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Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

Scriwanek, L.M.J.

Captain L. M.J Sciwanek.

Captain L. M.J Sciwanek. (d)

Captain Scriwanek (First names Leonardus, Marinus, Johannes) was born in Rotterdam on 10 July 1891.His father worked as an administrator for an Import Company called: H.HL Hartog & Fesel. (a)

The name Scriwanek is not Dutch but originates from Bohemia an area located near the South East German border. His Forefather Johann Baptist Scriwanek came from there and was a musician who played the Oboe. Around 1790 he arrived in the Netherlands and stayed. Most of the family has been Musicians or Military since that date. Most remained in the Netherlands but some went to France and Switzerland. (b)


However Capt. Scriwanek decided to go to sea and sailed one year as a Sailor O.S (Ordinary Sailor, which means not yet skilled) with the Holland America Line and then went to the Maritime Academy in Amsterdam for his 3rd mates license. He passed the exam on 29 March 1911. For reasons unknown, he did not return directly to the Holland America Line but first sailed between Aug. 1911 to Mar. 1913 for the Kon. West. Indische Mail as 4th and 3rd officer. The KWIM was a company which sailed from Amsterdam to the Caribbean Sea. (a)

He was then called for his national service for six months and served with the Royal Navy until 25 Oct.  1913. After discharge he applied with Holland America and was accepted as 3rd officer on 8 Dec. 1913. (a)

This photo was taken in July 1919

This photo was taken in July 1919 (c)

This photo was taken in july 1919 just before he married to Adele Johanna Senna on 21 aug. 1919.

Three childeren were born, Bep, Adele, and a son Wim. (Mr. Edwin van Willigen, mentioned under credits, who provided most of the personal information, was the 2nd son of Adele)

The time line of his career (not yet complete) is listed below. His first appointed as Captain, as a fill in was on 19 Jan. 1927.

Due to the deteriorating world’s economy, the company had to lay up many ships and as a result he was not promoted until the late 1930’s.




Information to be added when the voyages of the 1930’s are transcribed.

chief officer blueAs a result he spent a very long time as a chief officer on the various ships of the company.

This is the winter uniform for ships officers. (c)  The position of chief Officer is denoted by the 4 pips on the lapels and the 3 strips on the arms. The stripes are all around denoting having spent time in the Royal Navy. I have not been able to find any evidence yet of him having had a commission there.







The captain become known to the outside world when he was in command of the cargoship Burgerdyk (see ship section for details) and it was torpedoed.


ss Burgerdijk. One of the 10 B class ships built between 1920 and 1923.

ss Burgerdijk. One of the 10 B class ships built between 1920 and 1923.



The Burgerdyk had left Rotterdam on 09 Jan. 1940 for a voyage to New York carrying a quantity of gold (approx. worth 5 mln. Guilders) from the Dutch National Bank. With the threat of a war with Germany the DNB had embarked on a program of transferring step by step all the Dutch Gold Reserves to New York and did so mainly on the ships of the Holland America Line.

The U48 as seen from the Burgerdijk

The U48 as seen from the Burgerdijk (b) (c)

On the way back the ship was stopped on 10 February by the German submarine U 48 (Ltz 1klasse Herbert Schultze). The ship was about 15 miles south of Bishops Rock on the South English coast.





The Burgerdijk was stopped just after 5 pm. ships time for an inspection of the sailing papers and cargo manifests. The Chief Officer was rowed to the Submarine by four sailors. Obviously the commander of the UB 48 did not like what he saw or was not interested and ordered the Burgerdijk to be abandoned in 30 minutes before he would torpedo the ship.

Lowering the Boats (c)

Another view from the Boat deck showing the submarine bouncing on the waves. (b) (c)

The captain advised all on board to grab one bag with belongings and then ordered everybody into the boats.








Using the accomodation ladder to disembark (c)

Using the accommodation ladder to embark the Edam from the lifeboats.  (b) (c)

At 18.40 hrs. the Burgerdijk was torpedoed. This was a flagrant violation of the neutrality laws as the Kingdom of the Netherlands was not involved in the war.




Three boats had been lowered and while tied together they drifted on the water of the North Atlantic Ocean during a cold winters night. The next morning around 07.30 a ship appeared on the horizon which turned out to be the Edam (IV) of the Holland America Line. All made it safely on board.

Lifeboats coming alongside the ss Edam (IV)

Lifeboats coming alongside the ss Edam (IV) (b) (c)

This ship has left Boston in the USA at the same time but the Burgerdijk had made the faster passage causing the Edam to arrive at the scene only the next morning.




The Edam (IV) continued the voyage towards the British Inspection area at the Downs. Here the whole Burgerdijk crew could transfer to a Passenger Cargo ship of the KNSM (Royal Dutch Boat) the ss Boskoop who landed everybody in Amsterdam on 15 feb. 1940 (c

Captain Scriwanek coming ashore in Amsterdam.

