Allied Warships

HMS Holcombe (L 56)

Escort destroyer of the Hunt (Type III) class


Photo from Imperial War Museum (IWM), FL-13926

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeEscort destroyer
ClassHunt (Type III) 
PennantL 56 
Built byA. Stephen & Sons Ltd. (Glasgow, Scotland) 
Ordered28 Jul 1940 
Laid down3 Mar 1941 
Launched14 Apr 1942 
Commissioned17 Sep 1942 
Lost12 Dec 1943 
Loss position37° 20'N, 5° 30'E
History

At 1445hours on 12 December 1943, HMS Holcombe (Lt. Frank Maclear Graves, RN) was hit by a Gnat torpedo from the German submarine U-593 and sank north-east of Bougie, Algeria in position 37º20'N, 05º30'E. 83 members of her crew went down with the ship. The survivors were picked up by the US destroyer USS Niblack.

Earlier that day, the U-boat had sunk her sistership HMS Tynedale.

 

Hit by U-boat
Sunk on 12 Dec 1943 by U-593 (Kelbling).

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

Commands listed for HMS Holcombe (L 56)

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

CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. Sidney Hugh Pinchin, DSC, RN20 Jun 194216 Aug 1943
2Lt. Frank Maclear Graves, RN16 Aug 194312 Dec 1943

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Notable events involving Holcombe include:


22 Sep 1942
HMS H 34 (Lt. J.P.H. Oakley, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Oribi (Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, DSO, RN) and HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN). (1)

25 Sep 1942
HMS H 34 (Lt. J.P.H. Oakley, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN) and HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN). (1)

1 Oct 1942
HMS H 34 (Lt. J.P.H. Oakley, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN), HMS Martin (Cdr. C.R.P. Thomson, DSO, RN) and HMS Escapade (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN). (2)

7 Oct 1942
HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Escapade (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), HrMs Isaac Sweers (Capt. W. Harmsen, RNN) and the escort destroyer HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN). (3)

8 Oct 1942
During 8/9 October 1942, HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), conducted exercises at / off Scapa Flow. These included night exercises. During these exercises she was, most likely, escorted by the destroyers HrMs Isaac Sweers (Capt. W. Harmsen, RNN), HMS Porcupine (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) and the escort destroyer HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN).

On 8 October HMS Rodney conducted her exercises with HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) which returned to Scapa Flow around 1930A/8. [No info on her escorting destroyers available.] (4)

29 Oct 1942

Convoy WS 24

This convoy was formed off Oversay on 29 October 1942.

It was made up of the following (troop) transports; Arawa (British, 14462 GRT, built 1922), Athlone Castle (British, 25564 GRT, built 1936), Empress of Scotland (British, 26032 GRT, built 1930), Indochinois (British, 6966 GRT, built 1939), Largs Bay (British, 14182 GRT, built 1921), Striling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936) and Tamaroa (British, 12405 GRT, built 1922).

The American seaplane tender Barnegat (Cdr. J.A. Briggs, USN) was also with the convoy.

On forming up the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Rotherham (Capt. F.S.W. de Winton, RN), HMS Onslow (Capt H.T. Armstrong, DSC, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Ewing, RN), HMS Oribi (Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Sardonyx (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Gray, RNR), HMS Skate (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. Preston, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN).

The convoy was to take an unusual route for a WS convoy. Due to the Allied landings in North Africa (Operation Torch) it was not thought wise to have another troop convoy passing through the same area as the convoys for this operations would be passing through. Therefore it was decided to sent the convoy southwards with a stopover at Bahia, Brasil instead of the usual stopover at Freetown.

The Liverpool section of the convoy made up of the Athlone Castle and Stirling Castle was late at the assembly point due to being delayed by fog. They and their escorts, HMS Sardonyx and HMS Skate only joined the main part of the convoy on 31 October. HMS Sardonyx and HMS Skate then parted company to proceed to Londonderry.

