Allied Warships

HMS Gloxinia (K 22)

Corvette of the Flower class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeCorvette
ClassFlower 
PennantK 22 
Built byHarland & Wolff Ltd. (Belfast, Northern Ireland) 
Ordered19 Sep 1939 
Laid down21 Mar 1940 
Launched2 Jul 1940 
Commissioned22 Aug 1940 
End service 
History

HMS Gloxinia is not listed as active unit in the July 1945 Navy List

Scrapped at Purfleet on 15 July 1947.

 

Commands listed for HMS Gloxinia (K 22)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

CommanderFromTo
1Lt.Cdr. Arthur John Cinnamond Pomeroy, RNVR17 Jul 19405 Apr 1942
2Lt. Archibald Ferguson Harkness, DSC, RNR5 Apr 1942Oct 1943
3Lt. Malcolm Christopher English, RNROct 1943Jan 1944
4Lt. David Perry, DSC, RNRJan 1944mid 1945

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Notable events involving Gloxinia include:


3 Sep 1940
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.L. Livesey, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Tobermory with HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR) and HMS Fleur de Lys (Cdr.(Retd.) R.T. Bower, RN). (1)

4 Sep 1940
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.L. Livesey, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Tobermory with (at least) HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR). (1)

26 Sep 1940
HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR) picks up 15 survivors from the British tanker Stratford that was torpedoed and sunk 85 nautical miles west-south-west of Bloody Foreland in position 54°50'N, 10°40'W by German U-boat U-137.

23 Nov 1940

Operation MB 9.


Convoy operations in the Eastern Mediterranean.

See also the event for 25 November 1940 called ‘Operation Collar and the resulting Battle of Cape Spartivento’ for the events in the Western Mediterranean.

23 November 1940.

Convoy MW 4 departed Alexandria for Malta today. The convoy was made up of the transports HMS Breconshire (9776 GRT, built 1939), Memnon (7506 GRT, built 1931), Clan Ferguson (7347 GRT, built 1938) and Clan Macaulay (10492 GRT, built 1936). Close escort was provided by (‘Force D’) the AA cruisers HMS Coventry (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN), HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall A'Deane, DSC, RN), HMAS Vampire (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN), HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhoades RAN) and HMAS Voyager (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN).

A cover force (‘Force C’) for this convoy also departed Alexandria today. They were to proceed to Suda Bay where they were to refuel. This cover force was made up of the battleships HMS Malaya (Capt. A.F.E. Palliser, DSC, RN), HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Read, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (Capt. A.R.M. Bridge, RN), light cuisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D. McCarthy, RN), HMAS Sydney (Capt. J.A. Collins, CB, RAN) and the destroyers HMS Hyperion (Cdr. H.St.L. Nicolson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Havock (Cdr. R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN), HMS Dainty (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, DSO, RN), HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) and HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN).

HMS Berwick (Capt. G.L. Warren, RN) departed Alexandria later this day to make rendez-vous with ‘Force C’ off Suda Bay next morning.

24 November 1940.

Both ‘Force C’ and ‘Force D’ passed the Kaso Strait early this day. ‘Force C’ arrived at Suda Bay to refuel at 0800B/24.

At noon, the convoy was attacked by three enemy torpedo bombers in position 36°13’N, 24°48’E. The enemy planes were forced to drop their torpedoes from long range by the effective AA fire from the escorts and no hits were obtained.

In the afternoon both forces passed the Kithera Channel.

25 November 1940.

At 0200B/25, the 3rd Cruiser Squadron, HMS York (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN), HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E. de F. Renouf, CVO, RN) and HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, RN), departed Alexandria for exercises.

Around 0300B/25, ‘Force A’ departed Alexandria to provide cover for the operations. This force was made up of the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Capt. D.W. Boyd, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.L.St.G. Lyster, CVO, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN), HMS Decoy (Cdr. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Wryneck (Lt.Cdr. R.H.D. Lane, RN) and HMAS Waterhen (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN). HMS Decoy had completed temporary repairs at Alexandria to the damage she had sustained in an air attack on 13 November. She was to proceed to the Malta Dockyard for permanent repairs.

At 0500B/25, HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN) and HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN) departed Malta to make rendez-vous the next day with ‘Force A’.

At 0645B/25, Illustrious flew off fighter and A/S patrols.

Around 1600B/25, having completed their exercises, the 3rd Cruiser Squadron joined ‘Force A’.

At 2000B/25, ‘Force A’ was in position 34°25’N, 26°33’E, steering 000°.

26 November 1940.

At 0030B/26, ‘Force A’ changed course to 285°.

At 0230B/26, HMS Illustrious, with HMS Gloucester, HMS Glasgow, HMS Janus, HMS Juno, HMS Mohawk and HMS Nubian split off for an air attack on Port Laki, Leros.

At 0300B/26, HMS Illustrious began to fly off the aircraft involved in the raid, which were a total of 15.

At 0600B/26, off Suda Bay, the aircraft returned to HMS Illustrious. They reported that targets were difficult to distinguish but fires were started in the dockyard and other areas. Two aircraft attacked a ship, believed to be a cruiser, but the results were unobserved. One aircraft failed to return.

Meanwhile, at 0500B/26, HMS York, had been detached to refuel at Suda Bay and then to join the Rear-Admiral 3rd Cruiser Squadron (in Gloucester) off Cape Matapan.

The remainder of ‘Force A’ entered Suda Bay between 0700 and 0830B/26. The destroyers were fuelled there.

A fighter patrol was maintained over the harbour until ‘Force A’ sailed again around 1030B/26. They then set course for the Kithera Channel.

Meanwhile convoy MW 4 had arrived at Malta around 0800B/26. Also HMS Malaya and HMS Ramillies had put into the harbour.

At noon, ‘Force A’ was in position 35°37’N, 24°20’E. As it was considered that the fleet had been located by enemy aircraft a fighter patrol was flown off and maintained for the remainder of the day (during daylight hours).

Also around noon HMS Ramillies, HMS Newcastle (Capt. E.A. Aylmer, DSC, RN), HMS Coventry, HMS Greyhound, HMS Gallant, HMS Hereward, HMS Defender and HMS Diamond departed Malta to join HMS Berwick at sea and then proceed westwards to join the fleet in the western Mediterranean.

At 1600B/26, ‘Force A’ was in position 35°44’N, 23°05’E. At 1630B/26, Convoy ME 4 departed Malta for Alexandria. This convoy was made up of the transports Waiwera (12435 GRT, built 1934), Cornwall (10603 GRT, built 1920), Rodi (3220 GRT, built 1928, former Italian), Volo (1587 GRT, built 1938) and Devis (6054 GRT, built 1938). Escort was provided by HMS Calcutta, HMAS Vampire, HMAS Vendetta and HMAS Voyager.

At 1815B/26, ‘Force A’ altered course to 220° and at 1930B/26, when in position 35°52’N, 22°08’E, to 290°. This course was maintained throughout the night to cover the convoy.

27 November 1940.

At 0001B/27, ‘Force A’ was in position 36°15’N, 20°40’E.

At 0600B/27, ‘Force A’ altered course to 230°.

At 0700B/27, an air search was flown off to search a sector of 295° to 025° but nothing was sighted.

At 1100B/27, the 3rd Cruiser Squadron (HMS York, HMS Gloucester and HMS Glasgow) rejoined the fleet having carried out a sweep to the north-west of the fleet through positions 36°06’N, 20°56’E and 37°48’N, 17°47’E.

At noon ‘Force A’ was in position 35°56’N, 17°47’E.

On receipt of enemy reports from ‘Force H’, the 3rd Cruiser Squadron was detached to the west to cover the ‘Collar convoy’ coming from that direction. They were to reach a rendez-vous position of 36°32’N, 12°00’E at 0400/28.

The fleet remained in a covering position for convoy ME 4 for the rest of the day. A second air search was flown off at 1430B/27 to search a sector between 310° and 010° but again sighted nothing.

28 November 1940.

At 0230B/28, ‘Force A’ was in position 35°15’N, 14°24’E. Course was altered to 320° to rendez-vous with the ‘Collar convoy’ in position 36°00’N, 13°25’E.

At 0700B/28, HMS Wryneck was detached to fuel at Malta, she returned in the afternoon.

At 0800B/28, the 3rd Cruiser Squadron was sighted and one hour later rendezvous was made with the ‘Collar convoy’ in position 36°02’N, 13°18’E. HMS Decoy and HMS Hotspur (Cdr. H.F.H Layman, DSO, RN) were detached with the merchant vessels Clan Forbes (7529 GRT, built 1938) and Clan Fraser (7529 GRT, built 1939) to Malta. Where they arrived at 1430B/27. The destroyers also remained at Malta where they were to refit / be repaired. At the same time HMS Greyhound joined the destroyer screen of the fleet.

The merchant vessel New Zealand Star (10740 GRT, built 1935) proceeded eastwards escorted by HMS Defender and HMS Hereward. Cover was provided by HMS Manchester (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN) and HMS Southampton (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN).

At 1200B/28, ‘Force A’ was in position 35°41’N, 14°11’E. Half an hour later course was altered to 270° to close the corvettes HMS Peony (Lt.Cdr. (rtd.) M.B. Sherwood, DSO, RN), HMS Salvia (Lt.Cdr. J.I. Miller, DSO, RD, RNR), HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR) and HMS Hyacinth (T/Lt. F.C. Hopkins, RNR) which were astern of the convoyas they had been unable to keep up. They were sighted at 1245B/28 and course was then altered to 180°.

At 1250B/28, HMS Glasgow was attacked by six Italian JU-87 dive bombers. One bomb fell within 30 yards from the ship but all the others missed by a wider margin. Glasgow sustained no damage or casualties.

Of the corvettes HMS Gloxinia had to put into Malta with the defects, while the remaining three proceeded to Suda Bay.

At 1600B/28, ‘Force A’ was in position 35°20’N, 14°37’E. The 3rd Cruiser Squadron was again detached to patrol to the north, this time to cover the passage of the corvettes to Suda Bay.

At 1700B/28, HMS Griffin was detached to Malta with engine defects.

Meanwhile from the escort of convoy ME 4 (the group with HMS Malaya) the destroyers HMS Diamond and HMAS Waterhen were detached to escort convoy AS 7 from the Aegean to Port Said.

29 November 1940.

At 0001B/29, ‘Force A’ was in position 35°18’N, 17°03’E.

At 0730B/29, an air search was flown off to search a sector between 310° and 020°.

At 1200B/29, ‘Force A’ was in position 35°00’N, 21°00’E. The three remaining corvettes were at that time 80 nautical miles to the north-westward.

At 1330B/29, the 3rd Cruiser Squadron was detached to Suda Bay.

At 1450B/29, HMS Manchester and HMS Southampton joined ‘Force A’ but at 1720B/29 they were detached to proceed independently to Alexandria.

At 2000B/29, ‘Force A’ was in position 34°37’N, 23°20’E.

Convoy ME 4 arrived at Alexandria this day as did her escort ‘Force C’. Some of the merchant vessels (Volo, Rodi and Cornwall) continued on to Port Said escorted by HMAS Vendetta and HMAS Voyager.

30 November 1940.

At 0001B/30, ‘Force A’ was in position 34°00’N, 24°45’E.

In the morning HMS Manchester and HMS Southampton arrived at Alexandria.

Also in the morning HMS York, HMS Gloucester and HMS Glasgow arrived at Suda Bay as did the three corvettes.

Around 1800B/30, ‘Force A’ arrived at Alexandria.

The remaining ships of the convoy and their escorts arrived at Port Said on this day. (2)

25 Nov 1940

Operation Collar and the resulting Battle of Cape Spartivento.

See also the event for 23 November 1940 called ‘Operation MB 9’ for the events in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Departure of the convoy from Gibraltar / passage through the Straits of Gibraltar and plan of the operation.

During the night of 24/25 November 1940 the three merchants / troop transports, Clan Forbes (7529 GRT, built 1938), Clan Fraser (7529 GRT, built 1939) and New Zealand Star (10740 GRT, built 1935), passed the Straits of Gibraltar. To the eastward of Gibraltar they were joined by the four corvettes (HMS Peony (Lt.Cdr. (rtd.) M.B. Sherwood, DSO, RN), (HMS Salvia (Lt.Cdr. J.I. Miller, DSO, RD, RNR), HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR) and HMS Hyacinth (T/Lt. F.C. Hopkins, RNR) that were part of Force ‘F’, which was the close support force of the convoy. The other ships of Force ‘F’ were the light cruisers HMS Manchester (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN) and HMS Southampton (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN) and the destroyer HMS Hotspur (Cdr. H.F.H Layman, DSO, RN), which was in a damaged state and was to proceed to Malta for full repairs. These last three ships sailed at 0800/25. The cruisers had each about 700 RAF and other military personnel onboard that were to be transported to Alexandria.

The cover force for this convoy, force ‘B’ also left Gibraltar at 0800/25. This force was made up of the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN), the light cruisers HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) and HMS Despatch (Commodore 2nd cl. C.E. Douglas-Pennant, DSC, RN). They were escorted by destroyers from the 8th and 13th Destroyer Flotillas; HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN, Capt. D.8), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSC, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Duncan (Capt. A.D.B. James, RN, Capt. D.13), HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN), HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN), HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St.J. Morgan, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN).

Force ‘F’ and the merchant ship New Zealand Star were to proceed to Alexandria except for HMS Hotspur which was to detach to Malta as mentioned earlier as well as the other two merchant ships. Force ‘B’ was to cover Force ‘F’ and the merchant ships during the passage of the Western Mediterranean. To the south of Sardinia these forces were to be joined around noon on 27 November 1940 by Force ‘D’ which came from the Eastern Mediterranean and was made up of the battleship HMS Ramillies (Capt. A.D. Reid, RN), the heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. G.L. Warren, RN), the light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt. E.A. Aylmer, DSC, RN) and the AA cruiser HMS Coventry (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN), HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN), HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, RN), HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall A'Deane, DSC, RN) and HMS Hereward (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN). [actually HMS Diamond however did not join Force 'D'] All forces were then to proceed towards the Sicilian narrows for a position between Sicily and Cape Bon which was to be reached at dusk. After dark Force ’F’, reinforced by HMS Coventry and the destroyers from Force ‘D’ were then to proceed through the narrows to the Eastern Mediterranean where they would be met the next day by ships of the Mediterranean Fleet. Force ‘B’ with HMS Ramillies, HMS Berwick and HMS Newcastle from Force ‘D’ were then to return to Gibraltar.

Disposition of British forces at 0800 hours, 27 November 1940.

At 0800/27, about half an hour before sunrise, the situation was as follows. Vice-Admiral Somerville in HMS Renown, with HMS Ark Royal, HMS Sheffield and four destroyers were in position 37°48’N, 07°24’E (about 95 nautical miles south-west of Cape Spartivento, Sardinia) steering 083° at 16 knots.

Some 25 nautical miles to the south-west of him, the Vice-Admiral 18th cruiser squadron in HMS Manchester, with HMS Southampton, HMS Despatch and five destroyers were in company with the convoy in position 37°37’N, 06°54’E. The four corvettes had been unable to keep up with the convoy and were about 10 nautical miles to the westward of it. The visibility was excellent, the wind south-easterly, force 3 to 4 and the sea was calm.

At this time HMS Ark Royal flew off a section of fighters, one A/S patrol, one meteorological machine and seven reconnaissance aircraft. Vice-Admiral Somerville continued on his easterly course to concentrate with Force ‘D’ which was approaching from the Skerki Bank. At 0900 hours he changed course to the south-west to join the convoy to provide additional AA defence for the convoy for expected air attacks from Sardinian aerodromes.

Reconnaissance aircraft report enemy forces at sea.

Shortly before the course change, at 0852/27 one of Ark Royal’s aicraft sighted a group of enemy warships about 25 nautical miles to the southward of Cape Spartivento and while closing to investigate at 0906 hours sent an alarm report of four cruisers and six destroyers, which, however was not received by any ship of the British forces. On sighting the convoy at 0920 hours, HMS Renown maneuvered to pass astern of it and take station to the southward and up sun, in the probable direction of any air attack. At 0956 hours, while still on the port quarter of the convoy, Vice-Admiral Somerville received from HMS Ark Royal an aircraft report timed 0920/27, of five cruisers and five destroyers some 65 nautical miles to the north-eastward of him.

Steam was at once ordered for full speed and screens of two destroyers each were arranged for both HMS Ark Royal and the merchant ships. Further reports from aircraft, confirmed by HMS Ark Royal, established by 1015/27 the presence of enemy battleships and cruisers and HMS Renown altered course to 075° to join HMS Ramillies increasing speed as rapidly as possible to 28 knots.

Measures to safeguard the convoy and to join Force ‘D’.

At 1035/27 the plot showed enemy forces to the north-east but their composition and relative position were still in doubt. In these circumstances Vice-Admiral Somerville decided that the convoy should continue to its destination steering a south-easterly course (120°) in order to keep clear of any action which might develop. It was given an escort of two cruisers, HMS Despatch and HMS Coventry and the destroyers HMS Duncan and HMS Wishart. The remaining two cruisers and three destroyers of Force ‘F’ were ordered to join Force ‘B’ which steered to make contact with Force ‘D’ which was approaching from the east and then to attack the enemy together. HMS Ark Royal was ordered to prepare and fly off a torpedo bomber striking force. She was to act independently escorted by HMS Kelvin and HMS Jaguar and under cover from the battlefleet.

At 1058/27 a Sunderland flying boat closed HMS Renown and reported Force ‘D’ bearing 070°, range 34 nautical miles. As the junction of the two forces seemed to be assured, the speed was reduced to 24 knots, in order to maintain a position between the convoy and the enemy force which estimated position was bearing 025°, range 50 nautical miles. The Sunderland flying boat was ordered to shadow and report its composition.

The cruisers HMS Manchester, HMS Southampton and HMS Sheffield had meanwhile concentrated with the destroyers in the van, bearing 5 nautical miles from HMS Renown in the direction of the enemy.

Reports from the reconnaissance aircraft of HMS Ark Royal contained a number of discrepancies which made it impossible to obtain a clear picture of the situation. Two groups of cruisers had been reported, as well as two battleships. It seemed certain that five or six cruisers were present, but the number of battleships remained in doubt. But whatever the composition of the enemy force in order to get the convoy through Vice-Admiral Somerville wanted to attack as soon as possible. At 1115/27 the enemy was reported to be changing course to the eastward.

All this time Force ‘D’ had been coming westwards and at 1128/27 they were sighted from HMS Renown bearing 073°, range about 24 nautical miles. The aircraft reports now indicated that the enemy force was made up of two battleships, six or more cruisers and a considerable number of destroyers. The action seemed likely to develop into a chase, and HMS Ramillies was therefore ordered to steer 045°, so as not to lose ground due to her slow speed. Vice-Admiral Holland was put in command of all the cruisers in the van and HMS Berwick and HMS Newcastle from Force ‘D’ were ordered to join him. It was shortly after this that HMS Ark Royal flew off her first torpedo bombers striking force.

The approach on the enemy.

At 1134 hours, Vice-Admiral Somerville increased to 28 knots and at 1140 hours altered course to 050° to close the enemy. The position of the British forces was now as follows. Fine on the port bow of HMS Renown were HMS Manchester, HMS Southampton and HMS Sheffield in single line ahead. HMS Berwick and HMS Newcastle was coming from the eastward to join them. Two miles astern HMS Faulknor (Capt. D 8) was gradually collecting the other ships of his Flotilla and HMS Encounter some of which had been screening the convoy. The four destroyers of Force ‘D’, HMS Defender, HMS Gallant, HMS Greyhound and HMS Hereward were proceeding westwards to join and were eventually stationed bearing 270°, 3 nautical miles from her.

Ten nautical miles fine on the starboard bow of HMS Renown, HMS Ramillies was altering to a parallel course. HMS Ark Royal had dropped some distance astern. She was carrying out flying operations between the main force and the convoy, which was now about 22 nautical miles west-south-west of HMS Renown.

At 1154 hours, the Sunderland aircraft returned and reported six cruisers and eight destroyers bearing 330°, range 30 nautical miles from HMS Renown. Her report unfortunately did not give course and speed of the enemy and she disappeared from sight before these could be obtained. It appeared now that one of the enemy forces was further to the west than previously thought and might be in a position to outflank the main force and attack HMS Ark Royal and the convoy. Course was therefore altered to the north in order to avoid getting to far to the eastward.

Vice-Admiral Somerville’s appreciation of the situation at noon, 27 November 1940.

