Allied Warships

HMS Ascania (F 68)

Armed Merchant Cruiser

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeArmed Merchant Cruiser
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 68 
Built byW.G. Armstrong, Whitworth & Co. Ltd. (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, U.K.) 
Ordered 
Laid down 
Launched20 Dec 1923 
Commissioned16 Oct 1939 
End service29 Oct 1942 
History

On 4 September 1939 the passenger ship Ascania of the Cunard White Star Ltd, Liverpool was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. Conversion was completed on 16 October 1940.

Displacement: 14013 BRT
Armament: 8x 152mm, 2x 76mm
Speed: 15 knots

Career:
October 39 - May 40: Halifax Escort Force
June 40 - April 41: Bermuda and Halifax Escort Force
May 41 - October 41: North Atlantic Escort Force
November 41 - September 42: New Zealand Station

On 29 October 1942 returned and used as troopship by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT). 1943 converted to a landing ship LSI(L). In December 1947 returned to owner.
1956 requisitioned and used as troop transport during Suez war. In January 1957 scrapped at Newport.

 

Commands listed for HMS Ascania (F 68)

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
1Capt. (retired) Christopher Hildyard Ringrose-Wharton, RN2 Sep 193922 Oct 1941
2A/Capt. Alastair Gordon Davidson, RN22 Oct 1941Oct 1942

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Notable events involving Ascania include:


27 Feb 1940
The battleships HMS Malaya (Capt. I.B.B. Tower, DSC, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ascania (Capt.(Retd.) C.H. Ringrose-Wharton, RN) departed Greenock for Halifax. They had embarked gold that was to be shipped to Canada for safekeeping.

They were escorted until 2000/28 by the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN) and HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN). (1)

4 Mar 1940
The battleships HMS Malaya (Capt. I.B.B. Tower, DSC, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ascania (Capt.(Retd.) C.H. Ringrose-Wharton, RN) arrived at Halifax. (2)

23 Nov 1940

Convoy BHX 91

This convoy departed Bermuda on 23 November 1940 and merged at sea with convoy HX 91 on 28 November 1940.

Convoy BHX 91 was made up of the following merchant vessels: Brasil (Norwegian (tanker), 8130 GRT, built 1935), Comanchee (British (tanker), 6837 GRT, built 1936), Coptic (British (tanker), 10629 GRT, built 1928), Megara (British (tanker), 7981 GRT, built 1929), Otina (British (tanker), 6217 GRT, built 1938) and Skaraas (Norwegian (tanker), 9826 GRT, built 1936).

On departure from Bermuda the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ascania (Capt.(Retd.) C.H. Ringrose-Wharton, RN).

The convoy merged at sea with convoy HX 91 on 28 Novmeber 1940.

25 Nov 1940

Convoy HX 91.

This convoy departed Halifax on 25 November 1940.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Bellerophon (British, 9019 GRT, built 1906), Chama (British (tanker), 8077 GRT, built 1938), Chelatros (Greek, 3489 GRT, built 1914), Eleni (British, 5655 GRT, built 1918), Empire Elk (British, 4748 GRT, built 1920), Maine (British, 6032 GRT, built 1917), Mokambo (Belgian, 4996 GRT, built 1938), Onomea (British, 5520 GRT, built 1917), Pacific Pioneer (British, 6734 GRT, built )1928, San Florentino (British (tanker), 12842 GRT, built 1919), Silvercedar (British, 4354 GRT, built 1924), Spar (Dutch, 3616 GRT, built 1924) and Stanwell (British, 5767 GRT, built 1914).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the destroyer HMCS Assiniboine (Capt. L.W. Murray, RCN) and the auxiliary patrol vessel HMCS French (A/Skr. W. Philpott, RCNR).

HMCS French parted company shortly after departure followed by HMCS Assiniboine in the afternoon of the 26th.

On 27 November convoy SHX 91, coming from Sydney, Nova Scotia which it had departed on 26 November, merged with convoy HX 91. Convoy SHX 91 was made up of the following merchant vessels; Arosa (Norwegian, 5043 GRT, built 1924), British Prince (British, 4879 GRT, built 1935), Brynymor (British, 4771 GRT, built 1936), Chelatros (Greek, 3489 GRT, built 1914), Delfshaven (Dutch, 5281 GRT, built 1930), Dionyssios Stathatos (Greek, 5168 GRT, built 1919), Evgenia Chandris (Greek, 5317 GRT, built 1920), King Frederick (British, 5106 GRT, built 1920), Liguria (Swedish, 1751 GRT, built 1914), Manchester Citizen (British, 5343 GRT, built 1925), Pacific (Swedish, 4978 GRT, built 1914), Saltwick (British, 3775 GRT, built 1929), Skiensfjord (Norwegian, 5922 GRT, built 1922), Sophocles (Norwegian, 5184 GRT, built 1939) and Trekieve (British, 5244 GRT, built 1919).

