Remembering Today 5/12/41 Lance Corporal JOHN MCEWAN MACARTY 17710, New Zealand Infantry

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by CL1, Dec 5, 2011.

  1. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Lance Corporal JOHN MCEWAN MACARTY

    17710, New Zealand Infantry
    who died age 30
    on 05 December 1941
    Son of Edwin Stewart Macarty and of Lilian Hannah Macarty (nee McEwan), of Manchester, England; husband of Lilian Macarty, of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
    Remembered with honour
    ALAMEIN MEMORIAL
    CWGC :: Cemetery Details
     
  2. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Not getting very far with this one, no hits on the NZETC website & following on from the mention of an Australian wife (with the same first name as his mother) I can’t find him on the AWM Commemorative Roll, or any reference in the Australian Archives or in the Australian newspapers of the day.

    The Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph entry gives a couple of extra bits of info, such as the fact that he died at sea and that his last unit of record was the Divisional Defence and Employment Platoon (Emp. Pln.)


    Aha - NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS AND TRAGEDIES - THE SINKING OF THE SS CHAKDINA - 1941


    NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS AND TRAGEDIES
    THE SINKING OF SS CHAKDINA
    TORPEDOED IN THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA BY ENEMY ACTION WITH THE LOSS OF 89* NEW ZEALAND SOLDIERS
    FRIDAY 5 DECEMBER 1941



    Late in the afternoon of 5 December 1941 the SS Chakdina left Tobruk Harbour, Libya carrying approximately 380 wounded Allied soldiers, 100 German and Italian Prisoners of War and 120 crew. A number of other Allied soldiers also boarded the ship. They were to be transported back to Egypt. At least 123 New Zealanders were aboard the shop when it set sail.

    Just after 9 pm an enemy plane released a torpedo, which exploded in one of the after holds of the Chakdina. She sank within three and a half minutes. There was very little chance of escape, except for those who were not wounded or only lightly wounded, and who were in a favourable position at the time.

    Forty one of the New Zealanders aboard including a small number of the wounded were picked up by the destroyer HMS Farndale and the antisubmarine/minesweeper HMS Thorgrim. The Farndale took most of the survivors to Alexandria where on 7 December, the casualties were admitted to the detachment of 3 NZ General Hospital there. The Thorgrim took the survivors it had onboard to Mersa Matuh.

    The sinking of the Chakdina was the only major misfortune in the evacuation of New Zealand wounded during World War Two.
     
    CL1 likes this.
  3. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    (some background info as to how the LCPL might have ended up on the medical evacuation ship - from the NZETC)





    TOBRUK

    Enemy attacks on the Ed Duda part of the Tobruk Corridor were renewed while the Belhamed fighting was still going on, a further attack started up during the night of 1–2 December, and next day it gained added momentum.

    A detached observer might therefore have concluded that the New Zealanders in the Corridor—gunners, infantry, Signals and ASC—had jumped from the frying pan into the fire. But the men concerned knew better. The anti-tankers serving as infantry with 18 Battalion, for example, helped to repulse a German attack on the 2nd and drive the enemy back in disorder.

    Major Sharp took the remaining men of 29 Battery and some of 47 Battery who were with them, together with various wounded New Zealanders from the Belhamed battle, to Tobruk proper, reporting to Artillery Headquarters there. He arranged for rolls to be called and for the wounded to be evacuated to hospitals in the town.

    There would still, however, be an undue proportion of headquarters and administrative troops and those not needed to service the guns would be evacuated by sea as soon as possible. The Division had already suffered grievous loss, the whole of the fortress area was under shellfire and was frequently bombed….

    Of the many sequels to the Corridor battle which ended the main New Zealand part in the offensive, the unhappiest by far concerned the evacuation of wounded from Tobruk.

    Hospitals in the fortress area were grossly overcrowded as a consequence of the unexpectedly long and bitter fighting, and it was a matter of the greatest urgency in the first few days of December to get wounded back to less congested hospitals where they could get proper attention. There was no knowing at that stage how long it would be before the land route eastwards was opened and too few hospital ships were available for the task.

    The little s.s. Chakdina when it sailed in the afternoon of 5 December on its return voyage to Alexandria therefore carried 600 men (including 120 New Zealanders) of whom 380 were wounded, 97 of them New Zealanders.

    Just after 9 p.m. an aerial torpedo struck and exploded in an after hold and in three and a half minutes the crowded little ship sank in a strong swell. Some 400 men were drowned, 80 of them New Zealanders and almost all of these survivors of the fighting at Sidi Rezegh and Belhamed.
     
  4. Tilford

    Tilford Junior Member

    John Macarty is certainly listed as one of the many New Zealand soldiers who died when the Chakdina sank 5 December 1941.

    DaveB’s comments are useful in helping to recreate the picture of what was happening in Tobruk at around the time the Chakdina sailed for it is now quite clear that the ship also took on board a number of soldiers who were not wounded in any way and who needed transport back to Alexandria. A number of New Zealand headquarters and administrative troops were boarded onto the Thorgrim, one of the antisubmarine vessels which formed part of the convoy escort and a number of the NZ Supply Coy personnel were boarded onto the Kirkland, a petrol carrier which was the other ship in the convoy.

    From what I can deduce, and not confirmed at this stage, is that those others who were not able to board those two ships and who needed transport back to Alexandria were boarded on the Chakdina although it does not appear that their names were recorded. So it is quite likely that a number of fit, not wounded, New Zealand soldiers were lost when the Chakdina sank.

    My research so far suggests that perhaps more than 100 NZ HQ personnel might have sailed on the Chakdina, Kirkland and Thorgrim that night.

    What I find interesting here is that John Macarty is clearly a soldier within the New Zealand Division, however his next of kin, his wife Lilian, is recorded as living in Melbourne, Australia and his parents in Manchester, England.

    We know that many of the New Zealand families of those who died were never told what happened. Perhaps Lilian and his parents were amongst this group and have never heard what happened to John.

    His name is one of the 81 New Zealanders known to have died but I expect there will be more.
     
  5. LJM2016

    LJM2016 New Member

    John McEwan Macarty Is my sons great great grand father. His great nan Nola is the only daughter of Lillian and John. I would love to know more info if you have any but I will share what you have written with Nola. She only knew that his ship sunk and he had passed.
     
    Owen likes this.
  6. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Hello LJM and thanks for posting. I think I explored every avenue I could think of back in 2011 regarding his loss.

    I certainly welcome any info you can pass along from Nola - was she born in NZ or Australia??

    I'm guessing Lillian and John met in Australia before moving to NZ - where John enlisted in the NZ army.

    CWGC would just say that his wife is "of Melbourne" - no mention of his / their home address as of the time of his loss.
     
  7. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

  8. GeoffMNZ

    GeoffMNZ Well-Known Member

    Hi,
    Earlier this month I copied the attached doc from NZ National Archive file (R19134081?).
    Of the 10 men from 24 BN listed on this doc, all are listed in the 24 BN Casualty list as "Presumed Killed In Action 5th Dec 41", but only 6 of them appear in the 24 BN Wounded list, so it is likely that there were four "non wounded" 24 BN men on board Chakdina?
    Cheers
    Geoff
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 29, 2016
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  9. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Geoff - I think that the answers are in my first couple of posts

    "an undue proportion of headquarters and administrative troops and those not needed to service the guns would be evacuated by sea as soon as possible"

    "600 men (including 120 New Zealanders) of whom 380 were wounded, 97 of them New Zealanders"

    "Forty one of the New Zealanders aboard including a small number of the wounded were picked up"
     

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