Stormy weather of the coast of Angola

Convoy WS.12z in stormy weather. In front Battleship Royal Sovereign followed by Abbekerk. (drawing by Lt Geoffrey North)

Abbekerk in an Atlantic gale

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 weather makes it almost impossible for the small U-boats to attack.

As the convoy is making it’s way through the waves, Geoff North immortalizes the ships in the convoy in little sketches in his notebook. One off them perfectly pictures what a lot of the crew witness with perplexity.

Convoy WS.12Z December 1941The battleship HMS Royal Sovereign is an imposing mighty grey colossus about which you thought; how is it possible that such a hunk of steel stays afloat?? Later when the weather deteriorated quite a bit, the barrels of the big guns were turned backwards to prevent too much of the water that came on board from entering and flooding the gunneries. The ship itself hardly moved even though the storm water flew halfway down the ship. If you did not know better you would have thought the ship was on its way down.
It was a mighty sight of a mighty ship.
Ass. Engineer Adriaan Kik

On the 7th of December the war turns into a true world war. Japan, out of the blue, attacks and decimates the American war fleet stationed in Pearl Harbour, Pacific. This is the first step in a plan to – with violence- obtain economically (and military) vital raw materials. With the Americans knock out they hope to take over the whole of the Southwest  Pacific without American interference. Within the convoy none of this is known. But it is going to dramatically change the destination and near future of thousands of men.

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