Allied Warships

HMS Obdurate (G 39)

Destroyer of the O class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassO 
PennantG 39 
Built byWilliam Denny & Brothers (Dumbarton, Scotland) 
Ordered3 Sep 1939 
Laid down25 Apr 1940 
Launched19 Feb 1942 
Commissioned3 Sep 1942 
End service 
History

Scrapped at Inverkeithing in November 1964.

 

Hit by U-boat
Damaged on 25 Jan 1944 by U-360 (Becker).

U-boat AttackSee our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Obdurate

Commands listed for HMS Obdurate (G 39)

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

CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. Claude Edward Lutley Sclater, RN21 Jul 194213 Feb 1945
2Lt.Cdr. Robert Denys Franks, DSO, OBE, RN13 Feb 1945ca mid 46

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Notable events involving Obdurate include:


17 Sep 1942
HMS H 34 (Lt. J.P.H. Oakley, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Blean (Lt. N.J. Parker, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN). (1)

19 Sep 1942
HMS H 34 (Lt. J.P.H. Oakley, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN), HMS Blean (Lt. N.J. Parker, RN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, DSO, RN) and HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN). (1)

22 Sep 1942
The battleship HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. HMS Howe was escorted by the destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Porcupine (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN). (2)

24 Sep 1942
Around 0630/24, HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), departed Greenock for Scapa Flow. She was escorted by HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Porcupine (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN).

They arrived at Scapa Flow around 0730/25. (3)

25 Sep 1942
In the afternoon and evening, the battleship HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Scapa Flow. She was escorted by the destroyer HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Blean (Lt. N.J. Parker, RN) and HMS Tanatside (Lt.Cdr. F.D. Brown, RN). (2)

1 Oct 1942
HMS H 34 (Lt. J.P.H. Oakley, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN), HMS Martin (Cdr. C.R.P. Thomson, DSO, RN) and HMS Escapade (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN). (4)

8 Oct 1942
HMS H 34 (Lt. J.P.H. Oakley, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN) and HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN). (4)

17 Nov 1942

Convoy QP 15.

This convoy departed the Archangelsk on 17 November 1942 and arrived at Loch Ewe on 30 November 1942.

The convoy was made up the following merchant vessels; Andre Marti (Russian, 2352 GRT, built 1918), Belomorcanal (Russian, 2900 GRT, built 1936), Charles R. McCormick (American, 6027 GRT, built 1920), Dan-Y-Brin (British, 5117 GRT, built 1940), Empire Baffin (British, 6978 GRT, built 1941), Empire Morn (British, 7092 GRT, built 1941), Empire Snow (British, 6327 GRT, built 1941), Empire Tristram (British, 7167 GRT, built 1942), Esek Hopkins (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Exford (American, 4969 GRT, built 1919), Friedrich Engels (Russian, 3972 GRT, built 1930), Goolistan (British, 5851 GRT, built 1929), Hollywood (American, 5498 GRT, built 1920), Ironclad (American, 5685 GRT, built 1919), Komiles (Russian, 3962 GRT, built 1932), Kuznetz Lesov (Russian, 3974 GRT, built 1933), Lafayette (American, 5887 GRT, built 1919), Meanticut (American, 6061 GRT, built 1921), Nathaniel Greene (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Faith (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Patrick Henry (American, 7191 GRT, built 1941), Petrovski (Russian, 3771 GRT, built 1921), Sahale (American, 5028 GRT, built 1919), Schoharie (American, 4971 GRT, built 1919), St. Olaf (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Tblisi (Russian, 7169 GRT, built 1912), Temple Arch (British, 5138 GRT, built 1940), Virginia Dare (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), White Clover (Panamanian, 5462 GRT, built 1920), William Moultrie (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942) and

The rescue vessel (British, 1526 GRT, built 1923) is also part of the convoy.

On departed from the Kola Inlet the convoy was escorted by the AA ship Ulster Queen, destroyers Baku, Sokrushitelny, minesweepers HMS Britomart (Lt.Cdr. S.S. Stammwitz, RN), HMS Halcyon (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Corbet-Singleton, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Hazard (Lt.(Retd.) G.C. Hocart, RNR), HMS Salamander (Lt. W.R. Muttram, RN), HMS Sharpshooter (Lt.Cdr. W.L. O'Mara, RN), corvettes HMS Bergamot (Lt. R.T. Horan, RNR), HMS Bluebell (Lt. G.H. Walker, RNVR), HMS Bryony (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Stewart, DSC, RNR), HMS Camellia (T/Lt. R.F.J. Maberley, RNVR).

The merchant vessels Ironclad and Meanticut soon returned to the Kola Inlet with defects.

On 19 November 1941 the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) and HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.deW. Kitcat, RN) departed the Kola Inlet to overtake and join the convoy which they did the following day.

On 20 November 1941 the destroyers HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), HMS Orwell ( Lt.Cdr. N.H.G. Austen, DSO, RN) and escort destroyers HMS Ledbury (Lt. D.R.N. Murdoch, RN), HMS Middleton (Lt. C.S. Battersby, RN) and HMS Oakley (Lt.Cdr. T.A. Pack-Beresford, RN) departed Seidisfjord to join the convoy from the westward.

The Russian escort parted company with the convoy to return to the Kola Inlet, these were; Baku, Sokrushitelny. They were both damaged in the heavy weather, Baku managed to reach port with difficulty while Sokrushitelny almost broke in half. She foundered and sank on 22 November.

Due to the weather conditions the convoy got scattered.

On 23 November the staggling merchant vessels Goolistan and Kusnets Lesov were sunk by the German submarines U-625 and U-601 respectively. There were no survivors from both ships.

Also on 23 November, HMS Musketeer, HMS Orwell and the escort destroyers HMS Ledbury, HMS Middleton and HMS Oakley joined the convoy.

On 25 November, HMS Ulster Queen, HMS Icarus, HMS Bluebell and HMS Camellia arrived at Seidisfjord to fuel having parted company with the convoy the day before.

On 26 November, the Convoy Commodore with a total of nine ships set course to proceed direct to Loch Ewe. A total of seven stagglers arrived at Akureyri during the day.

Also on 26 November, HMS Faulknor, Echo, HMS Impulsive, HMS Intrepid, HMS Musketeer, HMS Orwell, HMS Ledbury and HMS Middleton arrived at Seidisfjord followed later by HMS Halcyon.

HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Burnett, DSC, RN) and HMS Impulsive departed Seidisfjord to go the the assistance of HMS Sharpshooter which had engine trouble and was still to the north-east of Iceland in position 68°05'N, 11°40'W.

On 27 November, a staggler escorted by HMS Oakley arrived at Seidisfjord. This ship later departed again escorted by HMS Icarus, HMS Intrepid, HMS Ledbury, HMS Middleton, HMS Bluebell and HMS Camellia to join the Convoy Commodore and his group of ships. On joining HMS Britomart, HMS Hazard, HMS Bergamot and HMS Bryony parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Seidisfjord to fuel. HMS Ulster Queen later also rejoined the convoy.

Also on 27 November nine more stagglers of the convoy arrived at Akureyri.

HMS Salamander and a staggler arrived at Seidisford as did HMS Forester with HMS Sharpshooter. HMS Impulsive remainded out on patrol off Seidisfjord reinforced by HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN). On arriving at Seidisfjord HMS Sharpshooter collided with another ship. She departed to effect repairs at Hvalfjord later the same day arriving there on 28 November.

On 28 November HMS Impulsive and HMS Obdurate abandoned their patrol proceeding to Seidisfjord and Hvalfjord (arrived 29 November) respectively.

Also on 28 November HMS Faulknor departed Seidisfjord for Scapa Flow while HMS Forester, HMS Echo, HMS Musketeer, HMS Orwell, HMS Oakley, HMS Britomart and HMS Hazard departed Seidisfjord to proceed to Akureyri to pick up the stagglers there and proceed with them to Loch Ewe. Convoy QP 15M, made up of 14 merchant ships, then departed Akureyi on the 29th. They were joined off Seidisfjord by one more merchant ship and a tanker which came out escorted by HMS Impulsive, HMS Bergamot and HMS Bryony.

On 29 November, HMS Halcyon and HMS Salamander departed Seidisfjord for Scapa Flow where they arrived on 1 December.

On 30 November, the Commodore's section of convoy QP 15 (9 ships) arrived at Loch Ewe. HMS Ulster Queen and HMS Ledbury then proceeded to the Clyde arriving later the same day. HMS Icarus, HMS Intrepid and HMS Middleton proceeded to Scapa Flow arriving later the same day. HMS Bluebell went to the Tyne arriving on 1 December and HMS Camellia went to Cardiff also arriving on 1 December.

Also on 30 November, HMS Orwell and HMS Oakley were detached from the escort for convoy QP 15M to proceed to Scapa Flow arriving on 1 December.

On 2 December, HMS Echo was detached from the escort of convoy QP 15M to proceed to the Clyde where she arrived on 3 December.

Also on 2 December, HMS Britomart and HMS Hazard were detached from convoy QP 15M with the tanker and escorted her to Scapa Flow where they arrived on 3 December.

On 3 December, HMS Forester, HMS Impulsive and HMS Musketeer were detached from convoy QP 15M to Scapa Flow where they arrived later the same day.

Convoy QP 15M (15 ships) arrived at Loch Ewe on 3 December, HMS Bergamot and HMS Bryony then went to the Tyne arriving there on 4 December.

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To provide cover for this convoy a cruiser force was deployed.

On 14 November the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN) and HMS Obdurate departed Scapa Flow for Seidisfjord where they arrived on 17 November.

On 16 November the heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk (Capt. R. Shelley, CBE, RN) and destroyer HMS Forester departed Hvalfjord for Seidisdfjord where they arrived the following day.

Also on the 16th, HMS London (Capt. R.M. Servaes, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral L.H.K. Hamilton, DSO and Bar, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Seidisfjord arriving on the 18th.

On the 19th HMS London, HMS Suffolk, HMS Forester, HMS Obdurate and HMS Onslaught departed Seidisford to provide distant cover for the convoy from a position to the south-west of Bear Island.

On 23 November the destroyers were sent to Seidisfjord to refuel. They arrived at Seidisfjord on the 25th. Heavy weather had been encountered so presumably it was not possible to fuel at sea.

On 25 November HMS London and HMS Suffolk discontinued their patrol. They proceeded to Scapa Flow and Hvalfjord respectively both arriving at their destinations on the 27th. HMS Suffolk arrived at Hvalfjord with some weather damage.

Also on the 25th, HMS Onslaught departed Seidisfjord for Scapa Flow arriving on the 27th.

19 Nov 1942
The heavy cruisers HMS London (Capt. R.M. Servaes, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral L.H.K. Hamilton, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Suffolk (Capt. R. Shelley, CBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Burnett, DSC, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN) and HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN) departed Seidisfjord to provide cover for convoy QP 15.

[For more information on this convoy see the event ' Convoy QP 15 ' for 17 November 1942.] (5)

5 Dec 1942
HMS Berwick (Capt. G.H. Faulkner, DSC, RN), HMS Cumberland (Capt. A.H. Maxwell-Hyslop, AM, RN), HMS Norfolk (Capt. E.G.H. Bellars, RN), HMS Suffolk (Capt. R. Shelley, CBE, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN) conducted exercises west of Iceland during which HMS Norfolk and HMS Cumberland represented the German cruisers Admiral Hipper and Köln trying to break out into the Atlantic.

On completion of the exercises HMS Berwick and HMS Suffolk set course to proceed to Scapa Flow. (6)

22 Dec 1942

Convoy JW 51B and the Battle of the Barents Sea.

This convoy departed Loch Ewe on 22 December 1942 and arrived in the Kola Inlet on 3 January 1943.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Ballot (Panamanian, 6131 GRT, built 1922), Calobre (Panamanian, 6891 GRT, built 1919), Chester Valley (American, 5078 GRT, built 1919), Daldorch (British, 5571 GRT, built 1930), Dover Hill (British, 5815 GRT, built 1918), Empire Archer (British, 7031 GRT, built 1942), Empire Emerald (British (tanker), 8032 GRT, built 1941), Executive (American, 4978 GRT, built 1920), Jefferson Meyers (American, 7582 GRT, built 1920), John H.B. Latrobe (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Pontfield (British (tanker), 8319 GRT, built 1940), Puerto Rican (American, 6076 GRT, built 1919), Ralph Waldo Emerson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Vermont (American, 5670 GRT, built 1919) and Yorkmar (American, 5612 GRT, built 1919).