Also on 27 November the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) joined the convoy. She had departed Halifax on the 26th to overtake and join the convoy as Ocean Escort.

On 28 November convoy BHX 91, coming from Bermuda which it had departed on 23 November, merged with convoy HX 91. Convoy BHX 91 was made up of the following merchant vessels; Brasil (Norwegian (tanker), 8130 GRT, built 1935), Comanchee (British (tanker), 6837 GRT, built 1936), Coptic (British (tanker), 10629 GRT, built 1928), Megara (British (tanker), 7981 GRT, built 1929), Otina (British (tanker), 6217 GRT, built 1938) and Skaraas (Norwegian (tanker), 9826 GRT, built 1936).

They had been escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ascania (Capt.(Retd.) C.H. Ringrose-Wharton, RN) which then parted company with the convoy.

At 0700OP/4, HMS Revenge parted company with the convoy to return to Halifax.

The convoy was joined on 6 December 1940 by the destroyer HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN) and HMS Walker (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN) and corvette HMS Candytuft (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.B. Collinson, RD, RNR). On 8 December another corvette, HMS Honeysuckle (Lt. G.W. Gregorie, RNR), also joined the convoy.

The convoy arrived in British waters on 11 December.

6 May 1941

Convoy HX 125

This convoy departed Halifax on 6 May 1941 in two sections, convoy HX 125A and convoy HX 125B. They merged in the afternoon of May 16th.

Convoy HX 125A was made up of the following merchant vessels;
Abraham Lincoln (British, 5740 GRT, built 1929), Armadale (British, 5066 GRT, built 1929), Athelknight (British (tanker), 8940 GRT, built 1930), Atlantic (British, 5414 GRT, built 1939), Baron Dunmore (British, 3938 GRT, built 1933), Bic Island (British, 4000 GRT, built 1917), British Cinfidence (British (tanker), 8494 GRT, built 1936), British Fortitude (British (tanker), 8482 GRT, built 1937), British Sincerity (British (tanker), 8538 GRT, built 1939), Clausina (British (tanker), 8083 GRT, built 1938), Dallington Court (British, 6889 GRT, built 1929), El Aleto (British (tanker), 7203 GRT, built 1927), Empire Confidence (British, 5023 GRT, built 1935), Eskbank (British, 5137 GRT, built 1937), Fjordheim (British, 4115 GRT, built 1930), Garonne (Norwegian (tanker), 7113 GRT, built 1921), Glenwood (British, 4897 GRT, built 1940), Harmala (British, 5730 GRT, built 1935), Harpagon (British, 5719 GRT, built 1935), Ingerfem (British, 3987 GRT, built 1912), King Neptune (British, 5224 GRT, built 1928), King William (British, 5274 GRT, built 1928), Lancastrian Prince (British, 1914 GRT, built 1940), Lucellum (British (tanker), 9425 GRT, built 1938), Luminetta (British (tanker), 6159 GRT, built 1927), Luxor (British (tanker), 6554 GRT, built 1930), O.A. Knudsen (Norwegian (tanker), 11007 GRT, built 1938), Port Nicholson (British, 8402 GRT, built 1919), Ramsay (British, 4855 GRT, built 1930), Robert F. Hand (British (tanker), 12197 GRT, built 1933), San Amado (British (tanker), 7316 GRT, built 1935), San Cipriano (British, 7966 GRT, built 1937), Silverelm (British, 4351 GRT, built 1924), Taron (British (tanker), 8054 GRT, built 1936), Temple Arch (British, 5138 GRT, built 1940), Temple Inn (British, 5218 GRT, built 1940), Topdalsfjord (Norwegian, 4271 GRT, built 1921), Trevilley (British, 5296 GRT, built 1940), Troubadour (Norwegian, 5808 GRT, built 1920) and Vancouver (British (tanker), 5729 GRT, built 1928).

On departure from Halifax convoy HX 125A was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ascania (Capt.(Retd.) C.H. Ringrose-Wharton, RN) and the corvettes HMCS Cobalt (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.B. Campbell, RCNR) and HMCS Wetaskiwin (Lt.Cdr. G.S. Windeyer, RCN). The corvettes however soon returned to Halifax.

