Allied Warships

HMS Croome (L 62)

Escort destroyer of the Hunt (Type II) class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeEscort destroyer
ClassHunt (Type II) 
PennantL 62 
Built byA. Stephen & Sons Ltd. (Glasgow, Scotland) 
Ordered4 Sep 1939 
Laid down7 Jun 1940 
Launched30 Jan 1941 
Commissioned29 Jun 1941 
End service 
History

Scrapped at Briton Ferry, Wales on 13 August 1957.

 

Commands listed for HMS Croome (L 62)

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

CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. John Douglas Hayes, RN25 Apr 1941Jul 1942
2Lt.Cdr. Rupert Cyril Egan, RNJul 1942Jan 1943
3Lt. Hubert Duncan McLaughlin Slater, RNJan 194330 Mar 1944
4Lt. William David Shaw, RN30 Mar 19444 Apr 1944
5T/A/Lt.Cdr. John Stuart Lawrence, DSC, RNVR4 Apr 194412 Dec 1944
6A/Lt.Cdr. Basil Chrystie Ward, DSC, RN12 Dec 1944late 1945

You can help improve our commands section
Click here to Submit events/comments/updates for this vessel.
Please use this if you spot mistakes or want to improve this ships page.

Notable events involving Croome include:


25 Jul 1941
HrMs O 14 (Lt.Cdr. G. Quint, RNN(R)) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Punjabi (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN), HMS Castleton (Cdr. (Retd.) F.H.E. Skyrme, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, RN). (1)

27 Jul 1941
HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN), HMS Heythrop (Lt.Cdr R.S. Stafford, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, RN) departed Scapa Flow at 0600 hours to make rendez-vous with the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) which had been escorting convoy TC 12 on her way back to the UK after repairs in the USA.

Rendez-vous was made with the battleship at 2000 hours and course was set for Scapa Flow. (2)

28 Jul 1941
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN), escorted by HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN), HMS Heythrop (Lt.Cdr R.S. Stafford, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, RN), arrived at Scapa Flow around noon. They had been delayed in the Pentland Firth due to thick fog. (2)

30 Jul 1941
HrMs O 14 (Lt.Cdr. G. Quint, RNN(R)) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, RN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN). (1)

30 Jul 1941
The battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Esperance Bay (Capt.(Retd.) G.S. Holden, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Castleton (Cdr.(Retd.) F.H.E. Skyrme, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, RN).

31 Jul 1941
HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN), HMS Esperance Bay (Capt.(Retd.) G.S. Holden, RN), HMS Castleton (Cdr.(Retd.) F.H.E. Skyrme, RN), HMS Charlestown (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, RN) arrived at Rosyth.

5 Aug 1941
HrMs O 14 (Lt.Cdr. G. Quint, RNN(R)) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with RAF aircraft and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, RN). (1)

9 Aug 1941
The Italian submarine Maggiore Baracca was rammed and sunk in the North Atlantic, north-east of the Azores, in position 40°15'N, 20°55'W by the British escort destroyer HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, RN).

8 Jan 1942
HMS Clyde (Cdr. D.C. Ingram, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Gibraltar with HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN). The exercises were abandoned due to an A/S hunt in the area. (3)

20 Jan 1942
At 0900 hours the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN) and at escort destroyers HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN) departed Gibraltar for exercises.

They retuned to harbour around 1800 hours. For the duration of the exercises Rear Admiral Syfret had been on board HMS Argus. (4)

31 Jan 1942
At 0815 hours, HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), parted comapany with RFA Dingledale and her escorts, submarine HMS Clyde (Cdr. D.C. Ingram, DSC, RN) and corvette HMS Spiraea (T/Lt. R.W. Tretheway, RNR).

At 1330 hours, the escort destroyers HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN), HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN) and the corvettes HMS Geranium (T/Lt. A. Foxall, RNR) and HMS Vetch (T/A/Lt.Cdr. H.J. Beverley, DSC, RNR) joined.

The escort destroyers were to fuel from Dingledale but the swell was too high and they parted company at 1500 hours as did HMS Spiraea which was to proceed to the U.K. for the fitting of radar equipment. (5)

8 Feb 1942
Force H made up of the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN), HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN) and HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN) departed Gibraltar for the Clyde.

13 Feb 1942
Force H made up of the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN), HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN) and HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN) arrived in the Clyde from Gibraltar.

16 Feb 1942

Convoy WS 16.

This convoy departed the Clyde on 16 February 1942 and arrived at Freetown on 1 March 1942.

The convoy was made up of the troopships / transports; Awatea (British, 13482 GRT, built 1936), Bergensfjord (British, 11015 GRT, built 1913), Brisbane Star (British, 12791 GRT, built 1937), City of Edinburgh (British, 8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Lincoln (British, 8039 GRT, built 1938), Cuba (British, 11420 GRT, built 1923), Delftdijk (British, 10220 GRT, built 1929), Denbighshire (British, 8983 GRT, built 1938), Duchess of Richmond (British, 20022 GRT, built 1928), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Empire Pride (British, 9248 GRT, built 1941), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Mooltan (British, 20952 GRT, built 1923), Nea Hellas (British, 16991 GRT, built 1922), Ormonde (British, 14982 GRT, built 1917), Port Jackson (British, 9687 GRT, built 1937), Potaro (British, 5410 GRT, built 1940), Sibajak (Dutch, 12226 GRT, built 1927), Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932), Stratheden (British, 23722 GRT, built 1937), Volendam (Dutch, 15434 GRT, built 1922) and Worcestershire (British, 11402 GRT, built 1931).

The Straithaid was unable to sail with the convoy and joined at sea on 21 February 1942.

On departure from the Clyde the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN), HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN), HMS Verity (Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN), HMS Walker (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, DSO, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt. R. Horncastle, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN).

Between 1300/18 and 1500/18 the transports City of Edinburgh, City of Lincoln and Potaro reported that their cargo had shifted. The Potaro was able to continue but was ordered to proceed to Freetown independently. The other two ships had to return to the U.K.

At 0920/20 the destroyer HMS Anthony left the convoy to proceed to the Azores with condensor trouble.

At 1800/20 HMS Panther was detached to fuel at the Azores and then rejoin the convoy.

At 1300/21 the light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN) and destroyer HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.D. Pugsley, RN) joined the convoy. They had the troopship Strathaird with them.

At 0800/21 HMS Croome was detached to Gibraltar.

At 1530/21 HMS Malaya, HMS Eagle, HMS Hermione, HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning, HMS Duncan, HMS Active and HMS Blankney were detached to Gibraltar.

At 1600/21 HMS Paladin was detached to the Azores to refuel after which she was to rejoin the convoy.

At 1800/21 HMS Firedrake was detached. She was to return to the U.K independently.

At 1800/22 HMS Verity, HMS Walker and HMS Witherington were detached to the Azores where they were to fuel after which they were to proceed to Halifax.

At 1600/23 HMS Paladin rejoined the convoy. HMS Panther had sailed from the Azores before her but apparently she was unable to find the convoy. Eventually she joined in the evening.

At 0905/26 the destroyers HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN) and HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, RN) joined the convoy coming from Bathurst.

The convoy arrived safely at Freetown in the morning of 1 March 1942 escorted by HMS Formidable, HMS Newcastle, HMS Paladin, HMS Panther, HMS Boreas, HMS Brilliant and HMS Wild Swan. (6)

26 Feb 1942

Operation Spotter.

Transfer of Spitfire fighters to Malta.

Around 1830/26 the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN) departed Gibraltar westwards. They were to turn eastwards during the night but this move was made as a diversion to 'fool' the enemy spies in Spain that HMS Argus had been relieved at Gibraltar by HMS Eagle which had arrived there on 23 February 1942.

Around 0330/27 the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN) and HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN).

Around 0630/27 the two groups joined to the east of Gibraltar and then continued on eastwards.

Around 2100/27 course was reversed to return to Gibraltar. The operation had to be abandoned due to problems with the long range fuel tanks of the Spitfire fighters in HMS Eagle that were to be flow off to Malta.

'Force H' returned to Gibraltar in the evening of the 28th. (4)

6 Mar 1942

Operation Spotter II.

Transfer of Spitfire fighters to Malta.

Around 0400 hours 'Force H' departed Gibraltar for Operation Spotter II, a renewed attempt to fly off Spitfire fighters to Malta.

'Force H' was made up of the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN).

At 1018/7 the first flight of Spitfire fighters for Malta was launched from position 37°29'N, 03°18'E. All eight Spitfires from 'A' flight were airbone at 1032/7.

Meanwhile signals were intercepted that 'Force H' had been reported by German and Italian aircraft.

At 1146/7 the first aircraft of the second flight of Spitfires for Malta was launched. All seven aircraft from 'B' flight were airborne by 1157/7.

Course was then set to return to Gibraltar while it was till being shadowed by enemy aircraft.

In the evening a signal was received that all aircraft had arrived safely at Malta.

On the 8th various exercises were carried out.