On departure from Loch Ewe the convoy was escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Chiddingfold (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, RN), HMS Ledbury (Lt. D.R.N. Murdoch, RN), corvettes HMS Hyderabad (Lt. S.C.B. Hickman, DSC, RNR), HMS Rhododendron (Lt. L.A. Sayers, RNR), minesweeper HMS Bramble (Cdr. H.T. Rust, DSO, RN) and the A/S trawlers HMS Northern Gem (Skr. H.C. Aisthorpe, RNR) and HMS Vizalma ( T/Lt. J.R. Anglebeck, RNVR).

On 21 December the destroyers HMS Bulldog (Cdr. M. Richmond, OBE, DSO, RN) and HMS Achates (Lt.Cdr. A.H.T. Johns, RN) departed the Clyde to fuel at Seidisfjord and then join the close convoy escort. However on 22 December they ran into a Force 12 gale near Stokksnes Light, Iceland and both sustained weather damage. Damage to HMS Bulldog, whose Commanding Officer was to become the Senior Officer of the close escort, was of such nature that she was unable to join the convoy and she returned to the Clyde for repairs. HMS Achates was able to continue to Seidisfjord.

The convoy was most likely detected by a German Focke Wolf reconnaissance aircraft on the 24th.

Late on the 24th the destroyers HMS Onslow (Capt. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, DSO, RN), HMS Oribi (Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN), HMS Orwell ( Lt.Cdr. N.H.G. Austen, DSO, RN) and HMS Achates departed Seidisfjord and joined the convoy the following day.

During the night of 28/29 December 1942, five merchant vessels, HMS Oribi and HMS Vizalma separated from the convoy during a gale about half way between Jan Mayen and Bear Islands.

In the afternoon of the 29th, HMS Bramble was detached to search for the missing merchantmen.

On 30 December 1942, three of the merchantmen managed to find and rejoin the convoy.

HMS Oribi reached the Kola Inlet alone on 31 December 1942 having searched for the convoy but having failed to do so.

HMS Bramble was sunk on 31 December 1942 before she was able to rejoin the convoy.

HMS Vizalma and one of the merchantmen rejoined the convoy on 1 January 1943.

The last merchantmen that had separated from the convoy was unable to find it and arrived in the Kola Inlet on 5 January 1943, two days after the main body of the convoy had arrived.

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Meanwhile in the afternoon of 27 December 1941, ' Force R ' had departed the Kola Inlet to support the convoy. ' Force R ' was made up of the light cruisers HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, DSO, OBE, RN), HMS Jamaica (Capt. J.L. Storey, RN) and the destroyers HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, RN). They were to provide cover of the convoy going as far west as 11°00'E.

On the 29th he turned back and the destroyers were then detached to proceed to Scapa Flow where they arrived early in the afternoon of 1 January 1943.

As the cruisers went east again they kept well south of the expected convoy route and on reaching the meridian of the Kola Inlet on the 30th, they turned north-west to cross the expected convoy route early the next day with the intention to then steer a parallel course a few miles north of the route and to cover the convoy from 40 to 50 miles astern. This was the direction from which an attack was most likely to develop. The intention by Rear-Admiral Burnett to keep to the North of the convoy route was to gain the advantage of the light over any enemy that might appear and also to avoid detection by enemy air reconnaissance and leading enemy aircraft to the convoy.

Nothing however came of this plan as the convoy was further to the south and much further to the west than had been anticipated. The result was that Rear-Admiral Burnett did not cross the route behind the convoy but well ahead of it and by 0830 hours on 31 December 1942 was nearly 30 miles due north of it. This ignorance of the relative position of the convoy exercised great influence on the Rear-Admiral's decisions throughout the action that ensued.

Up to that morning, the 31st, there had been little sign that the Germans knew of the convoy's progress since the 24th.

Actually the convoy had been sighted by a German submarine (this was U-354) around noon on the 30th. The U-boat reported it was 'weakly protected'. A German squadron, made up of the heavy cruisers Admiral Hipper (Kpt.z.S.(Capt.) H. Hartmann, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral O. Kummetz), Lützow (Kpt.z.S.(Capt.) R. Stange) and the destroyers of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla (Kpt.z.S.(Capt.) A. Schemmel), Z 16 / Friedrich Eckhold (K.Kpt.(Lt.Cdr.) H. Bachmann, with Capt. Schemmel on board), Z 4 / Richard Beitzen (K.Kpt.(Lt.Cdr.) H. von Davidson), Z 6 / Theodor Riedel (K.Kpt.(Lt.Cdr.) W. Riede), Z 29 (F.Kpt.(Cdr.) K. Rechel), Z 30 (F.Kpt.(Cdr.) H. Kaiser) and Z 31 (K.Kpt.(Lt.Cdr.) H. Alberts) then wasted no time in putting to sea. Vice Admiral Kummetz was not aware of the cruisers of Rear Admiral Burnett. He was also hampered by the orders not to risk an action with equal or superior enemy forces. Also night attack was ruled out. Also the Lützow showed a bit timid action in the engagement that was to follow, this was she was to avoid damage as she was to break out into the Atlantic immediately following the attack on the convoy.

Vice-Admiral Kummetz decided to approach from astern of the convoy thereby obtaining advantage of light, and to attack it from both sides, anticipating that the escort would be drawn off towards the first contact and that the convoy would turn away from it, thereby falling an easy prey to the other force. To give effect to this plan he devided his squadron into two forces. The Admiral Hipper, Z 16 / Friedrich Eckholdt, Z 4 / Richard Beitzen and Z 29 were to attack from the north-west and the Lützow, Z 6 / Theodor Riedel, Z 30 and Z 31 were to operate from the southward. During the night the Lützow-group was detached with orders to be 75 miles 180° from the Admiral Hipper-group at 0800/31. The Hipper-group would be in position 73°40'N, 28°00'E. On arriving in their positions a sweep to the eastward was to commence with the destroyers spread 15 miles apart on a line 15 miles ahead of the heavy ships.

Admiral Kummentz was later criticised for adopting a plan which split his force and introduced complications such timing difficulties, identification of own forces in the Arctic dusk and qualls, etc., but it is worth noting that his tactical dispositions did in fact work out exactly as he intended. The Lützow and her destroyers passed two or three miles south of the convoy while practically all its escorts were attending to the Hipper-group in the north, and but for the extreme caution of Capt. Strange of the Lützow there seems no reason why he should not have virtually annihilated the convoy.

To return to convoy JW 51B, the situation at 0830/31 was thus approximately as follows. The convoy, temporarily reduced to 12 ships, with five destroyers, two corvettes and a trawler still in company, was on an easterly course in position 73°15'N, 29°00'E. This was about 220 miles north-west of the Kola Inlet. Some 45 miles to the northward was the trawler HMS Vizalma with one merchant vessel in company. About 15 miles to the north-eastward was HMS Bramble. Rear-Admiral Burnett in HMS Sheffield and with HMS Jamaica was about 30 miles north of the convoy and 15 miles south of the Vizalma. None of these four groups knew each other's relative positions and there was also another straggler somewhere in the neighbourhood. Quite unknown to the British, for there had been no sign of the enemy being aware of their progress, still less that he was at sea in force, the Admiral Hipper had just crossed the wake of the convoy and was then within 20 miles to the north-westward, while the Lützow, still some 50 miles off, was closing in from the southward.

The weather was generally clear, the twilight visibility being about seven miles to the northward and ten miles to the southward, but at intervals much reduced by snow squalls. The sky was mostly covered with low cloud. The wind came from the west-north-west, force 3, the sea slight with no swell. There were 16 degrees of frost and there was ice on all ships.

At 0830/31, HMS Obdurate, on the starboard beam of the convoy, reported two destroyers to the south-west. Actually, they had been sighted ten minutes previously by HMS Hyderabad (on the starboard quarter of the convoy) but she had taken them for Russians coming to reinforece the escort and made no report. Captain Sherbrooke sent HMS Obdurate to investigate. A third destroyer soon came into sight. These were the Z 16 / Friedrich Eckholdt, Z 4 / Richard Beitzen and Z 29 gradually opening from the Admiral Hipper in anticipation of the order to turn and sweep to the eastward. They altered course away from the Obdurate to the north-west. At 0930 hours - an hour after she had first sighted them - the Obdurate had closed them to 8000 yards, and they opened fire on her, so she turned away and steered to rejoin the convoy. The enemy made no attempt to follow and disappeared to the north-westward. This was the beginning of a series of disconnected skirmishes fought in the gloom of the Arctic twilight, in which smoke screens and snowstorms made it often impossible for ships of either side to identify their opponents with certainty, or indeed even to be sure of their numbers.

Captain Sherbrooke had already turned HMS Onslow towards the gun flashes and he signalled HMS Orwell, HMS Obedient and HMS Obdurate to join him, leaving HMS Achates and the three smaller warships with the convoy to cover it with smoke.

A more formidable opponent, however, diverted Captain Sherbooke's attention from the three destroyers. At 0939 hours, he sighted a large ship eight miles to the north-westward, a little on his starboard bow standing towards him. With HMS Onslow at this moment was only HMS Orwell as HMS Obedient had to come from the far side of the convoy. At 0941 hours, the big German turned away to port to open fire on HMS Achates, then showing clearly to windward of her smoke, and thus disclosing herself to be the Admiral Hipper, as her four gun turrets proved. HMS Onslow and HMS Orwell returned the fire, at a range of about 11000 yards, and followed round to a similar course. Captain Sherbrooke soon formed the opinion that the enemy was unwilling to face the risk of torpedo attack by the destroyers and made good use of the fact. For half an hour they skirmished fitfully, the British ships firing by radar, the Admiral Hipper sometimes hiding in the smoke and sometimes firing towards the convoy and all the time edging towards the north-east.

Meanwhile, the convoy had turned from east to south-east at 0945/31ç and was going off at nearly 9 knots, screened by smoke from HMS Achates, HMS Rhododendron and HMS Northern Gem. By 0955 hours, HMS Obedient had joined Captain Sherbrooke, and HMS Obdurate was in sight returning from the south-west He ordered these two ships to join the convoy, anxious lest it should be attacked by the three German destroyers, which he had never seen himself and whose movements he could not trace. Actually they had been ordered to join the Hipper at 0933 hours (just after opening fire on HMS Obdurate). HMS Obedient steered away to the southward at 1008 hours, and signalled to HMS Obdurate to join her, turning eastward later to lay a smokescreen across the wake of the convoy before joining it. A signal from HMS Sheffield that she was approaching on course 170° had been received ' with acclamation ' a few minutes previously.

At the same time HMS Obedient turned south the Admiral Hipper hauled right up to the northward out of action and it was thought that she had received three hits [this was not the case though]. Her firing had been ' aimless and erratic ' and whenever the range came within 11000 yards she had turned away. This was partly in pursuance of the plan to lure the escort away to the northward and so leave the field clear for the Lützow, and partly because Admiral Kummetz could form no clear picture of the situation owing to the smoke and poor visibility.

However, a few minutes later she ' suddenly pulled herself together ' and turned back to fight to two remaining destroyers. After a few inaccurate salvos she found the Onslow's range and at 1020 hours scored four hits in rapid succession inflicting considerable damage. 'A' and 'B' guns were put out of action, the aft superstructure and mess deck were set on fire, the main aerials and both W/T sets were destroyed, the engine room holed, and Captain Sherbrooke severely wounded in the face, so that he could not see. Despite his wounds he continued to direct the flotilla and his ship till a further hit compelled him to disengange the Onslow, only then, after receiving reports as to her condition and assuring himself that the order to Lt.Cdr. Kinloch of HMS Obedient to take charge of the destroyers was being acted on, did he leave the bridge. By the time Lt.Cdr. Kinloch learnt that he was in command (1035 hours), a snowstorm had reduced the visibility to about two miles and the Admiral Hipper had disappeared. This was the end of the first action.

By this time Rear-Admiral Burnett with HMS Sheffield and HMS Jamaica was coming into the picture. Unfortunately he had been delayed from steering for the gunfire as early as he might have done by a radar contact picked up at 0858/31 of a ship some 15000 yards ahead while he was still steering to the north-west. As the plot developed, at 0905 hourss the stranger seemed to be doing at least 25 knots, though it subsequently appeared that her speed had been greatly over estimated. Just before this ' a ship was dimly in sight ' for a moment on the correct bearing and Rear-Admiral Burnett ' hauled away ' to the south-east and then closed at 0930 hours, in order to ' track and establish touch '. It was in fact, a merchant vessel, wihch had parted company with the convoy earlier and was now with the trawler HMS Vizalma. These were shortly yo see the two British cruisers stretching away to the southward ten miles on their starboard bow, without knowing whether they were friend or foe. Two minutes later, at 0932 hours, gun flashes were seen over the southern horizon and were taken for anti-aircraft fire. It must have been the skirmish between HMS Obdurate and the German destroyers that opened the day's fighting.