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Convoy HX 125B was made up of the following merchant vessels;
Breedijk (Dutch, 6861 GRT, built 1922), Briarwood (British, 4019 GRT, built 1930), British Destiny (British (tanker), 8470 GRT, built 1937), British Governor (British (tanker), 6840 GRT, built 1926), British Prestige (British (tanker), 7106 GRT, built 1931), Christian Holm (British (tanker), 9119 GRT, built 1927), City of Adelaide (British, 6589 GRT, built 1920), Clearpool (British, 5404 GRT, built 1935), Cockaponset (British, 5995 GRT, built 1919), Corrales (British, 5363 GRT, built 1930), Diloma (British (tanker), 8146 GRT, built 1939), Egyptian Prince (British, 3490 GRT, built 1922), Empire Barracuda (British, 4972 GRT, built 1919), Empire Hail (British, 7005 GRT, built 1941), Evgenia Chandris (Greek, 5317 GRT, built 1920), Frontenac (Norwegian (tanker), 7350 GRT, built 1928), Gold Shell (British (tanker), 8208 GRT, built 1931), Hellen (Norwegian, 5289 GRT, built 1921), Ida Knudsen (Norwegian (tanker), 8913 GRT, built 1925), Invincible (British, 7592 GRT, built 1918), Kelso (British, 3956 GRT, built 1924), Kent (British, 8697 GRT, built 1918), Lodestone (British, 4877 GRT, built 1938), Manchester Exporter (British, 5277 GRT, built 1918), Masunda (British, 5250 GRT, built 1929), Modavia (British, 4858 GRT, built 1927), Norfolk (British, 10948 GRT, built 1918) and Nyanza (British, 4974 GRT, built 1928).

On departure from Halifax convoy HX 125B was escorted by the sloop HMS Aberdeen (Lt. S.G. Rivers-Smith, RN).

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On 7 May 1941, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) departed Halifax to provide cover for both sections of the convoy. She set course to return to Halifax around midnight during the night of 13/14 May 1941.

Four recently transferred US Coast Guard Cutters were also with the convoy, though these had not been rearmed and worked up. These were; HMS Banff (Lt.Cdr. P.S. Evans, RN), HMS Culver (Lt.Cdr. R.T. Gordon-Duff, RN), HMS Fishguard (Lt.Cdr. H.L. Pryse, RNR) and HMS Hartland ( A/Cdr. D.E.G. Wemyss, RN).

On the 16th the destroyers HMS Chelsea (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN), HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Cousins, RN), HNoMS Mansfield (Cdr. F. Ulstrup, RNorN), HMS Verity (Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN), HMS Wolverine (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rowland, RN) and the corvettes HMS Begonia (T/Lt. T.A.R. Muir, RNR), HMS Convolvulus (T/Lt. R.S. Connell, RNR) and HMS Larkspur (Lt. S.C.B. Hickman, RNR) joined the convoy coming from Iceland. They remained with the convoy until the 18th.

In the afternoon of the 16th, Convoys HX 125A and HX 125B merged into one big convoy.

Around 1330Z/18, HMS Ascania parted company with the convoy to proceed to Reykjavik.

On the 18th the destroyers HMS Ramsey (Lt.Cdr. R.B. Stannard, VC, RNR), HMS Ripley (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Agnew, RN), HMS Walker (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, DSO, RN), HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN), sloop HMS Enchantress (Lt.Cdr. A.E.T. Christie, OBE, RN), corvettes HMS Bluebell (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Sherwood, RNR), HMS Candytuft (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.B. Collinson, RD, RNR), HMS Honeysuckle (Lt.Cdr. G.W. Gregorie, RNR), HMS Hydrangea (Lt. J.E. Woolfenden, RNR), HMS Tulip (Lt.Cdr. A. Wilkinson, RNR) and HMS Wallflower (Lt.Cdr. I.J. Tyson, RN), and the minesweeper HMS Salamander (Lt.Cdr. W.A. Cooke, RN) joined the convoy.

On the 19th the destroyer HMS Caldwell (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Mackay, RNR) joined on the 19th as did the minesweepers HMS Bramble (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN), HMS Gossamer (Lt.Cdr. A.D.H. Jay, RN), HMS Seagull ( Cdr.(Retd.) R.H.V. Sivewright, RN) and HMS Sharpshooter (Lt.Cdr. D. Lampen, RN) but apparently only for a short while.

The destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN) and HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) joined the convoy on the 20th.

also on the 20th the corvettes HMS Tulip and HMS Wallflower were detached.