At 1330/8 HMS Hermione was detached to act as a target for an exercise by the 9.2" shore battery of the Rock of Gibraltar.

At 1344/8 HMS Eagle, HMS Argus escorted by HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning, HMS Anthony, HMS Blankney and HMS Croome were detached to conduct flying exercises. After HMS Hermione completed her exercise she joined this group.

At 1420/8 HMS Malaya entered the harbour and immediately proceeded into No.1 dock for periodical docking. She had been escorted by the remaining destroyers; HMS Active, HMS Wishart and HMS Whitehall. HMS Active and HMS Wishart then joined the carrier group while HMS Whitehall also entered the harbour for repairs to her condensors.

Between 1800/8 and 1840/8, HMS Eagle, HMS Argus and HMS Hermione entered the harbour. The destroyers remained out for night exercises upon completion of which they also returned to harbour. (4)

20 Mar 1942

Operation Picket.

Transfer of Spitfire fighters to Malta.

Around 0200 hours 'Force H' departed Gibraltar for Operation Picket, in which they were to launch Spitfire fighters for passage to Malta.

'Force H' was made up of the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN), HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN) and HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN).

At 0320/20, while passing Europa Point, they were joined by the destroyer HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN).

At 1440/20, when 'Force H' was in position 36°33'N, 01°26'W, underwater explosions were felt by the majority of the ships. At the time these were thought to have originated by aircraft dropping depth charges but later investigations showed that these were most likely torpedoes exploding. [This was indeed the case as the Italian submarine Mocenigo at that time had made an attack on HMS Argus.]

At 0814/21 the first Spitfire of 'A' flight was flown off and the whole flight of aircraft was in the air by 0838/21 where they joined two Blenheim bombers coming from Gibraltar.

After 'A' flight had been launched the aircraft for 'B' flight were brought up to the flight deck. However it became apparent that no more escorting Blenheims would come from Gibraltar and the lauch of this flight had to be cancelled and 'Force H' set course to the westward with the intention to lauch 'B' flight the next day.

In the afternoon a signal was received that all aircraft of 'A' flight had arrived safely at Malta. Meanwhile throughout the afternoon 'Force H' had been shadowed by enemy aircaft which the fighter patrol were unable to intercept.

At 1530/21, HMS Whitehall was detached due to fuel shortage and ordered to proceed to Gibraltar independently.

The next moring, at 0715/22 it apparent that the weather at Malta was unsuitable and the remainder of the operation was cancelled and 'Force H' set course to return to Gibraltar.

In the morning the fleet was still shadowed by an enemy aircraft.

'Force H' arrived at Gibraltar around 0800/23. HMS Hermione had been detached and arrived a little earlier. (4)

27 Mar 1942

Operation Picket II.

Transfer of Spitfire fighters to Malta.

Around 1600/27 'Force H' departed Gibraltar for Operation Picket II, in which they were to launch Spitfire fighters for passage to Malta.

'Force H' was made up of the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Eagle (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN), HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN), HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN), HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN) and HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN).

In the afternoon of March 28th German reconnaissance aircraft were sighted so the force must have been detected.

Between 0720/29 and 0728/29 HMS Eagle launched seven Spitfires for Malta.

'Force H' then set course to return to Gibraltar.

'Force H' returned to Gibraltar early in the afternoon of 30 March 1942.

[We have so far been unable to find a report for this operation.]

21 May 1942
HMS Otus (Lt. R.J. Clutterbuck, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Alexandria together with HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, DSO, RN) and HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN). (7)

11 Jun 1942

Operation Vigorous.

Convoy MW 11 from ports in the Eastern Mediterranean to Malta.

Operation Vigorous in the Eastern Mediterranean took place at the same time of Operation Harpoon in the Western Mediterranean.

11 June 1942.

On 11 June 1942, a diversionary convoy, MW 11C, departed Port Said for Malta. It was made up of the following transports; Aagtekerk (Dutch, 6811 GRT, built 1934), Bhutan (British, 6104 GRT, built 1929), City of Calcutta (British, 8063 GRT, built 1940) and Rembrandt (Dutch, 8126 GRT, built 1941).

The convoy was escorted by the AA cruiser HMS Coventry (Capt. R.J.R. Dendy, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Airedale (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN), HMS Aldenham (Lt. H.A. Stuart-Menteth, RN), HMS Beaufort (Lt.Cdr. S.O’G Roche, RN), HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN), HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, DSC, RN) and HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, RN).

The four transports all had an MTB in tow. These were HMS MTB 259, HMS MTB 261, HMS MTB 262 and HMS MTB 264.

The convoy proceeded eastwards and on 12 June the convoy was joined while near Alexandria by the escort destroyer HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN).

12 June 1942.

On 12 June 1942, convoy MW 11A departed Haifa for Malta. It was made up of the following transports; Ajax (British, 7540 GRT, built 1931), City of Edinburgh (British, 8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Lincoln (British, 8039 GRT, built 1938), City of Pretoria (British, 8049 GRT, built 1937), Elizabeth Bakke (British, 5450 GRT, built 1937) and Princess Marguerite (Canadian, 5875 GRT, built 1925).

On depature from Haifa this part of the convoy was escorted by the detroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, DSO, RN), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, DSO and Bar, RAN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, DSC, RAN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN), HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN) and HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC and Bar, RN).

Also on 12 June 1942, convoy MW 11B departed Port Said to join up with convoy MW 11A. It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Bulkoil (American (tanker), 8071 GRT, built 1942) and Potaro (British, 5410, built 1940).

It was escorted by the destroyers HMS Pakenham (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.D. Pugsley, RN) and HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. R.D.H.S. Pankhurst, RN).

13 June 1942.

Convoy MW 11C turned back eastward after dark on the 12th and joined convoys MW 11A and MW 11B near Alexandria on the 13th. The Hunt-class escort destroyers escorting convoy MW 11C were sent to Alexandria to fuel.

The transport City of Calcutta had been damaged by a near miss at 2100/12 while the convoy was still proceeding to the west. She had been detached and was now escorted to Tobruk by HMS Croome and HMS Exmoor. The four MTB's that were in tow of the four merchant ships of convoy MW 11C, were slipped and also sent to Tobruk due to the bad weather conditions. MTB 259 however was damaged and sunk.

The transport Elizabeth Bakke was unable to keep up with the convoy and was therefore detached from convoy MW 11A to return to Alexandria. The decoy ship Centurion joined the convoy from Alexandria. This ship was disguised as a battleship.

The destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. A.L. Poland, CB, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Simms, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Sikh (Capt. St.J.A. Micklethwait, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. N.H.G. Austen, RN) and HMS Hero (Lt. W. Scott, RN) departed Alexandria in the afternoon to relieve all the fleet destroyers which were with the convoy at that time. The rescue ships Antwerp (British, 2957 GRT, built 1920) and Malines (British, 2969 GRT, built 1921) took passage to the convoy with these destroyers. The destroyers they were to relieve were then to proceed to Alexandria to fuel. The corvettes HMS Delphinium (Cdr.(Retd.) R.L. Spalding, RN), HMS Erica (Lt.Cdr. W.C. Riley, RNR), HMS Primula (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.H. Fuller, RNR) and HMS Snapdragon (T/Lt. P.H. Potter, RNR) also joined the convoy escort from Alexandria.

At 1730/13 the Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron, which was in overal command, sailed from Alexandria in HMS Cleopatra (Capt. G. Grantham, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN) with HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, DSO, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Newcastle (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, DSO, RN, fling the flag of Rear Admiral W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.B. Crane, RN) and HMS Arethusa (Capt. A.C. Chapman, RN). They were escorted by the destroyers: HMAS Napier, HMAS Nestor, HMAS Nizam, HMAS Norman, HMS Pakenham, HMS Paladin, HMS Inconstant, HMS Fortune, HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN), HMS Hotspur and the escort destroyers HMS Dulverton, HMS Airedale, HMS Aldenham, HMS Beaufort, HMS Eridge, HMS Hurworth and HMS Tetcott (Lt. R.H. Rycroft, RN).

14 June 1942.

HMS Erica had to be detached to Mersa Matruh during night of 13th/14th due to defects.

The escort destroyers HMS Croome and HMS Exmoor rejoined the convoy at daylight coming from Tobruk.

The transport Aagtekerk was unable to keep up with the convoy and was ordered to proceed to Tobruk escorted by HMS Tetcott and HMS Primula. She was later attacked by aircraft, set on fire and had to be grounded near Tobruk. She was later declared a total loss.

The minesweepers HMS Boston (Lt. D.H.G. Coughlan, RNR) and HMS Seaham (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Brett, RNR) joined the convoy coming from Tobruk.

During the afternoon and evening the convoy and escort were heavily bombed. The transport Bhutan was hit and sank while the transport Potaro was damaged but she was able to remain with the convoy. The rescue ships picked up crew and passengers from the Bhutan following which they parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Tobruk.

In the early evening it was reported that Italian warships had left Taranto.

