Allied Warships

HMS Saumarez (G 12)

Destroyer of the S class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassS 
PennantG 12 
ModFlotilla leader 
Built byHawthorn Leslie & Co. (Hebburn-on-Tyne, U.K.) 
Ordered9 Jan 1941 
Laid down8 Sep 1941 
Launched20 Nov 1942 
Commissioned1 Jul 1943 
End service 
History

HMS Saumarez was mined Corfu strait on 22 October 1946. The mines which heavily damaged the Saumarez had been secretly laid by Albanians, and this fact led to a crisis in the relationships between the two countries: we should note that we were at the opening of the Cold War. Among with the Saumarez, another destroyer got some trouble that day: the HMS Volage; first, she rammed the burning Saumarez in an attempt to save her crew; then she struck another mine, whose explosion torn off her bow. Howewer, Volage managed to reach Malta (with Saumarez in tow), where Volage was further repaired. A group of British minesweepers was sent to the area to clear the strait, and the dead sailors from the two destroyers now rests in the Corfu's cemetery. Saumarez was finally scrapped at Charlestown in October 1950.

 

Commands listed for HMS Saumarez (G 12)

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

CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. Eric Norman Walmsley, DSC, RN24 May 1943Jan/Feb44
2Lt. John Edwin Dyer, DSC, RNJan/Feb4419 Mar 1944
3Capt. Peter Grenville Lyon Cazalet, DSC, RN19 Mar 194417 Nov 1944
4Capt. Manley Lawrence Power, DSO, OBE, RN17 Nov 194414 Dec 1945

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Notable events involving Saumarez include:


14 Jul 1943
During 14/15 July 1943, USS South Dakota (Capt. L.D. McCormick, USN), HMS Renown (Capt. W.E. Parry, CB, RN), HMS Diomede (Capt. H.T.W. Grant, RCN), HMS Onslow (Capt. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.C.A. Ingram, DSC, RN), HMS Mahratta (Lt.Cdr. E.A.F. Drought, DSC, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) and HMS Saumarez (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. These included night exercises.

On completion of these exercises HMS Diomede proceeded to Rosyth. (1)

25 Jul 1943
The battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN) shifted from Scapa Flow to Port H.H.Z. (Loch Cairnbawn) where she was to participate in special trials.

During the passage she was escorted by the destroyers HMS Saumarez (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Scorpion (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) and HMS Impulsive (Lt. P. Bekenn, RN).

The destroyers returned to Scapa Flow later the same day. (2)

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. (3)

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.

20 Aug 1943
HMS Malaya (Capt. G.E.M. O’Donnell, DSO, RN) and HMS Renown (Capt. W.E. Parry, CB, RN) participated in exercises off Scapa Flow. They appeared to have been escorted by the destroyers HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. P. Bekenn, RN), HMS Saumarez (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Scourge (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) and HMCS Huron (Lt.Cdr. H.S. Rayner, DSC, RCN). (4)

12 Oct 1943
HMS Storm (T/Lt. E.P. Young, DSC, RNVR) conducted A/S exercises with HMS Saumarez (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) and during the afternoon with HMS Loch Tulla (T/Skr. S.M. Norton, RNR). (5)

14 Oct 1943
HMS Storm (T/Lt. E.P. Young, DSC, RNVR) conducted A/S exercises with HMS Saumarez (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Seagull (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.W Ellis, DSC, RNR), HMS Middleton (Lt. C.S. Battersby, RN) and HMS Teazer (Lt.Cdr. A.A.F. Talbot, DSO and Bar, RN). (5)

23 Oct 1943

Operation FR.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Having completed this objective USS Augusta arrived at Hvalfjord on 29 October 1943 and HMS London arrived at Scapa Flow on 30 October 1943. (6)

1 Nov 1943

Operation FS, passage of convoy RA 54A.

Convoy RA 54A

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

' Force 2 ' arrived at Scapa Flow on 8 November 1943. (7)

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

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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

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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

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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. (7)

12 Dec 1943

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

Convoy JW 55A

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Convoy JW 55B

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Convoy RA 55A

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

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

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

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

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

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

On 26 December the convoy got scattered during a gale.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Convoy RA 55B

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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' Force 1 '

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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' Force 2 '

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dispositions at 0400A/26.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First contact with the enemy.

