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Ocean Liner History and Stories from the Sea, Past and Present. With an In Depth focus on Holland America Line

Buhse, Gustav.

No Photo found yet. Also a large portion of his biography (after 1931) is still missing, so dear Reader please help.

Born:   at Den Helder on 22 May 1883. The town is located at the top of the province of Noord Holland in the Netherlands.

It seems that the grandfather Hermann Buhse left Dinslaken Prussia sometime in the 1850’s – 6o‘s and settled down in Den Helder as a horologist specializing in watches and clocks and related repairs. There were a number of children who all found employment in the area and one of them was the father of our captain. One uncle was appointed as  German Consul for Den Helder and surrounding area in January 1897.

His father was Johan Bernhard Gustav Buhse and is noted in the archives as a watch maker. He was born on 27 December 1836 in Dinslaken, Prussia. His wife is Henriette Ottilie Haape born on 28 September 1844 also at Dinslaken Prussia.  They married on 26 November 1872 at Dinslaken. Both come back to Den Helder and join the family business. In 1882 the Council of the town of Obdam expresses in a newspaper article that Mr. Buhse had repaired the local clock tower in a very satisfactory way.

On 27 April 1875 Father, and thus the whole family, obtains Dutch Citizenship. Several children are born, all at Den Helder.

  • Son Herman Friedrich born 01 September 1873;  who also becomes a watch maker.
  • Daughter Louise Bernardine born 15 March 1875; moves on 30 May 1900 back to Germany to Dortmund.
  • Son Emiel born 11 December 1876; also becomes a watchmaker and moves to Amsterdam on 10 January 1903. (Name also spelled as Emil)
  • Daughter Otellie born 1 January 1879; moves later to Den Bosch.
  • Daughter: Bertha born 18 December 1880; marries (22 Aug. 1905 at Den Helder)) Marinus Gerardus Brederode who is listed as Merchant Navy deck officer (*). Her husband passes away on 19 July 1911 cause unknown.  There is one daughter (Anna Petronella (Berty) Otiilie born in 1906. Bertha retrains as apothecary assistant. (*) Thus far it has not been possible to trace which company he worked for.
  • Daughter: Anna Henriette born 22 May 1883  passes away on 25 June 1884.
  • Son:  Gustav
  • Daughter: Johanna born 11 Sep. 1886

The home town of Den Helder had and has a large port which was and is the home of the Dutch Royal Navy. Gustav had an uncle who was an engineer on the Navy ships. He had another uncle who was a tugboat captain and this might have been the reason he choose to go to sea. It is unknown which Nautical School he attended but as Den Helder did have one, it is not farfetched to assume that he went there. He would have been able to walk to school every day.  School normally took 3 years to complete, followed by a one year apprentice ship but whiche company is unknown as it was not HAL.  Once back he passes for his 3rd mate’s exam on 15 February 1906. As there is a large period between passing his exam and joining Holland America he might have returned to his old company and maybe did not like it.

Whatever happened, he joined Holland America on 14 November 1906 as a fourth officer and is assigned to the ss Statendam.  Which was after the new flagship (the ss Nieuw Amsterdam) the most prominent ship in the fleet.

The ss Statendam (I) seen here from the stern. According to contemporary newspapers this was the first Holland America Line ship where the company did not shirk to add a bit more glamour to the interior.

Somewhere around 1906/1907 his father starts a partnership with another watch maker Mr. Fehr and they open a shop in Rotterdam for new watches and repairs. He makes it into the newspapers in 1908 when his shop is burgled and the thieves make off with 44 golden ladies and gents watches. He is alerted by the noise and once entering the shop tries to shoot the disappearing thieves with his revolver but misses.  The police later manages to apprehend some of those involved and also some of the watches. On 11 October 1911 the family officially moves from Den Helder to Rotterdam and that move includes Gustav, his brother Herman Friederich who has joined the family business and daughter Johanna.

In 1908 he is sent to Belfast to collect the new Flagship of the company the ss Rotterdam (IV)  and after sailing the ship to Rotterdam remains with her until November.

This photo shows the brand new ship sailing from the shipyard when it was delivered so it had Gustav Buhse on board. (Photo Courtesy: Harland & Wolff Shipyard Archives)

He moves on  11 Oct. 1911 in Rotterdam to the Hoogstraat 317. His father, mother, son H.F and daughter Johanna move with him. Mother passes away on 13 March 1916 in Rotterdam. The father follows on 05 March 1917.

