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 are on board of Abbekerk. Two of those guns have been anchored on the deck in open spaces as extra defense. Geoffrey North is a young 2nd lieutenant who commands the 15 troops handling the artillery.
It is his first time leaving England and he writes about it to his wife in reassuring words:
I have a first class cabin, with a bathroom to myself and a steward who takes care of coffee. There is a lovely lounge with cocktail bar, radio and you can listen to records. And even a small modern library.
Lt Geoffrey North
Food on Abbekerk is very good especially compared to England where food is rationed and not vary varied any more. With large refrigerated storage Abbekerk can take on board food in ports where there is no shortage. Geoff is impressed as he writes his wife:
The food is excellent and not rationed. When I told the Chief Steward steak and unions were my favourite dish, it was produced in my cabin at 11:30 am with the normal lunch to follow an hour later. I’m having trouble keeping my weight down!
Lt Geoffrey North
He even sends his wife precipices for the good meals he had on board: American Hash and a good curry. Even though he was better of than his 15 troops who slept in the crew’s quarters, it was absolutely preferable over the overcrowded troopships. Off course they have to stand guard by the guns and they have to practice. They certainly weren’t bored.
Also DEMS Gunner Walter MacNab, who mans the Lewis guns on Abbekerk, is enthusiastic about the luxury and food on board.
Food was excellent and we even had a ice-machine we used to make coconut smoothies. Our quarters were in the stern along with the rest of the crew. They were quite spacious and comfortable with separate shower facilities.
DEMS gunner Walter MacNab