The sinking of the Slamat, April 27th 1941
On April 15th 1941, the Commanders of the Navy ( Admiral Cunningham ); the Airforce (Commodore Longmore) and the Army (General Wavell) decided that the British Expeditionary Force should retreat from Greece. This operation was code-named Demon.
Responsible for the operation at sea was Rear Admiral Pridham-Wippell and for the embarkation Rear Admiral Baillie Grohman.
The first evacuation took place on the night of April 24th to 25th ( D1) at Port Raphtis and Navplion.
At Navplion the Ulster Prince ran aground and blocked the harbour.
The next night April 25th to 26th evacuation took place at Megara.
On the night of April 26th to 27th evacuation was planned for Navplion, Tolon, Port Raphtis, Raphina,Kalamata.
From FOAM to VALF, SNO Suda (R), C in C, RAL, GHQME
T.O.O. 1336/25/4 T.O.R. 2044/25/4
...............Embarkation points marked by three vertical lights. Ships should arrive off embarkation point at 22.00 26 April and leave no later than 27 April.
Positions C and T must each be worked by craft of 1 Glenn ship, D by 1 A-lighter, S by boats of destroyers and 1 A-lighter and Z by ships alongside.
From FOAM to VALF (R), SNO Suda Cin C, RAL, GHQME, PSTO Egypt
Correction to my 1336/25. Present situation requires that position S now be worked by Glen ship and landingcraft tonight 26th-27th. One A-lighter will be on position T.
Possible caique may assist at S. RAL pos to GHQME and also my 1010
To FOAM (R), Calcutta,Havock,NOIC Suda.
T O.O. 1505/26/4
Your 1103/26 and 1151/26 not to Calcutta and my 0205/26.
Have provided Glenearn and two destroyers for 2500 at T and two transports Calcutta and two destroyers at S. Inform Calcutta by WT if you want any change. Havock will arrive Myli (R)
Ships detailed for position S (Nauplia) harbour may have to go to position T (Tolon) and visa versa. If so FOAM will inform you
At about 13.00 on April 26th the convoy , AG14,sailed ,from near Creta ,westward and then split into 2 parts- one part was destined for Kalamata ; the other to the rest of the embarkation harbours. The Dutch ship Costa Rica was part of the convoy to Kalamata. After a few hours the convoy split again – one convoy destined for Navplion (S-beach)/Tolon(T-beach) and the other convoy to Port Raphtis and Rafina.
The Navplion /Tolon convoy consisted of the following ships:-
Slamat (Tjalling Luidinga)
Khedive Ismail (?)
HMS Glenearn (Hill)
Anti-Aircraft cruiser Calcutta (Lees)
Destroyer Diamond (Cartwright)
Destroyer Griffin (John Lee Barber)
Destroyer Hotspur (H.Hodgkinson)
Isis (Casper B.Swinley)
On the Glenearn were the landing craft needed for the embarkation.
The Luftwaffe got a signal about the convoy by aerial reconnaissance. This was sent to the Jagdgeschwader JG77 situated at Almiros.
Feldflugplatz Almiros, zeltlager
Gegen 12.00 uhr Aufklarungsmeldung Uber einen Starken Geleitzug, etwa 6 Transporter mit 20.000 ton.
At twelve o'clock a reconnaissance signal about a large convoy, about 6 troopers of 20.000 tons)
And the headquarters of the VIII Fliegerkorps wrote:
Nach Unterstutzung greifen wir Englischen Truppen sudlich Theben an , und solche bei Argos, ferner Einzelschiff zwischen Piraeus und Kreta, dabei werden 2 Gleitzuge ausgemacht.
Einer besteht aus 7 groszen Schiffe (15000-20000 ton) geschutzt durch 15 Kreuzer und Zerstorer und durch Blenheim Zerstorer in der Luft. Scheinbar sollen diese Schiffen bei Einbruch der Dunkelheit an Land gehen und die fluchtende Englischen truppen an bord nehmen.Leider scheitert erst mal ein Stuka-Angriff wegen zu starker Flak- und Jagd-Abwehr. Einzelne Schiffe werden noch in die Laufe des Tages beschadigt. Die Ju-88 Gruppe findet bedauerlicherweise die Gleitzuge nicht.
Jedoch folgt noch abends ein erfolgreiche Angriff durch die Kampfgruppe Woldenga, wobei auf drei groszen Schiffen 5 Treffer erzielt werden. Ein Schiff brennt. Etwa 40.000 t werden wieder erledigt.
(After air support we will attack the English troops south of Thebe and those at Argos; furthermore single ships between Piraeus and Kreta. We spotted 2 convoys.
One consisted of 7 large ships 15.000-20.000 tons, protected by 15 cruisers and destroyers and Blenheim planes. It is likely that these ships will embark the fleeing English troops at dark.