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

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

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

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

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

Second engagement of ' Force 1 '.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shadowing operations.

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

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

Movements of the German destroyers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First destroyer attack, 1850 hours, 26 December 1943.

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

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

Second engagement of ' Force 2 '.

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

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

Torpedo attacks by HMS Belfast and HMS Jamaica.

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

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

Torpedo attacks by the 36th Destroyer Division.

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

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

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

Conclusion.

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

(8)

24 Mar 1944
HMS Ursula (Lt. A.G. Davies, RN) conducted A/S exercises at Scapa Flow with HMS Saumarez (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), HMCS Algonquin (A/Lt.Cdr. D.W. Piers, DSC, RCN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) and HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN). (9)

27 Mar 1944

Convoy JW 58.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On 2 April ' Force 1 ' proceeded to join ' Force 2 ' coming from Scapa Flow for the upcoming Operation Tungsten. (10)

10 Aug 1944
HMS Rodney (Capt. R.O. Fitzroy, RN) departed Portland to carry out a bombardment of coastal batteries on Alderney. She is being escorted by the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Cdr.(Retd.) C.F.H. Churchill, DSC, RN), HMS Saumarez (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN) and HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN).

As the weather conditions were considered unsuitable HMS Rodney however soon returned to Portland and the bombardment was postponed and sheduled for the next day.

The next day the weather was still considered to be unsuitable and the bombardment was postponed another 24 hours. (11)

15 Sep 1944

Convoy JW 60.

This convoy departed Loch Ewe on 15 September 1944 and arrived in the Kola Inlet on 23 September 1944.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Adolph S. Ochs (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Arunah S. Abell (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), British Patience (British (tanker), 8097 GRT, built 1943), Cardinal Gibbons (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Daniel Willard (American, 7200 GRT, built 1942), David Stone (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Dexter W. Fellows (American, 7210 GRT, built 1944), Edward A. Savoy (American, 7210 GRT, built 1944), Edward E. Spafford (American, 7176 GRT, built 1944), Empire Celia (British, 7025 GRT, built 1943), Francis Scott Key (Amercian, 7191 GRT, built 1941), Frederic A. Kummer (American, 7210 GRT, built 1944), Frederic W. Taylor (American, 7176 GRT, built 1944), George T. Angell (American, 7176 GRT, built 1944), Hawkins Fudske (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Henry Lomb (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), John J. Abel (American, 7191 GRT, built 1943), John Vining (American, 7191 GRT, built 1943), John Woolman (American, 7191 GRT, built 1943), Joshua Thomas (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Julius Olsen (American, 7247 GRT, built 1944), Lewis Emery Jr. (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Lucerna (British (tanker for refueling the escorts), 6556 GRT, built 1930), Nathaniel Alexander (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Neritina (British (tanker), 8228 GRT, built 1943), Noreg (Norwegian (tanker), 7605 GRT, built 1931), Raymond B. Stevens (American, 7176 GRT, built 1944), Richard M. Johnson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Samaritan (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943) and Thomas U. Walter (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943).

The rescue ship Zamalek (British, 1567 GRT, built 1921) was also with the convoy.

The convoy had a close escort made up of the sloop HMS Cygnet (Cdr. D.M. MacLean, RD, RNR, Senior Officer of the close escort), destroyers HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. C.G. Walker, RN), HMS Keppel (Cdr. I.J. Tyson, DSO, DSC, RNR), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) and the corvettes HMS Allington Castle (A/Lt.Cdr. P.A. Read, RNR) and HMS Bamborough Castle (T/Lt. M.S. Work, DSC and Bar, RNR).

A group of destroyers; HMS Saumarez (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), HMS Scorpion (Cdr. W.S. Clouston, DSC, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson DSO, RN), HMS Virago (Lt.Cdr. A.J.R. White, RN) and HMS Volage (Cdr. L.G. Durlacher, OBE, RN) also departed Loch Ewe with the convoy. The destroyer HMCS Sioux (A/Lt.Cdr. E.E.G. Boak, RCN) later joined at sea having departed Scapa Flow at 2359B/14.