The shop Buhse & Fehr survives in family ownership until 1968 when it is taken over by somebody else. The name of the firm still exists and is now located in Amsterdam and well known for clock and jewellery repairs. As they made their own watches and clocks the brand is well sought after by collectors, especially for the early years.

The ss Zijldijk was a very distinctive ship as she was basically a sailing ship with a  steam engine put inside the hull. She had a frigate stern, a bowsprit and a bow figure. It has also been reported that gold scroll work existed at the stern, which was highly unusual for a cargo ship.  Gustav Buhse was  2nd officer on this ship and later on it was his first command. (a)

Gustav goes to sea and subsequently sails on a mixture of passenger ships and cargo ships. On 24 February 1910 he passes the exam for 2nd Officer and is at once promoted. In 1912 he obtains his First Mate ticket (captain’s license) and is promoted the following year. It will take another 10 years before he is promoted to Captain. Not strange, as one has to understand that in the early 20’s the company was not doing very well and several ships were regularly in layup.  Six months after his last exam he marries Diewertje “Dina” van der Horst, born in Schagen (just south of Den Helder) and they settle down in Rotterdam.

There is no mention of children in any of the records but there seem to have been a dead born baby girl on 10 January 1921.

While Chief Officer on the Gorredijk he is part of the peculiar episode in the company when the United State seized all the foreign ships in American ports in March 1918. This includes the Holland America Line ships except the ss Nieuw Amsterdam (I). The USA needs transport to bring its troops to Flanders Fields and under “the Right Angery” it takes all the non US tonnage available. As the Netherlands were neutral in this conflict, the officers and crew cannot sail the ships for the American Government and thus everybody is sent home with the ss Nieuw Amsterdam in April 1918. Buhse is not too much affected as shortly after he is back at sea on board the ss Andijk (I).

Then in 1924 he is promoted to captain and assigned to the ss Zijldijk. Following the company ”pecking order” routine he is assigned to one of the older ships first and is then given by seniority a newer and newer ship. In November 1925 he is appointed to the ss Vechtdijk which sails on the New York to the British Indies which is a yearlong assignment and he eventually returns in December 1926. After that he is given command of cargo ships on the North Atlantic which are not longer away then a month or two months.

By 1930 he has gained enough seniority to be appointed to the passenger ships and this happens in November when he gains command of the ss Edam (IV) this was a one of a class of four passengers – cargo ships built for the Europe – Cuba – Gulf of Mexico service.  For this purpose he was transferred from the ss Binnendijk.

The ss Edam (II) as at the building yard in 1921. This is the way Captain Buhse would have seen the ship; with two funnels. In 1935 the second (dummy) funnel was removed when her passenger capacity was reduced. (a)

On the Binnendijk he had been involved in a cargo fire while docked in Philadelphia.  This fire generated quite a bit of publicity as the statements of Captain and company differed very much of what was reported in the local American newspapers. The Americans advised that local fire crews had been battling the fire for 12 hours, that 25 hose handlers had been overcome by smoke, and that the damage was estimated to be around 1.250.000 Dutch guilders. The company version was that the ship’s crew had been successfully battling the fire until the local fire brigade arrived and then pumped so much water into the cargo hold that the ship went aground. The Board of Inquiry reviewed the occurrence with Captain Buhse present as a witness. Now it became apparent that the fire went from Hold II to Hold I and in order to stop the spreading of the fire, it had been thought best to pump hold II full of water. This caused the ship to list and then it touched bottom. The cause of the fire could not be established as there was supervision by a ships officer and the long shore gangs employed were all black people who according to the captain did not smoke in principle. Hence it was assumed that the cargo had started to smoulder and when the cargo hatches were opened self combustion occurred.

At the same time the depression started to bite and the company had to let go various officers and crew. While most Dutch company’s opted for the rotation model, everybody got the chance to do a few months a year, Holland America followed the American model and dismissed a large number and those who remained sailed full time.  The selection process that was followed was a. seniority b. less seniority but having a family with children, c. married but no children d. not married.  On his level Captain Buhse fell in category c. and was advised that he would be made redundant on 01 April 1932 when his “on standby” period lapsed. Together with the other Captains who were let go, he visited the Head Office in January 1932 for what we assume final arrangements. It is unknown how long the “standby money” was paid after his redundancy.

A family photo album indicates that by 1935 he was living  in Bergen Noord Holland, in a house called “De Ark” not too far from Den Helder.

And then the story stops as it is unknown where he went from there. He was 45 years old so another job is more then likely. But Where and What ???