The prospects of bringing the enemy into action seemed favourable. The composition of the enemy force was still not definitely established but there did not appear to be more than two battleships with them. The British had effected their concentration of which the enemy seemed to be unaware, since no shadowing aircraft had been sighted or detected by RD/F. The speed of the enemy was reported as being 14 to 18 knots. The sun was immediately behind the British forces, giving them the advantage of light and if the nearest reported position of the enemy was correct there seemed every possibility of bringing off a simultaneous surface and torpedo bombers attack, providing that the enemy did not retire immediately at high speed. Vice-Admiral Somerville’s intentions were; To drive off the enemy from any position from which he could attack the convoy and to except some risk to the convoy providing there was a reasonable prospect of sinking one or more of the enemy battleships. To achieve the second of them he considered that the speed of the enemy would have to be reduced to 20 knots or less by torpedo bombers attacks and that the enemy battleships could be attacked by HMS Renown and HMS Ramillies in concert.

Contact with the enemy.

At 1207/27, HMS Renown developed a hot bearing on one shaft which limited her speed to 27.5 knots. At the same time puffs of smoke were observed on the horizon bearing 006°, and the cruisers of the van sighted masts between 006° and 346°. At 1213 hours a signal came in from HMS Ark Royal reporting the composition of the enemy as two battleships, six cruisers accompanied by destroyers. The British cruisers in the van by this time had formed a line of bearing 075° to 255° in the sequence from west to east, HMS Sheffield, HMS Southampton, HMS Newcastle, HMS Manchester, HMS Berwick.

The nine destroyers were stationed five miles bearing 040° from HMS Renown in order to be placed favourably to counter-attack any destroyers attempting a torpedo attack on HMS Renown or HMS Ramillies.

The situation as seen by the cruisers immediately before the action commenced was as follows. Between the bearings of 340° to 350° three enemy cruisers and some destroyers were visible at a range of about 11 nautical miles. These were steering a northerly course. This force will be referred to as ‘the Western Group’. A second group of cruisers, also accompanied by destroyers, which will be referred to as the ‘Eastern Group’ bore between 003° and 013°. This group was further away and steering approximately 100°.

The action

At 1220/27 the enemy cruisers in the ‘Western Group’ opened fire, and the British advanced forces immediately replied. The enemy’s first salvo fell close to HMS Manchester. As soon as fire was opened by the British cruisers, the Italians made smoke and retired on courses varying between north-west and north-east. Behind their smoke screen they seemed to be making large and frequent alterations of course.

At 1224 hours HMS Renown opened fire at the right hand ship in the ‘Western Group’ which was identified as a Zara-class heavy cruiser. Range was 26500 yards. After six salvoes, the target was lost in smoke. HMS Ramillies also fired two salvoes at maximum elevation to test the range but both fell short. She then dropped astern in the wake of HMS Renown and tried to follow at her best speed, 20.7 knots, throughout the action.

Just before opening fire HMS Renown had sighted two ships which were not making smoke, bearing 020° at extreme visibility. These were thought at first to be the Italian battleships but later turned out to be cruisers of the ‘Eastern Group’. On losing her first target HMS Renown altered course to starboard to close these supposed battleships and to bring the cruisers of the ‘Western Group’ broader on the bow. She had hardly done so when the centre ship of the latter group appeared momentarily through the smoke and was given two salvoes. Again course was altered to open ‘A’ arcs on the left hand ship, at which eight salvoes were fired before she too disappeared in the smoke at 1245 hours. At this moment two large ships steering westward emerged from the smoke cloud but before fire was opened these ships were identified as French liners.

The enemy by this time was on the run and had passed outside the range of our capital ships although at 1311 hours, HMS Renown fired two ranging salvoes at two ships of the ‘Eastern Group’ but both fell short. Meanwhile the British cruisers had been hotly engaged at ranges varying between 23000 and 16000 yards. Many straddles were obtained, but smoke rendered spotting and observation very difficult.

HMS Manchester, HMS Sheffield and HMS Newcastle all opened fire on the right-hand ship of the ‘Western Group’. HMS Berwick engaged the left-hand ship of the same group and HMS Southampton engaged the left-hand ship of the ‘Eastern Group’. HMS Manchester and HMS Sheffield continued to fire at the same ship for about 20 minutes (until 1236 and 1240 hours respectively) but HMS Newcastle shifted target to the ship already engaged by HMS Berwick after 18 salvoes. HMS Southampton, after 5 salvoes shifted target to a destroyer which was seen to be hit. At least one other destroyer is believed to have been hit during this phase and two hits by a large caliber shell on a cruiser were observed by HMS Faulknor at 1227 and HMS Newcastle at 1233 hours.

The enemy’s fire was accurate during the initial stages but when fully engaged it deteriorated rapidly and the spread became ragged. Their rate of fire was described as extremely slow. The only casualties on the British side occurred in HMS Berwick when at 1222 hours she received a hit from an 8” shell which put ‘Y’ turret out of action. HMS Manchester was straddled several times but despite being under continuous fire from 1221 to 1300 hours escaped unscatched. Her passengers were quite excited about having been in a sea battle.

At 1245 hours the cruisers altered course to 090° to prevent the enemy from working round ahead to attack the convoy. This brought the relative beating of the ‘Eastern Group’ to Red 40° and HMS Manchester once more engaged the left-hand ship. Five minutes later a further alteration of course to the southward was made to counter what appeared to be an attempt by the enemy to ‘cross the T’ of the cruisers. The enemy however at once resumed their north-easterly course and Vice-Admiral Holland led back to 070° at 1256 hours and 030° at 1258 hours. The rear ship of the enemy line was heavily on fire aft and she appeared to loose speed. But at 1259 hours picked up again and drew away with her consorts.

At 1301 hours the masts of a fresh enemy unit steering to the south-west were seen at extreme visibility right ahead of HMS Manchester. It bore 045° and two minutes later two battleships were identified in it. Their presence was quickly corroborated by large splashes which commenced to fall near HMS Manchester and HMS Berwick and these ships were reported to Vice-Admiral Somerville. The end on approach resulted in the range decreasing very rapidly and at 1305 hours Vice-Admiral Holland turned to cruisers to 120° with the dual purpose of working round the flank of the battleships and closing the gap to HMS Renown. The enemy battleships were not prepared to close and altered course to the north-eastward, presumably to join their 8” cruisers. Vice-Admiral Holland therefore altered course to 090° at 1308 hours and shortly afterwards to 050°. The enemy were by now rapidly running out of range and ten minutes later the action came to an end.

First attack by the torpedo bombers from HMS Ark Royal

Meanwhile a torpedo bomber striking force consisting of 11 Swordfish of no. 810 Squadron had been flown off from HMS Ark Royal at 1130 hours with orders to attack the Italian battleships. At 1216 hours they sighted two battleships and altered course as to approach them from the direction of the sun. The ships were identified as one Littorio-class and one Cavour-class. They were screened by seven destroyers. Enemy course was easterly at a speed of 18 knots. The leading battleship (Littorio-class) was selected as the target and all torpedoes were dropped inside the destroyer screen at ranges of 700 to 800 yards. One hit was observed abaft the after funnel and another explosion was seen just astern of the target. Yet another explosion was seen ahead of the Cavour-class. No other hits were seen. All aircraft returned safely to HMS Ark Royal.

Vice-Admiral Somerville’s Appreciation at 1315/27.

At 1315/27 firing had practically ceased owning to the enemy drawing out of range. The heavy smoke made by the Italians during the chase had prevented accurate fire, and so far as was known, no serious damage was inflicted on them. The torpedo bomber striking force from HMS Ark Royal had attacked but no report had been received yet but it seemed evident that the speed of the enemy had not been materially reduced.

The British forces were meanwhile rapidly closing the enemy coast. The main object of the whole operation was the safe passage of the convoy. The main enemy units had been driven off far enough that they could no longer interfere with it. It was also important to provide additional AA protection to the convoy against enemy air attack at dusk and in order to reach the convoy in time to do this course had to be set for it before 1400 hours so it was decided to break off the chase.

The chase broken off and further attacks by aircraft from HMS Ark Royal.

Around 1345/27, a damaged enemy cruiser was reported, Vice-Admiral Somerville considered sending HMS Berwick and HMS Newcastle north to finish this ship off. As these two cruisers also needed a cover/support force this idea was quickly abandoned. HMS Ark Royal was ordered to attack this cruiser with aircraft. A second torpedo bomber squadron was about to take off and Skua dive bombers were also being armed. Capt. Holland of the Ark Royal intended to attack the battleships again with the torpedo bombers and sent out the dive bombers to attack the damaged cruiser.

The torpedo bomber force of 9 Swordfish was flown off at 1415 hours. The Squadron Leader was given the enemy battleships as his objective, but with the full liberty to change it to his discretion, as he alone would be in a position to judge the possibility or otherwise achieving a successful attack.

The aircraft sighted three cruisers escorted by four destroyers about 12 nautical miles off the south-east coast of Sardinia, steering to the eastward at high speed. Some 8 nautical miles ahead of these cruisers were the two battleships escorted by about ten destroyers. There was a total absence of cloud cover, and it was considered essential to attack from the direction of the sun, if any degree of surprise were to be achieved. As any attempt, however, to gain such a position with regard to the battleships would inevitably have led to the striking force being sighted by the cruisers it was decided to attack the latter.

The attack was carried out at 1520/27 and was not sighted by the enemy until very late, only two salvoes being fired against the aircraft before the first torpedo was dropped. As the first aircraft reached the dropping position, the cruisers turned together to starboard causing several of the following Swordfish who had already committed to their drop to miss their targets. One hit was claimed on the rear cruiser and a possible one on the leading cruiser. Two Swordfish were hit by shrapnel from enemy AA fire but air aircraft returned safely to HMS Ark Royal.

A striking force of 7 Skua’s had meanwhile been flown off at 1500 hours. They failed to locate the reported damaged cruiser but reported to have carried out an attack on three light cruisers steering north of the south-west corner of Sardinia. Two near misses may have caused some damage to the rear ship. On the way back to HMS Ark Royal they encountered and shot down an Italian RO 43 reconnaissance aircraft from the battleship Vittorio Venoto.

Enemy air attacks on British Forces.

While these British flying operations were taking place Vice-Admiral Somerville had been steering to the southward in accordance with his decision to close the convoy. HMS Ark Royal had lost sight of HMS Renown to the north-eastward about 1250 hours, but since the receipt of the signal ordering the retirement of the British forces, Captain Holland had been making good a course of 090°, so far as his flying operations permitted, in order to rejoin the Flag. The first RD/F indications of the presence of enemy aircraft were received in HMS Renown at 1407 hours. Shortly afterwards bomb splashes were seen on the horizon when the Italian aircraft were attacked by Fulmars from the Ark Royal and several machines jettisoned their bombs. Ten enemy aircraft were then seen to be coming in and they eventually dropped their bombs well clear of the heavy ships but close to the screening destroyers.

Two further attacks were made around 1645/27 when two groups of five aircraft each concentrated on HMS Ark Royal, which by that time was in company with the Fleet, but owning to flying operations, not actually in the line. Apart from a few bombs being jettisoned again as a result of the interception by the Fulmar fighters, the high level bombing performed from a height of 13000 feet was most accurate. Some 30 bombs fell near HMS Ark Royal, two at least within 10 yards, and she was completely obscured by splashes.

About 1,5 minutes after this attack a stick of bombs dropped by four Caproni bombers, which had not been seen during the previous attack, missed HMS Ark Royal by a very narrow margin. HMS Ark Royal fortunately suffered no damage.

The British ships sighted the convoy at 1700/27 and proceeded to join it for passage to the Sicilian narrows.

The Battle of Cape Spartivento from the Italian side

At noon on 26 November 1940 the Italian had received reports that British forces had left Gibraltar and Alexandria the day before. The Italians then went to sea from Naples and Messina in three forces;

From Naples.
Battleships Vittorio Veneto and Giulio Cesare, escorted by the 13th Destroyer Flotilla made up of the Granatiere, Fuciliere, Bersagliere and Alpino and the 7th Destroyer Flotilla made up of the Freccia, Saetta, Dardo.
Heavy cruisers from the 1st Cruiser Division Pola, Fiume and Gorizia) escorted by the 9th Destroyer Flotilla made up of Vittorio Alfieri, Alfredo Oriani, Giosuè Carducci and Vincenzo Gioberti.

From Messina.
Heavy cruisers from the 3rd Cruiser Division Trieste, Trento and Bolzano and the 12th Destroyer Flotilla made up of the Lanciere, Ascari, Carabiniere and Libeccio. This last destroyer had temporarily replaced the Carabinieri.

These forces were to intercept the British forces coming from Gibraltar.

From Trapani, Sicily, torpedo-boats from the 10th Torpedo-boat Flotilla, Vega, Sagittario, Alcione and Sirio, were ordered to patrol in the Sicily narrows to scout for possible British forces proceeding westwards from the Eastern Meditarranean. Sirio actually made an unobserved torpedo attack shortly after midnight (during the night of 26/27 November) on a group of seven enemy warships (Force ‘D’).

By 1015/27 the Italian forces were in the Sardinia-Sicily Channel. The only information available to the Italian Commander-in-Chief (Admiral Campioni in the Vittorio Veneto) up to that moment was that Force H had left Gibraltar westwards on the 25th and on the same day a force had also left Alexandria westwards. He assumed correctly that the force attacked by the torpedo-boat Sirio was en-route to rendez-vous with Force H.

Then at 1015 hours he received an aircraft report (from an aircraft catapulted by the heavy cruiser Bolzano) that at 0945/27 it had sighted a group of enemy warships comprising one battleship, two light cruisers and four destroyers 20 nautical miles north of Cape de Fer. Enemy course was 090°. These were also seven warships, the same number as reported by torpedo-boat Sirio the night before but these were too far to the West to be the same ships.

Then at 1144 hours he received another aircraft report (from an aircraft catapulted by the heavy cruiser Gorizia) that confirmed the position given at 1015 hours. It did not report the two cruisers however but by that time these had split from HMS Renown and had gone ahead.

Acting on the report of the aircraft of the Bolzano the Italian Admiral turned to course 135° at 1128/27. Both divisions of cruisers also turned round. He then thought to be making for an encounter with HMS Renown and two cruisers supported by a few destroyers. The 1144/27 report from the aircraft of the Gorizia confirmed him in this belief. The Italian admiral was unaware of the fact that by that time Force ‘D’ had already joined with the other British forces. He was also unaware that HMS Ark Royal was present although he was aware of the fact that she had left Gibraltar westwards with the other ships two days before.

The Italian admiral was very careful, after the attack on Taranto only two battleships were operational and he could not afford any further reduction in strength of the capital ships. He therefore decided that his forces were not to come in action but before he could sent out a signal regarding this his cruiser were already in action with the British. They were ordered to break off the action and retire at high speed.

The Italians were then attacked by aircraft from the Ark Royal but despite the claim by the British for hits none were actually obtained. The Italians claimed to have shot down two aircraft but this also was not the case.

At 1235/27, the destroyer Lanciere was hit by a 6” shell in the after engine room. This shell is thought to have been originated from HMS Southampton. She continued at 23 knots on her forward engines but at 1240 hours another shell struck her amidships on the port side, penetrating a petrol tank. Then a third shell struck her on the starboard side without exploding and without penetrating the hull. Around 1300 hours she came to a stop with no water in her boilers, and asked for a tow. Ater about one hour her boilers were relit (seawater being used to feed them) and her forward engines were restarted. At 1440 hours, the Ascari took her in tow and both made for Cagliari at 7 knots. The 3rd Cruiser Division was ordered to protect the retreat of these destroyers.

A force of 10 bombers and 5 fighters had taken off at 1330 hours. These were driven off but the Fulmars from HMS Ark Royal. Almost two hours later, at 1520 hours a second force of 20 bombers took off. It were these aircraft that attacked and almost hit HMS Ark Royal.

Convoy operations in the Eastern Mediterranean and the subsequent movements of the ‘Collar’ convoy.

Before and during operation Collar there were also convoy movements in the Eastern Mediterranean going on. [See also the event for 23 November 1940 called ‘Operation MB 9’ for the events in the Eastern Mediterranean.]

After passing through the Sicilian narrows the Clan Forbes and Clan Fraser went to Malta escorted by HMS Hotspur and HMS Decoy. Both destroyers were to repair and refit at Malta. The New Zealand Star proceeded to Suda Bay escorted by HMS Defender and HMS Hereward and covered part of the way by HMS Manchester and HMS Southampton. (3)

6 Jan 1941

Operations Excess and Operation MC 4.

Convoy operations in the Mediterranean.

Timespan; 6 January to 18 January 1941.

The principal object of this operation was the passage of a convoy of four ships (five were intended, see below) from Gibraltar to Malta and Piraeus (Operation Excess). One of these was to unload her stores at Malta, the other three had supplies on board for the Greek army.

Three subsidiary convoys (Operation M.C. 4) were to be run between Malta and Egypt. These consisted of two fast ships from Malta to Alexandria (convoy M.E. 5½), two fast ships from Alexandria to Malta (convoy M.W. 5½) and six slow ships from Malta to Port Said and Alexandria (convoy M.E. 6).

Composition of the convoys and their escort.

The ‘Excess convoy from Gibraltar’ was made up of one ship that was to proceed with stores to Malta. This was the Essex (11063 GRT, built 1936). The three other ships were to proceed with stores to Piraeus, these were the Clan Cumming (7264 GRT, built 1938), Clan Macdonald (9653 GRT, built 1939) and Empire Song (9228 GRT, built 1940). It had the light cruiser HMS Bonaventure (Capt. H.G. Egerton, RN) and the destroyers HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN), HMS Hereward (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN) and HMS Duncan (A/Capt. A.D.B. James, RN) as close escort (‘Force F’). A fifth merchant ship was to have been part of this convoy and was to have proceeded to Malta with stores and troops. However this ship, the Northern Prince (10917 GRT, built 1929) grounded at Gibraltar and was not able to join the convoy. The about four-hundred troops now boarded HMS Bonaventure for passage to Malta.

The most dangerous part of the ‘Excess convoy’ would be the part between Sardinia and Malta. For a stretch of about 400 nautical miles ships were exposed to enemy air attack from bases in Sardinia and Sicily less then 150 nautical miles away from the convoy’s track. Also submarines and surface torpedo craft were a constant menace. An attack by large enemy surface forces was thought less likely although this was potentially more dangerous.

’Convoy M.W.5 ½ from Alexandria to Malta’ made the passage westwards at the same time as the Mediterranean fleet moved westwards (see below). This convoy was made up of HMS Breconshire (9776 GRT, built 1939) and Clan Macauley (10492 GRT, built 1936). These ships were escorted by HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN), HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN) and HMS Diamond (Lt.Cdr. P.A. Cartwright, RN).

’Convoy’s M.E. 5½ and M.E. 6’ that sailed from Malta to Egypt will be dealth with later on.

Cover forces for these convoy’s

At Gibraltar there was ‘Force H’ which had the following ships available for the operation.
Battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.E.B. Simeon, RN and flagship of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, RN, KCB, DSO, RN), battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. A.F.E. Palliser, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN), light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN).

’Force H’ was to provide cover for the ‘Excess convoy’ from Gibraltar to the Sicilian narrows.

South-south-west of Sardina ‘Force H’ was to be reinforced by ‘Force B’ which came from the eastern Mediterranean and was made up of the light cruisers HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E. de F. Renouf, CVO, RN), HMS Southampton (Capt. B.C.B. Brooke, RN) and the destroyer HMS Ilex (Capt. H.St.L. Nicholson, DSO and Bar, RN). The destroyer HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN) had also been part of 'Force B' during the passage from Alexandria to Malta but remained there for a quick docking. After this docking she departed Malta around noon on the 10th to join 'Force A'.

Further cover was to be provided by ‘Force A’, this was the Mediterranean fleet based at Alexandria. This force was made up of the following warships.
Battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Capt. D.W. Boyd, CBE, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.L.St.G. Lyster, CB, CVO, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Thyrwhitt, RN), HMS Mohawk (Cdr. J.W.M. Eaton, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. R.W. Ravenhill, RN), HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall-A’Deane, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Gallant (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, DSC, RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, RN) and HMS Dainty (Cdr. M.S. Thomas, DSO, RN).

During the passage of the ‘Excess convoy’ three submarines were stationed off Sardinia. HMS Pandora off the east coast and HMS Triumph and HMS Upholder were stationed to the south of Sardinia.

