Today: 75 years ago....

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War catches up with Abbekerk

15 February 1942. Singapore has fallen. This news is met with perplexity. Followed by information of Airborne troops landing at the refineries of Palembang not even 300 km north Oosthaven on Sumatra. Dark smoke emerges from behind the mountains as the...

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Oosthaven, Sumatra. A brief rest

6 February 1942 Abbekerk has been anchored for four days at the Oosthaven, Lampoon Bay in the south of Sumatra. The tranquility after the chaos of Singapore is surreal. We anchored between a couple of islands in the bay. Here it...

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Escaping Singapore at last

30 January 1942 Abbekerk has been anchored for almost three weeks and nothing much has happened on board for the last 2 weeks. Still bombers fly over the ship every day and more and more smoke is erupting from the...

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Still at anchor and miraculously unscathed

22 January 1942  And so we just floated around a bit. Every day the bombardments were getting heavier and the smoke of the fires ashore now continued to billow up all day. And all those planes continued to fly exactly...

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They can’t be that stupid!

17 January 1942 Abbekerks crew find themselves in a nerve wrecking position. The engine room staff do not follow the normal routine of repairs in the engine room: the engines must be ready at anytime. Assistant engineer Adriaan Kik has...

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Singapore under attack, Abbekerk lucky again

13 January 1942 During the night speed is reduced to 9 knots because the mines that could have been laid by a Japanese submarine. De warships set out paravanes as protection. Also several Dutch minesweepers are busy clearing the route...

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Banka Straits: Japanese bombers approaching

12 January 1942 HMS Emerald is informed that large formations of Japanese bombers are on the way to the convoy. Over time it has become abundantly clear what they are capable off and on board Abbekerk the crew is under...

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Three days from Singapore: tension rises, the escort grows

10 January 1942. The 5 merchant ship are now protected by eight more warships: The cruisers Hr.MS De Ruyter (commanded by rear admiral Karel Doorman), Hr.MS Tromp, HMS Durban, the destroyers Hr.Ms Backert, Hr.Ms Piet Hein, HMS Encounter, HMS Jupiter,...

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Secret “Port T”, supply stop at Addu Atoll

5 January 1942 The ships anchor briefly in Addu Atoll’s bay, the most Southern island of the Maldives. Since several months the natural, well protected anchorage is being used by the Navy and known as Port T. Strategic of great...

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400 NM off the coast of Mombasa

1 January 1942 Leaving from Mombasa, the huge American troopship USS Mount Vernon joins the convoy. Even before the US was at war this ship was ‘on loan’ from the US and sailing in convoy WS.12x with British troops bound...

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Mozambique Channel, speed over 17 knots

27 December 1941 Four ships detach from the convoy and increase speed to over 17 knots. The troopships Aorangie and Narkunda and freighters Sussex and Abbekerk now sail unescorted, Northeast bound, away from the African shores, on their way to...

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Durban, quayside, halfway unloaded

22 December 1941 Durban is overrun by troops – for many of them their first time abroad- who are having their last few days to relax in a beautiful war free town. For most it will be their last leave...

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Durban, South Africa, quayside

18 December 1941 A large convoy of troopships like WS. 12z is a very large burden on a port. Especially if those troops are granted shore leave for a few days. Therefore in South Africa the ships are divided between...

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Stormy weather of the coast of Angola

The convoy struggles through bad weather and high seas off the coast of Angola towards the Cape of Good Hope. Life on board is not very comfortable at this point but that is amply compensated by the knowledge that this...

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Gulf of Guinea, again sailing south at 14 knots

Aboard Abbekerk are 16 troops of the 35th Light Anti Aircraft Regiment. The rest of the regiment is aboard the troopship Empress of Japan, also within the convoy, but all their equipment, including the Bofors anti aircraft guns and ammunition...

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Freetown, Sierra Leone. At anchor

The stopover in Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone, is a necessary evil. It is the only port in the region the British can use. Even though this natural harbour – not much more than a place to drop anchor- is...

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Near Cape Verdi Islands, course south-east at 14 knots

At night showers of sparks erupted from the funnel illuminating the convoy, by day the funnel emitted a thick blue-grey smoke, visible from tens of miles away. The convoy was not amused. Obviously something was wrong with our engines. Ass....

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Atlantic Ocean, steaming south at 14 knots

Yesterday the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign has joined the convoy. This World War I veteran is accompanied by five destroyers. Four destroyers from the existing escort now leave the convoy. England can only continue the war effort if she can...

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Hamburg, Blohm und Voss shipyard

In Hamburg yet another U-boat is launched, one of 224 build by this shipyard during the war. German U-boats were only given a number, not a name. This boat, one of the most build type VIIc, is U-604. U-boats are...

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Irish Sea, the formation of convoy WS.12z

11 Ocean liners, packed with soldiers, depart from different ports along the east coast of England and rendez vous in the Irish Sea. Four heavy loaded freighters are also on their way, including Abbekerk. A few days later we sailed...