The annual Commemoration Service for Merchant Navy Day is to be held at Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum on Tuesday 3 September at 11.00am.In 2010 the New Zealand Government announced that they would join Britain and other Commonwealth countries to commemorate those who served in the Merchant Navy in the 2nd World War. The date chosen was the 3 September as this observes the sinking of the first merchant ship in 1939 only hours after war was declared.
The service will be conducted by Chaplain David Millar from the Auckland International Seafarers Centre. It will take approximately one hour which includes the laying of the wreath at Voyager’s Merchant Navy Memorial Plaque. Following the service tea and coffee will be served and Voyager’s informed guides will be in attendance in the Oceans Apart Gallery to discuss Navy related objects and stories.
For further information call 09 373 0800 or go to www.maritimemuseum.co.nz
Rescues by the S.S.HORORATA on her first voyage.
On her maiden voyage outward bound from Britain in 1942 and on passage from New York towards Panama the lookouts on the S.S.Hororata of the New Zealand Shipping Company sighted a raft with one man on it. Risking a U-boat attack the unescorted Hororata circled the raft while one of the ship's boats approached it. The officer in charge of the boat judged the raft had been in the water a long time because of the amount of weed on its underside. The man was burnt black by the sun, had no water left and appeared delirious.
In the words of Chief Officer R.J.B.Dunning, “With careful nursing, and never being left alone for one moment, day or night, he eventually recovered. Only then would he let me open a package tied securely round his neck. In it there was a card with his name, his brother's name and address, and a handful of dollars 'to pay the cost of passing on the news of his death.' The card was dated thirty days before we picked him up. He told us quietly one evening that if we hadn't arrived when we did, he had already made up his mind to slip off the raft that night.”
Despite the majority of the crew getting away in their ship's boats and rafts this man was the sole survivor of an American ship that had been sunk over a month previously. He left the Hororata at Colon in the Panama Canal Zone while the crew lined the rail and cheering him as he hobbled down the gangway and ashore on crutches.
On the homeward passage from Auckland that same voyage a lifeboat was sighted in the North Atlantic from which the Hororata rescued eighteen survivors from the Richmond Castle, a cargo ship of the Union Castle Line that was torpedoed on 3rd August 1942 while on passage from Argentina to Britain with a cargo of frozen meat. Ten men had died from cold and exposure in the lifeboat in the eight days since the sinking.
"Ordeal by Sea, 1939 – 1945” by Sydney D. Waters, published in 1949 by The New Zealand Shipping Company Ltd., and "War under the Red Ensign; The Merchant Navy 1939 – 45” by Doddy Hay, published by Jane's Publishing Company in 1982.
In post-war years the captain of the Hororata, Captain F.S.Hamilton, became a surveyor in Auckland and was a member of the Auckland Harbour Board for a number of years. Captain R.J.B.Dunning became Marine Superintendent for the NZ Shipping Company in Australia.
HORORATA, built 1942, 12090 tons. W. A. Laxon Collection, Voyager NZ Maritime Museum.