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Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Published on the Website of the South African Military History Society in the interest of research into military history

- Sunk by Japanese submarine number I - 159 on 1st March 1942.

[Version 3.1; May 2013] Copyright Michael Pether 2013.

The SS. Rooseboom (in some records shown as the Rosenboom) was a Dutch steam ship of 1035 tons, built in 1926 by Rijkee & Co., Rotterdam and was owned by the KPM (translates to Royal Packet Navigation Co.) shipping line in 1942.

The Captain on its last voyage was Captain M.C.A. Boon of the KPM line who had been promoted to the rank of Captain in 1938.

At the outbreak of war the ship was usually on the coastal run between Sumatra and Java. In February 1942 she was en route from Batavia (now called Jogjakarta), the capital of Java, to Ceylon when she was instructed to pick up evacuees in the port of Padang in Western Sumatra. According to the site '', the ... KPM ship the SS. Rooseboom left the heavily damaged port of Tanjong Priok (Batavia) on the 22nd February 1942 - this date is also confirmed in the private papers of Sir Gordon Whitteridge [IWM 99/50/1].

The website states that "...her ultimate destination was Bombay via Colombo, but first she had to call at Emmahaven (the port of the town of Padang on the west coast of Sumatra) to pick up a large number of military and civilian refugees ... no-one knows exactly how many refugees were crammed on to that little ship but it was probably over 500...the 'Rooseboom' left Emmahaven on 27th February... with a number of women and children on board who had escaped from Singapore in the weeks prior to the Surrender...".

In a document in the UK Archives (IMG 4924A in the researcher's files) GOC. Ceylon has stated, significantly in the context of the later sinking of the ship, that "... she was loaded with RAF bombs...".

In his private papers Sir Gordon Whitteridge, whose family were on board, records that the two 'Malay' sailors, picked up in the Indian Ocean after the sinking by the "SS. Palopo" provided a 'guesstimated' to the Captain of the "SS. Palopo" that there were about 200 passengers on board, amongst which were three women and children who had embarked at Tanjong Priok (Batavia) and he also records that the War Office later produced a figure of 18 officers and 227 Other Ranks (ORs) as being on board to which must be added civilians and crew - making a probable total of 270.

This number is somewhat confirmed in a teleprinter message (WO 361/164) dated 23.3.42 from C.O.C. Ceylon to "PROELICAS LIVERPOOL" (see below in this narrative under the section "Who were actually on the SS. Rooseboom" for full details of numbers and some identities).

The ship appears to have arrived from Batavia on either the 25th or 26th February and left quickly on 26th or 27th February 1942 (depending on the source used for this date) from the port of Emmahaven at Padang.

Padang had become the last stop on the official escape route for soldiers and civilians from Singapore and Malaya as the Japanese closed in around Singapore and the Dutch East Indies.

It is this researcher's opinion that an estimated 300 (but at a stretch possibly as high a number as 400 - 500) servicemen, civilian men and women and a few children were actually on board the ship when it left Padang. It was torpedoed several days later in the Indian Ocean with only six survivors ever reaching land - including a Corporal Walter Gibson, Doris Lim and four Malay or Javanese crewmen.

This left a legacy of pain for hundreds of families of servicemen and civilians who never knew what happened to their loved ones - most without any knowledge that a member of their family had even actually boarded the ship.This document is primarily an attempt to clarify who was actually on board and more precisely determine what happened, and when, to the SS. Rooseboom.

It is also intended as a respectful memorial to those who lost their lives on the SS. Rooseboom.

A truly harrowing story of the experiences of some 135 people who reached one lifeboat is told in the book "The Boat" (ISBN -10: 981-05-8301-X; first published in 1952 and republished by Monsoon Books Pte Ltd, Singapore in 2007) by the only European survivor, Walter Gibson. Of the 135 on board and clinging around the sides of the lifeboat only Corporal Walter Gibson, a young Chinese woman named Doris Lim and two Javanese crewmen reached land in the Mentawi islands of Sumatra. They had been in the lifeboat for a month and according to Gibson had drifted over one thousand miles. Two other Malay or Javanese crewmen were also rescued from a raft in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

When specifically did these events occur?

