Allied Warships

HMS King George V (41)

Battleship of the King George V class


HMS King George V during the Second World War.

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeBattleship
ClassKing George V 
Pennant41 
Built byVickers Armstrong (Newcastle-on-Tyne, U.K.) 
Ordered29 Jul 1936 
Laid down1 Jan 1937 
Launched21 Feb 1939 
Commissioned11 Dec 1940 
End serviceSep 1949 
History

Decommissioned to Reserve in September 1949. Sold to Arnott Young in 1957, arrived at Dalmuir on 20 January 1958 for stripping, Hull to Troon for breaking up in May 1959.

 

Commands listed for HMS King George V (41)

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

CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Wilfrid Rupert Patterson, RN31 Jul 19407 May 1942
2Capt. Philip John Mack, DSO, RN7 May 194215 Feb 1943
3Capt. Thomas Edgar Halsey, DSO, RN15 Feb 19437 Jun 1945
4Capt. Brian Betham Schofield, RN7 Jun 1945Sep 1946

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Notable events involving King George V include:


The page of HMS King George V was last updated in March 2022.

1 Oct 1940
At 0900A/1, HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) is commissioned for trials. (1)

16 Oct 1940
The newly constructed battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) was ready to move from the Tyne to Rosyth. To provide escort for this valuable new ship the light cruisers HMS Bonaventure (Capt. H.J. Egerton, RN) and HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN) as well as the destroyers HMS Ashanti (Cdr. W.G. Davis, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. H.T. Armstrong, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN), HMS Fame (Cdr. C.A.N. Chatwin, RN), HMS Electra (Lt.Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) and HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN) departed Rosyth for the Tyne. The destroyers were to make a high speed run up the river to simulate a strong magnetic field to detonate any possible German magnetic mines. During this run HMS Ashanti and HMS Fame ran hard aground and were heavily damaged. The other ships arrived safely at Rosyth in the afternoon. (2)

19 Oct 1940
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) is docked in No.1 Dock at the Rosyth Dockyard. (1)

25 Nov 1940
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) is undocked. (3)

2 Dec 1940
Around 1445A/2, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) departed Rosyth for trials in the Pentland Firth. She is escorted by the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Wright, RN) and HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. F.J.G. Hewitt, RN).

Around 0350A/3, the destroyers HMS Somali and HMS Mashona parted company and were replaced by the destroyers HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN) and HMS Escapade (Cdr. R.E. Hyde-Smith, RN).

Around 1500A/4, HMS King George V and her escorting destroyers arrived at Scapa Flow having completed her initial sea trials. Serious problems were encountered during the main armament gunnery trials. (4)

5 Dec 1940
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) conducted D/G and aircraft lauching and recovering trials at Scapa Flow. (5)

7 Dec 1940
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) conducted compass swing, steering and gunnery trials at Scapa Flow. (5)

8 Dec 1940
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN), destroyers HMS Matabele (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, DSO, RN), HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Wright, RN), HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. F.J.G. Hewitt, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Pytchley (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (6)

9 Dec 1940
During 9/10 December 1940, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. These included night exercises. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Matabele (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, DSO, RN), HMS Electra (Lt.Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) and HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. F.J.G. Hewitt, RN). (5)

12 Dec 1940
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) conducted gunnery trials at Scapa Flow. (5)

13 Dec 1940
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) conducted gunnery trials at Scapa Flow. (5)

14 Dec 1940
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) conducted radar calibration trials at Scapa Flow. (5)

16 Dec 1940
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) conducted radar calibration trials at Scapa Flow. (5)

23 Dec 1940
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN), light cruiser HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), destroyers HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Cousins, RN), HMS Lincoln (Cdr. A.M. Sheffield, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Blencathra (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, RN) and HMS Southdown (Cdr. E.R. Condor, DSO, DSC, RN) conducted trials and exercises off Scapa Flow. (7)

2 Jan 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (8)

5 Jan 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) conducted turning trials at Scapa Flow. (8)

7 Jan 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Scapa Flow.

[Presumably she was escorted but no details available.] (8)

15 Jan 1941
Early in the afternoon the destroyer HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), which had on board Prime Minster Churchill and Lord Halifax, having picked them up at Scrabster, came alongside the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN). Mr. Churchill and Lord Halifax the boarded the battleship. The minesweepers HMS Sharpshooter (Lt.Cdr. D. Lampen, RN) and HMS Speedy (Lt. A.E. Doran, RN) also went alongside with Halifax's staff and luggage. The visitors then had lunch aboard HMS King George V. After lunch Mr. Churchill disembarked. Around 1630A/15, HMS King George V, with Lord Halifax and his staffs still embarked, and escorted by destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, DSO, RN) and HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN) departed from Scapa for the Atlantic.

HMS King George V has to take Lord Halifax to the USA where she was to pick up his post as the new British Ambassador at Washington.

Around 1000N/17, in approximate position 61°40'N, 25°50'W the destroyer were detached to return to Scapa Flow conducting an A/S sweep to the north of Rockall on the way back.

HMS King George V then continued her passage to the USA unescorted. (9)

21 Jan 1941

Convoy BHX 104.

This convoy departed Bermuda on 21 January 1941 for the U.K. It was to proceed direct from Bermuda to the U.K. unlike all the other BHX convoys which merged with HX convoys. The convoy arrived in U.K. waters on 9 February 1941.

On departure from Bermuda the convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Aalsum (Dutch, 5418 GRT, built 1922), Athelempress (British (tanker), 8941 GRT, built 1930), Athelviking (British (tanker), 8779 GRT, built 1926), Athelviscount (British (tanker), 8882 GRT, built 1929), Atlantian (British, 6549 GRT, built 1928), British Resource (British (tanker), 7209 GRT, built 1931), British Venture (British (tanker), 4696 GRT, built 1930), Ceronia (Dutch (tanker), 8096 GRT, built 1939), Clausina (British (tanker), 8083 GRT, built 1938), Davila (British (tanker), 8053 GRT, built 1938), Delphinula (British (tanker), 8120 GRT, built 1939), Diala (British (tanker), 8106 GRT, built 1938), Explorer (British, 6235 GRT, built 1935), G.C. Brovig (Norwegian (tanker), 9718 GRT, built 1930), Ganymedes (Dutch, 2682 GRT, built 1917), Grena (Norwegian (tanker), 8117 GRT, built 1934), Hilda Knudsen (Norwegian (tanker), 9178 GRT, built 1928), Inverilen (British (tanker), 9456 GRT, built 1938), Lochkatrine (British, 9419 GRT, built 1922), Moorby (British, 4992 GRT, built 1936), Novelist (British, 6133 GRT, built 1940), Oakworth (British), 4968 GRT, built 1925), Peder Bogen (British (tanker), 9741 GRT, built 1925), Ranella (British (tanker), 5590 GRT, built 1912), Regent Panther (British (tanker), 9556 GRT, built 1937), San Ambrosio (British (tanker), 7410 GRT, built 1935), San Delfino (British (tanker), 8072 GRT, built 1938), San Ernesto (British (tanker), 8078 GRT, built 1939), Sheaf Holme (British, 4814 GRT, built 1929), Socony (British (tanker), 4404 GRT, built 1936), Storaas (Norwegian (tanker), 7886 GRT, built 1929), Suderholm (Norwegian (tanker), 4908 GRT, built 1917), Toorak (British (tanker), 8627 GRT, built 1927), Treworlas (British, 4692 GRT, built 1922) and Vigrid (British, 4765 GRT, built 1923).

Also part of the convoy was the RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) tanker Darkdale (8145 GRT, built 1940).

On departure from Bermuda the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Alaunia (Capt.(Retd.) H.J. Woodward, DSO and Bar, RN).

At 1240Q/24, the merchant vessel Oakworth was ordered to proceed to Halifax as she had developed a serious leak in no.1 hold.

The merchant vessel Treworlas arrived at St. Johns, Newfoundland on 30 January 1941 with weather damage. She had most likely detached from the convoy on 27 or 28 January 1941 after the convoy had encountered heavy weather near Greenland.

At 0900N/31, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) joined the convoy escort.

At 1330N/3, HMS King George V parted company with the convoy.

At 1900N/3, the tanker Athelempress was detached to Reykjavik, Iceland where she arrived on 5 February.

At 0815N/4, HMS Alaunia parted company with the convoy.

The convoy was joined on the 5th by the destroyers HMS Havelock (Cdr. E.H. Thomas, RN), HMS Hesperus (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, RN), HMS Lincoln (Cdr. A.M. Sheffield, RN), HMS Sabre (Lt. P.W. Gretton, DSC, RN), HMS Shikari (Lt.Cdr. H.N.A. Richardson, RN), corvettes HMS Clarkia (Lt.Cdr. F.J.G. Jones, RNR), HMS Gladiolus (Lt.Cdr. H.M.C. Sanders, DSC, RNR), A/S trawlers HMS Northern Wave (T/Lt. C. Morrison-Payne, RNVR) and HMS Wellard (Lt.Cdr. A. Johnson, RNVR). [No further details available.]

24 Jan 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) arrived in Chesapeake Bay where Lord Hallifax and his staff disembarked.

The battleship had been escorted in by the US destroyer USS Lansdale (Lt.Cdr. J. Connor, USN). (8)

25 Jan 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) departed Chesapeake Bay for the U.K. She had on board a naval delegation of cypher specialists and a copy of a Japanese Cypher machine for Bletchley Park. HMS King George V was escorted out by USS Lansdale (Lt.Cdr. J. Connor, USN).

En-route to the U.K, HMS King George V, was to give protection to a large tanker convoy (BHX 104) that was on passage from Bermuda to the U.K.

She joined the convoy on 31 January 1941 and parted company with it on 3 February 1942 to proceed to Scapa Flow.

[For more info on this convoy see the event convoy ' BHX 104 ' for 21 January 1941.] (10)

3 Feb 1941
At 1550O/3, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN), which had parted company with convoy BHX 104 around noon and was now en-route to Scapa Flow, was joined by the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMS Somali (Lt.Cdr. T.H.B. Shaw, DSC, RN), HMS Eskimo (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN) and HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN). These destroyer had departed Scapa Flow in the morning of 1st, February.

Between around 0800N/4 and 1455Z/5, HMS Eclipse had not been in company.

HMAS Napier parted company in the morning of the 6th to proceed to the Clyde.

HMS King George V, HMS Somali, HMS Eskimo and HMS Eclipse arrived at Scapa Flow around 1345A/6, having carried out an exercise with the light cruiser HMS Mauritius (?) first. (11)

8 Feb 1941
In response to the sighting of the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau by HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN) the battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), light cruisers HMS Galatea (Capt. B.B. Schofield, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN), HMS Arethusa (Capt. Q.D. Graham, RN), HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN), HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, RN) and the destroyers HMS Eskimo (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, DSO, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN) departed Scapa Flow at 1830Z/8. They were ordered to proceed to position 62°30'N, 16°00'W.

At 1900Z/8 the battleship HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN) and HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), destroyers HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN), HMS Electra (Cdr. C.W. May, RN) and HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN) departed at 1900Z/8 to take up a position seventy miles to the south-south-east of the 'Repulse'-group.

Around 2300A/8, the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.E. Holland, CB, RN) departed the Clyde for operations. She was later ordered to join the 'Rodney'-group.

In the morning of February, 9th, the battleships HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) and HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. H.T. Armstrong, DSC, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN), HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill Crichton, DSC, RN) and HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN) departed Scapa Flow to proceed to position 65°00'N, 08°30'W.

HMS Arethusa and HMS Nigeria were sent to Reykjavik at 2100/12th to refuel prior after which they were to resume patrol.

HMS Mauritius and HMS Dido returned to Scapa Flow around 1700Z/11.

HMS Nelson, HMS Eclipse, HMS Electra and HMS Tartar returned to Scapa Flow around 1830Z/11.

Around 2030Z/11, HMS Rodney and HMS King George V, HMS Edinburgh, HMS Bedouin, HMS Maori, HMS Zulu, HMS Brilliant returned to Scapa Flow. The destroyer HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN) was with them apprently she had joined them at sea. HMS Boreas had been detached to participate in an A/S hunt.

HMS Galatea and HMS Aurora returned to Scapa Flow around 0145Z/13th.

HMS Repulse, HMS Eskimo, HMS Matabele and HMS Punjabi returned to Scapa Flow around 0315Z/13.

1 Mar 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) conducted AA gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (12)

4 Mar 1941

Operation Claymore.

Commando raid on the Lofoten Islands, Norway.

Around 2345A/28 the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Eskimo (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN) and the landing ships HMS Princess Beatrix (A/Cdr. T.B. Brunton, RN) and HMS Queen Emma (Lt.Cdr. E.J.R. North, RNR) departed Scapa Flow for operation ' Claymore '. These ships fuelled at Skálafjørður, Faeroer Islands arriving there around 1900A/1. They departed about five hour later.

A cover force, made up the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN), light cruisers HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.E. Holland, CB, RN), HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. H.T. Armstrong, DSC, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. C.H.deB. Newby, RN) and HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN) departed Scapa Flow around 1430A/2.

At 1900A/3, HMS Edinburgh and HMS Nigeria were detached to provide close cover for the landing force. '

During the operation the submarine HMS Sunfish (Lt. G.R. Colvin, RN) acted as a beacon to guide the ships of the landing force in.

During the operation HMS Somali remained at sea in the Vestfiord. She managed to enter the German patrol vessel NN 04 / Krebs during which imported Enigma coding meterial was captured. Krebs was then sunk.

The landing ship HMS Queen Emma and the destroyers HMS Bedouin and HMS Tartar proceeded to Svolvaer.

The landing ship HMS Princess Beatrix and the destroyers HMS Eskimo and HMS Legion proceeded to Stamsund.

The commandoes were landed. At Stamsund they destroyed the Lofotens Cod Boiling Plant while two factories were destroyed at Henningsvær and thirteen at Svolvær. About 800000 gallons (3600 m3) of fish oil and paraffin were set on fire.

The commandoes captured 225 prisoners including Norwegian collaborators and also took 314 Norwegian volunteers with them which wanted to join the Norwegian armed forces.

Besides that the merchant vessels Bernard Schulte (1058 GRT, built 1923), Eilenau (1404 GRT, built 1910) and Felix Heumann (2468 GRT, built 1921) were sunk by demolition charges at Svolvær.

HMS Tartar sank the German merchant vessels Hamburg (fishmeal factory ship, 6136 GRT, built 1911) and Pasajes (1996 GRT, built 1923).

The German merchant vessel Gumbinnen (1381 GRT, built 1922) was sunk by with demolition charges by the Army landing party.

The Norwegian passenger/cargo vessel Mira (1152 GRT, built 1891) was sunk by HMS Bedouin.

The Norwegian fishing vessel (trawler) Myrland (321 GRT, built 1918) joined the British force and proceeded to the Faroes, arriving there on 7 March 1941.

HMS Edinburgh and HMS Nigeria arrived at Scapa flow around 1200A/6.

HMS Somali, HMS Bedouin, HMS Eskimo, HMS Tartar, HMS Legion, HMS Princess Beatrix and HMS Queen Emma arrived at Scapa Flow around 1300A/6.

HMS Nelson, HMS King George V, HMS Inglefield, HMS Maori, HMS Punjabi, HMS Echo and HMS Eclipse arrived at Scapa Flow around 1400A/6. (13)

9 Mar 1941
Around 0745Z/9, the battleships HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) and HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Halifax. They were escorted until 0900Z/11 by the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Eskimo (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, DSO, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) and HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN).

The next day the Admiralty signalled that HMS Rodney was to join convoy HX 114 on the 15th while HMS King George V was to continue the passage to Halifax. [For more info on convoy HX 114 see the event ' Convoy HX 114 ' for 11 March 1941.]

The destroyers parted company at 0900Z/11 and set course to return to Scapa Flow.

At 0140O/13, HMS Rodney and HMS King George V parted company in compliance with the earlier orders. (14)

15 Mar 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) arrived at Halifax from Scapa Flow. (12)

16 Mar 1941
Around 1245Q/16, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) passed through the gate at Halifax, having been ordered to proceed with all despatch to position 41°12'N, 49°00'W later changed to 42°40'N, 45°20'W, and then sweep to the south-west to search for enemy raidars which were operating in the North Atlantic.

Late in the afternoon she was ordered to proceed towards a position to the west of position 56°00'N, 35°00'W to provide cover to ships from the dispersed convoy OB 295 which were now proceeding to (North America) independently.

In the afternoon of the 17th, the Admiralty signalled new orders to HMS King George V who was now join convoy HX 115 and escort it to the U.K.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy HX 115 ' for 17 March 1941.]

Around 1000O/20, HMS King George V joined convoy HX 115 in approximate position 42°42'N, 50°56'W. She parted company with the convoy around 2130Z/28. After detaching she set course towards Iceland and launched a Walrus aircraft which was to join the heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk.

Around 0730Z/29, HMS King George V was joined by the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. H.T. Armstrong, DSC, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN).

Around 1430A/31, HMS King George V, HMS Cossack, HMS Maori and HMS Zulu arrived at Scapa Flow. (15)

17 Mar 1941

Convoy HX 115.

This convoy departed Halifax on 17 March 1941.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Arabian Prince (British, 1960 GRT, built 1936), Athelduchess (British (tanker), 8940 GRT, built 1929), Athelprince (British (tanker), 8782 GRT, built 1926), Boston City (British, 2870 GRT, built 1920), Bridgepool (British, 4845 GRT, built 1924), British Reliance (British (tanker), 7000 GRT, built 1928), British Statesman (British (tanker), 6991 GRT, built 1923), British Valour (British (tanker), 6952 GRT, built 1927), British Viscount (British (tanker), 6895 GRT, built 1921), Buesten (Norwegian, 5187 GRT, built 1927), Cape Verde (British, 6914 GRT, built 1941), City of Johannesburg (British, 5669 GRT, built 1920), Cowrie (British (tanker), 8197 GRT, built 1931), Eulima (British, 6207 GRT, built 1937), Gand (Belgian, 5086 GRT, built 1919), Germanic (British, 5352 GRT, built 1936), Hylton (British, 5197 GRT, built 1937), Iroquois (British (tanker), 8937 GRT, built 1907), Ittersum (Dutch, 5199 GRT, built 1938), Limbourg (Belgium, 2396 GRT, built 1938), Malaya II (British, 8651 GRT, built 1921), Masunda (British, 5250 GRT, built 1929), Moveria (British, 4867 GRT, built 1925), Norman Prince (British, 1913 GRT, built 1940), Norwegian (British, 6366 GRT, built 1921), Oakworth (British, 4968 GRT, built 1925), Peleus (Greek, 4695 GRT, built 1928), Prins Willem III (Dutch, 1524 GRT, built 1939), Ringstad (Norwegian, 6366 GRT, built 1921), San Cirilo (British (tanker), GRT, built 1937), Trefusis (British, 5299 GRT, built 1918), Treverbyn (British, 5281 GRT, built 1920) and Willesden (British, 4653 GRT, built 1925).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN), destroyer HMCS St Croix (Cdr. H. Kingsley, RCN) and the corvette HMCS Orillia (T/Lt.Cdr. W.E.S. Briggs, RCNR). The destroyer and the corvette were detached on the 18th to return to Halifax.

Battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) and submarine HMS Thunderbolt (Lt. C.B. Crouch, DSO, RN) joined the escort in the morning of the 20th.

On the 28th the tanker Cowrie parted company with the convoy to proceed to Reykjavik, Iceland.

Around 1840Z/28, HMS California and HMS Thunderbolt parted company to proceed to Reykjavik.

Around 2130Z/28, HMS King George V parted company with the convoy.

Destroyers HMS Venomous (Cdr. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMS Sabre (Lt. P.W. Gretton, DSC, RN), HMS Reading (Lt.Cdr. D.V. Clift, RN), sloop HMS Wellington (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN), corvettes HMS Alisma (A/Lt.Cdr. M.G. Rose, RANVR), HMS Dianella (T/Lt. J.G. Rankin, RNR) and HMS Kingcup (Lt. R.A.D. Cambridge, RNR) joined on the 29th.

The convoy arrived in U.K. waters on 3 April 1941.

1 Apr 1941
The Commander-in-Chief of the Home Fleet, A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN, transferred his flag from HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN) to HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN). (16)

2 Apr 1941
Around 1100A/2, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN), heavy cruiser HMS London (Capt. R.M. Servaes, CBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN) and HMS Matabele (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, DSO, RN) departed Scapa Flow to patrol off the Bay of Biscay.

At 1215Z/4, the destroyers were detached to refuel at Londonderry where they arrived at 0600A/6.

At 1845Z/6, HMS London was detached for other duties.

At 0430A/8, the light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, RN) joined coming from Greenock.

Around 0945A/8, the destroyers HMS Somali, HMS Bedouin, HMS Mashona and HMS Matabele rejoined from fuelling at Londonderry.

At 2000Z/8, HMS King George V, HMS Somali, HMS Bedouin, HMS Mashona and HMS Matabele departed patrol to return to Scapa Flow. HMS Kenya was ordered to make rendezvous with the 'Hood-Group'.

At 0600A/10, HMS Matabele was detached to proceed to Barrow-in-Furness for repairs.

At 1542A/10, HMS Bedouin is ordered to proceed to position 58°42'N, 09°41'W, to the north-west of St.Kilda, where a merchant vessel was reported to be on fire with survivors abandoning ship. HMS Bedouin did not find anything however and arrived at Scapa Flow on the 12th.

Around 1830A/10, HMS King George V, HMS Somali and HMS Mashona arrived at Scapa Flow. (17)

13 Apr 1941
Around 0100A/13, the battleship the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, RN) and the destroyers HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Electra (Cdr. C.W. May, RN) and HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) departed Scapa Flow to patrol off the Bay of Biscay.

Around 1055A/15, HMS Mashona, HMS Electra and HMS Escapade were detached to Londonderry.

Early on the 19th, HMS King George V and HMS Nigeria set course to the north to return to Scapa Flow.

Around 0900A/20, HMS Mashona, HMS Electra and HMS Escapade rejoined HMS King George V and HMS Nigeria.

Around noon on 21 April they were spotted by a German Focke Wolk reconnaissance aircraft. Fire was opened on it by (at least) HMS King George V and HMS Nigeria.

HMS King George V, HMS Nigeria, HMS Mashona, HMS Electra, HMS Escapade arrived at Scapa Flow around 1600A/22. Rear-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, RN then hoisted his flag in HMS Nigeria. (18)

19 Apr 1941

Intelligence reported the German battleship Bismarck proceeding to sea, British movements to intercept.

In the early morning hours of 19 April 1941 the Admiralty received reports that the German battleship Bismarck was reported to have passed the Skaw together with two cruisers and three destroyers.

The battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. R. Kerr, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN) with the light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. H.T. Armstrong, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN) were already at sea (departed Scapa Flow around 1700/18) proceeding southwards to relieve HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN) and HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, RN) on the Bay of Biscay patrol. They were now ordered to proceed northwards to provide cover for the cruiser patrol in the Island-Faroes passage. HMS King George V and HMS Nigeria initially turned north but soon returned to their patrol area off the Bay of Biscay. Their escorting destroyers, HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Electra (Cdr. C.W. May, RN), HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) had been detached to fuel at Londonderry on the morning of the 15th. They returned from fuelling on the morning of the 20th.

For these cruiser patrols the following ships were sailed.
From Iceland (Hvalfjord); heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.F. Wake-Walker CB, OBE, RN), light cruisers HMS Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN) and HMS Arethusa (Capt. Q.D. Graham, RN).
From Scapa Flow; heavy cruisers HMS Suffolk (Capt. R.M. Ellis, RN), HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN), light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral L.E. Holland, CB, RN), destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. C.H.deB. Newby, RN), HMS Achates (Lt.Cdr. Viscount Jocelyn, RN) and HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN).

HMS Inglefield joined the force of HMS Hood around 1045/20.

Shortly before midnight the battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) sailed from the Clyde escorted by ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski), ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski) and HMS Saladin (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Dover, RN). In the early hours of the 20th HMS Rodney collided with the auxiliary A/S trawler HMS Topaze (Ch.Skr. G.R. Gale, RNR) which sank with its entire crew as a result.

The reported German movements turned out to be false and most of the British forces were back in port by the early morning of 23 April 1941 at latest.

HMS Hood and her four escorting destroyers had arrived at Hvalfiord, Iceland in the morning on 21 April. HMS Kenya had been ordered to join the Iceland - Faroer Islands patrol as was HMS Edinburgh. (19)

29 Apr 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN) conducted radar and gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (16)

8 May 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN) conducted aircraft launching and recovering exercises at Scapa Flow. (20)

12 May 1941
During 12/13 May 1941, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN), battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. R. Kerr, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.E. Holland, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Eskimo (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN) and HMAS Nestor (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. These included night exercises. (21)

18 May 1941

Chase and sinking of the German battleship Bismarck,
18 to 27 May 1941.

Part I.

Departure of the Bismarck from the Baltic.

At 2130B/18 the German battleship Bismarck and the German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen departed Gotenhafen for an anti-shipping raid in the North Atlantic. The following morning they were joined off Cape Arkona by the German destroyers Z 16 / Friedrich Eckhold and Z 23. They then proceeded through the Great Belt. The four ships were joined by a third destroyer, Z 10 / Hans Lody shortly before midnight on 19 May.

First reports of Bismarck and British dispositions 20-21 May 1941.

On 20 May 1941 two large warships with a strong escort were seen at 1500 hours northward out of the Kattegat. This information originated from the Swedish cruiser Gotland which had passed the Germans off the Swedish coast in the morning. The Naval Attaché at Stockholm received the news at 2100/20 and forwarded it to the Admiralty. At 0900/21 the Bismarck and her consorts entered Kors Fjord, near Bergen, Norway and anchored in nearby fiords. A reconnaissance aircraft flying over Bergen at 1330/21 reported having seen two Hipper class heavy cruisers there. One of these ships was later identified on a photograph as being the Bismarck. This intelligence went out at once to the Home Fleet.

The ships of the Home Fleet were at this time widely dispersed on convoy duties, patrols, etc. Some of the units were ranging as far as Gibraltar and Freetown. The Commander-in-Chief, A/Admiral Sir John Tovey, was at Scapa Flow in his flagship, HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN). With him were her newly commissioned sister ship HMS Prince of Wales (Capt. J.C. Leach, MVO, RN), the battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. R. Kerr, CBE, RN, with Vice-Admiral L.E. Holland, CB, RN, onboard), the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, RN), the light cruisers HMS Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral K.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN), HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN), HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) and the destroyers HMS Achates (Lt.Cdr. Viscount Jocelyn, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.B.N. Hicks, DSO, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. C.H.deB. Newby, RN), HMS Electra (Cdr. C.W. May, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSO, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) and HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, RAN). HMS Victorious was under orders to escort troop convoy WS 8B from the Clyde to the Middle East. HMS Neptune was working up for service with the Mediterranean Fleet and was to escort convoy WS 8X from the Clyde to the Middle East on completion. She did not sail to operate against the Bismarck having only just began her post-refit work-up programme.

Rear-Admiral W.F. Wake-Walker (commanding the first Cruiser Squadron), with the heavy cruisers HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN) (flag) and HMS Suffolk (Capt. R.M. Ellis, RN) was on patrol in the Denmark Straight. The light cruisers HMS Manchester (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN) and HMS Birmingham (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN) were patrolling between Iceland and the Faeroes. The battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN) was at the Clyde to escort troop convoy WS 8B.

Action taken by the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet

Admiral Tovey took the following action when he received the news the Bismarck had been spotted at Bergen. Vice-Admiral Holland with the Hood, Prince of Wales, Achates, Antelope, Anthony, Echo, Electra and Icarus was ordered to cover Rear Admiral Wake-Walker's cruisers in the Denmark Straight. His force departed Scapa Flow around 0100/22.

HMS Arethusa (Capt. A.C. Chapman, RN), which was taking the Vice-Admiral, Orkneys and Shetlands, to Reykjavik on a visit of inspection, was ordered to remain at Hvalfiord and placed at Rear-Admiral Wake-Walkers disposal. HMS Manchester and HMS Birmingham were ordered to top off with fuel at Skaalefiord and them to resume their patrol. The other ships that remained at Scapa Flow were brought to short notice for steam.

The Free French submarine FFS Minerve (Lt. P.M. Sonneville), which was on patrol off south-west Norway was ordered to proceed to position 61°53'N, 03°15'E and HMS P 31 (Lt. J.B.de B. Kershaw, RN) was ordered to proceed to position 62°08'N, 05°08'E which is to the west of Stadtlandet.

The sailing of HMS Repulse and HMS Victorious with troop convoy WS 8B was cancelled and the ships were placed at the disposal of Admiral Tovey.

A reconnaissance aircraft flying over Bergen reported that the German ships were gone. This information reached Admiral Tovey at 2000/22. HMS Suffolk which had been fuelling at Hvalfiord was ordered to rejoin HMS Norfolk in the Denmark Strait. HMS Arethusa was ordered to join HMS Manchester and HMS Birmingham to form a patrol line between Iceland and the Faeroes. Vice-Admiral Holland, on his way to Iceland was told to cover the patrols in Denmark Strait north of 62°N. Admiral Tovey would cover the patrols south of 62°N.

Commander-in-Chief leaves Scapa Flow on 22 May 1941

The King George V, with Admiral Tovey on board, departed Scapa Flow at 2245/22. With the King George V sailed, HMS Victorious, HMS Galatea, HMS Aurora, HMS Kenya, HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, RN), HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. J.M.G. Waldegrave, DSC, RN), HMS Active, HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN), HMS Punjabi, HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) and HMAS Nestor. HMS Lance however had to return to Scapa Flow due to defects.

At A.M. 23 May they were joined off the Butt of Lewis by HMS Repulse escorted by HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN), HMCS Assiniboine (A/Lt.Cdr. J.H. Stubbs, RCN) and HMCS Saguenay (Lt. P.E. Haddon, RCN) coming from the Clyde area which they departed on 22 May.

The Commander-in-Chief was 230 miles north-west of the Butt of Lewis in approximate position 60°20'N, 12°30'W when at 2032/23 a signal came in from HMS Norfolk that she had sighted the Bismarck in the Denmark Strait.

HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk made contact with the Bismarck in the Denmark Strait on 23 May 1941.

At 1922/23 HMS Suffolk sighted the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen in position 67°06'N, 24°50'W. They were proceeding to the south-west skirting the edge of the ice in Denmark Strait. HMS Suffolk immediately sent out an enemy report and made for the mist to the south-east. HMS Norfolk then commenced closing and sighted the enemy at 2030 hours. They were only some six nautical miles off and the Bismarck opened fire. HMS Norfolk immediately turned away, was not hit and also sent out an enemy report.

Although HMS Suffolk had sighted the enemy first and also sent the first contact report this was not received by the Commander-in-Chief. The enemy was 600 miles away to the north-westward.

Vice-Admiral Holland had picked up the signal from the Suffolk. He was at that moment about 300 nautical miles away. Course was changed to intercept and speed was increased by his force to 27 knots.

Dispositions, 23 May 1941.

At the Admiralty, when the Norfolk's signal came in, one of the first considerations was to safeguard the convoys at sea. At this time there were eleven crossing the North-Atlantic, six homeward and five outward bound. The most important convoy was troop convoy WS 8B of five ships which had left the Clyde the previous day for the Middle East. She was at this moment escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN), light cruiser (AA cruiser) HMS Cairo (A/Capt. I.R.H. Black, RN) and the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, DSO, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, DSC, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski), HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, RCN) and the escort destroyer HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN). HMS Repulse was also intended to have sailed with this convoy but she had joined the Commander-in-Chief instead.

Force H was sailed around 0200/24 from Gibraltar to protect this important convoy on the passage southwards. Force H was made up of the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt Sir R.R. McGrigor, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. L.E.H. Maund, RN), light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN) and HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN).

HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk shadowing Bismarck 23 / 24 May 1941.

During the night of 23 / 24 May 1941 HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk hung on to the enemy, The Norfolk on their port quarter, Suffolk on their starboard quarter. All through the night they sent signals with updates on the position, course and speed of the enemy. At 0516 hours HMS Norfolk sighted smoke on her port bow and soon HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales came in sight.

HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales 23 / 24 May 1941.

At 2054/23 the four remaining escorting destroyers were ordered to follow at best speed in the heavy seas if they were unable to keep up with the capital ships which were proceeding at 27 knots. Two destroyers, HMS Antelope and HMS Anthony had been ordered to proceed to Iceland to refuel at 1400/23. The destroyers all managed to keep up for now and at 2318 hours they were ordered to form a screen ahead of both capital ships. At 0008/24 speed was reduced to 25 knots and course was altered to due north at 0017 hours. It was expected that contact with the enemy would be made at any time after 0140/24. It was just now that the cruisers lost contact with the enemy in a snowstorm and for some time no reports were coming in. At 0031 hours the Vice-Admiral signalled to the Prince of Wales that if the enemy was not in sight by 0210 hours he would probably alter course to 180° until the cruisers regained touch. He also signalled that he intended to engage the Bismarck with both capital ships and leave the Prinz Eugen to Norfolk and Suffolk.

The Prince of Wales' Walrus aircraft was ready for catapulting and it was intended to fly it off, but visibility deteriorated and in the end it was defuelled and stowed away at 0140 hours. A signal was then passed to the destroyers that when the capital ships would turn to the south they were to continue northwards searching for the enemy. Course was altered to 200° at 0203/24. As there was now little chance of engaging the enemy before daylight the crews were allowed to rest.

At 0247/24 HMS Suffolk regained touch with the enemy and by 0300 hours reports were coming in again. At 0353 hours HMS Hood increased speed to 28 knots and at 0400/24 the enemy was estimated to be 20 nautical miles to the north-west. By 0430 hours visibility had increased to 12 nautical miles. At 0440 hours orders were given to refuel the Walrus of HMS Prince of Wales but due to delays due to water in the fuel it was not ready when the action began and it was damaged by splinters and eventuelly jettisoned into the sea.

At 0535/24 hours a vessel was seen looming on the horizon to the north-west, it was the Bismarck. She was some 17 nautical miles away bearing 330°. Prinz Eugen was ahead of her but this was not immediately realised and as the silhoutte of the German ships was almost similar the leading ship was most likely thought to be the Bismarck on board HMS Hood.

Battle of the Denmark Strait, action with the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. Loss of HMS Hood.

At 0537/24 HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales were turned together 40° to starboard towards the enemy. At 0549 hours course was altered to 300° and the left hand ship was designated as the target. This was a mistake as this was the Prinz Eugen and not the Bismarck. This was changed to the Bismarck just before fire was opened at 0552 hours. At 0554 hours the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen also opened fire. In the meantime Prince of Wales had also opened fire at 0053 hours. Her first salvo was over. The sixth salvo was a straddle. The Norfolk and Suffolk were too far astern of the enemy to take part in the action.

At 0555 hours Hood and Prince of Wales turned two points to port. This opened up Prince of Wales' A arcs as her ninth salvo was fired.

Shortly before 0605 hours Hood signalled that another turn of two points to port had to be executed. Bismarck had just fired her fifth salvo when the Hood was rent in two by a huge explosion rising apparently between the after funnel and the mainmast. The fore part began to sink seperately, bows up, whilst the after part remained shrouded in a pall of smoke. Three or four minutes later, the Hood had vanished between the waves leaving a vast cloud of smoke drifting away to the leeward. She sank in position 63°20'N, 31°50'W (the wreck was found in 2001 in approximate position 63°22'N, 32°17'W, the exact position has not been released to the public.)

The Prince of Wales altered course to starboard to avoid the wreckage of the Hood. The Bismarck now shifted fire from her main and secondary armament to her. Range was now 18000 yards. Within a very short time she was hit by four 15" and three 6" shells. At 0602 hours a large projectile wrecked the bridge, killing or wounding most of the personnel and about the same time the ship was holed underwater aft. It was decided temporarily to discontinue the action and at 0613 hours HMS Prince of Wales turned away behind a smoke screen. The after turret continued to fire but it soon malfunctioned and was out of action until 0825 hours. When the Prince of Wales ceased firing the range was 14500 yards. She had fired 18 salvos from the main armament and five from the secondary. The Bismarck made no attempt to follow or continue the action. She had also not escaped unscatched and had sustained two severe hits.

Such was the end of the brief engagement. The loss by an unlucky hit of HMS Hood with Vice-Admiral Holland, Captain Kerr and almost her entire ships company was a grievous blow, but a great concentration of forces was gathering behind the Commander-in-Chief, and Admiral Somerville with Force H was speeding towards him from the south.

The chase

When the Hood blew up, HMS Norfolk was 15 nautical miles to the northward coming up at 28 knots. By 0630/24 she was approaching HMS Prince of Wales and Rear-Admiral Wake-Walker, signalling his intention to keep in touch, told her to follow at best speed. The destroyers that had been with HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales were still to the northward. They were ordered to search for survivors but only HMS Electra found three. The Prince of Wales reported that she could do 27 knots and she was told to open out to 10 nautical miles on a bearing of 110° so that HMS Norfolk could fall back on her if she was attacked. Far off the Prinz Eugen could be seen working out to starboard of the Bismarck while the chase continued to the southward.

At 0757 hours, HMS Suffolk reported that the Bismarck had reduced speed and that she appeared to be damaged. Shortly afterwards a Sunderland that had taken off from Iceland reported that the Bismarck was leaving behind a broad track of oil. The Commander-in-Chief with HMS King George V was still a long way off, about 360 nautical miles to the eastward, and Rear-Admiral Wake-Walker on the bridge of HMS Norfolk had to make an important decision, was he to renew the action with the help of the Prince of Wales or was he to make it his business to ensure that the enemy could be intercepted and brought to action by the Commander-in-Chief. A dominant consideration in the matter was the state of the Prince of Wales. Her bridge had been wrecked, she had 400 tons of water in her stern compartments and two of her guns were unserverable and she could go no more then 27 knots. She had only been commissioned recently and barely a week had passed since Captain Leach had reported her ready for service. Her turrets were of a new and an untried model, liable for 'teething' problems and evidently suffering from them, for at the end of the morning her salvoes were falling short and wide. It was doubted if she was a match for the Bismarck in her current state and it was on these grounds that Rear-Admiral Wake-Walker decided that he would confine himself to shadowing and that he would not attempt to force on an action. Soon after 1100/24 visibility decreased and the Bismarck was lost out of sight in mist and rain.

Measures taken by the Admiralty, 24 May 1941.

After the loss of HMS Hood the following measures were taken by the Admiralty. To watch for an attempt by the enemy to return to Germany, HMS Manchester, HMS Birmingham and HMS Arethusa had been ordered at 0120/24 to patrol off the north-east point of Iceland. They were told to proceed to this location with all despatch.

HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN), which with four destroyers was escorting the troopship Britannic (26943 GRT, built 1930) westward, was ordered at 1022/24 to steer west on a closing course and if the Britannic could not keep up she was to leave her with one of the destroyers. Rodney was about 550 nautical miles south-east of the Bismarck. At 1200/24 she left the Britannic in position 55°15'N, 22°25'W and left HMS Eskimo (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN) with her. HMS Rodney then proceeded with HMS Somali (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN) and HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN) westwards on a closing course.

Two other capital ships were in the Atlantic; HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN) and HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN). The Ramillies was escorting convoy HX 127 from Halifax and was some 900 nautical miles south of the Bismarck. She was ordered at 1144/24 to place herself to the westward of the enemy and leaving her convoy at 1212/24 in position 46°25'N, 35°24'W, she set course to the north. HMS Revenge was ordered to leave Halifax and close the enemy.

Light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN) was patrolling in the Atlantic between 44°N and 46°N for German merchant shipping and was ordered at 1250/24 to close the enemy and take on relief shadower. At 1430/24 she reported her position as 44°17'N, 23°56'W and she was proceeding on course 320° at 25 knots.

Rear-Admiral Wake-Walker was ordered to continue shadowing even if he ran short of fuel so to bring the Commander-in-Chief into action.

The Bismack turns due south at 1320 hours on 24 May 1941.

In the low state of visibility, HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk had to be constantly on the alert against the enemy falling back and attacking them. At 1320/24 the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen altered course to the south and reduced speed. HMS Norfolk sighted them through the rain at a range of only 8 nautical miles. Norfolk had to quickly turn away under the cover of a smoke screen.

It was at 1530/24 when HMS Norfolk received a signal made by the Commander-in-Chief at 0800/24 from which it was estimated that the Commander-in-Chief would be near the enemy at 0100/25. This was later changed to 0900/25.

At 1545/24, Rear-Admiral Wake-Walker was asked by the Admiralty to answer four questions;
1) State the remaining percentage of the Bismarck's fighting efficiency.
2) What amout of ammunition had the Bismarck expended.
3) What are the reasons for the frequent alterations of course by the Bismarck.
4) What are your intentions as regards to the Prince of Wales' re-engaging the Bismarck.

The answers by Rear-Admiral Wake-Walker were as follows.
1) Uncertain but high.
2) About 100 rounds.
3) Unaccountable except as an effort to shake off HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk.
4) Consider it wisely for HMS Prince of Wales to not re-engage the Bismarck until other capital ships are in contact, unless interception failed. Doubtful if she has the speed to force an action.

The afternoon drew on towards evening. Still the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen held on to the south while the Norfolk, Suffolk and Prince of Wales were still keeping her in sight.

At 1711/24 in order to delay the enemy if possible, by attacking him from astern, the Prince of Wales was stationed ahead of the Norfolk. The enemy was not in sight from the Norfolk at that time, but the Suffolk was still in contact.

At 1841/24 the Bismarck opened fire on the Suffolk. Her salvoes fell short, but one or two shorts came near enough to cause some minor damage to her hull plating aft. HMS Suffolk replied with nine broadsides before turning away behind a smoke screen.

On seeing the Suffolk being attacked, HMS Norfolk turned towards and she and HMS Prince of Wales opened fire, the latter firing 12 salvoes. By 1856 hours the action was over. Two of the guns on the Prince of Wales malfuntioned again. After the action the cruisers started to zig-zag due to fear for German submarines.

British dispositions at 1800 hours on 24 May 1941.

From the Admiralty at 2025/24, there went out a signal summarising the situation at 1800/24. The position, course and speed of the Bismarck was given as 59°10'N, 36°00'W, 180°, 24 knots with HMS Norfolk, HMS Suffolk and HMS Prince of Wales still in touch. The Commander-in-Chiefs estimated position at 1800/24 was 58°N, 30°W, with HMS King George V and HMS Repulse. HMS Victorious was with the 2nd Cruiser Squadron (HMS Galatea, HMS Aurora, HMS Kenya). They had parted company with the Commander-in-Chief at 1509/24. Heavy cruiser HMS London (Capt. R.M. Servaes, CBE, RN) was in position 42°45'N, 20°10'W and had been ordered to leave her convoy and close the enemy. HMS Ramillies was in estimated position 45°45'N, 35°40'W. She had been ordered to place herself to the west of the enemy. HMS Manchester, HMS Birmingham and HMS Arethusa were returning from their position off the north-east of Iceland to refuel. HMS Revenge had left Halifax and was closing convoy HX 128. HMS Edinburgh was in approximate position 45°15'N, 25°10'W. She had been ordered to close and take over stand by shadower.

Evening of 24 May 1941.

At 2031/24 HMS Norfolk received a signal sent by the Commander-in-Chief at 1455/24 stating that aircraft from HMS Victorious might make an attack at 2200/24 and Rear-Admiral Wake-Walker now waited for an air attack which he expected at 2300 hours. By that time Bismarck had been lost from sight but at 2330/24 HMS Norfolk briefly sighted her at a distance of 13 nautical miles. At 2343/24 aircraft from HMS Victorious were seen approaching. They circled round HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Norfolk and the latter was able to direct them to the enemy. At 0009/25 heavy anti-aircraft gunfire was seen and the Bismarck was just visible as the aircraft attacked.

HMS Victorious and the 2nd Cruiser Squadron detached by the Commander-in-Chief.

At 1440/24 the Commander-in-Chief ordered the 2nd Cruiser Squadron (HMS Galatea, HMS Aurora, HMS Kenya, HMS Hermione) and HMS Victorious to a position within 100 nautical miles from Bismarck and to launch a torpedo bombing attack and maintain contact as long as possible. The object of the torpedo bombing attack was to slow the enemy down. On board the Victorious were only 12 Swordfish torpedo bombers and 6 Fulmar fighters. Victorious was only recently commissioned and her crew was still rather green. She had on board a large consignment of crated Hurricane fighters for Malta which were to be delivered to Gibraltar.

At 2208/24 HMS Victorious commenced launching 9 Swordfish in position 58°58'N, 33°17'E. Two minutes later al were on their way to find the Bismarck. The Squadron was led by Lt.Cdr.(A) E. Esmonde, RN.

HMS Victorious aircraft attack the Bismarck.

When the Swordfish took off from HMS Victorious the Bismarck was estimated to be in position 57°09'N, 36°44'W and was steering 180°, speed 24 knots. At 2330/24 they sighted the Bismarck but contact was lost in the bad weater. Shortly afterwards the Swordfish sighted HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk. HMS Norfolk guided them to the enemy which was 14 nautical miles on her starboard bow. At 2350 hours a vessel was detected ahead and the squadron broke cloud to deliver an attack. To their surprise they found themselves over a United States Coastguard cutter. The Bismarck was 6 nautical miles to the southward and on sighting the aircraft opened up a heavy barrage fire. Lt.Cdr. Esmonde pressed home his attack, 8 of the Swordfish were able to attack, the other had lost contact in the clouds.

The 8 planes attacked with 18" torpedoes, fitted with Duplex pistols set for 31 feet. At midnight three Swordfish attacked simultaneously on the port beam. Three others made a longer approach low down attacking on the port bow a minute later. One took a longer course, attacking on the port quarter. One went round and attacked on the starboard bow a couple of minutes after midnight. At least one hit was claimed on the starboard side abreast the bridge. The Germans however state that no hit was scored but that the violent maneuvering of the ship to avoid the attack, together with the heavy firing by the Bismarck caused the leak in no.2 boiler room to open up. No.2 boiler room was already partially flooded and now had to be abandoned.

All Swordfish from the striking had returned to HMS Victorious by 0201/25. Two Fulmars launched at 2300/24 for shadowing failed to find their ship in the darkness due to the failure of Victorious' homing beacon. Their crews were in the end picked up from the chilly water.

HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk loose contact at 0306/25.

