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 for the Middle East. She is escorted by the cruiser HMS Emerald and from that moment on Emerald will be in command of the whole convoy, now named DM. 01 (Durban-Malaya 1).
It is expected that DM.01 will deliver decisive reinforcements for the Fortress Singapore. Assuming that the convoy can get there in time and intact. It’s cargo is indeed impressive: Narkunda, Aorangie and Mount Vernon are shipping well over 8000 troops from i.a. 53rd Infantry Brigade Group, 232 squadron RAF, 6th Heavy and 35th Light AA regiments and the 85th Antitank regiment. Sussex and Abbekerk are carrying all their materials: guns, cannons, 60 Hurricanes, a considerable number of trucks and a very large amount of ammunition.
One of the 8000 troops is Harry Tweedale, ground crewman of the 232 squadron and on board Aorangie. His story crosses Abbekerk’s path a few times during the next few months.
We absolutely flew through the water. The usual convoy precautions of constant zigzagging were dispensed with and we just went straight and fast. One of the ships in our convoy was the Dutch freighter Abbekerk. She transported our planes, so to me she was the most important ship of the convoy.
Harry Tweedale, 232 squadron RAF