Mid Ocean intercepts are not the sole domain of the Allied Navies!
Listening Station 192 stationed on a cliif near the city of Perth began to pick up several distress signals originating from Convoy CTP-XN13, an outgoing convoy that had just unloaded a large cargo of replacment engine and frames of Beaufort VIII torpedo bombers at Perth. At first the soldiers manning the radio could not believe what they were hearing. There had been absolutely nothing of note in the Perth area since the brief Japanese occupation and subsequent withdrawal in April. Two submarines had been sighted in the 8 months since but that was it. All of a sudden the airwaves were full of mayday signals and request for immediate aid and assistance being broadcast in the open!
As it turned out XN13 had been intercepted by a lone enemy light cruiser, post war study of Japanese TROM’s identified the ship as the light cruiser Kashima of the Natori class. She had sailed deep into the Indian Ocean and had infiltrated the shipping lanes between Cape Town and the Western Australian sea board. 4th December, almost on the first anniversary of the outbreak of hostilities against Japan, was the day that the merchant mariners of XN13 met the fire and fury of an Imperial Japanese capital ship. 5 merchants were heavily damaged as they travelled unescorted in what the Allied commanders regarded as their backyard and safe waters, not that any spare escorts existed! At the time it sent waves of some panic across Australian Commands. The day’s action saw the loss of two 5375 ton Dominion M Cargo Class freighters, the M/V Aloe and the M/V Clan Macgillivary
Was this cruiser a scout for a larger carrier force behind it? Only last week radio intell had identified a large number of vessels steaming to the south of Java. Or was it a lone raider trying tis luck safe in the knowledge that the allies had one fully fit carrier in the Indian Ocean? Time would tell