While the aircraft from HMS Victorious were making their attack, HMS Norfolk sighted a ship to the south-west and gave the order to open fire. HMS Prince of Wales was able to identify it in time as an American coast guard cutter, but in the movements prepartory to opening fire HMS Norfolk lost touch with the enemy for a time and it was not until 0116/25 that she suddenly sighted the Bismarck only 8 nautical miles away. There followed a brief exchange of fire. HMS Norfolk and HMS Prince of Wales turned to port to bring their guns to bear and the latter was ordered to engage. It was then 0130/25. The Prince of Wales fired two salvoes at 20000 yards by radar. The Bismarck answered with two salvoes which fell a long way short. The light was failing and the enemy was again lost to sight. HMS Suffolk, which had to most reliable RDF set was told to act independently so as to keep in touch.

Around 0306/25 the Suffolk lost touch with the Bismarck. At 0552/25 Rear-Admiral Wake-Walker asked if HMS Victorious could launch aircraft for a search at dawn.

Search measures, 25 May 1941.

With the disappearance of the Bismarck at 0306/25 the first phase of the pursuit ended. The Commander-in-Chief, in HMS King George V with HMS Repulse in company was then about 115 nautical miles to the south-east. At 0616/25, Rear-Admiral Wake-Walker signalled that it was most probable that Bismarck and Prinz Eugen made a 90° turn to the west or turned back and 'cut away' to the eastward astern of the cruisers. Suffolk was already searching to the south-west and Norfolk was waiting for daylight to do the same. Prince of Wales was ordered to join the King George V and Repulse.

Force H was still on a course to intercept the Bismarck while steaming on at 24 knots. The Rear-Admiral commanding the 2nd Cruiser Squadron in HMS Galatea had altered course at 0558/25 to 180° for the position where the enemy was last seen and the Victorious was getting 8 aircraft ready to fly off at 0730/25 for a search to the eastward. This plan however was altered on orders being recieved from the Commander-in-Chief to take the cruisers and Victorious and carry out a search to the north-west of the Bismarck's last reported position. Five Fulmars had already been up during the night, two of them had not returned to the ship. The search therefore had to be undertaken by Swordfish, the only aircraft available. At 0810/25, seven Swordfish were flown off from position 56°18'N, 36°28'W to search between 280° and 040° up to 100 nautical miles. The search was supplemented by Victorious herself as well as the cruisers from the 2nd Cruiser Squadron (Galatea, Aurora, Kenya and Hermione) which were spread some miles apart.

DF position of the Bismarck of 0852/25.

HMS King George V was still proceeding to the south-west when at 1030/25 the Commander-in-Chief recieved a signal from the Admiralty that the Bismarck's position had been obtained by DF (direction finding) and that it indicated that the Bismarck was on a course for the North Sea by the Faeroes-Iceland passage. To counter this move by the enemy the Commander-in-Chief turned round at 1047/25 and made for the Faeroes-Iceland passage at 27 knots. HMS Repulse was no longer in company with HMS King George V, she had been detached at 0906/25 for Newfoundland to refuel. Suffolk also turned to the eastward to search, her search to the south-west had been fruitless. The search by HMS Victorious, her aircraft and the 2nd Cruiser Squadron to the north-west also had no result. Six Swordfish were landed on by 1107/25, one failed to return. HMS Galatea, HMS Aurora and HMS Kenya now turned towards the DF position of the Bismarck to search in that direction. HMS Hermione had to be detached to Hvalfiord, Iceland to refuel as she was by now down to 40%. The other cruisers slowed down to 20 knots to economise their remaining fuel supply wich was also getting low. At this moment HMS King George V had about 60% remaining.

Events during 25 May 1941.

At 1100/25, HMS King George V, HMS Suffolk and HMS Prince of Wales were proceeding to the north-east in the direction of the enemy's DF signal. HMS Rodney was in position 52°34'N, 29°23'W some 280 nautical miles to the south-eastward on the route towards the Bay of Biscay. On receiving the Commander-in-Chiefs signal of 1047/25 she too proceeded to the north-east.

Meanwhile to Admiralty had come to the conclusion that the Bismarck most likely was making for Brest, France. This was signalled to the Commander-in-Chief at 1023/25 to proceed together with Force H and the 1st Cruiser Squadron on that assumption.

In the absence however of definite reports it was difficult to be certain of the position of the enemy. The DF bearings in the morning had not been very definite. At 1100/25, HMS Renown (Force H), was in position 41°30'N, 17°10'W was ordered to act on the assumption the enemy was making for Brest, France. She shaped course accordingly and prepared a comprehensive sheme of air search. At 1108/25, HMS Rodney, was told to act on the assumption that the enemy was making for the Bay of Biscay. At 1244/25 the Flag Officer Submarines ordered six submarines to take up intercepting positions about 120 nautical miles west of Brest. The submarines involved were HMS Sealion (Cdr. B. Bryant, DSC, RN), HMS Seawolf (Lt. P.L. Field, RN), HMS Sturgeon (Lt.Cdr. D. St. Clair-Ford, RN) from the 5th Submarine Flottilla at Portsmouth, HMS Pandora (Lt.Cdr. J.W. Linton, DSC, RN), which was on passage to the U.K. from the Mediterranean to refit, HMS Tigris (Lt.Cdr. H.F. Bone, DSO, DSC, RN), from the 3rd Submarine Flottilla at Holy Loch and HMS H 44 (Lt. W.N.R. Knox, DSC, RN), a training boat from the 7th Submarine Flotilla at Rothesay which happened to be at Holyhead. Seawolf, Sturgeon and Tigris were already on patrol in the Bay of Biscay, Sealion departed Portsmouth on the 25th as did H 44 but she sailed from Holyhead. Pandora was on passage to the U.K. to refit and was diverted.

At 1320/25 a good DF fix located an enemy unit within a 50 mile radius from position 55°15'N, 32°00'W. This was sent by the Admiralty to the Commander-in-Chief at 1419/25 and it was received at 1530/25. It was only in the evening that it was finally clear to all involved that Bismarck was indeed making for a French port. Air searches had failed to find her during the day. (22)

18 May 1941

Chase and sinking of the German battleship Bismarck,
18 to 27 May 1941.

Part II.

26 May 1941.

By now the question of fuel was becoming acute. For four days ships had been steaming at high speeds and the Commander-in-Chief was faced with the reality of fuel limits. HMS Repulse had already left for Newfoundland, HMS Prince of Wales had by now been sent to Iceland to refuel. HMS Victorious and HMS Suffolk had been forced to reduce speed to economise their fuel.

Coastal Command started air searches along the route towards the Bay of Biscay by long range Catalina flying boats. Lack of fuel was effecting the destroyer screens of the capital ships. There was no screen available for HMS Victorious. The 4th Destroyer Flotilla, escorting troop convoy WS 8B, was ordered at 0159/26 to join the Commander-in-Chief in HMS King George V and HMS Rodney as was HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN) which sailed from Londonderry. Leaving the convoy the 4th D.F. proceeded to the north-east. Force H in the meantime was also approaching the immediate area of operations. These forces were to play an important part in the final stages of the chase of the Bismarck.

Force H, 26 May 1941.

HMS Renown, HMS Ark Royal and HMS Sheffield were having a rough passage north in heavy seas, high wind, rain and mist. Their escorting destroyers had already turned back towards Gibraltar at 0900/25. At dawn on the 26th there was half a gale blowing from the north-west. At 0716/26 HMS Ark Royal launched a security patrol in position 48°26'N, 19°13'W to search to the north and to the west just in case the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau had departed Brest to come to the aid of the Bismarck. At 0835/26 there followed an A/S patrol of ten Swordfish. All planes had returned by 0930. None had seen anything.

Bismarck sighted at 1030/26.

It was at 1030/26 that one of the long range Catalina's of the Coastal Command sighted the Bismarck in position 49°30'N, 21°55'W. It was received in HMS King George V at 1043 hours and in HMS Renown in 1038 hours. It placed the enemy well to the westward of the Renown. It was confirmed within the hour when two Swordfish from the Ark Royal which reported the Bismarck in position 49°19'N, 20°52'W some 25 miles east of the position given by the Catalina. The Commander-in-Chief was at that moment about 130 miles to the north of the Bismarck but it was soon clear that the Bismarck had too great a lead to permit her being overtaken unless her speed could be reduced. Nor was the question one merely of distance and speed. The Bismarck was approaching a friendly coast and could run her fuel tanks nearly dry and was sure of air protection, while the British ships would have a long journey back to base in the face of air and submarine attack. HMS Renown was ahead of the Bismarck but it was important that she did not engage the Bismarck unless the latter was already heavily engaged by the better armoured HMS King George V and HMS Rodney.

When the Catalina found the Bismarck at 1030 hours, the 4th Destroyer Flotilla was steering east to join the Commander-in-Chief. They seem to have crossed astern of the enemy's track about 0800/26. The Catalina's report reached Capt. Vian in HMS Cossack at 1054/26 and 'knowing that the Commander-in-Chief would order him to intercept the enemy' Capt. Vian altered course to the south-east.

First attack by aircraft from the Ark Royal.

At 1315/26 HMS Sheffield was detached to the southward with orders to close and shadow the enemy, who was estimated to be 40 nautical miles south-west of the Renown. The visual signal ordering this movement was not repeated to HMS Ark Royal, an omission which had serious consequenses for the aircraft that were to take off did not know that HMS Sheffield had parted company.

At 1450/26 HMS Ark Royal launched a striking force of 14 Swordfish aircraft with the orders to proceed to the south and attack the Bismarck with torpedoes. Weather and cloud conditions were bad and a radar contact was obtained on a ship some 20 nautical miles from the estimated position of the enemy that had been given to the leader shortly before takeoff. At 1550 hours they broke through the clouds and fired 11 torpedoes. Unfortunately the supposed enemy was HMS Sheffield which managed to avoid all torpedoes. The Bismarck at that time was some 15 nautical miles to the southward. The striking force then returned an all aircraft had landed on by 1720/26.

At 1740/26, HMS Sheffield, sighted the Bismarck in position 48°30'N, 17°20'W and took station about 10 nautical miles astern and commenced shadowing the enemy.

Ark Royal's second attack, 2047/26.

The first striking force on its way back sighted the 4th Destroyer Flotilla 20 nautical miles west of Force H. As soon as the aircraft from the first strike had landed they were refuelled and rearmed as fast as possible. Take off started at 1910/26, a total of 15 Swordfish were launched. Reports coming in from HMS Sheffield placed the Bismarck at 167°, 38 nautical miles from the Ark Royal. The striking force was ordered to contact HMS Sheffield who was told to use DF to guide them in.

At 1955/26 HMS Sheffield was sighted but soon lost in the bad weather conditions. She was found again at 2035 hours, she guided the Swordfish in and directed them by visual signal on the enemy bearing 110°, 12 nautical miles. The force took departure for the target in subflights in line astern at 2040/26.

At 2047/26 no.1 subflight of three Swordfish dived through the clouds and sighted the Bismarck 4 nautical miles off to the south-east. One Swordfish of no.3 subflight was with them. Approaching again just inside the cloud they made their final dive at 2053/26 on the port beam under a very intense and accurate fire from the enemy. They dropped four torpedoes of which one was seen to hit. No.2 subflight, made up of two Swordfish, lost touch with no.1 subflight in the clouds, climed to 9000 feet, then dived on a bearing obtained by radar and then attacked from the starboard beam, again under heavy and intense fire. They dropped two torpedoes for one possible hit. The third plane of this subflight had lost touch with the other two and had returned to HMS Sheffield to obtained another range and bearing to the enemy. It then flew ahead of the enemy and carried out a determined attack from his port bow under heavy fire and obtained a torpedo hit on the port side amidships.

Subflight no.4 followed subflight no.3 into the clouds but got iced up at 6600 feet. It then dived through the clouds and was joined by no.2 aircraft from subflight no.3. The Bismarck was then sighted engaging subflight no.2 to starboard. The four aircraft then went into the clouds and cicled the German battleships stern and then dived out of the clouds again and attack simultaneously from the port side firing four torpedoes. All however missed the Bismarck. They came under a very heavy and fierce fire from the enemy and one of the aircraft was heavily damaged, the pilot and air gunner being wounded.

The two aircraft of subflight no.5 lost contact with the other subflights and then with each other in the cloud. They climbed to 7000 feet where ice began to form. When coming out of the cloud at 1000 feet aircraft 4K sighted the Bismarck down wind, she then went back into the cloud under fire from the enemy. She saw a torpedo hit on the enemy's starboard side, reached a position on the starboard bow, withdrew to 5 miles, then came in just above the sea and just outside 1000 yards fired a torpedo which did not hit. The second plane of this flight lost his leader diving through the cloud, found himself on the starboard quarter and after two attempts to attack under heavy fire was forced to jettison his torpedo.

Of the two Swordfish of subflight no.6 one attacked the Bismarck on the starboard beam and dropped his torpedo at 2000 yards without success. The second plane lost the enemy, returned to the Sheffield for a new range and bearing and after searching at sea level attacked on the starboard beam but was driven off by intense fire. The attack was over by 2125/26. Thirteen torpedoes had been fired and it was thought two hits and one probable hit had been obtained. Two torpedoes were jettisoned. The severe nature and full effect of the damage done was at first not fully realised. Actually the Bismarck had received a deadly blow. The last of the shadowing aircraft to return had seen her make two complete circles. One torpedo had struck her on the port side amidships doing little damage but th other torpedo that hit was on the starboard quarter damaging her propellors, wrecking her steering gear and jambing her rudders, it was this torpedo hit that sealed her fate.

HMS Sheffield was still shadowing astern when at 2140/26 the Bismarck turned to port and fired six accurate salvoes of 15". None actually hit Sheffield but a near miss killed three men and seriously injured two. HMS Sheffield turned away and while doing so she sighted HMS Cossack and the other destroyers from the 4th DF approaching from the westward. She then gave them the approximate position of the Bismarck. At 2155/26, HMS Sheffield lost touch with the Bismarck. The destroyers continued to shadow and eventually attack. Meanwhile HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal shaped course for the southward to keep the road clear for the Commander-in-Chief in HMS King George V and for HMS Rodney. Also in the Ark Royal aircraft were being got ready for an attack on the Bismarck at dawn.

Bismarck, 26 May 1941.

The Bismarck could no longer steer after the torpedo hit aft. The steering motor room was flooded up to the main deck and the rudders were jambed. Divers went down to the steering room and managed to centre one rudder but the other remained immovable. She was by this time urgently in need of fuel. It was hoped by the Germans that while she was nearing the French coast strong forces of aircraft and submarines would come to her assistance.

At 2242/26, Bismarck sighted the British destroyers. A heavy fire was opened on them. Their appearence greatly complicated the situation. Before their arrival however, Admiral Lütjens seems to have made up his mind as one hour earlier he had signalled to Berlin 'ship out of control. We shall fight to the last shell. Long live the Führer.'

The fourth Destroyer Flotilla makes contact, 26 May 1941.

Just as the sun was setting, Captain Vian (D.4) in HMS Cossack with HMS Maori, HMS Sikh, HMS Zulu and the Polish destroyer ORP Piorun arrived on the scene.

Shortly after 1900/26 HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal were sighted to the northward. Ark Royal was just about to fly off the second striking force. The destroyers continued on the the south-east. At 2152/26 HMS Sheffield was sighted and from her Captain Vian obtained the approximate position of the enemy.

The destroyers were spread 2.5 nautical miles apart on a line bearing 250° - 070° in the order from north-east to south-west, Piorun, Maori, Cossack, Sikh, Zulu. During the latter stages of the approach speed was reduced and the flotilla manoeuvred so as to avoid making a high speed end-on contact.

At 2238/26, ORP Piorun on the port wing reported the Bismarck 9 nautical miles distant, bearing 145° and steering to the south-eastward.

Destroyers shadowing, late on 26 May 1941.

At the time the Piorun reported being in contact with the Bismarck the destroyers were steering 120°. All were at once ordered to take up shadowing positions. Four minutes later the Bismarck opened a heavy fire with her main and secondary armaments on the Piorun and Maori. Two attempts were made by these ships to work round to the northward of the enemy but they were silhouetted against the north-western horizon making them easy to spot. The Bismarck's fire was unpleasantly accurate, through neither destroyer was actually hit. The Commanding Officer of the Maori then decided to work round to the southward and altered course accordingly.

The Piorun closed the range and herself opened fire from 13500 yards but after firing three salvoes, she was straddled by a salvo which fell about 20 yards from the ships side. She then ceased fire and turned away to port while making smoke. During this engagement she lost touch with the other destroyers and later also with the Bismarck. She remained under fire for about one hour but was not hit. She worked round to the north-east of the Bismarck but eventually lost touch with her prey at 2355/26.

The other destroyers, meanwhile, had been working round to the southward of the enemy to take up shadowing positions to the eastward of him. Soon after the initial contact it was evident the the Bismarck's speed had been so seriously reduced that interception by the battlefleet was certain, provided that contact could be held. In these circumstances Captain Vian defined his object at firstly, to deliver the enemy to the Commander-in-Chief at the time he desired, and secondly, to sink or immoblise her with torpedoes during the night but not with to great a risk for the destroyers. Accordingly at 2248/26 as signal was made to all ordering them to shadow and this operation was carried out through the night, though torpedo attacks were carried out later under the cover of darkness.

As darkness came on, the weather deteriorated and heavy rain squalls became frequent. Visibility varied between 2.5 nautical miles and half a mile but the Bismarck, presumably using radar, frequently opened up accurate fire outside these ranges.

About half an hour after sunset, the destroyers were ordered at 2324/26 to take up stations prepartory to carrying out a synchronised torpedo attack. This was subsequently cancelled on account of the adverse weather conditions and they were ordered to attack independently as opportunity offered. At about 2300 hours the Bismarck altered course to the north-westward.

At this time HMS Zulu was in touch with her and kept her under observation from the southward. At 2342 hours the Bismarck opened fire on HMS Cossack, then about 4 miles to the south-south-west and shot away her aerials. The Cossack turned away under the cover of smoke, shortly afterwards resuming her course to the eastward.

A few minutes later, at 2350 hours, HMS Zulu came under heavy fire from the Bismarck's 15" guns. The first three salvoes straddled wounding an officer and two ratings. Drastic avoiding action was taken as a result of which Zulu lost touch. HMS Sikh, however, who had lost sight of the enemy half an hour previously, had observed her firing at HMS Cossack and now succeeded in shadowing from astern until 0020/27 when the enemy made a large alteration to port and commenced firing at her. HMS Sikh altered course to port, intending to fire torpedoes, but the view of the Torpedo Control Officer was obscured by shell splashes and Sikh then withdrew to the southward.

Destroyer night torpedo attacks, 26/27 May 1941.

HMS Zulu, after her escape at 2345/26, had steered to the northward and at 0030/27 fell in with HMS Cossack. Shortly afterwards she sighted ORP Piorun. On receipt of a signal from Captain Vian, timed 0040/27, to take any opporunity to fire torpedoes, HMS Zulu altered course to the westward,and at 0100/27 sighted the Bismarck steering 340°.

Positions of the destroyers was now as follows; to the north-eastward of the enemy, HMS Cossack was working round to the north and west. HMS Maori, since losing touch, had been making to the westward. She was now to the south-west of the Bismarck. HMS Sikh was some distance to the southward, not having received any information regarding the position of the Bismarck since 0025/27. HMS Zulu was astern of the enemy and in contact. Range was only 5000 yards. Bismarck finally spotted Zulu and at once opened fire with her main and secondary armament and straddled Zulu. She fired four torpedoes at 0121/27 but no hits were observed and they are believed to have missed ahead. Zulu then ran out to the northward in order to be clear of the other destroyers. Shortly afterwards they widnessed a successful attack by HMS Maori.

HMS Maori had seen the Bismarck opening fire on the Zulu at 0107/27. Maori then closed to 4000 yards on Bismarck's port quarter apparently undetected. When abeam of the enemy, who then appeared to be altering course to starboard Maori fired a star shell to see what he was about. Two minutes later, at 0137/27, two torpedoes were fired and course was altered towards the Bismarck with the intention of attacking again from her starboard bow once the enemy had steadied on her new course. Whilst Maori was turning a torpedo hit was observed on the enemy. A bright glow illuminated the waterline of the enemy battleship from stem to stern. Shortly afterwards there appeared between the bridge and the stem a glare that might have been a second hit. The enemy immediately opened up a very heavy fire with both main and secondairy armaments and quick firing guns. As the Maori was being straddled, she turned away, and increased to full speed. Shots continued to fall on both sides of the ship until the range had been opened up to 10000 yards. Maori was not actually hit. Meanwhile HMS Cossack had been creeping up from the north-eastward and at 0140/27, only three minutes after Maori had fired two torpedoes, Cossack launched three torpedoes from 6000 yards. Bismarck stood out plainly, silhoutted by the broadsides she was firing at the Maori. One torpedo was seen to hit. Flames blazed on the forecastle of the Bismarck after this hit but they were quickly extinguished. Probably as a consequence of the torpedo hits the Bismarck stopped dead in the water, this was reported by HMS Zulu at 0148/27. After about one hour the Bismarck got underway again. On receipt of this report, HMS Sikh, who was closing the scene of the action from the southward, made an attack. Four torpedoes were fired at 0218/27 at the stopped battleship. It is believed that one hit was obtained. After this attack Sikh remained in radar contact with the enemy until 0359/27 when contact was lost.

Around 0240/27 the Bismarck was underway again, proceeding very slowly to the north-westward. At 0335/27, HMS Cossack made another attack firing her last remaining torpedo from a range of 4000 yards. It missed. HMS Cossack then came under a heavy fire. She withdrew to the northward under the cover of smoke, altering to a westerly course shortly afterwards.

At 0400/27 all destroyers had lost touch with the enemy. HMS Cossack was then to the north-west and HMS Sikh, HMS Zulu and HMS Maori were between the south-west and south-east of the Bismarck. All destroyers now endeavoured to regain contact.

Touch with the enemy was not regained until shortly before 0600 hours. By that time ORP Piorun, which was running short of fuel, had been ordered to proceed to Plymouth.

Destroyers shadowing, morning twilight, 27 May 1941, final attack.

Touch was regained by HMS Maori at 0550/27 when she sighted the Bismarck zigzagging slowly on a base course of 340° at about 7 knots. Maori commenced shadowing until daylight. At 0625 hours, HMS Sikh was also in contact when the Bismarck emerged from a rain squal 7000 yards on her starboard bow. By then it was nearly full daylight but to the surprise of the crew of the Sikh she got away with it without being fired at.

Shortly before sunrise a final torpedo attack was carried out by HMS Maori, which fired two torpedoes at 0656/27 from 9000 yards. Both missed. The Bismarck opened fire and straddled Maori which escaped at 28 knots.

At daylight the destroyers were stationed in four sectors from which they were able to keep the enemy under continuous observation until the arrival of the Battle Fleet at 0845 hours.

Force H, 26/27 May 1941.

While the destroyers were shadowing the Bismarck, the pursuing forces were drawing steadily closer. To the north was the Commander-in-Chief with the King George V and the Rodney with the Norfolk closing on them. In the south HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN) was coming up, while Force H was waiting for the dawn. When Captain Vian's destroyers got in touch at 2251/26 the Renown and Ark Royal were north-west of the enemy. It was not possible to attack with aircraft during the night but all preparations were made to attack at dawn with 12 Swordfish. Course was shaped to the northward and then to the west for a time and at 0115/27 Force H turned south. Shortly afterwards instructions were received from the Commander-in-Chief to keep not less then 20 miles to the southward of the Bismarck so as to leave a clear approach for the Battle Fleet. Force H accordingly continued to the southward during the night. Bursts of starshell and gunfire could be seen during the night while the destroyers attacked. At 0509/27 an aircraft was flown off from HMS Ark Royal to act as a spotter for HMS King George V but it failed to find the Bismarck in the bad weather. The striking of force of 12 Swordfish was ready but due to the bad weather to strike was cancelled.

At 0810/27, HMS Maori was sighted. She reported the Bismarck 11 miles to the north of her. The made the enemy 17 miles to the north of HMS Renown so course was shaped to the south-west. At 0915/27 heavy gunfire could be heard and the striking force was flown off. They found the Bismarck at 1016/27. By then the battle was almost over, her guns were silenced and she was on fire. They saw her sink. At 1115/27 they had all landed back on HMS Ark Royal. A German Heinkel aircraft dropped a couple of bombs near HMS Ark Royal when they were landing on.

HMS Norfolk, 26/27 May 1941.

When the Catalina report (1030/26) came in, HMS Norfolk altered course to the south-west and increased speed to 27 knots. At 2130/26 the Bismarck was still some 160 nautical miles to the southward and speed was increased to 30 knots. At 2228/26 the report on the torpedo hit by the aircraft from Ark Royal came in and the Norfolk turned to the southward, continuing to close the enemy. At 0753/27 Norfolk sighted the Bismarck. She did not open fire and was lost to sight after ten minutes. At 0821/27, HMS King George V, was sighted to the westward, 12 nautical miles away. The position of the enemy was passed to the Commander-in-Chief. The action opened at 0847/27 at which time HMS Norfolk was then some 10 nautical miles from the Commander-in-Chief and due north of the Bismarck. HMS Norfolk had seen the beginning and was now to see the end.

HMS Dorsetshire, 26/27 May 1941.

On 26 May 1941, HMS Dorsetshire, was with convoy SL 74 proceeding from Freetown to the U.K. When she received the sighting report from the Catalina at 1056/26 she was some 360 nautical miles to the south of the Bismarck. She then left the protection of the convoy to the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Bulolo (Capt.(Retd.) R.L. Hamer, RN) and set course for the northward to take up the possible task of shadowing. By 2343/26 it became clear from reports that the Bismarck was making no ground to the eastward and that at 0230/27 she appeared to be laying stopped. Due to the heavy seas HMS Dorsetshire was forced to reduce speed to 25 knots and later even to 20 knots. At 0833/27 a destroyer was sighted ahead at a range of 8 nautical miles, it was HMS Cossack which reported the enemy at a range of 6 nautical miles. At 0850/27 the flashes of the Bismarck's guns could be seen to the westward. HMS Dorsetshire arrived at the scene of the action in the nick of time.

HMS King George V and HMS Rodney, 26/27 May 1941.

During 26 May 1941 the Commander-in-Chief in HMS King George V had been making hard to the south-east at 25 knots. He had been joined by HMS Rodney at 1806/26. They were then some 90 nautical miles north of the Bismarck. Fuel was a matter of grave anxiety. At noon on the 26th, HMS King George V, had only 32% remaining and HMS Rodney reported that she had to return at 0800/27. Speed had to be reduced on this account to 22 knots at 1705/26. In these circumstances it was no longer possible to hope to intercept the enemy, and the Commander-in-Chief decided that unless the enemy's speed had been reduced by 2400/26, he must turn at that hour. The only hope lay in the Bismarck being slowed up by the Swordfish attacking from HMS Ark Royal. A report came in that the striking force had left. Then at 2132/26, HMS Sheffield, reported that the enemy was steering 340° followed by 000° four minutes later. These reports indicated that the Bismarck was not able to hold her course and that her steering gear must have been damaged. It might still be possible to intercept her.

The Commander-in-Chief turned to the south at once hoping to make contact from the eastward in the failing light. Due to the bad weather conditions and visibility the Commander-in-Chief decided to haul off the the eastward and northward and then work round to engage from the westward at dawn. He turned eastward at 2306/26. During the night reports from Captain Vian's destroyers came in confirming the northerly course of the Bismarck. At 0236/27 the Commander-in-Chief ordered Captain Vian that the destroyers were to fire star-shell every half hour, but frequent rain squalls prevented these from being seen and they tended to attrack the enemy's fire. The Bismarck was still a formidable opponent for at 0353/27 Captain Vian reported that during the last hour she had done 8 nautical miles and that she was still capable of heavy and accurate fire. The Commander-in-Chief decided not to make a dawn approach but to wait until daylight while approaching from the west taking advantage of wind, sea and light. At 0529/27 HMS Rodney reported sighting HMS Norfolk to the eastward by DF. It was light at 0600 hours. At 0820 hours HMS Norfolk was sighted on the port bow of HMS King George V. She signalled 'enemy 130°, 16 nautical miles'. At 0843/27 looming on the starboard bow there emerges out of a rain squall the dark grey blot of a large ship. 'Enemy in sight'.

Bismarck 26/27 May 1941.

The Bismarck after altering course to the north-west had been labouring along with a jambed rudder, steering an erratic course at 8 knots. During the night the attacking destroyers were met with heavy and accurate salvoes. Sixteen torpedoes were fired at her. Early in the morning a glare of star-shell burst over her, lighting her up. Three torpedoes followed from a destroyer on the port bow (HMS Maori) of which one hit on the port side amidships. Three minutes later three more came from the starboard side (these were fired by HMS Cossack) of which one hit on the starboard bow. The damage that was sustained from these torpedo hits is not known. The Bismarck lay stopped for over one hour. At 0140/27 a message was received that a large number of Junkers bombers were coming to her aid as were U-boats but the Bismarck was beyond their help besides that the aircraft did not find her. One U-boat (U-556, which was out of torpedoes) on its way back from the Atlantic joined her and was within sight during the night. Another (U-74) arrived at 0600/27 but had been damaged in a depth charge attack and could do nothing as well. In the Bismarck the crew was exhausted and men were falling asleep at their posts. It was under these conditions that at 0840/27 two British battleships were seen to approach from the westward.

Situation before the action, 27 May 1941.

A north-westerly gale was blowing when dawn broke with a good light and clear horizon to the north-eastward. Reports received during the night indicated that, despite reduced speed and damaged rudders, Bismarck's armament was functioning effectively. Given the weather conditions the Commander-in-Chief decided to approach on a west-north-westerly bearing and, if the enemy continued his northerly course, to deploy to the southward on opposite course at a range of about 15000 yards. Further action was to be dictated by events.

Between 0600 and 0700 hours a series of enemy reports from HMS Maori which was herself located by DF bearings. This enabled HMS King George V to plot her position relatively to the Bismarck which had apparently settled down on a course of 330° at 10 knots. At 0708/27, HMS Rodney, was ordered to keep station 010° from the flagship. HMS Norfolk came in sight to the eastward at 0820/27 and provided a visual link between the Commander-in-Chief and the enemy. After the line of approach had been adjusted by two alterations of course, the Bismarck was sighted at 0843/27 bearing 118°, range about 25000 yards. Both British battleships was then steering 110° almost directly towards the enemy in line abreast formation, 8 cables apart.

Commencement of action 0847/27.

HMS Rodney opened fire at 0847/27, her first salvo sending a column of water 150 feet into the air. HMS King George V opened fire one minute later. Bismarck opened fire at 0850 hours after turning to open up A arcs. The first German salvo was short. The third and fourth salvoes straddled and nearly hit, but the Rodney manoeuvered succesfully to avoid them and the nearest fell 20 yards short. At 0854/27, HMS Norfolk joined in, but the target was not clearly visible and she opened fire without obtaining a range.

Observers state that the German gunnery was accurate at first, but commenced to deteriorate after 8 to 10 salvoes. The first hit on the Bismarck was believed to be scored by the Rodney at 0854 hours with her third salvo. Both British battleships made small alterations of course away from the enemy shortly after opening fire, the King George V to increase her distance from the Rodney and the latter to open her A arcs. From then onwards they manoeuvered independently although HMS Rodney conformed to the Flagship's general movements. The Bismarck's secondary armament came into action during this phase. HMS Rodney opened fire with her secondary armament at 0858 hours.

Run to the southward.

HMS King George V deployed to the southward at 0859/27 when the Bismarck was 16000 yards distant. HMS Rodney, 2.5 nautical miles to the northward, followed suit a minute or two later. Cordite smoke was hanging badly with the following wind and spotting was most difficult. Considerable smoke interference was therefore experienced on the southerly course which was partly overcome by radar. The Bismarck had transferred her fire to the King George V shortly after the turn but except for an occasional splash the latter hardly knew that she was under fire. At 0902/27, HMS Rodney saw a 16” shell hit the Bismarck on the upper deck forward, apparently putting the forward turrets out of action. At 0904 hours, HMS Dorsetshire joined in the firing from the eastwards from a range of 20000 yards but observation of the target was difficult and she had to check fire from 0913 to 0920 hours. Between 0910 and 0915 hours the range in King George V was more or less steady at 12000 yards.

The fate of the Bismarck was decided during this phase of the action although she did not sink until later. Around 0912 hours, the Bismarck was hit on her forward control position. During the run to the south HMS Rodney fired six torpedoes from 11000 yards and HMS Norfolk four from 16000 yards. No hits were obtained. The King George V’s secondary battery came into action at 0905 hours but this increased the smoke interference and was accordingly ordered to cease fire after two or three minutes.

Run to the northward.

At 0916/27 the Bismarck’s bearing was drawing rapidly aft and HMS Rodney turned 16 points to close and head her off. The King George V followed a minute or so later and both ships re-opened fire at ranges from 8600 and 12000 yards respectively. The Bismarck shifted her target to the Rodney about this time. A near miss damaged the sluice of her starboard torpedo tube. Most of the enemy’s guns had however been silenced at this time. Only one turret from her main armament was firing at this time as was part of her secondary armament. A fire was blazing amidships and she had a heavy list to port. During the run to the north HMS Rodney obtained a very favourable position on the Bismarck’s bow from which she poured in a heavy fire from close range. She also fired two torpedoes from 7500 yards but no hits were obtained.

HMS King George V’s position, further to leeward, was less favourable. Her view was obscured by smoke and splashes surrounding the target and her radar had temporarily broken down. Mechanical failures in the 14” turrets constituted, however, a more serious handicap at this stage. ‘A’, ‘X’ and ‘Y’ turrets were out of action for 30, 7 and a unspecified short period, respectively. This resulted in reduction of firepower of 80% for 7 minutes and 40% for 23 minutes which might have had serious effects under less favourable conditions. There were also several defects of individual guns in addition to those effecting the turrets.

At 0925/27, HMS King George V, altered outwards to 150° and reduced speed to avoid getting too far ahead of the Bismarck. She closed in again at 1005 hours, fired several salvoes from a range of only 3000 yards and then resumed her northerly course. Meanwhile HMS Rodney was zigzagging across the Bismarck’s line of advance at a range of about 4000 yards firing her main and secondary armaments. She also fired four torpedoes, one of which is thought to have hit. By 1015 hours the Bismarck was no more than a wreck. All her guns were silenced, her mast had been blown away, she was a black ruin, pouring high into the air a great cloud of smoke and flame. Men were seen jumping overboard at this time and the Captain of the King George V later remarked had he known it he would have ceased fire.

End of the action.

The Commander-in-Chief was confident that the enemy could never get back to harbour, and as both battleships were running short of fuel and as further gunfire was unlikely to hasten the Bismarck’s end, the Commander-in-Chief signalled the King George V and Rodney to steer 027° at 1015/27 in order to break off the action and return to base. At 1036/27 the Commander-in-Chief ordered HMS Dorsetshire to use her torpedoes, if she had any, on the enemy. In the meantime HMS Norfolk had been closing the target but due to the movements of the King George V and Rodney, had not fired her torpedoes until 1010 hours when she fired four torpedoes from 4000 yards and two possible hits were reported. The Dorsetshire was then approaching a mile or so to the southward, and anticipating the Commander-in-Chief’s signal at 1025 hours fired two torpedoes from 3600 yards into the enemy’s starboard side. She then steamed round the Bismarck’s bow and at 1036 hours fired another torpedo but now into her port side from 2600 yards. This was the final blow, the Bismarck heeled over quickly to port and commenced to sink by the stern. The hull turned over keel up and disappeared beneath the waves at 1040/27.

The Dorsetshire then closed and signalled to one of HMS Ark Royal’s aircraft to carry out a close A/S patrol while she was to pick up survivors assisted by HMS Maori. After 110 men had been picked up by both ships from the water both ships got underway again as a submarine was suspected to be in the area.

Damage to the Bismarck.

Survivors have told the story of terrible damage inflicted on her. The fore turrets seem to have been knocked out at 0902 hours. The fore control position was knocked out around 0912 hours. The after control position followed about 0915 hours. The after turrets were at that moment still in action. Then the aftermost gun turret was disabled by a direct hit on the left gun which burst sending a flash right through the turret. ‘C’ turret was the last one in action.

One survivor stated that around 0930 hours a shell penetrated the turbine room and another one entered a boiler room. A hit in the after dressing station killed all the medical staff and wounded that were in there at that moment. The upper deck was crowded with killed and wounded men and the seas surging in washed them overboard. Conditions below were even more terrible. Hatches and doors were jammed by concussion and blocked with wreckage. The air was thick with smoke and even more smoke was coming in from great holes in the upper deck. By 1000 hours all heavy guns were out of action and 10 minutes later the all secondary guns were also silent.

Commander-in-Chief returns.

As HMS King George V and HMS Rodney turned northwards they were joined by HMS Cossack, HMS Sikh and HMS Zulu at by 1600/28 more detroyers had joined the screen (HMS Maori, HMS Jupiter, HMS Somali, HMS Eskimo, HMS Punjabi, HMAS Nestor, HMS Inglefield, HMS Lance, HMS Vanquisher (Cdr. N.V. Dickinson, DSC, RN), HMCS St. Clair (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Wallace, RCNR), HMCS Columbia (Lt.Cdr. (Retd.) S.W. Davis, RN) and HMS Ripley (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Agnew, RN). Heavy air attacks were expected that day, but only four enemy aircraft appeared, one of which bombed the screen while another one jettisoned her bombs on being attacked by a Blenheim fighter. The destroyers HMS Mashona and HMS Tartar, 100 nautical miles to the southward, were not so furtunate. They were attacked in position 52°58’N, 11°36’W at 0955/28 by German aircraft. HMS Mashona was hit and sank at noon with the loss of 1 officer and 45 men. The Commander-in-Chief reached Loch Ewe at 1230/29. Vice-Admiral Somerville with Force H was on his way back to Gibraltar. HMS Renown, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Sheffield made rendezvous at 0800/29 with the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN) and HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN). At 1605/29, HMS Forester and HMS Fury were detached to hunt a submarine further to the west. Force H, minus the two destroyers that had been detached, arrived at Gibraltar around 2030/29.

End of ‘Operation Rheinübung’.

The Bismarck’s consort, heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, was not heard off until 4 June 1941 when aircraft reported her having arrived at Brest. After leaving the Bismarck at 1914/24, the Prinz Eugen’s primary need was to replenish her fuel stock. She set course for a rendez-vous with two tankers, the Spichern (9323 GRT, built 1935, former Norwegian Krossfonn) and the Esso Hamburg (9849 GRT, built 1939) which were position to the north-west of the Azores. All next day the German cruiser made her way southwards, and at 0906/26 , some 600 nautical miles west-north-west of the Azores she sighted the Spichern and refuelled. Two reconnaissance ships had also been ordered into this area, the Gonzenheim and the Kota Pinang. On the 28th Prinz Eugen fuelled from the Esso Hamburg. She then proceeded southwards to carry out cruiser warfare against independently routed ships in the area to the north and west of the Cape Verde Islands but an inspection of her engines the next day showed that an extensive overhaul was needed. Her Commanding Officer then decided to break off the action and course was set for Brest, France where she arrived at 2030/1 June.

A German reconnaissance ship, a supply vessel and two tankers were intercepted by Royal Navy warships and sunk by their own crew or sunk with gunfire. Also two tankers were captured. These were in chronological order; tanker Belchen (6367 GRT, built 1932, former Norwegian Sysla) by gunfire from HMS Kenya and HMS Aurora on 3 June 1941 in the Greenland area in approximate position 59°00'N, 47°00'W.
On 4 June the tanker Esso Hamburg by HMS London and HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN) in position 07°35'N, 31°25'W,
tanker Gedania (8966 GRT, built 1920) was captured in the North Atlantic in position 43°38'N, 28°15'W by naval auxiliary (Ocean Boarding Vessel) HMS Marsdale (Lt.Cdr. D.H.F. Armstrong, RNR), she was put into service with the MOWT as Empire Garden, reconnaissance vessel Gonzenheim (4000 GRT, built 1937, former Norwegian Kongsfjord) was scuttled by her own crew after being sighted by HMS Esperance Bay ((Capt.(ret) G.S. Holden, RN) and intercepted by HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN) and finally ordered to be boarded by HMS Neptune in position 43°29'N, 24°04'W. The next day (5 June) supply vessel Egerland (10040 GRT, built 1940) was intercepted by HMS London and HMS Brilliant in approximate position 07°00'N, 31°00'W. On 12 June, HMS Sheffield, intercepted tanker Friedrich Breme (10397 GRT, built 1936) in position 49°48'N, 22°20'W and finally on 15 June, HMS Dunedin (Capt. R.S. Lovatt, RN), captured the tanker Lothringen (10746 GRT, built 1940, former Dutch Papendrecht) in position 19°49'N, 38°30'W which had first been sighted by an aircraft from HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN). The Lothringen was sent to Bermuda and was put into service by the MOWT as Empire Salvage. (22)

21 May 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN) conducted D/G trials at Scapa Flow. These were followed by AA gunnery exercises. (20)

22 May 1941
Around 2300B/22, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, RN), light cruisers HMS Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral K.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN), HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN), HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN), HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, RAN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN) and HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. J.M.G. Waldegrave, DSC, RN) departed Scapa Flow for operations in the North Atlantic.

HMS Lance however quickly returned to Scapa Flow with defects.

[for more information on these operations see the event ' Chase and sinking of the German battleship Bismarck, 18 to 27 May 1941, Parts I and II ' for 18 May 1941.] (23)

29 May 1941
Around 1230 hours, HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, DSO, RN), HMS Eskimo (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN), HMS Somali (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, RAN) and HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) arrived at Loch Ewe.

30 May 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, DSO, RN), HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.P. Thew, RN), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, RAN) and HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) departed Loch Ewe for Scapa Flow around 0600 hours. They arrived at Scapa Flow around 1300 hours.

The destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Eskimo (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN) had sailed with them but parted company soon after departure to proceed to Scapa Flow ahead of the other ships. (24)

10 Jun 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (25)

12 Jun 1941
Around 0120B/12, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral K.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Eskimo (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) and HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, RAN) departed Scapa Flow to proceed to position 64°00'N, 28°30'W so as to provided distant cover for ships of the Northern Patrol.

They returned to Scapa Flow around 1320B/14 after having been recalled. (26)

24 Jun 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN) conducted aircraft launching and recovering exercises and a bombardment exercise at Scapa Flow. (25)

16 Jul 1941
In the evening HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN) conducted pitometer log trials at Scapa Flow. (25)

17 Jul 1941
Upon completion of last evenings petometer log trials, HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN), conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. She then returned to the anchorage.

Later gunnery exercises were carried out in the Pentland Firth during which she was, most likely, escorted by the destroyers HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) and HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. C.H.deB. Newby, RN). (25)

24 Jul 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN) conducted exercises at Scapa Flow. Also D/G trials were carried out. (27)

5 Aug 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Scapa Flow escorted by the destroyers HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN) and HMS Castleton (Cdr. (Retd.) F.H.E. Skyrme, RN).

Later range and inclination exercises were carried out with HMS Berwick (Capt. G.H. Faulkner, DSC, RN). (28)

20 Aug 1941
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow on completion of which she departed Scapa Flow around 2100A/20 for Rosyth escorted by the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) and HMS Lightning (Cdr. R.G. Stewart, RN).

HMS Inglefield and HMS Lightning were detached around 0700A/21 to return to Scapa Flow.

HMS King George V and HMS Punjabi continued on to the Rosyth Dockyard.

On arrival at Rosyth HMS King George V was immediately docked in No.1 Dock. (28)

4 Sep 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN) is undocked. (29)

5 Sep 1941
Around 0800A/5 the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN) departed Rosyth for Scapa Flow. She passed Oscar Gate an hour later. Around 1140A/5 was joined by her escort, the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN), HMS Vivacious (Lt.Cdr. R. Alexander, RN) and the escort destroyer Verdun (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Donald, DSC, RN).

Between 1330A/5 and 1445A/5, while en-route, HMS King George V conducted full power trials.

At 1610A/5, the destroyer HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN) joined. HMS Verdun was then detached to serve as target for HMS King George V to serve as target for a RIX (Range and Inclination) exercise on completion of which, at 1640A/5, she was detached to return to Rosyth.

HMS King George V, HMS Laforey, HMS Bedouin and HMS Vivacious arrived at Scapa Flow around 2215A/5. (30)

11 Sep 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN) conducted trials and exercises at Scapa Flow. (29)

12 Sep 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (29)

13 Sep 1941
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Prince of Wales (Capt. J.C. Leach, MVO, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN) conducted exercises to the west of Scapa Flow.

During these exercises the battleships were escorted by by the destroyers HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN) and HMS Vivacious (Lt.Cdr. R. Alexander, RN). (31)

18 Sep 1941
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN) and HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) conducted exercises in the Pentland Firth during which they were escorted by the destroyers HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN) and HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN). (32)

23 Sep 1941
Around 1800A/23, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, RN), light cruiser HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN) and the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. D.K. Bain, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. A.C. Stanford, DSC, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Hvalfjord, Iceland. (33)

25 Sep 1941
Around 1300N/23, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, RN), light cruiser HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN) and the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. D.K. Bain, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. A.C. Stanford, DSC, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) arrived at Hvalfjord, Iceland from Scapa Flow. (33)

4 Oct 1941
Around 1300/4, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN), light cruiser HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN) and the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. D.K. Bain, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. A.C. Stanford, DSC, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) departed Hvalfjord.

At the same time the light cruiser HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN) also departed Hvalfjord to proceed to the Seidisfjord where she arrived at 1700/5.

Around 0715/5, HMS King George V parted company with the other ships to proceed to Akureyi for a visit. She took the destroyers HMS Bedouin, HMS Eskimo and HMS Somali with her. They arrived at Akureyi around 0945/5. They departed around 1745/5 to proceed to Seidisfjord where they arrived around 0830/6. A/Admiral Tovey then transferred his flag to HMS Aurora.

In the meantime HMS Victorious, HMS Penelope, HMS Ashanti, HMS Matabele and HMS Punjabi remained at sea for exercises. They arrived at Seidisfjord around 1330/6 minus HMS Victorious which did not had to refuel and remained at sea off the fjord. (34)

6 Oct 1941

Operation EJ.

Attack with carrier aircraft on enemy shipping in the Vestfiord area.

Around 1730Z/6, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. D.K. Bain, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. A.C. Stanford, DSC, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN) departed the Seidisfiord. At sea they joined the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN). Around 2200/6 the light cruiser HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN) also departed the Seidisfiord to overtake the other ships which she joined around 0500/7.

At dawn on the 8th, around 0400A/8, HMS Victorious flew off two striking forces to attack enemy shipping in the Vestfiord area. Around 1100/8 another strike force was flown off for a second attack.

During the attacks two merchant ships are reported to have been damaged.