15 June 1942.

Rear-Admiral Vian ordered the convoy to turn back at 0145/15 so that an air attack could launched on the enemy fleet before contact could be made. During the night of the 14th/15th the convoy was constantly illuminated by aircraft flares and was also attacked by E-Boats and submarines. HMS Newcastle was hit forward by an E boat (S 56) torpedo around 0300/15, her speed being reduced to 24 knots and her forward turret was put out of action. HMS Hasty was torpedoed and damaged also byan E boat (S 55) at 0525/15 and later had to be scuttled by HMS Hotspur which also rescued her crew, only 12 of the crew of HMS Hasty were lost.

At 0630/15 the convoy turned west again, but had to turn back to the east at 0930/15 when the enemy was only 100 miles to the west and air attacks had not developed. At 1115/6 a Beaufort torpedo bomber striking force reported hits on the two Littorio battleships, and the Commander in Chief Mediterranean ordered the convoy to turn westward once again. However the enemy continued to proceed to the south-east, apparently not reduced in speed. Rear-Admiral Vian, therefore, maintained his course to the eastward.

There were heavy air attacks with mainly Ju-88's and Ju-87's throughout the day and torpedo bombers attacked at dusk. Both Centurion and HMS Birmingham were damaged, but were able to continue. HMS Airedale was hit and she was later scuttled by HMS Aldenham and HMS Hurworth, casualties were fortunately once again slight. HMAS Nestor was also hit and immobilized but she did not sink and taken in tow by HMS Javelin with HMS Beaufort and HMS Eridge escorting the tow.

By 1630/5 it had been reported that the enemy fleet had turned northward and the Commander in Chief Mediterranean again ordered the convoy to turn to the westward if in any way possible. Shortage of fuel and ammunition, however, did not permit this, and Rear-Admiral Vian was instructed to return to Alexandria with his whole force.

Submarines then intercepted the enemy fleet, but a simultaneous air attack caused the enemy to alter course and unfortunately the attacks could not be pressed home. The heavy cruiser Trento was damaged by the air attack and later sunk by HMS P 35 (Lt. S.L.C. Maydon, RN) while making her way back to Italy. HMS P 35 also reported one torpedo hit on a Littorio-class battleship but this was not the cast, she had missed the Vittorio Veneto.

16 June 1942.

At 0126/16 HMS Hermione was torpedoed by the German submarine U-205 and sank shortly afterwards taking 88 of her crew with her. HMS Aldenham, HMS Beaufort and HMS Exmoorrescued 498 of her crew.

The efforts to tow the damaged HMAS Nestor had to be abandoned at 0530/16 and she was scuttled by HMS Javelin who then proceeded to rejoin the 15th Cruiser Squadron and its escort.

During the day several attacks on A/S contacts were carried out by the convoy escort, but there was no evidence of damage or a submarine sunk.

In the early evening ships started to arrive back at Alexandria and all the remaining ships arrived there during the evening except the merchant vessels Bulkoil and Ajax which went on to Port Said escorted by HMS Pakenham, HMS Inconstant, HMS Griffin and HMS Fortune. (8)

4 Aug 1942
German U-boat U-372 was sunk in the Mediterranean south-west of Haifa, in position 32°28'N, 34°37'E, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Sikh (Capt. St.J.A. Micklethwait, DSO and Bar, RN) and HMS Zulu (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and Bar, RN) and the British escort destroyers HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMS Tetcott (Lt. R.H. Rycroft, RN) and by depth charges from a British Wellington aircraft (221 Sqdn.).

10 Aug 1942

Convoy WS 21S, Operation Pedestal.

Convoy WS 21S and the concentration of the escort forces

Convoy WS 21S departed the Clyde on 2 August 1942. The convoy was made up of the following ships;
American freighters;
Almeria Lykes (7773 GRT, built 1940), Santa Elisa (8379 GRT, built 1941), British freighters;
Brisbane Star (12791 GRT, built 1937), Clan Ferguson (7347 GRT, built 1938), Deucalion (7516 GRT, built 1930), Dorset (10624 GRT, built 1934), Empire Hope (12688 GRT, built 1941), Glenorchy (8982 GRT, built 1939), Melbourne Star (11076 GRT, built 1936), Port Chalmers (8535 GRT, built 1933), Rochester Castle (7795 GRT, built 1937), Waimarama (12843 GRT, built 1938), Wairangi (12436 GRT, built 1935), and the American tanker;
Ohio (9264 GRT, built 1940).

These ships were escorted by light cruisers HMS Nigeria (Capt. S.H. Paton, RN, flying the flag of the Rear-Admiral 10th C.S., Sir H.M. Burrough, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Kenya (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN) and the destroyers HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN), HMS Venomous (Cdr. H.W. Falcon-Stewart, RN), HMS Wolverine (Lt.Cdr. P.W. Gretton, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Malcolm (A/Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy) Lord Teynham, RN), HMS Derwent (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN) and HMS Zetland (Lt. J.V. Wilkinson, RN).

A cover force made up of departed Scapa Flow on the same day. This force was made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN) and HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN), HMS Somali (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN) and HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN). They were to rendez-vous with convoy WS 21S at sea on 3 August. HMS Penn was delayed by a defect and after topping off with fuel at Moville, Northern Ireland overtook the force and joined at sea.

The aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral A.L.St.G. Lyster, CB, CVO, DSO, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Sirius (Capt. P.W.B. Brooking, RN) meanwhile had already left Scapa Flow on 31 July 1941 to rendez-vous with the convoy. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.deW. Kitcat, 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 Foresight (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN). These ships were joined at sea on 1 August 1942 by the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. G.T. Philip, RN), loaded with spare fighter aircraft for the operation, and her two escorts the destroyers HMS Buxton (Lt.Cdr. I.J. Tyson, RD, RNR) and HMS Sardonyx (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Gray, RNR). HMS Argus and her two escorting destroyers had departed the Clyde on 31 July. HMS Buxton later split off and proceeded towards Canada and HMS Sardonyx proceeded to Londonderry.

The last ships to take part in the operation to depart the U.K. (Clyde around midnight during the night of 4/5 August) were the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), loaded with Hurricane fighters for Malta, and her escorts, the light cruiser HMS Manchester (Capt. H. Drew, DSC, RN) and the Polish destroyer ORP Blyscawica (Lt.Cdr. L. Lichodziejewski, ORP). They were joined at sea, around dawn, by HMS Sardonyx coming from Londonderry. The destroyers parted company around midnight during the night of 5/6 August. They arrived at Londonderry on 7 August. HMS Furious and HMS Manchester then joined convoy WS 21S around midnight of the next night but HMS Manchester parted company shortly afterwards to proceed ahead of the convoy and fuel at Gibraltar.

On 1 August 1942 the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN), light cruiser HMS Phoebe (Capt. C.P. Frend, RN) and the destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. H.G. Walters, DSC, RN) and HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN) departed Freetown to proceed to a rendez-vous position off the Azores.

On 5 August 1942, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. L.D. Mackintosh, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN) and the the destroyers HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN) and HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN) departed Gibraltar also to the rendez-vous position off the Azores.

The convoy conducted maneuvering and AA exercises with the escorts between the Azores and Gibraltar during the period of 6 to 9 August. (Operation Berserk). Also dummy air attacks were carried out by aircraft from the carriers.

Passage of the Straits of Gibraltar and organization of escort forces.

The convoy then passed the Straits of Gibraltar during the night of 9/10 August 1942 in dense fog but despite this the convoy was detected by German and Italian spies and reported.

After passing the Straits of Gibraltar the convoy was organized as follows;
The actual convoy was protected a large force of warships until the whole force would split up before entering the Sicilian narrows after which ‘Force X’ under command of Rear-Admiral Sir H.M. Burrough, CB, DSO, RN was to accompany the convoy to the approaches to Malta where they would be met by the Malta Minesweeping Flotilla, which was then to sweep the convoy into the harbour. Force X was made up of the following ships:
Licht cruisers: HMS Nigeria (flagship), HMS Kenya,, HMS Manchester.
AA cruiser: HMS Cairo (A/Capt. C.C. Hardy, DSO, RN).
Destroyers: HMS Ashanti, HMS Fury, HMS Foresight, HMS Icarus, HMS Intrepid, HMS Pathfinder and HMS Penn.
Escort destroyers: HMS Derwent, HMS Bicester (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN), HMS Bramham (Lt. E.F. Baines, RN), HMS Ledbury (Lt.Cdr. R.P. Hill, RN) and HMS Wilton (Lt. A.P. Northey, RN). Also the rescue tug HMS Jaunty was to be part of this force.

