Donaldson diary, 1917-1918 / Capt. Alec Donaldson
MLDOC 2125

[Transcriber's note:
Captain Alec Donaldson, O.B.E., Master Mariner, was born in Scotland about 1877. He received his training in Scotland and served on sailing and steamships both there and in Australia. Eventually he was employed by Burns Philp and Co. of Sydney on a number of ships as Mate or Master. He was in command of the "Matunga" when it was captured by the German raider "Wolf" in 1917. The diary describes his experiences following the capture. After World War I he rejoined Burns Philp and during World War II played a significant part in the evacuation of Singapore. He was awarded his O.B.E. for meritorious service at Sea. Captain Donaldson died in 1949 and his ashes were committed to the Torres Straits from the deck of Burns Philp’s Burnside]

[Page 1]

Capt. Alec Donaldson
S.S. "Matunga"
Sydney N.S.W.

[Pages 2-17 not transcribed]

[Page 18]

J.J. Mills
66 Queens St.
Miss Nellie R. Seager
King St. West
Sandy Bay
Captain Taylor
Lloyds [indecipherable]
Appointed command
S.S. Germania
18th Feby 1915
Gave up command Germania [indecipherable]
on 31st Oct 1915

[Page 19]

Joined S.S. Morinda as Master on 31st Dec. 1915
Left Morinda Feb 16th 1916
Joined S.S. Germania as Master on March 3rd 1916
Left her on 12th May 1916
Joined S.S. "Matunga" as master on 28th June 1916 at Tulaga
6th August 1917 "Matunga" captured by German Raider & Minelayer "Wolf" 7- 6" guns & 4 Torpedo tubes
Crew 350

[Page 20]

26th Aug. 1917.

"Matunga" sunk by "Wolf" off the N.W. end of Dutch New Guinea

Telephone No N.S 179

[Page 25]

Wolf’s Cruise

Left Kiel on November 1916. Laid mines off the Cape of Good Hope Also at Colombo, Bombay, Cooks Strait & Gabo Island, also between Three Kings & North Island N.Z. At anchor[symbol] for 3 weeks at Sunday Island (Kermadec Group)

[Page 26]

Monday 6th August 1917
745 am Stopped by German raider "Wolf & prize crew took charge. Self & officers sent onboard "Wolf". We were sighted the previous evening at 6pm by Seaplane.
"Wolf’s" armament - : 7 – 6" guns, 4 torpedo tubes [indecipherable] Machine guns
10.30 Both ships proceeded in N. Ely direction giving New Zealand a wide berth.
Officer Lieut. Rosa who took charge of Matunga informed me that he had been waiting 3 days for us, having picked up a wireless message from Sydney about our coal

[Page 27]

7th Aug
1000 Altered course to N Wrd
230 both vessels stopped to permit Matunga to clean [indecipherable]
530 Proceeded again in Westerly direction.
Vessels steering about due West almost on the equator.

[Page 28]

Ship’s Crews onboard
S.S. "Larritella"
S.S. "Jumna
S.S. "Wordsworth"
- " – "Beluba"
Schooner "Encore"
- " – "Winslow"
S.S. "Nairuna"
S.S. " Matunga"
Hitachi Maru
Igotz – Mendi
John H Kirby
Marshall Davoe

[Page 29]

13th Aug
1 pm Entered a well sheltered harbour & anchored[symbol] Presumed it is somewhere on N.W. end of Dutch New Guinea. Matunga came alongside & they started taking all her cargo & coal onboard. Crew of Matunga came onboard at 5 p.m.

[Page 30]

26th Aug.
1000 Matunga proceeded to sea followed by "Wolf". Both ships stopped about 10’ off the land & preparations were made for sinking Matunga
130 First bomb exploded port side engine [indecipherable] & ship settled quickly by stern with heavy list to port.
132 Second bomb exploded & ship straightened up with after deck awash.

[Page 31]

26th Aug (Cont)
137 Ship went down rapidly stern first & left considerable wreckage floating. Wolf proceeded in SWly direction

[Page 32]

30th Aug
430 pm Braile Bank light House abeam Ship steering about west, making straight along Java Sea.

[Page 33]

4th Sept 1917
Ship came straight along Java Sea & up Karamatta Straits.
Between 11.30 pm & 345 AM on above date laid a minefield of about 100 mines nor nor east of Horsburgh on Hong Kong – Singapore track.

[Page 34]

10th Sept
Returned by Karamatta Straits & Java Sea, out into Indian Ocean by Atlas Straits on night of 9th Steered south until 9 am & then hauled to Westward.