Following the attacks course was set to proceed to Scapa Flow where they arrived around 0945A/10.

[No further details on this operation available to us for the moment.] (35)

13 Oct 1941
A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN rehoisted his flag in HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CVO, RN). (36)

24 Oct 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) conducted trials and exercises off Scapa Flow and later at Scapa Flow. (36)

3 Nov 1941
Around 1730A/3, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN), heavy cruisers HMS Berwick (Capt. G.H. Faulkner, DSC, RN), HMS Kent (Capt. A.E.M.B. Cunninghame-Graham, RN), HMS Suffolk (Capt. R.M. Ellis, DSO, RN), and the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. D.K. Bain, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. A.C. Stanford, DSC, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Ewing, RN) and HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Hvalfjord, Iceland where they arrived around 0900N/5. (37)

5 Nov 1941
Around 1800N/5, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN), heavy cruisers HMS Berwick (Capt. G.H. Faulkner, DSC, RN), HMS Kent (Capt. A.E.M.B. Cunninghame-Graham, RN) and the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. D.K. Bain, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. A.C. Stanford, DSC, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Ewing, RN) and HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, RN) sailed from Hvalfjord to patrol near position 63°40'N, 35°00'W to cover the British cruiser patrol (patrol White) in the Denmark Strait. This move was made as it was thought a German 'heavy unit' was about to break out into the Atlantic.

Around 2200N/5, they were ordered to return to Hvalfjord as the German 'heavy unit' appeared to be still in the Baltic.

They returned to Hvalfjord around 0100N/6. (38)

17 Nov 1941
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN) and the destroyers HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. A.C. Stanford, DSC, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. C.H.deB. Newby, RN) and HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Hvalfiord. (39)

20 Nov 1941
During 20-22 November 1941 exercises were carried out near Hvalfjord.

The heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN), light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. H.W. Faulkner, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, RN) and the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. D.K. Bain, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. A.C. Stanford, DSC, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN), and HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN) departed Hvalfjord around 1200Z/20 for exercises.

The destroyers, minus HMS Eskimo returned to Hvalfjord around 0100Z/21.

Around 0915Z/21, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Ashanti, HMS Matabele, HMS Punjabi, HMS Tartar, HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. C.H.deB. Newby, RN) and HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) departed Hvalfjord for exercises.

HMS Eskimo returned to Hvalfjord around 0925Z/21.

Around 1645Z/21, HMS Ashanti, HMS Matabele, HMS Punjabi and HMS Tartar returned to Hvalfjord followed at 1700Z/21 by HMS Victorious.

Around 0900Z/22, the battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. A.E.M.B. Cunninghame-Graham, RN) and the destroyers HMS Somali, HMS Eskimo and HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, RN) departed Hvalfjord.

Around 0915Z/22, the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious and the destroyers HMS Ashanti, HMS Matabele and HMS Tartar departed Hvalfjord.

Around 1630Z/22, HMS King George V, HMS Cumberland, HMS Edinburgh, HMS Impulsive, HMS Echo and HMS Escapade returned to Hvalfjord.'

Around 1700Z/22, HMS Victorious, HMS Ashanti, HMS Matabele and HMS Tartar returned to Hvalfjord.

Around 2200Z/22, HMS Rodney, HMS Somali, HMS Eskimo and HMS Oribi returned to Hvalfjord followed shortly afterwards by HMS Kent. (40)

28 Nov 1941
Around 1300Z/28, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.F. Wake-Walker CB, OBE, RN) and destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. D.K. Bain, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. A.C. Stanford, DSC, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. C.H.deB. Newby, RN) and HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) departed Hvalfjord for Scapa Flow.

HMS King George V then carried out a RIX (range and inclination) exercise with HMS Norfolk. On completion of the exercises HMS Norfolk returned to Hvalfjord arriving around 2300Z/28.

The other ships proceeded to Scapa Flow arriving around 1200A/30. (41)

15 Dec 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (42)

16 Dec 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) conducted D/G trials at Scapa Flow. (42)

27 Dec 1941
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (42)

17 Jan 1942
Around 1630A/17, the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk (Capt. R.M. Ellis, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral S.S. Bonham-Carter CB, CVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, RN), HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, DSO, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. H.N.A. Richardson, DSC, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Intrepid (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Lewes, DSC, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. C.H.deB. Newby, RN) and HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Hvalfiord. The German battleship Tirpitz was reported to be at sea. (43)

19 Jan 1942
Around 1230N/19, the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk (Capt. R.M. Ellis, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral S.S. Bonham-Carter CB, CVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, RN), HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, DSO, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. H.N.A. Richardson, DSC, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Intrepid (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Lewes, DSC, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. C.H.deB. Newby, RN) and HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) arrived at Hvalfiord. (43)

4 Feb 1942
On 4/5 February 1942, the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk (Capt. R.M. Ellis, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN) conducted exercises off Hvalfjord. These included night exercises. (44)

19 Feb 1942

Operation EO.

Object: destruction of enemy shipping off Tromso, Norway.

Around 0600N/19, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. G.H. Faulkner, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) departed Hvalfjord.

Around 0845Z/20, they were joined by the destroyers HMS Onslow (Capt. H.T. Armstong, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Punjabi (Lt.Cdr. J.M.G. Waldegrave, DSC, RN) and HMS Tartar (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO, RN) which came from Seidisfjord.

The destroyers HMS Ashanti, HMS Bedouin, HMS Eskimo and HMS Icarus were then detached to Seidisfjord to fuel. They returned around 1630Z/20.

HMS Inglefield, HMS Fury and HMS Echo were then detached to Seidisfjord while the other ships proceeded on the operation.

At noon on 21 February a reconnaissance aircraft reported an enemy force of two battleships and three cruisers (this were actually the heavy cruisers Prinz Eugen, Admiral Scheer and the destroyers Z 4 / Richard Beitzen, Z 5 / Paul Jacobi, Z 7 / Hermann Schoemann, Z 14 / Friedrich Ihn, Z 25) off the south coast of Norway steering north. The Force assigned to operation EO then immediately changed course to the southward in the hope of reaching a position from which HMS Victorious could launch a night torpedo bomber attack. Operation EO was thus abandoned. Coastal and Bomber command aircraft set out to attack and submarines patrolling of the Norwegian coast (HMS Trident, HMS Tuna, HMS P 37 and FFS Minerve) concentrated in the southern approaches to Trondheim.

No further enemy reports were received, but the Fleet continued on a southerly course so that aircraft from HMS Victorious could be launched around 0300 hours on 22 February and sweep down the coast in the vicinity of Stadtlandet in the hope of sighting the enemy force.

Later that day an aircraft report was received showing that the enemy had retired and the operation was therefore postponed. The battlefleet then retired to the north-westward.

On 22 February a further report of the enemy proceeding northwards was received. The battlefleet then steamed south again and after dark closed the Norwegian coast. At 1800A/22, HMS Victorious, HMS Berwick, HMS Bedouin, HMS Eskimo, HMS Punjabi and HMS Icarus were detached to proceed ahead.

The escort destroyers HMS Chiddingfold (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, RN) and HMS Grove (Lt.Cdr. J.W. Rylands, RN) departed Scapa Flow around 1900A/22 for air sea rescue duties for RAF aircraft operating against the German force.

At 0100A/23, ten torpedo aircraft were flown off from HMS Victorious followed by seven more around 0145A/23. All aircraft swept down the Norwegian coast in weather which was rapidly deteriorating. The enemy was not sighted, mainly to due to the very bad visibility. Following the sortie fourteen aircraft landed safely at Sumburgh, Shetland Islands. Three aircraft were lost.

Around 0600A/23, the enemy was spotted again when the submarine HMS Trident attacked them and heavily damaged the Prinz Eugen.

HMS Victorious, HMS Berwick and their four escorting destroyers rejoined HMS King George V and her three escorting destroyers around 0900A/23. Course was then set to Scapa Flow where they arrived around 1630A/23. (45)

1 Mar 1942

Convoys PQ 12 and QP 8.

Convoy PQ 12 from Iceland to Northern Russia and Convoy QP 8 from Northern Russia to Iceland.

On 1 March 1942 convoy PQ 12 departed Reykjavik for ports in Northern Russia.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Artigas (Panamanian, 5613 GRT, built 1920), Bateau (Panamanian, 4687 GRT, built 1926), Beaconstreet (British (tanker), 7467 GRT, built 1927), Belomorcanal (Russian, 2900 GRT, built 1936), Capulin (Panamanian, 4977 GRT, built 1920), Dneprostroi (Russian, 4756 GRT, built 1919), Earlston (British, 7195 GRT, built 1941), El Coston (Panamanian, 7286 GRT, built 1924), El Occidente (Panamanian, 6008 GRT, built 1910), Empire Byron (British, 6645 GRT, built 1941), Lancaster Castle (British, 5172 GRT, built 1937), Llandaff (British, 4825 GRT, built 1937), Navarino (British, 4841 GRT, built 1937), Sevzaples (Russian, 3974 GRT, built 1932), Stone Street (Panamanian, 6131 GRT, built 1922) and Temple Arch (British, 5138 GRT, built 1940).

Close escort on departure from Reykjavik was provided by the A/S trawlers HMS Angle (T/Lt. E. Playne, RNVR), Chiltern (Ch.Skr.(Retd.) B. Bevans, RNR), HMS Notts County (T/Lt. R.H. Hampton, RNR) and HMS Stella Capella (Lt. W.L. Sadgrove, RANVR). These trawlers parted company with the convoy early on 5 March. the minesweeper HMS Gossamer (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Crease, RN) and the A/S whaler Sulla (T/Skr. T. Meadows, RNR) were to join the convoy coming from Reykjavik as well as the destroyers HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Ewing, RN), HMS Oribi (Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, DSC, RN) and the A/S whalers HMS Shera (T/Lt. W.E. Bulmer, RNR), Shusa (S.Lt. J.B. Powell, RNR), Stefa (T/Lt. T. Costley, RNVR) and Svega (T/Lt. F.P. Maitland, RNVR) which came from Seidisfjord.

Of the whalers Sulla later had to turn back.Shusa and Stefa were able to join the convoy while Svega made the passage to Murmansk independently with Shera until that ship sank on 9 March, presumably as a result of stability problems as she suddenly capsized. The Svega was able to pick up three survivors from the freezing water.

HMS Offa and HMS Oribi joined the convoy early on the 5th 100 miles south of Jan Mayen Island while HMS Gossamer could not find the convoy and proceeded to Murmansk independently.

The light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, RN) also joined on the 5th. She had departed Hvalfiord with the cover force at 0600/3. She parted company again on the 6th. She was however ordered to rejoin the convoy and she did so in the evening of the 6th.

The same evening the escorts were informed that a German heavy ship, thought to be the Tirpitz had left Trondheim and was proceeding northwards. The same evening the convoy encountered ice and course had to be changed from north-east to south-east. One of the merchant ships, the Bateau and the whaler Sulla had to turn back. The destroyer HMS Oribi sustained ice damage.

On the 7th the convoy was able to resume its original course. At noon on the 7th it passed convoy QP 8 in position 72°09'N, 10°34'E, some 200 miles south-west of Bear Island.

Around 1400/7, HMS Kenya sighted smoke on the horizon to the northward so she set off to investigate. Visibility was now at the maximum. It soon became apparent that it was a staggler from convoy QP 8 so Kenya then rejoined convoy PQ 12 at 1515/7.

Then around 1600/7 HMS Kenya received Admiralty signal 1519A/7 stating that enemy surface forces might be nearby. The convoy was ordered to steer north so at 1640/7 course was altered to 360°. Shortly afterwards a signal timed 1632/7 was received from the Russian merchant vessel Izhora, a staggler from convoy QP 8, that she was being gunned by an enemy warship in position 72°35'N, 10°50'E although the position was doubtful and the signal was garbled. It was thought this was the merchant vessel we sighted a few hours earlier. This ship was now thought to be 35 to 40 miles to the eastward of convoy PQ 12 and its northerly course might drive the convoy straight into the arms of the enemy.

Capt. Denny then decided to change course to 60°. Kenya's Walrus aircraft was launched at 1720/7 to search between 270° and 210°. The Walrus returned soon after 1800/7 having sighted nothing after searching to a depth of 45 miles. Course was therefore altered to 040° to bring the convoy closer to its original track.

No more news was heard from the Izhora or the enemy but soon after midnight another signal from the Admiralty was received telling the convoy to steer north of Bear Island, if ice permitted, a very considerable diversion from the original route. At daylight therefore the convoy altered further to the northward. Capt. Denny warning the convoy Commodore not to take the destroyers through the ice. The weather and information about the icefield, soon determined Capt. Denny and the convoy Commodore to disregard the Admiralty signal and they altered course to the south-east a little after mid-day, intending to cross the miridian of Bear Island to the southward after dark that evening. About 1530/8, between snowstorms, they sighted the island 40 miles off to the north-east, and the icefield at the same time. At dusk, 1700/8, they ran into the fringe of the ice.

it took the convoy three hours to work clear and reform, whereupon, to avoid further damage to HMS Oribi, Captain Denny detached her to make her own way to Murmansk, which she reached on March 10th.

The convoy went on, keeping as far north as the ice allowed. On the 9th, HMS Offa detected a patrolling aircraft by her radar, but thick and persistent sea smoke rising many feet into the air, combined with a change of course for two hours, prevented discovery, while intercepted signals showed that the Tirpitz was no longer likely to be a threat, for which she had been attacked off the Lofoten Islands by aircraft from HMS Victorious.

The convoy arrived at Murmansk on 12 March 1942.

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On 1 March 1942 convoy QP 8 departed Murmansk for Iceland.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Atlantic (British, 5414 GRT, built 1939), British Pride (British (tanker), 7106 GRT, built 1931), British Workman (British (tanker), 6994 GRT, built 1922), Cold Harbor (Panamanian, 5105 GRT, built 1921), El Lago (Panamanian, 4219 GRT, built 1920), Elona (British (tanker), 6192 GRT, built 1936), Empire Selwyn (British, 7167 GRT, built 1941), Explorer (British, 6235 GRT, built 1935), Fridrikh Engels (Russian, 3972 GRT, built 1930), Izhora (Russian, 2815 GRT, built 1921), Larranga (American, 3892 GRT, built 1917), Noreg (Norwegian (tanker), 7605 GRT, built 1931), Revolutsioner (Russian, 2900 GRT, built 1936), Tbilisi (Russian, 7169 GRT, built 1912) and West Nohno (American, 6186 GRT, built 1919).

Close escort on departure from Murmansk was provided by the destroyers Gremyashchiy, Gromkiy, corvettes HMS Oxlip (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.B. Collinson, RD, RNR), HMS Sweetbriar (Lt.(Retd.) J.W. Cooper, RNR) and the HMS Harrier (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO, RN), HMS Hazard (Lt.Cdr. J.R.A. Seymour, RN), HMS Salamander (Lt. W.R. Muttram, RN) and HMS Sharpshooter (Lt.Cdr. D. Lampen, RN).

The two Soviet destroyers, HMS Harrier and HMS Sharpshooter parted company with the convoy on 3 March. The other escorts remained with the convoy until it arrived in Iceland.

Close cover for the convoy was provided from 3 to 7 March by the light cruiser HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, CBE, RN) which had departed the Kola Inlet on 2 March and arrived at Scapa Flow on 8 March.

On 4 March the convoy scattered due to the bad weather conditions but was later reformed. On 9 March the convoy was disbanded after wich most ships arrived in Icelandic ports on 11 March 1942 minus a staggler from the convoy, the Soviet Izhora, which had been found and sunk around 1630/7 by the German destroyer Z 14 / Friedrich Ihn.

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Distant cover for these convoys was provided by battleship HMS Duke of York (Capt. C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN), battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN, second in command Home Fleet), light cruiser HMS Kenya and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSC, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Lt.Cdr. J.M.G. Waldegrave, DSC, RN). These ships had departed Hvalfjord, Iceland at 0600/3.

At 0600/4 the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. G.H. Faulkner, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslow (Capt. H.T. Armstong, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A. de W. Kitcat, RN) departed Scapa Flow.

At 0700/4, the destoyers HMS Faulknor and HMS Eskimo were detached from the Renown group to refuel at Seidisfjord.

At 1600/4, HMS Berwick was detached from the King George V'-group to return to Scapa wscorted by HMS Bedouin. She had developed engine trouble. The cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN) was ordered to take over her place after refuelling at Seidisfjord.

At 2300/4, HMS Kenya was detached from the Renown group to provide close cover for convoy PQ 12. Around the same time HMS Bedouin was ordered to part company with HMS Berwick and go to the aid of HMS Sheffield which had been mined near the Seidisfjord. HMS Faulknor and HMS Eskimo were also ordered to assist the damaged cruiser.

At 1200/5 the 'Renown'-group was in position 66°45'N, 06°30'W steering a northerly course. This was about 100 miles south of convoy PQ 12.

At the same time the 'King George V'-group was about 100 miles bearing 154° from the 'Renown'-group and was also steering a northerly course.

At 1900/5 HMS Kenya joined the close escort of convoy PQ 12.

At 2000/5, the 'Renown'-group altered course easterly to affect a rendezvous with the 'King George V'-group the next morning. Admiral Tovey had decided to concentrate his forces.

At 1030/6, both groups made rendezvous in position 71°00'N, 04°30'E amd the two forces joined together. They continued to steer a northerly course. The entire force was now made up of the battleships HMS King George V, HMS Duke of York, battlecruiser HMS Renown, aircraft carrier HMS Victorious and the destroyers HMS Onslow, HMS Lookout, HMS Ashanti, HMS Punjabi, HMS Icarus, HMS Intrepid, HMS Fury, HMS Echo and HMS Elcipse.

At 1100/6, the German battleship Tirpitz escorted by the destroyers Z 7 / Hermann Schoemann, Z 14 / Friedrich Ihn and Z 25 departed Trondheim and steered north to intercept a convoy (PQ 12) reported by Focke Wulf reconnaissance aircraft.

At 1400/6, the Home Fleet altered course to the south.

In a signal timed 1801/6 the submarine HMS Seawolf (Lt. R.P. Raikes, RN) reported sighting the Tirpitz off Kya. At 0010/7, Admiral Tovey received the news of Seawolf's sighting. Tovey now knew that Tirpitz was out but he was unsure if the German battleships was out to attack the convoy or to break out into the Atlantic. It had been intended to fly off search aircraft from HMS Victorious but the weather conditions prevented any flying from taking place.

At 1750/7, the Home Fleet altered course to the east and the destroyers HMS Icarus and HMS Intrepid detached to refuel in Iceland.

At 2000/7, the Home Fleet altered course to the north. At the same time the destroyers HMS Onslow, HMS Ashanti, HMS Punjabi, HMS Fury, HMS Echo and HMS Eclipse were detached to sweep north between the Home Fleet and the Lofoten Islands along what Admiral Tovey thought to be the enemy’s most likely route to return to Trondheim. After this sweep the destroyers were to proceed to Seidisfjord to refuel. Apparently only HMS Lookout remained with the Fleet.

At 2400/7, the Home Fleet altered course to the south so that the Fleet could be in position off the Lofoten Islands to launch a strike force at dawn in case the Tirpitz would be sighted by the destroyers. At 0400/8 Admiral Tovey concluded that he had missed the German battleships and since he was without destroyers except for HMS Lookout and in submarine infected waters, he turned south-west towards Iceland to collect some destroyers that had already refuelled.

At 1820/8 the Home Fleet altered course to the north-east despite that no destroyer had joined so far. Admiral Tovey then broke radio silence sending a signal to the Admiralty requesting destroyers to be sent out and refuelling facilities at sea for his destroyers. The heavy cruiser HMS London (Capt. R.M. Servaes, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral L.H.K. Hamilton, DSO and Bar, RN) departed from Iceland with orders to rendezvous with the heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. A.E.M.B. Cunninghame-Graham, RN) coming from the Denmark patrol and the light cruisers HMS Liverpool (Capt. W.R. Slayter, DSC, RN) and HMS Trinidad (Capt. L.S. Saunders, RN) departed Scapa Flow on 7 March. These cruisers were ordered to refuel destroyers at sea.

The heavy cruisers apparently did not fuel any destroyers. The light cruisers fuelled HMS Punjabi and HMS Fury on the 9th. HMS Echo was unable to fuel from them due to the bad weather conditions. She went to Seidisfjord to fuel as did HMS Onslow HMS Ashanti and HMS Eclipse.

Around 2000/8 the Tirpitz, having been unable to find the convoy, set course to return to Trondheim.

At 0240/9, the Admiralty informed Admiral Tovey that the Tirpitz was heading south so the Home Fleet altered course to the south-east to close the Lofoten Islands.

At 0640/9, Admiral Tovey ordered HMS Victorious to fly off a reconnaissance force of 6 Albacores on a diverging search between 105° and 155° to a depth of 150 miles to search for the German battleship.

At 0730/9, a strike force of 12 torpedo-carrying Albacores were flown off.

At 0802/9, one of the reconnaissance aircraft the Tirpitz and a destroyer (Z 14 / Friedrich Ihn) sailing south and made a report. Shortly after being sighted the Germans however altered course towards the Vestfjord and Narvik.

At 0917/9, the Tirpitz was attacked by the strike force. No hits were obtained though one torpedo only missed the battleships stern by 30 feet. Two of the attacking Albacores were shot down by AA fire.

At 0940/9, the Home Fleet turned west and then south-west.

At 1545/9, the Home Fleet was attacked by 3 Ju-88 bombers, one bomb landed close astern of HMS Victorious but no damaged was caused.

At 1620/9, The Tirpitz and Z 14 / Friedrich Ihn arrived at Narvik.

At 1840/9 the destroyers HMS Faulknor, HMS Bedouin, HMS Eskimo and HMS Tartar (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO, RN) joined the Home Fleet coming from Iceland. The Home Fleet now set course to return to Scapa Flow.

Around 0800/10 the destroyers HMS Javelin (Cdr. G.E. Fardell, RN), HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) and the escorted destroyers HMS Grove (Lt.Cdr. J.W. Rylands, RN) and HMS Ledbury (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, RN) joined coming from Iceland.

Around 0920/10 the destroyers Verdun (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Donald, DSC, RN), HMS Woolston (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN), HMS Lancaster (A/Cdr. N.H. Whatley, RN) and HMS Wells (Lt. L.J. Pearson, RN) joined after they had fuelled at Scapa Flow coming from Rosyth (first two) and Port ZA (last two) respetively.

Around 1200/10 the destroyers HMS Intrepid and HMS Icarus joined.

Around 2300/10 the Home Fleet arrived at Scapa Flow. Shortly before arriving the destroyers HMS Verdun and HMS Woolston were detached to return to Rosyth and HMS Lancaster and HMS Wells were detached to return to Port ZA.

HMS Liverpool, HMS Trinidad, HMS Punjabi and HMS Fury arrived at Scapa Flow at 0930/11. (46)

20 Mar 1942
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Duke of York (Capt. C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN), HMS Punjabi (Lt.Cdr. J.M.G. Waldegrave, DSC, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Ledbury (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, RN), HMS Middleton (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN) and HMS Wheatland (Lt. R.deL. Brooke, RN). (47)

20 Mar 1942

Convoys PQ 13 and QP 9.

Convoy PQ 13 from Iceland to Northern Russia and Convoy QP 9 from Northern Russia to Iceland.

On 20 March 1942 convoy PQ 13 departed Reykjavik for Murmansk.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Ballot (Panamanian, 6131 GRT, built 1922), Bateau (Panamanian, 4687 GRT, built 1926), Dunboyne (American, 3513 GRT, built 1920), Effingham (American, 6421 GRT, built 1919), El Estero (Panamanian, 4219 GRT, built 1920), Eldena (American, 6900 GRT, built 1919), Empire Cowper (British, 7164 GRT, built 1941), Empire Ranger (British, 7008 GRT, built 1942), Empire Starlight (British, 6850 GRT, built 1941), Gallant Fox (Panamanian, 5473 GRT, built 1918), Harpalion (British, 5486 GRT, built 1932), Induna (British, 5086 GRT, built 1925), Mana (Honduras, 3283 GRT, built 1920), Mormacmar (American, 5453 GRT, built 1920), New Westminster City (British, 4747 GRT, built 1929), Raceland (Panamanian, 4923 GRT, built 1910), River Afton (British, 5479 GRT, built 1935), Scottish American (British (tanker), 6999 GRT, built 1920) and Tobruk (Polish, 7048 GRT, built 1942).

The RFA oiler Oligarch (6897 GRT, built 1918) was also part of the convoy.

Close escort on departure from Reykjavik was provided by the escort destroyer HMS Lamerton (Lt.Cdr. C.R. Purse, DSC, RN) and the A/S trawlers HMS Blackfly (T/Lt. A.P. Hughes, RNR) and HMS Paynter (Lt. R.H. Nossiter, RANVR). Three M/S whalers were also with the convoy, these were: Silja (Skr. W. Rigby, RNR), Sulla (T/Skr. T. Meadows, RNR) and Sumba (T/Lt. W.E. Peters, RNR).

In the afternoon of 23 March convoy PQ 13 was joined by the destroyers HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSC, RN) and HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN, SO close escort) which came from Seidisfjord.

At 2030/23, the light cruiser HMS Trinidad (Capt. L.S. Saunders, RN) made contact with the convoy to provide close cover. A strong south-westerly wind had accelerated the passage and the convoy was some 40 miles ahead of its sheduled position when it was sighted by HMS Trinidad. On reaching the miridian 5°W course was altered to the eastward in compliance with Admiralty instructions amending the route, on order to avoid a U-boat area.

At 0200/24, HMS Lamerton and the RFA oiler Oligargh parted company with the convoy. They wre to make rendezvous with destroyers that were with the Home Fleet which were to fuel from the tanker.

By noon on the 24th the convoy was in position 69°20'N, 00°20'E, making good almost 9 knots. So far so good.

That night, however, a gale sprang up from the north-east and by the forenoon of the 25th it was blowing force 8, with visibility varying up to 2 miles. For the next 36 hours the gale continued unabated. By dawn on the 27th the convoy was widely scattered, and not a single merchant ship was in sight from HMS Trinidad or either of the escorting destroyers.

Throughout the 27th short visibility and heavy weather made it difficult to find the scattered units of PQ 13. HMS Trinidad was searching the area about 100 miles south-west of Bear Island, where she was joined by HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, CBE, RN, flying the flag of the Rear-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, DSO, RN), sighted none for them till the evening, when two ships were located. HMS Eclipse some 180 miles to the south-westward had one ship in company. HMS Fury spent most of the afternoon finding and fueling the whaler Sumba in sesponse to a urgent appeal received from the Sumba at 1127/27. This she completed at 2041/2, and then steered to rejoin the convoy, falling in with the merchant vessel Harpalion at 0710/28, with whom she remained in company.

By this time the weather was moderating and the situation was approximately as follows. The convoy was strung out over 150 miles. Furthest east was the merchant vessel Empire Ranger by herself, some 80 miles due north of North Cape at 0800/28. About 40 miles astern of her was a group of six merchant vessels and the armed whaler HMS Silja. 35 miles astern of this group was the Harpalion with HMS Fury. A further 65 miles to the west were six merchant vessels with HMS Eclipse, HMS Paynter and HMS Sumba in company. Four merchant vessels and an armed whaler were straggling (most likely HMS Sulla had already gone down by this time though).

HMS Trinidad had spent the night sweeping to the eastward along the convoy route, sighted the Empire Ranger at 0830/28. She then turned and swept back along the convoy's track, with the intention of concentrating with HMS Fury and HMS Eclipse, in view of the possibility of surface attack of which warning had been received from the Admiralty. The Harpalion and HMS Fury were sighted at 1125/28 and 20 minutes later, with HMS Fury in company course was again altered to the eastward. Meanwhile the convoy had been located by the enemy air reconnaissance.

The forenoon of the 28th March was clear and sunny, with occasional snow patches. At 1007/28, HMS Trinidad sighted a shadowing aircraft. which she engaged ineffectively at long range. The enemy wasted no time, within about an hour their bombers arrived on the scene. In the afternoon the German destroyers Z 24, Z 25 and Z 26 sailed from Kirkenes in search of the convoy.

Throughout the remainder of the day, air attacks were carried out at intervals. The eastern group of six merchant vessels with HMS Silja was dive bombed twice, the Panamanian merchant vessel Ballot being so shaken by near-misss that she dopped astern and started to abandon ship, though she subsquently reached port under her own steam.

At 1127/28, HMS Paynter was attacked.

At 1318/28, HMS Trinidad was narrowly missed by three bombs from an aircraft which dided out of a cloud. Between 1418 and 1430/28, HMS Trinidad was persistently dived bombed by Ju-88's but she sustained only some minor damage from near misses.

During the afternoon the merchant Raceland was sunk by aircraft and at about 1930/28 the Empire Ranger reported that she was sinking and abandoning ship in position 72°13'N, 32°10'E. The trawler Blackfly was sent to this position but she did not sighted any survivors.

During the hours of darkness during the night of 28/29 March, HMS Trinidad and HMS Fury cruised to the southward if 72°25'N, 30°00'E in order to cut off the enemy destroyers, should they attack either main group of the convoy. Course was altered to the east-north-east at 0200/29, in order to close the leading group of merchant ships and to locate the destroyers Sokrushitelny, Gremyashchiy and HMS Oribi (Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, DSC, RN) which had sailed from the Kola Inlet to make rendezvous which was effected at 0422/29. Around the same time, HMS Trinidad, opened fire on a U-boat which then dived to safety. This was U-378. Course was then shaped to the westward to close the group of merchant vessels that were with HMS Eclipse. Shortly afterwards they passed wreckage from the merchant vessel Empire Ranger. Four lifeboats, well stocked with ample supplies, were examined by HMS Oribi. The absence of survivors indicated that some ship must have rescued them.

The convoy group that was with HMS Eclipse now numbered eight merchant vessels. HMS Paynter and HMS Sumba were also with this group when they were found at 0630/29 in position 72°29'N, 31°48'E. The two Russian destroyers and HMS Oribi were ordered to remain with this group.

HMS Trinidad and HMS Fury altered course at 0700/29 to 105° and proceeded at 20 knots to seek the eastern group, which by now had been reduced to four ships. One ship, as already mentioned, had straggled the day before as a result of air attacks while another, the Induna, with HMS Silja in tow as the whaler had run short of fuel, got caught in heavy ice during the night and did not get clear till the following afternoon.

Meanwhile the German destroyers Z 24, Z 25 and Z 26 (S.O.) had left Kirkeness at 1330/28 and shaped course to the northward. At 2145/28, being then in approximately 72°20'N, 32°50'E course was altered to the westward to sweep along the estimated route of the convoy, at 15 knots. The destroyers were spread three miles apart. An hour later they came across the Empire Ranger's boats and picked up her survivors.

Continuing to the westward, they sighted a straggler, the Bateau at 0035/29 in position 72°20'N, 30°40'E. Z 26 promptly sank her by torpedo and gunfire. The Germans remained in the vicinity for an hour, and then, apparently thinking they were too far to the north-west, at 0140/29 set course 140°, and swept to the south-eastwar at 25 knots till 0530/29, when the turned due north up the meridian 33°55'E.

At 0820/29, they were once more on the estimated convoy route in approximately 72°22'N, 34°00'E. They altered course to 270° at 17 knots, to sweep to the westwards. This course took them directly towards HMS Trinidad and HMS Fury. The weather, which had earlier been fine, with the sky almost free from cloud and the visibility extreme, was then deteriorating and the visibility rapidly shortening.

The visibility had falled to two miles when at 0843/29, Trinidad's radar picked up an echo bearing 079°, 6.5 miles. Two minutes later the bearing changed to 092°, 4.5 miles - apparently three ships -. Captain Saunders though that they might be ships of the convoy but that he was surprised that three wounld be in this position. At 0849/29 shapes were sighted in the mist, which were identified as three foreign destroyers on approximate course 330°. As this could not be the Russian destroyers as these were further to the west fire was opened at the leading destroyer at 0851/29.

The Germans replied at almost the same moment. By 0852/29 the leading destroyer, Z 26 had been frequently hit and was blazing amidships. Fire was then shifted by HMS Trinidad to the second enemy destroyer in line. Half a minute later the wheel was put hard to starboard as it seemed likely that torpedoes had been fired and indeed two were seen later passing up the port side while the ship was still turning. The action now ceased for the time being.

Z 26, severely damaged, made to the north-westward. The other two German destroyers, who had not sighted the enemy through the mist, turned to the north-eastward to avoid torpedoes (none had been fired by the British), thus becoming separated from their leader whom they failed to rejoin for an hour.

Meanwhile, HMS Trinidad with HMS Fury astern had steadied on course 360°. At the same time radar contact was regained with Z 26 bearing 358°, 7200 yards so speed was increased and course altered to port so as to close. At 0917/29, the outline of the destroyer ws sighted fine on the port bow. HMS Trinidad, opened fire from 2900 yards. The enemy endeavoured to avoid the salvoes which were falling all round her by a continuous and violent zigzag. She did not return the fire and was apparently unable to fire her torpedoes due to damage but she was able to steam.

At 0922/29, HMS Trinidad fired a torpedo at Z 26. Two others fired shortly afterwards failed to leave the tubes due to icing. Meanwhile Z 26 was suppering a beating until at 0923/29 a torpedo was seen breaking surface 200 yards on the Trinidad's port bow. The wheel was put hard to port but it was too late and the torpedo hit HMS Trinidad between 71 and 79 stations on the port side. The ship almost immediately liste 17° to port, speed dropped to 8 knots, all communication from the compass platform failed and steering had to be shifted to the after-steering position.

Z 26 made off to the south-westward and was soon lost to view, pursued by HMS Fury, which from her station astern of HMS Trinidad had hitherto not sighted the enemy. This course took thhem close north of the approaching convoy. Visibility was then about 6 cables. The destroyers of the escort were zigzagging furiously around in order to maintain a decent speed when HMS Eclipse sighted a warship (Z 26) bearing 20° just visible in the mist. One of the Russian destroyers opened fire, but the Eclipse, mistaking her for HMS Trinidad, refrained from doing so. At this moment, 0930/29, HMS Fury appeared out of the snow ahead at high speed and for some minutes chaos reigned in the destroyer screen. HMS Fury actually fired two salvoes at HMS Eclipse before recognition. HMS Fury then turned back to rejoin HMS Trinidad, and the Eclipse, hauled round to the westward at 15 knots to follow the ship which had passed the convoy a few minutes before. HMS Eclipse had not gone far when her radar picked up an echo distant two miles, which she closed keeping the bearing about 20° on the port bow. Slowly the range decreased. At 0950/29 a ship was dimly sighted through the snow half a mile off. She was again taken for HMS Trinidad, but when the range was down to 800 yards she was recognised as a German destroyer and promptly engaged. The luckless Z 26 quickly increased speed to get away.

There followed a running fight in a snowstorm, the German ship making smoke and altering away whenever HMS Eclipse worked up on his quarter and opened A-arcs. The damage previously inflicted by HMS Trinidad prevented the German ship from replying to the British fire except with occasional shots which did no harm. Conditions were very severe. Spray, which swept over guns and bridge, immediately froze on anything it touched. Gundecks were icy and gun wells full of water and ice. Use of binoulares by bridge and director personnel was almost impossible.

This went on for half an hour, till at 1020/29, having by then been hit six times by 4.7" guns shells the Z 26 came to a stop, her stern almost awash and listing to port. HMS Eclipse was just about to fire her remaining torpedo into the German destroyer, when suddenly Z 24 and Z 25 hove into sight about two miles on her disengaged beam. At the same time the snow stopped and visibility increased rapidly. The two German destroyers immediately opened fire so HMS Eclipse made off at high speed to the north-westward, eventually reaching cover in a snow squall at 1035/29, but not before she had been hit aft by two shells at 1028/29 and holed above the waterline forward by two others which burst close alongside. Her main aerials were also shot away. The Germans made no attempt to follow, but stood by the sinking Z 26, which capsized at 1057/29. After rescuing survivors, Z 24 and Z 25 set course to retire at high speed to Kirkeness, where they arrived in the evening of the same day.

HMS Eclipse meanwhile find herself in an unseaworthy condition, short of fuel, and with nine wounded in urgent need of attention. She accordingly shaped course independently for Murmansk where she arrived the next day with only 40 tons of fuel remaining.

HMS Trinidad, meanwhile, after the explosion of the torpedo (It was later found out to have been her own) had turned to the south-eastward and was steering 130° at 6 knots, when HMS Fury rejoined her. Speed was slowly increased as much as due regard for the strain on her bulkheads permitted. At about 1100/29 the group of merchant ships screened by the Russian destroyers was overhauled and HMS Oribi was ordered to join HMS Fury as A/S screen. Early in the afternoon the minesweeper HMS Harrier (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, MVO, DSO, RN) also joined the screen. (The minesweepers HMS Harrier, HMS Gossamer (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Crease, RN), HMS Hussar (Lt. R.C. Biggs, DSC, RN) and HMS Speedwell (Lt.Cdr. J.J. Youngs, OBE, RNR) had departed the Kola Inlet on 28 March to patrol along the last part of the convoy route.) During the forenoon the list of HMS Trinidad had been gradually reduced and by this time she was on an even keel and making good between 12 to 14 knots. Late that night, however, priming with salt water in the feed water compelled a reduction of speed to only 2 to 4 knots, and threathened to stop her altogether. At 2315/29, HMS Trinidad was in position 70°18'N, 34°55'E, some 70 miles from the entrance to the Kola Inlet. By 0200/30, speed could be increased to 7 knots.

By the early moring the wind, which had been freshening all night, was blowing hard from the northward, with a considerable sea. On the whole HMS Trinidad weathered it well, and she reached to Kola Inlet at 0930/30. Three hours later HMS Trindidad and HMS Fury anchored at Rosta.

During 29 March 1942 the various groups and stragglers pursued their way to the east unmolested, turning to the southward on reaching the 37th meridian. Short visibility and low cloud gave protection from air attack and they were not yet in the area chosen by the enemy for submarine attack.

The western group of eight ships was escorted by the two Russian destroyers and HMS Oribi, ater their fleeting glimpse of Z 26, passed clear to the southwar of the other two German destroyers while they were searching for their leader. The four ships of the eastern group by the time surface actions were over were about to alter course to the south.

The Induna and HMS Silja did not get clear of the ice untill 1500/29. They estimated they were in approximately 72°00'N, 38°00'E and shaped course direct for Murmansk. Five hours later the tow parted and HMS Silja disappeared in a squall. Efforts to find her proved unvailing and the Induna continued her voyage alone. At 0707/30 (0807/30, German time), she was torpedoed by U-376 and sank around 0840/30 after having been hit be a coupe de grâce shortly before.

The Effingham was torpedoed by the German submarine U-456. She did not sink and a coupe de grâce missed. U-456 then lost sight of the damaged merhant vessel but she was found shortly afterwards by U-435 and she was then hit and sunk by the third torpedo fired from this submarine.

By the night of 30 March all the surviving 14 ships had arrived in the Kola Inlet except one which arrived early on 1 April. Nineteen ships had left Reykjavik on 20 March, five had been lost on passage.

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On 21 March 1942 convoy QP 9 departed Murmansk for Reykjavik.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Ashkhabad (Russian, 5284 GRT, built 1917), Barrwhin (British, 4998 GRT, built 1929), City of Flint (American, 4963 GRT, built 1920), Daldorch (British, 5571 GRT, built 1930), Earlston (British, 7195 GRT, built 1941), Empire Baffin (British, 6978 GRT, built 1941), Empire Byron (British, 6645 GRT, built 1942), Empire Magpie (British, 6517 GRT, built 1919), Hartlebury (British, 5082 GRT, built 1934), Kingswood (British, 5080 GRT, built 1929), Llandaff (British, 4825 GRT, built 1937), Lowther Castle (British, 5171 GRT, built 1937), Makawao (Hunduran, 3545 GRT, built 1921), Marylyn (British, 4555 GRT, built 1930), North King (Panamanian, 4608 GRT, built 1903), Pravda (Russian, 2513 GRT, built 1928), Shelon (Russian, 2310 GRT, built 1918), Stepan Khalturin (Russian, 2513 GRT, built 1921) and Trevorian (British, 4599 GRT, built 1920).

On departured from the Kola Inlet the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Ewing, RN), Gremyashchiy and the minesweepers HMS Britomart (Lt.Cdr. S.S. Stammwitz, RN), HMS Gossamer, HMS Harrier, HMS Hussar, HMS Niger (Cdr.(ret.) A.J. Cubison, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Sharpshooter (Lt.Cdr. D. Lampen, RN) and HMS Speedwell.

The light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, RN) departed the Kola Inlet on 22 March to overtake the convoy which she joined later on the same day. She remained with the convoy until it reached 01°00'E and then she parted company to proceed to Scapa Flow arriving there at 1030/29.

On 23 March most of the convoy escorts parted company to return to the Kola Inlet. The convoy continued on escorted by HMS Offa, HMS Britomart and HMS Sharpshoorter (S.O.).

The convoy had an uneventful passage except for that HMS Sharpshooter rammed and sank the U-boat U-655 on 24 March.

The convoy arrived at Reykjavik on 3 April 1942.

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Cover for these convoys was provided by ships from the Home Fleet.

At 1000/22, the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN, second in command Home Fleet), HMS Duke of York (Capt. C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN), battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Punjabi (Lt.Cdr. J.M.G. Waldegrave, DSC, RN), HMS Onslow (Capt. H.T. Armstrong, DSC and Bar, RN) and the escort destoyers HMS Ledbury (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, RN), HMS Middleton (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN) and HMS Wheatland (Lt. R.deL. Brooke, RN) departed Scapa Flow to proceed to the east of Iceland before proceeding to a position from where to provide distant cover for the convoys. HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, RN) parted company at 1230/22 to return to Scapa Flow due to defects.

Around 2245/22, the heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. A.E.M.B. Cunninghame-Graham, RN) and light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. H.W. Faulkner, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral S.S. Bonham-Carter, CB, CVO, DSO, RN) departed Scapa Flow to overtake the ships that had sailed earlier.

At 1600/23, the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN) and HMS Tartar (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO, RN) sailed from Seidisfiord, Iceland to relief the fleet destroyers that had sailed with the Home Fleet from Scapa Flow. The destroyers were exchanged at 2100/23. HMS Faulknor, HMS Eskimo, HMS Punjabi and HMS Onslow arrived at Seidisfiord to fuel at 2230/23.

At 0400/24, HMS Faulknor, HMS Onslow, HMS Eskimo and HMS Punjabi departed from Seidisfiord to rejoined the fleet. A fifth destroyer was now with them, this was HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. H.N.A. Richardson, DSC, RN). They rejoined at 0800/24 after which the three escort were detached to Seidisfiord.

At 0530/25, HMS Tartar, when in position 66°14'N, 02°34'W was detached to return to Scapa Flow having sustained damage in the severe weather conditions. She arrived at Scapa Flow at 2000/26.

At 1400/27, the destroyers HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) and HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, OBE, RN) sailed from Skaalefiord, Iceland to join the Home Fleet at 1800/27 in position 63°05'N, 04°20'W to augment the destroyer screen on the Home Fleet's return passage to Scapa Flow which, given the fact that no German heavy units were at sea, was now in the proces of being undertaken.

HMS King George V, HMS Duke of York, HMS Renown, HMS Victorious, HMS Kent, HMS Edinburgh, HMS Inglefield, HMS Faulknor, HMS Onslow, HMS Echo, HMS Escapade, HMS Foresight, HMS Icarus, HMS Bedouin, HMS Eskimo, HMS Punjabi and HMS Marne returned to Scapa Flow at 0800/28. (48)

22 Mar 1942
The C-in-C Home Fleet, A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet, struck his flag in HMS King George V and hoisted it in HMS Liverpool.

The Second in Command Home Fleet, Vice-Admiral A.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN, struck his flag in HMS Renown and then hoisted it in HMS King George V. (49)

28 Mar 1942
At 0800A/28, HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Duke of York (Capt. C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN), HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN), HMS Kent (Capt. A.E.M.B. Cunninghame-Graham, RN), HMS Edinburgh (Capt. H.W. Faulkner, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral S.S. Bonham-Carter, CB, CVO, DSO, RN, HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN), HMS Onslow (Capt. H.T. Armstrong, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, OBE, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Punjabi (Lt.Cdr. J.M.G. Waldegrave, DSC, RN) and HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. H.N.A. Richardson, DSC, RN) returned to Scapa Flow from operations at 0800/28.

The Second in Command Home Fleet, Vice-Admiral A.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN struck his flag in HMS King George V.

HMS King George V and HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Rosyth around 2100A/28. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Faulknor, HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN).

They arrived at Rosyth around noon on the 29th. (50)

30 Mar 1942
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN) is docked in No.3 Dock at the Rosyth Dockyard. (51)

3 Apr 1942
The C-in-C Home Fleet, A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet, hoisted his flag in HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN). (52)

4 Apr 1942
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) is undocked. (52)

5 Apr 1942
Around 1930B/5, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), light cruiser HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, CBE, RN, flying the flag of the Rear-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN), HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) and HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSC and Bar, RN) departed Rosyth for Scapa Flow where they arrived around 0830B/6. (53)

8 Apr 1942

Convoy operation to and from northern Russia, convoy's PQ 14 and QP 10.

Convoy PQ 14 from Reykjavik to the Kola Inlet and convoy QP 10 from the Kola Inlet to Reykjavik.

Timespan: 8 April to 21 April 1942.

8 April 1942.

On this day convoy PQ 14 of 25 merchant vessels departed Reykjavik, Iceland for the Kola Inlet in northern Russia. The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels. RFA Aldersdale (British, Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker, 8402 GRT, built 1937), Andre Marti (Russian, 2352 GRT, built 1918), Arcos (Russian, 2343 GRT, built 1918), Atheltemplar (British, tanker, 8992 GRT, built 1930), Botavon (British, 5848 GRT, built 1912), Briarwood (British, 4019 GRT, built 1930), British Corporal (British, 6972 GRT, built 1922), City of Joliet (American, 6167 GRT, built 1920), Dan-Y-Brin (British, 5117 GRT, built 1940), Empire Bard (British, 3114 GRT, built 1942), Empire Howard (British, 6985 GRT, built 1941), Exterminator (Panamanian, 6115 GRT, built 1924), Francis Scott Key (American, 7191 GRT, built 1941), Hegira (American, 7588 GRT, built 1919), Hopemount (British, 7434 GRT, built 1929), Ironclad (American, 5685 GRT, built 1919), Minotaur (American, 4554 GRT, built 1918), Mormacrio (American, 5940 GRT, built 1919), Pieter de Hoogh (Dutch, 7168 GRT, built 1941), Seattle Spirit (American, 5627 GRT, built 1919), Sukhona (Russian, 3124 GRT, built 1918), Trehata (British, 4817 GRT, built 1928), West Cheswald (American, 5711 GRT, built 1919), West Gotomska (American, 5728 GRT, built 1918) and Yaka (American, 5432 GRT, built 1920).