Chronology of events

The actual ‘Excess convoy’ and it’s escort (Force F) departed Gibraltar before dark in the evening of January 6th. Course was set to the west as if to proceed into the Atlantic. This was done to deceive enemy spies based in Spain. They turned back in the night after moonset and passes Europa Point well before daylight next morning. At dawn the next morning HMS Bonaventure parted company with the convoy to make rendez-vous with ‘Force H’ which departed Gibraltar around that time. All that day the ‘Excess convoy’ followed the Spanish coast so as if to make for a Spanish port. During the night of 7/8 January the convoy crossed over towards the coast of North-Africa and steered eastwards towards the Sicilian narrows while keeping about 30 nautical miles from the shore of North Africa. ‘Force H’ overtook the convoy during the night and was now stationed to the north-east of it to shield it from Italian air attack. If Italian naval units were reported the plan was that he would join the convoy.

In the morning of the 8th, HMS Bonaventure rejoined the actual ‘Excess convoy’. Late in the afternoon of the 8th HMS Malaya escorted by HMS Firedrake and HMS Jaguar parted company with ‘Force H’ and joined the ‘Excess convoy’ very early in the evening.

At dawn on the 9th ‘Force H’ was ahead of the convoy. At 0500/9, while in position 37°45’N, 07°15’E, HMS Ark Royal flew off five Swordfish aircraft for Malta which was still some 350 nautical miles away. All of which arrived safely. ‘Force H’ then turned back and joined the ‘Excess convoy’ at 0900/9 about 120 nautical miles south-west of Sardinia. HMS Ark Royal meanwhile had launched several aircraft, one of her reconnaissance aircraft reported at 0918 hours that it had sighted two enemy cruisers and two destroyers but this soon turned out to be Rear-Admiral Renouf’s ‘Force B’ which was to join the Excess convoy for the passage through the Sicilian narrows. They joined the convoy about one hour later.

’Force B’ had departed Alexandria in the morning of the 6th with troop for Malta on board. They had arrived at Malta in the morning of the 8th and after disembarking the troops (25 officers and 484 other ranks of the Army and RAF) sailed early in the afternoon. At 0900/9 ‘Force B’ was sighted by an Italian reconnaissance aircraft. This aircraft soon made off when being fired at. One hour later another Italian reconnaissance aircraft was however sighted. It was engaged by the fighter patrol from HMS Ark Royal but managed to escape. At 1320 hours, while in position 37°38’N, 08°31’E, Italian bombers arrived on the scene and made their attack on the convoy.

The convoy of the four merchant ships was steaming in two columns in line ahead, 1500 yards apart. HMS Gloucester and HMS Malaya were leading the columns while HMS Bonaventure and HMS Southampton were the sternmost ships. The seven destroyers were placed as a screen ahead of the convoy. ‘Force H’, with HMS Renown, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Sheffield and their five escorting destroyers were on the convoy’s port quarter, operating in close support. The mean line of advance was 088° and the ships were zigzagging at 14 knots.

The enemy consisted of ten Savoia bombers. HMS Sheffield detected them on her radar about 43 nautical miles off, this was the maximum range of her radar equipment. They were fine on the starboard bow and came into sight fourteen minutes later, flying down the starboard side of the convoy out of range of the AA guns at a eight of about 11000 feet. At 1346 hours, when they were broad on the bow, they started their attack. They came in from 145°, which was the bearing of the sun. All the ships opened up a very heavy fire and the enemy was diverted of their course. Eight of the aircraft were seen to drop bombs, some of which fell close to HMS Gloucester and HMS Malaya but no damage was caused. The other two bombers were seen to turn away during their approach. Both were shot down by a Fulmar fighter from HMS Ark Royal. Three men from their crews were picked up from the water. Another bombers is thought to have been shot down by HMS Bonaventure. The other seven are thought to have got away.

Nothing more happened during the afternoon of the 9th. Reconnaissance showed that the Italian fleet was not at sea so at dusk, while in position 37°42’N, 09°53’E, some 30 nautical miles west of the Sicilian narrows and north of Bizerta, Tunisia, ‘Force H’ parted company with the ‘Excess convoy’ and set course to return to Gibraltar. Rear-Admiral Renouf in HMS Gloucester meanwhile continued eastwards with the convoy with his three cruisers and five destroyers of forces ‘B’ and ‘F’.

They had a quiet night, passing Pantelleria after moonset. They remained in deep water to reduce the danger of mines. Next morning, at dawn on the 10th at 0720 hours, they encountered two Italian torpedo boats in position 36°30’N, 12°10’E. HMS Jaguar, the port wing destroyer in the screen, and HMS Bonaventure, stationed astern of the convoy columns, sighted the enemy at the same time. Initially thinking they might be destroyers from the Mediterranean Fleet, which the convoy was due to meet. British ships reported the contact by signal to Rear-Admiral Renouf. HMS Bonaventure challenged the ‘strangers’ and fired a star shell and then turned to engage the enemy working up to full speed. Rear-Admiral Renouf meanwhile turned away with the bulk of the convoy. HMS Southampton, HMS Jaguar and HMS Hereward hauled out from their stations on the engaged side of the convoy and made for the enemy. HMS Bonaventure meanwhile was engaging the right-hand ship of the pair. When the other three ships arrived on the scene Bonaventure shifted her fire to the other enemy ship which came towards her at full speed to attack. The enemy fired her torpedoes which HMS Bonaventure avoided. The four British ships now quickly stopped the enemy but she did not sink. In the end HMS Hereward torpedoed the damaged Italian torpedo boat some 40 minutes later. The other Italian torpedo-boat meanwhile had disappeared. [The Italian ships were the torpedo-boats Vega, which was sunk, and the Circe. HMS Boneventure had sustained some superficial damage from splinters during the action.

Enemy air attacks during 10 January.

At 0800/10, Admiral Cunningham arrived on the scene with ‘Force A’ before the fight was finished. ‘Force A’ turned to the south-east in the wake of the ‘Excess convoy around 0830 hours. While doing so, the destroyer HMS Gallant hit a mine and had her bow blown off. [This was a mine from the Italian minefield ‘7 AN’]. HMS Mohawk took the stricken destroyer in tow towards Malta escorted by HMS Bonaventure and HMS Griffin. They were later joined by HMS Gloucester and HMS Southampton. While HMS Mohawk was passing the towline two Italian torpedo planes attacked but they had to drop their torpedoes from long range and they missed. Between 1130 and 1800 hours, as the tow crept along at five or six knots, with their escort zig-zagging at 20 knots, they were attacked or threatened by aircraft ten times. Nearly all German high level bombers, which came in ones, twos or threes. The enemy dropped bombs in five out of the ten attempts but no hits were obtained. At 1300 hours German dive bombers arrived an obtained a near miss on HMS Southampton causing some minor damage.

At 0500/11, when about 15 nautical miles from Malta, all was going well and Rear-Admiral Renouf made off with for Suda Bay, Crete with HMS Gloucester, HMS Southampton and HMS Diamond. This last ship had joined the evening before. HMS Gallant, still being towed by HMS Mohawk and escorted by HMS Bonaventure and HMS Griffin arrived at Malta in the forenoon. At Malta, HMS Bonaventure disembarked the soldiers she had on board. [HMS Gallant was further damaged by bombs while at Malta and was eventually found to be beyond economical repair and was cannibalized for spares.]

Meanwhile, Admiral Cunningham in ‘Force A’ had a similar experience on a larger scale. He had sailed from Alexandria on the 7th and enemy aircraft spotted his force already on the same day. During the afternoon of the 10th heavy dive bombing attacks were pressed home by the emeny with skill and determination. The main target was HMS Illustrious. Had the enemy attacked the convoy itself the four transports would most likely all have been sunk, instead the Ilustrious was disabled and she would be out of action of many months.

At noon on the 10th the transports were steering south-eastward, zigzagging at 14 to 15 knots with an escort of three destroyers. At 1320 hours, HMS Calcutta joined them. HMS Warspite, HMS Illustrious and HMS Valiant were steaming in line ahead on the convoy’s starboard quarter, course 110° and zigzagging at 17 to 18 knots. These ships were screened by seven destroyers. The weather was clear, with high cloud.

The fleet was in position 35°59’N, 13°13’E some 55 nautical miles west of Malta when the battle began with an air attack by two Savoia torpedo planes which were detected six nautical miles away on the starboard beam at 1220 hours. They came in at a steady level, 150 feet above the water and dropped their torpedoes about 2500 yards from the battleships. They were sighted a minute before firing and the ships received them with a barrage from long- and short-range guns, altering course to avoid the torpedoes, which passed astern of the rearmost ship HMS Valiant. Five Fulmar fighters from the Illustrious had been patrolling above the fleet. One had returned before the attack being damaged while assisting to destroy a shadower some time before the attack. The other four aircraft chased the torpedo aircraft all the way to Linosa Island, which was about 20 miles to the westward. They claimed to have damaged both the enemy machines.

Directly after this attack, while the ships were reforming the line, a strong force of aircraft were reported at 1235 hours, coming from the northward some 30 miles away. The Fulmars, of course, were then a long way off, flying low and with little ammunition remaining. Actually two were even out of ammunition. They were ordered to return and the Illustrious sent up four fresh fighters as well as reliefs for the anti-submarine patrol. This meant a turn of 100° to starboard into the wind to fly off these aircraft. The enemy aircraft came into sight in the middle of this operation which lasted about four minutes. All the ships opened fire. The fleet had just got back to the proper course, 110°, and the Admiral had made the signal to assume loose formation, when the new attack began. The enemy had assembled astern of their target ‘in two very loose and flexible formations’ at a height of 12000 feet.

They were Junkers dive bombers, perhaps as many as 36, of which 18 to 24 attacked HMS Illustrious at 1240 hours, while a dozen attacked the battleships and the destroyer screen. They came down in flights of three on different bearings astern and on either beam, to release their bombs at heights from 1500 to 800 feet, ‘a very severe and brilliantly executed dive-bombing attack’ says Captain Boyd of the Illustrious. The ships altered course continually, and beginning with long-range controlled fire during the approach, shifted to barrage fire as the enemy dived for attack. The ships shot down at least three machines, while the eight Fulmar fighters that were up shot down five more, at the coast of one British machine. Even the two Fulmars that were out of ammo made dummy attacks and forced two Germans to turn away. But, as Captain Boyd pointed out ‘ at least twelve fighters in the air would have been required to make any impression on the enemy, and double that number to keep them off’.

HMS Illustrious was seriously damaged. She was hit six times, mostly with armour-piercing bombs of 1100 pounds. They wrecked the flight deck, destroyed nine aircraft on board and put half the 4.5” guns out of action, and did other damage, besides setting the ship on fire fore and aft and killing and wounding many of the ship’s company (13 officers and 113 ratings killed and 7 officers and 84 ratings injured) . The Warspite too, narrowly escaped serious injury, but got away with a split hawsepipe and a damaged anchor.

As HMS Illustrious was now useless as a carrier and likely to become a drag on the fleet Captain Boyd decided to make for Malta. The Commander-in-Chief gave her two destroyers as escort, one from his own screen and one from the convoy’s (these were HMS Hasty and HMS Jaguar) and she parted company accordingly. She had continual trouble with her steering gear, which at last broke down altogether, so that she had to steer with the engines, making only 17 to 18 knots. Her aircraft that were in the air also proceeded to Malta.

A third attack came at 1330 hours. By this time HMS Illustrious was 10 nautical miles north-eastward of the battleships which, due to the manoeuvres during the previous attack, were nearly as far away from the transports. The enemy came in again with high level bombers. Seven machines attacked the Illustrious and seven more the battleships. They were received with heavy AA fire. All the bombs they dropped fell wide. HMS Calcutta claimed to have destroyed one of the attackers.

More serious in it’s results was a second dive-bombing attack upon HMS Illustrious at 1610 hours. There were 15 JU-87’s Stuka’s escorted by 5 fighters. Actually 9 of the Stuka’s dropped their bombs, the other 6 were kept at bay due to heavy AA fire from the Illustrious, Hasty and Jaguar. One bomb hit and two near misses on the Illustrious were obtained by the enemy for the loss of one of their aircraft which was shot down by the Illustrious and the Jaguar. A few minutes later the 6 Stuka’s that had been driven off attacked the battleships but they again retired after fire was opened on them.

At 1715 hours, 17 more Stuka’s attacked the battleships. Again they were received with heavy AA fire. The enemy dropped their bombs from a greater height and non of them hit although splinters from a near miss killed a rating on board HMS Valiant and a bombs fell very near HMS Janus but it did not explode. The ships may have destroyed one aircraft with their AA fire. Three of the Fulmars from the Illustrious came from Malta and destroyed three of the attackers.

This turned out to be the end of the ordeal for the ‘Excess Convoy’ and its supporting ships of war, but not for HMS Illustrious which had one more encounter with the enemy before she reached Malta. At about 1920 hours, a little more then an hour after sunset and in moonlight, some aircraft approached from seaward when she was only five nautical miles from the entrance to Grand Harbour, Malta. She had received warning from Malta that enemy aircraft were about and she sighted two – probably torpedo planes. Illustrious, Hasty and Jaguar fired a blind barrage on which the enemy disappeared. Directly afterwards HMS Hasty obtained an Asdic contact and attacked it with depth charges, but whether it was a submarine remains uncertain. HMS Illustrious finally entered harbour at 2100 hours accompanied by HMS Jaguar which had passengers to land.

Movements of the actual ‘Excess Convoy’.

In the meantime, after the mild attack at 1340/10, the convoy went on its way unhindered. Its movements then became involved in those of the Malta to Egypt convoys, which were to sail under cover of the main operation with the special support of Vice-Admiral Pridham-Whippell’s ‘Force D’ which was made up of the cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN), HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN) and HMS York (Capt. R.H. Portal, DSC, RN). The first of these convoys, the two ships of M.W. 5½ (see above), had left Alexandria for Malta on 7 January, some hours after Admiral Cunningham sailed westwards with ‘Force A’ to meet the ‘Excess Convoy’. To reinforce ' Force D ' the light cruiser HMAS Sydney (Capt. J.A. Collins, CB, RAN) and destroyer HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN) departed Malta on 8 January 1941. They joined ' Force D ' on the 9th. Both transports of this convoy reached Malta without adventure in the morning of the 10th escorted by HMS Calcutta, HMS Diamond and HMS Defender. On arrival HMS Calcutta joined the six slow ships which made up convoy M.E. 6 which was bound for Port Said and Alexandria. The ships in this convoy were the; Devis (6054 GRT, built 1938), Hoegh Hood (tanker, Norwegian, 9351 GRT, built 1936), Pontfield (tanker, 8290 GRT, built 1940), Rodi (3220 GRT, built 1928, former Italian), Trocas (tanker, 7406 GRT, built 1927) and Volo (1587 GRT, built 1938). They were escorted by four corvettes; HMS Peony (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) M.B. Sherwood, DSO, RN), HMS Salvia (Lt.Cdr. J.I. Miller, DSO, RN, RNR), HMS Hyacinth (T/Lt. F.C. Hopkins, RNR), HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR). At the end of the searched channel this convoy was joined by ‘Force D’. HMS Calcutta was then ordered to join the ‘Excess Convoy’ and arrived in time to defend it from the Italian bombers as already described.

The last convoy, M.E. 5½, two fast ships (the Lanarkshire (8167 GRT, built 1940) and Waiwera (12435 GRT, built 1934)) bound for Alexandria, also left Malta in the morning of the 10th under escort of HMS Diamond. They were to join the ‘Excess Convoy’ until they were to turn to the south to clear Crete and then proceed to Alexandria. The ‘Excess Convoy’ would then proceed to Piraeus, Greece. The two convoys met that afternoon. The transport Essex then left and proceeded to Malta escorted by HMS Hero. After the Essex was safely inside Grand Harbour, HMS Hero joined the fleet.

Vice-Admiral Pridham-Whippell stayed with convoy M.E. 6 until dark on the 10th. As ‘Force A’ was somewhat behind due to the air attacks and Admiral Cunningham ordered Vice Admiral Pridham-Whippell to position HMS Orion and HMAS Perth to the north of the convoy to be in a good position in case of an attack by Italian surface forces. ‘Force A’ made good ground during the night and was some 25 nautical miles north of the convoy by daylight on the 11th at which time Orion and Perth joined ‘Force A’. Their forces stayed within a few miles of the convoy until the afternoon when they turned back to help HMS Gloucester, HMS Southampton which had come under air attack (see below). In the evening the ships destined for Alexandria left the convoy, while HMS Calcutta went ahead to Suda Bay to fuel there. The three ships and their destroyer escort continued on to Piraeus where they arrived safely next morning, at 1000 on the 12th.

HMS Ajax and HMS York had been ordered to join convoy M.E. 6. HMS Ajax however was ordered to proceed to Suda Bay soon after she had joined the convoy. In the morning of the 11th therefore, Rear-Admiral Renouf in HMS Gloucester and with HMS Southampton and HMS Diamond in company, was ordered to overtake the convoy and support it. They were at that moment steering for Suda Bay having left the disabled Gallant off Malta some hours before. Rear-Admiral Renouf altered course accordingly and made 24 knots against the convoys 9 to 10 knots. He also send up a Walrus aircraft to find the convoy.

The sinking of HMS Southampton.

At 1522 hours, when his ships were some 30 nautical miles astern of the convoy, and in position 34°56’N, 18°19’E, they were suddenly attacked by a dozen German Ju-87 ‘Stuka’ dive-bombers. Fortune was against them. The attack came as an entire surprise and according to Captain Rowley of the Gloucester the ‘aircraft were not sighted until the whistle of the first bomb was heard’. Six machines attacked each cruiser, diving steeply from the direction of the sun, releasing a 550-lb bomb each, at heights of around 1500 to 800 feet. The ships opened fire with 4” AA guns and smaller AA guns. They also increased speed and altered course to avoid the attack but two bombs, perhaps three hit HMS Southampton causing disastrous damage. Another hit and some near misses did some damage to HMS Gloucester, most important damage was to her DCT (director control tower). Half-an-hour later seven high-level bombers attacked but they were detected in time and taken under fire as a result of which all bombs fell wide. During the attack the Walrus from HMS Gloucester returned and ditched alongside HMS Diamond which took off the crew and then scuttled the aircraft.

Rear-Admiral Renouf immediately reported the damage to his cruisers to Admiral Cunningham who went to their aid. He send Vice-Admiral Pridham-Whippell ahead with the Orion, Perth, Jervis and Janus. From Malta HMS Griffin and HMS Mohawk were sent. Before they arrived however, Rear-Admiral Renouf reported that the Southampton must be abandoned and that he would sink her. HMS Gloucester took on board 33 officers and 678 ratings of which 4 officers and 58 ratings were wounded while HMS Diamond took on board 16 wounded ratings. Upon this signal the battleships turned east again. HMS Southampton had cought fire badly upon being hit. For a time the ships company fought the fire successfully and kept the ship in action and under control but in the end the fire got out of control. Also it was found that some magazines could not be flooded. In the end the crew had to give it up and was taken off. A torpedo was fired into her by HMS Gloucester but it did not sink her. Soon afterwards Vice-Admiral Pridham-Whippell arrived on the scene and his flagship, HMS Orion then scuttled her with three more torpedoes (four were fired).

Further proceedings of the convoys and the fleet.

Next morning, the 12th, HMS Orion, HMS Perth, HMS Gloucester, HMS Jervis and HMS Janus joined Admiral Cunningham’s Force off the west end of Crete meeting there also A/Rear-Admiral Rawlings (‘Force X’) in HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN, flying the flag of A/Rear-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN) and with HMS Eagle (Capt. A.R.M. Bridge, CBE, RN), HMS Ajax and their destroyer screen made up of HMAS Stuart, HMAS Vampire (Cdr. J.A. Walsh, RAN), HMAS Vendetta (Lt.Cdr. R. Rhodes, RAN), HMAS Voyager (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN) and HMS Wryneck (Lt.Cdr. R.H.D. Lane, RN) which had departed Alexandria on 11 January. These ships were to have begun a series of attacks on the Italian shipping routes but the disabling of HMS Illustrious put an end to that part of the plan so Admiral Cunningham took HMS Warspite, HMS Valiant, HMS Gloucester and the destroyers HMS Jervis, HMS Janus, HMS Greyhound, HMS Diamond, HMS Defender, HMS Hero and HMAS Voyager straight to Alexandria where they arrived in the early morning hours of the 13th.

HMS Barham, HMS Eagle, HMS York, HMS Orion, HMS Ajax, HMAS Perth, HMAS Stuart, HMAS Vampire, HMAS Vendetta, HMS Wryneck, HMS Griffin and HMS Mohawk then proceeded to Suda Bay to fuel where they arrived around 1900/12.

