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

Wepster, J.P. biography in progress


Capt. J.P. Wepster Sr.

Capt. J.P. Wepster Sr. 




Capt. Jan. Pieter. Wepster (1886-1942)

Born on the 10th. of July 1886 in the Dutch town of Stellendam. Before he joined the HAL, he sailed for the Kon. Neth. West Indies Mail Dienst. ( Royal Dutch West Indies Mail service to the Colonies in the Caribbean)

He obtained his 3rd mates (3rd officer) certificate on 04 Nov. 1905 and his 2nd Mates on 29 July 1908. He joined Holland America Line on 09 July 1909 in the ss Sommelsdijk (I) 

Short Biography:

On 01 Dec. 1910 he joined the Royal Dutch Nay as an ensign and is placed on board HMS Atjeh.  He had been promoted to 2nd officer on 9 july 1907 while still sailing for the KNIM. Passed his exam for 1st mate (Dutch captains license) on 29 Nov. 1911 and he HAL promotes him to Chief Officer on 07 Feb. 1913.

On 09 August 1914 he is temporary dismissed from HAL for Military service. As the threat of Imperial Germany invading Holland faded, he returned to HAL. On 29 Oct. 1916 he is honored for saving the crew of the Vigilant in bad weather while he was chief Officer of the ss Rijndam (I).

The small Gold medal as issued for rescues at sea

The small Gold medal as issued for rescues at sea

He received the “Presidential Binoculars” from the USA and the -small – Golden Medal of the Dutch South Holland Lifesaving Society.







Promotion to Captain follows on 16 July 1921 on the ss Zijldijk. He serves for 21 years as a Master retiring from the ss Nieuw Amsterdam in 1942. Because he joined in 1909 and was phased in sideways, he could not retire with the rank of commodore as he was not the most senior in HAL – years in the company. His only time on the flagship Nieuw Amsterdam was a bridging period between the old commodore retiring ( Capt. Bijl) and the new commodore coming. (Capt. Barendse)

He came from the ss Volendam, which he had commanded since 1938. The most wellknown exploit of the ship was the planned transfer of 320 childeren from war torn England to Canada. On board were 879 souls of which 273 crew, 320 children and their parents and guardians and 286 other passengers. The ship being the largest in the convoy (OB-205) had the convoy commodore Admiral G.H. Knowles on board. She sailed from Liverpool.

Around midnight 31 Aug. 1940 the ship was hit by a torpedo of the U-60 under command of Oberleutnant Adalbert Schnee about 200 miles West of Bloody Foreland NW. of Ireland. (56°04′ N. en 09°52′ W.) A large hole was torn in hold nbr 1. and hold 1 & 2 started to fill. It was decided to evacuate the ship which was accomplished under great discipline. It help that the weather was very good and the sea calm. All on board where picked up by the three ships, the freighter ss Bassethound, the tanker ss Valldemosa and the Norwegian freighter Olaf Fostenes. All were brought to safety. One crewmember, the purser Mr.Baron, perished  as he lost his footing while climbing the ladder into the lifeboat.

For his work on the Volendam he received the Dutch Cross of Honor with clasp (later replaced by the Bronze Lion). He also was an Officer in Order of Orange Nassau which is the highest ranking a  civilian can receive who is not a civil servant. The British Government gave the same recognition in the form of being an Honorary Officer in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE).

From the Nieuw Amsterdam he transfered to the ms Zaandam to sail home as an civilian. The Zaamdam (Capt. Stamperius) was first engaged in refugee transports on behalf of the Dutch Government from the Dutch East Indies to Australia. Then she came under control of the Allied Command.  The ms Zaandam departed from Capetown in November 1942 where Capt. Wepster had boarded. While the ship was on it’s way to New York it was torpedoed on 2 November 1942 near Recife off the Brazilian coast by the German submarine  U 174. of the 310 people on board 135 perished including Capt. Stamperius and Capt. Wepster.


Other Decorations:

30 January 1929 awarded the Silver Medal for meteorological Observations from the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute.

I do not know yet much about the family. There were at least two sons. One also went to sea with Holland America  and another son, Ben, who emigrated to Canada in 1930’s.

Ships and sailing dates:

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

09 jul. 1909          2nd officer                            Sommelsdijk                      60,–

17 sep. 1909       2nd officer                            Sloterdijk                             60,–

29 apr. 1910       2nd officer                            Noordam                             60,–

27 nov. 1910       Temporary dismissed for Royal Navy Reserve and 1st mates study.