Unfortunately a Stuka attack failed because of heavy gunfire and enemy planes.
Some ships were damaged during the day. The Ju-squadron, unfortunately, cannot find the convoy.
On the contrary, in the evening, the squadron Woldenga carried out an effective attack with 5 hits on three ships. One ship is burning. About 40.000 tons is again eliminated.)
The convoy was first attacked at 16.40. No ships were hit. This attack was seen by the Minesweeper Salvia which was on her way to Navplion to search for mines.
At 18.00,when the convoy entered the Gulf of Navplion, it was attacked by two groups of nine airplanes of the type Ju-87 and Ju-88. One Stuka damaged the Glenearn. The hullplates were damaged, water came in the ship and the engines stopped.The Glenearn had to be towed to Suda bay by the Griffin. The landingcraft on board had to be brought to Monemvasia.
To VALF (R), C in C, FOAM, SNO Suda, Calcutta
T.O.O. 2000/26/4 T.O.R. 2052/26/4
Glenearn in tow, position 37º04'N 23º07'E heading for Sudabay.
The Khedive Ismail got a near miss and some people were wounded.
The Slamat was hit on the afterdeck near the 2nd Class Smoking room. On the Upper Deck nr A the motorsloop at starboard was destroyed and the sloop nr 12 at portside. Heavy damage was sustained on deck B on the children’s deck and at deck C in the Smoking room.
Only one person-a Chinese- was seriously injured
The Captain and Officers ascertained that the ship was seaworthy and continued their journey to Nauplia.
In the evening the Cdt General von Richthofen ordered squadron JG77 to attack the convoy at Nauplia the next morning.
"Am Abend teilt das Kommodore eine eingesunde Lastwertung uber den Morgen Angriff fur den 27.4 aus den an marschierenden Geleitzug (Navplion) ab.
The forced return of the Glenearn was a serious problem for the embarkation as the landing ships sailed with her.
At 21.50 Slamat and Khedive Ismail reached the blocked harbour of Navplion. The Ulster Prince was still on fire in the harbour. They dropped their anchors far enough away from the harbour to prevent beaching as the Slamat had no sea map at all and the Khedive Ismail only a small one.
The Salvia had swept Navplion bay for mines- she found none and left for Monemvasia.
The Calcutta sailed near the harbour and let down her motorsloop and several whalers for the embarkation of soldiers. In the port embarked a small caique HMS Dolphin the soldiers and brought them to the Hotspur.
The wind was WSW4. A whaler of the Calcutta was drawn forward by the motorsloop. Due to the heavy swell the whaler capsized and the motorsloop got a rope in the propeller.
A motorsloop of the Hotspur saved the drowning men and brought the motorsloop of the Calcutta in to safety.
In a first run the caique Agios Giorgos brought 600 men to the Calcutta including several wounded soldiers.
In Tolon the embarkation was started.
The A5 and the Isis were available. Two whalers and a motorsloop brought the soldiers to the ships. The rate was 80 soldiers an hour. But not for long as the motorsloop broke down, one whaler collided with a caique and another damaged her rudder.
Captain Lees from the Calcutta , who saw that the embarkation staggered ,sent out a message to Pridham-Wippell on the Orion.
T.O.O.23.45/26/4 T.O.R. 0001/27/4
Very few light craft, my boats and boats from destroyers are bringing off all they can. A lighter is at T beach. Merchantship incapable of getting their boats themselves.Suggest Perth and Stuart go to T-Beach forthwith.
Your 23.45 Perth and Stuart are going.
At 23.40 the Perth and the Stuart anchored at Nauplia. At that time no soldiers were embarked on to the Khedive Ismaill nor the Diamond. The last ship was on anti-submarine patrol.
HMAS Stuart sailed to Tolon. The A5, which had embarked 600 fully equiped soldiers, was waiting. These soldiers were transferred to the Stuart. The Stuart then sailed to Nauplia where the soldiers were transferred to the Orion at about 0100/27.
The Perth sailed at 00.50 away from Nauplia and anchored at 1.40 at Tolon where 300 men were embarked from the A5. The A5 was instructed that the next trip would be the last one so she had to take on the maximum load.
At 2.40 the Stuart returned to Tolon.
The A5 now delivered 911 soldiers to the Perth and 109 to the Stuart.
The Hotspur got orders to relieve the Diamond. Unfortunately they could not raise the anchor, so they had to do it by hand. This took one hour, and because of this the Diamond could not embark any soldiers.
The Havock had picked up Baillie-Grohman (FOAM) and his staff at Myloi at the other side of the bay of Navplion.
