Doulos Phos 2010 - located on the resort Island of Bintan in Indonesia - MV Doulos (1977-2010) - MS Franca C (1952-1977) - SS Roma (1948-1952) - SS Medina (1914-1948)

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A superbly built American built ship that sailed into History and she remains with us to this very day!

With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author

Commenced in the Passenger Shipping Industry in 1960

 

A superbly built American built ship that sailed into History and she remains with us to this very day!

Please Note: All ssMaritime and my other related ssMaritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any cruise or shipping companies or travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! The author has been in the passenger shipping industry since May 1960 and is now semi-retired, but continues and I hope that the well over 675 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers ships I have written on will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts and continue a great deal of information and pleasure!

 

SS Medina (1914-1948) was sold and renamed: SS Roma (1948-1952)

MS Franca C (1952-1977) - MV Doulos (1977-2010)

Doulos Phos (2010 - ) A land-locked Hotel at Bintan, Indonesia

MV Doulos

“A Ship Like no Other”

By Reuben Goossens 

Part Two - 2008 / Chapter Three - Continued:

  

--SS Roma--

 

Paul Christmann (Goworowski) sails to Australia

Ex Bremerhaven - October 30, 1950 - Arriving in Newcastle on December 18

 

 Paul Christmann holds the photograph of the SS Roma

Photograph by & © 2008 - Sven Benseler MV Doulos

This page contains an interesting insight of the SS Roma’s voyage to Australia through the eyes of a thirteen year old Paul Goworowski, the surname he had on the passenger list. The surname belonged to his stepfather, but Paul always used and lived by his original German name “Christmann” in Australia. Travelling with Paul on the Roma was; his mother Anna 32, stepfather Stefan 36, and stepbrother Stephan 32 months.

A section containing the family listing on the official “International Refugee Organisation” manifest

© Australian National Archives – used with permission - www.naa.gov.au

On this page, you will read Paul’s fascinating story of his voyage on the SS Roma as seen through his eyes and memory. I am very grateful to him contributing to this feature for it gives us another insight to this remarkable voyage of which so little has been known!

Memories from a boy who loved SS Roma bow!

Obviously the War had a bearing on all our lives and due to circumstances I had been living in a Catholic Children’s Home in Riegel (Kaiserstuhl) for several years without any contact with my mother.

One surprise after another

Then late in 1949 my mother arrived at the Home with a half brother and a stepfather who was an ex-prisoner of War from Poland. I was told that we were immigrating to America for my stepfather had two Uncles there. We were required to apply at a transit camp at Augsburg in southern Germany. There we had to undergo extensive medical examinations and inoculations against numerous diseases. It soon became evident that the quotas for the International Refugee Organisation for America and Canada were full, which left only Brazil or Australia as the alternative destination. Luckily Australia accepted our application. Meanwhile because of over crowding, many people fell very ill with an infectious disease and the camp was put in isolation and it was shutdown for many weeks.

The paperwork took a long time to be completed but eventually we were put on a train and moved on to another transit camp, this time in Wildflecken. It seemed to me that Wildflecken was used to assemble migrants from all over Germany. Within weeks this camp also was closed down and put in isolation for many months because of an outbreak of Diphtheria. Many young children and infants died during this period. It was heartbreaking to witness the suffering these families went through; medical help was still in very short supply.

Finally we board the SS Roma & I discover my accommodations

After what seemed an eternity, we were transported by train to a small Dutch Town in Friesland (North West of the Zuider Sea) the name of which I never found out. In a matter of weeks we again travelled by train, this time to Bremerhaven and when we arrived at the harbour we lined up and slowly boarded the Italian liner, SS Roma.

Cabins were allocated for mothers with infants and young children, of which there seemed many. My mother and my young brother were accommodated in a cabin. Because my mother was not very well my stepfather was also allowed share her cabin, as normally husbands were separated from their wives and children and slept and ate forward in a separate part of the ship. I was bedded down in the forward Hold with the rest of the men in what were rather crammed quarters. The bunks were erected four tiers high and about a meter apart, with the end of the bunk budding on the next bed bunk. I was allocated a top bunk on the right side of the ship next to a porthole. There was no need for a locker, for I had no possessions. Everything that the family owned was contained in a single medium sized suitcase which was in the cabin with my mother. The Hold had no air-conditioning and became quite stuffy in the ensuing weeks.

