Allied Warships

HMS Canton (F 97)

Armed Merchant Cruiser

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeArmed Merchant Cruiser
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 97 
Built byA. Stephen & Sons Ltd. (Glasgow, Scotland) 
Ordered 
Laid down 
Launched14 Apr 1938 
Commissioned4 Nov 1939 
End service10 Apr 1944 
History

On 19 October 1939 the passenger ship Canton of the P. & O. Steam Navigation Co Ltd, London was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. Conversion was completed on 4 November 1939.

Displacement: 15784 BRT
Armament: 9x 152mm, 4x 102mm
Speed: 19 knots
HMS Canton was also equipped with an aircraft hanger and a Kingfisher single engine aircraft and an aircraft recovery crane, she was also distinctive as she had been fitted with a tripod mast behind the bridge. Her slightly raked funnel gave her a "Cruiser" appearance.

Career:
December 39 - May 40: Northern Patrol
June 40 - July 40: Western Approaches Command
August 40 - November 41: Freetown Escort Force
December 41 - August 42: South Atlantic Station
September 42 - April 44: Eastern Fleet (Indian Ocean)

On 10 April 1944 returned and used as troopship by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). On 28 September 1947 returned to owner.

 

Commands listed for HMS Canton (F 97)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

CommanderFromTo
1Capt. George Devereux Belben, DSC, RN26 Sep 193910 Feb 1941
2A/Capt. Charles Alfred Godfrey Nichols, RN10 Feb 19412 Mar 1942
3A/Capt. Geoffrey Neame Loriston-Clarke, RN2 Mar 194223 Sep 1942
4A/Cdr. (reitred) Richard John Edward Daintree, RN23 Sep 194215 Aug 1943
5Capt. Joseph Johnstone Eadie Barclay, RNR15 Aug 1943Apr 1944

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 Canton include:


10 Sep 1940

Convoy AP 3.

This convoy departed Liverpool on 10 September 1940 for Suez where it arrived on 22 October 1940.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Athlone Castle (British, 25564 GRT, built 1936), Brisbane Star (British, 12791 GRT, built 1937), Brittanic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Clan Campbell (British, 7255 GRT, built 1937), Clan MacArthur (British, 10528 GRT, built 1936), Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939), Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Glaucus (British, 7596 GRT, built 1921), Imperial Star (British, 12427 GRT, built 1935) and Ulster Prince (British, 3791 GRT, built 1930).

On departure from the U.K. the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Havelock (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSC, RN), HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, RN), HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, RN) and HMS Hurricane (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Simms, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) and HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.H. Craske, RN). They remained with the convoy until 12 September.

In the morning of 11 September the light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) joined the convoy until 0745/12 when she returned to the Clyde after having been ordered to do so.

Ocean escort joined around the time the destroyers left and was made up of the armed merchant cruisers HMS Cicilia (Capt.(Retd.) V.B. Cardwell, OBE, RN) and HMS Wolfe (A/Capt.(Retd.) W.G.A. Shuttleworth, RN). They remained with the convoy until it arrived at Freetown on 23 September 1940.

From 25 September 1940 to 4 October 1940, when the convoy arrived at Capetown, it was escorted by the armed merchant cruisers HMS Canton (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN) and HMS Carnarvon Castle (Capt.(Retd.) H.N.M. Hardy, DSO, RN).

On departure from Capetown on 6 October, the convoy was escorted by HMS Canton until 9 October when she was relieved by HMS Carthage (Capt.(Retd.) B.O. Bell-Salter, RN). This armed merchant cruiser remained with the convoy until 15 October when she was relieved by the heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire. (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN) which remained with the convoy until 20 October.

On 18 October the convoy was near Aden and the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), destroyers HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, RN) and sloop HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) joined.

The escort parted company with the convoy on 20 October except HMS Kandahar which remained with the convoy until it's arrival at Suez two days later. On arrival at Suez two more ships were escorting the convoy, these were the sloop HMIS Clive (Cdr. H.R. Inigo-Jones, RIN) and the minesweeper HMS Stoke (Cdr.(Retd.) C.J.P. Hill, RN). Presumably these had joined on 20 October.

24 Feb 1941
HMS Thunderbolt (Lt. C.B. Crouch, DSO, RN) an unidentified ship in position 53°55'N, 26°49'W which opens fire despite repeated challenges by Thunderbolt, forcing her to dive.

