HMS Avenger (D 14)
Escort carrier of the Avenger / Charger class
|Navy||The Royal Navy|
|Class||Avenger / Charger|
|Built by||Sun Shipbuilding (Chester, U.S.A.)|
|Laid down||28 Nov 1939|
|Launched||27 Nov 1940|
|Commissioned||2 Mar 1942|
|Lost||15 Nov 1942|
|Loss position||36° 15'N, 7° 45'W|
HMS Avenger was built in the USA at Sun Shipbuilding, Chester, Pennsylvania, and laid down as mercantile Rio Hudson, where she was launched 27 November 1940 and subsequently converted as BAVG-2. She was transferred to the RN and commissioned 2 March 1942.
Following sea trials, she left New York in a tanker convoy and arrived on the Clyde in May 1942 where further modifications took place.
On 3 September 1942 HMS Avenger left Scapa Flow on her first official active duty, as an escort to convoy PQ18 to the north of Russia. She was equipped with 12 Sea Hurricanes and 3 Swordfish aircraft. Her aircraft sank the German submarine U-589 on 14 September 1942 with the assistance of the destroyer HMS Onslow.
She arrived back in Scapa Flow on 3 October 1942. Her Swordfish had flown 32 sorties and attacked 6 of the 16 U-Boats sighted, while the Hurricanes had destroyed and damaged 26 aircraft in 31 combats during 59 sorties. They had engaged German U-Boats, flying boats, Junkers Ju88 bombers and Heinkel He111 bombers. In all 13 merchant ships were lost, but the convoy claimed 42 German aircraft destroyed.
In her second operation, Avenger was ordered to take part in Operation "Torch", the invasion of North Africa. She left the Clyde on 22 October 1942 with her sister-ship HMS Biter and the Fleet Carrier HMS Victorious, to join the slow assault convoy KMS1. On 7 November 1942, HMS Avenger left the convoy and sailed to join HMS Argus off Algiers. From here, the combined ships' 30 Sea Hurricanes and Seafires would provide fighter cover for landings planned for dawn on 8 November 1942. No airborne opposition was encountered on 8 or 9 November and the Vichy French in Algiers surrendered earlier than expected. The Royal Air Force assumed responsibility for air defence, and with her aircraft ashore, Avenger was excused from duties. On 10 November she entered Algiers harbour to undertake repairs to problems with her engines, which had reduced her maximum speed to only 14 knots.
After taking part in Operation Torch landings of North Africa in November 1942, she departed Gibraltar with convoy MKF 1 on 14 November, heading home to the Clyde in the UK. At 0305 on 15 November, Avenger was torpedoed by U-155. Avenger (Cdr. Anthony Paul Colthurst, DSO, RN) was hit on the port side amidships, which in turn ignited her bomb room, blowing out the centre section of the ship. Her bow and stern sections rose in the air and sunk within 2 minutes in position 36º15'N, 07º45'W, leaving only 12 survivors.
Hit by U-boat
|U-boat Attack||See our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Avenger|
Commands listed for HMS Avenger (D 14)
Please note that we're still working on this section.
|1||Cdr. Anthony Paul Colthurst, RN||26 Dec 1941||15 Nov 1942 (+)|
You can help improve our commands section
Click here to Submit events/comments/updates for this vessel.
Please use this if you spot mistakes or want to improve this ships page.
Notable events involving Avenger include:
24 Jul 1942
The battleship HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir B. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN), escort carrier HMS Avenger (Cdr. A.P. Colthurst, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk (Capt. R. Shelley, CBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), USS Rodman (T/Cdr. W.G. Michelet, USN) and USS Emmons (T/Cdr. T.C. Ragan, USN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (1)
2 Sep 1942
Convoy operations to and from northern Russia, convoy's PQ 18 and QP 14.
Convoy PQ 18 from Loch Ewe to the Kola Inlet and convoy QP 14 from the Kola Inlet to Loch Ewe.
Convoy PQ 18 departed Loch Ewe on 2 September 1942 and arrived in the Kola Inlet on 21 September 1942.