After the escort was to be split up cover was provided by ‘Force Z’ under Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN. This force was made up of the following ships:
Battleships: HMS Nelson (flagship) and HMS Rodney.
Aircraft carriers: HMS Victorious, HMS Indomitable and HMS Eagle.
Light cruisers: HMS Phoebe, HMS Sirius and HMS Charybdis.
Destroyers: HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning, HMS Lookout, HMS Eskimo, HMS Somali, HMS Tartar, HMS Quentin, HMS Ithuriel (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill-Crichton, DSC, RN) HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair), HMS Wishart and HMS Vansittart. Escort destroyer: HMS Zetland. Also attached were the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (for Operation Bellows, the launching of Hurricane fighters for Malta. HMS Furious only carried four Albacore aircraft for A/S searches after the Hurricanes had been launched) and the ‘spare’ destroyers HMS Keppel (Cdr. J.E. Broome, RN), HMS Malcolm, HMS Venomous, HMS Vidette (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Westcott, HMS Wolverine, HMS Wrestler and HMS Amazon. These ‘spare’ destroyers were to take the place of destroyers in the screen ‘Force Z’ if needed, escort HMS Furious during her return passage to Gibraltar after she had completed Operation Bellows and / or strengthen the escort of ‘Force R’.

Then there was also ‘Force R’, the fuelling force. This force was made up of the following ships:
Corvettes: HMS Jonquil (Lt.Cdr. R.E.H. Partington, RD, RNR), HMS Spiraea (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Miller, DSC, RNR), HMS Geranium (T/Lt. A. Foxall, RNR) and HMS Coltsfoot (T/Lt. the Hon. W.K. Rous, RNVR).
Rescue tug: HMS Salvonia.
RFA tankers: RFA Brown Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941, Master D.B.C. Ralph) and RFA Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941, Master R.T. Duthie).

Before we give an account of the passage of the main convoy we will now first describe the operations taking place in the Eastern Mediterranean (Operations MG 3 and MG 4), the launching of the Hurricane fighters for Malta by HMS Furious (Operation Bellows) and the return convoy from Malta (Operation Ascendant) as well as on submarine operations / dispositions.

Diversion in the Eastern Mediterranean.

As part of the plan for Operation Pedestal the Mediterranean Fleet had to carry out a diversion in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean. Before we go to the operations in the Western Mediterranean we will first give an account of the events in the Eastern Mediterranean.

It was at this time not possible to sent any supplies from Egypt to Malta as all supplies and forces were much needed for the upcoming land battle at El Alamein it was agreed that ‘a dummy convoy’ would be sent towards Malta with the object of preventing the enemy to direct the full weight of their air and naval power towards the Western Mediterranean.

In the evening of 10 August 1942 a ‘convoy’ (MG 3) of three merchant ships departed Port Said escorted by three cruisers and ten destroyers. Next morning one more merchant ship departed Haifa escorted by two cruisers and five destroyers. The two forces joined that day (the 11th) and then turned back dispersing during the night. The Italian fleet however did not go to sea to attack ‘the bait’.

The forces taking part in this operation were:
From Port Said:
Merchant vessels City of Edinburgh (8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Lincoln (8039 GRT, built 1938) and City of Pretoria (8049 GRT, built 1937) escorted by the light cruisers HMS Arethusa (Capt. A.C. Chapman, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), the AA cruiser HMS Coventry (Capt. R.J.R. Dendy, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. A.L. Poland, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Pakenham (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Dulverton(Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN), HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, RN), HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, DSC, RN), HMS Hursley (Lt. W.J.P. Church, DSC, RN), HMS Beaufort (Lt.Cdr. S.O’G Roche, RN) and HMS Belvoir (Lt. J.F.D. Bush, DSC and Bar, RN).

From Haifa:
Merchant vessel Ajax (7797 GRT, built 1931) escorted by the light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. G. Grantham, DSO, RN, flagship of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), the destroyers HMS Sikh (Capt. St.J. A. Micklethwait, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Javelin (Cdr. G.E. Fardell, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Tetcott (Lt. H.R. Rycroft, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN).

After dark on 11 August 1942 the force turned back and the City of Pretoria returned to Port Said escorted by HMS Eridge and HMS Hursley. The City of Edinburgh, escorted by HMS Beaufort and HMS Belvoir proceeded to Haifa. The City of Lincoln escorted by HMS Dulverton and HMS Hurworth proceeded to Beirut and finally the Ajax, escorted by HMS Tetcott and HMS Croome returned to Haifa. HMS Dido had to return to Port Said with hull defects. She was escorted by HMS Pakenham, HMS Paladin and HMS Jervis.

HMS Cleopatra, HMS Arethusa, HMS Sikh, HMS Zulu, HMS Javelin and HMS Kelvin then proceeded to carry out another diversion (Operation MG 4). They bombarded Rhodos harbour and the Alliotti Flour Mills during the night of 12/13 August but did little damage. On the way back HMS Javelin attacked a submarine contact in position 34°45’N, 31°04’E between 0654 and 0804 hours. She reported that there was no doubt that the submarine was sunk but no Axis submarines were operating in this area so the attack must have been bogus. This force returned to Haifa at 1900/13.

Operation Bellows.

During operation Bellows, the aircraft carrier HMS Furious, started 37 Spitfire which were to proceed to Malta, when south of the Balearic Islands. The Admiralty had decided to carry out this operation at the same time as Operation Pedestal.

HMS Furious remained with the convoy until 1200/11. She then launched the Spitfires for Malta in 5 batches between 1230 and 1515 hours. During these flying off operations she acted independently with the destroyers HMS Lookout and HMS Lightning. After having launched the last batch of Spitfires she briefly re-joined to convoy until around 1700 hours when she split off and set course for Gibraltar escorted by the destroyers HMS Malcolm, HMS Wolverine and HMS Wrestler. These were joined shortly afterwards by HMS Keppel and HMS Venomous.

Around 0100/12, HMS Wolverine, rammed and sank the Italian submarine Dagabur which was trying to attack HMS Furious. Around 0200 hours, HMS Wolverine reported that she was stopped due to the damage she had sustained in the ramming. HMS Malcolm was detached to assist her.

At 1530/12, the destroyer HMS Vidette joined the screen. The force then entered Gibraltar Bay around 1930/12. The damaged HMS Wolverine arrived at Gibraltar at 1230/13 followed by HMS Malcolm around 1530/13.

Operation Ascendant

On 10 August 1942 the empty transports Troilus (7648 GRT, built 1921) and Orari (10107 GRT, built 1931) departed Malta after dark for Gibraltar. They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Badsworth (Lt. G.T.S. Gray, DSC, RN). They first proceeded to the south of Lampedusa, then hugged the Tunisian coast as far as Galita Island. Near Cape Bon they encountered the Italian destroyer Lanzerotto Malocello that was laying a minefield. They had a brief gunfight but this was soon ended as both sides were thinking the enemy was Vichy-French. The remained of the passage to Gibraltar was uneventful and the convoy arrived at Gibraltar shortly before noon on 14 August 1942.

Submarine operations / dispositions.
Eight submarines took part in the operation; these were HMS Utmost (Lt. A.W. Langridge, RN), HMS P 31 (Lt. J.B.de B. Kershaw, DSO, RN), HMS P 34 (Lt. P.R.H. Harrison, DSC, RN), HMS P 42 (Lt. A.C.G. Mars, RN), HMS P 44 (Lt. T.E. Barlow, RN), HMS P 46 (Lt. J.S. Stevens, DSC, RN), HMS P 211 (Cdr. B. Bryant, DSC, RN), HMS P 222 (Lt.Cdr. A.J. MacKenzie, RN). Two of these were to carry out normal dived patrol to the north of Sicily, one off Palermo, the other off Milazzo which is futher to the east. The other six submarines were given alternative patrol lines south of Pantelleria, one od which they were to take up at dawn on 13 August 1942, according to the movements of enemy surface ships that might threathen the convoy from the westward. When the convoy had passed the patrol line, which it should have done by that time, the submarines were to proceed on the surface parallel to the convoy as a screen and to dive away clear of the convoy at noon. It was expressly intended that they should be seen on the surface and reported by enemy aircraft in order to deter enemy warships from attacking the convoy.

Enemy warships did go to sea but as soon as it was clear that the enemy ships could not reach the convoy the sunmarines were ordered to dive and retire. These six sumarines had no contact with the enemy. One of the the two submarines off the north coast of Sicily, HMS P 42, managed to torpedo two Italian cruisers near Stromboli on the morning of 13 August 1942.

Now we return to the main convoy to Malta.

Passage eastwards after passing the Straits of Gibraltar.

10 and 11 August 1942.

After passing through the Straits of Gibraltar in the early hours of 10 August 1942, in dense fog, the convoy was first sighted by an Italian passenger aircraft, which sighted the convoy in the afternoon of the same day. German reconnaissance aircraft started shadowing the convoy from dawn on the 11th, and thereafter they or Italian aircraft kept the convoy under continuous observation, despite the effort of the fighters from the carriers to shoot them down or drive them off. At 1315 hours, HMS Eagle, was hit an sunk by torpedoes from the German submarine U-73 which had penetrated the destroyer screen. At that moment there were thirteen destroyers in the screen, the remainder was away from the main convoy, escorting HMS Furious during the flying off operations of the Hurricane fighters for Malta or oiling from and screening ‘Force R’ which was several miles away. Between 1430/10 and and 2030/11 no less then three cruisers and twenty-four destroyers fuelled from the two oilers of ‘Force R’.

