Allied Warships

HMS Laconia (F 42)

Armed Merchant Cruiser

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeArmed Merchant Cruiser
Class[No specific class] 
PennantF 42 
Built bySwan Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd. (Wallsend-on-Tyne, U.K.): Wallsend 
Ordered 
Laid down 
Launched9 Apr 1921 
Commissioned6 Jan 1940 
End service1 Oct 1941 
History

On 5 September 1939 the passenger ship Laconia of the Cunard White Star Ltd, Liverpool was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. Conversion was completed on 6 January 1940.

Displacement: 19695 BRT
Armament: 8x 152mm, 2x 76mm
Speed: 17 knots

Career:
January 40 - May 40: Halifax Escort Force
June 40 - April 41: Bermuda and Halifax Escort Force
May 41 - October 41: North Atlantic Escort Force

On 1 October 1941 returned and used as troopship by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT).

 

Hit by U-boat
Sunk on 12 Sep 1942 by U-156 (Hartenstein).

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

Commands listed for HMS Laconia (F 42)

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CommanderFromTo
1Capt. (retired) Gilbert George Pearse Hewett, RN15 Nov 193930 Sep 1941

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Notable events involving Laconia include:


11 Mar 1941

Convoy HX 114.

This convoy departed Halifax on 11 March 1941 and arrived in UK waters on 30 March 1941.

This convoy was made up of following merchant vessels; Cardita (British (tanker), 8237 GRT, built 1931), Cerinthus (British (tanker), 3878 GRT, built 1930), Chesapeake (British (tanker), 8955 GRT, built 1928), Clavella (Dutch (tanker), 8097 GRT, built 1939), Colonial (British, 5108 GRT, built 1926), Corrales (British, 5363 GRT, built 1930), Cristales (British, 5389 GRT, built 1926), Elmdene (British, 4853 GRT, built 1939), Emile Francqui (Belgian, 5859 GRT, built 1929), Empire Mermaid (British, 6381 GRT, built 1919), Harmatris (British, 5395 GRT, built 1932), Heranger (Norwegian, 4877 GRT, built 1930), Inger Lise (Norwegian, 1582 GRT, built 1939), Labette (British, 4989 GRT, built 1919), Lapland (British, 1330 GRT, built 1936), Lunula (British (tanker), 6363 GRT, built 1927), Malakand (British, 7649 GRT, built 1919), Nestos (Greek, 5764 GRT, built 1919), New Texas (British, 6568 GRT, built 1919), Pandias (Greek, 4981 GRT, built 1912), Pentridge Hill (British, 7579 GRT, built 1941), Roxby (British, 4252 GRT, built 1923), Royal Emblem (British, 4900 GRT, built 1940), Skeldergate (British, 4251 GRT, built 1930), Tilapa (British, 5392 GRT, built 1928), Torr Head (British, 5021 GRT, built 1937), Toward (British (rescue ship), 1571 GRT, built 1923) and Zagloba (Polish, 2864 GRT, built 1938).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Chitral (Capt.(Retd.) G. Hamilton, RN).

Shortly after departure the merchant vessel Labette was to return to Halifax with engine trouble.

On the 14th the convoy merged with convoy BHX 114 coming from Bermuda. The following merchant vessels then joined the convoy; Adellen (British (tanker), 7984 GRT, built 1930), Carelia (British (tanker), 8062 GRT, built 1938), Comanchee (British (tanker), 6837 GRT, built 1936), Dephnella (British (tanker), 8078 GRT, built 1938), Hidlefjord (British (tanker), 7639 GRT, built 1928), Inverlee (British (tanker), 9158 GRT, built 1938), Kaia Knudsen (Norwegian (tanker), 9063 GRT, built 1931), Lincoln Ellsworth (British (tanker), 5580 GRT, built 1927), Otina (British (tanker), 6217 GRT, built 1938), President de Vogue (Norwegian (tanker), 9320 GRT, built 1935), San Conrado (British (tanker), 7982 GRT, built 1936), Thalatta (Norwegian, 5671 GRT, built 1922), Thorshavet (Norwegian (tanker), 11015 GRT, built 1938) and Velox (Norwegian, 3831 GRT, built 1922 ).

The escort of convoy BHX 114, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt. J. Creswell, RN), then parted company.

Around 1200OP/15 the battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) joined the convoy. She parted company at 1520P/16 when a warship was sighted which turned out to be HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) which was to join the convoy to take over from HMS Rodney.

At that moment the armed merchant cruiser HMS Laconia (Capt.(Retd.) G.G.P. Hewett, RN), which was in sight, reported heavy calibre gunfire on the horizon. HMS Rodney increased speed and set course towards this reported gunfire. HMS Royal Sovereign briefly followed but due to her slower speed opted to remain between the enemy and the convoy. HMS Royal Sovereign remained in position between the enemy and the convoy until late in the evening.

The source of the gunfire was the German battlecruiser Gneisenau which was in the process of sinking the merchant vessel Chilean Reefer (British, 1739 GRT, built 1936). She spotted the tops of the approaching British battleship and quickly got underway and made off at high speed. HMS Rodney was left with picking up the survivors of the Chilean Reefer unable to catch the German battlecruiser due to her inferior speed. HMS Rodney then continued to patrol the area where convoy HX 114 was passing through during the next few days.

At 1545N/24, the merchant vessels Inger Lise and Velox were detached with orders to join convoy SC 25.

HMS Chitral parted company with the convoy at 1930N/24 and set course for Halifax.

On the 25th, the merchant vessel (tanker) Lincoln Ellsworth with a cargo of fuel oil parted company with the convoy to proceed to Reykjavik was she was to discharge her cargo. She arrived at Reykjavik the next day.

HMS Chitral parted company with the convoy at 1930N/24 and set course for Halifax. The convoy was joined by destroyers late on the 24th or early on the 25th by the destroyers HMS Wanderer (Cdr. A.F.St.G. Orpen, RN), HMS Vanity ( Lt. I.W.T. Beloe, RN), HMCS Columbia (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) S.W. Davis, RN), HMS Montgomery (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) W.L. Puxley, RN), sloop HMS Weston (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G. Sutton, RN), corvettes HMS Nasturtium (Lt.Cdr. J.F.C. Bartley, DSC, RNR), HMS Periwinkle (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RNR), HMS Primrose (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A. Ayre, RNR) and the auxiliary A/S trawlers HMS Arab (T/Lt. C.A. Shillan, RNVR), HMS Ayrshire (T/Lt. L.J.A. Gradwell, RNVR) and HMS Lady Madeleine (T/Lt. W.G. Ogden, RNVR). Destroyers HMS Montgomery, HMS Vanity, sloop HMS Weston and the auxiliary A/S trawlers were detached later to join other convoys. The remainder of the escort remained with the convoy until its arrival in UK waters on the 30th.


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