On departure from Loch Ewe it was made up of the following merchant vessels; Africander (Panamanian, 5441 GRT, built 1921), Atheltemplar (British (tanker), 8992 GRT, built 1930), Campfire (American, 5671 GRT, built 1919), Charles R. McCormick (American, 6027 GRT, built 1920), Dan-Y-Bryn (British, 5117 GRT, built 1940), Empire Baffin (British, 6978 GRT, built 1941), Empire Beaumont (British, 7044 GRT, built 1942), Empire Morn (British, 7092 GRT, built 1941), Empire Snow (British, 6327 GRT, built 1941), Empire Stevenson (British, 6209 GRT, built 1941), Empire Trinstram (British, 7167 GRT, built 1942), Esek Hopkins (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Gateway City (American, 5432 GRT, built 1920), Goolistan (British, 5851 GRT, built 1929), Hollywood (American, 5498 GRT, built 1920), John Penn II (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Kentucky (American, 5446 GRT, built 1921), Lafayette (Russian, 5887 GRT, built 1919), Macbeth (Panamanian, 4941 GRT, built 1920), Mary Luckenbach (American, 5049 GRT, built 1919), Meanticut (American, 6061 GRT, built 1921), Nathaniel Greene (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Faith (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Oliver Ellsworth (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Oregonian (American, 4862 GRT, built 1917), Oremar (American, 6854 GRT, built 1919), Patrick Henry (American, 7191 GRT, built 1941), Sahale (American, 5028 GRT, built 1919), San Zotico (British (tanker), 5582 GRT, built 1919), Schoharie (American, 4971 GRT, built 1919), St. Olaf (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Temple Arch (British, 5138 GRT, built 1940), Virginia Dare (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Wacosta (American, 5432 GRT, built 1920), White Clover (Panamanian, 5462 GRT, built 1920) and William Moultrie (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942).
The RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) tankers Black Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941) and Grey Ranger (3313 GRT, built 1941) were also part of the convoy. These ships were known as ' Force Q '.
As was the rescue ship Copeland (British, 1526 GRT, built 1923).
The merchant vessel Beauregard (American, 5976 GRT, built 1920) had also sailed with the convoy but soon returned to Loch Ewe with engine trouble.
On departure from Loch Ewe the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Campbell (A/Cdr. E.C. Coats, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Mackay ( Lt. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN), escort destroyers HNoMS Eskdale (Lt.Cdr. S. Storheill), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN) and the A/S trawlers HMS Arab (T/Lt. F.M. Procter, RCNVR), HMS Duncton (T/Lt. J.P. Kilbee, RNR), HMS Hugh Walpole (T/Lt. J. Mackenzie, RNR), HMS King Sol (Lt. P.A. Read, RNR) and HMS Paynter (Lt. R.H. Nossiter, RANVR).
On 6 September 1942 the escort was reinforced by the destroyers HMS Montrose (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Phipps, OBE, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) and HMS Walpole (Lt. A.S. Pomeroy, RN) which came from Hvalfjord.
On 7 September 1942 three ships which had taken passage in this convoy arrived at Reykjavik, Iceland, these were the Gateway City, Oremar and San Zotico. Also the five A/S trawlers had parted company with the convoy.
Also on this day eight more merchant vessels joined the convoy coming from Reykjavik, these were the; Andre Marti (Russian, 2352 GRT, built 1918), Exford (American, 4969 GRT, built 1919), Komiles (Russian, 3962 GRT, built 1932), Petrovski (Russian, 3771 GRT, built 1921), Richard Bassett (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Stalingrad (Russian, 3559 GRT, built 1931), Sukhona (Russian, 3124 GRT, built 1918) and Tblisi (Russian, 7169 GRT, built 1912).
The Richard Bassett however soon returned to Reykjavik.
Also with this section were three motor minesweepers which were to be transferred to the Russian Navy, these were MMS 90 (Skr. J. Dinwoodie, RNR), MMS 203 ( Skr. J.H. Petherbridge, DSC, RNR) and MMS 212 ( T/Lt. W.J. Walker, RNVR).