At the time of the torpedoing of HMS Eagle the convoy was in four columns, zigzagging at 13 knots, with the heavy ships stationed close round it and a destroyer screen ahead. HMS Eagle was on the starboard quarter of the convoy. She was hit on her starboard side by four torpedoes which had dived through the destroyer screen and the convoy columns undetected and then torpedoed and sank the Eagle in position 38°05’N, 03°02’E (Another source gives 03°12’E but this might be a typo). The carrier sank quickly in about 8 minutes, 926 of her crew, including the Commanding Officer, were rescued by the destroyers HMS Laforey and HMS Lookout and the rescue tug HMS Jaunty. At the time of her sinking, HMS Eagle had four aircraft on patrol. These landed on the other carriers. All other aircraft were lost with the ship. The survivors picked up were later transferred to the destroyers HMS Keppel, HMS Malcolm and HMS Venomous that were to escort HMS Furious back to Gibraltar. The tug HMS Jaunty that had been involved in picking up survivors was never able to rejoin the convoy due to her slow speed.

Late in the afternoon air attacks were expected so Vice-Admiral Syfret ordered the destroyer to form an all-round screen. Indeed the air attacks started around sunset, 2045 hours. The last destroyers had just returned from oiling from ‘Force R’. The enemy aircraft that were attacking were 36 German bombers and torpedo aircraft, Ju 88’s and He 111’s, most of which attacked the convoy but a few attacked ‘Force R’ to the southward. The Junkers arrived first, diving down from 8000 feet to 2000 / 3000 feet to drop their bombs. They claimed to have hit an aircraft carrier and one of the merchant ships. Then the Heinkels attacked, they claimed to have torpedoed a cruiser but during the attacks no ship was hit. The British fighter cover was unable to attack / find the enemy in the failing light. Four enemy aircraft were claimed shot down by the ships AA fire but it appears only two JU 88’s were in fact shot down.

12 August 1942

At 0915/12 another wave of German aircraft attacked the convoy. Some twenty or more JU 88’s approached the convoy out of the sun ahead. They were intercepted by fighters about 25 miles from the convoy. About a dozen got through to the convoy, making high-level or shallow dive-bombing attacks individually but without any result. Eight German aircraft were claimed to be shot down by the fighters and two more by AA guns from the ships. The fighters meanwhile were also busy dealng with shadowers, three of which are claimed to have been shot down before the morning attack. Around this time destroyers were also busy with numerous submarine contact which were attacked by depth charges.

Around noon the enemy launched heavy air attacks from the Sardinian airfields. Seventy aircraft approached which were heavily escorted by fighters. They attacked in stages and employed new methods.

First ten Italian torpedo-bombers were each to drop some sort of circling torpedo or mine a few hundred yards ahead of the British force, while eight fighter bombers made dive-bombing and machine-gun attacks. The object at this stage was clearly to dislocate the formation of the force and to draw anti-aircraft fire, making the ships more vulnerable to a torpedo attack which soon followed with over forty aircraft. They attacked in two groups, one on either bow of the convoy. The next stage was a shallow dive-bombing attack by German aircraft, after which two Italian Reggiane 2001 fighters, each with a single heavy armour-piercing bomb were to dive bomb on one of the aircraft carriers, whilst yet another new form of attack was to be employed against the other carrier, but defects in the weapon prevented this attack from taking place.

The enemy attack went according to plan besides that the torpedo attack was only made half an our after the ‘mines’ were dropped instead of five minutes. British fighters met the minelaying aircraft, they shot down one of them as they approached. The remaining nine aircraft dropped their ‘mines’ at 1215 hours in the path of the force, which turned to avoid the danger. The mines were heard to explode several minutes later. Only three of the fighter-bombers of this stage of the attack appear to have reached as far the screen, but HMS Lightning had a narrow escape from their bombs.

The torpedo-aircraft appeared at 1245 hours. Their number were brought down a bit due to British fighters. The remaining aircraft, estimated at 25 to 30 machines, attacked from the port bow, port beam and starboard quarter. They dropped their torpedoes well outside the screen some 8000 yards from the merchant ships which they had been ordered to attack. The force turned 45° to port and then back to starboard to avoid the attack.

In the next stage, around 1318 hours, the German bombing attack, the enemy scored their one success. These aircraft were also intercepted on their way in but about a dozen of about twenty aircraft came through. They crossed the convoy from starboard to port and then dived to 3000 feet. They managed to damage the transport Deucalion which was leading the port wing column. More bombs fell close to several other ships.

Finally, at 1345 hours, the two Reggiane fighters approached HMS Victorious as if to land on. They looked like Hurricanes and HMS Victorious was at that time engaged in landing her own fighters. They managed to drop their bombs and one hit the flight deck amidships. Fortunately the bomb broke up without exploding. By the time HMS Victorious could open fire both fighters were out of range.

The Deucalion could no longer keep up with the convoy and was ordered to follow the inshore route along the Tunisian coast escorted by HMS Bramham. Two bombers found these ships late in the afternoon, but their bombs missed. At 1940 hours, however, near the Cani Rocks, two torpedo aircraft attacked and a torpedo hit the Deucalion. She caught fire and eventually blew up.

The convoy passed some 20 miles north of Galita Island and spent the afternoon avoiding enemy submarines which were known to be concentrated in these waters. There were innumerable reports of sightings and Asdic contacts and at least two submarines proved dangerous. At 1616 hours, HMS Pathfinder and HMS Zetland attacked one on the port bow of the convoy and hunted her until the convoy was out of reach. HMS Ithuriel, stationed on the quarter, then attacked, forced the enemy to surface and finally rammed her. She proved to be the Italian submarine Cobalto. Meanwhile HMS Tartar, on the starboard quarter, saw six torpedoes fired at close range at 1640 hours, and the next destroyer in the screen, HMS Lookout sighted a periscope. Together they attacked the submarine, continuing until it was no longer dangerous. There was no evidence this submarine was sunk.

At 1750 hours, HMS Ithuriel, which was on her way back to the convoy after sinking the Italian submarine Cobalto was attacked by a few dive-bombers, when still a dozen miles astern of the convoy. At this time the convoy came under attack by aircraft stationed on Sicily. This force numbered nearly 100 aircraft. Ju.87 dive-bombers as well as Ju.88’s and SM-79’s all with a strong escort of fighters. The enemy started attacking at 1835 hours, the bombers attacking from both ahead and astern which last was the direction of the sun. The torpedo aircraft came from ahead to attack on the starboard bow and beam of the convoy.

The Italian SM-79’s torpedo bombers dropped their torpedoes from ranges of about 3000 yards outside the destroyer screen, and once again the convoy turned away to avoid them. However the destroyer HMS Foresight was hit by a torpedo and disabled. The bombers chose HMS Indomitable as their main target. She was astern of HMS Rodney at the time on the port quarter of the convoy. Four Ju.88’s and eight Ju.87’s came suddenly out of the sun and dived steeply towards HMS Indomitable from astern. Some of the Ju.87 came down to 1000 feet and the carrier received three hits and her flight deck was put out of action. Her airborne fighters eventually had to land on HMS Victorious. HMS Rodney meanwhile had a narrow escape when a bomber attacked from ahead. One enemy aircraft was claimed to have been shot down by AA fire from the ships while the fighters claimed nine more although there were about twice as much enemy fighters in the air then British.

HMS Tartar took the damaged HMS Foresight in tow and proceeded westward for Gibraltar. Next day, as they were shadowed by enemy aircraft, and enemy submarines were known to be in the area, it was decided to scuttle the cripple before both ships might be lost. HMS Tartar then torpedoed HMS Foresight a few miles from Galita Island.

Passage through the narrows, 12-13 August 1942, and the loss off HMS Manchester.

These last air attacks took place about 20 nautical miles west of the Skerki Channel and at 1900 hours, when the attacks were clearly over, Vice-Admiral Syfret turned away with ‘Force Z’. It was now up to Rear-Admiral Burrough with ‘Force X’ to take the convoy to Malta.

At 2000 hours, when the convoy was changing it’s formation from four to two columns, the convoy was attacked by Italian submarines. The submarine Dessiè attacked a freighter with four torpedoes and claimed three hits. The sound of the torpedo hits was however not caused by her attack but by an attack by the Axum which hit three ships, HMS Nigeria, HMS Cairo and the tanker Ohio.

HMS Nigeria had to turn back to make for Gibraltar escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Derwent, HMS Wilton and HMS Bicester. Rear-Admiral Burrough transferred his flag to the destroyer HMS Ashanti. The stern of HMS Cairo had been blown off and she had to be sunk as she was beyond salvage with both engines also out of action. She was scuttled by HMS Pathfinder. The Ohio meanwhile managed to struggle on.

