Allied Warships

HMS Arrow (H 42)

Destroyer of the A class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassA 
PennantH 42 
Built byVickers Armstrong (Barrow-in-Furness,U.K.) 
Ordered6 Mar 1928 
Laid down20 Aug 1928 
Launched22 Aug 1929 
Commissioned14 Apr 1930 
End service 
History

HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. William Wentworth Fitzroy, RN) was heavily damaged in an accident in Algiers harbour on 4 August 1943. She was alongside the ammunition ship Fort la Monte when that vessel blew up. Arrow was beyond economical repair and was declared a constructive total loss. Later she was towed to Taranto, Italy where she was scrapped.

 

Commands listed for HMS Arrow (H 42)

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

CommanderFromTo
1Cdr. Herbert Wyndham Williams, RN23 Aug 19398 Jan 1941
2Cdr. Addison Joe Baker-Cresswell, RN8 Jan 1941Feb 1941

3Cdr. Richard Edmund Hyde-Smith, RN13 Mar 1941mid 1941

4Cdr. Alec Murray McKillop, RN24 Sep 194116 Mar 1943
5Lt.Cdr. William Wentworth Fitzroy, RN16 Mar 1943early 1944

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Notable events involving Arrow include:


8 Sep 1939
The aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN) conducted flying operations off Portland. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Arrow (Cdr. H.W. Williams, RN) and i>HMS Achates (Cdr. R.J. Gardner, RN). (1)

14 Jan 1940
Around noon, HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral S.S. Bonham-Carter, CVO, DSO, RN), departed Portsmouth for Halifax, Nova Scotia. She had on board £ 5 million of gold bullion.

She was being escorted by the destroyers HMS Achates (Cdr. R.J. Gardner, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) and HMS Arrow (Cdr. H.W. Williams, RN) until around 1630/15 when HMS Vanquisher (Lt.Cdr. C.B. Alers-Hankey, RN), HMS Viscount (Lt.Cdr. M.S. Townsend, RN) and HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. P.D.H.R. Pelly, RN) took over until around 1200/16. HMS Royal Sovereign then proceeded unescorted. (2)

19 Mar 1940
Around 1500A/19, the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) departed Spithead for Portland Bay. She is being escorted by the destroyers HMS Isis (Cdr. J.C. Clouston, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. H.W. Williams, RN) and HMS Shikari (Lt.Cdr. H.N.A. Richardson, RN).

At 1603A/19, HMS Shikari parted company.

At 1640A/19, HMS Arrow and HMS Isis parted company.

At 1934A/19, HMS Ark Royal passed the boom into Portland Bay. (3)

17 Apr 1940
Around 0830A/17, the light cruisers HMS Galatea (Capt. B.B. Schofield, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral G.F.B. Edward-Collins, CB, KCVO, RN) and HMS Arethusa (Capt. Q.D. Graham, RN), AA cruisers HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), HMS Curacoa (Capt. E.A. Aylmer, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Arrow (Cdr. H.W. Williams, RN) and HMS Acheron (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) departed Rosyth with troops for Åndalsnes and Molde, Norway.

Troops and equipment were landed during the night of 18/19 April. HMS Galatea and HMS Carlisle landed their troops directly at Åndalsnes while HMS Arethusa and HMS Curacoa landed theirs at Molde. The destroyers, after having landed their troops at Åndalsnes then ferried the troops landed at Molde to Åndalsnes.

HMS Galatea, HMS Aurora, HMS Arrow and HMS Acheron returned to Rosyth on the 20th. HMS Curacoa arrived at Scapa Flow also on the 20th. HMS Carlisle also on passage to Scapa Flow was ordered to return to Åndalsnes. (4)

21 Apr 1940
Around 1900A/21, the battleship HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN) departed Rosyth for Scapa Flow where she arrived around 0900A/22. During the passage she was escorted by the destroyers HMS Grafton (Cdr. C.E.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. H.W. Williams, RN) and HMS Acheron (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN). (5)

24 Apr 1940
HMS Manchester (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral G. Layton, CB, DSO, RN) departed Rosyth loaded with troops for Molde. Passage north was made with HMS York (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) and HMS Birmingham (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN) that were also loaded with troops but these were to be landed at Aandalsnes. Escort was provided by the destroyers HMS Acheron (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. H.W. Williams, RN) and HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN).

The cruisers disembarked their troops at their destinations in the evening of the 25th. (6)

31 May 1940
During the night of 31 May / 1 June 1940, the destroyers HMS Arrow (Cdr. H.W. Williams, RN), HMS Delight (Cdr. M. Fogg-Elliott, RN) and HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, DSO, RAN) embarked around 1500 troops at Bodø and took them to Harstad.

6 Jun 1940

Evacuation of the 'Narvik / Harstad / Tromso area'.

1st troop evacuation convoy from Harstad.

From 4 to 6 June 1940 the troopships Batory (Polish, 14287 GRT, built 1936), Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), Georgic (British, 27759 GRT, built 1932), Lancastria (British, 16243 GRT, built 1922), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931) and Sobieski (Polish, 11030 GRT, built 1939) embarked almost 15000 troops in the Andfiord, near Harstad, Norway. They did this one by one and they were then escorted out to sea by the destroyer HMS Arrow (Cdr. H.W. Williams, RN) and sloop HMS Stork (Cdr. A.C. Behague, RN).

On completion of the embarkation of the troops of the last ships they departed on 6 June 1940 from the assembly point escorted by the repair ship HMS Vindictive (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, RN).

They were joined shortly after midnight on the 8th by the battleship HMS Valiant (Capt. H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Tartar (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN) and HMS Ashanti (Cdr. W.G. Davis, RN). These additional escorts parted company with the convoy late in the evening of the 8th after the destroyers HMS Viscount (Lt.Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Wolverine (Cdr. R.H. Craske, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.T. White, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Atherstone (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, RN) had joined the convoy coming from Scapa Flow which they had departed around 2300/7.

The convoy arrived in the Clyde on 10 June 1940. (7)

7 Jun 1940

Evacuation of the 'Narvik / Harstad / Tromso area'.

1st Evacuation convoy from Harstad.

The merchant vessels Acrity (403 GRT, built 1934), Blackheath (4637 GRT, built 1936), Conch (8376 GRT (tanker), built 1931), Coxwold (1124 GRT, built 1938), Cromarty Firth (538 GRT, built 1937), Harmattan (4558 GRT, built 1930), Oligarch (6897 GRT (tanker), built 1918) and Theseus (6527 GRT, built 1908).

They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Arrow (Cdr. H.W. Williams, RN) and sloop HMS Stork (Cdr. A.C. Behague, RN). The destroyers HMS Veteran (Cdr. J.E. Broome, RN) and HMS Vanoc (Lt.Cdr. J.G.W. Deneys, RN) also briefly escorted the convoy but they were soon detached.

Later the destroyer HMS Walker (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN) joined the escort as did the heavy cruiser HMS Sussex (Capt. R.V. Symonds-Tayler, DSC, RN) and light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt. J. Figgins, RN).

The convoy arrived at Scapa Flow around 0500/14. It had been attacked by German aircraft on the 9th but no damage was sustained.

27 Jul 1940
In the early evening the battlecruisers HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), heavy cruisers HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN), HMS York (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN), light cruisers HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) escorted by destroyers HMS Ashanti (Cdr. W.G. Davis, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN), HMS Tartar (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSC, RN), HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO, RN), HMS Achates (Cdr. R.J. Gardner, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. N.J.V. Thew, RN) and HMS Arrow (Cdr. H.W. Williams, RN) sailed from Scapa Flow in response to reports that German battlecruiser Gneisenau was proceeding from Trondheim back to Germany but in fact this German battlecruiser was at that time already nearly back in Germany having left undetected earlier and the ships reported were in fact only merchant vessels.

At 0400/28, the destroyers HMS Maori (Cdr. H.T. Armstrong, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. J.S. Crawford, RN) joined the Force.

At 1800/28, HMS Devonshire was detached from the force to give cover to a convoy en-route from the Clyde to Iceland.

The force returned to Scapa Flow around 0630/29.

7 Oct 1940

Convoy WS 3 (Fast).

This convoy departed Liverpool and the Clyde on 7 October 1940. The convoy arrived at Suez on 16 November 1940.

The Liverpool section was made up of the troop transports; Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931) and Orontes (British, 20097 GRT, built 1929).

It was escorted by the destroyers HMS Douglas (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G. Crossley, RN) and HMCS St. Laurent (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN). HMCS St. Laurent however collided with a small merchant vessel very early on the 8th and had to return to Liverpool for repairs.

The Clyde section was made up of the transports; Capetown Castle (British, 27000 GRT, built 1938), Georgic (British, 27759 GRT, built 1932), Oronsay (British, 20043 GRT, built 1925) and Winchester Castle (British, 20012 GRT, built 1930).

It was escorted by the destroyers HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN) and HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Turner, RN).

At 0700/8, the Clyde section was joined by the destroyers HMS Arrow (Cdr. H.W. Williams, RN), HMS Achates (Lt.Cdr. Viscount Jocelyn, RN) and HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN) which came from Londonderry.

At 1012/8, a large enemy bomber was seen to approach the Capetown Castle off the Clyde section and dropped a bomb which missed.

At 1050/8, HMCS Ottawa and HMS Active were ordered to close the Oronsay which had been damaged by air attack and needed assistance. HMS Active however misunderstood the order and remained with the convoy. Meanwhile the Oronsay had dropped out of the convoy.

At 1152/8, HMS Arrow joined the damaged Oronsay as well.

Around 1400/8, the armed merchant cruisers HMS Cheshire (Capt.(Retd.) M.R. Bernard, RN) and HMS Salopian (Capt.(Retd.) J.M. Alleyne, DSO, DSC, RN) also arrived on the scene. HMS Salopian later departed to continue her patrol. HMS Cheshire remained with Oronsay and the two destroyers.

At 1440/8, Oronsay got underway at slow speed and was able to increase speed to 9 knots.

At 1520/8, the ships that were with the Oronsay sighted the Liverpool section of the convoy which apparently had been delayed by bad weather conditions and therefore unable to have joined up with the Clyde section as had been intended. HMS Douglas, one of the escorting destroyers of the Liverpool section had been unable to keep up with it due to the weather conditions now joined the Oronsay group.

At 1900/8, the destroyers HMS Verity (Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN) and HMS Sabre (Cdr.(Retd.) B. Dean, RN) joined.

The destroyer HMS Viscount (Lt.Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC, RN) also joined but it is unknown when.

At 2115/8, the AA cruiser HMS Cairo (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) joined.

At 0205/9, HMS Arrow and HMCS Ottawa parted company with Oromsay and the other escorts to proceed to Londonderry.

Around 1030/9, the damaged Oronsay escorted by HMS Cairo, HMS Cheshire, HMS Douglas, HMS Verity, HMS Viscount and HMS Sabre arrived at Greenock.

Meanwhile the Clyde section had continued on escorted by HMS Whitehall, HMS Achates and HMS Active. As did the Liverpool section but apparently unescorted. They had failed to make rendezvous with each other in the heavy weather.

Around 1215/9, the Clyde section was joined by the light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN). It seems that at this time the destroyers were no longer present.

At noon on the 12th the Clyde section, with HMS Kenya was finally joined by the Liverpool section of the convoy.

The convoy arrived at Freetown in the afternoon of October 18th.

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The convoy departed Freetown on 20 October 1940 and was made up of the Capetown Castle, Duchess of York, Georgic, Monarch of Bermuda, Orontes and Winchester Castle.

The convoy was escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN).

The convoy arrived at Capetown on 28 October 1940. HMS Dorsetshire then proceeded to Simonstown where she arrived also on the same day.

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On 30 October the convoy, now made up of the Duchess of York, Georgic, Monarch of Bermuda and Orontes departed Capetown for Suez. They were escorted by HMS Dorsetshire.

In the morning of 3 November the convoy overtook and then merged with the slow section of convoy WS 3 which was made up of the transports Dorset (British, 10624 GRT, built 1934), Erinpura (British, 5143 GRT, built 1911), Highland Brigade (British, 14134 GRT, built 1929), Khedive Ismael (British, 7290 GRT, built 1922), Oropesa (British, 14118 GRT, built 1920), Perthshire (British, 10496 GRT, built 1936) and Port Chalmers (British, 8535 GRT, built 1933) and their escort the armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage (Capt.(Retd.) B.O. Bell-Salter, RN).