At 1430Z/31, in position 49°46'N, 21°17'W, HMS Onslow, on the port wing of the A/S screen, reported an A/S contact and shorly afterwards sighted a periscope. The convoy then carried out an emergency turn to starboard and HMS Rotherham joined HMS Onslow to hunt the U-boat. Contact was again obtained at 1443Z/31. The first depth charge attacks of both destroyers were probably reasonably accurate as the U-boat went very deep and remained there. A total of seven attacks were made in all by the two destroyers and about 1730Z/31 contact was lost. Both destroyers then carried out a search to regain contact but without success. HMS Rotherham then proceeded to rejoin the convoy leaving HMS Onslow in the area until after dark in case the U-boat should surface. The U-boat attacked was U-563 which sustained damage in the depth charge attacks.

At 0400Z/2, HMS Rotherham parted company with the convoy to proceed to fuel at Ponta Delgada, Azores, where she arrived around 1715Z/2. She departed again to rejoined the convoy at first light on 3rd November. On leaving Ponta Delgada HMS Holcombe was encountered to enter that port to fuel. She was not to rejoin the convoy but to proceed to Bathurst on completion of fuelling.

At 1355Z/2, in position 40°43'N, 25°10'W, USS Barnegat parted company to proceed to French Marocco to join the forces for Operation Torch.

At 1500Z/3, HMS Rotherham rejoined the convoy.

At 1530Z/3, in position 36°40'N, 28°40'W, the armed merchant cruiser Queen of Bermuda (A/Capt.(Retd.) A.D. Cochrane, DSO, RN) joined the convoy.

At 1700Z/3, HMS Onslow, HMS Offa and HMS Oribi parted company to proceed to Ponta Delgada to fuel. They too were not to rejoin the convoy.

Around 2100Z/7, in position 15°41'N, 30°56'W, the transport Indochinois started to drop back due to engine trouble.

At 0348Z/8, HMS Queen of Bermuda was detached to proceed ahead to search for the destroyer HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) and A/S whaler HMS Southern Pride (T/Lt. F.A. Darrah, RNVR). This was done due to the convoy arriving late at the arranged rendezvous.

At 1230Z/8, in position 13°16'N, 29°26'W, the troop transport Tamaroa parted company with the convoy to proceed to Freetown taking HMS Southern Pride with her as escort. HMS Southern Pride had been sighted only half an hour before.

HMS Queen of Bermuda rejoined the convoy at 1930Z/8. HMS Ilex had not been sighted.

At 1120Z/9, HMS Queen of Bermuda was again detached but not to search for the Indochinois using her aircraft to do so. When 50 miles clear of the convoy HMS Queen of Bermuda reported the position, speed and course of the convoy also for the benefit of HMS Ilex which had still not joined the convoy.

At 1500Z/9, in position 08°24'N, 29°22'W, the destroyer Ilex finally managed to join the convoy.

At 0715Z/11, HMS Queen of Bermuda rejoined the convoy. Her Seafox plane had made contact with the Indochinois and had passed instructions to her to rejoin the convoy. Since then she was however not seen and did not rejoin the convoy.

At 1000Z/11, in position 00°14'S, 30°42'W, the light cruiser HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN) joined the convoy.

On the 12th, HMS Ilex took in 60 tons of fuel from HMS Queen of Bermuda.

The convoy arrived at Bahia, Brazil on 15 November 1942.

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The convoy departed Bahia for South Africa at 1830Z/19.

It was still made up of the same transports, minus the Indochinois.

Escort on departure from Bahia was provided by the light cruiser HMS Despatch and the destroyers HMS Rotherham and HMS Ilex.

Armed merchant cruiser Queen of Bermuda departed Bahia at 2359Z/19 to overtake the convoy which she did during the forenoon of the 20th.

At 0900Z/23, HMS Ilex was detached to return to Bahia.

At 2000Z/23, HMS Despatch parted company with the convoy to proceed to Pernambuco (Recife).

At 0800Z/28, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Alcantara (A/Capt.(retd.) J.D. Harvey, RN) joined.

At 0930Z/29, the destroyer HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN) joined.

