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Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume I

225 — The Australian Commonwealth Naval Board to Director of Sea Transport

The Australian Commonwealth Naval Board to Director of Sea Transport

5 August 1940

Repeated to the New Zealand Naval Board.

Your 1845, 3 August, and your 0405, 4 August.3 Accommodation is required by New Zealand for maximum 6131 vide their telegram of 5 August4 to the Australian Commonwealth Naval Board only.

It is therefore proposed that shipping be utilised as follows:

Mauretania, Empress of Japan, and Orcades to take the New Zealand contingent.5

Aquitania,6 the Dutch ships Christiaan Huygens, Indrapoera, Slamat, and Nieuw Holland, to take the Australian contingent.

Assuming that the four Dutch ships could be fitted for a minimum of 1000 each, the Nieuw Zeeland and Johan de Witt would not be required but could be fitted and sailed independently for Bombay.

The inclusion of four fast ships in the same convoy as the Dutch ships appears uneconomical because of, firstly, the slow speed combined with the convoy, viz., about 14–15 knots; secondly, the four fast ships are already fitted; thirdly, it is anticipated that the Mauretania, Empress of Japan, and Orcades could leave Wellington about 23 August, being joined in Bass Strait by the Aquitania.

page 174

Subject to ocean escort being available (see my telegram No. 226 of 5 August), it is proposed that the Mauretania, Empress of Japan, Orcades, and Aquitania should proceed as fast convoy US 4, 19–20 knots, to Bombay via Fremantle, and the four Dutch ships from Sydney as slow convoy US 5, 14–15 knots, as soon as ready, at the earliest about 6 September.

The dates of leaving Fremantle will be approximately as follows, but will be confirmed:

US 4, Sunday, 1 September

US 5, Saturday, 14 September

3 These two telegrams from the Director of Sea Transport are not published. They gave details of his proposals for the assembly of the convoy.

4 Not published. The numbers given in this telegram were 287 officers, 53 nurses, and 5791 other ranks.

5 These were the transports in which the Third Echelon sailed: Mauretania, Cunard-White Star, 35,739 tons; Empress of Japan and Orcades (see Second Echelon).

6 Aquitania, Cunard-White Star, 44,786 tons.