Allied Warships

HMS California (F 55)

Armed Merchant Cruiser

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeArmed Merchant Cruiser
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 55 
Built byA. Stephen & Sons Ltd. (Glasgow, Scotland) 
Ordered 
Laid down 
Launched17 Apr 1923 
Commissioned15 Oct 1939 
End service1 Apr 1942 
History

On 25 August 1939 the passenger ship California of the Anchor Line (Henderson Bros) Ltd, Glasgow was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. Conversion was completed on 15 October 1939.

Displacement: 16792 BRT
Armament: 8x 152mm, 2x 76mm
Speed: 16 knots

Career:
October 39 - August 40: Northern Patrol
November 40 - February 41: Northern and Western Patrol
March 41 - April 41: Western Patrol
May 41 - October 41: North Atlantic Escort Force
November 41 - March 42: South Atlantic Station

On 1 April 1942 returned and used as troopship by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT).

On 11 July 1943 bombed and badly damaged in a convoy by a German Fw200 aircraft of KG40 about 320 nautical miles west of Oporto. The ship caught fire and was abandoned and scuttled the next day by HMS Douglas in 41°15'N, 15°24'W. 72 dead and 695 survivors.

 

Commands listed for HMS California (F 55)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Cuthbert John Pope, RAN7 Nov 1939Oct 1941
2A/Capt. Gerald Seymour Tuck, DSO, RNOct 194123 Dec 1941
3Capt. (retired) Edward Wollaston Kitson, RN23 Dec 1941early 1942

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Notable events involving California include:


18 Nov 1939
The German merchant Borkum (3670 GRT) is captured in the North Atlantic by the British armed merchant cruiser HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN). While en route under her prize crew to Kirkwall in the Orkney's she was torpedoed at 1530 hours on 23 November. She was hit by a torpedo from German U-boat U-33 and was abandoned two days later. The Borkum drifted ashore in Papa Sound and was declared a total loss. On 18 August 1940 she was refloated and towed to Rosyth, where she was broken up.

11 Aug 1940
HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, CBE, RAN) picks up 30 survivors from the British merchant Llanfair that was torpedoed and sunk on 11 August 1940 by German U-boat U-38 200 nautical miles west of Tory Island in position 54°48'N, 13°46'W. One of the survivors died aboard and was buried at sea on 13 August.

5 Nov 1940

Hunt for the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer after the attack on convoy HX 84.

Timespan: 5 October to 23 October 1940.

In response to the attack on convoy HX 84 by the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer the Admiralty acted quickly.

The battlecruisers HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), HMS Bonaventure (Capt. H.J. Egerton, RN) and the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St. J.A. Micklethwait, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, DSO, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) and HMS Electra (Lt.Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) departed Scapa Flow at 2330/5 to proceed to the last reported position of the German pocket battleship 52°50'N, 32°15'W at 2003/5.

At 1050/6 the force split up; HMS Hood, HMS Naiad, HMS Phoebe, HMS Somali, HMS Eskimo and HMS Punjabi proceeded to patrol off the Bay of Biscay to cover the approaches to Brest and Lorient.

HMS Repulse, HMS Bonaventure, HMS Mashona, HMS Matabele and HMS Electra towards the Admiral Scheer's last known position.

At 0700/6 the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of Admiral of the Fleet C.M. Forbes, GCB, DSO, RN) and HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN), light cruiser HMS Southampton (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN) and the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, DSO, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. H.T. Armstrong, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Douglas (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G. Crossley, RN), HMS Keppel (Lt. R.J. Hanson, RN) and HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) departed Scapa Flow to cover the patrols in the Iceland-Faroes Channel.

Shortly before midnight during the night of 6/7 November HMS Rodney was detached to escort to escort convoy HX 83 and once this convoy was safe, HX 85 from Halifax.

