Allied Warships

HMS Westcott (D 47 / I 47)

Destroyer of the Admiralty V & W class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassAdmiralty V & W 
PennantD 47 / I 47 
ModLong range escort 
Built byWilliam Denny & Brothers (Dumbarton, Scotland) 
Ordered9 Dec 1916 
Laid down30 Mar 1917 
Launched14 Feb 1918 
Commissioned12 Apr 1918 
End service 
History

Reconstruction to Long Range Escort finished in July 1943.

HMS Westcott is not listed as active unit in the July 1945 Navy List

Sold to be broken up for scrap on 8 January 1946.

 

Commands listed for HMS Westcott (D 47 / I 47)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. William Francis Roderick Segrave, RN21 Aug 1939Feb 1941
2Cdr. Ian Hamilton Bockett-Pugh, RNFeb 1941early 1943

3Lt.Cdr. (retired) Hedworth Lambton, RNMay 194319 Oct 1944
4Lt. Edward Perry Reade, DSC, RN19 Oct 1944mid 1945

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Notable events involving Westcott include:


14 Sep 1939
HMS Otus (Lt.Cdr. E.C.F. Nicolay, RN) conducted exercises off Singapore together with HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN). (1)

26 Sep 1939
HMS Rover (Lt.Cdr. H.A.L. Marsham, RN) conducted exercises off Singapore together with HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN). (2)

6 Jan 1940

Convoy US 1.

Troop convoy from New Zealand and Australia to Suez.

The convoy departed Wellington, New Zealand on 6 January 1940 and on departure was made up out of the following troopships: Empress of Canada (British, 21517 GRT, built 1922), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Rangitata (British, 16737 GRT, built 1929) and Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932).

On departure from Wellington the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. H.T. Baillie-Grohman, OBE, DSO, RN), heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. W.R. Patterson, RN) and the light cruiser HMNZS Leander (Capt. H.E. Horan, RN).

Two more troopships joined the convoy in New Zealand waters, these were: Dunera (British, 11162 GRT, built 1937) and Sobieski (Polish, 11030 GRT, built 1939).

The convoy then set course for Australia.

On 9 January the troopships: Orcades (British, 23456 GRT, built 1937), Orford (British, 19941 GRT, built 1928), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925) and Strathnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931) departed Sydney to join the convoy which they did the next day. They were being escorted by the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN).

HMNZS Leander was then detached while HMAS Sydney (Capt. J.A. Collins, RAN) joined the convoy on the 11th but already left again the day after.

On the 12th the troopship Empress of Japan (British, 26032 GRT, built 1930) joined the convoy coming from Melbourne.

On 18 January the light cruiser HMAS Adelaide (Capt. H.A. Showers, RAN) briefly joined the convoy escort but she parted company again later the same day.

On 20 January, near Fremantle the heavy cruisers HMS Kent (Capt. D. Young-Jamieson, RN) and Suffren (Capt. R.J.M. Dillard) joined the convoy after which the Australian cruisers parted company and proceeded to Fremantle.

The convoy arrived at Colombo on 30 January and entered the harbour as did HMS Ramillies. HMS Kent and Suffren kept patrolling off the harbour until the convoy set sail again on 1 February but now escorted by the battleship HMS Ramillies the aircaft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. A.R.M. Bridge, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Sussex (Capt. A.R. Hammick, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.J.L. Murray, DSO, OBE, RN) and the light cruiser HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, RAN). HMS Ramillies and HMS Sussex had sailed with the convoy from Colombo, the other two escorts came from Trincomalee. HMS Kent and Suffren then entered Colombo. At Colombo the convoy had been joined by the French troopship Athos II (French, 15276 GRT, built 1927).

On 6 February 1940 the destroyer HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN) joined the convoy coming from Colombo. On joinig the convoy she was oiled by HMS Sussex.

Early on the 7th, HMAS Hobart proceeded ahead to Aden with three of the troopships.

At dawn of the 8th the convoy arrived off Aden and three more of the troop transports entered the harbour. The remainder proceeded towards the Red Sea now escorted by HMS Sussex and HMAS Hobart. Aircraft from HMS Eagle patrolled in the area while HMS Ramillies fuelled in the outer anchorage.

The transports that had entered Aden left there on 9 February escorted by HMS Sussex as this cruiser had turned back when off the Perim Strait. HMS Sussex and HMS Westcott now escorted these ships until they met HMAS Hobart which had now dispersed the first group of transports in 22°30'N.

HMS Sussex then turned back to proceed to Aden leaving the transports of the second group to HMAS Hobart which then escorted the transports to 22°30'N when they were dispersed. HMS Westcott went on to Suez with the Rangitata. HMAS Hobart then also set sourse to return to Aden. (3)

31 Mar 1940
The aircraft carriers HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) and HMS Glorious (Capt. G. D’Oyly-Hughes, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) departed Malta for Alexandria. They were being escorted by the destroyers HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN), HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN) and HMAS Voyager (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Morrow, RAN).

En-route flying exercises were conducted.

At 0800B/2, HMS Glorious and HMS Westcott parted company to remain at sea for further flying exercises.

Around 1530B/2, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Bulldog and HMAS Voyager arrived at Alexandria.

Around 1700B/4, HMS Glorious and HMS Westcott arrived at Alexandria. (4)

8 Apr 1940
Between 0920B/8 and 0945B/8, the aircraft carriers HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN) and HMS Glorious (Capt. G. D’Oyly-Hughes, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) [Vice-Admiral Wells had transferred his flag to Glorious for these exercises] departed Alexandria for flying exercises off Alexandria. At 0800B/8, the destroyers HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) and HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN) had departed Alexandria to escort the carriers.

Around 1700B/9, HMS Ark Royal and HMS Westcott returned to Alexandria.

Around 0200B/9, HMS Glorious and HMS Bulldog returned to Alexandria. (5)

10 Apr 1940
Around 0630B/10, the aircraft carriers HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) and HMS Glorious (Capt. G. D’Oyly-Hughes, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN), HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN) departed Alexandria for the U.K.

Around 1630B/11, off Malta, the destroyers HMAS Stuart (Cdr. H.M.L. Waller, RAN) and HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) joined.

Around 0715A/12, HMAS Waterhen was detached to return to Malta.

Around 1900A/13, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Glorious, HMS Bulldog, HMS Westcott and HMAS Stuart arrived at Gibraltar. (6)

16 Apr 1940
Around 0815A/16, the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN) departed Gibraltar for exercises off Alboran Island. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN) and HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN).

During the exercises she was recalled to Gibraltar as she was to proceed to the U.K. with all despatch.

They arrived back at Gibraltar around 1800A/16.

After fuelling HMS Ark Royal departed Gibraltar for the U.K. around 2200A/16. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Bulldog, HMS Westcott and HMS Vortigern (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Howlett, RN).

At 1720A/17, HMS Vortigern was detached.

At 1800A/17, HMS Bulldog and HMS Westcott were detached.

At 1951A/19, the destroyer HMS Saladin (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Dover, RN) joined.

Around 0830A/20, the destroyers HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN) and HMS Juno (Cdr. W.E. Wilson, RN) joined coming from the Clyde.

HMS Ark Royal, HMS Saladin, HMS Hasty and HMS Juno arrived at Greenock around 1900A/20.

Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN then hoisted his flag in HMS Ark Royal. Also Capt. C.S. Holland joined HMS Ark Royal. (6)

29 Apr 1940

Evacuation of troops from the Åndalsnes area during the night of 30 April / 1 May 1940.

Around 1230A/29, the troopships Ulster Monarch (3791 GRT, built 1929) and Ulster Prince (3791 GRT, built 1930) departed Scapa Flow for for the evacuation of troops from Åndalsnes and Molde. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. R.S.G. Nicholson, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN) and HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN). The destroyer HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN) departed Scapa Flow around 1540A/29 to join them at sea.

Around 1700A/29, the light cruisers HMS Galatea (Capt. B.B. Schofield, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral G.F.B. Edward-Collins, CB, KCVO, RN), HMS Arethusa (Capt. Q.D. Graham, RN) and the destroyers HMS Walker (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN), HMS Wanderer (Cdr. R.F. Morice, RN) and HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN) departed Scapa Flow for the evacuation of troops from Åndalsnes and Molde.

They were joined around 1530A/30 by the light cruisers HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN) and HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) which had already been at sea.

All forces arrived in the area in the late evening of April 30th.

During the night of 30 April / 1 May, the Ulster Prince with HMS Tartar evacuated troops at Molde. While the light cruisers HMS Galatea, HMS Arethusa and HMS Sheffield evacuated troops at Åndalsnes. The Ulster Monarch was with this force but she did not take on board troops as there was no more time available. The destroyers HMS Sikh and HMS Wanderer evacuated troops from Åfarnes and ferried them to HMS Southampton. While doing so HMS Wanderer grounded and was damaged. She had to be towed off by HMS Sikh.

The destroyers HMS Mashona, HMS Walker and HMS Westcott picked up troops from Veblungsnes just to the south-west of Åndalsnes.

On leaving the Fjords, the ships came under attack from German aircraft but no ship sustained damage.

In the afternoon of May 1st, HMS Southampton, HMS Walker and HMS Westcott arrived at Sollom Voe.

HMS Sheffield arrived at Scapa Flow around 0615A/2.

HMS Galatea arrived at Scapa Flow around 0200A/2.

HMS Arethusa arrived at Scapa Flow around 0230A/2.

HMS Wanderder arrived at Sullom Voe around 0635A/2 after having been delayed by a u-boat hunt.

Around 1235A/2, the Ulster Monarch and Ulster Prince arrived at Scapa Flow escorted by HMS Sikh.

HMS Tartar arrived at Scapa Flow around 2100B/2.

HMS Somali and HMS Mashona apparently remained at sea and took part in the evacuation during the following night. (7)

1 May 1940
HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN) took on board troops near Åfarnes, just north of Åndalsnes. The troops were ferried to her by the destroyers HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN) and HMS Wanderer (Cdr. R.F. Morice, RN). However HMS Wanderer grounded and she had to be towed off by HMS Sikh.

HMS Southampton departed from the area around 0220 hours to proceed to the U.K.

She took the passage together with the destroyers HMS Walker (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN) and HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN).

The ships were ordered to proceed to Sullom Voe where they arrived early in the evening. HMS Southampton then transferred troops to HMS Westcott which took them Scapa Flow arriving there around 0800/2.

HMS Southampton and HMS Walker were ordered to return to Åndalsnes to evacuate more troop. This order was cancelled around 0445/2 and the ships were ordered to return to Sullom Voe where they arrived early in the afternoon. (8)

1 May 1940

Convoy US 3.

The troopship Andes (British, 25689 GRT, built 1939, 1508 troops) departed Lyttelton Harbour, New Zealand (near Christchurch) on 1 May 1940. She was escorted by the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (Capt. W.R. Patterson, RN).

Around noon on May, 2nd, in Cook Strait they were joined by the troopships Aquitania (British, 44786 GRT, built 1914, 3627 troops), Empress of Britain (British, 42348 GRT, built 1931, 2047 troops) and Empress of Japan (British, 26032 GRT, built 1930, 1554 troops) and their escorts, the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN) and light cruiser HMNZS Leander (Capt. H.E. Horan, RN). They came from Wellington.

Early on May, 4th, HMNZS Leander parted company and proceeded to Sydney. During the forenoon the troopship Queen Mary (British, 81235 GRT, built 1936, 5059 troops) came out escorted by the light cruiser HMAS Perth (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, RAN). Shortly afterwards HMAS Canberra also entered Sydney harbour to pick up correspondence. Around 1600K/4, HMAS Canberra and HMNZS Leander came out together with the troopship Mauretania (British, 35739 GRT, built 1939, 2616 troops). The convoy then set course for Fremantle.

At 2045K/4, HMAS Perth parted company.

At 1600K/6, off Melbourne, the troopship Empress of Canada (British, 21517 GRT, built 1922, 1615 troops) joined the convoy.

At 0630H/10, when 70 nautical miles from Rottness Island, HMNZS Leander parted company with the convoy to proceed ahead of it to Fremantle.

At 0800H/10, the light cruiser HMAS Adelaide (Capt. H.A. Showers, RAN), joined the convoy and guided into Gage Roads. The transports berthed alongside Fremantle Harbour as arranged except for the Aquitania and Queen Mary. The other transports fuelled and took in water. All ships of the escort berther alongside except for HMAS Adelaide which patrolled in Gage Roads.

At 1200H/12, the convoy started to leave the harbour. On forming up course was set for Colombo.

At 2214G/15, the convoy altered course towards the Cape of Good Hope. It had been decided that the convoy was not to pass through the Mediterranean as the situation with Italy was deteriorating. During the night HMNZS Leander parted company to proceed to Colombo.

At 1529D/20, the heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN) joined. HMAS Canberra then parted company to return to Australia.

At dawn on May, 26th, the convoy started to pass down the searched channel and entered Table Bay, Capetown.

At 0743B/26, HMS Shropshire set course to proceed to Simonstown.

The Queen Mary and Aquitania anchored in Table Bay while the other troopships berthed alongside the harbour.

At 1350B/26, the heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN) arrived from Simonstown.

At 0300B/28, the Queen Mary and Aquitania departed Table Bay to proceed to False Bay escorted by HMS Cumberland.

At 1000B/31, the ships at Capetown, less the Empress of Japan commenced to leave the Bay led by HMAS Australia. At sea they were joined by the Queen Mary and Aquitania and their escorts HMS Shropshire and HMS Cumberland. They had departed from False Bay around 0815B/31. At the rendezvous HMAS Australia then parted company and proceeded to Simonstown.

Course was set for Freetown where the convoy arrived in the morning of June, 7th.

The convoy departed Freetown in the morning of the June, 8th. Still escorted by HMS Shropshire and HMS Cumberland but now joined by the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt R.F.J. Onslow, DSC, MVO, RN).

At 0035N/10, HMS Hermes parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Dakar.

Around 0900N/12, the heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN) joined the convoy.

Around 0800N/14, the aircraft carrier Argus joined the convoy coming from Gibraltar.

Around 1000/14, the battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Fraser (Cdr. W.B. Creery, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lay, RN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. De Wolf, RCN) and HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Hibbard, RCN) joined the convoy coming from the U.K. HMS Dorsetshire then parted company.

around 1500N/14, the destroyer HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, RN) joined followed around 1600N/14 by the destroyers HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN) and HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN).

The convoy arrived in the Clyde in the afternoon of the 16th.

4 May 1940
Around 1600A/4, the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN), AA cruiser, AA cruiser HMS Curlew (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, RN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) departed Scapa Flow for operations off Norway.

On the 6th, HMS Ark Royal flew of a Walrus to Harstad with the Staff Officer Operations onboard. He was to confer with Admiral of the Fleet W.H.D. Boyle (Lord Cork), GCB, GCVO, RN, the Flag Officer, Northern Norway.

In the afternoon of the 6th, HMS Ark Royal flew off six Skua's for a fighter patrol over Tjelsundet, Bogen and Harstad. One aircraft reported having sighted a submarine near the Andenes Lighthouse. Therefore an A/S patrol of three Swordfish was flown off but these sighted nothing.

At 0640A/7, HMS Encounter and HMS Jaguar were detached to fuel at Harstad. They returned at 2000A/7 at which time HMS Sikh and HMS Tartar were detached to fuel at Harstad.

On the 7th, flight operations were carried out by HMS Ark Royal, these included fighter patrols in the Narvik / Harstad area. Also the Walrus aircraft with the Staff Officer Operations returned to HMS Ark Royal. Two Swordfish aircraft carried out a photographic reconnaissance of the area east of Bogen.

HMS Sikh and HMS Tartar rejoined at 1054/8. Later that day, at 1737A/8, HMS Inglefield and HMS Mashona were sent to Harstad to fuel.

On the 8th, flight operations were carried out by HMS Ark Royal, these included the usual fighter patrols in the Narvik / Harstad area. In the afternoon Skua's damaged two enemy bombers and forced a enemy flying boat down. One of the Skua's was lost in this last engagement. The crew was safe and later returned to HMS Ark Royal. Also one Swordfish carried out a photographic reconnaissance of the east east of Bogen and the Herjangsfjord. In the afternoon two more Swordfish conducted an A/S patrol around the carrier force.

At 0902A/9, HMS Inglefield and HMS Mashona rejoined. At 1315A/9, HMS Jaguar was detached to Harstad. At 2253A/9, HMS Encounter was detached to Harstad.

On the 9th, flight operations were carried out by HMS Ark Royal. The flying operations started around 0800A/9 with a strike force of 9 Swordfish aircraft which were to to carry out an attack on the railway line at Nordalsbroen, Hundalen and Sildvik. They were followed by three Skua's which were to give fighter protection for this Swordfish strike force. Two more Skua's were then flown off for a defensive patrol. Three of the Swordfish had to return to HMS Ark Royal and one had to ditch and the crew was picked up by a destroyer. The remaining Swordfish successfully attacked railway infrastructure. One of the Skua's of the fighter cover for the Swordfish had to crash land due to engine problems. It's crew survived and managed to escape capture by the Germans. No flying was prossible for the remainder of the day due to the weather conditions.

At 0225/10, HMS Jaguar rejoined followed by HMS Encounter at 1703A/10 at which time HMS Sikh and HMS Tartar were detached for Harstad.

On the 10th, no flying was possible until early afternoon when 2 flights of three Skua's each were flown off for fighter patrols in the Narvik, area. Fighted patrols were maintained throughout the remainder of the day.

At 1355A/11, HMS Sikh and HMS Tartar rejoined and HMS Mashona and HMS Jaguar were detached with orders to proceed to Scapa Flow.

On the 11th, flying commenced around 1000 hours when three Skua's were flown off to provide fighter cover for Allied convoys. This fighter cover was maintained throughout the day.

On the 12th, flying commenced around 0400 hours with Skua's been again flown off for convoy fighter cover. These fighter patrols were discontinued around noon. In late afternoon aircraft were flown off for operations and fighter patrols in the Narvik area.

At 1304A/13, HMS Curlew and HMS Inglefield were detached to fuel at Harstad.

On the 13th, flying already started at 0215 hours when two Skua's were flown off for fighter patrol over Herjangsfjord. Also a Swordfish was flown off for reconnaissance duty for the Army. Fighter patrols would be maintained over the Fleet and various areas throughout early in the morning. Also several strike forces were flown off to engage land targets. Flying was halted around 0800 hours due to the unsuitable weather conditions.

At 0830A/14, HMS Inglefield rejoined. At 1338A/14, the destroyers HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN) and HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) joined. At the same time HMS Inglefield and HMS Sikh were detached with orders to proceed to Scapa Flow while HMS Encounter was detached to Harstad. At 1350A/14, HMS Curlew rejoined but she left again at 2057A/14.

On the 14th, flying commenced only at 1100 hours when three Skua's were flown off for a fighter patrol over Bjerkvik. Fighted patrols were maintained throughout the day in various areas.

At 0615A/15, HMS Encounter rejoined. HMS Tartar parted company on the 15th, also to fuel at Harstad (no time given).

On 15 May, flying commenced shortly after 0400 hours, when two Skua's were flown off for a fighter patrol over Hartvig. Fighter patrols were maintained over several area's throughout the day. Also several stike forces of Swordfish aircraft were flown off during the day.

At 0703A/16, HMS Westcott parted company to proceed to Harstad to effect repairs there as she was suffering from engine trouble and her Asdic was out of action. At 1044A/16, HMS Tartar rejoined. At 1800A/16, HMS Volunteer was detached to fuel at Harstad.

On 16 May, flying commenced around 0300 hours, when a strike force of 9 Swordfish was flown off to attack enemy troops and stores on the Hemnes Peninsula in the Ranfjorden. Three Skua's were also flown off to give them fighter protection. They also were to sink the damaged troopship Chrobry (Polish, 11442 GRT, built 1939). One bomb hit the ship and she finally sank. Earlier attempts had failed to sink the derelict wreck. Fighter patrols made up of Skua's were flown off throughout the day to patrol in various areas. Also late in the afternoon a Swordfish was flown off for a photographic reconnaissance.

At 2100A/17, HMS Volunteer rejoined from Harstad.

On the 17th, fighter protection was provided for HMS Effingham (Capt. J.M. Howson, RN), HMS Cairo (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN), HMS Coventry (Capt. R.F.J. Onslow, DSC, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. G.K. Whitmy-Smith, RN) and HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, DSO, RAN) which where en-route from Harstard to Bodo carrying troops. These fighter patrols continued until 0630A/18.

At 0200A/18, the destroyer HMS Brazen (Lt.Cdr. Sir M. Culme-Seymour, RN) joined. At 1445A/18, the destroyer HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.T. White, RN) joined. At 1800A/18, HMS Encounter was detached to oil. HMS Tartar was also detached on this day (no time given).

Late the 18th, two groups of three Skua's were flown off by HMS Ark Royal for figher cover in the Narvik area.

At 1612A/19, HMS Encounter rejoined. At 1900A/19, HMS Volunteer parted company to oil at Harstad.

On the 19th, No flying took place as conditions inshore were unsuitable.

At 1830A/20, HMS Volunteer rejoined and HMS Brazen was detached to oil at Harstad.

On the 20th, around 0330 hours, HMS Ark Royal flew off a strike force of 9 Swordfish that was to attack Hundalen and Sildvik. Around the same time 3 Skua's were flown off for a fighter patrol in the Narvik area. More Skua fighters patrols for the Narvik area were flown off at 0400 and 0600 hours. When these aircraft all returned later in the morning, visibility had deteriorated and flying was halted for the remainder of the day.

At 1928A/21, HMS Brazen rejoined.

On 21 June HMS Ark Royal flew of 6 Skua's around 0300 hours for a fighter patrol near Bardufoss airfield to cover the landing of Gladiator fighters there that were flown off from HMS Furious. Later Skua's were flown off to conduct a fighter patrol off Bardufoss.

Around 2345A/22, HMS Volunteer and HMS Encounter lost touch in thick fog. They only rejoined at 1523/23, after the fog had cleared. HMS Ark Royal now ended her operations off Norway and course was set to return to Scapa Flow.

At 0455A/24, HMS Antelope was detached followed by HMS Brazen at 1518A/24. HMS Ark Royal, HMS Volunteer and HMS Encounter arrived at Scapa Flow around 1915A/24.

30 May 1940
The troopships Antonia (British, 13867 GRT, built 1921) and Duchess of Richmond (British, 22022 GRT, built 1928) departed Liverpool for Halifax. They both had on board £ 5 million in gold bullion. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Warwick (Lt.Cdr. M.A.G. Child, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN) and HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.H. Craske, RN).

Later the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) departed the Clyde escorted by the destroyers HMS Escort (Lt.Cdr. J. Bostock, RN) and HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN). HMS Revenge had on board £ 40 million in gold bullion.

The two groups made rendezvous around 0400A/31.

At 2337A/31, the destroyers parted company.

The troopships and HMS Revenge arrived at Halifax on 8 June. They were escorted in by the Canadian destroyers HMCS Assiniboine (Capt. G.C. Jones, RCN) and HMCS Saguenay (Cdr. G.R. Miles, RCN). (9)

14 Jun 1940
Convoy US 3, made up of the troopships (liners) Andes (25689 GRT, built 1939), Aquitania (44786 GRT, built 1914), Empress of Britain (42348 GRT, built 1931), Empress of Canada (21517 GRT, built 1922), Mauretania (35739 GRT, built 1939) and Queen Mary (81235 GRT, built 1936) with troop from New Zealand and Australia on board and escorted by the British heavy cruisers HMS Shropshire (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN), HMS Cumberland (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN) and HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN) was joined around 0800 hours by HMS Argus (Capt. H.C. Bovell, RN), which came from Gibraltar, and joined around 1000 hours by the battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN) escorted by the Canadian destroyers HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lay, RN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. De Wolf, RCN), HMCS Fraser (Cdr. W.B. Creery, RCN) and HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Hibbard, RCN) which came from the U.K. Shortly afterwards HMS Dorsetshire left the convoy to proceed to Gibraltar.

Later that day, around 1500 hours, the convoy was joined by the destroyer HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, RN) and around 1600 hours by two more destroyers HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN) and HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN). (10)

5 Jul 1940
HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN) picks up 57 survivors from the British destroyer HMS Whirlwind that was torpedoed and sunk by the German U-boat U-34 about 120 nautical miles west of Lands End in position 50°17'N, 8°48'W.