Walter Gibson, in his book, stated that the ship was sunk at midnight on 1st March 1942 and had left Padang "... four days previously..."; alternatively, although he does not say in his book when the ship actually left Padang, he states that the torpedo struck the ship at ten minutes before midnight on the "...third evening ..." out of Padang. He says that the ship left at sunset, so by his account the ship appears to have left Padang on the early evening of the 26 February and was sunk on the night of the 28 February - just before the date turned over to the 1st of March!
In his official statement to British military authorities in 1946 Gibson signed a statement that the ship was "... proceeding from Padang in Sumatra west to Colombo on 27th February, 1942 ..."and "...the boat was sunk at 23.50 hours on March 1st 1942...".

Richard Gough in his book "Escape from Singapore" states that the ship left Padang on the evening of 27th February and was sunk four days later.
There are a couple of dates mentioned in the UK archived documents - firstly (image 4953 in researchers files) "...vessel left Padang bound for Colombo on 26th February at 1730 (local time)..." and also a statement (image 4982 in researchers' files) dated 20 June 1943 by Lt. Col Bristow, REME., "...I was responsible to O.C. British Troops in PADANG for embarkation of personnel at EMMAHAVEN on 26 Feb. 43[sic]. Embarkation on ROSENBLOOM [sic] took place in daylight at about 1700 hours when the quay was clear of other shipping..."

So the question of dates is debatable but the departure date of 26th February 1942 seems most likely. It is confirmed in the private papers of Sir Gordon Whitteridge [IWM 99/50/1] wherein he states that a Mrs. Cruikshank left on another ship from Padang on the same day.

Who were actually on board the SS. Rooseboom?

The relatively small town of Padang had become almost overrun by services and civilians by the time [according to his diary record] one Rolla Edwardes-Ker, Singapore Royal Artillery (Volunteers) arrived in the town at around the same time that the Rooseboom arrived in port. He makes some interesting points about the number of men who had arrived in town and some estimates (which appear to be incorrect) of the number of passengers on ships, he says:
"... there were two ships at the docks ready to embark the British and Australian contingent in Padang numbering 1018 military personnel and some 1200 civilians. The larger ship , the Rosenboom(sic) was supposed to take some 2000 military and civilians and make for Ceylon, the smaller ship , the Domayer van twist (sic) of some 500 tons, which was to take Australian and navy personnel and members of the Volunteer forces was to make for Java and, if necessary, for Australia after refuelling in Java...
"... I and the rest of the party were originally supposed to be going on the Rosenboom (sic) but Colonel Broadbent asked[us] to come on the Domayer Van twist (sic). The ship was torpedoed not far from Ceylon...
". The Rosenboom sailed after us with about 2300 on board..." [Researcher's note: this seems to be an extraordinary number of people which has to be seriously discounted!] ...we sailed at 04.00 hrs on the morning of 26th February...".
So by his statement the SS. Rooseboom must have left on the 26 February 1942.