Three armed merchant cruisers, which were on patrol were recalled to port on the 8th. These were HMS Chitral (Capt.(Retd.) G. Hamilton, RN), which was to the northwest of Iceland and HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) and HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt. J. Creswell, RN), which were to the south of Iceland. The light cruiser HMS Southampton was ordered to take over the place of HMS Chitral. She split off from HMS Nelson at 1600/8. HMS Worcestershire joined HMS Nelson and her escorting destroyers around 1500/9.

There were also the destroyers HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Cousins, RN), HMS Lewes (Lt.Cdr. J.N.K. Knight, RN), HMS Lincoln (Cdr. A.M. Sheffield, RN) and HMS Ludlow (Cdr. G.B. Sayer, RN). They were en-route to the U.K. and had departed Halifax on 31 October and refuelled at St. Johns on 3 November. After receiving distress signals from ships in convoy HX 84 they rushed to the reported location. The only thing they found was an empty lifeboat. They then continued their Atlantic crossing and arrived at Londonderry on 9 November.

The destroyer HMS Stanley (A/Lt.Cdr. R.B. Stannard, VC, RNR) had departed Halifax on 1 November and St. Johns on 5 November. Now she and the Canadian destroyer HMCS St.Francis (Lt.Cdr. H.F. Pullen, RCN) escorted convoy HX 85, which had been recalled, back to Nova Scotia.

On 8 November, after machinery defects had been repaired, the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN) departed the Clyde to protect convoys.

The battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt C.E.B. Simeon, RN) and the destroyers HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN) departed Gibraltar at 0500/6 to provide cover for convoys HG 46 and SL 53.

At 1225/6, off Cape St Vincent, the submarine HMS Utmost (Lt. J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN) was identified as enemy by HMS Encounter which then rammed the submarine which was en-route to Gibraltar. HMS Encounter was escorted to Gibraltar by HMS Forester. They arrived at 0800/7.

On 11 November, HMAS Australia relieved Renown from covering convoy HG 46 and Renown arrived back at Gibraltar around 1515/12. Renown had been joined at 0807/12 by the destroyers HMS Duncan (Cdr. A.D.B. James, RN) and HMS Forester.

Aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Verity (Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN), HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) and HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. G.P. Huddart, RN) departed the Clyde on 7 November for Gibraltar and were also ordered to keep a look out for the German pocket battleship. The destroyers were later detached; HMS Windsor around 0100/9 and HMS Verity and HMS Vesper around 0600/9. HMS Despatch was detached at 1000/13 and proceeded to Gibraltar where she arrived around noon the next day. Shortly before HMS Despatch was detached the destroyers HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) had joined followed later in the day by HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN). HMS Argus, HMS Vidette, HMS Wishart and HMS Wrestler arrived at Gibraltar very late on the 14th.

Battlecruiser HMS Repulse escorted by the destroyers HMS Matabele and HMS Electra arrived at Scapa Flow for refuelling around 1100/11.

Light cruiser HMS Bonaventure and destroyer HMS Mashona arrived at Scapa Flow around 1130/11 for refuelling.

Battlecruiser HMS Hood, light cruisers HMS Naiad, HMS Phoebe and the destroyers HMS Somali, HMS Eskimo and HMS Punjabi returned to Scapa Flow around 1400/11 for refuelling. HMS Eskimo had suffered weather damage to her asdic dome and had some forecastle deck plates buckled. She was docked for repairs in the floating drydock at Scapa Flow from 13 to 16 November.

After fuelling HMS Bonaventure departed Scapa Flow at 2300/11 to continue to search for survivors from convoy HX 84. Armed merchant cruiser HMS Chitral was also back at sea to search for survivors. She had departed from Reykjavik, Iceland around 2330/10.

HMS Bonaventure returned to Scapa Flow on the 19th with weather damage.

The armed merchant cruiser HMS Letitia (A/Capt. E.H. Longsdon, RN) departed the Clyde around 1300/11 for the Northern Patrol.

HMS Repulse, HMS Naiad departed Scapa Flow around 1330/12 for patrol and also to provide cover for ships of the Northern Patrol. They were escorted by the destoyers HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN), HMS Mashona, HMS Matabele and HMS Punjabi.