To provide cover for this convoy the battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. R.O. Fitzroy, RN), escort carriers HMS Campania (A/Capt. K.A. Short, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.R. McGrigor, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Striker (Capt. W.P. Carne, RN), light cruiser HMS Diadem (Capt. E.G.A. Clifford, RN) and the destroyers HMS Myngs (Capt. M.L. Power, CBE, RN), HMS Zambesi (Lt.Cdr. W. Scott, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Verulam (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, DSC, RN), HMCS Algonquin (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Piers, DSC, RCN), HMS Savage (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Malins, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) and HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. H. Øi) departed Scapa Flow around 1300B/16.

At 0720B/17, the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. M. Richmond, DSO, OBE, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) and HMS Musketeer (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, OBE, DSC, RN) joined. These destroyers had departed Scapa Flow at 2100B/15 and had fuelled at Skaalefiord in the Faroer Islands on the 16th. Upon these destroyers joining HMS Myngs, HMS Zambesi, HMS Savage and HNoMS Stord then parted company to return to Scapa Flow where they arrived at 1900B/17.

The cover force joined the convoy around 1030B/17. HMS Rodney and the escort carriers took station in the convoy.

The convoy and it's escort arrived in the Kola Inlet unmolested on 23 September.

On arrival Rear-Admiral McGregor transferred his flag to HMS Rodney. Shortly before leaving the Kola Inlet with the return convoy he transferred back to HMS Campania.

28 Sep 1944

Convoy RA 60.

This convoy departed the Kola Inlet on 28 September 1944 and arrived in the Clyde on 5 October 1944.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; British Promise (British (tanker), 8443 GRT, built 1942), Charles A. McAllister (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Charles Dauray (American, 7176 GRT, built 1944), Clark Howell (American, 7198 GRT, built 1944), David B. Johnson (American, 7198 GRT, built 1944), Edward H. Crockett (American, 7176 GRT, built 1944), Edward L. Grant (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Elijah Kellogg (American, 7176 GRT, built 1944), Fort Glenora (American, 7126 GRT, built 1943), Frank Gilbreth (American, 7176 GRT, built 1944), John La Farge (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Jose Marti (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Josephine Shaw Lowell (American, 7176 GRT, built 1944), Leo J. Duster (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Nacella (British (tanker), 8196 GRT, built 1943), Noreg (Norwegian (tanker), 7605 GRT, built 1931), Oakley Wood (American, 7210 GRT, built 1944), Samannan (British, 7219 GRT, built 1944), Samcalia (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Samconstant (British, 7219 GRT, built 1944), Samgara (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Samidway (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Samloyal (British, 7210 GRT, built 1944), Samlyth (British, 7210 GRT, built 1944), Samsuva (British, 7219 GRT, built 1944), Samtredy (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Silas Weir Mitchell (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Thomas Donaldson (American, 7210 GRT, built 1944), Thomas H. Sumner (American, 7176 GRT, built 1944) and Warren Delano (American, 7210 GRT, built 1944).

Two rescue ships were with the convoy Rathlin (British, 1600 GRT, built 1936) and Zamalek (British, 1567 GRT, built 1921).

The convoy had a close escort made up of the sloop HMS Cygnet (Cdr. D.M. MacLean, RD, RNR, Senior Officer of the close escort), destroyers HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. C.G. Walker, RN), HMS Keppel (Cdr. I.J. Tyson, DSO, DSC, RNR), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN) and the corvettes HMS Allington Castle (A/Lt.Cdr. P.A. Read, RNR) and HMS Bamborough Castle (T/Lt. M.S. Work, DSC and Bar, RNR).

