Slamat commemoration in 2007

Slamat Commemoration 2007


Nederlandse versie




On April 27th, 1941, the Dutch passenger ship Slamat sank after severe German air raids. At that time she was sailing in Greek waters as part of “Operation Demon”. Almost 1000 crew members and allied troops (British, Australian and New Zealand) lost their lives. Only 10 Rotterdam Lloyd crew members (6 Goanese and 4 Dutch) survived the continuous German attacks. The sinking of this beautiful, two funnelled passenger ship Slamat was the most dramatic disaster in Merchant Naval war history.

For a more detailed account of Slamat’s last days, view the complete text of Frans Luidinga’s lecture!
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On September 22, 2007 a commemoration meeting was organized by the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd Museum at Oudehorne. Frans Luidinga, maritime writer and son of Slamat Captain, Tjalling Luidinga, played an important roll in the organization. On the commemoration day itself he gave an extensive lecture, detailing the exact course of events during this catastrophe.

Many invitations were sent to family members at all known addresses. Invitations were also extended to former Royal Rotterdam Lloyd crew members and to special guests: The New Zealand Ambassador to the Netherlands Her Excellency, Ms Rachel Fry and her husband; the 1st Secretary of the British Embassy Mr Bob Fairweather; former Royal Rotterdam Lloyd Managing Director Mr B.E. Ruys; the representative of the KRL/WRZ association; former Royal Rotterdam Lloyd Captain Mr L.C.J. Welter and the Harbourmaster of Rotterdam Mr J. Lems, both with respective spouses.

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Please click on the links for the chosen list

List of Dutch Victims

List of Foreign Victims



600 British, Australian and New Zealand Soldiers
370 Soldiers were killed in action

SEPTEMBER 20, 2007

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If you wish to read the speeches or the lecture, please make your choice below by clicking on the link.

Opening speech Ed van Lierde

Lecture by Frans Luidinga

Ceremony speech by Ed van Lierde

Speech by the New Zealand Ambassador

Speech by Captain Leendert Welter



Hundreds of allied troops, on board the Slamat, lost their lives as a direct result of the lasting German air attacks, leaving many wives, partners, sons and daughters in a state of complete shock and deep sadness. Some of the foreign family members, known to Frans Luidinga sent messages to the participants of the Slamat commemoration:

Message from Catherine Robbins

(eldest daughter of the New Zealand surgeon, Lennox Douglas (Medical team attached to the Slamat).

Message from Mary Saxton

(youngest daughter of the New Zealand surgeon, Lennox Douglas (Medical team attached to the Slamat).


It is so difficult to put into words how beautiful this commemoration and, especially the ceremony, was. From the pictures below we can only show you what it looked like, but the atmosphere at “Rumah Rimbu”, during these beautiful hours, and the total involvement of all the 83 persons present was really indescribable. You had to be there to feel it!

Very striking was the fact that the week before the commemoration the weather conditions were bad and tuned even worse after the commemoration. The commemoration day itself was blessed with beautiful weather……… it would seem that the Angels were watching over us!

Family members of the Slamat victims, special guests, former crew members of the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd and interested parties gathered around the swimming pool and the ceremony table. Behind the table the New Zealand, Dutch, British and Australian flags flew at half-mast. Four family members attended. Drawn together by their sadness and their involvement, everyone felt energised. The red roses floating in the water of the swimming pool did the rest. Let us hope that this commemoration will give all family members the peace and the closure they so need and desire.

We hope you find the pictures below absorbing …….

Pictures of arrival guests

Pictures of the slamat exposition

Pictures of the lecture by Frans Luiding

Pictures of the ceremony

Pictures of guests visiting the museum

Pictures of the informal part of the commoration



As recognition for organizing the Slamat commemoration the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd Museum was proud and happy to receive irreplaceable items.
From Ms A. ten Have, daughter of C. ten Have, 2nd Engineer of the Slamat we received his WAR REMEMBRANCE CROSS with the inscription: “WAR SERVICE-MERCHANT NAVY: 1940-1945” and the inscription: “MEDITERRANEAN: 1940-1945”, his diplomas, some picture and letters to his wife.

