2nd NZEF Trooping Voyages
Many troop transport convoys left
New Zealand shores during WWII via Australian ports crossing the Indian Ocean to the
Suez Canal and finally by train to a camp outside Cairo where they prepared for desert
training. Check the 2nd
New Zealand Expeditionary Force service records you hold for information
regarding departure and disembarkation dates.
From Log of Logs.
World War Two convoys on regular routes, were generally given designators, with serial numbers added for each successive convoy e.g. those from Australia to the Middle East with 2nd AIF & NZ troops were known as "US" convoys (at least until USA entered the war, when they became OW).
U.1 to U.5 were the numbers or designators of the individual ships carrying Australian troops in Convoy in "US.1". Ships with NZ troops had a prefix "Z".
"US.1" 'Orion' with the Commodore M.B. Blackwood RN - Jan. 1940. Empress of Japan U.1; Orcades U.2.; Strathnaver U.3; Otranto U.4.; Orford U.5; Escorted by battleship Ramillies, with Leander, Australia, Canberra, Kent and Suffren,
"US. 2" 'Strathaird' with the Commodore was Capt. R.C. Garsia RAN - Apr./May 1940. 'Dunera', Ettrick, Nevasa & Neuralia from W.. escorted by Adelaide, then Sydney, Ramillies, Kent. Orcades. "Y.2", "Y.3", & 'Y.4"
"US.3" Commodore's ship was the Empress of Britain, Queen Mary, Mauretania II, Empress of Canada, Empress of Japan, escorted by HMNZS Leander, Australia and Canberra. - May - June 1940. Capt. JWA Waller, RN, Commodore. From Sydney, Australia, to Gourock, Scotland, with 5,500 troops.
"US.4" Orcades, Otranto
"US.5". 'Christiaan Huygens' and 'Indrapoera' were part of "US.5".
"US.7" Orion. Escorted by HMAS Perth.
"US.8" Awatea, Queen Mary, Aquitania, Mauretania, Dominion Monarch escorted by HMAS Canberra. From Bass Strait 30.12.40 to Colombo with troops
"US.9" Departed Sydney Feb. 4 1941. Queen Mary, Aquitania, Mauretania joined in Melbourne, and Nieuw Amsterdam. Escorted by HMNZS Leander. 5th Reinforcements.
"US.10" Queen Elizabeth, Mauretania, Queen Mary, Aquitania
Return convoys on that route
had the designator reversed i.e. "SU".
'City of Perth' and Esperance Bay (Transport "88"), was in "SU. 1". 12 ships.
"SU.4" Felix Roussell escorted by HMS Chitral
The Royal New Zealand Navy by SD Waters. (Wellington, 1956)
LOOKING BACK SIXTY YEARS
"It was a marvelous sight to see the five big ships slowly moving out of the Wellington Harbour from our vantage point at Kilburn. The ships were loaded at night. The troops had left Trentham training Camp by train at midnight. There was a lot of secrecy and there wasn't any information printed in the newspapers. The people of Wellington had a rough idea when the troops were leaving even though the soldiers weren't allowed to notify anyone. The names of the vessels were blackout but you could recognise the vessels by their shape. They were painted battleship grey, even the numbers funnels were grey, but the numbers on the bow were in black. The ships had been stripped down with all the brass railings taken off so sunlight could not reflect. Going over our men were fed rabbit, if done properly it tasted just like chicken. On board the Aquitania they were served only two meals a day, breakfast and dinner, as there were so many men to be fed. Sleeping accommodation was hammocks." O.B. Posted 18 the Feb 2000.
Aquitania leaving Wellington 1940
VOYAGE ACCOUNT - letter home
Reg. No 42151
5th Reinforcement 5 /14/41
As we are unable to send cables home to NZ; as we are told, I thought I would drop you a note to let you know a bit about the voyage.
Amsterdam and the Mauritania were two the two troopships that left NZ and on the trip on the Amsterdam I only feed the fish once, that was crossing the Tasman so that was not so bad for me.
10th April we sailed into the Sydney harbour and passed the Queen Elizabeth loaded with Aussies; then pulled into the wharf opposite to where the Isle of France was tired up. There we loaded on more food supply plus twelve hundred Aussies and by joves they are great lads, and there was no leave for us there so we were very disappointed as Sydney was a town where we wanted leave.
11th Set sail for Fremantle, and just out side the heads of the Sydney harbour we picked up the Queen Mary so by this time we had with us the biggest convoy that has ever left NZ or Australia. As we were told by the Aussies that came on board our boat, it was the first trip for the Queen Elizabeth out to Australia so the troopships were Amsterdam, Mauritania, Isle of France, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.
16th Sailed into Fremantle harbour where the two Queen 's and the Isle of France anchored outside while the Amsterdam and the Mauritania sailed on and tired up to the wharf. There we managed to capture two days leave and the people of Perth gave us a great welcome to their town. Showing us the town in their cars, free rides on the buses, trams, boats, etc., also cup of tea and dance arranged for us at different places. There were boys scouts scattered all over the town to give us any information what we wanted to know.
19th Set sail again up the coast of Australia and after three days out from Fremantle we left the main convoy and set off for the Singapore Naval Base and arrived there on the 24th of April.
Anzac morning was spent transhipping on to the Acquitania, a cattle boat what we called her when we went on board but we soon got settled down. The afternoon was spent on a small route march to a swimming bath about two miles from the boat, I will say the swim was good, but the march had me beat, it was too hot, enough to melt a man into a grease spot. There was no leave for us so one night we rushed the gangway and made an escape onto land where we could get a bit of fresh air. Myself I never want to see the place again, too hot and the water is rotten so the climate does not suit me. I cannot say I have been to Singapore though I was within 15 miles of it, and I saw the town when we were sailing for Colombo.
Left the Aussies at Singapore and on the 26th set sail for Colombo and arriving there on the 1st May where we picked up part of the old convoy, Mauritania and the Isle of France while the two Queens sailed straight for Egypt. At Colombo I captured three days leave so I had quite a good look around the town. One trip I did was 60 miles out to the rubber plantation and the rice field etc., it was very interesting trip. The roads are very narrow there, a two way road there we would use as a one way road in NZ. You should see them drive their cars in town, if we drove ours in town in NZ how they do there traffic inspectors would have a job to control the traffic, an inch is nothing to them.
6th May set sail for Suez and just before we struck the Red Sea we passed the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth on their return trip. Just at present I am writing this at Suez, waiting to go ashore to catch a train to go into camp near Cairo.....
"The local girls volunteered at the Army Service Club, Wellington and gave the returning troops meals or tea and toast while they were waiting for the troop trains. The food was awful e.g. baked beans. People think New Zealand was never affected by the war but we were. We had rationing. Sugar, butter, cheese, tea, petrol and even clothing coupons. All went to England to feed the troops and the civilians. Many had vegetable gardens and everybody helped everyone. Wellington had blackouts and trams, buses did not run at night." O.B. Posted 18 the Feb 2000.
Lest We Forget - Oral history projects, were increasingly important as veterans from World War Two, the last conflict involving civilian soldiers, became fewer and fewer. "We owe it to future generations of New Zealanders to preserve as much as possible of the human evidence of wartime, war's triumphs and tragedies, the boredom and the excitement. Letters, diaries, photographs, postcards, or even souvenirs, ration books, and paybooks contribute to the story of our country's wartime experiences. It is not only the experiences of service men and women which are worth remembering. Those in the Home Guard, war refugees, war brides, members of patriotic organisations, people 'making do' at home - they too have stories which are worth preserving," Helen Clark said 19 Feb. 2002.