Rear-Admiral Burnett was in a perplexing position. He had no idea of the actual position of the convoy, whose safety was his prime objective, and which he supposed to be well to the eastward of him. Past experience had taught him that stragglers were to be expected after the heavy gales. The brief exchange of gunfire seen at 0932 hours had soon died down and might well have come from one or a detached escort vessel. On the whole it seemed likely hat the convoy was somewhere ahead of the Vizalma and her straggler and with this in mind he continued to track them by radar steering to the east and north-east.

Then, at 0946/31, heavy gunfire was observed to the southward and very shortly afterwards an enemy report of three destroyers was received from Capt. Sherbrooke. Though by then suspecting that the convoy was considerably further south than anticipated, the Rear-Admiral held on for some minutes and it was not until 0955 hours that he altered course and increasing to 25 knots and ' steamed towards the sight of the guns '.

In hindsight, it is clear that the cruisers could have intervened in the action earlier, had Rear-Admiral Burnett at once applied the two fundamental principles of British fighting policy, viz ' when in doubt, steer for the sound of the guns ' and ' the unfailing support given in battle by one British unit to another '. On the other hand the ' safe and timely arrival ' of the still unlocated convoy was his object, and human reactions are known to be slow when subjected to the rigours of the bitter Arctic climate.

As the cruisers ran south they worked up to 31 knots, and the could see through the smoke the later stages of the destroyers first fight with the Admiral Hipper, though the could not distinguish the ships engaged. At about 1030 hours, they had radar contacts of ships bearing 180° and 140°, at ranges of about 24000 and 30000 yards respectively, both ships apparently standing to the eastward at high speed. As the situation was not yet clear Rear-Admiral Burnett turned eastward himself at 1035 hours. A minute later there was a burst of firing on his starboard bow. He continued to the eastward to close this while taking care to preserve the light in his favour. At 1045/31 the nearer and western ship of the two radar contacts came in sight for a moment, she was ' larger then a destroyer, therefore necessarily an enemy' but that was all that could be said of her. The ships of the other contact, further east, altered course to the southward at 1054 hours and at 1055 hours the British cruisers turned to the southward in chase.

Ten minutes later they had a contact a little on the starboard bow at 19000 yards, and this was the ship they subsequently engaged. At 1112 hours she was seen to be firing to the eastward. Rear-Admiral Burnett then altered course towards her.

Now lets return to the convoy. The situation that Lt.Cdr. Kinloch had to cope with on taking over command of the escort at 1035 hours was by no means clear. The convoy, by this time steering 180°, was some three miles to the southward of HMS Obedient and HMS Obdurate, which were closing it. HMS Orwell, somewhat to the north-east, was steering to join them. HMS Achates a little to the westward was continuing to lay smoke, and the damaged HMS Onslow was taking station ahead of the convoy from whence she could home ' Force R '. Just about this time, HMS Rhododendron from the port quarter of the convoy reported smoke to the south-west, followed ten minutes later by a report of a large vessel bearing 160° only two miles off, steering to the north-east. These reports necessarily engaged the attention of Lt.Cdr. Kinloch, but he did not accept them for want of corroboration by ships nearer to the strangers, and continued to follow the convoy to the southward, keeping between it and the direction in which the Admiral Hipper had disappeared. For some reason HMS Hyderabad, stationed on the starboard side of the convoy, which just previously had seen two destroyers and a large ship cross ahead from west to east, made no report. This was the Lützow's force, but provindentially a heavy snow-squall just then partially blotted out the convoy, and her Captain, though aware of its presence, considered it too risky to attack and decided to stand off to the eastward till the weather should be clear.

Meanwhile the Admiral Hipper, after disabling HMS Onslow had stood on the east-north-east at 31 knots. At 1036 hours, she fell in with HMS Bramble, which no doubt had altered course towards the gunfire of the previous engagements, and damaged her with a few salvoes at short range. At 1047 hours, she altered course to the southward, detaching Z 16 / Friedrich Eckholdt a few minutes later to finish off HMS Bramble.

Lt.Cdr. Kinloch with his three destroyers continued to the southward, gradually overhauling the convoy and passing down its port side. His last news of the Hipper had been a report from the Orwell placing her 038° eight miles from her at 1040 hours. The weather cleared somewhat at about 1100 hours and HMS Obedient then sighted a cruiser and two destroyers bearing 060°. This was the Lützow waiting for the weather to clear. Lt.Cdr. Kinloch led round towards her mad made smoke. She seemed to be steering about 150°, and the British destroyers soon conformed, keeping between her and the convoy. At 1106 hours the enemy opened fire, but no fall of shot could be seen from HMS Obedient. Actually, the ship firing was the Admiral Hipper, which was approaching at 31 knots on course 190° on a bearing nearly the same as the Lützow's. The Admiral Hipper at that time was firing on destroyers to the eastward, which she claimed to have set on fire. No British destroyers were in this position at the time. A possible explanation is that this was the unfortunate Bramble again, which in the murk and gloom had limped off to the southward. Be that as it may, the Admiral Hipper continued at high speed on course 220°, and at 1115 hours engaged HMS Achates, then just clearing her smoke screen in response to orders from Lt.Cdr. Kinloch to join HMS Onslow ahead of the convoy. After three minutes, HMS Achates received a hit which crippled her, killing her Commanding Officer, Lt.Cdr. A.H.T. Johns, and some 40 others. Lt. Peyton-Jones, who then took command, found he could only overtake the convoy very slowly, so he disregarded orders and continued to lay smoke as before.

The Admiral Hipper then shifted her fire to HMS Obedient, which had led her destroyers to the northward again to keep between her and the convoy, and had opened fire on her at a range of 8500 yards at 1120/31. At 1125 hours the Admiral Hipper hauled up o the north-westward (310°), and having straddled HMS Obedient and put her wireless out of action at 1128 hours, altered course to 360° at 1130 hours in order to clear the torpedo menace. At the same time Lt.Cdr. Kinloch, as the range was rapidly opening, altered course to port again to close the convoy.

At this moment the Admiral Hipper received an unpleasant shock. Firing broke out from the northward, and before it was realised what was happening she received a hit which reduced her speed to 28 knots. ' Force R ' had arrived. Her turn to the north-westward at 1125 houres had revealed her broadside to the approaching cruisers, then some sever or eight miles off. Rear-Admiral Burnett led round a roughly parallel course and at 1130 hours, HMS Sheffield opened fire under helm at about 13000 yards, HMS Jamaica firing directly afterwards from her forward turrects. Taken completely by surprise, the Admiral Hipper failed to reply till after the fourth salvo had arrived. She made smoke and altered course towards them, swinging through east to 240°, and receiving two more hits before she was round. This was too much for Vice-Admiral Kimmetz, who thus found himself between Lt.Cdr. Kinloch's destroyers to the southward and an unknown force engaging him from the northward, and at 1137 hours he made a general signal ordering all ships to break off action and retire to the west.

The British ships conformed with her turn and the range at one stage fell as low as 8000 yards, unluckily the Admiral Hipper then became obscured, and HMS Sheffield had to cease fire from 1136 to 1139 hours, losing three precious minutes at short range. At 1143, when both sides were pointing southward again, two German destroyers appeared in an ideal position to attack with torpedoes at 4000 yards range. HMS Sheffield reversed her helm and headed for one destroyer. This was the Z 16 / Friedrich Eckholdt, which had mistaken the British cruisers for the Admiral Hipper and Lützow, which she was trying to rejoin. HMS Sheffield engaged her with all guns down to pompoms, passing within half a mile of her and reducing her to a shambles in ten minutes. HMS Jamaica astern fired first at the other destroyer, which was further off and which turned away seemingly unharmed [This was the Z 4 / Richard Beitzen]. Then she shifted her aim to the Sheffield's target, but refrained from firing on the blazing wreck, which the enemy subsequently admitted had been sunk. Meanwhile the Admiral Hipper having completed the full circle of her turn passed out of sight to the westward. She had suffered three hits in the brief action. Her no.3 boiler room was flooded and her hangar on fire. They only salvo she got off at her opponents had fallen harmlessly in the sea.

Before the British cruiser found the enemy again, HMS Obedient and her consorts had one more fight. After disengaging from the Admiral Hipper at 1130 hours, they stood to the southward to close the convoy. The flashes of Rear-Admiral Burnett's guns to the north-eastward had been a welcome sight. Though they had known he was on his way, they could not know when he would arrive. They also saw another engagement further east at 1138 hours, apparently between a large ship and a much smaller one, the latter firing a single gun. This may have been the Z 16 / Friedrich Eckholdt sinking HMS Bramble. Then, some three minutes later, a large ship began shelling the convoy from the north-east at a distance of about nine miles. Some of the merchant ships were not yet screened by the smoke the destroyers had been laying, and one of them, the Calobre, was damaged. This was the Lützow, which seeing no possibility of attacking the convoy from the east, had altered course at 1126 to the north-westward, in order to maintain contact with the Admiral Hipper, which she had seen firing and identified by exchange of recognition signals ten minutes previously.

The convoy made an emergency turn to 225°, while Lt.Cdr. Kinloch hauled round to the eastward to cover it with smoke, and opened fire. According to the Lützow all shots fell short. One of the German destroyers following the Lützow fired a few ineffective rounds. After about five minutes, the smoke screen became effective and the Lützow ceased fire. Immediately afterwards Lt.Cdr. Kinloch sighted the Admiral Hipper and her two destroyers on a south-westerly course four to five miles to the northward. The three British destroyers turned together to the north-west which put HMS Obdurate, to whom Lt.Cdr. Kinloch had turned over the direction of the destroyer when his own wireless was disabled, at the head of the line and steered between the convoy and the new enemy. The Germans altered away to a similar course, but by this time the Lützow was steaming to join the Admiral Hipper at 24 knots and she opened an accurate fire on HMS Obdurate at 1155/31, to which the British destroyers replied. At 1202 hours, after the Obdurate had been damaged by a near miss, they turned away to keep between the convoy and the most likely direction of attack if the enemy should close again, while the Lützow continued to the westward. But this was the last attempt the Germans made. Vice-Admiral Kummetz had repeated his signal to withdraw at 1149 hours, and no more was seen of them by the destroyers. At 1240 hours, with no enemy in sighted and night drawing on, the steered south to overtake the convoy.

All this time the crippled HMS Achates, her bows deep in the water and listing ominously, had continued to screen the convoy with smoke. By 1300 hours the list had increased to about 60°, and a quarter of an hour later she lost steam. Lt. Peyton-Jones then signalled for assistance, and HMS Northern Gem closed her at once. She capsized suddenly and sank at 1330 hours. HMS Northern Gem picked up 81 survivors.

Meanwhile HMS Sheffield and HMS Jamaica had ceased fire at 1154 ad alter to the westward. At 1215 hours, they sighted the Admiral Hipper for a moment 12 miles away on the port bow going also to the westward. Then at 1223 hours two destroyers came in sight four or five miles to the southward in a good position for firing torpedoes. Rear-Admiral Burnett turned towards them to engage. As the guns were training on the target, however, HMS Sheffield sighted a larger ship, the Lützow, further away on the same bearing. At 1229 hours, the British cruisers opened fire on her from 14000 yards. She replied at once and the Admiral Hipper joined in the fight two or three minutes later from further ahead. The Lützow's shots fell consistently short, but the Hipper's fire was dangerously accurate, so Rear-Admiral Burnett hauled up to the northward to avoid being engaged ' from both sides at once ' and to lessen the risk from torpedoes fired gt the destroyers, which were not being engaged. By 1236 hours the fight was over, HMS Jamaica claiming one hit on the Lützow [this was not the case]. The Germans continued to the westward, and the British ships soon turned west also, tracking the enemy by radar till at 1400 hours they lost contact. By this time the radar operators in HMS Sheffield, who had been operating their apparatus in an exposed position in a temperature well below freezing point for hours, were completely exhausted. HMS Jamaica's radar had been out of action due to her own salvo firing. Rear-Admiral Burnett also did not want to get too far from the convoy, of whose position he was still very uncertain. The big German ships had been driven off, but it was known that the light cruiser Nürnberg had been with them at Altenfjord. It was though that she was also at sea nearby. Rear-Admiral Burnett to the southward, between the convoy and the big German ships still with the advantage of what little light remained.

