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KONINKLIJK INSTITUUT
voor de
MARINE


ROYAL NETHERLANDS
NAVAL ACADEMY


K I M


[Ben Oostdam's
Autobiography
Years 1950-1952]


TRAINING CRUISE on the AIRCRAFT CARRIER "KAREL DOORMAN", part 3

left:
Nov.23, 1950: Fridaymorning we arrived early. The town looked rather peculiar, with large rectangular houses, built against hills, and yellow in color (probably sandstone?), with balconies. You could see that the town suffered badly from the War, because entire sections consisted of ruins. It was unseemingly quiet and the boulevard, high above us, appeared dead. These boulevards were lined with palmtrees which made the town look oriental, as did the colorful fishingboats in the harbor, some types of cutters and barcantines. Without knowing it yet, I could see that this island has been exposed to many different cultures: Venetian, Arabic, Roman, French and British.
The rowing boats we saw (right) appeared to me peculiarly Venetian. One is illustrated rather clumsily, but the principle is clear: the rower stands upright facing forward and makes his oars - which he keeps crossed in front of him - describe a circular trajector (....above and -----below waterlevel). These little boats are painted bright, have glittering brass rims, and a board with nicely decorated mirror separates the passengers from the rower(s). In the rear there is place for two passengers and the boats swarm through the entire harbor... (next page:) to pick up passengers for the men of war. Of course, they are most useful after the last official "sloop from shore"...
La Valetta
MALTA



(left):
On arrival, all hands were paraded on the flydeck and a 20 shot salute was fired.

Although I had a full day watch, I did manage to see a lot of the island, visited Mdina, the catacombs, St.Paul's Cathedral, St.Mary's (hit by a Stuka bomb during a service attended by 5,000 people...no one hurt, bomb did not explode...) saw the miles of stone walls built by Malthese Knights to fight erosion (soil was imported by ship from Italy and Africa!), and at night we visited rowdy bars with names like "Floriani" and "Klondyke Bar.."

From Nov.20 till Nov.29, we sailed around (more on next page about that), then we returned to La Valetta, where we disembarked Prince Bernhard who had visited us for a two-day inspection visit. On Sat., Dec.2, I visited Sliema, met and talked with numerous friendly Malthese (except that a girl might cross herself if you looked at her "too long"), and attended a roaring cocktail-party where we were allowed to mix with the Dutch and British officers. On Sunday morning, we briefly saw Princess Elizabeth, what all royalty...

to continue to next page, cruise on the Aircraft Carrier "Karel Doorman" - 1950.
BLO fecit 25 VI 1998