A cover force was with the convoy made up of HMS Rodney (Capt. R.O. Fitzroy, RN), escort carriers HMS Campania (A/Capt. K.A. Short, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.R. McGrigor, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Striker (Capt. W.P. Carne, RN), light cruiser HMS Diadem (Capt. E.G.A. Clifford, RN) and the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. M. Richmond, DSO, OBE, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN and HMS Musketeer (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Saumarez (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), HMS Scorpion (Cdr. W.S. Clouston, DSC, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson DSO, RN), HMS Verulam (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, DSC, RN), HMS Virago (Lt.Cdr. A.J.R. White, RN) and HMS Volage (Cdr. L.G. Durlacher, OBE, RN), HMCS Algonquin (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Piers, DSC, RCN) and HMCS Sioux (A/Lt.Cdr. E.E.G. Boak, RCN).

On 29 September 1944 the merchant vessels Edward H. Crockett and Samsuva were sunk during an attack by the German submarine U-310. Following the sinking the rescue ships picked up the survivors and the wreck of the Edward H. Crockett was scuttled by HMS Milne and the wreck of the Samsuva by HMS Bulldog and HMS Musketeer. The German submarine was hunted and depth charged but managed to escape undamaged.

HMS Diadem arrived at Scapa Flow at 0700A/3 having parted company with the convoy at 2030B/1.

Around 1800A/3, HMS Rodney, HMS Campania, HMS Striker, HMS Saumarez, HMS Scorpion, HMS Venus, HMS Virago, HMS Volage and HMCS Sioux parted company with the convoy to proceed to Scapa Flow where they arrived around 0800A/4.

The remaining destroyers, HMS Milne, HMS Marne, HMS Meteor, HMS Musketeer, HMS Verulam and HMCS Algonquin parted company with the convoy later and arrived at Scapa Flow around 1800A/4.

The convoy arrived in the Clyde on 5 October 1944.

23 Oct 1944

Operation Hardy.

The object of this operation was to lay air laid mines in Lepsoyrev and Harhamsfiord (west-south-west of Molde) and then to strike enemy shipping between 62°00'N and 64°00'N.

The force for this operation was made up of the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. D.K. Bain, DSO, RN, Senior Officer), escort carriers HMS Trumpeter (A/Capt. K.S. Colquhoun, RN), HMS Campania (A/Capt. K.A. Short, RN), HMS Saumarez (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), HMS Savage (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Malins, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Scorpion (Cdr. W.S. Clouston, DSC, RN), HMS Serapis (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and HMS Zambesi (Lt.Cdr. W. Scott, DSC and Bar, RN).

The mines successfully laid on the 24th. Some radio / radar stations were destroyed on the shore. Two small Norwegian ships were set on fire and they were then grounded.

No further shipping was attacked as the operation was abandoned owing to the weather conditions.

The force returned to Scapa Flow on 27 October. (12)

22 Nov 1944

Operation Provident.

The object of this operation was to achieve any of the following objectives;
a) Bomb and destroyer U-boat depot ships,
b) Mining of Stoff, Meloysund or Ramsoyund,
c) A fighter attack on Bardenfoss airfield,
d) Bombing of the ferry service between Banaasjoen and Rorvik,
e) Attack shipping along the coast between Lodingen and Rorvik.

Forces Taking Part:

Around 1600A/22, two forces departed Scapa Flow for operation Provident. These were;
Force 7: made up of the aircraft carrier Implacable (Capt. C.C. Hughes-Hallett, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, CVO, DSO, RN, Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet), light cruiser HMS Dido (Capt. R.F. Elkins, OBE, RN), destroyers HMS Myngs (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), HMS Scorpion (Cdr. C.W. McMullen, DSC, RN), HMS Scourge (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN), HMCS Algonquin (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Piers, DSC, RCN), HMCS Sioux (A/Lt.Cdr. E.E.G. Boak, RCN) and HMS Zephyr (Lt.Cdr. J.F.D. Bush, DSC and 2 Bars, RN).

And Force 8 made up of the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. D.K. Bain, DSO, RN), escort carriers Premier (A/Capt. R.J. Gardner, RN), HMS Pursuer (A/Capt. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Saumarez (Capt. M.L. Power, CBE, DSO, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. H.G.D. De Chair, DSC with Bar, RN), HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, RN), HMS Volage (Cdr. L.G. Durlacher, OBE, RN) and HMS Zealous (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN).