HMS Naiad parted company on the 13th to proceed to Jan Mayen Island where a German weather / wireless station in Jameson Bay was to be raided.

HMS Repulse returned to Scapa Flow at 0015/19 being escorted by the destroyers HMS Ashanti (Cdr. W.G. Davis, RN), HMS Mashona and HMS Matabele. They had provided cover for HMS Naiad during her raid on Jan Mayen Island.

The battleship HMS Nelson arrived at Scapa Flow around 1630/13 escorted by the destryers Maori, HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Wright, RN), HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. F.J.G. Hewitt, RN) and Keppel.

Battleship HMS Rodney arrived at Scapa Flow around 1500/23rd. She had been joined at dawn the previous day by the destroyers HMS Beagle, HMS Brilliant, HMS Bulldog and HMS Electra. (1)

5 Dec 1940
The German blockade breaker Klaus Schoke (5830 GRT) was intercepted by HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) in the mid-Atlantic near the Azores. Unfortunately before the German ship can be captured it is scuttled by her own crew.

9 Dec 1940
Shortly before noon, the troopship Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN) and HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) made rendez-vous with the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN) shortly before noon. Around 1500 hours the armed merchant cruiser HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) also joined. All these ships were to proceed to the U.K. except for HMS Velox which parted company around 1900 hours to return to Gibraltar. (2)

12 Dec 1940
Shortly after noon, the troopship Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) and the destroyers HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN) were joined by the AA cruiser HMS Cairo (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN and the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN), HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Hibbard, RCN) and HMS Bradford (Lt.Cdr. M.T. Collier, RN). (2)

13 Dec 1940
Around 0800 hours, the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Bradford (Lt.Cdr. M.T. Collier, RN) parted company with the troopship Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), AA cruiser HMS Cairo (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN),armed merchant cruiser HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) and the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN) and HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Hibbard, RCN) which continued on towards the Clyde. (2)

14 Dec 1940
The troopship Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), AA cruiser HMS Cairo (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) and the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN) and HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Hibbard, RCN) arrived in the Clyde. (2)

10 Jan 1941
HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) departed Greenock. They escorted the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN) and troopship Duchess of York (20021 GRT, built 1929) in the Clyde area until late afternoon when they separated and proceeded to sea. They were to rendez-vous with several warships that were approaching the U.K. from the west and south.

Rendez-vous was effected around 0800 / 0900 hours on the 12th when the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) and the destroyers HMS Kelly, HMS Kelvin, HMS Kipling all arrived in approximate position 60°50'N, 09°50'W.

HMS Kenya, which had been escorting HMS Argus did not join. She set course for Plymouth where she arrived on the 14th.

HMS Punjabi arrived at Scapa Flow on 14 January 1941. It seems likely she had already been detached before the rendez-vous was effected.

On the 14th HMS Argus, HMS California escorted by HMS Kelvin split off for the Clyde where they arrived later the same day. HMS Kelvin was then ordered to proceed to the Humber to refit for which she departed the next day.

HMS Revenge set course for Portsmouth escorted by HMS Kelly, HMS Kipling.

At 1615/15 HMS Revenge, HMS Kelly and HMS Kipling were joined by HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) which had departed Plymouth at 1030/15.

HMS Revenge and her three escorting destroyers arrived at Portsmouth on the 16th.

27 Feb 1941

Convoy BHX 112.

This convoy departed Bermuda on 27 February 1941 to join convoy HX 112 at sea.

On departure from Bermuda the convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Beduin (Norwegian (tanker), 8136 GRT, built 1936), British Commodore (British (tanker), 6865 GRT, built 1923), British Sincerity (British (tanker), 8538 GRT, built 1939), Cistula (Dutch (tanker), 8097 GRT, built 1939), Diloma (British (tanker), 8146 GRT, built 1939), Elona (British (tanker), 6192 GRT, built 1936), Erodona (British (tanker), 6207 GRT, built 1937), Franche-Comte (British (tanker), 9314 GRT, built 1936), Ixion (British, 10263 GRT, built 1912), Katendrecht (British (tanker), 5099 GRT, built 1925), Ocana (British (tanker), 6256 GRT, built 1938), Oilreliance (British (tanker), 5666 GRT, built 1929), Robert F. Hand (British (tanker), 12197 GRT, built 1933), San Cipriano (British (tanker), 7966 GRT, built 1937), Traveller (British, 3963 GRT, built 1922) and Winamac (British (tanker), 8621 GRT, built 1926).