After fuelling at Suda Bay, Vice-Admiral Pridham-Whippell took HMS Orion, HMAS Perth to Piraeus where they arrived at 0230/13. There they took some troops from the ‘Excess Convoy’ on board and departed for Malta at 0600/13, a task the Southampton was to have done. They arrived at Malta around 0830/14. After unloading HMS Orion departed for Alexandria later the same day together with HMS Bonaventure and HMS Jaguar. They arrived at Alexandria in the morning of the 16th. HMAS Perth remained at Malta due to defects.

Meanwhile the six ships of convoy M.E. 6 arrived safely at their destinations on 13 January.

HMS Barham, HMS Eagle, HMS Ajax, HMAS Stuart, HMS Juno, HMS Hereward, HMS Hasty and HMS Dainty departed Suda Bay for operations south-west of Crete early in the morning of the 13th. The destroyers HMS Ilex, HMS Wryneck, HMAS Vampire and HMAS Vendetta also departed Suda Bay to conduct a sweep in the Kythera Channel. They joined ‘Force X’ around noon but Vampire and Vendetta were soon detached to investigate explosions which turned out to be underwater volcano activity. Meanwhile Ilex and Wryneck were also detached for a sweep towards Stampalia. These four destroyers fuelled at Suda Bay on the 14th and then departed for Piraeus where they arrived in the evening of the 14th. An A/S sweep had been carried out en-route.

’Force X’ returned to Suda Bay in the afternoon of the 15th and departed from there on the 16th for Alexandria where they arrived on the 18th, although some of the destroyers remained behind at Suda Bay.Leave van given to their crews at Piraeus and the destroyers departed Piraeus early on the 16th. HMS Ilex proceeded independently while HMAS Vampire, HMAS Vendetta and HMS Wryneck peroceeded to Suda Bay joining ' Force X ' on its departure.

Not a single of the 14 merchant ships in the convoys was lost but the fleet paid a heavy price for this loosing a light cruiser and a valuable aircraft carrier out of action for many months. As there were now German aircraft based in Italy future operations for the supply of Malta would be extremely difficult and dangerous.

The return of ' Force H' to Gibraltar.

That now leaves us with the return of ' Force H ' to Gibraltar which parted company with the eastbound convoy and its escort at 1920/9 in position 37°42'N, 09°53'E. ' Force H ' turned away to port. At 1935/9, ' Force H ' alter course to 300° and increased speed to 20 knots. Further alterations to course were made at 2200/9 to 260° and at mindnight durng the night of 9/10 January to 290°.

At 0100/10 course was altered for a quarter of an hour to clear three merchant vessels which had been sighted to the northward in position 38°03'N, 07°58'N, steering 180°. At 0900/10, course was altered to 246° and speed reduced to 18 knots.

A reconnaissance flight of seven aircraft was flown off to carry out an all round search to a depth of 50 miles from position 38°44'N, 05°18'E. On their return at 1030/10, they had nothing to report. Visibility was variable - from 5 to 15 miles. There was a slight sea and wind, force 3 from south-south-west. Speed was increased to 19 knots at 1110/10 since there appeared vibration in HMS Malaya when proceeding at 18 knots.

During the afternoon, three attack exercises were carried out on ' Force H ' by a total of nine Swordfish. Flying was completed by 1800/10. Moonlight exercises were cancelled due to a deterioration of weather and visibility. During the night the wind veered to the southwest and increased to force 6.

At 2345/10, Captain (D), 8th Destroyer Flottila, reported that the destroyers could maintain 19 knots provided that their A/S domes were housed, but would have to reduce to 16 knots if they were to remain lowered. Destroyers were accordingly orderd to house their domes.

The sea increased considerably, and by 0020/11 it was necessary to reduce speed to 14 knots in order to prevent damage to the destroyers. Course was altered for a short time at 0135/11 to avoid a merchant ship sighted in position 36°37'N, 00°06'W, steering to the north. Speed was further reduced to 11 knots by 0310/11, but gradual improvement in sea conditions permitted a corresponding increase of speed, so that by 0700/11, ' Force H ' was proceeding at 17 knots. Later in the day HMS Fury reported tat her forward gun shield had been distorted and that the gun could not be trained.

Six Swordfish were flown off by HMS Ark Royal at 0715/11 in order to carry out a light torpedo attack on ' Force H '. They were landed at 0815/11. At 0930/11, course was altered to 270° and speed increased to 19 knots. Weather conditions continued unfavourable, and not only had air training to be abandoned, but also the projected reconnaissance flight to Oran and Mers-el-Kebir to obtain photographs requisted by the Admiralty.

A London flying boat sent out from Gibraltar as A/S patrol ahead of ' Force H ' was sighted at 1015/11. By 1220/11, the sea had moderated sufficiently for the destroyers to increase speed and HMS Renown, HMS Sheffield, HMS Faulknor and HMS Foxhound proceeded ahead at 24 knots, increasing at 1730/11 to 26 knots. They arrived in harbour at 1920/11. The remainder of ' Force H ' arrived in harbour at 2020/11. (4)

19 Feb 1941
A convoy made up of the transports Palermo (British, 2928 GRT, built 1938) and Escaut (Belgian, 1087 GRT, built 1938) departed Benghazi for Tobruk.

They were escorted by the AA cruiser HMS Coventry (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN), destroyer HMAS Voyager (Cdr. J.C. Morrow, DSO, RAN), corvettes HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR), HMS Hyacinth (T/Lt. F.C. Hopkins, RNR), HMS Peony (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) M.B. Sherwood, DSO, RN) and the auxiliary M/S trawlers HMS Arthur Cavanagh (Skr. T.W. Kirby, RNR) and HMS Milford Countess (T/A/S.Lt. R.H. Vallings, RNR).

Shortly after departure the destroyer HMAS Stuart (Capt. H.M.L. Waller, DSO, RAN) joined coming from patrol.

A.M. on the 20th, HMS Coventry parted company.

P.M. on the 20th, HMS Gloxinia, Hyacinth, HMS Arthur Cavenagh and HMS Milford Countess parted company with the convoy to proceed to Alexandria.

The remaining ships arrived at Tobruk on 21 February 1941. (5)

5 May 1941

Operation Tiger, supply convoy from Gibraltar to Alexandria and reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet and Operation MD 4, supply convoy from Alexandria to Malta and taking up the reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet.


Timespan: 5 to 12 May 1941.

5 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

Part of Convoy WS 8A was approaching Gibraltar from the west. This part of convoy WS 8A was to proceed to Malta during operation ‘Tiger’.

It was made up of five transports; Clan Campbell (7255 GRT, built 1937), Clan Chattan (7262 GRT, built 1937), Clan Lamont (7250 GRT, built 1939), Empire Song (9228 GRT, built 1940) and New Zealand Star (10740 GRT, built 1935). During the passage from the U.K. it had been escorted by the battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), light cruiser HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN), HMS Havelock (Cdr. E.H. Thomas, DSC, RN) and HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN) (with the additional local escorts when still close to the U.K.)

Around 0700A/5, HMS Repulse, HMS Harvester, HMS Havelock and HMS Hesperus were relieved from the escort by the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Fearless (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) , HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN) , HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN) and HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN). The Repulse and the three H-class destroyers then proceeded to Gibraltar to refuel where they arrived shortly before 1800 hours. It had originally been intended to include Repulse in the upcoming operation but she was left at Gibraltar due to her inadequate anti-aircraft armament.

HMS Naiad had already arrived at Gibraltar around 0900/4, having been relieved shortly after noon on the 2nd of May by HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN). Around the same time HMS Naiad arrived at Gibraltar the cruiser HMS Fiji (Capt. P.B.R.W. William-Powlett, RN) arrived, she had been part of the escort of convoy SL 72.

Around 0930A/5, the battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. R.R. McGrigor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. L.E.H. Maund, RN), light cruisers HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN), HMS Fiji and the destroyers HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN). Kashmir and Kipling had departed a little earlier and carried out an A/S sweep in Gibraltar Bay first.

For the upcoming operation two groups were formed; The cover force which was formed on Renown was group I, the close escort, which was to remain with the transports was group II. When they arrived near the convoy at 1800A/5, group I was formed and was made up of Renown, Queen Elizabeth, Ark Royal, Sheffield, Fiji, Kashmir and Kipling. Group II remained with the convoy and was (for the moment) made up of Fearless, Foresight, Fortune, Velox and Wrestler. Group II and the convoy proceeded towards the Straits of Gibraltar at 13 knots while Group I proceeded to the south until 2130 hours when course was changed to 074°. At 1930 hours, Group I, had been joined by HMS Naiad. This cruiser had sailed from Gibraltar at 1300 hours.

Eastern Mediterranean.

Convoy MW 7B departed Alexandria for Malta this day. It was made up of the Norwegian tankers Hoegh Hood (9351 GRT, built 1936) and Svenor (7616 GRT, built 1931). These tankers were able to proceed at 10 knots. Escort was provided by the AA-cruisers HMS Carlisle (Capt. T.C. Hampton, RN), HMS Coventry (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN), destroyers HMS Defender (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, RN), HMS HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.A. Marshall-A’Deane, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN). Also part of the escort of this convoy was the corvette HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR) which was to serve as minesweeper at Malta and the whaler HMS Swona which was to be outfitted as minesweeper (LL-sweep) at the Malta Dockyard.

6 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

The convoy with Group II passed through the Straits of Gibraltar between 0130 and 0330 hours followed by Group I between 0300 and 0430 hours. Although the moon did not set until 0314 hours the sky was completely overcast and visibility was low.

At 0330 hours, 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), HMS Harvester, HMS Havelock and HMS Hesperus departed Gibraltar followed at 0420 hours by HMS Gloucester (Capt. H.A. Rowley, RN) which had completed her repairs and undocking shortly before.

By 0550 hours, Group I was about 32 miles to the east of Gibraltar with the convoy and Group II 10 miles to the north. At this time Faulknor, Forester and Fury joined Group I. At 0615 hours Queen Elizabeth with Kashmir and Kelvin was detached to join Group II, followed thirty minutes later by Naiad.

At 0625 hours, Gloucester joined Group I and speed was then increased to 24 knots to draw well ahead of the convoy. During the day Group I steered 060°. Group II was steering parallel to the Spanish coast at 13 knots. Velox and Wrestler were detached from Group II to arrive at Gibraltar after dark to avoid being sighted returning from the East.

At 1740 hours Renown, in position 37°05’N, 00°21’W sighted a French merchant ship most likely en-route to Oran. On sighting the British ships she immediately steered clear to the westward. Shorty afterwards Group I reduced speed to 17 knots as to not get too far ahead of Group II and the convoy.

By midnight Group I was about 150 nautical miles east-north-east of Group II.

Eastern Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean Fleet departed Alexandria in the forenoon, it was made up of the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. D.B. Fisher, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham, GCB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.la T. Bisset, RN), light cruisers HMS Orion (Capt. G.R.B. Back, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, RN), HMAS Perth (Capt. P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN), destroyers (D.14) HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Juno (Cdr. St. J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, RN), HMS Kimberley (Lt.Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), (D.7) HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Imperial (Lt.Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Havock (Lt. G.R.G. Watkins, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, DSC, RN) and HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN). The fast minesweeper HMS Abdiel (Capt. E. Pleydell-Bouverie, MVO, RN) and the naval transport HMS Breconshire (9776 GRT, built 1939) also sailed with the Fleet. HMS Abdiel was to lay a minefield off Lampedusa. HMS Breconshire had on board oil and petrol for Malta as well as oil to supply this to destroyers at sea. Abdiel took station in the destroyer screen while Breconshire took station in the battleship line. After sailing the fleet proceeded to the northwest. No aircraft were flown off by HMS Formidable due to a dust storm and very limited visibility.

After the Fleet sailed, convoy MW 7A departed Alexandria. It was made up of four transport vessels; Amerika (10218 GRT, built 1930), Settler (6202 GRT, built 1939), Talabot (6798 GRT, built 1936) and Thermopylae (6655 GRT, built 1930). These were able to proceed at 14 knots. Escort was provided by the light cruisers HMS Dido (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), AA-cruiser HMS Calcutta (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and the destroyers (D.2) HMS Ilex (Capt. H.St.L. Nicholson, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Isis (Cdr. C.S.B. Swinley, DSC, RN), HMS Hereward (Lt. W.J. Munn, RN) and HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO, RN).

One of the destroyers from the escort of convoy MW 7B, HMS Defender, that had sailed on the 5th had to return to Alexandria due to condenser problems.

7 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

At 0400 hours, Group II, which was approximately 30 nautical miles east of Cape Palos, altered course to the south for about two hours before turning eastwards for the run to Malta.

Group I meanwhile had altered course to the northward at 0130 hours to pass between Ibiza and Majorca in order to carry out a diversion to the north of the Baleares during the day should this appear desirable.

By 0715 hours there was no indication that Group I had been sighted, and as visibility varied from poor to moderate, course was altered to pass again between Ibiza and Majorca to reach a position well ahead of Group II so as to divert any attention of any enemy aircraft from Group II and the convoy.

At 1000 hours, when 33 nautical miles south-west of Malta, Group I encountered a small Spanish fishing vessel which was seen to proceed towards Palma de Majorca.

At noon, Group I altered course to 140°. At 1630 hours course was altered to 100° to keep about 40 nautical miles to the eastward of Group II. Group I streamed paravanes at 1800 hours.

At 1945 hours, two Sunderland flying boats flying east passed north of the force and did not identify themselves till challenged. At the same time smoke was sighted astern and shortly afterwards a fighter aircraft reported that it was the convoy at a distance of 26 nautical miles.

At 2100 hours, Group I altered course to the north-east until dark in order to mislead any hostile aircraft. The sky had been overcast all day but towards the evening the visibility improved considerably and the convoy was clearly visible to the southwestward making a great deal of smoke.

At 2225 hours, RD/F in Fiji detected a group of aircraft bearing 170°, range 30 miles. The bearing changed to 154° and the range opened to 40 miles until the echo faded at 2230 hours. Group I altered course to 080° at 2300 hours.

Eastern Mediterranean.

All forces continued on their way during the day without incident. Destroyers were being fuelled from Breconshire one at a time.

The submarine HMS Triumph reported three transports proceeding towards Benghazi. Accordingly HMS Ajax, HMS Havock, HMS Hotspur and HMS Imperial were detached to attack Benghazi during the night of 7/8 May.

The Vice-Admiral Malta reported that the harbour had been mined and that the destroyers based at Malta were therefore unable to leave the harbour and participate in the convoy operations.

8 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

Soon after midnight Group I had to alter course to avoid being sighted by a lighted merchant ship steering a course of 110°.

At 0535 hours, HMS Ark Royal launched three reconnaissance A.S.V. aircraft in position 38°06’N, 06°26’E to search to the eastward south of Sardinia. At 0700 hours a fourth aircraft was flown off to search to the west of Sardinia. These aircraft returned at 0800 hours and had nothing to report. They had covered 140 miles to the eastward and 50 miles to the westward. Group I then proceeded to join the convoy. The first fighter patrol was flown off by Ark Royal at 0830 hours.

By 1000 hours, Group I had joined the convoy, which was proceeding on a course of 085° at 14 knots. This was the Clan Campbell’s best speed. Renown and Ark Royal took station on the starboard side of the convoy in order to facilitate flying operations and at the same time provide AA protection for the convoy. Queen Elizabeth took station astern of Ark Royal to provide AA protection for this vulnerable ship. Gloucester and Fiji formed on the transport ships.

At 1115 hours an enemy signal was intercepted that our forces had been sighted at 0800 hours. Naiad detected an enemy aircraft approaching at 1133 hours and three minutes later a large float-plane emerged from the clouds ahead of the convoy. Naiad opened fire and the aircraft retreated into the clouds. Fighters were sent in pursuit but failed to intercept. At noon a full and accurate report was made by this float-plane on the composition of our forces.

The sky cleared to some extent at noon, it had been overcast all morning. Visibility continued to improve all day although considerable cloud prevailed until the evening.

At 1345 hours, eight aircraft were seen approaching very low, fine on the starboard bow. These were engaged as they approached, but the AA fire appeared to be not very well directed. Torpedoes were dropped from outside the destroyer screen, which was roughly 3000 yards ahead of the convoy and extended to starboard to cover Renown, Ark Royal and Queen Elizabeth. The four Fulmar fighters on patrol at this time were engaging CR. 42 fighters that had accompanied these torpedo aircraft.

Torpedoes were evidently aimed at Renown and Ark Royal but by very skilful handling by the Commanding Officers of these two ships all tracks were combed or avoided. Two torpedoes passed close to Renown. A third which was being successfully combed made a sudden alteration of 60° towards Renown and a hit forward seemed inevitable when the torpedo reached the end of it’s run and sank. Two torpedoes passed to port and two to starboard of Ark Royal.

Of the eight aircraft which attacked one was brought down during the approach, probably by AA fire from the destroyers. Two others were seen to fall from the sky during their retirement. The destroyers were disappointingly slow in opening fire on the approaching torpedo-bombers and a full barrage never developed. During the action between the Fulmar’s and the CR. 42’s one Fulmar was brought down and the crew of two was lost.

At 1400 hours a few bomb splashes were observed on the horizon to the northwestward.

At 1525 hours, two sections of Fulmar’s attacked and shot down in flames an S.79 shadower. On returning from this attack one Fulmar had to make a forced landing on the water about 9 nautical miles from the fleet. HMS Foresight closed the position and was able to pick up the crew of two. At this time the fleet was about 28 nautical miles north of Galita Island.

At 1600 hours, as the wind had backed from south of east to north of east. The starboard column; Renown, Ark Royal and Queen Elizabeth, was moved over to the port quarter of the convoy and the destroyer screen was readjusted accordingly. This allowed freedom of manoeuvre for flying operations and enabled the column to increase speed and snake the line whenever a bombing attack developed, in order to hamper the bombers and at the same time remain in a position to afford full AA support of the convoy.

The first high level bombing attack of the day developed at 1622 hours when three S.79’s approached from astern at about 5000 feet, i.e. just under the cloud level. One, diverted by AA fire, jettisoned his bombs and subsequently crashed astern of the Fleet. The other two dropped twelve bombs close ahead of Ark Royal and escaped into the clouds. It is probable that both of these were hit by the concentrated AA fire with which they were met. About 10 minutes later a single aircraft approached from astern and encountering heavy AA fire turned across the stern of the Fleet, dropping its bombs well clear.

At 1710 hours, another S.79 shadower was shot down in flames on the port quarter of the Fleet by a Fulmar fighter. Twenty minutes later five S.79’s attacked the fleet from south to north. Two broke formation under gunfire and the remainder delivered a poor attack, bombs falling near the destroyer screen. A similar attack by three S.79’s took place at 1800 hours, when bombs were again dropped near the destroyer screen.

The provision a adequate fighter protection for the Fleet was a difficult problem with the small numbers of fighters available. Aircraft returned to the carrier at various times with damage and failure of undercarriage, and every opportunity was taken, whenever the RD/F screen cleared to land on, refuel and rearm the Fulmars, sometimes singly and sometimes two or three at a time. There were occasions when no more then two fighters were in the air, but whenever an attack appeared to be impending every fighter that could be made serviceable was sent up.

At 1910 hours enemy aircraft were detected at a range of 70 miles approaching from Sicily. At this time only seven Fulmars remained serviceable of which only three were in the air. The other four were immediately flown off. The total number of hostile aircraft is uncertain, but the Fulmars sighted three separate formations of sixteen Ju.87’s, twelve Ju.87’s and six Me.110’s. One formation was seen from Renown for a short time at 1933 hours in a patch of clear sky. RD/F indicated several formations circling to the northwest of the Fleet for nearly one hour and several bomb splashes were seen well away to the northward and northwestward. During this period Fulmars intercepted the enemy and, although greatly outnumbered, fought several vigorous and gallant actions, resulting in the certain destruction of one Ju.87 and damage to several others, including at least one Me.110. These attacks disorganised the enemy and forced them to the northward with the result that they probably missed sighting the Fleet. They then entered thick cloud and it is possible that the groups became separated and all cohesion in the attack disappeared. Whatever the reason RD/F showed these groups retiring to the northward and no attack on the Fleet developed.

The Fleet reached the entrance to the Skerki Channel at 2015 hours. ‘Force B’ then turned westwards. It was made up of Renown, Ark Royal, Sheffield, Harvester, Havelock and Hesperus. Queen Elizabeth was ordered to join ‘Force F’.