Heavy weather was encountered and ' Force 8 ' abandoned the operation and returned to Scapa Flow on 25 November 1944.

On 27 November 1944 shipping was attacked successfully by aircraft from HMS Indefatigable, the German transports Rigel (3828 GRT, built 1924, former Norwegian) and Korsnes (1795 GRT, built 1936) were sunk between Rosoya and Tjotta. Heavy loss of live occured on board the Rigel was was transporting troops and POW's (mostly Soviet). Over 2500 men lost their lives in this sinking. These ships had been in convoy and had departed Bodo on 26 November. They were escorted by the patrol vessels V 6308 and NT 04.

' Force 7 ' returned to Scapa Flow on 29 November 1944. (10)

27 Feb 1945
During 27/28 February 1945, HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. H.G. Norman, CBE, RN) and HMS Saumarez (Capt. M.L. Power, CBE, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Trincomalee. (13)

8 Apr 1945

Operation Sunfish.

Photographic reconnaissance of the west coast of Sumatra and air attacks on northern Sumatra.

On 8 April 1945, ' Force 63 ' made up of the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. R.M. Ellis, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral H.C.T. Walker, CB, RN), Richelieu (Capt. G.M.J. Merveilleux du Vignaux), escort carriers HMS Emperor (A/Capt. C. Madden, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Khedive (A/Capt. D.H. Magnay, RN), heavy cruisers HMS Cumberland (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN), HMS London (Capt. S.L. Bateson, RN) and the destroyers HMS Saumarez (Capt. M.L. Power, CBE, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. H.G.D. De Chair, DSC with Bar, RN), HMS Verulam (Lt.Cdr. D.H.R. Bromley, DSC, RN), HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, DSC, RN) and HMS Virago (Lt.Cdr. A.J.R. White, DSC, RN) departed Trincomalee.

The original intention was to carry out the planned photographic reconnaissance, beginning on 12th April from a flying off position west of Padang. Anti-shipping strikes would follow later.

This programme unfortunately had to be re-cast when HMS Emperor's catapult broke down, necessitating the postponement of the photographic reconnaissance for two days.

Accordingly, on 11 April 1945, HMS Queen Elizabeth, Richelieu and HMS London bombarded Sabang, while HMS Saumarez HMS Verulam and HMS Vigilant bombarded Ulee Lhoe. No shipping was present at Sabang, but the destroyers damaged a small coaster, which was already beached.

' Force 63 ' was subsequently attacked by a force of ten enemy aircraft, two of which were shot down by the Combat Air Patrol.

On 12 April 1945, ships from ' Force 63 ' refuelled from ' Force 70 ' (RFA tanker Easedale (8032 GRT, built 1942) escorted by the frigate HMS Lossie (Lt.Cdr. A.F. MacFie, OBE, RNR)) and HMS London was detached to proceed to Simonstown, South Africa where it had been arranged for her to refit. She was first to return to Trincomalee though.

' Force 63 ' then proceeded to operate off the west coast of Sumatra, and photographic reconnaissance was carried out as planned on 14th and 15th April with almost complete success. One of our aircraft was lost. One enemy aircraft was shot down by the Combat Air Patrol.

An air strike was made on Emmahaven on 16 April, hits being scored on a 4000 ton merchant ship and workshops in the harbour. Our fighters shot down one more enemy aircraft and three were claimed to have been damaged on the ground. Destroyers HMS Venus and HMS Virago, meanwhile made a sweep between the outlying islands and the mainland, from Ayerbangis Bay to Natal Road. A total of six junks were sunk.

' Force 63 ' arrived back in Ceylon, either at Trincomalee or Colombo on 20 April 1945. (14)

10 May 1945

Operation Dukedom.

Intercepting Japanese surface ships trying to evacuate troops from the Andaman Islands.

