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 Singapore.
By now it has become clear that modern sea warfare is not won by whomever has the biggest battleships. On the 10th of December, in less than 20 minutes, a squadron of two-engined airplanes, has sunk Force Z consisting of two of Britainâ€˜s most modern battleships, North of Singapore. Not only did all hope to stop the Japanese invasion of Malaysia sank with it but it also leaves the region without any Allied battleships. Britain, the USA, Australia and the Netherlands are left with only a small fleet of cruisers and destroyers to stop the Japanese charge.
Master Wijker of the Abbekerk puts more faith in artillery on deck than in the holds and asks the Commodores permission to put more Bofor guns on deck. Permission is granted en the engineers help to anchor them on deck. Geoff North and his men instruct the crew how to use them.
The ammunition for the guns was quickly found and soon we were the best anti aircraft armed ship in the convoy. We asked permission to shoot some test rounds. This could not be refused and soon a dozen shells exploded high up in the blue sky. Now we were talking and our artillery was also an asset for the whole convoy.
Ass. engineer Adriaan Kik