The turn to the west was just being completed when ‘Force B’ was attacked at 2030 hours by three torpedo-bombers which came from right ahead. The destroyers were still manoeuvering to take up their screening positions and did not sight the enemy aircraft in time to put up a barrage of AA fire. This attack was pressed home by the enemy with great determination. All three aircraft were heavily engaged and two were seen to be hit. Renown combed the torpedo tracks, two passing close down the port side and one down the starboard side.

During this attack No. P (port) 3, 4.5” gun turret in Renown malfunctioned and fired two round into the back of No. P 2 gun turret. This resulted in five ratings killed, five seriously wounded of which one later died and one officer and twenty-five ratings wounded.

Speed was increased to 24 knots at 2038 hours and a westerly course was maintained throughout the night.

As a result of the day’s air attacks, seven enemy aircraft were destroyed, two probably destroyed and at least three, probably more, damaged. Of the seven destroyed AA fire accounted for four and feighters for three. No hits, either by bomb or torpedo were obtained on our ships, nor were there any casualties besides than caused by the accident in Renown. Two Fulmars were lost, the crew of one of them was saved.

Meanwhile the convoy continued eastwards escorted now by HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Naiad, HMS Gloucester, HMS Fiji, HMS Faulknor, HMS Fearless, HMS Foresight, HMS Forester, HMS Fortune, HMS Fury, HMS Kashmir and HMS Kipling.

Eastern Mediterranean.

Visibility was still poor with patches of heavy rain. This helped the Fleet and convoy from being detected by the enemy and attacked by aircraft. On the other hand it resulted in the loss of two Albacore aircraft. One Fulmar was lost in combat with enemy aircraft.

HMS Ajax, HMS Havock, HMS Hotspur and HMS Imperial rejoined the Fleet at 1700 hours. Their attack on Benghazi had been successful although there was little shipping in the harbour two transports were intercepted after the bombardment. The largest blew up, and the other was ran aground and was left on fire after several explosions. These were the Italian Tenace (1142 GRT, built 1881) and Capitano A. Cecchi (2321 GRT, built 1933).

The Fleet remained with convoy MW 7A during the day and at dark moved to the southward. HMS Dido, HMS Phoebe, HMS Calcutta, HMS Carlisle and HMS Coventry were detached from their convoy’s to join the Tiger convoy coming from Gibraltar.

Both MW convoy’s made direct for Malta escorted by HMS Hotspur, HMS Havock and HMS Imperial. All other destroyers had been oiled from Breconshire during the past two days.

9 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

Further torpedo-bomber attacks were expected and a screen made up of Sheffield and the three destroyers was stationed ahead, astern and on either beam of Renown and Ark Royal at 5000 yards. The night was however uneventful and at 0800 hours speed was reduced to 20 knots and screening diagram no.4 was resumed by the escorts.

A shadower was detected, bearing 115°, range 12 nautical miles at 1027 hours. Two fighters were flown off but failed to intercept the enemy. An enemy sighting report was intercepted in Renown.

At 1100 hours a merchant vessel was sighted in position 37°54’N, 03°30’E about 8 nautical miles to the northward. At the same time Ark Royal reported that a periscope had been sighted about 4000 yards away. No further action was taken as detaching a single destroyer to search for the submarine was thought to be of little use and it was not thought wise to detach more then one destroyer as there were only three present.

At 1300 hours course was altered to 145° and speed reduced to 16 knots to conserve fuel in the destroyers.

At 1700 hours five search aircraft were flown off from position 37°27’N, 01°29’E to search between bearings 045° and 340° from Oran and south of parallel 38°45’N. Nothingwas sighted except for a merchant vessel. A Fulmar was also flown off to carry out a reconnaissance of Oran. This aircraft took photographs and reported the battlecruiser Dunkerque in her usual position at Mers-el-Kebir surrounded by nets, with lighters alongside and a pontoon gangway to the shore. One large and two small destroyers were sighted inside Oran harbour and probably six or seven submarines.

The six destroyers from the 8th Destroyer Flotilla which had taken part in getting the ‘Tiger’ convoy to as far as Malta sailed from there at 2000B/9 for their return passage to Gibraltar. HMS Foresight however had to return to Malta with an engine problem.

At 2200 hours ‘Force B’ altered course to the eastward as to be in a position to support the destroyers during their passage west at daylight the next day when they were passing south of Sardinia.

The Tiger convoy and it’s escort.

Shortly after midnight the transport Empire Song was mined and damaged. Initially she was able to remain with the convoy but around 0140 hours she was slowly sinking having also been on fire. The destroyers HMS Foresight and HMS Fortune were detached to stand by her. In the end Empire Song blew up during which Foresight was damaged.

The transport New Zealand Star was also damaged but she was able to remain with the convoy as her speed was not affected.

The convoy was attacked by torpedo-bombers early in the night but no damage was done by them. One torpedo passed very close to HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Around 0700 hours the Tiger convoy was joined by HMS Dido and HMS Phoebe. An hour later HMS Calcutta, HMS Carlisle and HMS Coventry also joined.

At 1515 hours the Tiger convoy made rendez-vous with the Mediterreanean Fleet about 50 nautical miles south of Malta.

Eastern Mediterranean.

Convoy’s MW 7A and MW 7B both arrived safely at Malta. Both were swept in by HMS Gloxinia who succeeded in exploding a number of mines. The 5th Destroyer Flotilla was then also able to leave the harbour and they joined the Mediterranean Fleet; these were HMS Kelly (Capt. L.F.A.V.N. Mountbatten, GCVO, DSO, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) , HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN) and HMS Janus (Cdr. J.A.W. Tothill, RN)

Also Breconshire arrived at Malta where she fuelled HMS Hotspur, HMS Havock and HMS Imperial.

As said above, at 1515 hours the Tiger convoy made rendez-vous with the Mediterreanean Fleet about 50 nautical miles south of Malta. HMS Queen Elizabeth then joined the battleship column. The Fleet then turned eastward but remained near the convoy for the remainder of the day. During the night he Fleet covered the convoy from a position to the north-eastward of it.

10 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

At 0700 hours, when in position 37°35’N, 03°02’E, course was altered to the westward at 15 knots. This being the most comfortable speed for the destroyers in the rising westerly gale.

At 1000 hours, the Capt. (D) 8th Destroyer Flotilla, reported he was in position 37°18’N, 08°45’E steering 275° at 28 knots. He also reported hat his ships were being shadowed by enemy aircraft. The enemy aircraft report was intercepted at 1025 hours. Course was then altered by ‘Force B’ to the eastward to reduce the distance between the two forces.

At 1100 hours, the Capt. (D) 8th Destroyer Flotilla, reported he was in position 37°22’N, 07°54’E, still steering 275° at 28 knots. The destroyers were still being shadowed.

At noon ‘Force B’ altered course to the westward. The wind was by then force 8 with a rising sea. Ten minutes later the enemy aircraft was again heard to report the position of the 8th Destroyer Flotilla and it’s course and speed.

At 1300 hours, the Capt. (D) 8th Destroyer Flotilla, reported he was in position 37°25’N, 07°01’E, steering 270° at 28 knots and that his ships were still being shadowed. At this time ‘Force B’ was 134 nautical miles to the westward and they could only maintain 13 knots in the sea without suffering damage. In view of the weather conditions and the fact that HMS Ark Royal had now only four serviceable fighters available it was not possible to afford the 8th Destroyer Flotilla any fighter protection without hazarding Ark Royal unduly. It was hoped that if an attack would develop the destroyers were able to avoid damage by high speed manoeuvring.

At 1430 hours a signal was received that the 8th Destroyer Flotilla was being bombed in position 37°25’N, 06°18’E and that HMS Fortune had been hit and her speed had been reduced to 8 knots. ‘Force B’ immediately altered course to the eastward and ran before the sea at 24 knots the maximum safe speed for the destroyers in the prevailing weather conditions.

An unidentified aircraft that had been detected by RD/F overtook the force at 1530 hours and was fired at by HMS Sheffield. The aircraft retired to the northward before resuming it’s easterly course. A reconnaissance of three aircraft was flown off at 1600 hours to cover the area to the northward and eastward of the 8th Destroyer Flotilla to maximum depth, in case enemy surface units were out in pursuit. These aircraft reported having sighted nothing on their return.

At 1750 hours a signal was received that the 8th Destroyer Flotilla had been subjected to another bombing attack but that no damage had been done. ‘Force B’ continued eastwards to provide close support in case of more air attacks.

At 1820 hours rendes-vous was made with the 8th Destroyer Flotilla and all ships proceeded westwards steering 280° at 12 knots. This was the best course and speed HMS Fortune could maintain. By this time this destroyer was down by the stern with seas breaking continually over her quarterdeck.

Five search aircraft were flown off by Ark Royal to search to maximum depth between 025° and 090°. Nothing was sighted except for one enemy aircraft. By 2030 hours all aircraft had returned.

As a speed of 12 knots subjected Fortune’s bulkhead to undue strain, HMS Fury was ordered to escort Fortune and proceed at 8 knots for the night. The remainder of the force zig-zagged, clear of these two destroyers, at higher speed.

It became also clear that Fortune had not received a direct hit but that five near misses had bent one shaft and caused flooding in several compartments aft, and minor flooding in the engine room.

Eastern Mediterranean.

The Battlefleet remained near the convoy for the entire day. Visibility improved throughout the day although conditions were still difficult for the enemy to attack from the air. One Ju.88 aircraft was shot down and another one was damaged. One Fulmar was lost when taking off from Formidable.

No enemy air attacks developed until dark when a number of aircraft, probably torpedo bombers, endeavoured to attack the convoy and battlefleet. A very heavy blind barrage of AA fire however kept them off and no torpedoes were seen.

At 1700 hours, Capt. D.5 in HMS Kelly was detached with the ships of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla (besides Kelly these were Kashmir, Kelvin, Kipling and Jackal) to bombard Benghazi before returning to Malta. The bombardment was carried out successfully. Following the bombardment they were dive bombed by German aircraft and all but Kipling were near missed. The Flotilla reached Malta p.m. on the 11th.

11 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

At 0532 hours, Vice-Admiral Somerville sent a signal to the Vice-Admiral commanding the North Atlantic station at Gibraltar reporting the position, course and speed of his forces. He also requested a tug to be sent for the assistance of HMS Fortune.

The wind eased considerably during the morning and at daylight Fortune and Fury were sighted about 4 nautical miles in advance of the Fleet and making good about 10 knots.

A reconnaissance of six aircraft were flown off at 0700 hours. These searched for a depth of about 140 miles between 030° and 085°. Visibility was reported as being 10 to 20 miles. Also a search was conducted for a depth of about 100 miles between 085° and 110° with a visibility of 3 to 5 miles. Only a few French merchant vessels were sighted.

Nothing happened during the day.

At 1700 hours a reconnaissance was flown of from position 36°54’N, 01°11’E to a depth of 180 nautical miles between north and east and to a depth of 90 nautical miles between north and 290°. The visibility was reported as being 10 to 15 nautical miles. Nothing was sighted.

The Fleet turned to the eastward for an hour before dark to take up a position well astern of Fortune and Fury during the night.

Eastern Mediterranean.

The Tiger convoy and the Fleet continued eastwards. Enemy aircraft were in the vicinity all day but no attacks developed. One Ju.88 was shot down and another one was damaged, one Fulmar was lost. At dark the cruisers were detached to proceed to Alexandria and the Fleet went on ahead of the convoy.

12 May 1941.

Western Mediterranean.

Just before daylight contact was made by the Fleet with Fortune and Fury. At dawn the tug HMS St. Day and four ML’s arrived from Gibraltar.

HMS Sheffield, HMS Harvester, HMS Hesperus and the four ML’s then remained with HMS Fortune and HMS Fury. Fortune was now able to make 12 knots.

HMS Renown and HMS Ark Royal, screened by HMS Faulknor, HMS Fearless, HMS Forester, HMS Foresight and HMS Havelock, then proceeded ahead to conduct flying exercises east of Gibraltar before entering harbour.

A reconnaissance was flown off at 0800 hours to search to the east but nothing was sighted. On their return these aircraft made a practice attack on Renown and Ark Royal. More exercises were carried out during the day.

The Fleet arrived at Gibraltar at 1800 hours. Renown berthed in no.1 dock to enable her damaged 4.5” gun turret to be hoised out.

HMS Sheffield entered harbour at 2030 hours followed shortly afterwards by the damaged Fortune and her escorts.

Eastern Mediterranean.

The bulk of the Fleet arrived at Alexandria around 1000 hours. The convoy arrived later, around 1300 hours. Some ships had been detached from the fleet to arrive early, fuel and then depart again for escort duties. (6)

10 Sep 1941
HMS Ursula (Lt. A.R. Hezlet, RN) conducted exercises off Malta with the British corvette HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR) and the British minesweeper HMS Abingdon (Lt. G.A. Simmers, RNR).

After the exercises Ursula was docked. (7)

21 Nov 1941

Operations ME 7 and Landmark.

Diversionary attack on Tripoli to divert enemy air strenght away from the Bardia / Halfaya pass area during land operations.

The battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capt. C.B. Barry, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Admiral Sir A.B. Cunningham, GCB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Barham (Capt. G.C. Cooke, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.D. Pridham-Whippell, KCB, CVO, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. C.E. Morgan, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Jackal (Lt.Cdr. R.McC.P. Jonas, DSC, RN), HMS Kandahar (Cdr. W.G.A. Robson, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kimberley (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson, DSO, RN), HMS Kingston (Lt.Cdr. P. Somerville, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, RN), HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMS Hasty (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Hotspur (Lt. T.D. Herrick, DSC, RN) and HMS Decoy (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, RN) departed Alexandria for operation ME 7.

At noon, the light cruisers HMS Ajax (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, OBE, RN), HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN), HMAS Hobart (Capt. H.L. Howden, CBE, RAN) and the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. S.H. Carlill, RN) and HMS Heythrop (Lt.Cdr R.S. Stafford, RN) joined the fleet at sea having completed their bombardment. The four hunt-class destroyers were however detached to return to Alexandria where they arrived around 1500B/21.

After dark HMS Naiad, HMS Euryalus, HMS Galatea were detached after dark to make false W/T reports further to the west. The fleet then turned back towards Alexandria.

The fleet arrived back at Alexandria at daybreak on the 22nd. The detached cruisers arrived back later the same day.

To simulate a fake landing attempt on the coast near Tripoli (Operation Landmark) a convoy made up of the transports HMS Breconshire (9776 GRT, built 1939), Ajax (7540 GRT, built 1931), Clan Ferguson (7347 GRT, built 1938) and Sydney Star (12696 GRT, built 1936) departed Malta. It was escorted by the corvette HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR) and cover was provided by ' Force K ', made up of HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN) and the destroyers HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) and HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN). These ships all departed Malta around 1415/21. [Both destroyers had actually departed around 1235/21, presumably to conduct an A/S sweep before the other ships departed the harbour.]

' Force K ' returned to Malta around 0600/22 followed around 2 hours later by the convoy. It does not appear the convoy had been sighted by the enemy. (8)

24 Nov 1941
HMS Upholder (Lt.Cdr. M.D. Wanklyn, DSO, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Malta with the corvette HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR). (9)

5 Jan 1942
HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR) is undocked in No.2 Dock at Malta. (10)

9 Feb 1942
HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St.Clair Ford, DSO, RN) and HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. L.R.K. Tyrwhitt, DSO, DSC, RN) departed Alexandria to go to the aid of the escort destroyer HMS Farndale (Cdr. S.H. Carlill, RN) which had been bombed and damaged while escorting convoy AT 27 from Alexandria to Tobruk. Both the damaged ship engine rooms were flooded and she had been taken in tow by the corvette HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR). The tug HMS St. Issey departed Mersa Matruh to take over the tow.

HMS Kipling and HMS Jaguar joined the stricken ship at daylight February 10th. All ships arrived at Alexandria on the 11th.

HMS Farndale was then docked in the Gabbari Dock. [Exact date currently not known to us.] (11)

14 Apr 1942
HMS Otus (Lt. R.M. Favell, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Alexandria together with HMS Hero (Cdr. H.W. Biggs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Peony (Lt.Cdr.(ret.) M.B. Sherwood, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Gloxinia (Lt. A.F. Harkness, DSC, RNR), HMS Hurworth (Lt.Cdr. J.T.B. Birch, RN), HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN), HMS Falk (Lt. H.S. Upperton, RNR) and HMS Klo (Lt. M.C. English, RNR). HMS Dulverton (Lt.Cdr. W.N. Petch, OBE, RN) (12)

26 Aug 1942
HMS Gloxinia (Lt. A.F. Harkness, OBE, DSC, RNR) picks up 89 men from the British merchant Empire Kumari that was torpedoed and damaged by German U-boat U-375 north-east of Port Said in position 31°58'N, 34°21'E.

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 (American, 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 0700B/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, DSC, RN), HMS Tetcott (Lt.Cdr. H.R. Rycroft, RN) and Pindos joined the convoy.

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

Shortly after 1300B/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. They were escorted by the seven fleet destroyers that had arrived at Alexandria a few hours before.

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

At 1700B/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 1805B/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 1400B/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 2045B/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 0800B/20, the destroyer HMS Janus (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSC, RN) joined HMS Arethusa and her escorts.

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

Around 0600B/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. (13)

15 Feb 1943

Convoy TX 1

This convoy departed Tripoli on 15 February 1943. It was to join up with convoy ME 17 coming from Malta.

Due to the bad weather conditions the convoy was one day late in sailing from Tripoli.

As the convoy was late it was unable to join up with convoy ME 17 and then proceeded independently to Alexandria.

The convoy was made up of the transports; James Duncan (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Malayan Prince (British, 8953 GRT, built 1926) and Ozarda (British, 6985 GRT, built 1940).

The convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Kelvin (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, OBE, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Paladin (Lt.Cdr. L.St.G. Rich, RN) and RHS Kondouriotis.

On the 15th the convoy was joined by the destroyer HMS Jervis (Capt. A.F. Pugsley, RN) which came from convoy ME 17.

At 1040/17, the German submarine U-205 tried to attack the convoy in position 33°08'N, 22°18'E but was detected. HMS Paladin attacked with depth charges after which the enemy immediately surfaced. An escorting Bisley (Blenheim) aircraft (W/15Sq./SAAF) dropped depth charges straddling the submarine. HMS Paladin opened fire on the enemy with any gun that could bear. HMS Jervis came to her aid also firing her guns. The German crew then started to abandon their submarine.

During the engagement Paladin's Pompom, when on the extreme forward bearing, fired into the shelter at the fore end of the Pompom platform, resulting in the death of four ratings. Four others were seriously wounded, all of whom were on the deck below.

On being abandoned, the enemy submarine was seen to be proceeding at about 9 knots on her moters circling with her helm jammed hard to port. It was therefore difficult to approach her. Paladin hoping that the submarines batteries would exhaust themselves in the meanwhile, recovered five officers (including the Commanding Officer) and thirty ratings.

At this time the corvette HMS Gloxinia (Lt. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RNR), who was escorting another convoy in the vicinity, was ordered to close an take the enemy submarine in tow. HMS Paladin then put a boarding party on board the submarine. They were unable to take the way of the submarine or free the rudder. HMS Gloxinia eventually managed to take her in tow at 1310/27. She then closed the coast, escorted by HMS Paladin. Towing was difficult and little headway was made. The submarine was slowly sinking by the stern and by 1530/27 her conning tower was awash. She finally sank at 1637/27 in position 32°54'08"N, 22°11'4"E, near Ras-el-Hilal.

The convoy, escorted by HMS Jervis, HMS Kelvin, HMS Paladin and RHS Kondouriotis arrived at Alexandria on 18 February 1943. (14)

4 Oct 1943
HMS Gloxinia (Lt. A.F. Harkness, OBE, DSC, RNR) carried out four depth charge attacks on U-596 after it had carried out a successful attack on convoy XT-4 about 75 miles west of Derna in position 32°36'N, 20°24'E. The U-boat was damaged but managed to escape the A/S sweep in the area when she surfaced during the night without being detected.

6 Dec 1943

Convoy GUS 24.

This convoy departed Port Said on 6 December 1943.

On departure from Port Said the convoy was made up of the transports; Katy (Norwegian, 6825 GRT, built 1931), Lowlander (British, 8059 GRT, built 1925), Mahlon Pitney (American, 7200 GRT, built 1943), Robert Morris (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Samariz (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Samblade (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Samdak (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Samkansa (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943) and Urbino (British, 5198 GRT, built 1918).

On departure from Port Said the convoy was escorted by the minesweeper HMS Rye (A/Lt.Cdr. J.A. Pearson, DSC and Bar, RNR) and the A/S trawler HMS Wolborough (T/Lt. G.A. Hartnell, RNR).