15 Jul 1940
The troop transports and transports Aska (British, 8323 GRT, built 1939), Karanja (British, 9891 GRT, built 1931) and Kenya (British, 9890 GRT, built 1930), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935) and Reina del Pacifico (British, 17702 GRT, built 1931) and their escorts, the heavy cruisers HMS Cornwall (Capt. C.F. Hammill, RN) and HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN) were joined by a local A/S escort made up of the destroyers HMS Havelock (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSC, RN), HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, RN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN), HMS Walker (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN) and HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN).

The convoy arrived at Liverpool on the 16th minus HMAS Australia which had gone to the Clyde. (11)

14 Sep 1940
Around 0230A/14, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) departed the Clyde for Plymouth where they will be stationed for anti-invasion duties.

On departure from the Clyde they were escorted by the destroyers HMS Mackay (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN), HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN), HMS Scimitar (Lt. R.D. Franks, OBE, RN) and HMS Skate (Lt. F.P. Baker, DSC, RN).

Around 2000A/14, the destroyers HMS Scimitar and HMS Skate parted company and the destroyers HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN) and HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN) joined.

HMS Revenge, HMS Emerald, HMS Mackay, HMS Broke, HMS Vansittart and HMS Westcott arrived at Plymouth around 0915A/15. (12)

16 Jan 1941
HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN), HMRT Superman and HMRT Tenacity together pick up 143 survivors from the British passenger ship Oropasa that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-96 southeast of Rockall in position 56°28'N, 12°00'W.

May 1941
The destroyer was chosen for the first test installation of the new anti-submarine weapon called Hedgehog then in development. The trials took place in Liverpool Bay against a known wreck. 9 months later the weapon entered production. (13)

30 May 1941

Convoy SL 76.

This convoy departed Freetown on 30 May 1941 for the U.K.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Albion Star (British, 7946 GRT, built 1919), Anadyr (British, 5321 GRT, built 1930), Asphalion (British, 6274 GRT, built 1924), Bactria (British, 2407 GRT, built 1928), Bennevis (British, 5356 GRT, built 1918), Bothnia (British, 2407 GRT, built 1928), Calabria (British, 1277 GRT, built 1916), Cape of Good Hope (British, 4963 GRT, built 1925), Capo Olmo (British, 4712 GRT, built 1923), Cathrine (British, 2727 GRT, built 1919), Clan MacPherson (British, 6940 GRT, built 1929), Clan Murray (British, 5953 GRT, built 1918), Dahomian (British, 5277 GRT, built 1929), Diomed (British, 10374 GRT, built 1922), Djurdjura (British, 3460 GRT, built 1922), Eirini Kyriaidgou (Greek, 3781 GRT, built 1922), Elswick Park (British, 4138 GRT, built 1920), English Trader (British, 3953 GRT, built 1934), Glenapp (British, 9503 GRT, built 1920), Gudrun Maersk (British, 2294 GRT, built 1937), Hamla (British, 4416 GRT, built 1929), Hampton Lodge (British, 3645 GRT, built 1911), Harbury (British, 5081 GRT, built 1933), Hatasu (British, 3198 GRT, built 1921), Kana (British, 2783 GRT, built 1929), Kerma (British, 4333 GRT, built 1928), Kiruna (Swedish, 5484 GRT, built 1921), Lackenby (British, 5112 GRT, built 1928), Lafian (British, 4876 GRT, built 1937), Lerwick (British, 5626 GRT, built 1938), Leto (Dutch, 4712 GRT, built 1929), Macgregor (British, 2498 GRT, built 1919), Magdala (Dutch (tanker), 8248 GRT, built 1931), Marylyn (British, 4555 GRT, built 1930), Miguel de Larrinaga (British, 5231 GRT, built 1924), Montferland (Dutch, 5790 GRT, built 1921), New Brunswick (British, 6529 GRT, built 1919), Observer (British, 5881 GRT, built 1928), Ogmore Castle (British, 2481 GRT, built 1919), Orfor (British, 6578 GRT, built 1921), Peebles (British, 4982 GRT, built 1936), Rinos (Greek, 4649 GRT, built 1919), River Afton (British, 5479 GRT, built 1935), Rothley (British, 4996 GRT, built 1936), Sheridan (British, 4665 GRT, built 1918), Silverlaurel (British, 6142 GRT, built 1939), Sitoebondo (Dutch, 7049 GRT, built 1916), St. Clair II (British, 3753 GRT, built 1929), Steaua Romana (British (tanker), 5311 GRT, built 1914), Sutherland (British, 5170 GRT, built 1940), Tantalus (British, 7724 GRT, built 1923), Teucer (British, 9079 GRT, built 1906), Thode Fagelund (Norwegian, 5757 GRT, built 1920), Ella (British, 1575 GRT, built 1930), Umvuma (British, 4419 GRT, built 1914) and Weirbank (British, 5150 GRT, built 1925).

On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Moreton Bay (Capt.(Retd.) C.C. Bell, RN) and the corvettes HMS Amaranthus (Lt. N.B.J. Stapleton, RNR), HMS Asphodel (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) K.W. Stewart, RN), HMS Clematis (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSC, RD, RNR) and HMS Columbine (T/Lt. S.J. Lavis, RNR).

At 1410N/1, HMS Amaranthus parted company with the convoy.

At 2320N/1, HMS Clematis parted company with the convoy.

At 2010N/4, the destroyer HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) joined the escort of the convoy.

At 1800N/6, HMS Velox parted company with the convoy.

At 0600N/7, HMS Asphodel and HMS Columbine parted company with the convoy.

Around 1200Z/10, the heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN) joined the convoy escort.

In the early hours of 13 June the convoy was attacked by the Italian submarine Benedetto Brin which managed to sink two merchant vessels; the Djurdjura and the Eirini Kyriakides

At 1855/13, the convoy was joined by the corvettes HMS Coreopsis (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Davies, RNVR) and HMS Fleur de Lys (Lt.Cdr. L.M. Carter, RNR).

During the morning of the 14th, HMS Coreopsis and HMS Fleur de Lys fuelled from HMS Fleur de Lys.

During the fuelling of the corvettes the light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) joined around 1130Z/14.

At 1030Z/16, the armed boarding vessel HMS Corinthian (A/Cdr. E.J.R. Pollitt, RNR) joined.

At 1600Z/16, the armed boarding vessel Maron (Cdr. (Retd.) J.H. Blair, DSC, RD, RNR) joined.

At 1630Z/16, the destroyers HMS Roxborough (Lt. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) joined.

At 2200Z/16, HMS Cumberland and HMS Sheffield parted company with the convoy.

In the early hours of the 17th the merchant vessel Cathrine, which had straggled from the convoy, was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-43.

At 1730Z/18, the destroyer HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, RN) and the corvettes HMS Auricula (T/Lt. W.W. White, RNR), HMS Marigold (T/Lt. J. Renwick, RNR) and HMS Periwinkle (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RNR) joined.

At 1740Z/18, HMS Coreopsis and HMS Fleur de Lys parted company.

At 0620A/19, the destroyer HMS Wanderer (Cdr. A.F.St.G. Orpen, RN) and the corvettes HMS Freesia (Lt.Cdr. T.P.G. Crick, RN) and HMS Hibiscus (Lt. H. Roach, RNR) joined.

At 2000A/19, HMS Roxborough parted company.

On 21 June 1941 the convoy arrived in British waters.

In the early hours of 22 June the Swedish merchant vessel Calabria, a straggler of convoy SL 76, was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-141.

9 Sep 1941
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.W.D. Coombe, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, RN). (14)

9 Sep 1941
HMS H 50 (Lt. N. Marriott, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, RN). (15)

9 Dec 1941

Convoy WS 14.

This convoy was formed off Oversay on 9 December 1941.

On forming up the convoy was made up of the following (troop) transports; Abosso (British, 11330 GRT, built 1935), Andes (British, 25689 GRT, built 1939), Athlone Castle (British, 25564 GRT, built 1936), Cameronia (British, 16297 GRT, built 1920), City of Pretoria (British, 8049 GRT, built 1937), Clan Cameron (British, 7243 GRT, built 1937), Duchess of Atholl (British, 20119 GRT, built 1928), Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Empire Condor (British, 7773 GRT, built 1940), Empire Curlew (British, 7101 GRT, built 1941), Empire Egret (British, 7169 GRT, built 1939), Empire Oriole (British, 6535 GRT, built 1941), Empire Peregrine (British, 6440 GRT, built 1941), Empire Pintail (British, 7773 GRT, built 1940), Empire Widgeon (British, 6737 GRT, built 1940), Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914), Esperance Bay (British, 14204 GRT, built 1921), Highland Monarch (British, 14139 GRT, built 1928), Highland Princess (British, 14133 GRT, built 1930), Orcades (British, 23456 GRT, built 1937), Orestes (British, 7748 GRT, built 1926), Oronsay (British, 20043 GRT, built 1925), Reina del Pacifico (British, 17702 GRT, built 1931), Scythia (British, 19761 GRT, built 1920), Strathallan (British, 23722 GRT, built 1938), Troilus (British, 7422 GRT, built 1921) and Warwick Castle (British, 20107 GRT, built 1930).

The aircraft transport HMS Engadine (Cdr. W.T. Fitzgerald, RD, RNR) was also part of the convoy.

On forming up the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser Cilicia, AA ship HMS Ulster Queen (Capt.(Retd.) D.S. McGrath, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, RAN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Beverley (Lt.Cdr. J. Grant, RN), HMS Lancaster (A/Cdr. N.H. Whatley, RN), HMS Newark (Lt.Cdr. R.H.W. Atkins, RN), HMS Sherwood (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Badsworth (Lt.Cdr. M.S. Townsend, DSC and Bar, OBE, RN), HMS Beaufort (Lt.Cdr. S.O’G Roche, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN).

In the afternoon of the 11th, HMS Newark parted company with the convoy due to damaged fuel tanks.

Bad weather was experienced on the 11th, and late in the evening, the Empire Oriole had to heave to in order to secure tanks that were carried as deck cargo. She did not rejoin the convoy and proceeded independently to Freetown arriving there on 23 December.

At 0415N/12, HMS Ulster Queen parted company with the convoy in approximate position 49°08'N, 19°08'W.

Later that morning, HMS Lancaster parted company with the convoy in approximate position 47°50'N, 20°42'W.

Around midnight during the night of 12/13 December, Westcott, HMS Witherington, HMS Beverley, HMS Newark and HMS Sherwood parted company with the convoy in approximate position 41°46'N, 22°51'W.

Around 0940Z/13, the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Vanquisher (Cdr. N.V. Dickinson, DSC, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Holmes, RN) and HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN) joined the convoy in approximate position 44°00'N, 22°16'W coming from Milford Haven (HMS Gurkha came from Plymouth).

At the time of joining HMAS Nestor, HMS Foxhound, HMS Badsworth, HMS Beaufort and HMS Croome were supposed to be with the convoy but they had lost touch with the convoy in the heavy weather conditions. All were in touch trough V/S except for HMS Croome. HMAS Nestor, HMS Foxhound and HMS Gurkha were then ordered to proceed to Gibraltar. Vanquisher, Volunteer, Witch, HMS Badsworth and HMS Beaufort remained with the convoy.

At 1800Z/13, in approximate position 42°38'N, 22°40'W HMS Badsworth and HMS Beaufort were detached to fuel at Ponta Delgada, Azores.

Also on 13 December (around 0500 hours) the Scythia left the convoy due to ' not being under control '. She did not rejoin the convoy and arrived independently at Freetown on 23 December.

At 2200Z/14, in approximate position, 36°07'N, 23°24'W, HMS Vanquisher was detached to fuel at Ponta Delgada, Azores. She was detached earlier then intended due to condenser trouble.

At 0400Z/15, in approximate position 35°02'N, 23°23'W, HMS Volunteer and HMS Witch were detached to fuel at Ponta Delgada, Azores.

At 1030Z/15, HMS Badsworth and HMS Beaufort rejoined the convoy in approximate position 34°03'N, 23°24'W.

At 0930Z/18, the destroyer HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, RN) joined the convoy in approximate position 18°50'N, 21°52'W.

At 0910Z/19, the destroyers HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN) and HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, RN) joined the convoy in approximate position 14°30'N, 19°17'W.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 21 December 1941.

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The convoy departed Freetown on 25 December 1941 for South Africa.

The convoy sailed with the same ships as with it had arrived except for HMS Engadine

On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Ramillies, destroyers HMS Brilliant, HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. H.G.D. de Chair, RN), escort destroyers HMS Beaufort, HMS Hurworth and the sloop HMS Bridgewater (A/Cdr.(Retd.) H.F.G. Leftwich, RN).

At 1100Z/26, HMS Vimy developed engine trouble and fell behind. She rejoined the convoy at 0600Z/27.

At 1800Z/26, in approximate position 03°02'N, 12°25'W, HMS Brilliant parted company with the convoy, taking the troopship Abosso with her. They were to proceed to Takoradi.

At 0400Z/27, the Orestes fell out of line with engine trouble. As by noon she was not in sight HMS Vimy was ordered to search for her. She reported at 1800Z/27 that she had found the Orestes which was now able to proceed at 14 knots. HMS Vimy was then ordered to return to Freetown. The Orestes then proceeded to Capetown unescorted.

At 1900Z/27, HMS Bridgewater was detached to proceed ahead to fuel from the RFA tanker Rapidol (2648 GRT, built 1917).

At 0600Z/29, HMS Beaufort was detached to fuel from the Rapidol.

At 1100Z/30, HMS Hurworth was detached to fuel from the Rapidol but she could not find the tanker and rejoined the convoy at 1930Z/29. Fortunately the tanker was then sighted on the convoy's beam and she was able to fuel after all. On completion of fuelling she started a search for an unidentified ship that had been sighted earlier by the Rapidol.

At 1320/30, HMS Beaufort rejoined the convoy.

At 1700/30, HMS Bridgewater rejoined the convoy.

At 1845A/31, HMS Hurworth rejoined the convoy. The ship reported by the Rapidol had not been sighted.

At 0100Z/3, the Andes was detached to proceed ahead of the convoy to Capetown where politicians were to be landed. She later joined the Durban section of the convoy.

In the morning of the 4th, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Derbyshire (Capt.(Retd.) C.C. Bell, DSO, RN) joined the convoy in approximate position 31°45'S, 14°00'E.

At 1600Z/4, in approximate position, 33°12'S, 15°45'E, HMS Derbyshire parted company with the convoy taking the Durban section of the convoy with her. The Durban section was made up of the Andes, Athlone Castle, Cameronia, Duchess of Atholl, Durban Castle, Esperance Bay, Highland Princess, Oronsay, Reina del Pacifico, Scythia and Strathallan.

The Capetown section of the convoy, made up of the City of Pretoria, Clan Cameron, Empire Condor, Empire Curlew, Empire Egret, Empire Oriole, Empire Peregrine, Empire Pintail, Empire Widgeon, Empress of Australia, Highland Monarch, Orcades, Troilus and Warwick Castle arrived at Capetown early in the morning escorted by HMS Ramillies, HMS Beaufort and HMS Hurworth. The escort destroyers then proceeded to Simonstown. The Orestes arrived later in the morning.

The Durban section was joined in the morning of the 6th by the light cruiser HMS Ceres (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H.W.V. Stephenson, RN) in approximate position 35°18'S, 23°32'E.

In the morning of the 8th the convoy arrived at Durban in three sections in order to avoid congestion in the swept channel. Each of the escorts, HMS Ceres, HMS Bridgewater and HMS Derbyshire took one section under their orders.

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On 9 January 1942, the Capetown section, made up of the City of Pretoria, Clan Cameron, Empire Condor, Empire Curlew, Empire Egret, Empire Oriole, Empire Peregrine, Empire Pintail, Empire Widgeon, Empress of Australia, Highland Monarch, Orcades, Troilus and Warwick Castle. An additional transport, the Malancha (British, 8124 GRT, built 1937), joined the convoy.

The Orestes was also to have joined the convoy but she was delayed, probably due to repairs, and she sailed later with orders to overtake the convoy.

The convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Ramillies and the corvettes HMS Hollyhock (Lt. T.E. Davies, OBE, RNR) and HMS Verbena (Lt.Cdr. D.A. Rayner, DSC, RNVR).

In the early morning of the 10th both corvettes parted company to return to Capetown.

On the 13th the convoy was joined by the Durban section made up of the transports City of Canterbury (British, 8331 GRT, built 1922), Dilwara (British, 11080 GRT, built 1936), Duchess of Atholl, Dunera (British, 11162 GRT, built 1937), Esperance Bay, Nova Scotia (British, 6796 GRT, built 1926) and Thysville (Belgian, 8351 GRT, built 1922). They were escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Corfu (Capt.(Retd.) J.P. Landon, RN).

Also the Orestes caught up with the convoy off Durban and joined.

The Orcades of the Capetown section parted company with the convoy and entered Durban.

The Duchess of Athol soon developed engine trouble and returned to Durban. Her troops were transferred to the Andes and this ship then departed Durban on 14 January 1942, escorted by HMS Ceres to overtake the convoy which Andes did early on the 16th. HMS Ceres then set course to return to Durban where she arrived on the 18th.

Early on the 19th, rendezvous was made with the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) which then took the ships of Singapore with her forming convoy DM 2. These were the City of Canterbury, City of Pretoria, Dunera, Empress of Australia, Malancha, Troilus and Warwick Castle. They then set course for Port T (Addu Atoll).

At 1000C/20, the convoy was joined by the light cruiser HMS Colombo (Capt. C.C.A. Allen, RN) which had the transports Mendoza (British (former French), 8233 GRT, built 1919) and Salween (British, 7063 GRT, built 1937) with her. HMS Ramillies then parted company and proceeded to Mombasa arriving there on 21 January 1942.

The convoy then split into two more sections; convoy WS 14A was to proceed to the Gulf of Aden where it was to disperse. It was made up of the Empire Egret, Empire Oriole, Empire Pintail, Highland Morarch, Mendoza, Orestes and Salween. HMS Colombo was escorting these ships. The convoy was dispersed on 26 January 1942 in the Gulf of Aden. The Thysville proceeded independently to Aden as she had straddled from the convoy not long after it had departed Durban due to bad coal having been supplied.

HMS Corfu took the remainder of the ships with her towards Bombay. This convoy was then known as convoy WS 14B and was made up of the Andes, Clan Cameron, Dilwara, Empire Condor, Empire Curlew, Empire Peregrine, Empire Widgeon, Esperance Bay and Nova Scotia.

At 1930E/25, the Clan Cameron, Empire Curlew, Empire Peregrine, Empire Widgeon parted company with the convoy to proceed to Basra independently.

The remainder of Convoy WS 14B arrived at Bombay on 28 January 1942. (16)

2 Feb 1942
German U-boat U-581 was sunk in the North Atlantic south-east of Horta, Azores, in position 38°24'N, 28°30'W, by depth charges from the British destroyer HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, RN).

14 Apr 1942

Operation Calender.

Spitfire fighters to be flown off to Malta.

Around 0700A/14, ' Force W ' made up of the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Commodore C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier USS Wasp (Capt. J.W. Reeves, Jr., USN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), USS Lang (Lt.Cdr. E.A. Seay, USN) and USS Madison (Lt.Cdr. W.B. Ammon, USN) departed the Clyde for a mission to fly off Spitfire fighters to Malta.

At 2020A/15, ' Force W ' made a 90° emergency turn to port as HMS Partidge had obtained an A/S contact and attacked it with depth charges. The original course was resumed a little over 20 minutes later. At 2045A/15, HMS Partridge dropped more depth charges. ' Force W ' then commenced zig-zagging. HMS Partridge rejoined the screen at 2305A/15.

Around 1915A/17 all destroyers were detached to refuel at Gibraltar after they had been relieved, temporary, by the destroyers HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Vidette (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN). These destroyers had departed Gibraltar around 0001A/16.

HMS Inglefield, HMS Echo, HMS Ithuriel, HMS Partridge, USS Lang and USS Madison arrived at Gibraltar around 1500A/18. After fuelling they departed to conduct an A/S patrol to the east of Gibraltar and then rejoin ' Force W '.

Around 0700/19 the original screen rejoined from Gibraltar as did the cruisers HMS Cairo (A/Capt. C.C. Hardy, DSO, RN) and HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) also coming from Gibraltar. The cruisers had departed from Gibraltar at 0145A/19 and joined with the destroyers that were on A/S patrol at 0230A/19. HMS Antelope, HMS Westcott, HMS Wishart and HMS Wrestler were detached around 0630A/19 to return to Gibraltar where they arrived at 1100A/19. HMS Vidette for now remained with ' Force W '. She left the formation at 1900A/19 and proceeded to Gibraltar independently.

After fuelling HMS Antelope and HMS Westcott departed Gibraltar to rejoin ' Force W ' at 1415A/19 as did HMS Wishart and HMS Wrestler at 1545A/19. They rejoined ' Force W ' around 0900A/20.

At 0500A/20, in position 37°30'N, 03°20'E, USS Wasp commenced flying off 11 F4F Wildcat fighters to provide a combat air patrol whilst the Spitfires were launched. At 0545A/20 the flying off of 47 Spitfires commenced. All were successfully launched and the combat air patrol landed on around 0715A/20 when ' Force W ' reversed course and steered for Gibraltar.

At 1620A/20, HMS Vidette arrived at Gibraltar to fuel. She sailed again to rejoin ' Force W ' at 0130A/21.

At 0250A/21, HMS Cairo, HMS Inglefield, HMS Echo, USS Lang and USS Madison arrived at Gibraltar. After fuelling they departed again at 0625A/21 to rejoin the USS Wasp at sea.

At 1630A/21, HMS Renown, HMS Charybdis, HMS Antelope, HMS Vidette, HMS Westcott, HMS Wishart, HMS Wrestler, HMS Ithuriel and HMS Partridge arrived at Gibraltar after playing their part in Operation Calender.

USS Wasp now escorted by HMS Cairo, HMS Inglefield, HMS Echo, USS Lang and USS Madison set course for Scapa Flow.

Around 1645A/25, the destroyers USS Plunkett (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Standley, Jr., USN) and USS Wainwright (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Gibbs, USN) joined. Shortly afterwards HMS Cairo parted company and proceeded to Bangor Bay near Belfast, Northern Ireland arriving there around 0800A/26.

USS Wasp, HMS Inglefield, HMS Echo, USS Lang, USS Madison, USS Plunkett and USS Wainwright arrived at Scapa Flow around 1200A/26. (17)

21 Apr 1942
At 1630A/21, HMS Renown (Commodore C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Vidette (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN) and HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN) arrived at Gibraltar from operations. (18)

29 Apr 1942

Operation Bowery.

Spitfire fighters to be flown off to Malta.

On 29 April 1942 the aircraft carrier USS Wasp (Capt. J.W. Reeves, Jr., USN), destroyers USS Lang (Lt.Cdr. E.A. Seay, USN), USS Sterett (T/Cdr. J.G. Coward, USN) and the escort destroyer HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN) departed Scapa Flow for the Clyde.

On 30 April 1942, USS Wasp, USS Lang, USS Sterett and HMS Blackmore arrived at Greenock where USS Wasp embarked Spitfire fighters for Malta.

Around 0600/3, USS Wasp, USS Lang, USS Sterett, HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) and HMS Intrepid (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Lewes, DSC, RN) departed the Clyde on operation Bowery.

At 0001/5 the destroyers HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar to make rendesvous with USS Wasp and her escorting detroyers. They joined around 1730/6. USS Lang, USS Sterett, HMS Echo and HMS Intrepid then parted company and proceeded to Gibraltar fuel. They arrived at Gibraltar around 1800/7.

Around 0130/8, ' Force W ' made up of the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Commodore C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) and the destroyers USS Lang, USS Sterret, HMS Echo, HMS Intrepid, HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Vidette (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, RN), HMS Georgetown (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RNR) and HMS Salisbury (Lt.Cdr. M.H.R. Crichton, RN) departed Gibraltar to join USS Wasp and her escorting destroyers. They joined around 0800/8 after which HMS Antelope, HMS Westcott, HMS Wishart and HMS Wrestler were detached to fuel at Gibraltar. They arrived at Gibraltar at 1250/8 except HMS Wrestler which only arrived at 1425/8. After fuelling the departed as follows, HMS Antelope and HMS Westcott at 1720/8, HMS Wishart at 1800/8 and finally HMS Wrestler at 2205/8. They were to rejoin ' Force W '.