[Page 35]

26th Sept.
3.30 P.M. Captured S.S. Hitachi Maru after firing 15 shots at her & killing 13 of her crew. She had a 4."7 gun but never got a chance to use it
27th Sept
Both ships proceeded to an anchorage inside the Maldive Islands. About 200 tons of coal was taken from Hitachi Maru & some of her cargo such as rubber, linseed & hides etc. All our passengers & men over 60 years of age were put on board her. Germans also repaired shell holes on ships side & Gunnel

[Page 36]

3rd Oct 5.30 am
Wolf steamed away from anchorage, leaving Hitachi Maru at anchor with 15 Germans as prize crew on board & all neutral prisoners as crew
5th Oct
Cruising east & west looking for vessels, somewhere near the Equatorial Channel

[page 37]

6th Oct.
Chased steamer but failed to overtake her (bound east) as soon as she was out of sight we hauled round & steamed back to Maldives & sent seaplane in with message to "Hitachi" Then steamed away to W.S.W. until Friday 12th hauled to S.S.E. & on 13th met Hitachi & steamed in company to S.E. until evening of 14th. Then Hitachi steamed away to Southard. Seaplane dismantled for repairs.

[Page 38]

24th Oct.
8am Met Hitachi & steamed in under the lee of Cargados Islands & anchored. Hitachi alongside. Commenced shifting coal from No 3 Hatch to bunkers
7th Nov
Sank Hitachi Maru about 30 miles N.W. of Cargados Isles & proceeded to W.S.W.

[Page 39]

10th Nov
6 am Captured Spanish steamer "Igotz – Mendi" loaded with coal from Delgoa Bay to Colombo. (About midway between Mauritius & Madagascar). put prize crew aboard and both ships proceeded back to Cargados
13th Nov 1917
8 AM. Anchored with Igotz Mendi alongside & commenced taking on coal.
14th Nov
Seaplane up & spotted one British &

2nd Dec.
[Page 40]

one Jap cruiser about 40 miles distant passing.
15th Nov
Seaplane up 3 times but no further reports of cruisers
worse luck
17th Nov
Left Cargados Islands at noon proceeded W.S.W. 7pm Igotz Mendi left company going to Southward at 7 PM

[Page 41]

Nov 30th 1917
9A.M Captured American Barque John H. Kirby of N.Y. bound from N.Y. to Port Elizabeth 95 days out. Weather moderating started taking cargo from her by boat {35º00 South 31.00 east}
Dec 1st 1917
Stopped cargo suddenly at 11.30 AM & sank John H Kirby at 12.35 pm & proceeded at full speed to westward

[Page 42]

2nd Dec
Rounded Cape
6th Dec
Met Igotz Mendi
7th Dec
"Igotz Mendi" left going more to Westward are steering W.N.W & averaging about 9’.
14th Dec
Sighted barque just before sundown & followed her all night
[No Entry]

[Page 43]

15th Dec.
5AM. Captured French Barque "Marshall Daveout of Nantes sailing to Dacar with wheat. Wireless & 2 3in guns aboard. Took off crew & provisions. 1 pm sank her & proceeded.
16th Dec
Seaplane taken on deck again & made flight at 5 pm.
17th Dec
Seaplane up twice, morning & evening

[Page 44]

19th Dec.
Met Igotz Mendi again somewhere about 50 miles east of Trinidad & proceeded towards the island to coal. But during the night hauled out to Eastward I think they found wireless had been installed on Trinidad or cruisers around

20th Dec.
Hauled to Southrd about 10 am dodging easy

Xmas Day 25th Dec
Both ships have been lying stopped since 22nd inst somewhere about 400 miles [indecipherable] E of Trinidad, no chance of getting collier alongside too much swell, boating water across to her

[Page 45]

[Blank page]

[Page 46]

26th Dec
4PM Went alongside collier & commenced bunkering, collier rolling & bumping heavily.

[Page 47]

[Blank Page]

[Page 48]

[Blank Page]

[Page 49]

Cash at [indecipherable]
Balance 26.6.17 14.84

[Page 50]

Capt R. L. Jones, M.C. Kings R. Rifles
China Mutual Insurance Co.
- Shanghai -
A.L. Pinkerton
- Victoria -
Lieut. D.H. Macintyre
Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders
& R.F.C.
23 Onslow Square
London S.W.
Also "The Cuan"
- N.S.W. -
Lieut W. Mc Leod R.N.R.
c/o Admiralty
Mertoun Terrace
Harbour Masters Office

[Page 51]

Deusom - 6
Heagerty – 2.
Hollis – 1.2

[Page 52]

Letters Received
29.5.18 Cable from Wife

[Page 53]

J. W. Shields
140 Mowbray Road
South Shields
Capt W. S. Wickham
1 Trafan St.
South Shields
H.T. [indecipherable]
44 The Avenue
Miss Edith J. Lyttleton
The Whari
Bangor Hill
J. Butler
56 Lancaster Road
Forest Gate

[Page 54]

C. N. L. Lomax
c/o F. G. Lomax
Great Oaks
Goring Heath
or R.F.C. Club
T. G. Deasm - 3
32 Queens Gate Terrace
South Kensington London S.W.7
A.C. McCuish
Ibrox Place
Cameron Highlanders

[Page 55]

- Crew
Turritella – 7
Jumna – 30
Wordsworth – 31
Dee – 21
Wairuna – 43
Winslow – 9
Beluga – 14
Encore – 10
Matunga – 63
– 228

[Page 56]