The ship was the armed merchant cruiser HMS Canton (A/Capt. C.A.G. Nichols, RN) which mistook her for a U-boat. (1)

26 Dec 1941
HMS Devonshire (Capt. R.D. Oliver, DSC, RN) departed Freetown to patrol in the mid-Atlantic. She is to make rendezvous with the armed merchant cruisers HMS Canton (A/Capt. C.A.G. Nichols, RN) and HMS Cicilia (Capt.(Retd.) V.B. Cardwell, OBE, RN) which were also to patrol in the same general area.

They made rendezvous on the morning of the 29th and instructions for patrol were passed from HMS Devonshire to both auxiliary cruisers. (2)

24 Jan 1943

Combined convoy WS 26 / KMF 8.

This combined convoy was formed off Oversay on 24 January 1943. The convoy was divided into convoys WS 26 and KMF 8 at sea on 29 January 1943.

The combined convoy was made up of the following (troop) transports; Antenor (British, 11174 GRT, built 1925), Arundel Castle (British, 19118 GRT, built 1921), California (British, 16792 GRT, built 1923), Chyebassa (British, 7043 GRT, built 1942), Circassia (British, 11136 GRT, built 1937), Dempo (British, 17024 GRT, built 1931), Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939), Duchess of Richmond (British, 20022 GRT, built 1928), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Dunnottar Castle (British, 15007 GRT, built 1936), Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Empire Pride (British, 9248 GRT, built 1941), Empress of Canada (British, 21517 GRT, built 1922), Highland Chieftain (British, 14135 GRT, built 1929), Letitia (British, 13595 GRT, built 1925), Maloja (British, 20914 GRT, built 1923), Mooltan (British, 20952 GRT, built 1923), Orduna (British, 15507 GRT, built 1914), Rembrandt (Dutch, 8126 GRT, built 1941), Ruys (British, 14155 GRT, built 1937), Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921), Sibajak (British, 12226 GRT, built 1927), Stratheden (British, 23722 GRT, built 1937), Strathnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931), Tiwali (British, 8178 GRT, built 1931) and Volendam (British, 15434 GRT, built 1922).

The aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. H.L.St.J. Fancourt, RN) was also part of the convoy.

On assembly off Oversay the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruisers HMS Canton ( A/Cdr.(Retd.) R.J.E. Daintree, RN), HMS Cicilia (Capt.(Retd.) J.M. Scott, RN), destroyers HMS Relentless (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN), HMS Clare (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Stewart, DSC, RNR), escort destroyers RHS Adrias, RHS Miaoulis, sloops HMS Egret (Cdr. C.R.S. Farquhar, RN), Savorgnan de Brazza, cutters HMS Banff (Lt. P. Brett, RNR), HMS Fishguard (Lt.Cdr. H.L. Pryse, RNR) and the frigate HMS Test (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.B. Collinson, RD, RN).

On 25 January 1943 the destroyer HMS Clare parted company to return to Londonderry. The escort destroyer RHS Miaoulis had lost touch with the convoy during the night of 24/25 January 1943. She was unable to regain touch and was also ordered to return to Londonderry. Her sister ship RHS Adrias had also lost touch but apparently was able to regain contact.

Around 1730A/26, the Antenor parted company with defects to return to the Clyde. It appears that she was escorted back to the Clyde by the sloop Savorgnan de Brazza.

Around 1630A/29, the convoy split into two parts.

Convoy KMF 8 continued on towards the Mediterranean and was made up of the transports Circassia, Duchess of York, Dunnottar Castle, Empire Pride, Letitia, Samaria, Strathnaver, Tawali and the aircraft carrier HMS Argus. They were escorted by HMS Egret, HMS Banff, HMS Fishguard and HMS Test.

Around 1630A/30, HMS Argus and the transport Letitia parted company with convoy KMF 8 to proceed to Gibraltar. They entered Gibraltar Bay around 0330A/31. Presumably they were escorted by the frigate HMS Test which also arrived at Gibraltar on this day.

On 31 January the destroyer HMS Verity, (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN) and sloop HMS Enchantress (Lt.Cdr. A.E.T. Christie, OBE, RN) joined convoy KMF 8 having departed Gibraltar on 30 January.

Later on 31 January the destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN) and the corvettes HMCS Alberni (Lt. I.H. Bell, RCNVR), HMCS Baddeck (T/Lt. J. Brock, RCNVR), HMCS Lunenburg (T/Lt. W.E. Harrison, RCNVR), HMCS Port Arthur (T/A/Lt.Cdr. E.T. Simmons, DSC, RCNVR) and HMCS Summerside (T/A/Lt.Cdr. F.O. Gerity, RCNR) joined the escort of convoy KMF 8. They had departed Mers-el-Kebir earlier on 31 January. On the joining of HMS Laforey and HMS Lookout, HMS Verity was detached to join convoy GUF 4 as was the corvette HMCS Port Arthur.

