Allied Warships

HMS Dunnottar Castle (F 34)

Armed Merchant Cruiser

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeArmed Merchant Cruiser
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 34 
Built byHarland & Wolff Ltd. (Belfast, Northern Island) 
Ordered 
Laid down 
Launched25 Jan 1936 
Commissioned22 Oct 1939 
End service27 Jul 1942 
History

On 30 August 1939 the passenger ship Dunnottar Castle of the Union-Castle Mail SS Co Ltd, London was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. Conversion was completed on 22 October 1939.

Displacement: 15007 BRT
Armament: 7x 152mm, 2x 76mm
Speed: 17 knots

Career:
October 39 - April 40: South Atlantic Station
May 40 - November 41: Freetown Escort Force
December 41 - May 42: South Atlantic Station

On 27 July 1942 returned and used as troopship by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). In March 1948 returned to owner.

 

Commands listed for HMS Dunnottar Castle (F 34)

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. (retired) Henry Edmund Harvey Spencer-Cooper, RN2 Sep 19393 Oct 1940
2Capt. (retired) Charles Thomas Alexander Bunbury, RN3 Oct 194025 Oct 1940
3Capt. (retired) Henry Edmund Harvey Spencer-Cooper, RN25 Oct 19405 Dec 1940
4Capt. (retired) Charles Thomas Alexander Bunbury, RN5 Dec 1940mid 1942

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Notable events involving Dunnottar Castle include:


31 Dec 1939
HMS Dunnottar Castle (Capt.(Retd.) H.E.H. Spencer-Cooper, RN) departed Gibraltar for Belfast. She was escorted by the destroyer HMS Daring (Cdr. S.A. Cooper, RN) and the sloop HMS Scarborough (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, RN). (1)

7 Jan 1940
HMS Dunnottar Castle (Capt.(Retd.) H.E.H. Spencer-Cooper, RN), HMS Daring (Cdr. S.A. Cooper, RN) and HMS Scarborough (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, RN) arrived at Belfast. (2)

21 Mar 1941
Around 1940A/21, the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Dunnottar Castle (Capt.(Retd.) C.T.A. Bunbury, RN) and the submarine tender HMS Maidstone (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) departed the Clyde for Gibraltar. With them was also the troopships Highland Monarch (British, 14139 GRT, built 1928) and Largs Bay (British, 14182 GRT, built 1921). They were escorted by the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN) and ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski, ORP).

Around 0800A/22, the destroyer HMCS St.Francis (Lt.Cdr. H.F. Pullen, RCN) joined.

Around 1425A/22, the destroyer HMS Ripley (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Agnew, RN) joined.

At 1030A/24, HMCS Ottawa and ORP Garland were detached.

At 1800A/24, HMS Ripley and HMCS St. Francis were detached.

At 2050A/26, HMS Dunnottar Castle and the Largs Bay were detached to Freetown.

At 0830A/28, the destroyers HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) joined. (3)

17 Apr 1941

Convoy SL 72

This convoy departed Freetown on 17 April 1941 for Liverpool where it arrived on 13 May 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following merchants; Alcinous (Dutch, 6189 GRT, built 1925), Bangalore (British, 6067 GRT, built 1928), Baron Douglas (British, 3899 GRT, built 1932), Coracero (British, 7252 GRT, built 1923), Corinaldo (British, 7131 GRT, built 1921), Daldorch (British, 5571 GRT, built 1930), Dixcove (British, 3790 GRT, built 1927), Empire Lotus (British, 3696 GRT, built 1920), Gaelic Star (British, 5596 GRT, built 1917), Garoet (Dutch, 7118 GRT, built 1917), Hainaut (Belgian, 4312 GRT, built 1905), Hazelside II (British, 5297 GRT, built 1940), Inverbank (British, 5149 GRT, built 1924), Jeypore (British, 5318 GRT, built 1920), Kelbergen (Dutch, 4823 GRT, built 1914), Llanberis (British, 5055 GRT, built 1928), Lorca (British, 4875 GRT, built 1931), Moanda (Belgian, 4621 GRT, built 1937), Mokambo (Belgian, 4996 GRT, built 1938), Mount Kitheron (Greek, 3876 GRT, built 1912), Muneric (British, 5229 GRT, built 1919), Norman Star (British, 6817 GRT, built 1919), Penrose (British, 4393 GRT, built 1928), Perth (British, 2259 GRT, built 1915), Prinses Maria-Pia (Belgian, 2588 GRT, built 1938), Saint Bernard (British, 5183 GRT, built 1939), Scottish Star (British, 7224 GRT, built 1917), Somerset (British, 8790 GRT, built 1918), St. Helena (British, 4313 GRT, built 1936), Testbank (British, 5083 GRT, built 1937), Tyndareus (British, 11361 GRT, built 1916), Ulysses (British, 14647 GRT, built 1913), Velma (Norwegian (tanker), 9720 GRT, built 1930), Winkfield (British, 5279 GRT, built 1919) and Yorkwood (British, 5401 GRT, built 1936).

