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?

17 comments:

katiespencerwhite said...

My great grandfather, Lt Albert Charles Carston, was the commanding officer of the MATA HARI and surrendered the vessel to the Japanese in 1942 just as your post states. From our records and other records we have found on the internet, he was sent first to Muntok, Banka Island to repair an airfield. In his post war report, he stated that he was returned to the Mata Hari on 20 Sept 42 to 23 Sept 42 for passage to Japan before being transferred to a Japanese vessel on 24 Sept. He stated that the First Lieutenant, the engineer corps and a few others had been forced to remain on board after the ships capture. The ship participated in the capture of Rengat and had carreid troops to Borneo. Once in Japan, Captain Carston was interred in a series of POW camps until he was liberated from the Hiroshima camp in September 1945. It seems that the fate of the Mata Hari after September 1942 is unclear.

Great post!

Jayne Cleveley said...

I have to thank your g Grandfather Captain Carston for saving the lives of my parents, my mother was on board that vessel being one of the last to leave Singapore as she was a Red Cross volunteer nurse, her name was Mrs Christine Bundy ( first husband) my father acted as the ships radio officer as he was a Capt in the Royal Signals his name was Norman Cleveley , as the were being shot at by the Japs he threw himself on top of my mother to save her as the were on deck as there was not enough room fro all the people in the lower decks . Her reply we have not been introduced , I have many stories about her days in the camps on Banka Island and the film Paradise road with Glenn Close, was written about her camp. I still have the Japanese flag she took down from the flag pole , it is silk and a little brown at the edges now. this is a scene from the film , and yes it did happen, my mother was an adviser to the film , she has been dead now for 24 years, but I am still trying to find information about the male camps on Banka as my fathe would never speak about it , being military and a captain I know he was tortured,he was later mentioned in dipatches but I don´t know for what reason, please contact me on jaynecleveley@hotmail.com

Sarah Dyne said...

I also have to thank Captain Carston for saving the lives of my Grandmother and father (who was 9 years old at the time) by his actions. We still have a letter that he sent to my grandmother in 1945. He clearly had a terrible decision to make re surrender and the letter shows he was a very great man. He wrote to all the survivors of the ship after the war - what a lovely repsonsible man he must have been - I would be happy to share the letter if anyone would like to see it.
My father and his mother were interned on Bangka Island during the war and my Grandfather in Changi. They were very lucky that the Mata Hari was not bombed- my father remembers being ordered below decks on the Mata Hari. He said it was stiflinghot and terrifying as they could here gun fire all around from beneath the decks. On the way down below he saw a motor boat (there were several smaller boats accompanying the Mata Hari) bombed and completely destroyed by a Japanee airplane.

Sarah Dyne said...

I also have to thank Captain Carston for saving the lives of my Grandmother and father (who was 9 years old at the time) by his actions. We still have a letter that he sent to my grandmother in 1945. He clearly had a terrible decision to make re surrender and the letter shows he was a very great man. He wrote to all the survivors of the ship after the war - what a lovely repsonsible man he must have been - I would be happy to share the letter if anyone would like to see it.
My father and his mother were interned on Bangka Island during the war and my Grandfather in Changi. They were very lucky that the Mata Hari was not bombed- my father remembers being ordered below decks on the Mata Hari. He said it was stiflinghot and terrifying as they could here gun fire all around from beneath the decks. On the way down below he saw a motor boat (there were several smaller boats accompanying the Mata Hari) bombed and completely destroyed by a Japanee airplane.

Vincesapplemac said...

My mother was also on the Mata Hari, when it was captured and was then interened for the remainder of the war with her 4 siblings, she is presently trying to contact former internees of the female camp and would be grateful of anyone assistnace in doing so

Vincesapplemac said...

Sarah Dyne is your father still alive, as my mother was also on the Mata Hari and was interned in Palembang/Muntok and Lubecklingue (spelling).

She's presently trying to find other survivors of the Mata Hari and the camps mentioned above, please feel free to contact me at admin@elgey.co.uk

regards

Vincent

Anonymous said...

In reply to Sarah Dyne's post, Capt Carston was my grandfather and unfortunately he died while I was an infant so never knew him. My father was also in command of a ship with the RIN during WWII and he didn't speak much of the war, even though he received a Mention in Despatches,He did tell me and my brother of my grandfather rescuing the crew of a depth charged German submarine and receiving a fob watch from the submarine captain as thanks and this is now handed down to the eldest son of each generation (not me).
I would like to see the letter my grandfather wrote to the survivors of the Mata Hari if that's possible.
My email is; hotbap@gmail.com

Peter Carston

Anonymous said...

