Dec 10th 1941. The ship was alongside in Manila when the Japanese bombed Manila, damaged but made good her escape to Darwin.
Feb 20th 1942. Left Darwin with a naval escort to run arms and munitions to the Phillipines, which were now cut off by the Japanese landings in Indonesia.
Mar 10th 1942. During the night, grounded between Lohol and Leyte. Refloated on March 13th., reached Cebu where her cargo was discharged and returned to Australia.
July 7th.1942. The ship departed Port Moresby for Australia with military personel consisting of 23 officers and 140 other ranks, of whom the majority were overage or medically unfit, a small percentage were to attend training courses or going on leave.
Sept 13th 1942. The troops arrived in the evening to board the "Anhui II" which was due to depart at 03.00 hrs the following morning. Meanwhile the wharfies refused to load the military stores etc. after midnight unless they were paid at the rate of time & half, or the whole of the waterfront would be called out on strike. The CO of the troops then took matters into his own hands, the troops then completing the loading the ship, and the wharfies walked off the job. The "Anhui" completed the loading of the military stores etc. and the vessels departed Brisbane albeit a few hours later than scheduled.
Sept. 1942. The "Anhui" was part of a convoy carrying 1003 troops from Australia to T.P.N.G. When the Chinese crew heard that the ship was going to T.P.N.G., rumours quickly spread amongst the troops that the crew would revolt unless their wishes to be placed ashore were obeyed. The vessel proceeded to Townsville where she anchored until a berth was available. Upon berthing, the Chinese crew, deck dep't, engine room dep't and stewards and cooks, all walked ashore leaving the ship without crew. Sufficient of the troops volunteered to carry out the duties of crew for the remainder of the voyage, CNCo. paying them the current rate that the Chinese crew were being paid. On proceeding North, it was noticed that the firemen's performance varied as during the day the vessel was at the head of the convoy, while during the night the vessel slowed down and by morning was frequently the last vessel in the convoy.
1946. Returned to CNCo.
June 16th 1950. Inbound from Hong Kong with 700 passengers, was holed in the engine room after striking a Nationalist mine on Swatow Bar - vessel beached.
June 22nd. strafed by Nationalist aircraft. Wreck sold to Moller's Towage.
Sept, 3rd,1950. Arrived in Hong Kong under tow by two tugs. After docking mid Oct 1950, laid up at Junk Bay awaiting breaking up.
Built for the Hong Kong - Swatow - Manila - Singapore - South East Asia service.
Events / Stories
Captain Evans of Anhui
In late September 1941, less than three months before the Japanese airforce bombed the American fleet at Pearl Harbor on 7th December, s.s. Anhui, under the command of Captain (later Commodore) Llewellyn Evans, was ordered to Japan to evacuate foreign nationals to Hong Kong, Singapore and Calcutta.
Sailing south from Yokohama with 370 mainly British and Indian passengers on board, the 3,500-ton vessel battled her way through one of the worst typhoons in living memory. The ship was pounded by 140 mile-an-hour winds and four of her eight lifeboats were ripped from their davits. By the time they made port in Hong Kong, the gallant Captain Evans - who had stayed on the bridge for 24 hours to nurse his ship through the worst of the storm - was a hero to his passengers. Anhui II, meanwhile, had begun to acquire a reputation as a “lucky” ship.
Also on board was the Australian Minister to Japan, Sir John Latham. Latham kept in touch and a year later Captain Evans brought him up to date with Anhui’s adventures:
- s.s. Anhui, at sea
- Saturday, October 31st 1942
- Dear Sir John,
- As I was leaving Brisbane some time ago, I received from you a letter and two books. It was with pleasure I heard from you and I take this opportunity of thanking you for your much-appreciated gift: it was very nice of you to remember me after all this time. Now, I think I will give you some Anhui news, since the days when you left her: I know you will be interested in this ship after the way she treated us all in the typhoon off the Loochoo Isles.
- From Calcutta, we went to Rangoon and loaded a full cargo of rice. After discharging our rice in Hong Kong, the Powers decided that we should go to Shanghai and evacuate the British subjects from there. Arrived in Shanghai, less than 100 people were prepared to accept the trip out, and with people withdrawing their names from the list steadily, we just lay there. But after a couple of days, the local papers were printing news that was not so good, and with a definite date for sailing, more people registered for out. Eventually we sailed with 340 on board – mostly women and children. I felt real sorry for the nice people – they had left things very late, and many of them had small babies.
- We arrived in Hong Kong December 6th and that afternoon sailed for Singapore. In the early hours of December 7th we were stopped by a Japanese destroyer and a cruiser. He asked our name, and after what seemed quite a wait, he said: “you can go”. There were none of the usual courtesies and I felt things were moving at a greater pace. Some hours later, I got a message to alter my track, and later again to seek refuge. We had been digging into a head sea, and when I pulled her away and got the sea on the beam, she started to do tricks and all my passengers were seasick.