Around the same time John Wagstaff, Signal Btn, FMSVF, arrived on the 25 February 1942 and notes:
"... in the afternoon we heard that a ship had arrived and would be taking people that night. This was good news although there was no hope of us being on it ... [then on the 26 February he continues] the staff at headquarters [had] pushed off on the ship that sailed during the night and the new OIC, a Colonel Wolfe-Murray, was fortunately a different calibre from his predecessors. One of his first acts was to call for fresh nominal rolls of all persons awaiting evacuation in Padang ... he then arranged that priority would be given according to date of arrival in Padang ... Australians would be sent on ships bound for Java or Australia and British troops and civilians on ships bound for Ceylon or India...
" [Then on 27 February 1942] " the afternoon we heard that another ship had arrived, this was the "Rooseboom" and moreover it would be sailing for Ceylon... when later on the warning order for this ship was posted the list included all except two of the British ORs who had escaped Singapore in the tongkang with us . The list also included a few 'high priorities' who had just arrived in Padang and but for these some of us might have been on the list. Among the priority passengers for the ship that night were Group Captain Nunn and his wife... it is tragic that the ship never reached Ceylon...".
This places the departure of the ship on the 27 February.
Of relevance to efforts to ascertain who was actually on this ship is that in his story Wagstaff refers to the fact that of the approximately nineteen British "...gunner and sappers from Pulau Brani..." who joined them soon after their escape from Singapore , all - except the Lieutenant and Warrant Officer (who appear to have embarked on the Dumayer Van Twist from Padang) and two other ORs who remained at Padang with Wagstaff until boarding the 'SS. Palima with he and his party of Volunteers - the "...gunners and sappers..." left on the SS. Rooseboom.

In his book "Escape from Singapore" (Mandarin, 1987, rev 1984) Richard Gough has some rare reports on those boarding the Rooseboom in Padang, recorded through the eyes of Colonel Warren who had been instrumental in establishing the escape route from Singapore to Padang. Colonel Warren had arrived in Padang to find it almost deserted apart from local residents going about their normal activities. He found that Brigadier Paris, Commander of the 11th Division was the senior British Officer in the town - he had taken over when Colonel Broadbent and his Australians had left for Java. Brigadier Paris "...was also about to leave for Colombo with 600 troops and civilians..." on board the SS. Rooseboom.

Warren apparently went to the port at Emmahaven and climbed the ship's gangway to meet Brigadier Paris ... he noticed that the Argylls had taken up firing points all over the ship, determined to fight off any air attacks with Bren guns and rifles, "... Every bit of deck seemed to be crammed with nurses, servicemen and civilians...". Warren then reported that as they talked "...a lorry drew up on the dockside below packed with nurses, wives, children, soldiers and business men - all in rags and dishevelled...". Amongst that group were Mr. and Mrs Nunn and Warren learned that they had been rescued from Pom Pong island where the SS. Kuala had been sunk. This would answer the question of the fate of a number of the women, children and men who became unaccounted for from the SS. Kuala after its bombing and sinking at Pom Pong island on 14th February 1942 even though they seemed to have survived the sinking of that ship. A somewhat speculative list of people who survived the sinking of the SS. Kuala but for whom no fate is recorded is attached at the end of this document - any information correcting or confirming names on this list would be greatly welcomed by the researcher.

Another record is that of Miss Janet Lim [a Chinese nurse employed at Middle Road Hospital, Singapore at the time of the invasion] who was interviewed after the War on 22nd February 1946 - she was herself a survivor of the evacuation of Singapore [see her book "Sold for Silver"] and had met up with Doris Lim, the lone woman survivor of the sinking of the Rooseboom, when they were both in Japanese occupied Sumatra in 1942 . Janet stated she had been told by Doris that"... the SS Rooseboom ... was carrying several hundred refugees from Singapore, these included Nurses, British and Australian soldiers and Civilians of several nationalities..."

Brigadier Paris had been given permission to escape from Singapore and had done so with a sizeable party of men from the Gordon Highlanders in a launch called Celia. This group stuck together in their escape across Sumatra to Padang with Major Angus MacDonald and Captain Mike Blackwood and for this reason all ended up on the SS. Rooseboom

Survivor Walter Gibson is reported to have told the War Office (CAS. P. W.) that "... there were 500 passengers on board, most of whom were soldiers but with some women and children from Singapore who had previously been stranded on Pom Pom(sic) Island ..."
and then in a written statement dated 3.1.46 to The war Office ( CAS P.W.) he stated "...The K.P.M. Rooseboome (sic)" was proceeding ......... with 500 on board (mostly Europeans - British Army - but also a number of P.W.D. officials from Malaya and some civilian women and children also from Malaya.) (The women and children had been previously bombed on a refugee ship ex Singapore).... ".