Shortly before noon the Erinpura and Khedive Ismael split off from the convoy and set course for Mombasa escorted by HMS Carthage. HMS Dorsetshire continued on with the remainder of the convoy towards Suez.

In the morning of November 11th, the light cruiser HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clarke, RN) joined the convoy at the entrance to the Gulf of Aden.

The transport City of Lille (British, 6588 GRT, built 1928) and several more escort vessels, the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), destroyer HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, RN), sloops HMS Auckland (Cdr. J.G. Hewitt, DSO, RN) and HMAS Parramatta (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Walker, MVO, RAN) joined on 12 November 1940 for the passage through the Red Sea in which the Italian Navy was still active at this time.

The troopships Duchess of York and Georgic also re-joined the convoy after a brief visit to Aden. HMS Caledon also briefly left the convoy to oil at Aden before re-joining it.

Around 2130/12, the convoy entered the Perim Strait.

HMS Dorsetshire parted company with the convoy at 0915/14.

The convoy arrived at Suez on 16 November 1940. (8)

19 Mar 1941
The battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN) escorted by the destoyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. R.E. Hyde-Smith, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. C.H.deB. Newby, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN), HMS Electra (Cdr. C.W. May, RN) and HMS Eskimo (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN) departed Scapa Flow at 0515/19. At 0630 hours they were joined at sea by the battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. R. Kerr, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN) which had departed Rosyth the previous afternoon. The destroyer HMAS Nestor (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) and the escort destroyers HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN) and HMS Whaddon (Lt.Cdr. P.G. Merriman, RN), which had been escorting HMS Hood then proceeded to Scapa Flow.

The ships then proceeded to the area to the south of Iceland where they were to join the battleship HMS Nelson and her escorting destroyers which is already patrolling there to intercept the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau if they were trying to return to Germany.

23 Mar 1941
Battleship HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN) and her escorting destroyers; HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Boadicea (A/Cdr. E.C.L. Turner, RN) and HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow around 0030 hours.

Battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. R. Kerr, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN), battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN) and their escorting destoyers; HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. C.H.deB. Newby, RN), HMS Electra (Cdr. C.W. May, RN) and HMS Eskimo (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow around 0700 hours.

Destroyers HMS Arrow (Cdr. R.E. Hyde-Smith, RN) and HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN), which had been detached by the Hood force, first had to proceed to Lough Foyle to refuel, after which they departed that place for Scapa Flow arriving around 1145 and 1900 hours, respectively.

25 Mar 1941

Convoy WS 7.

This convoy was assembled off Oversay on 25 March 1941 for several destinations in the Middle and Far East.

This convoy was made up of the following troopships / transports; Andes (British, 25689 GRT, built 1939), Dempo (Dutch, 17024 GRT, built 1931), Denbighshire (British, 8983 GRT, built 1938), Duchess of Atholl (British, 20119 GRT, built 1928), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Empress of Canada (British, 21517 GRT, built 1922), Georgic (British, 27759 GRT, built 1932), Glenorchy (British, 8982 GRT, built 1939), Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (Dutch, 19429 GRT, built 1930), Orcades (British, 23456 GRT, built 1937), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Pasteur (British, 29253 GRT, built 1938), Stirling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936), Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932), Strathallan (British, 23722 GRT, built 1938), Stratheden (British, 23722 GRT, built 1937), Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935), Strathnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931), Viceroy of India (British, 19627 GRT, built 1929) and Warwick Castle (British, 20107 GRT, built 1930).

These ships had come from Liverpool and from the Clyde. While proceeding to the Oversay rendezvous (from the Clyde) the Strathaird collided with the Stirling Castle and was forced to return due to the damage sustained. The Stirling Castle also had damage but was able to continue.

On departure from the U.K. waters the convoy was escorted by the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN) (came from Scapa Flow), HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) (came from the Clyde), light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Commodore C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN) (came from the Clyde), AA cruiser HMS Cairo (A/Capt. I.R.H. Black, RN) (came from Moelfre Bay) and the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, DSO, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski), HMS Broadwater (Lt.Cdr. W.M.L. Astwood, RN) (these destroyers came with the Clyde section of the convoy), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, RN) (came with the Liverpool section of the convoy), HMS Viceroy (Lt.Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Rockingham (Lt. A.H.T. Johns, RN), Léopard (Lt.Cdr. J. Evenou) (came from Londonderry), HMS Arrow (Cdr. R.E. Hyde-Smith, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN), HMS Eskimo (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN) (had come from Scapa Flow with HMS Nelson) and HMCS St. Clair (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Wallace, RCNR) (came from Tobermory).

Around 2150A/26, HMS Cairo parted company with the convoy.

In the morning of the 27th part of the destroyer escort parted company.

Around 1200A/28, the remaining destroyers parted company with the convoy.

Around 1230A/28, HMS Revenge parted company taking Georgic with her to escort her to Halifax.

Around 2200A/29, HMS Edinburgh parted company with the convoy to proceed to Gibraltar.

Around 1000A/1, the destroyers HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN) and HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN) joined the convoy coming from Bathurst.

Around 1350A/2, the destroyers HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN) and HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN) joined the convoy also coming from Bathurst.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 4 April 1941.

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The convoy departed Freetown for South Africa (Capetown and Durban) on 7 April 1941. The composition of the convoy was the same in which it had arrived at Freetown.

Escort on departure was also the same as on the convoy's arrival, battleship HMS Nelson, HMS Foxhound, HMS Duncan, HMS Wishart and HMS Vidette.

In the evening of April 7th, HMS Foxhound, picked up three crewmembers from the merchant vessel Umona that had been torpedoed and sunk on 30 March 1941 by the German submarine U-124.

At 0830Z/8 HMS Foxhound parted company with the convoy to return to Freetown due to defects.

The remaining three destroyers parted company at 1800Z/9 to return to Freetown.

Around 1430B/15, the light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt. E.A. Aylmer, DSC, RN) joined the convoy in position 30°30'S, 14°23'E and took over the escort. HMS Nelson then parted company to proceed to Capetown to fuel and then on to Simonstown for repairs to her leaking hull.

At 0900B/16, the convoy split up in position 33°53'S, 17°47'E in a Capetown portion and a Durban portion.

The Durban position was made up of the Denbighshire, Glenorchy, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Orontes, Otranto, Stirling Castle, Strathnaver, Viceroy of India and Warwick Castle. HMS Newcastle remained with this section until its arrival at Durban on 19 April 1941.

The remaining ships made up the Capetown section and arrived there on 16 April 1941. Dempo later went on independently to Durban arriving there on 20 April 1941.

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On 20 April 1941 the Capetown portion of the convoy departed. It was made up of the Andes, Duchess of Athol, Duchess of York, Empress of Canada, Orcades, Orion, Pasteur, Strathallan, Stratheden, and Strathmore. They were escorted by the cruiser HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN).

On 23 April 1941 the Durban portion of the convoy departed. It was made up of the Dempo, Denbighshire, Empress of Australia, Glenorchy, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Orontes, Otranto, Strathnaver, Viceroy of India and Warwick Castle. They were escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage (Capt. (retired) H.L.I. Kirkpatrick, OBE, RN). The Stirling Castle which had arrived with the Durban section sailed on 26 April indepedently to Melbourne, Australia where she arrived on 10 May 1941.

These groups made rendezvous at 0900C/24 after which HMS Carthage parted company while HMS Hawkins continued on with the convoy.

Around 1600C/28, HMS Hawkins was relieved by the light cruisers HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, RN) and HMS Colombo (Capt. C.A.E. Stanfield, RN) which both had departed Mombasa earlier that day.

On 1 May the Bombay section of the convoy split off. it was made up of the Duchess of York, Johan van Oldebarnevelt, Strathmore and Warwick Castle. HMS Colombo went with them as escort. They arrived at Bombay on 5 May 1941.

The remainder of the convoy continued on, escorted by HMS Glasgow until it was dispersed on 3 May after which the ships proceeded independently to Suez. (9)

6 Apr 1941
As the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau are thought to have left Brest the battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. R. Kerr, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN) departed Scapa Flow to proceed to position 54°00'N, 15°30'W (west of Ireland) in which she was to arrive around dawn on the 8th. She was being escorted by the destoyers HMS Arrow (Cdr. R.E. Hyde-Smith, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. H.T. Armstrong, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN).

The light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, RN) had been ordered to operate near HMS Hood but she did not join her. She was first sighted at 1240A/9.

HMS Arrow was detached to refuel at Londonderry at 2340A/8. After fuelling she departed Londonderry around 1415A/10 to rejoin which she did at 0730A/12.

HMS Maori and HMS Zulu were detached to refuel at Londonderry at 2000A/10. After fuelling they departed Londonderry around 0845A/12 to rejoin which they did around 0845A/13.

Around 0730A/11, HMS Hood was joined at sea at by the destroyer HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, DSO and Bar, RN) which came from Londonderry.

HMS Hood escorted by HMS Cossack, HMS Maori and HMS Zulu returned to Scapa Flow around 2100A/14. HMS Arrow arrived at 0630/15. She had been detached at 2045A/13 as she had been unable to keep up.

HMS Kenya also arrived at Scapa Flow on the 14th. (10)

18 Apr 1941
HMS Prince of Wales (Capt. J.C. Leach, MVO, RN) conducted gunnery exercises and RD/F trials to the west of Scapa Flow together with HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, RN). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. R.E. Hyde-Smith, RN) and HMS Achates (Lt.Cdr. Viscount Jocelyn, RN). When HMS Hermione left at 1102 hours, HMS Achates took over the duty as 'target ship'. (11)

25 Apr 1941
HMS Prince of Wales (Capt. J.C. Leach, MVO, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Arrow (Cdr. R.E. Hyde-Smith, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN) and HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. C.H.deB. Newby, RN). Prince of Wales also served briefly as target during gunnery exercises of the cruiser HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN). (11)

21 Nov 1941
With her refit completed HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN) conducted D/G trials off Rosyth. On completion of these trials she departed for Scapa Flow escorted by the destroyers HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN), HMS Vimiera (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RNR) and HMS Wallace (Lt.Cdr.(Emy.) E.G. Heywood-Lonsdale, RN). (12)

22 Nov 1941
HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN), HMS Vimiera (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RNR) and HMS Wallace (Lt.Cdr.(Emy.) E.G. Heywood-Lonsdale, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow. (12)

8 Dec 1941
Around 1500/8, the light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyer HMS Maori (Cdr R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN) and HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN) departed Gibraltar to intercept a reported convoy, most likely Vichy French, near Malaga, Spain.

At sea they were to join the destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) that were already to the east of Gibraltar on an A/S hunt.

All ships were ordered to return to Gibraltar at 0800/9. The reported convoy had not been sighted. Soon afterwards however HMS Laforey, HMS Blankney and HMS Exmoor were ordered to proceed to position 36°35'N, 07°35'W (to the west-north-west of Gibraltar) where three submarines had been reported by an aircraft. (13)

9 Dec 1941
At 0845 hours, HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) both arrived at Gibraltar from A/S patrol.

20 Dec 1941
At 0900 hours, the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, RAN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN) departed Gibraltar for exercies. They returned to harbour at 1800 hours. During the exercises one Fulmar aircraft, while making a simulated dive bomb attack on a destroyer, crashed into the sea. The pilot was killed. (13)

26 Dec 1941

Convoy ME 8

This convoy departed Malta on 26 December 1941 for Alexandria where it arrived on 29 December 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following transports; Ajax (7797 GRT, built 1931), City of Calcutta (8063 GRT, built 1940), Clan Ferguson (7347 GRT, built 1938) and Sydney Star (11095 GRT, built 1936).

Escort was provided by the light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. S.L. Bateson, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN) and the destroyers HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN) and HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, RAN).

On the same day the light (AA) cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. D.M.L. Neame, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Maori (Cdr. R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) departed Alexandria. They were to make rendez-vous with the convoy on the 27th but due to bad weather rendez-vous was only made in the morning of the 28th. By then the Dutch destroyer HrMs Isaac Sweers had already left the force on the 27th to return to Alexandria due to weather damage. She arrived at Alexandria on the 28th.

When the two groups met HMS Lance and HMS Lively split off and returned to Malta where they arrived on the 29th.