So the fighting ended. The British forces had lost the Achates and Bramble but the convoy was intact and the had sunk the Friedrich Eckholdt and seriously damaged the Admiral Hipper. As a result of these actions, too, the Germans abandoned the plan for the Lützow to break out onto the Atlantic which was deemed impossible of fulfulment, and thouroughly discouraged they steered for the Altenfjord.

Convoy JW 51B had no more encounters with the enemy after the action on 31 December. In the afternoon of January 2nd, the minesweepers HMS Harrier (Cdr. A.D.H. Jay, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Seagull (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Pollock, RN) as well as two Russian destroyers joined. The Russians taking charge of ships bound for Archangelsk, which then parted company. The main body of the convoy entered the Kola Inlet on the 3rd and the Archangelsk detachment arrived there on the 6th.

Rear-Admiral Burnett had patrolled with HMS Sheffield and HMS Jamaica to the westward of convoy JW 51B up to 1830/31 when he followed it to the south-east and finally turned north early on 1 January to give protection to westbound convoy RA 51. These two cruiser eventually arrived at Seidisfjord on 4 January 1943.

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A distant cover force had also been deployed. It was made up of the battleship the battleship HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral B.A. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN, 2nd in Command, Home Fleet), heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. A.H. Maxwell-Hyslop, AM, RN) and the destroyers HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Burnett, DSC, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) and HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) and had left Akureyri, Iceland on shortly after noon on 26 December. At 0400/29 they had arrived in position 72°36'N, 13°07'E after which they turned back for Iceland.

In the early evening of 30 December HMS Cumberland was detached to Hvalfjord where she arrived very late in the evening of 31 December.

HMS Anson and the three destroyers then proceeded to Seidisfjord where they arrived early in the afternoon of 31 December but not before they had been joined by the escort destroyers HMS Blankney, HMS Chiddingfold and HMS Ledbury earlier in the day. (7)

30 Dec 1942
On 30 December 1942 the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper attacked convoy JW.51B and was held at bay by the British destroyers HMS Onslow, HMS Obedient, HMS Obdurate and HMS Orwell. When renewing her attack she was engaged by the British cruisers HMS Sheffield and HMS Jamaica and was badly damaged them. The only success of the operation was the sinking of the destroyer HMS Achates and the minesweeper HMS Bramble, the destroyers HMS Onslow, HMS Obedient, HMS Obdurate and HMS Orwell were damaged in the action.

15 Feb 1943

Convoy JW 53.

This convoy departed Loch Ewe for Northern Russia on 15 February 1943.

On departure from Loch Ewe the convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Artigas (Panamanian, 5613 GRT, built 1920), Atlantic (British, 5414 GRT, built 1939), Beaconhill (American, 6941 GRT, built 1919), Bering (American, 7631 GRT, built 1920), British Governor (British (tanker), 6840 GRT, built 1926), City of Omaha (British, 6124 GRT, built 1920), Dover Hill (British, 5815 GRT, built 1918), Empire Baffin (British, 6978 GRT, built 1941), Empire Fortune (British, 6140 GRT, built 1943), Empire Galliard (British, 7170 GRT, built 1942), Empire Kinsman (British, 6744 GRT, built 1942), Empire Portia (British, 7058 GRT, built 1942), Empire Scott (British, 6150 GRT, built 141), Explorer (British, 6235 GRT, built 1935), Francis Scott Key (American, 7191 GRT, built 1941), Israel Putnam (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), James Bowie (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), John Laurance (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Joseph E. Johnston (American, 7196 GRT, built 1942), Komiles (Russian, 3962 GRT, built 1932), Llandaff (British, 4825 GRT, built 1937), Marathon (Norwegian, 7208 GRT, built 1930), Mobile City (American, 6157 GRT, built 1920), Ocean Freedom (British, 7173 GRT, built 1942), Petrovski (Russian, 3771 GRT, built 1921), Pieter de Hoogh (British, 7168 GRT, built 1941), Tblisi (Russian, 7169 GRT, built 1912), Thomas Hartley (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942) and Tobruk (British, 7048 GRT, built 1942).

Three of the above listed ships sailed only on the 16th as convoy JW 53B and were to overtake and join the main convoy [see below].

On departure from Loch Ewe the convoy was escorted by the minesweeper HMS Jason (Cdr. H.G.A. Lewis, RN), corvettes HMS Bergamot (Lt. R.T. Horan, RNR), HMS Dianella (T/Lt. J.F. Tognola, RNR), HMS Poppy (Lt. N.K. Boyd, RNR) and the A/S trawlers HMS Lord Austin (T/Lt. E.L. Wathen, RNR) and HMS Lord Middleton (T/Lt. T.D. Bennett, RNR).

The escort destroyers escort destroyers HMS Meynell (Lt. B.M.D. I'Anson, RN), HMS Middleton (Lt. C.S. Battersby, RN), HMS Pytchley (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN) and minesweeper HMS Hazard (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Smith, RN) departed Scapa Flow on the same day and joined the convoy escort at sea. HMS Hazard however returned to Scapa Flow later the same day with weather damage and presumably never actually joined the convoy. She was replaced by HMS Halcyon (T/A/Lt.Cdr. H.L.D. Hoare, RNR) which departed Scapa Flow early on the 16th joining the convoy escort p.m. that day.

Also on the 16th convoy JW 53B, made up of three merchant ships of the above list, and escorted by the corvette HMS Bryony (T/Lt. T. Hand, RNR) departed Loch Ewe to overtake and join the convoy. The destroyers HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN) and HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) departed Scapa Flow to join convoy JW 53B which they did the following day after which HMS Bryony was detached to Liverpool as she had sustained weather damage. She arrived at Liverpool on the 18th.

On the 17th, the A/S trawler HMS Lord Middleton was detached with weather damage to Scapa Flow escorted by the corvette HMS Dianella. They arrived at Scapa Flow on the 18th.

On the 18th, one of the ships from convoy JW 53B was detached to Scapa Flow with weather damage. She was escorted by HMS Matchless. The merchant vessel eventually went back to Loch Ewe arriving there on the 22nd. HMS Matchless then went to Scapa Flow arriving there also on the 22nd.

On the 19th, the two remaining ships of convoy JW 53B also turned back, due to the weather conditions they were unable to overtake the main convoy. Three ships from the main convoy also turned back to Loch Ewe with weather damage. These five merchant vessels arrived back at Loch Ewe on 22 February. The destroyer HMS Musketeer proceeded to Akureyri, Iceland arriving there on the 20th.

On the 20th the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN), HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. A.G. West, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN), HMS Obedient (Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN) departed Seidisfjord to join the escort of convoy JW 53 as did the corvettes HMS Bluebell (Lt. G.H. Walker, RNVR) and HMS Camellia (T/Lt. R.F.J. Maberley, RNVR). All these escorts joined the convoy p.m. 20th.

Also on the 20th the AA cruiser HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) and ORP Orkan (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) departed Akureyri also to join the escort of convoy JW 53 which they did on 21 February.

On the 21st, HMS Middleton and HMS Pytchley were detached from the escort of convoy JW 53 to proceed to Seidisfjord where the arrived p.m. the same day. HMS Middleton was unable to anchor at Seidisfjord and the proceeded to Scapa Flow instead where she arrived on 23 February.

On the 22nd, HMS Meynell and HMS Halcyon parted company with convoy JW 53. HMS Meynell arrived at Seidisfjord p.m. on the 22nd, HMS Halcyon arrived the next day.

On 23 February the convoy was sighted and reported by German air reconnaissance and of the next day the convoy was being shadowed by aircraft and U-boats.

At 2142A/24, the German submarine U-622 attacked a destroyer with torpedoes. She missed but was later depth charged by the destroyer HMS Orwell which most likely had also been the target of her attack. The submarine escaped without damage though.

On 25 February the convoy was attacked around noon by 14 Ju.88's in position 73°41'N, 29°42'E. No damage was done to any ship in the convoy.

Around noon the 26th the convoy was attacked again from the air, in position 71°16'N, 36°54'E and again no damage was done.

Also on the 26th a Russian escort made up of the destroyers Gromkiy, Grozniy, Valerian Kyubishev and Uritsky joined as did the British minesweeper HMS Britomart (Lt.Cdr. S.S. Stammwitz, RN).

Later on the 26th, seven of the merchant vessels were detached to Archangelsk with the Russian escorts as well as the minesweeper HMS Britomart.

The bulk of the convoy arrived in the Kola Inlet on 27 February. The Archangelsk section arrived there the following day.

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A battle force (distant cover force) for this convoy was also deployed. It departed Akureyri, Iceland on 22 February 1943 and was made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. G.H. Faulkner, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Offa (Cdr. R.A. Ewing, DSC, RN), HMS Musketeer, HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski) and HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN).

They arrived in their covering position, 150 miles south-west of Bear Island on 24 February.

On the 26th the distant cover force returned to Akureyri except for HMS Berwick which was detached to Hvalfjord where she arrived on the 27th.

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Besides the distant cover force there was also a cruiser / close cover force ' Force R '.

It was made up of the light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, OBE, RN) and the heavy cruisers HMS Cumberland (Capt. A.H. Maxwell-Hyslop, AM, RN) and HMS Norfolk (Capt. E.G.H. Bellars, RN) departed Seidisfjord on 21 February.

' Force R ' arrived in the Kola Inlet on 26 February 1943.

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A ' carrier ' force made up of the escort carrier HMS Dasher (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, DSO, RN) and the destroyer HMS Impulsive and the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and HMS Ledbury (Lt. D.R.N. Murdoch, RN) was also to be deployed from Seidisfjord but as HMS Dasher and HMS Blankney suffered weather damage in the built up stage of the convoy operation so the deployment of the ' carrier ' force was cancelled. HMS Impulsive then went to Akureyri to join the ' battle ' force instead. (8)

1 Mar 1943

Convoy RA 53.

This convoy departed the Kola Inlet on 1 March 1943.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Calobre (Panamanian, 6891 GRT, built 1919), Chester Valley (American, 5078 GRT, built 1919), Cornelius Harnett (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Dan-Y-Bryn (British, 5117 GRT, built 1940), Delsud (American, 4982 GRT, built 1919), El Oriente (Panamanian, 6012 GRT, built 1910), Empire Archer (British, 7031 GRT, built 1941), Empire Clarion (British, 7031 GRT, built 1942), Empire Emerald (British, 8032 GRT, built 1941), Empire Snow (British, 6327 GRT, built 1941), Empire Tristram (British, 7167 GRT, built 1942), Executive (American, 4978 GRT, built 1920), Gulfwing (American (tanker), 10217 GRT, built 1928), J.L.M. Curry (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Jefferson Myers (American, 7582 GRT, built 1920), John H.B. Latrobe (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Mossovet (Russian, 2981 GRT, built 1935), Nicholas Gilman (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Faith (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Oremar (American, 6854 GRT, built 1919), Puerto Rican (American, 6076 GRT, built 1919), Ralph Waldo Emerson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Richard Basset (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Richard Bland (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), San Cipriano (British (tanker), 7966 GRT, built 1937), Temple Arch (British, 5138 GRT, built 1940), Vermont (American, 5670 GRT, built 1919), West Gotomska (American, 5728 GRT, built 1918) and Yorkmar (British, 5612 GRT, built 1919).

The RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) tanker Oligarch (6894 GRT, built 1918) was also part of the convoy.

On departure the close escort was made up of the AA cruiser HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN), ORP Orkan (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki), HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN), HMS Obedient (Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN), HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. A.G. West, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), corvettes HMS Bergamot (Lt. R.T. Horan, RNR), HMS Lotus (Lt.Cdr. H.J. Hall, DSC, RNR), HMS Poppy (Lt. N.K. Boyd, RNR), Starwort and the A/S trawlers HMS Northern Pride (T/Lt. A.L.F. Bell, RNR) and HMS St. Elstan (Lt. R.M. Roberts, RNR).

On the 2nd the convoy was reported by the German submarine U-255 on 2 February 1943 which then commenced shadowing the convoy. Later in the day U-622 and U-629 also made contact with the convoy but were driven off. In the afternoon U-657 also made contact but soon lost it. In the evening the German submarine U-622 was depth charged by some ships of the convoy escort.

Early in the afternoon U-657 was driven off and depth charged but she escaped without damage.

In the late afternoon of 3 March the German submarine U-355 made a torpedo attack on the convoy but no hits were obtained. Following this attack the German submarine was depth charged by HMS Bergamot but she managed to escape without damage.

On 4 March U-255 was twice driven off before she could attack. Early in the day U-622 was detected and depth charged by the escort but she managed to escape without damage. The shortly before noon U-657 and shortly after noon U-355 both had the same experience.

Early on the 5th the convoy was also reported by German air reconnaissance.

