ESCAPE FROM SINGAPORE by Richard Gough.

Both books give details of the many small ships that attempted to escape whether they were successful or not. Happy hunting
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  #16  
Old 2nd August 2010, 15:42
Pat Slater Pat Slater is offline  
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Attempted escape from fall of Singapore, 1942

I am responding to a thread posted by rodgoodwin, member on Nov.12, 2009 regarding the Maatsuyker, the last refugee ship to successfully leave Singapore for Australia in 1942.
He was on that ship, and I think that I was also, with my mother. I would have been about 2 1/2 yrs. old.
I am starting to write down some memories of my life for my daughter. I wish I had asked more questions of my parents. Am curious to know more.
My father, Ronald Wait, a soldier in the British Intelligence Corps (I believe), was captured by the Japanese, after his troop ship was sunk by the Japanese & he swam to some island. He was on the Burma/Siam railway & later in Changi jail. He survived the war.
Would love to hear anything from other members regarding this time.
Thank you. Pat Slater
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  #17  
Old 2nd August 2010, 16:22
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Pat Slater, Since the post rodgoodwin made is almost a year old I think it would be better if you sent him a PM that way he would be sure to know about your post. Two men worlds apart,young children on the same boat, I see a lot to talk about.

Good luck,

John.
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  #18  
Old 29th May 2014, 23:47
michaelpether michaelpether is offline  
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Not sure if Chouan is still with this website - I have spent over a decade researching the people and ships who evacuated from Singapore just prior to the Surrender to the Japanese on 15 February 1942 . I think that your uncle may be Thomas G. Wilson, Planter/Manager of the Gadong Coconut Plantation at Batu Larit Selangor , Malaya in the early 1940 s. He was also a Lt in the Malayan Volunteers - specifically Selangor Btn, FMSVF. and after the Fall of Singapore a POW in Changi. He may have been on the truly last 'convoy' of 45 ships which left on 12-13 February 1942.Please contact me on [email protected] if you would like to discuss further since I have a good knowledge of individual ships.
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  #19  
Old 31st March 2015, 04:43
Zoothy Zoothy is offline  
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Hi everyone- I hope in replying to this it gets bumped up so people can see it.

I am looking for info on a ship that carried out my Grandmother (pregnant with my father) on one of the last ships that evacuated Singapore. The ship ended up in perth.
If anyone could help or point me in the right direction it would be greatly appreciated, my dad has talked about finding out the name of the boat for a long time and I would like to surprise him hopefully with a picture of it one day.
Feel free to email me at - [email protected]
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  #20  
Old 31st March 2015, 06:57
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Chouan try goggle Domino Monarch she was in dry dock and her engines stripped down, the engine crew put the lot back together and sailed with a lot of refugee's and the chief engineer was given a medal for the work done. She went on to do a lot of voyages as troop carrier and supply ship.
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  #21  
Old 31st March 2015, 11:16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelpether View Post
Not sure if Chouan is still with this website - I have spent over a decade researching the people and ships who evacuated from Singapore just prior to the Surrender to the Japanese on 15 February 1942 . I think that your uncle may be Thomas G. Wilson, Planter/Manager of the Gadong Coconut Plantation at Batu Larit Selangor , Malaya in the early 1940 s. He was also a Lt in the Malayan Volunteers - specifically Selangor Btn, FMSVF. and after the Fall of Singapore a POW in Changi. He may have been on the truly last 'convoy' of 45 ships which left on 12-13 February 1942.Please contact me on [email protected] if you would like to discuss further since I have a good knowledge of individual ships.
Last year I sent a copy of the memoirs of Lt Mann, chief officer of Vyner Brooke (and uncle of a late friend of mine), to the archives of The Australian Memorial.
I've just looked at the section that deals with the fall of Singapore; it mentions other craft:

'Vyner Brooke' continued to steam up and down the patrol line, but it is difficult to think of any useful purpose she could have served had any enemy war vessels appeared. Had she managed to get a signal off before being sunk it would have been of little use to Singapore either, as, the only Naval forces available were vessels of similar type to 'Vyner Brooke', merchant vessels of about a thousand tons armed with one gun. Many of these were shallow draft Yangtse river steamers, which were quite useless for any warlike purpose. As far as I know, the only really Naval vessels in the area at the time were three Yangtse river gunboats 'Dragonfly', 'Grasshopper', and 'Scorpion', and they would have been no match for even a destroyer.

At about 0800 on February 12th 1942, we were steaming on the East’ard leg of the patrol, away to port near Singapore Island the gunboat 'Dragonfly' was also on patrol, and steaming to the East. During the four days on patrol there had been constant groups of enemy aircraft passing overhead in nines, eighteens, and twenty-sevens, on their way to bomb the island, but they had never displayed any interest in us, and we had begun to wonder why. However, a group came droning in as usual on this morning, and as we watched two peeled off for us, and two for 'Dragonfly', while the others flew on. The two for us came in up from aft one after the other, I pooped off the solitary .303 Lewis Gun, and the Captain performed his dodging routine by use of the helm, hard over when the bombs could be seen on their way down. Each aircraft did four runs in dropping a bomb or two each time which, due to the swinging of the stern under the helm, fell harmlessly about forty feet to port or starboard. Having dropped their load, away they went, and for’ard went I to receive my usual tot of Scotch from the Captain and the usual 'Well done'. Looking away to port, we watched 'Dragonfly' under attack, and on one occasion she was totally obscured by a wall of water. We thought she must have been hit, but no, she steamed out from behind the wall looking as perky as ever. Her two aircraft also disappeared into the blue having met with as little success as our two, and on we steamed.

.................

Harry Nicholson, ex Brocklebanks R.O.
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  #22  
Old 2nd December 2015, 18:01
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chouan View Post
This is a long shot! My father insisted that his uncle, Tom Wilson, who had been a Second Engineer, was involved in an attempt evacuation from Singapore. He was then a Planter in Malaya, and had reached Singapore, fleeing from the Japanese. The story goes that, when Singapore was being evacuated, there was a ship laid up, or at least, out of commission, that was thought useful for the evacuation. My father said that his uncle was involved in getting the engines ready, and making the ship ready for sea. The ship sailed, with refugees onboard, but was sunk by the Japanese within a day or so. Tom was capturede by the Japanese and spent the rest of the war in Changi.
I've looked for years at every book I could find on Singapore in 1942 biut have been unabler to find any evidence to confirm or deny the story. I never met my greatuncle, and never got round to getting any more details from my father. You know how it is, you'll talk about it next time we meet etc etc.
Any suggestions, or any clues anybody?
Hi: I have just become aware of a book entitled "Singapore's Dunkirk: After the Fall", which is an anthology of stories of escape attempts. Might be worth getting hold of. Alan Knight.
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  #23  
Old 17th February 2016, 21:27
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http://singaporeevacuation1942.blogs...tion-list.html
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  #24  
Old 17th February 2016, 21:27
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  #25  
Old 23rd July 2016, 18:31
Wigs Daughter Wigs Daughter is offline  
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Dominion Monarch

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Originally Posted by GWB View Post
Chouan try goggle Domino Monarch she was in dry dock and her engines stripped down, the engine crew put the lot back together and sailed with a lot of refugee's and the chief engineer was given a medal for the work done. She went on to do a lot of voyages as troop carrier and supply ship.
My father, Claude Oxley was one of the engineers on board Dominion Monarch and helped get the vessel seaworthy to escape from Singapore. He saw the wreck of the a Empress of Asia as they left.
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