Klaas Pauw was born on 24 April 1884 in Blokzijl which was and is a small town in the Province of Overijssel in the East of the Netherlands. His father was Johannes Hendrik Pauw. Listed as a general salesman and who took over in 1885, together with his brother, the family firm. They were involved in exchange trade. E.G Rush or Reed mats were made in the Blokzijk area and then over water transported and bartered against butter.(g) Grandfather passed away shortly after in December 1886. The name of the mother was Berendina Oosten. (a)
Maybe he went with the transport of the Reed mats over the Zuiderzee that wetted his appetite to go to sea. Certainly there was and is a lot of water around his home town of Blokzijl due to the excavation of peat for fuel. The whole area was prone to flooding until the 1930’s when the Afsluitdijk, closing off the Zuider Zee, was put in place. It also had a commercial port which is now a thriving water sports location.
He joined the Kweekschool voor de Zeevaart in Amsterdam on 21 August 1899. And after the three year education he joins Holland America on 07 August 1902 and is placed on board the ss Noordam as cadet. On 12 September 1903 he returns from sea with a very good report. For unknown reasons he does not pass the exam for 3rd mate (although his school reports were good) and thus he returns to Holland America on 05 Jan. 1904 as acting fourth officer.
He returns back to school on 16 June 1904 again with a very good report and then passes his exam for 3rd mate on 28 July 1904 with a special notation for speaking 3 languages. Consequently he is released from the Kweekschool on 29 July 1904 with very good reports for skills, behaviour, and attests.
He returns on 29 June 1904 as 4th. Officer on board the Potsdam. When looking at his sailing list it is peculiar, compared to some of his colleagues, that he remains assigned to the passenger ships on a regular basis until promoted to captain.
It seems that this has to do with his parallel career in the Royal Navy. He enrols in December 1903 into, and remains with, the Reserve Service until his untimely death. By 1925 he had reached the highest rank possible for a Merchant Navy Officer, namely that of Lieutenant First Class in the Reserve. Holland America liked to have RNR officers in command of their Royal Mail Passenger Ships and thus he must have been given all the support needed to go for his RNR training periods.
This coincides with an entry in his sailing list when he fails his First mates (captain’s ticket) exam. It can be assumed that he did not have enough time to prepare himself with the Royal Navy moving him from (training) ship to ship. So the company did not take it very seriously that he did not pass at the first go. Because as soon as he passes he is assigned as the Sr. Navigator to the flagship ss Rotterdam and then shortly after to First or Chief Officer. (See the Royal Navy notes at the very end of this biography)
Now he should have spent several years as first mate /first officer on the cargo ships but again he is assigned to the passenger ships and the two senior (ss Nieuw Amsterdam (I) and ss Rotterdam (IV) ones on top of that.
On 08 April 1913 he marries in the town of Zwolle Debora Johanna Mesdag (passed away 19 April. 1932 in
Rotterdam). Her parents (Uco Mesdag and Hedwig Maria Körner) had a factory in the town of Zwolle.
But by 1925 the Pauw family is listed as living in Rotterdam. (a)
There were three children, all daughters:
Marie Pauw (Rotterdam 09 Jan. 1914 – Nieuwegein 01 Jan. 2004)
Berendina Pauw (Rotterdam 25 June 1915 – passed away in Cape Town)
Johanna Pauw (Rotterdam 1918 – Deventer 13 June 2000) (g)
By the end of 1914 he is promoted to Captain with his first ship being the cargo ship ss Waaldijk. This only lasts for a short while as for the next three years he remains with the Royal Navy due to the First World War, although the Netherlands was neutral during the conflict. He then returns to the cargo ships and ends up in 1922 for one very short voyage on board the ss Koudekerk.
The ss Koudekerk was not a Holland America Line ship but belonged to the VNS or United Steam, a joint venture of several Dutch shipping companies in which the HAL participated with ships and personnel. This company had been founded in 1921 to enable services to Africa and to the Far East all the way to China on routes where there were no established Dutch companies trading yet. The VNS had bought a ship, the ss Kirkshall Abbey, which had been sailing a few times in charter for HAL and Captain Pauw was dispatched to Hamburg to pick her up and bring her to Rotterdam via Antwerp. There Captain Siebe Vlietstra took over and Pauw was transferred to take out the brand-new ss Breedijk on its trial trip and subsequent maiden voyage to Philadelphia and back.
After another spell with the Royal Navy he is sent away for “the long run”. This was the service to the Dutch East Indies the so called Holland Britisch Indisch Service from New York. Which was operated under the VNS banner. For relieve the company had come up with a clever idea, namely sending new crew over while working on a ship on the short North Atlantic service, transfer that crew in New York, and then this relief crew sailed the ship back to Rotterdam and then went on leave. For captains this was not always done this way and as the B class ships had a few extra cabins, Captain Pauw sailed as passenger to New York and took command of the ss Vechtdijk on 21 September 1923 in New York.