The destroyers HMS Inglefield and HMS Escapade were destached on the 21st as was the corvette HMS Honeysuckle.

The convoy arrived in British waters on 22 May 1941.

12 Jan 1942

Convoy WS 15.

This convoy assembled off Oversay on 12 January 1942.

On assembly the convoy was made up of the (troop) transports; Aagtekerk (Dutch, 6811 GRT, built 1934), Arawa (British, 14462 GRT, built 1922), Autolycus (British, 7621 GRT, built 1922), Britannic (British, 26943 GRT, built 1930), Christiaan Huygens (Dutch, 16287 GRT, built 1927), Dorset (British, 10624 GRT, built 1934), Elisabeth Bakke (Norwegian, 5450 GRT, built 1937), Empire Woodlark (British, 7793 GRT, built 1913), Laconia (British, 19695 GRT, built 1922), Letitia (British, 13595 GRT, built 1925), Llangibby Castle (British, 11951 GRT, built 1929), Melbourne Star (British, 11076 GRT, built 1936), Orontes (British, 20097 GRT, built 1929), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Pardo (British, 5400 GRT, built 1940), Pasteur (British, 29253 GRT, built 1938), Port Chalmers (British, 8535 GRT, built 1933), Staffordshire (British, 10683 GRT, built 1929), Stirling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936), Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935), Stratnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931) and Viceroy of India (British, 19627 GRT, built 1929).

The Dutch submarine tender HrMs Colombia (Capt. J.L.K. Hoeke, RNN) was also part of the convoy.

On assembly off Oversay the convoy was escorted by the AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN), armed merchant cruisers HMS Ascania (A/Capt. A.G. Davidson, RN), HMS Cheshire (Capt.(Retd.) J.M. Begg, RN), destroyers HMS Vanoc ( A/Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Vanquisher (Cdr. N.V. Dickinson, DSC, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Walker (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, DSO, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and HMS Demirhisar (?). [This was an 'I-class' destroyer, one of four ordered by the Turkish government before the start of the war. Two of these destroyers were taken over by the Royal Navy and two were delivered to Turkey. On passage to Turkey they were commissioned as HMS ships with a Royal Navy crew so they also served on escort duty during their passage to Turkey (via the Cape of Good Hope).]

On 15 January, HMS Vanoc and HMS Walker parted company with the convoy.

On 16 January, the Llangibby Castle was torpedoed and damaged by the German submarine U-402. The damaged ship managed to reach the Azores steering on her engines as her rudder had been blown off.

Around 0900N/17, the battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.E.C. Tait, CB, MVO, RN) and the destroyer Norman joined coming from Milford Haven. The destroyers Garland and Anthony had also been with the battleship but these had been detached to go to the assistance of the damaged Llangibby Castle. It had originally been intended that HMS Resolution would join the convoy on 15 January but this did not materialise due to the bad weather conditions.

Around 1400N/17, HMS Boreas and HMS Demirhisar were detached to fuel at Ponta Delgada, Azores.

Around 1400N/18, HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck parted company with the convoy to fuel at Ponta Delgada.

Around 1830N/18, HMAS Norman parted company with the convoy to fuel at Ponta Delgada.

Around 1400O/19, HMS Boreas rejoined the convoy but the Demirhisar had sustained damage to her stern and had to make some repairs before she was able to proceed.

Around 1000O/20, HMAS Norman and later HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck rejoined the convoy.

Around 1500O/21, the destroyer HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN) joined. She had however one engine out of action and could only proceed at 22 knots.

After nightfall on the 21st, HMS Resolution was ordered to proceed ahead for an ocean rendezvous with the RFA tanker Rapidol (2648 GRT, built 1917). Due to the bad weather conditions encountered, HMS Resolution had not enough fuel on board to reach Freetown without refuelling. She met the Rapidol and her escort, the corvette HMS Jasmine (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.D.B. Coventry, RNR), the following day but conditions were unfavourable to fuel and every attempt failed. Course was therefore set to the Cape Verde Islands.

The convoy meanwhile continued on to Freetown where it arrived on 25 January. On 22 January the convoy had been joined by the destroyer HMS Vimy (Lt.Cdr. H.G.D. de Chair, RN) and on 23 January HMS Demirhisar rejoined after her delay at the Azores. Shortly before the convoy arrived at Freetown, HMS Vimy was detached to join HMS Resolution (see below).