At 1350Z/30, in position 34°36'S, 17°40'E, a quantity of wreckage was passed and shortly afterwards survivors were seen clinging to broken boats and rafts. HMS Rotherham picked up seven of these while HMAS Norman picked up another eleven. They were the Master, Chief Officer, Chief Engineer and 15 men of the Greek merchant vessel Argo that had been torpedoed and sunk by the Italian submarine Ammiraglio Cagni in position 34°45'S, 17°42'E at 2025Z/29. HMAS Norman transferred the survivors she had picked up to HMS Rotherham.

At 1440Z/30, the corvettes HMS Rockrose (Lt. E.J. Binfield, DSC, RNR) and HMS Thyme (Lt. H. Roach, RNR) joined.

At 1520Z/30, the transport Indochinois rejoined the convoy as did her escort, the destroyer HMAS Nepal (Cdr. F.B. Morris, RAN).

At 1610Z/30, HMS Rotherham parted company with the convoy to proceed to fuel at Simonstown where she also landed the survivors of the Argo. She arrived at Simonstown at 1830Z/30.

HMS Thyme parted company with the convoy late in the morning of 1st, December to proceed to Simonstown.

HMS Rotherham rejoined the convoy at 1600Z/1 having departed Simonstown at 0415Z/1. HMS Rockrose then parted company to proceed to Simonstown.

The convoy arrived at Durban at 0500Z/4. HMS Alcantara had parted company at 0400Z/4 to proceed to Simonstown. (5)

14 Dec 1942
HMS P 614 (Lt. H.W. Wilkinson, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Freetown together with HMS Bridgewater (Cdr. (retired) N.W.H. Weekes, OBE, RN), HMS Armeria (Lt. M. Todd, RNR) and HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN). (6)

24 Dec 1942
HMS P 614 (Lt. H.W. Wilkinson, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Freetown together with HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN), HMS Hydrangea (A/Lt.Cdr. J.E. Woolfenden, RD, RNR) and HMS ML 289 (T/Lt. S.E. Slater, RNVR). (6)

7 Feb 1943
Around 1100A/7, ' Force H ', made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, KBE, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), cruiser-minelayer Adventure, destroyers HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Ashanti (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), HMS Venomous (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSO, DSC, RN) and escort destroyers HMS Haydon (Lt. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN) and HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) departed Mers-el-Kebir for Gibraltar.

En-route to Gibraltar two more destroyers joined, these were HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) and ORP Blyskawica (Lt.Cdr. L. Lichodziejewski).

' Force H ' arrived at Gibraltar around 1730A/8. (7)

1 Mar 1943
Around 1615A/1, ' Force H ', made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, KBE, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), destroyers HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Ashanti (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Haydon (Lt. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN), HMS Oakley (Lt.Cdr. T.A. Pack-Beresford, RN) and HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN).

At 0630A/2, ' Force A ' split into two groups for exercises. All ships had arrived at Gibraltar before noon. (7)

11 Mar 1943
Around 1330A/11, ' Force H ', made up of the made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Ashanti (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN), ORP Blyskawica (Lt.Cdr. L. Lichodziejewski), escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Haydon (Lt. R.C. Watkin, RN) and HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar for Mers-el-Kebir. At sea they were joined by the destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN) and HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN).

They were however later ordered to return. ' Force H ' entered Gibraltar around 1830A/11. (8)

12 Mar 1943
Around 1600A/12, ' Force H ', made up of the made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN), HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Ashanti (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN), ORP Blyskawica (Lt.Cdr. L. Lichodziejewski), escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Haydon (Lt. R.C. Watkin, RN) and HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar for Mers-el-Kebir.

Shortly after sailing HMS Calpe had to return to Gibraltar due to a defect to her Asdic installation. Repairs were quickly made and she was able to rejoin the force at 0800A/13.

' Force H ' arrived at Mers-el-Kebir around 1400A/13. (9)

25 Mar 1943
Around 1800A/25, ' Force H ', made up of the made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), Loyal and the escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Haydon (Lt. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN), HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) and HMS Whaddon (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN) departed Mers-el-Kebir for Gibraltar.

Before arriving at Gibraltar, HMS Tartar was detached to search for survivors from the Free French A/S trawler Sergent Gouarne that had been torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-755. HMS Tartar was able to pick up 14 survivors and landed them at Oran.