In the meantime in Navplion the Agios Giorgios brought 500 soldiers to the Slamat on its second trip. This took time as the Slamat lie on the road. At 2.08 Pridhamm-Wippell signalled to the Calcutta:
To : Calcutta
Convoy and escort are to sail at 3.00 promptly at maximum speed.
And the Calcutta sent a message to the Slamat to sail at three o' clock. At that time the Slamat was still taking on troops and it did not sail before 04.15.
At 04.00 Calcutta and Khedive Ismail sailed away at a speed of 12 knots. The Calcutta had taken 1000 men on board; the Khedive Ismail none.
At 04.05 the Orion sailed for Sudabay, the wind was NW4, temperature of the air 64oF, temperature of the seawater 50degrees F. At 04.15 the Orion had a speed of 24 knots.
At 4.15 the Slamat departed and her speed was 16 knots.
It is estimated that 700-2000 men were left behind.
Perth weighed anchor at 04.05. At 04.30 she left with Stuart at a speed of 29 knots.
At about 5.15 Stuart got machine trouble and Perth diminished speed to give her assistance if necessary. But the problem was soon solved and both ships continued on their way
At 7.00 Perth and Stuart reached the Orion which was sailing at that time near Parapola. The convoy was 15 miles behind.
The convoy sailed at 06.45 on the 27th of April at 37 degrees North.
The convoy consisted of :
The Slamat(500 men), Calcutta (1000 men), Hotspur ( 500 men), Isis (400men), Khedive Ismail (0 men), Diamond (0 men).
The convoy sailed at a speed of 14 knots to the South.
At 05.00, 60 German bombers from JG77 started from the airfield of Almiros. Their instruction was to destroy the convoys sailing south of Navplion and south of Akra Taineron.
27.4.41 Feldflugplatz Almiros
5.00 Uhr Start Stab/J.G.77 mit
4 Jabo, II/J.G.77 4 Jabo
6 Jager, III/J.G.77 3 Jabo
6 Jager, III St.G.77 21 Ju 87
III/St.G.2 23 Ju 87
von feindlichen Geleitzugen
sudlich Navplion und
sudlich Akra Taineron.
At 06.45 the convoy was attacked by Jagdgeschwader JG 77 and the attack continued till 10 o'clock.
The Calcutta took the position between the two troopers. Captain Lees from the Calcutta saw three Me-109 planes attack the convoy. Next came planes of the type Ju-87, Ju-88, Me-109 and Do-17.
The bombers concentrated their attack mainly on the Slamat as it was the largest ship in the convoy.
First came in planes from Stab/JG77. who fired with machine and canon guns.
Then the ship was bombed by planes of II/JG77. In the beginning the ship was not hit, thanks to anti-aircraft fire from Calcutta, Diamond and Hotspur. and the manoevering of the Slamat.
At 7.10. the Slamat was hit by a 250 kilogram bomb behind the bridge and before the first chimney.
The Captain’s cabin, the control room and the bridge were set on fire. The ship was out of control. The Calcutta could avoid a collision. The fire extinguishers were damaged and fire swept through the ship.
Captain Tjalling Luidinga gave the order to abandon ship. In the meantime the Slamat was continuously attacked and got another direct hit.
The convoy sailed further on and the Diamond stayed behind for the rescue-operation because the Hotspur had troops embarking at Navplion.
A few minutes later the Diamond came along side the Slamat to save the men.
HMS Griffin sent a message to VALF Pridham-Wippell
To: VALF (R), C.-in C., Diamond
T.O.O. 0710/27/4 T.O.R. 0743/27/4
Slamat bombed and badly on fire in position 37'01'' 23'10''. Diamond standing by to take her troops on board. Number not known but not large.
To VALF (R) SBNO Suda
T.O.O. 0755/27/4 T.O.R. 1011/27/4
Number embarked Calcutta 960,ISIS 408, Hotspur 500, Diamond nil, SS Khedive Ismail nil. Diamond embarked from Slamat number unknown.
In the diary of the JG77 the following was noted:
27.4.41 Feldflugplatz Almiros
Der Angriffe hatte folgeden Verlauf
1. Angriff Stab JG77 beschieszt Schiff mit MG und Kanon.
2. Angriff II/JG77 Oblt Rahn erzielte einen Voll treffer mit S.C.250 Schiff stoppte und brennte
3. Angriff III/JG77. Oblt Huy erzielt einen Voltreffer. Explosion und Brand. 1 Zerstorer ging
langstseit, um Truppen aufzunehemen.
4. Angriff II JG77 9.15uhr 2 Volltreffer SC250 Schiff zeigte nach Steuerbord, 2 Zerstorer waren
langs seit. Die Besatzung ging in die Boote
5 Erklarung durch Do 17 der 2.(F) 11Schiff gesunken Kampftagebuch JG77
27.4.41 Airfield Almiros
The air attack gave the following result
1. Staff JG77 attacked the ship with machine gun and canon fire
2 Lt. Rahn of II/JG77 hit the target with a 250 pounder.
The ship stopped and is on fire.
