- Wright, Ken
- Ship histories and stories, History - WW2
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 2008 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Captain Eggleston and a few crew remained onboard to unload the cargo but left the ship to sleep onshore. Water was still entering the holds so the pumps were left running through the night. Early next morning they continued the unloading but the water levels had increased as the ship’s pumps were being affected by the intake of mud from the sea bed. Just after 9.00 am the Japanese mounted an air attack on Wyndham and although the airfield was the main target, the ship was also strafed. The crew had only just managed to seek shelter under the wharf. It was decided to stay away from the ship until late afternoon but when they returned to the ship, it was obvious she was sinking. At 4.45 pm, the Koolama capsized and sank into the soft mud of the harbour, almost taking the wharf with her. Captain Eggleston was devastated.
After five exhausting days, all members of both parties staggered into the remote mission. Tragically, the ship’s radio operator collapsed and died of a heart attack and was the only death. The remaining survivors were finally picked up by the lugger four days later.
A special thanks goes to author Bill Loane for permission to use material/photographs from his book; ‘The Koolama Incident in the Timor Sea 1942. Malice or Mutiny.’ Rosenberg Publishing, Kenthurst, New South Wales, Australia, 2004.