The transport Strathnaver was detached to proceed to Oran escorted by HMCS Alberni, HMCS Baddeck, HMCS Luneburg and HMCS Summerside.

The remainder of convoy KMF 8 arrived at Algiers on 1 February escorted by HMS Laforey, HMS Lookout, HMS Egret, HMS Enchantress, HMS Banff and HMS Fishguard.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When the convoys split up, WS 26 continued on to Freetown. It was made up of the transports . They were escorted by the armed merchant cruisers HMS Canton, HMS Cilicia, destroyers HMS Quadrant, HMS Relentless and the escort destroyer RHS Adrias.

On 31 January, the repair ship HMS Wayland (A/Capt.(Retd.) W.S. Carson, RN) and the transport Leopoldville (Belgian, 11509 GRT, built 1929) escorted by the destroyers HMS Racehorse (Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN), HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN) and HMAS Quickmatch (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, DSC, RAN) joined. They had departed Gibraltar on 29 January. Also on 31 January the destroyers HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, DSO, RN) and HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) joined. They had departed Gibraltar on 30 January.

The destroyers HMS Quadrant, HMS Relentless and escort destroyer RHS Adrias parted company on 31 January to fuel at Casablanca from where they departed again on 1 February to rejoin the convoy.

On 4 February the transport Leopoldville parted company with the convoy escorted by the destroyer HMS Redoubt. They arrived at Bathurst on 5 February.

Convoy WS 26 arrived at Freetown on 6 February 1943 escorted by the armed merchant cruisers HMS Canton, HMS Cilicia, destroyers HMS Quality, HMS Quadrant HMAS Quiberon, HMAS Quickmatch, HMS Racehorse, HMS Relentless and the escort destroyer RHS Adrias.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Convoy WS 26 departed Freetown on 9 February for South Africa. It was made up of the transports Arundel Castle, California, Chyebassa, Dempo, Dilwara (British, 11080 GRT, built 1936), Dominion Monarch, Duchess of Richmond, Empress of Canada, Highland Chieftain, Maloja, Mooltan, Orduna, Rembrandt, Ruys, Sibajak, Stratheden, Volendam and the repair ship HMS Wayland.

On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruisers HMS Canton, HMS Cilicia, armed boarding vessel Corinthian, destroyers HMS Quality, HMS Quiberon, HMS Quickmatch, HMS Racehorse and the escort destroyer RHS Adrias.

On 12 February HMS Corinthian and RHS Adrias parted company with the convoy.

At 1145AB(-1.5)/13, the destroyer HMS Relentless joined the convoy coming from Lagos having departed there on 12 February immediately after being undocked.

Also on the 13th the corvette FFS Commandant d'Estienne d'Orves joined the convoy escort.

In the morning and early afternoon of the 14th, HMS Racehorse and HMAS Quickmatch fuelled from HMS Canton.

On the 15th the destroyers HMS Quality and HMAS Quiberon arrived at Porte Noire to fuel. After doing so they departed again to rejoin the convoy. Also on the 15th the Commandant d'Estienne d'Orves fuelled from HMS Canton.

Around 2215O/20, the escort destroyer HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN) joined the convoy coming from Saldanha Bay.

On 22 February the Capetown section of the convoy, made up of Arundel Castle, California, Cheyebassa, Duchess of Richmond, Highland Chieftain, Orduna, Ruys, Sibajak and HMS Wayland arrived there with part of the escort, some of which then went to Simonstown.

The light cruiser HMS Ceres (Capt. C.C.A. Allen, RN) joined the Durban section as did the corvette HMS Genista (Lt.Cdr. R.M. Pattinson, DSC, RNR). This corvette was later detached and arrived at Port Elizabeth on 24 February.

The remaining ships proceeded to Durban arriving there on 25 February escorted by HMS Ceres, HMS Cicilia, HMAS Quiberon, HMAS Quickmatch and HMS Racehorse.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On 26 February 1943 the Capetown section departed there to proceed towards Durban. It was now made up of the transports Arundel Castle, California, Cheybassa, Highland Chieftain, Orduna and HMS Wayland. The convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Canton, destroyer HMS Relentless and the escort destroyers HMS Catterick (Lt. A. Tyson, RN) and HMS Blackmore.