Around 0945/8, HMS Georgetown was detached to return to Gibraltar with defects (excessive vibration). She arrived at Gibraltar at 1630/8.

Between 0630/9 and 0800/9 a total of 17 Spitfires were launched from HMS Eagle and 47 from HMS Wasp. Course was then set to the westwards. One aircraft had crashed on taking off, one returned to USS Wasp, one landed in North-Africa and one landed on the sea near Malta.

At 1030/9, HMS Antelope, HMS Westcott and HMS Wishart rejoined ' Force W '. HMS Wrestler presumably joined later.

At 1130/9, HMS Intepid, HMS Echo and HMS Salisbury parted company with ' Force W ' to proceed to Gibraltar.

At 1300/9, USS Lang and USS Sterret parted company with ' Force W '.

Between 0015/10 and 0100/10, HMS Intrepid, HMS Echo, HMS Salisbury, USS Lang and USS Sterett arrived at Gibraltar to fuel. En-route to Gibraltar HMS Salisbury had attacked an A/S contact with depth charges.

At 0120/10, HMS Ithuriel was detached to Gibraltar.

Around 0330/10, HMS Eagle and HMS Wrestler parted company. They arrived at Gibraltar around 0500/10.

Around 5000/10, HMS Intepid, HMS Echo, HMS Salisbury and USS Lang departed Gibraltar to rejoin ' Force W '. USS Sterett was unable to sail with them due to defects. She departed at 1100/10. HMS Intrepid, HMS Echo and USS Lang rejoined ' Force W ' around 0815/10 followed one hour later by HMS Salisbury. Around 0815/10, HMS Vidette was detached to Gibraltar followed by HMS Partridge, HMS Antelope, HMS Westcott and HMS Wishart around 0945/10. Around 1200/10, HMS Charybdis was detached to Gibraltar.

At 0645/11, USS Sterett rejoined.

At 0915/12, HMS Salisbury was detached to proceed independently. She was unable to keep up with ' Force W ' in the current weather conditions without sustaining more damage then she had already did up to that point.

' Force W ', HMS Renown, USS Wasp, HMS Echo, HMS Intrepid, USS Lang and USS Sterett arrived at Scapa Flow around 0700/15. (17)

17 May 1942

Operation LB.

Aircraft to be flown to Malta.

At 0950B/17, the destroyers HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN) and HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN) departed Gibraltar for an A/S sweep of the harbour before the departure of the other ships.

At 1015B/17, the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN) and AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar and joined the destroyers.

At 1330B/17, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar to overtake the other ships. The destroyer HMS Vidette (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) was unable to sail with them due to defects. After repairs she sailed at 1535B/17 to overtake and join the other ships but later turned back as it was considered she was in an unreliable condition.

Around 1815B/17, all ships were now in company with each other.

At At 0830B/18 in position 37°07'N, 01°03'E, HMS Charybdis and HMS Partidge sighted three torpedo tracks. HMS Partidge then combed the tracks and gained a firm contact and then carried out a depth charge attack, but with no visible results. At 1007B/18, the doubtful report of a submarine periscope resulted in HMS Ithuriel dropping one depth charge and an investigation by HMS Westcott, but no confirmation of the presence of a submarine was obtained.

The attack at 0830B/18 was carried out by the Italian submarine Mocenigo which intended to attack HMS Eagle but was unable to do so therefore three stern torpedoes were fired at the cruiser from 1200 meters. Two torpedo explosions were heard and were thought to be hits. The counter attack by HMS Partridge caused damage which forced her to abandon her patrol and return to base for repairs.

At 1320B/18 an attempt was made to fly off the Spitfires, but low wind velocity precluded it. At 1440B/18, the first flight of Spitfires was flown off from position 37°32'N, 01°58'E and the second flight at 1515B/18 from position 37°33'N, 03°02'E. The take offs were without incident.

Six Albacores were flown off at 1930B/18 in position 37°39'N, 04°02'E, but they all returned and landed on defective.

The force had frequently been reported by enemy aircraft, and shadowing aircraft were intermittently seen and engaged when within range. Between 2130A/18 and 2215A/18 the force was attacked by torpedo carrying aircraft believed to be Italian SM 79's. HMS Eagle and HMS Argus were near missed.

Enemy reconnaissance aircraft were again sighted at 0949A/19 and 1119A/19, the latter aircraft being observed in the vicinity until 1315A/19. All were engaged by gunfire when within range.

All ships arrived back at Gibraltar in the early morning of 20 May 1942. (19)

28 May 1942
Around 2000B/28, the light cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar to search for an enemy submarine reported by a Sunderland aircraft, this was aircraft 'R' of 10 Squadron (RAAF), which had sighted and depth charged the Italian submarine Argo in position 38°04'N, 02°22'E.

They did not find the enemy and returned to Gibraltar around 2000B/30. (20)

2 Jun 1942

Operation Style 2.

Aircraft to be flown to Malta.

At 0445B/2, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN) and HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN) departed Gibraltar and proceeded to the eastward at 17 knots.

Flying off position 37°48'N, 02°47'E was reached at 0600B/3, and in this area four flights of Spitfires totaling 31 machines, were flown off between 0600B/3 and 0827B/3. 27 aircraft arrived safely at Malta, four having been lost in action against a force of enemy ME 109 fighters near Pantelleria.

On the return journey, the Force was shadowed and reported intermittently by enemy aircraft, which were fired on when within range. An alteration of course was made to avoid enemy submarines which might have been homed by the shadowing aircraft, and the Force entered Gibraltar Harbour at 0615B/4 without further incident. (21)

7 Jun 1942

Operation Salient.

Aircraft to be flown to Malta.

Around 2130B/7, the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar and proceeded to the westward so as to mislead enemy spies. She later proceeded eastwards to re-enter the Mediterranean.

Around 0920B/8, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), AA cruiser HMS Cairo (A/Capt. C.C. Hardy, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN) and HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN) departed Gibraltar and proceeded to the eastward.

At 1200B/8, HMS Charybdis joined the other ships.

All 32 Spitfires were flown off in ffrom position 37°18'N, 02°30'E between 0600B/9 and 0730B/9. All aircraft arrived safely at Malta.

The Force was shadowed by an enemy aircraft, and reported by an enemy submarine, but no attack followed and the Force arrived safely back at Gibraltar in the morning of June 10th. (22)

12 Jun 1942

Operation Harpoon. Supply convoy to Malta from Gibraltar.


Timespan: 12 to 18 June 1942.

During March and April 1942 Malta had been attacked very heavily by the German and Italian air forces and was in much need of supplies. It was therefore decided that two convoy’s were to be sent, one from the west (Harpoon) and one from the east (Vigorous). This was to increase the chance of success as the enemy would have to split force if they want to attack both convoys. Also a group of minesweepers were to be sent to Malta.

Below we will give the events regarding the Harpoon convoy in chronological order.

12 June 1942.

Western Mediterranean (Harpoon convoy)

During the night convoy WS 19 Z passed the Straits of Gibraltar. This convoy had departed the Clyde on June 6th. It was made up of five merchant vessels; Burwan (British , 6069 GRT, built 1928), Chant (American, 5601 GRT, built 1938), Orari (British, 10350 GRT, built 1931), Tanimbar (Dutch, 8169 GRT, built 1930) and Troilus (British, 7422 GRT, built 1921).

Off Gibraltar the tanker Kentucky (American , 9308 GRT, built 1942) joined the convoy.

Close escort was provided by ‘Force X’ which was made up of the AA-cruiser HMS Cairo (A/Capt. C.C. Hardy, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. H.N.A. Richardson, DSC, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN), escort destroyers HMS Badsworth (Lt. G.T.S. Gray, DSC, RN), HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Middleton (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN), ORP Kujawiak (Lt. L. Lichodziejewski), minesweepers HMS Hebe (Lt.Cdr. G. Mowatt, RD, RN), HMS Speedy (Lt. J.G. Brookes, RN), HMS Rye (Lt. J.A. Pearson, DSC, RN), HMS Hythe (Lt.Cdr. L.B. Miller, RN) and the motor launches (ML’s) ML 121 (group commander Lt.Cdr. E.J. Strowlger, RNVR), ML 134, ML 135, ML 168, ML 459 and ML 462.

Also operating with ‘Force X’ was the fast minelayer HMS Welshman (Capt. W.H.D. Friedberger, RN).

Distant cover was provided by ‘Force W’ which was made up of the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. J.W.A. Waller, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN), light cruisers HMS Kenya (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN), HMS Liverpool (Capt. W.R. Slayter, DSC, RN), AA-cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN), destroyers HMS Onslow (Capt. H.T. Armstrong, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN) and HMS Vidette (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN). This force was to cover the convoy until off the Skerki Channel, the entrance to the Sicily-Tunis Narrows. The cover forces for this convoy were however rather weak. For instance the aircraft carriers were rather old and had hardly enough fighters available to provide a decent air patrol.

Then there was also a tanker force to fuel the escorts ‘Force Y’. It was made up of the RFA oiler Brown Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941), escorted by two corvettes; HMS Geranium (T/Lt. A. Foxall, RNR) and HMS Coltsfoot (T/Lt. the Hon. W.K. Rous, RNVR).

Besides these forces four submarines were on patrol in the western Mediterranean. They were stationed between Sardinia and Sicily. These were HMS P 211 (Cdr. B. Bryant, DSC, RN), HMS P 42 (Lt. A.C.G. Mars, RN), HMS P 43 (Lt. A.C. Halliday, RN) and HMS P 46 (Lt. J.S. Stevens, DSC, RN).

By 0800 hours on the 12th force was in full strength and proceeded eastwards at 12 to 13 knots.

The remainder of the day was uneventful except for the sighting of a Spanish merchant vessel in the evening.

13 June 1942.

On this day the convoy was shadowed continuously by German and Italian aircraft. Also it was thought an Italian submarine might have spotted the convoy but was not the case as of yet.

HMS Cairo and almost all the destroyers and escort destroyers oiled from Brown Ranger and HMS Liverpool. This was completed late in the evening.

Italian warships reported to be at sea.

Two Italian cruisers and five destroyers had been reported at daybreak (actually six detroyers were present). These were the light cruisers Eugenio di Savoia, Raimondo Montecuccoli and the destroyers Alfredo Oriani, Vincenzo Gioberti, Ascari, Ugolino Vivaldi, Nicolò Zeno and Premuda. They had sailed on the 13th from Cagliari, Sardinia. The most western British submarine on patrol HMS P 43 had attacked them at 1931 hours on the 13th. She claimed to have hit a cruiser but this was obviously not the case. Two hours later the next submarine on the patrol line HMS P 211 also sighted this Italian force but was too far off to attack.

14 June 1942.

During the night the force was spotted and reported by an Italian submarine. In fact two Italian submarines made attacks on the convoy during the night. These were the Uarsciek at 0152 hours (zone -2) which fired two torpedoes at a destroyer in position 38°02'N, 05°06'E. Both torpedoes missed. Then at 0505 hours, the Giada fired four torpedoes at an aircraft carrier (probably HMS Eagle although this carrier did not report hearing torpedo explosions and HMS Argus did) and a cruiser or battleship in position 37°55'N, 06°12'E. She claimed two hits but in fact all torpedoes missed.

At dawn enemy shadowing aircraft appeared once more. The convoy was approaching the danger area for air attacks coming from Sardinia. At 1000 hours the first radar warning came and at about the same time fighters from Eagle shot down an Italian torpedo aircraft. More of these aircraft were seen gathering about 20 miles from the convoy and form up for attack.

It was a bright and clear morning with hardly a cloud in the sky. There was little wind but such as there was came from the west and this made it difficult for the British fighter crews, especially for those from the 25-year old Argus with her small margin of speed, unless she would turn into the wind and leave the destroyer screen.

The convoy was steering east in two columns in line ahead. HMS Kenya was leading the port column while HMS Liverpool was leading the starboard one. Astern of the convoy was HMS Malaya with HMS Welshman astern of her. The aircraft carriers were operating independently to port of the convoy. Each carrier had an AA cruiser and a destroyer as escort. HMS Eagle was with HMS Cairo and HMS Wishart while HMS Argus was with HMS Charybdis and HMS Vidette.

The remaining fifteen destroyers and four minesweepers formed an all-round screen spread from three to three and a half miles from the convoy. This was done on purpose so that all ships could fire outward but also inward with a freedom that would have been impossible with a closer screen.

The air attacks began at 1030 hours. The first was a shallow dive-bombing attack by two groups, each of four or five Italian fighter-bombers (CR. 42). One group approached from astern at 12000 feet and diving to 6000 feet. The other group came from ahead at 6000 feet and dropped their bombs from 3000 to 4000 feet. Their target was HMS Argus and her consorts on the port beam of HMS Malaya. No damage was done, only one bomb fell close to HMS Charybdis. Two of the enemy planes were shot down after their attack by Fulmar’s from Eagle which were controlled by the Argus and afterwards landed aboard her. It was the policy to employ the Hurricanes from Eagle as high fighter force and the Fulmar’s from Argus as low fighter force.

A much more serious attack followed half an hour later when 28 Savoia torpedo aircraft escorted by 20 Macchi fighters conducted a combined attack with 10 Cant. high level bombers. The Savoia approached from the northward in two waves of equal strength. The first wave came in at 1110 hours and the second soon afterwards. The firstwave passed through the destroyer screen at 500 feet above the water, rounded the rear of the convoy, and attacked from the starboard side, splitting into groups before firing. They dropped their torpedoes from a height of 100 feet at a range of 2000 yards. They hit HMS Liverpool, which was leading the starboard column, when she was turing to meet the attack. Also the Dutch merchant Tanimbar was hit in the rear and she sank within a few minutes in position 36°58’N, 07°30’E.

The second wave attacked the port column dropped their torpedoes at longer range. All torpedoes missed. The Cant. bombers also came in two formations, coming from ahead out of the sun at a height of about 10000 feet. Their targets seemed to be Eagle and Argus but none of their bombs hit.

A little before 1200 hours several torpedo planes made harmless attacks from long range. They were probably stragglers turned back by gunfire during the earlier attacks and anxious to get rid of their torpedoes before turning back to base.

Upon the whole the Italians seem to have attacked gallantly. The British fighters claimed to have shot down three enemy fighters and three torpedo aircraft. Three British fighters were lost ofwhich one was shot down in error by a ship in the screen. The convoy and escort claim to have shot down seven enemy aircraft, all Savoia SM 79’s.

HMS Liverpool was hit in the engine room and badly damaged. She could only make 3 to 4 knots on one shaft. She was ordered to return to Gibraltar being towed by HMS Antelope and screened by HMS Westcott. A long voyage during which the first 24 hours she was attacked from the air. At 1640 hours, five CR. 42 fighter-bombers attacked from astern out of the sun, luckily without hitting, though one or two bombs fell close enough to increase the ships list. At 1800 hours, the tow having parted, there was a harmless attempt by eleven high-level bombers followed by an equally harmless attempt by seven torpedo aircraft which were heavily escorted by fighters. The Liverpool and Westcott each claimed to have destroyed a torpedo plane.

At 2015 hours, now once more in tow, fife high-level bombers attacked but their bombs fell wide.

At 2230 hours, six torpedo bombers made a twilight attack from very long range only to loose one of their number to the barrage HMS Liverpool put up.

The fruitless attacks on the damaged Liverpool in the afternoon and evening of the 14th evidently occupied the remaining aircraft available to the enemy in Sardinia for as the convoy was able to continue without being attacked. It was however still being shadowed and came within range of the Sicilian air bases in the evening.

HMS Welshman had replaced HMS Liverpool at the head of the starboard column of the convoy. She however parted company with the convoy around 2000 hours to continue the passage to Malta on her own at high speed.

At 1820 hours German bombers appeared, about ten Ju. 88’s approached the convoy from astern at 10000 feet and then dived to 6000 feet to make the attack. Both carriers had narrow escapes, Argus in particular. A bomb pitched fine on her port bow, dived under the ship and exploded on the starboard bow. No ship was damaged however. No enemy aircraft were shot down. Six British fighters however harassed the enemy and forced several of them to release their bombs prematurely. One Fulmar was lost.

As in the morning the shallow dive-bombing attack preluded a heavy combined torpedo and bombing attack but in the evening the lapse of time was greater and dive-bombers as well as high level-bombers took part in the massed attack. It was a combination of Italians and Germans. 16 Savoia 79 bombers heavily escorted by Macchi fighters with 10 Ju 88’s and 15 Ju 87’s. The first to appear were the Savoia’s which approached from the north-east to port at about 2000 hours. They were flying well above the water. Worked their way around the stern of the convoy outside gun range to glide down and attack on the starboard side. In the meantime, a few minutes after the Savoia’s had been sighted, two groups of Ju 88’s came in from ahead at 12000 feet and dropped their bombs without effect as they flew across the screen and along the columns of the convoy. Next the Ju 87’s arrived on the port bow and attacked the port wing of the screen, diving from 7000 to 1000 feet. They narrowly missed HMS Icarus and HMS Wrestler, though they had probably hoped to reach HMS Eagle. These dive bombers took most of the attention of the screen but then at 2020 hours the Italian torpedo-bombers came in. Most of them concentrated onHMS Malaya, HMS Argus, HMS Charybdis and HMS Vidette. They managed to drop three torpedoes within 300 yards from the carrier but she still managed to avoid them.

Around the time of these attacks HMS Middleton sighted a periscope and dropped a depth charge. Two other destroyers then hauled out of the screen and dropped depth charges. The periscope was next sighted by HMS Malaya after which HMS Speedy obtained an Asdic contact and attacked with depth charges in position 37°39’N, 09°35’E, claiming to have destroyed the enemy submarine.

This was the last encounter with the enemy before ‘Force W’ would separate from the convoy which was then to continue on to Malta only escorted by ‘Force X’.

As the convoy reached the entrance of the Narrows at 2100 hours, four Beaufighters arrived from Malta to relieve the hard worked naval aviators of the carriers. Around this time the Italian submarine Alagi attacked an aircraft carrier with two stern torpedoes in position 37°36'N, 09°53'E which both missed. The attack was not reported by either of the carriers and was probably not observed. Half an hour later ‘Force W’ turned westwards. The convoy continued eastwards with A/Capt. Hardy of HMS Cairo in command. For the passage of the Tunisian coast the five remaining merchant vessels formed a single line ahead with ‘Force X’ screening them.

At 2205 hours, as it was getting dark, eight Ju 88’s made a shallow dive-bombing attack dropping down from 6000 to 3000 feet to release their bombs. No hits were obtained. They lost two aircraft, one was shot down by a Beaufighter and the ther by gunfire from the ships. This was the end of this day’s fighting.

The Italian ships that had been reported to be at sea the previous day.

On receiving the submarines reports Vice-Admiral Leatham at Malta arranged for a striking force of Wellington aircraft to attack the enemy. Aircraft again sighted the enemy north-west of Cape San Vito, Sicily at 0255/14. At 0525/14 the enemy was sighted off Palermo. At 1800/14 two cruisers were reported to be in the harbour there. At dusk, at 2125 hours, two cruisers and four destroyers were reported to be leaving Palermo harbour but their course was not reported. Vice-Admiral Leatham judged that they were proceeding to the east to join the main Italian battlefleet that had left Taranto that same evening to operate against the ‘Vigorous-convoy’ in the eastern Mediterranean. Accordingly he stationed a naval air patrol over the Strait of Messina, with a naval air striking force at Malta standing by to attack.

‘Force W’

Vice-Admiral Curteis, who was taking ‘Force W’ westwards, also received the report of the enemy leaving Palermo and had to decide whether to strengthen ‘Force X’ with either one or both his cruisers, HMS Kenya and HMS Charybdis. He was then, at 2315/24, in position 37°30’N, 09°30’E, over 50 nautical miles from the convoy, which would be a further 100 nautical miles further on to the east by dawn on the 15th. He also judged that the Italian ships would be unlikely to be danger to the convoy and that the escort would be strong enough ‘to deter them from doing any harm’ escpecially as it would be expected that the Italians would be attacked from the air by aircraft from Malta. Apart from this he was anxious for the safety of his aircraft carriers, which would need the cruisers support while within striking distance from the enemy air bases in Sardinia. Furthermore there was barely time to overtake the convoy before by the morning. With the force available a decision either way was a gamble this might have been different had Liverpool not been torpedoed. He therefore decided against sending any reinforcement to the convoy.

15 June 1942.

Action south of Pantellaria

A/Capt. Hardy, the convoy escort commander in HMS Cairo first knew of the presence of the enemy through the report of a Beaufighter which was on it’s way to patrol above the convoy and which at 0620 hours reported two cruisers and four destroyers to be 15 nautical miles on the port beam of the convoy. The convoy at that time was stearing at 12 knots to the south-east. The merchantmen were formed in two columns again, with HMS Cairo ahead, the five ‘Fleet’ destroyers in the screen to starboard and the four ‘Hunt’s’ to port. The minesweepers and the ML’s were astern of the convoy. A few minutes later the Italian ships were sighted hull down against the brightening sky to the eastward. They were broad on the port bow and drawing ahead of the convoy at high speed. It was now also seen that there were five destroyers present instead of the reported four. Commander Scurfield (in HMS Bedouin led out the ‘Fleet’ destroyers to attack while HMS Cairo and the remainder of the convoy escort started making smoke to cover the merchant ships, which were ordered to turn to starboard and to seek shelter in Tunisian waters. It was A/Capt. Hardy’s intention to gain as much time as possible to enable an air striking force from Malta to attack the enemy.

At 0640 hours, the Italian cruisers opened fire at a range of over 20000 yards. Their second salvo straddled HMS Cairo and others fell near the convoy before the smoke screen could take effect. The British ships could not yet reply as the enemy was still out of range. As the ‘Fleet’ destroyers gathered way, they became strung out in a loose line of bearing, nearly line ahead, in the order HMS Bedouin, HMS Partridge, HMS Ithuriel, HMS Marne and HMS Matchless, though the last ship worked up to 32 knots in the endeavour to keep up. The first to destroyers opened fire on the enemy cruisers at 0645 hours with their guns at maximum elevation but in a quarter of an hour both Bedouin and Partridge were badly hit and stopped and the fight passed them by. Ithuriel held her fire till she got within 15000 yards, then she engaged a cruiser, which she eventually hit at a range of 8000 yards. Marne also engaged a cruiser, opening fire at over 18000 yards. In the meantime the Italian destroyers had fallen astern of the cruisers, three of them, in fact, soon left the line and disappeared to the northward. The last two enemy destroyers opened fire on the Marne from her port beam at around 0700 hours and she and Matchless, which was astern of her, replied. Both British destroyers soon found the range and hit one of the enemy (Ugolino Vivaldi) and drove them off. They then pressed on to engage the enemy cruisers which kept their distance and were zig-zagging and making smoke to upset the aim of the British ships.

As soon as the convoy was well behind the smoke screen and on it’s way to the westward. HMS Cairo and the four Hunt class escort destroyers were proceeding south and now also engaged the two enemy destroyers which had been engaged by Marne and Matchless. At about 0700 hours HMS Cairo came under fire from the enemy cruisers again. They were using two turrets each to engage the Cairo and two turrets to engage the ‘Fleet’ destroyers. HMS Cairo was hit by a 6” shell. She herself fired her 4” guns occasionally, though without much hope of doing real damage to the enemy.

At 0715 hours, A/Capt. Hardy decided to concentrate the remaining three ‘Fleet’ destroyers on HMS Cairo and ordered HMS Ithuriel to join him. HMS Marne and HMS Matchless continued to engage the enemy for about half an hour. Though fire from both sides was accurate no hits were obtained on either side. At 0745 hours the Italians turned to port on which A/Capt. Hardy turned north and ordered all destroyers to join him.

Meanwhile, the convoy, 15 nautical miles away to the north-west, steering westwards, now turned to the south-east again. At 0705 hours, now deprived of the support of HMS Cairo, all destroyers and escort destroyers, and without air support, the convoy was attacked by eight German JU 87 dive bombers. They sank the Chant and disabled the Kentucky. HMS Hebe took the Kentucky in tow. The convoy then went on until 0745 hours when course was changed to rejoin the escorts. The Italians however meanwhile where following the British escorts and kept them under fire.