The merchant vessel Empire Advocate (British, 5787 GRT, built 1913) joined at sea on 25 April near the Azores.

A/S Escort was provided on the day of departure when the convoy was near Freetown by the destroyers HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN), HMS Vidette (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, RN) and the corvettes HMS Asphodel (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) K.W. Stewart, RN) and HMS Calendula (Lt.Cdr. A.D. Bruford, RNVR).

Ocean escort was provided by the light cruiser HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN) until being relieved around noon on the 19th by HMS Fiji (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, RN) which then remained with the convoy until May 1st.

On 20 April the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Dunnottar Castle (Capt.(Retd.) C.T.A. Bunbury, RN) joined the convoy and she remained with it until May 11th.

Local escort in British home waters was provided from 10 to 13 May by the destroyers HMS Keppel (Cdr. A.M. Sheffield, RN), HMS Lincoln (Lt. R.J. Hanson, RN), HMS Sabre (Lt. Sir P.W. Gretton, DSC, RN) (to 12 May only), HMCS Columbia (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) S.W. Davis, RN), sloop HMS Fleetwood (Cdr. R.W. Moir, RN), corvettes HMS Alisma (A/Lt.Cdr. M.G. Rose, RANVR), HMS Dianella (T/Lt. J.G. Rankin, RNR), HMS Kingcup (Lt. R.A.D. Cambridge, RNR) and the A/S trawlers HMS Man o' War (T/Lt. W.W. Creber, RNR), HMS St. Loman (T/Lt. R.C. Warwick, RNR) and HMS Wellard (Lt.(Retd.) R.F. Turnbull, RD, RNR).

4 Jun 1941

Convoy WS 9A.

This convoy was assembled off Oversay on 4 June 1941.

On assembly the convoy was made up of the transports; Aagtekerk (Dutch, 6811 GRT, built 1934), Capetown Castle (British, 27000 GRT, built 1938), Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Eastern Prince (British, 10926 GRT, built 1929), Empire Condor (British, 7773 GRT, built 1940), Empire Curlew (British, 7101 GRT, built 1941), Empire Egret (British, 7169 GRT, built 1939), Empire Widgeon (British, 6737 GRT, built 1940), Empress of Japan (British, 26032 GRT, built 1930), Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), Highland Brigade (British, 14134 GRT, built 1929), Llangibby Castle (British, 11951 GRT, built 1929), Mendoza (British, 8233 GRT, built 1919), Mooltan (British, 20952 GRT, built 1923), Orbita (British, 15495 GRT, built 1915) and Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921).

On assembly of the convoy it was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Birmingham (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN), AA cruiser HMS Cairo (A/Capt. I.R.H. Black, RN), armed merchant cruisers HMS Ausonia (Capt.(Retd.) G.H. Freyberg, OBE, RN), HMS Dunnottar Castle (Capt.(Retd.) C.T.A. Bunbury, RN) and the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, DSO, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN), HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, RCN), HMS Vanquisher (Cdr. N.V. Dickinson, DSC, RN), HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Ramsey (Lt.Cdr. R.B. Stannard, VC, RNR) and HMS Richmond (Lt.Cdr. A.F.L. Evans, RN).

At 0130Z/7, HMS Vanquisher and HMS Winchelsea parted company with the convoy.

At 0700Z/7, HMS Ausonia, HMS Cairo and all remaining destroyer parted company with the convoy.

In the afternoon of the 14th the destroyers HMS Highlander (Cdr. S. Boucher, RN), HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill Crichton, DSC, RN) and HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) joined the convoy escort.

HMS Highland was however soon detached for other duties.