3 Lt Huy hit the target.Explosion and fire.
1 Destroyer alongside to embark troops
4. II JG77 attacks at 9.15 hour,
2 hits with 250 pounders
Ship lists to starboard.
2 Destroyers alongside
Men boarded the sloops.
5 Aerial survey by Do17 der 2. (F)11
Diary JG 77
Erklarung Bertold Jung II/JG 77 fuhrer 5/JG 77
An dieser Tag flog ich fruh am morgen mit zwei Schwarmen meiner Staffel eine Jabo- Einsatz auf die englischen Schiffseinheiten vor Nauplion, die im Laufe der Nacht die Zuruckgehenden Truppen von den Stranden abgeborgen hatten. Ich fuhrte dabei den ersten Schwarm, wahrend der andere von unseren “Stuka”-Mann, Olt. Rahn, gefuhrt wurde
Declaration Bertold Jung II/JG77 cdr 5/JG77
On third day I flew early in the morning with two units of our squadron on a bombing raid upon the convoy near Navplion, which had taken the retreating troops on board during the night. I led the first unit, while Oberleutnant Rahn ,our “Sturzkampf ” man, led the other unit.
Wir suchten uns einen grossen, auf etwa 20.000 BRT geschatzten Dampfer- ich meine , es ware eine P&O Dampfer- heraus und griffen ihn an; Olt Rahn mit seinen Schwarm kam in Sturzflug aus der Hohe, wahrend ich im Tiefflug heranging. Ich kam dabei etwa fruher zum Wurf und muszte zusehen wie unsere Bombe das Schiff samtlich verfehlten. In Abflug konnte ich dann erkennen, wie aus den Schwarm von Olt Rahn zwei Bomben als Volltreffer auf dem Schiff einschlugen. Aus der entfernung beobachten wir dann noch, dasz der Dampfer seine Boote ausbrachten und man offensichtlich dabei war, da Schff zu verlassen.
We selected a great estimated 20.000 BRT steamer – I think it was a P&O steamer- and attacked her: Olt Rahn with his unit attacked from above and I attacked from sea level. I dropped my bombs too early and saw my bombs missing the ship.When I left I saw that the unit of Oberleutnant Rahn made two hits on the ship. From far away we saw that the ship let down her boats and that the crew abandoned ship.
( Bericht Berthold Jung, 17.2.1990 )
At the same time III/JG 77 was in the sky above the Gulf of Navplion
05.15- 6.30 Uhr: Jaboeinsatzeiner Rotte der 7.Staffel mit Olt Huy und Uffz Pfeiffer gegen Schiffsziele vor den Griechische Kuste in Raume Nauplion
Erfolge: Olt. Huy und Uffz. Pfeiffer erzielten Volltreffer auf einen auf 20.000 BRT geschatzten Transporter; dabei handelte es sich offenbar um denselben Transporter der etwa zur gleichen Zeit von der 5. Staffel angegriffen wurde.
Huy became short of petrol on the return journey. He landed on the airfield of Corinthr, refuelled and flew back to Almiros.
II./JG 77 Bericht von Bertold Jung
Bei unseren zweiten Einsatz uber der Bucht von Nauplion an diesen Morgen fanden wir auch den zuvor getroffen 20.000 Tonner wieder, um den herum eine ganze Zahl von vollbesetzten Rettungsbooten im Wasser zu sehen war. Ein oder zwei Fluzeugfuherer meiner Staffel griffen diese Rettungsboote im Tiefflug mit MG-feuer an; da ich selbst von der Marine kam , widerstrebte mir derartiges ganz grundsatzlich und ich habe es sofort nach unseren Ruckkehr fur die Zukunft unterbunden und meinen Leute vor Augen gefuhrt, daz, wer im Rettungsboot als Schiffbruchiger treibe, schon an sich ein “armes Schwein” sei, den es zu schonen gelte.”
II/JG 77 Message from Bertold Jung
On our second raid above the sea of Nauplion on this morning we found the stricken 20.000 tonne ship again and we saw a great number of fully laden sloops around the ship. One or two pilots in my command fired on the sloops with machine guns. As I was enlisted in the navy, I do not like this from the bottom of my heart and when we were again on the airfield( that in the future this should not happen again) I said to my collegues, that if shipwrecked sailors are in the sloops , they are already poor fellows ( poor pigs) who you have to spare.
Statement D.M.Lees, Captain Calcutta
At 7.00 three Me 109 aircraf skimmed out from the lee of the land flying very low and from this time, for the next three hours, the convoy was continuously attacked by a mixture of Me 109, Do 17, Ju 87 and Ju 88. It is very difficult to compute the number of attacking aircraft as several attacks were beaten off by gunfire before bomb release and the same aircraft probably came in again later. A conservative estimate is 30.