These ships were escorted by the destroyers HMS Malcolm (A/Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy) Lord Teynham, RN), HMS Achates (Lt.Cdr. A.H.T. Johns, RN), minesweepers HMS Gleaner (Lt.Cdr. F.J.G. Hewitt, DSC, RN), HMS Harrier (Cdr. A.D.H. Jay, DSC, RN), corvettes HMS Bergamot (Lt. R.T. Horan, RNR), HMS Bluebell (Lt. G.H. Walker, RNVR), HMS Bryony (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Stewart, DSC, RNR), HMS Camellia (T/Lt. R.F.J. Maberley, RNVR), A/S trawlers HMS Cape Argona (T/A/Lt.Cdr. E.R. Pate, RNR), HMS Cape Mariato (T/Lt. H.T.S. Clouston, RNVR), HMS Daneman (T/Lt. G.O.T.D. Henderson, RNVR), HMS St. Kenan (Lt. J. Mackay, RNR) and the AA ships HMS Alynbank (A/Capt.(Retd.) H.F. Nash, RN) and HMS Ulster Queen (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.K. Adam, RN).
When the Reykjavik section joined the convoy the escort destroyers HNoMS Eskdale and HMS Farndale parted company and proceeded to Hvalfjord. HMS Walpole also returned to Hvalfjord with defects as did HMS Amazon. After repairs, HMS Amazon proceeded to Akureyri.
HMS Campbell and HMS Mackay arrived at Hvalfjord on the 9th, having been detached from the convoy escort. They later went on to Akureyri.
Around 0615A/8 the minesweepers HMS Sharpshooter (Lt.Cdr. W.L. O'Mara, RN) departed Seidisfjord escorting the submarines HMS P 614 (Lt. D.J. Beckley, RN) and HMS P 615 (Lt. P.E. Newstead, RN). All three ships joined the convoy shortly after noon on the 9th.
Around 2100A/8, ' Force A ', made up of the destroyers HMS Onslow (Capt H.T. Armstrong, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Ewing, RN), HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. M.L. Power, OBE, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Somali (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) departed Akureyri for Spitsbergen where they were to refuel from ' Force P ' (see below).
Around 2145A/8, ' Force B ', made up of the AA cruiser HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. H.N.A. Richardson, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Martin (Cdr. C.R.P. Thomson, DSO, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.deW. Kitcat, RN) and the ' Carrier Force ' made up of the escort carrier HMS Avenger (Cdr. A.P. Colthurst, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Wheatland (Lt.Cdr. R.de.L Brooke, RN) and HMS Wilton (Lt. A.P. Northey, DSC, RN) departed Seidisfjord to join the convoy which they did around 2200A/9.
Around 2230A/9, HMS Echo parted company with the convoy to return to Hvalfjord as did HMS Montrose which proceeded to Akureyri. Both destroyers arrived at their destinations on the 10th.
' Force A ', made up of the destroyers HMS Onslow, HMS Offa, HMS Onslaught, HMS Opportune, HMS Ashanti, HMS Eskimo, HMS Somali and HMS Tartar, arrived at Spitsbergen on the 11th, fuelled from ' Force P ' and departed P.M. to join convoy PQ 18 which they did in the morning of the 13th.
Meanwhile HMS Scylla, HMS Milne, HMS Marne, HMS Martin, HMS Meteor and HMS Intrepid parted company with the convoy at 1130A/11 to proceed to Spitsbergen to fuel from ' Force P '. The other destroyers / escort destroyers with the convoy fuelled from ' Force Q '.
HMS Scylla, HMS Milne, HMS Marne, HMS Martin, HMS Meteor and HMS Intrepid completed fuelling in the morning of the 13th and they rejoined the convoy around 1400A/13. The escort was complete then.
Meanwhile the convoy, had been picked up again by German aircraft on the 12th. Also at 2109A/12, the destroyer HMS Faulknor attacked a contact ahead of the convoy with depth charges in position 75°04'N, 04°49'E, this meant the end of the German submarine U-88.
On 13 September the convoy was heavily attacked by the enemy resulting in the loss of ten of the merchant vessels; by U-boat (U-408) Stalingrad and the Oliver Ellsworth and by German aircraft the Wacosta, Oregonian, Macbeth, Africander, Empire Stevenson, Empire Beaumont, John Penn and Sukhona.
On 14 September the German submarine U-457 hit the tanker Atheltemplar. The tanker burst into flames and was abandoned by her crew. HMS Harrier tried to scuttle the tanker with gunfire but failed to do so and she was last seen heavily on fire but still afloat. The capsized wreck was sunk by the German submarine U-408 in the afternoon.
Early in the afternoon the German submarine U-589 was hunted by Swordfish aircraft from HMS Avenger and she was sunk in position 75°40'N, 20°32'E with depth charges by HMS Onslow.