He makes 3 round voyages from New York going as far east as Colombo on Ceylon (Now Sri Lanka) and by 10 Oct. 1924 he is back home again. In his photo albums kept by his grand daughter there are a lot of photos of life on board. This is for an historian of great interest as life on the early cargo ships is not very well documented. The focus of the company was on the glamour of the passenger ships and often the cargo ships were constructed in a very spartan way where the was little emphasis on luxury or well being of the officers and crew. Thus the ships complement had to be resourceful and they where. On the passenger ships the pools were exclusively for the passengers with no crew allowed, on the cargo ships they could built whatever they wanted as long as it fitted and could be removed before reaching the next port.
After “the long service” the captains where then assigned on the ships which did the shorter voyages to the East Coast of the USA and thus he is assigned to the ss Grootendijk a cargo ship built in Holland in 1923. This ship makes one month voyages between Rotterdam and New York with about 10 days in between while the ship is turned around in Rotterdam.
On the return of the 4th. Voyage a tragedy occurs as he suddenly passes away on 09 May 1925 due to an unknown cause. Family information has revealed that he passed away due to a lingering kidney problem, for which in those days no medication was available. He was aware of this and made as many sailing days as possible to ensure that his wife and children would have as much money available was possible. This was before the days of Social Security. (g) The ship was coming from New Orleans and was just passing Folkestone. Cause of death unknown. The Chief Officer sails the ship home and it arrives in Rotterdam the same day. He was buried on 12 May at the General Cemetery “Crooswijk”, in Rotterdam
There seem to have been several brothers and or sisters of the Captain who were noted on the death notification of 1925, J . Pauw, J.M. Pauw, A. Pauw – Noordhof, and J. Pauw & Children from Kota Radja Dutch East Indies.
- (a) Additional Genealogy E.H Kruidhof.
- (b) Comportementen boek Kweekschool voor de Zeevaart as held by the City Archives of Amsterdam.
- (c) Stamboek Personnel records of the Holland Amerika Lijn as held by the Municipal Archives of the City of Rotterdam.
- (d) Various newspapers via Delpher.
- (e) Photos from the authors collection.
- (f) Photo via Nephew Mr. Taco Mesdag.
- (g) Mrs. Marianne v d Scheer. (Daughter of the Johanna Pauw the 3rd daughter of Captain Pauw)
Sailing List: (c)
Date: Function: Ship: Wages and/or remarks.
07 Aug. 1902 Cadet Noordam 10,–
16 Oct. 1902 Cadet Rotterdam 10,–
14 Feb. 1903 Cadet Soestdijk 15,–
12 Sep. 1903 Temporary dismissed for school did not pass the exam.
29 Dec. 1903 Act. 4th. Officer Statendam 20,–
16 May. 1904 Act. 4th. Officer Sloterdijk 20,–
29 Jun. 1904 Temporary dismissed to go to school. Passed exam for 3rd Mate on July 1904.
11 Aug. 1904 4th. Officer Potsdam 30,–
19 Nov. 1904 4th. Officer Statendam 30,–
21 Dec. 1904 Temporary dismissed to join the Dutch Royal Navy.
03 Jan. 1905 Placed for a 3 month exercise on board ss Gier of the Navy Reserve.
05 Apr. 1905 4th. Officer Amsterdam 30,–
27 Apr. 1905 4th. Officer Soestdijk 30,–
05 May 1905 4th. Officer Potsdam 30,–
19 Jul. 1905 4th. Officer Noordam 30,–
17 Jan. 1906 Act. 3rd officer Rijndam 40,–
15 Aug. 1906 3rd. officer Amsteldijk 40,–
30 Nov. 1906 Temporary dismissed to go to school passed for 2nd Mates ticket 21 Feb. 1907.
25 Feb. 1907 3rd. Officer Nieuw Amsterdam 50,–
10 Apr. 1907 3rd. officer Sloterdijk 50,–
13 Jul. 1907 Act. 2nd officer Sloterdijk 60,–
13 Feb. 1909 2nd officer Potsdam 60,–
03 Mar. 1909 Temporary dismissed to go to school. On 22 April failed exam
Note (in the HR records) : this failure to pass should absolutely not have any negative consequences for this person.
