The following story and pictures were contributed by Gerry Ayre, (firstname.lastname@example.org),
a former member of 5 Squadron.
Pictures are of the "Joyita", a vessel with a strange and checkered history, and part of 5 Squadron history.
The book "Joyita" should be available in public libraries. 5 Squadron searched many hundreds of hours looking for this vessel.
She sailed from Western Samoa for the Tokalau Islands, then mysteriously disappeared.
It was eventually found adrift by the "Chinaman" seen in the picture towing
the Joyita. No sign of her crew or passengers were ever seen again..........
Her Captain was reportedly seen in Singapore months later by someone who knew the Captain well.........but it was never confirmed.
mystery still baffles (1950-1959)
|There were 25 people on board the Joyita when it left Apia Port, Western Samoa on October 3rd, 1955.|
|She was bound for the Tokelau
Islands, 270 miles to the North.|
|The Tokelauans were in a state of
emergency. Medical supplies were urgently needed and foodstuff such as flour
and sugar were dangerously low.|
|They also had 70 tonnes of cut copra
waiting for export - copra which was the backbone of their small economy.|
|The Joyita had on board a
representative of the copra buyers, Mr Williams.|
|The luxury yacht was built in 1931
by the Wilmington Boat Works in Los Angeles for a movie tycoon. Joyita is a
Spanish word meaning `little jewel' and that she was. In 1941, during the
Second World War, she was taken by the American Navy to Pearl Harbour as a
|Dr Katharine Luomala of the
University of Hawaii bought her in 1952 and chartered the boat to her
friend, Captain T H Miller. He was popularly known as Dusty Miller and was
master of the vessel at the time of the tragedy.|
|The 70-tonnes motor vessel was
carrying 16 crew members and 9 passengers. There were two children and one
woman aboard when she met her fate.|
|The Joyita was due in Tokelau on
October 5th. On the 6th a message from Fakaofo Port reported that she had
|The Royal New Zealand Air Forces'
`Sunderland' from Laucala Bay immediately flew to Apia, then across to
Fakaofo and back without sighting anything.|
|From the 6th to 12th October, when
the search was called off, nearly 100,000 square miles of ocean was covered.|
|For 36 days there was no trace of
the Joyita and the local press began to "write her off as yet another
of the mysterious tragedies of the Pacific.|
|" But on November 10th, Captain
Gerald Douglas, Master of the `Tuvalu', enroute from Suva to Funafuti
sighted a vessel drifting North of Vanua Levu. It was the Joyita -
waterlogged and deserted.|
I had been aboard the Joyita a year before she disappeared.
As fate would have it I never took part in the search for her. Most of the Squadron was flying out of Samoa.
I stayed in Fiji as my wife was in hospital with appendicitis.
Sgt. Frankie Doyle, Flt. Lt. Armfelt and myself were the first to board this
vessel when she was towed into Fiji. It was scarry opening hatches etc, looking for some sign of the missing twelve people or so who should have
been on board her. We found nothing, not even a scrap of paper or a pencil. She was clean, no rags, no nothing.
The Joyita did sail again around Fiji. Again another story.
Cannot remember what year this happened....
RNZAF CRUMP NANCOLLAS SERVICE MOTAT FIJI UNION ISLANDS GUAM JOYITA FOF SELETAR VANUATU WRECKS REICHELT LINKS