At 0834 hours, A/Capt. Hardy, ordered the convoy to reverse course while Cairo and the destroyers laid a smokescreen across it’s track. This seems to have baffled the Italians which first turned to the south-west and then at 0840 hours hauled round to the north-eastward and stood away. A/Capt. Hardy then sent the ‘Hunt’-class escort destroyers to rejoin the convoy and then led the ‘Fleet’ destroyers after the enemy. At this time HMS Cairo was hit for the second time. For the present however the Italians had given up the game. By 0930 hours they were out of sight and the British ships then turned to rejoin the convoy.

At 1030 hours the merchant vessel were back on their proper course to Malta, with the escort at full strength except for HMS Bedouin and HMS Partridge. Long-range Spitfires from Malta were patrolling overhead.

At 1040 hours a few German bombers appeared but these were driven off before they could drop their bombs. The fighters were able to shot one down. Unfortunately this exhausted fuel and ammunition of the Spitfires which were operating at their extreme range so when at 1120 hours another attack started they were not able to repel it. Their relief had not yet arrived.

It was a combination of high-level and dive bombing by Ju. 88’s and Ju. 87’s. Gunfire destroyed one of the German’s. One or two were shot down afterwards by the relieving Spitfires which had arrived during the attack. By then however the merchant vessel Burdwan was disabled. There was still 150 nautical miles to go, with the likelihood of further attacks from the air and with Italian ships nearby. A/Capt. Hardy therefore decided that he had no other choice then to sacrifice the damaged Kentucky and Burdwan as the best way to save the rest of the convoy whose speed would otherwise be reduced to six knots. He ordered HMS Hebe and HMS Badsworth to sink the cripples which enabled the remaining two merchant ships to continue at their best speed.

At 1315 hours, dive-bombers attacked yet again. And again there was no fighter cover present over the convoy. This time however the German’s were unsuccessful. One bomber out of twelve was shot down by the ships AA fire while the relief flight of Spitfires came in time to shoot down two more as the enemy retired. This was the last time the convoy was attacked from the air before it arrived at Malta under the protection from short-range Spitfires. The next threat of attack came from the Italian warships which closed the convoy once more.

After the engagement in the morning the Italian cruisers had gone back to join up with their destroyers, one of wich had been badly damaged by HMS Marne and HMS Matchless. While preparing to take this destroyer in tow the Italians were disrupted by British aircraft. Malta had been able to sent a small torpedo aircraft force to attack them. Four Albacores followed by two Beauforts attacked them about 12 nautical miles south of Pantelleria at 1030 hours. Unfortunately without success.

The two cruisers with two destroyers then went south again hoping to find stagglers from the convoy. They found HMS Hebe, which was on her way back to rejoin the convoy, having left the tanker Kentucky in a sinking condition astern. HMS Hebe sighted the enemy a long way to the north at 1255 hours. In the next half an hour the enemy was able to close as to open fire on the small minesweeper and eventually she was hit.

On receiving Hebe’s enemy report, A/Capt. Hardy, left the convoy in HMS Cairo taking the three remaining ‘Fleet’ destroyers with him; HMS Ithuriel, HMS Marne and HMS Matchless. Besides the Hebe to protect there were other ships coming back from the scuttled merchantmen and also HMS Bedouin and HMS Partridge which, A/Capt. Hardy believed to be following the convoy.

At 1355 hours the Italians gave up the chase, presumably on sighting HMS Cairo and turned to engage a target to the westward. This could only be HMS Bedouin and HMS Partridge but A/Capt. Hardy felt bound to return to the convoy, then nearly 15 nautical miles off, though it meant leaving the damaged destroyers to their fate.

These two ships had been had been striving to preserve themselves for the King’s service ever since they had been crippled in the morning. HMS Partridge was ready to steam again by 0745 hours, three-quarters of an hour after being put out of action. She prepared to take HMS Bedouin in tow as that ship was entirely disabled. These preparations were disrupted by two Italian destroyers which had to be driven away. By 1000 hours however Bedouin was being towed by Partridge and the two ships were proceeding slowly towards the convoy which they had orders to join. They met it at 1145 hours. There was still hope to get one engine going in HMS Bedouin but later on it became evident that this hope had to be abandoned. It was then thought best to try to make it to Gibraltar.

At 1320 hours, the Italian Squadron came into sight again and two destroyers were apparently closing the two British destroyers while there were also enemy dive-bombers flying around. HMS Partridge therefore had no choice then to slip the tow and to lay smoke around HMS Bedouin. As the enemy cruisers approached, after their chase of HMS Hebe, HMS Partridge stood away to draw their fire and in this she succeeded. She was straddled from long range at 1400 hours. It was the intention the return to HMS Bedouin later but the latter ship was torpedoed by an Italian torpedo bomber at 1425 hours and she sank within a few minutes but not before shooting down the attacker. The enemy surface ships also sank the derelict Kentucky and Burdwan around the same time. Kentucky was finished off by the Oriani while Burdwan was possibly sunk by the Ascari.

A/Capt. Hardy rejoined the convoy at 1530 hours after the last encounter with the Italian squadron. At 1730 hours, HMS Welshman rejoined the convoy south of Linosa coming from Malta. She had arrived there in the morning and was sent out again by Vice-Admiral Leatham as soon as she had landed her cargo.

Then at 1910 hours, there was another air attack. Upon that time the enemy had been kept away by the strong fighter escort from Malta directed by the radar in HMS Cairo. Twelve German bombers managed to close and near misses were obtained on HMS Welshman, HMS Matchless and the merchant Troilus.

A last attempt was foiled at 2040 hours by the fighters from Malta and the ships guns. There was now only one danger to be overcome, enemy mines.

HMS Liverpool

At 1420 hours, three torpedo aircraft made a final unsuccessful attempt to attack HMS Liverpool after which she, HMS Antelope and HMS Westcott were not again molested. That afternoon the tug HMRT Salvonia arrived from Gibraltar and they took over the tow. Antelope then joined Westcott as A/S screen. With Salvonia came also the A/S trawler HMS Lady Hogarth (T/Lt. S.G. Barnes, RNR).

'Force Y'.

At 2345 hours the Italian submarine Bronzo sighted an enemy escort vessel of the 'Kingfisher-class' which opened fire on the submarine in position 36°50'N, 00°10'E. This was HMS Coltsfoot. The submarine was depth-charged and escaped by going down to 117 metres.

16 June 1942.

It had been intended that the minesweepers would be ahead of the convoy when approaching Malta but owning to mistakes the convoy arrived first. The result was that one of the two remaining merchant vessels, the Orari, the destroyer HMS Matchless, two escort destroyers HMS Badsworth, ORP Kujawiak and the minesweeper HMS Hebe hit mines. Fortunately damage was light except for ORP Kujawiak which unfortunately sank in three minutes.

After having taken on board ammunition at Malta, HMS Cairo, HMS Ithuriel, HMS Marne, HMS Middleton and HMS Blankney departed the island in the evening to return to Gibraltar.

HMS Liverpool

Shortly after 0800 hours, the destroyer HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN) joined the A/S screen of the disabled HMS Liverpool. Two more vessels came out from Gibraltar to join the A/S screen, these were the corvette HMS Jonquil (Lt.Cdr. R.E.H. Partington, RD, RNR) which joined around 0940 hours. At 1530 hours, the motor launch ML 458 joined.

17 June 1942.

As HMS Cairo and the two destroyers and two escort destroyers were skirting along the African coast they were shadowed from sunrise onward. They were however not attacked until midday, when they were passed the Galita bank. From then until 2030 hours that evening, German bombers pestered them continuously. The Germans came sometimes in flights of six, though generally in flights of two and three. Main target seems to have been HMS Ithuriel which had a tough time and sustained some minor damage due to leaks from near misses. During the attacks one enemy bomber was shot down by HMS Cairo.

At 2017 hours, they joined with Vice-Admiral Curteis with HMS Kenya and HMS Charybdis in position 37°30’N, 04°30’E. After leaving the convoy in the evening of the 14th, the Vice-Admiral had taken ‘Force W’ some 400 nautical miles to the west of Sardinia in order to avoid observation and attack while waiting for the return of ‘Force X’. His ships had however been shadowed on the 15th and was then attacked by two small groups of torpedo aircraft. Hurricanes from HMS Eagle forced them to drop their torpedoes from long range. They were also able to shoot down one of the attackers.

From the morning of the 16th to noon on the 17th, Vice-Admiral Curteis, cruised with HMS Kenya and HMS Charybdis near the rendez-vous position. HMS Malaya both aircraft carriers and the remaining destroyers had been sent to Gibraltar around 0800/16. They arrived at Gibraltar around 1030/17.

Around noon on the 17th, Vice-Admiral Curteis, with his two cruisers proceeded eastwards to meet up with A/Capt. Hardy’s force after which they proceeded in company to Gibraltar where they arrived in the early evening of the 18th.

HMS Liverpool

HMS Liverpool and her escorts safely arrived at Gibraltar late in the afternoon of the 17th. (23)

14 Jul 1942

Operation Pinpoint.

Aircraft to be flown to Malta.

Around 0500B/14, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN), AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Cairo (A/Capt. C.C. Hardy, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair) and HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar and proceeded eastwards.

Between 0613B/15 and 0753B/15, 32 Spitfires were flown off in four flights from approximate position 37°59'N, 03°05'E. One aircraft crashed on flying off, the pilot being saved. The remaining 31 Spitfires landed safely at Malta.

The force was reported by enemy aircraft at 0830B/19 and again at 0845B/19 but no enemy air attacks followed.

The Force returned to Gibraltar in the morning of 16 July 1942. (24)

20 Jul 1942

Operation Insect.

Aircraft to be flown to Malta.

Around 0530B/14, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN), AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Cairo (A/Capt. C.C. Hardy, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair) and HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar and proceeded eastwards.

At 0332B/21, in position 37°48'N, 02°05'E four heavy underwater explosions were heard, one very close to HMS Eagle, and a green flash was seen. It was presumed that these were caused by torpedoes from a submarine attack. This was indeed correct as the Italian submarine Dandolo had fired four torpedoes during a surface attack from 2000 yards. On firing the submarine had dived and two explosions were heard within three seconds from each other which were though to be hits but in fact all torpedoes had missed.

29 Spitfires were flown off from position 38°01'N, 03°05'E, between 0726B/21 and 0850B/21. One was unserviceable and did not take off, and the long range petrol tank of another developed a defect after the plane had taken off. The pilot was ordered to bail out, but his parachute failed to open and he was killed. The remaining 28 Spitfires, proceeded in four flights. All landed safely at Malta.

The Force was sighted by enemy aircraft at 0830B/21 and 0900B/21. The former was engaged by gunfire and the latter was damaged by Sea Hurricane flown off from HMS Eagle. The Force arrived back at Gibraltar on 22 July 1942. (24)

2 Aug 1942

Convoy WS 21S and Operation Pedestal.

Convoy WS 21S and the concentration of the escort forces

Convoy WS 21S departed the Clyde on 2 August 1942. The convoy was made up of the following ships;
American freighters;
Almeria Lykes (7773 GRT, built 1940), Santa Elisa (8379 GRT, built 1941), British freighters;
Brisbane Star (12791 GRT, built 1937), Clan Ferguson (7347 GRT, built 1938), Deucalion (7516 GRT, built 1930), Dorset (10624 GRT, built 1934), Empire Hope (12688 GRT, built 1941), Glenorchy (8982 GRT, built 1939), Melbourne Star (11076 GRT, built 1936), Port Chalmers (8535 GRT, built 1933), Rochester Castle (7795 GRT, built 1937), Waimarama (12843 GRT, built 1938), Wairangi (12436 GRT, built 1935), and the American tanker;
Ohio (9264 GRT, built 1940).

These ships were escorted by light cruisers HMS Nigeria (Capt. S.H. Paton, RN, flying the flag of the Rear-Admiral 10th C.S., H.M. Burrough, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Kenya (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN) and the destroyers HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Venomous (Cdr. H.W. Falcon-Stewart, RN), HMS Wolverine (Lt.Cdr. P.W. Gretton, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Malcolm (A/Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy) Lord Teynham, RN), HMS Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN) and HMS Zetland (Lt. J.V. Wilkinson, RN).

A cover force made up of departed Scapa Flow on the same day. This force was made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN) and HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Somali (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) and HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN). They were to rendez-vous with convoy WS 21S at sea on 3 August. HMS Penn was delayed by a defect and after topping off with fuel at Moville, Northern Ireland overtook the force and joined at sea.

The aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral A.L.St.G. Lyster, CB, CVO, DSO, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Sirius (Capt. P.W.B. Brooking, RN) meanwhile had already left Scapa Flow on 31 July 1941 to rendez-vous with the convoy. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.deW. Kitcat, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN). These ships were joined at sea on 1 August 1942 by the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, RN), loaded with spare fighter aircraft for the operation, and her two escorts the destroyers HMS Buxton (Lt.Cdr. I.J. Tyson, RD, RNR) and HMS Sardonyx (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Gray, RNR). HMS Argus and her two escorting destroyers had departed the Clyde on 31 July. HMS Buxton later split off and proceeded towards Canada and HMS Sardonyx proceeded to Londonderry.

The last ships to take part in the operation to depart the U.K. (Clyde around midnight during the night of 4/5 August) were the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), loaded with Hurricane fighters for Malta, and her escorts, the light cruiser HMS Manchester (Capt. H. Drew, DSC, RN) and the Polish destroyer ORP Blyscawica (Lt.Cdr. L. Lichodziejewski, ORP). They were joined at sea, around dawn, by HMS Sardonyx coming from Londonderry. The destroyers parted company around midnight during the night of 5/6 August. They arrived at Londonderry on 7 August. HMS Furious and HMS Manchester then joined convoy WS 21S around midnight of the next night but HMS Manchester parted company shortly afterwards to proceed ahead of the convoy and fuel at Gibraltar.

On 1 August 1942 the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN), light cruiser HMS Phoebe (Capt. C.P. Frend, RN) and the destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN) and HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN) departed Freetown to proceed to a rendez-vous position off the Azores.

On 5 August 1942, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) and the the destroyers HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN) and HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN) departed Gibraltar also to the rendez-vous position off the Azores.

The convoy conducted maneuvering and AA exercises with the escorts between the Azores and Gibraltar during the period of 6 to 9 August. (Operation Berserk). Also dummy air attacks were carried out by aircraft from the carriers.

Passage of the Straits of Gibraltar and organization of escort forces.

The convoy then passed the Straits of Gibraltar during the night of 9/10 August 1942 in dense fog but despite this the convoy was detected by German and Italian spies and reported.

After passing the Straits of Gibraltar the convoy was organized as follows;
The actual convoy was protected a large force of warships until the whole force would split up before entering the Sicilian narrows after which ‘Force X’ under command of Rear-Admiral Sir H.M. Burrough, CB, DSO, RN was to accompany the convoy to the approaches to Malta where they would be met by the Malta Minesweeping Flotilla, which was then to sweep the convoy into the harbour. Force X was made up of the following ships:
Licht cruisers: HMS Nigeria (flagship), HMS Kenya,, HMS Manchester.
AA cruiser: HMS Cairo (A/Capt. C.C. Hardy, DSO, RN).
Destroyers: HMS Ashanti, HMS Fury, HMS Foresight, HMS Icarus, HMS Intrepid, HMS Pathfinder and HMS Penn.
Escort destroyers: HMS Derwent, HMS Bicester (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN), HMS Bramham (Lt. E.F. Baines, RN), HMS Ledbury (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, RN) and HMS Wilton (Lt. A.P. Northey, RN). Also the rescue tug HMS Jaunty was to be part of this force.

After the escort was to be split up cover was provided by ‘Force Z’ under Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN. This force was made up of the following ships:
Battleships: HMS Nelson (flagship) and HMS Rodney.
Aircraft carriers: HMS Victorious, HMS Indomitable and HMS Eagle.
Light cruisers: HMS Phoebe, HMS Sirius and HMS Charybdis.
Destroyers: HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning, HMS Lookout, HMS Eskimo, HMS Somali, HMS Tartar, HMS Quentin, HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair), HMS Wishart and HMS Vansittart. Escort destroyer: HMS Zetland. Also attached were the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (for Operation Bellows, the launching of Hurricane fighters for Malta. HMS Furious only carried four Albacore aircraft for A/S searches after the Hurricanes had been launched) and the ‘spare’ destroyers HMS Keppel (Cdr. J.E. Broome, RN), HMS Malcolm, HMS Venomous, HMS Vidette (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Westcott, HMS Wolverine, HMS Wrestler and HMS Amazon. These ‘spare’ destroyers were to take the place of destroyers in the screen ‘Force Z’ if needed, escort HMS Furious during her return passage to Gibraltar after she had completed Operation Bellows and / or strengthen the escort of ‘Force R’.

Then there was also ‘Force R’, the fuelling force. This force was made up of the following ships:
Corvettes: HMS Jonquil (Lt.Cdr. R.E.H. Partington, RD, RNR), HMS Spiraea (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Miller, DSC, RNR), HMS Geranium (T/Lt. A. Foxall, RNR) and HMS Coltsfoot (T/Lt. the Hon. W.K. Rous, RNVR).
Rescue tug: HMS Salvonia.
RFA tankers: RFA Brown Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941, Master D.B.C. Ralph) and RFA Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941, Master R.T. Duthie).

Before we give an account of the passage of the main convoy we will now first describe the operations taking place in the Eastern Mediterranean (Operations MG 3 and MG 4), the launching of the Hurricane fighters for Malta by HMS Furious (Operation Bellows) and the return convoy from Malta (Operation Ascendant) as well as on submarine operations / dispositions.

Diversion in the Eastern Mediterranean.

As part of the plan for Operation Pedestal the Mediterranean Fleet had to carry out a diversion in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean. Before we go to the operations in the Western Mediterranean we will first give an account of the events in the Eastern Mediterranean.

It was at this time not possible to sent any supplies from Egypt to Malta as all supplies and forces were much needed for the upcoming land battle at El Alamein it was agreed that ‘a dummy convoy’ would be sent towards Malta with the object of preventing the enemy to direct the full weight of their air and naval power towards the Western Mediterranean.

In the evening of 10 August 1942 a ‘convoy’ (MG 3) of three merchant ships departed Port Said escorted by three cruisers and ten destroyers. Next morning one more merchant ship departed Haifa escorted by two cruisers and five destroyers. The two forces joined that day (the 11th) and then turned back dispersing during the night. The Italian fleet however did not go to sea to attack ‘the bait’.

The forces taking part in this operation were:
From Port Said:
Merchant vessels City of Edinburgh (8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Lincoln (8039 GRT, built 1938) and City of Pretoria (8049 GRT, built 1937) escorted by the light cruisers HMS Arethusa (Capt. A.C. Chapman, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral I.G. Glennie, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), the AA cruiser HMS Coventry (Capt. R.J.R. Dendy, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. A.L. Poland, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Pakenham (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Dulverton(Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN), HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, RN), HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, DSC, RN), HMS Hursley (Lt. W.J.P. Church, DSC, RN), HMS Beaufort (Lt.Cdr. S.O’G Roche, RN) and HMS Belvoir (Lt. J.F.D. Bush, DSC and Bar, RN).

From Haifa:
Merchant vessel Ajax (7797 GRT, built 1931) escorted by the light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. G. Grantham, DSO, RN, flagship of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), the destroyers HMS Sikh (Capt. St.J. A. Micklethwait, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Javelin (Cdr. G.E. Fardell, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Tetcott (Lt. H.R. Rycroft, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN).

After dark on 11 August 1942 the force turned back and the City of Pretoria returned to Port Said escorted by HMS Eridge and HMS Hursley. The City of Edinburgh, escorted by HMS Beaufort and HMS Belvoir proceeded to Haifa. The City of Lincoln escorted by HMS Dulverton and HMS Hurworth proceeded to Beirut and finally the Ajax, escorted by HMS Tetcott and HMS Croome returned to Haifa. HMS Dido had to return to Port Said with hull defects. She was escorted by HMS Pakenham, HMS Paladin and HMS Jervis.

HMS Cleopatra, HMS Arethusa, HMS Sikh, HMS Zulu, HMS Javelin and HMS Kelvin then proceeded to carry out another diversion (Operation MG 4). They bombarded Rhodos harbour and the Alliotti Flour Mills during the night of 12/13 August but did little damage. On the way back HMS Javelin attacked a submarine contact in position 34°45’N, 31°04’E between 0654 and 0804 hours. She reported that there was no doubt that the submarine was sunk but no Axis submarines were operating in this area so the attack must have been bogus. This force returned to Haifa at 1900/13.

Operation Bellows.

During operation Bellows, the aircraft carrier HMS Furious, started 37 Spitfire which were to proceed to Malta, when south of the Balearic Islands. The Admiralty had decided to carry out this operation at the same time as Operation Pedestal.

HMS Furious remained with the convoy until 1200/11. She then launched the Spitfires for Malta in 5 batches between 1230 and 1515 hours. During these flying off operations she acted independently with the destroyers HMS Lookout and HMS Lightning. After having launched the last batch of Spitfires she briefly re-joined to convoy until around 1700 hours when she split off and set course for Gibraltar escorted by the destroyers HMS Malcolm, HMS Wolverine and HMS Wrestler. These were joined shortly afterwards by HMS Keppel and HMS Venomous.

Around 0100/12, HMS Wolverine, rammed and sank the Italian submarine Dagabur which was trying to attack HMS Furious. Around 0200 hours, HMS Wolverine reported that she was stopped due to the damage she had sustained in the ramming. HMS Malcolm was detached to assist her.

At 1530/12, the destroyer HMS Vidette joined the screen. The force then entered Gibraltar Bay around 1930/12. The damaged HMS Wolverine arrived at Gibraltar at 1230/13 followed by HMS Malcolm around 1530/13.

Operation Ascendant

On 10 August 1942 the empty transports Troilus (7648 GRT, built 1921) and Orari (10107 GRT, built 1931) departed Malta after dark for Gibraltar. They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Badsworth (Lt. G.T.S. Gray, DSC, RN). They first proceeded to the south of Lampedusa, then hugged the Tunisian coast as far as Galita Island. Near Cape Bon they encountered the Italian destroyer Lanzerotto Malocello that was laying a minefield. They had a brief gunfight but this was soon ended as both sides were thinking the enemy was Vichy-French. The remained of the passage to Gibraltar was uneventful and the convoy arrived at Gibraltar shortly before noon on 14 August 1942.

Submarine operations / dispositions.
Eight submarines took part in the operation; these were HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN), HMS P 31 (Lt. J.B.de B. Kershaw, DSO, RN), HMS P 34 (Lt. P.R.H. Harrison, DSC, RN), HMS P 42 (Lt. A.C.G. Mars, RN), HMS P 44 (Lt. T.E. Barlow, RN), HMS P 46 (Lt. J.S. Stevens, DSC, RN), HMS P 211 (Cdr. B. Bryant, DSC, RN), HMS P 222 (Lt.Cdr. A.J. MacKenzie, RN). Two of these were to carry out normal dived patrol to the north of Sicily, one off Palermo, the other off Milazzo which is futher to the east. The other six submarines were given alternative patrol lines south of Pantelleria, one od which they were to take up at dawn on 13 August 1942, according to the movements of enemy surface ships that might threathen the convoy from the westward. When the convoy had passed the patrol line, which it should have done by that time, the submarines were to proceed on the surface parallel to the convoy as a screen and to dive away clear of the convoy at noon. It was expressly intended that they should be seen on the surface and reported by enemy aircraft in order to deter enemy warships from attacking the convoy.

Enemy warships did go to sea but as soon as it was clear that the enemy ships could not reach the convoy the sunmarines were ordered to dive and retire. These six sumarines had no contact with the enemy. One of the the two submarines off the north coast of Sicily, HMS P 42, managed to torpedo two Italian cruisers near Stromboli on the morning of 13 August 1942.

Now we return to the main convoy to Malta.

Passage eastwards after passing the Straits of Gibraltar.

10 and 11 August 1942.

After passing through the Straits of Gibraltar in the early hours of 10 August 1942, in dense fog, the convoy was first sighted by an Italian passenger aircraft, which sighted the convoy in the afternoon of the same day. German reconnaissance aircraft started shadowing the convoy from dawn on the 11th, and thereafter they or Italian aircraft kept the convoy under continuous observation, despite the effort of the fighters from the carriers to shoot them down or drive them off. At 1315 hours, HMS Eagle, was hit an sunk by torpedoes from the German submarine U-73 which had penetrated the destroyer screen. At that moment there were thirteen destroyers in the screen, the remainder was away from the main convoy, escorting HMS Furious during the flying off operations of the Hurricane fighters for Malta or oiling from and screening ‘Force R’ which was several miles away. Between 1430/10 and and 2030/11 no less then three cruisers and twenty-four destroyers fuelled from the two oilers of ‘Force R’.