During the 28th the convoy was attacked several times by German Ju.88’s and Italian torpedo aircraft. The destroyer HMS Maori was damaged by near-misses. There were also some casualties amongst her crew.

The convoy and it’s escort arrived at Alexandria on the 29th less the transport Sydney Star which proceeded to Port Said escorted by HMAS Nizam. The destroyer then arrived at Alexandria on the 30th. (14)

16 Jan 1942

Operation MF 3.

Two convoy’s (MW 8A and MW 8B) departed Alexandria on 16 January 1942 for Malta where they arrived on 19 January 1942.

Convoy MW 8A was made up of the transports Ajax (7540 GRT, built 1931) and Thermopylae (Norwegian, 6655 GRT, built 1930). Escort was provided by the light (AA) cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. D.M.L. Neame, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt. N.H.G. Austen, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN). This convoy departed Alexandria around 0830B/16.

Convoy MW 8B was made up of the transports City of Calcutta (8063 GRT, built 1940) and Clan Ferguson (7347 GRT, built 1938). Escort was provided by the destroyers HMS Maori (Cdr R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, DSC, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN). This convoy, which had a higher speed, 14 instead of 12 knots, then convoy MW 8A, departed Alexandria around 1530B/16.

Both convoys were to converge later but they were delayed by heavy weather.

Cover for the convoy was provided by ‘Force B’ made up of the light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. G. Grantham, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN) and HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN). This force was due to sail at 2359B/16. However when they left the harbour Alexandria was struck suddenly by very bad weather resulting in HMS Kingston and HMS Foxhound colliding with each other causing serious damage to both ships and they were unable to proceed. HMS Hotspur then fouled a propeller and was also unable to proceed. HMS Dido was delayed for a few hours and sailed only around 0545B/17 while the remaining ships had departed around 0240B/17.

HMS Gurkha, escorting convoy MW 8B, was torpedoed at 0740B/17 by the German U-boat U-133 in position 31°50'N, 26°15'E. She was towed clear of the burning oil by HrMs Isaac Sweers which managed to rescue 240 survivors. Only 9 of the crew of the Gurkha lost their lives. While rescueing the crew of the Gurkha, HMS Maori screened them and hunted the attacker but she was unable to obtain contact. HMS Gurkha sank at 0917B/17. HrMs Isaac Sweers and HMS Maori then rejoined convoy MW 8B at 1125 hours. HrMs Isaac Sweers was detached at 1540B/17 to land the survivors at Tobruk where she arrived around 1745B17 and already left again around 1830B/17. She rejoined the convoy the following day around 0200B/18.

’Force K’, made up of the light cruiser HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN) and the destroyers HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, DSC, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSO, DSC, RN), left Malta around 1900B/17 to make rendez-vous with the convoy on the morning of the 18th.

Both convoy and ’Force B’ eventually joined up at 1100B/18. ‘Force K’ made contact at 1315B/18 and the convoy then proceeded westwards. There were a number of attacks by single German Ju-88 aircraft during the day but without damage to any of the ships.

Before ‘Force K ‘had joined the transport Thermopylae was detached at 1130B/18 due to engine defects and was ordered to proceed to Benghazi escorted by HMS Carlisle, HMS Arrow and HMS Havock. She was later able to make 13 knots and was then ordered to return to Alexandria.

At 1930 hours on the 18th, air reconnaissance had not sighted any enemy warships so HMS Naiad, HMS Euryalus, HMS Dido, HMS Griffin, Kelvin, HMS Kipling, HMS Hero, HMS Hasty, HrMs Isaac Sweers and HMS Jaguar set course to return to Alexandria. HMS Maori joined ‘Force K’ vice HMS Jaguar and HMS Legion also proceeded to Malta as she was to dock there. At daylight on the 19th HMS Hero and HMS Hasty were detached to join the ships escorting the Thermopylae.

However at 0945B/19 the Thermopylae was hit by two bombs in the engine room during a bombing attack by a single German JU-88 pressed right home. The ship caught fire and could not be saved. She was eventually scuttled at 1153B/19 in position 33°02'N, 24°16'E by a torpedo from HMS Havock.

The remaining ships of the convoy arrived safely at Malta around 1530B/19. Heavy enemy air attacks having been held off by effective fighter protection.

’Force B’ had also been attacked on the way back to Alexandria by single German JU-88’s. The only damage done was to HMS Naiad by a near-miss. In the afternoon of the 19th, HMS Kelvin was detached and ordered to proceed to Tobruk to pick up the survivors from HMS Gurkha and take them to Alexandria.

The first ships to return to Alexandria were the ones from ‘Force B’. They arrived around 0830B/20. HMS Carlisle, HMS Arrow, HMS Havock, HMS Hasty and HMS Hero arrived shortly afterwards as did HMS Kelvin later on the day with the survivors of HMS Gurkha. (15)

24 Jan 1942

Operation MF 4.

The passage of HMS Breconshire from Alexandria to Malta from 24 to 27 January and the passage of convoy ME 9 from Malta to Alexandria from 25 to 28 January 1942.

In the morning on of 24 January 1942, HMS Breconshire (9776 GRT, built 1939) departed Alexandria with stores for Malta. Escort was provided by ‘Force B’ which was made up of the light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. G. Grantham, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), HMS Carlisle (Capt. D.M.L. Neame, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A,M. McKillop, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt. N.H.G. Austen, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, DSO, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN), HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN) and HMS Kingston (Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN). HMS Kingston was to proceed to Malta for docking and repairs.

In the morning of 25 January 1942, convoy ME 9 departed Malta for Alexandria. This convoy was made up of the transports HMS Glengyle (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.H. Petrie, DSO and Bar, RN) (9919 GRT, built 1939) and Rowallan Castle (7801 GRT, built 1939). Escort was provided by ‘Force K’ which was made up of the light cruiser HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN) and the destroyers HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, DSC, RN) and HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN). 'Force K' had departed Malta around 1930B/25.

On the 25th HMS Breconshire and ‘Force B’ were shadowed by enemy aircraft. They were attacked by eight German JU-88 bombers between 1445 and 1520 hours. No ships were seriously damaged. HrMs Isaac Sweers sustained six near misses causing the Asdic and Gyro compass to be out of action for a few hours. Two JU-88’s are thought to have been shot down during the attacks. The enemy aircraft are thought to have been damaged.

At noon on the 26h both forces made rendez-vous. ‘Force B’ then turned back with the ships of convoy ME 9 while ‘Force K’ took over HMS Breconshire. Also HMS Lance joined ‘Force B’ vice HMS Kingston.

’Force K’ was bombed during the afternoon and both ‘Force B’ and ‘Force K’ were attacked during the afternoon by enemy torpedo bombers. No ships were damaged although HrMs Isaac Sweers was missed by a few hundred yards by a torpedo down the starboard side.

’Force K’ and HMS Breconshire arrived at Malta around 1000B/27.

’Force B’ and convoy ME 9 arrived at Alexandria around 1100B/28. (15)

4 Feb 1942
The destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, DSO, RN), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Havock (Lt.Cdr. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and escort destroyers HMS Heythrop (Lt.Cdr R.S. Stafford, RN) and HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, RN) departed Alexandria to conduct an A/S sweep to the westwards together with aircraft. When near Tobruk the escort destroyers were to be detached to escort a convoy from Tobruk to Alexandria. (15)

5 Feb 1942
The destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, DSO, RN), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Havock (Lt.Cdr. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) were still at sea conducting an A/S sweep.

At 0630/5, in position 32°07'N, 25°35'E which is north-north-west of Sidi Barani, HMS Jaguar sighted an enemy submarine on the surface which quickly dived. HMS Jaguar dropped depth charges but the submarine, which was the German U-73, was able to escape.

Later in the day, shortly before 0900 hours HMS Kelvin and HMS Lance also attacked a firm contact. This was the German submarine U-375, which was damaged and had to abort her patrol. Earlier on the day, at 0427 hours U-375 had fired four torpedoes at two destroyers but missed. [No mention can be found in British records so the attack was most likely not observed.]

In the evening, at 2239 hours, a Sunderland from 815 Squadron/FAA attacked an enemy submarine in position 32°07'N, 25°10'E. This was the German submarine U-81 but she was not damaged. (15)

6 Feb 1942
The destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, DSO, RN), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Havock (Lt.Cdr. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) returned to Alexandria on completion of their A/S sweep. (15)

12 Feb 1942

Operation MF 5.

Passage convoy MW 9A and MW 9B from Alexandria to Malta and passage of convoy ME 10 from Malta to Alexandria / Port Said.

Timespan: 12 to 16 February 1942.

Convoy MW 9A made up of the transports Clan Campbell (British, 7255 GRT, built 1937) and Clan Chattan (British, 7262 GRT, built 1937) departed Alexandria around 1600B/12. Close escort was provided by the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. D.M.L. Neame, DSO, RN), destroyer HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, DSC, RN) and HMS Heythrop (Lt.Cdr R.S. Stafford, RN).

Convoy MW 9B made up of the transport Rowallan Castle (British, 7801 GRT, built 1939) and Clan Chattan (British, 7262 GRT, built 1937) departed Alexandria around 1700B/12. Close escort was provided by the escort destroyers HMS Beaufort (Lt.Cdr. S.O’G Roche, RN), HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN), HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, RN) and HMS Southwold (Cdr. C.T. Jellicoe, DSC, RN).

A cover force (Force B) for these convoys departed Alexandria around 0200B/13 and was made up of the light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. G. Grantham, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Alliston, DSO, RN), HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt. N.H.G. Austen, RN), HMS Havock (Lt.Cdr. G.R.G. Watkins, DSC, RN) and HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN).

At 1730B/13, the transport Clan Campbell was damaged by bombing in position 32.22’N, 24.22’E and detached to Tobruk escorted by HMS Avon Vale and HMS Eridge. The escort destroyer were ordered to rejoin the convoy as soon as possible.

Convoy MB 9B was attacked from the air but no damage was sustained.

The cover force (Force B) was also attacked by enemy bombers at dusk but no damage was sustained by any of the ships.

After dark on 13 February, convoy ME 10, made up of the transports Ajax (British, 7540 GRT, built 1931), HMS Breconshire (British, GRT, built ), City of Calcutta (British, 8063 GRT, built 1940) and Clan Ferguson (British, 7347 GRT, built 1938) departed Malta for Alexandria / Port Said. Close cover was provided by Force K made up of the light cruiser HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN) and the destroyers HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, DSC, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, DSC, RN), HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN) and HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) which had departed Malta around 1945B/13.

At 0700B/14, convoy MW 9A, convoy MW 9B and Force B joined. They were shadowed throughout the day. High level and dive bombing attacks started at 1345 and continued until 1600 hours. The transport Clan Chatten was hit and badly damaged in position 35°01’N, 20°11’E. She was later scuttled by our own forces after all crew and passengers had been taken off.

Force K and convoy ME 10 was met at 1440B/14 hours. HMS Lance then joined Force K while HMS Fortune and HMS Decoy from Force K, which had just completed repairs at Malta (she had undocked on 11 February), joined Force B. Force K then turned back to Malta escorting Rowallan Castle.

Both forces continued to be attacked by enemy aircraft and at 1515B/14 Rowallan Castle was near missed in position 35°34’N, 19°40’E. Her engines were disabled and she was taken in tow by HMS Zulu but she could not make sufficient speed to reach Malta safely and the transport had to be sunk which was done at 1956B/14.

HMS Penelope, HMS Lance and HMS Lively were ordered to continue to Malta where they arrived around 0800B/15, while HMS Sikh, HMS Zulu and HMS Legion were ordered to join Force B.

Meanwhile two ships of the close escort of convoy ME 10, HMS Carlisle and HMS Eridge had sustained some minor damage in enemy air attacks in the afternoon of the 14th.

Force B and convoy ME 10 were bombed throughout the day on the 15th by single aircraft but no damage was done to any of the ships.

During the day, HMS Beaufort, HMS Dulverton, HMS Hurworth and HMS Southwold were detached to Tobruk. They left there around 1830B/15 escorting the damaged transport Clan Campbell back to Alexandria.

Light cruisers HMS Naiad, HMS Dido, HMS Euryalus, destroyers HMS Sikh, HMS Zulu, HMS Legion, HMS Hasty, HMS Havock, Griffin, HMS Decoy, HMS Arrow and the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale, HMS Eridge and HMS Heythrop arrived at Alexandria around 0130B/16 with the transport HMS Breconshire.