In the morning of the 5th the German submarine U-255 made a torpedo attack. The British merchant Executive was sunk and the American merchant Richard Brand was hit and damaged. The torpedo did not explode but went right through the ship making a hole on both sides. The damaged ship was able to remain with the convoy for the moment though.

Early in the afternoon of the 5th the convoy was attacked by German Ju.88 aircraft but no damage was done.

On the 6th the destroyer HMS Vivacious (Lt.Cdr. R. Alexander, RN) and escort destroyers HMS Ledbury (Lt. D.R.N. Murdoch, RN), HMS Meynell (Lt. B.M.D. I'Anson, RN) and HMS Pytchley (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN) departed Akureyri to join the convoy which they did only on the 9th having been delayed by ice and bad weather. HMS Vivacious had also smashed her Asdic dome while en-route.

Also on the 6th, the destroyers HMS Faulknor, HMS Eclipse, HMS Impulsive and HMS Opportune parted company with the convoy to proceed to Seidisfjord to fuel.

On the 7th, the destroyers HMS Intrepid, HMS Boadicea, HMS Obdurate and HMS Obedient parted company with the convoy to proceed to Seidisfjord to fuel.

On the 8th, HMS Faulknor, HMS Eclipse, HMS Impulsive and HMS Opportune arrived at Seidisfjord to fuel.

On the 9th, HMS Vivacious, HMS Ledbury, HMS Meynell and HMS Pytchley joined the convoy while HMS Intrepid, HMS Boadicea, HMS Obdurate and HMS Obedient arrived at Seidisfjord to fuel.

Also on the 9th the American merchant vessel J.L.M. Curry broke up in heavy weather and sank. Apparently her hull had developed cracks earlier. Her crew was picked up by HMS St. Elstan.

HMS Faulknor, HMS Eclipse, HMS Impulsive and HMS Opportune departed Seidisfjord on the 9th to rejoin the convoy which they did later the same day.

On the 10th, HMS Scylla, HMS Milne, ORP Orkan and HMS Orwell detached from the convoy to proceed to Akureyri to fuel. They arrived the later the same day.

Also on the 10th several ships were detached to Seidisfjord, most of which (if not all) arrived there later the same day, these were , HMS Meynell, HMS Pytchley and HMS Northern Pride. Also detached was HMS Ledbury but she escorted one of the merchant vessels of the convoy to the Seidisfjord. They arrived early on the 11th.

Besides that, on the 10th, the merchant vessel Richard Brand, which had been damaged earlier, (see above), was again sighted by U-255 after having straggled from the convoy. The submarine now managed to sink her. HMS Impulsive was detached early on the 11th to pick up survivors.

On the 11th, HMS Milne, ORP Orkan and HMS Orwell departed Akureyri to search for stragglers from the convoy.

The merchant vessel John H.B. Latrobe was towed into Seidisfjord on the 11th as she had defective steering by the destroyer HMS Oppurtune. They were escorted by HMS St. Elstan.

HMS Boadicea escorting a merchant vessel (presumably the one that had arrived early on the 11th) departed Seidisfjord to rejoin the convoy.

HMS Vivacious, HMS Meynell and HMS Pytchley also departed Seidisfjord and rejoined the convoy.

HMS Bergamot, HMS Lotus and HMS Starwort left the convoy to fuel at Seidisfjord. After doing so they left Seidisfjord later on the 11th to rejoin the convoy.

HMS Poppy also parted company with the convoy, but later then the other corvettes. She too went to Seidisfjord but did not rejoin the convoy.

HMS Fury also detached on the 11th to proceed to Seidisfjord escorting the RFA tanker Oligarch. After fuelling HMS Fury departed again later the same day to rejoin the convoy.

On the 12th HMS Inglefield and HMS Ledbury departed Seidisfjord to rejoin the convoy. HMS Inglefield however remained briefly with the convoy as she was detached to Scapa Flow later the same day. Also detached to Scapa Flow were HMS Faulknor, HMS Fury and HMS Eclipse.

Also on the 12th HMS Bergamot, HMS Lotus and HMS Starwort rejoined the convoy. Also the destroyer HMS Orwell, which had been searching for stragglers joined the convoy.

On the 13th, HMS Impulsive arrived at Seidisfjord with survivors and HMS Milne also arrived there having searched for stragglers. ORP Orkan which had also been searching for stragglers proceeded direct to Scapa Flow arriving there on the 15th.

Also on the 13th, HMS Vivacious, HMS Ledbury, HMS Meynell and HMS Pytchley detached from the convoy and proceeded to Scapa Flow where they arrived on the 14th.

Two of the merchant vessels arrived at Loch Ewe on the 13th apparently having proceeded ahead of the convoy.

On the 14th, HMS Boadicea detached from the convoy to proceed to the Clyde where she arrived on the 15th.

and HMS Starwort detached from the convoy and proceeded to Londonderry arriving there on the 15th.

HMS Bergamot detached with the Clyde section of the convoy (5 ships). After having delivered them off the Clyde on the 15th, HMS Bergamot continued on to Liverpool where she arrived later on the 15th.

The Loch Ewe section of the convoy (16 ships) arrived there on the 15th.

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To provide distant cover for this convoy the ' battlefleet ' departed Akureyri on 2 March. The ' battlefleet ' was made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. E.M. Evans-Lombe, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Offa (Cdr. R.A. Ewing, DSC, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) and HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Burnett, DSC, RN).

They arrived in their covering position to the north of the convoy route on the 4th.

On the 5th they left the covering position for Scapa Flow where they arrived on the 6th minus HMS Glasgow and HMS Forester which had been detached to Skaalefjord, Faeroer Islands on the 5th. These two ships arrived there on the 6th. HMS Forester then fuelled from HMS Glasgow and they departed for Scapa Flow later the same day.

HMS Glasgow and HMS Forester arrived at Scapa Flow on the 7th.

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A cruiser, close cover, Force was also deployed. It was known as ' Force R ' and was made up of the light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, OBE, RN) and the heavy cruisers HMS Cumberland (Capt. A.H. Maxwell-Hyslop, AM, RN) and HMS Norfolk (Capt. E.G.H. Bellars, RN).

They had departed the Kola Inlet on 2 March and arrived at Seidisfjord on the 7th.

After fuelling they departed again on the 8th to continue to provide cover for the convoy.

On the 9th they set course to proceed to Scapa Flow where they arrived on the 11th. (8)

22 Mar 1943
HMS Usurper (Lt. D.R.O. Mott, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with HMCS Athabascan (Cdr. G.R. Miles, DSO, OBE, RCN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Brissenden (Lt. D.C. Beatty, RN). (9)

23 Mar 1943
In the morning HMS Cumberland (Capt. A.H. Maxwell-Hyslop, AM, RN) conducted an underway refuelling exercise at Scapa Flow during which HMCS Athabascan (Cdr. G.R. Miles, DSO, OBE, RCN) was fuelled.

Around noon HMS Cumberland departed Scapa Flow for exercises with Duke of York which continued until late in the evening. During the exercises HMS Duke of York was escorted by HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN). (10)

24 Mar 1943
HMS Usurper (Lt. D.R.O. Mott, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Switha (T/Lt. L.H. Green, RNR) and HMS Bressay (T/Lt. J.E. Wilmot, RNVR). (9)

30 Mar 1943
HMS H 34 (Lt. J.P. Angell, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN). (11)

7 Jun 1943

Operation FH.

This operations had three objectives;
a) Carrying relief personnel and stores to the Norwegian Garrison in Spitsbergen.
b) Bringing back two corvettes from North Russia.
c) Carrying mail and stores to HM ships and establishments in North Russia.

The ships taking part in the operation were covered by a large battleforce which took station about 200 miles south-west of Bear Island.

The detailed movements taking part in the operation were as follows.

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' Force R ' was deployed for the relief of the garrison at Spitsbergen (Operation Gearbox III).

It was made up of the heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. A.H. Maxwell-Hyslop, AM, RN), light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Athabascan (Cdr. G.R. Miles, DSO, OBE, RCN) and HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN).

They departed Akureyri, Iceland on 7 June for Spitsbergen where they arrived on 10 June. The cruisers commenced unloading while the destroyers conducted an A/S patrol off the entrance of the fjord. Also HMCS Athabascan fuelled from HMS Cumberland and HMS Eclipse from HMS Bermuda.

On 11 June, ' Force R ' departed Spitsbergen for Scapa Flow where they arrived on 14 June.

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On 8 June, the destroyers HMS Mahratta (Lt.Cdr. E.A.F. Drought, DSC, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) and HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, DSC, RN) departed Seidisfjord. HMS Mahratta and HMS Musketeer were to proceed to the Kola Inlet. HMS Onslaught was to make rendezvous with the corvettes HMS Bluebell (Lt. G.H. Walker, RNVR) and HMS Camellia (T/Lt. R.F.J. Maberley, RNVR) which departed the Kola Inlet for the U.K. on 9 June.

On 12 June, HMS Mahratta and HMS Musketeer arrived in the Kola Inlet where they unloaded, fuelled and departed to return to Seidisfjord later the same day.

On 13 June, HMS Onslaught returned to Seidisfjord having failed to meet the corvettes which passed to the south of Bear Island.

On 14 June, HMS Bluebell arrived at Aultbea.

On 15 June, HMS Camellia arrived at Liverpool and HMS Mahratta and HMS Musketeer arrived at Seidisfjord.

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On 9 June, the battlefleet, made up of the battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.E. Creasy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Admiral B.A. Fraser, KCB, KBE, RN), USS South Dakota (Capt. L.D. McCormick, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral O.M. Hustvedt, USN), USS Alabama (Capt. F.D. Kirtland, USN), aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. H.J. Egerton, RN), AA cruiser HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, DSO, 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), HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN), USS Ellyson (T/Cdr. E.W. Longton, USN), USS Rodman (T/Cdr. J.F. Foley, USN), USS Emmons (T/Cdr. E.B. Billingsley, USN), USS Macomb (T/Cdr. J.C. South, USN) and USS Fitch (T/Cdr. K.C. Walpole, USN) departed Akureyi to proceed to their cover position about 200 miles south-west of Bear Island where they arrived on the 11th.

On the 12th, USS South Dakota, USS Alabama, HMS Berwick, USS Ellyson, USS Rodman, USS Emmons, USS Macomb and USSFitch were detached to proceed to Hvalfjord where they arrived on the 14th. The remaining ships set course for Scapa Flow.

On the 13th, HMS Duke of York, HMS Furious, Scylla, HMS Milne, HMS Obdurate, HMS Obedient, HMS Opportune and HMS Orwell arrived at Scapa Flow. (12)

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. (13)

21 Jun 1943
The battleship HMS Anson (Commodore H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (A/Capt. J.S.S. Litchfield-Speer, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.T. Addis, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. During the exercises HMS Anson was escorted by the destroyers HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Grenville (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, DSO, RN). (14)

24 Jun 1943
During the morning, HMS Truant (Lt.Cdr. J.G. Hopkins, RN), carries out A/S exercises with HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN).

During the afternoon A/S exercises were carried out with HMS Roebuck (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) and HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, DSC, RN). (15)

29 Jun 1943
The battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.E. Creasy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Admiral B.A. Fraser, KCB, KBE, RN), HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (A/Capt. J.S.S. Litchfield-Speer, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, DSC, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN), HMS Mahratta (Lt.Cdr. E.A.F. Drought, DSC, RN) and HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (16)

6 Jul 1943

Operation Camera.

The object of this operation was to pin down enemy forces in Norway before the Sicilian campaign commenced.

Four Forces were deployed during this operation, these were; ' The Battlefleet ' to provide cover for the operation. It was made up of the battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.E. Creasy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Admiral B.A. Fraser, KCB, KBE, RN), USS South Dakota (Capt. L.D. McCormick, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral O.M. Hustvedt, USN), aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. E.M. Evans-Lombe, RN) and the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, DSO, RN), HMS Mahratta (Lt.Cdr. E.A.F. Drought, DSC, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) and HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), USS Ellyson (T/Cdr. E.W. Longton, USN), USS Rodman (T/Cdr. J.F. Foley, USN), USS Emmons (T/Cdr. E.B. Billingsley, USN), USS Macomb (T/Cdr. J.C. South, USN) and USS Fitch (T/Cdr. K.C. Walpole, USN).

' Force Q ' was made up of the light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, DSO, OBE, RN, Senior Officer ' Force Q ' ), heavy cruisers HMS Kent (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN), HMS London (Capt. R.V. Symonds-Tayler, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral L.H.K. Hamilton, CB, DSO and Bar, RN) and the destroyers HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, DSC, RN).

