Tuesday, 6 February 2007
What finally happened to the "Mata Hari"?
What was the background behind the sinking of the MATA HARI?
There are possibly conflicting records I hope that someone maybe able to verify what actually happened to the vessel.
An Account by H. WALKER, M.B.E., a Civilian Engineer at the Naval Dockyard, Singapore, who stayed behind to destroy the Naval Fuelling Installations gives a very interesting personal account and states that the MATA HARI was captured 10 miles S.E. of Muntok by the Japanese. The captain surrendered because the passengers were mostly women, children and nurses, there was also a few Argylls and Royal Marines on board. They were taken ashore at Muntok on Banka Island
The MATA HARI originally left Singapore on the 12th February 1942 preceded by the VYNER BROOKE and when captured there were apparently no casualties despite the fact that ship had apparently been attacked by over 80 Japanese planes.
The voyage included the rescue of five sailors who were survivors from the gunboat HMS Scorpion who had been swimming about in the dark for five hours and had almost given up hope of rescue. Later that night they reached the mouth of the Moesi river which runs into Palembang but a hitch occurred - a pilot was required and there wasn't one available so the MATA HARI anchored.
H. Walker stated it was a very dark night and during the dark suddenly shells began to 'zip' overhead with two Japanese vessels appearing from behind the shadows of the mangroves and the Captain of the MATA HARI formally surrendered upon the realisation that they were sitting ducks and owing to the large numbers of civilians including women and children who were on board.
When daylight broke the two dark shapes in the night were shown to be a big four-funnelled Japanese cruiser and a Japanese destroyer. The captain of the MATA HARI was instructed to lift anchor and follow the Japanese vessels to Muntok Bay, Banka Island. I understand most of the passengers were then subsequently interned in prison camps.
In http://www.naval-history.net it states the fate of the MATA HARI as being:- MATA HARI, Auxiliary anti-submarine vessel (R, 1,020t, 1915) Sunk by aircraft in Sunda Strait, Java Sea, 1942, February 28.
As the eye witness account states that the MATA HARI was "captured" I am looking to understand if the Japanese then sunk the vessel after capture and if so - why?