Lt. Col G. Bristow, REME (the Embarkation Officer at the port of Emmahaven at the time of the departure of the SS. Rooseboom) stated on 20 June 1943 "...I remember clearly that there were 18 cabin berths on ROSENBLOOM [sic] ...I knew by name and had spoken to 7 out of 18 of the cabin passengers during the time when personnel were moving across Sumatra from Singapore...".

In 1944 there is a memo from Staff Captain W. Paterson, CRO containing another statement by Lt. Col. Bristow, REME, dated 3 September 1944 wherein he again restates his memory of events;
"... (a) The SS. Rosebloom [sic] carried 18 Officers travelling in cabins, of which I have accounted for 12. No Officer to my knowledge travelled as deck passengers, except a Capt. MCRORY of Recce Corps.
(b) The Officers travelling on SS Rosebloom[sic] were, I believe all majors and above, and they were nearly all associated with 9 or 11 Divs or Malaya Command.."

"... A nominal roll of all personnel embarking [on the Rooseboom] was handed to H.Q. British Troops at Padang..." (CO 980/141). Confirming the existence of this critical but missing record Major Bristow also stated "... a list of personnel embarking on the ship was handed to HQ. British troops at Padang ...".What happened to this valuable document identifying those 250 - 500 on board is unknown - it might have been handed to an officer leaving on the also ill-fated SS. Ban Ho Guan which left a day or two later, or destroyed by the Commanding Officer responsible for Padang when it became an open city prior to the arrival of the Japanese forces on 17 March 1942.

In a document in the UK Archives (CO980/14) there is a short list of names of senior British officers on the SS. Rooseboom which is headed "List of personnel sailing from Padang on 26 February 1942".

However it has recently been brought to the notice of this researcher that there was a telegram in March 1942 that contained the following information;

[the names and numbers have been indented by the researcher here for ease of understanding]
...There were known to be on board Officers 18 other ranks 227. The following Officers are definitely known to have embarked.

...The following Officers were probably on board:
... There is no record of the names of the other Officers.

The following total Other Ranks by units were embarked [Researcher has identified the following number of men]

[this totals the 227 stated in the telegram above].

When was the ship sunk and by whom?

Insofar as the sinking, it is perfectly reasonable if Walter Gibson made an error on the date - the trauma he went through in a lifeboat for 26 days without food or water most of the time and then his incarceration as a POW of the Japanese would have made it hard to remember exactly the sequence by the time he wrote the book in 1952.

He does appear to have been correct about the date the ship was actually sunk being 1st March 1942. In a book titled 'Axis Submarine Success of World War Two' by Jurgen Rohwer (ISBN 1-55750-029-0; published by Greenhill Books, London) it is revealed that the author has obtained information from high ranking Japanese naval officers and amongst hundreds of tabulated entries confirms the following about the sinking of the SS. Rooseboom.

It was sunk by one of the very large class of Japanese submarines ('Sensuikan' class), specifically that numbered I-59 (later redesignated I-159) which had left Penang on 21 February 1942 under the command of a Lt. Yoshimatsu.

Interestingly it is also recorded quite specifically that the I-59 had actually clearly identified the SS. Rooseboom, this could have been either before or after torpedoing - given that it was the middle of the night we must assume that the submarine had been following the ship for at least a day to observe it in daylight to know its identity, or possibly it plucked some unrecorded survivor from the ocean and learned the ship's identity that way?

The I-159 had been patrolling the Netherlands East Indies and the north coast of Australia and had covered the invasion of the Celebes during January 1942 before being despatched to Penang. On its way it torpedoed the Norwegian freighter Eidsvold at Christmas Island and then on 25 January sank the Giang Sen in the Sabang Roads, taking some of her crew prisoner - as was the practice of many Japanese submarine commanders seeking information on naval codes and other information.