03 May.1909 2nd Officer Sr. Rotterdam 70,–
06 Dec. 1909 Temporary dismissed to go to school passed for first mate’s ticket on 9 March 1910
17 Mar. 1910 Act. Chief Officer Amsteldijk 100,–
26 Jun. 1910 Temporary dismissed to go to the Dutch Royal Navy.
08 Oct. 1910 Act. Chief Officer Zijldijk 100,–
01 Jan. 1911 Due to restructuring of wages 130,–
16 Apr. 1911 Chief Officer Zijldijk 140,–
03 Nov. 1911 Chief Officer Rotterdam 140,–
29 Dec. 1911 Chief Officer Nieuw Amsterdam 140,–
12 Feb. 1912 Chief Officer Sloterdijk 140,–
10 Apr. 1912 Temporary dismissed for Royal Navy.
30 Aug. 1912 Chief Officer Rotterdam 150,–
01 Apr. 1913 Temporary dismissed.
24 Apr. 1913 Wages increased to 175,–
24 Apr. 1913 Chief Officer Noordam 175,–
09 Jan. 1914 Wages increased to 190,–
01 Aug. 1914 Due to mobilization of the Dutch forces temporary dismissed to go to the Dutch Royal Navy.
17 Dec. 1914 Act. Captain Waaldijk 250,–
20 Oct. 1915 Temporary dismissed for the Dutch Royal Navy.
01 Dec. 1918 Dismissed from military service and on standby,300,- wage increase
07 Feb. 1919 Captain Amsteldijk 300,–
01 Jul. 1919 Captain Amsteldijk 625,–
01 Jan. 1920 Captain Amsteldijk 650,–
15 Oct. 1920 Captain Amsteldijk 675,–
15 Aug. 1921 Captain Vechtdijk 675,–
16 Oct. 1921 Wages decreased to 610,–
16 Jan. 1922 Captain Koudekerk 610,– (Holl. Br. India Line)
01 Mar. 1922 Temporary ashore
08 Mar. 1922 Captain Boschdijk 610,-
ED: the Boschdijk was only delivered in October, hence he was re-assigned to the ss Breedijk
15 Mar. 1922 Wages decreased to 585,–
Per movement book 22: on Breedijk (First Captain) 15 Mar – 01 June
01 Jun. 1922 Temporary ashore Placed on board HMNS Cornelis Denkbl ??? for one month
01 Jul. 1922 Temporary ashore
02 Nov. 1922 Captain Binnendijk 585,–
05 Mar. 1923 Ashore due to illness 585,–
12 Mar. 1923 Captain Drechtdijk 585,– relieve joins at Glasgow.
14 Jun. 1923 Captain Koudekerk 625,– VNS
17 Jul. 1923 Ashore Royal Navy.
08 Sep. 1923 Captain Vechtdijk 585,– transferred via the Burgerdijk
10 Oct. 1924 Ashore 585,– to Boston.
16 Oct. 1924 Captain Grootendjk 585,–
08 Sept. 1924 Captain Bilderdijk 585,–
11 Oct. 1924 Temporary ashore.
16 Oct. 1924 Captain Grootendijk 585,–
01 Mar. 1925 Promoted to Lieutenant – Commander Dutch Royal Navy .
09 May.1925 Deceased on board while sailing through the English channel.
Dutch Royal Navy career: (d)
1903 Dec. 03 Placed on Hr. Ms. training ship Gier Extraordinary Ensign First Class..
1904 Dec. 21 Placed –unknown
1905 Jan. 03 Placed for 3 months on board Hr. Ms. Gier
1906 Apr. 03 Released from Hr. Ms. Gier
1908 Oct. 12 Promoted to Extra Ordinary Ensign First Class
1909 Dec. 06 Placed – unknown
1910 Aug. 26 Placed on board Hr. Ms. Van Speyk
1910 Oct. 07 Released from Hr. Ms. Van Speyk
1912 Apr. 15 Placed on board Hr. Ms. Hefring
1912 May. 17 Placed on board Hr. Ms. Evertsen
1912 Jun. 15 Placed on Hr. Ms Heemsckerck
1912 Sep. 28 Released from Hr. Ms. Heemsckerck
1912 Oct. 21 Promoted to Lieutenant (*)
1914 Aug. 01 Assigned to Royal Navy Reserve for the duration of the war.
1914 Aug. 15 Placed on board Hr.Ms. Bellona.
1916 (at least by May) in charge of Pilot Boat No. 6 of the Royal Dutch Navy. Stayed so until at least mdi 1917.
It is assumed (subject to verification) that the Navy pulled their regular Commissioned Officers off all the auxiliary ships so they were available for war patrols. These functions where then taken over by the Reserve Officer/
1918 Dec. 18 Dismissed from service
1920 Jun. 14 Allowed to fly the Dutch Royal Navy Reserve flag on board the merchant ship he will command as long as he is in service of the Holland America Line.
1925 Feb. 17 promoted to Lieutenant – Commander (*)
(*) together with C.J de Kup also HAL Captain
Updated: 31 March 2021