On departure from Bermuda the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN).

The convoy joined convoy HX 112 in the morning of 5 March 1941. HMS California then parted company.

30 Mar 1941
HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) picks up 39 survivors from the British merchant Coultarn. that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-69 southwest of Iceland in position 60°18'N, 29°28'W.

16 Apr 1941

Convoy HX 121.

This convoy departed Halifax on 16 April 1941.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Antar (British, 5222 GRT, built 1941), Beechwood (British, 4987 GRT, built 1940), Belinda (Norwegian (tanker), 8325 GRT, built 1939), British Endurence (British (tanker), 8406 GRT, built 1936), Caledonia (British, 9892 GRT, built 1936), Capsa (British (tanker), 8229 GRT, built 1931), Capulet (British (tanker), 8190 GRT, built 1932), City of Barcelona (British, 5787 GRT, built 1930), Cornwall (British, 10605 GRT, built 1920), Danby (British, 4281 GRT, built 1937), Darina (British, 8113 GRT, built 1939), Denbydale (British, (Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker), 8145 GRT, built 1941), Dordrecht (British, 4402 GRT, built 1928), El Ciervo (British (tanker), 5841 GRT, built 1923), Empire Puma (British, 7777 GRT, built 1920), Empire Snow (British, 6327 GRT, built 1941), Empire Wildebeeste (British, 5631 GRT, built 1918), Ensis (British (tanker), 6207 GRT, built 1937), Grena (British (tanker), 8117 GRT, built 1934), Hilda Knudsen (British (tanker), 9178 GRT, built 1928), Indochinois (British, 6966 GRT, built 1939), King Arthur (British, 5224 GRT, built 1928), Kolsnaren (Swedish, 2465 GRT, built 1923), La Pampa (British, 4149 GRT, built 1938), Langleebrook (British, 4246 GRT, built 12930), Langleetarn (British, 4908 GRT, built 1929), Lombardy (British, 3379 GRT, built 1921), Manchester Division (British, 6048 GRT, built 1918), Manchester Spinner (British, 4767 GRT, built 1918), Mary Kingsley (British, 5021 GRT, built 1930), Mirza (Dutch (tanker), 7991 GRT, built 1929), Moena (Dutch, 9286 GRT, built 1923), Oilfield (British (tanker), 8516 GRT, built 1938), Opalia (British (tanker), 6195 GRT, built 1938), Polartank (Norwegian (tanker), 6356 GRT, built 1930), Port Hardy (British, 8897 GRT, built 1923), Rembrandt (British, 5559 GRT, built 1941), Rookley (British, 4998 GRT, built 1940), Saint Bertrand (British, 5522 GRT, built 1929), San Emiliano (British (tanker), 8071 GRT, built 1939), San Felix (British (tanker), 13037 GRT, built 1921), Sourabaya (British (tanker), 10107 GRT, built 1915), Stanford (British, 5969 GRT, built 1941), Stanley (British, 6463 GRT, built 1919), Tahchee (British (tanker), 6508 GRT, built 1914), Trehata (British, 4817 GRT, built 1918), Tresillian (British, 4743 GRT, built 1925) and Tudor Prince (British, 1914 GRT, built 1940).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) and the corvettes HMCS Chambly (T/A/Cdr. J.D. Prentice, RCN), HMCS Collingwood (T/Lt. W. Woods, RCNR) and HMCS Orillia (T/Lt.Cdr. W.E.S. Briggs, RCNR). The corvettes however soon returned to Halifax.

Around 1000PQ(+3.5)/19, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) joined the convoy. She had departed Halifax on 17 April 1941.