At 7.10 the Slamat was hit by a large bomb just before the bridge and an extensive fire broke out. Diamond who had been doing A/S patrol during the night, and had no passengers aboard, was told to go to the rescue.
During the rescue operation the air attacks continued. Hodgkinson of the Hotspur saw four bombs falling on the Slamat. Hendrik Rijnbergen ,second officer of the Slamat,was in command of boat 4 at the portside and succeeded in lowerering the boat into the water.There were about 60 soldiers in the boat.
When Rijnbergen looked at the destroyer Diamond he saw about 20 Dutchmen on deck.
At 8.15 Diamond asked for assistance.
Am constantly being dive bombed. Request assistance to pick up survivors.Boats in position 37'00"N 23'10"E.
At 9 o'clock Rijnbergen tried to come alongside the destroyer but there was another air attack
and the Diamond had to give full speed to evade the bombs. As a result boat no. 4 capsized and several people drowned. Rijnbergen succeeded in seizing another boat.
Boat no. 10 was commanded by sailor Jasper de Jong. Mr Trijsburg, A. Lokkerbol and about 60 soldiers were sitting in the boat. Because of too many people the boat capsized after two hours. Several people drowned. But after a while one succeeded in turning the boat. Then for a second time the boat capsized and again someone turned the boat.Trijsburg, de Jong and 30 soldiers were still in the boat. At 9.25 the Diamond sailed away with 600 survivors from the Slamat aboard. Unfortunately they had to leave several people behind on floats. These people were machine gunned in the water.
T.O.O. 925/27/4 T.O.R. 0938/27/4
Have picked up most of the survivors. Am proceeding to Suda bay.Remaining boats might make shore.
At 9.16 three destroyers from Suda bay- Wryneck, Waterhen, and Vendetta- approached the convoy. Wryneck was ordered to assist the Diamond.
From :Calcutta to VALF (R), Diamond
Wryneck proceeding to help Diamond
Waterhen and Vendetta changed positions with Isis and Havock. These last two destroyers went with full speed to Suda bay to deliver their troops.
Cdt Swinley saw from the Isis that the burning Slamat was still being attacked. Aboard the Isis there was only one third of the anti-aircraft ammunition and 17 % of the 3" ammunition left.
The convoy sailed at 12 knots. The Coventry would relieve the Calcutta and
the convoy would sail for Alexandria instead of Suda bay because of the risky situation.
To: Coventry, Calcutta(R0, N.O.I./C Suda
My 1811/26. Coventry sailing to relieve Calcutta escorting Khedive Ismail. Last position 37'00"N 23'10"E at 0720 steering 155 at 12 knots. Calcutta to proceed to Suda, disembark troops, fuel if necessary and rejoin convoy.
To C in C (R), NOI/C Suda, FOAM
My 1811/26 Although ships are only partially loaded, intend to sail tonight.The convoy re- routed to Alexandria. There is no room in Suda and changing situation makes further delay hazardous. Reported ARGOS aerodrome now in enemy hands.
At about 10 o'clock the Wryneck reached the Diamond. At 10.25 the Wryneck asked for immediate air support. Both ships sailed together to the disaster zone and reached this place at 11 o'clock.
People from Slamat boat no. 10, Trijsburg ,de Jong and about 30 soldiers were picked up. Also Slamat boat no. 4 was found and 2nd officer Rijnbergen and several others were rescued.
Then the burning ,but still floating, Slamat,was torpedoed by the Diamond.
The torpedo hit the Slamat at portside near the engine room and the ship sank at 37'01"N 23'10"O.
The air attacks were finished now. The convoy, commanded by Captain Lees, had no further damage sustained. The Calcutta fired more than 1200 4"grenades and several thousand rounds with pom pom and machine guns.
At 12.00 Coventry and Vampire relieved Calcutta. Calcutta arrived at Suda bay at 14.30 on the 27th.
Pridhamm- Wippell had asked for fighter protection for the convoy.
To NOI/C Suda (R), Carlisle,Calcutta.
Request fighter protection for convoys in following position-
A 7 minutes East of Shalconer at 1000
B 23 minutes South of Belo Palo at 10.00
Also for convoy G.A.14 assembling 20 miles North of MALAME at 15.00.
To Suda Bay W/T
Request immediate fighter protection
Aboard the Diamond about 600 men stood packed together. Captain Luidinga was below deck with boatswain Philip Sluyter drying their clothes.Afterwards they went upstairs to give food to the men and to relieve them up.