Passed exam on 29 june 1911

01 jan. 1911        Because of a change in the wages                            110,–

31 jul. 1911          2nd officer                            Maartensdijk                     115,–

08 nov. 1911       2nd Officer                           Rijndam                               115,–

27 apr. 1912       wage increased                to                                  125,–

16 aug. 1912       2nd officer                            Noordam                             125,–

29 nov. 1912       Wage increased to                                                          130,–

11 jan. 1913        Temporary dismissed

07 feb. 1913        Promoted to chief Officer                                            140,–

07 feb. 1913        Chief Officer                      Soestdijk                             140,–

17 dec.  1913      wage increase                                                                   150,–

29 jun. 1914        Wage increase                                                                  160,–

09 aug. 1914       temporary dismissed to due to mobilization        175,–

10 sep.t 191        Chief Officer                      Zijldijk                                   160,–

05 feb. 1915        Wage increased to                                                          175,–

08 sep. 1915       Wage increase                                                                  190,–

18 mar. 1916       Wage increase                                                                  200,–

12 may 1916       Chief Officer                      Zaandijk                               200,–

19 jul.    1916       Chief Officer                      Rijndam                               200,-

04 jun.  1917       Chief Officer                      Andijk                                   200,–

21 jun.  1917       Chief Officer                      Nieuw Amsterdam          200,–

03 jan 1918          Temporary Ashore                                                          on leave

20 feb. 1918        Chief Officer                      Noordam                             200,–

21 may 1918       Chief Officer                      Nieuw Amsterdam          200,–

30 may 1918       Chief Officer                      Andijk                                   200,–

23 jul. 1918          Chief Officer                      Nieuw Amsterdam          200,–

01 jul 1919           Wage increase                                                                  300,–

01 jan. 1920        Wage increase                                                                  330,–

29 sept. 1920      Temporary shore             on leave for 1 month and 5 days

01 jan. 1920        Wage increase                                                                  350,-

15 Oct. 1920        Wage increase                                                                  370,–

04 nov. 1920       Chief Officer                      Nieuw Amsterdam          370,–

16 jun. 1921        Captain                                 Zijldijk                                   650,–

16 oct. 1921        Wage decrease                                                                 585,–

16 feb. 1922        Captain                                 Zaandijk                               585,–

05 apr. 1922        Wage decrease                                                                 560,–

11 aug. 1922       Captain                                 Sommelsdijk                      560,–

28 dec. 1923       Captain                                 Blommersdijk                    560,-

13 jun. 1924        Captain                                 drechtdijk                           560,–

11 oct. 1924        Captain                                 Bilderdijk                             560,–

03 dec. 1924       Captain                                 Kinderdijk                           560,–

09 oct. 1926        Temporary ashore

24 oct. 1926        Captain                                 Kinderdijk                           560,–

04 apr. 1927        Wage increase                                                                  580,–

03 jul.    1927       Temporary ashore           on leave

14 jul.    1927       Captain                                 Kinderdijk                           580,–

09 nov. 1927       Captain                                 ashore                                  580,–                    on leave

19 mar. 1928       Captain                                 Noorderdijk                       580,–

01 jan. 1929        Wage increase                                                                  600,–

30 aug. 1929       Captain                                 Eemdijk                                                600,–

01 jan. 1930        Wage increase                                                                  620,–

30 jun. 1930        Temporary ashore                                                           620,–    in hospital at Port Angeles

14 jul, 1930          Captain                                 Eemdijk                                                620,–

15 feb. 1931        Temporary ashore                                                           620,–

In 3 years until 19 mar 1931 sailed 2 years and 9 months

18 May. 1931      Captain                                 Delftdijk                               620,–

19 dec. 1931       Wage decrease                                                                 496,–

03 aug. 1932       Temporary ashore                                           70%        496,–

23 aug. 1932       Captain                                 Drechtdijk                           496,–

01 nov, 1932       Wage decrease                                                                 446,–

13 Dec. 1932       Captain                                 Burgerdijk                           446,–

11 mar. 1933       Temporary ashore                                           70%        446,–

10 may.                1933       Captain                                 drechtdijk                           446,–

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

28 dec. 1933       Wage decreased with 5% in acc. with circulaire no 929 dated 27 june 1933

01 oct. 1934        Wage decrease                                                                 385,50

06 nov. 1935       Temporary shore                                                             385,50   regular leave

01 feb. 1936        Captain                                 Drechtdijk                           385,50

17 feb. 1936        Captain                                 Edam                                     385,50

24 feb. 1936        Temporary shore                                                             385,50   regular leave

11 mar. 1936       Captain                                 Damsterdijk                       385,50

