The S.S. van Warwijk was built in 1909 Netherlands.
The ship (which has several variations to her name) was scuttled in early 1942 at Tandjong Piok as part of a blockade to prevent the Japanese entering the port of Jakarta.
After the Japanese invasion the ship was refloated and repaired by and of course renamed – Harukiki Maru – it became another ‘hell ship’.
On 26 June 1944 the ship was hit by one of 2 torpedoes fired by HMS Truculent. The Harujkiki Maru broke in two and sank within minutes.
Semple and Squance
Harujkiku Maru – SS Van Waerwjick Party
Atjeh Party including 50 Australian POWs departed Gloe Gloer, Sumatra on 7 March 1944 under the command of Lt. Tranter of 2/29th Battalion and included 2/4th men George Quinn, Ted Hopson and Arthur Magill – there remained behind 49 Australians – including Roy Semple, ‘Win’ Annear, ‘Squasher’ Squance, Alf Burgess and Harold Smith of 2/4th.
On 24 June they were alerted to be ready to leave for Singapore and the following day trucks arrived at Gloe Gloer camp to transport the POWs to the port of Belawan to board the ship taking them to Singapore.
The ship was SS Van Waerwjick, a 3,040-ton passenger-cargo ship captured by the Japanese on 3 March 1942. As was Japanese custom the ship was renamed Harukiki Maru.
The POWs arrived at the docks around noon and were crammed into the fore and aft hold of the ship. A Japanese corvette was to act as escort to this small convoy that included 2 tankers and 2 transport ships. The Harukijku Maru left Belawan about 1500 hours on 25 June, heading into the Malacca Straits to join the convoy.
The following day, 26 June at 1350 hours two mighty explosions amidships rocked the ship breaking it into two, and quickly sent it to the depths of the sea. The Harukiku Maru hit the bottom at 68 feet. There was no loss of life from the 2/4th but tragically 167 POWs went down with the ship.
Following four hours of treading water, the men were rescued by one of Japanese tankers from the convoy. The POWs then continued their voyage on board this tanker to Singapore where they disembarked and were taken to River Valley Road Transit Camp. Of the five 2/4th men, Annear WX13468, Squance WX16885 and Semple WX7532 would return to Sumatra to work on the Pakan Baroe-Moearo railway.
Harold Smith WX17448 was sent to hospital with appendicitis on 21 July and Alf Burgess WX15756 suffered a head injury during the sinking of Harukiki Maru.
Alf Burgess and Win Annear
Harold Mervyn Smith WX17448