- We arrived in Manila on 9th, and with the exception of one party who boarded and asked particulars of passengers, crew etc, we were left strictly alone. On 10th, about noon, we had a very heavy bombing: 27 bombers came over and let go a load of bombs quite close. The noise was terrific and I estimated that it went on for 40 seconds. I prayed that day: I thought what a mess one bomb would do to me with all those women and children. Actually, they were well organised and were singing for their lives below decks, and the children were simply wonderful. We were not touched, but the two ships next to us got it. [One of these vessels was CNCo’s Anshun, which received a direct hit, killing her Chief Officer and two seamen.] The bombers left us alone then and concentrated on the Naval Yard at Cavite, and the oil storage tanks; it was a terrible sight: they surely made a job of that.
- The authorities still ignored us and I was worried about no communications with the shore. The next morning, they came off and informed me that they would take me alongside the wharf and all my passengers would be taken ashore with hand luggage only: it was planned for them to go to different places, homes etc. I went up to the Port Captain’s office to see what news I could get. The Port Captain asked me how long it would take me to get to sea, and informed me that if I wanted to save my ship, this was my last chance, as they had information that the port was about to be blockaded. He advised me to be off the wharf in half an hour.
- Well, it was a black business. By the time I got back to my ship, the last of my passengers had left the wharf and there was I, about to push off, and all their luggage in the holds. I am very thankful that I had not to make the decision, but at that time, I don’t think anyone realised the serious position Manila itself was in. I took my ship to sea. In and around my cabin were babies’ napkins drying that I had washed. Yes, I had bathed babies too - their mothers were too sick to look after them. It was a constant reminder of what the mothers with small things would do ashore without their personal effects. Manila at that time was considered by people competent to judge the safest place for women and children, and I did not know what fate had in store for us outside.
- There were about 50 ships in Manila Bay; most of them got away and reached West Australian ports. Anhui was the only ship I know of that reached an eastern Australian port. Leaving Manila, we were within two hours of the Japanese on more than one occasion, but I had it in my mind that the Macassar Straits would be well watched, and I had no intention of trying that way out. Most of the other ships did, and that was where a lot of them were lost. I bore away to the east, with no definite destination, my actions being governed by what I could get out of my radio, and there was quite a lot of misleading information on the air, even from our own stations. I made up my mind to make for Darwin, but then I heard that it was being attacked: plane carriers in the vicinity and submarines. Timor was also unhealthy and I kept going east. Eventually, I ran off my charts. I was heading then for Thursday Island and arrived there on 19th. We gave the Powers in Thursday Island a shock when they sighted us: we were slap in the middle of one of our own minefields. I had no idea I was keeping such bad company, but we came out all right and reached safe anchorage.
- From there I was instructed to proceed to Sydney. As my wife and two daughters had been living in Sydney for about seven months, you can imagine my joy to arrive there on 29th December and have New Year with them.
- Well, Sir John, I am not a letter writer by habit, but now I have gone this far, I had better bring you up to date with Anhui movements. After about six weeks in Sydney, we were off again, and to the Philippines, but this time we had volunteered for the job. We made the journey and returned safely: I think Anhui is the last ship to make that trip. We had enough excitement on that voyage. Coming back, providence was looking after us: one morning, about 8am, I sighted a Japanese battle cruiser about six miles off; we lost him in the rain. I have no doubts he sighted us too, but he never thought there were any British ships in that part of the world. Two days later, in flat calm and wonderful visibility, we had a large Japanese bomber with us for over two hours. The nearest he got was to throw water over the poop, but he never damaged Anhui, and we made Sydney and my family again.
- Since then, we have been employed running north and back again, and that is the Anhui tale to date.
- Again, thanking you, with all good wishes,
- Yours sincerely,
- Capt: L. Evans
- C/o: Messrs. G.S. Yuill & Co.,
- 6 Bridge Street, Sydney, NSW.
Llewellyn Evans received a commendation from the US authorities for his part in Anhui's audacious bid to run the Japanese blockade of the Philippines in early 1942, carrying vital medical supplies and food to American forces stranded at Iloilo. Subsequently, Anhui made many trips north into New Guinea waters, carrying Allied troops and stores.
Commodore Evans died in 1949, and is buried in Hong Kong. Without his hand at the helm, it seems Anhui II lost her lucky star. A year after his death – once more back on the China coast run - she struck a Nationalist mine off Swatow (Shantou), and as she lay beached, was strafed by Nationalist aircraft. The wreck was later salvaged and the valiant little ship went to the breakers.
With grateful thanks to Mrs Sue Scofield, Captain Llewellyn Evans’ daughter, for permission to reproduce her father’s letter, which has been edited for length.
Hamish Macdonald, Engineer, with CNCo. from Jan 1928 to July 1967, was aboard the "Anhui II" as Senior 2nd. Engineer. His wife Lydia and son Allan (Sandy) were passengers on the "Anhui II". When the "Anhui II" had to leave Manilla in a hurry, Hamish's wife and son, who were ashore by this time, were left behind, and interned by the Japanese for the duration of the war. They were eventually released, in poor health, on 27th. March 1945. Hamish retired from CNCo's service on 16th. July 1967 after nearly 40 years service.