- Reg. Tonge – Carry
"TURRITELLA" – 3951 [indecipherable] – 9000 tons
"JUMNA" – 2693 – Salt – 6050
"WORDSWORTH" – 2202 Rice – 5212
"DEE" – 1051 – Ballast – 1800
WAIRUNA" – 2532 – General – 6500
"WINSLOW" – 797 – Benzine Coal Brick – 900
"Beluga" – 470 –Benzine – 850
"Encore" – 472 – Lumber
"MATUNGA" – 1016 – General Coal – 1900

[Page 57]

From – To – Captured
Rangoon – London – 27/2/17
Torre Veijo – Calcutta – 2/3/17
Bassan – London – 11/3/17
Mauritius – Bunbury – 30/3/17
Auckland – Frisco – 2/6/17
Newcastle N.S.W. – Apia
Frisco – Sydney
" – "
Sydney – Rabaul – 6/8/17

[Page 58]

[Not transcribed]

[Page 68]

2 Aluminium
Large sized
Sparklet tubes

Red Cross Society
Section Anglaise

[Page 69]

Wolf – Wachtfels
Turritella – Gutenfels

[MAP on Page]

Probably on Wagen Island

Batan Ta Karvon

[Page 70]

Summary of S.M.S. "Wolfs" Cruise (1)
Left Germany November 1916. Laid mines off the Cape of Good Hope, Bombay, Colombo, Captured S.S. "Turritella" & put mines on board her to lay off Aden but "Turritella" was captured or sunk.
After leaving Indian Ocean proceeded south of Australia to Pacific. Anchored off Sunday Island Hermadoe Group for six weeks cleaning boilers etc.
Laid mines at Cooks Straits & off n. Island also off Gabo Island.

*On stopping ship I happened to look aft & the first thing that caught my eye was a seaplane flying up astern of us, she came right over us & kept circling round ship until we were stopped

[Page 71]

[Not transcribed]

[Page 72]

6th August 1917 – 3
7am Chief Officer informed me that the "Morinda" was in sight to westward. Went out & could see the vessel nearly hull up, but by the placing of masts & funnel knew that it was not the "Morinda". Vessel was steering about 3 points more to Eastward than we were & as she closed with us, I took her for a Jap steamer. 730 The vessel being then about 4 miles off, ported as if to come under our stern & 5’ later hauled up again, & on having a good look at her, could see that she was undoubtedly a German built ship. She hoisted two signals -: Telegraphic Communication stopped & stop instantly. The Chief Officer put telegraph to Stop but I put it back to full speed ahead. Two minutes later about 7.45 she showed German Man – o– war colours & sent a shot across between the bridge & foremast, so I reckoned it was advisable to stop. Onlooking where the guns were, I discovered she had

[Page 73]

dropped part of her forward bulwarks & had a six inch gun trained on us. I immediately ordered all hands on deck & boats swung out. Asked the operator if he could get through S.O.S. to Rabaul, but there was no current on, just as well, as from what I saw later he would have blown the wireless room to pieces with his next shot. Launch with armed prize crew came aboard. The Lieut. In charge came to the bridge & informed me that they had been waiting for us for 3 days & asked where the Admiralty coal was stored. (Immediately on stopping the ship, I sent all code books & wireless instructions down to be burnt in furnaces) He told me that they had picked up a wireless message from Sydney to Rabaul, giving date of our departure & quantity of coal on board, & as they wanted coal, naturally she only had to steam in near entrance to St George’s Channel & wait for us

[Page 74]

He expected us the previous day & had his seaplane up 3 times the last time at 6 p.m. she sighted us & saw how we were steering, They expected to be alongside us at daylight, but as I had altered my course more to allow for set, during the night she found us away to Eastward of her in the morning.
Myself & officers were immediately ordered to proceeded onboard the S.M.S. "Wolf", cruiser & mine layer
Seven 6in guns
Four Torpedo-tubes
Two 3 pounders
Machine guns & rifles ad lib
Also her main stay, the seaplane
On boarding the "Wolf" we were all questioned by various officers but thery got no information that would do them any good.
One of the officers had been on the German survey-ship "Cormorun" & knew the New Guinea waters well.They went carefully through all our gear, took all our navigating instruments & books away, also binoculars & cameras, electric torches etc.

[Page 75]

10 30 am both ships proceeded in N.Ely. direction giving New Ireland a wide berth.
We found about 250 other prisoners onboard, some having been here 5 months. We are all housed on the No 4 tween – decks, sleep in hammocks & hot as hell when everybody is chased down below. Spent a most unpleasant night amongst sailors, firemen & riggers all in a state of dripping perspiration.
7th Aug.
10 am ships altered their course to N.W.
200 pm. Both vessels stopped to allow "Matunga" to clean tubes, as she was getting very poor speed.
530 pm. Went ahead again about W.N. W.
From 8th to 13th August proceeded about West, nearly on the Equator. Had permission to sleep on deck at night while the tween-decks were being painted out.
Always 3 armed sentries on guard over us, whether on deck or down below.
Food at times is bad, but the bread is the worst, just like chewing dough, otherwise things might be worse.