At 5 pm on October, 30, 1950, the Roma silently slipped her moorings and slowly glided along the channel pass the mudflats. I was hanging onto the rails on the upper deck watching Germany disappear in a wintry murky dusk. I wondered if I would ever return again. I was waiting for the ship to finally reach the open sea and was watching the lights of the buoys and lighthouses. Through all the excitement I missed dinner. It was late at night by the time I went to bed and bitterly disappointed because it seemed to me that we had not yet reached the open sea.

Exploring the Ship and the Bow

Next morning I was up early and the first in the Mess room for breakfast. By the time I had finished eating, the rest of the passengers were streaming in and I was glad to be free to explore the ship. All decks were of interest to me and I quickly discovered that access around the bridge area was denied and I was warned not to climb into the lifeboats. After lunch I went up to the bow stepping over the anchor chain to stand on a little footplate right up front. It was a fantastic thrill, salt laden winds blowing into my face and when I looked over the top, no easy task with my short legs, I could see the bow cutting into the sea dividing the water and sending a white topped wave either side. I felt as if I was in charge of the ship and propelling it into the mighty oceans of the world. This was pretty much my daily routine at this early time. The fact that the bow deck was off limits to passengers did not deter me, although I was often guided away and repeatedly warned that I must not go to the bow, eventually the ships officers just gave up. During the course of the day the decks came alive with passengers catching some fresh air and exchanging shortfalls in their allocated accommodation and the excellence or otherwise of the Italian based cuisine.

Meeting up with the Family and other experiences

I saw nothing of my family on this day and that remained to be so, until we went through the Suez Canal later on. It seemed to me that all on board were glad that camp life was behind them and (the men for sure) were full of hope for a fresh start in life. At least that was the gist of the conversations going on around me. Those on board came from many countries but mainly from the Countries which were under Soviet control. Communication was no problem on the whole as all of them could speak German to varying decrees of fluency.

After the excitement of the first few days’ things pretty much settled into normal routine. After dinner on the second day I was a witness to my first experience of sea sickness. Several people started dashing out of the mess room heading for the deck. I wondered what the sudden attraction was that caused so many to rush out. I didn’t want to miss anything so I followed them out only to discover many people leaning over the rails being sick. After the sight of that I pretty much kept to myself, what ever it was that made those people sick I didn’t want to catch it.

The mess room was pretty much deserted at meal times all the while we sailed towards Gibraltar. A few passengers occasionally stumbled about grey faced, not looking well at all. Not many adults seemed to want to eat although the food was good and plentiful. We were told by one of the kitchen staff that if we were ever hungry between meals, we only had to come to the side door for a hand out. Which I did often enough, although mostly at the bakers, the smell of freshly baked bread or bread rolls always gets my taste buds working. The sea calmed down as we approached Gibraltar and a few of the men started to venture on deck to sunbake. I had learned by now what caused sea sickness and was no longer afraid of catching it from someone. As we went through the passage at Gibraltar the decks filled up. I was fortunate enough to be amongst knowledgeable men who knew the area and explained the land features to me. One fellow had a pair of army field glasses which were a bit like a periscope on a U boat. He was very generous to allow me to look through it for quite a long time and making me aware of many points of interest.

From this point on passengers were getting about on deck, just lazing about, sun baking, talking, promenading and bringing some of the children up. The crew set-up a table tennis table and hung up some fishnets around the perimeter. One of the crew explained how the game was scored and taught a couple of us boys how to play it. Within a few days several boys of about the same age came out of the woodwork and we put the table tennis set to continuous use. None of the adults seemed interested to play or they might have just been happy that it kept us occupied. The weather continued to be very warm and sunny. We were often accompanied by Dolphins and flying fish, some people seemed to be on permanent Dolphin watch, every so often on various days the cry would go out and we would all rush to one side to see them. I often saw them just inches from the bow. Swimming along side, but I wouldn’t let on about it. They didn’t seem to have any trouble keeping up with the speed of our ship.