The German airforce also attacked the convoy on this day but concentrated initially on attacking the escort instead of the merchant ships. The HMS Avenger was heavily attacked but she was not hit though she had a lucky escape during a dive bomb attack. Torpedoes fired at her were dropped from long range due to effecive fire from her close escort, the escort destroyers HMS Wheatland and HMS Wilton and the AA ship HMS Ulster Queen which had also come to her aid.
In the afternoon the merchant vessel Mary Luckenbach was torpedoed. She exploded and completely vaporised due to her cargo of 1000 tons of TNT. There were no survivors.
On September 15th, German aircraft could not inflict damage to the convoy though some ships had narrow escapes. The U-boats could be kept at bay by the escorts.
In the early hours of the 16th, the German submarine U-457 tried to attack the convoy but she was depth charged and sunk by HMS Impulsive in position 75°05'N, 43°15'E.
Around 1530A/16, HMS Scylla, HMS Avenger, Milne, Marne, Martin, Meteor, Faulknor, Fury, Impulsive, Intrepid, HMS Onslow, HMS Offa, HMS Onslaught, HMS Opportune, HMS Ashanti, HMS Eskimo, HMS Somali, HMS Tartar, HMS Wheatland, HMS Wilton, HMS Alynbank, HMS P 614 and HMS P 615 parted company with PQ 18 to join the westbound convoy QP 14 (see below) which they did the following morning. The two RFA tankers from ' Force Q ' were also with them.
On September 18th, the Russian destroyers Valerian Kyubishev and Uritsky joined the convoy as did the British minesweepers HMS Britomart (Lt.Cdr. S.S. Stammwitz, RN), HMS Halcyon (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Corbet-Singleton, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Hazard (Lt.(Retd.) G.C. Hocart, RNR), HMS Salamander (Lt. W.R. Muttram, RN) joined the convoy escort. Also on this day the merchant vessel Kentucky was lost due to a German air attack.
The convoy arrived at Archangelsk on 21 September 1941. Some delay having been experienced due to heavy weather on the 19th.
Convoy QP 14 departed Archangelsk on 13 September 1942 and arrived at Loch Ewe on 26 September 1942.
On departure from Archangelsk it was made up of the following merchant vessels; Alcoa Banner (American, 5035 GRT, built 1919), Bellingham (American, 5345 GRT, built 1920), Benjamin Harrison (American, 2191 GRT, built 1942), Deer Lodge (American, 6187 GRT, built 1919), Empire Tide (British, 6978 GRT, built 1941), Harmatris (British, 5395 GRT, built 1932), Minotaur (American, 4554 GRT, built 1918), Ocean Freedom (British, 7173 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Voice (British, 7174 GRT, built 1941), Samuel Chase (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Silver Sword (British, 4937 GRT, built 1919), Tobruk (Polish, 7048 GRT, built 1942), Troubadour (Panamanian, 6428 GRT, built 1920), West Nilus (American, 5495 GRT, built 1920) and Winston Salem (American, 6223 GRT, built 1920).
The rescue vessels Rathlin (British, 1600 GRT, built 1936) and Zamalek (British, 1567 GRT, built 1921) were also part of the convoy.
On departure from Archangelsk the convoy was escorted by the (Russian) destroyer Kuibyshev, Uritski, escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Middleton (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN), minesweepers Britomart, HMS Bramble (Capt. J.H.F. Crombie, DSO, RN), Halcyon, Hazard, HMS Leda (A/Cdr.(Retd.) A.H. Wynne-Edwards, RN), Salamander, HMS Seagull (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Pollock, RN), corvettes HMS Dianella (T/Lt. J.G. Rankin, RNR), HMS La Malouine (T/Lt. V.D.H. Bidwell, RNR), HMS Lotus (Lt. H.J. Hall, RNR), HMS Poppy (Lt. N.K. Boyd, RNR), A/S trawlers HMS Ayrshire (T/Lt. L.J.A. Gradwell, RNVR), HMS Lord Austin (T/Lt. O.B. Egjar, RNR), HMS Lord Middleton (T/Lt. R.H. Jameson, RNR), HMS Northern Gem (Skr.Lt. W.J.V. Mullender, DSC, RD, RNR), and the AA ships HMS Palomares (A/Capt.(rtd.) J.H. Jauncey, RN) and HMS Pozarica (A/Capt.(rtd.) E.D.W. Lawford, RN).