[Page 76]

13th August.
1130 Stopped somewhere off the N.W. end of Dutch New Guinea & sent seaplane in over land to look see.
1 pm. We entered a beautiful land locked harbour & at 130 anchored, being absolutely hidden from seaward & only a few native huts on the beach.
200 "Matunga" followed us in & tied up alongside. 300 Commenced taking the "Matunga" cargo & coal onboard.
5 p.m. "Matunga" crew came aboard "Wolf" with the exception of 2 cooks & steward to look after passengers
14th Aug
Several canoes came off but we were all kept away from ships side & not allowed to speak to natives. During the afternoon some of us, knowing that a particular sentry could understand English, were discussing the best point to land when we swam ashore. Of course he reported that we were to attempt to escape that night. About 11 pm. We were

[Page 77]

awakened by a revolver shot in the tween-decks, a lot of shouting on deck, & we could see through the hatchway that the searchlight was playing in on our end of the ship, also star rockets were going up galore & making the night like day, suddenly we were surprised to hear the two machine guns on boats deck firing away good ho. Officers rush down on us fully armed & ordered us to muster, but found on counting us that nobody was missing. It appears that they had everything ready thinking some of us would try to get away, & and a nervous sentry seeing someone moving underneath a hammock, loosed off his revolver & gave the alarm. No one was hurt but the after ropes between the two ships were cut to pieces by machine gun fire

[Page 78]

Just finishing off "Matunga",they have taken away every bit of cargo & coal out of her, cabin fittings bunks, settees etc & have built rooms on board here for the army officers & married couples
26th August
9am were permitted on deck to watch torpedo practice & some jolly good shooting they made.
"Matunga" proceeded to sea followed by "Wolf"
NOON Both ships stopped about 12 miles off the land & preparations were begun for sinking "Matunga".
1.30. First bomb exploded port side engine-room-bilges & ship settled quickly by the stern with heavy list to port.
1.32.Second bomb exploded starboard side No 2 hatch & ship gradually straightened up with after deck awash.
1.37. Ship went down rapidly stern first, leaving

[Page 79]

considerable quantity of wreckage floating. "Wolf" proceeded to S.W. for Singapore to lay her last mine-field
Second Roll[refers to toilet roll on which diary was originally written]
30th Aug
Braile Bank Light beacon abeam ship steering about due West along Java Sea.
3rd Sept.
During the night, when nearly abeam of Kurrimatta Light, a cruiser, either British or Jap, steamed across our bows, then hauled up on same course as "Wolf" for a few minutes, then hauled to Westward, towards another steamer coming down with all her lights lit. Evidently she never saw the "Wolf", as no vestige of light is to be seen on this vessel at night, but as she was within 2 miles of us & could be plainly seen by Wolf’s officers, they must have been keeping a very poor lookout. We were disgusted when hearing of it, to think our liberty had passed us by.

[Page 80]

4th Sept
Somewhere between the hours of 11.30 pm & 345 am the "Wolf" dropped a minefield of about 100 mines, the position being I think somewhere N.N.W of Horsborough Channel in the Hong Kong route, There was a subdued cheer from the mining crew when the last mine was dropped. Ship immediately turned South again at full speed.
5th Sept.
Numerous prepare for action calls during the morning, also the topmasts were lowered & funnel raised a little, giving ship appearance of stumpy masts & long funnel, in place of her previous long topmasts.
9th Sept.
Ship came right along Java Sea again & at 8 pm entered the Atlas Straits & through into the Indian Ocean. We passed several steamers on the way back, but took no notice of them, going full speed all the time.

[Page 81]

10th Sept
After clearing the Atlas Straits steered due South until 9 am this morning, (100’) & then hauled westward across the Indian Ocean.
26th Sept.
Dodging to Westward of Equatorial Channel, sighted smoke to Eastrd & sent Seaplane away. 1.30 pm turned to East & steamed towards other steamer, which proved to be the "Hitatchi Maru" from Colombo to Liverpool; Ordered her to stop & not use wireless, she complied & put her passengers in boats & then went ahead again & started clearing away her 4" 7in gun, also used wireless. "Wolfs" next shot went right through her wireless room & numerous shots were fired at her aft to keep the gun’s crew away from the gun, 3.30pm she was captured, having numerous holes in her above water & altogether 13 of her crew killed by gunfire. She never got a single shot fired.

[Page 82]

27th Sept.
1030 Both ships anchored, somewhere around the Southern Maldive Islands, ships alongside each other. Took in about 200 tons coal from "Hitatchi" & filled up all available space with her cargo, such as rubber, linseed, hides etc.
30th Sept.
Germans repaired all shell holes in "Hitatchi’s" hull & funnel, & put all passengers & men over 60 years of age onboard, also boys under 16 years of age.
3rd Oct.
530 AM. "Wolf" steamed away, leaving "Hitatchi" at anchor, with German armed guard on board of 15 men & neutrals for crew.
5th Oct.
Cruising east & west, somewhere to eastward of Equatorial Channel.
6th Oct.
Early this morning chased steamer bound east, but failed to get near her, as soon as she was out of sight the "Wolf" turned full speed to westward & at 4 pm stopped off

[Page 83]