After leaving Penang on 21 February 1942 with the intention of "...raiding enemy communications SW of Sumatra..." the next record of the I-159 is the sinking of the Rooseboom. By 12 March 1942 the I-159 had returned directly to Penang.

It is not known whether the submarine had taken anyone prisoner from the Rooseboom (apparently there was a Japanese journalist on board but he made no mention of this occurring) but this possibility must be kept open because the Japanese submarine fleet had a practice of doing so and had established an interrogation prison in Penang for the purpose of extracting information from ships survivors. It had a cruel reputation that was explicitly evidenced at the joint war crimes trial in 1946 (from trial transcript records in the US Archives in Washington and elsewhere) of a very large group of Japanese submarine Commanders and crew, plus Vice Admiral Hisashi Ichioka to whom they reported. Witness testimonies by Masters, Officers and crew of British and Allied ships sunk by Japanese submarines tell a harrowing story of starvation, beatings, torture and executions at the Runnymede Hotel prison in Penang. Most of these Master and Officers had been taken prisoner from the crew of ships where the Japanese submarine had, after torpedoing their ships, spent several hours methodically ramming the lifeboats and rafts and machine gunning survivors in the water. The book "Blood and Bushido" by Bernard Edwards is a very good record of the depths of cruelty and inhumanity reached by Japanese submarine commanders during the War.

According to Japanese records the ship was sunk at 0150hrs on 1st March 1942. Given that Japanese submarines operated on 'Tokyo Time' which is (and would have been in 1942) two hours ahead of 'Padang time', this does explain the exact difference between Gibson's very precise statement of the time of sinking as '2350hrs' and the Japanese, presumably the submarine logbook, source timing of '0150hrs'; this is of course the best part of a day earlier than Gibson's memory of 1150hrs on 1st March.

Where was the ship sunk?

The Japanese map coordinates for the sinking were N 00 degrees/E 87 degrees. In slight contrast British records state the position as thought to have been N 00.15 degrees/ E 86.50, this is recorded in an archived document (researcher's image 4953) that the vessel was "...torpedoed in approximate position 000 degrees 15 minutes N/ 86 degrees 50 minutes E... (based on routing instructions... speed nine and half knots, ETA Colombo 6 March... weather conditions: High seas and strong winds...".

This most likely would have been close to the position at sea where the small ship SS. Palopo which left Padang after the Rooseboom and was also escaping to Colombo, came across an oil slick and picked up either two (or four depending upon the source used) Malay or Javanese seamen squatting on a small raft or box who were the only other survivors of the SS. Rooseboom. In the archived document WO106/2579B a report by Major G.P. Richards, 1st Btn Malay Regiment records how the SS. Palopo left Padang on 7th March 1942 and on 11th March picked up two Javanese sailors who had been floating on a piece of wreckage for '... seven or eight days ...' after being torpedoed at midnight on 2nd or 3rd March. The ship is noted as the SS. Beerbohm (sic) and that it had 250 troops on board and a few civilians, including a woman and two children.

In another document (CO980/217, report no.14, p.452) a Mr. McKay in Australia records "...they were surrounded by much wreckage and many bodies seen: all too decomposed for identification...". As pointed out by Mr. Ted Crawford in his research on this event - after the ship went down the survivors were not very dispersed after even a week, let alone by the morning after; in this context it is interesting that the two Javanese seaman did not comment on seeing the lifeboat which was the subject of Walter Gibson's book "The Boat".

