Gourock, at the quay, loading cargo

A Stanier 8F locomotive. Abbekerk had 6 or 8 on board (source: wikipedia)

Thousands of bombs are hoisted into the holds of Abbekerk by large harbor cranes. Some of the crew return from a short leave and find their ship at the quay at Gourock being loaded with the least wanted cargo a sailor wishes for.
Third officer Jacob Visser has been on board Abbekerk since her first voyage but never saw something like this before.

The cargo existed of 5-6000 tons of bombs, 5 large steam locomotives with tenders at the bottom of the holds and another 4 as deck load . Anti aircraft artillery, anti tank cannons, planes and munition for all of them. Even landmines and torpedo’s. The ship was loaded to the max up till 10 – 11.000 tons.
3rd Officer Jacob Visser

An ammunition ship exploding after being hit by a torpedo.

An ammunition ship exploding after being hit by a torpedo.

More of the crew are returning from leave and are dismayed when they see the ship being loaded.

With a heavy heart I boarded the the ship. The dockworkers were, by hand and very carefully, loading a large quantity of boxes labeled ‘High Explosives’. Bombs were hoisted in the holds 10 at the time by the dock cranes. On top of that came the army vehicles and cannons. Finally 10 crated Hurricane fighter planes were placed on top the deck hatches of the holds.
Ass Engineer Adriaan Kik

An Oerlikon 20 mm gun on a merchant freighter in convoy

An Oerlikon 20 mm gun on a merchant freighter in convoy (source: wikipedia)

Also the ships own armament is being expanded. 2 Oerlikon 20 mm anti aircraft cannons are placed on either side of the ship. Two Bofors 40 mm cannons, which are also loaded as cargo in the holds, are secured on open spaces on deck.

Nobody knew where we would be sent but it was generally thought that it would not be a resort and it was apparently clear that we would be better if we exchanged our life jackets for parachutes. Most of us thought we would be sent to Alexandria in Egypt on the Mediterranean but via the Cape of Good Hope and the Suez Canal because the short route via Gibraltar would have been suicide. We were also hoping we would be sailing independent because we were one of the most modern freighters with a top speed of seventeen knots, much too fast for a slow moving freight convoy.
Ass Engineer Adriaan Kik

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