On 7 December 1943, the following transports joined coming from Alexandria; Afghanistan (British, 6992 GRT, built 1940), Avristan (British, 7266 GRT, built 1942), Blairclova (British, 5083 GRT, built 1938), Corstar (British, 2337 GRT, built 1918), Egret (British, 1391 GRT, built 1937), Empire Addison (British, 7010 GRT, built 1942), Empire Glory (British, 7290 GRT, built 1943), Fort Frederick (British, 7135 GRT, built 1942), George M. Pullman (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Gudrun Maersk (British, 2294 GRT, built 1937), Hindustan (British, 5245 GRT, built 1940), Horace Bushnell (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Hughli (British, 6589 GRT, built 1943), Ocean Liberty (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Sambrake (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Sofala (British, 1031 GRT, built 1937) and Tynebank (British, 4651 GRT, built 1922).

They were escorted by the frigate HMS Dart (Cdr. J.T. Jones, RD, RNR), corvettes HMS Gloxinia (Lt. M.C. English, RNR), HMS Primula (Lt. G.H. Taylor, RNR) and the A/S whaler HMSAS Southern Maid (?).

On 8 December 1943, the Lowlander arrived at Alexandria after having been detached from the convoy with engine trouble.

On 10 December 1943, the Egret arrived at Benghazi after having been detached from the convoy.

On 11 December 1943, the convoy was sighted by enemy reconnaissance aircraft but no attack developed.

Also on 11 December 1943, the following transports / tankers departed Augusta to join the convoy; Antonia (Dutch (tanker), 3357 GRT, built 1938), Athelviking (British (tanker), 8779 GRT, built 1926), Baron Stranraer (British, 3668 GRT, built 1929), Empire Deed (British, 6766 GRT, built 1943), Empire Success (British, 5988 GRT, built 1921), Fort Lac la Ronge (British, 7131 GRT, built 1942), Hermelin (Norwegian, 1683 GRT, built 1940), Lord Byron (British, 4118 GRT, built 1934) and Somerville (Norwegian, 4265 GRT, built 1929).

On 12 December 1943, the following transports arrived at Augusta after having been detached from the convoy; Afghanistan, Blairclova, Corstar, Empire Addison, Empire Glory, Fort Frederick, Gudrun Maersk, Katy, Ocean Liberty, Sambrake and Sofala.

Also on 12 December 1943, the submarines HMS Shakespeare (Lt. M.F.R. Ainslie, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Universal (Lt. C. Gordon, RN) and HMS Unseen (Lt. M.L.C. Crawford, DSC and Bar, RN) joined the convoy coming from Malta. The following day, after having passed through the Sicilian Narrows, HMS Univeral and HMS Unseen parted company with the convoy and proceeded on patrol.

On 14 December 1943, the following transports / tankers joined the convoy off Bizerta; A.P. Hill (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Alexander Graham Bell (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), American Trader (American (tanker), 8862 GRT, built 1923), Anson Jones (American, 7244 GRT, built 1943), Belgian Fisherman (Belgian, 4714 GRT, built 1918), Caleb Strong (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Emma Willard (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Empire Coleridge (British (tanker), 9798 GRT, built 1942), Empire Dickens (British (tanker), 9819 GRT, built 1942), Esek Hopkins (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Fanny Brunner (Italian, 2464 GRT, built 1925), Fort Lajoie (British, 7134 GRT, built 1942), Fort Walsh (British, 7126 GRT, built 1943), Francis L. Lee (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), George B. McClellan (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), George Matthew (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Grace Abbott (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Haym Salomon (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Henry Middleton (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Horace Binney (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Isaac Coles (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Isaac Sharpless (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), James W. Fannin (American, 7244 GRT, built 1942), John A. Rawlins (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), John Hathorn (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), John Sergeant (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), John Walker (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Joseph Alston (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Joshua Seney (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Josiah Parker (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Leland Stanford (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Mayo Brothers (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Nettuno (Italian, 5088 GRT, built 1916), Orient City (British, 5095 GRT, built 1940), Prosper Schiaffino (French, 1634 GRT, built 1931), Richmond Mumford Pearson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Robert Dale Owen (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Stanford Newel (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Star (Norwegian, 1531 GRT, built 1922), Thomas Nelson Page (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Townsend Harris (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), William D. Pender (American, 7177 GRT, built 1943) and William R. Davie (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942).

The AA cruiser HMS Colombo (Capt. D.H. Hall-Thompson, RN) and the rescue tug HMS Hengist also joined the convoy coming from Bizerta.

On 14 December 1943, the following ships were detached to Bone; Belgian Fisherman, Fort Lac la Ronge, Hermelin and Star while the following transports / tankers joined the convoy coming from Bone; British Vigour (British (tanker), 5844 GRT, built 1943), Eleazar Wheelock (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Empire Zephyr (British, 6327 GRT, built 1941), Esso Providence (American (tanker), 9059 GRT, built 1921), Srbin (Yugoslavian, 928 GRT, built 1913) and William Coddington (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943).

On 14 December 1943, the following ships were detached to Philippeville; British Vigour and Fanny Brunner while the following transport joined the convoy coming from Philippeville; Lago (Norwegian, 2552 GRT, built 1929).

On 14 December 1943, the Empire Zephyr arrived at Bougie after having straggled from the convoy.

On 15 December 1943, the following ships were detached to Algiers; Antonia, Empire Deed, Prosper Schiaffino and Srbin while the following transports / tankers joined the convoy coming from Algiers; Andrea Gritti (Italian, 6404 GRT, built 1943), Enrico (Italian, 1817 GRT, built 1909), Gryfevale (British, 4434 GRT, built 1929), Marie-Louise le Borgne (French, 1263 GRT, built 1903), Moses Brown (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Myriel (British (tanker), 3560 GRT, built 1913), Ocean Courier (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Orminster (British, 5712 GRT, built 1914), Pencarrow (British, 4841 GRT, built 1921), Ronan (British, 1489 GRT, built 1938) and Thomas Stone (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942).

The rescue tug HMS Hengist also arrived at Algiers.

On 16 December 1943, the following ships were detached to Oran / Mers-el-Kebir; Alexander Graham Bell, Empire Success, Enrico, Fort Walsh, George Matthews, Henry Middleton, John Hathorn, John Walker, Joseph Alston, Marie-Louise le Borgne, Mayo Brothers, Orminster, Pencarrow, Ronan, Stanford Newell, Thomas Nelson Page and William D. Pender while the following transports / tankers joined the convoy coming from Oran / Mers-el-Kebir; Aztec (Hunduran, 5511 GRT, built 1929), Crosby S. Noyes (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Edward N. Hurley (American, 7191 GRT, built 1943), Esso Nashville (American (tanker), 7943 GRT, built 1940), Gulfpoint (American (tanker), 6972 GRT, built 1920), John S. Copley (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Mirabeau B. Lamar (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Pan-Delaware (American (tanker), 8128 GRT, built 1918) and Tulsa (American, 5083 GRT, built 1919).

On joining the convoy the John S. Copley was torpedoed and damaged by the German submarine U-73 which in turn was herself sunk following the attack by patrolling destroyers.

On 17 December 1943, the following ships were detached to Gibraltar; American Trader, Baron Stranraer, Esso Providence, Gryfevale, Hindustan, Hughli, Lago, Lord Byron, Myriel, Orient City, Tynebank and Urbino while the following transports joined the convoy coming from Gibraltar; Karamea (British, 10530 GRT, built 1928) and Robert M.T. Hunter (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943). HMS Colombo and HMS Shakespeare also arrived at Gibraltar.

At 1000A/18, a new, American escort joined the convoy and at 1030A/18, the British escort parted company and proceeded to Gibraltar where they all arrived later the same day.

The new American escort (Task Force 64) had departed Casablanca around 1530A/17 and was made up of the destroyers USS Stevenson (T/Cdr. F.E. Wilson, USN, with COMTASKFOR 64 / COMDESRON 19, T/Capt. J. Conner, USN on board), USS Stockton (T/Cdr. R.E. Braddy, Jr., USN), USS Thorn (T/Cdr. E. Brumby, USN), USS Turner (T/Cdr. H.S. Wygant, Jr., USN), destroyer escorts USS Sturtevant (Lt. J.M. Mertz, USNR), USS Blair (Lt. A.J. Laborde, USNR), USS Brough (Lt. J.A. Rector, Jr., USNR), USS Inch (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Frey, USNR), USS Stanton (T/Lt.Cdr. C.S. Barker, Jr., USN) and USS Swasey (Lt. H.M. Godsey, USNR).

Around 1430A/18, the Casablanca section of the convoy joined in position 35°24'N, 08°03'W. It was made up of the transports Felix Grundy (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Fitzhugh Lee (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), James Turner (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942) and Richard S. Ewell (American, 7244 GRT, built 1943). The naval tanker USS Housatonic (T/Cdr. A.R. Boileau, USN) was also with them. They were escorted by the destroyer escorts USS Jacob Jones (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Johnson, USNR, with COMCORTDIV 3, T/Cdr. N. Adair, Jr., USN on board), USS Hammann (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Miller, Jr., USNR), USS Robert E. Peary (Lt.Cdr. L.W. Bennett, USNR) and the patrol vessels USS PC-482 (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Hunter, USNR), USS PC-481 (Lt. N.W. Roeder, USNR), USS PC-480 (Lt. F.W. Meyers, Jr., USNR) and USS PC-473 (Lt. D.F. Welch, USNR). The destroyer escorts joined the convoy while the patrol vessels returned to Casablanca taking the following transports / tankers from the convoy with them; Esso Nashville, Fort Lajoie, Gulfpoint and Nettuno. They all arrived at Casablanca on the 19th.

During the morning of 24 December 1943, USS Stevenson, USS Stockton, USS Thorn and USS Turner fuelled from USS Housatonic.

At 1100P/30, USS Housatonic parted company to proceed to Bermuda. To escort her the destroyer escorts USS Darby (Cdr. D.D. Humphreys, USNR) and USS Alger (Lt.Cdr. D.B. Poupeney, USNR) had joined shortly before.

At 1115Q/1, the convoy was split into the ' Delaware section ' and the ' New York section '. The New York section was made up of 31 ships and was escorted by USS Stevenson, USS Stockton, USS Thorn, USS Turner, USS Inch, USS Stanton and USS Swasey. The remaining ships (23) made up the ' Delaware section and were escorted by USS Jacob Jones, USS Hammann, USS USS Robert E. Peary, USS Sturtevant, USS Blair and USS Brough.

The New York section arrived at its destination during the night of 2/3 January 1944. The last of the escort to anchor was USS Turner. She dropped anchor around 0215Q/3. Around 0616Q/3, USS Turner suffered a massive explosion and burned. Survivors could be picked up by pilot boats and small boats from other ships of Task Force 64. 15 officers and 123 men did not survive the internal explosions and subsequent sinking of the ship.

The Delaware section of the convoy also arrived at its destination during the night of 2/3 January 1944.

9 Dec 1943

Combined convoy OS 61 / KMS 35.

This combined convoy assembled off Oversay on 9 December 1943.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Agen (French, 4186 GRT, built 1921), Anglo-Indian (British, 5609 GRT, built 1938), Baron Fairlie (British, 6706 GRT, built 1925), Barrgrove (British, 5222 GRT, built 1918), Barrington Court (British, 4910 GRT, built 1924), Chertsey (British, 6001 GRT, built 1943), Clan MacGillivray (British, 5023 GRT, built 1911), Clan MacIlwraith (British, 4839 GRT, built 1924), Commandant Dorise (British (former French), 5529 GRT, built 1917), Dimitrios Inglessis (Greek, 5275 GRT, built 1918), Drammensfjord (Norwegian, 5339 GRT, built 1920), Empire Austen (British, 7057 GRT, built 1942), Empire Boswell (British, 2898 GRT, built 1942), Empire Gale (British, 7089 GRT, built 1941), Empire Razorbill (British, 5620 GRT, built 1920), Empire Snow (British, 6327 GRT, built 1941), Fairwater (British, 4108 GRT, built 1928), Fort Covington (British, 7130 GRT, built 1943), Fort George (British, 7129 GRT, built 1942), Fort Meductic (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Ingleton (British, 7203 GRT, built 1942), Ingman (British, 3149 GRT, built 1907), Johilla (British, 4042 GRT, built 1937), Keilehaven (Dutch, 2968 GRT, built 1919), Kiruna (Swedish, 5484 GRT, built 1921), Linge (Dutch, 2114 GRT, built 1928), Lisbeth (Norwegian, 2732 GRT, built 1922), Madoera (Dutch, 9360 GRT, built 1922), Madras City (British, 5080 GRT, built 1940), Mahanada (British, 8489 GRT, built 1943), Manchester Commerce (British, 5343 GRT, built 1925), Manchester Port (British, 7071 GRT, built 1935), Martand (British, 7967 GRT, built 1939), Melampus (Dutch, 6336 GRT, built 1924), Merton (British, 7195 GRT, built 1941), Ocean Vesper (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Sobo (British, 5353 GRT, built 1937), Stad Arnhem (Dutch, 3819 GRT, built 1920), Stanhill (British, 5969 GRT, built 1942), Tactician (British, 5996 GRT, built 1928), Temple Inn (British, 5218 GRT, built 1940), Tiba (Dutch, 5239 GRT, built 1938) and Zypenberg (Dutch, 4973 GRT, built 1920).

The rescue ship Pinto (British, 1346 GRT, built 1928) was also part of the convoy as were three Greek LST's, RHS Lemnos, RHS Lesbos and RHS Samos.

On assembly the convoy was escorted by the destroyer ORP Burza (Kmdr.ppor. (Cdr.) F. Pitulko), cutter HMS Fishguard (Lt. C.D. Smith, DSC, RNR), frigates HMS Inver (Lt.Cdr. F.H. Gray, RNR), HMS Towy (Cdr. M.J Evans, OBE, RN), corvettes HMS Narcissus (T/Lt. G.T.S. Clampitt, RNR), FFS Aconit, FFS Lobelia, FFS Roselys and the A/S trawlers HMS Lady Madeleine (T/Lt. R.C. Heron, RNVR) and HMS Sapper (T/Lt. R.C. Lees, RNR).

The Clan MacGillivray had to return to the U.K. and arrived in the Clyde on 10 December 1943.

On 11 December 1943, the AA ship HMCS Prince Robert (Cdr. A.M. Hope, RCN) joined the convoy coming from Plymouth which she had departed on 10 December.

Around 1245Z/12, the escort carrier HMS Fencer (Capt. E.W. Anstice, RN) joined the convoy having parted company with northbound convoy SL 141 / KMS 32.

On 16 December 1943, HMCS Prince Robert parted company. Also the transport Linge parted company with the convoy to proceed to the Azores. She was escorted by HMS Fishguard. They arrived at the Azores on 18 December 1943.

Around 0535Z/17, HMS Fencer parted company with the convoy to join the combined convoy SL 142 / MKS 33. She joined this combined convoy around 1120Z/17. She had been escorted to the rendezvous by HMS Inver which then parted company to rejoin combined convoy OS 61 / KMS 35.

On 19 December 1943 the convoy split into convoy OS 61 bound for Freetown and convoy KMS 35 bound for the Mediterranean. The merchant vessels Barrington Court, Empire Boswell, Fort Covington and Lisbeth were detached to Lisbon.

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Convoy OS 61 was made up of the merchant vessels; Commandant Dorise, Fort George, Kiruna, Merton and Sobo.

They were joined by the following merchant vessels; Baron Stranraer (British, 3668 GRT, built 1929)), Corfirth (British, 1803 GRT, built 1934), Domby (British, 5582 GRT, built 1932), Empire Farmer (British, 7049 GRT, built 1943), Fort Binger (British, 5671 GRT, built 1919), Fort Charnisay (British, 7133 GRT, built 1943), Fort Finlay (British, 7134 GRT, built 1942), Fort Yale (British, 7132 GRT, built 1942), Marrakech (French, 6179 GRT, built 1914), Middlesex Trader (British, 7421GRT, built 1942), Nairnbank (British, 5155 GRT, built 1925), Orient City (British, 5095 GRT, built 1940), Silverash (British, 7750 GRT, built 1926) and Tynebank (British, 4651 GRT, built 1922) which came from Gibraltar which they had departed Gibraltar on 19 December 1943 escorted by the sloops HMS Leith (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. Preston, RN), HMS Sandwich (T/A/Lt.Cdr. A.J. Clemence, RNR) and the corvette HMS Anchusa (T/Lt. R.A. Baker, RNVR) which now took over the escort of convoy convoy OS 61.

On 21 December 1943, the merchant vessels Chelma (French, 4968 GRT, built 1920), El-Biar (French, 4678 GRT, built 1927) and Montaigne (French, 2770 GRT, built 1920) joined coming from Casablanca which they had departed on 20 December 1943. The Corfirth, Fort George and Kiruna were then detached to Casablanca where they arrived on 22 December 1943.

On 26 December 1943, the Chelma, Marrakech, Montaigne and Tynebank arrived at Dakar after having been detached from the convoy while the merchant vessel Canada (French, 9684 GRT, built 1912) and the minesweeping sloop Gazelle departed Dakar to join the convoy.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 29 December 1943. Some ships of the convoy did not enter Freetown but proceed directly to other destinations.

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Convoy KMS 35 was made up of the merchant vessels; Agen, Anglo-Indian, Baron Fairlie, Barrgrove, Chertsey, Clan MacIlwraith, Dimitrios Inglessis, Drammensfjord, Empire Austen, Empire Gale, Empire Razorbill, Empire Snow, Fairwater, Fort Meductic, Ingleton, Ingman, Johilla, Keilehaven, Madoera, Madras City, Mahanada, Manchester Commerce, Manchester Port, Martand, Melampus, Ocean Vesper, Stad Arnhem, Stanhill, Tactician, Temple Inn, Tiba and Zypenberg.

The Pinto and the three Greek LST's, RHS Lemnos, RHS Lesbos and RHS Samos were also part of this convoy.

On 21 December 1943, the following ships; Agen, Barrgrove, Ingman, Pinto, RHS Lemnos, RHS Lesbos and RHS Samos arrived at Gibraltar after having parted company with the convoy as did the original escort. [It is possible several other ships of the convoy made a short stop at Gibraltar.]

Early on 22 December 1943, the three Greek LST's and the merchant vessels Colytto (Dutch, 4408 GRT, built 1926), Djebel Aures (French, 2835 GRT, built 1929), Empire Pierrot (British (tug), 232 GRT, built 1943), Fomalhaut (French, 5795 GRT, built 1936), Haakon Hauan (Norwegian (tanker), 6582 GRT, built 1935), Harry A. Garfield (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Stal (British (former Danish), 2242 GRT, built 1921), Vera Radcliffe (British, 5587 GRT, built 1925) and Zena (British, 1416 GRT, built 1911) departed Gibraltar to (re)join the convoy. Also joining were the submarine tender Jules Verne, RFA salvage vessel Salvage Duke, rescue tug HMRT Mindful and the submarine HMS Sea Rover (Lt. J.P. Angell, RN). A new escort group also joined, made up of the frigates HMS Dart (Cdr. J.T. Jones, RD, RNR), HMS Inver, corvettes HMS Gloxinia (Lt. M.C. English, RNR), HMS Primula (Lt. G.H. Taylor, RNR), A/S trawler HMS Wolborough (T/Lt. G.A. Hartnell, RNR) and the A/S whaler HMSAS Southern Maid (?). Additional escorts were the AA cruiser HMS Colombo (Capt. D.H. Hall-Thompson, RN), cutter HMS Fishguard (Lt. C.D. Smith, DSC, RNR), minesweepers HMS Rosario (A/Cdr. F.E. Brooking, RN), HMS Waterwitch (Lt.Cdr. D.S. Campbell, RNVR), patrol vessel / sloop Amiral Mouchez and the A/S trawler La Setoise.

On 23 December 1943, the following ships; Dimitrios Inglessis, Haakon Hauan, Stad Arnhem, Vera Radcliffe and Zypenberg were detached to Oran, as were the Amiral Mouchez and La Setoise, while the following merchant vessels; George Dewey (American, 7225 GRT, built 1943), George Matthews (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Hilary A. Herbert (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), James G. Birney (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Loke (Norwegian, 2421 GRT, built 1915), Paul Hamilton (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942) and William Patterson (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942) joined the convoy coming from Oran. Also joining from Oran was the salvage vessel USS Tackle (Lt. J.M. Gillespie , USNR).

