The HNLMS Jacob van Heemskerck, a light cruiser of the Royal Netherlands Navy, arrived in Australia in October 1942 and was based in Fremantle, Western Australia. She was assigned to Allied Naval Forces Western Australia and performed convoy duties in the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific. She also provided air defense for Allied shipping in these areas.
On 28 November 1942, the Jacob van Heemskerck, in the company of the Australian cruiser HMAS Adelaide, identified and damaged the German supply vessel and blockade runner Ramses, which was subsequently scuttled by her own crew in the Indian Ocean.
The Jacob van Heemskerck remained in Australia until December 1943, when she returned to the Eastern Fleet. She then served in the Mediterranean Sea until June 1944, when she was recalled to England for maintenance. The Jacob van Heemskerck returned to the Netherlands in August 1945.
During her time in Australia, the Jacob van Heemskerck was responsible for the protection of over 1,000 Allied ships. She never lost a convoy ship while she was on duty. She was a popular ship with the Australian sailors who served on her and was nicknamed “Old Jacob” by the crew.
The Jacob van Heemskerck’s Australian operation is a little-known chapter in the history of World War II. However, it is a significant chapter and one that deserves to be remembered. The Jacob van Heemskerck’s service in Australia helped to protect Allied shipping and played a role in the defeat of the Axis powers. She was a well-respected ship and her presence in Australia was a morale boost for the Allied forces.
See also: Destination’s Journeys