Doug ROWE was the last born of Margaret Kelleher and John Rowe's children. Christened Herbert James Stephen, he was soon given the nickname "Nugget" which became Doug as he grew older. Doug was born in Charlestown, Newcastle, on the 24th of June 1922 and later moved to Marrickville in Sydney.
He joined the Merchant Navy in 1939. During Wolrd War II he travelled to America, India, Singapore, Japan, Canada and Alaska, often serving on troop ships and supply ships for the Australian and American Armies. During the Vietnam War he made seven trips to Vung Tao on a ship carrying supplies, vehicles and ammunition.
In 1943, the day after returning from America, Doug was introduced to his future wife, Norma, by his brother. They were married in 1945 at Petersham, shortly before Doug joined the "Duntroon" and sailed for Singapore. Doug and Norma lived at Stanmore and had two sons, born in 1953 and 1957.
After the Vietnam War Doug worked on oil tankers and BHP ships. He retired in 1987 and was presented with a clock from the tanker "Canopus" from the ship's officers. Doug lived on the Central Coast during his retirement and died on the 9th of September 2010 at Wyong Hospital.
Doug's career with the Merchant Navy began as a Cadet Steward on the Ormiston, a passenger ship which worked the trunk line of the East Coast ports. He gave his date of birth as 1921 thereby inceasing his age by one year. Doug's first voyage to America was on the Ormiston in 1940. The ship was requisitioned as a troop ship, and damaged by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine off the coast of Coffs Harbour in 1943.
RMS Aquitania was a Cunard line ocean liner which served as a troop ship during both World Wars. Doug was a Steward on this ship from August 1941 to January 1942. In November 1941 the Aquitania set sail from Singapore for Australia. It is rumoured that spies in Singapore informed the German ship Kormoran of her sailing and there was a plan to ambush her in the Indian Ocean. The Aquitania was still two days away from the position of the Kormoran when the German ship encountered the HMAS Sydney. Doug spoke of seeing distress flares on the horizon and later encountering German sailors in a lifeboat. He said the sailors spoke no English but it was assumed their ship had been torpedoed by the Sydney. They were taken to Perth.
The Reynella was an Italian passenger ship, seized and renamed in Freemantle, WA in 1940. One merchant seaman at the time described it as "old and slow". Doug served aboard the Reynella betweem March and July in 1942 on a return voyage to India out of Melbourne. While there he was trained in the use of machine guns at the AA Training Centre in Bombay. Click on the certificate on the right to enlarge.
Doug was on board the Dutch owned ship Tjisadane from November 1942 to November 1943. The ship was being used by the Americans to transport troops and war material. In June 1943 the Tjisadane carried troops to Alaska to aid in the recapture of the Aleutian Islands of Attu and Kiska from the Japanese. Doug spent some time in Canada in 1943 and returned home with a gift from Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands who was visiting Canada for the christening of her granddaughter Princess Magriet. Photo right: Queen Wilhelmina
Her Majesty's Australian Transport (HMAT) Duntroon was requisitioned as a troop ship in 1942. Along with the Dutch hospital ship Oranje, the Duntroon was used to repatriate prisoners of war to Australia in 1945. Doug joined the ship in Sydney in August 1945 for the voyage to Singapore to collect prisoners from the POW camp at Changi. They repats arrived in Darwin in September and Doug disembarked from the Duntroon in Brisbane in December.
During WWII MV Merkur was a Fleet Victualling Store Issues Supply Ship for the Royal Australian Navy. In April 1946 she was delegated as a transport ship for service personnel and stores, operating between Australia and the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces' Australian Base at Kure, Japan. Doug served on the Merkur in the capacity of First Grade Steward during two voyages between February and May in 1947, returning prisoners of war home to Australia.
The bulk carrier Jeparit was a ship of the Australian National Lines which made 43 voyages to South Vietnam between 1966 and 1972. She carried army canteen stores, ammunition, stores for civil aid and vehicles including Centurion tanks. Jeparit was the focus of a Waterside Workers Federation anti-war protest in November 1969 when they refused to load or unload the ship. Doug served aboard the Jeparit in 1969 and 1970 making 7 voyages to Vietnam. The ship's arrival would have been most welcome as she often carried the beer for Christmas.