Coming ashore in Amsterdam. (e) From Left to Right: Chief Officer Dijk, the Nautical Inspector of the Hal Mr. Henken and Capt. Scriwanek.

Remainder of the war and post war years history, still to be traced.

Near the end of his career he sailed as Master on the Veendam & Volendam

Captains Reception during the voyage

Captains Reception during the voyage











Company regulations required (until recently) that captains retired when reaching their 60th. Birthday.Captain Scriwanek reached that age on 10 July 1951.

After his retirement he moved house from Rotterdam to Driebergen (small hamlet, east of Utrecht) in the centre of the Netherlands. He continued to live there until shortly before his death. He passed away in a nearby hospital in Zeist on 11 Oct. 1982. (b)


Later in retirement

Later in retirement














(a)    Hal Archives. Officers Stamboek

(b)   Edwin van Willigen (Grandson)

(c)    C. de Neef Asst. Engineer on the ss Burgerdijk

(d)    Via D.P.G van der Horst.

Other:  Collection Capt. Albert.

Sailing Dates: (a)

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

08 dec 1913    3rd officer                    Zijldijk                        60,–

03 aug 1914    temporary dismissed for national service due to the mobilization

08 sep 1914     wage increase                                                  70,–

08 sep 1914     3rd officer                    Zijldijk                        70,–

25 mar1915     wage increase                                                  85,–

08 may 1915   temp. ashore

21 may 1915   3rd officer                    Maartensdijk               85,–

13 sep 1915     wage increase                                                    90,–

05 may 1916   wage increase                                                  100,–

05 may 1916   2nd officer                    Maartensdijk             100,-

24 nov 1916    wage increase                                                   110,–

06 apr 1917     Temp.  dismissed to go to school for 2nd mates license

15 may 1917   rejected for 4 months

08 may 1917   made available for the military authorities.

23 may 1917   2nd officer                    Rotterdam                   110,–

25 may 1917   2nd officer                    Gorredijk                     110,–

01 aug 1917    wage increase                                                     120,-

Due to the confiscation of the Gorredijk returned to Holland with the ss Nieuw Amsterdam and from 12 apr 1918            Temporary ashore to study for 2nd mates license (on standby money) passed exam on 13 dec. 1918

16 dec 1918    2nd officer                    Maasdijk                     120,–

10 jan 1919     2nd officer                    Rotterdam                   120,–

01 feb 1919     2nd officer                    Noordam                     120,–

01 may 1919   put on standby obtains first mate license on 16 jul. 1919

17 jul 1919      2nd officer                    Rotterdam                   120,-    administration

12 nov 1919    2ND officer                   Maasdijk                     210,–

03 dec 1919    2nd Officer                   Waaldijk                      210,–               Java – New York

01 jan 1920     wage increase                                                  220,–

25 mar 1920    act. Chief officer         Waaldijk                      280,–

07 jun 1920     2nd officer                    Warszawa                    220,–

09 jul 1920      ashore                                                                          12 days leave

21 jul 1920      2nd officer                    Rijndam                      220,–

01 aug 1920    2nd officer                    Noorderdijk                220,–

01 jan 1920     Wage increase                                                 260,–

16 aug 1921    Temporary ashore ill    with leave until 24 aug. 1921

29 aug 1921    2nd officer                    Nieuw Amsterdam      260,–

01 sep 1921     wage decrease                                                 248,–

16 oct 1921     wage decrease                                                 236,–

05 nov 1921    act. Chief officer         Moerdijk                     288,–

04 apr 1922     wage decrease                                                 285,–

21 sep 1921     2nd officer                    ashore                          230,–

16 oct 1921     2nd officer                    Boschdijk                    230,–               at Belfast

23 oct 1921     2nd officer                    Rijndam                      230,–

08 jan 1922     temporary ashore

01 mar 1923    2nd officer                    Nieuw Amsterdam      230,–

19 jan 1924     act. Chief officer         Zijldijk                        285,–

31 jan 1924     act. Chief officer         Grootendijk                 285,–

01 may 1924   act Chief officer          Blijdendijk                  285,–

23 jun 1924     2nd officer                    Blijdendijk                  285,–

10 aug 1924    ashore                                                              230,–

03 sep 1924     act. Chief officer         Burgerdijk                   285,–

05 sep 1924     act. Chief officer         Blijdendijk                  285,–

26 sep 1924     act. Chief officer         Vechtdijk                    285,–   at New York

25 mar 1925    act. Chief officer         Stadsdijk                     285,–   at New York

10 sep 1925     act. Chief officer         Rijndam                      285,–   (as passenger to New York)

23 sep 1925     Temporary ashore                                            285,–

