Dutch Submarine Onderzeeboot 16

The Loss, Discovery & final Destruction of


Hr Ms O16 Dutch Submarine O16 Item: Original Military Reconnaissance Photograph.

Personal papers and Service History. Hugh Boyle LAC 1796858 WoPGd 1943-1947

Middle East Command - Royal Air Force ME

South East Asia Command - Royal Air Force SEAC

Signals would have been broadcast to known missing craft.

Intended to deceive Japanese Air Sea and land Forces.
Radio Tx & Rx surveillance and detection systems would break new boundaries. Covert and overt signals would saturate the airwaves.

The 1944 Burma Campaign relied to a great extent on Ground to Air Wireless Operators. Some seconded to remote Landing Grounds, airfields cut into the mosquito ridden jungle by hand. The photo is dated November 10th, 1939 and stamped RAF Tengah.

RAF Tengah was subject to Carpet Bombing on the 8th December 1941 by the Japanese Imperial Navy shortly after the Battle of Malaya began.

"Welcome Home O16"


She (O16) finally answered that Signal in 1995

  • Official Stamp: Crown Copyright, SECRET crossed out
  • Dated: November 10th, 1939
  • Landing Ground or Station: RAF Tengah
  • Description & probable location: Hr Ms O16 entering Singapore
  • Signed on Rear: Hugh Boyle No. 203 Squadron RAF Middle East

Dutch Submarine Onderzeeboot 16Original Military Surveillance/Reconnaissance Photograph of O16. 24 Crew on Deck with 8 further Crew on the fin. The Commander just visible in the conning tower.

On the 15th of December at 02:30 hours Hr. Ms. 016 is struck by a mine,
Boatswain Cornelis de Wolf would be the sole survivor.
41 lives are lost.

The account of Cornelis de Wolf was never believed
Lieutenant Commander Bussemaker would be blamed for navigating into a known British minefield
Though no wreck was ever found there.
Hr. Ms. O16. Was "Lost"
She  had unknowingly sailed into an unchartered line of mines, discarded by a Japanese Mine Layer.

Her location would remain unknown until discovered in 1995.

Boatswain Cornelis de Wolf The Sole Survivor of Dutch Submarine O16, read his account...

On the 15th of December 1941 at about 02:30 hrs: Hr. Ms. Onderzeeboot16. is struck by a mine while she is exiting the Gulf of Siam during her homebound voyage to Singapore. The submarine is nearly broken in half and 41 men are lost. Only one crewmember, Boatswain Cornelis de Wolf, survived.

Cornelis de Wolf would be the Sole Survivor of Hr Ms O16
On the 22nd December 1941 a bedraggled Dutch sailor was found by an Australian patrol, trudging toward Singapore in the hapless procession of native refugees fleeing the advancing Japanese. Brought to naval headquarters Cornelis de Wolf had an incredible story to tell.

A boatswain on O 16, he had been on watch on the rainy night of 14-15 December when at about 02.30 hrs. A huge explosion rent the deck forward and sent a wave of water and diesel oil over the men on the bridge. In less than a minute the boat was gone and he was gasping for breath in the lukewarm water of the South China Sea. Nearby a few other survivors called to each other and in the distance the voice of their commander was heard in reply. The swimmers clustered together, but Lieutenant Commander Bussemaker failed to appear and was heard no more.

De Wolf asked the only officer present , Ltz. II  C.A. Jeekel, what had happened and was told that they must have hit a mine.

Knowing that Tioman Island was a few miles west of them, the men - Jeekel, de Wolf, seaman first class F.X. van Tol, seaman second class F. Kruijdenhof, and machinist A.F. Bos decided to strike out for its shore, but van Tol and Jeekel soon succumbed to exhaustion and drowned.
In the morning a Dutch aircraft passed overhead but failed to spot the swimmers, and Kruijdenhof disappeared soon afterwards.
Toward evening, after 17 hours of struggling against the current that kept sweeping the men southward away from the island, Bos could go on no longer. Asking de Wolf, if he survived, to remember him to his wife and two children, he gave up and sank from sight.
Alone in the tepid sea, the sole survivor pressed on until at about noon on the 17th he was washed up on the rocky shore of uninhabited Dayang Island. Exhausted and bleeding, he fell asleep.

Waking after a few hours, he was found by a lone native in a small prau and taken to a larger island (presumably Aur) where impoverished but hospitable natives nursed him as best they could. After three days, de Wolf, clad only in shorts, rigged up a sailing prau and crossed over to the mainland, then walked for nine hours on raw feet before encountering an Australian patrol.

Boatswain Cornelis de Wolf was never believed and Lieutenant Commander Bussemaker would wrongfully be accused of navigating into a known British Minefield and their unblemished characters would not be fully restored until the 1990's. It was also proven from the location of the wreck, that Cornelius de Wolf's detailed account of what happened. Was accurate!

The photograph is from the personal papers and service history of Hugh Boyle LAC 1796858 WoPGd RAF 1943-1947


Shortly after His Death.
Hr. Ms. O16 Was Found
A WW2 mystery solved shortly after Hugh Boyle died.

O16 Found A wreck identified as that of Onderzeeboot16 is Found

A wreck well known to local fishermen was finally identified as that of the Hr. Ms. O16. Discovered by a Swedish diver, Sten Sjöstrand in 1995 off Pulau Tioman, East of Malaysia. The hulk was located at a depth of 53 meters some nine miles east of Hr. Ms.K XVII in the same Japanese mine line, draped in fish nets and with a gaping hole forward of the bridge.
In 1998 divers from Technical Diving International (TDI) supported by the Dutch multinational Unilever Lever Brothers, Hugh Boyle's post war employer, compiled photographs and video of the wreck area, a designated war grave.
Before its wanton desecration, the approximate position of the wreck: 3º10'N-104º19'E


War Grave Desecrated

Scavengers Yahoo

It was reported in 2013 that several salvage barges had been spotted in the area where Hr. Ms. O 16 lies. One of these salvage barges was photographed in October dredging up the carcass of a Dutch submarine. It was that of Hr. Ms. O 16.
hmas-perthAlso in this area lies the wreck of HMAS Perth originally commissioned by the Royal Navy in 1936 as HMS Amphion.
HMAS Perth was sunk by the Japanese in 1942. 3822862A designated War Grave, it was also desecrated by scavenging Yahoo.

HMAS Perth lost 350 officers and men including her commander, Captain H.M.L Waller, DSO.


Further Information/Reading

Firefox browsers may display the run time of the above audio as 0:16 Tablets & Chrome display 0:15 ?

Further information: Dutch Submarines Link]

Source. Hr.Ms. K XVII en Hr.Ms. O 16
Author: Dr. P.C. van Royen et al of the Instituut voor Maritime Historie, 's-Gravenhage



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