' Force R ', which was representing a convoy was made up of the destroyers HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN, Senior Officer ' Force R '), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN), trawlers HMS Bressay (T/Lt. J.E. Wilmot, RNVR), HMS Cape Barracouta (Skr.Lt.(Retd.) A. Flaws, DSC, RNR), HMS Cape Nyemetzki (T/Lt. A. Flaaten, RNR), HMS Hamlet (T/Lt. J.C. Boyd, RNVR), HMS Hawthorn (T/Lt. G.W. Fox, RNVR), HMS Larch (T/Skr. J.G. Mackay, RNR), HMS Macbeth (T/Lt. A. Parker, RNR), HMS Oak (A/Skr.Lt. P. Buchan, DSC, RNR), HMS Skye (T/Lt. W.G. Burt, RNR), HMS Sycamore (Skr. G. Reaich, RNR) and the Motor Launches HMML 276 (T/Lt. E.W. Lovelady, RNVR), HMML 286 (T/Lt. J.R.T. Ward, RNVR), HMML 345 (T/Lt. A. Priestly, RNVR), HMML 445 (T/Lt. B.W. Kelly, RNVR), HMML 452 (T/Lt. P.L.K. Wait, RNVR), HMML 466 (T/Lt.Cdr. D. Wilkie, RNVR).

' Force S ' which was made up of the heavy cruisers HMS Berwick (Capt. H.J. Egerton, RN, Senior Officer ' Force S '), HMS Norfolk (Capt. D.K. Bain, RN) and the destroyer HMS Scorpion (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN).

On 6 July ' Force S ' left Hvalfiord, Iceland for position 'A' (66°13'N, 12°05'W) and then to position 'B' (66°40'N, 10°01'W).

On 7 July ' Force R ' left Scapa Flow for position ' W ' (61°15'N, 01°25'W) and then to position ' X ' (61°40'N, 01°00'E).

' Force Q ' (besides HMS Obdurate) left Scapa Flow for position ' T ' (62°20'N, 05°30'W) where it was joined by HMS Obdurate coming from Skaalefiord, Faeroer, and then to position ' V ' (62°20'N, 01°00'E).

' The Battlefleet ' left Scapa Flow for position ' Y ' (62°52'N, 01°45'W) and then to position ' Z ' (61°20'N, 01°00'E).

In the afternoon of 8 July all forces commenced to withdraw having been sighted by enemy aircraft as had been the idea.

Martlets from HMS Furious shot down one BV 138 aircraft which was shadowing the ' Battlefleet ' and ' Force R '.

On 9 July, HMS Obdurate was detached from ' Force Q ' to return to Skaalefiord.

The ' Battlefleet ' and later ' Force Q ' returned to Scapa Flow.

' Force R ' arrived at Sullom Voe, sailing again P.M. for Scapa Flow.

On 10 July, ' Force S ' returned to Hvalfiord and ' Force R ' returned to Scapa Flow. (12)

25 Jul 1943

Operation Governor.

The object of this operation was again to pin down enemy forces in Norway and try to get the large German warships to intervene.

Five Force took part in the operation;
' Force A ', which was made up of the battleships HMS Anson (Rear-Admiral H.R.G. Kinahan, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN) and USS Alabama (Capt. F.D. Kirtland, USN), aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN) and the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, DSO, RN), HMS Mahratta (Lt.Cdr. E.A.F. Drought, DSC, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) and HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), USS Rodman (T/Cdr. J.F. Foley, USN), USS Emmons (T/Cdr. E.B. Billingsley, USN), USS Macomb (T/Cdr. J.C. South, USN) and USS Fitch (T/Cdr. K.C. Walpole, USN).

' Force B ' which was made up of the battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.E. Creasy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Admiral B.A. Fraser, KCB, KBE, RN), USS South Dakota (Capt. L.D. McCormick, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral O.M. Hustvedt, USN), aircraft carrier HMS Unicorn (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslow (Capt. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Grenville (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, DSO, RN), HMS Ulster (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Donald, DSC, RN), HMS Saumarez (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Scorpion (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN) and HMS Impulsive (Lt. P. Bekenn, RN).

' Force C ' representing a convoy, was made up of the destroyers HMS Savage (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN, Senior Officer ' Force C '), HMS Ripley (Lt. L.G. Toone, RN), trawlers HMS Cedar (T/Skr. B. Godfrey, RNR), HMS Hawthorn (T/Lt. G.W. Fox, RNVR), HMS Larch (T/Skr. J.G. Mackay, RNR), HMS Lilac (T/Skr. J.W. Brown, RNR), HMS Oak (A/Skr.Lt. P. Buchan, DSC, RNR), HMS Skye (T/Lt. W.G. Burt, RNR), HMS Switha (T/Lt. L.H. Green, RNR), HMS Willow (T/Lt. J.E.W. Graves, RNVR), Motor Launches HMML 252 (T/Lt. T.R. Neale, RNVR), HMML 286 (T/Lt. J.R.T. Ward, RNVR), HMML 442 (T/Lt. R.W. Dunn, RANVR), HMML 445 (T/Lt. B.W. Kelly, RNVR), HMML 473 (T/Lt. J.C. Sargeant, RNVR), and the landing craft HMLCI(L) 167 (?).

' Force D ' was made up of the light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, DSO, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.C.A. Ingram, DSC, RN) and HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN).

' Force E ' which was made up of the heavy cruisers HMS London (Capt. R.V. Symonds-Tayler, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral L.H.K. Hamilton, CB, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Kent (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN) and HMS Norfolk (Capt. D.K. Bain, RN).

On 25 July, ' Force C ' departed from Scapa Flow for Sullom Voe where it arrived the following day.

On 26 July ' Force A ' departed from Hvalfiord to pass through position ' N ' (66°30'N, 08°00' W) and then through position ' P ' (66°00'N, 01°30'E).

On 27 July ' Force E ' departed from Hvalfiord for position ' M ' (67°20'N, 02°00'W).

' Force B ' departed from Scapa Flow to pass through position ' W ' (61°40'N, 04°40'W) and then through position ' T ' (61°30'N, 01°30'E).

' Force C ' departed from Sullom Voe to pass through position ' U ' (61°45N, 00°50W) and then through postition ' S ' (61°50'N, 01°00'E).

' Force D ' (minus both destroyers) departed from Scapa Flow to proceed to position ' V ' (62°15'N, 05°20'W) where they were to rendezvous on the 28th with the destroyers coming from Skaalefiord, Faeroer Island and then to position ' R ' (62°00'N, 00°30'E).

On 28 July ' Force D ' was sighted and reported by enemy aircraft. The other forces were apparently not sighted by the Germans.

Beaufighters shot down two BV 138's in the vicinity of ' Force D ' and damaged two others.

Martlets from HMS Illustious shot down two BV 138's in the vicinity of Forces ' A ' and ' D '.

' Force D ' joined ' Force A ' in position ' Q ' (63°10'N, 01°30'E). The two destroyers from ' Force D ' were then detached to return to Skaalefiord where they arrived on the 29th.

All forces commenced to withdraw.

' Force C ' arrived at Sullom Voe, sailing PM for Scapa Flow.

' Force B ' arrived at Scapa Flow.

Forces ' A ' and ' D ' (less the two destroyers) arrived at Scapa Flow.

On 30 July ' Force C ' arrived at Scapa Flow and ' Force E ' arrived at Hvalfiord. (17)

5 Aug 1943

Convoy TA 58.

This convoy was only made up of one ship, the troopship Queen Mary (British, 81235 GRT, built 1936) which departed the Clyde on 5 August.

On board the Queen Mary was Prime Minister Churchill, Chiefs of Staff and their entourage which were en-route to the Quebec conference.

Close (A/S) escort for the convoy was provided by the destroyers HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN) and HMS Scorpion (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) which had departed Londonderry on 5 August. They returned to the Clyde on 8 August.

Two destroyers had already left Londonderry on the 4th, these were HMS Saumarez (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) and HMS Scourge (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN). These probably first proceeded westwards at economical speed and later took over from HMS Matchless and HMS Scorpion. They arrived at Argentia, Newfoundland on 9 August.

Cover for this convoy was provided by the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN) which was escorted by HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN). They departed the Clyde around 1230B/5 and returned there around 1000B/8.

During daylight on the 6th, the light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, DSO, OBE, RN) provided cover for the convoy. She had departed Scapa Flow around 0300B/5 and returned there around 0630B/8.

Close escort for the convoy was provided by the light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) which had departed Scapa Flow around 0500B/5 and joined the troopship around 2200B/5. She remained with the troopship until around 0930B/7 when course was set to return to Scapa Flow where she arrived around 1600B/9.

The heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN) sailed from Hvalfjord around 0130Z/5. She first sighted the Queen Mary with HMS Bermuda in company around 1930Z/6. She remained with or near the Queen Mary until 0815Z/8 when she parted company to proceed to Argentia, Newfoundland where she arrived around 1000N/9.

The light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. E.M. Evans-Lombe, RN) joined HMS Kent around 0650Z/7. She parted company around 2145Z/7. HMS Glasgow had departed Plymouth around 1545B/4 and returned there around 1830B/10.

Shortly before HMS Kent parted company with the Queen Mary the heavy cruiser USS Tuscaloosa (Capt. J.B.W. Waller, USN) and the destroyers USS Isherwood (T/Cdr. R.E. Gadrow, USN), Luce (T/Cdr. D.C. Varian, USN), USS Bell (T/Cdr. L.C. Petross, USN) and Hale (T/Cdr. K.F. Poehlmann, USN) joined coming from Charleston, South Carolina which they had departed on the 4th together with the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (Capt. G. Rowe, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral O.M. Hustvedt, USN) and the destroyers USS Forrest (T/Cdr. K.P. Letts, USN), USS Corry (T/Cdr. L.B. Ensey, USN) and USS Hobson (T/Lt.Cdr. K. Loveland, USN) which were also in the area providing air cover with the aircraft of USS Ranger.

The convoy arrived at Halifax on the 9th.

14 Sep 1943
Around 1530/14 HMS Renown (Capt. W.E. Parry, CB, RN) departed Halifax for the UK. On board were the Prime Minister (Churchill) and his entourage. At sea HMS Renown wass joined by an escort made up of the heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN).

At 0730/16, the heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. D.K. Bain, RN) joined coming from Hvalfiord, Iceland which she had departed on 13 September.

Around 1430/16, the destroyers HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN) and HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN) joined coming from St. Johns. HMS Obdurate and HMS Obedient were then detached to Argentia.

Around 0300/18, the destroyers HMS Scorpion (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) and HMS Scourge (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) joined coming from Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Around 1100/18, the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (Capt. G. Rowe, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral O.M. Hustvedt, USN) joined coming from Scapa Flow. She was escorted by the destroyers USS Forrest (T/Cdr. K.P. Letts, USN), USS Hobson (T/Lt.Cdr. K. Loveland, USN) and USS Corry (T/Cdr. L.B. Ensey, USN).

At 1405/18, HMS Kent parted company to proceed to Scapa Flow.

At 1900/18, USS Ranger and her escorting destroyers parted company to proceed to Scapa Flow.

At 0050/19, HMS Norfolk parted company to proceed to Scapa Flow.

Around 0900/19, HMS Renown, HMS Matchless, HMS Orwell, HMS Scorpion and HMS Scourge arrived in the Clyde.

The Prime Minister and his entourage then disembarked from HMS Renown. (18)

15 Nov 1943

Operation FT, passage of convoys JW 54A and JW 54B from the U.K. to Northern Russia as well as convoy RA 54B from Northern Russia to the U.K.

Convoy JW 54A

.

This convoy departed Loch Ewe on 15 November 1943 for Northern Russia.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Daniel Drake (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Edmund Fanning (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Empire Carpenter (British, 7025 GRT, built 1943), Empire Celia (American, 7025 GRT, built 1943), Empire Nigel (British, 7067 GRT, built 1943), Fort Yukon (British, 7153 GRT, built 1943), Gilbert Stuart (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Henry Villard (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), James Gordon Bennett (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), James Smith (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), Junecrest (British, 6945 GRT, built 1942), Mijdrecht (Dutch (tanker), 7493 GRT, built 1931), Norlys (Panamanian (tanker), 9892 GRT, built 1936), Ocean Vanity (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Verity (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Park Holland (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Thomas Sim Lee (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942) and William Windon (American, 7194 GRT, built 1943).

The rescue vessel Copeland (British, 1526 GRT, built 1923) was also with the convoy.

On departure from Loch Ewe the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN), ORP Burza (Cdr. F. Pitulko, ORP), escort destroyer HMS Brissenden (Lt. D.D.E. Vivian, RN), minesweeper HMS Hussar (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Biggs, DSO, DSC, RN) and the corvette HMS Heather (T/Lt. W.L. Turner, RNR).