Close escort was initially (8 to 12 April) provided by the escort destroyer HMS Wilton (Lt. A.P. Northey, DSC, RN), the minesweepers HMS Hebe (Lt.Cdr. J.B.G. Temple, DSC, RN), HMS Speedy (Lt. J.G. Brookes, DSC, RN), the A/S trawlers HMS Lord Austin (T/Lt. O.B. Egjar, RNR), HMS Lord Middleton (T/Lt. R.H. Jameson, RNR), HMS Northern Wave (T/Lt. W.G. Pardoe-Matthews, RNR) and the A/P trawler Chiltern (Ch.Skr.(ret) P. Bevans, RNR).

9 April 1942.

A close cover force for convoy PQ 14 arrived at Seidisfiord, Iceland from Scapa Flow. It was made up of the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. H.W. Faulkner, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral S.S. Bonham-Carter, CB, CVO, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, OBE, RN) and HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. G.P. Huddart, RN).

10 April 1942.

The close cover force for convoy PQ 14 departed Seidisfiord on this day, as stated before it was made up of the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh and the destroyers HMS Foresight and HMS Forester.

Also the close escort for convoy PQ 14 departed Seidisfjord, it was made up of the destroyers HMS Bulldog (Cdr. M. Richmond, OBE, RN), HMS Beagle (Cdr. R.C. Medley, RN), HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Roper, RN), HMS Beverley (Lt.Cdr. J. Grant, RN), the corvettes HMS Campanula (Lt.Cdr. W. Hine, RNR), HMS Oxlip (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.B. Collinson, RD, RNR), HMS Saxifage (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.P. Chapman, RNR), HMS Snowflake (Lt. H.G. Chesterman, RNR) and the A/S trawler HMS Duncton (T/Lt. P.J.G. Christian, RNVR).

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On this day convoy QP 10 of 16 merchant vessels departed the Kola Inlet in northern Russia for Reykjavik, Iceland. The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels. Artigas (Panamanian, 5613 GRT, built 1920), Beaconstreet (British, 7467 GRT, built 1927), Belomorcanal (Russian, 2900 GRT, built 1936), Capulin (Panamanian, 4977 GRT, built 1920), Dnepprostroi (Russian, 4756 GRT, built 1919), El Coston (Panamanian, 7286 GRT, built 1924), El Occidente (Panamanian, 6008 GRT, built 1910), Empire Cowper (British, 7164 GRT, built 1941), Harpalion (British, 5486 GRT, built 1932), Kiev (Russian, 5823 GRT, built 1917), Mana (Honduras, 3283 GRT, built 1920), Navarino (British, 4841 GRT, built 1937), River Afton (British 5479 GRT, built 1935), Sevzaples (Russian, 3974 GRT, built 1932), Stone Street (Panamanian, 6131 GRT, built 1922) and Temple Arch (British, 5138 GRT, built 1940).

Close escort was provided by the British destroyers HMS Oribi (Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Punjabi (Lt.Cdr. J.M.G. Waldegrave, DSC, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. H.N.A. Richardson, DSC, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSC, RN), minesweeper HMS Speedwell (Lt.Cdr. J.J. Youngs, OBE, RNR), A/S trawlers HMS Blackfly (T/Lt. A.P. Hughes, RNR) and HMS Paynter (Lt. R.H. Nossiter, RANVR). The escort was strengthened local escort was provided from departure until 12 April (to longtitude 30°'E) by the Russian destroyers Gremyashchiy, Sokrushitelny and the British minesweepers HMS Gossamer (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Crease, RN), HMS Harrier (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO, RN) and HMS Hussar (Lt. R.C. Biggs, DSC, RN). Close cover for the convoy was provided by the light cruiser HMS Liverpool (Capt. W.R. Slayter, DSC, RN) which departed the Kola Inlet on the 11th.

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Distant cover for both convoy's (PQ 14 and QP 10) was provided by ships from the Home Fleet; battleships HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Duke of York (Capt. C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN, second in command Home Fleet), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. A.E.M.B. Cunninghame-Graham, RN), light cruiser HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Somali (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, RN), HMS Onslow (Capt. H.T. Armstrong, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Ewing, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN), HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Belvoir (Lt. J.F.D. Bush, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Ledbury (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, RN), HMS Middleton (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN) and HMS Wheatland (Lt. R.deL. Brooke, RN). These ships departed Scapa Flow on the 12th except for the destroyers Bedouin, Eskimo, Somali and Matchless which left Scapa Flow on the 11th to fuel at Skaalefiord and then to join the Home Fleet at sea.

Also the heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. E.G.H. Bellars, RN) departed Scapa Flow to patrol in an area about 130 nautical miles south-west of Bear Island from where she could support either convoy during this part of their passages.

11 April 1942.

From the initial close escort of convoy PQ 14, HMS Wilton, HMS Hebe, HMS Speedy and two of the A/S trawlers were damaged by ice and their Asdic gear was out of action as the convoy encountered thick ice during 11 and 12 April.

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Convoy QP 10 was attacked by German aircraft (Ju 88 from III./KG.30) in position 71°01'N, 36°00'E. During this attack the merchant vessel Empire Cowper (cargo; chrome ore & pitprops) was sunk with the loss of nine of her crew.

As stated above the light cruiser HMS Liverpool departed the Kola Inlet to provide close cover for convoy QP 10 and the destroyers HMS Bedouin, HMS Eskimo, HMS Punjabi and HMS Matchless departed Scapa Flow to fuel at Skaalefiord in the Faroe Islands.

12 April 1942.

All ships from the close cover and close escort force that had departed Seidisfiord on the 10th joined convoy PQ 14. HMS Wilton and one of the A/S trawlers left the convoy and proceeded to Seidisfiord where they arrived the next day. Also the RFA tanker Aldersdale left the convoy.

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As stated above ships from the Home Fleet departed Scapa Flow on this day to provide cover for convoy's PQ 14 and QP 10. Later this day the destroyers that had departed Scapa Flow yesterday and that had fuelled at Skaalefiord in the Faroe Islands joined the fleet at sea after which the destroyers HMS Faulknor, HMS Escapade, HMS Onslow and HMS Offa left the fleet to also fuel at Skaalefiord.

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Also around 1645 hours this day the German submarine U-435 reported being shelled by three destroyers. This was however most likely HMS Liverpoo which reported firing on a surfaced submarine at exactly this time.

13 April 1942.

HMS Speedy, which was damaged by ice, parted company with convoy PQ 14 and proceeded to Reykjavik.

HMS Hebe, which was also damaged by ice, also parted company with convoy PQ 14 and proceeded to Akureyri, providing escort for tanker Aldersdale for part of the way.

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In the morning, HMS Faulknor, HMS Escapade, HMS Onslow and HMS Offa, rejoined the Home Fleet at sea after fuelling at Skaalefiord in the Faroe Islands. The four 'Hunt-class' destroyers then parted company with the Home Fleet and HMS Belvoir, HMS Ledbury and HMS Middleton proceeded to Scapa Flow while HMS Wheatland was to make rendez-vous with the RFA oiler Aldersdale and escort her to Seidisfiord, Iceland.

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German aircraft were heard homing U-boats on convoy QP 10 which resulted in two of them attacking the convoy shortly after midnight.

At 0059 hours the German submarine U-436 torpedoed and sank the Russian merchant Kiev (cargo; chrome ore and timber) which sank with the loss of six of her crew. The survivors were picked up by HMS Blackfly.

Then at 0129 hours the German submarine U-435 torpedoed and sank the Panamanian merchant El Occidente (cargo; chrome ore,but only as ballast). 20 of her crew crew lost their lives and 21 survivors were picked up by HMS Speedwell. Following this attack U-435 was depth charged by the destroyer HMS Oribi but she sustained no damage.

Then at 1127 hours, U-435 attacked a destroyer with one torpedo which missed. This apparently was HMS Eclipse which then counter attacked with depth charges which slightly damaged U-435.

At 1530 hours, U-435 came across the abandoned wreck of the British merchant vessel Harpalion. This ship had been heavily damaged by German Ju 88 aircraft and had been abanadoned. A reported scuttling attempt by the convoy escort must have failed. Three torpedoes were fired at the wreck of which the third torpedo struck aft. The vessel was seen to sink slowly by the stern after about 20 minutes.

14 April 1942. Convoy PQ 14 was now finally clear from the ice. Only nine merchant vessels were left that were able to continue the passage to north Russia. Six more stagglers were unaccounted for and eventually joined convoy QP 10 and returned to Iceland.

15 April 1942.

Convoy PQ 14 was detected by enemy aircraft and shadowed intermittently from then on. The enemy aircraft homed in U-boats on the convoy.

16 April 1942.

HMS Speedy and two A/S trawlers with nine merchant ships (stagglers) from convoy PQ 14 returned to Reykjavik.

HMS Hebe arrived at Akureyri from the escort of convoy PQ 14.

Also on this day the German submarine U-403 torpedoed and sank the ship of the convoy commodore of PQ 14, the British merchant Empire Howard in position 73°48'N, 21°50'E. Survivors from this ship were picked up by the A/S trawlers HMS Lord Middleton and Northern Wave.

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Convoy QP 10 was again spotted by enemy and shadowed. HMS Kent left the Home Fleet and joined the close cover force for this convoy.

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Also the escort destroyers HMS Ledbury, HMS Middleton, HMS Lamerton (Lt.Cdr. C.R. Purse, DSC, RN) and HMS Hursley (Lt. W.J.P. Church, DSC, RN) departed Scapa Flow to fuel at Skaalefiord before joining the Home Fleet at sea.

Four destroyers from the screen of the Home Fleet; HMS Faulknor, HMS Somali, HMS Bedouin and HMS Matchless also proceeded to Seidisfiord, Iceland to fuel.

17 April 1942.

What remained of convoy PQ 14 was joined by a eastern local escort made up of the Russian destroyers Gremyashchiy, Sokrushitelny and the British minesweepers Gossamer, Harrier, Hussar and HMS Niger (Cdr.(ret.) A.J. Cubison, DSC and Bar, RN).

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The destroyer HMS Eclipse from the close escort of convoy QP 10 left to fuel at Seidisfiord.

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HMS Norfolk left her patrol position to proceed to Hvalfiord, Iceland.

HMS Faulknor, HMS Somali, HMS Bedouin and HMS Matchless arrived at Seidisfiord to fuel. After doing so they left in the afternoon and rejoined the Home Fleet at sea later the same day.

Also HMS Ledbury, HMS Middleton, HMS Lamerton and HMS Hursley arrived at Skaalefiord where they fuelled and then departed to join the Home Fleet at sea.

18 April 1942.

HMS Eclipse arrived at Seidisfiord. After fuelling she departed for Scapa Flow in the afternoon.

HMS Ledbury, HMS Middleton, HMS Lamerton and HMS Hursley joined the Home Fleet at sea.

HMS Eskimo, HMS Offa and HMS Escapade then parted company with the Home Fleet to fuel at Skaalefiord where the arrived in the afternoon. After fuelling they departed for Scapa Flow later the same day.

The Home Fleet; battleships King George V, Duke of York, aircraft carrier HMS Victorious, light cruiser HMS Nigeria, destroyers HMS Punjabi, HMS Bedouin, HMS Matchless, HMS Faulknor, HMS Onslow and the escort destroyers HMS Middleton, HMS Ledbury, HMS Lamerton and HMS Hursley returned to Scapa Flow late in the evening.

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The two cruisers from the close cover force for convoy QP 10 left this convoy in position 67°43'N, 12°56'W. HMS Kent set course for Scapa Flow, HMS Liverpool for Seidisfiord, Iceland to fuel there.

19 April 1942.

HMS Edinburgh, HMS Foresight and HMS Forester arrived in the Kola Inlet.

HMS Eskimo, HMS Offa and HMS Escapade arrived at Scapa Flow.

HMS Liverpool arrived at Seidisfiord to fuel. After doing so she departed for Scapa Flow in the afternoon.

20 April 1942.

HMS Kent arrived at Scapa Flow.

21 April 1942.

What remained of convoy PQ 14 arrived at Murmansk.

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HMS Liverpool arrived at Scapa Flow.

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Convoy QP 10, 11 ships and 6 ships from PQ 14, arrived at Reykjavik escorted by HMS Oribi, HMS Marne, HMS Punjabi and HMS Fury. (54)

12 Apr 1942
The ' Battlefleet' made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Duke of York (Capt. C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN, second in command Home Fleet), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. A.E.M.B. Cunninghame-Graham, RN), light cruiser HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, CBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslow (Capt. H.T. Armstrong, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Ewing, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN), HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Belvoir (Lt. J.F.D. Bush, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Ledbury (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, RN), HMS Middleton (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN) and HMS Wheatland (Lt. R.deL. Brooke, RN) departed Scapa Flow for convoy cover operations for convoys PQ 14 and QP 10.

[For more info on these convoys see the event ' Convoy operation to and from northern Russia, convoy's PQ 14 and QP 10 ' for 8 April 1942.] (55)

18 Apr 1942
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Duke of York (Capt. C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN, second in command Home Fleet), HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN), HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, CBE, RN), HMS Somali (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, RN), HMS Onslow (Capt. H.T. Armstrong, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN), HMS Hursley (Lt. W.J.P. Church, DSC, RN), HMS Lamerton (Lt.Cdr. C.R. Purse, DSC, RN), HMS Ledbury (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, RN) and HMS Middleton (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow after convoy cover duty. (56)

23 Apr 1942
HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) conducted D/G and compass swing trials at Scapa Flow. (52)

24 Apr 1942
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), USS Washington (Capt. H.H.J. Benson, USN), heavy cruisers USS Wichita (Capt. H.W. Hill, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.C. Griffen, USN), USS Tuscaloosa (Capt. L.P. Johnson, USN), light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN) and seven destroyers conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (57)

26 Apr 1942

Convoys PQ 15 and QP 11 and the sinking of HMS Edinburgh and HMS Punjabi.

Convoy PQ 15 from Iceland to Northern Russia and Convoy QP 11 from Northern Russia to Iceland. Also includes an account on the sinking of HMS Edinburgh and HMS Punjabi.

On 26 April 1942 convoy PQ 15 departed Reykjavik for Murmansk where it arrived on 5 May 1942.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Alcoa Cadet (American, 4823 GRT, built 1919), Alcoa Rambler (American, 5500 GRT, built 1919), Bayou Chico (American, 5401 GRT, built 1920), Botavon (British, 5858 GRT, built 1912), Cape Corso (British, 3807 GRT, built 1929), Cape Race (British, 3807 GRT, built 1930), Capira (Panamanian, 5625 GRT, built 1920), Deer Lodge (American, 6187 GRT, built 1919), Empire Bard (British, 3114 GRT, built 1942), Empire Morn (British, CAM ship, 7092 GRT, built 1941), Expositor (American, 4959 GRT, built 1919), Francis Scott Key (American, 7191 GRT, built 1941), Hegira (American, 7588 GRT, built 1919), Jutland (British, 6153 GRT, built 1928), Lancaster (American, 7516 GRT, built 1918), Mormacrey (American, 5946 GRT, built 1919), Mormacrio (American, 5940 GRT, built 1919), Paul Luckenbach (American, 6606 GRT, built 1913), Seattle Spirit (American, 5627 GRT, built 1919), Southgate (British, 4862 GRT, built 1926), Texas (American, 5638 GRT, built 1919) and Zebulon B. Vance (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942).

Two icebrakers were also part of the convoy, these were the Krassin (Russian, 4902 GRT, built 1917) and Montcalm (Canadian, 1432 GRT, built 1904, to be transferred to the Russians)

The RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) tanker Grey Ranger (3313 GRT, built 1941) was also with the convoy.

On departure from Reykjavik the convoy was escorted by the minesweepers HMS Bramble (Capt. J.H.F. Crombie, RN), HMS Leda (Cdr. A.D.H. Jay, DSC, RN), HMS Seagull (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Pollock, RN) and the A/S trawlers HMS Cape Palliser (Lt. B.T. Wortley, RNR), HMS Northern Pride (T/Lt. A.R. Cornish, RNR), HMS Vizalma (T/Lt. J.R. Anglebeck, RNVR) and the A/P trawler Chiltern (Ch.Skr.(ret) P. Bevans, RNR).

Around 0300Z/28, ' Force Q ' a refuelling force for the convoy escorts, made up of the RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) tanker Grey Ranger (3313 GRT, built 1941) departed Seidisfiord with her escort, the escort destroyer HMS Ledbury (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, RN). With them were the AA ship HMS Ulster Queen (Capt.(Retd.) D.S. McGrath, RN) and the submarine HMS Sturgeon (Lt.Cdr. M.R.G. Wingfield, RN). They joined the convoy during the night of 28/29 April.

Around 0500Z/29, A close cover force made up of the light cruiser HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, RN), the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, RN), HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Venomous (Cdr. H.W. Falcon-Steward, RN), HNoMS St. Albans (Lt.Cdr. S.V. Storheill, RNorN) and the escort destroyer HMS Badsworth (Lt. G.T.S. Gray, DSC, RN) departed Seidisfiord to join the convoy which they did early on 30 April.

The heavy cruiser HMS London (Capt. R.M. Servaes, CBE, RN) also joined the convoy (close cover force), she had departed Scapa Flow around 1645B/28.

around 0635B/1, the submarine HMS Sturgeon parted company with the convoy to take up a patrol position in the Artic Sea. ' Force Q ', the refuelling force made up of the tanker Grey Ranger and escort destroyer HMS Ledbury also parted company with the convoy on 1 May.

Around 2220B/1, Six German Ju.88 torpedo bombers attacked the convoy but no hits were obtained. One of the attackers was shot down by AA fire.

During the night of 1/2 May, HMS London was detached to provide close cover for convoy QP 11.'

At 1000B/2, HMS Nigeria also parted company with the convoy to join convoy QP 11. The Admiralty had decided that there was no need for the cruisers to proceed further to the east as the enemy destroyers operating in Northern Norway had been sunk or damaged in action with the cover force of convoy QP 11 (see below).

At 2009B/2, HNoMS St. Albans and HMS Seagull attacked an A/S contact with depth charges in position 73°01'N, 17°32'E. The submarine was forced to the surface but turned out to be the Polish submarine ORP Jastrzab (Lt.Cdr. B. Romanowski). She was way out of position and in waters where German submarines were expected to be operating. No blame could possibly be taacked to HNoMS St. Albans and HMS Seagull. Five of the crew of the Polish submarine died while the others were picked up.

At 0120B/3, the convoy was again attacked by enemy torpedo bombers. Visibility was bad and the enemy planes were not sighted until it was too late. Also radar had not picked them up. The succeeded in sinking two merchant vessels, the Botavon (the ship of the Convoy Commodore) and the Cape Corso. A third merchant vessel, the Jutland was damaged and was abandoned by her crew. The drifting ship was shortly afterwards torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-251.

At 2230C/3, a final German air attack took place while the convoy was in position 73°00'N, 31°15'E. A bomb near missed the A/S trawler HMS Cape Palliser which sustained some slight damage. One German Ju.88 aircraft was shot down. Visibility deteriorated in the evening of the 4th and a south-easterly gale sprang up bringing heavy snow. This provided the convoy with excellent cover for the remainder of the passage. The convoy arrived in the Kola Inlet around 2100C/5.

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On 28 April 1942 convoy QP 11 departed Murmansk for Reykjavik where it arrived on 7 May 1942.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Atheltemplar (British (tanker), 8992 GRT, built 1930), Ballot (Panamanian, 6131 GRT, built 1922), Briarwood (British, 4019 GRT, built 1930), Dan-Y-Bryn (British, 5117 GRT, built 1940), Dunboyne (American, 3515 GRT, built 1919), El Estero (Panamanian, 4219 GRT, built 1920), Eldena (American, 6900 GRT, built 1919), Gallant Fox (Panamanian, 5473 GRT, built 1918), Mormacmar (American, 5453 GRT, built 1920), Stone Street (Panamanian, 6131 GRT, built 1922), Trehata (British, 4817 GRT, built 1928), Tsiolkovsky (Russian, 2847 GRT, built 1935) and West Cheswald (American, 5711 GRT, built 1919).

On departure from Murmansk the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Bulldog (Cdr. M. Richmond, OBE, DSO, RN), HMS Beagle (Cdr. R.C. Medley, RN), HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Roper, RN), HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, OBE, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. G.P. Huddart, RN), HMS Beverley (Lt.Cdr. J. Grant, RN), corvettes HMS Campanula (Lt.Cdr. W. Hine, RNR), HMS Oxlip (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.B. Collinson, RD, RNR), HMS Saxifage (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.P. Chapman, RNR), HMS Snowflake (Lt. H.G. Chesterman, RNR) and the A/S trawlers HMS Lord Middleton (T/Lt. R.H. Jameson, RNR) and HMS Northern Wave (T/Lt. W.G. Pardoe-Matthews, RNR). Cover was provided by the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. H.W. Faulkner, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral S.S. Bonham-Carter, CB, CVO, DSO, RN).

Besides these ships there was a local escort by the Russian destroyers Sokrushitelny and Gremyashchiy until at least 30°E and by the minesweepers HMS Gossamer (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Crease, RN), HMS Harrier (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO, RN), HMS Hussar (Lt. R.C. Biggs, DSC, RN) and HMS Niger (Cdr.(ret.) A.J. Cubison, DSC and Bar, RN) until the evening of the 29th.

The convoy was sighted and reported by enemy aircraft and submarines on the 29th, but no attacks took place that day. The following afternoon (30 September), however, HMS Edinburgh, then zigzagging at high speed some 15 nautical miles ahead of the convoy, in approximate position 73°09'N, 32°45'E, was struck by two torpedoes from the German submarine U-456. Her stern was blown off and her steering gear was wrecked. She was able to steam at slow speed on two shafts. The explosion was seen from the convoy and the destroyers HMS Foresight and HMS Forester were detached to her assistance, followed shortly afterwards by the two Russian destroyers. Escorted by these destroyers HMS Edinburgh started in the 250 nautical mile return passage to Murmansk.

The presence of the destroyers prevented U-456 from finishing the cruiser off. She continued to shadown and report the Edinburgh's movements. These reported tempted the German Flag Officer, Northern Waters to sent three destroyers from Kirkenes to attack convoy QP 11 with its depleted escort and the destroyers Z 7 / Hermann Schoemann, Z 24 and Z 25 put to sea and steered to the north.

Convoy QP 11, meanwhile, continued its passage. At 0540/1, being then about 150 miles to the east-south-east of Bear Island it was unsuccesfully attacked by four torpedo aircraft. At the same time an enemy submarine was sighted and forced to dive by HMS Amazon. Frequent HF/DF bearings indicated that four enemy submarines were keeping pace with the convoy on different bearings, and at 0820/1, course was altered 40° to starboard (to 320°) in an endeavour to shake them off. Then ice was sighted in large quantities ahead. This was found to extend some 20 miles to the southward of the route, and course was again altered to the westward.

The forenoon passed without incident. The weather was moderate, wind north-north-east, force 3. Frequent snow squalls caused the visibility to vary between ten and two miles.

At 1345/1, the convoy was in course 275°, skirting heavy drift ice to starboard, when HMS Snowflake reported three radar contacts bearing 185°. At the some moment, HMS Beverley, screening on the port bow, reported enemy in sight, bearing 210°. The enemy proved to be three large destroyers. In the course of the next four hours they made five separate attempts to reach the convoy, each of which wass foiled by the aggressive tactics of the escorting destroyers desipite their great inferiority in gun power to the Germans.

On receipt of the Beverley's sighting report, Commander Richmond who was on the starboard bow of the convoy, moved across to the threatened flank and ordered the destroyers to concentrate on him. The convoy (with the corvettes and trawlers) at once carried out an emergency turn of 40° to starboard, the destroyers making smoke to cover it.

At 1400/1, HMS Bulldog turned towards the enemy on a south-westerly course, with the destroyers in line ahead in the order HMS Beagle, HMS Amazon and HMS Beverley. The Germans were at this time in line of bearing formation, about 10000 yards distant, heading towards the convoy. At 1407/1, both sides opened fire, the Germans turning together to starboard to open 'A' arcs, and the British destroyers to port to a similar course. Both sides fired torpedoes but none of them found its mark, but a track was seen to pass close astern of HMS Bulldog. After three minutes (1410/1), the Germans turned away asnd the British destroyers returned towards the convoy, making smoke. In this brief engagement HMS Amazon was hit. Her steering gear, telegraphs and one gun being put out of action, but she managed to keep control and was stationed at the rear of the line.

A quarter of an hour after this action ceased, the convoy suffered its only loss, when the Russian merchant vessel Tsiolkovsky, which was staggling from the convoy, was hit by torpedo and sink rapidly. The survivors were rescued by the Lord Middleton.

Commander Richmond, meanwhile, was keeping his destroyers between the convoy and the estimate position of the enemy. At 1433/1 they were again sighted, bearing 160° about 15000 yards off, and the second attack developed. The British destroyers again steered for them and at 1440/1 fire was opened at 12000 yards range. No hits were obtained by either side, but after five minutes the enemy turned away and the British once more retired on the convoy. By this time the convoy was well within the ice and ' in order to maintain touch the destroyers were led through lanes of open water as opportunity offered, bearing in mind that sufficient sea room to manoeuvre in action must be maintained. The presented a nice problem.'

About an hour elapsed before the enemy's next attempt. Then at 1558/1, he was sighted six miles away coming in from the eastward, bearing 115°. Commander Richmond repeated his tactics, and both sides opened fire at 1600/1. HMS Bulldog was straddled several times and slightly damaged, but after ten minutes the enemy turned away under smoke to the southward and the British again closed the convoy, by then spread out over a distance of some seven miles, as it picked its way through the heavy drift ice in single line formation.

Shortly before 1700/1 the Germans were again sighted, following a radar report from HMS Snowflake, this time bearing 146°, 20000 yards. HMS Bulldog led round towards them, fire was opened at 1658/1 and after seven minutes the enemy made smoke and turned away.

Half an hour later the Germans made their fifth and last attempt to break through. Fire was exchanged between 1736/1 and 1742/1, when they once more turned away. The British held on towards them for a few minutes till the rear destroyer disappeared into the smoke to the south-east. This was the last seen of them, shortly afterwards they were ordered to attack the damaged Edinburgh some 200 nautical miles to the eastward, and altered course accordingly. Commander Richmond of course could not know this, and for the next three hours he kept his force cruising between the supposed direction of the enemy and the convoy, while the latter was breaking its way through the ice. By 2155/1, the convoy was in open water and the destroyer resumed their screening stations.

The remainder of the passage was uneventful. Convoy PQ 15 was sighted proceeding to the eastward at 1000/2. QP 11 arrived at Reykjavik at 0700/7.

In the meantime, while convoy QP 11 was being subjected to the attacks by the German destroyers, the damaged HMS Edinburgh had been making the best of her way towards Murmansk. The first torpedo had hit the starboard side forward, causing considarable flooding. The second torpedo hit right aft and virtually blew her stern off. She had lost her rudder and the two inner shafts, but could steam at about 8 knots with the outer propellers.

HMS Foresight, HMS Forester, Sokrushitelny and Gremyashchiy arrived about an hour after she had been hit. An attempt by HMS Forester to take her in tow failed, with no stern and seven feet down by the bow, she came rapidly into the wind as soon as she gathered headway, and parted the tow. Further attempts to aid her were then delayed while the destroyers hunted a German submarine that was sighted on the surface four miles away.

During the night of 30 April / 1 May some progress at about three knots was made by the Edinburgh taking HMS Foresight in tow and using her to control the steering. At 0600/1, however, the Russian destroyers reported that they had to return to harbour for fuel and parted company. German submarines were known to be about and in these circumstances Rear-Admiral Bonham-Carter deemed it essential that both the remaining destroyers should be used for screeing. So HMS Foresight was cast off and HMS Edinburgh struggled on, steering as best she could with her engines. Left to her own devices, a persitent swing to port could only be countered by gathering sternway every few minutes and the speed of advance fell to two knots. Thus she proceeded for about 23 hours. That no enemy submarine succeeded in attacking during this anxious period is the measure of alterness of HMS Forester and HMS Foresight.

That afternoon the Bulldog's report of the German destroyer attacks came in. The probability of their shifting their attentions to HMS Edinburgh was at once realised and Rear-Admiral Bonham-Carter and he gave the following instructions; ' In event of attack by German destroyers, HMS Forester and HMS Foresight are to act independently, taking every opportunity to defeat the enemy without taking undue risks to themselves in defending HMS Edinburgh. HMS Edinburgh is to proceed wherever the wind permits, probably straight into the wind. If minesweepers are present they will also be told to act independently retiring under smoke screen as necessary. HMS Edinburgh had no RDF or Director working.'

At 1800/1, the Russian escort vessel Rubin joined and six hours later the minesweepers Gossamer, Harrier, Hussar and Niger arrived with a Russian tug. Disappointingly, the tug was not powerful enough to tow. Eventually at 0530/2, HMS Edinburgh was again making three knots under her own power and holding a fairly steady course of 150°. She was steered by the tug fine on the starboard bow and HMS Gossamer acting as a drogue on the port quarter. HMS Niger had been detached during the night to make rendezvous with the Russian destroyers which would return after fuelling. However they did sail long after they were expected to do so and HMS Niger rejoined at 1020/2. HMS Harrier, HMS Hussar, Rubin, HMS Foresight and HMS Forester patrolled around the damaged cruiser in a circle.

The wind was north-north-east, force three. As usual there were frequent snow squalls and the visibility varied from ten to two miles. Despite the fact that enemy submarines were known to be taking up positions to intercept, and the probability of destroyer attack there seemed to be a chance of making port. But it was not to be.

At 0627/3 gunfire from HMS Hussar, then on the starboard quarter, heralded the approach of the enemy, which proved to be the three destroyers. HMS Hussar was almost immediately straddled, and fell back on HMS Edinburgh.

There ensued a series of individual actions, ships engaging whenever visibility permitted. The Germans kept about seven miles to the north-north-east of HMS Edinburgh making full use of snow squalls and smoke to get within torpedo range, and it was seldom that more than one of them was in sight at the same time.

At the first alarm HMS Edinburgh cast off the tows and went on to her maximum speed - about eight knots. Unable to steer, she circled round to port, sometimes rapidly, sometimes on a wider curve, firing with 'B' turret whenever it could be directed from the bridge on to a fleeting target. The minesweepers remained near her, engaging the enemy with their one gun salvoes whenever they appeared and looking out for enemy submarines. HMS Foresight at once steered for the gunflashes at 24 knots while HMS Forester, which was two or three miles to the westward, went on to 30 knots and steered to join her.

First blood on either side was drawn by HMS Edinburgh, which opened fire on the Z 7 / Hermann Schoemann at 0636/2. Her first salvo fell within 100 yards. The German destroyer increased speed to 31 knots, made smike and turned away, but the second salvo scored a hit, which put both engines out of action and destroyed all control instruments. This fortunate hit had a marked effect on the events of the day. She came to a stop and remained virtually out of action, while from then onwards the efforts of her consorts were largely directed towards succouring and screening her.

Meanwhile HMS Foresight had sighted an enemy destroyer, Z 24, 10000 yards off, steering straight towards her, just as HMS Edinburgh opened fire at 0836/2. At 0640/2 the range was down to 8000 yards and Commander Salter opened fire on Z 24, altering course to the eastwards to open 'A' arcs. For the next eight minutes all three enemy destroyers were playing hide and seek in the snow and their own smoke screens. Targets were engaged as and when they came into vision, ranges varying between 6000 and 8000 yards.

HMS Forester was also fighting under much the same conditions, but shestood on to the northward when HMS Foresight turned to open her 'A' arcs. At 0650/1 she fired torpedoes. almost at the same moment she received three hits. One in No.1 boiler room brought her to a standstill. One put 'B' gun out of action and killed the Commanding Officer and one on 'X' gun shattered its breech mechanism. At 0653/2, torpedoes were seen passing underneath the ship in the direction of HMS Edinburgh which was then about five miles north-west of HMS Foresight which had just, at 0648/2, altered away from the enemy to the westward, in order to close HMS Edinburgh. Seeing HMS Forester stopped and on fire, Commander Salter steered to her assistance. HMS Forester with her sole remaining gun and her 1st Lieutenant now in Command, was engaging the stationary Z 7 / Hermann Schoemann some three miles to the northward, and shifted to the other destroyers whenever they appeared from the snow. HMS Foresight had closed to within half a mile by 0700/2, and then turned to an easterly course, so as not to foul the Forester's range, and engaged on of the destroyers which had been firing on her.

Just at this time, 0702/2, HMS Edinburgh was torpedoed. The torpedoes were seen breaking surface as they approached. These was nothing she could do to avoid them but it looked as if her eccentric gyrations would take her clear. However her 'luck' was out. One torpedo, which was running deep, struck her port side amidships at a point practically opposite one of the former hits. She immediately listed to port and gradually came to a standstill. The ship was 'open from side to side'. It was clear that she might break in two and sink at any moment, and Rear-Admiral Bonham-Carter ordered HMS Gossamer alongside to take off the wounded and passanger. HMS Edinburgh nevertheless continued to engage the enemy whenever they appeared. Her shooting was described by the Z 24 as 'extra-ordinarily good' and twice deterred her from going to the assistance of the Z 7 / Hermann Schoemann. However the list was increasing and when it reached 17° her guns would no longer bear. The Rear-Admiral then directed Captain Faulkner to abandon ship.

Meanwhile HMS Foresight after engaging her opponent for five minutes again turned to the westward and seeing HMS Forester being heavily straddled, passed between her and the enemy, drawing their fire. At 0714/2, Commander Salter, altered course to close the range, and a few minutes later fired a salvo of torpedoes (which missed) at the Z 7 / Herman Schoemann. Just afterwards he came under a heavy concentration of fire from Z 24 and Z 25 at 4000 yards range. He increased to full speed and tried to get away under smoke, but received four hits, one of them in No.3 boiler, which brought the ship to a standstill at 0724/2 in welter of steam and smoke with only one gun still in action.

The Edinburgh, Foresight and Forester were thus all stopped with their gun power much reduced. There seemed nothing to prevent the two comparatively undamaged German destroyers from sinking each of them separately and afterwards dealing with the slow, lightly armed minesweepers at their leisure. But though they made repeated attacks on the destroyers with heavy but fortunate inaccurate fire, they did not press home their advantage. Their main concern was with the Hermann Schoemann. Already thee attempts by the Z 24 to go alongside and take off her ship's company had been foiled by British gunfire, and they let the opportunity pass.

Ten minutes after HMS Foresight stopped, HMS Forester managed to get underway (0735/2). At the same time Z 24 and Z 25 again opened fire on her but they soon disappeared into smoke, emerging a few minutes later to concentrate on HMS Foresight. This gave HMS Forester an opportunity to repay the debt she owned for the respite HMS Foresight had afforded her earlier in the day, and, zigzagging between her and the enemy, she covered her with a heavy efficient smoke screen. This was the close of the action. Shortly afterwards Z 24 finally managed to get alongside Z 7 / Hermann Schoemann and took off about 200 survivors. The latter - already in a sinking condition - was then scuttled, and the Z 24 and Z 25 (which had received a hit in her wireless room) withdrew at high speed to the north-west and were lost to view by the British around 0820/2.

Meanwhile HMS Foresight had effected temporary repairs and by 0815/2 was proceeding slowly on the port engine. HMS Edinburgh had been abandoned by 0800/15, HMS Gossamer taking about 440 men and HMS Harrier, in which Rear-Admiral Bonham-Carter hoisted his flag, about 350. Meanwhile HMS Hussar was screening them and laying a smoke screen. Attempts by HMS Harrier to sink the cruiser by gunfire and depth charges failed so HMS Foresight was ordered to finish her off with her last remaining torpedo. This she did and all ships then shaped course for the Kola Inlet where they arrived without further incident the next day.

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To provide distant cover for these convoys a heavy cover force was deployed which departed Scapa Flow around 2200/28 and was made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), USS Washington (Capt. H.H.J. Benson, USN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.C. Griffen, USN), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN), heavy cruisers USS Wichita (Capt. H.W. Hill, USN), USS Tuscaloosa (Capt. L.P. Johnson, USN), light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN), destroyers HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), USS Wilson (Lt.Cdr. R.G. Sturges, USN), USS Wainwright (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Gibbs, USN), USS Madison (Lt.Cdr. W.B. Ammon, USN), USS Plunkett (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Standley, Jr., USN) and the escort destroyers HMS Belvoir (Lt. J.F.D. Bush, DSC and Bar, RN),HMS Hursley (Lt. W.J.P. Church, DSC, RN), HMS Lamerton (Lt.Cdr. C.R. Purse, DSC, RN) and HMS Middleton (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN).

At 0600/30, they were joined by the destroyers HMS Martin (Cdr. C.R.P. Thomson, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. H.N.A. Richardson, DSC, RN), HMS Oribi (Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Punjabi (Lt.Cdr. J.M.G. Waldegrave, DSC, RN) which came from Seidisfiord. HMS Inglefield, USS Wilson, USS Wainwright, USS Madison and USS Plunkett then proceeded to Seidisfiord to refuel.

They rejoined the fleet in the afternoon. Another destroyer, HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), had come with them. The four escort destroyers were then detached to return to Scapa Flow.

At 1550/1, in very bad visibility, HMS Punjabi ended up in front of HMS King George V which could not avoid a collision and cut HMS Punjabi in half. The aft part sank immediately and there was no time to set the ready depth charges to safe which as a result exploded also causing damage to HMS King George V. The front part of HMS Punjabi took 40 minutes to sink during which time HMS Martin and HMS Marne managed to take off 5 officers and 201 ratings.

As a result of the damage to HMS King George V, the battleship HMS Duke of York (Capt. C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN, second in command Home Fleet) departed from Hvalfiord, around 2045/1, to take her place in the cover force. HMS Duke of York was escorted by the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN) and HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN). They made rendezvous with the cover force around 2330/2 after which HMS King George V parted company at 0006/3 and proceeded to Seidisfiord escorted by HMS Martin, HMS Marne and HMS Oribi. They arrived at Seidisfjord around 1100/3. HMS Martin, HMS Marne and HMS Oribi then rejoined the fleet, having also fuelled at Seidisfiord, around 0610/4.

At 1800/4, USS Washington, HMS Wichita, USS Tuscaloosa, USS Wilson, USS Wainwright, USS Madison and USS Plunkett were detached to Hvalfiord where they arrived around 0815/6.

Around 2100/5, HMS Duke of York, HMS Victorious, HMS Kenya, HMS Inglefield, HMS Faulknor, HMS Escapade, HMS Eskimo, HMS Martin, HMS Marne and HMS Oribi arrived at Scapa Flow. (58)

3 May 1942
After having arrived at Seidisfjord with damage around 1100B/3, HMS King George V (Capt. W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), departed from there around 1600B/3. Course was set for Scapa Flow. She was escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Lamerton (Lt.Cdr. C.R. Purse, DSC, RN), HMS Middleton (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN) and HMS Wheatland (Lt. R.deL. Brooke, RN).

They arrived at Scapa Flow around 1945B/4. (59)

8 May 1942
A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet, transferred his flag from HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN) to HMS Duke of York (Capt. C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN).

HMS King George V then departed Scapa Flow for Liverpool where she was to undergo repairs and a refit. She was escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Middleton (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN).

HMS King George V arrived at Liverpool in the evening of the 9th. The escort destroyers had parted company around 1530B/9 to return to Scapa Flow where they arrived around 1245B/10. (60)

16 May 1942
HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN) is docked in the Gladstone Dock at Liverpool and taken in hand for repairs and refit. (61)

29 Jun 1942
HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN) is undocked. (62)

10 Jul 1942
Around 1100B/10, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN) and the destroyers HMS Martin (Cdr. C.R.P. Thomson, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. H.N.A. Richardson, DSC, RN) and HMS Escapade (Lt.Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN).

At 0820B/10, HMS King George V worked up for full power trials.

Around 1000B/11, they were joined by the heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. A.H. Maxwell-Hyslop, AM, RN) for RDF trials for King George V's new 'state of the art' radar outfit. Before joining HMS King George V and her escort HMS Cumberland had been conducting 4" HA gunnery exercises.

They arrived at Scapa Flow around 1530B/11. (63)

13 Jul 1942
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN) conducted RDF exercises off Scapa Flow with the submarine HNoMS Uredd (Lt. R.Q. Røren). During the exercises HMS King George V was most likely escorted by the destroyer HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Catterick (Lt. A. Tyson, RN). (64)

16 Jul 1942
HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN) conducted aircraft launching and recovering and gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. These were followed by D/F calibration trials. (64)

17 Jul 1942
HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN) conducted D/G trials at Scapa Flow. She also conducted engine trials with several runs over the measured mile. (64)

23 Jul 1942
HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Hawkins (Capt. G.A. French, RN) and HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, CB, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow.

HMS King George V was most likely escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Chiddingfold (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, RN) and HMS Lamerton (Lt.Cdr. C.R. Purse, DSC, RN). (64)

24 Jul 1942
A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet, transferred his flag from HMS Duke of York (Capt. C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN) to HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN). (65)

27 Jul 1942
HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) conducted aircraft launching and recovering and gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. Later underway refuelling exercises were carried out with HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN). (64)

31 Jul 1942
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk (Capt. R. Shelley, CBE, RN) and some destroyers [unable to establish their identity] conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (66)

17 Aug 1942
HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) conducted exercises at Scapa Flow. (67)

17 Aug 1942
HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. D.H.F. Hetherington, DSC, RN) and HMS Worcester (Lt.Cdr. W.A. Juniper, RN). These exercises included a range and inclination exercise during which HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN) acted as target. (67)

1 Sep 1942
During 1/2 September 1942, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. She was, most likely, escorted by the destroyers HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.deW. Kitcat, RN), HMS Echo, HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Windsor (Lt.Cdr. D.H.F. Hetherington, DSC, RN).

In the evening the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN) and HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) made exercises torpedo attacks on her. Also a night encounter exercise was carried out with the light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN). (68)

24 Sep 1942
HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (68)

2 Oct 1942
During 2/3 October 1942, the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) and HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.E. Creasy, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. These included night exercises.

[No details available on their destroyer escort.] (69)

15 Oct 1942
A/Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet, struck his flag on board HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN) and then hoisted it in the base ship HMS Dunluce Castle.

Vice-Admiral B.A. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN, second in Command Home Fleet, struck his flag on board HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN) and hoisted it in HMS King George V. (70)

17 Oct 1942
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral B.A. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN, second in Command Home Fleet) and HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow.

[No details available on their destroyer escort.] (71)

20 Oct 1942
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral B.A. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN, second in Command Home Fleet), HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. A.H. Maxwell-Hyslop, AM, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Jamaica (Capt. J.L. Storey, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. Destroyers were also present but many were exercising in the area and the logs don't mention with ones were present to escort the battleships during the exercises. (72)

29 Oct 1942
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral B.A. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN, second in Command Home Fleet), HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN) and HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. They were escorted by eight destroyers which were, most likely, HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. N.H.G. Austen, DSO, RN), HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Burnett, DSC, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) and HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.E.C.G. Baines, RN). (73)

30 Oct 1942
During 30/31 October 1942, the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral B.A. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN, second in Command Home Fleet), HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN) and HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. These included night exercises. They were, most likely, escorted by HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. N.H.G. Austen, DSO, RN), HMS Redoubt (Lt.Cdr. N.E.G. Ropner, DSO, RN), HMAS Quickmatch (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades, DSC, RAN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Burnett, DSC, RN) and HMS Melbreak (Lt. G.E.C.G. Baines, RN). (73)

1 Nov 1942
Vice-Admiral B.A. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN, second in Command Home Fleet transferred his flag from HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN) to HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN).

Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet then transferred his flag from the base ship Dunluce Castle to HMS King George V. (74)

7 Nov 1942
HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow.

[No details available on her destroyer escort.] (75)

12 Nov 1942
HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) conducted exercises at Scapa Flow. (75)

27 Nov 1942
During 27/28 November 1942, the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. A.E.M.B. Cunninghame-Graham, RN) and the fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. D. Orr-Ewing, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. These included night exercises.

Escorting destroyers for HMS King George V were most likely HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Oribi (Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walter, DSC, RN). HMS Loyal (Lt.Cdr. H.E.F. Tweedie, DSC, RN) is also a possibility. (76)

10 Dec 1942
During 10/11 December 1942, the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Anson ((Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir B. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN), light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslow (Capt. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, DSO, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. A.G. West, RN) and HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. These included night exercises.

The following morning they were joined for a few hours by the light cruiser HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN). (77)

15 Dec 1942

Convoy JW 51A.

This convoy departed Loch Ewe on 15 December 1942.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Beauregard (American, 5976 GRT, built 1920), Briarwood (British, 4019 GRT, built 1930), Dynastic (American, 5773 GRT, built 1919), El Almirante (Panamanian, 5248 GRT, built 1917), El Oceano (Panamanian, 6767 GRT, built 1925), Empire Meteor (British, 7457 GRT, built 1940), Gateway City (American, 5432 GRT, built 1920), Greylock (American, 7460 GRT, built 1921), J.L.M Curry (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Oremar (American, 6854 GRT, built 1919), Richard Bassett (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Richard Bland (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), San Cipriano (British (tanker), 7966 GRT, built 1937), West Gotomska (American, 5728 GRT, built 1918) and Wind Rush (American, 5586 GRT, built 1918).

The RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) tanker Oligarch (6894, built 1918) was also part of the convoy.

On departure from Loch Ewe the convoy was escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Chiddingfold (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, RN), HMS Ledbury (Lt. D.R.N. Murdoch, RN), minesweeper HMS Seagull (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Pollock, RN), corvettes HMS Honeysuckle (Lt. H.H.D. MacKillican, DSC and Bar, RNR), HMS Oxlip (Lt. C.W. Leadbetter, RNR) and the A/S trawlers Lady Madeleine (T/Lt. W.G.Ogden, DSC, RNVR) and HMS Northern Wave (T/Lt. W.G. Pardoe-Matthews, RNR).

On the 17th the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. A.G. West, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Beagle (Cdr. R.C. Medley, DSO, RN) and HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN) departed Seidisfjord to join the convoy which they did on the 18th. After the destroyers had joined the convoy the three escort destroyer parted company with the convoy.

On the 24th five of the merchant ships were detached to proceed to Molotovsk. They were escorted by the Russian destroyers Razyarenniy and Valerian Kyubishev.

