Air Attack at Keppel Harbor
On January 30, Wakefield commenced fueling at Keppel Harbor and awaited the arrival of some 400 British women and children who were being evacuated to Ceylon. At 1100, lookouts spotted two formations of Japanese bombers - 27 planes in each - approaching the dock area at Keppel Harbor. Unhampered by antiaircraft fire or British fighter planes, the enemy bombers droned overhead and released a brief rain of bombs on the waterfront. One bomb hit 50 yards off Wakefield's port quarter, and another blew up in the dock area 40 feet from the transport's bow before a third struck the ship's B deck and penetrated through to C deck where it exploded in the sick bay spaces. A fire broke out, but it was extinguished in less than one- half hour. ... Using oxygen masks, fire-fighting and damage control crews extricated five dead and nine wounded. Wakefield embarked her passengers and got underway soon thereafter, burying her dead at sea.