In the morning of the 15th the destroyer HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN) joined the convoy escort.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 16 June 1941.

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The convoy departed Freetown for South Africa on 20 June 1941.

The composition of the convoy was the same in which it had arrived with the addition of the transports Bergensfjord (Norwegian, 11015 GRT, built 1913) and Christiaan Huygens (Dutch, 16287 GRT, built 1927).

On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Birmingham and the destroyers HMS Boreas, HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN), HMS Velox and HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, RN).

At 0700ZA(-0.5)/23, the destroyers parted company with the convoy.

In the morning of July 1st, the transports Capetown Castle, Durban Castle, Eastern Prince, Empire Widgeon, Empress of Japan and Llangibby Castle parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Capetown.

At 1400AB(-1.5)/2, HMS Birmingham parted company with the convoy after the escort had been taken over by the heavy cruiser HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN). HMS Birmingham then proceeded to Simonstown.

The Eastern Prince departed Capetown on 2 July to proceeded independently to Durban.

The remainder of the convoy arrived at Durban on 4 July 1941.

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On 5 July 1941, the ships of the Capetown section (minus Eastern Prince, see above) departed there escorted by HMS Birmingham which had come from Simonstown.

On 8 July 1941, the transports Aagtekerk, Aronda (British, 9031 GRT, built 1941), Empire Condor, Empire Curlew, Empire Egret and Thysville (Belgian, 8351 GRT, built 1922) and their escort HMS Hawkins departed Durban to make rendezvous with the Capetown section the following day.

On making rendezvous, HMS Birmingham was detached to return to Simonstown.

At 1415D, the transports Capetown Castle, Durban Castle and Empress of Japan parted company with the convoy to proceed to Durban. They were escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Hector (Capt.(Retd.) F. Howard, DSC, RN) which had just made rendezvous with the convoy. They arrived at Bombay at 24 July.

The remainder of the ships continued on to the vicinity of Aden escorted by HMS Hawkins. The convoy was dispersed on 21 July 1941. (4)

29 Sep 1941

Convoy WS 12

This convoy departed U.K. ports on 29 / 30 September 1941. Destination for the majority of the convoy was Aden where the convoy arrived on 20 November 1941. It was then dispersed and the remaining ships then proceeded to Suez independently.

The convoy assembled assembled at sea near Orsay Island on 1 October 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following troop transports / transports; Almanzora (15551 GRT, built 1914), City of Paris (10902 GRT, built 1922), Clan Campbell (7255 GRT, built 1937), Clan Lamont (7250 GRT, built 1939), Dominion Monarch (27155 GRT, built 1939), Duchess of Richmond (20022 GRT, built 1928), Empire Pride (9248 GRT, built 1941), Empire Trust (8143 GRT, built 1941), Empress of Canada (21517 GRT, built 1922), Empress of Russia (16810 GRT, built 1913), Franconia (20175 GRT, built 1923), Highland Brigade (14134 GRT, built 1929), Highland Princess (14133 GRT, built 1930), Prince Badouin (3219 GRT, built 1933), Leopoldville (11509 GRT, built 1929), Mendoza (8233 GRT, built 1919), Narkunda (16632 GRT, built 1920), Ormonde (14982 GRT, built 1917), Perseus (10272 GRT, built 1923), Perthshire (10496 GRT, built 1936), HMS Royal Ulsterman (T/Cdr. H.F. Jackson, RNR) (3244 GRT, built 1936), Samaria (19597 GRT, built 1921), Sarpedon (11321 GRT, built 1923) and Strathaird (22281 GRT, built 1932).

Escort was initially provided by the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. R.D. Oliver, DSC, RN) (from 30 September until 14 October. On 12 October HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN) joined HMS Devonshire and escorted the convoy until 14 October when it arrived at Freetown.

The aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN) escorted the convoy from 30 September to 5 October when she was detached to Gibraltar, escorted by three destroyers (see below).

The armed merchant cruiser ), HMS Cathay (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.M. Merewether, RN), auxiliary minelayer HMS Agamemnon (Capt.(Retd.) F. Ratsey, RN) and the Canadian destroyers HMCS Assiniboine (A/Lt.Cdr. J.H. Stubbs, RCN), HMCS Saguenay (Lt. P.E. Haddon, RCN) escorted the convoy from 30 September to 4 October 1941 when they were detached and ordered to proceed with Halifax with the Highland Princess whih was then also detached from the convoy.