My father was sub LT George Lyons and had been attached to the Mata Hari since the start of the war in 1939. After the Japanese involvement my father and his ship were involved greatly in evacuating colonials as the japanese swept down the Asian peninsular. This was also his involvement in the fall of Singapore. My father was 21 years of age then. After the capture of the Mata Hari my father was imprisoned in Palembang for three years and then taken to Changi for the final 6 months of the war as the Japanese withdrew. He said Changi saved his life.
My father suffered greatly in prison and saw many mates and fellow prisoners perish at the hands of the Japanese. He was about 6 ft tall but weighed 7 stone at the end of the war. These years took their toll on dad as I am sure many others. I remember as a child waking to my father screaming in his sleep often in Japanese. Although he would deny he could speak any Japanese.
Today it is called Post Traumatic Stress.
I am so happy to find this site and read the stories of survivors and I would be very interested to hear more from anyone who wished to contact me.
My father passed away in 2006 at the age of 86. I am one of seven of his children and he has 19 grandchildren and even great grand children now.
Thank you all for leaving comments,
Michael Lyons Michael@lyonsarchitects.com.au

Jean Lloyd said...

I hope that you will find this interesting.This is about Stoker Charles Jenkins.RN. During WW2 Charlie Served on HMS ENDEVOUR and later HMS MATA HARI.
The MATA HARI left Singapore on the 12th February 1942. She was captured 10 miles S.E. of Muntok by the Japanese. The Captain Lt Albert Charles Carston surrendered because the passengers were mostly women, children and nurses, They were taken ashore at Muntok on Banka Island. While the ship was being overrun Charlie climbed the mast a took the Royal Ensign. He hid it and kept it for the duration of his imprisonment in the notorious Japanese camps. It is now hanging behind the his uniform in the Cordell Museum in Blaenavon. After the war Charlie returned home to his wife, Doreen and daughter, Audrey. He lived an active life, sang with the Blaenavon Male Voice Choir and was a Member of Blaenavon Rugby Club. He died in 2004.

E. Michael D. ("Mike") Scott said...

MESSAGE FOR SARAH DYNE

Dear Ms. Sarah Dyne:

Your grandmother (Katherine or Kitty, born in Nagasaki, Japan) was the older sister of my uncle (by marriage) Alec. I am compiling a detailed family genealogy with associated historical information. Would you be willing to contact me at emds10@gmail.com?

E. Michael D. ("Mike") Scott
Near Philadelphia, PA

E. Michael D. ("Mike") Scott said...

MESSAGE FOR SARAH DYNE

Dear Ms. Sarah Dyne:

Your grandmother (Katherine or Kitty, born in Nagasaki, Japan) was the older sister of my uncle (by marriage) Alec. I am compiling a detailed family genealogy with associated historical information. Would you be willing to contact me at emds10@gmail.com?

E. Michael D. ("Mike") Scott
Near Philadelphia, PA

Anonymous said...

My Father was Sub Lt George (Joey) Lyons and served on the Mata Hari as advised in previous post. I found some information recently that after the Japanese capture, the Mata Hari may have been renamed as the Nichirin Maru and used as a troop transport. It was subsequently attacked on 2nd March 1945 and sunk in the East China Sea. Can anyone confirm if this is true?
Michael Lyons (michael@lyonsarchitects.com.au)

Philip Hogge said...

My father, A H Hogge, was the chief officer on the Mata Hari, and the chief engineer H M MacGregor was my godfather. I was born in Penang and evacuated with my mother from Singapore to Perth, Western Australia in December 1942. My father was a POW in Changi for the remainder of the war, returning to England in October 1945. Unfortunately he died in February 1952. He did not talk much about his experiences and my mother is now dead, therefore I know relatively little of what happened. The things my mother told me are corroborated by the other accounts I have read on this website. If anyone can send me the text of the letter that Captain Carston wrote after the war I would be very pleased to receive it. Also any other details from personal accounts. My name is Philip Hogge and my email address is philhogge@gmail.com

Captain Fifo said...

I would love to have a copy of Captain Carston's letter to the survivors. Captain Martin Reed, RD*, RNR. reednitram@aol.com

Graeme said...

I have just come into possession of the memoirs of a civilian Internee, Miss MARY GLASGOW, who was evacuated from Singapore on the Mata Hari. In these she speaks glowingly of Capt Carston, mentions the incident in which 3 or 4 RN men were rescued from the water and then describes how they were shelled and ordered to stop, at which point Capt Carston signalled that he had women and children on board and that he would surrender. I am preparing to have these memoirs published and if it is at all possible I would love to have a copy (or photograph) of Capt Carston's letter.

I can be reached on (remove the spaces in the email address) jcg raemeall en @ gmail.com

TC Ng said...

I'm debating expanding on my late father's memoirs of WWII which included his escape with my mother and infant sister on the Mata Hari from Singapore. He wrote a rather detailed account of his life on Bangka Island but, unlike the other comments above, his was more from a civilian's point of view. My sister is now 76 and lives in California. I was born after the war and am now 71. If you feel that my father's memoirs would be of interest, you may contact me. I live in Singapore.

Terry

David said...

I am researching the life of Dorothy Francis Coats who was a South Australian on board the Mata Hari when it was surrendered to the Japanese. She was married to Claude Hampson Coats, a teacher of mine in 1952/3 in Alice Springs. He was taken prisoner separately. After the war they resumed married life.
I would appreciate a copy of the letter sent by Captain Carston to his passengers to taurus@optusnet.com.au or the email address in this comment.
Details of the ship and the Captain's report can be found here- http://muntokpeacemuseum.org/

Thank you in anticipation
David