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The Sinking of the SS Veerhaven:
Epilogue


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Continued from Part One



EPILOGUE


After Charlie was discharged at Rotterdam from the Netherlands Merchant Navy, he took a little rest and then went back to sea on British ships. His first job was aboard the Royal Mail Lines passenger liner MV Highland Chieftain.
Charlie and Bosun of SS Beresina

This photo shows Charlie and the Bosun of SS Beresina enjoying some free time in the West Indies.
The 14,232-ton Highland Chieftain had served during the war as a troopship and was now kept very busy bringing the troops back home. Charlie remained aboard her, with only a small break, until the end of October 1947. His next vessel in December of that year was the freighter, SS Beresina, and Charlie served on her until April 1948. After he left Beresina, Charlie joined the crew of the Hain Steamship Company freighter, MV Trevanion. The Hain fleet which was based in Cardiff, Wales, was owned by the famous passenger liner company, P & O. Charlie remained aboard Trevanion until August 1948. His last ship was the Elder Dempster Line's freighter SS Biafra and Charlie stayed with her until the end of 1949. By that time Charlie had met the Lovely Lady who was to become his wife, Doris, and he left the sea to begin a career ashore.

In 1956 Charlie and Doris and their little daughter, Susan, emigrated to Australia. They settled in the city of Adelaide, South Australia, where their second daughter, Janet, was born in 1959. Unfortunately, Charlie's parents became very ill, and in order to care for them, he had to uproot his family and move them temporarily back to England in 1962. The "temporary" visit stretched into years; Susan and Janet grew up and returned to Australia, and finally in August 1987 Charlie and Doris were able to join them. They settled in Queensland near the beautiful city of Brisbane.

Before he left England Charlie had been receiving a small disability pension for health problems which dated back to his war service. The pension was discontinued when he moved back to Australia, so he decided to try his luck again. Since he was a naturalized Australian citizen, Charlie
Charlie and Doris Mountain

Charlie and Doris
approached Australia's department of Veterans Affairs first, but there he was told that because he was born in England, he was Britain's responsibility. Next he contacted a Liason Officer for the British within the Veterans Affairs office. As luck would have it, the Liason Officer was an ex-army officer with little knowledge or appreciation of the key role played by the Merchant Navy in the war. Charlie presented the man with as much information as he could get a hold of, but when the Liason Officer was told that old American hospital records no longer existed, he refused to pursue the case any further. After reaching that second dead end, Charlie decided to try the government of the Netherlands. He eventually found himself in the office of the Dutch Consul in Brisbane, where he was unceremoniously handed a damaged Dutch Star and Bar war medal, and then bluntly told that "oldies" like him were "just a nuisance", nowadays, and certainly the Netherlands did not want anything more to do with him! Charlie was shocked by the man's rudeness, but he knew from his own experience with some Dutch ladies on the Internet who had tracked down information for him, that the majority of Dutch citizens appreciated what the Allies had done in World War Two. With that in mind, he decided to appeal directly to the Dutch monarchy, and wrote directly to Queen Beatrix. When there was no reply, Charlie wrote a second letter, but he never recieved a reply to that one either.

Inspite of all these setbacks, Charlie never gave up his quest for justice. He always hoped that one day his service, and that of all other Allied Merchant Seamen Veterans whose contributions had been overlooked, would be properly recognized and compensated.

THE END




During the too short time that I knew Charlie, his health problems steadily worsened, but he stubbornly refused to give in to his illnesses. Again and again, Charlie amazed his doctors by surviving against the odds. But, finally, Charlie's gallant heart could take no more and after a valiant last battle he died on October 1st, 2001 at the age of 77. Charlie was a very special person and I will always treasure our friendship.

Maureen Venzi    
October 2nd, 2001



PLEASE VISIT Charlie's Companion Pages:


WWII Losses of the Dutch Ships Amsterdam, Woensdrecht and Prins Willem III.


Allied Merchant Ships Attacked by the Italian submarine Leonardo da Vinci.





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