Maladive Islands & sent seaplane in with message to "Hitachi Maru"
530 pm. Seaplane returned & "Wolf" steamed away to W.S.W.
12th Oct.
Having been steaming to W.S.W.8kts, but seen no more ships. 330pm hauled to SSE.
13th Oct.
10am Met "Hitachi Maru" & kept in company until evening of 14th then Hitachi steamed away to southrd.
20th Oct.
Since 13th having been dodging North & south, East & West trying to find another ship 8 am met Hitachi again & both ships steamed in under lee of the Gurgados Islands 230 pm made fast alongside "Hitatchi Maru" at anchor. Commenced shifting coal from our No 3 lower hold to bunkers. Also taking more coal from the Jap.
7th Nov.
Having embarked all passengers stores etc from the Jap, both ships proceeded to sea & about

[Page 84]

30 miles N.W. of Gurgados, the "Hitatchi was sunk by bombs. Wolf then steamed to W.S.W.
10th Nov.
6am Captured the Spanish steamer "Igotz – Mendi" with 6,800 tons of coal onboard, from Delgoa Bay to Colombo. No shot was fired. Put prize crew on board & both ships proceeded back towards Cargados Islands
13th Nov.
8am "Igotz – Mendi" anchored under lea of Gurgados & Wolf moved alongside. Commenced taking in coal from Spaniard working night & day.
14th Nov
Seaplane up twice & reported a British & a Jap Cruiser about 40 miles N.W. of us passing to Eastward. All preparations made for casting of in a hurry should they come this way.

[Page 85]

15th Nov.
Seaplane up 3 times to-day but no further news of cruisers.
17th Nov.
NOON. Both vessel left anchorage & proceeded to W.S.W.
7 pm. Spaniard left us with all the women & their husbands the Spanish crew ond officers & German prize crew in charge & steamed away to Southrd Wolf continued to Westrd
Nov 30th -35º 00E
-31º 00E
About 100’ S.E. of Port Elizabeth at Captured American Barque "John H. Kirby", from New York to Port Elizabeth with general cargo. Commenced boating canned goods from "Kirby" to "Wolf"
Dec. 1st
1130 am Suddenly stopped work & hoisted in boats & at 12.30 pm sunk the John H. Kirby" & proceeded full speed to westward.

[Page 86]

3rd Dec.
Round the Cape & proceeding about due West
6th Dec.
Met the "Igotz – Mendi" again & gave her some stores
7th Dec.
Spaniard left us going to Westrd "Wolf" steering about W.N.W. average speed 9 knots, evidently making for Trinidad
14th Dec.
Sighted Barque just before sundown & followed her all night.
15th Dec.
5 am Captured French Barque "Marshall Daveout" of Nantes, from Geelong to Dakar with Cargo of wheat. Wireless & 2 3in guns. Took off crew & provisions. 1 pm sunk her & proceeded.
16th Dec.
Seaplane assembled again after recovering & repairs made flight at 5 pm.

[Page 87]

19th Dec.
Met the Spaniard again, somewhere about 60 miles east of Trinidad, & both ships proceeded west towards it. During night some wireless scared them & ships turned to Eastward.
20th Dec.
both ships hauled to South at 10 am doing about 7 knots.
23rd Dec.
Both vessel stopped & drifting waiting for chance to get alongside Spaniard for coal.
Xmas Day 1917.
Boating fresh water over to Spaniard for their boilers
26th Dec.
4 pm Made fast alongside Spaniard & commenced coaling. Ships bumping heavily. Coaling proceeded during night.
27th Dec.
Coaling proceeded until 6 pm when we had to cast off, ships smashing each other. "Wol" making 8 tons water per hour leakage.

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29th Dec.
Both vessels effecting repairs to engines & boilers, no steam on Wolfs Engines, painting ship outside.
30th Dec.
645 p.m. Both ships got under way, steaming 5 ½ knots N by E. only one boiler working on "Wolf"
2nd Jany 1918
Still proceeding same speed, ship still listed to port on account of leak on starboard side.
3rd Jany.
several prisoners & crew suffering from scurvy
4th Jany.
10 am passed four masted sailing ship bound west. 1.30 pm "Wolf" turned round & went back after the ship & captured her. She was a Norweigian ship, bought from British owners in 1913.
11.30 pm Sunk her after taking crew & stores. Name of ship "Storebroder" in ballast Beira[?] to Rio, 37 days
6th Jany.
1pm. "Wolf" signalled collier & both went ahead full speed.
10th Jany.
600 pm Made fast alongside collier & commenced bunkering, ships bumping heavily all night.
0º 30’S - 26º 00’ W.

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11th Jany 1918
400pm. Cast off from collier & painted over damaged side.
800pm proceeded about 6 knots to N.N.E.
12th Jany
900am Stopped. Collier not in sight. Proceeded at about 8 knots speed, steering N.W. (across steamer tracks) 530 Sighted collier to S.W. All prisoners below & lights out at sundown. Seaplane put below.
13th Jany.
Still steering N.W. speed 8 knots. Collier in company to N.Erd.
Outbreak of scurvy increasing
17th Jany.
Steering about north 7½ Kts. Fresh N.E. trades. About 15 cases of scurvy amongst prisoners also several of seamen. No signs of collier since 13th.
22nd Jany.
"Wolf" (under British Red Ensign) stopped Danish four masted barque but did not board her, allowed her to go.
23rd Jany.
Met collier again & communicated with her. She left again before dark going to N.Erd.