Stoker petty officer H.T.Davis was relieved at one o'clock. He was just sitting at the deck
near the torpedos when he saw a plane coming in from the direction of the sun with motors stopped. As far as Davis could see the Diamond and the Wryneck were attacked by two planes each.The plane dropped two bombs- one was a near miss at portside and caused a hole in the hull at the foredeck. The other bomb hit the engine room. and caused the engines to stop. The mast, the telegraph mast and the chimney came down. Davis let the steam escape from boiler no. 3 by opening the valves. Both sloops were destroyed and three carley floats were thrown over board. 30 men were in each. Then Davis jumped in the sea from the nearly perpendicular standing Diamond. The Diamond sunk in eight minutes. The plane machine gunned the men in the rafts. Most people died during this action.
The time was Sunday 13.30 on April 27th.
Waldron was warrant engineer aboard the Wryneck and gave medical assistence to an Australian officer, who was saved from the Slamat ,when the destroyer was attacked.
As far as Waldron could observe the destroyers were attacked by 9 Ju-87.
First there was machinegun fire and in a second attack the planes dropped bombs.
It was a surprise attack and the sailors at the 4" guns were killed immediatly and no guns could come into action. The first bomb fell on the port side and crushed the hull, causing many deaths and wounded men.The second and third bombs hit the engine room and the bridge. Waldron shut down the boilers and brought the Australian Officer to the deck and took him down on a float..
The Wryneck capsized over on to its portside and went down within approximately 10 to 15 minutes after the air attack.
ERA 3d class S.J.Gordine R.N.R. of the Wryneck was told in the morning by the Cdt that air support had been asked for but this support did not show up. At 13.15 he heard the alarm bells and saw how the Wryneck was hit at the portside and in the engine room. The sloop of the Wryneck could be let down in the water. Also the Carleyfloats were dropped in the water.
Petty Officer H.T.Davis of the Diamond ,who sat on a float, saw how Cdt. Cartwright,who was on the float too, let himself down into the water and so made a place for another sailor. Cdt Cartwright was not seen later.
The sailor Broos who was aboard the Diamond could save himself on a float.On this float was Brand,the ship’s doctor from the Slamat, a comrade and 20 soldiers. During the day the ship’s doctor and his comrade died
The Cdt of the Wryneck, R.H.D. Lane, two sub- lieutenants, Jackson and Griffiths, and mid-ship man Peck came aboard a float and were assisted by Able Seaman Taylor.
Because of their serious injuries, and the heavy swell, they drowned.
Waldron, Warrant Officer of the Wryneck, came aboard the sloop of the Wryneck.
Two Carley floats were towed by the sloops. In the evening the total crew consisted of :- Waldron, Fuller ,Gordine, 49 sailors and eight sailors. Among the sailors were three Dutch namely Rijnbergen, Second Officer, Trijsburg, Assistant Purser ,de Jong,sailor and Sebastias Cavelho, servant on the Slamat with Goanese nationality. They were sitting in the sloop.
Two holes in the sloops were repaired. With the aid of four oars the sloop sailed in an easterly direction.
On the evening of April 27th, VALF Pridham- Wippell became uneasy about the whereabouts of the Wryneck which should be assisting the Diamond.
Enquiries to the Phoebe and the Perth did not clear up the situation.
So HMS Griffin was sent to the place where the Diamond and the Wryneck were seen for the last time.
HMS Griffin with Cdt. John Lee Barber left Suda bay at 22.30 on April 27th. The 250 sailors of the Glenearn had to stay on board.
to Phoebe, Carlisle
A Was Wryneck at 27 with G.A.14
B How many destroyers went on with convoy?
To VALF (R), Phoebe
Your 2004. Regret I did not observe WRYNECK and on instructions from D10 I left for Suda before convoy was formed. Decoy and Hasty were detached later to proceed to assistance
of Costa Rica.
T.O.O.2231/27/4 T.O.R. 2235/27/4
Your 2004 Destroyer was too distant to be individually noticed but it is thought that six destroyers were on with the convoy
Proceed towards Nauplia at 25 knots order follow by W/T
From Griffin to VALF
T.O.O. 2250/27/4 T.O.R. 2250/27/4
Have on board 150 men from Glenearn. Should these be landed before proceeding, please?
To Griffin (R), Ajax, NOI/C-inC
Proceed forthwith to position 037'01"N 023'10"E where Diamond was reported being bombed at 815/27 while picking up SLAMAT survivors. She reported at 9.25 that she was proceeding towards Suda. Wryneck who was sent to her assistance asked for fighters shortly afterwards. Return to Suda by 900/28.
To NOI/C Suda
Request you will arrange flying boat reconnaissance of area within 20 miles of 37'03"N 23'15"E at daylight tomorrow Monday. Object:- to locate destroyer Diamond which has not been in communication since being bombed in that neighbourhood at 0800/27.Transport boat Slamat may be in that vicinity.