At 0115C/1, HMS Relentless was detached to proceed ahead to Durban to fuel.

On completion of fuelling she returned from Durban together with the corvette HMS Freesia (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.A. Cherry, RNR), and the minesweepers HMIS Carnatic (Lt. H.J.D. Hamilton, RIN) and Commandant Duboc.

Meanwhile the corvette HMS Jasmine (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.D.B. Coventry, RNR) had also joined the convoy escort.

HMS Blackmore and HMS Catterick also went to Durban to fuel. They returned later together with the light cruisers HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.B. Crane, RN) and HMS Ceres.

HMS Canton parted company with the convoy and entered Durban.

Transports that joined coming from Durban were the City of Paris (British, 10902 GRT, built 1922), Dempo, Dilwara, Dominion Monarch, Lancashire (British, 9445 GRT, built 1917), Maloja, Mooltan, Rembrandt, Selandia (South African, 8482 GRT, built 1938) and Stratheden. The repair ship HMS Resource (Capt.(Retd.) D.B. O’Connell, RN) also joined the convoy. The Dilwara however returned to Durban with defects shortly after sailing.

Around 1830C/3, HMS Jasmine and HMS Freesia parted company.

Around 0530C/4, HMS Relentless, HMS Blackmore and HMS Catterick parted company.

Around 1500D/6, the Lancashire was detached to Tamatave escorted by the Commandant Duboc.

Around 0300C/8, HMS Ceres parted company with the convoy to proceed to Diego Suarez.

Around 0800CD(-3.5)/9, HMS Resource was detached from the convoy to proceed to Kilindini escorted by HMS Birmingham. The heavy cruiser HMS Hawkins (Capt. G.A. French, RN) had joined just before.

Around 1200D/10, the heavy cruiser HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN) joined the convoy.

Around 0700D/11, the convoy split up into the Aden section and the Bombay section.

The Aden section was made up of the Arundel Castle, City of Paris, Highland Chieftain, Maloja, Orduna, Rembrandt and Selandia. They were escorted by HMS Frobisher. They arrived off Aden on 15 March 1943 where the convoy was dispersed.

The Bombay section was made up of the California, Chyebassa, Dempo, Dominion Monarch, Mooltan and Stratheden. They were escorted by HMS Hawkins. They arrived at Bombay on 17 March 1943.

16 Mar 1943

Combined convoy WS 28 / KMS 11.

This combined convoy was formed off Oversay on 16 March 1943. The convoy was divided into convoys WS 28 and KMS 11 at sea on 21 March 1943.

The combined convoy was made up of the following (troop) transports; Banfora (British, 9472 GRT, built 1914), Brittanic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Cuba (British, 11420 GRT, built 1923), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Empire Might (British, 9209 GRT, built 1942), Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (Dutch, 19429 GRT, built 1930), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Orontes (British, 20097 GRT, built 1925), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Nea Hellas (British, 16991 GRT, built 1922), Perthshire (British, 10496 GRT, built 1936), Rangitata (British, 16737 GRT, built 1929), Reina del Pacifico (17702 GRT, built 1931), Sobieski (Polish, 11030 GRT, built 1939), Strathnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931), Tegelberg (British, 10496 GRT, built 1936), Waipawa (British, 12436 GRT, built 1934), Winchester Castle (British, 20012 GRT, built 1930) and Windsor Castle (British, 19141 GRT, built 1922).

Also the naval auxiliaries HMS Bulolo (Capt.(Retd.) R.L. Hamer, RN), HMS Keren (A/Cdr. S.E. Crewe-Read, RN), HMS Largs (Cdr. E.A. Divers, RNR) and HMS Ulster Monarch (Lt.Cdr. N.A.F. Kingscote, RNR) were part of the convoy.

On assembly off Oversay the following escorts were with the convoy; sloops HMS Wren (Lt.Cdr. R.M. Aubrey, RN, with the S.O. 2nd Escort Group on board, Capt. F.J. Walker, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Woodpecker (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) R.E.S. Hugonin, DSC, RN), destroyer HMS Douglas (Lt.Cdr. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Badsworth (Lt. G.T.S. Gray, DSC, RN), HMS Eggesford (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Austin, RN), HMS Whaddon (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Goathland (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Pumphrey, RN, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and ORP Krakowiak (Lt.Cdr. W. Maracewicz, ORP).