On 8 May 1945 a report was received from two British submarines on patrol in the Malacca Strait (HMS Statesman (Lt. R.G.P. Bulkeley, RN) and HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN) that they had sighted a Japanese heavy cruiser and a destroyer proceeding to the north-west. The Eastern Fleet was already on alert due to intelligence and ships from the Eastern Fleet immediately (around 0700 hours) put to sea from Trincomalee, Ceylon for operation Dukedom. These ships formed Task Force 61. This task force was, at that moment, made up of the following ships;
British battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. R.M. Ellis, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral H.C.T. Walker, CB, RN), the French battleship Richelieu (Capt. G.M.J. Merveilleux du Vignaux), the British escort carriers HMS Hunter (Capt. A.D. Torlesse, RN), HMS Khedive (A/Capt. D.H. Magnay, RN), HMS Shah (Capt. W.J. Yendell, RN), HMS Emperor (Capt. Sir C. Madden, RN), the British heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN), the British light cruiser HMS Royalist (Capt. W.G. Brittain, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Commodore N.G. Oliver, CB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), the Dutch light cruiser HrMs Tromp (A/Capt. F. Stam, RNN) and the British destroyers HMS Saumarez (Capt. M.L. Power, CBE, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Venus (Cdr. H.G.D. De Chair, DSC with Bar, RN), HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, DSC, RN), HMS Virago (Lt.Cdr. A.J.R. White, DSC, RN), HMS Rotherham (Capt. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Nubian (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN) and HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Diack, DSC and Bar, RN). This latter destroyer however had to return due to defects.

The British destroyer HMS Verulam (Lt.Cdr. D.H.R. Bromley, DSC, RN) sailed at 1700 hours to overtake and then join the Task Force. She was joined by HMS Tartar (Capt. B. Jones, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) as substitute for HMS Penn whose defects could not be repaired in time. HMS Verulam and HMS Tartar eventually joined the Task Force at 1505/11.

Most ships of the Task Force had only returned from the previous operation the day before and for instance HMS Queen Elizabeth had only 50% ammunition for her 15” guns on board. Also HMS Emperor and HMS Khedive were not fully fueled.

The same day the tanker Easedale (8032 GRT, built 1942) departed Trincomalee escorted by the British destroyer HMS Paladin (Lt. H.R. Hewlett, RN) (Force 70) to provide fuel for the smaller ships of Force 61.

At 1940/11 a fast attack force, made up of Richelieu, HMS Cumberland and the destroyer of the 26th Destroyer Flotilla; HMS Saumarez, HMS Venus, HMS Verlulam, HMS Viliglant and HMS Virago were ordered to proceed ahead to about 50 miles from the Task Force to be in a better position to intercept the reported Japanese heavy cruiser.

In the early afternoon of the 12th an air strike with four Hellcats was carried out against airfields on Car Nicobar Island. One Japanese aircraft was seen to go up in flames.

Also on the 12th submarine HMS Statesman reported that the Japanese cruiser and it's escort were returning to Singapore most likely to Force 61 being sighted the previous day by a Japanese aircraft.

During the 13th all destroyers of the Task Force fueled from HMS Emperor, HMS Hunter and HMS Shah. Besides that Task Force 62 was sent out from Trincomalee. This Task Force was made up of the British light cruiser HMS Nigeria (Capt. H.A. King, DSO, RN) and the British destroyers HMS Roebuck (Cdr. C.D. Bonham-Carter, RN), HMS Racehorse (Cdr. J.J. Casement, DSC, RN), HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. F.W.M. Carter, DSC, RN) and HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN), which was escorting a convoy, was ordered to leave her convoy and then join this Task Force. Also sailed was Task Force 67, made up of Royal Fleet Auxiliary oiler Olwen escorted by HMS Penn, which by now had completed repairs on her defects.

On the 14th HrMs Tromp was sent ahead to fuel from Task Force 70. Late in the evening the remainder of Task Force 61 arrived at the rendez-vous with Task Force 70.

On the 15th the enemy cruiser and destroyer were sighted by an aircraft from HMS Shah. They were again proceeding to the south-east. Shortly afterwards the enemy was also sighted by a patrolling Liberator aircraft which began shadowing the enemy. At 1500 hours three Avenger aircraft attacked the cruiser.

The 26th destroyer flottila, made up of HMS Saumarez, HMS Venus, HMS Verulam, HMS Vigilant and HMS Vigaro were ordered to intercept the enemy after dark. At 1500 hours they were 85 miles from the position of the enemy.

