By Gordon W. Stead
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When I went to the sail loft with our drawings of the odd-shaped bits of canvas needed to carry the line of our bridge wings aft to the funnel, as in our Italian model, the foreman was suspicious that it was for some private purpose. " he said. " this time with some annoyance. "Let me use the phone" I said. I called Hawkins and told him the sail loft wouldn't play. "Put 'em on^' he roared. I did so, and his blast could be heard the full length of the sail loft. I got my bits of canvas. Malaya did one more thing for us.
I did so, and his blast could be heard the full length of the sail loft. I got my bits of canvas. Malaya did one more thing for us. She gave us our two Oerlikons. These newly available automatic guns could loose off a stream of 20-millimetre cannon shells in any combination — semi-armour piercing, explosive, incendiary — and with tracer, could be aimed like a hose. It was mounted aft and the Lewis guns were rearranged, in the course of which we got rid of our comic grenade-launching apparatus. Since the new gun, with its explosive shells, would be able to fire into the wireless aerials, a new mast had to be fitted just forward of the Oerlikon to clear its field of fire.
There was no crunch of grounding, and we headed out to sea, relieved of the prospect of being high and dry on an unfriendly shore at dawn. At that point, there were pyrotechnics to the south as of a convoy being attacked. It was not the night for U-boats to be sleeping peacefully in snug coves, and 126 returned to base unscathed and unsung from this unlikely sortie. A week or two later the expected running of our blockade did indeed begin. It lasted — not on every night — for about a month. U-boats came through on the surface, and those I saw angled across the straits from Tarifa on the Spanish side at the Atlantic end to the Mediterranean end off the Moroccan shore.