The transports Ajax, City of Calcutta and Clan Ferguson continued on to Port Said escorted by the destroyers HMS Jervis, HMS Jaguar, HMS Kelvin, HMS Kipling and HMS Fortune. They arrived at Port Said P.M. on the 16th. HMS Kelvin, HMS Jaguar and HMS Fortune then immediately proceeded to Alexandria (arriving on February, 17th), while HMS Jervis and HMS Kipling remained at Port Said.

The damaged transport Clan Campbell and the escort destroyers HMS Beaufort, HMS Dulverton, HMS Hurworth and HMS Southwold arrived at Alexandria P.M. on the 16th coming from Tobruk. (15)

23 Mar 1942
Around 0800 hours, HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), departed Colombo to run over the DG range. Upon completion of her DG trials she set course for Addu Atoll. She is escorted by the destroyers HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN).

Around 1340 hours, the destroyer HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN) joined.

Around 1450 hours, HMS Arrow parted company.

Around 1700 hours, HMS Ramillies (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN) and her escorting destroyers, HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN). These ships were coming from Trincomalee joined company. (16)

29 Mar 1942

Operations by the Eastern Fleet from 29 March to 13 April 1942.
Enemy air attacks on Colombo and later Trincomalee and the loss of HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall on 5 April 1942 and HMS Hermes, HMAS Vampire on 9 April 1942.

Dispositions of the Eastern Fleet on 29 March 1942.

On 29 March 1942 the disposition of the Eastern Fleet was as follows;
At Colombo:
Aircraft Carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), heavy cruisers HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN) (refitting) and HMS Cornwall (Capt. P.C.W. Manwaring, RN), light cruisers HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C.A. Annesley, DSO, RN), HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN) and HMS Caledon (A/Capt. H.J. Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN), the destroyers HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.D. Pugsley, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, DSO and Bar, RAN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HMS Express (Lt.Cdr. F.J. Cartwright, RN).

At Trincomalee:
The flagship of the Eastern Fleet, the battleship HMS Warspite (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN), the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes (Capt. R.F.J. Onslow, DSC, MVO, RN), light cruisers HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) and HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN), the destroyer HMAS Vampire (Cdr. W.T.A. Moran, RAN). HMS Warspite departed Trincomalee this day and arrived at Colombo in the evening.

At Addu Atoll;
The battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN , flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN, second in command Eastern Fleet), HMS Ramillies (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral D.W. Boyd, CBE, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, DSO, RN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN), HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN).

The Japanese had been operating in the Indian Ocean in early March and more attacks were expected in this area by the Allies. The most likely target would be the island of Ceylon and the harbours of Colombo and Trincomalee.

30 and 31 March 1942.

Planning

Admiral Somerville therefore planned to concentrate the Eastern Fleet on the late afternoon / early evening of 31 March 1942 in position 04°40’N, 81°00’E. The fleet would then be divided in two groups; Force A (the fast division) was made up of the flagships, battleship HMS Warspite, both fleet carriers, HMS Indomitable and HMS Formidable. They were escorted by the cruisers HMS Cornwall, HMS Enterprise, HMS Emerald and six destroyers; HMAS Napier, HMAS Nestor, HMS Paladin, HMS Panther, HMS Hotspur and HMS Foxhound. This force would try to intercept the enemy and deliver a night air attack on the enemy with their carriers as the main target.

Force A would be covered by the slower Force B which was made up of the battleships HMS Resolution, HMS Ramillies, HMS Royal Sovereign and the light carrier HMS Hermes. Escort to these ships was proviced by the cruisers HMS Dragon, HMS Caledon, HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck and a total of eight destroyers HMS Griffin, HMS Decoy, HMAS Norman, HMS Fortune, HrMs Isaac Sweers, HMS Arrow and one of the old destroyers that had managed to escape from the China station also joined, this was HMS Scout (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H. Lambton, RN). They were to remain about 20 nautical miles to the west of Force A. If Force A encountered a superior enemy force the would withdraw towards Force B.

At 1400/30 the ships mentioned earlier at the top of this article departed Colombo. HMS Hotspur and HMAS Nestor carried out an A/S sweep of the searched channel before Force A sailed.

By 1600/31 the fleet had made the pre-arranged rendez-vous and formed up. It then proceeded northwards. After dark, to avoid detection from the air by the enemy, Force A altered course to 080° and proceeded at 15 knots until about 0230 hours when it was thought they would be in the estimated position from where the enemy would fly off their aircraft for the expected attack on Ceylon. If nothing was sighted or located by 0230/1, Force A was to turn back to the south-west and to withdraw outside the enemy’s air search area. Force B was to act as a supporting force for Force A, keeping 20 miles to the west of it and confirming to the movements of Force A through the night. This procedure was carried out as planned during the night of 31 March / 1 April but nothing was seen or located.

In the late afternoon / early evening of 31 March HMS Indomitable briefly separated from the fleet for flying operations during which she was escorted by HMS Emerald. From 2100/31 to 0600/1 a search was carried out, to a depth of 120 miles from 050° to 110°, by three A.S.V. fitted Albacores from HMS Formidable. Also two Albacores fitted with long-range tanks were kept standing by for shadowing purposes if required. One of the Albacores crash landed on HMS Formidable upon return at 0340/1.

1 April 1942.

At 0940 hours HMS Decoy reported the breakdown of her main feed pumps. She was detached to Colombo to effect repairs.

Around noon several of the destroyers reported submerged contacts. HMS Scout reported sighting a periscope. The fleet took avoiding action in each case, but nothing further transpired from these contact which are now considered to be non-sub.

At 1400 hours, HMS Scout, one of the oldest destroyers of the Royal Navy with a short enducance, was detached to oil at sea from RFA Appleleaf (5892 GRT, built 1917, Master E. Mills) in position 04°00’N, 80°00’E. Upon completion of oiling HMS Scout was to proceed to position 05°40’N, 81°08’E by 0800/2. RFA Appleleaf and her escort, HMS Shoreham (Cdr. E. Hewitt, RD, RNR), were to proceed towards a new waiting position 05°00’N, 80°30’E.

In the afternoon, around 1420 hours, HMS Dorsetshire joined Force A. This cruiser had been refitting at Colombo but this refit was cut short to enable her to take part in this operation. Air searches were carried out from Ceylon as the days before but they sighted nothing of the enemy. Also from 1430/1800 hours a search was carried out by aircraft from HMS Indomitable between 142° to 207° to a depth of 215 miles. Admiral Somerville decided to carry out the same sweep to the north-east as had been done the previous night. Again nothing was seen and Force A made rendez-vous with Force B at daybreak on 2 April 1942.

2 April 1942.

At 0800 hours the destroyers HMS Fortune and HMAS Vampire were detached to fuel from RFA Appleleaf in position 05°00’N, 80°30’E. and an Albacore was ordered to search for HMS Scout and order her to rejoin the fleet. Shortly after noon the fleet sighted RFA Appleleaf, HMS Shoreham, HMS Fortune and HMAS Vampire. The last two ships then rejoined the fleet while the tanker and it’s escort were ordered to proceed towards Colombo at 1200/3.

During the day the Eastern Fleet cruised in an area about 50 miles further to the west then the previous day to avoid being detected by enemy submarines that had been reported. Throughout the day several of the escorting destroyers obtained unconfirmed echoes. Two more destroyers fuelled during the afternoon, HMAS Napier and HMS Arrow took in fuel from HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall.

As the enemy had not shown herself by 2100 hours, Admiral Somerville decided to proceed to Addu Atoll to fuel and to take on fresh water as the R-class battleships were running out of this as they had been unable to top up at Addu Atoll before they sailed.

3 April 1942.

At 0520 hours, the destroyer HMS Fortune was detached to search for survivors from the merchant vessel Glensheil (9415 GRT, built 1924) that had been torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-7 in position 00°48’S, 78°35’E at 0230 hours. HMS Fortune picked up 88 survivors and then proceeded to Addu Atoll where she arrived at 1130/4.

As at this time Admiral Somerville felt confident that something must have held up the Japanese or that their intentions were incorrectly appreciated. At 0940 hours, he sent HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall to Colombo. The former to continue her refit and the latter to act as escort for the Australian troop convoy SU 4. HMS Hermes and the destroyer HMAS Vampire were also detached but to Trincomalee as HMS Hermes was to prepare for the upcoming operation ‘Ironclad’, the attack on Madagascar. HMS Hermes and HMAS Vampire arrived at Trincomalee on the 4th.

Late in the morning three of the destroyers of the screen oiled from the battleships; HMAS Norman from HMS Warspite, HMS Griffin from HMS Revenge and HMS Foxhound from HMS Royal Sovereign.

At 1820 hours Force A proceeded ahead to Addu Atoll at 19 knots followed by Force B at 15 knots. Force A arrived at Addu Atoll at 1200/4. Force B at 1500/4.

4 April 1942.

In the early morning hours, and while approaching Addu Atoll, a simulated air strike was carried out on Force B by aircraft from HMS Indomitable and HMS Formidable. One aircraft crashed into the sea, it’s crew was picked up by the Dutch AA-cruiser Jacob van Heemskerck. A second simulated air attack was made on Force A later in the morning.

At 1630 hours, Admiral Somerville received a report that a large enemy force was in position 00°40’N, 83°10’E at 1605/F. Enemy course was 315°. Shortly afterwards this report was confirmed by another report in which they gave an enemy course of 330°. This positioned the enemy in a position 155° from Dondra Head, 360 miles, the distance from Addu Atoll being 085°, 600 miles. There was no indication about the composition of this force.

The condition of the Eastern Fleet at Addu Atoll at that time was as follows; Owning to the limited number of oilers available, the vessels comprising Force A had taken about half their fuel and Force B had not yet commenced fuelling. In addition the ‘R’-class battleships were very short of water which had to be taken in before they could sail. This meant that Force A could sail immediately, minus HMS Emerald and HMS Enterprise. These cruisers could sail shortly after midnight. Force B could not leave until 0700 hours the following morning at the earliest.

It appeared that the enemy’s probable plan was as follows. All the evidence supported Admiral Somerville’s original appreciation that the enemy would attack Colombo (and possibly Trincomalee) with carrier borne aircraft either before dawn or shortly afterwards and would return to the carriers in a position about 150 miles south-east of Ceylon. On completion the whole force would then withdraw to the east. The enemy’s reported position made it apparent that this attack was to be made on the morning of 5 April 1942.

Admiral Somerville considered his possible courses of action were as follows: 1) Force A, less HMS Emerald and HMS Enterprise to proceed immediately at best speed to the area to the south of Ceylon and to be joined there by HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall coming from Colombo and attack any enemy force located. 2) Delay the sailing of Force A until HMS Emerald and HMS Enterprise, valuable units with their strong torpedo armament, had completed refuelling and sail about midnight. Force B could sail in the morning of the 5th and follow astern to act as a supporting force. 3) Delay the sailing of Force A until both force could leave together on the morning of the 5th. 4) Force A and Force B would remain at Addu Atoll and leave the RAF to deal with the enemy attack.

The choise Admiral Somerville made was governed by the following considerations: 1) First and foremost the total defence of the Indian Ocean and it’s vital lines of communication depend on the existence of the Eastern Fleet. The longer this fleet remained ‘in being’ the longer it would limit and check the enemy’s advances against Ceylon and further west. This major policy of retaining ‘a fleet in being’, already approved by Their Lordships, was, in Admiral Somerville’s opinion, paramount. 2) The only hope of dealing the enemy an affective blow was by means of a carrier borne air striking force preferably at night. To operate both carriers escorted by HMS Warspite out of supporting distance of the ‘R’-class battleships would offer the enemy an opportunity to cripple our only offensive weapon. Admiral Somerville considered it a cardinal point in any operation the Force A should not proceed out of the supporting distance from Force B unless it could be presumed that that enemy capital ships would not be encountered. 3) No matter what course of action Admiral Somerville would take the enemy force could not be intercepted either before or during the attack on Ceylon on the morning of the 5th. The only hope was that the air striking force from Ceylon might inflict damage to the enemy so that the Eastern Fleet could ‘finish them off’, or that the enemy attack on Ceylon would be delayed 24 hours.