In the morning of the 17th, HMS Scylla, HMS Avenger, Milne, Marne, Martin, Meteor, Faulknor, Fury, Impulsive, Intrepid, HMS Onslow, HMS Offa, HMS Onslaught, HMS Opportune, HMS Ashanti, HMS Eskimo, HMS Somali, HMS Tartar, HMS Wheatland, HMS Wilton, HMS Alynbank, HMS P 614 and HMS P 615 joined the convoy. The two RFA tankers from ' Force Q ' were also with them.
Also on the 17th, the Kuibyshev, Uritski, Britomart, Halcyon, Hazard and Salamander parted company with the convoy to join the escort of convoy PQ 18 (see above).
On the 18th (or early on the 19th ?) the destroyers HMS Fury and HMS Impulsive were detached from the convoy for Spitsbergen. They rejoined the convoy around 1700A/19 having escorted the RFA tanker Oligarch from Spitsbergen to the convoy. The destroyer HMS Worcester was also with them.
On 20 September U-boats began to attack the convoy and the minesweeper HMS Leda was torpedoed and sunk around 0530A/20 by U-435 in position 76°30'N, 05°00'E. She sank around 0700A/20.
Shortly after noon, the submarines HMS P 614 and HMS P 615 also parted company with the convoy to proceed to Lerwick but they first swept astern of the convoy to try to attack shadowing enemy submarines. HMS P 614 attacked U-408 with four torpedoes thinking to have sunk the enemy but this was not the case.
And finally on the 20th, the destroyer HMS Somali was torpedoed and damaged around 1850A/20 by the U-703. The ship was taken in tow towards Akureyri or Seidisfjord by her sistership HMS Ashanti and screened by HMS Opportune, HMS Eskimo and HMS Intrepid but HMS Somali finally breaking in two around 0230A/24 when the weather conditions had worsened. Both halves sank quickly.
Also on this day, Rear-Admiral Burnett transferred his flag from HMS Scylla to HMS Milne. HMS Scylla, HMS Avenger, HMS Fury, HMS Wheatland and HMS Wilton then parted company to proceed to Seidisfjord where they arrived on 22 September. The destroyer HMS Onslaught was detached to escort the staggler Troubadour. They later joined the remainder of ' Force P ' (RFA tanker Blue Ranger, destroyer HMS Windsor and the escort destroyers HMS Cowdray and HMS Oakley) which had departed Spitsbergen. On 22 September they joined HMS Somali under tow by HMS Ashanti and the escorting destroyers HMS Opportune, HMS Eskimo and HMS Intrepid.
Three German submarines were attacked by the A/S escort on 20 September, these were U-378 by a Swordfish aircraft from HMS Avenger, U-212 by HMS Ashanti and finally U-255 by HMS Eskimo. All submarines managed to escape without damage.
On 21 September a Catalina (RAF(Norwegian) 330Sq./Z) attacked the German submarine U-606 but the aircraft is shot down by the enemy.
Early on 22 September, HMS Milne detached from the convoy to proceed to Seidisfjord where she arrived in the evening.
On 23 September, HMS Onslow, HMS Offa, HMS Worcester and the two rescue ships, were detached to Seidisfjord arriving there later on the same day.
Also on 23 September, HMS Scylla, HMS Avenger, HMS Milne, HMS Wheatland and HMS Wilton departed Seidisfjord for Scapa Flow where they arrived on the 24th.
The staggler Troubadour was detached from ' Force P ' on the 24th to proceed to Akureyri.
On 24 September, HMS Marne was detached to proceed to Seidisfjord to land the survivors that she had picked up from the Catalina aircraft that had been shot down on 21 September by U-606. She rejoined the convoy later the same day. HMS Onslow, HMS Offa, HMS Worcester and the two rescue ship left Seidisfjord to rejoin the convoy which they did on the 25th.
On the 25th, HMS Martin was detached to escort the staggler Winston Salem while HMS Ayrshire was detached to Seidisfjord with defects.
