Harukiku Maru – Sinking SS Van Waerwjick Party, Sumatra

Eight (8) 2/4th men had successfully escaped Singapore to Sumatra:  Richard Annear, Burgess, Ted Hopson, Magill, Quinn, Semple, Harold Smith and Cliff Squance.

Ted Hopson died With Atjeh Party 1944

Three survivors of Harukiku sinking remained injured/ill in Singapore – Burgess, Semple and Harold Smith.
Four 2/4th returned Sumatra to work on Railway:  Richard Annear, Magill, Quinn & Squance.  They were joined by (3) 2/4th Java POWs Banks, Booth and McAskil. (Booth & McAskill died 1945)
Total Five 2/4th were recovered from Sumatra Railway war’s end.

The S.S. van Warwijk was built in 1909 Netherlands.

The ship (which has several variations to her name) was scuttled by her crew in early 1942 at Tandjong Piok  as part of a blockade to prevent the Japanese entering the port of Jakarta.  Following their invasion the Japanese refloated and repaired Warwijk – after which renamed her ‘Harujkiki’ Maru becoming another Japanese ‘hell ship’.
On 26 June 1944 sailing from Belawan (Medan) to  Pekanbaru Sumatra the ship was  hit by one of 2 torpedoes fired by British submarine HMS Truculent.   The Harujkiki Maru broke in two and sank within minutes.
It sank about 100km off the Sumatran coast at Medan carrying 1190 POWs. POW clung to lifeboats and debri for hours before being rescued by a Japanese tanker.  189 lives were lost.   The POWs were taken to Singapore where they remained for about a month prior to being shipped back to Pekanbaru, Sumatra, where they built the railway until the end of war.


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 (Port of Medan)  to board the ship to sail to Singapore through the Malacca Straits between Sumatra and Malaysia.
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 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.   Annear WX13468, Squance, Magill and Quinn 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


Please read full list of POWs at Gloegoer Camp and those who boarded this ship