At this time the convoy was still trying to form up the the submarine attacks messed things up and right at thus time the convoy was once more attacked from the air in the growing dusk at 2030 hours. About 20 German aircraft, Ju-88’s made dive bombing and torpedo attacks, hitting the Empire Hope with a bomb and the Clan Ferguson and Brisbane Star with torpedoes. The first of these ships had to be sunk (by HMS Bramham, the second blew up but the last eventually reached Malta. Soon after this attack, at 2111 hours, HMS Kenya was torpedoed by the Italian submarine Alagi. She was able to evade three of the four torpedoes but was hit in the bow by the fouth. She was however able to remain with the convoy.

The situation was then as follows. HMS Kenya and HMS Manchester with two merchant ships, and with the minesweeping destroyers HMS Intrepid, HMS Icarus and HMS Fury sweeping ahead, had passed the Skerki Channel and were steering to pass Zembra Island on the way to Cape Bon. HMS Ashanti, with Rear-Admiral Burrough on board was fast overhauling these ships. The other two destroyers HMS Pathfinder, HMS Penn and the escort destroyer HMS Ledbury, were rounding up the remaining nine merchant ships. The escort destroyer HMS Bramham was also catching up after having escorted the single Deucalion until she sank.

On learing about the fate of HMS Nigeria and HMS Cairo, Vice-Admiral Syfret detached HMS Charybdis, HMS Eskimo and HMS Somali to reinforce Rear-Admiral Burrough. It would take these ships several hourse to catch up with the convoy.

The main body of the convoy passed Cape Bon around midnight. Fourty minutes later enemy Motor Torpedo Boats appeared and started to attack. Their first victim was HMS Manchester which was torpedoed at 0120/13 by the Italian MS 16 or MS 22. She had to be scuttled by her own crew. Many of her ships company landed in Tunisia and were interned by the Vichy-French but about 300 were picked up by destroyers (first by HMS Pathfinder, and later by HMS Eskimo and HMS Somali. These last two destoyers then set off towards Gibraltar.)

Four and possibly five of the merchant ships were also hit by the Motor Torpedo Boats. These were the Wairangi, Rochester Castle, Almeria Lykes, Santa Elisa and probably the Glenorchy. They were attacked between 0315 and 0430 hours about 15 nautical miles south-east of Kelibia whilst taking a short cut to overhaul the main body of the convoy. Four were lost, only the Rochester Castle survived and she managed to catch up with the main body of the convoy at 0530 hours. The Glenorchy was sunk by the Italian MS 31, the other four, of which the Rochester Castle survived as mentioned earlier, were hit by the German S 30 and S 36 as well as the Italian MAS 554 and MAS 557.

Shortly before 0530 hours HMS Charybdis, HMS Eskimo and HMS Somali had joined the main body of the convoy making the force now two cruisers and seven destroyers with the transports Rochester Castle, Waimarama and Melbourne Star. The damaged tanker Ohio was slowly catching up. With her was the escort destroyer HMS Ledbury. Astern of the main body was the Port Chalmers escorted by the destroyer HMS Penn and the escort destroyer HMS Bramham. The destroyers recued the crew of the Santa Elisa when the passed by the abandoned ship which was afterwards finished off by a German bomber. The Dorset was proceeding without escort and lastly the damaged Brisbane Star was still keeping close to the Tunisian coast independently, intending to steer towards Malta after nightfall.

At 0730 hours, Rear-Admiral Burrough, sent back HMS Tartar and HMS Somali to Kelibia to assist HMS Manchester and then go to Gibraltar. When they arrived they found out that the Manchester had been scuttled several hours earlier so they rescued those of her crew that had not reached the shore yet and then made off to Gibraltar as ordered. Besides crew of the Manchester they also picked up survivors from the Almeria Lykes and Wairangi.

The next encounter with the enemy was an air attack on the main body of the convoy at 0800 hours by German bombers. About 12 Ju.88’s made a shallow diving attack coming down from 6000 feet to 2000 feet to drop their bombs. Two dived on the Waimarama hitting her several times and she blew up immediately, one of the bombers was even destroyed in the explosion. HMS Ledbury saved some of her crew out of the blazing sea. At 0925 hours, when the Ohio, Port Chalmers and Dorset where with the main body again, a few Ju.87’s escorted by Italian fighters attacked. They dived down to 1500 to 1000 feet. HMS Kenya leading the port column, and the Ohio last ship but one in the starboard column, had narrow escapes. One of the enemy aircraft crashed on board the Ohio just after having released it’s bomb after being damaged by gunfire from the Ohio and HMS Ashanti. Another aircraft was claimed to have been shot down by fighters from Malta that had been patrolling overhead since daybreak.

Arrivals at Malta 13-15 August 1942.

At 1050 hours, about 20 bombers, mostly Ju.88’s with a few Ju.87’s, came in to attack. Target was the Ohio and she received four or five near misses and her engines were disabled. At the same time the Rochester Castle in the port column was near-missed and set on fire but she continued with the convoy. The Dorset which was astern of her was hit and stopped. The convoy went on leaving the Dorset behind with the Ohio and two destroyers.

At 1125 hours the last air attack on the main body took place. Five Italian SM.79’s attacked with torpedoes and almost hit the Port Chalmers as the torpedo got stuck in the paravane. Further attacks on the main body were held of by fighters from Malta. At 1430 hours, four minesweepers from Malta joined the main body of the convoy, these were HMS Speedy (Lt.Cdr. A.E. Doran, RN, with the group’s commander A/Cdr. H.J.A.S. Jerome, RN on board), HMS Hebe, HMS Rye and HMS Heyte. Also with them were seven Motor Launches; ML 121, ML 126, ML 134, ML 135, ML 168, ML 459 and ML 462. HMS Rye and two of the ML’s were sent towards the damaged Ohio which was ‘vital for Malta’, according to A/Cdr. Jerome.

At 1600 hours, Rear-Admiral Burrough, set course to the west with his two cruisers and with five destroyers. The Port Chalmers, Melbourne Star and Rochester Castle arrived in Grand Harbour around 1800 hours with the force of A/Cdr. Jerome. The Rochester Castle was by that time very low in the water, she had just made it into port on time.

Out were still the Ohio, Dorset and the Brisbane Star. The valuable Ohio had been helpless with HMS Penn and HMS Bramham. When HMS Rye arrived at 1730 hours, HMS Penn took the Ohio in tow. Meanwhile HMS Bramham was sent to the Dorset but soon afterwards German bombers came again and the ships were attacked repeatedly until dark. Both merchantman were hit around 1900 hours and the Dorset sank.

At daylight on the 14th HMS Ledbury arrived to help bringing the Ohio to Malta. HMS Speedy also soon arrived on the scene with two ML’s. The rest of his force he had sent to search for the Brisbane Star. At 1045 hours, enemy aircraft made their last attempt, causing the parting of the tow. Fighter from Malta shot down two of the attackers. The tow was passed again and the slow procession went on and in the morning of the 15th the vital tanker finally reached Malta.

The Brisbane Star had by then also arrived. She left the Tunisian coast at dusk on the 13th. Aircraft had attacked her unsuccessfully and one of the attackers was shot down by a Beaufighter escort that had been sent from Malta. She arrived at Malta in the afternoon of the 14th.

Italian surface ships to operate against the convoy ?

The convoy had experienced the violence of the enemy in every shape except that of an attack by large surface ships. Yet Italian cruisers and destroyers had been at sea to intercept and attack it. Two light cruiser had left Cagliari in the evening of 11 August 1942 and the heavy cruisers Gorizia and Bolzano from Messina, and a light cruiser from Naples had sailed on the morning of the 12th. That evening reconnaissance aircraft reported one heavy and two light cruisers with eight destroyers about 80 nautical miles to the north of the western tip of Sicily and steering south. It would have been possible for this force to meet the convoy at dawn on the 13th so the shadowing aircraft was therefore ordered in plain language to illuminate and attack. This apparently influenced the Italians as they had limited air cover and they turned back at 0130/13 when near Cape San Vito. At 0140 hours the aircraft reported that it had dropped its bombs but no hits had been obtained. Similar orders were signalled, in plain language, to relief shadowers and to report the position of the enemy force to the benefit of imaginary Liberator bombers in case the Italians would change their minds and turn back. They however held on to the eastward.

The submarine HMS P 42 sighted them around 0800/13 off Stromboli and attacked with four torpedoes claiming two hits. She had in fact hit the heavy cruiser Bolzano which was able to proceed northwards and the light cruiser Muzio Attendolo which managed to reach Messina with her bows blown off. The other cruisers went to Naples. Following the attack P 42 was heavily depth charged by the destroyers but managed to escape.

In fact the following Italian ships had been at sea; heavy cruisers Gorizia, Trieste, Bolzano, light cruisers Eugenio di Savoia Raimondo Montecuccoli, Muzio Attendolo. They were escorted by eleven destroyers; Ascari, Aviere, Camicia Nera, Corsaro, Fuceliere, Geniere, Legionaro, Vincenzo Gioberti, Alfredo Oriani, Grecale and Maestrale.