On 21 March the convoy split up into two sections, KMF 11, made up of Banfora, Cuba, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Ormonde, Orion, Nea Hellas, Rangitata, Windsor Castle and HMS Ulster Monarch proceeded to Algiers where it arrived on 23 March 1943 escorted by the original escort minus HMS Douglas which put into Gibraltar on 22 March with damage to her port propeller. After inspection it was apparent that she was able to continue but she was not to exceed 22 knots so it was decided that she could rejoin the convoy. All five escort destroyers also put into Gibraltar to fuel but departed again later the same day to rejoin the convoy. HMS Ulster Monarch also put into Gibraltar.

At 0254/23, the Windsor Castle was torpedoed by a German He.111 from I/KG 26 in position 37°28'N, 01°10'E. The passengers (troops) were taken off by HMS Wren, HMS Eggesford and HMS Whaddon. The last two ships reported to be dangerously overloaded with survivors.

Three tugs were sailed to go to the damaged ship assistance, Salvestor from Algiers, Hengist from Gibraltar and Restive from Oran.

Also the destroyer HMS Loyal (Lt.Cdr. H.E.F. Tweedie, DSC, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Lamerton (Lt.Cdr. C.R. Purse, DSC and Bar, RN), which were on A/S patrol off Algiers were ordered to proceed to the convoy. Also the destroyer HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN) and escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN) and HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN) were ordered to do the same sailing from Oran.

At 1027/3, it was reported that Windsor Castle was abandoned and slowly sinking and the HMS Loyal had taken off the crew. HMS Whaddon and HMS Eggesford were proceeding to Algiers covered by HMS Douglas.

At 1621/3, Windsor Castle was still afloat and HMS Farndale was ettempting to take her in tow. The ship however sank suddenly at 1724/3. HMS Eskimo, HMS Loyal, HMS Calpe, HMS Farndale, Hengist and Restive then proceeded to Oran while HMS Lamerton and Salvestor proceeded to Algiers.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WS 28, made up of Brittanic, Duchess of Bedford, Empire Might, Monarch of Bermuda, Orontes, Otranto, Perthshire, Reina del Pacifico, Sobieski, Strathnaver, Tegelberg, Waipawa, Winchester Castle, HMS Bulolo, HMS Keren and HMS Largs.

To escort these ships the destroyers HMS Malcolm (Cdr. J.M. Money, RN) and HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. S.R.J. Woods, RNR) sailed from Casablanca on 20 March and the destroyers HMS Wolverine (Lt. I.M. Clegg, RN) and HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN) sailed from Gibraltar also on 20 March. They joined the convoy in the morning of March 21st after which the convoy split up.

Another destroyer, HMS Ashanti (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), departed Gibraltar on 21 March and she joined the convoy later the same day.

On 22 March the transport Empire Might reported a fire in her stokehold rendering her immobile. She was then towed to Dakar by HMS Ashanti.

The remainder of convoy WS 28 arrived at Freetown on 27 March 1943.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Convoy WS 28 departed Freetown for South Africa on 30 March 1943.

The composition of the convoy was the same on departed as in which it had arrived at Freetown three days earlier.

Escort was provided on departure from Freetown by the light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. D.P. Evans, RN), destroyers HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN), HMS Quadrant, HMS Malcolm, HMS Witch and HMS Wolverine.

At 2359Z/30, HMS Ulster Monarch overtook and joined the convoy coming from Freetown.

At 0600A/4, HMS Redoubt and HMS Quadrant parted company with the convoy to refuel at Pointe Noire. They rejoined the convoy at 1212B/5.

At 1300B/5, HMS Malcolm, HMS Witch and HMS Wolverine were detached.

At 1420B/5, HMS Racehorse (Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) and HMS Relentless (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN) joined the escort.

On the 11th the convoy split up, Britannic, Duchess of Bedford, Monarch of Bermuda, Tegelberg, Waipawa and Winchester Castle went to Capetown apparently escorted by HMS Redoubt and HMS Relentless. HMS Largs and HMS Ulster Monarch went to Simonstown, as did HMS Kenya and HMS Quadrant and HMS Racehorce.

The destroyers HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Rotherham (Lt. J.R.L. Moore, RN) and HMS Foxhound (Cdr. C.J. Wynne-Edwards, DSC and Bar, RN) joined the remainder of the convoy (Orontes, Otranto, Perthshire, Reina del Pacifico, Sobieski, Strathnaver, HMS Bulolo and HMS Keren) which arrived at Durban on 14 April 1943.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On 15 April the 'Capetown section' of the convoy departed from there, it was made up of the same ships as that had arrived at Capetown but apparently without the Britannic. HMS Largs joined the convoy off Simonstown. Escort was provided by HMS Kenya, HMS Quadrant, HMS Redoubt and HMS Relentless.