Admiral Somerville therefore decided to adopt ‘plan 2’. So he sailed Force A including both E-class cruisers at midnight and ordered Force B to proceed as early as possible the following morning.

Admiral Somerville therefore instructed HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall to sail from Colombo and to make rendez-vous with Force A at 1600/5 in position 00°58’N, 77°36’E. The position of this rendez-vous was based on their expected time of departure from Colombo and estimated as being the earliest possible time at which they could cross the track of Force A, taking into consideration that HMS Dorsetshire had resumed her refit and was at extended notice. Admiral Somerville considered that the course to be steered should take them well clear of any enemy forces operating in the vicinity. Actually these instructions had been anticipated by the Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet and these two cruisers, at his discretion, sailed at 2300/4 for Addu Atoll. On receipt of the signal from Admiral Somerville the Deputy Commander-in-Chief amended his instructions accordingly at 0409/5.

5 April 1942.

Force A sailed from Addu Atoll at 0015 hours and proceeded 070° at 18 knots towards a position which would bring it 250 miles south of Ceylon by dawn on the 6th. Shortly before departure the destroyer HMS Hotspur conducted an A/S search of the entrance to Addu Atoll.

During the night Admiral Somerville received reports from the Catalina reconnaissance aircraft on patrol from Ceylon of an enemy destroyer in position 01°59’N, 82°20’E, course 315°, speed 20 knots; six enemy destroyers in position 02°54’N, 82°10’E, course 325°, speed 21 knots; and at 0701 hours a report of one battleship, two cruisers an four other ships in position 195°, Dondra Head, 110 miles. Later this message was subsequently amplified to the effect that the vessels previously reported were definitely hostile and consisted of two battleships, two cruisers and destroyers.

At about 0825 hours an air raid on shipping and harbour facilities at Colombo was commenced in which some 75 aircraft were taking part. These were later reported to be mainly Navy ‘O’ fighters, armed with one bomb each. This enemy force withdrew from Colombo before 0900 hours and was seen by several merchant ships to the south-west of Ceylon probably returning to the carriers. In several cases these merchant were machine gunned.

From 0645 hours an air A/S patrol was maintained ahead of the fleet. HMS Indomitable also sent four Fulmars to commence a search to the eastward. This search covered the area between the arcs 055° to 105° to a depth of 215 miles. It proved negative except for the sighting of an enemy seaplane at 0855 hours, 076°, 150 miles from Force A. This suggested that the enemy was carrying out reconnaissance in a south-westerly direction by means of cruiser aircraft, or a seaplane carrier, in a position 70 miles of the main enemy force. There was no indication that this aircraft sighted any of our surface forces or our air search.

Between 0702 and 1145 hours, Admiral Somerville received reports of battleships in approximate positions 03°55’N, 80°40’E, steering 290° at 0648 hours, steering 120° at 0730 hours, and at 1004 hours in position 04°00’N, 80°25’E steering 282°. This suggested that the battleships were making time while the carriers recovered their aircraft. The estimated position of HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall at this time was 150 miles from the enemy and opening.

At 1327 hours a mutilated ‘Shad’ signal was received from what was thought to be Colombo but was identified half an hour later as coming from HMS Dorsetshire whose position was estimated as being 037°, 90 miles from Force A at 1400 hours. No contact could be established.

At 1344 hours an enemy air formation was detected by RD/F, 030°, 84 miles from Force A. This had faded after five minutes and it later it became clear that this was the enemy attacking the Dorsetshire and Cornwall. At 1552 hours, a reconnaissance aircraft from Force A, reported wreckage in position 02°08’N, 78°08’E.

The destroyer HMS Panther was then detached to search but was recalled about one hour later when a reconnaissance aircraft from Force A reported a force of 5 ‘unknown’ ships in position 03°38’N, 78°18’E at 100 hours. There was no indication of the course or speed of the enemy but it could be either a force previously unreported or the force previously and last reported 1004 hours.

No relief shadowers were however sent off by the Rear-Admiral aircraft carriers as soon s the report was received and Admiral Somerville omitted to obtain confirmation that this had been done. At 1700 hours, Admiral Somerville, received a report from Ceylon that there were indications of enemy aircraft carriers steering 230° at 24 knots from an unknown position at 1400 hours. This was thought to be subsequent to the attack on our 8” cruisers and Admiral Somerville’s deductions from this enemy moves were as follows. If the enemy held on this course they would at 0400 be in a position to deliver a night attack on Addu Atoll. This seemed quite a possible course of action. In any case it was necessary for Force A to keep clear to the southward and for Force B (estimated to be 135 miles astern of Force A) to steer to the southward so that Force A and B could close for supporting action at daylight the following morning (April 6th). It was also necessary for Force B to steer to the southward to keep clear of the enemy carrier force should it be proceeding to attack Addu Atoll.

At 1726 hours, therefore, Force A altered course to 210° at 18 knots and a signal was made to Vice-Admiral second-in-Command and to HMS Dorsetshire to steer south, although at this time Admiral Somerville feared about the fate of the two heavy cruisers. As he had received no signal from them that they had been attacked he thought it possible they had escaped and maintained W/T silence.

At 1800 hours Admiral Somerville received a signal from the Rear-Admiral Aircraft Carriers, stating that a reconnaissance aircraft reported the estimated enemy position as 020°, 120 miles at 1710 hours. This position was very close to the previous position reported at 1600 hours. The course of the enemy had not been given in either of these reports but the positions fitted in well with the course received earlier (230°).

At 1817 hours, a further signal was received from the Rear-Admiral Aircraft Carriers, adjusting the 1600 hours position of the enemy’s force, amplifying it to include two carriers and three unknown vessels and giving the course north-west. This was the first indication Admiral Somerville had of the enemy now proceeding to the north-west. He immediately ordered force A to alter course to 315° and instructed the Vice-Admiral, second-in-Command to conform. These movements had to object of keeping Force A within night air striking distance of the enemy force, trusting to an A.S.V. (airborne surface vessel radar) search to locate the enemy and to bring Force B within supporting distance should it be necessary to retire in that direction. A dawn rendez-vous was arranged with Force B in approximate position 03°00’N, 75°00’E.

As no news had been received of HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall it was assumed they had been sunk.

At 1930 hours a night search with A.S.V. aircraft was commenced to cover the sector 345° to 030° to a depth of 180 nautical miles. Northing was located on this search.

6 April 1942.

From 2100/5 to 0600/6 further A.S.V. searches were carried out to cover the sector 020° to 080° to a depth of 200 miles. These searches also failed to make any contact with the enemy but reported that Force B was 220°, 25 miles from Force A at 0400 hours.

At 0615 hours, Force A altered course to 135° and sighted Force B ten minutes later. By 0720 hours the Fleet was formed up and course was altered to 090°.

Whilst no furher information had been received regarding the enemy’s movements nothing had occurred to diminish the possibility of the enemy’s being in the vicinity of Addu Atoll, either to attack it by air this morning or to await the return of the Eastern Fleet.

Admiral Somerville intended to keep clear of the superior enemy forces by day. It was still his intention to get into a position to attack them with a night air striking force on their possible return from at Addu Atoll area, and also rescue the possible survivors from HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall. He therefore steered east and at 1115 hours course was altered to south-east in the direction of the wreckage that had been reported the previous evening. During the morning reports came in from merchant ships being attacked in the Bay of Bengal. There must be a second Japanese force operating there.

At 1300 hours HMS Enterprise, HMS Paladin and HMS Panther were detached to search for survivors in the vicinity of the wreckage position. Air search was provided to assist and fighter escort was sent to cover the operation. These ships were successful in picking up a total of 1122 survivors from both heavy cruisers. They rejoined the fleet at noon the following day. At 1800/6, when about 50 miles from the wreckage position course was reversed and the fleet retired to the north-west. All-round air searches were carried out to a depth of 200 miles but again nothing was seen.

At about 1400 hours a signal was received from the C-in-C, Ceylon estimating that a strong Japanese force was still somewhere between Addu Atoll and Colombo. Admiral Somerville therefore decided to keep clear of the Addu area until daylight on the 7th.

7 April 1942.

At 0200 hours the Eastern Fleet altered course to the west, 270°.

At 0427 hours, an A.S.V. aircraft located two submarines in position 02°08’N, 75°16’E and 02°46’N, 75°10’E, to the southward of the course of the Eastern Fleet. This indicated that the possibility of an enemy submarine patrol having been established to cover the eastern approaches to Addu Atoll. Admiral Somerville therefore decided to pass through Veimandu Channel to the west of the Maldives and make an unexpected approach to Addu Atoll from the west. At 0700 hours the course of the fleet was altered to 210°.

At 1335 hours, HMS Fortune was detached to investigate a ship contact made by HMS Emerald but no ship was sighted. Fortune only rejoined the fleet at about 0600/8.

At 1600 hours, HMS Enterprise, HMS Paladin and HMS Panther rejoined with the survivors they had picked up and medical stores were transferred from HMS Warspite to HMS Paladin for treatment of the wounded. Enterprise and Paladin were then detached to proceed immediately to Addu Atoll.

At 2100 hours, the Eastern Fleet altered course to 160°.

8 April 1942.

At 0700 hours aircraft were flown off from the carriers to carry out an all-round search to a depth of 175 miles. Again nothing was seen and at 1100 hours the Eastern Fleet entered Addu Atoll. Refuelling commenced immediately, Force B being refuelled first.

Admiral Somerville held a conference on board HMS Warspite with Flag and Commanding Officers in the afternoon.

Having discussed the situation Admiral Somerville decided to sent Force B to Kilindini and to proceed to Bombay with Force A. This later decision coincided with Their Lordships views as later in the day he received Their Lordships instructions that Force A was not to be sent to Colombo for the time being. Further by proceeding to Bombay the could arrange a meeting with the Commander-in-Chief, India and discuss the situation in the Far East with him.

At 1800 hours HMAS Nestor departed Addu Atoll to maintain an A/S patrol in the sector between 090° to 150° to a depth of 35 miles from the Port War Signal Station. One hour earlier HMS Resolution launched her Walrus aircraft for a ‘round the island’ A/S patrol. It returned at dusk.

9 April 1942.

Force B (less HMS Dragon sailed for Kilindini at 0200 hours where it was due to arrive on April 15th. Force A sailed at 0600 hours for Bombay shaping course to pass to the westward of the Maldives.

During the morning Admiral Somerville was informed of further Japanese attacks in the Bay of Bengal and on Trincomalee and the sinking of several ships, including HMS Hermes and HMAS Vampire but nothing could be done about this.

10 April 1942.

At 1000 hours HMS Panther closed HMS Warspite to transfer Staff Officers for passage to Colombo where they were to inform the Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet of Admiral Somerville’s views and make preliminary arrangements to transfer Admiral Somerville’s administrative staff and secretariat to Kilindini.

11 April 1942.

At 0705 hours, HMS Paladin rejoined Force A bringing back the Staff Officers who had been transferred to her on 10 April and also Rear-Admiral Danckwerts, Admiral Somerville’s Chief of Staff ashore. Force A arrived at Bombay later that morning (1040 hours) and commenced oiling.

Japanese operation in the Indian Ocean in late March 1942 and April 1942.

On 26 March 1943 the 1st Japanese Carrier Fleet departed Staring Bay, Celebes, Netherlands East Indies for a raid on Ceylon. This Fleet was made up of the aircraft carriers Akagi, Hiryu, Soryu, Zuikaku, Shokaku, battlecruisers Kongo, Haruna, Hiei, Kirishima, heavy cruisers Tone, Chikuma and the destroyers Urakaze, Tanikaze, Isokaze, Hamakaze, Kasumi, Arare, Kagero, Shiranuhi and Akigumo. This force then proceeded west of Timor and to a position to the south of Java where they fuelled from oilers on April 1st.

On 27 March the Japanese submarines I-2, I-3, I-4, I-5, I-6 and I-7 departed Penang to take up positions in the Indian Ocean for the upcoming operation.

On 1 April the Japanese Mayala Force departed Mergui for operations in the Bay of Bengal. This force was made up of the heavy cruisers Chokai, Kumano, Mikuma, Mogami, Suzuya, aircraft carrier Ryujo, light cruiser Yura, and the destroyers Fubuki, Shirayuki, Hatsuyuki and Murakumo. On 4 April the estroyers were substituted for four other destroyers; Amagiri, Asagiri, Shirakumo and Yugiri.