HMS Revenge parted company with the convoy around 2245ON(+1.5)/23 to return to Halifax.

In the afternoon of 25 April the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. H.T. Armstrong, RN, HMS Malcolm (Cdr. C.D. Howard-Johnston, DSC, RN), HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN) and corvette HMS Violet (Lt.Cdr. K.M. Nicholson, RNR) joined the convoy.

Around 0930Z/27, HMS California parted company with the convoy to proceed to Iceland escorted by HMS Malcolm.

In the morning of the 28th the corvettes, HMS Abelia (T/Lt. F. Ardern, RNR), HMS Gladiolus (Lt.Cdr. H.M.C. Sanders, DSC, RNR), HMS Veronica (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) D.F. White, RNR), A/S trawlers HMS St. Elstan (T/Lt. G. Butcher, RNVR), HMS St. Kenan (T/Lt. R.R. Simpson, RNR), HMS St. Zeno (T/Lt. J.K. Craig, RNVR), HMS Vizalma (T/Lt. M.M. Firth, RNVR) and the rescue ship Zaafaran (British, 1559 GRT, built 1921) joined the convoy.

In the afternoon of the 28th the destroyers HMS Douglas (Cdr. W.E. Banks, DSC, RN), HMS Roxborough (Lt. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) and HMS Leamington (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN) joined the convoy.

Also on 28 April 1941, German submarines attacked the convoy. The tanker Capulet was torpedoed and damaged by U-552. Later on the 28th, the tankers Caledonia, Oilfield and transport Port Hardy were torpedoed and sunk by U-96.

On 2 May 1941, the drifting wreck of the abandoned Capulet was finshed off by the German submarine U-201.

The convoy arrived in British waters on 3 May 1941.

20 May 1941

Convoy HX 128.

This convoy departed Halifax on 20 May 1941.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Alaska (Norwegian, 5681 GRT, built 1918), Alhama (British, 1352 GRT, built 1938), Aymeric (British, 5196 GRT, built 1919), Baron Haig (British, 3391 GRT, built 1926), Barrwhin (British, 4998 GRT, built 1929), British Colony (British (tanker), 6917 GRT, built 1927), Cape Clear (British, 5085 GRT, built 1939), Dorcasia (British (tanker), 8053 GRT, built 1938), Empire Kittyhawk (British, 5675 GRT, built 1918), Empire Mahseer (British, 5087 GRT, built 1920), Empire Storm (British, 7290 GRT, built 1941), Empire Sunbeam (British, 6711 GRT, built 1941), Gloucester City (British, 3071 GRT, built 1919), Harperley (British, 4586 GRT, built 1930), Hjelmaren (Swedish, 2467 GRT, built 1922), Inger Lise (Norwegian, 1582 GRT, built 1939), La Paz (British, 6548 GRT, built 1920), Lancaster Castle (British, 5172 GRT, built 1937), Leiv Eiriksson (Norwegian (tanker), 9952 GRT, built 1936), Llanover (British, 4959 GRT, built 1928), Montreal City (British, 3066 GRT, built 1920), Oltenia (British (tanker), 6394 GRT, built 1928), Pilar de Larringaga (British, 7046 GRT, built 1918), Silvercedar (British, 4354 GRT, built 1924), Skaraas (Norwegian (tanker), 9826 GRT, built 1936), Swiftpool (British, 5205 GRT, built 1929), Thorshavet (Norwegian (tanker), 11015 GRT, built 1938), Thorshavn (Norwegian (tanker), 6869 GRT, built 1930), Tilapa (British, 5392 GRT, built 1928), Torborg (British (tanker), 6042 GRT, built 1921) and Treminnard (British, 4964 GRT, built 1922).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) and the corvettes HMCS Alberni (Lt. G.O. Baugh, RCNR) and HMCS Rimouski (T/Lt. J.W. Bonner, RCNR). The corvettes soon returned to Halifax though.

