William Edward Smith left Sydney in the Amsterdam

February 3, 2012

I have just read with interest your reply to Kerry Tolson regarding William Smith – 2/3rd Motor Transport Company (see "William Edward SMITH NX45070")

My Grandfather was also a member of the 2/3rd MT and the ship he left Sydney in was the “Amsterdam” – not sure if it’s New Amsterdam - or just Amsterdam.

This ship was part of the Largest Convoy to ever  leave Australia.

Kind Regards
Julie Nash


This film may be of interest to your family.

F03456 - 2/3 Motor Transport Company
Film copyright: © Australian War Memorial
ID number  F03456
Title  2/3 Motor Transport Company
Places made At sea; Australia: New South Wales, Sydney; Australia: Western Australia, Perth; Malaya: Kuala Lumpur; Malaya: Malacca; Malaya: Perak, Ipoh; Netherlands East Indies: Java, Batavia; Singapore;
Date made  January 1941-1942; 25 April 1946?
Physical description 8mm standard/b&w and colour/silent
Measurement 50 min 59 sec
Collection  Film 


Reel 1. Liverpool, NSW January 1941. Roadways of old corrugated iron huts. Free French were being held. General camp scenes. Parade ground with 2/3rd Motor Transport Company and 2/3/ Motor Ambulance Company.

Open day. NX70821

Major Chris M Black of Bondi Junction later Lieutenant Colonel Black CO 2/3 Motor Transport Company. Two days leave in Perth 16 April 1941. Convoy the largest to leave. Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, Ile de France, Mauritania and the Amsterdam. Convoy breaks up in the Indian Ocean, relying on speed. "They  go to the east and west end up at Singapore. Shoreline of Singapore passing floating dock [24 April 1941]. Deck scenes, we had some New Zealand chaps with us they didn't leave ship, but continued on to India.
Postcard of our ship. We travel overnight to Malacca and remainder of film is Malacca camp below Fortress Hill and general town scenes. Reel 2. A week-end at Kuala Lumpur, Malaya. Mosque, coffee stall holder steps up to
Gopang Road Caves, grotto, Major Tom Blackman and family at Kuala Lumpur. Tom Blackman had been on loan to Malaya by the NZ Government for survey duties.

He returned to Singapore after the war as Major Blackman in charge of food distribution in Singapore and Malaysia. Government buildings. Singapore cold store and railway station. Painter, houseboy, baker delivery,
trader. Train to Ipoh. Ipoh railway station and township. Singapore cold store who supplied our rations. School. Cold store staff. Air raid shelters.
Anderson Road Boys School. Catholic School. USA Church Girls School, teachers give us weekly tennis  afternoons. Boys school. Locals pool. School sports day. First Japanese air raids. Unhappy expressions. Nearby rubber factory [Wilkinson Process Rubber Co.] destroyed. Natives plunder. Ipoh aerodrome had everything left as Percival fled. Our convoy takes a roadside rest. Sgt Major Tiny Cullen has a rest in his new MG. Reel 3. Rubber tapping goes on as usual. This is a small family rubber estate and factory surrounded by a jungle of rubber trees. Arrival of DR's bit like "Dad's Army". Singapore shoreline with many fires etc. Red Cross hospital ship and British Empire Star. The last official ship to depart. Note the damaged railing of our ship as we look back at the Harbour. The ship had been heavily bombed coming down from Penang. All the native crew fled on reaching Singapore and our company volunteered to man the ship SS Kinta. As we were attacked on the second day out of Singapore our progress was down to 4 knots with continuos bombing. As we entered Batavia Harbour our convoy was departing for Burma so we were left at the mercy of the Dutch. The SS Kinta is seen at the wharf. The ship is being unloaded and with us no longer pumping it sank in two days. Damaged ship leaves Singapore and entry into Batavia Harbour.
Shopping centre of Batavia (Batavia was the capital in those days). Native hawkers outside our barracks. Local Salvation Army Red Shield daily bring in hot coffee etc. Street beggars and entertainers all a nuisance. Main city
church at the time of Dutch rule. Local labourers. Local river transport. Grass cutters in camp  House selected as HQ for Black Force 2/3rd Reserve Motor Transport Company.
Moving towards South Coast of Java in convoy. Extensive use of bamboo. DR's of our company. Lieut Dave Wylie and Sergeant Brown. Somewhere 300 miles South we receive news of Dutch capitulation. Destroying
trucks in case of becoming useful to the enemy. White flag of surrender at the tea factory.
The long walk from the south coast. Reel 4. Further scenes of troops in the tea factory area consisting of endless parades and counts.
At last we are given transport for the 300km return north. Roads are very poor and bridges only wide enough for a truck unloaded. So at each bridge we walk. Many native onlookers. They had never seen such traffic or so many Europeans before. Bill Scanden our head cook did a good job under terrible difficulties. Meal time, fortunately we still had hard rations and natives were willing to trade. Passing through paddy fields we finally reach the
railway and travel by train 3rd class dog boxes to Batavia. Passing the big Philips radio complex. Peter Holden from Queensland relaxes at the rear of the carriage, a lot cleaner than inside. Parade of 2/3rd Reserve Motor
Transport Company under Captain Claude Healey. "Short arm" parade.
Japanese Guards at Guardhouse, Bicycle Camp, Batavia. Barracks Bicycle Camp. Barrow of two days vegetables rations for entire camp. Working party and Japanese guard shows how he wants the barbed wire put up. Men start
various hobbies.
Officers' area and they are on morning parade. Japanese officers trailing swords as they approach officers' compound. Major J.M. Williams [CO 2/2 Pioneer Battalion] established a large vegetable garden and worked on it daily. He is now Colonel Williams. Two day rations on barrow.
Back in Sydney Martin Place Anzac Day. College Street Hyde Park, St Andrews Cathedral. Crosses of  remembrance.
[Transcribed from descriptions found on film reel containers]

Permalink: http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/F03456 

I think we are talking about the Nieuw Amsterdam. SS Nieuw Amsterdam

Also see this URL:


Hello again

Thank you for your reply and sending me the link to the AWM site. 

I also have this information and intend to purchase copies of these as soon as I am able.

In my research and internet surfing, I have stumbled across real photographs of him in Bangkok after his liberation in Siam with other POWs

The photo’s were taken by Norman Smith -  photographer for the Melbourne Argus, many of these pics were featured in various newspapers around Australia.

One picture escapes me, (not necessarily taken by Norman Smith) and I would dearly love to get a copy of it for my aging mother.

Before being flown to Singapore and repatriation back to Australia on the “Tamaroa” which left Singapore 29th September 19845 he was presented to Lord Louis Mountbatten in Burma and this picture was published in what I think would be one of the Army (military) newspapers , possibly SEAC or the Rangoon Liberator His name: Gabb, Leo Henry Raymond NX68599 – Driver – 2/3rd Reserve Mt Coy – E Section,

Any clues you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again for your contact

Kind Regards


I was unable to find the photo you wanted. 


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