At the time of the torpedoing of HMS Eagle the convoy was in four columns, zigzagging at 13 knots, with the heavy ships stationed close round it and a destroyer screen ahead. HMS Eagle was on the starboard quarter of the convoy. She was hit on her starboard side by four torpedoes which had dived through the destroyer screen and the convoy columns undetected and then torpedoed and sank the Eagle in position 38°05’N, 03°02’E (Another source gives 03°12’E but this might be a typo). The carrier sank quickly in about 8 minutes, 926 of her crew, including the Commanding Officer, were rescued by the destroyers HMS Laforey and HMS Lookout and the rescue tug HMS Jaunty. At the time of her sinking, HMS Eagle had four aircraft on patrol. These landed on the other carriers. All other aircraft were lost with the ship. The survivors picked up were later transferred to the destroyers HMS Keppel, HMS Malcolm and HMS Venomous that were to escort HMS Furious back to Gibraltar. The tug HMS Jaunty that had been involved in picking up survivors was never able to rejoin the convoy due to her slow speed.

Late in the afternoon air attacks were expected so Vice-Admiral Syfret ordered the destroyer to form an all-round screen. Indeed the air attacks started around sunset, 2045 hours. The last destroyers had just returned from oiling from ‘Force R’. The enemy aircraft that were attacking were 36 German bombers and torpedo aircraft, Ju 88’s and He 111’s, most of which attacked the convoy but a few attacked ‘Force R’ to the southward. The Junkers arrived first, diving down from 8000 feet to 2000 / 3000 feet to drop their bombs. They claimed to have hit an aircraft carrier and one of the merchant ships. Then the Heinkels attacked, they claimed to have torpedoed a cruiser but during the attacks no ship was hit. The British fighter cover was unable to attack / find the enemy in the failing light. Four enemy aircraft were claimed shot down by the ships AA fire but it appears only two JU 88’s were in fact shot down.

12 August 1942

At 0915/12 another wave of German aircraft attacked the convoy. Some twenty or more JU 88’s approached the convoy out of the sun ahead. They were intercepted by fighters about 25 miles from the convoy. About a dozen got through to the convoy, making high-level or shallow dive-bombing attacks individually but without any result. Eight German aircraft were claimed to be shot down by the fighters and two more by AA guns from the ships. The fighters meanwhile were also busy dealng with shadowers, three of which are claimed to have been shot down before the morning attack. Around this time destroyers were also busy with numerous submarine contact which were attacked by depth charges.

Around noon the enemy launched heavy air attacks from the Sardinian airfields. Seventy aircraft approached which were heavily escorted by fighters. They attacked in stages and employed new methods.

First ten Italian torpedo-bombers were each to drop some sort of circling torpedo or mine a few hundred yards ahead of the British force, while eight fighter bombers made dive-bombing and machine-gun attacks. The object at this stage was clearly to dislocate the formation of the force and to draw anti-aircraft fire, making the ships more vulnerable to a torpedo attack which soon followed with over forty aircraft. They attacked in two groups, one on either bow of the convoy. The next stage was a shallow dive-bombing attack by German aircraft, after which two Italian Reggiane 2001 fighters, each with a single heavy armour-piercing bomb were to dive bomb on one of the aircraft carriers, whilst yet another new form of attack was to be employed against the other carrier, but defects in the weapon prevented this attack from taking place.

The enemy attack went according to plan besides that the torpedo attack was only made half an our after the ‘mines’ were dropped instead of five minutes. British fighters met the minelaying aircraft, they shot down one of them as they approached. The remaining nine aircraft dropped their ‘mines’ at 1215 hours in the path of the force, which turned to avoid the danger. The mines were heard to explode several minutes later. Only three of the fighter-bombers of this stage of the attack appear to have reached as far the screen, but HMS Lightning had a narrow escape from their bombs.

The torpedo-aircraft appeared at 1245 hours. Their number were brought down a bit due to British fighters. The remaining aircraft, estimated at 25 to 30 machines, attacked from the port bow, port beam and starboard quarter. They dropped their torpedoes well outside the screen some 8000 yards from the merchant ships which they had been ordered to attack. The force turned 45° to port and then back to starboard to avoid the attack.

In the next stage, around 1318 hours, the German bombing attack, the enemy scored their one success. These aircraft were also intercepted on their way in but about a dozen of about twenty aircraft came through. They crossed the convoy from starboard to port and then dived to 3000 feet. They managed to damage the transport Deucalion which was leading the port wing column. More bombs fell close to several other ships.

Finally, at 1345 hours, the two Reggiane fighters approached HMS Victorious as if to land on. They looked like Hurricanes and HMS Victorious was at that time engaged in landing her own fighters. They managed to drop their bombs and one hit the flight deck amidships. Fortunately the bomb broke up without exploding. By the time HMS Victorious could open fire both fighters were out of range.

The Deucalion could no longer keep up with the convoy and was ordered to follow the inshore route along the Tunisian coast escorted by HMS Bramham. Two bombers found these ships late in the afternoon, but their bombs missed. At 1940 hours, however, near the Cani Rocks, two torpedo aircraft attacked and a torpedo hit the Deucalion. She caught fire and eventually blew up.

The convoy passed some 20 miles north of Galita Island and spent the afternoon avoiding enemy submarines which were known to be concentrated in these waters. There were innumerable reports of sightings and Asdic contacts and at least two submarines proved dangerous. At 1616 hours, HMS Pathfinder and HMS Zetland attacked one on the port bow of the convoy and hunted her until the convoy was out of reach. HMS Ithuriel, stationed on the quarter, then attacked, forced the enemy to surface and finally rammed her. She proved to be the Italian submarine Cobalto. Meanwhile HMS Tartar, on the starboard quarter, saw six torpedoes fired at close range at 1640 hours, and the next destroyer in the screen, HMS Lookout sighted a periscope. Together they attacked the submarine, continuing until it was no longer dangerous. There was no evidence this submarine was sunk.

At 1750 hours, HMS Ithuriel, which was on her way back to the convoy after sinking the Italian submarine Cobalto was attacked by a few dive-bombers, when still a dozen miles astern of the convoy. At this time the convoy came under attack by aircraft stationed on Sicily. This force numbered nearly 100 aircraft. Ju.87 dive-bombers as well as Ju.88’s and SM-79’s all with a strong escort of fighters. The enemy started attacking at 1835 hours, the bombers attacking from both ahead and astern which last was the direction of the sun. The torpedo aircraft came from ahead to attack on the starboard bow and beam of the convoy.

The Italian SM-79’s torpedo bombers dropped their torpedoes from ranges of about 3000 yards outside the destroyer screen, and once again the convoy turned away to avoid them. However the destroyer HMS Foresight was hit by a torpedo and disabled. The bombers chose HMS Indomitable as their main target. She was astern of HMS Rodney at the time on the port quarter of the convoy. Four Ju.88’s and eight Ju.87’s came suddenly out of the sun and dived steeply towards HMS Indomitable from astern. Some of the Ju.87 came down to 1000 feet and the carrier received three hits and her flight deck was put out of action. Her airborne fighters eventually had to land on HMS Victorious. HMS Rodney meanwhile had a narrow escape when a bomber attacked from ahead. One enemy aircraft was claimed to have been shot down by AA fire from the ships while the fighters claimed nine more although there were about twice as much enemy fighters in the air then British.

HMS Tartar took the damaged HMS Foresight in tow and proceeded westward for Gibraltar. Next day, as they were shadowed by enemy aircraft, and enemy submarines were known to be in the area, it was decided to scuttle the cripple before both ships might be lost. HMS Tartar then torpedoed HMS Foresight a few miles from Galita Island.

Passage through the narrows, 12-13 August 1942, and the loss off HMS Manchester.

These last air attacks took place about 20 nautical miles west of the Skerki Channel and at 1900 hours, when the attacks were clearly over, Vice-Admiral Syfret turned away with ‘Force Z’. It was now up to Rear-Admiral Burrough with ‘Force X’ to take the convoy to Malta.

At 2000 hours, when the convoy was changing it’s formation from four to two columns, the convoy was attacked by Italian submarines. The submarine Dessiè attacked a freighter with four torpedoes and claimed three hits. The sound of the torpedo hits was however not caused by her attack but by an attack by the Axum which hit three ships, HMS Nigeria, HMS Cairo and the tanker Ohio.

HMS Nigeria had to turn back to make for Gibraltar escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Derwent, HMS Wilton and HMS Bicester. Rear-Admiral Burrough transferred his flag to the destroyer HMS Ashanti. The stern of HMS Cairo had been blown off and she had to be sunk as she was beyond salvage with both engines also out of action. She was scuttled by HMS Pathfinder. The Ohio meanwhile managed to struggle on.

At this time the convoy was still trying to form up the the submarine attacks messed things up and right at thus time the convoy was once more attacked from the air in the growing dusk at 2030 hours. About 20 German aircraft, Ju-88’s made dive bombing and torpedo attacks, hitting the Empire Hope with a bomb and the Clan Ferguson and Brisbane Star with torpedoes. The first of these ships had to be sunk (by HMS Bramham, the second blew up but the last eventually reached Malta. Soon after this attack, at 2111 hours, HMS Kenya was torpedoed by the Italian submarine Alagi. She was able to evade three of the four torpedoes but was hit in the bow by the fouth. She was however able to remain with the convoy.

The situation was then as follows. HMS Kenya and HMS Manchester with two merchant ships, and with the minesweeping destroyers HMS Intrepid, HMS Icarus and HMS Fury sweeping ahead, had passed the Skerki Channel and were steering to pass Zembra Island on the way to Cape Bon. HMS Ashanti, with Rear-Admiral Burrough on board was fast overhauling these ships. The other two destroyers HMS Pathfinder, HMS Penn and the escort destroyer HMS Ledbury, were rounding up the remaining nine merchant ships. The escort destroyer HMS Bramham was also catching up after having escorted the single Deucalion until she sank.

On learing about the fate of HMS Nigeria and HMS Cairo, Vice-Admiral Syfret detached HMS Charybdis, HMS Eskimo and HMS Somali to reinforce Rear-Admiral Burrough. It would take these ships several hourse to catch up with the convoy.

The main body of the convoy passed Cape Bon around midnight. Fourty minutes later enemy Motor Torpedo Boats appeared and started to attack. Their first victim was HMS Manchester which was torpedoed at 0120/13 by the Italian MS 16 or MS 22. She had to be scuttled by her own crew. Many of her ships company landed in Tunisia and were interned by the Vichy-French but about 300 were picked up by destroyers (first by HMS Pathfinder, and later by HMS Eskimo and HMS Somali. These last two destoyers then set off towards Gibraltar.)

Four and possibly five of the merchant ships were also hit by the Motor Torpedo Boats. These were the Wairangi, Rochester Castle, Almeria Lykes, Santa Elisa and probably the Glenorchy. They were attacked between 0315 and 0430 hours about 15 nautical miles south-east of Kelibia whilst taking a short cut to overhaul the main body of the convoy. Four were lost, only the Rochester Castle survived and she managed to catch up with the main body of the convoy at 0530 hours. The Glenorchy was sunk by the Italian MS 31, the other four, of which the Rochester Castle survived as mentioned earlier, were hit by the German S 30 and S 36 as well as the Italian MAS 554 and MAS 557.

Shortly before 0530 hours HMS Charybdis, HMS Eskimo and HMS Somali had joined the main body of the convoy making the force now two cruisers and seven destroyers with the transports Rochester Castle, Waimarama and Melbourne Star. The damaged tanker Ohio was slowly catching up. With her was the escort destroyer HMS Ledbury. Astern of the main body was the Port Chalmers escorted by the destroyer HMS Penn and the escort destroyer HMS Bramham. The destroyers recued the crew of the Santa Elisa when the passed by the abandoned ship which was afterwards finished off by a German bomber. The Dorset was proceeding without escort and lastly the damaged Brisbane Star was still keeping close to the Tunisian coast independently, intending to steer towards Malta after nightfall.

At 0730 hours, Rear-Admiral Burrough, sent back HMS Tartar and HMS Somali to Kelibia to assist HMS Manchester and then go to Gibraltar. When they arrived they found out that the Manchester had been scuttled several hours earlier so they rescued those of her crew that had not reached the shore yet and then made off to Gibraltar as ordered. Besides crew of the Manchester they also picked up survivors from the Almeria Lykes and Wairangi.

The next encounter with the enemy was an air attack on the main body of the convoy at 0800 hours by German bombers. About 12 Ju.88’s made a shallow diving attack coming down from 6000 feet to 2000 feet to drop their bombs. Two dived on the Waimarama hitting her several times and she blew up immediately, one of the bombers was even destroyed in the explosion. HMS Ledbury saved some of her crew out of the blazing sea. At 0925 hours, when the Ohio, Port Chalmers and Dorset where with the main body again, a few Ju.87’s escorted by Italian fighters attacked. They dived down to 1500 to 1000 feet. HMS Kenya leading the port column, and the Ohio last ship but one in the starboard column, had narrow escapes. One of the enemy aircraft crashed on board the Ohio just after having released it’s bomb after being damaged by gunfire from the Ohio and HMS Ashanti. Another aircraft was claimed to have been shot down by fighters from Malta that had been patrolling overhead since daybreak.

Arrivals at Malta 13-15 August 1942.

At 1050 hours, about 20 bombers, mostly Ju.88’s with a few Ju.87’s, came in to attack. Target was the Ohio and she received four or five near misses and her engines were disabled. At the same time the Rochester Castle in the port column was near-missed and set on fire but she continued with the convoy. The Dorset which was astern of her was hit and stopped. The convoy went on leaving the Dorset behind with the Ohio and two destroyers.

At 1125 hours the last air attack on the main body took place. Five Italian SM.79’s attacked with torpedoes and almost hit the Port Chalmers as the torpedo got stuck in the paravane. Further attacks on the main body were held of by fighters from Malta. At 1430 hours, four minesweepers from Malta joined the main body of the convoy, these were HMS Speedy (Lt.Cdr. A.E. Doran, RN, with the group’s commander A/Cdr. H.J.A.S. Jerome, RN on board), HMS Hebe, HMS Rye and HMS Heyte. Also with them were seven Motor Launches; ML 121, ML 126, ML 134, ML 135, ML 168, ML 459 and ML 462. HMS Rye and two of the ML’s were sent towards the damaged Ohio which was ‘vital for Malta’, according to A/Cdr. Jerome.

At 1600 hours, Rear-Admiral Burrough, set course to the west with his two cruisers and with five destroyers. The Port Chalmers, Melbourne Star and Rochester Castle arrived in Grand Harbour around 1800 hours with the force of A/Cdr. Jerome. The Rochester Castle was by that time very low in the water, she had just made it into port on time.

Out were still the Ohio, Dorset and the Brisbane Star. The valuable Ohio had been helpless with HMS Penn and HMS Bramham. When HMS Rye arrived at 1730 hours, HMS Penn took the Ohio in tow. Meanwhile HMS Bramham was sent to the Dorset but soon afterwards German bombers came again and the ships were attacked repeatedly until dark. Both merchantman were hit around 1900 hours and the Dorset sank.

At daylight on the 14th HMS Ledbury arrived to help bringing the Ohio to Malta. HMS Speedy also soon arrived on the scene with two ML’s. The rest of his force he had sent to search for the Brisbane Star. At 1045 hours, enemy aircraft made their last attempt, causing the parting of the tow. Fighter from Malta shot down two of the attackers. The tow was passed again and the slow procession went on and in the morning of the 15th the vital tanker finally reached Malta.

The Brisbane Star had by then also arrived. She left the Tunisian coast at dusk on the 13th. Aircraft had attacked her unsuccessfully and one of the attackers was shot down by a Beaufighter escort that had been sent from Malta. She arrived at Malta in the afternoon of the 14th.

Italian surface ships to operate against the convoy ?

The convoy had experienced the violence of the enemy in every shape except that of an attack by large surface ships. Yet Italian cruisers and destroyers had been at sea to intercept and attack it. Two light cruiser had left Cagliari in the evening of 11 August 1942 and the heavy cruisers Gorizia and Bolzano from Messina, and a light cruiser from Naples had sailed on the morning of the 12th. That evening reconnaissance aircraft reported one heavy and two light cruisers with eight destroyers about 80 nautical miles to the north of the western tip of Sicily and steering south. It would have been possible for this force to meet the convoy at dawn on the 13th so the shadowing aircraft was therefore ordered in plain language to illuminate and attack. This apparently influenced the Italians as they had limited air cover and they turned back at 0130/13 when near Cape San Vito. At 0140 hours the aircraft reported that it had dropped its bombs but no hits had been obtained. Similar orders were signalled, in plain language, to relief shadowers and to report the position of the enemy force to the benefit of imaginary Liberator bombers in case the Italians would change their minds and turn back. They however held on to the eastward.

The submarine HMS P 42 sighted them around 0800/13 off Stromboli and attacked with four torpedoes claiming two hits. She had in fact hit the heavy cruiser Bolzano which was able to proceed northwards and the light cruiser Muzio Attendolo which managed to reach Messina with her bows blown off. The other cruisers went to Naples. Following the attack P 42 was heavily depth charged by the destroyers but managed to escape.

In fact the following Italian ships had been at sea; heavy cruisers Gorizia, Trieste, Bolzano, light cruisers Eugenio di Savoia Raimondo Montecuccoli, Muzio Attendolo. They were escorted by eleven destroyers; Ascari, Aviere, Camicia Nera, Corsaro, Fuceliere, Geniere, Legionaro, Vincenzo Gioberti, Alfredo Oriani, Grecale and Maestrale.

The return to Gibraltar.

The British ships returning to Gibraltar had better fortune. Having left the convoy off Malta in the afternoon of the 13th, they rounded Cape Bon around 0130/14 and from that point until past Zembra Island they successful ran the gauntled of E-boats laying in wait.

at 0450/14, near the Fratelli Rocks, a submarine fired torpedoes at HMS Ashanti from the surface. She was nearly rammed by HMS Kenya, which was next astern of the ‘flagship’ (Rear-Admiral Burrough was still in HMS Ashanti). The inevitable shadowers arrived soon after daylight to herald their air attacks that began at 0730 hours. They lasted until around 1315 hours. German bombers came in first with three attemps by a few Ju.88’s. This was followed by a more severe attack with about 30 bombers, Ju-88’s and Ju-87’s between 1030 and 1050 hours. An hour later 15 Savoia high-level bombers attacked followed until 1315 hours by torpedo-carrying Savoia’s. Around 20 aircraft attacking single or in pairs. Also aircraft are though to be laying mines ahead. Several ships were near missed, but no further damage was sustained. After these attacks the British were left alone and in the evening they joined ‘Force Z’.

Vice-Admiral Syfret had gone as far west as 01’E where he ordered the damaged carrier HMS Indomitable to proceed to Malta with HMS Rodney and a destroyer screen made up of HMS Ithuriel, HMS Antelope, HMS Amazon, HMS Westcott, HMS Wishart and HMS Zetland. He then turned back to the east to make rendez-vous with Rear-Admiral Burrough. HMS Rodney, HMS Indomitable, HMS Ithuriel, HMS Antelope, HMS Amazon, HMS Westcott, HMS Wishart and HMS Zetland arrived at Gibraltar in the evening of the 14th.

A few hours before they arrived the damaged HMS Nigeria and her escort had also entered port, as had HMS Tartar, HMS Eskimo and HMS Somali. On her way back HMS Nigeria had been attacked by torpedo-bombers and a submarine but she had not been hit.

Conclusion.

Out of the fourteen ships that had sailed only five arrived ‘safe’ at Malta. This was not a very high score also given the very heavy escort that had been provided also taken in mind that an aircraft carrier, a light cruiser, an AA cruiser an a destroyer had been lost and two heavy cruiser had been damaged. But the convoy had to meet very heavy air attacks by over 150 bombers and 80 torpedo aircraft, all in the space of two days. Also these aircraft were protected by fighter in much greater strength that the carriers and Malta could provide. And there were also the enemy submarines and E-boats.

The spirit in which to operation was carried out appears in Vice-Admiral Syfret’s report: ‘ Tribute has been paid to the personnel of His Majesty’s Ships, both the officers and men will desire to give first place to the conduct, courage, and determination of the masters, officers, and men of the merchant ships. The steadfast manner in which these ships pressed on their way to Malta through all attacks, answering every maneuvering order like a well trained fleet unit, was a most inspiring sight. Many of these fine men and their ships were lost. But the memory of their conduct will remain an inspiration to all who were privileged to sail with them. ‘ (25)

23 Aug 1942
In the afternoon, the battleships HMS Malaya (Capt. J.W.A. Waller, RN) and HMS Ramillies (Cdr. L.N. Brownfield, RN), departed Freetown for Gibraltar. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN) and HMS Wivern (Cdr. M.D.C. Meyrick, RN).

HMS Velox was detached on the 24th and returned to Freetown.

At 0900/25, they were joined by the destroyer HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN).

At 1620/26, the destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN). Shortly afterwards HMS Brilliant, HMS Vansittart and HMS Wivern parted company.

At 1350/27, the destroyers HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN) and HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN) joined.

At 0245/28, HMS Laforey was detached.

At 1600/28, the destroyer HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN) joined.

Around 2030/28, the force arrived at Gibraltar. (26)

29 Sep 1942
The battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. J.W.A. Waller, RN) and the destroyers HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN) and HMS Wivern (Cdr. M.D.C. Meyrick, RN) conducted exercises to the east of Gibraltar. (17)

28 Oct 1942

Operation Train.

Aircraft to be flown to Malta.

Around 0830A/28, the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), light cruiser HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), destroyers HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Verity, (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Vanoc (A/Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Achates (Lt.Cdr. A.H.T. Johns, RN), ORP Blyskawica (Lt.Cdr. L. Lichodziejewski, ORP) and the escort destroyers HMS Bramham (Lt. E.F. Baines, RN), HMS Cowdray (Lt.Cdr. C.W. North, RN) departed Gibraltar and proceeded eastwards.

Between roughly 0730A/28 and 0930A/28, 29 Spitfires were flown off by HMS Furious.

The Force arrived back at Gibraltar around 1500A/30. (27)

8 Nov 1942
During the Allied invasion off North Africa the Vichy-French submarine Actéon was sunk off Oran by the British destroyer HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN).

5 Sep 1943
HMS H 33 (Lt. D.G. Kent, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H. Lambton, RN), HMS Pennywort (A/Lt.Cdr. O.G. Stuart, RCNVR) and HMS Sennen (Lt.Cdr. F.H. Thornton, DSC, RNR). (28)

23 Oct 1943

Operation FR.

Sailing of Russian small craft (American built) from Iceland to Northern Russia as well as escorts for an upcoming convoy operation from Northern Russia.

On 23 October 1943, ' Force 3 ', which was made up of the Russian minesweepers T-111, T-113, T-114, T-115 and the submarine chasers BO-201, BO-202, BO-203, BO-204, BO-206 and BO-210. These were former US minesweepers of the Admirable-class and SC-class submarine chasers. These ships were escorted by the destroyer HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H. Lambton, RN), corvette HNoMS Eglantine (?) and the minesweepers HMS Harrier (Cdr. H.E.H. Nicholls, RN) and HMS Seagull (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.W Ellis, DSC, RNR).

On 30 October 1943 the Russian ships were detached off the Kola Inlet escorted by a Russian destroyer which has come out to meet them.

The British escorts then proceeded to Archangelsk arriving there on 31 October.

On 24 October 1943, ' Force 4 ', which was made up of the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, DSO, RN), HMS Mahratta (Lt.Cdr. E.A.F. Drought, DSC, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, OBE, RN), HMS Saumarez (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Savage (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN), HMS Scorpion (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) and HMS Scourge (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) departed Seidisfjord to proceed to the Kola Inlet. They were to provide close cover for ' Force 3 ' during its passage. ' Force 4 ' arrived in the Kola Inlet on 28 October 1943.

On 25 October 1943, ' Force 5 ', which made up of of the heavy cruisers HMS London (Capt. R.V. Symonds-Tayler, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral A.F.E. Palliser, CB, DSC, RN) and USS Augusta (Capt. G. Hutchins, USN) departed Akureyri to provide distant cover for ' Force 3 ' and ' Force 4 '.

