The story of Valter Nylander, a Finnish sailor who served in Ramses, a POW in Australia during the WW II

(see also "Blockade Runner (Ramses)")

Greetings from Finland

My name is Lauri Nylander and my father served in the " Ramses " when she sank ( this information as far as i know ) during the WW II. He worked in that ship as AB and was a POW in a POW camp in Australia. This information i got from Peter Dunn. If you are interested about my father and what happened to him after the war, please contact.

Dear Lauri,

How nice to hear from you, and thank you for writing. Yes please, I would love to have your father's story of his time in the Ramses, her sinking, and then his subsequent POW time which would have been at Tatura in Victoria, my home State. Then his release, return home, and life after WW2. Is your Dad still living?

Please accept my best wishes for the festive season and 2007.

I look forward  to your writing again.

Best regards, 

Kotka, Finland 26.12.2006

I will contact you and tell more about my father and his family soon. He passed away some 35 years ago after 35 years in merchant fleet. He had two sons, me and my younger brother. As well as our father, we both are working in seas. My brother is a Captain in a company called " Neste Shipping " ( oil and product carriers) and i work at this moment in the Training Vessel Katarina ( Katarina is a training vessel where young Captains, sea engineers and deckhands begin their training periods to be seamen ) as a boatswain and teacher. We both started our careers in sea 1978. So i can say, that sea is in our blood.

Kotka, Finland 12.1.2007

I promised to tell you about my fathers trip to Far East, return to Europe and Finland after his time in Australia as a POW during the ww II. My father told about his trip to the husband of his sister and he wrote down the " story of a trip of a young sailor ". This story is all together 30 pages ( paper size A4 ) so i will tell only the main events.

The trip started 8th of December 1940 when my father together with several other Finnish sailors took a passenger boat ( Bore II ) to Stockholm, Sweden. Then from Stockholm by train to Norway to a harbour town called Sandefjord ( near Oslo, the capital of Norway ). There was their boat " Tornator" ( ex Zeelandia, ex Norseman ) in a repair dock.

After several ports of call and a long time at sea they finally reached Yokohama, Japan in May the 27th. There they unloaded some of their cargo and continued their trip to Kobe. In Kobe they loaded a cargo to Finland, a cargo of tobacco, materials for textile industry, sea fishing equipment etc. But they were unlucky and the war between Germany and Russia started and because we joined the war ( against the Russians ) the routes in seas were closed for Finnish vessels. The boat was then rented to Japanese. She was loaded again with supplies to the Japanese army in China. They made several of these trips.

During one of these trips ( 24.1.1942 ) they hit an underwater rock near Yokohama and they got stuck. Most of the crew members were sent to shore to a small fishing village and only captain with just a few men stayed onboard. Five days later a violent storm broke the ship and also the rest of the crew came ashore.

Finally, after over a month ( February 2nd 1942 ) they got orders and train tickets to Yokohama. After several months there, the Finnish Ambassador helped my father and nine of his fellow sailors to get a job to a Germany Blockade runner " Ramses ". Then on the 10:th of October 1942 they sailed out and headed to Bordeaux, France. After some more ports of call and loading of different kind of goods they sailed on and on the 28th of November they met HMAS Adelaide and an other ship under Dutch flag (Heemskirch ). The " Ramses " was destroyed and my father as well as the other crew members were saved by " Adelaide ".

When they arrived to Fremantle, ( December 2nd 1942 ) there were photographers and other cameramen who took pictures of these seven sailors when they were coming down the gangway and a little later my father noticed a picture in a magazine where these seven men were.called " seven nazi seamen". Well, a mistake. They were not nazis, just seamen.

In Fremantle they were placed into an old fashioned prison for a few days and after that they were transferred to m/s Mauretania and they sailed to Sydney. After a week there they moved on to the POW camp in Liverpool.

January 3rd 1943 they were finally transferred to the Murchison POW camp near Melbourne. The story goes on and my father tells about the life in camp and about the work they had to do.

21st of July 1943 all together 20 Finns were moved to Graytower, to a lumber camp where there were allready about 250 Italians working. Then he tells about living in that camp and for example about their rabbit hunts. ( Finns really hated the food the italians cooked; especially spaghetti and other sorts of pasta.) They didn´t spend there more than about six weeks before they were transferred back to Murchison and to C. compound. During time in that compound my father got the first letters and books from home via Red Cross.

Finally the next autumn gave them freedom ( May 16th 1944 ) ( spring time in northern hemisphere) and they got three days leave to travel to Melbourne and to get all their papers sorted. When their papers were ok, they were not let just to hang around but they had to work on a lumber site near Trentham railway station ( north of Melbourne )

Finally in the early days of March 1945 my father got a job together with three other sailors to a swedish oil tanker " Pan Gothia " ( 16000 tons )

Boat was at a repair dock in Sydney. June the 8th they sailed from Sydney and started their trip back home. Via Panama Canal ( 10th of July ) and to Avonmouth ( outside Bristol in England ) at the 8th of August. A few days there and around England ( Scotland ) to Aberdeen and from there there was a " mine free " route to Norway. Then sailing close to Norwegian coast to Gothenburg in Sweden. They left the ship in Gothenburg and went to Stockholm and with a "route" boat to Finland where they finally landed at 30th of August 1945. That trip took all together nearly five years.

After the war my father continued his career as a sailor in Finnish merchant fleet and he studied in Nautical College in Rauma and in Nautical College in Kotka and became a captain. He met my mother, they got married, started their life together in Kotka and got three sons. One of us ( sons ) died 1957 at the age of 7. I was born 1959 and my younger brother 1962. My father worked 32 years in seas ( Merivienti and Finnlines were his companies ) and he died 1971.

My mother started to work again and gave both me and my brother a chance to educate ourselves. My younger brother works as a captain in M/S Neste ( he has worked in that same company from year 1979. Nesteshipping , also Fortum for a few years)) A company of oil and product carriers.

I went to Nautical College too and worked in a company called Effoa / Finncarriers for about nine years. After that period of time i was a skipper in a small research boat ( owned by The Finnish Game and Fisheries Institute ) about nine years and then as a Lectureur in fisheries and gearmaking  and nautical studies in a fisheries school in Parainen in the South Western part of Finland a bit more than nine years. I have finally moved back to my real "hometown" Kotka. I have a job in a training vessel ( owned by the Nautical College of Kotka, and the name of the vessel is M/S Katarina, ex. Aranda ( built in 1953)) where we train the captains and deck officers, sea engineers and sailors for the needs of the Finnish merchant fleet as well as for international companies.

Greetings from Kotka 
Lauri Nylander
Ps. If possible and if you think it is needed please sent this message also to Mr. Peter Dunn.


Thank you for your Father's story. It is just amazing that 65 years after the event, you find Ahoy, and my story of the German Blockade Runner Ramses, and that after we picked up all the Ramses survivors, your Father and I were both in the same ship back in November of 1942.

We will add this story to our web site, and hopefully our visitors will also enjoy it.

Again my thanks for taking your time to write.

With best wishes to you for your future at sea, and my regards to your sea going brother.

The sea forms a common bond between sailors from many different countries around our world.
Regards from Australia.
Mac. Gregory.

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