Around 2115A/25, HMS Ashanti, HMS Intrepid, HMS Onslaught and HMS Opportune arrived at Scapa Flow. HMS Eskimo arrived around 0700A/26. Following the sinking of Somali they had detached from ' Force P ' on the 24th.
On the 26th, HMS Faulknor, HMS Onslow, HMS Offa, HMS Marne, HMS Meteor, HMS Tartar, HMS Impulsive, HMS Worcester, HMS Blankney, HMS Middleton, HMS Bramble, HMS Seagull and the tankers Oligarch and Black Ranger were detached to Scapa Flow where they arrived on the same day.
The convoy arrived at Loch Ewe on the 26th.
The staggler Winston Salem arrived at Loch Ewe the following day after which HMS Martin proceeded to Scapa Flow arriving around 1930A/27.
' Force P ', Blue Ranger escorted by HMS Windsor, HMS Cowdray and HMS Oakley arrived at Scapa Flow on the 27th.
To provide cover and support for this convoy four forces were deployed.
' Force P ' was the Spitsbergen refueling force. It was made up of the RFA tankers Blue Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941) and Oligarch (6894 GRT, built 1918) and departed Scapa Flow on 3 September escorted by the destroyer HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. D.H.F. Hetherington, DSC, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Bramham (Lt. E.F. Baines, RN), HMS Cowdray (Lt.Cdr. C.W. North, RN), and Oakley (Lt.Cdr. T.A. Pack-Beresford, RN).
On 4 September the destroyer HMS Worcester (Lt.Cdr. W.A. Juniper, RN), coming from Seidisfjord, Iceland, relieved HMS Bramham which then proceeded to Seidisfjord. She later went on to Akureyri.
' Force P ' arrived at Spitsbergen (Lowe Sound) on 10 September. [For futher movements of ' Force P ' see the text above and below.]
There was also the ' Cruiser Force ' was was to provide close cover for the convoys during their passage through the most dangerous area. Also two ships of the force were to land stores, personnel and dogs on Spitsbergen (Operation Gearbox II). It was made up of the heavy cruisers HMS Norfolk (Capt. E.G.H. Bellars, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral S.S. Bonham-Carter, CB, CVO, DSO, RN), HMS London (Capt. R.M. Servaes, CBE, RN), HMS Cumberland (Capt. A.H. Maxwell-Hyslop, AM, RN), HMS Suffolk (Capt. R. Shelley, CBE, RN), light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN) and the destroyers HMS Echo, HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Bulldog (Cdr. M. Richmond, OBE, DSO, RN). They departed Hvalfjord around 1145Z/14.
Around 1330A/15, they were joined in position 67°40'N, 19°55'W by HMS Amazon coming from Akureyri.
Around 1200A/16, HMS Cumberland and HMS Eclipse were detached for operation Gearbox II.
In the evening of the 16th the destroyers were fuelled by the cruisers. Due to these ships having to be available to intercept and engage German surface forces in case these would come out to attack the convoys the fuel levels in the destroyers were kept as high as possible. HMS Bulldog was fuelled by HMS Norfolk, HMS Echo was fuelled by HMS London, HMS Amazon was fuelled by HMS Suffolk.
At 0600A/17, HMS Eclipse was detached by HMS Cumberland to patrol to seaward while HMS Cumberland went on to Barentsburg. She anchored there around 1420A/17 and the first boat with stores was underway at 1445A/17. At 1900A/17, HMS Eclipse came alongside to fuel. This was completed at 2110A/17 and she got underway. At 2145A/17 weighted and departed Barentsburg to rejoin the other cruisers which she did around 0600A/18.
At 2200A/17, HMS Sheffield parted company with the other cruisers for her part in Operation Gearbox II. She anchored off Barentsburg around 1530A/18 and commenced disembarking. At 1930A/18, HMS Eclipse went alongside to fuel which was completed at 2105A/18. HMS Sheffield and HMS Eclipse departed the fjord around 2130A/18. They rejoined the other ships around 1050A/19.
Meanwhile in the late afternoon / early evening of the 17th, HMS Amazon, HMS Bulldog and HMS Echo were fuelled by ' Force P ' which had come out of the fjords. The destroyers were again topped off by ' Force P ' in the later morning / afternoon of the 18th.
The ' Cruiser Force ' returned to Hvalfjord around 1730Z/22.