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2nd Feby. 1918.
Nothing but heavy gales, snow & hail. Heavy fall of snow last night. Conditions for us anything but comfortable.
5th Feby.
Met Collier again last in about 60º N. 30º W. Collier steaming in company close to.
7th Feby.
Steaming slow through ice fields off coast of Iceland. Thick foggy weather & bitterly cold. The captain of "Hitachi Maru" committed suicide by jumping overboard after dark.
8th Feby.
Had to give up attempt to get through Denmark Straits, too much ice. Turned back at 4 am
9th Feby.
Turned to eastward at noon, along south of Iceland. Crew put on war watches.
14th Feby.
Made the coast of Norway. No prisoners allowed on deck.
6.30p.m. Marstinen Light abeam about 3’[?] distant. Fresh southerly wind & fine.

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15th Feby.
Steaming along Norwegian Coast anticipate being down to the Naze about 8 or 9 pm to-night, wind peak S.E ly close inshore. No prisoners allowed on deck
17th Feby.
Allowed on deck for one hour.
3pm. Entered Great Belt.
6.30pm. anchored in German waters somewhere between Little Belt & Flensburg.
24th Feby.
5am Up anchor & proceeded to Kiel. 2 pm Entered Kiel Harbour & Wolf had a great reception from the fleet anchored there. Moored to buoy in the middle of the fleet close to the raider "Noewe".
26th Feby.
All Neutral prisoners landed today.
1st March.
4 am All masters, officers & engineers, also army officers landed from "Wolf" in blinding snowstorm & made to carry all our own baggage from wharf to station through about 6in of slush & snow. 530 left Kiel for Karlsruhe in 2nd class compartment, one armed guard in each compartment.
11AM – Had a good hot meal at Altona[?] & at 6pm Gottinghem had coffee & a good solid sandwich snowed hard all day & bitterly cold

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2nd March
Bebra 6AM Had a cup of coffee
Frankfort on Maim 1 pm., had a good hot meal, expect to reach Karlsruhe at 8pm.
10 pm. Arrived at Karlsruhe & under strong guard were marched to a hotel, which as far as I can see is a fumigating house before sending us onto the camp. We are four in a room & amp; not allowed out of it. Windows all painted on outside so that we can not see out.
5th March
Still under observation in hotel.
6th March
3pm. Were marched under guard to the camp, which is situated in the centre of the town. All our effects were examined & we were charged 18 marks for carriage of our baggage & our food on the way from Kiel to here. We are pretty comfortably housed & have plenty of room for exercise, which is a treat after the confined space in the "Wolf" Shipmasters are being treated on a par with Army captains & I believe to be paid 100 marks a month, but most of this will go in paying for our food.

[Page 93]

9th March.
Whistles went this morning for an air raid, but evidently the machines went on to Manheim, as nothing eventuated here.
16th March 1918.
Got word from Kommandant that my wife was inquiring if I was on the "Wolf" & to tell me she was well.
17th March.
Was paid 100 marks today (same as army captains are paid) and 54 marks were stopped for food. Another air raid alarm to day but nothing eventuated
18th March.
Left Karlsruhe with 30 other officers for Heidelberg Camp. Arrived Heidelberg Camp at 1.30pm. All baggage inspected & all civillian clothes taken away. Housed in wooden huts as main building is full up.
20th March
Attended an excellent pantomime production of Sinbad the Sailor. Music & everything done by officer prisoners in the camp.
10th April
Olympic Sports held today, some very exciting finishes to the various races, especially the marathon. Camp regulations

[Page 94]

here fairly easy. Roll call at 10.30 AM. & again at 4.30pm. Everyone must be in their own rooms by 9.30pm when guard come round & see that everyone is there, then lights out.
At 5am guards again come round to see no one has escaped during the night. Rise at any time you please after the guard round.
Daily routine –: Rise 7.30 AM. Have shower, shave, dress & then go over to cook house & make breakfast, all that is supplied by Germans is a substitute for coffee. Then have a walk or game of tennis.
12 noon Dinner which consists of a plate of soup, god knows what it is composed of, & vegetables.
230 Make afternoon tea, then go & look at war news & walk round till 6pm when we have dinner. Made by ourselves, that being supplied being merely a plate of soup. Then another stroll till dark & then bridge & bed. Twice a week we are allowed out for a walk on parole about 40 at a time.

[Page 95]

14th April
A German airoplane which was doing stunts around the camp, came a cropper just alongside the fence of the camp amidst loud cheers from the prisoners. This afternoon gave a lecture on the cruise of the "Wolf", in the Caserne Dining Hall.
16th April
Weather cold & wet again, this is sure a godforsaken climate to live in.
20th April
All Merchant Service officers were notified to be ready to leave the camp at 4 p.m. for Fuchsberg. So we hustled to pack & I had time to notify Sydney office by P.C. before leaving. Beyond knowing that Fuchberg is somewhere in the State of Hanover, nobody knows anything about it. 4.20 We marched out of camp for the station & left Heidelberg Station at 510 pm
930pm Arrived at Frankfurt & were marched out of the station to a Red Cross Hut, opposite the Carlton Hotel & then we had a jolly good supper, macaroni, Hamburg steak & potatoes, a waiter in evening dress in attendance so it evidently came over from the Carlton.