On 24 December 1943, the following ships; were detached to Djebel Aures, Empire Austen, Empire Razorill, Fort Meductic, Madras City and Temple Inn to Algiers as were the Jules Verne, HMS Salvage Duke and the USS Tackle. The following ships joined the convoy of Algiers; Dallington Court (British, 6889 GRT, built 1929), Empire Bairn (British (tanker), 813 GRT, built 1941), Empire Summer (British, 6949 GRT, built 1941), Esneh (British, 1931 GRT, built 1919), Harald (British, 1970 GRT, built 1903), Ile de Brehat (French, 6176 GRT, built 1919), Kosciuszko (Polish, 6852 GRT, built 1915), Loriga (British, 6665 GRT, built 1919) and Norbris (Panamanian (tanker), 7619 GRT, built 1930). The LST HMS LST 324 (T/A/Lt.Cdr. A.J. Bell, RNR) also joined the convoy.

On 25 December 1943, the merchant vessel Empire Tana () joined the convoy off Bougie.

Later on 25 December 1943, the merchant vessels Riverton (British, 7307 GRT, built 1943) and Van der Capelle (Dutch, 7037 GRT, built 1942) joined the convoy off Bougie.

Also on 25 December 1943, the Harry A. Garfield, Ingleton, Stal and Tiba were detached off Bone as was the rescue tug HMRT Mindful while the following merchant vessels joined the convoy coming from Bone; Empire Damsel (British (tanker), 784 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Stranger (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Star (Norwegian, 1531 GRT, built 1922) and Tintern Abbey (British, 2471 GRT, built 1939).

On 26 December 1943, the merchant vessels Harald, Keilehaven, Loke and Paul Hamilton parted company with the convoy off Bizerta as did HMS Colombo, HMS LST 324, RHS Lemnos, RHS Lesbos and RHS Samos.

The following merchant vessels joined the convoy off Bizerta; Benjamin Goodhue (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Empire Opal (British (tanker), 9811 GRT, built 1941), Joseph Hewes (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Mannington (British, 1127 GRT, built 1943), Theodore Foster (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942) and Ugo Fiorelli (Italian, 1600 GRT, built 1943) as did the buoy tender Sunflower (American, 1100 GRT, built 1907).

The Empire Damsel and Sunflower were subsequently detached to Porto Empedocle on the south coast of Sicily.

On 27 December 1943, the merchant vessels Drammensfjord, Kosciuszko and Manchester Port were detached to Malta as was the minesweeper HMS Waterwitch while the merchant vessels Bantria (British, 2407 GRT, built 1928) and Forthbank (British, 5057 GRT, 1929) joined the convoy.

On 27 December 1943 the following merchant vessels departed Augusta to join the convoy; Aelbert Cuyp (Dutch, 7086 GRT, built 1942), Berkel (Dutch, 2130 GRT, built 1930), Clan Murdoch (British, 5950 GRT, built 1919), Crista (British, 2590 GRT, built 1938), Empire Addison (British, 7010 GRT, built 1942), Empire Capulet (British, 7044 GRT, built 1943), Empire Daring (British, 7059 GRT, built 1943), Empire Glory (British, 7290 GRT, built 1943), Empire Path (British, 6140 GRT, built 1943), Fort Ash (British, 7131 GRT, built 1943), Fort Caribou (British, 7132 GRT, built 1943), Fort Erie (British, 7128 GRT, built 1943), Fort Frederick (British, 7135 GRT, built 1942), Fort Nashwaak (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Fort St. Paul (British, 7137 GRT, built 1943), Ocean Liberty (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Sambrake (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943) and Sofala (British, 1031 GRT, built 1937).

On 28 December 1943, the following merchant vessels arrived at Augusta after having parted company with the convoy; Baron Fairlie, Benjamin Goodhue, Chertsey, Colytto, Empire Bairn, Empire Gale, Empire Snow, Empire Summer, Empire Tana, Esneh, Fairwater, Fomalhaut, George Dewey, George Matthews, Hilary A. Herbert, Ile de Brehat, James G. Birney, Joseph Hewes, Loriga, Mannington, Manchester Commerce, Norbris, Ocean Stranger, Ocean Vesper, Riverton, Stanhill, Star, Theodore Foster, Tintern Abbey, Ugo Fiorelli, Van der Capelle, William Patterson and Zena.

On 30 December 1943, HMS Inver arrived at Tobruk after having been detached from the convoy.

On 31 December 1943, the following merchant vessels Aelbert Cuyp, Bantria, Berkel, Crista, Empire Capulet, Empire Daring, Empire Glory, Fort Ash, Fort Erie, Fort Nashwaak, Sambrake and Sofala were detached to Alexandria as were HMS Gloxinia, HMS Fishguard, HMS Rosario, HMS Wolborough and HMSAS Southern Maid.

The remainder of the convoy arrived at Port Said on 1 January 1944 after which the two remaining escorts, HMS Dart and HMS Primula proceeded to Haifa.

15 Jan 1944

Combined convoy OS 65 / KMS 39.

This combined convoy was assembled off Oversay on 15 January 1944.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Agia Marina (Greek, 4151 GRT, built 1912), Alcor (Dutch, 3526 GRT, built 1920), Amstelkerk (Dutch, 4457 GRT, built 1929), Baron Napier (British, 3559 GRT, built 1930), Baron Ruthven (British, 3178 GRT, built 1925), Belgian Trader (British, 2890 GRT, built 1942), Blairnevis (British, 4155 GRT, built 1930), Bornholm (British, 3177 GRT, built 1930), Capitaine Paul Lemerle (French, 4945 GRT, built 1925), City of Derby (British, 6616 GRT, built 1921), City of Keelung (British, 5186 GRT, built 1919), City of Lancaster (British, 3041 GRT, built 1924), Congonian (British, 5065 GRT, built 1936), Coulmore (British, 3670 GRT, built 1936), Cydonia (British, 3517 GRT, built 1927), Dordrecht (Dutch, 4402 GRT, built 1928), Dromore (British, 4096 GRT, built 1920), Dunelmia (British, 5207 GRT, built 1929), Empire Derwent (British, 4026 GRT, built 1930), Empire Grebe (British, 5736 GRT, built 1918)), Empire Thackeray (British, 2865 GRT, built 1942), Empire Usk (British, 3229 GRT, built 1918), Empire Voice (British, 6828 GRT, built 1940), Fort Cumberland (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Fort Frontenac (British, 7148 GRT, built 1943), Fort Lennox (British, 7149 GRT, built 1943), Fort Nipigon (British, 7132 GRT, built 1942), Fort St.Nicolas (British, 7154 GRT, built 1943), Gascony (British, 4716 GRT, built 1925), Generton (British, 4797 GRT, built 1936), Glaucus (British, 7596 GRT, built 1921), Innerton (British, 5276 GRT, built 1919), John Holt (British, 4964 GRT, 1943), King Edgar (British, 4536 GRT, built 1927), Manchester Shipper (British, 7881 GRT, built 1943), Maycrest (British, 5923 GRT, built 1913), Mimosa (Greek, 3071 GRT, built 1905), Nicolas (Greek, 4540 GRT, built 1910), Nordlys (British, 3726 GRT, built 1916), Peleus (Greek, 4695 GRT, built 1928), Pilar de Larringa (British, 7046 GRT, built 1918), Princesa (British, 8731 GRT, built 1918), Prospector (British, 6202 GRT, built 1944), Recorder (British, 5981 GRT, built 1930), Royal Star (British, 7900 GRT, built 1919), Samhain (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Silvermaple (British, 5313 GRT, built 1937), Slemmestad (British, 4258 GRT, built 1928), Stamos (Greek, 3802 GRT, built 1914), Tobruk (Polish, 7048 GRT, built 1942) and Van Ostade (Dutch, 2890 GRT, built 1942).

The boom carrier HMS Ethiopian (5424 GRT, built 1936, A/Cdr.(Retd.) K.A.S. Phillips, RNR) was also part of the convoy as were the rescue ship Melrose Abbey (British, 1924 GRT, built 1929) and the rescue tugs HMRT Aspirant and HMRT Eminent.

On assembly off Oversay the convoy was escorted by the destroyers ORP Burza (Kmdr.ppor. (Cdr.) F. Pitulko), HMS Verity (Lt. C.G. Cowley, RN), corvettes HMS Meadowsweet (T/Lt. W.E. Saunders, RNVR), HMS Narcissus (T/Lt. G.T.S. Clampitt, RNR), HMS Orchis (T/Lt. B.W. Harris, RNVR), HMS Violet (Lt. C.N. Stewart, RNR), FFS Aconit, FFS Lobelia, FFS Roselys and the A/S trawler HMS Northern Foam (T/Lt. J.A. Crockett, RNR). As additional escorts the frigates HMCS Waskesiu (T/A/Cdr. J.H.S. MacDonald, RCNR), HMS Nene (Cdr. J.D. Birch, RD, RNR) and the corvettes HMCS Camrose (T/A/Lt.Cdr. L.R. Pavillard, RCNR), HMCS Prescott (A/Lt.Cdr. W. McIsaac, RCNVR), HMCS Snowberry (T/Lt. J.A. Dunn, RCNVR) and HMS Kenilworth Castle (Lt. J.J.Allon, RNR) were also present until 19 January 1944 when they were detached to northbound convoy SL 145/ MKS 36.

On 16 January 1944, HMS Verity was detached to join another southbound convoy KMF 28.

On 17 January 1944, the patrol vessel HMS Kilbirnie (T/Lt. E.R.H. Seddon, RNVR) joined the convoy after having departed the Clyde late on the 15th.

On 18 January 1944, the frigate HMS Towy (Cdr. M.J Evans, OBE, RN) joined the convoy after having departed Londonderry on the 17th.

On 19 January 1944, the German U-boat U-641 was sunk in the North Atlantic south-west of Ireland, in position 50°25'N, 18°49'W by HMS Violet.

On 21 January 1944, the tanker / transport Esturia (British (tanker), 6968 GRT, built 1914) and Serula (British, 2187 GRT, built 1918) departed the Azores to join the convoy.

While en-route, around 19/20 January 1944, the escort oiler San Tirso (British (tanker), 6266 GRT, built 1913) joined at sea from northbound convoy SL 145/ MKS 36.

On 27 January 1944, the convoy split into convoy OS 65 bound for Freetown and convoy KMS 33 bound for the Mediterranean.

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Convoy OS 65 was made up of the merchant vessels; Amstelkerk, Bornholm, Congonian, Dordrecht, Gascony, John Holt, Mimosa, Princesa, Royal Star and Silvermaple. The corvettes Aconit, Lobelia and Roselys remained with the convoy initially.

On 26 January 1944, the merchant vessels Baron Fairlie (British, 6706 GRT, built 1925), Belgian Seaman (Belgian, 7023 GRT, built 1941), Colytto (Dutch, 4408 GRT, built 1926), Dalmore (British, 5193 GRT, built 1927), Empire Baxter (British, 7024 GRT, built 1941), Harberton (British, 4585 GRT, built 1930), Stad Haarlem (Dutch, 4518 GRT, built 1929) and Wellington Court (British, 4979 GRT, built 1930). They were escorted by the sloops HMS Leith (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. Preston, RN), HMS Sandwich (T/A/Lt.Cdr. A.J. Clemence, RNR) and the corvettes HMS Anchusa (T/Lt. R.A. Baker, RNVR) and HMS Crocus (T/A/Lt.Cdr. A.R. Mackay, RNZNVR) which were to escort the convoy to Freetown.

On 27 January 1944, the transport Mimosa and the corvettes Aconit, Lobelia and Roselys arrived at Casablanca after having been detached from the convoy.

On 27 January 1944, the following transports / tanker departed Casablanca to join the convoy; El-Biar (French, 4678 GRT, built 1927), Empire Flint (British (tanker), 8129 GRT, built 1941) and Marrakech (French, 6179 GRT, built 1914). They were escorted to the rendezvous by the patrol vessels USS PC-480 (Lt. F.W. Meyers, Jr., USNR) and USS PC-473 (Lt.(jg) A.W. Silverstein, USNR). The patrol vessels did not join the convoy but proceeded to make rendezvous with convoy OT 12.

On 3 February 1944, the El-Biar and arrived Marrakech arrived at Dakar after having been detached from the convoy while the transport Sant-Louis (French, 5202 GRT, built 1913) departed Dakar to join the convoy.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 6 February 1944. Some ships from the convoy did not enter Freetown but continued on to their destinations independently.

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Convoy KMS 39, made up of the remaining ships, proceeded towards the Mediterranean with most of the original escort of the combined convoy.

On 28 January 1944, the following transports / tanker arrived at Gibraltar; Agia Marina, Baron Ruthven, City of Keelung, City of Lancaster, Dromore, Empire Thackeray, Empire Usk, Esturia and Surula. The rescue ship Melrose Abbey, escort oiler San Tirso and HMS Ethiopian arrived at Gibraltar as did the following escort vessels / rescue tugs; ORP Burza, HMS Towy, HMS Meadowsweet, HMS Narcissus, HMS Orchis, HMS Violet, HMS Kilbirnie, HMS Northern Foam, HMRT Aspirant and HMRT Eminent. HMS Meadowsweet, HMS Violet had probably arrived early to fuel before rejoining the convoy.

The following ships meanwhile directly entered the Mediterranean; Alcor, Baron Napier, Belgian Trader, Blairnevi, Capitaine Paul Lemerle, City of Derby, Coulmore, Dunelmia, Empire Derwent, Empire Grebe, Empire Voice, Fort Cumberland, Fort Frontenac, Fort Lennox, Fort Nipigon, Fort St.Nicolas, Generton, Glaucus, Innerton, King Edgar, Manchester Shipper, Nicolas, Peleus, Pilar de Larrinaga, Prospector, Recorder, Samhain, Slemmestad, Stamos, Tobruk and Van Ostade.

They were joined by transport Baronesa (British, 8663 GRT, built 1918) coming from Gibraltar. Also a new escort joined for the passage through the Mediterranean, this was made up of the following ships; AA cruiser HMS Colombo (Capt. H.W. Williams, RN), frigate HMS Dart (Cdr. J.T. Jones, RD, RNR), corvettes HMS Gloxinia (?), HMS Meadowsweet, HMS Violet, A/S trawler HMS Wolborough (T/Lt. G.A. Hartnell, RNR). The minesweeper HMS Rosario (A/Cdr. F.E. Brooking, RN) was also with the convoy as was the submarine Pipinos (Lt.Cdr. Rallis).

On 29 January 1944, the transports Blairnevis and Van Ostade arrived at Oran after having been detached from the convoy while the following transports joined the convoy coming from Oran; Alexander R. Lillington (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Colin P. Kelly Jr. (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Elihu Yale (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Ingertre (Norwegian, 2462 GRT, built 1921), J.E.B. Stuart (American, 7196 GRT, built 1942), John McKinley (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), John W. Brown (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Johns Hopkins (American, 7200 GRT, built 1943), Richard Bassett (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Thomas W. Hyde (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Ward Hunt (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942) and William Kent (American, 7187 GRT, built 1942).

On 30 January 1944, the transports Alcor, Coulmore, King Edgar, Peleus and Stamos arrived at Oran after having been detached from the convoy while the following transports / tankers joined the convoy coming from Oran; British Vigour (British (tanker), 5844 GRT, built 1943), Empire Guinevere (British, 7072 GRT, built 1942), Empire Tristram (British, 7167 GRT, built 1942), Far (Norwegian, 2475 GRT, built 1921), Fort Connally (British, 7133 GRT, built 1943), Loke (Norwegian, 2421 GRT, built 1915), Ocean Vesper (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Riverton (British, 7307 GRT, built 1943), Samholt (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Samson (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943) and Selvik (Norwegian, 1557 GRT, built 1920).

On 30 January 1944, the transports Chloris (British, 1171 GRT, built 1910) and Star (Norwegian, 1531 GRT, built 1922) departed Bougie to join the convoy.

On 1 February 1944, the transports Innerton and Nicolas arrived at Bone after having parted company with the convoy while the transports Chertsey (British, 6001 GRT, built 1943), Fort Fidler (British, 7127 GRT, built 1943), Fort Gloucester (British, 7127 GRT, built 1943) and Fort St.Regis (British, 7140 GRT, built 1943) joined the convoy coming from Bone.

On 1 February 1944, the transports Belgian Trader, John McKinley, Ward Hunt and William Kent as well as the AA cruiser HMS Colombo arrived at Bizerta after having parted company with the convoy while the transports Indiana (Panamanian, 5617 GRT, built 1917), John Wise (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942) and Joseph H. Nicholson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943) joined the convoy coming from Bizerta.

On 1 February 1944, the transports Capitaine Paul Lemerle arrived at Tunis after having parted company with the convoy

On 2 February 1944, the transports Baron Napier, Baronesa and Selvik as well as the minesweeper HMS Rosario arrived at Malta after having parted company with the convoy while the transport / tanker Glenogle (British, 9513 GRT, built 1920) and Grena (Norwegian (tanker), 8117 GRT, built 1934) joined the convoy coming from Malta.

During 2/3 February 1944, the transports Alexander R. Lillington, Chertsey, Chloris, Colin P. Kelly, Jr., Dunelmia, Elihu Yale, Empire Derwent, Empire Grebe, Empire Guinevere, Empire Tristram, Far, Fort Connolly, Fort Cumberland, Fort Fidler, Fort Frontenac, Fort Gloucester, Fort Lennox, Fort St.Nicolas, Fort St.Regis, Indiana, Ingertre, J.E.B. Stuart, John W. Brown, John Wise, John Hopkins, Joseph H. Nicholson, Loke, Ocean Vesper, Pilar de Larrinaga, Richard Bassett, Riverton, Samholt, Samson, Slemmestad, Star, Thomas W. Hyde and Tobruk arrived at Augusta after having parted company with the convoy while the transports / tankers Aelbert Cuyp (Dutch, 7086 GRT, built 1942), Beaconsfield (British, 4635 GRT, built 1938), British Vigour (British (tanker), 5844 GRT, built 1943), Empire Cameron (British, 7015 GRT, built 1941), Empire Capulet (British, 7044 GRT, built 1943), Empire Copperfield (British, 6013 GRT, built 1943), Empire Glory (British, 7290 GRT, built 1943), Empire Path (British, 6140 GRT, built 1943), Fort Ash (British, 7131 GRT, built 1943), Fort Cadotte (British, 7128 GRT, built 1943), Fort Glenora (British, 7126 GRT, built 1943), Fort Kootenay (British, 7133 GRT, built 1942), Fort la Traite (British, 7134 GRT, built 1942), Fort Senneville (British, 7131 GRT, built 1942), Samarina (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Sambrake (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Sampa (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Samshire (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943) and Samwater (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943) joined the convoy coming from Augusta which they had departed on 2 February 1944.

On 6 February 1944, the transports / tankers Empire Cameron, Empire Capulet, Fort Ash, Fort Cadotte, Fort Glenora, Fort la Traite, Glenogle, Prospector, Samarina, Sambrake, Sampa and Samwater arrived at Alexandria after having parted company with the convoy as did HMS Dart, HMS Gloxinia and HMS Meadowsweet of the escort.

On 7 February 1944, the transports / tankers Beaconsfield, City of Derby, Empire Copperfield, Empire Glory, Empire Path, Empire Voice, Fort Kootenay, Fort Nipigon, Fort Senneville, Glaucus, Grena, Manchester Shipper, Recorder, Samhain and Samshire arrived at Port Said after having parted company with the convoy as did HMS Violet and HMS Wolborough of the escort.

On 9 February 1944, the submarine RHS Pipinos arrived at Beirut after having parted company with the convoy.

14 Feb 1944

Convoy GUS 31.

This convoy departed Port Said on 14 February 1944.

On departure from Port Said the convoy was made up of the transports / tankers; Cleodora (Dutch (tanker), 8026 GRT, built 1938), Empire Daring (British, 7059 GRT, built 1943), Empire Rock (British, 7061 GRT, built 1943), Esso Montpelier (American (tanker), 7698 GRT, built 1940), Euryades (British, 5801 GRT, built 1913), Gudrun Maersk (British, 2294 GRT, built 1937), Java (Dutch, 9250 GRT, built 1939), Sampler (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Thomas L. Clingman (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943) and Van der Helst (Dutch, 6946 GRT, built 1942). The rescue tug HMRT Vagrant was also with the convoy.

They were escorted by the frigate HMS Dart (Cdr. J.T. Jones, RD, RNR), minesweeper HMS Sharpshooter (Lt.Cdr. W.L. O'Mara, RN), corvette HMS Primula (T/Lt. E.N. Wilding, RNVR) and the A/S whaler HMSAS Protea (Lt. A. Thomas, DSC, SANF).