The destroyer HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN) escorted the convoy from 30 September to 5 October when she was detached escorting HMS Argus to Gibraltar together with her sister ships HMS Cossack (Capt. E.L. Berthon, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN) which were met at sea after they had escorted a convoy part of the way from Gibraltar to the U.K. HMS Argus and her three escorting destroyer arrived at Gibraltar on 8 October.

The AA (light) cruiser HMS Cairo (A/Capt. I.R.H. Black, RN) and the destroyers HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Holmes, RN) and ), HMS Verity (Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN) escorted the convoy from 1 to 4 October.

The destroyers HMS Lancaster (A/Cdr. N.H. Whatley, RN), HMS Newark (Lt.Cdr. R.H.W. Atkins, RN) escorted the convoy from 1 to 3 October. HMS Bradford (Lt.Cdr. J.N.K. Knight, RN) was also to be part of this group. She did sail from Londonderry but had to return to that port soon after departure owning to defects.

The destroyer HMS Stanley (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) D.B. Shaw, OBE, RN) escorted the convoy from 1 to 7 October.

The escort destroyer HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN) escorted the convoy from 1 to 7 October.

The destroyer HMS Beverley (Lt.Cdr. J. Grant, RN) escorted to convoy from 2 to 5 October.

The destroyers HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) were to join the convoy on 7 October coming from Gibraltar. HrMs Isaac Sweers joined the convoy around noon but HMS Gurkha failed to find the convoy and only joined the following day.

On 11 October 1941, when approaching Freetown, the convoy was joined by the destroyers HMS Wrestler (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN), HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. H.G.D. de Chair, RN) and HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN) as well as the corvettes HMS Amaranthus (T/Lt. W.S. Thomson, RNR) and HMS Armeria (T/Lt. H.N. Russell, DSC, RNR).

The convoy, minus the Narkunda departed Freetown for South Africa on 19 October. Escort was provided by the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire which joined the convoy early on 20 October after having patrolled south of Freetown since 16 October.

Local A/S escort out of Freetown was provided from 19 to 21 October 1941 and consisted of the destroyers HMS Velox, HMS Wrestler and the corvettes HMS Anchusa (Lt. J.E.L. Peters, RNR), HMS Calendula (Lt.Cdr. A.D. Bruford, RNVR) and HMS Mignonette (Lt. H.H. Brown, RNR).

On 21 October 1941, HMS Royal Ulsterman and Ulster Monarch were detached and proceeded to Takoradi. As did Prince Badouin which went on to St. Helena.

On 30 October 1941 the convoy was off Capetown and the following ships of the convoy then split off to proceed into that port; Clan Campbell, Dominion Monach, Empire Pride, Empire Trust, Empress of Canada, Leopoldville, Mendoza, Perthshire, Sarpedon and Strathaird as did HMS Devonshire which went to Simonstown.

The other ships of the convoy; Empress of Russia, Franconia, Highland Brigade, Ormonde, Perseus, Richmond and Samaria then proceeded to Durban where they arrived on 3 November escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Derbyshire (Capt.(Retd.) E.A.B. Stanley, DSO, MVO, RN) which had joined them off Capetown early on 31 October.

On 4 November 1941 the Strathaird departed Capetown for Durban where she arrived on 7 November.

On 5 November 1941 the following ships departed Capetown to continue their passage; Dominion Monarch, Empire Pride, Empire Trust, Empress of Canada, Leopoldville, Mendoza and Perthshire. They were escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Dunnottar Castle (Capt.(Retd.) C.T.A. Bunbury, RN).

On 8 November the following ships departed Durban and joined the Capetown group at sea; Almanzora, City of Paris, Clan Campbell, Clan Lamont, Duchess of Richmond, Empress of Russia, Franconia, Nieuw Amsterdam (36287 GRT, built 1938), Nova Scotia (6791 GRT, built 1926), Perseus, Samaria and Strathaird. The escort of the Capetown group HMS Dunnottar Castle was relieved by the battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN) which escorted the convoy from then on to until 14 November 1941 when she was relieved by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) which then escorted the convoy until it arrived off Aden on 20 November. The convoy then dispersed and all ships proceeded to Suez independently.

On 14 November the convoy was joined by the Ascania (13900 GRT, built 1925) which came from Mombasa.