Around noon on the 18th the 'Capetown section' joined up with the 'Durban section' which had departed from there escorted by HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN) and HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN) which also joined the convoy as escorts. HMS Quadrant parted company and proceeded to Durban.

At 2000C/20, the destroyers parted company to return to Aden.

At 1015D/24, the armed merchant cruisers HMS Canton ( A/Cdr.(Retd.) R.J.E. Daintree, RN) and HMS Chitral (A/Capt.(Retd.) G.W. Hoare-Smith, RN) joined the convoy to take over the escort. They had sailed from Kilindini on 22 April. HMS Kenya parted company with the convoy at noon and set course for Kilindini where she arrived on 25 April to join the Eastern Fleet.

At 2300D/27, HMS Chitral parted company with the convoy following which she proceeded to Bombay where she arrived on 1 May 1943.

On 30 April 1943 the convoy was dispersed off Aden. HMS Canton arrived at Aden later on the same day.

22 Mar 1943

Convoy CM 40.

This convoy departed Durban on 22 March 1943.

On departure from Durban the convoy was made up of the following transports; Cap Tourane (British, 8009 GRT, built 1923), City of Canterbury (British, 8331 GRT, built 1922), City of London (British, 8956 GRT, built 1907), Devonshire (British, 11275 GRT, built 1939), Dilwara (British, 11080 GRT, built 1936), Empire Trooper (British, 14106 GRT, built 1922), Empire Woodlark (British, 7793 GRT, built 1913), Khedive Ismael (British, 7290 GRT, built 1922) and Pulaski (Polish, 6345 GRT, built 1912).

The auxiliary fleet repair ship HMS Wayland (A/Capt.(Retd.) W.S. Carson, RN) was also part of the convoy.

On departure from Durban the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruisers HMS Canton (A/Cdr.(Retd.) R.J.E. Daintree, RN), HMS Chitral (A/Capt.(Retd.) G.W. Hoare-Smith, RN), destroyers HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Catterick (Lt.Cdr. A. Tyson, RN).

Around 1200C/26, HMAS Napier left the convoy. She returned to Durban around 1000B/28.

Around 1630C/26, HMS Chitral, HMS Quality and HMS Catterick parted company with the convoy. They returned to Durban around 1400B/28.

Around 1200C/30, The ' Aden section ' (CM 40A) of the convoy parted company. HMS Canton continued on with the ' Bombay section ' (CM 40B) which was made up of the City of Canterbury, City of London, Dilwara and Empire Trooper. They arrived at Bombay on 8 April 1943.

Meanwhile the ' Aden section ', which was made up of the Cap Tourane, Devonshire, Empire Woodlark, Khedive Ismael and Pulaski, was joined around 0840/1 by their escort, the light cruiser HMS Caradoc (Capt. J.W. Josselyn, DSC, RN) which had departed Kilindini around 0615C/1. They arrived at Aden on 8 April 1943.

19 May 1943

Combined convoy WS 30 / KMS 15.

This combined convoy was formed off Oversay on 19 May 1943. The convoy was divided into convoys WS 30 and KMS 15 at sea on 25 May 1943.

The combined convoy was made up of the following (troop) transports; Arawa (British, 14462 GRT, built 1922), Argentina (American, 20614 GRT, built 1929), Boissevain (Dutch, 14134 GRT, built 1937), Brisbane Star (British, 12791 GRT, built 1937), Deseado (British, 9641 GRT, built 1942), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), H.F. Alexander (American, 8357 GRT, built 1915), Indrapoera (Dutch, 10825 GRT, built 1925), Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (Dutch, 19429 GRT, built 1930), Letitia (British, 13595 GRT, built 1925), Mataroa (British, 12390 GRT, built 1922), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921), Siboney (American, 6938 GRT, built 1918), Sloterdijk (Dutch, 9230 GRT, built 1940), Staffordshire (British, 10683 GRT, built 1929) and Stirling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936).

The landing ships HMS Royal Scotsman (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Armstrong, DSC, RD, RNR) and HMS Royal Ulsterman (Lt.Cdr. W.R.K. Clark, DSC, RD RNR) were also part of the convoy.