On 5 April the Japanse 1st Carrier Fleet launched their air attack on Colombo. 53 bombers, 38 dive bombers and 36 fighters were launched. They destroyed 19 Hurricane fighters, 1 Fulmar fighter and 6 Swordfish torpedo bombers. At Colombo the harbour facilities were heavily damaged and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Hector and destroyer HMS Tenedos were sunk.

Then around noon a reconnaissance aircraft from the Tone sighted the heavy cruisers HMS Dorsetshire and HMS Cornwall. The 1st Carrier Fleet immediately launched an attack force of 53 dive bombers that sank both cruisers with the loss of 424 members of their crews (Dorsetshire 234 and Cornwall 190). The Japanese then retired to the south-east.

In the evening of 5 April the Japanese Malaya-Force was ordered to commence attacking Allied shipping along the Indian east coast. On 6 April the northern group (Kumano, Suzuya and Shirakumo destroyed 9 ships off Puri (Orissa). The central group (Chokai, Yura, Asagiri and Yugiri) sank 4 ships. The southern group (Mikuma, Mogami and Amagiri sank 3 ships and damaged 2 more. Meanwhile aircraft from the carrier Ryuju, which operated with the central group, sank 4 more ships and damaged 1 more. In all about 92000 GRT of shipping was sunk.

On 8 April 1942 a Catalina aircraft spotted the Japanese 1st Carrier Fleet proceeding for an attack on Trincomalee but the Eastern Fleet was approaching Addu Atoll to refuel and could do nothing. Shipping at Trincomalee was ordered to leave port and proceed to the southward. In the morning of the following day 91 Japanese bombers and 41 fighters attacked Trincomalee. They destoyed 9 Hurricane and Fulmar fighters and 14 aircraft on the ground. The harbour most mostly empty but they sank a merchant vessel and 4 aircraft it had on board and not unloaded yet. Also the British monitor HMS Erebus (Capt. H.F. Nalder, RN) was damged. The Japanese 1st Carrier Fleet was then attacked by 9 Blenheim bombers but they inflicted no damage for 5 of their own lost to Japanese fighter cover. Then Japanese reconnaissance aircraft from the Haruna sighted ships escaping southwards. 85 Dive bombers and 3 fighters were then launched which sank HMS Hermes and HMAS Vampire as well as the corvette HMS Hollyhock (Lt.Cdr. T.E. Davies, OBE, RNR), two tankers and a merchant ship.

By mid-April 1942 all Japanese forces had returned to their bases. (17)

14 Apr 1942
' Force B ' of the Eastern Fleet arrived at Kilindini from operations.

' Force B ' was made up of the battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN , flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN, second in command Eastern Fleet), HMS Ramillies (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN), HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Caledon (A/Capt. H.J. Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN). (18)

21 Apr 1942
Around 0700 hours, HMS Caledon (A/Capt. H.J. Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN) departed Mombasa for exercises. (19)

22 Apr 1942
Around 0700 hours, HMS Caledon (A/Capt. H.J. Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN) returned to Mombasa from exercises. (19)

27 Apr 1942
HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN , flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN, second in command Eastern Fleet) and a destroyer escort made up of HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN) departed Mombasa for exercises. They proceeded towards Zanzibar. They returned to Mombasa the next day minus HrMs Isaac Sweers which remained at sea until 1 May 1942. (20)

27 Apr 1942

Convoy WS 17.

Convoy from South Africa to several destinations in the Far East.

On 27 April 1942 the Capetown section departed. It was made up the following transports / troop transports; Almanzora (British, 15551 GRT, built 1914), Cameronia (British, 16297 GRT, built 1920), City of Edinburgh (British, 8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Lincoln (British, 8039 GRT, built 1938), Dunedin Star (British, 11168 GRT, built 1936), Glaucus (British, 7596 GRT, built 1921), Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (Dutch, 19429 GRT, built 1930), Kina II (British, 9823 GRT, built 1939), Nieuw Holland (Dutch, 11066 GRT, built 1927) and Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921).

On departure the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Dauntless (A/Capt. J.G. Hewitt, DSO, RN) which first had conducted gunnery exercises in False Bay before joining the convoy.

Off Port Elizabeth the convoy was joined by the transports; Brazil (American, 18298 GRT, built 1928), Monterey (American, 18017 GRT, built 1932) and Mormactide (American, 7773 GRT, built 1941).

Off Durban the convoy was joined by the transports / troop transports; Elizabethville (Belgian, 8351 GRT, built 1922), Khedive Ismael (British, 7290 GRT, built 1922), Mendoza (British (former French), 8199 GRT, built 1920), Nova Scotia (British, 6796 GRT, built 1926) and Windsor Castle (British, 19141 GRT, built 1922).

The submarine depot ship HMS Adamant (Capt. R.S. Warne, RN) also joined the convoy off Durban.

The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) also joined off Durban to escort the convoy.

On 8 May 1942 the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Corfu (Capt.(Retd.) J.P. Landon, RN) departed Mombasa to take over the escort of the convoy. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN).

They joined the convoy at 1600/8 after which HMS Revenge proceeded to Mombasa escorted by the two destroyers. They arrived at Mombasa around 1300/9.

At 1900/8, HMS Dauntless was detached for Mombasa taking Almanzora, Cameronia, Khedive Ismael, Mendoza, Nova Scotia and Samaria with her. They also arrived at Mombasa around 1300/9.

HMS Adamant had already arrived at Mombasa on 8 May. She had parted company in the early afternoon of 7 May and proceeded ahead of the convoy.

HMS Royal Sovereign and HMS Corfu then proceeded further north with the remainder of the convoy.

On 10 May the following vessels departed Mombasa for Bombay; Almanzora, Cameronia, Chantilly (British (former French), 9986 GRT, built 1923), Khedive Ismael, Mendoza, Nova Scotia and Samaria. They were escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ranchi (Capt.(Retd.) Sir J.M. Alleyne, DSO, DSC, RN).

Aound 0900/11, HMS Corfu parted company with the convoy taking with her the City of Edinburgh, City of Lincoln, Elizabethville and Glaucus. These ships were to proceed to Aden.

HMS Royal Sovereign meanwhile continued on to Bombay with the Dunedin Star, Johan van Oldebarnvelt, Kina II, Nieuw Holland and Windsor Castle.

HMS Royal Sovereign with her part of the convoy arrived at Bombay on 16 May 1942.

HMS Ranchi with her part of the convoy arrived at Bombay on 19 May 1942. (20)

29 Apr 1942
During 29/30 April 1942, the battleships HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN , flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN), HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN). light cruisers HMS Dragon (Capt. R.J. Shaw, MBE, RN), HMS Caledon (A/Capt. H.J. Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Griffin (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN) and HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN) conducted exercises off Kilindini.

Upon completion of the exercises in the morning of the 30th, HMS Royal Sovereign, HMS Arrow and HrMs Isaac Sweers returned to Kilindini.

The other ships proceeded towards the Seychelles to make rendezvous with ' Force A' of the Eastern Fleet which was coming from down from the Ceylon area. They fuelled in the Seychelles area on 2 May. (21)

8 May 1942
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Corfu (Capt.(Retd.) J.P. Landon, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN) departed Mombasa to make rendez-vous with HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) which was escorting convoy WS 17. HMS Royal Sovereign and HMS Corfu then took over the escort of the convoy while HMS Revenge proceeded to Mombasa escorted by the two destroyers where they arrived the next day.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy WS 17 ' for 27 April 1942.] (20)

9 May 1942
HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN) arrived at Kilindini / Mombasa. (22)

12 May 1942
HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN) departed Mombasa for Durban. She was escorted by HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. W. Harmsen, RNN).

HrMs Isaac Sweers only escorted the battleship briefly. She returned to Mombasa the next day. (20)

15 Jul 1942
During 15 to 20 July 1942, ships of the Eastern Fleet conducted exercises off Kilindini. The ships involved were the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. F.E.P. Hutton, RN, flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN), HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Illustrious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral D.W. Boyd, CBE, DSC, RN), HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), light cruisers HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.B. Crane, RN) and the destroyers HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN), HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN) and HrMs Van Galen (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNN).

A/Vice-Admiral Willis temporary flew his flag in HMS Warspite. Rear-Admiral Tennant had struck his flag in HMS Birmingham, temporary, before she proceeded to sea.

During 17 and 18 July the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN)n, on passage from Bombay to Kilindini also joined the exercises until fuel shortage forced her to proceed to Kilindini. (23)

22 Jul 1942
HMS Queen Elizabeth (A/Capt. R. Gotto, DSO, RN) departed Kilindini / Mombasa for Durban. She is escorted by the destroyers HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Hotspur (Lt. P. Bekenn, RN). (24)

27 Jul 1942
HMS Queen Elizabeth (A/Capt. R. Gotto, DSO, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Hotspur (Lt. P. Bekenn, RN) arrived at Durban from Kilindini / Mombasa. (24)

31 Jul 1942
HMS Queen Elizabeth (A/Capt. R. Gotto, DSO, RN) departed Durban for Capetown. She is escorted by the destroyers HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Hotspur (Lt. P. Bekenn, RN). (24)

3 Aug 1942
HMS Queen Elizabeth (A/Capt. R. Gotto, DSO, RN), HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO, RN) and HMS Hotspur (Lt. P. Bekenn, RN) arrived at Capetown from Durban. (25)

7 Aug 1942
HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN) departed Simonstown for Kilindini via Durban. She is escorted by the destroyer HMS Arrow (Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN) part of the way. (26)

30 Mar 1943
HMS Usurper (Lt. D.R.O. Mott, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN), HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Lewes (Lt.Cdr. M.V. Thorburn, DSC, RNVR) and HMS Seagull (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Pollock, RN). (27)

1 Apr 1943
HrMs O 14 (Lt.Cdr. H.A.W. Goossens, RNN) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Wallace, DSC, RN), HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) and HMS Tuscan (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN). (28)

5 Apr 1943
HrMs O 14 (Lt.Cdr. H.A.W. Goossens, RNN) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Tuscan (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Wallace, DSC, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN). (28)

15 Jun 1943
During 15/16 June, a large exercise was carried out off Scapa Flow by ships that were to participate in the upcoming landings on Sicily. The ships that participated were; the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN). They were escorted by destroyers the destroyers HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN) (these last four remained with the Home Fleet) and escort destroyers HMS Viceroy (Lt. T.F. Hallifax, RN) and HMS Woolston (Lt. F.W. Hawkins, RN). [It is likely that even more destroyers / escort destroyers participated in these exercises.

The Home Fleet cruisers HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, DSO, OBE, RN), HMS Glasgow (Capt. E.M. Evans-Lombe, RN), HMS London (Capt. R.V. Symonds-Tayler, DSC, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.T. Addis, RN), screened by the Home Fleet destroyers HMS Onslow (Capt. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Scorpion (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) and HMS Grenville (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, DSO, RN) simulated an enemy fleet.

The exercises included night encounter exercises. (29)

16 Jun 1943
HMS Upstart (Lt. P.C. Chapman, DSC and Bar, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Skye (T/Lt. W.G. Burt, RNR) and HMS Bootle (Lt. A. Ecclestone, RN). (30)

19 Jun 1943

Combined convoy OS 50/KMS 17G.