When we reached Port Said we were laid up for several days. We then very slowly proceeded through the Suez Canal where we saw a lot of sand and some interesting sights in places where the Canal widened. At this time I caught up with my family for a few days and the Mess room was once again popular, but a lot of meals were carried to the cabins by the men who had families. It seems that a lot of women were either not very well or had young children who were sick or were too young to be brought to the Mess room.

Our next stop was Aden where we once again stopped for several days. Strange smells and sounds were in the air, I could not identify the smell which was insistent, unpleasant and ever present. The sounds reminded me of the Karl May adventure books which I had read. Traders were alongside the ship selling bananas, leather goods, colourful cloth, a variety of things. A lot of passengers traded, some even had money. My Stepfather was on deck with our only valuable possession; an old alarm clock. He send it down on a rope wanting to trade it for a bunch of Bananas. It promptly came back up again as the good fellow indicated that it was not working (it had not for some time) where upon my Stepfather wound up the alarm and set it off. This was proof enough for the fellow to want to trade and the exchange was made. It turned out to be a huge bunch of bananas of excellent quality.

Soon we headed to sea again. The weather remained hot and sunny and the nights too warm to remain below. Many passengers bedded down on deck to escape their stuffy cabins. I had spend my nights on the top deck every night among the life boats since we passed Gibraltar and did so off and on all the way to Australia.

Engine problems & my visit to the Bridge

One day when I was leaning on the lower deck railing playing my mouthorgan, a man with greasy hands came to stand beside me smoking a cigarette. He spoke to me telling me that he was an Egyptian and the chief engineer of the ship and that we would have to put in at Colombo because the engines were ready to break down. He taught me to play an Egyptian song and when I got it right to his satisfaction, he invited me to follow him down into the depth of the ship to see the engine. I was very excited about that and followed him all the way down. I was surprised how deep down into the ship we could look and its huge space, it was like walking into a quarry. It was very hot down there, he pointed out the huge shaft reaching to the rear and I could see the pistons of the engine rising out of its housing. To the best of my knowledge no one else of the passengers ever ventured into the bowls of the ship. In fact the area was off limits.

Like I was told by the engineer, we duly put into port in Colombo for several days, in what was then still called “Ceylon”. Again there were many strange smells and sounds that wafted from ashore. Someone explained to me whereabouts in the world we were in relationship to the rest of the world, and a little about the islands history.

During all our ports of call, Port Said, Aden and Colombo, none of the passengers were permitted to disembark the Ship. Only a handful went on shore, presumably they were the ships crew or immigration officials. Also I cannot remember any announcements ever being made in relation to there being any engine problems, or why we appeared to be making for Port so often. But since fresh provisions were always taken on board at those Ports, there was no reason to suspect that anything was wrong with the Ship.

When we left Colombo we headed straight for the open sea. The sea was calm and the weather hot and sunny all the way to and past the equator. Immigration authorities took it upon themself to teach us some songs in English such as “She’ll be coming round the mountain” and “My Bonny lies over the ocean” and how to behave when we reached our new home. My English language skills were limited to, “Yes,” “No” and “Clear.” I could count up to ten but only phonetically and was familiar with “Pall Mall  “Lucky Strike” and “Camel” but couldn’t pronounce them properly. I quickly lost interest in the education sessions and reverted to my habits of roaming around the ship. It was around this time that a ships officer approached me at the bow to ask me to come with him because the Captain wanted to see me. Being aware that the Captain was the ultimate authority on board Ship I naturally was a little apprehensive. On being taken to the bridge and introduced to the Captain I was asked my name and age and weather I intended to make a career of going to sea. I told him that I grew up surrounded by forests and vineyards in the Glan River Valley of the Pfalz and that my sole experience of the sea came from being on his big ship. He was being very nice to me; he guided me around the bridge showed me how things worked and after a little while asked an officer to escort me back to the real world.