Three recently transferred US Coast Guard Cutters were also with the convoy, though these had not been re-armed and worked up. These were the HMS Sennen (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN), HMS Totland (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) S.G.C. Rawson, RN) and HMS Walney (?).

On 24 May 1941, after the news was received that German warships were trying to break out into the Atlantic, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) departed Halifax to join the convoy. She overtook and joined the convoy around 1345O/28.

In the morning of May 27th, Convoy BHX 128, merged with convoy HX 128. This was a few days later then had been intended. Convoy BHX 128 was made up of the following merchant vessels; Amsterdam (Dutch (tanker), 7329 GRT, built 1922), British Chivalry (British (tanker), 7118 GRT, built 1929), British Diligence (British (tanker), 8408 GRT, built 1937), British Fusilier (British, 6943 GRT, built 1923), Cardita (British (tanker), 8237 GRT, built 1931), Charles Racine (Norwegian (tanker), 9957 GRT, built 1937), Clavella (British (tanker), 8097 GRT, built 1939), Designer (British, 5495 GRT, built 1928), Drammensfjord (Norwegian, 5339 GRT, built 1920), Eulima (British (tanker), 6207 GRT, built 1937), San Cirilo (British (tanker), 8012 GRT, built 1937) and Thistlegorm (British, 4898 GRT, built 1940). They had departed Bermuda on 18 May escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Montclare (Capt.(Retd.) H.M. Spreckley, RN) which parted company after the convoys had merged.

Around 1900O/29, Convoy HX 128 was temporary joined by Convoy SC 32 and her escort, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Laconia (Capt.(Retd.) G.G.P. Hewett, RN). Convoy SC 32 took station astern of convoy HX 128.

Around 2200Z/31, HMS Revenge and HMS Laconia parted company with the convoys to return to Halifax or to proceed to Reykjavik respectively.

HMS California eventually went with the convoy to the U.K. although it had originally been intended for her to detach and proceed to Reykjavik.

A/S escorts commenced to join the convoy as from 30 or 31 May but sources vary on their composition. [this will have to be researched further in the future.]

The convoy arrived in U.K. waters on 6 June 1941.

11 Jun 1941

Convoy OB 334.

This convoy departed the U.K. on 11 June 1941.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Alexia (British (tanker), 8016 GRT, built 1935), Armadale (British, 5066 GRT, built 1929), Athelprincess (British (tanker), 8882 GRT, built 1929), Barberrys (British, 5170 GRT, built 1920), Baron Carnegie (British, 3178 GRT, built 1925), Barrington Court (British, 4910 GRT, built 1924), Benledi (British, 5943 GRT, built 1930), Bic Island (British, 4000 GRT, built 1917), British Colony (British (tanker), 6917 GRT, built 1927), British Commodore (British (tanker), 6865 GRT, built 1923), British Destiny (British (tanker), 8470 GRT, built 1937), British Faith (British, 6955 GRT, built 1928), Bulysses (British, 7519 GRT, built 1927), Bur (Norwegian, 4343 GRT, built 1917), Cairnesk (British, 5007 GRT, built 1926), Carelia (British (tanker), 8062 GRT, built 1938), Chr. Th. Boe (Norwegian (tanker), 6192 GRT, built 1930), Clan Macilwraith (British, 4839 GRT, built 1924), Clan Macwhirter (British, 5941 GRT, built 1918), Comanchee (British (tanker), 6837 GRT, built 1936), El Aleto (British (tanker), 7203 GRT, built 1927), Empire Crossbill (British, 5463 GRT, built 1919), Empire Waterhen (British, 6004 GRT, built 1920), Industria (British, 4850 GRT, built 1940), Jade (British, 930 GRT, built 1938), Lodestone (British, 4877 GRT, built 1938), Luxor (British (tanker), 6554 GRT, built 1930), Mandalay (British, 5529 GRT, built 1911), Mendoza (British, 8233 GRT, built 1919), Modavia (British, 4858 GRT, built 1927), Morgenen (Norwegian (tanker), 7093 GRT, built 1930), Nova (Norwegian, 1382 GRT, built 1925), Petter (Norwegian (tanker), 9109 GRT, built 1935), President de Vogue (Norwegian (tanker), 9320 GRT, built 1935), Ramsay (British, 4855 GRT, built 1930), Redgate (British, 4323 GRT, built 1929), Saganaga (British, 5454 GRT, built 1935), Sepia (British (tanker), 6214 GRT, built 1936), South Wales (British, 5619 GRT, built 1929), Stigstad (British, 5964 GRT, built 1927), Taron (British (tanker), 8054 GRT, built 1936), Temple Inn (British, 5218 GRT, built 1940), Tiba (Dutch, 5239 GRT, built 1938), Tower Field (British, 4241 GRT, built 1935), Trident (British, 4317 GRT, built 1917), Ulysses (British, 14647 GRT, built 1913), Vancouver (British (tanker), 5729 GRT, built 1928) and Vardefjell (Norwegian (tanker), GRT, built 1940).