This combined convoy assembled off Oversay on 19 June 1943.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Anglo Indian (British, 5609 GRT, built 1938), Balteako (British, 1328 GRT, built 1920), Baron Douglas (British, 3899 GRT, built 1932), Baron Ramsay (British, 3650 GRT, built 1929), Baron Ruthven (British, 3178 GRT, built 1925), Basil (British, 4913 GRT, built 1928), Blairesk (British, 3300 GRT, built 1925), Calgary (British, 7206 GRT, built 1921), City of Dundee (British, 5273 GRT, built 1921), City of Eastbourne (British, 5563 GRT, built 1923), Coity Castle (British, 2767 GRT, built 1919), Colytto (Dutch, 4408 GRT, built 1926), Como (British, 1295 GRT, built 1910), Corcrest (British, 2373 GRT, built 1918), Cromarty (British, 4974 GRT, built 1936), Dalcross (British, 4557 GRT, built 1930), Dordrecht (Dutch, 4402 GRT, built 1928), Dornoch (British, 5186 GRT, built 1939), Dumfries (British, 5149 GRT, built 1935), Empire Candida (British, 2908 GRT, built 1943), Empire Fal (British, 4880 GRT, built 1914), Empire Franklin (British, 7292 GRT, built 1941), Empire Harp (British (tanker), 861 GRT, built 1942), Empire Nightingale (British, 5698 GRT, built 1918), Evviva (Norwegian, 1597 GRT, built 1921), Fort Abitibi (British, 7122 GRT, built 1942), Fort Liard (British, 7133 GRT, built 1942), Fort Nipigon (British, 7132 GRT, built 1942), Fort Senneville (British, 7131 GRT, built 1942), Glenwood (British, 4897 GRT, built 1940), Godfrey Holt (British, 3585 GRT, built 1929), Helencrest (British, 5233 GRT, built 1941), Henzada (British, 4161 GRT, built 1934), Kristianiafjord (Norwegian, 6759 GRT, built 1921), Lafian (British, 4876 GRT, built 1937), Llanberis (British, 5055 GRT, built 1928), Lysaker V (Norwegian, 1571 GRT, built 1936), Marga (Norwegian, 1583 GRT, built 1923), Merkland (British, 1363 GRT, built 1934), Nijkerk (Dutch, 5843 GRT, built 1915), Norfalk (British, 5675 GRT, built 1919), Ocean Viceroy (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Pendeen (British, 4174 GRT, built 1923), Pentridge Hill (British, 7579 GRT, built 1941), Phemius (British, 7406 GRT, built 1921), Richmond Hill (British, 7579 GRT, built 1940), Saltwick (British, 3775 GRT, built 1929), Sansu (British, 5446 GRT, built 1939), Silverash (British, 7750 GRT, built 1926), Souliotis (Greek, 4299 GRT, built 1917), Stad Maasluis (British, 6541 GRT, built 1918), Stanhope (British, 2337 GRT, built 1919), Tiba (Dutch, 5239 GRT, built 1938), Tombouctou (British, 5636 GRT, built 1919), Trevaylor (British, 5257 GRT, built 1940), Uranienborg (British, 5257 GRT, built 1940) and Vigsnes (Norwegian, 1599 GRT, built 1930).

On assembly of Oversay the convoy was escorted by the sloops HMS Enchantress (Cdr. A.E.T. Christie, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Leith (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. Preston, RN), HMS Aberdeen (Lt.Cdr. H. Day, RN), HMS Folkestone (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G.C. Gibson, OBE, RN) and the corvettes HMS Anchusa (T/Lt. H.V. Gordon, DSC, RNVR), HMS Coreopsis (T/Lt. B.C. Hamilton, RNR) and HMS Violet (Lt. C.N. Stewart, RNR) which joined coming from Londonderry.

The monitors HMS Abercrombie (A/Capt.(Retd.) R.E.C. Dunbar, RN) (A/Capt. G.V.B. Faulkner, RN) and HMS Roberts (A/Capt.(Retd.) R.E.C. Dunbar, RN) were also taking passage in this convoy as was the RFA tanker Orangeleaf (5983 GRT, built 1917).

On 21 June HMS Folkestone was detached to return to Londonderry for repairs to defective hull plating.

On 24 June the merchant vessel Dornoch straggled from the convoy. The next day HMS Folkestone was ordered to search for her. She had departed Londonderry to overtake the convoy on 24 June having effected repairs there.

Cover for the convoy during part of the passage was provided by the AA cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN).

En-route the merchant vessels Baron Ramsay, Merkland and Stanhope were detached to Lisbon as was the Coity Castle which was detached to Huelva.

On 27 June 1943 the convoy was split up.

The destroyer HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN), A/S trawlers HMS Reighton Wyke (Skr. G.M. Sutherland, RNR), HMS Visenda (T/Lt. S.F. Archer, RNR) and A/S whaler HMS Southern Gem (T/Lt. P.H. Riseley, RNVR) took over the escort of convoy KMS 17G. These escorts, plus the corvette HMS Columbine (T/A/Lt.Cdr. W.J. Griffiths, RNR) had brought out convoy OS 50G from Gibraltar which they had departed earlier on 27 June. [For the ships of convoy OS 50G see below.]

HMS Aberdeen and HMS Folkestone from the original escort also proceeded to Gibraltar escorting convoy KMS 17G.

On 28 June the convoy escort was reinforced by the escort destroyer Holcombe and Viceroy.

Convoy KMS 17G arrived at Gibraltar on 29 June.

Convoy KMS 17G was made up of the following merchant vessels; Anglo Indian, Balteako, Baron Douglas, Baron Ruthven, Blairesk, Como, Corcrest, Cromarty, Dalcross, Dumfries, Empire Candida, Empire Fal, Empire Harp, Empire Nightingale, Evviva, Fort Abitibi, Fort Nipigon, Helencrest, Kristianiafjord, Lysaker V, Marga, Norfalk, Pendeen, Pentridge Hill, Richmond Hill, Saltwick, , Trevaylor and Vigsnes.

The Orangeleaf also was part of KMS 17G as were HMS Abercrombie and HMS Robert.

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Convoy OS 50 then continued on with the escort. It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Basil, Calgary, City of Dundee, City of Eastbourne, Colytto, Dordrecht, Empire Franklin, Fort Liard, Fort Sonneville, Glenwood, Godfrey B. Holt, Lafian, Llanberis, Nijkerk, Ocean Viceroy, Sansu, Silverash, Souliotis, Tiba, Tombouctou and Unanienborg.

These were joined by the merchant vessels which had made up convoy OS 50G which had been brought out of Gibraltar by the escortx which took over convoy KMS 17G, except for HMS Columbine which joined convoy OS 50.

The merchant vessels in question were the following; Baron Herries (British, 4574 GRT, built 1940), Biafra (British, 5405 GRT, built 1933), Empire Kangaroo (British, 6219 GRT, built 1919), Empire Miranda (British, 7054 GRT, built 1943), Empire Sunbeam (British, 6711 GRT, built 1941), Fort Fairford (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Fort Lac La Ronge (British, 7131 GRT, built 1942), Fort McLoughlin (British, 7129 GRT, built 1942), Fort Vermillion (British, 7133 GRT, built 1942), Industria (British, 4850 GRT, built 1940), Junecrest (British, 6945 GRT, built 1942), Madras City (British, 5080 GRT, built 1940), Ocean Verity (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Volunteer (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Temple Inn (British, 5218 GRT, built 1940), Trader (British, 6087 GRT, built 1940) and Wearpool (British, 4982 GRT, built 1936).

Later more merchant vessels joined coming from Casablanca, these were the; Dan-Y-Brin (British, 5117 GRT, built 1940), Dunkerque (French, 2477 GRT, built 1925), Elorn (French, 5482 GRT, built 1930), Finisterre (French, 1158 GRT, built 1909), Hoggar (French, 5146 GRT, built 1923), Ingleton (British, 7203 GRT, built 1942) and Schiaffino (British, 3236 GRT, built 1920).

The following merchant vessels were then detached to Casablanca; Fort Laird and Fort Senneville.

Off Dakar the following merchant vessels joined the convoy; Fort de Vaux (British, 5186 GRT, built 1918), Fort Jemseg (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Horace Williams (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Palacio (British, 1346 GRT, built 1927) and Salta (Norwegian, 3907 GRT, built 1920).

The following merchant vessels were then detached to Dakar; Calgary, Dan-Y-Bryn, Dunkerque, Elorn, Finisterre, Fort Lac La Ronge, Hoggar, Ingleton and Madras City.

The merchant vessel Godfrey B. Holt was detached to Bathurst.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 8 June 1943.

21 Jun 1943

Combined convoy WS 31 / KMS 17.

This combined convoy was formed off Oversay on 21 June 1943. The convoy was divided into convoys WS 30 and KMS 15 at sea on 26 June 1943.

The combined convoy was made up of the following (troop) transports; Britannic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), City of Lincoln (British, 8039 GRT, built 1938), Clan Macarthur (British, 10528 GRT, built 1936), Clan Macaulay (British, 10492 GRT, built 1936), Cristobal (American, 10021 GRT, built 1939), General George W. Goethals (American, 12093 GRT, built 1942), John Ericsson (American, 16552 GRT, built 1928), J.W. McAndrew (American, 7997 GRT, built 1940), Largs Bay (British, 14182 GRT, built 192), Rangitiki (British, 16698 GRT, built 1928), Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921), Santa Rosa (American, 9135 GRT, built 1932), Silverteak (British, 6770 GRT, built 1930), Stratheden (British, 23722 GRT, built 1937) and Tamaroa (British, 12405 GRT, built 1922).

Also the netlayer HMS Guardian (Capt.(Retd.) H.A.C. Lane, OBE, RN) was part of the convoy.

After assembly of Oversay the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Uganda (Capt. W.G. Andrewes, RN), destroyers HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN), HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. R.B.S. Tennant, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Viceroy (Lt. T.F. Hallifax, RN), HMS Wallace (Lt. D. Carson, RN), HMS Woolston (Lt. F.W. Hawkins, RN), HMS Hambledon (Lt.Cdr. G.W. McKendrick, RN), HMS Mendip (Capt. C.R.L. Parry, RN), HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. D.H.R. Bromley, RN), HMS Blencathra (Lt. E.G. Warren, RN), HMS Ledbury (Lt. D.R.N. Murdoch, RN), HMS Brecon (Lt.Cdr. T.D. Herrick, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Brissenden (Lt. D.C. Beatty, RN).

On 25 June HMS Arrow and HMS Amazon parted company with the combined convoy to proceed to Casablanca to fuel. They arrived at Casablanca around 1730A/25.

Around 1730B/25, the destroyers HMS Foxhound (Cdr. C.J. Wynne-Edwards, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Lee, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN) were to join the combined convoy in position 36°05'N, 07°54'W. They had departed Gibraltar earlier on the 25th.

When these destroyers joined the destroyer HMS Witherington and escort destroyer HMS Ledbury were to proceed to Casablanca.

Also the convoy was to split. Convoy KMF 17, made up of the transports Britannic, Cristobal, J.W. McAndrew, Largs Bay, Samaria, Santa Rosa, Silverteak, Tamaroa and the netlayer HMS Guardian. They were escorted by the light cruiser HMS Uganada and the escort destroyers HMS Viceroy, HMS Wallace, HMS Woolston, HMS Hambledon, HMS Mendip, HMS Blankney, HMS Blencathra, HMS Brecon and HMS Brissenden proceeded towards the Mediterranean.

On the 26th, HMS Uganda, HMS Guardian, HMS Viceroy and one of the transports arrived at Gibraltar.

On the 27th, HMS Uganda, which apparently had rejoined the convoy after a brief stopover at Gibraltar, 7 of the transports and HMS Wallace, HMS Woolston, HMS Hambledon, HMS Mendip, HMS Blankney, HMS Blencathra, HMS Brecon and HMS Brissenden arrived at Algiers.

Meanwhile Convoy WS 31, made up of the transports City of Lincoln, Clan Macarthur, Clan Macaulay, General George W. Goethals, John Ericsson, Stratheden and Tamaroa continued on to Freetown.

The convoy was now escorted by the destroyers HMS Foxhound, HMS Bulldog and the escort destroyer HMS Blackmore.

The destroyer HMS Amazon also rejoined after fuelling at Casablanca. It had originally been the intention that HMS Arrow was also to rejoin the convoy but while at Casablanca orders had been received that she was to proceed to Gibraltar instead.

On 1 July the French armed merchant cruiser Quercy joined the convoy.

Convoy WS 31 arrived at Freetown on 4 July 1943.

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Convoy WS 31 departed Freetown on 6 July 1943.

It was now made up of the transports City of Lincoln, Clan Macarthur, Clan Macaulay, General George W. Goethals, John Ericsson, Rangitiki, Stirling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936) and Stratheden.

The convoy was now escorted by the light cruiser HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN), armed merchant cruisers HMS Corfu (Capt.(Retd.) C.C. Bell, DSO, RN), Quercy, destroyers HMS Foxhound, HMS Bulldog, HMS Wolverine (Lt. I.M. Clegg, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Blackmore.

in the early afternoon of the 7th, in approximate position 03°15'N, 14°54'W the Rangitiki was to be detached to proceed independently to Montevideo.

HMS Despatch was to arrived at Takoradi late in the afternoon of the 9th to fuel and after completion of this on the 10th she was to rejoin the convoy. HMS Wolverine also made a short call at Takoradi on the 10th to fuel and then rejoin the convoy.