On 17 November 1941, HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, DSO, RN) made rendez-vous with convoy WS 12. The Dominion Monarch, Duchess of Richmond, Empress of Canada and Perseus then split off from the convoy and continued on as convoy WS 12J towards Colombo, escorted by HMS Glasgow. This convoy arrived at Colombo on 23 November.

On 24 November the Dominion Monarch and Empress of Canada departed Colombo for Singapore as convoy WS 12V. They were escorted by HMS Glasgow until 26 November when HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN) took over the escort. The convoy arrived at Singapore on 28 November 1941. (4)

12 Jan 1942

Convoy WS 15.

This convoy assembled off Oversay on 12 January 1942.

On assembly the convoy was made up of the (troop) transports; Aagtekerk (Dutch, 6811 GRT, built 1934), Arawa (British, 14462 GRT, built 1922), Autolycus (British, 7621 GRT, built 1922), Britannic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Christiaan Huygens (Dutch, 16287 GRT, built 1927), Dorset (British, 10624 GRT, built 1934), Elisabeth Bakke (Norwegian, 5450 GRT, built 1937), Empire Woodlark (British, 7793 GRT, built 1913), Laconia (British, 19695 GRT, built 1922), Letitia (British, 13595 GRT, built 1925), Llangibby Castle (British, 11951 GRT, built 1929), Melbourne Star (British, 11076 GRT, built 1936), Orontes (British, 20097 GRT, built 1929), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Pardo (British, 5400 GRT, built 1940), Pasteur (British, 29253 GRT, built 1938), Port Chalmers (British, 8535 GRT, built 1933), Staffordshire (British, 10683 GRT, built 1929), Stirling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936), Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935), Stratnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931) and Viceroy of India (British, 19627 GRT, built 1929).

The Dutch submarine tender HrMs Colombia (Capt. J.L.K. Hoeke, RNN) was also part of the convoy.

On assembly off Oversay the convoy was escorted by the AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN), armed merchant cruisers HMS Ascania (A/Capt. A.G. Davidson, RN), HMS Cheshire (Capt.(Retd.) J.M. Begg, RN), destroyers HMS Vanoc ( A/Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Vanquisher (Cdr. N.V. Dickinson, DSC, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Walker (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, DSO, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and HMS Demirhisar (?). [This was an 'I-class' destroyer, one of four ordered by the Turkish government before the start of the war. Two of these destroyers were taken over by the Royal Navy and two were delivered to Turkey. On passage to Turkey they were commissioned as HMS ships with a Royal Navy crew so they also served on escort duty during their passage to Turkey (via the Cape of Good Hope).]

On 15 January, HMS Vanoc and HMS Walker parted company with the convoy.

On 16 January, the Llangibby Castle was torpedoed and damaged by the German submarine U-402. The damaged ship managed to reach the Azores steering on her engines as her rudder had been blown off.

Around 0900N/17, the battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.E.C. Tait, CB, MVO, RN) and the destroyer Norman joined coming from Milford Haven. The destroyers Garland and Anthony had also been with the battleship but these had been detached to go to the assistance of the damaged Llangibby Castle. It had originally been intended that HMS Resolution would join the convoy on 15 January but this did not materialise due to the bad weather conditions.

Around 1400N/17, HMS Boreas and HMS Demirhisar were detached to fuel at Ponta Delgada, Azores.

Around 1400N/18, HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck parted company with the convoy to fuel at Ponta Delgada.

Around 1830N/18, HMAS Norman parted company with the convoy to fuel at Ponta Delgada.

Around 1400O/19, HMS Boreas rejoined the convoy but the Demirhisar had sustained damage to her stern and had to make some repairs before she was able to proceed.

Around 1000O/20, HMAS Norman and later HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck rejoined the convoy.

Around 1500O/21, the destroyer HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN) joined. She had however one engine out of action and could only proceed at 22 knots.

After nightfall on the 21st, HMS Resolution was ordered to proceed ahead for an ocean rendezvous with the RFA tanker Rapidol (2648 GRT, built 1917). Due to the bad weather conditions encountered, HMS Resolution had not enough fuel on board to reach Freetown without refuelling. She met the Rapidol and her escort, the corvette HMS Jasmine (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.D.B. Coventry, RNR), the following day but conditions were unfavourable to fuel and every attempt failed. Course was therefore set to the Cape Verde Islands.