Around midnight the destroyers made radar contact on the cruiser. They then attacked from all directions with torpedoes. About eight hits were scored and the cruiser was sunk. During the attack HMS Saumarez was hit three times with 8" shells. Two ratings were killed on one boiler room was put out of action. The destroyers rejoined the task force at 1000/16. HMS Virago had only 17% fuel left, the other destroyers between that and 30%. HMS Virago and HMS Venus had to fuel from the escort carriers as they could not make it to the oiling force without doing so.

In the evening of the 16th the Task Force was attacked by Japanese aircraft. HMS Virago was near missed and suffered four ratings killed, five ratings severely wounded and thirteen other casualties. She was also listing slightly due to splinter damage.

At 1000/17 the following ships were detached to return to Trincomalee; Richelieu, HMS Nigeria, HMS Royalist, HrMs Tromp, HMS Khedive, HMS Shah and HMS Racehorce.

1740 hours, the 26th Destroyer Flotilla was also detached to return to Trincomalee where they arrived late in the afternoon on the 18th. By this time all the destroyers of this flotilla had fueled from Force 70.

The remaining ships were ordered to return to Trincomalee at 2130/19. They arrived back at Trincomalee on 21 May. (15)

16 May 1945
On 9 May 1945 the Japanese heavy cruiser Haguro and the Japanese destroyer Kamikaze (both offsite links) left Singapore for a transport run to the Andaman Islands. They were sighted the next day in Malakka Strait by the British submarines HMS Statesman (Lt. R.G.P. Bulkeley, RN) and HMS Subtle (Lt. B.J.B. Andrew, DSC, RN). To intercept the Japanese ships a task force made up of 2 battleships, 1 heavy cruiser, 2 light cruisers, 4 escort carriers and 8 destroyers left Trincomalee. Aircraft from the escort carriers attacked the Nicobar Islands on the 11th, forcing Haguro and Kamikaze to head back to Singapore.

On the 14th the Japanese ships again depart from Singapore for the Andaman Islands. They were spotted the next day north-east of Sabang by aircraft the British escort carrier HMS Shah (Capt. W.J. Yendell, RN). A few hours later they were attacked by aircraft from the British escort carrier HMS Emperor (Capt. Sir C. Madden, RN) causing light damaged to Haguro. In the meantime Japanese aircraft have sighted Allied destroyers closing in on Haguro and once again the Japanese ships reverse course.

In anticipation on the Japanese reversal of course the commander of the British 26th DF, Capt. M.L. Power, CBE, DSO with Bar, RN on board HMS Saumarez and the other British destroyers HMS Venus (Cdr. H.G.D. De Chair, DSC with Bar, RN), HMS Verulam (Lt.Cdr. D.H.R. Bromley, DSC, RN), HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, DSC, RN) and HMS Virago (Lt.Cdr. A.J.R. White, DSC, RN) plotted a course to intercept the Japanese ships which they did shortly before midnight on the 15th. After careful manoeuvring the destroyers began attacking the Japanese ships from all sides shortly after one o'clock on the 16th. The Haguro was hit by torpedoed and gunfire and sank around 0230hours in position 04°49'N, 99°42'E but not before she hit the Saumarez with gunfire. The escorting Japanese destroyer Kamikaze escapes with only minor damage.

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 53/117389 + ADM 53/118432 + log of USS South Dakota for July 1943
  2. ADM 53/117882 + ADM 199/632
  3. ADM 199/766
  4. ADM 53/117883 + ADM 53/118433 + ADM 53/11631
  5. ADM 173/18123
  6. ADM 199/632 + ADM 199/766
  7. ADM 199/632
  8. ADM 199/632 + ADM 234/343
  9. ADM 173/19314
  10. ADM 199/1427
  11. ADM 53/120413
  12. ADM 53/119078 + ADM 53/119255 + ADM 53/120648 + ADM 199/1427
  13. ADM 53/122069
  14. ADM 199/1457
  15. Files 2.12.03.6854 and 2.12.27.121 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands) and WO 203 / 4630 (British National Archives, Kew, London)

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


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