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325' 5" x 44' 1" x 22' 8"
1 x 4" deck gun
4 x 40mm AA
RAN March 8, 1943
Don Fetterly 1996
via Niugiuni Diving
Justin Taylan 2005
Richard Leahy 2006
George Watson / sJacob
Video Clip from documentary
On January 31, 1942 departed Sydney Harbor as part of convoy MS.4 consisting of four tankers and another cargo ship that steamed around the southern and western coast of Australia bound for Java. After February 15, 1942 as the Japanese occupied Sumatra, the convoy was ordered to divert to Fremantle. Both s'Jacob and HMAS Perth continued and were escorted by Swartenhondt and Karsik northward until February 21, 1942 until 600 miles south of the Sunda Strait when ordered to return to Fremantle.
After the fall of Java, one of twenty one KPM that were in Australia and were commandeered by the U. S. Army as a cargo vessel under the United States Army Forces in Australia (USAFIA) via a charter from the British Ministry War Transport (BMWT) under the Dutch government in exile.
The ship was under the command of captain J. J. R. H. Zomer with Dutch officers and a Javanese crew. Armed with a 4" gun on the stern and anti-aircraft guns for defense and used to transport troops and supplies from Australia to New Guinea.
During September 1942, s'Jacob departed Townsville as part of convoy Q2 along with MV Anshun escorted by HMAS Swan and later HMAS Arunta bound for Milne Bay. On September 5, 1942 the convoy held in China Strait because Japanese warships were expected to attack that night. On September 6, 1942 HMAS Arunta escorted MV Anshun into Milne Bay while HMAS Swan and s'Jacob awaited to the south. When Anshun was hit by gunfire and capsized, the rest of the convoy was ordered to Port Moresby.
During the sinking, Pvt George Watson, instead of seeking to save himself, remained in the water assisting several soldiers who could not swim to reach the safety of a life raft and saved several of his comrades before he became weakened from exhaustion and drown.
Sgt. James E. Guilford, Jr writes in "The George Watson Saga":
...We were 14 miles from Oro Bay. Land was barely visible on the horizon. Watson knew that I could not swim... Watson and I jumped into the ocean towards the rope raft. As I jumped I held my breath. I went so far down in the water, I thought I would never come back to the surface. Watson was there to assist me to the raft... with his help and God's help, I did not take another breath until I reached the raft with my hands.
Later Watson was brining more soldiers in distress to the raft. I yelled at him to put some of the soldiers on some of the other floating material. That was the last time I saw George Watson alive. There was debris all over the ocean. The huge freighter had taken on a lot of water. Within minutes after the bombs hit the ship, it listed to starboard and rolled over. It pitched forward. Its bow dipped into the water. Then it took a vertical position and gradually disappeared into the ocean.
Within minutes everything was tranquil and peaceful again, as if nothing happened. All of us, including Pvt George Watson, were rescued by the Australian corvette, our escort. Watson had been pulled out of the ocean unconscious and exhausted. I knew nothing of his rescue or condition at this time. While the crew was trying to revive him, they kept what happened to me. When the found out he could not be revived, they finally told me. George Watson was buried at sea with full military honors. I was amazed at the number of soldiers he helped and saved, before he succumbed himself from exhaustion. Even the white Lieutenant, who was in charge of our detail related how George Watson rescued him.
of Honor Pvt. George Watson
Lying upright on the bottom, few divers go to this wreck. Thousands of fish that inhabit the wreck including mantas, whale sharks, giant groper and sharks. The funnel is the most predominant feature towering above the rest of the vessel. Divers from this vantage point can look down on the rest of the ship and admire the fish life and soft corals. The Jacob's wheelhouse has been fortified against attack and her telegraphs and bridge machine guns are as they were when she sank. Her propeller is still intact.
The cargo holds are full of timber, ammunition, weapons, food and fuel. Crockery is scattered throughout the wreck, several pieces showing the Dutch shipping company's emblem KPM. And below decks, Coca Cola bottles showing their place of manufacture and dating from 1938 to 1942.
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