In his research Ted Crawford found the CO 980 141 file on the Rosenboom (36 documents) p.87 in which there is a report (undated) of the two Malay or Javanese sailors' interrogation in Colombo by a Lieut Rendle. The position was said to be 00║15'N 86║50E approximately, about 2/3 of the way to Ceylon -- figures presumably derived from the Palopo. They said that the only lifeboats were destroyed in the explosion and there were no other survivors as far as they knew. They heard no cries for help or saw anyone else in the darkness and rough water. It was pitch-black dark, they were sleeping on deck and thrown into the sea, the boat went down immediately, they had got hold of wreckage and, finally, each separately came across a little kapok raft which they used and in the morning when they saw one another they paddled together. They then lashed the two little rafts together. They had no difficulty getting water for the 7 or 8 days as it rained heavily at least once a day and they managed to collect enough of it in their palms to drink. The interrogator said the Javanese seamen were "good intelligent types", decent men. He says they could see dimly in the night. He says they nearly all died of thirst. It is stated at the end of the interrogation that in the view of the local RN people it sounded as if the ship was not torpedoed but that the boilers exploded.

Sir Gordon Whitteridge, in his private papers lodged with the IWM, visited the same two 'Indonesian Malay stokers' in hospital in Colombo on 17 march in company with the Dutch Consul and was told that the ship was two days out of Padang (28 February) when a terrific explosion occurred at about 11.30pm which caused the ship to list heavily and then sink in about five minutes. Contrary to the Rendle interview they told Sir Gordon that at first there were a large number of people in the sea, but when daylight came they could see nobody. They were unable to help with news of any boats being lowered.

Sir Gordon also took the initiative of tracking down the Dutch captain of the SS. Palopo and his logbook confirmed that the two stokers were in fact Fireman Jattemo and Trimmer Dai who had been found floating on a small raft composed of the two air tanks of a lifeboat tied together with strips of a sarong. Contrary to the above reports, the seamen had actually told the Captain that when the ship was torpedoed (note: no reference to a boiler explosion) the Starboard lifeboats had been immediately destroyed and of the Port lifeboats one became out of order whereas the second one capsized through overloading. They said that upon daylight the next day they could not see any survivors. They had had no food during the nine days that they drifted on their make-shift raft and they only survived because of continual showers of heavy rain which enabled them to drink out of cupped hands.

The reference to the second lifeboat from the Port side may give credence to the story of Walter Gibson which has been criticised by some through the years as fabrication. In the view of this researcher Gibson's account is generally truthful. The facts are that by the time they were picked up by the "SS. Palopo", the Javanese seamen had drifted along with much of the wreckage of the SS. Rooseboom - and, sadly, the remains of many passengers - some 31 nautical miles from the spot where the submarine recorded the sinking.

In a letter dated 1 May 1945 by Gordon Whitteridge to the POW Dept., Foreign Office, he sates "... survivors picked up [by Palopo] at 1 degree S; 92 degrees 50 minutes E shows that the sinking must have taken place some 250 miles off Sumatra..."

The set of coordinates recorded by both the Japanese and the Allies are interesting and suggest that Captain Boon was taking a longer but more cautious sea route to Colombo as opposed to a straight line between the two ports. He appears to have swung (apparently under official routing instructions) quite a distance south in his voyage probably, but unsuccessfully, to avoid Japanese submarines lying in wait on the direct route. The fact that the Palopo came across the oil slick and survivors also suggests that this was a route determined by British authorities, since finding two men on a box in the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean stretches the credibility of coincidence.

Sadly it seems that the Japanese had also worked out the sea route between Padang and Colombo - maybe this was because every ship was taking the same route?

To date this research has identified only some 53 out of the estimated 300 -500 people on board.
If anyone has any other names or information relating to the sinking of the SS. Rooseboom or the people on board, the researcher and author of this document, Michael Pether, 55 Te Pene Road, Maraetai, Auckland, 2018, New Zealand - or email - or phone New Zealand 09-5365490 - would be extremely appreciative of receiving such information, would treat it sensitively and would amplify this document appropriately.