The Murmansk section of the convoy arrived in the Kola Inlet on the 25th.

The Molotovsk section of the convoy arrived there on the 27th.

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To provide distant cover for the convoy a ' battlefleet ' was deployed which was made up of the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. G.H. Faulkner, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN) and HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN). They departed Scapa Flow on 19 December 1942.

On 21 December they reached their covering position and cruiser to the southward of the convoy's route.

They arrived back at Scapa Flow on 25 December 1942.

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To provide close cover for the convoy ' Force R ' a cruiser cover force was deployed. It was made up of the light cruisers HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, DSO, OBE, RN), HMS Jamaica (Capt. J.L. Storey, RN) and the destroyers HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN) and HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN). They had departed Scapa Flow on the 16th except for HMS Sheffield which joined them at sea later on the 16th coming from Loch Ewe.

On the 18th, both destroyers entered Seidisfjord to fuel. The cruisers did not do so due to thick fog and proceeded to cover the convoy without the destroyers.

On the 20th, the destroyers finally departed Seidisfjord to join the cruisers. They had been delayed due to defects in HMS Matchless.

On 23 December 1942 the destroyers joined the cruisers.

' Force R ' arrived in the Kola Inlet on 24 December 1942. (78)

19 Dec 1942
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. G.H. Faulkner, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Farrington, RN) and HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN) departed Scapa Flow on 19 December 1942 to provide distant cover for convoy JW 51A.

They returned to Scapa Flow on 25 December 1942.

[For more info this convoy see the event ' Convoy JW 51A ' for 15 December 1942. (79)

30 Dec 1942

Convoy RA 51.

This convoy departed the Kola Inlet on 30 December 1942.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Belorussia (Russian, 2900 GRT, built 1936), Campfire (American, 5671 GRT, built 1919), Empire Galliard (British, 7170 GRT, built 1942), Empire Scott (British, 6150 GRT, built 1941), Hopemount (British, 7434 GRT, built 1929), Hugh Williamson (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), John Walker (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Kotlin (Russian, 2545 GRT, built 1921), Meanticut (American, 6061 GRT, built 1921), Okhta (Russian, 1357 GRT, built 1918), Revolutsioner (Russian, 2900 GRT, built 1936), Richard Halvey (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942) and Volga (Russian, 2847 GRT, built 1935).

The RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) tanker Oligarch (6894 GRT, built 1918) was also part of the convoy.

On departure from the Kola Inlet the convoy was escorted by the destroyers FHMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. A.G. West, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Beagle (Cdr. R.C. Medley, DSO, RN), minesweeper HMS Gleaner (Lt.Cdr. F.J.G. Hewitt, DSC, RN) and the A/S trawlers HMS Cape Argona (T/A/Lt.Cdr. E.R. Pate, RNR), HMS Cape Mariato (T/Lt. H.T.S. Clouston, RNVR), HMS Daneman (T/Lt. G.O.T.D. Henderson, RNVR), HMS St. Kenan (Lt. J. Mackay, RNR).

On 31 December 1942, the convoy was spotted by German air reconnaissance.

The destroyer HMS Montrose (A/Cdr. W.J. Phipps, OBE, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and HMS Ledbury (Lt. D.R.N. Murdoch, RN) departed Seidisfjord to join the convoy which they did the following day.

HMS Faulknor, HMS Inglefield, HMS Fury, HMS Echo, HMS Eclipse and HMS Beagle were then detached to proceed to Seidisfjord.

Also the RFA tanker Oligarch was detached to Hvalfjord escorted by HMS Cape Mariato and HMS St. Kenan. They arrived at Hvalfjord on the 8th.

On the 7th, HMS Daneman had to be detached to Seidisfjord due to engine trouble.

The destroyer HMS Worcester (Lt.Cdr. W.A. Juniper, RN) left Seidisfjord and joined the convoy.

On the 9th, HMS Blankney was detached from the convoy to proceed to Scapa Flow arriving later the same day.

On the 10th, HMS Worcester was detached from the convoy to Stornoway due to condenser trouble.

HMS Montrose, HMS Ledbury and HMS Gleaner were detached from the convoy to Scapa Flow where they arrived on the 11th.

On the 11th, the convoy arrived at Loch Ewe escorted by HMS Cape Argona.

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A close cover force ' Force R ' was deployed. It was made up of the light cruisers HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, DSO, OBE, RN) and HMS Jamaica (Capt. J.L. Storey, RN) which had departed the Kola Inlet on 27 December to provide cover, first for eastbound convoy JW 51B and then for westbound convoy RA 50.

They had engaged enemy surface forces on 31 December 1942 during the defence of convoy JW 51B and then had turned west to provide cover for convoy RA 51.

On 2 January 1943 the set course to proceed to Seidisfjord where they arrived on 4 January.

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A battleforce, made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) and HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), heavy cruisers HMS Kent (Capt. A.E.M.B. Cunninghame-Graham, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral L.H.K. Hamilton, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Berwick (Capt. G.H. Faulkner, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) and the destroyers HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski), HMS Montrose and HMS Worcester departed Scapa Flow on 31 December 1942 and steered north to cover the passage of convoy RA 51 between latitudes 70°00'N and 71°30'N and longitude 01°00'E to 05°00'E.

As the battlefleet proceeded to the north they ran into heavy weather on 1 Janauary 1943 and they had to slow down to enable the destroyers to keep up without sustaining weather damage. HMS Kent and HMS Berwick were then detached to proceed ahead to reach the covering position at the intended time.

On the 2nd, HMS Montrose was detached to Seidisfjord where she arrived on the 3rd.

On the 3rd the battlefleet, minus HMS Kent and HMS Berwick turned back towards Scapa Flow. HMS Worcester was detached to Seidisfjord where she arrived on the 4th.

HMS King George V, HMS Howe, HMS Bermuda, HMS Raider, HMS Queenborough, HMS Musketeer and ORP Piorun returned to Scapa Flow on the 5th.

HMS Kent and HMS Berwick returned to Scapa Flow on the 6th. (80)

31 Dec 1942
Around 1530A/31, the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) and HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), heavy cruisers HMS Kent (Capt. A.E.M.B. Cunninghame-Graham, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral L.H.K. Hamilton, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Berwick (Capt. G.H. Faulkner, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) and the destroyers HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski), HMS Montrose (A/Cdr. W.J. Phipps, OBE, RN) and HMS Worcester (Lt.Cdr. W.A. Juniper, RN) departed Scapa Flow to provide cover for convoy RA 51.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy RA 51 ' for 30 December 1942.] (81)

5 Jan 1943
Around 0900A/5, the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) and HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) and the destroyers HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski) arrived at Scapa Flow from convoy cover operations. (80)

18 Jan 1943
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow during which she was escorted by destroyers (these were possibly HMS Montrose (A/Cdr. W.J. Phipps, OBE, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) and HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN)).

The exercises were carried out with the heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. A.E.M.B. Cunninghame-Graham, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral L.H.K. Hamilton, CB, DSO and Bar, RN) and the light cruisers HMS Glasgow (Capt. E.M. Evans-Lombe, RN) and HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN). Upon completion of the exercises HMS King George V and the destroyers returned to Scapa Flow while the cruisers set course to Seidisfjord, Iceland. (82)

27 Jan 1943
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) conducted trials and exercises at Scapa Flow. These included an underway refuelling exercise with the escort destroyer HMS Middleton (Lt. C.S. Battersby, RN). Also several runs were made over the measured mile. (83)

5 Feb 1943
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) conducted underway refuelling exercises with the destroyer HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN). (84)

11 Feb 1943
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) conducted gunnery exercises off Scapa Flow. She was escorted by three destroyers [unable to identify their identities]. (84)

15 Feb 1943

Convoy JW 53.

This convoy departed Loch Ewe for Northern Russia on 15 February 1943.

On departure from Loch Ewe the convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Artigas (Panamanian, 5613 GRT, built 1920), Atlantic (British, 5414 GRT, built 1939), Beaconhill (American, 6941 GRT, built 1919), Bering (American, 7631 GRT, built 1920), British Governor (British (tanker), 6840 GRT, built 1926), City of Omaha (British, 6124 GRT, built 1920), Dover Hill (British, 5815 GRT, built 1918), Empire Baffin (British, 6978 GRT, built 1941), Empire Fortune (British, 6140 GRT, built 1943), Empire Galliard (British, 7170 GRT, built 1942), Empire Kinsman (British, 6744 GRT, built 1942), Empire Portia (British, 7058 GRT, built 1942), Empire Scott (British, 6150 GRT, built 141), Explorer (British, 6235 GRT, built 1935), Francis Scott Key (American, 7191 GRT, built 1941), Israel Putnam (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), James Bowie (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), John Laurance (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Joseph E. Johnston (American, 7196 GRT, built 1942), Komiles (Russian, 3962 GRT, built 1932), Llandaff (British, 4825 GRT, built 1937), Marathon (Norwegian, 7208 GRT, built 1930), Mobile City (American, 6157 GRT, built 1920), Ocean Freedom (British, 7173 GRT, built 1942), Petrovski (Russian, 3771 GRT, built 1921), Pieter de Hoogh (British, 7168 GRT, built 1941), Tblisi (Russian, 7169 GRT, built 1912), Thomas Hartley (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942) and Tobruk (British, 7048 GRT, built 1942).

Three of the above listed ships sailed only on the 16th as convoy JW 53B and were to overtake and join the main convoy [see below].

On departure from Loch Ewe the convoy was escorted by the minesweeper HMS Jason (Cdr. H.G.A. Lewis, RN), corvettes HMS Bergamot (Lt. R.T. Horan, RNR), HMS Dianella (T/Lt. J.F. Tognola, RNR), HMS Poppy (Lt. N.K. Boyd, RNR) and the A/S trawlers HMS Lord Austin (T/Lt. E.L. Wathen, RNR) and HMS Lord Middleton (T/Lt. T.D. Bennett, RNR).

The escort destroyers escort destroyers HMS Meynell (Lt. B.M.D. I'Anson, RN), HMS Middleton (Lt. C.S. Battersby, RN), HMS Pytchley (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN) and minesweeper HMS Hazard (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Smith, RN) departed Scapa Flow on the same day and joined the convoy escort at sea. HMS Hazard however returned to Scapa Flow later the same day with weather damage and presumably never actually joined the convoy. She was replaced by HMS Halcyon (T/A/Lt.Cdr. H.L.D. Hoare, RNR) which departed Scapa Flow early on the 16th joining the convoy escort p.m. that day.

Also on the 16th convoy JW 53B, made up of three merchant ships of the above list, and escorted by the corvette HMS Bryony (T/Lt. T. Hand, RNR) departed Loch Ewe to overtake and join the convoy. The destroyers HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN) and HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) departed Scapa Flow to join convoy JW 53B which they did the following day after which HMS Bryony was detached to Liverpool as she had sustained weather damage. She arrived at Liverpool on the 18th.

On the 17th, the A/S trawler HMS Lord Middleton was detached with weather damage to Scapa Flow escorted by the corvette HMS Dianella. They arrived at Scapa Flow on the 18th.

On the 18th, one of the ships from convoy JW 53B was detached to Scapa Flow with weather damage. She was escorted by HMS Matchless. The merchant vessel eventually went back to Loch Ewe arriving there on the 22nd. HMS Matchless then went to Scapa Flow arriving there also on the 22nd.

On the 19th, the two remaining ships of convoy JW 53B also turned back, due to the weather conditions they were unable to overtake the main convoy. Three ships from the main convoy also turned back to Loch Ewe with weather damage. These five merchant vessels arrived back at Loch Ewe on 22 February. The destroyer HMS Musketeer proceeded to Akureyri, Iceland arriving there on the 20th.

On the 20th the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN), HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. A.G. West, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN), HMS Obedient (Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN) departed Seidisfjord to join the escort of convoy JW 53 as did the corvettes HMS Bluebell (Lt. G.H. Walker, RNVR) and HMS Camellia (T/Lt. R.F.J. Maberley, RNVR). All these escorts joined the convoy p.m. 20th.

Also on the 20th the AA cruiser HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) and ORP Orkan (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) departed Akureyri also to join the escort of convoy JW 53 which they did on 21 February.

On the 21st, HMS Middleton and HMS Pytchley were detached from the escort of convoy JW 53 to proceed to Seidisfjord where the arrived p.m. the same day. HMS Middleton was unable to anchor at Seidisfjord and the proceeded to Scapa Flow instead where she arrived on 23 February.

On the 22nd, HMS Meynell and HMS Halcyon parted company with convoy JW 53. HMS Meynell arrived at Seidisfjord p.m. on the 22nd, HMS Halcyon arrived the next day.

On 23 February the convoy was sighted and reported by German air reconnaissance and of the next day the convoy was being shadowed by aircraft and U-boats.

At 2142A/24, the German submarine U-622 attacked a destroyer with torpedoes. She missed but was later depth charged by the destroyer HMS Orwell which most likely had also been the target of her attack. The submarine escaped without damage though.

On 25 February the convoy was attacked around noon by 14 Ju.88's in position 73°41'N, 29°42'E. No damage was done to any ship in the convoy.

Around noon the 26th the convoy was attacked again from the air, in position 71°16'N, 36°54'E and again no damage was done.

Also on the 26th a Russian escort made up of the destroyers Gromkiy, Grozniy, Valerian Kyubishev and Uritsky joined as did the British minesweeper HMS Britomart (Lt.Cdr. S.S. Stammwitz, RN).

Later on the 26th, seven of the merchant vessels were detached to Archangelsk with the Russian escorts as well as the minesweeper HMS Britomart.

The bulk of the convoy arrived in the Kola Inlet on 27 February. The Archangelsk section arrived there the following day.

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A battle force (distant cover force) for this convoy was also deployed. It departed Akureyri, Iceland on 22 February 1943 and was made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. G.H. Faulkner, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Offa (Cdr. R.A. Ewing, DSC, RN), HMS Musketeer, HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski) and HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN).

They arrived in their covering position, 150 miles south-west of Bear Island on 24 February.

On the 26th the distant cover force returned to Akureyri except for HMS Berwick which was detached to Hvalfjord where she arrived on the 27th.

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Besides the distant cover force there was also a cruiser / close cover force ' Force R '.

It was made up of the light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, OBE, RN) and the heavy cruisers HMS Cumberland (Capt. A.H. Maxwell-Hyslop, AM, RN) and HMS Norfolk (Capt. E.G.H. Bellars, RN) departed Seidisfjord on 21 February.

' Force R ' arrived in the Kola Inlet on 26 February 1943.

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A ' carrier ' force made up of the escort carrier HMS Dasher (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, DSO, RN) and the destroyer HMS Impulsive and the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and HMS Ledbury (Lt. D.R.N. Murdoch, RN) was also to be deployed from Seidisfjord but as HMS Dasher and HMS Blankney suffered weather damage in the built up stage of the convoy operation so the deployment of the ' carrier ' force was cancelled. HMS Impulsive then went to Akureyri to join the ' battle ' force instead. (85)

18 Feb 1943
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. E.G.H. Bellars, RN) and the destroyers HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) and HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Burnett, DSC, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Akureyri, Iceland.

They arrived at Akureyri on the 20th except for HMS Norfolk which was then detached to proceed to Seidisfjord where she arrived on 21 February. (86)

22 Feb 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. G.H. Faulkner, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Offa (Cdr. R.A. Ewing, DSC, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski) and HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) departed Akureyri, Iceland to provide cover for convoy JW 53.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy JW 53 ' for 15 February 1943.] (87)

26 Feb 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Offa (Cdr. R.A. Ewing, DSC, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski) and HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) returned to Akureyri, Iceland from convoy cover operations. (88)

1 Mar 1943

Convoy RA 53.

This convoy departed the Kola Inlet on 1 March 1943.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Calobre (Panamanian, 6891 GRT, built 1919), Chester Valley (American, 5078 GRT, built 1919), Cornelius Harnett (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Dan-Y-Bryn (British, 5117 GRT, built 1940), Delsud (American, 4982 GRT, built 1919), El Oriente (Panamanian, 6012 GRT, built 1910), Empire Archer (British, 7031 GRT, built 1941), Empire Clarion (British, 7031 GRT, built 1942), Empire Emerald (British, 8032 GRT, built 1941), Empire Snow (British, 6327 GRT, built 1941), Empire Tristram (British, 7167 GRT, built 1942), Executive (American, 4978 GRT, built 1920), Gulfwing (American (tanker), 10217 GRT, built 1928), J.L.M. Curry (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Jefferson Myers (American, 7582 GRT, built 1920), John H.B. Latrobe (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Mossovet (Russian, 2981 GRT, built 1935), Nicholas Gilman (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Faith (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Oremar (American, 6854 GRT, built 1919), Puerto Rican (American, 6076 GRT, built 1919), Ralph Waldo Emerson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Richard Basset (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Richard Bland (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), San Cipriano (British (tanker), 7966 GRT, built 1937), Temple Arch (British, 5138 GRT, built 1940), Vermont (American, 5670 GRT, built 1919), West Gotomska (American, 5728 GRT, built 1918) and Yorkmar (British, 5612 GRT, built 1919).

The RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) tanker Oligarch (6894 GRT, built 1918) was also part of the convoy.

On departure the close escort was made up of the AA cruiser HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN), ORP Orkan (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki), HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO, RN), HMS Obedient (Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN), HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN), HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. A.G. West, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), corvettes HMS Bergamot (Lt. R.T. Horan, RNR), HMS Lotus (Lt.Cdr. H.J. Hall, DSC, RNR), HMS Poppy (Lt. N.K. Boyd, RNR), Starwort and the A/S trawlers HMS Northern Pride (T/Lt. A.L.F. Bell, RNR) and HMS St. Elstan (Lt. R.M. Roberts, RNR).

On the 2nd the convoy was reported by the German submarine U-255 on 2 February 1943 which then commenced shadowing the convoy. Later in the day U-622 and U-629 also made contact with the convoy but were driven off. In the afternoon U-657 also made contact but soon lost it. In the evening the German submarine U-622 was depth charged by some ships of the convoy escort.

Early in the afternoon U-657 was driven off and depth charged but she escaped without damage.

In the late afternoon of 3 March the German submarine U-355 made a torpedo attack on the convoy but no hits were obtained. Following this attack the German submarine was depth charged by HMS Bergamot but she managed to escape without damage.

On 4 March U-255 was twice driven off before she could attack. Early in the day U-622 was detected and depth charged by the escort but she managed to escape without damage. The shortly before noon U-657 and shortly after noon U-355 both had the same experience.

Early on the 5th the convoy was also reported by German air reconnaissance.

In the morning of the 5th the German submarine U-255 made a torpedo attack. The British merchant Executive was sunk and the American merchant Richard Brand was hit and damaged. The torpedo did not explode but went right through the ship making a hole on both sides. The damaged ship was able to remain with the convoy for the moment though.

Early in the afternoon of the 5th the convoy was attacked by German Ju.88 aircraft but no damage was done.

On the 6th the destroyer HMS Vivacious (Lt.Cdr. R. Alexander, RN) and escort destroyers HMS Ledbury (Lt. D.R.N. Murdoch, RN), HMS Meynell (Lt. B.M.D. I'Anson, RN) and HMS Pytchley (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN) departed Akureyri to join the convoy which they did only on the 9th having been delayed by ice and bad weather. HMS Vivacious had also smashed her Asdic dome while en-route.

Also on the 6th, the destroyers HMS Faulknor, HMS Eclipse, HMS Impulsive and HMS Opportune parted company with the convoy to proceed to Seidisfjord to fuel.

On the 7th, the destroyers HMS Intrepid, HMS Boadicea, HMS Obdurate and HMS Obedient parted company with the convoy to proceed to Seidisfjord to fuel.

On the 8th, HMS Faulknor, HMS Eclipse, HMS Impulsive and HMS Opportune arrived at Seidisfjord to fuel.

On the 9th, HMS Vivacious, HMS Ledbury, HMS Meynell and HMS Pytchley joined the convoy while HMS Intrepid, HMS Boadicea, HMS Obdurate and HMS Obedient arrived at Seidisfjord to fuel.

Also on the 9th the American merchant vessel J.L.M. Curry broke up in heavy weather and sank. Apparently her hull had developed cracks earlier. Her crew was picked up by HMS St. Elstan.

HMS Faulknor, HMS Eclipse, HMS Impulsive and HMS Opportune departed Seidisfjord on the 9th to rejoin the convoy which they did later the same day.

On the 10th, HMS Scylla, HMS Milne, ORP Orkan and HMS Orwell detached from the convoy to proceed to Akureyri to fuel. They arrived the later the same day.

Also on the 10th several ships were detached to Seidisfjord, most of which (if not all) arrived there later the same day, these were , HMS Meynell, HMS Pytchley and HMS Northern Pride. Also detached was HMS Ledbury but she escorted one of the merchant vessels of the convoy to the Seidisfjord. They arrived early on the 11th.

Besides that, on the 10th, the merchant vessel Richard Brand, which had been damaged earlier, (see above), was again sighted by U-255 after having straggled from the convoy. The submarine now managed to sink her. HMS Impulsive was detached early on the 11th to pick up survivors.

On the 11th, HMS Milne, ORP Orkan and HMS Orwell departed Akureyri to search for stragglers from the convoy.

The merchant vessel John H.B. Latrobe was towed into Seidisfjord on the 11th as she had defective steering by the destroyer HMS Oppurtune. They were escorted by HMS St. Elstan.

HMS Boadicea escorting a merchant vessel (presumably the one that had arrived early on the 11th) departed Seidisfjord to rejoin the convoy.

HMS Vivacious, HMS Meynell and HMS Pytchley also departed Seidisfjord and rejoined the convoy.

HMS Bergamot, HMS Lotus and HMS Starwort left the convoy to fuel at Seidisfjord. After doing so they left Seidisfjord later on the 11th to rejoin the convoy.

HMS Poppy also parted company with the convoy, but later then the other corvettes. She too went to Seidisfjord but did not rejoin the convoy.

HMS Fury also detached on the 11th to proceed to Seidisfjord escorting the RFA tanker Oligarch. After fuelling HMS Fury departed again later the same day to rejoin the convoy.

On the 12th HMS Inglefield and HMS Ledbury departed Seidisfjord to rejoin the convoy. HMS Inglefield however remained briefly with the convoy as she was detached to Scapa Flow later the same day. Also detached to Scapa Flow were HMS Faulknor, HMS Fury and HMS Eclipse.

Also on the 12th HMS Bergamot, HMS Lotus and HMS Starwort rejoined the convoy. Also the destroyer HMS Orwell, which had been searching for stragglers joined the convoy.

On the 13th, HMS Impulsive arrived at Seidisfjord with survivors and HMS Milne also arrived there having searched for stragglers. ORP Orkan which had also been searching for stragglers proceeded direct to Scapa Flow arriving there on the 15th.

Also on the 13th, HMS Vivacious, HMS Ledbury, HMS Meynell and HMS Pytchley detached from the convoy and proceeded to Scapa Flow where they arrived on the 14th.

Two of the merchant vessels arrived at Loch Ewe on the 13th apparently having proceeded ahead of the convoy.

On the 14th, HMS Boadicea detached from the convoy to proceed to the Clyde where she arrived on the 15th.

and HMS Starwort detached from the convoy and proceeded to Londonderry arriving there on the 15th.

HMS Bergamot detached with the Clyde section of the convoy (5 ships). After having delivered them off the Clyde on the 15th, HMS Bergamot continued on to Liverpool where she arrived later on the 15th.

The Loch Ewe section of the convoy (16 ships) arrived there on the 15th.

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To provide distant cover for this convoy the ' battlefleet ' departed Akureyri on 2 March. The ' battlefleet ' was made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. E.M. Evans-Lombe, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Offa (Cdr. R.A. Ewing, DSC, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) and HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Burnett, DSC, RN).

They arrived in their covering position to the north of the convoy route on the 4th.

On the 5th they left the covering position for Scapa Flow where they arrived on the 6th minus HMS Glasgow and HMS Forester which had been detached to Skaalefjord, Faeroer Islands on the 5th. These two ships arrived there on the 6th. HMS Forester then fuelled from HMS Glasgow and they departed for Scapa Flow later the same day.

HMS Glasgow and HMS Forester arrived at Scapa Flow on the 7th.

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A cruiser, close cover, Force was also deployed. It was known as ' Force R ' and was made up of the light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, OBE, RN) and the heavy cruisers HMS Cumberland (Capt. A.H. Maxwell-Hyslop, AM, RN) and HMS Norfolk (Capt. E.G.H. Bellars, RN).

They had departed the Kola Inlet on 2 March and arrived at Seidisfjord on the 7th.

After fuelling they departed again on the 8th to continue to provide cover for the convoy.

On the 9th they set course to proceed to Scapa Flow where they arrived on the 11th. (85)

2 Mar 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. E.M. Evans-Lombe, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Offa (Cdr. R.A. Ewing, DSC, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) and HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Burnett, DSC, RN) departed Akureyri, Iceland to provide distant cover for convoy RA 53.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy RA 53 ' for 1 March 1943.] (89)

6 Mar 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Offa (Cdr. R.A. Ewing, DSC, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski) and HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow from a convoy cover operation. (90)

24 Mar 1943
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) conducted D/G trials, aircraft launching and recovering exercises and 5.25" gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (91)

27 Mar 1943
HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN) conducted a RIX (range and inclination) exercise with HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) which is screened by the destroyer HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 2 Bars, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Middleton (Lt. C.S. Battersby, RN) and HMS Brissenden (Lt. D.C. Beatty, RN).

Later HMS Newcastle conducted independent AA gunnery exercises. HMS King George V also conducted gunnery exercises. (92)

14 Apr 1943
The Commander in Chief of the Home Fleet, Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, transferred his flag from HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) to HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.E. Creasy, DSO, RN).

HMS King George V then departed Scapa Flow for Rosyth escorted by the destroyers HMCS Iroquois (Cdr. W.B.L. Holms, RCN), HMS Echo (Lt. R.H.C. Wyld, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Brissenden (Lt. D.C. Beatty, RN).

HMS King George V arrived at Rosyth the following day. The escorts returned to Scapa Flow. (93)

19 Apr 1943
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) is docked in No.1 Dock at Rosyth. (94)

25 Apr 1943
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) is undocked. (94)

30 Apr 1943
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) departed Rosyth for Scapa Flow. She is being escorted by the destroyers HMS Mahratta (Lt.Cdr. E.A.F. Drought, DSC, RN), HMS St. Marys (Lt. D.B.G. Dumas, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Stevenstone (Lt. P.B.N. Lewis, DSC, RN). (94)

1 May 1943
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Mahratta (Lt.Cdr. E.A.F. Drought, DSC, RN), HMS St. Marys (Lt. D.B.G. Dumas, RN) and HMS Stevenstone (Lt. P.B.N. Lewis, DSC, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow from Rosyth.

HMS King George V departed Scapa Flow for Gibraltar later the same day. She is now escorted by the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tuscan (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) and HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN). (95)

6 May 1943
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tuscan (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) and HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) arrived at Gibraltar. (95)

7 May 1943
Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN, hoisted his flag in HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN). (95)

13 May 1943
During 13/14 May 1943, HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), conducted exercises off Gibraltar. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN), HMS Venomous (Lt. H.D. Durell, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN) and HMS Tynedale (Lt. J.J.S. Yorke, DSC, RN). (95)

30 May 1943
' Force H ', made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. P.G. Merriman, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN), HMS Venomous (Lt. H.D. Durell, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Cleveland (Lt. J.K. Hamilton, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Haydon (Lt. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Liddesdale (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RNR), HMS Tynedale (Lt. J.J.S. Yorke, DSC, RN) and ORP Slazak (Lt.Cdr. R. Nalecz-Tyminski, ORP) departed Gibraltar for Algiers. (96)

1 Jun 1943
' Force H ', made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. P.G. Merriman, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN), HMS Venomous (Lt. H.D. Durell, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Cleveland (Lt. J.K. Hamilton, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Haydon (Lt. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Liddesdale (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RNR), HMS Tynedale (Lt. J.J.S. Yorke, DSC, RN) and ORP Slazak (Lt.Cdr. R. Nalecz-Tyminski, ORP) arrived at Algiers from Gibraltar. (97)

2 Jun 1943
' Force H ', made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. P.G. Merriman, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN), HMS Venomous (Lt. H.D. Durell, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Cleveland (Lt. J.K. Hamilton, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Haydon (Lt. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Liddesdale (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RNR), HMS Tynedale (Lt. J.J.S. Yorke, DSC, RN) and ORP Slazak (Lt.Cdr. R. Nalecz-Tyminski, ORP) departed Algiers for Mers-el-Kebir. (97)

3 Jun 1943
' Force H ', made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. P.G. Merriman, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN), HMS Venomous (Lt. H.D. Durell, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Cleveland (Lt. J.K. Hamilton, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Haydon (Lt. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Liddesdale (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RNR), HMS Tynedale (Lt. J.J.S. Yorke, DSC, RN) and ORP Slazak (Lt.Cdr. R. Nalecz-Tyminski, ORP) arrived at Mers-el-Kebir from Algiers. (97)

14 Jun 1943
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), destroyer HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Wallace, DSC, 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 Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) and HMS Tynedale (Lt. J.J.S. Yorke, DSC, RN) departed Mers-el-Kebir for Gibraltar. (98)

15 Jun 1943
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), destroyer HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Wallace, DSC, 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 Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) and HMS Tynedale (Lt. J.J.S. Yorke, DSC, RN) arrived at Gibraltar from Mers-el-Kebir. (98)

22 Jun 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, 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 Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) and HMS Tynedale (Lt. J.J.S. Yorke, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar for Mers-el-Kebir. (99)

23 Jun 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, 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 Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) and HMS Tynedale (Lt. J.J.S. Yorke, DSC, RN) arrived at Mers-el-Kebir from Gibraltar. (99)

2 Jul 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) departed Mers-el-Kebir for Gibraltar. (100)

3 Jul 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) arrived at Gibraltar from Mers-el-Kebir. (100)

5 Jul 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) departed Gibraltar for Algiers. (100)

6 Jul 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) arrived at Algiers from Gibraltar. (100)

9 Jul 1943
Around 2030B/9, ' Force H, 3rd Division ' (also known as ' Force Z '), made up the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN, Senior Officer) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt.Cdr. L.St.G. Rich, DSO, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) departed Algiers for operations.

Around 1315B/10, off Bone, they were joined by the light cruisers HMS Sirius (Capt. P.B.W. Brooking, DSO, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. J. Terry, RN) and the destroyer HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSC, RN) which had departed Bone around 1200B/10. Shortly after these ships joined, HMS Isis obtained an A/S contact and ' Force Z ' made an emergency turn.

Shortly after 1700B/10, ' Force Z ' entered the Tunisian War Channel (this started near Galita Island and then to the East of Cape Bon).

Around 1910B/10, ' Force Z ' turned back and set course for Algiers.

Around 0230B/11, HMS Sirius and HMS Dido were detached to proceed ahead to Bone where they arrived around 0615B/11.

Then at 1100B/11 a signal was received from the Commander-in-Chief that ' Operation Fracture ' was to be carried out. Course was then altered to 080° and the detached cruisers were recalled. They departed Bone again around 1335B/11 and rejoined ' Force Z ' around 1615B/11.

HMS Isis, which was unable to keep up at high speed, was detached to Bone. (101)

12 Jul 1943

Operation Fracture.

Bombardment of Levanzo Island, Trapani and Marsala.

In the evening of 11 July 1943, ' Force H, 3rd Division ' (also known as ' Force Z '), made up the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN, Senior Officer), light cruisers HMS Sirius (Capt. P.B.W. Brooking, DSO, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. J. Terry, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt.Cdr. L.St.G. Rich, DSO, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) were at sea proceeding towards the west coast of Sicily.

At 2200B/11, HMS Sirius and HMS Dido were detached to bombard Marsala.

The battleships approach course ran through two positions; A) 37°45'N, 09°46'E and B) 38°12'N, 12°10'E. Position B was reached at 0123B/12. The destroyers HMS Jervis, HMS Paladin and HMS Arrow were placed ahead of the battleships. They were to close within 9000 yards from Levanzo Island. The other three destroyers (HMS Pathfinder, HMS Panther and HMS Penn) formed an A/S screen for the battleships.

Bombardment of Levanzo Island.

At 0139B/12, speed was reduced to 16 knots, and HMS Howe opened fire at 13500 yards with starshell at 0145B/12. HMS King George V opened fire a minute later. The targets selected were three batteries and hutments in the north-east corner of Levanzo Island, which was fringed with steep cliffs. The target area was 1500 yards in depth, height allowed 300 feet, the three batteries being calculated to be in transit when Cape Grosso bore 165°. Nine rounds per 5.25" gun with flashless propellant and HE shell were fired by the battleships. The destroyers opened direct fire very shortly after 0146B/12, with ranges based on radar information. Their salvoes were seen to burst on the cliff face and top of the hill close to the northern HA/LA battery. The ammunition expended by the destroyers was; HMS Jervis 59 rouds, HMS Paladin 40 rounds and HMS Arrow 29 rounds.

The majority of the battleships salvos appeared to burst on the left side of the hill behind Cape Grosso, probably below the battery sites. The bombardment ended at 0149B/12, when course was altered to 055°. After the destroyers had turned away, the batteries on Levanzo Island opened a spasmodic fire. Some shells fell close, but none of the ships were hit.

Bombardment of Trapani.

The second phase of the operation was the bombardment of Trapani. The target selected for the 14" guns of the battleships was Trapani town to the eastward of the harbour, an area of 3000 yards from east to west with a depth of 1000 yards. For the 5.25" guns the target was Trapani harbour including Colombaia Island. HMS Howe opened fire at 0153B/12 with 14" HE shell, followed by HMS King George V within one minute. The initial range being 23000 yards, bearing 122° for both ships. The 5.25" guns opened fire shortly after the 14" when their target range was 21000 yards bearing 127°. HMS Howe fired 17 salvoes from her 14" guns. HMS King George V fired 39 rounds of 14". The majority of the salvos were estimated to have fallen in the target area, HMS Howe reported observing 'a few 14" shell bursts' and HMS King George V reported 'about a dozen'. Cordite smoke completely obscured the 5.25" target area and the blinding effect from all guns was most marked. When firing ceased at 0200B/12, course was altered to 290°.

During the approach and throughout the bombardments a large V-shaped illumination was visibly on the land near Punta Barone. This, it was conjectured may have been intended as some sort of decoy for the RAF.

After turning to the retirement course, the destroyers dropped a number of delay action devices consisting of depth chargesm smoke floats and snowflake rockets. These were intended to prolong the period of disturbance and attract the intention of any E-boats or aircraft. Apparently the first object was achieved, for both searchlights and guns continued to be active for a considerable time.

Bombardment of Marsala.

After parting company, HMS Sirius and HMS Dido proceeded towards Marsala. Flashes from an air attack in progress were observed during the approach. The bombardment course selected ran between the positions A) 37°46'N, 12°13'E and B) 37°42'N, 12°15'E, approximately on the 100 fathom line within effective range.

The zones of fires were centered as follows; HMS Sirius, 200 yards west of the railway station and HMS Dido, 400 yards north of the post office. The bombardment was carried out in indirect fire from 0148B/12 to 0207B/12, at a mean range of 21000 yards, the ships steering 157° at 18 knots. The only results observed were flashes, to tight of a large fire started by the preceding air attack, which appeared to coincide with the fall of shot.

A few enemy guns responded feebly during the latter half of the bombardment but no shells were seen to fall close to the cruisers.

At 0515B/12, the cruisers rejoined the other ships of ' Force Z ' in position 38°09'N, 10°45'E and the withdrawal was effected without incident. The destroyer HMS Isis (Cdr. B. Jones, DSC, RN) joined the screen at 0620B/12 coming from Bone.

At 1115B/12, HMS Sirius and HMS Dido were detached to Bone to arrange for the immediate fuelling of the destroyers and for all available A/S craft to patrol off the harbour during the presence of the battleships. At 1430B/12, the battleships anchored off Bone while the destroyers fuelled.

Around 2015B/12, ' Force Z ', made up of the two battleships and the seven destroyers departed Bone for Algiers where it arrived around 0715B/13. (101)

14 Jul 1943
Around 1220B/14, ' Force Z ', made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN, Senior Officer) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt.Cdr. L.St.G. Rich, DSO, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) departed Algiers after a reconnaissance aircraft had reported that two Italian battleships had departed La Spezia.

At 0130B/15, they were joined by the light cruisers HMS Sirius (Capt. P.B.W. Brooking, DSO, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. J. Terry, RN) which came from Bone.

It then became apparent that the report of the aircraft had been false and all ships returned to Bone or Algiers later on the 15th. (102)

26 Jul 1943
Around 1415B/26, the damaged aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN) departed Malta for trials. After these were successfully completed she departed for Gibraltar around 1715B/26 escorted by the destroyers HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) and RHS Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas).

Around 1800B/26, the battleships HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt. E.A.S. Bailey DSC, MBE, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Arrow (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Fitzroy, RN) departed Algiers to make rendezvous with HMS Indomitable and her escort.

Around 0300B/27, the light cruisers HMS Dido (Capt. J. Terry, RN) and HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) departed Bone to make rendezvous with the battleships and their escort. Rendezvous was effected around 0530B/27.

Around 1200B/27, HMS Indomitable and her escort made rendezvous with the battleships and the cruisers and their escort. HMS Intrepid and RHS Vasilissa Olga then parted company to return to Malta where they arrived on the 28th.

Around 0700B/28, HMS Dido and HMS Euryalus parted company to return to Bone where they arrived around 1430B/28.

Around 1100B/28, HMS Howe, HMS King George V, HMS Jervis, Paladin, Panther, Pathfinder, Penn and Arrow parted company to return to Algiers where they arrived around 1430B/28.

HMS Indomitable, HMS Antelope, HMS Boreas, HMS Wishart (Cdr. A.F. Campbell, OBE, RN) and HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. R.B.S. Tennant, RN) arrived at Gibraltar around 1830B/29. The last two destroyers had probably joined around the time the battleships and their escorts had parted company on the 28th. (103)

27 Aug 1943
HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) conducted gunnery exercises in the anchorage off Algiers. (104)

30 Aug 1943
HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) both conducted full power trials and gunnery exercises in the anchorage off Algiers. (104)

31 Aug 1943
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Algiers. (105)

7 Sep 1943
Around 0715B/7, ' Force Z ' made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt. E.A.S. Bailey DSC, MBE, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Wishart (Lt. J.A. Holdsworth, RN) departed Algiers for, initially, Augusta but this was later changed to Malta where they arrived around 1100B/8.

At Malta, Vice-Admiral A.J. Power, CB, CVO, RN, hoisted his flag in HMS Howe. (106)

8 Sep 1943

Operation Slapstick.

Landing of troops at Taranto following the Italian armistice.

Around 1545/8, the light cruisers HMS Aurora (Commodore W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. J. Terry, RN), HMS Sirius (Capt. P.W.B. Brooking, RN), USS Boise (T/Rear-Admiral T.H. Thebaud, USN) and the fast minelayer HMS Abdiel (Capt. D. Orr-Ewing, DSO, RN) departed Bizerta for Taranto. These cruisers and the minelayer had troops on board as well as stores and vehicles.

Around 0630/9, they joined the battleships HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.J. Power, CB, CVO, RN) and HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) which had departed Malta around 2200/8 with the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. J.S. Crawford, DSO, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt. E.A.S. Bailey DSC, MBE, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) and HMS Wishart (Lt. J.A. Holdsworth, RN).

Around 1315/9, the escort destroyers HMS Aldenham (Lt.Cdr. H.A. Stuart-Menteth, RN), HMS Croome (Lt. H.D.M. Slater, RN), HMS Hurworth (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN) and RHS Kanaris joined coming from Sousse (via Malta) from where they had sailed on the 8th. They had on board a port party for Taranto.

Around 1400B/9, the Italian battleships Caio Duilio (flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Da Zara), Andrea Doria, light cruisers Luigi Cadorna, Pompeo Magno and the destroyer Nicoloso da Recco were sighted proceeding towards Malta to surrender. HMS King George V with HMS Panther, Pathfinder, HMS Penn then parted company to escort these ships to Malta.

Around 1630/9, the minesweepers HMS Hazard (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Smith, RN), HMS Hebe (Lt.Cdr. G. Mowatt, RD, RNR), HMS Sharpshooter (Lt.Cdr. W.L. O'Mara, DSC, RN) and HMS BYMS 2012 (T/A/Skr.Lt. C.J. Watson, RNR) joined. These ships had also departed Malta on the 8th.

In the evening all the other ships entered the harbour of Taranto where the troops, port party, stores and vehicles were disembarked.

Troops were then to be disembarked, however, on 10 September, shortly after midnight, HMS Abdiel was mined and sunk with heavy loss of life inside the harbour before she had been able to disembark her troops.

10 Sep 1943
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) arrived at Malta escorting the Italian battleships Caio Duilio (flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Da Zara), Andrea Doria, light cruisers Luigi Cadorna, Pompeo Magno and the destroyer Nicoloso da Recco which came from Taranto to Malta after the Italian armestice. (107)

14 Sep 1943
Around 0915B/14, the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Echo (Lt. R.H.C. Wyld, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) and RHS Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas) departed Malta for Alexandria. They were escorting the Italian battleships Vittorio Veneto, Italia (former name Littorio), light cruisers Eurgenio di Savoia, Emanuelle Filiberto Duca d’Aosta, Raimondo Montecuccoli and Luigi Cadorna and the destroyers Artigliere, Velite, Grecale and Nicoloso da Recco.

They arrived at Alexandria around 0830C/16. (106)

1 Oct 1943
Around 0815C/1, the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Echo (Lt. R.H.C. Wyld, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria for Algiers.

They were joined at 0625B/2 by the destroyers HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN) and HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN) coming from Malta.

Around 0600A/3, the destroyers HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN) and HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN) joined coming from Malta after which HMS Faulknor, HMS Fury, HMS Echo and HMS Eclipse were then detached to Malta.

HMS King George V, HMS Howe, HMS Quilliam, HMS Quail, HMS Queenborough, HMS Raidar and HMS Tyrian arrived at Algiers around 0730A/4. (108)

5 Oct 1943
Around 1015A/5, the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) and HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) departed Algiers for Gibraltar. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN) and HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN).

Around 1955A/5, the escort destroyer HMS Tynedale (Lt.Cdr. J.J.S. Yorke, DSC, RN) joined.

They arrived at Gibraltar around 0815A/5. (109)

13 Oct 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN), HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (A/Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, DSC, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Savage (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN), HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. S.V. Storheill), HMS Venus (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson DSO, RN), USS Forrest (T/Cdr. K.P. Letts, USN), USS Hobson (T/Lt.Cdr. K. Loveland, USN) and USS Capps (T/Cdr. B.E.S. Trippensee, USN) departed Gibraltar for the U.K.

In the afternoon of the 14th, HMS Inglefield was fuelled by HMS King George V while HMS Obedient fuelled from HMS Howe.

Around 2200A/17, HMS Illustrious, HMS Formidable, HMS Inglefield, HMS Obedient, HMS Venus and USS Hobson parted company for the Clyde. At 0210A/18, USS Hobson parted company to proceed to Londonderry where she arrived around 0820A/18. Around the same time HMS Obedient also parted company to proceed to Scapa Flow where she arrived on the 18th. HMS Illustrious, HMS Formidable, HMS Inglefield, HMS Venus arrived in the Clyde around 1030A/18.

HMS King George V, HMS Howe, HMS Savage, HNoMS Stord, USS Forrest and USS Capps continued on towards Scapa Flow.

Around 1345A/18, HMS Howe, HMS Savage and HNoMS Stord were detached to Scapa Flow where they arrived around 1445A/18.

HMS King George V, HMS Forrest and USS Capps then continued on to Rosyth where they arrived around 0800A/19. (110)

8 Nov 1943
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) is docked at the Rosyth Dockyard. (111)

13 Nov 1943
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) is undocked. She departed Rosyth for Scapa Flow very late in the evening.

Shortly after midnight on the 14th, she was joined by the destroyers HMS Hardy (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN) and HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, RN) which escorted her to Scapa Flow where they arrived around 1805A/14. (111)

19 Nov 1943
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. She returned shortly after midnight on the 14th.

During the exercises she was, most likely escorted by the destroyers HMS Hardy (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Scorpion (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN). [HMS Hardy for sure was present.] (111)

19 Nov 1943
HMS Thrasher (Lt.Cdr. A.R. Hezlet, DSC, RN) conducted / participated in exercises at / off Scapa Flow. These involved exercises with aircraft and HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN). (112)

27 Nov 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) and HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Tuscan (Lt.Cdr. C.H.de B. Newby, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Brissenden (Lt. D.D.E. Vivian, RN).

During the exercises, the Rear-Admiral Home Fleet Destroyers, Rear-Admiral I.G. Glennie, CB, RN) flew his flag in HMS King George V. (113)

2 Dec 1943
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) conducted full power trials on the measured mile at Scapa Flow.

Upon completion of these trials she conducted exercises in the Pentland Firth. She was then, most likely, escorted by the destroyers HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN) and HMS Virago (Lt.Cdr. A.J.R. White, RN). (114)

3 Dec 1943
The battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. B.B. Schofield, RN, flying the flag of Admiral B.A. Fraser, KCB, KBE, RN), HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) and Richelieu (Capt. R.G. Lambert) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. They were, most likely, escorted by the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, DSO, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN), HMS Tuscan (Lt.Cdr. C.H.de B. Newby, RN), HMS Virago (Lt.Cdr. A.J.R. White, RN) and HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN). (115)

7 Dec 1943
Around 0700A/7, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Gibraltar. She is escorted by the destroyers HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN) and HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN).

Around 0900A/10, in position 42°53'N, 19°53'W, the destroyers screen was relieved by the destroyers HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN), HMS Ulster (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Donald, DSC, RN) and HMS Grenville (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, DSO, RN). The original destroyers screen then proceeded to Horta, Azores to fuel.

Around 0900A/12, HMS King George V, HMS Rocket, HMS Ulster and HMS Grenville arrived at Gibraltar.

At Gibraltar HMS King George V was to pick up Prime Minister Churchill and carry him back to the U.K.

This however did not materialise due to the Prime Minister being sick and unable to travel. (116)

17 Dec 1943
Around 2130A/17, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), heavy cruiser HMS London (Capt. R.V. Symonds-Tayler, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Grenville (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, DSO, RN), HMS Ulster (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Donald, DSC, RN) and HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN) departed Gibraltar for the Clyde.

Around 1200A/19, the destroyers HMS Kempenfelt (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Marjoribanks, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC, RN) and HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN) joined coming from Horta, Azores.