The merchant vessel Baron Carnegie which had departed Avonmouth, was sunk on 11 June 1941 by German torpedo aircraft off St. David's Head in position 51°55'N, 05°34'W.

On leaving UK waters the convoy was escorted by escorted by the destroyer HMS Beagle (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and Bar, RN), corvettes HMS Gladiolus (Lt.Cdr. H.M.C. Sanders, DSC, RNR), HMS Nigella (T/Lt. T.W. Coyne, RNR), HMS Orchis (T/Lt. H. Vernon, RNR), HMS Polyanthus (Lt. A. Hague, RNR), minesweepers HMS Seagull ( Cdr.(Retd.) R.H.V. Sivewright, RN), HMS Sharpshooter (Lt.Cdr. D. Lampen, RN) and the A/S trawlers HMS Ayrshire (T/Lt. L.J.A. Gradwell, RNVR), HMS Lady Madeleine (T/Lt. W.G. Ogden, RNVR) and HMS St. Loman (T/Lt. R.C. Warwick, RNR). Catapult ship HMS Maplin (A/Cdr. J.O. Davies, RNR) was also with the convoy. HMS Beagle, HMS Gladiolus, HMS Orchis, HMS Nigella, HMS Polyanthus, HMS Seagull, HMS Sharpshooter, HMS Ayrshire, HMS Lady Madeleine, HMS St. Loman and HMS Maplin were detached on the 17th after having been relieved by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Aurania (A/Capt. I.W. Whitehorn, RN), destroyers HMS Burnham (Cdr. J. Bostock, DSC, RN), HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Cousins, RN) and the corvettes HMS Dianthus (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.E. Bridgman, RNR) and HMCS Spikenard (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Shadforth, RCNR). Destroyer HMS Chesterfield (Lt.Cdr. E. Gleave, RNR) was briefly (between 1720N/19 and 2120N/19) with the convoy on the 19th, she rejoined the convoy at 0755O/20, after having reported the position of the convoy by W/T.

Battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) and the armed merchant cruisers HMS Bulolo (Capt.(Retd.) R.L. Hamer, RN) and HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) joined the convoy in the late afternoon / early evening of the 20th.

Around 1500P/24, HMS Revenge, HMS Bulolo and HMS California parted company with the convoy in position 45°29'N, 55°24'W to proceed directly to Halifax.

Around 1700P/24, HMS Burnham, HMS Chesterfield and HMS Churchill parted company with the convoy in position 45°29'N, 56°21'W to proceed to St. Johns.

Around 0400P/25, the convoy was dispersed although several ships had already been detached while en-route. HMS Aurania, HMS Dianthus and HMCS Spikenard continued on the Halifax with only three ships destined for there.

25 Jun 1941
The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) and the armed merchant cruisers HMS Bulolo (Capt.(Retd.) R.L. Hamer, RN) and HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) all arrived at Halifax after convoy escort duty. (3)

Sources

  1. ADM 199/379
  2. ADM 53/113049
  3. ADM 53/113743 + ADM 53/113784 + ADM 53/115013

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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