[Page 96]

21st April
12.45 Left Frankfort & spent a most cold & uncomfortable night in the train.
730 am We were taken out & walked to Hotel Kaiserhof Hotel & there had breakfast. Coffee, cheese sub. Meat paste sub. & bread. Entrained again & at 930 arrived at Warburg, & there we were sidetracked until 3 pm. Nobody seemed to know what to do or which way to send us for Fuchsberg. Officer in charge nearly demented. 310 We were, after much shunting attached with a carriage load of German wounded, to a freight train & off we went into the heart of Germany along a typical country line. 6pm At Puderborn the wounded Germans got off for Hospital & we were again sidetracked. After wildly telephoning all over the place the officer had us made a special prisoners train we went off in charge of an engine to ourselves.
930 pm Arrived at Soest & were taken to Station Restaurant for supper much to amusement of some & indignation of others, men & women who were enjoying their evening beer. We had paste on bread & potato salad, coffee & beer finished off with

[Page 97]

a 60 fennig cigar, then back to the carriage & got attached to a passenger train, they knew at least where Fuchsberg is & we have to go a long back over the ground already covered. 22nd 7am. Arrived at Minden, got out & marched up a street & got into a sort of steam tramline railway & buzzed away for civilisation. 830 arrived at Uether[?] & got out. After agreeing to pay 3 marks a head for our hand bags to be taken to camp in a cart, we set out for our 5 mile tramp to the camp. Ye gods the camp, it is in the most dreary desolate part of country I have seen, right in the heart of a peat moor. It has been used as a camp for badly behaved Tommies & is not an officer’s camp. Only a Non Com. in charge. We are housed all in the one hut 41 of us & the hut will hold 250 easily. Other camps 8 was most in any room & at Heidelberg there were only 2 of us. No beds, all bunks all built together must crawl in from the head or the foot between two others. Beds stuffed with heather. No bathrooms or cooking accommodation & latrines

[Page 98]

frightful & most unsanitary. The proper name of the camp we don’t know but I believe it is not Fuchsberg.
23rd April
We are still waiting arrival of the Kommandant, two officers have arrived but they know nothing or say they don’t.
30th April
7am Marched out of Nethermore to station raining & blowing. Noon Had a meal at Hanover. 10pm. Arrived at Clausthal Camp starting to snow & bitterly cold. Officers had an excellent meal awaiting us, first since leaving Heidelberg.
Clausthal was in pre-war times The Peacock Hydro, the rooms in the main building are fine but of course we were put in the huts, six in a room, not bad, but bitterly cold & no fires.
1st May
Woke up to find everything covered with snow, which gradually melted during the day. This place is right up in the Hertz Mountains about 2500 feet high & most of the time covered with mist. The outlook when clear is beautiful. The camp overlooks a lake with hills & woods beyond, making a pretty picture.

[Page 99]

[The words below appear to be an insert to the entry for 22nd June]

* Were told we could write extra letter this month to tell about the straff.

[Page 100]

3rd May
Have seen the sun today for the first time this month but it is very shy.
12th May
Party of officers who have completed their 18 months term, left this morning for Holland.
4th June
Lieutenant Flint escaped this morning being one of a party that went down to the Mine Baths. He was recaptured but Lieut Rankin, another of the Bath party got away. Kommandant furious.
10th June
Lieut Rankin capture at Lubeck Hamburg.
16th Rankin brought into camp here & put in the cells
22nd June
At morning appell all guards in camp on appell ground armed with rifles. Kommandant told us the camp was to be strafed as reprisal against some camp in England. No sport or games of any kind, no music, concerts or plays, and four appells a day. Weather bitterly cold, only 4° above [see note Page 99 re insert] freezing.
23rd June
Blowing & raining, bitterly cold.

[Page 101]

30th June
The whole week has been pouring rain & bitterly cold. Living in overcoats. Germans jumping because no one has written a word about the straffe
3rd July
Lieut. Fitzgerald R.F.C. climbed the front fence within 50 feet of the main gateway and escaped. It raining & blowing hard at the time and although there was a sentry within 50 [indecipherable]of him, he was no seen. His escape was not known to the Huns until afternoon appell. Thick fog settled in shortly after the escape & that would help him.
25th July. This Diary taken for

5th Nov. Diary returned
10th Nov
News of Kaiser’s Abdication. All prisoners in the cells released.