Around 2000A/19, HMS Grenville, HMS Ulster and HMS Rocket parted company to proceed to Horta, Azores to fuel.

HMS King George V, HMS London, HMS Kempenfelt, HMS Termagent and HMS Obdurate arrived at Greenock around 1830A/22. There HMS King George V and HMS London disembarked the passengers they had been carrying. (117)

23 Dec 1943
Around 1130A/23, HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) departed the Clyde for Scapa Flow. She is escorted by the destroyer HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, DSO and Bar, RN).

They arrived at Scapa Flow around 0930A/24. (118)

8 Jan 1944
Around 1730A/8, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), which had been conducted exercises off Scapa Flow earlier in the day, departed Scapa Flow for Gibraltar where she was to pick up Prime Minister Churchill and his entourage. She is escorted by the destroyers HMCS Athabascan (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Stubbs, RCN) and HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN).

At 1230A/9, the destroyer HMS Ashanti (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN) joined coming from Loch Foyle (Londonderry).

At 0800A/13, HMCS Athabascan parted company to proceed to Horta, Azores to fuel.

Around 1325A/13, the destroyers HMS Antelope (Cdr. J.G. Gould, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Wallace, DSC, RN) and HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. J. Smallwood, RN) joined coming from Gibraltar and HMS Ashanti and HMS Meteor parted company also to proceed to Horta to fuel.

HMS King George V, HMS Antelope, Anthony and Brilliant arrived at Gibraltar in the evening of 15 January 1944.

(119)

15 Jan 1944
Around 0330A/15, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) departed Gibraltar for the U.K. On board were Prime Minister Churchill and his entourage. She is escorted by light cruiser HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.W. Davis, RN) and the destroyers HMS Antelope (Cdr. J.G. Gould, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Wallace, DSC, RN) and HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. J. Smallwood, RN).

At 1000A/16, the light cruiser HMS Glasgow (Capt. C.P. Clarke, DSO, RN) joined and HMS Mauritius then parted company to return to Gibraltar.

At 1100A/16, the destroyers HMCS Athabascan (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Stubbs, RCN), HMS Ashanti (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN) and HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) joined coming from Horta, Azores. The original destroyer screen then parted company to return to Gibraltar.

Around 2200A/17, HMS King George V, HMCS Athabascan, HMS Ashanti and HMS Meteor arrived at Plymouth where the Prime Minister and his entourage were disembarked. (120)

18 Jan 1944
Around 1530A/18, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) departed Plymouth for Scapa Flow. She is escorted by the destroyers HMCS Athabascan (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Stubbs, RCN), HMS Ashanti (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN) and HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN).

Around 1930A/18, HMS Ashanti and HMCS Athabascan parted company.

Around 1300A/20, HMS King George V and HMS Meteor arrived at Scapa Flow from Plymouth. (121)

9 Feb 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Liverpool.

[No details available on any escort.] (122)

10 Feb 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) arrived at Liverpool where she was to refit. (122)

16 Feb 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) is docked in the Gladstone Dock at Liverpool. (122)

2 Jun 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) is undocked. (123)

31 Jul 1944
With her refit completed, HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) conducted compass swing trials off Liverpool on completion of which she set course for Scapa Flow.

At 0745A/1, she was joined by the destroyer HMS Volage (Cdr. L.G. Durlacher, OBE, RN) which then escorted her to Scapa Flow where they arrived around 1815A/1. (124)

2 Aug 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow.

[No details available about the escort.] (125)

11 Aug 1944
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. She was possibly escorted by the destroyers HMS Zambesi (Lt.Cdr. W. Scott, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Cambrian (Lt.Cdr. H.T. Harrel, RN) and HMS Caprice (Lt.Cdr. G.W. McKendrick, RN). (125)

17 Aug 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow.

[No details available about the escort.] (126)

18 Aug 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (126)

22 Aug 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) conducted gunnery exercises off Scapa Flow.

[No details available about the escort.] (126)

24 Aug 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (126)

1 Sep 1944
During 1/2 September 1944, HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow.

[No details available about the escort.] (127)

6 Sep 1944
HMS Trusty (Lt. L.E. Herrick, DSO, RN) conducts attack exercises for the Commanding Officer Qualifying Course during which HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) served as target. (128)

6 Sep 1944
In the morning HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN) conducted torpedo firing and gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow.

In the afternoon HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) and HMS Euryalus conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. These included night exercises and the returned to Scapa Flow in the early hours of September 7th. (129)

7 Sep 1944
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) conducted underway refuelling exercises at Scapa Flow with the destroyer HMS Cambrian (Lt.Cdr. H.T. Harrel, RN). (127)

8 Sep 1944
HMS Trusty (Lt. L.E. Herrick, DSO, RN) conducts attack exercises for the Commanding Officer Qualifying Course during which HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) served as target. (128)

8 Sep 1944
During 8/9 September 1944, HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) and HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellasis, RN), conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. These included night exercises. (129)

14 Sep 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (127)

15 Sep 1944
HMS Trusty (Lt. L.E. Herrick, DSO, RN) conducts attack exercises for the Commanding Officer Qualifying Course during which HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) acted as target. (128)

25 Sep 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellasis, RN), HMS Caprice (Lt.Cdr. G.W. McKendrick, RN) and HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. H. Øi) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. She returned to Scapa Flow in the early hours of the 26th. (129)

26 Sep 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. (127)

5 Oct 1944
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Plymouth. She is escorted by the destroyers HMS Opportune (Cdr. R.E.D. Ryder, VC, RN) and HMS Oribi (Lt. D.M. Vaughan-Hughes, RN [???]).

Around dawn the destroyers parted company to proceed to the Clyde.

Around 1545A/6, the destroyer HMS Serapis (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) joined.

Around 2230A/6, the destroyer HMS Scourge (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) joined.

Around 1000A/7, HMS King George V, HMS Scourge and HMS Serapis arried at Plymouth. (130)

10 Oct 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) is docked at the Devonport Dockyard. (130)

14 Oct 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) is undocked. (130)

16 Oct 1944
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) departed Plymouth for Scapa Flow. She is escorted by the destroyers HMS Nubian (Lt.Cdr. T.A. Pack-Beresford, RN) and HMS Saladin (Lt. J.E. Dyer, DSC, RN).

Around 1230A/16, the destroyer HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN) joined company.

Around 1630A/16, HMS Saladin parted company to return to Plymouth.

HMS King George V, HMS Nubian and HMS Undaunted arrived at Scapa Flow around 1820A/17.

Upon arrival at Scapa Flow, the Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet, Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, CVO, DSO, RN, hoisted his flag in HMS King George V. (130)

23 Oct 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, CVO, DSO, RN, Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet) conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. She is escorted by the destroyers HMS Scourge (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN) and HMCS Sioux (A/Lt.Cdr. E.E.G. Boak, RCN). (130)

24 Oct 1944
The Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet, Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, CVO, DSO, RN, struck his flag in HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) and then hoisted it in Implacable (Capt. C.C. Hughes-Hallett, RN). (131)

28 Oct 1944
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) proceeded from Scapa Flow to Greeock. She is escorted by the destroyers HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN) and HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN). (130)

29 Oct 1944
Around 2355A/29, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) departed Greenock for Gibraltar. She is escorted by the destroyers HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN) and HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN).

Around 1345A/30, the destroyer HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN) joined.

HMS King George V, HMS Kempenfelt, HMS Ursa and HMS Meteor arrived at Gibraltar around 0900A/2. (130)

2 Nov 1944
Around 1800A/2, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN) and HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN) departed Gibraltar for Malta.

They arrived at Malta around 1645A/4. (132)

9 Nov 1944
Around 1630A/9, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) and the destroyers Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN) and Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Austin, RN) departed Malta for Alexandria where they arrived around 1230B/11. (132)

13 Nov 1944
Around 0640B/13, the escort carrier HMS Emperor (A/Capt. T.J.N. Hilken, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Easton (Lt. L.E. Peyton-Jones, DSO, DSC, MBE, RN) departed Alaxandria.

Around 1045B/13, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) and the destroyers Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN) and Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Austin, RN) also departed Alexandria. The battleship was to conduct a bombardment of the Greek (German occupied) island of Milos in the Aegean. All these ships formed ' Force 55 '.

At 1109B/14, HMS King George V commenced a bombardment from 30000 yards. Before she opened fire she was engaged herself by the Lakida C D battery from 26000 yards after which she opened the range and then engaged the battery. She fired 36 rounds of 14" and also the secondary 5.25" guns opened fire. One explosion was observed.

The enemy battery was still in action in the afternoon when HMS Easton landed two sections of Royal Marines at Psalis Point to occupy the radar station. The occupation was prevented by mining. About 11 casualties were inflicted on the enemy after which the Royal Marines withdrew having taken two POW's.

With HMS Easton being deployed supporting the Royal Marines, HMS Wrangler took over as escort for HMS Emperor.

Around 1100B/15, HMS King George V and HMS Whirlwind arrived back at Alexandria.

Around 1430B/15, HMS Emperor and HMS Wrangler arrived back at Alexandria. (133)

21 Nov 1944
During 21/22 November 1944, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Aurora (Capt. G.B. Bernard, CBE, DSO, RN, flying the flag of A/Vice-Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Argonaut (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, CBE, RN) and HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Alexandria. These included night exercises.

[Destroyers also participated in the exercises but their identity is not known to us.] (132)

28 Nov 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Alexandria.

[Presumably she was escorted but the identity of these are not known to us.] (132)

29 Nov 1944
During 29/30 November 1944, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) conducted exercises off Alexandria / Ras-el-Tin.

The escort destroyers HMS Exmoor (Lt. D.D. Howson, RN), HMS Liddesdale (Lt. C.J. Bateman, RN) and HMS Brecon (Lt. N.R.H. Rodney, RN) were with the battleship in the evening and possibly during the entire time she was out exercising. (132)

1 Dec 1944
Around 1630B/1, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) and the destroyers Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN) and Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Austin, RN) departed Alexandria for Port Said. (134)

2 Dec 1944
Around 0640B/2, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) and the destroyers Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN) and Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Austin, RN) arrived at Port Said from Alexandria. (134)

3 Dec 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) proceeded from Port Said to the Great Bitter Lakes. Upon arrival the staff of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings arrived on board. (134)

4 Dec 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) proceeded from the Great Bitter Lakes to Suez. (134)

5 Dec 1944
Around 1300B/5, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN) departed Suez for Colombo.

Around 0445C/8, the destroyers Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN) and Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Austin, RN) joined coming from Aden.

Around 1430FG(-6.5)/12, HMS King George V, HMS Whirlwind and HMS Wrangler arrived at Colombo. (134)

13 Dec 1944
Vice Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN, hoisted his flag on board HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN). (134)

14 Dec 1944
Around 1645FG(-6.5)/14, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN) and the destroyers Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN) and Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Austin, RN) departed Colombo for Trincomalee where they arrived around 1600FG/15. (134)

27 Dec 1944
HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN) conducted D/G trials at Trincomalee. She then conducted underway refuelling exercises during which she fuelled from the RFA tanker Wave King (8159 GRT, built 1944).

[During the exercises she was escorted by destroyers but we have not been able to establish their identity.] (134)

12 Jan 1945
During 12/13 January 1945, the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Indomitable (Capt. J.A.S. Eccles, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Illustrious (Capt. C.E. Lambe, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Argonaut (Capt. W.P. McCarthy, RN), HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Grenville (Capt. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN), HMS Wager (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Wessex (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Whelp (Cdr. G.A.F. Norfolk, RN) and Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN) conducted exercises off Trincomalee. (135)

16 Jan 1945

Operation Meridian.

Air strikes against oil installations in the Palembang area (South-East Sumatra).

On 16 January 1945 ' Force 63 ' made up of the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Indomitable (Capt. J.A.S. Eccles, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Illustrious (Capt. C.E. Lambe, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Argonaut (Capt. W.P. McCarthy, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN), HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN), HMS Ceylon (Capt. G.B. Amery-Parkes, RN) and the destroyers HMS Grenville (Capt. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Wager (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Wessex (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Whelp (Cdr. G.A.F. Norfolk, RN) and Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN).

HMS Wessex apparently sailed from Trincomalee on the 17th and joined the Force at sea on the 19th.

An oiling force (' Force 69 ') made up of the tankers Echodale (8150 GRT, built 1941), Wave King (8159 GRT, built 1944) and Empire Salvage (10746 GRT, built 1940) had already departed Trincomalee on 13 January. They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR). A fouth tanker, the Arndale (8296 GRT, built 1937) joined ' force 69 ' on 23 January coming from Fremantle.

The submarines HMS Tantalus (Lt.Cdr. H.S. Mackenzie, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Tantivy (Lt. P.S. May, RN) and HMS Sturdy (Lt. W.St.G. Anderson, DSC, RNR) were positioned for air/sea rescue duties. (Tantalus east of Sumatra, Tantivy west of Sumatra and Sturdy in the Sunda Strait area.)

On 20 January ships from ' Force 63 ' were refuelled by ' Force 69 '. Due to the weather conditions this was done only with difficulty and some of the refuelling gear of the tankers was damaged. HMS Ceylon was now assigned to ' Force 69 ' to give protection to this Force. [Note: Arndale at this moment was not yet with ' Force 69 '.]

' Force 63 ' then proceeded on the first phase of the operation, to launch air strikes on the oil installations at Pladjoe (north of Palembang) which were to be flown off on 21 January but the weather prevented this. It was only at 24 January that the weather had cleared to enable flying operations. 43 Avengers, 12 Firefly's (equipped with rockets) and 50 Hellcat, Corsair and Seafire fighters were flown off. The enemy installations were damaged but at the cost of no less then 32 aircraft due to enemy action (7) or crash landings (25). 14 enemy fighters were reported shot down in the air and 38 aircraft were reported to have been destroyed on the gound.

' Force 63 ' then retired from the area to rendezvous with ' Force 69 ' and refuel. This was done on 26 / 27 January.

' Force 63 ' then proceeded to the launch position for the second phase of operation during which air attacks were to be made on oil installations at Soengi-Gerong (also near Palembang). 48 Avenger, 10 Fireflies, 24 Corsairs and 16 Hellcats were launched. During dogfight 30 Japanese aircraft were shot down and another 38 were reported as having been destroyed on the ground. 16 aircraft did not return to the carriers.

A Japanese counter attack with 12 bombers failed. All were shot down by fighters from the Combat Air Patrol or AA fire from the ships.

' Force 63 ' then fuelled again from ' Force 69 ' on 30 January.

' Force 63 ' arrived at Fremantle on 4 February 1945.

' Force 69 ', minus Arndale and Wave King returned to Trincomalee on 6 February 1945. The other two tankers went to Australia. HMS Ceylon had parted company with ' Force 69 ' on 4 February and arrived at Trincomalee on 5 February.

5 Feb 1945
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Whelp (Cdr. G.A.F. Norfolk, RN), Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN) and HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN) departed Fremantle for Sydney. (136)

11 Feb 1945
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Whelp (Cdr. G.A.F. Norfolk, RN), Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN) and HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN) arrived at Sydney from Fremantle. (137)

27 Feb 1945
On 27 February 1945, the 1st Aircraft Carrier Squadron, made up of the aircraft carriers HMS Indomitable (Capt. J.A.S. Eccles, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN) and HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN) departed Sydney for exercises and the flying on of their aircraft. They were escorted by the destroyers HMAS Quickmatch (Cdr. O.H. Becher, DSC and Bar, RAN, with Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO and 2 Bars, RN, on board), HMAS Quiberon (Lt.Cdr. G.F.E. Knox, RAN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN).

The remainder of Task Force 113, the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, DSO, RN), maintenance carrier HMS Unicorn (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.M. Merewether, RN), light cruisers HMS Swiftsure (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. N.J.W. William-Powlett, DSC, RN), HMS Argonaut (Capt. W.P. McCarthy, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.H. Edelsten, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Grenville (Capt. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMS Ulster (Lt.Cdr. R.J. Hanson, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN), HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Wessex (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Whelp (Cdr. G.A.F. Norfolk, RN) and HMS Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN) departed Sydney on the 28th.

Both forces made rendezvous P.M. on the 28th and course was set to proceed to Manus.

On 2 March, HMS Urania was detached to return to Sydney as ordered in a signal from the Commander-in-Chief British Pacific Fleet.

Also on 2 March the cruisers and destroyers were fuelled by a tanker force made up of the RFA tankers Wave King (8159 GRT, built 1944), Arndale (8296 GRT, built 1937), Cedardale (8132 GRT, built 1939) and San Adolpho (7365 GRT, built 1935) escorted by the corvette (minesweeper) HMAS Whyalla (A/Cdr. N.R. Read, RAN).

Task Force 113 arrived at Manus in the afternoon of March 7th. En-route from Sydney various exercises had been carried out. (136)

18 Mar 1945
Task Force 113 departed Manus for Ulithi in two groups.

The 1st group was made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, DSO, RN), HMS Swiftsure (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. N.J.W. William-Powlett, DSC, RN), HMS Argonaut (Capt. W.P. McCarthy, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN) and the destroyers HMS Grenville (Capt. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMS Ulster (Lt.Cdr. R.J. Hanson, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN).

The 2nd group was made up of the aircraft carriers HMS Indomitable (Capt. J.A.S. Eccles, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Illustrious (Capt. C.E. Lambe, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN) and HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN). They were escorted by the destroyers HMAS Quickmatch (Cdr. O.H. Becher, DSC and Bar, RAN, with Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO and 2 Bars, RN, on board), HMAS Quiberon (Lt.Cdr. G.F.E. Knox, RAN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN), HMS Wager (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN) and HMS Whelp (Cdr. G.A.F. Norfolk, RN).

The 1st group arrived at Ulithi in the morning of March 20th. The 2nd group arrived in the afternoon.

As usual while en-route exercises had been carried out. (136)

23 Mar 1945

The British Pacific Fleet during Operation Iceberg, the landings on Okinawa (1st phase).

The British Pacific Fleet, now known as Task Force 57, departed Ulithi for the operations area near Okinawa.

The task for Task Force 57 is to neutralize airfields in the Sakishima Gunto to the south-west of Okinawa.

Task Force 57 was made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, DSO, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Indomitable (Capt. J.A.S. Eccles, RN, flying the flag of Rear- Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Illustrious (Capt. C.E. Lambe, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN) and HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Swiftsure (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. N.J.W. William-Powlett, DSC, RN), HMS Argonaut (Capt. W.P. McCarthy, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellasis, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.H. Edelsten, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Grenville (Capt. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMS Ulster (Lt.Cdr. R.J. Hanson, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN), HMAS Quickmatch (Cdr. O.H. Becher, DSC and Bar, RAN, with Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO and 2 Bars, RN, on board), HMAS Quiberon (Lt.Cdr. G.F.E. Knox, RAN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN), HMS Wager (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN) and HMS Whelp (Cdr. G.A.F. Norfolk, RN).

On 25 March the fleet met with the replenishment groups Task Group 112.2.1 and Task Group 112.2.5 and the cruisers and destroyers fuelled throughout the morning and first part of the afternoon. Weather conditions were not suitable and not all ships were able to complete with fuel for 100%.

These two Task Groups had departed Manus on 17 March 1945 and their composition was as follows;
Task Group 112.2.1, was made up of the escort carrier HMS Striker (Capt. W.P. Carne, RN) (with replacement aircraft) and the RFA tankers Cedardale (8132 GRT, built 1939), San Ambrosio (7410 GRT, built 1935) and San Adolpho (7365 GRT, built 1935). They were escorted by the destroyer Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN), sloop HMS Crane (Lt.Cdr. R.G. Jenkins, DSC, RN) and frigate HMS Findhorn (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Dawson, RNR).

Task Group 112.2.5 was made up of the escort carrier HMS Speaker (A/Capt. U.H.R. James, RN) (for Combat Air Patrol duties), destroyer HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN) and sloop HMS Pheasant (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN).

HMS Wager, which had bearing trouble joined Task Group 112.2.1 being substituted with HMS Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN).

HMS Quality, which also had defects, was substituted with HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN) from Task Group 112.2.5.

26 March 1945.

Task Force 57 arrived in her operations area.

At 0605I/26, the Combat Air Patrol and A/S patrol were flown off, whilst HMS Argonaut and HMS Kempenfelt were detached to carry out picket duties warning the Fleet in advance of the possible approach of enemy aircraft.

At sunrise, at 0635I/26 strong fighter sweeps were flown off from a position 100 miles 180° from Miyako Jima to attack the enemy airfields at Ishigaki and Miyako. They reported little activity there. At 0850I/26, one aircraft was reported to have ditched 20 miles from Tarima Shima. A Walrus aircraft was flown off and subsequently rescued the pilot.

These fighter sweeps were followed by two escorted bombers strikes and one fighter bomber strike with airfields and associated buildings as targets. Withdrawal was begun at dusk.

At 0940I/26, a Mitsubishi Ki-46 ' Dinah ' was intercepted by the Combat Air Patrol but it managed to escape. It was apparent that the Fleet had been reported but no attacks developed.

After the last aircraft had flown on Task Group 57 disengaged to the south-eastward. The night was fine and the moon bright and an enemy air attack was considered likely.

27 March 1945.

At 0245I/27, a bogey to the eastward was contacted by radar. As it seemed that Task Force 57 was being shadowed course was altered in an attempt to shake off the aircraft.

At 0307I/27, HMS Euryalus was ordered to open out from the screen and fire at the enemy aircraft which then remained at a respectful distance for a time. A Hellcat was then flown off to intercept but the moon became obscured by a cloud and the enemy made good his escape. At 0305I/27 Japanese transmissions had been reported and Task Force 57 commenced jamming.

At sunrise a fighter sweep was sent to Ishigaki only from a flying off position 100 miles 180° from Miyako Jima. No increased acitivity was reported. Two bomber strikes were directed against radio stations, barracks and airfields not covered the previous day. Coasters off the islands were also attacked. The final strike was a small fighter bomber strike. Withdrawal was begun at dusk.

At 1130I/27, HMS Undine escorted by fighters was despatched to the rescue of an aircraft which had ditched 56 miles from the flying off position. At 1750I/27, she rejoined the Fleet having picked up the Avenger crew and also a United States Corsair pilot who was discovered after having been adrift for 48 hours.

The American (rescue) submarine USS Kingfish (T/Lt.Cdr. T.E. Harper, USN) was requisted to keep a good lookout for any of our ditched aircrews, but apparently she had not been fully instructed by the American authorities as she replied that 'she would have to ask her boss first'. The first situation was soon clarified and USS Kingfish was ordered to act as rescue submarine when required. At 1805I/27, USS Kingfish reported that she had rescued the pilot of one of HMS Illustrious's Avengers.

It had been intended that Task Force 57 should continue operating off Sakishimi Gunto, the day's programme to include a bombardment of Ishigaki, but Guam reported a typhoon to the southward whose position and estimated track appeared to threaten the fuelling area. The risk of bad weather completely dislocating fuelling for some time would have precluded Task Force 57 from returning to the operating area during the time of the initial landings on Okinawa. This was not acceptable. The necessity to withdraw to the fuelling area was accentuated by certain ships having been short of fuel at the commencement of the operation.

28 March 1945.

At 0730I/28 made contact with Task Unit 112.2.5 and Task Unit 112.2.1 in area Midge, a rectangle extending 50 miles to the south and 100 miles to the west of 19°55'N, 129°40'E. Fuelling and transfer of replacement aircraft continued throughout the day. The Fleet disengaged from the tanker group for the night.

At 1835I/28, HMS Striker parted company with the Fleet Train to proceed to Leyte escorted by HMS Crane.

29 March 1945.

The fuelling of the Fleet proceeded with constant interruptions and delays caused by hoses parting etc. Aircraft carriers experienced great difficulty in obtaining supplies of Avgas for this reason.

Rear-Admiral J.H. Edelsten transferred his flag from HMS Euryalus to HMS Whirlwind and proceeded in the afternoon with HMS Striker and HMS Crane for Leyte. HMS Quality and HMS Whelp rejoined Task Force 57, HMS Kempenfelt and HMS Whirlwind rejoining Task Unit 112.2.5 and 112.2.1 repectively.

30 March 1945.

At 1430I/30 after many more delays due to leaking hoses fuelling was completed and Task Force 57 departed at 22 knots for the operating area.

31 March 1945.

As usual the Combat Air Patrol and A/S Patrol were flown off around dawn. At 0530I/31, HMS Argonaut and HMS Wager were detached to a position 300°, 30 miles from the Fleet centre to act as pickets to prevent enemy aircraft returning with our own strikes. HMS Argonaut was chosen for this purpose as having the most suitable radar outfit.

At 0630I/31, a fighter sweep was sent in from a flying-off position 23°10'N, 125°23'E and thereafter fighter patrols were maintained over Ishigaki and Miyako. There appeared to be little activity in either island. Two bomber strikes were sent against Ishigaki airfield, installations and barracks. USS Kingfish again did useful service and rescued the crew of an Avenger which had ditched. At dusk the Fleet disengaged to the south-westward. Two fighters were kept at readiness from moonrise but the Fleet was not shadowed.

1 April 1945.

Around dawn HMS Argonaut and HMS Wager were again detached to proceed to their picket positions and at 0640I/1 a fighter sweep was sent in from a flying off position 23°26'N, 125°25'E.

At 0650I/1, bogeys were detected by radar 75 miles to the westward at a height of 8000 feet closing at 210 knots. The fighter sweep was recalled to intercept and additional fighters were flown off.

The raid split up more then 40 miles from the Fleet. The first interception was by Corsairs from HMS Victorious which shot down one enemy. Seafires shot down two more close to the Fleet and a fourth was destroyed by Hellcats recalled from the fighter sweep. At 0705I/1 the Fleet had been alerted to ' Flash Red ' and a few minutes later the enemy planes commenced their attacks.

One enemy single engined aircraft machine-gunned HMS Indomitable in a low attack killing one rating and wounding two officers and four ratings. Still flying very low it made a similar attack on HMS King George V but without causing casualties. Considerable difficulty was experienced in identifying enemy from our own planes who where hard on the enemy heels.

At 0727I/1, an enemy plane dived into the base of HMS Indefatigable's island. Four officers and ten ratings were killed and sixteen of her complement were wounded. The flight deck was put temporarily out of action, but within a remarkale short time, and in a most creditable manner, aircraft were again being operated from this ship athough that day on a reduced scale.

At about 0755I/1, HMS Ulster was near missed by what appeared to be a 500lb. bomb from an aircraft then being chased by one of our fighters. She reported that the bulkhead between the engine-room and the after boiler room had blown, flooding both compardments, but that the ship was floating well. Casualties were two killed and one seriously wounded. She was unable to steam but her armament remained effective. HMAS Quiberon was ordered to stand by her and as soon as the raid was over, HMNZS Gambia was ordered to tow her to Leyte.

At 1215I/1, a bombing strike was sent in against Ishigaki to bomb airfields and runways. No activity was noted. At 1430I/1, reports were received from combat patrols over the islands that more aircraft had been sighted at Hirara and Ishigaki airfields. These were attacked by the fighter patrols and were followed by a fighter sweep. It was estimated that about 14 enemy aircraft were detroyed on the ground during this attack and others damaged.

At 1730I/1, a low flying bogey was detected by radar at a range of 15 miles to the north-westward. Hellcats were sent to intercept this raid which developed into 2 plus but the enemy avoided them in cloid. Soon afterwards the Fleet sighted the enemy and opened fire, sometimes it is regretted, at fiendly fighters. One enemy aircraft dived on HMS Victorious, her swing under full helm was successful and the plane touched its wing only on the flight deck edge spinning harmlessly into the sea where its bomb exploded clear of the ship. The manuscript instructions to the pilot were blown on board HMS Victorious. This interesting document donoting priority of targets for suicide planes, has been translated and the contents forwarded to intelligence centre. It seems certain that Victorious's guns hit this aircraft during its dive.

At dusk the Fleet disengaged to the south-eastward.

2 April 1945.

It was evident from experience the day before that the Japanese had started staging ito the Sakishima airfields and it was therefore decided to cancel the planned bombardment in favour of air operations.

The absence of enemy activity noticed by the first fighter sweep the previous day made it appear likely that enemy might be leaving the airfields at first light. In consequence two aircraft from HMS Indomitable, having been flown off by moonlight, were sent to Ishigaki at 0510I/2. Two other aircraft flown off at the same time and destined for Miyako were unable to proceed owing to radio failures. No activity was reported from Ishigaki.

At 0630I/2, from a flying off position 23°12'N, 126°02'E a fighter Ramrod left to attack all airfields before the Fleet withdrew. Little activity was noticed, but one airborne Zeke (Mitsubishi A6M 'Zero') was shot down over Ishigaki by Hellcats.

After landing on the fighter Ramrod at 1045I/2, the Fleet withdrew to fuelling area Midge, maintaining a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) of 12 aircraft until 1600I/2, and a CAP of 8 aircraft until dark.

It was very disappointing to cancel the bombardment again. Once however enemy aircraft begin staging through or operating from an aerodrome the most profitable means of destroying them is by air and not by guns.

At 1450I/2, HMS Illustrious reported man overboard. Fighters of the CAP and destroyers were sent to search and the Fleet was turned 360° for a period. Unfortunately the man was not recovered.

3 April 1945.

At 0630I/3, there was no sign of the tanker group in rendezvous position Midge One (19°12'N, 128°00'E). Weather was a heavy N.E. swell, wind north force 5. Spread HMS Swiftsure, HMS Argonaut and HMS Euryalus to carry out a search.

At 0900I/3, W/T contact was made with the tanker group.

At 1320I/3, contact was made with Task Units 112.2.5 and 112.2.2. The weather and cross swell were too heavy to attempt fuelling. The Fleet remained in the area throughout the day, but towards the evening, meteorological information suggesting more suitable weather to the westward, the Fleet with tankers turned west towards area Mosquito.

An American Task Group of Task Force 58 had meanwhile been ordered to cover Sakishima Gunto during Task Force 57's underway replenishment.

4 April 1945.

0630I/4, Task Units 112.2.2 and 112.2.3 joined from Leyte. These were made up of the escort carrier HMS Slinger (Capt. B.L. Moore, RN) (with replacement aircraft) and the tankers Wave King (8159 GRT, built 1944), Wave Monarch (8159 GRT, built 1944), Arndale (8296 GRT, built 1937), Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941) and Aase Maersk (6184 GRT, built 1930). They were escorted by the sloop HMS Woodcock (A/Lt.Cdr. S.J. Parsons, DSC, RN), frigates HMS Avon (Lt.Cdr. P.G.A. King, RD, RNR), HMS Parrett (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) T. Hood, RNR) and the corvettes (minesweepers) HMAS Bendigo (Lt. W. Jackson, RANVR) and HMAS Pirie (A/Cdr. A.J. Travis, RAN).

At 0730I/4, fuelling was commenced as well as stores being transferred and replacement aircraft being flown over. The swell was heavy in position Mosquito One (19°37'N, 124°42'E). Fuelling proceeded throughout the day with many interruptions due to weak oiling gear and especially due to parting Avgas hoses.

At 1920I/4, the Fleet disengaged from the tanker group for the night.

5 April 1945.

At 0630I/5, the Fleet continued to fuel in position Mosquito One, the weather conditions having considerably improved. The transfer of essential stores, correspondence mail and casualties by destroyers and escort vessels seriously weakened the A/S screen and for future replenishment operation additional A/S escorts were requisted.

At 1930I/5, the Fleet disengaged from the tanker group and set course at 20 knots to the operations area. Some ships of the Fleet train also started their return trip to Leyte.

The two battleships had not completed fully with fuel and the aircraft carriers had only been able to embark sufficient Avgas for the forthcoming two days of operation. Staying longer with the tanker group was not possible in order to be back at the time promised to the Americans.

6 April 1945.

At 0450I/6, four fighters were flown off from HMS Indomitable, two each to Miyako and Ishigaki airfields to attack any enemy aircraft taking off at dawn but early reports from these planes indicated little or no activity in the islands. Heavy low cloud over the islands impeded operations, but eight enemy aircraft not previously noticed at Ishigaki were attacked with apparent result.

At 0530I/6, HMS Argonaut and HMS Urania with a CAP patrol were detached to act as picket to the north-westward.

At 0625I/6, CAP (Combat Air Patrol) and ASP (A/S Patrol) for the Fleet were flown off.

At 0635I/6, In position 23°16'N, 125°36'E CAPS were flown off to cover both islands. The craters in the runway at Miyako were observed to be filled in.

At 0650I/6, HMS Argonaut and HMS Urania were ordered to rejoin the Fleet. No being required under the circumstances.

At 0850I/6, the Fleet was detected by an enemy aircraft who escaped in cloud cover.

Hellcats returning from Miyako in the forenoon shot down a Francies after a 30 mile chase.

Avengers bombed and hit Hirara runway and town, and bombed Nobara, Sukhama and Myara airstrips causing fires.

Fighters attacked radio and radar stations, sank two junks and blew up a bowser.

At about 1700I/6, bogeys were detected on the radar screen. Fighters intercepted them and splasged one Judy. One enemy aircraft out of an estimated raid of four broke through in cloud and later dived on HMS Illustrious, who took radical avoiding action. The suicider's wingtip hit the island, spinning the aircraft into the sea where the bomb exploded. Only slight damage and no casualties were caused. The ship probably hit the aircraft during her dive.

One Judy and another unidentified enemy plane flying low were engaged by destroyers one the screen. One being hit by gunfire. Corsairs and Hellcats closed the Judy and shot it down in flames after it had jettisoned its bomb. The other plane was seen in flames on the horizon about five minutes later and is considered to have been destroyed by the destroyers. A second Judy orbiting the Fleet at about 10 miles range was intercepted by Corsairs and Hellcats and splashed.

Unfortunately one Seafire was shot down by gunfire from the Fleet during the raid. The pilot was not recovered.

This raid was preceded by enemy jamming out fighter direction frequencies, its source appearing to be airborne. This disorganised the fighter defence to some extent, but pilots and fighter direction operators and had since become well drilled in shifting from jammed frequencies.

During the day our own losses were the one Seafire shot down by the Fleet, two Corsairs by bomb blast and one Avenger which crashed on taking off. Total enemy losses for the day were estimated as six aircraft destroyed and six damaged. Two junks were sunk.

After the dusk CAP had been flown on, the Fleet disengaged to the south-eastward.

7 April 1945.

A report was received that an enemy surface force had been sighted in the early hours leaving the Inland Sea and steering to the southward.

The plan for the day was to maintain a constant CAP over the enemy airfields during daylight bombing and straffing when targets offered. The weather at dawn was good and the clouds higher the yesterday.

At 0530I/7, HMS Argonaut and HMS Urania were detached to the north-westward to act as picket, with orders to rejoin at 0810I/7.

At 0610I/7, CAP's for the Fleet and Islands and ASP were flown off from position 23°16'N, 125°36'E. The Islands CAP's reported little activity on the islands, but noticed that bomb craters on Ishigaki had been filled in, abd that Hirara and Nobara airfields appeared serviceable. It was therefore decided to send in three bomber strikes during the day to recrater these fields. This was successfully carried out without loss.

In the afternoon HMS Urania escorted by two fighters was despatched to the rescue of a Corsair pilot who had lost his way and landed in the sea abbout 70 miles from the Fleet. An American Privateer having reported him dropped dinghies and remained in the vicinity until relieved by Fireflys. HMS Urania recovered the pilot but he was unfortunately found to be dead. The afternoon strike destroyed oneand damaged other aircraft found on the ground at Nobara.

Enemy search planes were again active early in the day making intelligent use of the 9/10 cloud cover they were not sighted by the fighters sent to intercept.

By the end of the day all runways in the islands were left well cratered and unserviceable. All visible aircraft had been attacked and there was no activity on any airfield.

During the day the enemy lost three aircraft destroyed on the ground and four were damaged. Four fishing vessels and three luggers were also claimed to have been damaged.

Own losses were two aircraft shot down by flak and four lost from other causes.

Task Force 57 then set course to refuel in area Cootie. This was an American area closer to our operating area that areas Midge or Mosquito. In the evening it was also leart that US aircraft of Task Force 58 had dealt with the Japanese surface force that had been reported proceeding towards Okinawa. Reports, indicated that the enemy lost one battleship, one cruiser and four destroyers and two more destroyers reported to be on fire.

American Task Force 52 was ordered to cover Sakishima during the absence of Task Force 57.

8 April 1945.

0600I/8, Task Force 57 made rendezvous with Task Unit 112.2.5 and Task Unit 112.2.1 in position Cootie One (21°12'N, 128°44'E), and commenced to refuel the fleet in excellent weather conditions. By dusk all ships except one battleship and one carrier had fuelled from the five tankers. The light cruiser HMCS Uganda (Capt. E.R. Mainguy, OBE, RCN) and the destroyers HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR) and HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN) reinforce Task Force 57 as did the light cruiser HMNZS Gambia which returned from Leyte having towed the damaged destroyer HMS Ulster there.

As structural defects in HMS Illustrious were beginning to increase and her pilots were showing signs of operational fatigue, HMS Kempenfelt was detached a signal ordering HMS Formidable (Capt. P. Ruck-Keene, CBE, RN) from Leyte, to join the Fleet on the next occasion of fuelling. These structural defects in HMS Illustrious, the legacy of past underwater damage, were found on arrival in harbour to be rather more serious than had been thought. HMS Kempenfelt was routed to Leyte to act as additional escort to HMS Formidable.

9 April 1945.

At 0630I/9, Task Force 57 recommenced fuelling, which was completed by 1500I/9. HMS Undaunted from Leyte rejoined Task Unit 112.2.5 and HMS Whirlwind joined Task Force 57 from Task Unit 112.2.5. HMS Whelp, which had a defective Asdic dome was ordered to proceed to Leyte.

1315I/9, HMS Swiftsure, HMNZS Gambia and HMCS Uganda carried out independent exercises until 1615I/9.

At 1530I/9, Task Force 57 proceeded, setting course to carry out final air strikes on Sakishima on 10 and 11 April. It was intended to proceed to Leyte afterwards.

However shortly afterwards signals were received that the Americans would continue to deal with Sakishima Gunto and that Task Force 57 was to attack airfield in northern Formosa.

10 April 1945.

The Fleet was getting into position to launch strikes against Matsuyama and Shinchiku airfields on Formosa on the forenoons of 11th and 12th April from approximate position Samson (196° 30 miles from western tip of Yonaguni Jima flying off at 0700I each day. Then to withdraw to replanish area Cootie for replenishment on 13 April and arrive at Leyte about 16 April.

11 April 1945.

At 0600I/11, Task Force 57 arrived in flying-off position 30 miles 202° from Yonaguni Shima. There was a fresh north-north-east wind and a moderate sea and short swell. Cloud base was about 1000 feet with intermittent rain and drizzle.

Course was reversed and in daylight it was seen apparent that conditions were unlikely to improve in the flying area during the day while weather reports showed that conditions over Natsuyama precluded any hope of attack. It was considered that a small fighter sweep coasting round north Formosa might find Shinchiku, but that their return journey would be a considerable gamble and surprise lost. Conditions were most unsuitable also for air sea rescue. Operations were accordingly postponed 24 hours and the Fleet continued to the south-eastward.

Early in the evening all Task Group commanders were informed by signal that heavy enemy air attacks were to be expected the following day.

Course was reversed during the night so as to be in the flying off position at dawn. Task Force 58 reported being under heavy air attack all afternoon, with the enemy showing a preference to commit suicide by crashing on the decks of radar pickets.

12 April 1945.

The weather had improved considerable during the night.

Enemy reconnaissance aircraft possibly detected the Fleet at 0555I/12 and soon afterwards enemy air activity was detected to the northward. CAP was flown off at 0615I/12 and at 0704 Seafires had an inconclusive encounter with four eastbound Zeke's, one of which was shot down.

The main strikes, each of 24 bombers and 20 fighters were flown off at 0715I/12 from position 23°58'N, 122°46'E and proceeded in company around the coast.

Cloud prevented the strikes going over the mountains. One strike bombed Shinchiku airfields with delay fuzed bombs and attacked dispersals. There was flak but no airborne opposition. Due to cloud conditions over Matsuyama airfield the other strike attacked their alternative target, Kiirun harbour where hits were observed on the chemical plant, dock area and shipping.

One flight investigated Matsuama and found little activity. A rearby railway station and factory were attacked. A bridge over the river south of Matsuama was destroyed and shipping at Tansui shot up.

Two Fireflies which had been sent to rendezvous with Dumbo aircraft at Yonaguni Shima shot down four out of five eastbound Sonias (Mitsubishi Ki-51) and damaged the remaining one at 0920I/12. As these aircraft had not been detected by radar, fighters were thereafter maintained over the island.

Corsairs attacked aircraft which had force landed on Yonagumi Shimi and set fire to a Sally (Mitsubishi Ki-21).

At 1135I/12, a shadowing Dinah (Mitsubishi Ki-46), was chased by Corsairs, which, after releasing their drop tanks, caught and destroyed it.

At 1410I/12, another Dinah escorted by two Oscars (Nakajima Ki-43) escaped from the CAP fighters in a cloud.

At 1430I/12, Hellcats to the north-westward of the Fleet shot down a Zeke.

In the evening the enemy made a sortie from Ishigaki, which was intercepted by fighters, no enemy getting within sight of the Fleet. Hellcats spalshed four Oscars and two Tomies and damaged two more. Corsairs splashed a Val (Aichi D3A) and one Oscar. They also damaged an Oscar. One Hellcat was badly damaged in the engagement the pilot being killed when making a forced landing.

During the day, except for the evening sortie and one shadower, all enemy air traffic appeared to have been between Formosa and Sakishima. Fighter direction of our fighters during the day was well carried out, and some excellend interceptions were made. The score for the day was 17 enemy aircraft destroyer, 16 of which were airborne and 1 on the ground. Two more aircraft were probably destroyed. Two enemy aircraft were claimed to have been damaged. Own losses were 4 aircraft.

After dark an enemy plane carried out an unsuccessful box search for the Fleet which had disengaged to the south-eastward for the night.

It was clear that from signals received that the enemy were engaging in very heavy air attacks on American forces in the Okinawa area, and that Formosa based planes were taking part. Vice-Admiral Rawlings came to the conclusion during the evening that Task Force 57 was to remain operating in this area for a further period, even if they could do little more than occasionally strike at the Sakishima Gunto Task Force 57 should anyhow provide an alternative target to take some of the weight. Rear-Admiral Vian, by himself, had meanwhile come to the same conclusion, and he informed Vice-Admiral Rawlings accordingly. The US Commander of the 5th Fleet was informed of the decision by signal.

13 April 1945.

At 0550I/13, four fighters were flown off. A bogey originally detected at 0540I/13 developed into an ineffective raid by four Vals accomanied by a radar fitted search plane probably performing the dual role of pilot plane and 'Gestapo'. One Val dive bombed, but missed, HMS Indomitable. This aricraft switched on navigation lights and fired an incorrect recognition cartridge. It was engaged but probably not hit. A second Val was shot down by gunfire from the Fleet. Unfortunately gunfire also shot down one Hellcat which failed to clear the Fleet during the attack, and the pilot was killed.

At 0615I/13, the proper CAP was flown off in position 23°58'N, 122°46'E.

At 0640I/13, a small group of bogeys was intercepted 25 miles to the north-west of the Fleet. Two Zekes were splashed by Corsairs and the remainder retired to the northward.

At 0645I/13, Avenger strikes were flown off to attack Matsuyama and Shinchiku airfields on Formosa. The weather over Matsutyama was fair, runways, barracks and dispersal points were successfully bombad and a petrol or ammunition dump was blown up. Few aircraft were seen on the airfield.

The other Avenger force bombed Shinchiku airfield through low cloud, hitting the runway intersections and installations. No aircraft were lost in either of these strikes and there was no airborne opposition.

Fireflies attacked the suspected radar station on Yonakuni Shima with rockets and apparently destroyed it. When relieved, they also shot up luggers and small craft in the harbour close to Iriizaki.

After these bomber strikes were flown on, Task Force 57 disengaged to the south-eastward to refuel.

1300I/13, Hellcats intercepted 3 Zekes about 40 miles north of the Fleet, and Corsairs intercepted a Dinah escorted by Tojo's (Nakajima Ki-44). All the enemy aircraft escaped in the clouds.

Enemy losses were thought to be 8 aircraft destroyed and 1 probably damaged. 1 of our own aircraft was lost in combat.

A signal was received thanking the British for their initiative to stay in the area longer and they were ordered to cover Sakishima on 16 and 17 April unless otherwise directed prior to that time.

14 April 1945.

At 0630I/14, Task Force 57 made contact with task Unit 112.2.5 and the tanker group (five tankers) in position Cootie One (21°12'N, 128°44'E).

The aircraft carrier HMS Formidable and the destroyers HMS Kempenfelt and HMS Wessex (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN) joined Task Force 57.

Fuelling was commenced in fine weather and proceeded with less delays then usual.

HMS Illustrious was sailed for Leyte at 1755I/14 escorted by HMS Urania and HMS Quality.

The Fleet disengaged from the tanker force for the night.

15 April 1945.

The Fleet joined the tanker group, now consisting of three tankers, fuelling and general replenishing was completed by 1400I/15 when Task Force 57 disengaged and took departure to cover the Sakishima area again. No supply of new aircraft were available during this replenishment period.

16 April 1945.

No picket cruiser was stationed owing to the shortage of fighter aircraft.

0600I/16, the CAP was flown off in position 23°28'N, 125°18'E, 17 minutes before sunrise and in excellent operating weather.

At 0622I/16, an enemy snooper at 20000 feet escaped before the CAP had time to gain height.

At 0630I/16, the first strike took off to attack Ishigaki aircfields. This attack, and a further one flow off at 1230I/16, left all the runways unserviceable.

At 0930I/16, the second strike took off to attack Miyako airfields where previous craters were found to be filled in and every endeavour had been made to keep the airfields serviceable. This attack, together with another flow off at 1533I/16, left all Miyako airfields out of action.

CAP's were left over both islands during the day. Rocket firing Fireflies staffed a radar station at Miyako and ground installations, barracks and grounded aircraft generally were straffed. These was no airborn opposition over the targets and flack was moderate.

At 0700I/16, bad height estimation was the cause of failure to interceot a bogey which crossed ahead of the Fleet from east to west.

At 1441I/16, two divisions of fighters staggered in height and range get close to an erratic and fast moving bogey but were unable to find any target. More fast moving bogeys were reported during the afternoon. These were thought to be flying bombs launched too far away from the Fleet and exhausting their fuel before reaching the Fleet.

At 1722I/16, Hellcats shot down a Myrt (Nakajima C6N) which was apparently stalking an American Privateer search plane.

A Seafire landing on HMS Indefatigable bounced, cleared the barriers and crashed. The pilot was unhurt but the plane wrecked an Avenger, damaged a Firefly, and knocked two ratings over the side. HMAS Quiberon picked up one but the other was unfortunately not recovered.