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From Ms J.G. de Reus, daughter of J. de Reus, 4th Engineer of the Slamat; we received his WAR REMEMBRANCE CROSS with the inscription: “WAR SERVICE-MERCHANT NAVY: 1940-1945”and the inscription: “MEDITERRANEAN: 1940-1945”.

From Mr M.A.J. Trijsburg, son of J.M. Trijsburg, assistant Restaurateur of the Slamat and one of the four Dutch survivors of the disaster, a beautiful old picture of the Slamat, in its original frame, sailing in the waters of Venice.

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Again we would like to express our heartfelt thanks for the incredible gifts presented by the above named family
members of the Slamat victims. Your gifts already have a special place in the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd Museum!

We also like to thank our British friends John and Judy Manners for correcting our English translations!


The two page article in the “Rotterdam Daily” had a tremendous impact! Some family members of the Slamat victims were, unfortunately, not on our address list so we were not able to invite them. Thanks to the article in the “Rotterdam Daily” they were able to make enquiries, at the very last moment, about the commemoration on September 22nd. Unfortunately it was already too late for other family members to attend and these same family members were greatly saddened to have missed this commemoration.

We spontaneously decided to organize a Mini Commemoration for Joke de Reus, her husband and two special friends. Immediately Frans Luidinga joined the initiative of the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd Museum and gave a lecture about the Slamat that day.

Below you will find some pictures of this Mini Commemoration. Please click the pictures for enlargement.

Pictures of the mini commemoration



Joke and her husband, Jan together at the Mini Commemoration

To our dismay and unbelief we received the sad tiding of the sudden death of Joke de Reus. 1½ months after the Mini-commemoration, we specially organized for her, she died on Wednesday November 28th 2007 due to a cardiac arrest.

We hope and trust that Jan, the children and close friends will get the power to cope with the terrible loss of this remarkable woman.

Ed van Lierde and Josje van Lierde-Olivier





September/Oktober 2007


A great encounter with two ‘Slamat-daughters’

December 2008/January 2009

By founder and chairman, Ed van Lierde

New Zealand – South Island / Hampden-Oamaru

Together with my wife, Josje I travelled on December 18th 2009 from Christchurch to the “vibrating” city of Hampden. This quiet hamlet is situated on the East coast of New Zealand’s South Island (one hour’s drive from Dunedin). Besides our great involvement we delivered pictures and video material and an envelope from Frans Luidinga (Son of the Slamat captain). At that great place in the most beautiful country in the world we were welcomed by Mary Saxton and her husband Bill. The main reason for this emotional overseas encounter was Mary’s father, the New Zealand surgeon, Captain Dr. Lennox Douglas. We all know Mary from the Slamat commemoration on September 22, 2007 at the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd Museum. On that occasion the New Zealand ambassador to the Netherlands, Ms. Rachel Fry read out a letter written by Mary and addressed to the family members of the Slamat victims.

Lennox Douglas

Captain Dr. Lennox Douglas was Chief of the New Zealand medical team (9 persons)attached to our ss Slamat. In fact those team members were attached to the crew and thus our old Rotterdam Lloyd colleagues! On April 27, 1941 Dr. Lennox was one of the 558 persons aboard the Slamat who did not survive the continuous air attacks of the Germans. Only one member of the Medical team survived this greatest disaster in Dutch merchant navy history!

Youngest daughter, Mary Saxton-Douglas

In Hampden Josje and I were extended a very warm welcome with a glass of fantastic New Zealand wine. In spite of the fact we four met each other for the first time in our lives, our mutual commitment to the Slamat disaster caused a hit from the start and of course this mutual denominator inevitably became the dominant subject of our conversation. The Royal Rotterdam Lloyd Museum website was consulted and all the Slamat pictures were downloaded from my external hard disk to Mary’s computer. The conversation caused laughter and moved us to tears!

A collective glance at the museum website

On the last day of our call we visited the “Garden of Memories” in nearby Oamaru. In this beautiful memory garden with lots of red roses the North Otago servicemen who lost their lives in WW II are commemorated. They not only gave their lives for their country but also for our sake. I consider it very remarkable that soldiers from such a beautiful and peaceful country, so far from home, came to fight for our freedom!

New Zealand – South Island / Ashburton

On January 13, Mary organised an encounter with her sister, the eldest daughter of Lennox Douglas, Catherine Robins and her husband, Mark. They live in Ashburton (between Christchurch and Timaru).