The return to Gibraltar.

The British ships returning to Gibraltar had better fortune. Having left the convoy off Malta in the afternoon of the 13th, they rounded Cape Bon around 0130/14 and from that point until past Zembra Island they successful ran the gauntled of E-boats laying in wait.

at 0450/14, near the Fratelli Rocks, a submarine fired torpedoes at HMS Ashanti from the surface. She was nearly rammed by HMS Kenya, which was next astern of the ‘flagship’ (Rear-Admiral Burrough was still in HMS Ashanti). The inevitable shadowers arrived soon after daylight to herald their air attacks that began at 0730 hours. They lasted until around 1315 hours. German bombers came in first with three attemps by a few Ju.88’s. This was followed by a more severe attack with about 30 bombers, Ju-88’s and Ju-87’s between 1030 and 1050 hours. An hour later 15 Savoia high-level bombers attacked followed until 1315 hours by torpedo-carrying Savoia’s. Around 20 aircraft attacking single or in pairs. Also aircraft are though to be laying mines ahead. Several ships were near missed, but no further damage was sustained. After these attacks the British were left alone and in the evening they joined ‘Force Z’.

Vice-Admiral Syfret had gone as far west as 01’E where he ordered the damaged carrier HMS Indomitable to proceed to Malta with HMS Rodney and a destroyer screen (which). He then turned back to the east to make rendez-vous with Rear-Admiral Burrough. They arrived at Gibraltar on the 15th.

A few hours before they arrived the damaged HMS Nigeria and her escort had also entered port, as had HMS Tartar, HMS Eskimo and HMS Somali. On her way back HMS Nigeria had been attacked by torpedo-bombers and a submarine but she had not been hit.

Conclusion.

Out of the fourteen ships that had sailed only five arrived ‘safe’ at Malta. This was not a very high score also given the very heavy escort that had been provided also taken in mind that an aircraft carrier, a light cruiser, an AA cruiser an a destroyer had been lost and two heavy cruiser had been damaged. But the convoy had to meet very heavy air attacks by over 150 bombers and 80 torpedo aircraft, all in the space of two days. Also these aircraft were protected by fighter in much greater strength that the carriers and Malta could provide. And there were also the enemy submarines and E-boats.

The spirit in which to operation was carried out appears in Vice-Admiral Syfret’s report: ‘ Tribute has been paid to the personnel of His Majesty’s Ships, both the officers and men will desire to give first place to the conduct, courage, and determination of the masters, officers, and men of the merchant ships. The steadfast manner in which these ships pressed on their way to Malta through all attacks, answering every maneuvering order like a well trained fleet unit, was a most inspiring sight. Many of these fine men and their ships were lost. But the memory of their conduct will remain an inspiration to all who were privileged to sail with them. ‘ (9)

7 Nov 1942
The light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. J.F. Stevens, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.J. Power, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Orion (Capt. G.C.P. Menzies, RN), HMS Arethusa (Capt. A.C. Chapman, RN) and the destroyers HMS Pakenham (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and HMS Hero (Lt. W. Scott, DSC, RN) departed Port Said for exercises. At sea they were joined by the escort destroyers HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMS Aldenham (Lt. H.A. Stuart-Menteth, RN). (10)

8 Nov 1942
The light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. J.F. Stevens, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.J. Power, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Orion (Capt. G.C.P. Menzies, RN), HMS Arethusa (Capt. A.C. Chapman, RN) destroyers HMS Pakenham (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and HMS Hero (Lt. W. Scott, DSC, RN) and the escort HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMS Aldenham (Lt. H.A. Stuart-Menteth, RN) returned to Port Said from exercises. (10)

16 Nov 1942

Convoy MW 13.

This convoy departed Port Said on 16 November 1942 and arrived at Malta on 20 November 1942.

The convoy was made up of the following transports; Bantan (Dutch, 9312 GRT, built 1939), Denbighshire (British, 8983 GRT, built 1938), Mormacmoon (American, 7939 GRT, built 1940) and Robin Locksley (British, 7101 GRT, built 1941).

The convoy was escorted on departure from Port Said by the light cruiser HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Pakenham (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, DSC, RN), HMS Jervis (Capt. A.L. Poland, CB, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN).

At 0700/17, while off Alexandria all destroyers parted company and the escort destroyers HMS Aldenham (Lt. H.A. Stuart-Menteth, RN), HMS Beaufort (Lt.Cdr. S.O’G Roche, DSO, RN), HMS Belvoir (Lt. J.F.D. Bush, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, DSO, OBE, RN), HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN), HMS Hursley (Lt.Cdr. W.J.P. Church, DSC, RN), HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, RN), HMS Tetcott (Lt.Cdr. H.R. Rycroft, RN) and Pindos joined the convoy.

The seven fleet destroyers arrived at Alexanrdria at 0745/17.

Shortly after 1300/17 the light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. J.F. Stevens, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.J. Power, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), HMS Arethusa (Capt. A.C. Chapman, RN) and HMS Orion (Capt. G.C.P. Menzies, RN) departed Alexandria to join the convoy at dawn the following morning. The were escorted by the seven fleet destroyers that had arrived at Alexandria a few hours before.

At 1110/18, air attacks commenced on the convoy but no damage was done.

At 1700/18, the cruisers (minus HMS Euryalus) and the fleet destroyers parted company with the convoy to take up a position to the north of the convoy during the night.

At 1805/18, in a dusk torpedo attack, when in position 33°36'N, 20°44'E, HMS Arethusa was hit abreast 'B' turret and took on heavy list to port. HMS Jervis, HMS Javelin and HMS Petard stood by the damaged cruiser. HMS Jervis and HMS Javelin however soon rejoined the cruiser force. HMS Arethusa and HMS Petard were to try to make it back to Alexandria.

Around 1400/19, HMS Cleopatra, HMS Dido, HMS Orion, HMS Pakenham, HMS Paladin, HMS Nubian, HMS Jervis, HMS Javelin and HMS Kelvin set course to return to Alexandria.

At 2045/19, the corvette HMS Gloxinia (Lt. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RNR) joined HMS Arethusa and HMS Petard.

The convoy and the ramaining escort arrived safely at Malta in the early hours of November, 20th.

Around 0800/20, the destroyer HMS Janus (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSC, RN) joined HMS Arethusa and her escorts.

At 1340/20, HMS Arethusa was taken in tow, stern first, by HMS Petard. Shorty after 1805/20 the tugs HMS Brigand and HMS Roysterer took over the tow.

Around 0600/21, HMS Cleopatra, HMS Dido, HMS Orion, HMS Pakenham, HMS Paladin, HMS Nubian, HMS Jervis, HMS Javelin and HMS Kelvin arrived at Alexandria.

HMS Arethusa, her escorts and the two tugs arrived at Alexandria in the late afteroon of 21 November. (11)

1 Dec 1942

Convoy MW 14.

This convoy departed Port Said on 1 December 1942 and arrived at Malta on 5 December 1942.

The convoy was made up of the following transports; Agwimonte (American, 6679 GRT, built 1941), Alcoa Prospector (American, 6796 GRT, built 1941), Glenartney (British, 9795 GRT, built 1940) and Suffolk (British, 11063 GRT, built 1939).

The convoy was escorted on departure from Port Said by the destroyers HMS Pakenham (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN), RHS Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas, RHN) and the escort destroyers HMS Belvoir (Lt. J.F.D. Bush, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Hursley (Lt.Cdr. W.J.P. Church, DSC, RN).

Around 0300/2 the light cruiser HMS Orion (Capt. G.C.P. Menzies, RN), destroyer HMS Paladin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Aldenham (Lt. H.A. Stuart-Menteth, RN), HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, DSO, OBE, RN), HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN), HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, RN) and Pindos was sailed from Alexandria to rendezvous with the convoy which they did around 0700/2.

Around 1800/2, HMS Hurworth was detached and returned to Alexandria with defects.

Also on 2 December the escort destroyers HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and HMS Tetcott (Lt.Cdr. H.R. Rycroft, RN) departed Malta for Benghazi.

The tanker Yorba Linda (Panamanian, 6900 GRT, built 1921), escorted by HMS Croome and HMS Tetcott sailed from Benghazi. They joined the convoy around 1700/3.

At 1900/3, 'Force K', light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. J.F. Stevens, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.J. Power, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. A.L. Poland, CB, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Nubian (Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, DSC, RN) departed Malta to provide cover for the convoy during the night of 3rd/4th December. They joined the convoy at dawn on the 4th.

The convoy arrived safely at Malta on 5 December. (12)

6 Dec 1942

Convoy MW 15.

This convoy departed Alexandria on 6 December 1942 and arrived at Malta on 10 December 1942.

The convoy was made up of the following transports; American Packer (American, 6802 GRT, built 1941) and Ozarda (British, 6985 GRT, built 1940).