In spite of having received no replenishment aircraft since April 9th, and the lack of fighters consequently felt, Rear-Admiral Vian, considered a sixth opertional period possible, if confined to one day of operations. He informed Vice-Admiral Rawlings accordingly.

As the Americans were still under heavy air attacks in the Okinawa area Vice-Admiral Rawlings reported this to the Commander 5th Fleet.

17 April 1945.

At 0600I/17, the CAP was flown off from position 23°34'N, 125°38'E.

In view if the apparent success of yesterday's neutralisation, the number of bombers in the main strikes was reduced, the first strike taking off at 0630I/17. First reports showed that considerable effort had been made to fill in the runway craters at Miyako but none at Ishigaki. Consequently no bombing strike was sent to Ishigaki. Of the three strikes sent to Miyako, the first two left all airfields unservicable and the third attacked municipal buildings and barracks.

In the last attack an Avenger was shot down and one of the crew succeeded in baling out and alighted on the water 1.5 miles from Hirara Town. A Walrus was quickly flow off and rescued the airman, whilst a fighter escort kept down fire which was opened from the town.

CAP's were maintained over both islands, but reported no activity on any airfield, all of which remained unservicable at the end of the day. No operational aircraft could be found on the ground.

At 0609I/17, a few bogeys were detected to the north-west of the Fleet. Fighters sent to investigate splashed one Zeke.

At 1627I/17, bogeys were detected 110 miles west of the Fleet. Fighters intercepted at 55 miles and two out of six Zeke's were shot down. The others escaped into the clouds.

At 1750I/17, close range weapons in HMS King George V suddenly opened fire on what appeared to be a blazing aircraft diving virtically on the ship. It turned out to be a drop tank from a Corsair overhead.

During the day three airborne enemy aircraft were destroyed and several small ship were claimed to have been damaged. One own aircraft was lost in combat.

At 1915I/17, Task Force 57 withdrew to fuel in area Mosquito. It was intended to return to the operations area for on more day, April 20th.

18 April 1945.

At 0630I/18, commenced fuelling in area Mosquito from the tanker group, now made up of five tankers. Four additional destroyers were also with them, HMAS Napier (Capt. H.J. Buchanan, DSO, RAN), HMAS Nepal (Lt.Cdr. C.J. Stephenson, RAN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. J. Plunkett-Cole, RAN) and HMS Undaunted.

Mails, stores and correspondence were transferred but no replenishment aircraft were available. Owing to the extention of operation programme none had been expected.

By dusk the Fleet had completed fuelling and disengaged from the tanker group for the night. Three of the five tankers then set course to return to Leyte escorted by HMS Pheasant.

19 April 1945.

At 0730I/19, the Fleet rejoined the remaining two tankers and the destroyers were then topped off with fuel. This second day in the replenishing area was necessary in order to rest aircrews and for maintenance work on aircraft.

At 1300I/19, the Fleet disengaged and took departure for the Sakishima area, leaving two tankers, HMS Speaker, HMS Kempenfelt, HMS Woodcock and HMS Findhorn in the fuelling area with orders to proceed to Leyte at dawn on 21 April.

20 April 1945.

At 0555I/20, the CAP was flown off in position 23°33'N, 125°02'E. The plan for the day followed generally the pattern of previous strikes, namely to crater the runways on all Myako and Ishigaki airfields and to maintain a CAP over them to prevent repair work, destroying any enemy airborne, and to strafe any grounded planes. In addition two strikes by rocket firing Fireflies were ordered to attack coastal shipping and ground installations.

Four bomber strikes were sent in, and found that most craters had been filled in on runways at both islands. By the end of the day all airfield runways on both islands were left unserviceable, with the exception of these at Hirara (Miyako) which were only partially cratered.

There was no enemy airborne opposition over the islands and none came near the Fleet. The several bogeys detected during the day were all found to be friendly search planes when intercepted. A lugger and some junks were rocketed and left burning, as were a possible radar station and barracks.

One Avenger reported ditching 10 miles south of Ishigaki. The position was searched all the afternoon and evening without success, but the survivors were fortunately rescued the following afternoon by a US seaplane.

One enemy aircraft was damaged on the ground and one own aircraft was lost.

At 1910I/20, Task Force 57 set course for Leyte having completed 12 strike days out of 26 days bwtween first and last strikes.

21 April 1945.

At 0650I/21, HMS Crane was met who had sailed from Leyte to bring out to the Fleet a slightly overdue airmail. She also brought out Commodore Evans-Lombe, Chief Staff officer to the C-in-C, British Pacific Fleet. He was transferred to HMS King George V. HMS Crane was then despatched to overtake the tanker group who were on their way to Leyte, to relieve HMS Kempenfelt who was ordered to proceed at best speed to Leyte.

It was decided that every destroyer was to boiler clear at Leyte and that the battleships and cruisers were to assist them doing so.

22 April 1945.

At 2000I/22, HMS Euryalus, HMNZS Gambia and HMCS Uganda were ordered to proceed ahead of the Fleet to Leyte.

23 April 1945.

At 0700I/23, the Fleet was formed into two groups for proceeding up Leyte Gulf. They were brought to anchor around 1245I/23 in San Pedro Bay. (138)

1 May 1945

The British Pacific Fleet during Operation Iceberg, consolidating the Okinawa area (2nd phase).

The British Pacific Fleet, still known as Task Force 57, departed Leyte for the operations area near Okinawa.

1 May 1945.

On departure Task Force 57 was made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, DSO, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Indomitable (Capt. J.A.S. Eccles, RN, flying the flag of Rear- Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Formidable (Capt. P. Ruck-Keene, CBE, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN) and HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Swiftsure (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. N.J.W. William-Powlett, DSC, RN), HMCS Uganda (Capt. E.R. Mainguy, OBE, RCN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellasis, RN), the flag of Rear-Admiral J.H. Edelsten, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Grenville (Capt. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Wessex (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC and Bar, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Lt.Cdr. G.F.E. Knox, RAN) and HMAS Quickmatch (Cdr. O.H. Becher, DSC and Bar, RAN).

During the day various exercises were carried out.

2 May 1945.

During the day various exercises were carried out.

3 May 1945.

At 0600I/1, Task Force 57 made rendezvous in position Mosquito One with the logistic support group made up of the RFA tankers Cedardale (8132 GRT, built 1939), San Ambrosio (7410 GRT, built 1935) and San Adolpho (7365 GRT, built 1935). These tankers were escorted by the sloops HMS Crane (Lt.Cdr. R.G. Jenkins, DSC, RN), HMS Whimbrel (Lt.Cdr. N.R. Murch, RN) and the frigate HMS Avon (Lt.Cdr. P.G.A. King, RD, RNR).

All cruisers and destroyers topped up with fuel. While getting clear of a tanker HMCS Uganda fouled a propeller on an oil hose. It was cleared by making the use of shallow water divers.

At 1530I/3, oiling was completed. The Fleet took departure for the operations area and the tanker group for area Cootie.

The plan for the opening operations was:
1) To make airfields of the Sakishima Gunto unserviceable by bombing runways and air installations.

2) To conduct an offensive against flak positions and to assist in cratering runways by ship bombardment.

3) To maintain an offensive CAP over the islands.

The particular plan for the first day was for the bombarding force to bombard Miyako airfields and flak position at about noon, from medium range, with the carrier force about 30 miles to the southward, so that their radar would no be fouled by land.

4 May 1945.

At 0540I/4, the CAP was flown off in position 23°44'N, 125°11'E.

At 0550I/4, enemy air activity in the vicinity of Sakishima was detacted, the general trend of traffic being to the eastward. One small group approached the Fleet and Hellcats shot down one Zeke (Mitsubishi A6M 'Zero') before the others escaped into the clouds.

At 0605I/4, bomber strikes were flown off for Myako and at 0815I/4, for Ishigaki. At Miyako the weather was good and visibility was excellent. All AA batteries opened fire on our aircraft. Conditions for bombardment appeared good. At Ishigaki the runway of Myara airfield was found serviceable and left well cratered. When taking off for the Ishigaki strike, an Avenger crashed into the sea, the crew being rescued by the safety destroyer.

At 0827I/4, an enemy aircraft approached the Force at a great heinght. Out figthers could not get high enough to intercept through lack of oxygen, and the enemy entered the artillery zone. Fire was opened in blind control, but the enemy was never seen and retired to the westward.

Before deciding to disengage from the carriers for bombardment Vice-Admiral Rawlings weighted up the following considerations.
1) The need for bombardment in an endeavour to reduce AA fire ashore.
2) Conditions for bombardment near the target had been reported as excellent.
3) The effect on morale of ships of the bombarding force would be most benificial.
To be balanced against this he took into consideration the fact that the Fleet had been sighted. That in itself was nothing strange, and had happened several times before without being followed by any attack on the Fleet.

After discussing the situation with Rear-Admiral Vian, the bombarding force detached at 1000I/4, in position 23°54'N, 125°10'E and closed Miyako at 24 knots. The carriers provided additional CAP for this force as well as aircraft for spotting.

At 1155I/4, the bombarding force passed through position 24°33'5"N, 125°10'E on the bombarding course of 070° at 15 knots. HMS King George V and HMS Howe were in open order line ahead and screened by HMS Euryalus, HMS Black Prince, HMS Grenville, HMS Undaunted, HMS Undine, HMS Urania, HMS Urchin and HMS Ursa. The cruisers occupied the two inshore positions of the screen.

HMS Swiftsure, HMNZS Gambia and HMCS Uganda, in open order line ahead, were stationed 270°, 3 miles, i.e. fire of port quarter of the Fleet flagship. Conditions were ideal.

At 1205I/4 fire was opened. HMS King George V and HMS Howe bombarded Hirara airfield and the AA. defence area to the north of the airfield, respectively.

HMS Euryalus and HMS Black Prince carried out a simultaneous air burst shoot on the AA defence area of Nobara airfield.

On completion of the air burst shoot, HMS Swiftsure and HMNZS Gambia bombarded Nobara airfiel while HMS Uganda bombarded Sukama air strip.

In spite of comparatively close ranges, no form of opposition from the shore was encountered.

Around 1250/4, fire was checked and the bombarding force rejoined the carriers around 1500I/4.

In all 195 round of 14" HE, 598 round of 6" HE and 378 round of 5.25" HE had been fired.

Photographs show that the runways at Nobara and Sukuma were well hit and that all rounds from HMS Howe fell in the target area, but no photographs were obtained to show the results by HMS King George V.

A few minutes after the bombardment was commenced Vice-Admiral Rawlings received a signal from Rear-Admiral Vian that HMS Formidable had been hit and that her speed had been reduced to 18 knots. Vice-Admiral Rawlings accordingly informed the bombarding force and instructed the ships to speed up the bombardment. As signals were corrupt and the situation not quite clear Vice-Admiral Rawlings ordered the cease fire a little earlier than planned and turned the force to the southward to close the carriers at 25 knots.

As soon as the bombarding force had disengaged Rear-Admiral Vian formed the eight destroyers left with him so that two destroyers were equilly speced between each carrier and on the line joining adjacent carriers. This provided the best natural gun support and clear arcs of fire.

At about 1100I/4, three small groups of bogeys were detected to the westward, and were soon followed up by a fourth. Probably 16 to 20 enemy aircraft were employed with some acting as decoys. Fighters engaged one group working round to the southward, but one Kamikaze group penetrated to the carriers and was first detected when a plane was seen diving on the carrier force.

There were no bandits on the screen within 20 miles when at 1131I/4, a Zeke was seen diving from a great height on to HMS Formidable and engaged by gunfire. Rear-Admiral Vian manoeuvred his force under wheel at high speed by successive emergency turns. Though reported hit by close range weapons from his target, the Kamikaze crashed into the flight deck of HMS Formidable rear the island structure and started a large fire in the deck park of aircraft. Rear-Admiral Vian maoeuvred the formation to keep in close touch with the damaged ship, whose speed was temporarily reduced to 18 knots.

The Kamikaze appeared to release his bomb just before the aircraft hit the deck, causing the following damage; caualties 8 killed and 47 wounded. 1 Corsair and 10 Avengers were damaged beyond repair. All Radar, except type 277 put out of action. Both barriers were damaged, the forward one irreparable. The flight deck was holed 2 feet square, indentation 10 feet square and 2 feet deep at the centre. Armoured deck splinter passed through the hangar deck, horizontal partition between down takes, escape hatch which was shut, and so to the centre boiler room where it caused slight damage and loss of steam, and finally pierces the inner bottom.

Two minutes later, at 1133I/4, 2 enemy aircraft crashed in flames ten miles to the southward, the result of the CAP.

At 1134I/4, a Zeke flying from forward to aft off the starboard bow of HMS Indomitable was engaged by her 4.5" guns and temporarily disappeared in cloud. It soon reappeared diving at the ship as steeply as about 60° from the starboard beam. The force was turning to starboard at the time and HMS Indomitable's wheel was increased to hard over. As the plane approached it was heavily engaged by close range weapons from the ship and set on fire, it flattened out at the last moment, deck landed on the flight deck, and bounded over the side, taking the radar arrays of the port midships directions with it. The bomb appeared to explode shortly after the plane submerged.

At 1142I/4, another Zeke dived steeply on HMS Indomitable whose close range weapons and those of HMS Quality hit him hard and often. The aircraft burst into flames and crashed into the sea about 10 yards off the starboard bow of the ship.

No damage nor casualties were sustained in either of these two attacks, apart from that caused to the radar arrays.

Meanwhile the fires in HMS Formidable were soon under control, and by 1254I/4, the ship was capable of 24 knots. It was estimated that one barrier would be in action by 1600I/4 and that the flight deck hole would be patched by then.

At 1215I/4, it became necessary to turn into the wind and land on fighters, although enemy aircraft were known to be still in the vicinity. Aircraft from HMS Formidable were landed on the other carriers.

At 1220I/4, a Jill (Nakajima B6N Tenzan) was shot down by fighters from HMS Indomitable and half an hour later a Val (Aichi D3A) met the same fate by Seafires from HMS Indefatigable. By 1420I/4 the Bombarding Force was being manoeuvred close to the Carrier Force, and the Fleet reformed which was completed at 1450I/4.

As the strike programme planned for the day had been completed, and as cosiderable reorganisation was necessary with the flight deck of HMS Formidable out of action, the Fleet commenced withdrawing to the south-eastward. By 1700I/4, HMS Formidable was able to receive 13 of her Corsairs.

At about 1515I/4, Corsairs from HMS Victorious intercepted and shot down a Judy (Yokosuka D4Y Suisei) to the northward.

Although at various times during the afternoon there were enemy aircraft in the vicinity, it was not until 1720I/4, that development of another attack became evident. This was however broken up very satisfactorily by our fighters.

At 1721I/4, a Judy, believed to be the 'Gestapo' of the group, was shot down from 24000 feet to the eastward by fighters. A few minutes later Seafires from HMS Indefatigable intercepted 4 Zekes to the southwand and shot down 3 before the other escaped to the northward.

At 1732I/4, a Hellcat retuning for an emergency landing was fired on by HMS Formidable and hit. The aircraft crashed but the pilot was rescued unhurt by HMS Undaunted.

At 1820I/4, Corsairs from HMS Victorious were sent to intercept a bogey to the northward. They found and shot down a Zeke.

Durning the day a total of 14 enemy aircraft, all airborne, were destroyed. 11 by fighters, 2 shot down by gunfire and 1 which had been damaged by gunfire which completed its suicide dive on HMS Formidable. Several small vessels around the islands were damaged. Own losses totalled 15 aircraft. In combat only one Avenger was lost. 11 Avengers, 1 Seafire, 1 Hellcat, 1 Corsair were lost from other causes, these included the ones damaged beyond repair on the light deck of HMS Formidable.

5 May 1945.

As the state of affairs on HMS Formidable was not clear, the programme for the day was arrangded on the basis that the ship would keep 8 fighters at readiness to reinforce the CAP if required. At 0420I/5, the ship reported that repairs to her centre boiler room were complete and that full speed was available.

At 0545I/5, the first CAP was flown off from position 23°10'N, 125°29'E.

Runways on Miyako and Ishigaki were well bombed again, and all of them left unserviceable by the end of the day. A CAP was maintained over each island.

Three operational aircraft were found on the ground and destroyer and a petrol dump was left blazing. It was noteworthy that no flack at all was encountered over Miyako and it is hoped that the previous day's bombardment was responsable for this at least temporary change for the airmen.

A high snooper was detected at about 0730I/5 and a long chase of 300 miles followed. This eventually finished at 0920I/5 when Corsairs from HMS Formidable, but operating from HMS Victorious, splashed the Zeke 80 miles from the Fleet and from 30000 feet.

During the day 2 Avengers escorted by fighters were sent to Keramo Retto with press material and Cdr. A. Kimmins, RN.

Enemy losses were 4 aircraft destroyed, 1 in the air and 3 on the ground. Also 2 aircraft were thought to have been damaged on the ground. Own losses were 1 Corsair and 2 Seafires.

At 1905I/5, the Fleet withdew and set course for area Cootie.

6 May 1945.

At 0640I/6, Task Force 57 made rendezvous in area Cootie the Fleet Train made up of the tankers Wave King (8159 GRT, built 1944), Wave Monarch (8159 GRT, built 1944), Cedardale (8132 GRT, built 1939), San Ambrosio (7410 GRT, built 1935) and San Adolpho (7365 GRT, built 1935). Also present were the escort carriers HMS Ruler (Capt. H.P. Currey, OBE, RN) (for fighter protection of the Fleet Train) and HMS Striker (Capt. W.P. Carne, RN) (with replacement aircraft for Task Force 57). The Fleet Train was escorted by the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. H.J. Buchanan, DSO, RAN), HMAS Nepal (Lt.Cdr. C.J. Stephenson, RAN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. J. Plunkett-Cole, RAN), sloops HMS Crane, HMS Pheasant (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Whimbrel and the frigate HMS Avon.

HMAS Napier joined Task Force 57 to replace HMS Kempenfelt which had reported defects.

Casualties from HMS Formidable were transferred to HMS Striker who in company with HMS Kempenfelt, took departure at 1915I/6 for Leyte.

At 1534I/6, CAP aircraft were sent to investigate a surface radar contact to the north-eastward and identified a north bound US armed merchant vessel in company with a US hospital ship.

At 1845I/6, the Fleet detached from the tanker group for the night.

During the refuelling period of Task Force 57, US Task Group 52.1 covered Sakishima.

7 May 1945.

At 0615I/7, fuelling recommenced.

By 1400I/7, fuelling and exchange of stores, mail and correspondence were completed, when the Fleet disengaged from the tankers.

HMAS Norman was ordered to escort the tankers Wave King and Wave Monarch to Leyte, and HMS Whimbrel and HMS Avon similarly escorted Cedardale, San Ambrosio and San Adolpho.

During the last two days HMS Formidable was busy making good bomb damage and in the end became fully operational again.

At 1400I/7, Task Force 57 took departure to return to the operations area.

8 May 1945.

The plan for the day was to bomb Miyako and Ishigaki, to maintain the usual island CAP's, and also to bombard Ishigaki runways and AA positions with the battleships and 6" cruisers. The carrier squadron, supported by both 5.25" cruisers and 8 destroyers were to close Ishigaki behind the bombarding force until such time as land echoes would just not interfere with air warning.

The weather deteriorated during the night, and at 0400I/8 the forecast gave no hope of improvenemt, the pan to bombard was cancelled in favour of one to carry out four bomber strikes following previous patterns.

At 0600I/8, CAP's for the islands and the Fleet were flown off in position 22°53'N, 125°40'E. The weather was overcast and raining at the time, and the island CAP's soon reported similar conditions with the islands difficult to locate. The first strike was therefore cancelled. It was decided to remain in the operating area to await better weather, but at 1015I/8 the island CAP's reported no improvement and rthe meteorological chart showed Formosa to be shut down by similar weather.

Since it was thus evident that Sakishima could be of no use to the enemy in such conditions, at 1050I/8 the Fleet withdrew to the south-eastward, maintaining a reduced CAP.

Although the weather forecast for the following day promised deterioration rather then improvement, Vice-Admiral Rawlings imformed the Commander 5th Fleet of the withdrawal due to weather and that he intended to strike on 9 and 10 May. Plans for a bombardment on 9 May were abandoned. At 1805I/8, just after the last CAP for the day had been flown off, visibility shut down completely with continuous heavy rain. Course was shaped to the westward in search of better weather. It was with difficulty that fighters were vectored back to the Fleet and searchlights were burned to aid them. At 1905I/8, the fighters at sea level, having sighted the searchlights, reached the Fleet and were flown on.

9 May 1945.

The weather, although showery, was much improved and continued to do so during the day. At 0545I/9, the CAP's were flown off in position 23°06'N, 126°00'E. Weather over the targets was reported as sitisfactory. All runways at Hirara were reported as serviceable.

Four bomber strikes were flown off during the day, two to each island, the first being launched at 0830I/9 in position 23°40'N, 125°34'E. All runways were recratered and a direct hit was scored on one aircraft on the ground at Miyako. A motor transport park at Ishigaki was attacked, three vehicles being destroyed for certain.

Low flying fighters discovered a Val hidden in a cave. Firing through the entance to the cave they destroyed the enemy in flames.

At 1145I/9, the Fleet was sighted by a bogey which approached within 30 miles. Fighters drove it off but were unable to catch it.

At 1645I/9, bogeys were detected very low 22 miles to the westward, coming in fast. Four Seafires intercepted at 15 miles, but allowed themselves to be all decoyed away by one aircraft which they shot down. Meanwhile four other enemy planes evaded another division of Seafires and after climbing to about 3000 feet penetrated to the Fleet.

From 1650I/9, onwards the Fleet was redically manoeuvred by emergency turns at 22 knots. One minute after such a turn of 60° to starboard was executed, a suicider made a 10° angle dive onto HMS Victorious from her starboard quarter. The emeny was well hit by close range weapons but crashed onto the flight deck near the forward lift. The resulting fire was quickly brought under control but the bomb explosion holed the flight deck, put the accelerator out of action, rendered one 4.5" gun unserviceable, and damaged one lift hoisting motor.

At 1656I/9, another Kamikaze made a shallow power glide from astern on HMS Victorious. Though hit hard by gunfire, and well on fire, it hit the flight deck aft a glancing blow, and burning furiously passed over the side. Damage to the ship was confined to one arrester unit out of action, a 40mm gun director destroyer, and four Corsairs on deck damaged beyond repair.

Casualties from both these attacks were 3 killed, 4 seriously injured and 15 wounded.

At 1657I/9, a third suicider made a pass at HMS Victorious but then shifted target to HMS Howe furher ahead, and approached her from the starboard quarter in a long shallow dive. This time the attacker was hit at a more reasonable range, and continued to be so until he crashed in flames 100 yards from HMS Howe after passing over the quarterdeck.

At 1705I/9, a fourth Kamikaze approached HMS Formidable and then HMS Indomitable, being engaged by both ships without apparent result. It then turned and dived into the after deck park of HMS Formidable. There was a large explosion and fire and a great deal of smoke. Speed was reduced to 15 knots to aid control of the fire which was extinguished at 1720I/9. Six Corsairs and one Avenger were destroyed by fire on deck. The explosion blew out a flight deck rivet and thus allowed buring petrol to fall into the hanger which had to be strayed. As a result three further Avengers and eight Corsairs were damaged. The total replacement required were therefore four Avengers and fourteen Corsairs. Casualties were fortunately light, one killed and a few injured.

At 1755I/9, HMS Formidable reported being fit to land on aircraft and that during the engagement she had definately shot down one enemy by gunfire.

The state of the Carrier Squadron was as follows; HMS Formidable and HMS Victorious could operate, but the former had only four bombers and eleven fighters serviceable and had two Pom Poms mountings out of action. HMS Victorious could operate a few aircraft at a time, but the damage to her lift seriously reduced her speed of handling. In the circumstances Vice-Admiral Rawlings concurred with Vice-Admiral (promoted on the 8th) Vian's suggestion that the Fleet should withdraw to fuel, sort out and made good the damage, etc, and then return to strike on 12 and 13 May. The commander 5th Fleet was informed of this intention and at 1950I/9 the Fleet set course for area Cootie.

During the day 8 enemy aircraft were destroyed, 2 on the ground, 3 by suicide, 2 by gunfire and 1 by fighters. Also on the ground 1 was probably destroyed and 1 probably damaged. Own losses were 1 Corsair lost in combat and by bomb damage, 10 Corsairs destroyed, 7 Corsairs and 1 Avenger damaged, probably beyond repair. Several small craft near Ishigaki suicide boat base were damaged, and one was sunk.

10 May 1945.

At 0610I/10, Task Force 57 made rendezvous with the tanker group consisting of the escort carriers HMS Speaker (A/Capt. U.H.R. James, RN) (with replacement aircraft), tankers Arndale (8296 GRT, built 1937), Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941), Aase Maersk (6184 GRT, built 1930) and San Amado (7316 GRT, built 1935) and tug HMS Weazel. They were escorted by the escort carrier HMS Ruler (for CAP and A/S services), destroyer HMAS Nepal, sloops HMS Crane, HMS Pheasant, HMS Woodcock (A/Lt.Cdr. S.J. Parsons, DSC, RN) and the minesweepers/corvettes HMAS Ballarat (Cdr. F.B. Morris, RAN) and HMAS Whyalla (A/Cdr. N.R. Read, RAN).

The usual fuelling, exchange of mail and stores as well as the replenishment of aircraft continued throughout the day. Vice-Admiral Vian visited HMS Formidable and HMS Victorious to inspect the damage and found that temporary repairs being carried out showed that both ships would be sufficiently operational to continue the programme of strikes. Vice-Admiral Vian and Rear-Admiral Brind also visited Vice-Admiral Rawlings for discussions on the operation stratigy.

At 1915I/10 the Fleet disengaged from the Tanker Group for the night.

11 May 1945.

At 0640I/11, the Tanker Group was met again and resupply was completed at 1640I/11. HMS Kempenfelt rejoined the Fleet having made repairs at Leyte. HMAS Nepal also joined the Fleet.

HMS Speaker parted company in the afternoon to return to Leyte. She was escorted by HMS Queenborough which had developed shaft vibration and was to return to Leyte for repairs. Also returning to Leyte were the tankers Aase Maersk and San Amado escorted by HMAS Ballarat and HMAS Whyalla.

American Task Unit 52.1.3 covered Sakishima during 10 and 11 May and reported the result of their neutralising operations there.

12 May 1945.

At 0520I/12, four counter Kamikaze destroyers took station one close astern of each of the four carriers.

The radar pickets, HMS Swiftsure and HMS Kempenfelt and HMCS Uganda and HMS Wessex were stationed 315° and 225° respectively from the Fleet centre. This were measurements taken against the Kamikaze threat.

In overcast weather the Fleet and Island CAP's and the first bomber strike were flown off at 0540I/12, twelve minutes before sunrise, from position 23°40'N, 126°51'E.

Four bomber strikes were flown off during the day. One attacked Ishigaki and three Miyako. A second strike on Ishigaki had been planned but had to be cancelled owing to weather conditions. At Ishigaki and Myara runways were found to be serviceable, were again put out of action and AA and dispersal areas were straffed. No new aircraft nor activity were found. The Squadron Leader of 1844 Squadron was unfortunately lost in his Hellcat to AA fire when bombing AA positions.

At Miyako, one runway at Hirara and both at Nobara were found to be serviceable. By the end of the first strike this position was reversed, and subsequent strikes attacked AA positions and installations. A large oil fire was started, a direct hit made on a 4" AA battery, Hirara barracks hit, and three aircraft found on the ground were probably damaged.

An Avenger with engine trouble ditched 75 miles west of the Fleet at 0805I/12. The submarine USS Bluefish proceeded to the position and at 1515I/12 rescued the crew. A CAP of four Corsairs was sent to cover the submarine.

At 0937I/12, another Avenger was forced to ditch, giving a position 100 miles in error from the actual position. The helio flashing of the crew at 1540I/12 was fortunately seen by Fireflies returning to the Fleet, and HMS Kempenfelt was led to the spot and rescued them.

No enemy aircraft were airborne in the vicinity of the Fleet or islands during the day.

At 1915I/12 the radar pickets rejoined. At 1930I/12 the dusk CAP was landed on an the Fleet withdrew to the southward for the night.

The score for the day was, 3 enemy aircraft probably damaged on the ground. 65.5 tons of bombs and 32 rockets were directed at targets. A 200 ton coaster was claimed to have been damaged. Own losses were 1 Hellcat, 2 Avengers, 1 Corsair and 1 Seafire.

13 May 1945.

Radar pickets and counter Kamikaze destroyers were stationed and at 0540I/13, Fleet and island CAP's were flown off in position 24°20'N, 126°55'E in fine weather.

The island CAP's reported that Ishigaki runwatts were again serviceable and a thin strip of Miyara runway had been repaired. At Miyako one runway at Hirara and both at Nobara had been made possibly serviceable.

Four bomber strikes were flown during the day, three to Miyako and one to Ishigaki.

At Miyako all runways were left unserviceable, a barracks was straffed, 8 barges were hit, and 3 major oil fires started.

The position of a new, revetted dispersal area discovered at Hirara was reported to the Commander 5th Fleet and other interested US Authorities.

At Ishigaki camouflaged buildings and storage dumps were hit, as were two radio stations one of which was left in flames.

At 0948I/13, a possible S/M contact was obtained close to the Fleet in position 24°20'N, 126°48'E. Three destroyers were detached with a CAP of 4 Corsairs.

At 1203I/13, a possible contact was attacked with depth charges and 2 Avengers were flown off for Fleet ASP and another armed with depth charges was sent to assist the hunt. The possible contact was later reported as stationary, and although the hunt was continued throughout the afternoon no submarine contact was found, nor is it afterwards considered that a submarine was ever present.

An Avenger returning to land on HMS Formidable was unable to lower flaps and one wheel. As it was undesirable to risk damage to the only remaining barrier in HMS Formidable the aircraft was ordered to land on HMS Indomitable. This the pilot did with skipp and judgement and with very minor damage to his aircraft.

Again there was no enemy air activity near the Fleet or islands.

At 1920I/13 the dusk CAP was landed on and the Fleet withdrew to fuel in area Cootie.

The score for the day was no enemy aircraft destroyed or damaged. 62.25 tons of bombs were dropped on targets as well as 34 rockets. 9 camouflaged barges and a few small craft were damaged. One own Seafire was lost.

14 May 1945.

At 0630I/14, in area Cootie the RFA tankers Arndale, Dingledale and tug HMS Weazel were met and fuelling commenced. These two tankers were escorted by HMS Ruler, HMS Crane, HMS Pheasant and HMS Woodcock

The incoming Tanker Group was late at the rendezvous. They were found by search aircraft from the CAP and directed to the Fleet and consisted of the RFA tankers Wave King and Wave Monarch as well as HMS Striker with replacement aircraft. They were escorted by the destroyer HMAS Nizam (A/Lt.Cdr. W.F. Cook, RAN). They were in station at 1100I/14.

Fourty tons of bombs were transferred by HMS Black Prince from HMS Formidable to HMS Indefatigable. This was necessary because the dimensions of American boms supplied to the ships at Leyte had prevented the full number required being stowed in HMS Indefatigable.

During the forenoon, search aircraft were sent to direct the hospital ship Tjitjalenka (Dutch, 10972 GRT, built 1939) to the Fleet. This ship had been sent as requisted by Vice-Admiral Rawlings to remain at call within 30 miles of a position 85 miles to the eastward of the normal dawn position of the Fleet in the fuelling area. Casualties by now fit to be moved were transferred to the hospital ship by destroyer in the afternoon.

During the day Sakishima was covered by US Task Unit 52.1.3.

At 1910I/14, the Fleet disengaged from the tanker group for the night.

15 May 1945.

The Fleet reformed on the Tanker Group at 0630I/15 and fuelling and exchange of stores, aircraft and correspondence was continued. This was completed at 1700I/15.

Two destroyers joined Task Force 57, these were HMS Troubridge (Capt. G.F. Burghard, RN) and HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN). HMAS Nepal from the Tanker Force also joined Task Force 57. HMS Grenville then joined the Tanker Group.

In the afternoon HMS Striker was detached to Leyte escorted by HMAS Napier. As were the Wave King and Wave Monarch escorted by HMAS Nizam and the Arndale and Dingledale escorted by HMS Pheasant and HMS Woodcock.

It had been hoped that HMAS Nizam would join Task Force 57 for the next two strike periods, but she was not fit for operations owing to a small number of cases of Ingantile Paralysis, for which she remained in quarantine.

American Task Unit 52.1.3 again covered Sakishima on this day.

16 May 1945.

At 0510I/16, radar pickets were sent out and counter Kamikaze destroyers closed their carriers to take up their stations behind each of the four carriers.

At 0540I/16, in position 23°40'N, 126°51'E the Fleet and island CAP's and the first bomber strike for Miyako were flown off.

Five bomber strikes were sent to the islands during the day. Three to Miyako and two to Ishigaki. As the result of these and the efforts of the CAP's, all runways were made unserviceable. Four new aircraft which appeared operational were straffed but did not burn, three others were damaged. Ten small craft of various classes were damaged and four of the were left in a sinking condition. Four lorry loads of Japanese troops were exterminated. A large explosion was caused in Ohama town. Five direct hits with SAP bombs were made on a large cave shelter.

Several of the British planes were damaged by flak. One Avenger taking off from HMS Formidable ditched, HMS Quality rescued the crew one of whom was injured. A Corsair from HMS Victorious developed engine trouble at 20000 feet and was forced to ditch near the fleet. HMS Tenacious rescued the pilot.

At 1735I/16, a Corsair from HMS Victorious ditched 3 miles from Miyako. The lifeguard submarine USS Bluefish was informed and made another skilful rescue by picking up this pilot during the night. An aircraft carried out a search for this pilot the next morning as Vice-Admiral Vian had been unaware of the rescue.

Owing to the shortage of bombs in the foward area, bombers strikes were partly armed with SAP bombs to conserve other types. The Rear-Admiral commanding the Fleet Train had been requised to sent two transports with 2000 bombs to the fuelling area, but this signal had been delayed in transit. The Rear-Admiral answered that only one transport with 477 bombs could be sent as this was all that were available.

The dusk CAP landed on at 1935I/16 and the Fleet withdrew to the southward for the night. No enemy had been airborne in the vicinity during the day.

A total of 7 enemy aircraft had been damaged on the ground. 77.25 tons of bombs and 112 rockets were expended on targets. 2 suicide type boats were sunk, 2 small craft were probably sunk, and a large numer of assorted types of barge and small craft were damaged several being left in flames. Own losses were 3 Corsairs, 1 Avenger and 1 Seafire.

17 May 1945.

At 0510I/17, the usual picket and counter kamikaze destroyers were stationed. The day broke with very light winds of one one or two knots a state of affairs which persisted and proved a handicap throughout the day. The state of boiler brickwork in several ships, and the defective centre stern tube bush in HMS Indomitable made high speeds most undesirable. Without high speed, little safety margin was left for operating aircraft.

At 0540I/17, the Fleet and island CAP's were flown off from a position 85 miles 110° from Miyako. It had been planned to send in four bomber strikes, two to each island, but the second strike to Ishigaki was cencelled owing to damage to HMS Victorious barriers by deck crashes, and the very light winds accentuating the defective stern bush in HMS Indomitable. All airfields were left unserviceable except Myara which may not have been sufficiently cratered. Ohama and Hirara towns were bombed, and barges and small craft were well straffed. A number of Japanese soldiers were discovered, and taken 'care' off.

At 0742I/17, a Corsair making an emergency landing on HMS Victorious remover two arrester wires, crashed through both barriers, burst into flames and passed over the side. On its way it seriously damaged two Corsairs and an Avenger in the deck park. One officer and one rating were mortally injured, two ratings seriously injured and two others slighty hurt.

HMS Victorious reported that 2 jury barriers would be rigged but that it would take some time to do so. It became necessary therefore to distribute the ship's airborne aircraft to other carriers.

At 1145I/17, HMS Victorious reported that the two jury barriers were ready, and arrangements were therefore made to land on her aircraft. Though the first landed on safely, the second aircraft bounced om the gap left by the removal of the 2 arrester wires and demolished one of the jury barriers. The second jury barrier was remover 2 hours later by a similar cause.

As a result 20 aircraft from the ship had to be accomodated in other carriers, causing congestion and offering three attractive targets of dock parked aircraft to any Kamikaze. Fortunately enemy aircraft were conspicuous by their absence throughout the day.

At 1200I/17, a Hellcat from HMS Indomitable was ordered to bale out just ahead of the Fleet as the pilot was unable to release an armed bomb. The pilot was picked up by HMS Troubridge.

At 1715I/17, HMS Victorious had once again rigged jury barriers and was able to accept some of her aircraft from other carriers.

CAP's were maintained until 1915I/17, when radar pickets were recalled and the Fleet withdrew to area Cootie to fuel.

No enemy aircraft were destroyed on this day. 56 tons of bombs and 30 rockets were expended on targets. Many barges a and small craft were damaged and several were left burning. Own losses were 2 Corsairs, 1 Hellcat, 1 Avenger and 1 Seafire.

18 May 1945.

At 0545I/18, the Fleet Train was met in area Cootie. It was made up of the escort carrier HMS Chaser (Capt. R.G. Poole, RN) (with replacement aircraft) and the RFA tankers Cedardale, San Ambrosio and San Adolpho. Tug HMS Weazel was still present. Escort was provided by the escort carrier HMS Ruler (for CAP and ASP purposes), destroyers HMS Grenville, HMAS Norman, sloops HMS Crane, HMS Whimbrel, frigate HMS Parrett (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) T. Hood, RNR) and the minesweeper/corvette HMAS Bendigo (Lt. W. Jackson, RANVR). After forming up fuellinh and exchange of aircraft and stores commenced.

HMS Black Prince transferred bombs from HMS Formidable to HMS Indefatigable.

At 1103I/18, HMS Formidable was observed to be on fire, caused by a Corsair in the hangar accidentally firing her guns into an Avenger, the latter exploded. Fighting this serious fire was difficult by the fact that the fire curtains were out of action due to earlier enemy suicide attacks. It was extinguished by drenching the hangar, but at a cost of 7 Avengers and 21 Corsairs in coditions varying from complete loss to flyable duds. By the evening the Commanding Officer reported tht he consudered his ship capable of operating this jury lighting in the hangar. Arrangements were therefore made to replace her damaged aircraft as far as possible, and for the ship to continue operations at any rate for the next strike period. As the repaired barriers in HMS Victorious could not be guaranteed to to stand up to further barrier crashes or enemy damage the availability of HMS Formidable's flight deck was an important factor, and in any case, it would only lower her morale were she unable to continue in the Fleet.

Owing to very light winds, HMS Ruler was unable to fly off aircraft until the afternoon. At 1800I/18, the Tanker Group reversed course to enable them to rendezvous with the ammunition ship Robert Maersk (2290 GRT, built 1937) expected in position Cootie One at 0600I/19. Meanwhile the transfer of bombs by HMS Black Prince continued on until dark. HMS Whimbrel was detached with mails to Leyte.

In the meantime US Task Group 52.1 covered Sakishima.

19 May 1945.

At 0645I/19, the Fleet again formed on the Tanker Group which now indeed included the Robert Maersk with supplies of bombs. She had been escorted from Leyte by the minesweeper/corvette HMAS Cairns (T/Lt. N.G. Weber, RANR(S)). The transfer of bombs, fuel and stores was continued. HMS Victorious and later HMS Indomitable went alongside the Robert Maersk and embarked bombs by whip and inhaul method. The rate of transfer being about 75 bombs an hour.

Continous rain and low visibility in the afternoon prevented flying seriously upset the numbers of replenishment aircraft to be flown in to HMS Formidable and the flyable duds which were to be flown from her to HMS Chaser.

Hospital ship Tjitjalenka was contacted by aircraft and directed to the Fleet. She then embarked a few sick and casualties.

HMAS Norman joined Task Force 57 replacing HMAS Nepal

At 1800I/19, the tankers Cedardale, San Adolpho and San Ambrosio were detached to proceed to Manus escorted by HMAS Bendigo and HMAS Cairns. HMS Parrett was with them until dusk on 21 May when she was to detach to proceed to Leyte.

At 1930I/19, HMS Nepal was detached to proceed direct to Leyte. The Fleet also took departure for the operations area to take over from US Task Force 52.1 which was still in the area.

20 May 1945.

The flying off position for the day was to be 23°39'N, 126°40'E. First light was at 0548I/20 when clouds were low but the horizon was clear.

At 0500I/20, the four counter Kamikaze destroyers left the screen to take up their positions behind the four carriers.

At 0515I/20, the Fleet ran into dense fog and at 0524I/20, HMS Quilliam, endeavouring to form astern of HMS Indomitable, collided with her. Fortunately no casualties were sustained, but superficial above water damage was caused to HMS Indomitable and serious damage to the bow of HMS Quilliam. As soon as the damaged destroyer was clear of the screen, HMAS Norman was ordered to take her in tow. At 0615I/20, HMS Black Prince was sent to stand by both ships and escort them to area Cootie. The tug HMS Weazel was ordered to tow and HMS Ruler was ordered to provide air cover. HMAS Norman experienced considerable difficulty in towing HMS Quilliam stern first, as the wrecked bow hanging in the water acted as a formidable hard over rudder. By 1300I/20, HMS Black Prince had taken over the tow, but the same difficulty restricting the towing speed to 3 and later to 5.5 knots.

As the weather remained unsuitable for flying the Fleet was manoeuvred until 0745I/20 so as to cover the damaged destroyer.

At 1210I/20, two bogeys were detected 50 miles to the westward tracking 040°. Fighters sent to intercept found both aircraft to be friendly bombers. Neither was showing IFF and no information on their presence nor mission was known.

At 1000I/20, A Corsair of HMS Victorious, heavily hit by flak, was reported to have ditched. Fellow Corsairs searched without success for the pilot which they consider could not have survived. At 1529I/20, a Corsair ditched on taking off from HMS Formidable. The pilot was recovered unhurt by her attendant destroyer.

At 1845I/20, the usual radar pickets were recalled and by 1900I/20 all capts had landed on. The Fleet then withdrew to the southward for the night.

At 2100I/20, the Fleet passed close to HMS Black Prince which reported that HMS Quilliam was satisfactory in tow.

No enemy aircraft were destroyed on this day. 1 Junk and 3 barges were damaged. Own losses were 2 Corsairs, 1 Hellcat and a Seafire.

21 May 1945.

Flying off had been planned for 0540I/21 from a position 85 miles 110° from Miyako. The weather at dawn was similar to the previous day except that the Fleet was clear of fog patches. Flying off was therefore postponed. Four Hellcats were flown off at 0600I/21 to investigate the weather within a 30 miles radius. They reported clear weather to the Northward. Acting on this information the first strike was flown off at 0655I/21.

Five bomber strikes were sent in three to Miyako and two to Ishigaki.

Strikes for Miyako were flown off at 0655I/21, 1210I/21 and 1610I/21. Nobara and Hirara runways were well plastered with bombs. Two fires were started in the warehouse area of Hirara town, and a radio weather station was hit. A tented camp was straffed.

The Ishigaki strikes took off at 0855I/21 and 1440I/21. Both runways at Ishigaki airfield were left unserviceable and Myara airfield was also hit. Low cloud made bombing difficult at both islands.

At 1423I/21, a high snooper was detected approaching the Fleet from the westward. Fighters were ordered to 30000 feet and at 1442I/21 intercepted 36 miles to the southwestward at 26000 feet. The enemy, a Myrt (Nakajima C6N), was shot down 4 minutes later by Hellcats from HMS Indomitable.

The total of the day was one airborne enemy aircraft was shot down and several barges damaged. A total of 55.25 tons of bombs plus 95 rockets had been dropped / fired at targets. Own losses were 1 Avenger and 2 Seafires.

22 May 1945.

At 0700I/22, in position Cootie One the following ships were met;
a) tug HMS Weazel towing the damaged destroyer HMS Quilliam and escorted by the escort carrier HMS Ruler (for CAP and A/S patrol purposes, light cruiser HMS Black Prince and the destroyers HMS Grenville and HMAS Norman.
b) Escort carriers HMS Chaser, HMS Speaker (with replacement aircraft), RFA tankers Wave King, Wave Monarch, Aase Maersk, San Amado, ammunition ship Robert Maersk. They were escorted by the destroyer HMAS Napier, sloop HMS Crane and the frigates HMS Avon and HMS Findhorn (T/A/Lt.Cdr. J.P. Burnett, RNVR).

Also present were the destroyers HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. P.C. Hopkins, RN) which joined Task Force 57.

Also HMS Grenville rejoined Task Force 57 being substituted by HMS Wessex.

Fuelling, exchange of aircraft, stores and bombs were carried out throughout the day.

After receiving mails and and discharging excess complement, the damaged HMS Quilliam proceeded in tow of HMS Weazel to Leyte. HMAS Norman acted as escort. The American tug USS Turkey was sent out from Leyte to assist. They arrived at Leyte on 28 May 1945.

At 1800I/22, HMS Formidable was detached to proceed to Manus and then on to Sydney. She was escorted by HMS Kempenfelt and HMS Whirlwind which were both due for refit.

During the refuelling period Task Force 57 was replaced in the Sakishima area by the American Task Unit 52.1.3.

At 1915I/22, Task Force 57 disengaged from the Tanker Group for the night.

23 May 1945.

At 0745I/23, Task Force 57 reformed on the Tanker Group and fuelling and exchange of stores were continued.

The newly arrived light cruiser HMNZS Achilles (Capt. F.J. Butler, MBE, RN) joined Task Force 57.

During the day 2 Hellcats from HMS Chaser crashed into the sea. Neither pilot was recovered.

At 1800I/23, HMS Chaser, HMS Speaker were detached to proceed to Manus escorted by HMAS Napier.

At 1815I/23, the Fleet detached from the Tanker Group taking departure for the operations area with only 3 carriers in company now.

24 May 1945.

In view of the absence of HMS Formidable it was planned to send in only 4 strikes each day, the first to be flown off 2 hours later then normal so as to provide late afternoon strikes as desired by the Commander Task Force 51.

At dawn visibility was low, the sky overcast with rain and drizzle. Flying off was postponed. At 0900I/24, four fighters flown off reported weather improving slowly in the vicinity and at 1000I/24 it was decided to make 3 strikes during the day. The flying off position being 23°40'N, 126°52'E.