Reference Sources;

  • "Boat"/ "The Boat" - book authored by Walter Gibson
  • BPPL - the micro writing list prepared in Changi internment camp
  • 'combinedfleet .com'- website authored by military historians Robert Hackett (USAF Retd.) , USA and Sanders Kingsepp, linguist and researcher of Estonia.
  • CWGC - website of the Commonwealth war Graves Commission
  • Crawford, Ted - researcher, UK.
  • Edwardes-Ker, Rolla - speech he gave in 1985 (Australian War Memorial archives PR87/138)
  • "Escape from Singapore" - book by Richard Gough
  • JM/Jonathan Moffatt - author and researcher , see also "Malayan Volunteer Group" website
  • IWM 99/50/1 - the unpublished private papers of Sir Gordon Whitteridge, KCMG, OBE. Being in particular from the section covering the evacuation of his wife, children and mother-in-law (Mrs Lungley).
  • - website
  • Rohwer, Jurgen - author of "Axis Submarine Successes of World war Two", Greenhill Books, London ; ISBN 1-55750-029-0
  • - website
  • Royal Artillery names - from a report by a Major Hebblewaite, R.A., via GOC. Ceylon 3 May 1942 (image 4922A on researchers CD of documents) ; plus a report by Major Heatley, R.A. on 23 March 1942
  • STA - archives of "The Straits Times" Singapore on the website of the National Library of Singapore
  • SFPMA - the newspaper" Singapore Free press and Mercantile Advertiser" archives in the National Library of Singapore
  • - family genealogical website
  • United Kingdom National archives files on the War Office (WO) and the Colonial Office(CO)
  • Wagstaff, John - the story ( unpublished) of John H. Wagstaff an engineer in the P&T, Singapore and in the Signals Battalion of the SSVF " Lucky Seven or 'To Ceylon in Time for Tea' - an Escape Story". Recreated passenger List: Interestingly, although there are clearly quite a few people listed on the CWGC website who died in the sinking of the SS. Rooseboom, only four are actually listed under the 'Cemetery' heading of SS. Rooseboom and therefore specifically linked to this terrible event.

    The following names of people identified as having been on the SS. Rooseboom have been researched from a great variety of sources and with the help of many people notably Ken Hewitt, Rod Suddaby, and Jonathan Moffatt.

    Crew of the SS. Rooseboom:

    Malayan Volunteers and Civilians:
    NOTE: On 22.2.46 Janet Lim (author of "Sold For Silver") stated that (image 5074 in researcher's files) she had been told by Doris Lim , the sole woman survivor of the sinking, that two people who survived the sinking and were in the lifeboat were:
    o A police inspector from Shanghai, and,
    o The captain of the Tien Kwang - this is difficult to verify because the captain of the Tien Kwang which had been sunk at Pom Pong island on 14.2.42 where Janet Lim had also been sunk on the SS. Kuala was actually Lt. W. Briggs, RNR. and there is no relevant record of his death that can be found by the researcher of this document. She may have been confusing Lt. Briggs with the Captain of the Rooseboom, Captain Boon - but until the fate of Lt. Briggs is verified this statement remains intriguing.

    Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders:

    THORNE - Lt. Col. Thorne - see ROYAL NORFOLKS

    Gordon Highlanders:
    [In a communication from GOC Ceylon dated 19.5.42 , he states that Captain W.E. Main, late QM of the 2nd Gordons and A and SH was sure that the following people embarked on the SS. Rooseboom - see image 4925 held by researcher]

    Indian Army:
    Royal Artillery:
    Unidentified passengers;
    Survivors from the SS. Kuala;

    Given the report of some people from the SS. Kuala being definitely passengers on the SS. Rooseboom (after the earlier sinking of the SS. Kuala at Pom Pong Island) - the researcher has appended this speculative list of people who have not been otherwise accounted for as any of internees, deaths in the sinking of the Kuala, or people who lost their lives in the sinking of the SS. Tandjong Pinang (after being picked up from Pom Pong island) or evacuated from Padang by other means for the record and we would appreciate any feedback on the known fate of these following people to clear them from involvement from the Rooseboom story;

    In 2019 additional material was sent to the webmaster. This is to be found on the Roosboom Update
  • (Update on SS Roosboom sinking)

  • Copyright Michael Pether
    South African Military History Society /