The convoy meanwhile continued on to Freetown where it arrived on 25 January. On 22 January the convoy had been joined by the destroyer HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. H.G.D. de Chair, RN) and on 23 January HMS Demirhisar rejoined after her delay at the Azores. Shortly before the convoy arrived at Freetown, HMS Vimy was detached to join HMS Resolution (see below).

At 0830N/23, in the lee of Sal Island, another attempt was made just outside Portugese territorial waters. However wind and swell were still too great for oizling at sea and the ships therefore anchored in Murdeira Bay with the Rapidol proceeding alongside while the Jasmire and the Vansittart, which meanwhile had also joined to fuel, conducted an A/S patrol off the Bay.

Oiling was ceased at 1230N/23 so then it was Vansittart's turn. HMS Resolution then left the Bay and proceeded ahead to Freetown. HMS Vansittart was to overtake her.

At 0830N/25, the destroyer HMS Vimy joined HMS Resolution. Two hours later HMS Vansittart finally caught up with HMS Resolution. They arrived at Freetown early in the afternoon.

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The convoy departed Freetown on 29 January 1942, in the same composition. The convoy was now escorted by the battleship HMS Resolution (now flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Cheshire destroyers HMS Vimy, HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, RN), HMS Boreas, HMS Demirhisar and the sloop HMS Milford (Cdr.(Retd.) the Hon. V.M. Wyndham-Quin, RN).

At dusk on 31 January, HMS Vimy, HMS Wild Swan, HMS Boreas parted company to return to Freetown.

It had been arranged that the RFA tanker Rapidol would be in position 14°30'S, 05°10'W at 0830Z/3, to fuel HMS Demirhisar and HMS Milford and if needed HMS Resolution.

At 1800Z/3, HMS Resolution parted company with the convoy to make a short call at St. Helena.

At 0610Z/4, HMS Resolution anchored off St. Helena. She departed around 1130Z/4 to rejoin the convoy which she did in the afternoon of 6 February.

The convoy split into two section and the Capetown section made up of the Dorset, Elizabeth Bakke, Laconia, Orontes, Pasteur and HrMs Colombia. They arrived at Capetown on 9 February escorted by HMS Resolution, HMS Cheshire and HMS Demirhisar. HMS Demirhisar then proceeded to Simonstown for repairs for the damage she had sustained at Ponta Delgada.

The other ships continued on to Durban escorted by the armed merchant cruisers HMS Dunnottar Castle (Capt.(Retd.) C.T.A. Bunbury, RN) and HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt.(Retd.) E.H. Hopkinson, RN) which had joined the convoy on 9 February coming from Capetown. HMS Milford also remained with the convoy until Durban the Durban section arrived there on 13 February 1942.

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The Capetown section departed from there (less the Elizabeth Bakke) on 14 February 1942 escorted by HMS Cheshire.

They made rendezvous off Durban with the Durban section (less the Arawa and Letitia) on 17 February 1942. The Durban section was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Ceres (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H.W.V. Stephenson, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Worcestershire and the destroyer HMAS Norman.

On 21 February, HMAS Norman fuelled from HMS Worcesterhire, while being alongside and proceeding at 10 knots !.

At 0800C/22, HMAS Norman was detached to the Seychelles.

At 1230C/22, the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN) joined and half an hour later the 'Batavia Section' of the convoy parted company in position 10°22'S, 42°00'E forming convoy DM 3 to proceed to Port T (Addu Atoll). The ships that parted company were the Aagtekerk, Autolycus, Christiaan Huygens, Empire Woodlark, Pardo, Port Chalmers, Staffordshire, Strathnaver and HrMs Colombia.

The remaining ships continued northwards escorted by HMS Ceres and HMS Worcestershire.

They were joined at 0700C/24, in position 02°44'S, 43°20'E, by the light cruiser HMS Colombo (Capt. C.C.A. Allen, RN) and the transport Khandalla (British, 7018 GRT, built 1923) coming from Mombasa. HMS Ceres then parted company to proceed to Mombasa.

At 0300C/26, the convoy split up into two sections. Convoy WS 15A set course for the Gulf of Aden escorted by HMS Colombo. It was made up of the Dorset, Laconia, Melbourne Star, Orontes, Otranto, Pasteur and Viceroy of India. It was dispersed off Aden on 1 March 1942 to proceed independently to Suez.