Strikes on Miyako were flown off at 1045I/24 and 1515I/24. Nobara runways were left unserviceable and Hirara runways were also hit. Hirara town and Hishibara were hit by 12 and 4 bombs respectively. A radio station was rocketed, as were camouflaged buildings in the wooded area near Hirara where on large explosion was observed.

The Ishigaki strike took off at 1245I/24. All runways at Ishigaki airfield were left unserviceable. Three hits with 1600lb bombs were observed on a suspected aircraft storage in a low cliff on the north side of Ishigaki east-west runway. The CAP over Ishigaki found on the ground and probably damaged 2 aircraft believed to be operational.

After a day with no enemy air activity om the vicinity the last CAP was landed on at 1907I/24 and radar pickets were recalled. The Fleet withdrew to the southward for the night.

Total total for the day was 2 enemy aircraft probably damaged on the ground. A total of 31 tons of bombs and 40 rockets were fired at targets. No own aircraft were lost on this day.

25 May 1945.

At dawn weather was very much like the previous day, however it soon cleared and the first strike was able to be flown off at 0600I/25 in position 23°40'N, 126°52'E.

Three strikes were sent to Miyako, flying off at 0600I/25, 1115I/25 and 1400I/25. Results of the last strike could not be observed owing to low cloud. 26 hits were observed on Nobara runways which were left unserviceable and 14 hits were made on Hirara runways. The amphibious tank bases, a barracks and barges at Osaki were attacked. A fire was started at Sukama town and the suicide boat base was rocketed.

At Ishigaki 8 bomb hits were made on each of the main Ishigaki and Miyara airfield runways.

It was observed tat progress was being made in levelling a new airstrip near Hegina airfield. Details of this strip were forwarded to the American authorities concerned.

The returning strike from Ishigaki made contact with HMS Bluefish which reported that during the previous night lights had been observed on Ishigaki airfield. The Commanding Officer of the submarine therefore had bombarded the airfield.

At about 1700I/25, a Corsair returning to the Fleet ditched near her carrier. The pilot was picked up by her attendent destroyer.

There was no enemy air activity in the vicinity all day. All aircraft were flown on by 1910I/25 and the Fleet withdrew for the night.

At 2200I/25, Vice-Admiral Rawlings in HMS King George V parted company to proceed to Guam escorted by HMS Troubridge, HMS Tenacious and HMS Termagent. They arrived at Guam in the morning of May 28th. The remainder of the Fleet, now commanded by Vice-Admiral Vian, set course for area Cootie to top off ships with fuel as necessary for them to reach Manus, and thence to disperse to their rear bases for major storing and repairs. They arrived at Manus on 30 May 1945.

28 May 1945
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. G.F. Burghard, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN) and HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC and Bar, RN) arrived at Guam (139)

30 May 1945
The battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. G.F. Burghard, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN) and HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC and Bar, RN) departed Guam for Sydney via Manus.

Around 0630K/1, the destroyer screen parted company to proceed to enter Manus while the destroyers HMS Grenville (Capt. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR) and HMS Wessex (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN) joined.

Between 1100K/1 and 1430K/1, the ships fuelled from the RFA tanker Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941).

HMS King George V, HMS Grenville, HMS Undine, HMS Urchin and HMS Wessex arrived at Sydney on 5 June 1945. (140)

26 Jun 1945
During 26/27 June 1945, HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN, 2nd in command British Pacific Fleet), conducted exercises off Sydney. These included night exercises.

[No details available on escorting destroyers.] (141)

27 Jun 1945
The aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. P. Ruck-Keene, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN) departed Sydney for exercises. She was being escorted by the destroyers HMS Wessex (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN) and HMS Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Warren, RN).

They were joined the following day by aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN).

On the 29th more ships of the British Pacific Fleet departed Sydney for Manus. These were the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN, 2nd in command British Pacific Fleet), light cruisers HMNZS Gambia (Capt. R.A.B. Edwards, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Barfleur (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, DSO, DSC and Bar, OBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.H. Edelsten, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Grenville (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN, Capt. D 25), HMS Ulysses (Lt.Cdr. B.G.B. Bordes, DSC, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR). They joined the two carriers and two destroyers already at sea.

The light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN) departed Brisbane on 29 June to join the ships coming from Sydney which she did later the same day.

In the early hours of 30 June the destroyers HMAS Quickmatch (Cdr. J.K. Walton, RAN), HMAS Quiberon (Lt.Cdr. F.G.E. Knox, DSO, RAN), HMS Quality (Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN) and HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. P.C. Hopkins, RN) joined coming from Brisbane. HMS Wessex and HMS Wrangler then parted company.

Around noon on the 30th the aircraft carrier Implacable (Capt. C.C. Hughes-Hallett, RN), light cruisers HMS Newfoundland (Capt. R.W. Ravenhill, CBE, DSC, RN), HMCS Uganda (Capt. E.R. Mainguy, OBE, RCN)`and the destroyers HMS Teazer (Lt.Cdr. T.F. Taylor, DSC, RN) and HMS Terpsichore (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and 2 Bars, RN) joined coming from Manus. (136)

4 Jul 1945

Part of the British Pacific Fleet arrived at Manus, these were;
Task Group 37.1; battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN, 2nd in command British Pacific Fleet).

Task Group 37.2; aircraft cariers HMS Formidable (Capt. P. Ruck-Keene, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), Implacable (Capt. C.C. Hughes-Hallett, RN) and the destroyers.

Task Group 37.3; light cruisers HMS Newfoundland (Capt. R.W. Ravenhill, CBE, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMCS Uganda (Capt. E.R. Mainguy, OBE, RCN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. R.A.B. Edwards, CBE, RN) and HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN).

Task Group 37.4; destroyers HMS Barfleur (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, DSO, DSC and Bar, OBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.H. Edelsten, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Grenville (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN), HMS Ulysses (?), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Teazer ( Lt.Cdr. T.F. Taylor, DSC, RN) and HMS Terpsichore (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and 2 Bars, RN).

6 Jul 1945
In the morning of July 6th, part of the British Pacific Fleet (Task Force 37) departed Manus for operations against the Japanese homeland with the US 3rd Fleet. They were to make rendezvous with the US Task Force 38 around 16 July.

Task Force 37 was made up the following units;
CTF 37; battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN, 2nd in command British Pacific Fleet).

CTU 37.1.1; aircraft carriers HMS Formidable (Capt. P. Ruck-Keene, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN) and Implacable (Capt. C.C. Hughes-Hallett, RN).

CTU 37.1.4; light cruisers HMS Newfoundland (Capt. R.W. Ravenhill, CBE, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMCS Uganda (Capt. E.R. Mainguy, OBE, RCN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. R.A.B. Edwards, CBE, RN), HMNZS Achilles (Capt. F.J. Butler, MBE, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN) and HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN).

CTU 37.1.5; HMS Barfleur (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, DSO, DSC and Bar, OBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.H. Edelsten, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Grenville (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN, Capt. D 25), HMS Ulysses (Lt.Cdr. B.G.B. Bordes, DSC, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. P.C. Hopkins, RN), HMS Quality (Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Lt.Cdr. F.G.E. Knox, DSO, RAN) and HMAS Quickmatch (Cdr. J.K. Walton, RAN). HMS Troubridge (Capt. G.F. Burghard, RN, Capt. D 24), HMS Teazer ( Lt.Cdr. T.F. Taylor, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Terpsichore (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. J. Plunkett-Cole, RAN) and HMS Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Warren, RN).

HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN) was unable to sail with the fleet due to defects and departed later the same day to overhaul the fleet.

During 7 July destroyers were refuelled by HMS King George V, HMS Newfoundland, HMCS Uganda, HMNZS Gambia and HMNZS Achilles.

At 1800/7, HMAS Norman and HMS Wrangler parted company to return to Manus where they arrived around 0700/9.

Around 1045/10, HMS Undaunted joined the fleet after which she fuelled from HMS Formidable. Two more ships were fuelled on the 10th, these were HMS Black Prince by HMS King George V and HMS Termagent by HMS Victorious.

The fleet proceeded northwards to position 'British Swim' (34°10'N, 155°30'E, about 780 nautical miles east of Tokyo) where fuel (and stores) were embarked during an underway replanishment on 13 July. The first refuelling group was made up of the RFA tankers Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941), San Amado (7316 GRT, built 1935) and Wave Emperor (7196 GRT, built 1944). They were escorted by the frigates HMS Barle (T/A/Lt.Cdr. J. Duncan, DSC, RNR) and HMS Usk (T/A/Lt.Cdr. G.B. Medlycott, RNR).

Oiling continued until the afternoon of the 15th when the Fleet parted company with the oiling force. (136)

16 Jul 1945
Around 1600/16, the American Task Force 38 had completed her refueling and joined force with Task Force 37 for a series of strikes against the Japanese homeland. Course was set towards the flying off position (37°10'N, 143°19'E).

Task Force 37 was at that moment made up the following units;
CTF 37; battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN, 2nd in command British Pacific Fleet).

CTU 37.1.1; aircraft carriers HMS Formidable (Capt. P. Ruck-Keene, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN) and Implacable (Capt. C.C. Hughes-Hallett, RN).

CTU 37.1.4; light cruisers HMS Newfoundland (Capt. R.W. Ravenhill, CBE, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMCS Uganda (Capt. E.R. Mainguy, OBE, RCN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. R.A.B. Edwards, CBE, RN), HMNZS Achilles (Capt. F.J. Butler, MBE, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN) and HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN).

CTU 37.1.5; HMS Barfleur (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, DSO, DSC and Bar, OBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.H. Edelsten, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Grenville (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN, Capt. D 25), HMS Ulysses (Lt.Cdr. B.G.B. Bordes, DSC, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. P.C. Hopkins, RN), HMS Quality (Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Lt.Cdr. F.G.E. Knox, DSO, RAN) and HMAS Quickmatch (Cdr. J.K. Walton, RAN). HMS Troubridge (Capt. G.F. Burghard, RN, Capt. D 24), HMS Teazer (Lt.Cdr. T.F. Taylor, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Terpsichore (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and 2 Bars, RN).

On making rendezvous with the Americans, Vice-Admirals Rawlings and Vian as well as some members of their stafs, were put on board the American flagship USS Missouri for a conference with the American C-in-C.

At 0330/17, Vice-Admiral Vian took over tactical control of TF 37 for flying operations and shortly afterwards, around 0400/18, when Task Force 37 was about 250 miles north-east of Tokyo, Fireflies, armed with 60 lb. rockets took off from Implacable while HMS Vicorious launched Corsairs. They were to attack the airfields in the Miyagi Prefecture including the ones at Sendai and Matsushima.

During the day a Combat Air Patrol was maintained over the Task Force, the first aircraft (Seafires) were flown off by HMS Implacable at 0630/17.

At 0830/17, operating aircraft came to a halt as the weather conditions in the launch area had deteriorated.

The score for the day was summed up as followes. Destroyed were claimed, nine aircraft on the ground, a hangar, three locomotices and one junk sunk. Damaged were claimed nine aircraft on the ground, several hangars and barracks at Niigata, Matsuda, Sendai and Matsushima as well as several small boats. Three Corsairs were lost but all pilots were saved.

Around 1430/17, HMS King George V escorted by HMS Quality and HMAS Quiberon parted company with Task Force 37 to join American ships for a night bombardment of the heavily industrialized Mito-Hitachi area. They joined the American force around 1700/17. [See the event for 17 July on the pages of HMS King George V, HMS Quality of HMS Quiberon for more info.]

Around 2310/17 the bombardment commenced. It ceased around 0110/18. The battleships fired 1797 shells into the target area. HMS King George V had fired 267 14" shells and the five US battleships 1238 16" shells and 292 6" shells. Damage was caused to the Taga and Mito Works of Hitachi Manufacturing Company and the Yamate Plant and the copper refining plants of Hitachi Mine.

When the bombardment ceased around 0110/18, HMS King George V, HMS Quality and HMS Quiberon detached from the USN ships to rejoin Task Force 37 which they did around 0730/18.

Weather had been unsuitable for flying operations and the Combat Air Patrol was only flown off after weather had improved a little around 0930/18. Around 1130/18 the carriers from Task Force 37 flew off aircraft to carry out strikes against targets north-east of Tokyo. During the days flying operations twelve enemy aircraft were claimed to have been destroyed on the ground. Eighteen aircraft were claimed to have been damaged as well as many junks, railway vans and hangars.

At the end of the days flying operations Task Force 37 proceeded away from the area in a south-easterly direction towards replenishment area 'British Tizzy' (28°00'N, 138°55'E, approximately 460 miles south of Tokyo). With the flying operations against the Japanese homeland over, Vice-Admiral Rawlings, assumed tactical control.

Early in the morning of the 20th, in approximate position 32°00'N, 152°00'E, Task Force 37 made rendezvous with Task Unit 112.2.6 which was made up of the RFA tankers Wave Monarch (8159 GRT, built 1944), San Ambrosio (7410 GRT, built 1935), San Adolpho (7365 GRT, built 1935) and the victualling stores ship Glenarney (9795 GRT, built 1940). Also part of this unit were the escort carriers HMS Arbiter (Capt. D.H. Everett, DSO, RN) and HMS Striker (Capt. W.P. Carne, RN) with replacement aircraft. They were escorted by the destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. H.J. Buchanan, DSO, RAN), HMAS Nizam (A/Lt.Cdr. W.F. Cook, RAN), sloops HMS Pheasant (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Redpole (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Lee, RN), HMS Whimbrel (Lt.Cdr. N.R. Murch, RN), frigate HMS Findhorn (T/A/Lt.Cdr. J.P. Burnett, RNVR) and the minesweeper/corvette HMAS Gawler (Lt.Cdr. J.H.P. Dixon, RANR(S)).

The aircraft carrier HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), escorted by the destroyers HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN) and HMS Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Warren, RN) arrived with Task Unit 112.2.6 to join Task Force 37. These ships had come up from Manus at high speed and therefore had required more fuel then had been anticipated. There was now a shortage of 2000 tons of fuel so it was therefore agreed with the Americans that HMS Newfoundland, HMCS Uganda and HMNZS Gambia would fuel from American tankers which in the end they did from Task Group 30.8.

Replenishment continued throughout the day with Task Force 37 steering a south westerly course.

At dusk Task Force 37 detached from Task Unit 112.2.6 for the night.

Early in the morning of the 21st Task Force 37 closed Task Unit Task Unit 112.2.6 again and re-commenced replenishment. This continued continued throughout the day with the ships steering a south-westerly course.

At dusk Task Force 37 again detached from Task Unit 112.2.6 for the night.

Early in the morning of the 22nd Task Force 37 again closed Task Unit Task Unit 112.2.6 and re-commenced replenishment. This continued throughout the day with Task Force 37 again steering a south-westerly course.

At dusk Task Force 37 detached from Task Unit 112.2.6 and proceeded to the north-west towards the new operational area near the island of Shikoku. HMAS Napier had joined Task Force 37. (136)

22 Jul 1945
At dusk on 22 July 1945, Task Force 37 had completed underway replenishment operations and set course to proceed to the north-west towards the new operations area off Shikoku Island.

Task Force 37 was at that moment made up the following units;
CTF 37; battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN, 2nd in command British Pacific Fleet).

CTU 37.1.1; aircraft carriers HMS Formidable (Capt. P. Ruck-Keene, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), Implacable (Capt. C.C. Hughes-Hallett, RN) and HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN).

CTU 37.1.4; light cruisers HMS Newfoundland (Capt. R.W. Ravenhill, CBE, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMCS Uganda (Capt. E.R. Mainguy, OBE, RCN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. R.A.B. Edwards, CBE, RN), HMNZS Achilles (Capt. F.J. Butler, MBE, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN) and HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN).

CTU 37.1.5; HMS Barfleur (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, DSO, DSC and Bar, OBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.H. Edelsten, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Grenville (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN, Capt. D 25), HMS Ulysses (Lt.Cdr. B.G.B. Bordes, DSC, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. P.C. Hopkins, RN), HMS Quality (Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Lt.Cdr. F.G.E. Knox, DSO, RAN) and HMAS Quickmatch (Cdr. J.K. Walton, RAN). HMS Troubridge (Capt. G.F. Burghard, RN, Capt. D 24), HMS Teazer (Lt.Cdr. T.F. Taylor, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Terpsichore (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Warren, RN) and HMAS Napier (Capt. H.J. Buchanan, DSO, RAN).

At 0300/24 Vice-Admiral Vian assumed tactical control of Task Force 37 for the period of the upcoming flying operations. 45 minutes later the Combat Air Patrol was flown off and first strikes were launched against the port of Tokushima on the island of Shikoku.

Air operations continued throughout the day against targets in the Inland Sea and the islands of Shikoku, Kyushu and Honshu. 15 Aircraft were claimed to have been destroyed on the ground and 2 were possibly destroyed. Also 3 hangars were claimed destroyed. 1 transport ship, 1 small tanker and a number of luggers and junks were also claimed sunk. 31 aircraft on the ground, 1 escort carrier, an aircraft factory and a shipyard were claimed to have been damaged. 4 British aircraft were lost during the attacks.

At dusk all aircraft were recovered and Vice-Admiral Rawlings assumed tactical command and Task Force 37 retired to the east.

At 0300/25, Vice-Admiral Vian assumed tactical control for the duration of the flying operations of that day.

At 0345/25, the first aircraft of the day were flown off, which was the Combat Air Patrol. Air strikes were also flown off, the targets were the same as the day before. The following results were reported; 2 aircraft destroyed on the ground, several small cargo vessels, and many junks, luggers and other small craft sunk. Buildings, hangars, factories, a wireless station, and a lighthouse were claimed sunk or destroyed.

1 large and 1 medium freighter, 13 coasters including a small tanker and two corvettes were claimed damaged and possibly destroyed.

6 aircraft on the ground, more shipping and buildings were cliamed to have been damaged.

In the evening a group of enemy aircraft was intercepted approaching Task Force 37; It were Hellcats from HMS Formidable which intercepted the attackers, shooting down three and driving off the remainder.

At dusk on the 25th, after all aircraft had been landed on, Vice-Admiral Rawlings once again assumed tactical control and Task Force 37 proceeded southwards towards replenishment area, 'British Tizzy' (28°00'N, 138°55'E, approximately 460 miles south of Tokyo).

In the morning of the 26th, Task Force 37 made rendezvous with Task Unit 112 and replenishment commenced. Task Unit 112 consisted of the RFA tankers Olna (12667 GRT, built 1945), Wave Governor (8190 GRT, built 1945), Wave King (8190 GRT, built 1944), Carelia (8082 GRT, built 1938), victualling stores ship Glenartney (9795 GRT, built 1940), ammunition ship Robert Maersk (2290 GRT, built 1937), stores ship Corinda (3376 grt, built 1937). Also part of this force were the escort carriers HMS Chaser (Capt. R.G. Poole, RN), HMS Ruler (Capt. H.P. Currey, OBE, RN) and HMS Speaker (A/Capt. U.H.R. James, RN), which carried with replacement aircraft. Task Unit 112 was escorted by light cruiser HMS Argonaut (Capt. W.P. McCarthy, RN), destroyers HMAS Norman (Cdr. J. Plunkett-Cole, RAN), HMAS Nepal (Lt.Cdr. C.J. Stephenson, RAN), sloops HMS Crane (Lt.Cdr. R.G. Jenkins, DSC, RN), HMS Pheasant (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Redpole (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Lee, RN), HMS Woodcock (A/Lt.Cdr. S.J. Parsons, DSC, RN), frigates HMS Derg (Lt.Cdr. N.B.J. Stapleton, RD, RNR), HMS Odzani (A/Lt.Cdr. J.N. Burgess, RANVR) and the minesweeper/corvette HMAS Pirie (Lt. C.K. Mackenzie, RANVR).

At dusk Task Force 37 detached from Task Unit 112 for the night.

In the morning of the 27th replenishment re-commenced. HMCS Uganda parted company with Task Force 37 and proceeded to Esquimalt via Pearl Harbour. HMS Argonaut then joined Task Force 37.

Fuelling proceeded slowly and HMS Newfoundland and HMNZS Achilles eventually were sent to the US Task Group 30.8 to fuel.

After having completed replenishment Task Force 37 detached from Task Unit 112 and set course to the north-west to return the operations area off Japan. (136)

28 Jul 1945
At dusk on 28 July 1945, Task Force 37 had completed underway replenishment operations and set course to proceed to the north-west towards the new operations area off Shikoku Island.

Task Force 37 was at that moment made up the following units;
CTF 37; battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN, 2nd in command British Pacific Fleet).

CTU 37.1.1; aircraft carriers HMS Formidable (Capt. P. Ruck-Keene, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), Implacable (Capt. C.C. Hughes-Hallett, RN) and HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN).

CTU 37.1.4; light cruisers HMS Newfoundland (Capt. R.W. Ravenhill, CBE, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. R.A.B. Edwards, CBE, RN), HMNZS Achilles (Capt. F.J. Butler, MBE, RN), HMS Argonaut (Capt. W.P. McCarthy, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN) and HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN).

CTU 37.1.5; HMS Barfleur (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, DSO, DSC and Bar, OBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.H. Edelsten, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Grenville (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN, Capt. D 25), HMS Ulysses (Lt.Cdr. B.G.B. Bordes, DSC, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. P.C. Hopkins, RN), HMS Quality (Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Lt.Cdr. F.G.E. Knox, DSO, RAN) and HMAS Quickmatch (Cdr. J.K. Walton, RAN). HMS Troubridge (Capt. G.F. Burghard, RN, Capt. D 24), HMS Teazer (Lt.Cdr. T.F. Taylor, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Terpsichore (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Warren, RN) and HMAS Napier (Capt. H.J. Buchanan, DSO, RAN).

At 0330/28, Vice-Admiral Vian assumed tactical control of Task Force 37 during the days flying operations.

At 0400/28, from approximate position 31°30'N, 135°00'E (south of Shikoku), the Combat Air Patrol was flown off and first strike aircraft were also launched. The targets were the port of Harima and targets of opportunity, mainly in and around the Inland Sea. The naval base of Maizuru was also attacked. British aircraft sank the Japanese frigates Kaibokan 4 (offsite link) in Ise Bay.

Also six aircraft were claimed to have been destroyed on the ground. Also three small cargo vessels and several more small ships and junks were claimed to have been sunk.

Two large merchant ships and one smaller ships were claimed as probably sunk.

Fourteen aircraft were claimed to have been damaged on the ground. Also claimed damaged were many ships, including three destroyers or escort destroyers and numerous junks, luggers and barges. Also several shore installations were damaged.

Eight aircraft were lost on this day including one aircrew.

At dusk all aircraft were recovered and Vice-Admiral Rawlings assumed tactical command for the night.

At 0330/29, Vice-Admiral Vian assumed tactical control for the duration the flying operations. At 0400/29, the Combat Air Patrol was flown off and also the first strike aircraft were launched. They were however soon recalled when it was found out that fog was obscuring the selected targets.

Around 1200/29, HMS King George V was detached. She was to make rendezvous with the to carry out a bombardment of the city of Hamamatsu together with ships from the US Task Unit 34.8.1. HMS King George V was screened by the destroyers HMS Undine, HMS Ulysses and HMS Urania.

The target that had been selected for HMS King George V was the Japanese Musical Instrument Company, this may sound strange but at the time they were manufacturing propellers instead of musical instruments.

Before the bombardment commenced however the destroyers Urania and Ulysses collided with each other and HMS Ulysses sustained some damage.

At 2319/29, HMS King Geore V opened fire on her target from a range of about 20000 yards. She fired a total of 265 14" shells but only a few were seen by the spotter aircraft to have hit the target.

During the bombardment HMS Undine engaged some small groups of ships, most likely fishing vessels.

The bombardment was over at 2356/29 and HMS King George V and her escorting destroyers set course to rejoin Task Force 37 which she did at 0600/30.

At 0330/30, Vice-Admiral Vian again assumed tactical control for the days flying operations. Half an hour later the the Combat Air Patrol was flown off and the first strike aircraft were launched but one again the first strike ran into fog over the coast. targets for this day were airfields around Tokyo and the large naval base at Maizuru.

Six enemy aircraft were claimed to have been destroyed as were one oil tank, one locomotive and a warehouse. Two luggers were claimed sunk.

More shipping was claimed probably sunk; one destroyer, one large transport, one small freighter, two small coasters, four luggers and three fuel barges.

Claimed to have been damaged were six aircraft on the ground as were many hangars and shore installations.

More shipping was claimed damaged, five destroyers, four destroyer escorts, one medium freighter and many small vessels.

Three aircraft were lost on this day, with all pilots missing.

Around dawn, after the last aircraft had been recovered Task Force 37 set course to the south towards the replenishment area. Vice-Admiral Rawlings resumed tactical command.

At 0900/31 Task Force 37 made rendezvous with Task Unit 112 near point ' British Tizzy ' and replenishment commenced shortly afterward despite the worsening weather conditions. Task Unit 112 consisted of the RFA tankers Olna (12667 GRT, built 1945), Wave Governor (8190 GRT, built 1945), Wave King (8190 GRT, built 1944), Carelia (8082 GRT, built 1938), victualling stores ship Glenartney (9795 GRT, built 1940), ammunition ship Robert Maersk (2290 GRT, built 1937), stores ship Corinda (3376 grt, built 1937). Also part of this force were the escort carriers HMS Chaser (Capt. R.G. Poole, RN), HMS Ruler (Capt. H.P. Currey, OBE, RN) and HMS Speaker (A/Capt. U.H.R. James, RN), which carried with replacement aircraft as well as the radar and radio repair vessel HMNZS Arbutus (T/Lt. N.D. Blair, RNZNVR). Task Unit 112 was escorted by the destroyers HMAS Norman (Cdr. J. Plunkett-Cole, RAN), HMAS Nepal (Lt.Cdr. C.J. Stephenson, RAN), sloops HMS Crane (Lt.Cdr. R.G. Jenkins, DSC, RN), HMS Pheasant (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Redpole (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Lee, RN), HMS Woodcock (A/Lt.Cdr. S.J. Parsons, DSC, RN), frigates HMS Derg (Lt.Cdr. N.B.J. Stapleton, RD, RNR), HMS Odzani (A/Lt.Cdr. J.N. Burgess, RANVR) and the minesweeper/corvette HMAS Pirie (Lt. C.K. Mackenzie, RANVR). During the replenishment Rear-Admiral Edelsten was transferred from HMS Barfleur to HMS Speaker for onward passage back to Manus.

As usual, at dusk Task Force 37 detached from Task Unit 112 for the night.

Replenishment was completed on August 3rd and course was then set to return to the operations area off Japan. (136)

3 Aug 1945
Having completed replenishment around noon on 3 August, Task Force 37 set course to proceed to the northwards to the operations area off Japan.

Task Force 37 was at that moment made up the following units;
CTF 37; battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN, 2nd in command British Pacific Fleet).

CTU 37.1.1; aircraft carriers HMS Formidable (Capt. P. Ruck-Keene, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), Implacable (Capt. C.C. Hughes-Hallett, RN) and HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN).

CTU 37.1.4; light cruisers HMS Newfoundland (Capt. R.W. Ravenhill, CBE, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. R.A.B. Edwards, CBE, RN), HMNZS Achilles (Capt. F.J. Butler, MBE, RN), HMS Argonaut (Capt. W.P. McCarthy, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN) and HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN).

CTU 37.1.5; HMS Barfleur (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, DSO, DSC and Bar, OBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.H. Edelsten, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Grenville (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN, Capt. D 25), HMS Ulysses (Lt.Cdr. B.G.B. Bordes, DSC, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. P.C. Hopkins, RN), HMS Quality (Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Lt.Cdr. F.G.E. Knox, DSO, RAN) and HMAS Quickmatch (Cdr. J.K. Walton, RAN). HMS Troubridge (Capt. G.F. Burghard, RN, Capt. D 24), HMS Teazer (Lt.Cdr. T.F. Taylor, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Terpsichore (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Warren, RN) and HMAS Napier (Capt. H.J. Buchanan, DSO, RAN).

While En-route to the operational area a signal was received from the US Fleet Admiral Nimitz to all units of the US 3rd Fleet (which included the British Pacific Fleet) ordering them to cease offensive strikes and do not close the coast of Japan to within 300 miles. This was because the first atomic bomb was about to be dropped. Vice-Admiral Rawlings was informed off this not by signal but some British liaison officers with the US Fleet were put on board the flagship by a US destroyer to inform the Vice-Admiral in person and strict secrecy.

At 0815/6, around the time the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima Task Force 37 was in approximate position 34°30'N, 146°00'E, some 315 nautical miles east of Tokyo.

Shortly afterwards they made rendezvous with Task Unit 112 now made up of the tankers Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941), San Amado (7316 GRT, built 1935), Wave King (8190 GRT, built 1944), stores ships Glenartney (9795 GRT, built 1940), and Fort Wrangell (7213 GRT, built 1944), ammunition ship Robert Maersk (2290 GRT, built 1937), escort carriers HMS Arbiter (Capt. D.H. Everett, DSO, RN), HMS Chaser (Capt. R.G. Poole, RN) and HMS Ruler (Capt. H.P. Currey, OBE, RN). They were escorted by destroyers HMAS Norman (Cdr. J. Plunkett-Cole, RAN), HMAS Nizam (A/Lt.Cdr. W.F. Cook, RAN), sloop HMS Pheasant (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), frigate HMS Barle (T/A/Lt.Cdr. J. Duncan, DSC, RNR) and minesweepers/corvettes HMAS Ballarat (A/Cdr. N.R. Read, RAN) and HMAS Burnie (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Andrewartha, RANR). Replenishment started soon afterwards.

As usual Task Force 37 detached at dusk from Task Unit 112 for the night.

In the morning of the 7th, Task Force 37 continued with replenishment from Task Unit 112. HMAS Nizam detached from Task Unit 112 and joined Task Force 37.

In the late afternoon of the 7th, Task Force 37 completed replenishment and detached from Task Unit 112 and set course for the north-west towards the operations area.

7 Aug 1945
Having completed replenishment on 7 August, Task Force 37 set course to close the coast of Japan for flying operations.

Task Force 37 was at that moment made up the following units;
CTF 37; battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN, 2nd in command British Pacific Fleet).

CTU 37.1.1; aircraft carriers HMS Formidable (Capt. P. Ruck-Keene, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), Implacable (Capt. C.C. Hughes-Hallett, RN) and HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN).

CTU 37.1.4; light cruisers HMS Newfoundland (Capt. R.W. Ravenhill, CBE, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. R.A.B. Edwards, CBE, RN), HMNZS Achilles (Capt. F.J. Butler, MBE, RN), HMS Argonaut (Capt. W.P. McCarthy, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN) and HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN).

CTU 37.1.5; HMS Barfleur (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, DSO, DSC and Bar, OBE, RN), HMS Grenville (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN, Capt. D 25), HMS Ulysses (Lt.Cdr. B.G.B. Bordes, DSC, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. P.C. Hopkins, RN), HMS Quality (Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Lt.Cdr. F.G.E. Knox, DSO, RAN) and HMAS Quickmatch (Cdr. J.K. Walton, RAN). HMS Troubridge (Capt. G.F. Burghard, RN, Capt. D 24), HMS Teazer (Lt.Cdr. T.F. Taylor, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Terpsichore (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Warren, RN), HMAS Napier (Capt. H.J. Buchanan, DSO, RAN) and HMAS Nizam (A/Lt.Cdr. W.F. Cook, RAN).

When Task Force 37 arrived in the operations area on the 8th, the weather was found unsuitable for flying operations. Course was then set to the south-east in search of better weather.

At 0330/9, Vice-Admiral Vian assumed tactical control for the duration of the flying operations. Shortly afterwards, when Task Force 37 was in approximate position 38°35'N, 144°12'E the first Combat Air Patrol and strike aircraft were launched. The target for the first air strikes was Matsushima.

At 0500/9, HMS Newfoundland, HMNZS Gambia, HMS Tenacious, HMS Termagent and HMS Terpsichore were detached from Task Force 37. They were known as Task Unit 37.1.8 and were to join a US Task Unit of battleship, cruisers and destroyers (Task Unit 38.8.1) for a bombardment of the steel works and docks at Kamaishi. The bombardment commenced around 1300/9 and was completed around 1445/9. The detached ships rejoined Task Force 37 around 2100/9.

During the aircraft attacks on this day the Japanese frigate Amakusa (offsite link) is sunk in Onagawa Bay. Ths pilot that hit the ship was killed during the attack and he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross (Lt. R.H. Gray, RCNVR).

At 1202/9, the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

During the attack on the 9th the following damage was claimed to have been inflicted on the ememy;
Destroyed; 44 enemy aircraft on the ground (including 17 probably destroyed) as well as hangars and shops at Matsushima. 2 Locomotives and freight cars.
Shipping sunk; 2 Destroyers, 1 old destroyer, 1 submarine chaser, 1 freighter, 2 small coasters, 4 junks and 2 launches (some of the above were shared with aircraft from Task Force 38).

Probably sunk were two destroyer escorts (shared with Task Force 38) and a torpedo boat as well as a lot of small craft.

Claimed to have been damaged were 22 aircraft on the ground as well as various ground installations.

Shipping that was claimed to have been damaged were 1 destroyer, 2 destroyer escorts, 1 freighter and many small craft including 9 coasters and 9 luggers.

7 Aircraft including 5 pilots were missing following these attacks.

At dusk, Vice-Admiral Rawlings again took control of Task Force 37.

At 0330/10, Vice-Admiral Vian took control of the force for the duration of the flying operations.

At 0400/10, the first Combat Air Patrol was launched followed about an hour later by the first strike aircraft. The target was shipping in Onagawa Bay and other targets of opportunity in northern Honshu.

During the attack on the 10th the following damage was claimed to have been inflicted on the ememy;
Destroyed; 16 aircraft on the ground including one probably damaged, 4 locomotives, 2 coaches, 3 tank cars.

Shipping sunk; 3 freighters, 2 coasters, 8 small craft.

Shipping probably sunk; 1 freighter, 2 luggers,

Aircraft and installations damaged; 31 aircraft on the ground, several freight trains, factories, hangars and other installations.'

Shipping damaged; 2 destroyers, 2 destroyer escorts, 1 merchant vessel, 6 small coasters and 4 luggers.

6 aircraft and 4 pilots and 2 aircrewmen were missing.

At dusk all aircraft were recovered and Vice-Admiral Rawlings again assumed tactical command. Task Force 37 then set course to the eastwards for replenishment.

Around 0430/11, Task Force 37 made rendezvous with Task Unit 112 and fuelling commenced shortly afterwards from five tankers; Olna (12667 GRT, built 1945), San Adolpho (7365 GRT, built 1935), San Amado (7316 GRT, built 1935), San Ambrosio (7410 GRT, built 1935) and Wave Emperor (7196 GRT, built 1944). Also part of Task Unit 112 were the stores ship Fort Wrangell (7213 GRT, built 1944), hospital ship Tjitjalengka (10972 GRT, built 1939) and the escort carrier HMS Ruler (Capt. H.P. Currey, OBE, RN). Task Unit 112 was escorted by the sloops HMS Crane (Lt.Cdr. R.G. Jenkins, DSC, RN), HMS Pheasant (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), frigates HMS Barle (T/A/Lt.Cdr. J. Duncan, DSC, RNR), HMS Findhorn (T/A/Lt.Cdr. J.P. Burnett, RNVR), HMS Usk (T/A/Lt.Cdr. G.B. Medlycott, RNR) and the minesweepers/corvettes HMAS Ballarat (A/Cdr. N.R. Read, RAN), HMAS Burnie (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Andrewartha, RANR), HMAS Geraldton (A/Cdr. A.J. Travis, RAN) and HMAS Ipswich (T/Lt. R.H. Creasey, RANR(S)).

HMS King George V fuelled from the American Task Group 30.8 as Vice-Admiral Rawlings had been invited for a conferance by the American Commander-in-Chief aboard USS Missouri.

It had also been decided that the majority of the ships of Task Force 37 were to return to Manus so on the 12th the aircraft carriers HMS Formidable, HMS Victorious, HMS Indefatigable, light cruisers HMS Black Prince, HMS Euryalus, HMNZS Achilles and the destroyers HMS Grenville, HMS Ulysses, HMS Undaunted, HMS Undine, HMS Uranua, HMS Urchin, HMS Quality, HMS Quadrant, HMAS Quiberon and HMAS Quickmatch parted company. They were now known as Task Group 37.3. They arrived at Manus on 18 August 1945.

12 Aug 1945
After fuelling, and with the bulk of Task Force 37 being sent to Manus, Vice-Admiral Rawlings had the following ships left; battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN, 2nd in command British Pacific Fleet), aircraft carrier HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Newfoundland (Capt. R.W. Ravenhill, CBE, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. R.A.B. Edwards, CBE, RN), destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. G.F. Burghard, RN, Capt. D 24), HMS Teazer (Lt.Cdr. T.F. Taylor, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Terpsichore (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Warren, RN), HMS Barfleur (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, DSO, DSC and Bar, OBE, RN), HMAS Napier (Capt. H.J. Buchanan, DSO, RAN) and HMAS Nizam (A/Lt.Cdr. W.F. Cook, RAN).

This force was now named Task Group 38.5 and was to operate as in integrated unit of the American Task Force 38. As the British Fleet Train had now been streched to the limit and the British had to depend on the Americans for fuel.

Also on this day the battleship HMS Duke of York (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Admiral B.A. Fraser, GCB, KBE, RN, C-in-C British Pacific Fleet) and the destroyers HMS Wager (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN) and HMS Whelp (Cdr. G.A.F. Norfolk, RN) departed Guam to join Task Group 38.5 off Japan.

At 0815/13, HMS Indefatigable launched her first strike aircraft to attack targets in the Tokyo area. A second strike was flow off at 1315/13 but the selected targets could not be attacked due to the unsuitable weather conditions.

On this day only 4 luggers were claimed sunk. Some buildings, locomotives and other rolling stock were claimed to have been damaged.

During the day a total of 21 enemy aircraft were shot down by the Combat Air Patrol while trying to approach the fleet.

At 1815/13 flying operations had ceased and course was set to position 31°45'N, 144°00'E to refuel.

During the 14th, Task Group 38.5 fuelled from American tankers. At 1710/14, they set course to return to the operations area. It was noted by Vice-Admiral Rawlings that the state of equipment and efficiency of American tankers was much higher then the British ones. The Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary had much to learn on this subject.

At 0400/15, HMS Indefatigable launched her first strike aircraft from position 34°00'N, 142°00'E to attack targets in the Tokyo area. They were unable to attack the selected target due to bad weather in that erea but they spotted a camouflaged factory so it was decided to attack this factory instead. It was successfully bombed. The strike aircraft were intercepted by 12 Japanese fighters but 4 of these were shot down by the escorting fighters while 4 more were probably shot down. One Seafire did not return and one Avenger had to ditch due to being heavily damaged.

At 0700/15, a signal was received that all further strikes were cancelled for the moment.

Four hours later news was received that the Japanese had accepted the Allied peace terms and that all offensive operations had to cease.

At 1120/15, two bombs fell close to HMS Indefatigable as a Japanese aircraft had penetrated the defences unnoticed.

Task Force 38 then set course to proceed to position 32°45'N, 143°20'E to await further instructions.

On the 16th HMS Duke of York, HMS Wager and HMS Whelp joined Task Group 38.5. Vice-Admiral Rawlings however remained in tactical command of the Task Force.

On the 17th, Task Group 38.5 set course to proceed to position ' British Drink ' (32°25'N, 143°30'E) for an underway replenishment by ships from the British Fleet Train.

At 0200/18, they made rendezvous with the tankers San Adolpho (7365 GRT, built 1935), San Ambrosio (7410 GRT, built 1935) and Wave Governor (8190 GRT, built 1945), stores ship Fort Wrangell (7213 GRT, built 1944), escort carrier HMS Ruler (Capt. H.P. Currey, OBE, RN) and their escorts, the sloop HMS Ruler (Capt. H.P. Currey, OBE, RN), frigates HMS Odzani (A/Lt.Cdr. J.N. Burgess, RANVR), HMS Usk (T/A/Lt.Cdr. G.B. Medlycott, RNR) and the minesweepers/corvettes HMAS Ballarat (A/Cdr. N.R. Read, RAN) and HMAS Burnie (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Andrewartha, RANR).

Fuelling commenced at daylight and continued until 1700/18. The tankers San Adolpho (7365 GRT, built 1935) and San Ambrosio (7410 GRT, built 1935) were empty now and were ordered to proceed to Leyte to refil escorted by HMS Usk and HMAS Burnie.

At dawn on the 19th fuelling continued but now only from the Wave Governor.

Replenishment continued during the 20th. During the day the escort carrier HMS Speaker (A/Capt. U.H.R. James, RN) arrived with aircraft replenishments. She was being escorted by the destroyer HMS Queenborough (Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC and Bar, RN). The escort carrier was ordered to transfer all possible aircraft to HMS Indefatigable and HMS Ruler and then prepare to embark Allied POW's from when the Fleet was able to put into Tokyo Bay.

Also the tanker Carelia (8082 GRT, built 1938) joined the Logistics Group. She was being escorted by the minesweepers/corvettes HMAS Cessnock (Lt. A.G. Chapman, RANR(S)) and HMAS Pirie (Lt. C.K. Mackenzie, RANVR). The tanker Wave Governor was then ordered to proceed to Ulithi for rapid refilling and return as soon as possible. She was being escorted by HMS Odzani.

In the afternoon Task Group 38.5 was disbanded and the ships were diveded over two American Task Forces; HMS Indefatigable, HMS Troubridge, HMS Teazer, HMS Tenacious, HMS Termagent, HMS Terpsichore, HMS Wakeful, HMS Wrangler and HMS Barfleur were ordered to join Task Group 38.3 while HMS Duke of York, HMS King George V, HMS Newfoundland, HMNZS Gambia, HMAS Napier, HMAS Nizam, HMS Wager and HMS Whelp joined Task Group 38.4.

On 21 August, Task Force 38, proceeded to the south-west to position 30°30'N, 142°00'E to continue replenishment with typhoon warnings meanwhile coming in. The Logistics Group remained near area ' British Drink ' though. HMS Queenborough had collected mails and was ordered to proceed to Manus via Ulithi.

On 22 August, the destroyers were topped up with fuel and aerial photogaphs were taken off the fleet.

At daylight on 23 August, the British destroyers were topped up with fuel by HMS Duke of York and HMS King George V. At noon the fleet was now in position 33°35'N, 144°08'E. In the afternoon the plan to enter Japanese waters was received and as a consequence HMS Duke of York was detached with HMS Wager and HMS Whelp to form Task Group 30.2 and join the US flagship USS Missouri which formed Task Group 30.1 together with some destroyers.

HMS King George V, HMS Newfoundland, HMNZS Gambia, HMAS Napier and HMAS Nepal formed Task Force 37 again. They were reinforced by two US destroyers, USS Uhlmann (T/Cdr. S.C. Small, USN) and USS Benham (T/Lt.Cdr. W.L. Poindexter, USN).

On August 24th, the ships upperworks were painted and some efforts were made to remove the signs that the ships had been at sea for a long time. The destroyers conducted some exercises.

At daylight on August 25th, the destroyers, including the two US destroyers, were topped up by HMS King George V, HMS Newfoundland and HMNZS Gambia. In the late afternoon or early evening HMAS Quickmatch (Cdr. J.K. Walton, RAN) arrived from Manus with mail and fuelled from HMS King George V while transferring the mail. Later a signal was received to close the Japanese Coast.

On the 26th a signal was received to return to the previous area as weather was still unsuitable to enter Japanese waters. HMAS Quickmatch was ordered to join the Logistics Group and transfer and collect their mails and then return to the southwards. In the afternoon a signal was received to enter Japanese waters (Sagami Wan) on 27 August and Tokyo Bay on 30 August so course was set to get closer to the coast.

On the 27th Task Force 37 entered Sagami Wan and around 1450/27 anchored in their assigned berths. The two US destroyers were ordered to rejoin the US Fleet.

The 28th was spent painting and cleaning the ships. Also the hospital ship Tjitjalengka (10972 GRT, built 1939) arrived and anchored in Sagami Wan. She was being escorted by the sloop HMS Crane (Lt.Cdr. R.G. Jenkins, DSC, RN).

On the 29th Task Goups 30.1 and 30.2, the American and British flagship groups entered Tokyo Bay at daylight, so HMS Duke of York, HMS Wager and HMS Whelp were the first British ships to enter Tokyo Bay.

On 30 August, HMS Teazer and HMS Terpsichore, which both had minor defects, entered Sagami Wan and joined Task Force 37. Also the destroyer HMS Quality (Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN) joined at daylight, coming from Manus. She was the first destroyer to arrive from the destroyers sent to relieve those still at sea with HMS Indefatigabele.

Later on the day, HMS King George V, HMS Quality, HMAS Napier and HMAS Nizam were ordered to enter Tokyo Bay. They anchored off Yokohama. HMS Teazer and HMS Terpsichore also entered Tokyo Bay and secured alongside the battleships to make good their defects. HMS Quality, after having fuelled was sent out to sea to join HMS Indefatigable while HMS Speaker, now fitted out to embark POW's, entered Tokyo Bay.

On 31 August 1945, more British and Commonwealth ships entered Tokyo Bay, these were HMS Newfoundland, HMNZS Gambia from Sagami Wan and HMAS Shropshire (Capt. C.A.G. Nichols, MVO, DSO, RN), HMAS Hobart (Capt. R.S. Dowling, RAN), HMAS Warramunga (Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN) and HMAS Bataan (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN) which came from Okinawa.

Also ships from the Logistics Group entered Tokyo Bay, these were the tankers Carelia, Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941), Wave King (8159 GRT, built 1944), stores ship Fort Wrangell, escort carrier HMS Ruler, sloop HMS Crane, HMS Pheasant (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Woodcock (A/Lt.Cdr. S.J. Parsons, DSC, RN), frigate HMS Derg (Lt.Cdr. N.B.J. Stapleton, RD, RNR) and the minesweepers/corvettes HMAS Cessnock, HMAS Pirie and HMAS Ipswich (T/Lt. R.H. Creasey, RANR(S)).

On September 1st, HMS Tenacious entered Tokyo Bay having been relieved by HMS Quality. HMS Speaker reported that she had 35 officers and 340 other ranks of former POW's that had already arrived on board. Most of them were in bad shape.

At 0930 hours on 2 September the formal ceremony of surrender took place on board USS Missouri. The war had ended.

Media links


British Battleships, 1919-1945, Revised Edition

R. A. Burt


amazon.com
($ 66.67)

amazon.co.uk
(£ 65.75)


British battleships 1939-45 (2)

Konstam, Angus


amazon.com
($ 16.54)

amazon.co.uk
(£ 9.99)


King George V Class Battleships

Tarrant, V. E.

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  141. ADM 53/121604

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


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