Chief Officer Walter Oliver on the bridge of the GATINEAU PARK
Walter Oliver was born in England and went to sea at age 15 in 1925. He sailed on many ships, including the ANGLO COLOMBIAN, ANGLO INDIAN, GAMBIA RIVER, VIKING STAR, CANADIAN BEAVER, GRAINTON, M. F. THERESE, W. B. WALKER, BRITISH ADVOCATE, HENRY DUNDAS, ANGLO PERUVIAN, ALBERTOLITE, LADY ALEXANDRA, and CATALA. While serving with the HENRY DUNDAS he was stationed for awhile at Palembang in Sumatra.
He joined the EMPRESS OF ASIA as Fourth Officer on January 13, 1941 when the ship had completed its last Pacific crossing.
He remained with the EMPRESS OF ASIA until the loss of the ship at Singapore on February 6th, 1942. He was removed from the burning ship by HMAS YARRA and was taken to Singapore where, on February 11th, 1942 he took the HONG KWONG on a successful voyage to Batavia in Java. At Batavia the HONG KWONG was requisition by naval authorities for service in the defence of Java. Following the requisition of the HONG KWONG, he became a member of a party of EMPRESS OF ASIA survivors that obtained passage on the WHANGPU and sailed for Fremantle on February 20th, 1942 and successfully reached the Australian port on March 4th, 1942. From Fremantle he traveled to Sydney and then obtained passage to British Columbia on the SALAMOA arriving at Vancouver during May 1942.
Following his return to Canada he joined the Park ships and sailed on the GATINEAU PARK, MOHAWK PARK, ALDER PARK, and RIVERVIEW PARK in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres.
Walter Oliver received the Atlantic Star, Africa Star, and Burma Star and was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire an awarded an MBE for his service aboard the EMPRESS OF ASIA.
Dr John Blatherwick�s comprehensive web site on Canadian navy honours and awards notes the following:
*OLIVER, Walter, Chief Officer - Member - Order of the British Empire (MBE) - Canadian National Steamship 'Gatineau Park' - Awarded as per Canada Gazette of 10 June 1944 and London Gazette of 8 June 1944.
"War emergency service in Far East, during which time his ship was sunk by enemy action. Devotion to duty. Long meritorious service."
*Reference: John Blatherwick - http://www.rcnvr.com/
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