Convoy WS 15B set course for Bombay escorted by HMS Worcestershire. It was made up of the Britannic, Khandalla, Stirling Castle and Strathmore. The convoy arrived at Bombay on 4 March 1942. In the approaches to Bombay it was joined by the sloop Lawrence (T/Lt. C.F. Smith, RINR) and the auxiliary patrol vessel HMIS Dipavati (T/Lt. P. Munday, RINR). (5)

16 Feb 1942

Convoy WS 16.

This convoy departed the Clyde on 16 February 1942 and arrived at Freetown on 1 March 1942.

The convoy was made up of the troopships / transports; Awatea (British, 13482 GRT, built 1936), Bergensfjord (British, 11015 GRT, built 1913), Brisbane Star (British, 12791 GRT, built 1937), City of Edinburgh (British, 8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Lincoln (British, 8039 GRT, built 1938), Cuba (British, 11420 GRT, built 1923), Delftdijk (Dutch, 10220 GRT, built 1929), Denbighshire (British, 8983 GRT, built 1938), Duchess of Richmond (British, 20022 GRT, built 1928), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Empire Pride (British, 9248 GRT, built 1941), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Mooltan (British, 20952 GRT, built 1923), Nea Hellas (British, 16991 GRT, built 1922), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Port Jackson (British, 9687 GRT, built 1937), Potaro (British, 5410 GRT, built 1940), Sibajak (Dutch, 12226 GRT, built 1927), Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932), Stratheden (British, 23722 GRT, built 1937) and Volendam (Dutch, 15434 GRT, built 1922).

The Straithaid was unable to sail with the convoy and joined at sea on 21 February 1942.

On departure from the Clyde the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN), HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN), HMS Verity (Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN), HMS Walker (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, DSO, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt. R. Horncastle, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN).

Between 1300/18 and 1500/18 the transports City of Edinburgh, City of Lincoln and Potaro reported that their cargo had shifted. The Potaro was able to continue but was ordered to proceed to Freetown independently. The other two ships had to return to the U.K.

At 0920/20 the destroyer HMS Anthony left the convoy to proceed to the Azores with condensor trouble.

At 1800/20 HMS Panther was detached to fuel at the Azores and then rejoin the convoy.

At 1300/21 the 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) and destroyer HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.D. Pugsley, RN) joined the convoy. They had the troopship Strathaird with them. They had departed from the Clyde on 18 February 1942.

At 0800/21 HMS Croome was detached to Gibraltar.

At 1530/21 HMS Malaya, HMS Eagle, HMS Hermione, HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning, HMS Duncan, HMS Active and HMS Blankney were detached to Gibraltar.

At 1600/21 HMS Paladin was detached to the Azores to refuel after which she was to rejoin the convoy.

At 1800/21 HMS Firedrake was detached. She was to return to the U.K independently.

At 1800/22 HMS Verity, HMS Walker and HMS Witherington were detached to the Azores where they were to fuel after which they were to proceed to Halifax.

At 1600/23 HMS Paladin rejoined the convoy. HMS Panther had sailed from the Azores before her but apparently she was unable to find the convoy. Eventually she joined in the evening.

At 0905/26 the destroyers HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN) and HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, RN) joined the convoy coming from Bathurst.

The convoy arrived safely at Freetown in the morning of 1 March 1942 escorted by HMS Formidable, HMS Newcastle, HMS Paladin, HMS Panther, HMS Boreas, HMS Brilliant and HMS Wild Swan.

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The same ships departed Freetown on 6 March 1942 for South Africa.

Escort was provided by the light cruiser HMS Newcastle, destroyers Brilliant, Wild Swan, sloop HMS Bridgewater (A/Cdr.(Retd.) H.F.G. Leftwich, RN) and the corvettes HMS Jasmine (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.D.B. Coventry, RNR) and HMS Nigella (T/Lt. L.J. Simpson, RNR).

Before deparure of the convoy HMS Newcastle conducted gunnery exercises and the A/S escorts conducted an A/S sweep off Freetown returning to meet the convoy off the boom.

At 2100Z/6, HMS Nigella was detached due to engine trouble. After repairs she was to proceed to St. Helena to fuel.

In the morning of 8 March 1942 HMS Newcastle attempted to fuel HMS Bridgewater but owning to the swell this was not possible.

