In previous episodes the raider activities of the germans were mentioned and even featured.
Perhaps a nice tidbit of information in that regard that happens in the end of november 1942.
On the 28th of November 1942 on the Indian Ocean the dutch cruiser HNLMS Jacob van Heemskerck (on which my granddad served during the war, the ship has a bit of an unconventional start of its career, but thats already back in 1940 ) and australian cruiser HMAS Adelaide identfy the german supply vessel and blockaderunner Ramses and damaged it, upon which its crew scuttles it.
Probably wasnt much of a battle; 2 cruisers versus 1 modified cargo ship, but confrontations like these were contributing to the germans loosing more and more access to the seas and their ability to hinder the flow of goods and troops between the allied nations.
My granddad worked in the engineroom, so not much viewing there. However being mainly below decks it makes one even more worried in a world of submarines, you are exactly in the place where the enemy wants to hit you. He passed when I was still quite young, so I never really got to talk with him about his experiences. In fact I learned most after he passed, in part from what my dad told me and his service memorabilia; war service awards and such, and I started digging into what was left to be found about him and the ship.
The story of the ship is interesting in that the Jacob van Heemskerck was laid down in 1939 and with that one of the newest ships of the dutch navy,. In fact when the germans invaded on the 10th of may it was still being build. So with just a skeleton crew and lacking armaments, it set out for england head over heels. In the chaos it even had to leave port without it’s captain, because he couldn’t get there in time.
In england it was quickly fitted with some old weaponry and refitted as an airdefence cruiser.
In June together with HNLMS Sumatra it escorted the dutch crown prinsess and her 2 daughters to Canada.
During the the rest of 1940 and the first few months of 1941 the ship is further completed and completes trials and begins its escort missions. (Irish Sea Escort)
In 1942 the ship gets lucky again when it is send to the east to battle the Japanese, however it doesnt make it in time for the battle in the java sea. Which most likely saves my granddad’s and the rest of it’s crew their lives. It changes course for Australia, out of necesity reducing it’s speed because its fuel supplies werent intended for the now longer journey.
I dont know the details but the ship appears to have been involved in the operations to “take” Madagascar in 1942, probably again in an airdefence escort role.
Supposedly the ship only suffered a single fatality throughout the war (and that was an accident) and the crew considered it a blessed ship. (“Oude Jacob”/“Old Jacob”)
So yeah… probably not the grand story of heroics and glory, but in July 1945 it was the first dutch warship to return to port in the Netherlands after the end of the war.
My grandmother, my father and uncle who had been in the netherlands all during the occupation (in amsterdam, so yeah it was under occupation until the very end) just were happy to have him back after so long. For extended periods of time during war they had no idea if he was still alive or not, as correspondance was very difficult if not impossible.