Allied Warships

HMS Rockrose (K 51)

Corvette of the Flower class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeCorvette
ClassFlower 
PennantK 51 
Built byCharles Hill & Sons Ltd. (Bristol, U.K.) : Richardson, Westgarth & Clark 
Ordered21 Sep 1939 
Laid down28 Oct 1940 
Launched26 Jul 1941 
Commissioned4 Nov 1941 
End service 
History

Commisioned as Protea into the south African Navy 4 October 1947.
Converted to a survey vessel 1949 by Gilbert Hammer & Co. Ltd. Durban.
Recommisioned in February 1950.
Paid off into reserve in January 1957.
Sold in 1962 and converted to merchant vessel Justin.
Broken up in Table Bay in 1967.

 

Commands listed for HMS Rockrose (K 51)

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CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. John Dudley Birch, RNR6 Aug 19416 Jul 1942
2Lt. Edward John Binfield, RNR6 Jul 194216 Oct 1943
3T/Lt. Henry James Makepeace, RNR16 Oct 19438 Jul 1945
4T/Lt. Edward Alexander King, RNVR8 Jul 194511 Jan 1946

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Notable events involving Rockrose include:


21 Nov 1941
HrMs O 9 (Lt.Cdr. H.A.W. Goossens, RNN) participated in A/S exercises off Tobermory together with HNoMS Rose, HMS Bluebell (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Sherwood, RNR), HMS Rockrose (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Birch, RNR) and HMS Snowflake (Lt. H.G. Chesterman, RNR). (1)

22 Nov 1941
HrMs O 9 (Lt.Cdr. H.A.W. Goossens, RNN) participated in A/S exercises off Tobermory together with HMS Rockrose (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Birch, RNR), HMS Snowflake (Lt. H.G. Chesterman, RNR), HMS Sluna (Lt.Cdr. E.W. Middleton, RNVR) and HMS Rosalind (Skr. E.G. Littler, DSC, RD, RNR). (1)

4 Oct 1942

Convoy WS 23.

This convoy was formed off Oversay on 5 October 1942.

It consisted of the following transports / troopships; Capetown Castle (British, 27002 GRT, built 1938), Empress of Russia (British, 16810 GRT, built 1913), Highland Monarch (British, 14139 GRT, built 1928), Kina II (British, 9823 GRT, built 1939), Moreton Bay (British, 14193 GRT, built 1921), Port Jackson (British, 9687 GRT, built 1937), Silverandal (British, 6770 GRT, built 1930) and Straat Malakka (Dutch, 439 GRT, built 1939).

Initial escort consisted of the light cruisers HMS Despatch (Capt. W.R.C. Leggatt, RN), HMS Durban (Capt. G.F. Stevens-Guille, DSO and Bar, OBE, RN), armed merchant cruiser Queen of Bermuda (A/Capt.(Retd.) A.D. Cochrane, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Beagle (Cdr. R.C. Medley, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Bicester (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN), HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN), HMS Zetland (Lt. J.V. Wilkinson, RN) and RHS Kanaris.

At 2200Z/6, HMS Durban parted company with the convoy to proceed to Ponta Delgada to fuel.

At 1850Z/8, HMS Beagle parted company with the convoy to return to the UK. HMS Zetland had a leaking Asdic dome and was apparently also detached on the 8th to return to the UK for a docking and repairs.

At 1000Z/9, HMS Puckeridge arrived at Ponta Delgada to refuel. She departed to rejoin the convoy at 1345Z/9. RHS Kanaris arrived at 1100Z/9 and departed again at 1430Z/9. [It is currently not known to us when they had left the convoy to proceed to Ponta Delgada.]

At 1545Z/9, HMS Durban rejoined the convoy. HMS Despatch was then detached to fuel at Ponta Delgada.

At 1900Z/9, HMS Puckeridge and RHS Kanaris rejoined the convoy.

At 0100Z/10, HMS Wrestler and HMS Bicester parted company with the convoy to fuel at Ponta Delgada after which they were to return to the UK.

At 0810/Z/13, HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN) joined the convoy shorly afterwards followed by HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN).

On 16 October 1942 the convoy arrived at Freetown escorted by HMS Despatch, HMS Durban, HMS Queen of Bermuda, HMS Antelope, HMS Velox, HMS Puckeridge and RHS Kanaris.

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The convoy departed Freetown for Durban on 20 October 1942.

The same ships made up the convoy plus the merchant vessels Hai Lee (Norwegian, 3616 GRT, built 1934) and Tamesis (Norwegian, 7256 GRT, built 1939).

On departure from Freetown the convoy escort was made up of the light cruisers HMS Despatch, HMS Durban, armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage (A/Capt.(Retd.) W.V.H. Harris, DSC, MVO, RN), escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), RHS Kanaris, sloop HMS Milford (Cdr.(Retd.) the Hon. V.M. Wyndham-Quin, RN) and the corvette HMS Tamarisk (Lt. S. Ayles, RNR).

At 1020A/23, HMS Avon Vale parted company. HMS Southern Gem (T/Lt. D.C. Hayes, RNVR) had joined just before. She had sailed from Takoradi on the 22nd.

At 1842A/23, HMS Durban parted company with the convoy to proceed to Takoradi to repair a defect. She arrived at Takoradi around 0745/24 and departed again around 0230A/25. She rejoined the convoy around 0945A/27.

Also detached on 23 October were the two Norwegian merchant vessels and the corvette HMS Tamarisk. These were also to proceed to Takoradi.