05 mar 1925    promoted to Chief Officer

17 Oct 1925    act. Chief Officer        Boschdijk                    285,-

01 mar 1926    Chief Officer              Boschdijk                    285,–

22 mar 1926    Chief Officer              Warszawa                    285,–

13 may 1926   Chief Officer              Volendam                   285,–   (as passenger to New york)

26 may 1926   Chief Officer              Bilderdijk                    285,–

19 jan 1927     act. Captain                 Bilderdijk                    285,–               4,– premium a day

01 feb 1927     temporary ashore

Train from Antwerp

09 feb 1927     Chief Officer              Bilderdijk                    285,–

01 apr 1927     wage increase                                                  295,–

11 aug 1927    Chief officer               ashore                          295,–   regular leave

19 aug 1927    Chief Officer              Bilderdijk                    295,–

02 jan 1928     Chief Officer              Moerdijk                     295,–

16 sep 1928     Chief officer               ashore                          295,–   regular leave

24 sep 1928     Chief officer               Moerdijk                     295,–  (joined in London)

01 jan 1929     Wage increase                                                 305,–

27 nov 1929    Chief officer               Leerdam                      305,–

01 jan 1930     Wage increase                                                 315,–

03 nov 1930    Temporary ashore                                            315,–

03 jan 1931     Chief Officer              Breedijk                      315,–

20 jan 1931     Temporary ashore                                            315,–

26 jan 1931     Chief Officer              Blommersdijk              315,–

29 jan 1931     Chief Officer              Delftdijk                     315,–

19 dec 1931    Wage decreased                                              262,50

02 apr  1933    Temporary ashore                                            262,50

In charge of the laid up ships

28 jun 1933     Wage reduced with 5% in acc. with circulaire no 929 dated 27 jun. 1933

02 aug 1933    Chief Officer              Boschdijk                    262,50 with the ship to sea

28 dec 1933    Wage reduced with 5% in acc. with circulaire no 929 dated 27 jun. 1936

04 feb 1934     Temporary ashore                                            236.50 regular leave

07 feb 1934     Chief Officer              Leerdam                      236,50

01 apr 1934     Temporary ashore                                            236,25

17 apr 1934     Chief Officer              Boschdijk                    236.50

01 oct 1934     Wage decreased                                              226,75

05 oct 1934     Chief Officer              Delftdijk                     226,75

19 may 1935   Temporary ashore                                            226,75 regular leave

12 jul 1935      Chief Officer              Maasdam                     226.75

30 aug 1935    Chief Officer              Delftdijk                     226,75

25 nov 1935    Temporary ashore                                            227,75

03 dec 1936    Chief Officer              Statendam                   226,75

12 may 1937   Temporary ashore                                            226,75 regular leave

24 may 1937   Chief Officer              Rotterdam                   226,75

01 oct. 1937    According to new regulation                          255,25

all year 1938  Chief Officer             Rotterdam

until feb 1939 then Chief Officer  Statendam

To be completed when information becomes available.

06 jan. 1940    Captain                        Burgerdyk

1941 – 1942 – 1943 Captain               Blommersdyk

1948                Captain                        Arnedyk

1950                Captain                        Veendam / Volendam



  1. Edwin van Willigen

    December 30, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    I’m a grandson of captain L.M.J. Scriwanek and have photographs of my grandfather and the meeting of the Burgerdijk with the German U-boot U-48 that torpedoed it.

  2. Photo ‘Using the accomodation ladder to disembark’.
    According the maker of this picture it was the embarkation of the Edam, leaving the lifeboats.
    NB: My father was 3rd officer on the Burgerdyk.

    Best regards, Bert Reedijk

    • Good sorry about that, I will change it, thank you for spotting the error

      Thank you for reading my blog.

      Captain Albert

      ps. You are not by any chance related to Captain Reedijk ??

  3. John van Kuijk (archiefcom "de Lijn")

    November 11, 2018 at 2:44 am

    Small addition:

    23 april 1940 Captain Breedyk

    (Bron: List or manifest of aliens employed on the vessel as members of crew.

    Breedyk arriving at New York august 13th from Glasgow


    • Hallo John
      Please check if the year is correct. Could it be 1941 or maybe the Manifest is wrong

      The hal archives give voyage 89 Scriwanek, Dep. Rdam on 25 jan. Sailed for Antwerp, then Downs (29 jan -1 feb) – arrived NY on 17 feb.
      Coastal to Chester – Norf – Balti – Boston – Norfolk
      Back in New York between 28 feb and 07 march)
      Crossing to Europe – Downs (23 mar – 16 apr) – BSM (16 – 17 apr) –
      Arriving Rotterdam on 20 april.
      Departed Rotterdam again on 26 april, sailed via Dunkirk to New York arrival 02 May.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

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