My father, a WW2 veteran, told of their departure 1941 from Port Melbourne on the former Blue Riband Mauretania. They steamed due south to escape the U-boats, who shun the dangers of the South Pole ice belt. They then steamed 2,500 Kms west until due south of Fremantle, then a full steam ahead to Fremantle.
A convoy of 4 ships headed for the Indian Ocean. Proudly leading the group was the Queen Mary, with 25,000 troops, the New Zealand with 3,000, the news Holland with 4,000 and our Mauretania with 6,000 aboard. Destroyers wove among the convoy to protect from any U-boats.
Amazingly and only revealed recently, the RAAF maintained surveillance the entire course to Colombo (Sri Lanka.) Dad was deeply moved to hear this from a participating pilot.
Proceeding north, nearing Sumatra, the stately Queen Mary diverted to Singapore, an imposing sight as she ‘full steamed ahead’ for Singapore. How Dad longed to be on board, not knowing that many of their dear friends would lay down their lives in defending Singapore and our beloved Nation.
Our reduced convoy proceeded to Bombay (Mumbai today). As they approached the Middle East a dense pea-soup fog enveloped the fleet. Some grouched at losing sight of the Red Sea, not realising until later the Nazi Luftwaffe had schemed to demolish the entire fleet.
God wrapped a heaven-sent fog as protection. Dad was so grateful to have been spared a watery grave.
in Out in the Ocean, Australia1,597