On 17 November, the destroyer HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, DSC, RN) departed Seidisfjord, Iceland to join the convoy. She was escorting the Russian minesweepers T 116, T 117 and patrol vessels BO 205, BO 207 and BO 212 which were to join the convoy for passage to Northern Russia. [These were the former American minesweepers AM 143 / Arcade, AM 144 / Arch and patrol vessels SC 1287, SC 1074 and SC 721 respectively.]

Later on 17 November the destroyers HMS Onslow (Capt. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN), HMCS Iroquois (Cdr. J.C. Hibbard DSC, RCN), HMCS Haida (Cdr. H.G. De Wolf, RCN), HMCS Huron (Lt.Cdr. H.S. Rayner, DSC, RCN) and HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. P. Bekenn, RN) also sailed from Seidisfjord to join the convoy.

On 18 November all ships that had departed Seidisfjord the day before joined the convoy. HMS Termagant, ORP Burza and HMS Brissenden then parted company with the convoy. The British ships proceeded to Seidisfjord arriving on the 19th, ORP Burza set course to return to Loch Ewe also arriving on the 19th.

On 19 November HMS Obedient developed serious rudder defects and she returned to Seidisfjord arriving later the same day.

On 24 November eight of the merchant vessels arrived in the Kola Inlet escorted by HMS Onslow, HMS Onslaught, HMS Obedient, HMS Orwell, HMCS Iroquois, HMCS Haida, HMCS Huron and HMS Impulsive. The five small Russian craft that had been with the convoy arrived in the Kola Inlet on the 25th.

The remaining ships proceeded to Archangelsk escorted by HMS Inconstant, HMS Whitehall, HMS Hussar and HMS Heather. These were later replaced by the minesweeper HMS Seagull (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.W. Ellis, DSC, RNR), two Russian destroyers and three Russian minesweepers. On the joining of these ships HMS Inconstant, HMS Whitehall and HMS Heather parted company and proceeded to Iokanka. The remainder of the convoy arrived in the Archangelsk area on the 26th.

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Convoy JW 54B

.

This convoy departed Loch Ewe on 22 November 1943 for Northern Russia.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Arthur L. Perry (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Daldorch (British, 5571 GRT, built 1930), Empire Lionel (British, 7030 GRT, built 1942), Empire Stalwart (British, 7045 GRT, built 1943), Eugene Field (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Fort Columbia (British, 7155 GRT, built 1942), Fort McMurray (British, 7133 GRT, built 1942), Fort Poplar (American, 7134 GRT, built 1942), Horace Gray (American, 7200 GRT, built 1943), John Fitch (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Strength (British, 7173 GRT, built 1942), San Adolfo (British (tanker), 7365 GRT, built 1935), Thomas Kearns (American, 7194 GRT, built 1943) and William L. Marcy (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942).

The rescue ship Rathlin (British, 1600 GRT, built 1936) was also part of the convoy.

On departure from Loch Ewe the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. N.R. Murch, RN), HMS Saladin (T/A/Lt.Cdr. P.G.C. King, RNVR), HMS Skate (Lt. J.C. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), escort destroyer HMS Middleton (Lt. C.S. Battersby, RN), minesweepers HMS Halcyon (T/A/Lt.Cdr. L.J. Martin, RNVR), HMS Speedwell (Lt.Cdr. T.E. Williams, RD, RNR) and the corvettes HMS Poppy (T/Lt. D.R.C. Onslow, RNR) and HMS Rhododendron (T/Lt. O.B. Medley, RNVR).

On 23 November the corvette HMS Dianella (T/Lt. J.F. Tognola, RNR) joined the convoy.

On 25 November the destroyers HMS Saumarez (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Savage (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN), HMS Scorpion (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN), HMS Scourge (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN), HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. S.V. Storheill), HMS Hardy (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson DSO, RN) and HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, RN) departed Seidisfjord, Iceland and joined the convoy. HMS Saladin, HMS Skate, HMS Middleton and HMS Speedwell then parted company and proceeded to Seidisfjord where they arrived on the 26th except for HMS Speedwell which went to Scapa Flow arriving there on the 29th.

On 2 December seven of the merchant vessels detached from the convoy escorted by HMS Saumarez, HMS Savage, HMS Scorpion, HMS Scourge, HNoMS Stord, HMS Hardy, HMS Venus, HMS Vigilant and HMS Halcyon. They proceeded to the Kola Inlet arriving there later the same day.

The other ships continued on to Archangelsk escorted by HMS Beagle, HMS Dianella, HMS Poppy and HMS Rhododendron. They arrived at Archangelsk on 3 December.

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Convoy RA 54B

.

This convoy departed Archangelsk on 26 November 1943 for the U.K.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Aritgas (Panamanian, 5613 GRT, built 1920), Atlantic (British, 5414 GRT, built 1939), Bering (American, 7631 GRT, built 1920), Dover Hill (British, 5815 GRT, built 1918), Empire Scott (British, 6150 GRT, built 1941), Llandaff (British, 4825 GRT, built 1927), Marathon (Norwegian, 7208 GRT, built 1930), Norlys (Panamanian (tanker), 9892 GRT, built 1936) and Pieter de Hoogh (Dutch, 7168 GRT, built 1941).

The rescue ship Copeland (British, 1526 GRT, built 1923) was also part of the convoy.

On departure from Archangelsk the convoy was escorted by the minesweepers HMS Hussar, HMS Seagull and the A/S trawler HMS Lord Austin (T/Lt. E.L. Wathen, RNR). Also three Russian minesweepers were with the convoy escort.

On 27 November the destroyers HMS Inconstant, HMS Whitehall, minesweeper HMS Harrier (Cdr. H.E.H. Nicholls, RN) and corvette HMS Heather departed Iokanka and joined the convoy. The three Russian minesweepers were then detached.

On 28 November the destroyers HMS Onslow, HMS Onslaught, HMS Orwell, HMCS Iroquois, HMCS Haida, HMCS Huron and HMS Impulsive departed the Kola Inlet and joined the convoy. HMS Hussar and HMS Seagull were then detached to the Kola Inlet where they arrived the following day.

On 4 December HMCS Iroquois was detached to Seidisfjord to fuel. She arrived there later the same day.

On 5 December the destroyers HMS Saladin, HMS Skate and escort destroyers HMS Middleton and HMS Brissenden departed Seidisfjord to join the convoy which they did later the same day. Also on 5 December, first HMS Onslaught and HMCS Huron detached from the convoy and arrived at Seidisfiord to fuel. Then HMCS Haida and HMS Impulslive detached and arrived Seidisfiord to fuel and finally HMS Onslow and HMS Orwell also arrived Seidisfiord to fuel.

On 8 December the convoy split in two and proceeded to east and west coast harbour with local escorts (trawlers).

HMS Inconstant and HMS Whitehall proceeded to the Clyde arriving on 9 December.

HMS Saladin and HMS Skate proceeded to Londonderry arriving on 9 December.

HMS Heather and HMS Lord Austin proceeded to Liverpool arriving there also on 9 December.

HMS Middelton, HMS Brissenden and HMS Harrier proceeded to Scapa Flow arriving there later on the 8th.

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A close cover force was deployed. This was ' Force 1 ', made up of the heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral A.F.E. Palliser, CB, DSC, RN) and the light cruisers HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) and HMS Jamaica (Capt. J.L. Storey, DSO, RN) departed Seidisfjord on 19 November to provide cover for convoy JW 54A between 15°00'E and 41°00'E.

' Force 1 ' arrived in the Kola Inlet on 24 November.

' Force 1 ' departed the Kola Inlet on 27 November to provide cover for convoy JW 54B between 15°00'E and 41°00'E and RA 54B between 41°00'E and 05°00'E.

On 3 December, HMS Jamaica was detached to Hvalfjord where she arrived on 5 December.

On 4 December, HMS Kent and HMS Bermuda arrived at Scapa Flow.

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Also a distant cover force was deployed. This was ' Force 2 ', the battle force, which was made up the battleship HMS Anson (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN), heavy cruiser USS Tuscaloosa (Capt. J.B.W. Waller, USN) and the destroyers USS Forrest (T/Cdr. K.P. Letts, USN), USS Fitch (T/Cdr. K.C. Walpole, USN), USS Corry (T/Cdr. L.B. Ensey, USN) and USS Hobson (T/Lt.Cdr. K. Loveland, USN) departed Akureyri on 19 November to cover convoy JW 54A from approximate position 73°00'N, 11°00'E.

On 24 November, while on passage back to Akureyri, USS Tuscaloosa was detached to Hvalfiord where she arriving later on the same day.

HMS Anson arrived at Akureyri also on 24 November escorted by the American destroyers which then went on to Hvalfjord.

On 28 November ' Force 2 ', now made up of the battleship HMS Anson, light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, DSO, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Musketeer (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, OBE, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN), HMS Ashanti (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN) departed Akureyri to provide cover for convoy JW 54B and RA 54B from approximate position 73°00'N, 11°00'E.

On 29 November the destroyers had to be detached due to heavy weather as they were unable to keep up without sustaining damage. In fact, HMS Matchless had sustained damage and proceeded to Seidisfjord with defects. The destroyers rejoined on 1 December.

On 4 December ' Force 2 ' arrived at Scapa Flow. HMS Matchless also arrived there on the same day. (12)

17 Nov 1943
HMS Spiteful (Lt.Cdr. F.H. Sherwood, DSC, RCNVR) conducted A/S exercises at Scapa Flow with HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN), HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. S.V. Storheill, RNorN), HMIS Cauvery (A/Cdr. A.W. Beeton, RIN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN).

On completion of these exercises HMS Spiteful departed Scapa Flow for Holy Loch. She was escorted by HMS Cutty Sark (Cdr.(Retd.) R.H. Mack, RN). (19)

19 Nov 1943
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. She returned shortly after midnight on the 14th.

During the exercises she was, most likely escorted by the destroyers HMS Hardy (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Scorpion (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN). [HMS Hardy for sure was present.] (20)

28 Nov 1943
' Force 2 ', now made up of the battleship HMS Anson (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN), light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, DSO, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Musketeer (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, OBE, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN), HMS Ashanti (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN) departed Akureyri to provide cover for convoy JW 54B and RA 54B.

[For more info see the event ' Operation FT, passage of convoys JW 54A and JW 54B from the U.K. to Northern Russia as well as convoy RA 54B from Northern Russia to the U.K. ' for 15 November 1943.] (21)

4 Dec 1943
' Force 2 ', now made up of the battleship HMS Anson (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN), light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, DSO, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Musketeer (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, OBE, RN), HMS Ashanti (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow from operations. (22)

6 Dec 1943
HMS Telemachus (Cdr. W.D.A. King, DSO, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow together with HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN) and HMS Speedwell (Lt.Cdr. T.E. Williams, RD, RNR). (23)

7 Dec 1943
Around 0700A/7, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Gibraltar. She is escorted by the destroyers HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN) and HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN).

Around 0900A/10, in position 42°53'N, 19°53'W, the destroyers screen was relieved by the destroyers HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN), HMS Ulster (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Donald, DSC, RN) and HMS Grenville (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, DSO, RN). The original destroyers screen then proceeded to Horta, Azores to fuel.

Around 0900A/12, HMS King George V, HMS Rocket, HMS Ulster and HMS Grenville arrived at Gibraltar.

At Gibraltar HMS King George V was to pick up Prime Minister Churchill and carry him back to the U.K.

This however did not materialise due to the Prime Minister being sick and unable to travel. (24)

17 Dec 1943
Around 2130A/17, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), heavy cruiser HMS London (Capt. R.V. Symonds-Tayler, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Grenville (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, DSO, RN), HMS Ulster (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Donald, DSC, RN) and HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN) departed Gibraltar for the Clyde.

Around 1200A/19, the destroyers HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN) joined coming from Horta, Azores.

Around 2000A/19, HMS Grenville, HMS Ulster and HMS Rocket parted company to proceed to Horta, Azores to fuel.

HMS King George V, HMS London, HMS Kempenfelt, HMS Termagent and HMS Obdurate arrived at Greenock around 1830A/22. There HMS King George V and HMS London disembarked the passengers they had been carrying. (25)

23 Dec 1943
Around 1130A/23, HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) departed the Clyde for Scapa Flow. She is escorted by the destroyer HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN).