On formation off Oversay the convoy was escorted by the aircraft carrier, heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk (Capt. R. Shelley, CBE, RN), destroyers HMS Sardonyx (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Gray, RD, RNR), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. P.G. Merriman, RN), HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), escort destroyers HMS Cleveland (Lt. J.K. Hamilton, RN), ORP Slazak (Lt.Cdr. R. Nalecz-Tyminski, ORP), sloops HMS Lowestoft (A/Cdr.(Retd.) L.H. Phillips, RN), HMS Wellington (Lt.Cdr. J.T. Jones, RD, RNR), HMS Weston (Cdr. L.F. Durnford-Slater, RN), Cutters HMS Gorleston (Cdr.(Retd.) R.W. Keymer, RN), HMS Totland (Lt.Cdr. L.E. Woodhouse, RN) and the frigates HMS Exe (A/Cdr. M.A.O. Biddulph, DSC, RN) and HMS Ness (A/Cdr. T.G.P. Crick, DSC, RN).

The destroyer HMS Sardonyx apparently parted company on 20 May.

HMS Cleveland fuelled from HMS Suffolk during the morning of 21 May.

At 1130Z/23, HMS Active sighted a surfaced submarine in position 42°16'N, 15°40'W at a range of about 6000 yards. Shortly afterwards HMS Ness also sighted this submarine. Both ships rushed towards to attack and the submarine was seen to crash dive. When the range was down to 2900 yards HMS Active obtained contact on the target with her Asdic. At 1143Z/23, HMS Active dropped a pattern of ten depth charges set at 150 and 300 feet. At 1150Z/23, HMS Ness dropped ten depth charges (150 and 300 feet). At 1158Z/23, HMS Active came back for another pattern of ten depth charges (350 and 550 feet). At 1212Z/23, HMS Ness dropped ten depth charges (350 and 550 feet). A double explosion was then heard by the two escorts. At 1223Z/23, HMS Active dropped ten depth charges (350 and 550 feet). At 1240Z/23, a small amount of wood and cork wreckage came to the surface as well as life-jackets, coffee tins marked 'Napoli' and a pair of fresh human lungs. At 1305Z/23, HMS Ness dropped a final pattern of ten depth charges (500, 550 and 700 feet). It is believed that the Italian submarine Leonardo Da Vinci was sunk in this attack. The most succesful Italian submarine of the Second World War disappeared with all hands. Nine officers and fifty-four ratings perished.

At 0630Z/24, the transports Brisbane Star and Deseado were detached from the convoy.

Around 1530Z/24 a German Focke Wulf aircraft attacked and dropped some bombs near HMS Unicorn but no damage was done.

The armed merchant cruiser HMS Corfu (Capt.(Retd.) C.C. Bell, DSO, RN) joined on either the 24th or the 25th.

At 1040Z/25 the convoy split up. All escorts proceeded with convoy KMF 15 except for HMS Suffolk, HMS Corfu which went along with WS 30. Convoy KMF 15 was made up of the transports Arawa, Boissevain, Duchess of York, Franconia, Indrapoera, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Letitia, Ormonde, Samaria, Staffordshire and Stirling Castle. HMS Royal Scotsman and HMS Royal Ulsterman were also part of this convoy.

The transport Letitia proceeded to Gibraltar as did HMS Unicorn. The escort destroyers HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Haydon (Lt. R.C. Watkin, RN) and HMS Tynedale (Lt. J.J.S. Yorke, DSC, RN) had come out to escort them in. HMS Active, HMS Cleveland and ORP Slazak also put into Gibraltar.

The transports Staffordshire and Stirling Castle were detached and arrived at Oran on 26 May.

The remainder of convoy KMF 15 arrived at Algiers on 27 May.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Convoy WS 30 continued on to Freetown and was made up of Argentina, Brisbane Star, Deseado, H.F. Alexander, Mataroa, Siboney and Sloterdijk. Their escort of HMS Suffolk and HMS Corfu was joined by the destroyers HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. C.J. Wynne-Edwards, DSC and Bar, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Catterick (Lt.Cdr. A. Tyson, RN) which all came from Gibraltar. HMS Boadicea also rejoined after fuelling at Casablanca.

In the morning of May 27th, HMS Antelope fuelled from HMS Suffolk.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 31 May 1943.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On 3 June 1943 the convoy departed Freetown now made up of the transports Argentina, H.F. Alexander, Mataroa, Nieuw Holland (Dutch, 11066 GRT, built 1927), Siboney and Sloterdijk.

On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Sussex, armed merchant cruisers HMS Carnarvon Castle (Capt.(Retd.) E.W. Kitson, RN), HMS Corfu, destroyers HMS Wolverine (Lt. I.M. Clegg, RN), HMS Boardicea, HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Catterick.