' Force H ' arrived at Gibraltar around 1630A/26. (8)

4 Apr 1943
Around 1430A/4, ' Force H ', made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Loyal (Lt.Cdr. H.E.F. Tweedie, DSC, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Atherstone (Lt. E.N. Wood, DSC, RNVR), HMS Brocklesby (Lt.Cdr. G. Blackler, RN), HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Haydon (Lt. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN) and HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar for Mers-el-Kebir where they arrived around 0900A/5. (8)

5 Apr 1943
Around 1630A/5, ' Force H ', made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Loyal (Lt.Cdr. H.E.F. Tweedie, DSC, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Atherstone (Lt. E.N. Wood, DSC, RNVR), HMS Brocklesby (Lt.Cdr. G. Blackler, RN), HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Haydon (Lt. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN) and HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) departed Mers-el-Kebir for Algiers where they arrived around 0830A/6 minus HMS Brocklesby which had to return to Oran with a defective feet pump. (8)

6 Apr 1943
Around 2100A/6, ' Force H ', made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Loyal (Lt.Cdr. H.E.F. Tweedie, DSC, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Atherstone (Lt. E.N. Wood, DSC, RNVR), HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Haydon (Lt. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN) and HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) departed Mers-el-Kebir for Algiers where they arrived around 1330A/7. (8)

14 Apr 1943
Around 0800A/14, ' Force H ', which was made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Newfoundland (Capt. W.R. Slayter, DSC, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN), HMS Loyal (Lt.Cdr. H.E.F. Tweedie, DSC, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN), escort destroyers HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN), HMS Liddesdale (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RNR), HMS Tynedale (Lt. J.J.S. Yorke, DSC, RN) and RHS Adrias (Cdr. I. Toumbas) departed Mers-el-Kebir for Gibraltar.

They arrived at Gibraltar around 0900A/15. En-route, various exercises had been carried out. (10)

16 Apr 1943

Combined convoy WS 29 / KMS 13.

This combined convoy was formed off Oversay on 16 April 1943. The convoy was divided into convoys WS 29 and KMS 13 at sea on 20 April 1943.

The combined convoy was made up of the following (troop) transports; Athlone Castle (British, 25564 GRT, built 1936), Banfora (British, 9472 GRT, built 1914), Boissevain (Dutch, 14134 GRT, built 1937), City of Edinburgh (British, 8036 GRT, built 1938), Cuba (British, 11420 GRT, built 1923), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Dunnottar Castle (British, 15007 GRT, built 1936), Empire Kamal (British, 7862 GRT, built 1938), Empire Prime (British, 9248 GRT, built 1941), Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), Gloucester (British, 8532 GRT, built 1941), Highland Brigade (British, 14134 GRT, built 1929), Highland Monarch (British, 14139 GRT, built 1928), Highland Princess (British, 14133 GRT, built 1930), Índrapoera (Dutch, 10825 GRT, built 1925), Nea Hellas (British, 16991 GRT, built 1922), Nieuw Holland (Dutch, 11066 GRT, built 1927), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Pardo (British, 5400 GRT, built 1940), Silverwalnut (British, 6770 GRT, built 1930), Staffordshire (British, 10683 GRT, built 1929), Straat Malakka (Dutch, 6439 GRT, built 1939) and Troilus (British, 7422 GRT, built 1921).

When the convoy was formed up off Oversay the escort for the combined convoy was made up of the light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Rapid (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Venomous (Lt. H.D. Durell, RN), escort destroyer HMS Lauderdale (Lt. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), sloops HMS Weston (Cdr. L.F. Durnford-Slater, RN), HMS Wellington (Lt.Cdr. J.T. Jones, RD, RNR), cutters HMS Gorleston (Cdr.(Retd.) R.W. Keymer, RN), HMS Totland (Lt.Cdr. L.E. Woodhouse, RN) and the frigates HMS Exe (A/Cdr. M.A.O. Biddulph, DSC, RN) and HMS Ness (A/Cdr. T.G.P. Crick, DSC, RN).