The corvette HMS Amaranthus (T/Lt. W.S. Thomson, RNR) joined on the 25th coming from Ponte Noire. After she joined HMS Southern Gem was detached to Ponte Noire due to engine trouble.

On the 26th, HMS Amaranthus parted company.

On 30 October the destroyer HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN) and the corvettes HMS Rockrose (Lt. E.J. Binfield, DSC, RNR) and HMS Thyme (Lt. H. Roach, RNR) joined the convoy. These ships had sailed from Walvis Bay, the corvettes at 0600Z/29 and HMAS Norman at 2000Z/29. HMAS Norman joined the convoy around 1300B/30 and the corvettes around 1530B/30.

At 2100B/30, HMS Durban, HMS Despatch and HMS Milford were detached to fuel at Walvis Bay where they arrived around 0840/30. HMS Durban departed Walvis Bay aroud 1845B/31 and she rejoined the convoy around 1800B/1

On 2 November the transport / troopship Rimutaka (British, 16576 GRT, built 1923) joined the convoy coming from Capetown.

At 1330C/2, the destroyer HMS Express (Lt.Cdr. F.J. Cartwright, RN) and escort destroyer HMS Catterick (Lt. A. Tyson, RN) joined coming from Simonstown.

Around 1545C/2, RHS Kanaris parted company to refuel at Simonstown. She rejoined the convoy around 0100C/3.

At 2215C/2, HMS Rockrose and HMS Thyme were detached to search for survivors from ships that had been torpedoed by German submarines.

At 1950C/4, HMS Express was detached to search for survivors from a ship that had been torpedoed by a German submarines.

At 0530C/5, the escort destroyer HMS Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN) joined.

The convoy arrived at Durban in the early afternoon of 5 November escorted by HMS Durban, HMS Carthage, HMAS Norman, HMS Catterick, HMS Derwent and RHS Kanaris.

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The convoy departed Durban around noon on 9 November 1942, now made up of Capetown Castle, Empress of Russia, Highland Monarch, Kina II, Port Jackson, Silversandal and Straat Malakka.

On departure from Durban the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Dauntless (Cdr.(Retd.) N.G. Leeper, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage, destroyers HMAS Norman, HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN), escort destroyers HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN), RHS Kanaris and the corvettes HMS Genista (Lt.Cdr. R.M. Pattinson, DSC, RNR) and HMS Jasmine (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.D.B. Coventry, RNR).

At 1700C/10, HMS Insconstant, HMS Genista and HMS Jasmine were detached.

At 1500D/11, HMS Dauntless, HMS Norman, HMS Blackmore and RHS Kanaris were detached.

At 1830D/11, the cruiser HMS Hawkins (Capt. G.A. French, RN) joined.

At 1600E/16, HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN) joined and at 1230E/16, HMS Hawkins parted company with the convoy to proceed to Kilindini taking the Empress of Russia with her. They arrived at Kilindini around 1700D/18.

At 1800E/17, the convoy was split up into the ' Aden section ' and the ' Bombay section '.

The ' Aden section ' was made up of the Highland Monarch, Kina II, Port Jackson and the Straat Malakka. They were escorted by HMS Carthage and arrived at Aden around 1300C/21. They had earlier been joined by the destroyer RHS Panther around 0615/20.

The ' Bombay section ' was made up of the other transports escorted by HMS Mauritius. They arrived at Bombay around 1000FG/24 except for the Silversandal which had been detached on November 22nd to proceed to Karachi where she also arrived on the 24th. (2)

8 Oct 1942
HMS Rockrose (Lt. E.J. Binfield, RNR) picks up 42 survivors from the American merchant Chickasaw City that was torpedoed and sunk the previous day by German U-boat U-172 about 85 nautical miles south-south-west of Cape town, South-Africa in position 34°15'S, 17°11'E.

HMS Rockrose also picks up 28 survivors from the Panamanian merchant Firethorn that was also torpedoed and sunk the previous day by the same U-boat but about 60 nautical miles north-west of Cape town in position 34°13'S, 17°21'E.

10 Oct 1942
HMS Rockrose (Lt. E.J. Binfield, RNR) picks up 5 survivors from the Greek merchant Pantelis that was torpedoed and sunk two days earlier by German U-boat U-172 about 40 nautical miles south-west of Cape town, South Africa.

29 Oct 1942
The British merchant Ross is torpedoed and sunk of Cape Agulhas, South Africa in position 38°51'S, 21°40'E by German U-boat U-159. 39 survivors were later picked up by HMS Rockrose (Lt. E.J. Binfield, RNR).

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. (2)

15 Jan 1943
HrMs O 21 (Lt.Cdr. J.F. van Dulm, RNN) conducts A/S exercises off Simonstown with HMS Rockrose (Lt. E.J. Binfield, DSC, RNR), HMSAS Vereeniging and HMSAS Sonnebloem. (3)

16 Jan 1943
HrMs O 21 (Lt.Cdr. J.F. van Dulm, RNN) departed from Simonstown for East London. She is escorted by HMS Rockrose (Lt. E.J. Binfield, DSC, RNR). (3)

10 Feb 1945
HMS Shakespeare (Lt. D. Swanston, DSC and Bar, RN) departed Trincomalee for Colombo. She was towed by the corvette HMS Rockrose (T/Lt. H.J. Makepeace, RNR).

For the daily positions of HMS Shakespeare during this passage see the map below.

(4)

Sources

  1. File 2.12.03.6368 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  2. ADM 199/1211
  3. File 2.12.03.6413 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  4. ADM 173/19638

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


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