Having completed this objective USS Augusta arrived at Hvalfjord on 29 October 1943 and HMS London arrived at Scapa Flow on 30 October 1943. (29)

1 Nov 1943

Operation FS, passage of convoy RA 54A.

Convoy RA 54A

.

This convoy departed Archangelsk on 1 November 1943 for the U.K.

On departure from Archanglesk the convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Beaconhill (American, 6941 GRT, built 1919), British Governor (British (tanker), 6840 GRT, built 1926), City of Omaha (American, 6124 GRT, built 1920), Empire Fortune (British, 6140 GRT, built 1943), Empire Gaillard (British, 7170 GRT, built 1942), Empire Kinsman (British, 6744 GRT, built 1942), Empire Portia (British, 7058 GRT, built 1942), Francis Scott Key (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Israel Putnam (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Mobile City (American, 6157 GRT, built 1920), Pontfield (British, 8319 GRT, built 1940), Thomas Hartley (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942) and Tobruk (Polish, 7048 GRT, built 1942).

On departure from Archangelsk the convoy was escorted by the destroyer HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H. Lambton, RN), minesweepers HMS Britomart (Lt.Cdr. S.S. Stammwitz, RN), HMS Harrier (Cdr. H.E.H. Nicholls, RN), HMS Jason (Cdr. H.G.A. Lewis, RN), HMS Seagull (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.W Ellis, DSC, RNR) and the corvette HNoMS Eglantine (?). The Russian destroyers Gromkiy and Valerian Kyubishev were also with the convoy.

On 2 November 1943, ' Force 3 ', made up of the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, DSO, RN), HMS Mahratta (Lt.Cdr. E.A.F. Drought, DSC, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, OBE, RN), HMS Saumarez (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Savage (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN), HMS Scorpion (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) and HMS Scourge (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) departed the Kola Inlet to join the convoy which they did the following day. HMS Harrier, HMS Seagull and the two Russian destroyers were then detached.

On 8 November 1943, HMS Matchless and HMS Musketeer were detached to Seidisfjord where they were to fuel.

On 9 November 1943, HMS Savage and HMS Westcott were also detached to fuel at Seidisfjord.

On completion of fuelling HMS Westcott departed Seidisfjord to rejoin the convoy. She departed Seidisfjord together with ' Force 4 ', made up of the escort destroyers HMS Brissenden (Lt. D.D.E. Vivian, RN), HMS Middleton (Lt. C.S. Battersby, RN) and the minesweepers HMS Halcyon (T/A/Lt.Cdr. L.J. Martin, RNVR) and HMS Speedwell (Lt.Cdr. T.E. Williams, RD, RNR). They joined the convoy on the 10th, the destroyers HMS Milne, HMS Mahratta, HMS Saumarez, HMS Scorpion and HMS Scorpion then parted company with the convoy to proceed to Seidisfjord.

On the 13th, HMS Middleton detached to proceed to the Clyde.

Also on the 13th the convoy split into several parts to proceed their individual destinations with local escorts.

From the escorts, HMS Brissenden proceeded to Loch Ewe. HMS Britomart, HMS Halcyon, HMS Jason and HMS Speedwell proceeded to Scapa Flow. HMS Westcott and HMS Eglantine proceeded to Liverpool. All ships arrived on the 13th except for HMS Westcott and HMS Eglantine arrived on the 14th.

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For close cover, ' Force 1 ' of the light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, DSO, OBE, RN) and the heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN) and HMS Norfolk (Capt. D.K. Bain, RN) was deployed. This force departed Seidisfjord on 2 November to provide cover for the convoy between positions 73°58'N, 31°32'E and 71°19'N, 00°58'W

On the 8th, ' Force 1 ' split up with HMS Kent and HMS Norfolk set course for Scapa Flow arriving there on the 9th. HMS Belfast set course for Hvalfjord also arriving on the 9th.

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' Force 2 ' was the distant cover force, it was made up of the battleship HMS Anson (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Jamaica (Capt. J.L. Storey, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslow (Capt. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson DSO, RN), HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. S.V. Storheill), HMCS Haida (Cdr. H.G. De Wolf, RCN), USS Hobson (T/Lt.Cdr. K. Loveland, USN) and USS Capps (T/Cdr. B.E.S. Trippensee, USN). ' Force 2 ' departed Akureyri on 2 November to proceed to a patrol area near position 72°27'N, 09°30'E.

' Force 2 ' arrived at Scapa Flow on 8 November 1943. (30)

2 Dec 1943
HMS Stratagem (T/Lt. R.L. Willoughby, RNR) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H. Lambton, RN). (31)

12 Dec 1943

Operation FV, passage of convoys JW 55A and JW 55B to Northern Russia and RA 55A and RA 55B from Northern Russia and the sinking of the German battleship Scharnhorst.

Convoy JW 55A

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This convoy departed Loch Ewe on 12 December 1943 for Northern Russia.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Collis P. Huntington (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Daniel Willard (American, 7200 GRT, built 1942), Empire Archer (British, 7031 GRT, built 1942), Empire Pickwick (British, 7068 GRT, built 1943), Fort Astoria (British, 7189 GRT, built 1943), Fort Hall (British, 7157 GRT, built 1943), Fort Missanabie (British, 7147 GRT, built 1943), Fort Thompson (British, 7134 GRT, built 1942), George Weems (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), James A. Farrell (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), James Woodrow (American, 7200 GRT, built 1942), Lapland (British, 2897 GRT, built 1942), Lewis Emery Jr. (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Lucerna (British, 6556 GRT, built 1930), Philip Livingston (American, 7176 GRT, built 1941), San Ambrosio (British (tanker), 7410 GRT, built 1935), Stage Door Canteen (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Thistledale (British, 7241 GRT, built 1942) and Thomas Scott (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942).

On departure from Loch Ewe the convoy was escorted by the destroyer HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H. Lambton, RN), minesweepers HMS Harrier (Cdr. H.E.H. Nicholls, RN), HMS Speedwell (Lt.Cdr. T.E. Williams, RD, RNR), HMS Cockatrice (A/Lt.Cdr. C.W. Armstrong, RNR) and the corvette HNoMS Acanthus (?).

on 15 December the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, DSO, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt. W.D. Shaw, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, OBE, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Virago (Lt.Cdr. A.J.R. White, RN), HMS Ashanti (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN) and HMCS Athabascan (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Stubbs, RCN) joined the convoy coming from Skaalefjord, Faeroer Islands. HMS Harrier and HMS Cockatrice were then detached with orders to proceed to Skaalefjord.

On 20 December 1943 the convoy split into two sections, one for Murmansk with the original escort and one for Archangelsk with a new escort made up of the minesweepers HMS Hussar (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Biggs, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Halcyon (T/A/Lt.Cdr. L.J. Martin, RNVR), the Russian destroyers Gromkiy, Grozniy, Valerian Kyubishev as well as three Russian minesweepers.

The Murmansk section arrived at its destination on 21 December 1943, the Archangelsk section a day later.

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Convoy JW 55B

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This convoy departed Loch Ewe on 20 December 1943 for Northern Russia.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Bernard N. Baker (American, 7191 GRT, built 1943), British Statesman (British (tanker), 6991 GRT, built 1923), Brockhorst Livingston (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Cardinal Gibbons (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Fort Kullyspell (British, 7190 GRT, built 1943), Fort Nakasley (British, 7132 GRT, built 1943), Fort Verscheres (British, 7128 GRT, built 1942), Harold L. Winslow (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), John J. Abel (American, 7191 GRT, built 1943), John Vining (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), John Wanamaker (British, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Norlys (Panamanian (tanker), 9892 GRT, built 1936), Ocean Gipsy (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Messenger (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Pride (British, 7173 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Valour (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Viceroy (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Thomas U. Walter (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943) and Will Rogers (American, 7200 GRT, built 1942).

On departure from Loch Ewe the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), minesweepers HMS Gleaner (Lt.Cdr. F.J.G. Hewitt, DSC and Bar, RN), Hound (A/Cdr.(Retd.) A.H. Wynne-Edwards, RN), Hydra (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.T.J. Wellard, RNR) and the corvettes HMS Borage (Lt. W.S. MacDonald, DSC, RNVR), HMS Honeysuckle (Lt. H.H.D. MacKillican, DSC, RNR), HMS Oxlip (Lt. C.W. Leadbetter, RNR) and HMS Wallflower (Lt. G.R. Greaves, RNR).

On 22 December 1943 the destroyers HMS Onslow (Capt. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, DSC, RN), HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. P. Bekenn, RN), HMS Scourge (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN), HMCS Iroquois (Cdr. J.C. Hibbard DSC, RCN), HMCS Haida (Cdr. H.G. De Wolf, RCN) and HMCS Huron (Lt.Cdr. H.S. Rayner, DSC, RCN) joined the convoy coming from Skaalefjord, Faeroer Islands. HMS Hound, HMS Hydra, HMS Borage and HMS Wallflower were then detached to Skaalefjord.

For 23 December 1943 onwards the convoy was shadowed by enemy aircraft, U-boats joined them the following day.

On 24 December 1943, the convoy reversed it's course for a few hours in order to have the battle cover force ' Force 2 ' close the distance due to the threat to the convoy of the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst [see below for more info in the resulting ' Battle of the North Cape '.]

On 25 December 1943, the destroyers HMS Musketeer, HMS Matchless, HMS Opportune and HMS Virago joined the convoy having detached from convoy RA 55A. They were detached again the following day and joined cover force ' Force 1 ' [again see below for more info].

On 26 December the convoy was diverse to the north to evade the Scharnhorst. Later in the day, following the sinking of the German ship the convoy resumed its normal course.

On 28 December 1943 the convoy split into two sections, one for Murmansk with the original escort and one for Archangelsk with a new escort made up of the minesweepers HMS Hussar, HMS Halcyon, HMS Speedwell, the Russian destroyers Razyarenniy, Razumniy, Valerian Kyubishev as well as four Russian minesweepers.

The Murmansk section arrived at its destination on 29 December 1943, the Archangelsk section a day later.

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Convoy RA 55A

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This convoy departed the Kola Inlet (Murmansk) on 22 December 1943 for the U.K.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Arthur L. Perry (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Daniel Drake (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Edmund Fanning (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Empire Carpenter (British, 7025 GRT, built 1943), Empire Celia (British, 7025 GRT, built 1943), Empire Nigel (British, 7067 GRT, built 1943), Fort McMurray (British, 7133 GRT, built 1942), Fort Yukon (British, 7153 GRT, built 1943), Gilbert Stuart (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Henry Villard (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), James Smith (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), Junecrest (British, 6945 GRT, built 1942), Mijdrecht (Dutch (tanker), 7493 GRT, built 1931), Ocean Strength (British, 7173 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Vanity (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Verity (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Park Holland (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), San Adolfo (British (tanker), 7365 GRT, built 1935), Thomas Kearns (American, 7194 GRT, built 1943), Thomas Sim Lee (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), William L. Marcy (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942) and William Windom (American, 7194 GRT, built 1943).

The rescue vessel Rathlin (British, 1600 GRT, built 1936) was also with the convoy.

On departure from the Kola Inlet the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Milne, HMS Matchless, HMS Meteor, HMS Musketeer, HMS Opportune, HMS Virago, HMS Ashanti, HMCS Athabascan, HMS Westcott, HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. N.R. Murch, RN), minesweeper HMS Jason (Cdr. H.G.A. Lewis, RN) and the corvettes HMS Dianthus (A/Lt.Cdr. B.J. Bowick, RNVR) and HMS Poppy (T/Lt. D.R.C. Onslow, RNR).

On 23 December the merchant vessel Thomas Kearns had to return with defects.

On 25 December, HMS Musketeer, HMS Matchless, HMS Opportune and HMS Virago were detached to join JW 55B.

On 26 December the convoy got scattered during a gale.

On 28 December HMCS Athabascan and HMS Beagle were detached to Skaalefjord, Faeroer Islands where they arrived on the 29th.

On 30 December, the minesweepers HMS Hound, HMS Hydra and the corvettes HMS Borage and HMS Wallflower joined the convoy. They had departed Skaalefjord on the 29th.

Also on the 30th, HMS Ashanti and later HMS Westcott were detached to fuel at Skaalefiord.

On 31 December HMS Westcott rejoined the convoy after fuelling at Skaalefiord.

Also on 31 December HMS Milne and HMS Meteor were detached from the convoy to proceed direct to Scapa Flow arriving there later the same day. HMS Seagull was also detached for Scapa Flow also arriving the same day but later then the destroyers.

The convoy arrived at Loch Ewe on 1 January 1944, escorted by HMS Borage and HMS Wallflower.

HMS Hound and HMS Hydra had been detached to return to Skaalefiord where they arrived on 2 January 1944.

HMS Westcott, HMS Acanthus, HMS Dianella and HMS Poppy had been detached to proceed to east coast ports to rejoin the Western Approaches Command. They arrived at their destinations on 2 January 1944.

Convoy RA 55B

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This convoy departed the Kola Inlet (Murmansk) on 31 December 1943 for the U.K.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Daldorch (British, 5571 GRT, built 1930), Empire Stalwart (British, 7045 GRT, built 1943), Fort Columbia (British, 7155 GRT, built 1942), Fort Poplar (British, 7134 GRT, built 1942), James Gordon Bennett (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Lucerna (British, 6556 GRT, built 1930), San Ambrosio (British (tanker), 7410 GRT, built 1935) and Thomas Kearns (American, 7194 GRT, built 1943).

On departure from the Kola Inlet the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Onslow, HMS Onslaught, HMS Orwell, HMS Impulsive, HMCS Iroquois, HMCS Haida, HMCS Huron, HMS Whitehall, HMS Wrestler, minesweepers HMS Halcyon, HMS Hussar, HMS Speedwell and the corvettes HMS Honeysuckle, HMS Oxlip and HMS Rhododendron (T/Lt. O.B. Medley, RNVR).

On 1 January 1944, HMS Halcyon, HMS Hussar, HMS Speedwell were detached to return to the Kola Inlet where they arrived the following day.

On 6 January 1944, the minesweepers Ready (Cdr. A.V. Walker, RN) and Orestes (Lt.Cdr. A.W.R. Adams, RN) joined the convoy coming from Skaalefjord, Faeroer Islands.

Also on 6 January 1944, HMCS Huron, HMS Honeysuckle, HMS Oxlip and HMS Rhododendron fuelled at Skaalefjord and then rejoined the convoy.

On 7 January 1944, HMS Onslow, HMS Onslaught, HMS Orwell, HMS Impulsive, HMCS Iroquois, HMCS Haida, HMCS Huron parted company with the convoy to proceed to Scapa Flow where they arrived later the same day.

On 8 January 1944, the convoy arrived at Loch Ewe escorted by HMS Ready and HMS Orestes.

HMS Whitehall, HMS Wrestler, HMS Honeysuckle, HMS Oxlip and HMS Rhododendron had parted company shortly before arrival to proceed to East coast ports to rejoin the Western Approaches Command.

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' Force 1 '

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' Force 1 ' was the cruiser cover force for these convoy's. It was made up of the light cruisers HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, DSO, OBE, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.T. Addis, RN) and the heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. D.K. Bain, RN).

On 16 December 1943, ' Force 1 ', departed Seidisfjord, Iceland to provide cover for Convoy JW 55A.

On 19 December 1943, ' Force 1 ', arrived in the Kola Inlet.

On 23 December 1943, ' Force 1 ', departed the Kola Inlet to provide cover for convoys RA 55A and JW 55B.

On 26 December 1943, ' Force 1 ', was joined by the destroyers HMS Musketeer, HMS Matchless, HMS Opportune and HMS Virago and ' Force 1 ' was in action with the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst during which HMS Sheffield and HMS Norfolk were damaged [see below for more info.]

On 27 December 1943, ' Force 1 ' arrived in the Kola Inlet to fuel and make temporary repairs to the damaged ships.

On 29 December 1943, ' Force 1 ' (HMS Belfast, HMS Sheffield and HMS Norfolk) departed the Kola Inlet for Scapa Flow where they arrived on 1 January 1944.

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' Force 2 '

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' Force 2 ' was the battle cover force for these convoy's. It was made up of the battleship HMS Duke of York (Capt. B.B. Schofield, RN, flying the flag of Admiral B.A. Fraser, KCB, KBE, RN), light cruiser HMS Jamaica (Capt. J. Hugh-Hallett, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Savage (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN), HMS Saumarez (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Scorpion (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) and HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. S.V. Storheill).

On 12 December 1943, ' Force 2 ' had departed Scapa Flow for the Kola Inlet where it arrived on 16 December 1941.

On 18 December 1943, ' Force 2 ', departed the Kola Inlet to provide cover from convoy JW 55A.

On 21 December 1943, ' Force 2 ', arrived at Akureyri, Iceland. It was swept in by the minesweepers HMS Loyalty (Lt.Cdr. James Edward Maltby, RNR).

On 23 December 1943, ' Force 2 ', departed Akureyri to provide cover for convoys JW 55B and RA 55A.

On 26 December 1943, ' Force 2 ' was in action with the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst [see below for more info.]

On 27 December 1943, ' Force 2 ' arrived in the Kola Inlet to fuel and to make some repairs.

On 28 December 1943, ' Force 4 ', made up of HMS Duke of York, HMS Jamaica, HMS Musketeer, HMS Matchless, HMS Opportune, HMS Virago, HMS Savage, HMS Scorpion and HNoMS Stord departed the Kola Inlet for Scapa Flow. HMS Saumarez was unable to sail, her action damage some more repairs.

On 1 January 1944, ' Force 4 ' arrived at Scapa Flow.

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Action with and sinking of the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst, 26 December 1943.

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Dispositions at 0400A/26.

At 0400A/26, the situation in the Bear Island area was as follows;

Westbound convoy RA 55A was about 220 nautical miles to the westward of Bear Island in approximate position 74°42'N, 05°27'E, steering 267°, speed 8 knots. This convoy was apparently still not detected by the enemy.

Eastbound convoy JW 55B was about 50 miles south of Bear Island in approximate position 73°31'N, 18°54'E, steering 070°, speed 8 knots.

' Force 1 ', the cruiser force, was in position 73°52'N, 27°12'E (some 150 nautical miles to the eastward of convoy JW 55B. They were steering 235° at 18 knots.

' Force 2 ', the battle force, was in position 71°07'N, 10°48'E, some 350 miles to the south-west of the cruisers. They were proceeding on course 080° at 24 knots. In the weather conditions the destroyers had difficulty keeping up and the bow of HMS Duke of York was almost constantly under water.

Convoy JW 55B had been sighted and shadowed by aircraft for a while and when flying conditions deteriorated U-boats had been in contact with the convoy. Admiral Fraser had no doubt that this convoy would be the target for the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst and the destroyers Z 29, Z 30, Z 33, Z 34 and Z 38 which were known to be at sea. He therefore decided to divert the convoy to the northward in order to increase the enemy's difficulties in finding it. This would entail breaking wireless silence and revealing the presence of covering forces but the decided that the safety of the convoy must be the primery object. At 0628A/26, Convoy JW 55B was ordered to steer 045° and ' Force 1 ' was ordered to close it for support.

' Force 1 ' altered course to 270° at 0712A/26 in order to approach the convoy from the southward and thus, in the event of action, to avoid steaming into the strong south-westerly wind and heavy seas. Course was held for an hour, and after receiving the position, course and speed of the convoy, course was altered to 300° at 0815A/26. Speed was increased to 24 knots.

Meanwhile the German battlegroup had continued to proceed northwards and at 0730 hours was in estimated position 73°52'N, 23°10'E. Soon afterwards the destroyers were detached to form a reconnaissance line 10 miles ahead of the Scharnhorst. Some of the destroyers did not receive this order and as a result they moved ahead but the area of their search was not the one intended. At 0800 hours the German battlegroup altered course to 230°, probably on account of a submarine report on the position of the convoy. At this time the destroyers were some 10 miles ahead of the battlecruiser, spread approximately in line abreast but it seems that soon afterwards the Scharnhorst turned to the north-eastward, and all communication between her and the destroyers broke down. Communication was restored two hours later but the destroyers never rejoined the battlecruiser.

First contact with the enemy.

At 0840A/26, HMS Belfast picked up a radar contact at 35000 yards, bearing 295°. The Belfast's estimasted position was then 73°35'N, 23°21'E and Vice-Admiral Burnett reckoned the convoy was bearing 287°, 48 nautical miles from him. At the same time Capt. McCoy in HMS Onslow placed the enemy about 36 nautical miles, bearing 125°, from the convoy.

In the Belfast the range of the main echo decreased rapidly, and twenty minutes later - at 0900A/26 - a second echo was obtained, bearing 299°, 24500 yards. This second echo remained on a steady bearing till 0930A/26, when, from its estimated speed of 8-10 knots, the Vice-Admiral considered that it was probably a merchant ship from the convoy, and disregarded it. It may well have been, however, one of the enemy destroyers, detached to shadow the convoy.

At 0915A/26 the main echo bore 250°, 13000 yards, speed approximately 18 knots. At this time ' Force 1 ' was formed on a line of bearing 180°, in the order HMS Belfast, HMS Sheffield and HMS Norfolk, HMS Belfast being the northern ship. The line of bearing had just been altered to 160°, when at 0921A/26, HMS Sheffield reported ' enemy in sight ' bearing 222°, 13000 yards. At 0924A/26, HMS Belfast opened fire with starshell and at 0929A/26, ' Force 1 ' was ordered to engage with main armament, course being altered 40° towards the enemy, to 265°. HMS Norfolk opened fire at a range of 9800 yards, but had to drop back to clear the Belfast's range. She continued firing till 0940 and obtained one git, with her second or third salvo, either on the crow's nest of the bridge port director, which caused several casualties, and possible a hit on the forecastle. The 6" cruisers did not fire during this phase of the action, nor did the enemy, whole altered course to about 150°, steaming at 30 knots. ' Force 1 ' altered to 105° at 0938A/26 and to 170° at 0946A/26 by which time the range had opened to 24000 yards and chased to the southward, but the enemy drew away and the range continued to increase.

At 0955A/26, the Scharnhorst altered course to the north-east, and Vice-Admiral Burnett at once appreciated that she was trying to work round to the northward of the convoy for a second attempt to attack it. Possibly this was the result of an exhortation from Admiral Dönitz which appears to have been received and read to her ship's company around this time. In the prevailing weather conditions - wind force 7 to 8 from the southwest - ' Force 1's ' maximimum speed was 24 knots, and as that of the enemy appeared to be 4 to 6 knots faster the Vice-Admiral decided that he must get between the Scharnhorst and the convoy. He therefore altered course to 305° at 1000A/26, and to 325° at 1014A/26, with result that six minutes later contact was lost with the enemy bearing 078°, 36000 yards, and steering to the north-east at about 28 knots.

Meanwhile the Commander-in-Chief had ordered Capt. McCoy, the escort commander, to turn the convoy to the northward at 0930A/26, and to send four destroyers to join ' Force 1 ' at 0937A/26. HMS Musketeer, HMS Matchless, HMS Opportune and HMS Virago were detached at 0951A/26. They joined Vice-Admiral Burnett at 1024A/26. By 1030A/26, when it was clear to the Commander-in-Chief that ' Force 1 ' had lost touch with the enemy, and he was again closing the convoy, he ordered convoy JW 55B to resume course 045°.

Second engagement of ' Force 1 '.

Half an hour after losing touch with the enemy ' Force 1 ' made radar contact with the convoy, bearing 324°, 28000 yards, at 1050A/1, and the cruisers commenced zigzagging 10 miles ahead of it, with the four destroyers disposed ahead as a screen.

At 1058A/1, the Commander-in-Chief informed Vice-Admiral Burnett that ' Force 2 ' wound have little chance of finding the enemy unless some unit regained touch with him and shadowed, but in view of the enemy's advantage in speed under the prevailing weather conditions, the Vice-Admiral ' rightly considered it undesirable to split his force by detaching one or more ships to search, feeling confident that the enemy would return to the convoy from the north or north-east '. An hour went by, and the Commander-in-Chief found himself faced with the difficult question of the destroyers fuel situation. He had ' either to turn back or go to the Kola Inlet, and if the Scharnhorst had already turned for home, these was obviously no chance of catching him. This latter contingency was by no means improbable, for ' Force 2 ' had been shadowed from the starboard quarter by three enemy aircraft since about 1000A/26, and their reports had presumably been passed to the Scharnhorst. Then, at 1205A/26, came a signal from HMS Belfast reporting radar contact again with the enemy, and he knew that there was every prospect of cutting him off.