Around 1530B/18, the light (AA) cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) joined the convoy having sailed from Plymouth around 1415B/17. She parted company with the convoy after dark on the 20th.

Around 1600A/20, HMS Rapid parted company with the convoy to fuel at Casablanca.

Around 2100A/20, the Nea Hellas parted company to proceed to New York unescorted. Also around the same time HMS Charybdis parted company to proceed to Gibraltar where she arrived the following day.

Around 1030A/21, the destroyer HMS Malcolm (Cdr. J.M. Money, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. S.R.J. Woods, RNR) and HMS Wolverine (Lt. I.M. Clegg, RN) joined coming from Casablanca. The combined convoy then split up.

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Convoy KMF 13, made up of the Banfora, Boissevai, Cuba, Duchess of York, Dunnottar Castle, Empire Pride, Franconia, Indrapoera, Nieuw Holland, Ormonde and Staffordshire escorted by HMS Weston, HMS Wellington, HMS Gorleston, HMS Totland, HMS Exe and HMS Ness set course to pass through the Straits of Gibraltar. All the merchant vessels were to proceed to Algiers, except the Dunnottar Castle which was to proceed to Gibraltar and the Boissevain and Nieuw Holland which were to proceed to Oran.

On 22 April the escort destroyer HMS Atherstone (Lt. E.N. Wood, DSC, RNVR) and HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN) joined the convoy off Gibraltar.

Also the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. H.F. Nalder, RN) joined the convoy.

The convoy arrived at Algiers on 23 April 1943.

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Convoy WS 29, made up of the Athlone Castle, City of Edinburgh, Empire Kamal, Gloucester, Highland Brigade, Highland Monarch, Highland Princess, Orion, Pardo, Silverwalnut, Straat Malakka and Troilus escorted by HMS Newcastle, HMS Venomous, HMS Malcolm, HMS Witch, HMS Wolverine and HMS Lauderdale.

At 2020A/21, HMS Rapid rejoined from fuelling at Casablanca. HMS Venomous and HMS Lauderdale were then detached to proceed to Gibraltar.

On 24 April the Gloucester was detached.

On 26 April the transport China Mail (American, 8616 GRT, built 1942) joined coming from Dakar.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 28 April 1943.

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Convoy WS 29 departed Freetown for South Africa on 5 May 1943, it was now made up of the transports; Almanzora (British, 15551 GRT, built 1914), Aorangi (British, 17491 GRT, built 1924), Athlone Castle, City of Edinburgh, Clan Lamont (British, 7250 GRT, built 1935), Empire Kamal, Highland Brigade, Highland Monarch, Highland Princess, Orion, Pardo, Silverwalnut, Straat Malakka and Troilus.

On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Newcastle, destroyers HMS Rapid, HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Malcolm, HMS Witch, HMS Wolverine and HMS Lewes (Lt.Cdr. M.V. Thorburn, DSC, RNVR) and the sloop Savorgnan de Brazza.

At 0930Z/6, Savorgnan de Brazza was detached.

At 1800Z/7, the City of Edinburgh, Highland Princess and Troilus split off from the convoy to proceed to Takoradi. The destroyers HMS Boreas and HMS Witch were their escorts.

At 2359B/11, HMS Rapid, HMS Malcolm and HMS Wolverine, were detached at 2359B/11 to Pointe Noire.

At 0700B/12, the destroyers HMS Racehorse (Cdr. A.F. Burnell-Nugent, DSC, RN), HMS Relentless (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN) and HMS Rotherham (Lt. J.R.L. Moore, RN) joined coming from Pointe Noire.

In the afternoon of the 12th HMS Lewes fuelled from HMS Newcastle.

HMS Lewes was again fuelled by HMS Newcastle in the afternoon of the 14th.

In the afternoon of the 15th, HMS Relentless fuelled from HMS Newcastle.

On the 16th the Capetown section of the convoy split off, it was made up of the Almanzora, Athlone Castle, Empire Kamal, Pardo and Silverwalnut. They were escorted by HMS Newcastle, HMS Rotherham and HMS Lewes. They arrived at Capetown on the 17th. HMS Lewes then proceeded to Simonstown arriving there on the 18th.