The convoy was escorted on departure from Alexandria by the minesweepers HMS Boston (Lt. D.H.G. Coughlan, RNR), HMS Cromarty (Lt.Cdr. C.G. Palmer, DSC, RNZNVR) and HMS Whitehaven (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) G.W.A.T. Irvine, RNR).

Around 0900/9, the light cruiser HMS Orion (Capt. G.C.P. Menzies, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Aldenham (Lt. H.A. Stuart-Menteth, RN), HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN) and HMS Hursley (Lt.Cdr. W.J.P. Church, DSC, RN) joined the convoy.

Around 1100/10, the light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. J.F. Stevens, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.J. Power, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. A.L. Poland, CB, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC and Bar, RN) and HMS Nubian (Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, DSC, RN) departed Malta to provide cover for the convoy. Air reconnaissance had failed to locate three Italian cruisers at Messina. Later it became clear that there was no threat to the convoy and they were recalled around 1315/10. They returned to Malta around 1815/10.

The convoy arrived safely at Malta late on December, 10th. (13)

21 Jan 1943

Convoy MH 3.

This convoy departed Alexandria on 21 January 1943 and was to proceed, if possible, to Tripoli. The final destination would depend on the situation on land.

The convoy was made up of the transports; Hermelin (Norwegian, 1683 GRT, built 1940), James Duncan (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Malayan Prince (British, 8953 GRT, built 1926) and Ozarda (British, 6985 GRT, built 1940). The rescue tug HMS Brigand and RFA tanker Cherryleaf (5896 GRT, built 1917) were also part of the convoy.

On departure from Alexandria (at 1100 hours) it was escorted by the destroyer HMS Paladin (Lt.Cdr. L.St.G. Rich, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Aldenham (Lt. H.A. Stuart-Menteth, RN), HMS Beaufort (Lt.Cdr. S.O’G Roche, DSO, RN), HMS Dulverton (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN), HMS Exmoor ( Lt. D.T. McBarnet, RN), HMS Hursley (Lt.Cdr. W.J.P. Church, DSC, RN) and RHS Kanaris.

At 1745/21, the destroyer HMS Pakenham (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSO, DSC, RN) departed Malta to conduct a sweep along the coast of North Africa and make rendez-vous with the convoy on 23 January.

On 22 January the convoy was ordered to enter Tobruk for the night of 22/23 January to await clarification about the situation on land.

At 1400/23, the convoy departed Tobruk. The Harmelin was left behind due to her slow speed. The Antwerp (British, 2957 GRT, built 1920) joined the convoy. The destroyers HMS Pakenham, RHS Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas, RHN) and the escort destroyer HMS Belvoir (Lt. J.F.D. Bush, DSC and Bar, RN) had meanwhile arrived at Tobruk and after fuelling also sailed to overtake the convoy and reinforce the escort.

At 1700/24, the light cruiser HMS Orion (Capt. G.C.P. Menzies, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC and Bar, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Tetcott (Lt.Cdr. H.R. Rycroft, RN) departed Malta to make rendez-vous with the convoy.

At 1900/24, the destroyers HMS Pakenham and Vasilissa Olga parted company with the convoy with orders to proceed to Benghazi.

At 2130/24, the escort destroyers HMS Croome (Lt. H.D.M. Slater, RN) and Pindos joined the convoy. They were coming from Benghazi.

At dawn on the 25th, HMS Orion, HMS Jervis, HMS Kelvin and HMS Tetcott joined the convoy.

The convoy had meanwhile been ordered to proceed to Malta but this was changed at 2200/25 when the convoy was ordered to proceed to Tripoli except for the tanker Cherryleaf which continued on to Malta escorted by HMS Orion, HMS Jervis, HMS Kelvin, HMS Paladin, HMS Aldenham, HMS Beaufort and HMS Croome.

Both the Tripoli section and Malta section of the convoy arrived at their destinations on 26 January.

At dusk on the 26th, the escort destroyers HMS Dulverton, HMS Exmoor, HMS Hursley, RHS Kanaris and RHS Pindos arrived at Malta after having escorted the convoy to the vicinity of Tobruk. (14)

27 Jan 1943

Convoy ME 16.

This convoy departed Malta on 27 January 1943 and arrived at Alexandria on 1 February 1943.

The convoy was made up of the transports; Greystoke Castle (British, 5853 GRT, built 1928), O' Henry (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), Pierre S. DuPont (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942) and Tosari (Dutch, 7029 GRT, built 1919).

On departure from Malta the convoy was escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Aldenham (Lt.Cdr. H.A. Stuart-Menteth, RN), HMS Beaufort (Lt.Cdr. S.O’G Roche, DSO, RN), HMS Croome (Lt. H.D.M. Slater, RN), HMS Dulverton (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN), HMS Exmoor (Lt. D.T. McBarnet, RN), HMS Hursley (Lt.Cdr. W.J.P. Church, DSC, RN), RHS Kanaris and Pindos.

At 0200/28, HMS Cleopatra (Capt. J.F. Stevens, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.J. Power, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Jervis (Capt. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSC, RN) and HMS Kelvin (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC and Bar, RN) departed Malta to overtake the convoy and join the escort at dawn.

At 1000/28, HMS Croome and HMS Hursley parted company and set course for Tobruk where they were required for escort duty.

Shortly after dark on the 29th, HMS Cleopatra, HMS Jervis, HMS Javelin and HMS Kelvin parted company with the convoy and set course to proceed to Alexandria.

At 1600/31, HMS Aldenham and HMS Beaufort were detached from the convoy and proceeded to Alexandria. The convoy itself proceed a bit further to the eastward and then turned back and entered Alexandria at daylight on 1 February. (14)

15 May 1943

Convoy MW 28 (+ convoy XT 14)

This convoy departed Alexandria on 15 May 1943 and arrived at Malta on 21 May 1943.

Several ships of the convoy split off on 20 May 1943 forming convoy XT 14 destined for Tripoli where they arrived later on the same day.

On departure from Alexandria this combined convoy was made up of the following ships; Benreoch (British, 5818 GRT, built 1921), Benrinnes (British, 5410 GRT, built 1921), City of Keelung (British, 5186 GRT, built 1919), Darien II (British, 459 GRT, built 1892), David Stone (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Dunkeld (British, 4944 GRT, built 1937), Empire Conrad (British, 7009 GRT, built 1942), Empire Patrol (British, 3334 GRT, built 1928), Erinna (Dutch (tanker), 6233 GRT, built 1936), Fort Tadoussac (British, 7129 GRT, built 1941), Francis Drake (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Greystoke Castle (British, 5853 GRT, built 1928), Hermelin (Norwegian, 1683 GRT, built 1940), John Hart (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Neuralia (British, 9182 GRT, built 1912), Ovula (Dutch (tanker), GRT, built ), Ozarda (British, 9685 GRT, built 1940), Princess Kathleen (Canadian, 5875 GRT, built 1925), Romney (British, 5840 GRT, built 1929) and Vacport (British, 6774 GRT, built 1930). The Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker Green Ranger (3313 GRT, built 1941) was also part of the convoy.

On departure from Alexandria the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSC, RN), HMS Kelvin (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, DSO, DSC, RN), FFS Leopard and the escort destroyers HMS Croome (Lt. H.D.M. Slater, RN), HMS Hurworth (Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN), HMS Rockwood (Lt. S.R. Le H. Lombard-Hobson, RN) and RHS Adrias.

The sloop HMS Shoreham (Cdr. E. Hewitt, RD, RNR) departed Tobruk on the 15th and joined the escort.

HMS Rockwood arrived back at Alexandria on 19 May 1943 having been detached from the escort earlier.

On the 16th, the escort destroyers HMS Aldenham (Lt.Cdr. H.A. Stuart-Menteth, RN) and HMS Hursley (Lt.Cdr. W.J.P. Church, DSC, RN) departed Tobruk to join the escort.

On the 18th, the escort destroyer HMS Easton (Lt. C.W. Malins, DSC and Bar, RN) departed Tripoli to join the convoy.

HMS Kelvin arrived at Tripoli on 19 May and departed again on the 20th to rejoin the convoy.

On 20 May 1943 the convoy split up and the following ships proceeded to Tripoli arriving later the same day; Benreoch, Benrinnes, City of Keelung, Darien II, Empire Patrol, Fort Tadoussac, Francis Drake, Hermelin, John Hart, Neuralia and Romney.

The remainder of the convoy continued on to Malta arriving on 21 May 1943.

Sources

  1. File 2.12.03.6387 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  2. ADM 199/399
  3. ADM 173/17179
  4. ADM 199/649
  5. ADM 199/1222
  6. ADM 199/1211
  7. ADM 173/17331
  8. ADM 199/650 + ADM 234/353
  9. ADM 199/651 + ADM 234/353
  10. ADM 187/22
  11. ADM 53/ + ADM 187/22 + ADM 199/651
  12. ADM 199/361
  13. ADM 199/424 + ADM 199/651
  14. ADM 199/773

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


Return to the Allied Warships section