Gerriet Yan Pijl


Name:   Gerriet Yan Pijl
Nationality:   Dutch
Rank: Abled Body Seaman
Regiment/Service:   Royal Dutch Navy
Date of Death:   13th November 1942.
Additional information:   Father of William Pijl of Knockloughrim. A/B Seaman Pijl served in the Royal Dutch Navy as a gunner and while his ship the “Isaac Sweers” was in dock for a fit out, 10th May 1940, German paratroopers landed nearby. The Dutch sailors immediately put to sea and the Isaac Sweers was towed to England by the Dutch tug Zwarte Zee. They arrive on the 11th May on the Downs. On the 12th May 1940 the ship arrived in Spithead. On 29th May 1941 Isaac Sweers is completed at the John I. Thornycroft Dockyard in Southampton. At Pembroke dock in Wales, Gerriet met his wife to be, Miss Armour from Knockloughrim who was serving in the Wrens as a cook.
During the time that his ship was being fitted out, Gerriet was seconded temporarily as a rear gunner to the RAF, as a large number of bomber crews were being lost at that time. On the completion of the fit-out the Isaac Sweers was commissioned and was operational in the South East Atlantic.
12th November 1942 Isaac Sweers is at sea to rendezvous with Force "H". The plan was to refuel underway from Force "R" (2 oilers with 4 escorting trawlers), and by 00.00 hours in the night of 12/13, she was ready for action. She would cover Force R on one flank and leave in the morning for Force H. 13th November 1942. At about 0500 hours, two torpedoes hit the starboard side of the Isaac Sweers, and they put the whole ship ablaze from bow to stern. The first torpedo hit a fuel tank and burning oil spread over the water, the second hit the long room and officers quarters, where all 13 officers, at that time asleep, perished. It was clear from the start that Isaac Sweers, the ship that had survived many attacks from aircraft, wouldn't survive the damage she had sustained. Isaac Sweers sank in position 37.23 N, 02.12 E due to a U-boat attack by the German U 431 ( Kapitän-Leutnant Wilhelm Dommes ). Only 86 men survived of a crew of 194.
(Top) Gerriet Yan Pijl in naval uniform and (above) Gerriet during his spell seconded to the RAF.

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