Exact dates of following ships to follow:

Volendam September 1938 to April 1942

Nieuw Amsterdam May 1942 – October 1942


  • a. Holland America Line Archives Rotterdam
  • b. Mr. H.Maazen  (nephew of the Captain and whose father was also a HAL Captain)
  • c. NRC Handelsblad (Dutch Newspaper)

Last updated 01 Feb. 2016





  1. Capt. J.P. Wepster (1886-1942) was my great-uncle. His nephew B.M. Maazen was my father. A short bio of Jan Pieter Wepster in Dutch.
    Op 1 dec 1910 als adelborst 1e klasse Kon. Marinereserve geplaatst aan boord van Hr. Ms Atjeh. Komt bij de Holland America Lijn van de NMI. Diploma derde rang 4 nov 1905, tweede rang 29 juli 1908. Op 9 juli 1907 bevorderd tot 2e stuurman. Geslaagd op 29 nov 1911 voor 1e stuurman, bevorderd tot 1e stuurman op 7 feb 1913.
    Op 9 aug 1914 tijdelijk ontslagen voor de Militie. Op 29 okt 1916 toegekend de Amerikaanse “Presidential Binoculars” voor de redding van de Vigilant als Eerste Stuurman van de Rijndam, bij stormwind en hoge zee. Hiervoor tevens toegekend de kleine gouden medaille van de ZHRM. Op 16 juni 1921 bevorderd tot Kapitein, eerste reis met de Zijldijk. Laatst gezagvoerder van de Nieuw Amsterdam.
    In 1940 werd de Volendam, onder bevel van kapitein Wepster, ingelegd voor een evacuatietaak van kinderen en had een totaal van 879 opvarenden aan boord waarvan 273 bemanningsleden, 320 kinderen met hun ouders en begeleiders, en 286 andere passagiers. Ze was ook het commandoschip over het konvooi OB-205 met admiraal G. H. Knowles aan boord.
    Omstreeks 00.00 u. op 31 augustus 1940, werd de Volendam getroffen door een torpedo van de U-60, onder bevel van Oberleutnant Adalbert Schnee, op ongeveer 200 kilometer ten westen van Bloody Foreland, ten noordwesten van Ierland, in positie 56°04′ N. en 09°52′ W. De torpedo sloeg in boegruim 1 een enorm gat van 16 bij 10 meter, waardoor er overstromingen in de ruimcompartimenten 1 en 2 waren. Al snel was men genoodzaakt om het schip te verlaten, maar dit bleek geen probleem te zijn, want dit was al geoefend in de haven van Liverpool. De kinderen zongen de “Roll out the Barrel”, totdat ze werden gered door drie andere schepen uit het konvooi, de Britse stoomvrachtvaarder Bassethound, het Britse tankerstoomschip Valldemosa en het Noorse motorvrachtschip Olaf Fostenes, die met hen terugkeerden naar Groot-Brittannië en Canada. Het enige dodelijk ongeval was een bemanningslid, een purser, die zich misstapte in de reddingsboot, overboord viel en verdronk.
    Drager van het kruis van verdienste met gesp, later vervangen door de Bronzen Leeuw. Officier in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau. Honorary Officer in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE).

    • Thank you very much ,

      Do I have your permission to put it on my blog ? with full credits ofcourse. Also do you happen to have a photo of Captain Wepster, as I have not been able to find one yet. If so, could you send a scan to CaptAlbert1@aol.com ? I am still tracing the various ships and captains and almost at the 2nd world war in 1942. As soon as I can all his voyages and ships will go on the blog as well.

      Thank you and much obliged.

      Capt. albert

  2. Dennis Notenboom

    June 2, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    Beste Henk Maazen, zou u mij kunnen contacteren over uw groot-oom? kan via d.notenboom(at)wo2go.nl

    Vriendelijk bedankt alvast!
    Dennis Notenboom
    stichting WO2GO

  3. Jan Piet wepster

    April 21, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    I am the great grandson of Capt. Wepster. My father, Bert Wepster, was the oldest son of Capt. Wepster. My father immigrated to the USA in 1935.

    • Thank you for reading my blog.

      I will contact you from my hobby email with the request if you have any information that will complete what I have
      written thusfar.

      Best regards

      Capt. Albert

  4. Steven Wepster

    March 2, 2022 at 10:15 pm

    Dear Captain Albert,

    Thanks for this story with many recognizable details. As you will know from previous respondents, BM had three sons: Bertus, Arnout, and Jan. I am one of the three siblings of Arnout. Please contact me if you have any further questions.

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