The remaining ships, Aorangi, Clan Lamont, Highland Brigade, Highland Monarch, Orion and Straat Malakka made up the Durban section. They were escorted by HMS Racehorse, HMS Relentless and HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN). This last destroyer having joined on the 16th coming from Salanha Bay. HMS Racehorse and HMS Relentless were relieved on the 18th by the destroyers HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN) and HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN) which had departed Simonstown at 0815B/18. HMS Racehorse and HMS Relentless then proceeded to Capetown arriving later on the 18th. The Durban section of the convoy arrived there on 21 May 1943.

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On 22 May 1943, the Capetown section of convoy WS 29 departed there, it was now made up of the following transports; Alcoa Pioneer, (American, 6761 GRT, built 1941), Almanzora, Athlone Castle, Empire Kamal, Llanstephan Castle (British, 11348 GRT, built 1914), Orbita (British, 15495 GRT, built 1915), Pardo and Silverwalnut. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Racehorse, HMS Relentless and HMS Rotherham.

On 25 May 1943, HMS Racehorse arrived at Durban to fuel.

On 25 May 1943, the Durban section of the convoy departed there, it was now made up of the following transports; Bergensfjord (Norwegian, 11015 GRT, built 1913), Clan Lamont, Leopoldville (Belgian, 11509 GRT, built 1929), Ruys (Dutch, 14155 GRT, built 1937), Selandia (South African, 8482 GRT, built 1938), Straat Malakka, Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932) and Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935). They were escorted by the destroyers HMAS Norman, Quadrant, HMS Racehorse and Redoubt. The Silverwalnut had to return to Durban due to defects.

The Capetown and the Durban section made rendezvous on 26 May and then merged minus the transports Empire Kamal and Llanstephan Castle which proceeded to Durban escorted by HMS Relentless and HMS Rotherham. They arrived at Durban on 26 May 1943. HMS Racehorse joined the three destroyers that came with the Durban section.

Around 1700C/27, the convoy was joined by the light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. D.P. Evans, RN) which had departed Durban at 1645C/26 to overtake the convoy.

At 1650C/28, HMAS Norman parted company with the convoy.

At 2359C/28, HMS Quadrant and HMS Redoubt parted company.

At 1100C/29, HMS Racehorse parted company.

At 0810D/2, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Chitral (A/Capt.(Retd.) G.W. Hoare-Smith, RN) joined the convoy.

At 1300D/2, HMS Kenya parted company with the convoy to proceed to Kilindini where she arrived around 1700C/4.

At 0800D/3, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Alaunia (Capt. R.H.C. Crawford, OBE, RNR) joined the convoy.

At 1230D/5, the convoy was split up in the Aden section and the Bombay section.

The Aden section was made up of; Alcoa Pioneer, Bergensfjord, Clan Lamond, Leopoldville, Pardo, Ruys and Selandia. It was escorted by HMS Chitral and arrived at Aden on 8 June 1943.

The Bombay section was made up of; Almanzora, Athlone Castle, Orbita, Straat Malakka, Strathaird and Strathmore. It was escorted by HMS Alaunia and arrived at Bombay on 10 June 1943, minus the Straat Malakka which had been detached on 9 June 1943 for Karachi where she also arrived on 10 June 1943.

4 Sep 1943
Around 1600B/4, the escort carrier HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Atherstone (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Wood, DSC, RNVR), HMS Catterick (Lt.Cdr. A. Tyson, RN) and HMS Holcombe (Lt. F.M. Graves, RN) departed Gibraltar for Malta.

They were joined around 0730B/5 by the escort carrier HMS Attacker (Capt. W.W.P. Shirley-Rollison, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Cleveland (Lt. J.K. Hamilton, RN) and ORP Slazak (Cdr. R. Nalecz-Tyminski, ORP) coming from Oran.

More ships joined around 1940B/5. These were the aircraft carrier HMS Unicorn (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Liddesdale (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RNR) and ORP Krakowiak (Lt.Cdr. W. Maracewicz). These ships had departed Algiers around 1845B/5.

These ships were to join forces at Malta with a few more ships which had already left earlier escorting an eastbound convoy. These ships were to form ' Force V ' for the upcoming landings at Salerno.