On the evening of the 27th the wind rose from the West. The floats struck against the sloop. Warrant officer Waldron had to take the difficult decision to loosen the floats from the sloop.
In the sloop were 4 sailors from the Slamat, eighteen men from the Wryneck and a Sargeant Major from the embarked troops. On board were four oars, a damaged compass, some food and a contaminated barrel of drinking water.
Most people were wet. To warm themselves they had to row & slap themselves to stimulate blood circulation. The sloop floated eastwards. Leading Seaman Fuller had bullet wounds in his belly and thigh. Waldron was nursing him .
At 02.00,in the early hours of the 28th, the Griffin arrived at the place of the disaster. Twelve hours had passed since the attack on the Diamond and Wryneck. Screaming was heard from the sea and two Carley floats were found from the Wryneck. Fourteen survivors were picked up. During the morning some more floats were found.Four men were sitting on one of the floats- one of them was Broos ,the Dutch sailor from the Slamat .There were originally 23 men on this float.
Stoker Petty Officer H.T.Davis of the Diamond was picked up at 07.00 by the Griffin.
Griffin asked to VALF if they could continue to search. The answer was negative.
So Griffin returned to Suda bay at 07.10
At that time the sloop of the Wryneck was not found.
The survivors aboard the Griffin were landed at Kreta.
On that island sailor Broos meet four Goanese servants of the Slamat.
The five of them were than transported by hospital ship to Alexandria.
From Griffin to VALF(R), C.-in C, Ajax, ABNO Susa.
T.O.O. 0230/28/4 T.O.R. 0436/28/4
Your 2250. Have recovered 14 survivors from Wryneck on two Carleyfloats in position 036'30"N 34'E. Both ships sank immediatly at 13.30 about one mile apart. Only boat to get away-one whaler not yet located. Am searching area. Shall I continue search after daylight or comply with your 22.50.
From VALF to Griffin
Your 0230 Comply with my 2250/27.
On the morning of April 28th the sloop from the Wryneck drifted about 30 miles off Milos. It was decided to reach that island. After a while the Ajax and a Destroyer passed within 6 miles of the sloop but did not pick up on her distress signals. Both ships came from Port Raphtis where they had helped in the embarkation of troops on the night of 27/28.
Some time later three destroyers- Kingston, Kimberly and Havock- passed the sloop and there was a fly-over of three Blenheims. None of them noticed the sloop.
On April 28th,at 12.00,Ananes Rock was seen and it was decided to land there as everybody was exhausted. A Greek caique was hidden in the bay. Aboard this caique were Greek fugitives and English soldiers.They came from Piraeus and were on their way to Kreta. They sailed only at night so they would not be discovered. The survivors from the sloop were able to come aboard the caique. In the evening all but five boarded the caique and sailed for Kreta.The remaining five boarded the sloop which was towed by the caique.
De A6 (Waters and Sutton) a small landingcraft was on his way back from Port Raphtis where they had helped in the embarking of the troops on the night of 27th/28th. On the morning of April 29th
they were called by people in a full-packed caique. In the caique were the survivors of the Slamat,Diamond and Wryneck. The survivors boarded the A6 and the next day they arrived at Suda bay.
On the island they were interrogated and brought to an internment camp.
Leading seaman Fuller was praised by everybody for his courageous attitude. Despite serious injuries he stayed at his post and in the sloop his attitude and cheerfullness was a support to all.
The Hotspur had taken back fugitives from Milos to Suda bay. After a short stop at Suda bay the survivors from the Diamond, Wryneck and Slamat came aboard and they sailed for Alexandria. As the harbour was blocked by mines they sailed to Port Said.where they landed on May 1st. There the survivors were interrogated again and sent into quaranteen. On May 6th they were released. They contacted the agent of the Slamat, the English Mining company and the Consul of the Netherlands.
Neither in Port Said nor in Alexandria was anything known about the fate of the rest of the crew of the Slamat. Also after questions to the British Marine authorities and the Dutch Embassy in Cairo no clarification could be acquired regarding the other crew members.
On May 16th, at Port Said, a reunion took place between Trijsburg, de Jong, Rijnbergen and Cavelho, on the one hand,and Broos and 4 Goanese servants on the other.
From the crew of the Slamat only 4 Dutch sailors and 5 Goanese survived the disaster.
The others were missing in action.
The body of Second Officer G. van der Woude washed ashore on the beach at Alexandria & was buried in that city. He was identified by means of the buttons of his jack. On these buttons were engraved the name of his ship’s company- Rotterdamsche Lloyd.
The body of lamp trimmer J.v.d.Brugge washed ashore at Gaza (Palestinia) & was buried there in the cemetry. His family was informed on Sept 1st, 1943.