Not long after we left Colombo the toilets began to flood and I places plumbing onboard began to fail. Also I never quite got used to showering with cold sea water, it wasn’t too bad in the warmer regions but strangely the soap didn’t want to lather. I have no idea what the conditions were like in the cabin area, for I was not permitted to go and visit there, even though it was my own mother and I was only 13. But I did hear that there was a severe shortage of bathrooms and that the women had to wait for long periods to use them. We had no bathrooms, only washbasins and open showers but they were a long way from our beds right at the rear of the cabin/hold area. Anyhow I never got too dirty and was too busy between meals anyway. My table tennis skills were steadily improving although no one in our group really took the game seriously, but none of the deck games that the adults were playing had any appeal for us.

Soon preparations began to be made to celebrate the crossing of the equator, the crew members and a fair lot of the passengers got involved in the planning. I didn’t understand it and when it was explained to me, I couldn’t understand why there was a need to make such a fuss about it. When the day arrived, a show was put on with King Neptune ruling supreme, a lot of water got sloshed about and all the crazies had a great time. The decorations were very nice and we were rewarded with special treats, but I felt no different on the bottom part of the world than I had done on the top.

Bad weather, Fremantle & more bad weather

Four days out from Fremantle we got a taste of what it was like when the sea becomes really angry. Only fools and I ventured out on deck. The right side of the deck was virtually under water with the waves crashing over it and the next deck up was also roped of on the right side and off limits. The spray even reached the top deck where the life boats were. The waves were coming at an angle from the rear and towered over the ship which rolled from side to side and at the same time dipped sharply forward into the sea. When she was down in a trough you looked at a huge wall of water that seemed much higher than the ship. Than she would rise up on a crest like a roller coaster but you couldn’t see past the first wave, there was only a lot of dark water and a sky full of spray. This was the time when I went off my food and got my first taste of sea sickness. But nothing stayed on the tables in the mess rooms anyway. When I felt that I might be able to eat something, I would venture to the bakery for a bread roll. I don’t know how the rest of the passengers managed, sleep was impossible and going back to the hold was out too. So I spend my time catnapping amongst the life boats next to the smoke stack on the windless side until we reached Fremantle. There we docked for a couple of days. Then we sailed across the Great Australian Bight, we were still in rough seas. After a while the sea became calmer and we sensed that land couldn’t be to far away as the birds were becoming more frequent and clouds could be seen on the horizon.

We arrive in our new homeland

On a very hot December 18, 1950 we finally berthed in Newcastle. The following morning after we had breakfast we began to line-up to disembark and wind our way through customs on the Wharf. Once through Customs we were put on a train to take us to Greta Camp where our new life in Australia would begin!

Photograph: I was still thirteen here, it taken at Greta Camp in 1950. I presume shortly after Christmas judging by that toy pistol strapped to my waist. Photograph Provided by Paul Christmann.

This was of course the beginning of a new story which was written in 949 different ways and of which we know nothing at the time. But as the years have passed many of all those souls have made various contributions to help this country into the 21st century. Some contributions were large, ans some small, but none were without merit, and their descendants will continue to be an influence in Australia’s affairs far into the future.

Paul Christmann.

Paul Christmann and his dear lady visit the Bridge on the Doulos, rekindling memories of his visit there back in 1950

Photograph by & © Copyright 2008 - Stephen Moore

Go to - Chapter Four - Doulos at SeaPage One - Aug 19 & 21 - Brisbane to Sydney

 

Or Chapter Four - Doulos at Sea Page One - Aug 19 & 21 - Brisbane to Sydney

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Return to the Author’s – MV Doulos “A Ship Like No Other” Main Index

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Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are: 1. By the author. 2. From the author’s private collection. 3. As provided by Shipping Companies and private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are photographs provided to me without details provided regarding the photographer concerned. I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me, that due credit may be given.

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