All ships listed above arrived at Malta in the morning of September, 7th except for HMS Euryalus which proceeded ahead already arriving late on the 6th. (11)

8 Sep 1943

Operations of ' Force V ' during operation Avalanche.

Around 1100B/8, ' Force V ' departed Malta for the tyrrhenian sea. ' Force V ' was made up of the HMS Unicorn (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), escort carriers HMS Attacker (Capt. W.W.P. Shirley-Rollison, RN), HMS Battler (A/Capt. F.M.R. Stephenson, RN), HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), HMS Stalker ( Capt. H.S. Murray-Smith, RN), light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), AA cruisers HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN), HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Atherstone (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Wood, DSC, RNVR), HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Catterick (Lt.Cdr. A. Tyson, RN), HMS Cleveland (Lt. J.K. Hamilton, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Haydon (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Holcombe (Lt. F.M. Graves, RN), HMS Liddesdale (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RNR), ORP Slazak (Cdr. R. Nalecz-Tyminski, ORP) and ORP Krakowiak (Lt.Cdr. W. Maracewicz).

They passed through the Messina Strait during the night of 8/9 September. At dawn on the 9th ' Force V ' arrived in the assault area. The first sortie was flown off at 0615B/9 and subsequently at hourly intervals. The aircraft maintained patrols of 80 minutes until 1930B/9 when the last aircraft landed on.

' Force V ' operated in an area 30 miles square, to the southward of the assault area, approaching the island of Capri from time to time in order to obtain accurate fixes. Three types of patrol were flown;
a) A standing patrol south and east of Capri by seafires from the escort carriers.
b) A high patrol over the beaches from about sunrise until 0745 hours and from 1810 hours until just before sunset by seafires from HMS Unicorn. This was during the period that fighter cover was not provided from Sicilian airfields.
c) A standing high patrol over the low patrol in the Capri area during the remainder of the day by Seafires from HMS Unicorn.

A total of 265 sorties were flown on the first day. Cover over ' Force V ' was maintained by aircraft from the fleet carriers of ' Force H '. During the dark hours the force was withdrawn to the southward and operated to the east of a line joining Salerno and Palermo so as to keep clear of the convoy routes, returning to the flying-off area at dawn.

During 10 September the flying programme was repeated and 232 sorties were flown.

It had been hoped that ' Force V ' could be withdrawn on the 10th and that Montecorvino airfield could be used. The airfield had indeed been captured as planned but it remained under heavy enemy artillery fire and could only be used for forced landings. ' Force V ' therefore had to remain in the assault area, though its flying efficieny had decreased and the fuel situation of the escort destroyers was becoming difficult.

On 11 September the number of sorties flown decreased to 160. At 1900B/11, ' Force H ' on leaving for Malta flew 17 aircraft over to join ' Force V ', which now had to provide its own fighter cover. Montecorvino was still under fire and patrols were again flows off at dawn on 12 September. The total number of sorties flown on 12 September was 56.

A landing strip had been laid out at Paestrum and orders were received that all available fighters should land ashore and that ' Force V ' could then withdraw. This signal, though sent at 0909 hours was not received until 1230 hours. 26 Seafires were then flown off and ' Force V ' then withdrew arriving at Palermo around 1930B/12.

' Force V ' departed from Palermo around 0600B/13 for Bizerta arriving there around 1830B/13. (12)

Media links


U-Boat Attack Logs

Daniel Morgan and Bruce Taylor


amazon.co.uk
(£ 38.25)

Sources

  1. ADM 173/17241
  2. ADM 173/17242
  3. ADM 53/116528
  4. ADM 53/116597
  5. ADM 199/1211
  6. ADM 173/17529
  7. ADM 199/637
  8. ADM 199/638
  9. ADM 53/638
  10. ADM 53/117516 + ADM 53/118251 + ADM 199/638 + ADM 199/767
  11. ADM 53/117495 + ADM 53/118664 + ADM 199/641
  12. ADM 53/117495 + ADM 53/118664 + ADM 199/641 + ADM 234/358

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


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