In September 1953 there is an announcement in the local newspaper that his wife had passed away.

Captain Buhse at home in Bergen aan Zee Photo from 1935. (c)

Sometime later in life he marries  a Mrs. M.C Brandt as she is noted as his wife when it is announced that Captain Gustav Buhse had passed away on 24 July 1965.

In retirement the captain must have kept his love for the sea as there the photo in a family album that he made a model of a sailing ship which looks of very good quality and that is not easy to do as a one off,

Model of sailing ship, the brig Voorwaarts  made by Captain Buhse. (date unknown) (c)


  • All family information from contemporary newspapers via the Delpher website
  • (a) Photos from the Albert Schoonderbeek Collection.
  • (b) “Stamboek” and “Movement”  ship and personnel information from the Hal Archives as held by the Municipal  Archives of the City of Rotterdam
  • (c) By Great Grand Daughter of thesister of the  Captain Mrs. Sylvia  Schuhr  (Urenkelin seiner Schwester Louise Bernardine)

Sailing List: (b)

Date:                     Function:                             Ship:                                      Wages and/or remarks.

14 Nov. 1906       4th. Officer                           Statendam                          30,–

02 Jan.  1907       4th. Officer                           Rijndam                               30,–

16 Mar. 1907       4th. Officer                           Noordam                             30,–

27 Mar. 1908       3rd officer                            Soestdijk                               40,–

15 May. 1908      Temporary dismissed

31 May 1908       3rd officer                            Rotterdam                           40,–                       (joined in Belfast)

30 Nov. 1908       3rd officer                            Soestdijk                               40,–

18 Jan. 1909       3rd officer                            Potsdam                                  40,–

15 Mar. 1909       3rd officer                            Rotterdam                             40,–

24 Mar. 1909       3rd officer                            Statendam                              40,–

The last three assignments were used to study for 2nd mates ticket.

12/13 May 1909 during lay up went for exam 2nd mate, did not pass.

17 May.1909       3rd officer                            Andijk                                   50,–

18 Oct.  1909       3rd officer                            Zaandijk                               50,-

22 Dec. 1909       Temporary dismissed to go to school for 2nd mates ticket passed 24 February 1910

28 Feb. 1910       2nd officer                            Rijndam                               60,–

12 Aug.1910        2nd Officer                          Zijldijk                                   60,–

Transferred in the States due to Capt. Lieuwen staying behind in Baltimore.(broken leg)

01 Sept. 1910     2nd Officer                           Rijndam                               60,–

03 Oct. 1910       2nd officer                            Zijldijk                                   60,–

01 Jan. 1911       Due to wage review                                                       100,–

20 Jun. 1911       2nd officer                            Gorredijk                        100,–

12 Jan. 1912       Temporary dismissed to go to school for chief mates ticket  Passed on 13 April 912

22 Apr. 1912       wage increase to                                                           110,–

22 Apr. 1912       2nd officer                            Andijk                               110,–

02 Aug. 1912       wage increase                                                                115,–

28 Jan.  1913       Temporary ashore waiting for assignment.

28 Feb. 1914       Chief Officer                      Zijldijk                               140,–

18 May.1914       wage increase to                                                            150,-

17 Aug. 1914       Chief Officer                      Gorredijk                         150,–

03 Nov.1914       wage increase                                                                   160,–

28 Jun.  1915       Wage increase                                                                  175,–

03 Mar. 1916       wage increase                                                                   190,–

04 Aug. 1916       Wage increase                                                                  200,–

12 Apr. 1918       Temporary  ashore due to confiscation Gorredijk returns home on the N.A

27 Jul. 1918         Chief Officer                      Andijk                                   200,–

23 Dec. 1918       Chief Officer                                                                      200,–    administration duties in Rotterdam