On the 10th HMS Bulldog and HMS Blackmore were detached to proceed to Lagos to fuel and then escort transports from there to join the convoy. HMS Corfu was also detached on the 10th to proceed to Ascencion after first calling at Takoradi.

The destroyer HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. S.R.J. Woods, RNR) and corvette HMS Armeria (Lt. M. Todd, RNR) had joined the convoy on the 10th.

On the 11th the transports Arawa (British, 14462 GRT, built 1922), Highland Brigade (British, 14134 GRT, built 1929), Highland Monarch (British, 14139 GRT, built 1928) and Staffordshire (British, 10683 GRT, built 1929) joined the convoy coming from Lagos. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Bulldog and the escort destroyer HMS Blackmore.

When these ships joined HMS Foxhound, HMS Witch and HMS Armeria then parted company and proceeded to Lagos arriving there also on the 11th.

HMS Despatch and HMS Rapid arrived at Pointe Noire to fuel at 0700Z/14. They departed again to rejoin the convoy at 1430Z/14.

Meanwhile the destroyers HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN) and HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN) had departed Pointe Noire at 0900Z/14 to join the convoy.

At 1800Z/14, the Quercy, HMS Bulldog and HMS Blackmore arrived at Pointe Noire.

At 0600Z/15, HMS Wolverine arrived at Pointe Noire.

The convoy arrived at Capetown on 21 July 1943. HMS Despatch, HMS Quadrant, HMS Rapid and HMS Redoubt then continued on to Simonstown arriving there later the same day.

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A much reduced convoy WS 31 departed Capetown on 26 July 1943. It was now made up of the transports Arawa, Highland Brigade, Highland Monarch, Staffordshire, Stirling Castle and Stratheden. The convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Despatch and the destroyers HMS Quadrant and HMS Redoubt.

They were relieved near Mauritius on 4 August 1943 by the heavy cruiser HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN) which took the convoy to Bombay where it arrived on 13 August 1943.

HMS Despatch, HMS Quadrant and HMS Redoubt arrived at Mauritius on 5 August 1943.

5 Jul 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) departed Gibraltar for Algiers. (31)

6 Jul 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) arrived at Algiers from Gibraltar. (31)

9 Jul 1943
Around 2030B/9, ' Force H, 3rd Division ' (also known as ' Force Z '), made up the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN, Senior Officer) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt.Cdr. L.St.G. Rich, DSO, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) departed Algiers for operations.

Around 1315B/10, off Bone, they were joined by the light cruisers HMS Sirius (Capt. P.B.W. Brooking, DSO, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. J. Terry, RN) and the destroyer HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSC, RN) which had departed Bone around 1200B/10. Shortly after these ships joined, HMS Isis obtained an A/S contact and ' Force Z ' made an emergency turn.

Shortly after 1700B/10, ' Force Z ' entered the Tunisian War Channel (this started near Galita Island and then to the East of Cape Bon).

Around 1910B/10, ' Force Z ' turned back and set course for Algiers.

Around 0230B/11, HMS Sirius and HMS Dido were detached to proceed ahead to Bone where they arrived around 0615B/11.

Then at 1100B/11 a signal was received from the Commander-in-Chief that ' Operation Fracture ' was to be carried out. Course was then altered to 080° and the detached cruisers were recalled. They departed Bone again around 1335B/11 and rejoined ' Force Z ' around 1615B/11.

HMS Isis, which was unable to keep up at high speed, was detached to Bone. (32)

12 Jul 1943

Operation Fracture.

Bombardment of Levanzo Island, Trapani and Marsala.

In the evening of 11 July 1943, ' Force H, 3rd Division ' (also known as ' Force Z '), made up the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN, Senior Officer), light cruisers HMS Sirius (Capt. P.B.W. Brooking, DSO, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. J. Terry, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt.Cdr. L.St.G. Rich, DSO, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) were at sea proceeding towards the west coast of Sicily.

At 2200B/11, HMS Sirius and HMS Dido were detached to bombard Marsala.

The battleships approach course ran through two positions; A) 37°45'N, 09°46'E and B) 38°12'N, 12°10'E. Position B was reached at 0123B/12. The destroyers HMS Jervis, HMS Paladin and HMS Arrow were placed ahead of the battleships. They were to close within 9000 yards from Levanzo Island. The other three destroyers (HMS Pathfinder, HMS Panther and HMS Penn) formed an A/S screen for the battleships.

Bombardment of Levanzo Island.

At 0139B/12, speed was reduced to 16 knots, and HMS Howe opened fire at 13500 yards with starshell at 0145B/12. HMS King George V opened fire a minute later. The targets selected were three batteries and hutments in the north-east corner of Levanzo Island, which was fringed with steep cliffs. The target area was 1500 yards in depth, height allowed 300 feet, the three batteries being calculated to be in transit when Cape Grosso bore 165°. Nine rounds per 5.25" gun with flashless propellant and HE shell were fired by the battleships. The destroyers opened direct fire very shortly after 0146B/12, with ranges based on radar information. Their salvoes were seen to burst on the cliff face and top of the hill close to the northern HA/LA battery. The ammunition expended by the destroyers was; HMS Jervis 59 rouds, HMS Paladin 40 rounds and HMS Arrow 29 rounds.

The majority of the battleships salvos appeared to burst on the left side of the hill behind Cape Grosso, probably below the battery sites. The bombardment ended at 0149B/12, when course was altered to 055°. After the destroyers had turned away, the batteries on Levanzo Island opened a spasmodic fire. Some shells fell close, but none of the ships were hit.

Bombardment of Trapani.

The second phase of the operation was the bombardment of Trapani. The target selected for the 14" guns of the battleships was Trapani town to the eastward of the harbour, an area of 3000 yards from east to west with a depth of 1000 yards. For the 5.25" guns the target was Trapani harbour including Colombaia Island. HMS Howe opened fire at 0153B/12 with 14" HE shell, followed by HMS King George V within one minute. The initial range being 23000 yards, bearing 122° for both ships. The 5.25" guns opened fire shortly after the 14" when their target range was 21000 yards bearing 127°. HMS Howe fired 17 salvoes from her 14" guns. HMS King George V fired 39 rounds of 14". The majority of the salvos were estimated to have fallen in the target area, HMS Howe reported observing 'a few 14" shell bursts' and HMS King George V reported 'about a dozen'. Cordite smoke completely obscured the 5.25" target area and the blinding effect from all guns was most marked. When firing ceased at 0200B/12, course was altered to 290°.

During the approach and throughout the bombardments a large V-shaped illumination was visibly on the land near Punta Barone. This, it was conjectured may have been intended as some sort of decoy for the RAF.

After turning to the retirement course, the destroyers dropped a number of delay action devices consisting of depth chargesm smoke floats and snowflake rockets. These were intended to prolong the period of disturbance and attract the intention of any E-boats or aircraft. Apparently the first object was achieved, for both searchlights and guns continued to be active for a considerable time.

Bombardment of Marsala.

After parting company, HMS Sirius and HMS Dido proceeded towards Marsala. Flashes from an air attack in progress were observed during the approach. The bombardment course selected ran between the positions A) 37°46'N, 12°13'E and B) 37°42'N, 12°15'E, approximately on the 100 fathom line within effective range.

The zones of fires were centered as follows; HMS Sirius, 200 yards west of the railway station and HMS Dido, 400 yards north of the post office. The bombardment was carried out in indirect fire from 0148B/12 to 0207B/12, at a mean range of 21000 yards, the ships steering 157° at 18 knots. The only results observed were flashes, to tight of a large fire started by the preceding air attack, which appeared to coincide with the fall of shot.

A few enemy guns responded feebly during the latter half of the bombardment but no shells were seen to fall close to the cruisers.

At 0515B/12, the cruisers rejoined the other ships of ' Force Z ' in position 38°09'N, 10°45'E and the withdrawal was effected without incident. The destroyer HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSC, RN) joined the screen at 0620B/12 coming from Bone.

At 1115B/12, HMS Sirius and HMS Dido were detached to Bone to arrange for the immediate fuelling of the destroyers and for all available A/S craft to patrol off the harbour during the presence of the battleships. At 1430B/12, the battleships anchored off Bone while the destroyers fuelled.

Around 2015B/12, ' Force Z ', made up of the two battleships and the seven destroyers departed Bone for Algiers where it arrived around 0715B/13. (32)

14 Jul 1943
Around 1220B/14, ' Force Z ', made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN, Senior Officer) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt.Cdr. L.St.G. Rich, DSO, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) departed Algiers after a reconnaissance aircraft had reported that two Italian battleships had departed La Spezia.

At 0130B/15, they were joined by the light cruisers HMS Sirius (Capt. P.B.W. Brooking, DSO, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. J. Terry, RN) which came from Bone.

It then became apparent that the report of the aircraft had been false and all ships returned to Bone or Algiers later on the 15th. (33)

20 Jul 1943
HMS Sportsman (Lt. R. Gatehouse, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Algiers with HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt. E.A.S. Bailey DSC, MBE, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN). (34)

26 Jul 1943
Around 1415B/26, the damaged aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN) departed Malta for trials. After these were successfully completed she departed for Gibraltar around 1715B/26 escorted by the destroyers HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) and RHS Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas).

Around 1800B/26, the battleships HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt. E.A.S. Bailey DSC, MBE, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) departed Algiers to make rendezvous with HMS Indomitable and her escort.

Around 0300B/27, the light cruisers HMS Dido (Capt. J. Terry, RN) and HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) departed Bone to make rendezvous with the battleships and their escort. Rendezvous was effected around 0530B/27.

Around 1200B/27, HMS Indomitable and her escort made rendezvous with the battleships and the cruisers and their escort. HMS Intrepid and RHS Vasilissa Olga then parted company to return to Malta where they arrived on the 28th.

Around 0700B/28, HMS Dido and HMS Euryalus parted company to return to Bone where they arrived around 1430B/28.

Around 1100B/28, HMS Howe, HMS King George V, HMS Jervis, Paladin, Panther, Pathfinder, Penn and Arrow parted company to return to Algiers where they arrived around 1430B/28.

HMS Indomitable, HMS Antelope, HMS Boreas, HMS Wishart (Cdr. A.F. Campbell, OBE, RN) and HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. R.B.S. Tennant, RN) arrived at Gibraltar around 1830B/29. The last two destroyers had probably joined around the time the battleships and their escorts had parted company on the 28th. (35)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 53/107306 + ADM 53/107535 + ADM 53/109169
  2. ADM 53/113145
  3. ADM 53/111431
  4. ADM 53/111410 + ADM 53/ + ADM 53/ + ADM 53/112280 + ADM 199/361 + ADM 199/376
  5. ADM 53/113358 + ADM 199/361 + ADM 199/376
  6. ADM 53/112663 + ADM 186/798
  7. ADM 199/361 + ADM 199/376
  8. ADM 199/372 + ADM 199/1136
  9. ADM 199/1138
  10. ADM 53/114437
  11. ADM 53/114887
  12. ADM 53/114973
  13. ADM 199/657
  14. ADM 199/415
  15. ADM 199/650
  16. ADM 53/116604 + ADM 199/426
  17. ADM 199/1389
  18. ADM 187/18 + ADM 199/426
  19. ADM 53/116556
  20. ADM 199/426
  21. ADM 53/115475 + ADM 53/115818 + ADM 53/116534 + ADM 53/116605 + ADM 199/429
  22. ADM 53/116557
  23. ADM 199/429 + ADM 199/1389
  24. ADM 53/116469
  25. ADM 53/116470
  26. ADM 53/116728 + ADM 199/653
  27. ADM 173/18389
  28. File 2.12.03.6390 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  29. ADM 53/117014 + ADM 53/117576 + ADM 53/117670 + ADM 53/117839 + ADM 53/118252 + ADM 53/118480 + ADM 53/118629 + ADM 53/118673 + ADM 53/118714
  30. ADM 173/18374
  31. ADM 53/117635 + ADM 53/117719 + ADM 199/640
  32. ADM 53/117635 + ADM 53/117719 + ADM 199/640 + ADM 234/356
  33. ADM 53/117653 + ADM 53/117719 + ADM 199/640
  34. ADM 173/18104
  35. ADM 53/117377 + ADM 53/117493 + ADM 53/117635 + ADM 53/117671 + ADM 53/117719 + ADM 199/641

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


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