The body of student steersmen,J.Pille,washed ashore at Stamperia – a Greek island. It was buried there by a fisherman. After the Germans were defeated in Greece the body was re-enterred in Athens. Every year on May 4th there is a small memorial service at his grave organised by the Dutch War Graves Commission.
The sailor Broos gave evidence in front of the Consul at Alexandria on 11th May 1941.On May 12th,
Rijnbergen, Trijsburg and De Jong gave evidence in front of the Consul of the Netherlands,Pierre Credy,at Port Said.
According to the previous description of the embarkation at Nauplia , the Slamat departed at four o'clock in the morning of April 27th. According to Cdt Lees of the Calcutta, all ships were given the instruction to depart at three o'clock.
At 2.08 Pridham-Wippell sent a message to the Calcutta that the convoy and the escort had to leave at three o'clock.
At three o'clock the Calcutta signalled to the Slamat but, because there was no reaction, the Isis was sent to the Slamat to give her an order for departure.
The reason for the late departure was, according to Lees, that a great caique was unloading hundreds of soldiers on to the Slamat. It was the last chance for these men to escape imprisonment.
According to Lees, the Slamat had to interrupt the embarkation and sail away.
Because of the dramatic end of the Slamat was the late departure a contributory factor to the loss of the ship.
Sir Winston Churchill wrote in his book "The Second World War":
"At Navplion there was disaster. The Slamat,in a gallant but misguided effort to embark the maximum number of men, stayed too long in the anchorage. Soon after dawn, when clearing the land, she was attacked and sunk by dive bombers.”
K.W.L.Bezemer, Dutch maritime historian, dealt with the question in his book about the Dutch Merchant Navy in the Second World War.He wrote that if the convoy had departed on time they would not have been open to attack by German planes.
And in other words if the delay was a casual factor in the sinking of the Slamat.
Bezemer meant that in one hour and a quarter the convoy could have been about twenty miles more to the south and this was still in the range of the german planes.
Also the fact that the fast sailing Diamond and Wryneck, at the moment they were attacked,
were tenths of miles further to the south were still found and destroyed gives no evidence that the delay was an causal factor.
Neither the fact that reaching the 37th latitude would bring protection because of the umbrella of the British planes. The air support asked by the Wryneck at 10.25 in the morning of April 27th could not be given three hours later and many miles more to the south.
From the recently found data of the Luftwaffe and especially the Jagdgeschwader 77, it is clear that the Nauplia convoy was discovered on the 26th and escaped total destruction as a large number of German bombers could not find the convoy. The Germans knew that the convoy set sail for Nauplia.
On the evening of April 26th,General von Richthoven,Cdt of the 8th Fliegerkorps planned an attack on the Nauplia convoy for the 27th and gave orders for this attack.
Fighting on the land was strongly diminished and support from the Luftwaffe to their own groundtroops was no longer necessary.Support at the paralanding near the Channel of Corint on the 26 th was the last operation for the Luftwaffe. From the afternoon of the 26th the Luftwaffe could give their maximum attention to destroying the convoys.
The conclusion is that the Nauplia convoy arrived in such serious circumstances that it could only lead to a disaster.
The one hour delay of the Slamat could not be seen as a casual factor in the sinking of the Slamat. Neither could the blocked harbour by the Ulster Prince or the non-participation of the landing craft of the Glenearn. It only contributed to the delay in the embarkation of the soldiers. The convoy was always in range of a large number of German aircraft.
The convoy was trapped and the only question was how large would the damage be. It is remarked that Baillie-Groman (FOAM) had predicted the catastrophe on D3 on the 24 th of April in a reaction to C- in C Cunningham.
He founded this on the arguments that the British airforce at Argos was destroyed,( therefore the lack of air support)and the large number of aircraft the germans had at their disposal.
It was clear that the Slamat was the victim. It was a large ship with less firepower, less manoeuvrable and not as fast as the escort ships.
We think that in these circumstances only the Navy,and not the Merchant Navy,should have participated in the embarkation
The marine ships had a better chance to defend themselves because of their speed and firepower and the skill of their crews.
That, nevertheless,the Diamond and the Wryneck went down that day proves the danger of the situation.
To the courageous crew of HMS Diamond and HMS Wryneck we are very thankful for their efforts to save our people
Luidinga F, Het scheepsjournaal van Tjalling Luidinga 1890-1941 gezagvoerder bij deRotterdamsche Lloyd, page 142-166, ISBN 90-802461-1-5, Rijswijk september 1995.
A second revised edition of "Het scheepsjournaal (...)" will be published in 2008
Rijswijk 17 september 2002.
Revised 18 september 2005
Revised 12 september 2007
Rijswijk 12 september 2007