14 Jul.    1919       Chief Officer                      Soestdijk                          300,–

29 Jul.    1919       Chief Officer                      Gorredijk                         300,–

04 Aug. 1919       Chief Officer                      Noordam                          300,–

01 Jan. 1920       Wages increased                                                              330,–

03 May.1920       Chief Officer                      Schiedijk                            330,–

01 Jan. 1920        wages increased                                                              350,–

15 Oct. 1920       wage increased                                                                 370.—

04 Nov. 1920       Temporary ashore, with leave for 5 days

09 Nov. 1920       Chief Officer                      Rijndam                               370,–

07 Apr.  1921       Temporary ashore with leave for 20 days

27 Apr.  1921       Chief Officer                      Zuiderdijk                            370,–

03 May.1921       Temporary ashore leave for 6 days.

09 May. 1921      Chief Officer                      Waaldijk                               370,–

15 Jun.  1921       Chief Officer                      Nieuw Amsterdam       370,–

01 Sep.  1921       Wages decreased to                                                       354,–

05 Oct.  1921       Temporary ashore

15 Oct.  1921       Chief Officer                      Leerdam                              338,–

16 Oct.1921         Wages decreased to                                                       338,–

28 Mar. 1922       Wages increased to                                                        360,–

20 May.1923       Temporary ashore

08 Aug. 1923       Chief Officer                      Leerdam                              360,–

29 Jan.  1924       Act. Captain                        Zijldijk                                   560,–    Assignment cancelled

29 Jan.  1924       Chief Officer                      Zijldijk                                   360,–

11 Feb. 1924       Act. Captain                        Zijldijk                                   560,–

08 Apr.  1924       Act. Captain                        Moerdijk                             560,–    at Hamburg

26 Apr.  1924       Act. Captain                        Ridderkerk                          625,–    Holland British Indies line

28 Sep. 1924       Temporary ashore by train from Antwerp.

06 Oct.  1924       Act. Captain                        Poeldijk                                 560,-

06 Jun.  1925       Temporary ashore

15 Jun.1925         Act. Captain                        Poeldijk                                   560,–

29 Oct.  1925       Temporary shore

12 Nov. 1925       Act. Captain                        Vechtdijk                                560,–

02 Dec. 1925       Act. Captain                        Veendijk                                  560,–

09 Nov. 1926      Returned home with the NA leaving from NY     560,–

24 Nov. 1926      Temporary ashore                                                                 560,–

21 Dec. 1926       Act. Captain                        Poeldijk                                   560,–

01 Apr.  1927       Captain                                   Poeldijk                                 580,–    wage increase

30 Jun.  1927       to 30 July             1927       ill ashore at Santos due broken right leg.

29 Aug. 1927       Captain                                Ashore                                       580,– for further recuperation

07 Nov. 1927       Captain                                Kinderdijk                                580,-

20 Mar. 1928      Captain                                Binnendijk                                 580,–

01 Jan.  1929      Wages increased                                                              600,–

11 Feb. 1930       Captain                                Binnendijk                                 620,– increase

18 Sep. 1930       Temporary ashore                                                                 620,–

12 Nov. 1930      Captain                                 Edam                                     620,– sailed 2 ¾ years in the last 3 years.

26 Aug. 1931       Captain                                 Ashore                                 620,–

12 Nov. 1931       Wages decreased to                                                       496,–

And put on 70% standby money

01 Apr.  1932       Dismissed and put on standby money.

Last Updated: 14 June 2021






  1. Eef van der Horst

    May 8, 2021 at 6:09 pm

    Gustav Buhse , ik noemde hem oom Gus, woonde vanaf 23-09-1926 aan de van Meerwijklaan 1 in Bergen Het huis heette de Ark en het was gebouwd in de stijl van de Amsterdamse school en ontworpen door architect J.F. Staal en gebouwd in 1918. Ik kwam daar tussen 1957 en 1965 en was altijd verbaasd over de hoeveelheid klokken en staande horloges in het huis, het tikte altijd . Het is me nu duidelijk hoe dat kwam , zijn familie waren horlogemakers. Het huis is in 1966 verkocht, mijn vader was een van de erfgenamen. Dina vd Horst was zijn tante.
    Met vriendelijke groet Eef van der Horst

    • Captain Albert

      May 10, 2021 at 9:41 pm

      Mijn dank voor uw reactie

      Elk feit over kapitein Buhse is welkom want ik kan bijna niets vinden over zijn prive leven.


      Capt. Albert

  2. Hallo Kapitän Albert,
    herzlichen Dank für Deinen tollen Blog. Ich habe mich sehr gefreut über das Leben meiner Vorfahren zu lesen.
    Gustav war der Onkel meines Großvaters. Leider kann ich nicht viel zu Deiner Geschichte beitragen, ich könnte Dir allerdings ein Bild von Gustav aus den 50er Jahren vor seinem Haus de Ark schicken.

    • Captain Albert

      June 14, 2021 at 2:41 pm

      Herzlichen Dank fur ihr Angebot.

      I sende ihnen einen email from mein email adres.

      Mit Freundlichen Gruss

      Kapitan Albert

      Capt. Albert

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