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Reproduced courtesy of Hilda Farquar-Smith and Robert Dun

Letters relaring to rescues of MV AVANTI and PRINCESS OF NUNUKAN

Date: 1953-1955
Overall: 341 x 210 mm
Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from the family of Burnham Walker Dun
Object Copyright: © Hilda Farquar-Smith and Robert Dun
Object Name: Letter
Object No: ANMS1341[001]

User Terms

    Bundle of letters. First letter addressed to Macdonald Hamilton & Co from Commander Dun relates the rescue of Phillipine Kumpit PRINCESS OF NUNUKAN. The letter provides the details of the PRINCESS OF NUNUKAN and the SS EASTERNS disacovery of the vessel in distress while crossing the Northern point of the Macassar Strait on 7 December 1955. Subsequent letters are correspondence and instructions between the Macdonald Hamilton & Co and Commander Dun.

    Subsequent letter in this bundle relates to the distress call received by SS EASTERN from the MV AVANTI. The EASTERN received an SOS message stating that the MV AVANTI 'broken in to two 11 men on back/ part saved but 8 men on the front part and 21 men/ on a lifeboat still drifting any ship nearby/ please give help'.

    Dated 8 January 1953 are six typed pages of information recording the time, whom the SS EASTERN received radio calls from, the frequency used and the type of signal heard.

    Three page report dated 13 January 1953 from Mr Martin Appelkvist - Ist Engineer of the Swedish m/t[sic] AVANTI. The report refers to the breaking up of the AVANTI.
    SignificanceW Olson, 'Lion of the China Sea: a History of the E & A Line', 1976.

    G A Hardwick, 'E & A Line - the Eastern and Australian Steam Ship Company Limited', The Log, volume 16, number 1, issue 71, February 1983, pp 3 - 12.

    Notes provided by Ian Farquhar-Smith, on file
    HistoryBurnham Walker Dun 1905-1992 began his apprenticeship with the Australasian Steam Navigation Company in 1921 when he was just short of his 16th birthday. After four years in the coastal ships of AUSN he gained his Second Mate's certificate in Sydney and joined the Eastern & Australian Steamship Company (E&A) as Fourth Officer on the TANDA. He served 43 years with this Company sailing to ports between Australia and eastern Asia, retiring in 1967. He gained his Master's Certificate in 1929, at the age of 24. In 1942, when he was Chief Officer on the NANKIN, the ship was captured by the German raider THOR. He spent the rest of the war with the surviving crew labouring in Japanese POW camps. He returned to Australia in poor health and spent years trying to get compensation. Although he was an Australian resident employed by an Australian company (managing agents Macdonald Hamilton) the ship was British owned and registered, and he obtained only limited compensation. He went back to sea with E&A in 1946, had his first permanent command in 1947 on the second NANKIN, and served in the company's ships EASTERN, NELLORE, ARAFURA and ARAMAC until he retired. During this time he carried cargo regularly to Japan, where he established friendly relationships with his former captors. During his career he made a number of rescues at sea and survived several severe typhoons. On retirement, he became a Nautical Assessor and took part in marine Courts of Enquiry, including the enquiry into the collapse of the Tasman Bridge, caused by the cargo ship LAKE ILLAWARRA striking one of the bridge's piers.

    E & A Line actually consisted of four successive companies bearing the same name, Eastern and Australian Steam Ship Company, between 1873 and the early 1980s. It was established to serve routes between Australasia and 'Far Eastern' ports - Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan, and was originally named Eastern & Australian Mail Steam Company Limited. It only ever had a small fleet of ships but those it had, such as the NELLORE and the NANKIN, were well known. Ownership of E&A Line was involved in other companies in the 20th century, notably the AUSN Company, and from 1946 P&O. Through its history E & A Lines carried cargo and passengers, and was involved in trooping and supply in World War I. In World War II its entire fleet of three of its ships was lost. In the post-war period it operated cargo-passenger ships until 1975 when passenger service was given up and the ships were progressively sold, though in 1983 it continued to staff and operate AJCL containerships.

    The Eastern & Australian Steamship Company
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Letters relaring to rescues of MV AVANTI and PRINCESS OF NUNUKAN

    Collection title: Captain Burnham Walker Dun collection

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