At 0930Z/8, in position 01°46'N, 17°52'W, HMS Brilliant and HMS Wild Swan were detached to return to Freetown.

On 9 March 1942 further attempts were made to fuel HMS Bridgewater and some fuel was transferred.

In the afternoon of 12 March 1942 HMS Newcastle was able to fully fuel HMS Bridgewater. After dark, at 1930Z/12, HMS Jasmine was detached in position 15°44'S, 04°27'W to fuel at St. Helena.

At 1600Z/17, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Dunnottar Castle (Capt.(Retd.) C.T.A. Bunbury, RN) and the sloop HMS Milford (Cdr.(Retd.) the Hon. V.M. Wyndham-Quin, RN) joined the convoy in position 33°13'S, 16°06'E. These ships had departed Capetown at 0520Z/17. Shortly afterwards, the Capetown section, made up of; Bergensfjord, Brisbane Star, Delftdijk, Denbighshire, Nea Hellas, Port Jackson, Potaro, Sibajak, escorted by HMS Newcastle and HMS Milford splít off. The Capetown section arrived there around 0900Z/18. HMS Milford split off shortly before the convoy arrived and proceeded to Simonstown arriving there at 1410Z/18.

The Durban section, made up of the Awatea, Cuba, Duchess of Richmond, Dutchess of York, Empire Pride, Monarch of Bermuda, Mooltan, Ormonde, Strathaird, Stratheden and Volendam continued on now escorted by HMS Dunnotar Castle and HMS Bridgewater.

At 0400Z/18, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Cheshire (Capt.(Retd.) J.M. Begg, RN) and the corvettes HMS Freesia (T/Lt. R.A. Cherry, RNR) and HMS Fritillary (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Barker, RD, RNR) joined the Durban section of the convoy in position 34°55'S, 18°08'E. They had departed Capetown at 1715Z/17.

At 0630Z/18, in position 35°19'S, 18°55'E, HMS Bridgewater parted company to proceed to Simonstown where she arrived at 1156Z/18.

At 1300A/18, in position 35°57'S, 19°36'E, HMS Freesia and HMS Fritillary parted company. They arrived at Capetown at 0620Z/19.

The Durban section of the convoy arrived off Durban at 0800Z/21. The transports then entered harbour. HMS Cheshire and HMS Dunnotar Castle did not enter the harbour but set course to return to Capetown.

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The sloop HMS Milford departed Simonstown at 0500Z on 22 April 1942 to make rendezvous with the Capetown position of the convoy in Table Bay at 1000Z/22.

On departure the convoy was also briefly escorted by HMS Jasmine and HMS Fritillary. These corvettes returned to Capetown at 1150Z/22.

At 0800Z/22, HMS Newcastle departed from Simonstown to make rendezvous with the Capetown section of the convoy.

At 1330Z/25, the Capetown section made rendezvous in position 33°30'S, 31°22'E with the Durban section of the convoy, now made up of the Awatea, Duchess of Richmond, Duchess of York, Empire Pride, Stratheden and Volendam, which had departed Durban at 1000Z/25 escorted by the light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt.(Retd.) E.H. Hopkinson, RN). HMS Milford by that time was no longer with the convoy as she arrived at Simonstown at 1300Z/26. HMS Newcastle parted company with the convoy at 2200Z/25 in position 30°03'S, 33°08'E and proceeded to Durban for repairs arriving there at 0548Z/26.

At 0245Z on 1 April 1942 the light cruiser HMS Colombo (Capt. C.C.A. Allen, RN) and armed merchant cruiser HMS Alaunia (Capt.(Retd.) E.N. Kershaw, RN) joined in position 01°38'S, 44°52'E.

At 1800Z/2, HMS Colombo split off in position 04°49'N, 50°00'E with the Aden section of the convoy which was made up of the Bergensfjord, Nea Hellas and Volendam. This section of the convoy was dispersed off Aden on 6 April 1942.

The remainder of the convoy continued on to Bombay escorted by HMS Alaunia and HMS HMS Worcestershire. It arrived at Bombay on 8 April 1942. (6)

Sources

  1. ADM 53/108442
  2. ADM 53/112083
  3. ADM 53/113615 + ADM 53/114577 + ADM 53/115052
  4. ADM 199/1138
  5. ADM 199/1211
  6. ADM 199/653 + ADM 199/1211

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


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