[Page 102]

20th July Tunnel was discovered

[Page 103]

Jug 26th July to 29th – 3 days
" 6th Aug to 14th Aug – 8 days
" 21st – to – 23rd – 3 days
23rd July
Straffe was taken off today
This diary was taken by Germans today to be censored as they said extracts from it had been appearing in London Papers.
26th July
On morning appell Kommandant called out & raved about me calling them Huns in my Diary
I was taken into No 4 & "Harry" & [indecipherable] officer shouted in duet at me in German & I retaliated in English & I was given 3 days in the cells for undue behaviour to the Kommandant. Was marched down to Jug between 2 armed sentries, [indecipherable] officer bringing up the rear, Sentries at the Jug were ordered to straffe me. The cell was all cement & very cold, but otherwise not bad.

[Page 104]

[Note this is an insert to the entry for 19th August which appears on page 105]

19th PM was told by [indecipherable] officer that I must not wear grey pants only blue. This was only a catch to find out if I had another pair of pants as mercantile marine men are only allowed one suit.

[Page 105]

29th July
945 AM Was liberated from the cells, later in the day examined & cross questioned re statements in Diary & also items taken from letters to my wife.
6th Aug
Was ordered into No 4 after morning appell & was given 8 days cells for calling the Germans Huns. This time I was put into the smallest cell of the lot, about 6 by 8, but managed to get my sketch books & paints smuggled into me, so the time passed fairly well.
14th Aug
Liberated from cells at 9.30 AM.
19th Aug.
While playing tennis this afternoon, noticed Harry & his satellites paying marked attention to me. I said to the fellows that I would be going to jug again next day.
20th Aug.
Leut. Interpreter & 2 sentries came to my room. I was ordered to strip & they searched all my gear, pulled my bed to pieces & finally asked

[Page 106]

for the grey flannel pants which I had been wearing for just over two months. They took them away.
21st Aug
was given 3 days cells for having 2 pairs of pants.

11th Dec Left Camp for Warnemunde.
12th 3pm Warnemunde embarked on S.S. Cumbria
13th Arrived Copenhagen, 3 pm put up at Skodsburg Hotel
16th sailed for Leith 5.30pm on H.M.T "Plassey’ convoyed by H.M.S. "Centaur"
17th Passed 7 floating mines Centaur exploded 3.
18th 10pm anchored[Symbol] Leith Roads
19th Disembarked at Leith 5.30pm. Left for London at 9.30pm
20th Arrived Kings Cross 8AM.

[Page 107]

23rd Dec
Embarked at Tilbury on H.M.A.T. Barambah
24th Dec. NOON
Sailed for Sydney

[Page 108]

Copy of Message intercepted by the "Wolf"
Burns, Philp, Rabaul.
Donaldson left Sydney 27th via Newcastle Brisbane 300 tons general 500 tons Westport coal for Rabaul 236 tons general Madang
(Signed) Buriss

[Page 109]

29th July 8 pm
Will arrive Cape Moreton Noon Monday
Burns Philp Rabaul 5th Aug. 6.30 pm
Arrive 2 am 7th arrange Burrows coal direct

[Page 110]

1st Roll – Sydney to Including Matunga Capture
9/6/18 [indecipherable]
2nd Roll – Kiel to Matunga Sinking (inclusive)
3rd Roll – Matunga’s sinking to Clausthal & events there up to Straffe.

[Page 111]

[Miscellaneous notes, not transcribed]

[Page 112]

[Miscellaneous notes, not transcribed]

[Page 113]

Captain Alec Donaldson, O.B.E. Master Mariner, was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, of seafaring stock, about 1877. Indentured in 1891 for four years apprenticeship with Milne and Co. of Aberdeen, ("Inver Line") he served his time in the barque "Inveresk". Gaining his second mate Ticket he served in the four mast barque "Lynton", (Johnson, Sproule and Co. of Liverpool).
Leaving sail for steam and having a Master’s ticket, He served with the Alfred Holt Line, Messrs. Butterfield and Swires, (China Coast), Belfast Steamship Co. Elder Dempster, Pacific Steam Navigation Co., and finally Messrs. Burns Philp and Co. Of Sydney. He served in many of the company’s ships as Mate and Master and was in command of the ill fated "Matunga" when captured by the German Commerce Raider " Wolf" in 1917.
On return from prison camps in Germany Captain Donaldson carried on with the Burns Philp to become Commodore Skipper of theat Line. Master of the popylar "Marella" on the Sydney - Singapore run for many years, he did magnificent service with his ship at the evacuation of Singapore.
Defying the orders of the Dutch Naval people to evacuate his berth alongside, he remained to take on water and crammed the ship with every available evacuee, steamed unescorted to Fremantle.
He was awarded his O.B.E. for meritorous service at sea.

NOTE. Part of the accompanying diary is probably a self written transcript of a rough diary of his experience in Germany.
During his internment Captain Donaldson kept a day to day diary on a roll of toilet paper. This survived and on his death was given to his nephew for presentation to the War Museum in Canberra.
Cross reference to the above may be had from his book "Fifty Years too Soon’" by Whitcombe and Toombs Pty. Ltd., 1948
Captain Donaldson died in 1949. His ashes were commited to the Torres Straits from the deck of B.P.’s "Burnside". He held a Pilot Exemption for this very tricky passage.

[Some diary entries are repeated]
[Transcribed by Eric Hetherington, Margaret Russell and Betty Smith for the State Library of NSW]