The convoy had remained on a course of 045° till just before noon, when Capt. McCoy, who had been ordered by the Commander-in-Chief at 1122 hours to use his discretion as to its course, altered to 125° in order to keep ' Force 1 ' between the convoy and the probable direction of the enemy. HMS Norfolk had reported a radar contact at 27000 yards at 1137A/26, but had lost it a few minutes later, and by noon, when the convoy was turning to 125°, ' Force 1 ' was in position 74°11'N, 22°18'E, steering 045°, 18 knots, with the convoy about 9 miles on the port quarter. Five minutes later (1205A/26), HMS Belfast radar picked up the enemy bearing 075°, 30500 yards. Vice-Admiral Burnett concentrated his four destroyers on his starboard bow, and at 1219A/26, altered course to 100°. The enemy course and speed was estimated at 240°, 20 knots. A minute later the Scharnhorst appeared to alter course slightly to the westward and at 1221A/26, HMS Sheffield reported ' enemy in sight '. ' Force 1 ' immediately opened fire, and the destroyers were ordered to attack with torpedoes, but were unable to reach a firing position owing to the weather conditions, and the enemy's hurried retirement.

This second action, fought by the cruisers at ranges from 9000 to 16000 yards, lasted about 20 minute, and again the Scharnhorst was ' most effectively driven off the convoy by Force 1's determined attack '. The enemy altered course from west round to south-east, increasing speed to 28 knots, and the range soon began to open. Several hits were claimed by the cruisers, but only one, which struck the port side aft and apparently failed to explode, was subsequently confirmed by prisoners. HMS Musketeer, however, which was herself engaging the enemy at a range of 4500 yards, consided there were others, and the prisoners agreed that the cruisers fire was unpleasantly accurate and filled the air with fragments.

At 1233A/26, 12 minutes after the action started, HMS Norfolk received two hits, one through the barbette of 'X' turret, which was put out of action, and one amidships. All radar, except Type 284, became unsericeable and these were several casualties. One officer and six ratings were killed and five seriously wounded. At the same time an 11" salvo straddled HMS Sheffield, and several pieces of shell, came inboard, fragments penetrated the ship at various points.

By 1241A/26, the enemy was on a course of 110° steaming 28 knots, and the range had opened to 12400 yards. Vice-Admiral Burnett decided to check fire, and to shadow with his whole force until the Scharnhorst could be engaged by ' Force 2 '. He therefore increased speed to 28 knots, and at 1250A/26, the enemy range and bearing were steady at 13400 yards, 138°. The destroyers, to the westward of the cruisers, continued to pursue the enemy in line ahead, their range opeing to 20000 yards and then remaining steady.

Shadowing operations.

The Scharnhorst had by this time given up all idea of attacking the convoy and for the next three hours her course was to the south-east and south. As she was retiring on a course so favourable for interception by ' Force 2 ', Vice-Admiral Burnett did not re-engage, and kept his cruisers concentrated, shadowing by radar from just outside visual range, about 7.5 nautical miles and slightly to the eastward of the enemy's course. The four destroyers of ' Force 1 ', which owing to the heavy sea had been unable to close the enemy sufficiently to attack with torpedoes, was stationed to the westward by the Commander-in-Chief at about 1600A/26 to guard against the Scharnhorst breaking back in that direction towards the convoy or Alten Fjord.

Despite her damage HMS Norfolk kept up with ' Force 1 ' throughout the afternoon, but at 1603A/26, she was obliged to reduce speed to fight a fire and a few minutes later, at 1607A/26, HMS Sheffield dropped back, reporting her port inner shaft out of action and speed reduced to 10 knots. By 1621A/26, she was able to proceed at 23 knots, but the delay and reduction of speed prevented her from rejoining HMS Belfast until about 2100A/26. For the rest of the action she remained some 10 miles astern. HMS Norfolk was able to rejoin HMS Belfast around 1700A/26.

Movements of the German destroyers.

All this time, while the Scharnhorst was being gradually haunded to her doom, the German destroyers had played a singularly ineffective part. After losting contact soon after 0800A/26, they continued on the south-westerly course (230°) to which the force had just turned, spread approximately five miles apart. No orders were received from the Flag Officer, Battle Group, until 1009A/26 - just after the close of the first action with Vice-Admiral Burnett's cruisers - when a signal was received directing the destroyers ' to advance into the immediate vicinity of the convoy '. To this Z 29, the Flotilla Leader, replied that they were advancing according to plan, course 230°, speed 12 knots. Twenty minutes later, Admiral Bey had apparently come to the conclusion that the convoy was further to the north then that he had previously supposed, and at 1027 he ordered the Flotilla to alter course to 070° and to increase speed to 25 knots, an hour later (1135A/26) he ordered a further change of course to 030°.

At 0945A/26, a report from the submarine U-277 had been received in the Scharnhorst placing the convoy in position 73°58'N, 19°30'E, but this seems to have been disregarded by Admiral Bey and it was not until two-and-a-half hours later (1218A/26), that he ordered the destroyers to operate in this area. Course was accordingly altered to 280° and the flotilla concentrated on the northern ship but it was too late and the convoy was well to the north-eastward of the position reported by the U-boat, though the destroyers must have passed within 10 miles of it at about 1300A/26 on passage to the new area, owing to Capt. McCoy's turn to the south-eastward at noon. On this Admiral Bey was unaware, and at 1418A/26, he ordered the destroyers to break off the operation and make for the Norwegian coast. With the excetion of Z 33, which had become separated in the bad weather, the Flotilla - then some 16 nautical miles south-east of Bear Island - at once altered course to 180° and eventually entered Norwegian coastal waters at about 0200A/27.

Z 33 made her own way back, at 1810A/26, she sighted what was believed to be a straggler from the convoy. At this target she fired four torpedoes, which missed, and continued on her way to her base.

Movements of the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet ' Force 2 '.

Meanwhile ' Force 2 ', acting on reports of Vice-Admiral Burnett's cruisers, had been steering throughout the day to intercept. During the first two cruiser engagements the composition of the enemy's force was not clear to the Commander-in-Chief, but on confirmation by the Vice-Admiral that only one heavy unit was present, he decided to engage on similar courses, with HMS Jamaica in support, opening fire at about 13000 yards and detaching his destroyers to make a torpedo attack. At 1400A/26 he estimated that if the enemy maintained his course and speed, ' Force 2 ' would engage him at about 1715A/26, but the Scharnhorst altered to the south soon afterwards, and at 1617A/26 the Duke of York's Type 273 radar picked her up at 45500 yards bearing 020°. The range closed rapidly, and soon HMS Belfast was picked up astern of the target. At 1632A/26, a quarter of an hour after the first contact, the Duke of York's Type 284 found the enemy at 29700 yards, apparently zig-zagging on a mean course of 160°. Five minutes later, the destroyers, which had formed sub-divisions on either bow of the flagship shortly after first contact, were ordered to take up most advantageous position for torpedo attack, but not to attack until ordered to do so. The destroyers had formed sub-divisions as follows, HMS Savage with HMS Saumarez and HMS Scorpion with HNoMS Stord.

At 1642A/26, the enemy seemed to alter course slightly to port and two minutes later ' Force 2 ' altered to 080° in order to open 'A' arcs. At 1647A/26, HMS Belfast opened fire with starshell, followed at 1648A/26 by HMS Duke of York. Those from the latter illuminated the enemy at 1650A/26. The Commander-in-Chief then made an enemy report and ' Force 2 ' opened fire with their main armament.

' Force 2 ' engages, 1650-1844 hours, 26 December 1943.

When HMS Duke of York and HMS Jamaica opened fire at 12000 yards. There was every indication that the Scharnhorst was completely unaware of their presence, her turrets were reported trained fore and aft, she did not immediately reply to the fire of ' Force 2 ' and when she did her fire was erratic. Prisoners subsequently confirmed that she had made no radar contact during the approach of ' Force 2 '. They had been told they would not have to engage anything larger then a cruiser and were badly shaken when informed that a capital ship to the southward was engaging them.

The Scharnhorst altered round at once to the northward, and the Duke of York to 360° to follow and also to avoid torpedoes which the enemy, had he been on the alert, might have been fired. On this, HMS Belfast prepared to fire torpedoes, but the Scharnhorst altered away to the eastward, probably with the double object of avoiding ' Force 1 ' and opening 'A' arcs, and HMS Belfast and HMS Norfolk then engaged her with their main armamant, steering northerly and north-easterly courses in order to prevent her breaking back to the north-westward, until 1712A/26, when she ran out of range, after firing two ineffective salvoes at the cruisers. Vice-Admiral Burnett continued to the north-north-west until 1720A/26, and it was then apparent that the enemy meant to escape to the eastward, gradually altered round to follow. Just then orders were received from the Commander-in-Chief to ' steer 140° ' and join him, and the cruisers steadied on a south-easterly course at 1727A/26.

The hunt was up, and for the next hour there was a chase to the eastward, HMS Duke of York and HMS Jamaica engaging at ranges which gradually increased, as the enemy's superior speed began to tell. By 1708A/26, the Scharnhorst was steadily on an easterly course and engaging HMS Duke of York and HMS Jamaica with her main armamant. Her tactics were to turn to the southward, fire a broadside, and then turn on end-on away to the east till ready to fire the next salvo, making the Duke of York's gunners a problem.

By 1730A/26, the situation was as follows. To the south-west of the enemy HMS Duke of York and HMS Jamaica were engaging him and pursuing similar tactics. ' Force 2's ' destroyers - still well astern of him - were endeavouring to gain bearing to attack with torpedoes, taking individual avoiding action when fired on, HMS Savage and HMS Saumarez edging over to get on his port side while HMS Scorpion and HNoMS Stord remained on the starbord side. To the north-west, HMS Musketeer, HMS Matchless, HMS Opportune and HMS Virago, which had turned at 1700A/26, was creeping up on a easterly course roughly parallel to that of the enemy and some miles to the northward. Further to the north-west HMS Belfast and HMS Norfolk were steering to the south-eastward to join the Commander-in-Chief, with HMS Sheffield some distance astern, and dropping owing to her reduced speed. What the German Admiral though of the situation may be judged from his signal to the German War Staff (timed 1724 hours); ' Am surrounded by heavy units '.

HMS Duke of York probably obtained hits with her first and third salvoes, which, accordingly to prisoners, were on the quarter deck close to ' C ' turret, and low down forward. This latter may have put ' A ' turret out of action as it did not fire again. Little is known about other hits during this first engagement, but it seems certain that HMS Duke of York had obtained hits which may have caused some underwater damage that eventually reduced the Scharnhorst speed. HMS Jamaica claimed on hit.

The Scharnhorst's gunfire was erratic to begin with but later improved as the range increased. Between ranges of 17000 - 20000 yards HMS Duke of York was straddled several times. Her hull was not hit but both masts were shot through by 11" shells which fortunately did not explode.

By 1742A/26, the range had opened to 18000 yards and HMS Jamaica then ceased fire, her blind fire at this range considered of doubtful value and liable to confuse the Duke of York's radar spotting. At this time all the cruisers were out of range, and the destroyers had not yet been seriously engaged by the enemy. The gun duel between HMS Duke of York and the Scharnhorst continued till 1820A/26 when the enemy ceased firing at 20000 yards, and reduced speed, though this was not immediately apparent. At the same time the Commander-in-Chief decided to turn south-eastward towards the Norwegian coast, in the hope she would also lead round and so to give his destroyers a chance to attack. At 1824A/26, the range having opened to 21400 yards, HMS Duke of York checked fire. She had fired 52 broadsides, of which 31 have been reported as straddles and 16 as within 200 yards of the enemy.

Just at this moment the Scharnhorst was sending her final signal - a message from Admiral Bey to the Führer - ' We shall fight to the last shell '. This was the last report the German Naval Staff received from her as to her fate, though no doubt they were able to draw their conclusions three-quarters of an hour later (1919A/26) when they intercepted a British signal ' Finish her off with torpedoes '.

First destroyer attack, 1850 hours, 26 December 1943.

At 1824A/26, the Commander-in-Chief was of the opinion that the Scharnhorst might escape and much depended on the four 'S-class' destroyers to damage of sink her. Since 1713A/26, when they had been ordered to attack, they had been gradually gaining bearing on the Scharnhorst, but their progress was very slow and their chances of attack depended on a radical alteration of course by their quarry. Then, at 1820A/26, when they had closed to 12000 yards they started to forge ahead. The enemy had reduced speed. By 1840A/26, the first sub-division (HMS Savage and HMS Saumarez), astern of the enemy, and the second sub-division (HMS Scorpion and HNoMS Stord), on his starboard beam, had each closed to about 10000 yards. Some three minutes earlier, the Commander-in-Chief, observing on his radar plot the enemy's reduction of speed, had altered course directly towards her, and was beginning to close rapidly.

The Scharnhorst opened a fairly heavy, though ineffective, fire on HMS Savage and HMS Saumarez, which they returned when the range closed to 7000 yards. As these two approached from the north-westward, drawing the enemy's fire, HMS Scorpion and HNoMS Stord were closing in apparently unseen, and certainly unengaged from the south-eastward. At 1849A/26, starshells from HMS Savage illuminated the enemy, and she was seen to be turning to the southward. The Scorpion and Stord immediately swung to starboard, each firing eight torpedoes at 2100 and 1800 yards respectively. HMS Scorpion claimed one hit, HNoMS Stord none, probably due to the Scharnhorst combing the latter's tracks. Both destroyers were engaged by the enemy's secondary and light armament while retiring, the the firing was wild and inflicted no damage. They returned the fire and scored several hits on the superstructure. The Scharnhorst continued to alter round to starboar after this attack till on a south-westerly course, thus placing HMS Savage and HMS Saumarez in an excellent position on her starboard bow. Her movements could be followed clearly in the light of their starshell, and HMS Savage with HMS Saumarez on her starboard quarter, hastily training their torpedo tubes to starboard, turned in to attack at 1855A/26, coming under heavy fire from the enemy's entire armament as they did so. HMS Savage fired eight torpedoes from 3500 yards, but HMS Saumarez received damage which prevented her training one set of tubes, and got off only four from 1800 yards. Subsequent analysis credited there attacks with three hits altogether. The destroyers then withdrew to the northward, engaging the Scharnhorst as they did so. Fortunately damage to HMS Saumarez was all above the waterline. Shells had passed through her director and rengefinders without exploding, but she had suffered considerably from splinters which reduced her speed to 10 knots on one engine only. One officer and ten ratings were killed and eleven ratings were wounded.

Second engagement of ' Force 2 '.

As the destroyers withdrew to the northward, HMS Duke of York and HMS Jamaica coming up from the south-west, re-engaged at a range of 10400 yards, opening fire at 1901A/26. Hits were immediately scored, while the enemy continued to fire at the retiring destroyers. HMS Norfolk, too joined in from the northward, but had difficulty in finding the right target, and checked fire after a couple of salvoes. After five minutes, when the Scharnhorst had been repeatedly hit and fires and flashes from exploding ammunition were flaring up, she shifted her secondary armament fire to HMS Duke of York at a range of about 8000 yards. During this second action she apparently engaged HMS Duke of York and HMS Jamaica with only part of her main armament, and that intermittently.

The battle was then approaching its end. Between 1901A/26 and 1926A/26 the enemy's speed fell drastically from 20 to about 5 knots. At 1915A/26, HMS Belfast opened fire on her at a range of 17000 yards, and a few minutes later she steadied on a northerly course. About this time (1919A/26) the Commander-in-Chief ordered HMS Jamaica and HMS Belfast to close the enemy, who was then almost stationary, and to sink her with torpedoes. HMS Duke of York continued firing - getting of 25 broadsides, of which 21 were straddles - till 1928A/26, when she checked fire to enable the cruisers, which had altered course towards the enemy to diliver their torpedo attacks. According to prisoners HMS Duke of York had obtained at least 10 hits.

Torpedo attacks by HMS Belfast and HMS Jamaica.

In the Scharnhorst - battered by gunfire and crippled by four torpedoes - resistance was pracically at an end as the cruisers closed in from north and south. Prisoners subsequently stated that after sending their final signal to Hitler, assuring him that the Scharnhorst would fight to the last shell, the Admiral and Captain had shot themselves on the bridge but this could not be confirmed.

HMS Jamaica fired three torpedoes to port (one of which misfired) at 1925A/26 from 3500 yards but claimed no hits as the enemy's speed appeared to have been underestimated. Two minutes later HMS Belfast also fired three torpedoes, one of which may have git, though this was subsequently considered unlikely. Both cruisers then hauled round to fire their remaining tubes. Meanwhile HMS Jamaica scored several hits with her main and secondary armamant. The Scharnhorst replied with wild fire from her secondary armamant and light weapons which did no damage and had ceased firing altogether when at 1937A/26, at a range of 3750 yards, HMS Jamaica fired three torpedoes to starboard at the enemy, broadside on and almost stopped. The result could not be seenm as the target was completely hidden by smoke, but underwater explosions were heard after the correct time interval, and it is probable that two torpedoes took effect. Two minutes earlier (1935A/26), HMS Belfast had turned to fire her port torpedoes but then HMS Musketeer, HMS Matchless, HMS Opportune and HMS Virago arrived at the scene and HMS Belfast retired to the south to await developments.

Torpedo attacks by the 36th Destroyer Division.

The 36th Division, made up of HMS Musketeer, HMS Matchless, HMS Opportune and HMS Virago, starting the chase well to the westward of the other forces, had been tracking the enemy by radar and slowly gaining bearing on a parallel course to the northward throughout the action. The destroyers now closed in sub-divisions (HMS Musketeer with HMS Matchless and HMS Opportune with HMS Virago) from the north and astern. At 1930A/27 they commenced their attacks, HMS Musketeer and HMS Matchless from the port side and HMS Opportune and HMS Virago from the starboard side. HMS Opportune fired two salvoes of four torpedoes each at 1931A/26 and 1933A/26 from range of 2100 and 2500 yards. She claimed two hits. HMS Virago followed her in, and at 1934A/26 fired seven torpedoes from 2800 yards. Two hits were observed and the sub-division then retired to the westward with HMS Virago firing on the enemy as long as possible.

On the port side, HMS Musketeer fired four torpedoes from 1000 yards at 1933A/26 and observed two and possibly three hits and then withdrew to the westward. HMS Matchless could not fire as her torpedo tubes training had been effected by a heavy sea. She therefore hauled round without firing and then came in to attack again from the enemy's port bow, but before she could fire the Scharnhorst had sunk. She then joined HMS Scorpion in picking up survivors. The German ship was last seen around 1938A/26 though no ship saw her actually sinking. This most probably occured at 1945A/26 when a large underwater explosion was felt.

For the next hour, HMS Belfast, HMS Norfolk and most of the destroyers searched the area for survivors. In all only thirty were picked up in the heavy weather from the icy waters by HMS Scorpion and six by HMS Matchless. No officer was among them. The most senior was the equivalant rating of Acting Petty Officer.

Conclusion.

Around 2100A/26, HMS Sheffield rejoined ' Force 1 ' and all forces in the area were ordered to proceed independently to the Kola Inlet where they all arrived unmolested the next day.

(32)

12 Jan 1944

Operation FW, passage of convoys JW 56A and JW 56B from the U.K. to Northern Russia as well as convoy RA 56 from Northern Russia to the U.K.

Convoy JW 56A

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This convoy departed Loch Ewe on 12 January 1944 for Northern Russia.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Aert van der Neer (Dutch, 7170 GRT, built 1942), Andrew G. Curtin (American, 7200 GRT, built 1943), Charles Bulfinch (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Charles Scribner (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Edwin L. Drake (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Empire Ploughman (British, 7049 GRT, built 1943), Fort Bellingham (British, 7153 GRT, built 1942), Fort Slave (British, 7134 GRT, built 1942), Jefferson Davis (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), John A. Quitman (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Joseph N. Nicollet (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Nathaniel Alexander (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Noreg (Norwegian (tanker), 7605 GRT, built 1931), Penelope Barker (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Richard H. Alvey (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), San Adolfo (British (tanker), 7365 GRT, built 1935), San Cirilo (British (tanker), 8012 GRT, built 1937), Thorstein Veblen (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), William Tyler Page (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943) and Woodbridge N. Ferris (American, 7200 GRT, built 1943).

On departure from Loch Ewe the convoy was escorted by the destroyer HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr J.H. Eaden, DSC and Bar, RN), sloop HMS Cygnet (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.B. Proudfoot, RN), corvettes HMS Borage (Lt. W.S. MacDonald, DSC, RNVR), HMS Dianella (T/Lt. J.F. Tognola, RNR), HMS Poppy (T/Lt. D.R.C. Onslow, RNR), HMS Wallflower (Lt. G.R. Greaves, RNR) and the minesweepers Orestes (Lt.Cdr. A.W.R. Adams, RN)and Ready (Cdr. A.V. Walker, RN).

On 15 January 1944, HMS Cygnet was detached to Skaalefjord, Faeroer Islands with a defective propeller. She arrived at Skaalefjord the following day.

Also on the 15th, the convoy got badly scattered in a heavy gale.

On 16 January 1944, the destroyers HMS Savage (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN) and HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. S.V. Storheill) joined the convoy from Seidisfjord which they had departed earlier the same day.

Also on the 16th, the merchant vessels Charles Bulfinch, Jefferson Davis, John A. Quitman, Joseph N. Nicollet and Nathaniel Alexander turned back to Loch Ewe.

Also on the 16th the destroyers HMS Hardy (Capt. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson DSO, RN), HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, RN), HMS Virago (Lt.Cdr. A.J.R. White, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN) left Seidisfiord to join the convoy.

On the 17th, HMS Savage returned to Seidisfjord to fuel, sailing A.M. to rejoin the convoy.

Later on the 17th, HMS Inconstant also returned to Seidisfjord to fuel, sailing P.M. to rejoin the convoy.

Also on the 17th, all merchant ships and were escorts ordered to proceed to Akureyri to reassemble the convoy and await better weather. HMS Hardy, HMS Venus, HMS Vigilant, HMS Virago, HMS Offa and HMS Obdurate returned to Seidisfiord to fuel as did the corvettes HMS Dianella and HMS Poppy arrived Seidisfiord to fuel.

On the 18th, HMS Hardy, HMS Venus, HMS Vigilant, HMS Virago, HMS Offa and HMS Obdurate departed Seidisfjord for Akureyri as did HMS Dianella and HMS Poppy.

Also on the 18th HMS Savage, HNoMS Stord and HMS Inconstant arrived at Akureyri, possible ahead of the convoy. The convoy also arrived at Akureyi escorted by HMS Borage, HMS Wallflower, HMS Orestes and HMS Ready.

On 21 January 1944, the convoy (now made up of 15 ships) and escorted by HMS Hardy, HMS Venus, HMS Vigilant, HMS Virago, HMS Savage, HNoMS Stord, HMS Offa and HMS Obdurate, HMS Inconstant, HMS Dianella, HMS Poppy, HMS Orestes and HMS Ready left Akureyri to continue it's passage to Northern Russia.

On 22 January 1944, HMS Orestes and HMS Ready parted company with the convoy for Skaalefjord where they arrived the following day.

On 25 January 1944, German submarines made contact with the convoy. Several attacks of which most were made with T-5 homing torpedoes on the escort vessels. The following German submarines made contact with the convoy U-278, U-314, U-360, U-425, U-601, U-716, U-737 and U-957. The results of these attacks were that first, HMS Obdurate was damaged when a T-5 torpedo, fired by U-360 exploded in her wake, one shaft was out of action. She was however to remain with the convoy. Later, on her return to England for repairs it was found out that damage was more severe then initially thought and she was out of action for more then a year. Later in the evening the merchant vessel Penelope Barker was torpedoed and sunk by U-278, HMS Savage picked up 56 surivors.

On 26 January, shortly after midnight, the merchant vessel Fort Bellingham was torpedoed and damaged by U-360 and shortly afterwards the merchant vessel Andrew G. Curtin was torpedoed and sunk by U-716, 68 survivors were picked up by HMS Inconstant. The damaged Fort Bellingham fell behind the convoy and was later finished off by U-957. The survivors were picked up by HMS Offa.

Also on 26 January 1944, a local escort made up of the Russian destroyers Gremyashchiy, Gromkiy, Razyarenniy, British minesweepers HMS Gleaner (Lt.Cdr. F.J.G. Hewitt, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Speedwell (Lt.Cdr. T.E. Williams, RD, RNR) and the Russian minesweepers T-111, T-114 and T-117 departed the Kola Inlet to join the convoy.