At 1500Z/6, the transport Cuba (British, 11420 GRT, 1923) and the destroyer HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. S.R.J. Woods, RNR) joined the convoy coming from Takoradi.

At 1950Z/6, HMS Corfu and HMS Boadicea parted company with the convoy to proceed to Takoradi.

At 1445Z/9, the destroyers HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN) and HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN) joined the convoy coming from Pointe Noire.

At 1517Z/9, HMS Witch, HMS Wolverine and HMS Rapid parted company with the convoy to proceed to Pointe Noire.

Around 0730A/13, the transports Exceller (American, 6597 GRT, built 1941) and Santa Barbara (American, 6507 GRT, built 1943) joined the convoy as did the sloop Savorgnan de Brazza which had been escorting them.

On 15 June 1943 the convoy arrived at Capetown. HMS Sussex and HMS Carnarvon Castle then went on to Simonstown. In the approached to Capetown the destroyer HMAS Nizam (Cdr. C.H. Brooks, RAN) joined the escort as an enemy submarine had been reported to be operating in the area.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On 16 June 1943, the convoy departed Capetown for Durban. It was now made up of the transports Argentina, Cuba, Exceller, Exiria (American, 6533 GRT, built 1941), H.F. Alexander, Mataroa, Nieuw Holland, Santa Barbara, Siboney and Sloterdijk.

The convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMAS Nizam, HMAS Norman, HMS Quadrant and HMS Redoubt.

On 18 June, the transport Sibajak (Dutch, 12226 GRT, built 1927) joined the convoy presumebly coming from Port Elizabeth or East London.

The convoy arrived at Durban on 20 June.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On 25 June 1943, the convoy departed Durban for Aden / Bombay, now made up of the transports Cuba, General Fleischer (Norwegian, 5138 GRT, built 1943), Karagola (British, 7053 GRT, built 1917), Nieuw Holland, Sagoland (American, 5334 GRT, built 1913), Santa Barbara and Sibajak.

The convoy was now escorted by the destroyers HMAS Norman, HMAS Quickmatch (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, DSC, RAN) and HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN).

The armed mercant cruiser HMS Canton ( A/Cdr.(Retd.) R.J.E. Daintree, RN) joined the convoy around 0900C/28 having departed Kilindini around 1745C/25.

The destroyers parted company with the convoy around 1830C/29 to return to Durban where they arrived in the morning of July 3rd.

Around 0900C/1, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Alaunia (Capt. R.H.C. Crawford, OBE, RNR) joined the convoy having departed Kilindini around 1730C/29. HMS Canton then parted company with the convoy to proceed to Kilindi taking the transports Karagola and Sagoland with her. They arrived at Kilindini around 1200C/2.

At 0310C/3, the transport Santa Barbara was detached to proceed independently to Colombo.

At 1115C/4, the transports General Fleischer and Sibajak were detached to proceed independently to Aden.

The transports Cuba and Nieuw Holland arrived at Bombay and their escort, HMS Alaunia, around 1000FG/9.

2 Jun 1943
Around 1500 hours, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Canton ( A/Cdr.(Retd.) R.J.E. Daintree, RN) took over the escort of the troop transport Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939). These two ships now set course for Aden. HMS Sussex (Capt. W.Y.La R. Beverley, RN) then continued on to Colombo with the other troopship. (3)

23 Jun 1943
The battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. J.W. Durnford, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN), light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Alaunia (Capt. R.H.C. Crawford, OBE, RNR), HMS Canton ( A/Cdr.(Retd.) R.J.E. Daintree, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Napier (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Green, DSC, RAN) and HMS Racehorse (Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN) departed Kilindini for exercises. They returned Kilindini on 25 June 1943. (4)

10 Aug 1943
Around 1530F/10, in approximate position 05°50'S, 75°00'E HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN) handed over the escort of the troopship Nieuw Amsterdam (Dutch, 36287 GRT, built 1938) to the armed merchant cruiser HMS Canton (A/Cdr.(Retd.) R.J.E. Daintree, RN).

HMS Newcastle then set course to Addu Atoll. (5)

Sources

  1. ADM 199/1115
  2. ADM 53/114105 + ADM 199/395
  3. ADM 53/118604 + ADM 199/643
  4. ADM 53/116862 + ADM 53/117109 + ADM 53/117542 + ADM 53/118265 + ADM 53/118443
  5. ADM 53/ + 117111 + ADM 53/118267

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


Return to the Allied Warships section