They arrived at Scapa Flow around 0930A/24. (26)

27 Dec 1943
HMS Vampire (Lt. C.W. Taylor, RNR) conducted A/S exercises at/off Scapa Flow with HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson DSO, RN) and HMCS Chaudiere (A/Lt.Cdr. C.P. Nixon, RCN). (27)

12 Jan 1944

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

Convoy JW 56A

.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Convoy JW 56B

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HMS Honeysuckle was detached from the convoy to the Clyde

HMS Hydra was detached from convoy to Scapa Flow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On 2 February the White Sea section arrived at Archangel.

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Convoy RA 56

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On 9 February 1944, ' Force 1 ' arrived at Scapa Flow. (28)

13 Jan 1944
The battleship HMS Anson (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO and Bar, RN flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. W.Y.La R. Beverley, RN) and the destroyer HMS Matchless (Lt. W.D. Shaw, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN) (and possibly others) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (29)

25 Jan 1944
At 18.33 hrs on 25 January 1944 while in position 73°28'N, 21°30'E, HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN) was damaged by a Gnat-torpedo from German U-boat U-360 while escorting convoy JW 56A to North Russia. The U-boat missed the damaged destroyer with a torpedo at 18.44 hrs.

14 Apr 1945
HMS Scorcher (Lt. K.S. Renshaw, DSC, RNR) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with HMS Savage and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN). (30)

18 Apr 1945
HMS Scorcher (Lt. K.S. Renshaw, DSC, RNR) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow with HMS Carysfort (Lt.Cdr. L. St.G. Rich, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN). (30)

23 Apr 1945
HMS Rodney (Capt. R.O. Fitzroy, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, CVO, DSO, RN, Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet) conducted gunnery exercises off Scapa Flow. She was escorted by HMS Carysfort (Lt.Cdr. L. St.G. Rich, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN). (31)

23 Apr 1945
HMS Trusty (Lt. W. St.G. Anderson, DSC, RNR) conducts exercises with HMS Carysfort (Lt.Cdr. L. St.G. Rich, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN) and ORP Garland (Lt. K. Hess). (32)

24 Apr 1945
HMS Trusty (Lt. W. St.G. Anderson, DSC, RNR) conducts exercises with HMS Savage (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Malins, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN) and ORP Garland (Lt. K. Hess). (32)

26 Apr 1945
HrMs Dolfijn (Lt.Cdr. J.B.M.J. Maas, RNN) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow together with HMS Cleopatra (Capt. B.I. Robertshaw, CBE, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN) and ORP Garland (Lt. K. Hess, ORP). (33)

26 Apr 1945
HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.W. Williams, RN), HMS Cleopatra (Capt. B.I. Robertshaw, RN), HMS Diadem (Capt. A.M. Knapp, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN) and ORP Garland (Lt. K. Hess) were all conducting exercises at Scapa Flow. (34)

30 Apr 1945
HrMs Dolfijn (Lt.Cdr. J.B.M.J. Maas, RNN) conducted A/S exercises off Scapa Flow together with HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN). (35)

1 May 1945

Operation Judgement.

The main object of the operastion was the destruction of U-boat depot ships at Kolbotn. The secondary object was to destroy enemy shipping anchored of Sandnesjoen.

The Force deployed for this operation departed Scapa Flow around 1130B/1 and was made up of the heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. J.G.Y. Loveband, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral R.R. McGrigor, CB, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Diadem (Capt. A.M. Knapp, RN), escort carriers HMS Queen (A/Capt. K.J. D'Arcy, DSO, RN), HMS Searcher (Capt. J.W. Grant, DSO, RN), HMS Trumpeter (A/Capt. K.S. Colquhoun, RN) and the destroyers HMS Carysfort (Lt.Cdr. L.St.G. Rich, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Zambesi (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Palmer, RN), HMS Savage (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Malins, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Scourge (Lt.Cdr. C.G.H. Brown, DSC, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. R.E.D. Ryder, VC, RN), Orwell and HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC and Bar, RN).

In the early morning of 3 May the destroyers were fuelled by HMS Norfolk, HMS Searcher, HMS Trumpeter and the RFA tanker Blue Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941) which had also been deployed.

At 1020B/3, the Blue Ranger parted company escorted by HMS Obedient and HMS Orwell. HMS Orwell escorting the Blue Ranger arrived at Scapa Flow on 7 May. HMS Obedient had been detached and already arrived at Scapa Flow on 5 May.

Around 1600B/4, the escort carrier commenced flying off aircraft to attack the German base at Kilbotn, just south of Harstad. During the attacks the depot ships Black Watch (5035 GRT, built 1939) and Senja (858 GRT, built 1938). Also sunk was the submarine U-711 which was alongside the Black Watch. Aircraft involved were eight Avengers and four Wildcats from 846 Squadron in HMS Trumpeter, eight Avengers and four Wildcats from 853 Squadron in HMS Queen, and twenty Wildcats from 882 Squadron in HMS Queen.

By 1809B/4, all aircraft had landed on except for one Avenger and one Wildcat. All crews were lost.

At 0700B/5, HMS Norfolk and HMS Diadem parted company to proceed ahead to Scapa Flow where they arrived around 0800B/6.

The destroyers HMS Carysfort, HMS Zambesi, HMS Savage, HMS Scourge and HMS Opportune also arrived at Scapa Flow, most likely late on the 6th.

The three escort carriers remained at sea and were joined around 2359B/6 by the escort carrier HMS Campania (Capt. C.B. Alers-Hankey, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN), HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. H. Øi) and ORP Piorun (Lt.Cdr. J. Tchorznicki, ORP). (36)

2 May 1945
In the morning, HMS Devonshire (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), conducted underway refuelling exercises at Scapa Flow with the destroyer HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN).

In the afternoon HMS Devonshire conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (37)

6 May 1945

Operation Cleaver.

Entry of a naval surface force into the Skagerrak and Kattegat.

The following forces took part in this operation;
' Force 5 ' which was made up of the light cruisers HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.W. Williams, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. R.F. Elkins, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Zephyr (Capt. J.H. Allison, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Zealous (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Zest (Lt.Cdr. R.B.N. Hicks, DSO, RN) and HMS Zodiac (Lt.Cdr. H.R. Rycroft, DSC, RN).
This force departed Rosyth in the evening of the 6th.

' Force 6 ' which was made up of the heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. J.G.Y. Loveband, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral R.R. McGrigor, CB, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Scourge (Lt.Cdr. C.G.H. Brown, DSC, RN, with Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN on board), HMS Savage (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Malins, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Thorpe, DSO, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. R.E.D. Ryder, VC, RN), HMS Zambesi (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Palmer, RN) and HMS Carysfort (Lt.Cdr. L.St.G. Rich, DSO and Bar, RN). This force departed Scapa flow early the 7th except to joined the escort carriers HMS Queen (A/Capt. K.J. D'Arcy, DSO, RN), HMS Searcher (Capt. J.W. Grant, DSO, RN), HMS Trumpeter (A/Capt. K.S. Colquhoun, RN) which had still been at sea after operation Judgement together with the escort carrier HMS Campania (Capt. C.B. Alers-Hankey, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN), HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. H. Øi) and ORP Piorun (Lt.Cdr. J. Tchorznicki, ORP). The cruisers and the destroyers joined the escort carriers around 1000B/7.

HMS Campania, HMS Obdurate, HNoMS Stord and ORP Piorun then parted company.

And the 40th Minesweeping Flotilla made up of HMS Catharine (Cdr. Kenneth Hillam Fraser, RN), 6541 HMS Cynthia (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.L. Chatwin, RNVR), HMS Elfreda (T/A/Lt.Cdr. L. Jolly, RNVR), HMS Grecian (T/A/Cdr. C.R. Fraser, DSC and Bar, RNR) and HMS Gazelle (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Sutcliffe, RN), HMS Maenad (Cdr. C.E. Duggan, RD, RNR), HMS Steadfast (T/A/Lt. A.H. Hall, RNVR) and HMS Tattoo (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.G. Rogers, RD, RNR). They departed Rosyth of the 6th.

Force 5 and the 40th M/S Flotilla arrived at Copenhagen, Denmark on 9 May. The 40th M/S Flotilla swept Force 5 through the minefields.

Force 6 returned to Scapa Flow on 10 May. (36)

5 Jun 1945

Operation Indestructible.

Vice-Admiral R.R. McGrigor, CB, DSO, RN, transferred his flag from HMS Norfolk (Capt. J.G.Y. Loveband, RN) to HMS Devonshire (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN).

His Norwegian Majesty King Haakon VII then hoisted his flag in HMS Norfolk after which she (with the entire Royal party on board, HMS Devonshire and their destroyer escort made up of HMS Onslow (Capt. H.W.S. Browning, OBE, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Gower, DSC, RN), HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. H. Øi) then departed Rosyth for Oslo where they arrived on 7 June.

Vice-Admiral McGrigor then transferred his flag back to HMS Norfolk. (38)

12 Jun 1945
HMS Norfolk (Capt. J.G.Y. Loveband, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral R.R. McGrigor, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Devonshire (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN), HMS Onslow (Capt. H.W.S. Browning, OBE, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Gower, DSC, RN) and HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. H. Øi) departed Oslo to return to Rosyth.

HMS Onslow was however detached soon after departure as she was to proceed to Copenhagen, Denmark. (38)

13 Jun 1945
HMS Norfolk (Capt. J.G.Y. Loveband, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral R.R. McGrigor, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN) and HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Gower, DSC, RN) arrived at Rosyth from Oslo.

HMS Devonshire (Capt. G.M.B. Langley, OBE, RN) and HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. H. Øi) had parted company around 1230B/13.

HNoMS Stord then proceeded to Scapa Flow arriving there later the same day.

HMS Devonshire proceeded to Plymouth arriving there on the 15th. (38)

14 Jul 1945
The light cruiser HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.W. Williams, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.E.M.B. Cunninghame-Graham, CBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Serapis (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Zealous (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Zephyr (Lt.Cdr. C.R. Purse, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Zodiac (Lt.Cdr. H.R. Rycroft, DSC, RN) departed Plymouth to make rendezvous with the US Heavy cruiser USS Augusta (T/Capt. J.H. Foskett, USN) and the light cruiser USS Philadelphia (T/Capt. R.L. Boller, USN). On board the USS Augusta was President Truman which was en-route to Antwerp, Belgium.

Rendezvous was made in the morning and the ships then proceeded in company westwards through the English Channel.

In the early evening the British ships parted company near the North Goodwin Buoy. Shortly aftewards the escort destroyers HMS Garth (Capt. W.G. Davis, DSC, RN), HMS Hambledon (Lt. C.G.deL. Bush, RN) and HMS Holderness (A/Lt.Cdr. P.F. Cole, DSC, RN) joined the US ships to escort them to Antwerp where they arrived in the morning of the 15th. (39)

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 173/17241
  2. ADM 53/116069
  3. ADM 53/116527
  4. ADM 173/17242
  5. ADM 53/116177 + ADM 53/116679 + ADM 199/427 + ADM 199/429 + ADM 199/644
  6. ADM 53/115428 + ADM 53/115692 + ADM 53/116392 + AMD 53/116680 + ADM 199/644
  7. ADM 234/369
  8. ADM 199/632 + ADM 234/369
  9. ADM 173/18389
  10. ADM 53/117281 + ADM 53/117396
  11. ADM 173/17792
  12. ADM 199/632
  13. 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
  14. ADM 53/116901 + ADM 53/118301 + ADM 53/118526
  15. ADM 173/18284
  16. ADM 53/116901 + ADM 53/117399 + ADM 53/118301 + ADM 53/118629
  17. ADM 199/766
  18. ADM 53/117697 + ADM 53/118304 + ADM 53/118434 + ADM 199/766
  19. ADM 173/18096
  20. ADM 53/117723
  21. ADM 53/116906 + ADM 53/116907 + ADM 53/117019 + ADM 53/117020 + ADM 199/632
  22. ADM 53/116907 + ADM 53/117020 + ADM 199/632
  23. ADM 173/18214
  24. ADM 53/117724 + ADM 199/632
  25. ADM 53/117724 + ADM 53/117845 + ADM 199/632 + ADM 199/766
  26. ADM 53/117724
  27. ADM 173/18443
  28. ADM 199/1427
  29. ADM 53/118816 + ADM 53/119168
  30. ADM 173/19572
  31. ADM 53/122157
  32. ADM 173/20040
  33. File 2.12.03.5655 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  34. ADM 53/121005 + ADM 53/121107 + ADM 53/121229
  35. File 2.12.03.5656 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  36. ADM 199/1440
  37. ADM 53/121219
  38. ADM 53/121220 + ADM 53/121933 + ADM 199/1440
  39. ADM 53/121007 + ADM 199/1440 + Log of USS Augusta

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


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