At 0830N/23, in the lee of Sal Island, another attempt was made just outside Portugese territorial waters. However wind and swell were still too great for oizling at sea and the ships therefore anchored in Murdeira Bay with the Rapidol proceeding alongside while the Jasmire and the Vansittart, which meanwhile had also joined to fuel, conducted an A/S patrol off the Bay.

Oiling was ceased at 1230N/23 so then it was Vansittart's turn. HMS Resolution then left the Bay and proceeded ahead to Freetown. HMS Vansittart was to overtake her.

At 0830N/25, the destroyer HMS Vimy joined HMS Resolution. Two hours later HMS Vansittart finally caught up with HMS Resolution. They arrived at Freetown early in the afternoon.

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The convoy departed Freetown on 29 January 1942, in the same composition. The convoy was now escorted by the battleship HMS Resolution (now flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, DSO, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Cheshire destroyers HMS Vimy, HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, RN), HMS Boreas, HMS Demirhisar and the sloop HMS Milford (Cdr.(Retd.) the Hon. V.M. Wyndham-Quin, RN).

At dusk on 31 January, HMS Vimy, HMS Wild Swan, HMS Boreas parted company to return to Freetown.

It had been arranged that the RFA tanker Rapidol would be in position 14°30'S, 05°10'W at 0830Z/3, to fuel HMS Demirhisar and HMS Milford and if needed HMS Resolution.

At 1800Z/3, HMS Resolution parted company with the convoy to make a short call at St. Helena.

At 0610Z/4, HMS Resolution anchored off St. Helena. She departed around 1130Z/4 to rejoin the convoy which she did in the afternoon of 6 February.

The convoy split into two section and the Capetown section made up of the Dorset, Elizabeth Bakke, Laconia, Orontes, Pasteur and HrMs Colombia. They arrived at Capetown on 9 February escorted by HMS Resolution, HMS Cheshire and HMS Demirhisar. HMS Demirhisar then proceeded to Simonstown for repairs for the damage she had sustained at Ponta Delgada.

The other ships continued on to Durban escorted by the armed merchant cruisers HMS Dunnottar Castle (Capt.(Retd.) C.T.A. Bunbury, RN) and HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt.(Retd.) E.H. Hopkinson, RN) which had joined the convoy on 9 February coming from Capetown. HMS Milford also remained with the convoy until Durban the Durban section arrived there on 13 February 1942.

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The Capetown section departed from there (less the Elizabeth Bakke) on 14 February 1942 escorted by HMS Cheshire.

They made rendezvous off Durban with the Durban section (less the Arawa and Letitia) on 17 February 1942. The Durban section was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Ceres (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) H.W.V. Stephenson, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Worcestershire and the destroyer HMAS Norman.

On 21 February, HMAS Norman fuelled from HMS Worcesterhire, while being alongside and proceeding at 10 knots !.

At 0800C/22, HMAS Norman was detached to the Seychelles.

At 1230C/22, the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. D.N.C. Tufnell, DSC, RN) joined and half an hour later the 'Batavia Section' of the convoy parted company in position 10°22'S, 42°00'E forming convoy DM 3 to proceed to Port T (Addu Atoll). The ships that parted company were the Aagtekerk, Autolycus, Christiaan Huygens, Empire Woodlark, Pardo, Port Chalmers, Staffordshire, Strathnaver and HrMs Colombia.

The remaining ships continued northwards escorted by HMS Ceres and HMS Worcestershire.

They were joined at 0700C/24, in position 02°44'S, 43°20'E, by the light cruiser HMS Colombo (Capt. C.C.A. Allen, RN) and the transport Khandalla (British, 7018 GRT, built 1923) coming from Mombasa. HMS Ceres then parted company to proceed to Mombasa.

At 0300C/26, the convoy split up into two sections. Convoy WS 15A set course for the Gulf of Aden escorted by HMS Colombo. It was made up of the Dorset, Laconia, Melbourne Star, Orontes, Otranto, Pasteur and Viceroy of India. It was dispersed off Aden on 1 March 1942 to proceed independently to Suez.

Convoy WS 15B set course for Bombay escorted by HMS Worcestershire. It was made up of the Britannic, Khandalla, Stirling Castle and Strathmore. The convoy arrived at Bombay on 4 March 1942. In the approaches to Bombay it was joined by the sloop Lawrence (T/Lt. C.F. Smith, RINR) and the auxiliary patrol vessel HMIS Dipavati (T/Lt. P. Munday, RINR). (3)

Sources

  1. ADM 53/112651
  2. ADM 199/2561
  3. ADM 199/1211

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


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