On the 27th, the local escort joined the convoy and took over the White Sea section of 9 ships which was to proceed to Archangelsk where they arrived on the 29th.

The Murmansk section of 3 ships with the original escort arrived in the Kola Inlet on the 27th.

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Convoy JW 56B

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This convoy departed Loch Ewe on 22 January 1944 for Northern Russia.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Abner Nash (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Albert C. Ritchie (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Charles A. McAllister (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Edward L. Grant (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Empire Tourist (British, 7062 GRT, built 1943), Fort Crevecoeur (British, 7191 GRT, built 1943), Fort Norfolk (British, 7131 GRT, built 1943), Henry Bacon (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Henry Lomb (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Henry Wynkoop (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), John H.B. Latrobe (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), John La Farge (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Paul Hamilton Hayne (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Robert Lowry (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Samuel McIntyre (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Willard Hall (American, 7200 GRT, built 1943) and Winfred L. Smith (American, 7191 GRT, built 1943).

On departure from Loch Ewe the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H. Lambton, RN), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt.Cdr. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), sloop HMS Cygnet, corvettes HMS Honeysuckle (Lt. H.H.D. MacKillican, DSC, RNR), HMS Oxlip (Lt. C.W. Leadbetter, RNR), HMS Rhododendron (T/Lt. O.B. Medley, RNVR) and the minesweepers Hydra (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.T.J. Wellard, RNR) and HMS Onyx (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.C.L. Gaussen, RNVR).

Shortly after departure the merchant vessel Henry Lomb returned to Loch Ewe.

On the 24th, the destroyers HMS Mahratta (Lt.Cdr. E.A.F. Drought, DSC, RN) and HMS Scourge (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) departed Seidisfjord to join the convoy.

On the 25th, HMS Westcott and HMS Whitehall were detached and arrived at Seidisfiord to fuel. Also HMS Mahratta and HMS Scourge returned to Seidisfiord.

On the 26th, HMS Rhododendron was detached from the convoy and arrived at Seidisfiord. She was not to rejoin the convoy.

Having completed fuelling HMS Westcott and HMS Whitehall departed from Seidisfiord and rejoined the convoy.

The destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, DSO, RN), HMS Mahratta, HMS Musketeer (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, OBE, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Scourge and HMCS Huron (Lt.Cdr. H.S. Rayner, DSC, RCN) departed Seidisfiord and joined the convoy.

HMS Wrestler and HMS Onyx were detached and proceeded to Seidisfiord. They arrived there on the 27th.

HMS Honeysuckle was detached from the convoy to the Clyde

HMS Hydra was detached from convoy to Scapa Flow.

Also on the 26th, the convoy sighted and reported by enemy aircraft.

On the 27th, the destroyer HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) departed Skaalefjord. She joined the convoy on the 28th.

On the 28th, the destroyers HMS Hardy, HMS Venus, HMS Vigilant, HMS Virago, HMS Savage, HNoMS Stord and HMS Offa departed the Kola Inlet to the convoy. They joined the convoy on the 29th.

On the 29th, German U-boats were in contact with the convoy. These were U-472, U-636 and U-956. Of these U-636 was depth charged by HMS Inconstant and HMS Offa, they claimed to have possibly destroyer a U-boat but in fact U-636 was not damaged. U-956 twice attacked escort vessels with a T-5 homing torpedo but both did not hit a target. She was twice taken under fire, first by HMS Mahratta and HMS Whitehall and later by HMS Inconstant. She was also depth charged by HMS Inconstant and HMS Offa.

On 30 January 1944, U-Boats continued to attack the convoy. HMS Hardy was heavily damaged by U-278 with a T-5 Gnat acoustic torpedo. This hit was also claimed by U-957 and U-472 which had also fired T-5 torpedoes aroud the same time. U-472 in fact missed HNoMS Stord. HMS Hardy could not be salvaged and she was scuttled with a torpedo from HMS Venus. The detonation of the torpedo was heard by U-601 which had fired a T-5 torpedo around this time and thought her torpedo had hit one of the escorts.

More action with U-boats on the 30th included, depth charging of U-278 by HMS Whitehall. U-313 attacked an escort vessel with a T-5 torpedo and was subsequently depth charged by HMS Vigilant and HMS Savage, she managed to escape without damage. U-314 was sunk by depth charges from HMS Inconstant. U-425 twice attacked escort vessels with a T-5 torpedo. After the second attack she was depth charged by HMS Venus. U-601 attacked the convoy with two torpedoes but no hits had been obtained. This was before the attack lised above. U-737 attacked the destroyer HMS Milne with a T-5 torpedo which did not hit the target. Later in the day she made another attack with a T-5 torpedo but this torpedo also failed to hit a target. Following this attack she was depth charged by HMS Inconstant and HNoMS Stord. U-739 was depth charged by HMS Inconstant and HMS Offa, she managed to escape without damage. U-965 attacked an escort vessel with a T-5 torpedo which did not hit, following this attack she was depth charged by HMS Venus but she escaped without damage.

On 31 January attacks by U-boats continued. U-278 was detected and depth charged by escorts but was not damaged. U-472 was depth charged by HMS Virago but was not damaged. U-956 attack an escort vessel with a T-5 torpedo but no hit was obtained, following the attack she was depth charged but was not damaged. U-957 was detected on the surface by HMS Inconstant which then opened fire on her, the U-boat submerged and was then attacked with depth charges but she managed to escape without damage. U-990 attacked an escort vessel with a T-5 torpedo but it missed.

On 1 February the convoy split. The White Sea (Archanglesk) section of 6 merchant vessels proceeded with a local escort which had joined from the Kola Inlet. This local escort was made up of the Russian destroyers Gremyashchiy, Grozniy, Razyarenniy, British minesweeper HMS Gleaner, Russian minesweepers T-111 and T-117 and the Russian patrol vessels BO-201 and BO-210.

The other merchant vessels (10) made up the Kola Inlet (Murmansk) section (10 ships) arrived in the Kola Inlet with the British escort.

On 2 February the White Sea section arrived at Archangel.

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Convoy RA 56

.

This convoy departed the Kola Inlet on 3 February 1944 for Loch Ewe.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; British Statesman (British (tanker), 6991 GRT, built 1923), Brockholst Livingston (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Cardinal Gibbons (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Collins P. Huntington (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Daniel Willard (American, 7200 GRT, built 1942), Empire Archer (British, 7031 GRT, built 1942), Empire Lionel (British, 7030 GRT, built 1942), Empire Pickwick (American, 7068 GRT, built 1943), Eugene Field (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Fort Astoria (British, 7189 GRT, built 1943), Fort Hall (British, 7157 GRT, built 1943), Fort Kullyspell (British, 7190 GRT, built 1943), Fort Missanabie (British, 7147 GRT, built 1943), Fort Nakasley (British, 7132 GRT, built 1943), Fort Thompson (British, 7134 GRT, built 1942), Fort Verscheres (British, 7128 GRT, built 1942), George Weems (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Harold L. Winslow (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Horace Gray (American, 7200 GRT, built 1943), James A. Farrell (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), James Woodrow (American, 7200 GRT, built 1942), John Fitch (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), John J. Abel (American, 7191 GRT, built 1943), John Vining (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), John Wanamaker (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Lewis Emery Jr. (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Noreg (Norwegian (tanker), 7605 GRT, built 1931), Norlys (Panamanian (tanker), 9892 GRT, built 1936), Ocean Gypsy (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Messenger (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Pride (British, 7173 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Valour (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Viceroy (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Philip Livingston (American, 7176 GRT, built 1941), Stage Door Canteen (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Thistledale (British, 7241 GRT, built 1942), Thomas Scott (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Thomas U. Walter (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943) and Will Rogers (American, 7200 GRT, built 1942).

On departure from the Kola Inlet the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Inconstant, HMS Westcott, HMS Whitehall, HMS Milne, HMS Mahratta, HMS Meteor, HMS Musketeer, HMS Offa, HMS Opportune, HMS Savage, HMS Scourge, HNoMS Stord, HMS Venus, HMS Vigilant, HMCS Huron, sloop HMS Cygnet, minesweepers HMS Gleaner, Halcyon, HMS Hussar (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Biggs, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Seagull (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.W Ellis, DSC, RNR), HMS Speedwell and the corvettes HMS Dianella, HMS Oxlip and HMS Poppy.

The destroyers HMS Verulam (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, DSC, RN), HMS Swift (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Gower, RN) and HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN) left Skaalefiord to rendezvous with convoy RA 56 near Bear Island.

On 5 December, two merchant ships of the convoy, the Empire Pickwick and Philip Livingston, which were unable to keep up, returned to Kola Inlet with HMS Gleaner and HMS Seagull.

On 6 December, HMS Verulam, HMS Swift and HMS Obedient joined the convoy.

On 7 December HMS Venus, HMS Vigilant, HMS Savage, HMS Offa and HMS Opportune were detached from the convoy to proceed to Scapa Flow.

On 8 December the destroyer HMS Wrestler, corvettes HMS Borage, HMS Honeysuckle, HMS Wallflower and the minesweepers HMS Cockatrice (A/Lt.Cdr. C.W. Armstrong, RNR), HMS Loyalty (Lt.Cdr. James Edward Maltby, RNR), HMS Ready and Rattlesnake (Lt.Cdr. A.E. Coles, RD, RNR) departed Skaalefiord to join the convoy which they did on the 9th.

Also on the 9th, HMS Milne, HMS Mahratta, HMS Meteor, HMS Musketeer, HMS Verulam, HMS Scourge HNoMS Stord, HMS Swift, HMS Obedient, HMCS Huron and HMS Inconstant were detached to Scapa Flow.

On 10 February 1944, the convoy was split up off Cape Wrath with most of the ships arriving at their destinations the following day.

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Cover for convoy JW 56A and JW 56B was provided by ' Force 1 ' which was made up of the heavy cruisers HMS Kent ((Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral A.F.E. Palliser, CB, DSC, RN), HMS Berwick (Capt. H.J. Egerton, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN). They departed Akureyri on 23 January. HMS Berwick however returned later the same day due to defects.

On 28 January 1944, HMS Kent and HMS Bermuda returned to Akureyri.

On 3 February ' Force 1 ', including HMS Berwick which had completed repairs, departed Akureyri to cover convoy RA 56 between meridians 28'E and 5'E keeping to west of 15'E.

They patrolling in their assigned area from 5 to 7 February.

On 9 February 1944, ' Force 1 ' arrived at Scapa Flow. (33)

17 Mar 1944
HMS Thorough (Lt.Cdr. J.G. Hopkins, RN) and HMS Trenchant (Lt.Cdr. A.R. Hezlet, DSC, RN) both conducted A/S and attack exercises in the Clyde area with HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H. Lambton, RN) and HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr J.H. Eaden, DSC and Bar, RN). These included night exercises. (34)

27 Mar 1944

Convoy JW 58.

This convoy departed Loch Ewe on 27 March 1944 and arrived in the Kola Inlet on 4 April 1944.

On departure the convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Andrew Carnegie (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Arunah S. Abell (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Barbara Frietchie (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Benjamin H. Latrobe (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Benjamin Schlesinger (American, 7176 GRT, built 1944), Charles Gordon Curtis (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Charles Henderson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Dolabella (British, 8142 GRT, built 1939), Edward P. Alexander (American, 7201 GRT, built 1943), Empire Prowess (British, 7058 GRT, built 1943), Fort Columbia (British, 7155 GRT, built 1942), Fort Hall (British, 7157 GRT, built 1943), Fort Kullyspell (British, 7190 GRT, built 1943), Fort Vercheres (British, 7128 GRT, built 1942), Fort Yukon (British, 7153 GRT, built 1943), Francis Scott Key (American, 7191 GRT, built 1941), Francis Vigo (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), George Gale (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), George M. Cohan (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), George T. Angell (American, 7176 GRT, built 1944), Grace Abbott (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Hawkins Fudske (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Henry Villard (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), James Smith (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), John B. Lennon (American, 7198 GRT, built 1943), John Carver (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), John Davenport (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), John McDonogh (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Joseph N. Nocollet (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Joshua Thomas (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Joyce Kilmer (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Julien Poydras (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Lacklan (British, 8670 GRT, built 1929), Morris Hillquit (American, 7210 GRT, built 1944), Nicholas Biddle (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Noreg (Norwegian (tanker), 7605 GRT, built 1931), Pierre S. Dupont (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Thomas Sim Lee (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Townsend Harris (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), W.R. Grace (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), William D. Byron (American, 7210 GRT, built 1944), William Matson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), William McKinley (American, 7200 GRT, built 1943), William Moultrie (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), William Pepper (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943) and William S. Thayer (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943).

The rescue vessel Rathlin (British, 1600 GRT, built 1936) was also with the convoy.

On departure from Loch Ewe the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Westcott (Cdr.(Retd.) H. Lambton, RN), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt.Cdr. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr J.H. Eaden, DSC and Bar, RN), minesweepers Rattlesnake (Lt.Cdr. A.E. Coles, RD, RNR), Orestes (Lt.Cdr. A.W.R. Adams, RN), HMS Onyx (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.C.L. Gaussen, RNVR) and the corvettes HMS Bluebell (Lt. G.H. Walker, DSC, RNVR), HMS Honeysuckle (T/Lt. J.A. Wright, RNR), HMS Lotus (Lt. C.S. Thomas, RNR), HMS Rhododendron (T/Lt. O.B. Medley, RNVR) and HMS Starwort (Lt. A.H. Kent, RNR).

On 28 March 1944, the light cruisers HMS Diadem (Capt. E.G.A. Clifford, RN), i>USS Milwaukee (T/Capt. C.F. Fielding, USN), escort carriers HMS Activity (Capt. G. Willoughby, RN), HMS Tracker (A/Capt. J.H. Huntley, RN) and the destroyers HMS Venus (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson DSO, RN), HMS Scorpion (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN), HMS Serapis (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. S.V. Storheill) departed Scapa Flow to join the convoy which they did on 29 March.

The sloops HMS Starling (Capt. F.J. Walker, CB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Wild Goose (Lt.Cdr. D.E.G. Wemyss, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Whimbrel (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Moore, DSC, RNR), HMS Wren (Lt.Cdr. S.R.J. Woods, RNR) and HMS Magpie (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Abram, RN) departed Scapa Flow also on 28 March to join the convoy which they too did on 29 March.

On 29 March 1944, the destroyers HMS Saumarez (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), HMS Onslow (Capt. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.C.A. Ingram, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. P. Bekenn, RN), HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. N.R. Murch, RN), HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.W. Hawkins, RN), HMS Keppel (Cdr. I.J. Tyson, DSC, RD, RNR) and HMS Walker (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN) departed Skaalefiord, Iceland and joined the convoy.

On 29 March 1944, the German submarine U-961 was sunk near the convoy by HMS Starling.

Also on 29 March, two more merchant ships joined the convoy, these were the Gilbert Stuart (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943) and John T. Holt (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943) coming from Reykjavik, Iceland. The merchant vessel Eloy Alfaro (American, 7176 GRT, built 1944) had also sailed with them but had to return and proceeded to Seidisfjord before she could join the convoy due to ice damage. She arrived at Seidisfjord on the 30th. These ships were escorted by the frigate HMS Fitzroy (Lt. C.D.C. McNeil, RNVR) and the minesweepers HMS Chamois (T/A/Lt.Cdr. D.P. Richardson, RNVR) and HMS Chance (T/Lt. P.P. Lees, RNVR). These escorts did not join the convoy.

Also on 29 March the minesweepers HMS Rattlesnake, HMS Onyx, HMS Orestes and the corvette HMS Starwort parted company with the convoy. The minesweepers proceeded to Skaalefjord, Faeroer Islands arriving there later the same day. HMS Starwort proceeded to Londonderry arriving the on the 30th.

On 30 March four German shadowing aircraft were shot down by fighters from the escort carriers which themselves lost two aircraft.

On 31 March the German submarine U-673 was damaged by HMS Beagle and aircraft from HMS Tracker.

On 2 April two German shadowing aircraft were shot down by fighters from the escort carriers. Also the German submarine U-360 was sunk by Hedgehog attack from HMS Keppel.

On 3 April the German submarine U-288 was sunk by aircraft from the escort carriers.

ON 4 April, the convoy (39 ships) was split into two sections, one proceeded to the Kola Inlet arriving later the same day with the original escort. The other (with 10 ships), with a local escort which joined on this day to the White Sea where it arrived on the 6th. This local escort was made up of the Russian destroyers Gremyashchiy, Razumniy, Razyarenniy and Valerian Kyubishev.

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Distant cover for this convoy was provided by a battleforce known as ' Force 1 ', it departed Scapa Flow around 1200A/30 and was made up of the battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. B.B. Schofield, RN, flying the flag of Admiral B.A. Fraser, GCB, KBE, RN), HMS Anson (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO and Bar, RN flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. the Hon. A. Pleydell-Bouverie, RN), HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. P.B.N. Lewis, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski), HMCS Algonquin (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Piers, DSC, RCN) and HMCS Sioux (A/Lt.Cdr. E.E.G. Boak, RCN).

Around 0250A/31, the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, DSO, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RD, RNR) and HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN) joined coming from Skaalefjord, Faeroer Islands.

Around 0340A/31, the original destroyer screen were detached to Skaalefjord arriving there later the same day.

On 2 April ' Force 1 ' proceeded to join ' Force 2 ' coming from Scapa Flow for the upcoming Operation Tungsten. (33)

3 Jun 1944
The battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. R.O. Fitzroy, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Sirius (Capt. R.L.M. Edwards, CBE, RN) departed the Clyde for Portsmouth. They were assigned to the Eastern Task Force for the upcoming landings in Normandy as reserve bombandment ships. They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Westcott (Cdr.(Retd.) H. Lambton, RN) and frigate Riou (Lt. F.L. Boyer, RN).

On the 4th, when in the St.George's Channel these ships were informed that Operation Neptune was postponed 24 hours. Course was then reversed and when off Anglesey they kept steaming up and down. Late in the evening they were ordered to continue their passage southwards.

In the morning of the 6th, HMS Westcott parted company and the escort destroyer HMS Bleasdale (Cdr. H.M.S. Mundy, RN) joined.

The ships arrived in Spithead, near Portsmouth around 1930B/6. (35)

7 Jun 1944
Around 0215B/7, HMS Rodney (Capt. R.O. Fitzroy, RN), HMS Sirius (Capt. R.L.M. Edwards, CBE, RN), HMS Bleasdale (Cdr. H.M.S. Mundy, RN) and Riou (Lt. F.L. Boyer, RN) departed Spithead for the beaches ('Sword' and 'Juno' beaches).

At 1115B/7, HMS Rodney dropped anchor in position 49°22'25"N, 00°17'5"W (off Ouistreham, ' Sword ' beach).

At 1833B/7, HMS Rodney opened fire with her 16" main battery.

At 1856B/7, HMS Rodney opened fire with her starboard 6" battery.

Several more times fire was opened before fire was ceased at 2034B/7. The targets had been elements of the 12th SS Panzer Division 'Hitlerjugend' which were in fights with the Canadians to the north-west of Caen.

At 2135B/7, HMS Rodney weighted anchor and proceeded to the ' Juno ' night anchorage where she dropped anchor at 2300B/7. (35)

9 Jun 1944
At 0310B/9, HMS Rodney (Capt. R.O. Fitzroy, RN), opened fire with her 16" main battery. Fire was ceased 0350B/9. Target had been elements of the 21st SS Panzer Division.

At 0410B/9, fire was opened again with the 16" main battery. At 0450B/9 fire was ceased. Target was again the 21st SS Panzer Division.

At 0505B/9, HMS Rodney weighted anchor and got underway. She dropped anchor closer inshore at 0618B/9.

At 0903B/9, she opened fire with her port 6" battery. [unknown when fire was ceased.] The target had been a German troop concentration.

at 1102B/9, the port 6" battery again opened fire on a German troop concentration. [unknown when fire was ceased.]

At 1441B/9, fire was opened with the 16" main battery on the Houlgate shore battery. Fire was ceased at 1449B/9.

At 1514B/9, the port 6" battery opened fire. Fire was ceased at 1540B/9. The target had again been German troops.

At 1610B/9, HMS Rodney got underway only to drop anchor again 6 minutes later.

At 1635B/9, her port 6" battery again opened fire which was ceased at 1654B/9.

At 1657B/9, HMS Rodney weighted anchor again and got underway. Shorty afterwards she engaged German fighter aircraft with her AA guns.

At 1807B/9, HMS Rodney set course to departed the bombardment area for Milford Haven together with ORP Dragon (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz). They were escorted by the escort destroyer HMS Bleasdale (Cdr. H.M.S. Mundy, RN) and the frigate Riou (Lt. F.L. Boyer, RN). They arrived at Milford Haven to re-ammunition around 1600B/10. (35)

11 Jun 1944
Around 1200B/11, HMS Rodney (Capt. R.O. Fitzroy, RN) departed Milford Haven for Spithead. She was being escorted by HMS Bleasdale (Cdr. H.M.S. Mundy, RN) and Riou (Lt. F.L. Boyer, RN).

At 2058B/11, HMS Riou obtained an A/S contact and she dropped depth charges at 2100B/11. Another pattern of depth charges was dropped at 2110B/11. During these attacks HMS Riou sustained damage to her engines and she was detached to Plymouth for repairs.

HMS Rodney and HMS Bleasdale arrived at Spithead around 0800B/12. (35)

22 May 1945
HMS Safari (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.R.G. Harvey, RN) conducted attack exercises for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) in the Clyde area during which HMS Westcott (A/Lt.Cdr. E.P. Reade, DSC, RN) served as target. (36)

23 May 1945
HMS Tuna (Lt.Cdr. E.D. Norman, DSO, DSC, RN) conducted exercises in the Clyde area for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) with HMS Milford (Cdr.(Retd.) G.G. Slade, RN), HMS Westcott (A/Lt.Cdr. E.P. Reade, DSC, RN) and HMS Shikari (Lt. E.A. Tyrer, DSC, RN). serving as targets. These included night exercises during the night of 23/24 May. (37)

25 May 1945
HMS Safari (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.R.G. Harvey, RN) conducted attack exercises for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) in the Clyde area during which HMS Ravager (A/Capt. G.V.B. Faulkner, RN), HMS Westcott (A/Lt.Cdr. E.P. Reade, DSC, RN) and HMS Shikari (Lt. E.A. Tyrer, DSC, RN) served as targets. (36)

Media links


The Wheezers and Dodgers

Pawle, Gerald


amazon.co.uk
(£ 9.99)


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 173/15873
  2. ADM 173/16009
  3. ADM 199/382
  4. ADM 53/111431 + ADM 53/111432 + ADM 53/122339
  5. ADM 53/111432 + ADM 53/111963
  6. ADM 53/111432
  7. ADM 53/111410 + ADM 53/112280 + ADM 199/361 + ADM 199/376 + ADM 199/379
  8. ADM 53/113252
  9. ADM 53/113119
  10. ADM 53/112036 + ADM 53/111885 + ADM 53/112448
  11. ADM 53/111860 + ADM 199/381
  12. ADM 53/112148 + ADM 53/113123
  13. Pawle, Gerald (2009). Wheezers and Dodgers, The, Seaforth Publishing
  14. ADM 173/16742
  15. ADM 173/16793
  16. ADM 199/1138
  17. ADM 199/662
  18. ADM 53/115573 + ADM 53/116522
  19. ADM 53/115362 + ADM 53/115574 + ADM 53/115865 + ADM 199/662
  20. ADM 53/115574 + ADM 199/662
  21. ADM 53/115575 + ADM 53/115866 + ADM 199/662
  22. ADM 53/115471 + ADM 53/115575 + ADM 53/115866 + ADM 199/662
  23. ADM 234/353
  24. ADM 53/115576 + ADM 199/662
  25. ADM 199/651 + ADM 234/353
  26. ADM 53/116218 + ADM 199/647
  27. ADM 53/115408 + ADM 53/115579 + ADM 53/115967 + ADM 199/662
  28. ADM 173/17786
  29. ADM 199/632 + ADM 199/766
  30. ADM 199/632
  31. ADM 173/18129
  32. ADM 199/632 + ADM 234/343
  33. ADM 199/1427
  34. ADM 173/19007
  35. ADM 53/120411
  36. ADM 173/19532
  37. ADM 173/20058

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


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