Subject: [Mil. History] Looking Back ...WWII (part 1)
Article: Memoirs by Col. AUSA
The author arrived in Paramaribo in the middle of June 1941. The little plane came in from Georgetown, Guyana and landed on the Suriname River as Zanderij airport did not exist yet. There was only the Palace Hotel available. The only Americans living in Paramaribo were the US Vice Consul, Carl Norden and the Pan American Airways representative Syd Newcomb.
Major Hoffman (USA) was assigned to Suriname on temporary orders for 6 months to investigate how secure the bauxite mines were. At that time, more than half of the bauxite required for the manufacturing of aluminum came from Suriname. Aluminum was used to construct the planes and bombers that would help win world war II. At that time, there was little information about the country of Suriname in the files of the Department of State or the Department of War.Thus Maj Hoffman was dispatched as a member of the US Army Command Trinidad to Suriname. At first, the GoveGen Kielstra was a bit cool when he met the major. The GovGen became more friendly when there were Germans spotted off the coast of Suriname.
The GovGen called in Major Hoffman to have him contact HQ for British assistance. The major informed the GovGen that the only assistance he could expect was from the Americans. The American assistance was confirmed by the Chief of Staff of the US Army Commander in Trinidad. During his 6 months in Suriname, the major noted the following: Zanderij, 20 miles from Paramribo, was being built by Pan American Airways. There was no road to the airport but halfway there was a narrow gauge railroad.
The US Vice Consul Carl Norden was originally stationed in Prague but reassigned to Suriname as that post appeared to be an out of the way place for him and safe. His father was the inventor of the then top secret Norden bomb sight which was used during the war. The 5 bauxite mines belonged to the American Aluminum and Reynolds company. The mines were in the interior and the bauxite was loaded in narrow gauge railroad cars and brought to the factories near the river banks. Ships up to 10,000 ton could dock near the factories. They could not turn but had to back down stream. These factories near the river were potential targets for sabotage according to the major. Repairs of the machinery could take months.
Met dank aan Albert Buys