Some mariners are harder to kill than they look

The Australian War Memorial has this great (audio) show, Collected, where they talk about artifacts and the history behind them. The latest episode, below, runs 25 minutes and details the stories behind four maritime disasters and “the people who survived against the odds.”

Most interesting among them is the tale of the Dutch oil tanker Ondina which, escorted by the corvette HMIS Bengal (J243), stumbled across the path of two well-armed Japanese armed merchant cruisers, Aikoku Maru and Hōkoku Maru.

Hōkoku Maru, a very well-armed auxiliary cruiser of the Imperial Japanese Navy

The two Japanese warships had eight 6-inch and four 3-inch guns between them as well as torpedo tubes and armed floatplanes while Bengal only had a single 4-inch deck gun and Ondina’s merchant sailors manned a 4-inch piece of their own. Incredibly, both the Allied ships survived a pitched sea battle that sent Hōkoku Maru to the bottom and then managed to limp on to Australia.

The show is very interesting.

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