And finally there was the ' Distant Cover / Battlefleet Force '. This force was made up of the battleships HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral B.A. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN, 2nd in Command, Home Fleet), HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.E. Creasy, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Jamaica (Capt. J.L. Storey, RN), destroyers HMS Keppel (Cdr. J.E. Broome, RN), HMS Campbell, HMS Mackay, HMS Montrose and the escort destroyer HMS Bramham. They departed from Akureyri around 1700Z/11 to provide cover for convoy PQ 18. The destroyers had sailed a little earlier presumably to conduct an A/S sweep off the fjord first.
They returned to Akureyri around 0900Z/14 except for HMS Bramham which had been detached to proceed to Hvalfjord.
HMS Anson, HMS Duke of York, HMS Jamaica, HMS Keppel, HMS Campbell, HMS Mackay and HMS Montrose departed again around 0630Z/19 to provide cover for convoy QP 14. The destroyer HMS Broke (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Layard, RN) had meanwhile joined them at Akureyri and sailed with them. Once again the destroyers joined off the fjord presumable having conducted an A/S sweep of the fjord first.
The ' Battlefleet Force ' arrived at Hvalfjord around 2100Z/22.
14 Sep 1942
German U-boat U-589 was sunk in the Arctic Ocean south-west of Spitsbergen, in position 75°40'N, 20°32'E, by depth charges from the British destroyer HMS Onslow (Capt H.T. Armstrong, DSC, RN) and depth charges from a Swordfish aircraft of the escort carrier HMS Avenger (Sqdn 825).
5 Nov 1942
' Force O ', made up of the light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, KBE, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, RN), AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, RN), AA ship HMS Tynwald (Capt.(Retd.) P.G. Wodehouse, DSO, RN), destroyer ORP Blyskawica (Lt.Cdr. L. Lichodziejewski, ORP) and the escort destroyers HMS Lamerton (Lt.Cdr. C.R. Purse, DSC, RN), HMS Wheatland (Lt.Cdr. R. de L. Brooke, DSC, RN) and HMS Wilton (Lt. A.P. Northey, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar to provide cover for ships of the Eastern Task Force, en-route to and during the landings near Algiers. The escorts varied from time to time until their return to Gibraltar.
On 9 November, HMS Sheffield parted company to join the Force destinated for a landing at Bougie but as this landing was postponed due to unsuitable weather conditions she rejoined ' Force O ' temporarily. In the afternoon of the 10th she parted company again for this operation.
On the 10th ' Force O ' was about 20 miles north of Algiers, with the escorts fuelling in turn from ' Force R ', the tanker Force, but from dawn until about noon on the 11th, ' Force O ' was off Bougie after which it returned to the area of Algiers.
In the late afternoon of the 11th, ' Force O ', including HMS Sheffield which had rejoined in the early afternoon, was heavily attacked from the air by (13) Ju 88's and HMS Argus sustained some minor damage as a bomb hit the extreme edge of the flight deck. Shortly afterwards, the sloop HMS Ibis (Cdr. H.M. Darell-Brown, RN), which was screening HMS Argus and HMS Scylla at that moment was hit by a torpedo and sank very quickly. HMS Scylla rescued 5 officers and 102 ratings, the destroyer HMS Clare (Lt.Cdr. L.H. Landman, RN) later picked up another 3 ratings.
On 12 November ' Force O ' was ordered to proceed to a position north of 37°10'N, and west of 01°00'E.
At 1855Z/12, the destroyer HMS Clare, attacked a submarine in position 37°41'N, 00°10'W and she considered to have destroyed it. It was later classified as probably destroyed. The submarine on the receiving end was the German U-596 who managed to escape without damage.
' Force O ', now made up of light cruiser HMS Sheffield, aircraft carrier HMS Argus, escort carrier HMS Avenger (Cdr. A.P. Colthurst, RN), AA cruiser HMS Charybdis, HMS Scylla and the destroyers HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), HMS Vanoc ( A/Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN) and HMS Clare, returned to Gibraltar on 14 November 1942. (2)
- ADM 53/115322 + ADM 53/116675
- ADM 53/115368 + ADM 53/115580 + ADM 53/116620 + ADM 53/116632 + ADM 199/662 + ADM 199/904 + ADM 234/359
ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.
As an Amazon Associate uboat.net earns a commission from qualifying purchases.