In 1938 Fred did not know it but he sailed on his last trip from Holland and would not return to his native land for over seven years. In May 1940, as his vessel was en route to his home port of Rotterdam, the captain received a signal to make for Weymouth Bay, UK, as the Nazis had attacked Holland. Because the small Dutch army had dared to resist their invasion the Nazis had obliterated the centre of Rotterdam by air bombardment.
Eventually Fred found himself in the port of Tilbury, Essex, awaiting further orders and during his ship's extensive stay in port he met and fell in love with an English girl, Edna.
His ship was instructed to make for Canada and visited some of the larger ports on the US Eastern Seaboard where they took on board several thousand tons of scrap iron. They passed through the Panama Canal to Kobe, Japan, where ironically the entire cargo of scrap iron went into a factory specializing in the manufacture of armour plating for the Japanese navy.
On arrival at the port of Tandjong Priok (port of Jakarta) in the then Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) Fred volunteered to serve on ships supplying Britain with food and war materials. He made several North Atlantic convoy crossings from the US Eastern Seaboard to Liverpool but although one convoy came under sustained U-boat attack his ship escaped serious damage. During a brief shore leave whilst in Liverpool he became engaged to Edna.
Fred's ship was eventually taken out of convoy duty and ordered to make for Java in the Dutch East Indies where he was transferred to a German vessel which had been confiscated by the Dutch Royal Navy.
From Java he went to Singapore where they took on board a cargo destined for Liverpool. The ship left Singapore to make for a convoy rendezvous in the Gulf of Dakar, via Capetown. A few days out of Dakar the ship was hit midships by a torpedo killing the entire engine room crew on duty at that time, including a colleague who was Fred's closest friend. The ship was abandoned in calm and orderly fashion and all survivors were picked up by a British corvette. ††††††††