On 15 February 1944, the following transports / tankers departed Alexandria to join the convoy; Aelbert Cuyp (Dutch, 7086 GRT, built 1942), Belpareil (Norwegian, 7203 GRT, built 1926), Empire Cameron (British, 7015 GRT, built 1941), Empire Capulet (British, 7044 GRT, built 1943), Empire Mariott (British, 5970 GRT, built 1941), Fort Cadotte (British, 7128 GRT, built 1943), Fort Clatsop (British, 7157 GRT, built 1943), Hubert Howe Bancroft (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Ignatius Donnelly (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Lublin (Polish, 1409 GRT, built 1932), Oran M. Roberts (American, 7244 GRT, built 1943), Peter Zenger (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Samtucky (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Viggo Hansteen (American, 7176, built 1943), William Whipple (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942) and Zachery Taylor (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942). The armed boarding vessel HMS Arpha () and the rescue tugs HMRT Barwick and HMRT Respond also joined the convoy from Alexandria.

They were escorted by the corvette HMS Gloxinia (Lt. D. Perry, DSC, RNR) which also joined the convoy.

On 19 February 1944, the following transports / tankers departed Augusta to join the convoy; Alexander J. Dallas (American, 7180 GRT, built 1943), Argyll (British, 4897 GRT, built 1939), Beacon (American (tanker), 10388 GRT, built 1921), Benjamin Hawkins (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Charles Brantley Aycock (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Colin P. Kelly Jr. (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Cragpool (British 5133 GRT, built 1928), David Caldwell (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Destro (British, 3553 GRT, built 1920), Empire Coleridge (British (tanker), 9798 GRT, built 1942), Empire Grenadier (British (tanker), 9811 GRT, built 1942), Ethan Allen (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Fort Fairford (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Fort Fidler (British, 7127 GRT, built 1943), Fort Frederick (British, 7135 GRT, built 1942), Fort Meductic (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Fort St.Regis (British, 7140 GRT, built 1943), George Dewey (American, 7225 GRT, built 1943), Govert Flinck (Dutch, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Guinean (British, 5205 GRT, built 1936), Henry Middleton (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Hjalmar Wessel (Norwegian, 1742 GRT, built 1935), J.E.B. Stuart (American, 7196 GRT, built 1942), James G. Blaine (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), John A. Campbell (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), John M. Morehead (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), John Wise (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), Johns Hopkins (American, 7200 GRT, built 1943), Joseph E. Brown (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Joseph E. Johnston (American, 7196 GRT, built 1942), Joseph Hooker (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), Louis Marshall (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Louisa M. Alcott (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Manchester Exporter (British, 5277 GRT, built 1918), Marga (Norwegian, 1583 GRT, built 1923), Narwick (Polish, 7031 GRT, built 1942), Nuculana (British (tanker), 8179 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Vesper (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Riverton (British, 7307 GRT, built 1943), Samuel Livermore (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Sidney Sherman (American, 7244 GRT, built 1943), Thomas W. Hyde (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Tristram Dalton (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942) and William T. Barry (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943).

On 20 February 1944, the following transports / tankers arrived at Augusta after having parted company with the convoy; Aelbert Cuyp, Belpareil, Cleodora, Empire Cameron, Empire Capulet, Empire Daring, Empire Rock, Euryades, Fort Cadotte and Fort Clatsop.

On 21 February 1944, HMS Arpha, HMS Barwick and HMS Respond arrived at Malta after having parted company with the convoy.

On 22 February 1944, the following transports departed Tunis to join the convoy; Britannia (Norwegian (tanker), 9977 GRT, built 1939), British Character (British (tanker), 8453 GRT, built 1941), British Patience (British (tanker), 8097 GRT, built 1943), Capitaine Paul Lemerle (French, 4945 GRT, built 1925), Carrillo (American, 5013 GRT, built 1911), Clausina (British (tanker), 8083 GRT, built 1938), James R. Randall (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Paul Hamilton (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Thomas Johnson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942) and William Carson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943).

On 22 February 1944, the following transports / tankers arrived at Bizerta after having parted company with the convoy; Charles Brantley Aycock, Esso Montpelier, Henry Middleton, Joseph E. Brown, Joseph Hooker and Thomas W. Hyde. Also the rescue tug HMRT Vagrant arrived at Bizerta. Joining the convoy from Bizerta were the following transports / tankers; Empire Grange (British, 6981 GRT, built 1943), Ena (Dutch (tanker), 6229 GRT, built 1936), Fort Rae (British, 7132 GRT, built 1942), Fort Reliance (British, 7134 GRT, built 1942), George Cleeve (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Gezina (Norwegian, 1828 GRT, built 1917), Grainton (British, 6341 GRT, built 1929), Henry Dundas (British (tanker), 10448 GRT, built 1937), John Harvard (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), John Steele (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), John W. Brown (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Loke (Norwegian, 2421 GRT, built 1915), Peter Skene Ogden (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Richard Bassett (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Rufus W. Peckham (American, 7200 GRT, built 1942), Salamis (Norwegian (tanker), 8286 GRT, built 1939) and Thelma (British, 1593 GRT, built 1935). Also joining from Bizerta was the AA cruiser HMS Colombo (Capt. H.W. Williams, RN).

On 22 February 1944, the following transports arrived at Bone after having parted company with the convoy; Destro, Empire Grange, Fort Rae, Fort St.Regis, Gezina, Guinean and Narwick while the transport Innerton (British, 5276 GRT, built 1919) joined the convoy coming from Bone.

Around 1215A/22, the transports George Cleeve and Peter Skene Ogden were torpedoed and damaged by the German submarine U-969.

On 22 February 1944, the following transports / tankers arrived at Philippeville after having parted company with the convoy; Empire Mariott, Fort Frederick, Hjalmar Wessel while the following transports / tankers joined the convoy coming from Philippeville; Generton (British, 4797 GRT, built 1936), Nelson Dingley (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943) and Wallace E. Pratt (American (tanker), 7991 GRT, built 1937).

On 23 February 1944, the following transports arrived at Algiers after having parted company with the convoy; Fort Fairford, Fort Fidler, Fort Meductic, Fort Reliance, Grainton, Gudrun Maersk, Innerton, Loke, Marga, Ocean Vesper, Riverton, Rufus W. Peckham and Thelma while the following transports / tankers joined the convoy coming from Algiers; Alexander Martin (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Baron Elgin (British, 3942 GRT, built 1933), Blairdevon (British, 3282 GRT, built 1925), City of Canterbury (British, 8331 GRT, built 1922), Esso Nashville (American (tanker), 7943 GRT, built 1940), Fomalhaut (French, 5795 GRT, built 1936), Fort Abitibi (British, 7122 GRT, built 1942), Jean L.D. (French, 5795 GRT, built 1935), John Cropper (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Joseph H. Nicholson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Joseph Leidy (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Joseph Pulitzer (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Moses Austin (American, 7244 GRT, built 1943), Silvester Gardiner (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Strinda (Norwegian (tanker), 10973 GRT, built 1937), Tabitha Brown (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942) and Thomas B. Robertson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942).

On 24 February 1944, the following transports / tankers arrived at Oran after having parted company with the convoy; Capitaine Paul Lemerle, James G. Blaine, Johns Hopkins, Louisa M. Alcott, Nelson Dingley and William T. Barry while the following transports / tankers joined the convoy coming from Oran; Alexander Lillington (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Athelchief (British (tanker), 10000 GRT, built 1939), Button Gwinnett (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Conrad Weiser (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Elg (Norwegian, 4014 GRT, built 1930), Empire Damsel (British (tanker), 784 GRT, built 1942), Esso Baltimore (American (tanker), 7940 GRT, built 1938), F.A.C. Muhlenberg (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), George Davis (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), George G. Meade (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), George W. Woodward (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Irvin MacDowell (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), James Hoban (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), James J. Hill (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), Joaquin Miller (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), John Blair (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), John Lawson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), John P. Mitchell (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), John R. Park (American, 7184 GRT, built 1944), Joseph Gale (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Josiah Bartlett (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Justin S. Morrill (American, 7194 GRT, built 1943), King S. Woolsey (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Lawton B. Evans (American, 7197 GRT, built 1943), Marshall Elliott (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Paine Wingate (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Samuel Griffin (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Timothy Dwight (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), William Floyd (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), William Mulholland (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942) and William S. Young (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943). The escort destroyers HMS Beaufort (Lt. J.R.L. Moore, RN), RHS Kanaris and Pindos also joined the convoy. HMS Gloxinia and HMS Primula were detached (or meanwhile had been detached) to assist in A/S operations.

On 26 February 1944, the following transports arrived at Gibraltar after having parted company with the convoy; Argyll, Baron Elgin, Blairdevon, City of Canterbury, Cragpool, Generton, Govert Flinck, Jean L.D. and Manchester Exporter while the following transports / tankers joined the convoy coming from Gibraltar; Cyrus H. McCormick (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), Maja (British (tanker), 8181 GRT, built 1931), Norden (Norwegian (tanker), 8440 GRT, built 1931), Valldemosa (British, 7222 GRT, built 1935) and Velma (Norwegian (tanker), 9720 GRT, built 1930). HMS Colombo also arrived at Gibraltar.

Around 1600A/26, the British escort was relieved by an American escort made up of the destroyer USS Edison (T/Cdr. H.A. Pearce, USN, with COMTASKFOR 65, T/Capt. V. Huber, USN on board) and the destroyer escorts USS Douglas L. Howard (Lt. W.F. Stokey, USNR, with COMDESDIV 9, Cdr. J.H. Forshew, USNR, on board), USS J.R.Y. Blakely (Lt. K.D. Talley, USNR), USS Farquhar (Lt.Cdr. L.E. Rosenberg, USNR), USS Fessenden (Lt.Cdr. W.A. Dobbs, USNR), USS Fiske (Lt. J.A. Comly, USNR), USS Hill (Cdr. G.R. Keating, USNR), USS Menges (Lt.Cdr. F.M. McCabe, USCG, with COMDESDIV 46, Capt. R.E. Wood, USCG, on board), USS Falgout (Cdr. H.A. Meyer, USCG), USS Lowe (Cdr. R.H. French, USCG) and USS Mosley (Cdr. J.A. Alger, Jr., USCG). These ships had departed Casablanca around 1300A/25 to conduct an A/S sweep and then make rendezvous with the convoy.

Around 1730A/26, the transports / tankers Fitzhugh Lee (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Imperial Transport (British (tanker), 8022 GRT, built 1931), John Sergeant (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Samboston (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943) and the naval tanker USS Chicopee (Cdr. C.O. Peak, USNR) joined the convoy coming from Casablanca which they had departed on the 25th. They were escorted by the destroyer escorts USS Newell (Cdr. R.J. Roberts, USCG), USS Pride (Cdr. R.R Curry, USCG) and the patrol vessels USS PC-474 (Lt. H.C. Hummer, USNR) and USS PC-481 (Lt. N.W Roeder, USNR). On these ships joining the transport / tankers Elg, Empire Damsel and Esso Baltimore parted company with the convoy to proceed to Casablanca escorted by the two patrol vessels. They arrived at Casablanca on 27 February 1944.

Around 1000A/27, the transport Edward M. House (American, 7240 GRT, built 1943) and the tanker Pan-Maine (American (tanker), 7237 GRT, built 1936) joined the convoy coming from Casablanca which they had departed on the 26th. They had been escorted to the rendezvous by the corvette FFS Commandant Detroyat and the patrol vessel USS PC-480 (Lt.(jg) J.K. Miller, USNR) which subsequently returned to Casablanca.

Around 0005N/2, USS Douglas L. Howard was sent o the Azores to pick up two merchant vessels which were to join the convoy. Around 1455N/3, these two merchant vessels still had not appeared and USS Douglas L. Howard then proceeded to rejoin the convoy which she did around 0615N/4. Shortly afterwards the two merchant ships joined the convoy having departed from the Azores unescorted due to miscommunication. The two merchant vessels in question were the; Amelia Earhart (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942) and Harold L. Winslow (American, 7276 GRT, built 1943).

During the morning of 6 March 1943, USS Edison fuelled from USS Chicopee.

Around 1030P/8, the transport Samuel Livermore developed engine trouble and straggled from the convoy. USS Lowe was ordered to remain with her.

Around 2200Q/12, the Samuel Livermore and her escort USS Lowe rejoined the convoy.

Around 0700Q/14, USS Chicopee parted company to proceed to Bermuda. Two destroyer escorts had joined to escort her to that place, these were the USS Osmus (Cdr. R.R. Jackson, USNR) and USS Barr (Lt.Cdr. H.H. Love, USNR). They arrived at Bermuda in the afternoon of the 14th.

Around 1530Q/14, the transport Richard Basset was detached to Bermuda due to fuel shortage.

Around 0600Q/16, the transports Oran M. Roberts and Van der Helst were detached to proceed to Boston and Saint Johns, New Brunswick respectively.

The convoy arrived at New York on 18 March 1944.

19 May 1944

Convoy MKS 50.

This convoy departed Port Said on 19 May 1944.

On departure from Port Said the convoy was made up of the transports / tankers; Bengkalis (Dutch, 6548 GRT, built 1918), Carelia (British (tanker), 8062 GRT, built 1938), City of Capetown (British, 8046 GRT, built 1937), City of Exeter (British, 9654 GRT, built 1914), City of Sydney (British, 6986 GRT, built 1930), Empire Harry (British (tug), 479 GRT, built 1943), Empire Sandy (British (tug), 479 GRT, built 1943), Empire Voice (British, 6828 GRT, built 1940), Frans van Mieris (Dutch, 7170 GRT, built 1942), Luminetta (British (tanker), 6159 GRT, built 1927), Peter Trimble Rowe (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Prometheus (British, 6095 GRT, built 1925), Sambalt (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Skagerak (Norwegian, 4244 GRT, built 1936), Strategist (British, 6255 GRT, built 1937) and Turkistan (British, 6935 GRT, built 1939).

On departure from Port Said the convoy was escorted by the frigates HMS Dart (Cdr. J.T. Jones, RD, RNR) and HMS Shiel (Lt. H.P. Crail, DSC, RNR).

On 20 May 1944, the following transports / tankers departed Alexandria to join the convoy; Alcinous (Dutch, 6189 GRT, built 1925), Fort Meductic (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Kalarand (British, 1496 GRT, built 1906), Kepong (British, 1874 GRT, built 1916), Marit Maersk (Greek (former Danish), 1894 GRT, built 1938), Sofala (British, 1031 GRT, built 1937) and Trajanus (Dutch, 1712 GRT, built 1930).

The submarines RHS Papanikolis, Galatea and the minesweepers RHS Palaros, RHS Kassos, RHS Kos and RHS Patmos also departed Alexandria and joined the convoy for passage westwards.

They were escorted by the corvettes HMS Gloxinia (Lt. D. Perry, DSC, RNR), HMS Primula (T/Lt. E.N. Wilding, RNVR) and auxiliary A/S trawler HMS Wolborough (T/Lt. G.A. Hartnell, RNR) which also joined the convoy.

on 23 May 1944, the Sofala arrived at Benghazi after having been detached from the convoy.

On 24 May 1944, the following transport / tankers departed Augusta to join the convoy; Antonia (Dutch (tanker), 3357 GRT, built 1938), Archbishop Lamy (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Astra (Norwegian, 2164 GRT, built 1919), Cape Howe (British, 6999 GRT, built 1943), Charles Brantley Aycock (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Chloris (British, 1171 GRT, built 1910), Djebel Aures (French, 2835 GRT, built 1929), Empire Gain (British (tanker), 3738 GRT, built 1943), Fort Glenlyon (British, 7132 GRT, built 1943), Fort Michipicoten (British, 7152 GRT, 1943), Fort Thompson (British, 7134 GRT, built 1942), George Davis (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Ittersum (Dutch, 5199 GRT, built 1938), James W. Nesmith (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), John A. Brown (British (tanker), 10455 GRT, built 1938), Joseph H. Nicholson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), La Drome (French, 1055 GRT, built 1910), Lincoln Steffens (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Samur (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Sinnington Court (British, 6910 GRT, built 1928), Thistledale (British, 7241 GRT, built 1942), Thistlemuir (British, 7237 GRT, built 1942) and Ugo Fiorelli (Italian, 1600 GRT, built 1943).

On 25 May 1944, the following transports / tankers arrived at Augusta after having parted company with the convoy; Carelia, Fort Meductic, Kalarand, Kepong, Luminetta, Marit Maersk, Peter Trimble Rowe, Stagerak, Strategist and Trajanus.

On 25 May 1944, the transport Chateau Latour (French, 1912 GRT, built 1914) departed Malta to join the convoy.

On 26 May 1944, the transport Djebel Aures arrived at Tunis after having been detached from the convoy while the following transports joined the convoy coming from Tunis; Lucia C. (Italian, 6123 GRT, built 1922) and William F. Cody (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942).

On 26 May 1944, the following ships arrived at Bizerta after having parted company with the convoy; Empire Harry, Empire Sandy, Frans van Mieris, George Davis, Joseph H. Nicholson, La Drome, Lincoln Steffens and Ugo Fiorelli. The four Greek minesweepers (YMS) were also detached to Bizerta. The following ships joined the convoy coming from Bizerta; Esek Hopkins (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Tore Jarl (Norwegian, 1514 GRT, built 1920) and Vigsnes (Norwegian, 1599 GRT, built 1930). Also the AA cruiser HMS Colombo (Capt. C.T. Jellicoe, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) joined the convoy.

On 27 May 1944, the following ships arrived at Bone after having been detached from the convoy; Astra, Sinnington Court and Vigsnes while the P.L.M. 17 (British (former French), 4008 GRT, built 1922) joined the convoy coming from Bone. Also joining from Bone was the rescue tug HMRT Nimble.

On 27 May 1944, the transport Empire Thackeray (British, 2865 GRT, built 1942) departed Philippeville to join the convoy while the Tore Jarl arrived at Philippeville after having been detached from the convoy.

On 28 May 1944, the following ships arrived at Algiers after having been detached from the convoy; Antonia, Archbishop Lamy, Cape Howe, Charles Brantley Aycock, Chateau Latour, Empire Gain, Esek Hopkins, Fort Michipicoten, James W. Nesmith, John A. Brown, Lucia C., Prometheus, Samur, Thistledale and Thistlemuir while the following ships joined the convoy coming from Algiers; Appledore (British, 5218 GRT, built 1929), Cap-Pinede (French, 1320 GRT, built 1938), Charles Schiaffino (French, 3664 GRT, built 1930), Empire Meteor (British, 7457 GRT, built 1940), Empire Spinney (British, 871 GRT, built 1941), Fort Hudson's Hope (British, 7129 GRT, built 1942), James Rumsey (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942) and Lornaston (British, 4934 GRT, built 1925). The destroyer HMS Tigre also joined the convoy.

On 29 May 1944, the following ships arrived at Oran after having been detached from the convoy; Charles Schiaffino, Chloris, Empire Spinney, James Rumsey, William F. Cody and HMS Colombo while the following ships joined the convoy coming from Oran; Capitaine Paul Lemerle (French, 4945 GRT, built 1925), Empire Beatrice (British, 7046 GRT, built 1943), Empire Conrad (British, 7009 GRT, built 1942), Empire Crown (British, 7070 GRT, built 1944), Fort Bell (British, 7127 GRT, built 1943) and William R. Davie (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942).

On 30 May 1944, the following ships arrived at Gibraltar; Appledore, Cap-Pinede, Empire Thackeray, Fort Glenlyon, Fort Hudson's Hope111, Fort Thompson, Ittersum, Lornaston, William R. Davie as well as HMRT Nimble and the submarine RHS Papanikolis and Galatea. Also the current escort made up of HMS Dart, HMS Shiel, HMS Gloxinia, HMS Primula, HMS Wolborough as well as the HMS Tigre arrived at Gibraltar.

The remaining ships of the convoy; Alcinous, Bengkalis, Capitaine Paul Lemerle, City of Capetown, City of Exeter, City of Sydney, Empire Beatrice, Empire Conrad, Empire Crown, Empire Meteor, Empire Voice, Fort Bell, P.L.M. 17, Sambalt, Turkistan proceeded into the Atlantic and made rendezvous with convoy SL 159 coming from Freetown on 31 May 1944. A new escort had joined them off Gibraltar, this was made up of frigates HMS Towy (Cdr. H.V. King, DSO, OBE, RN), HMS Antigua (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) D.F. White, RNR) and the corvettes HMS Knaresborough Castle (Lt. J.R. Freeman, RNR), HMS Leeds Castle (T/A/Lt.Cdr. W.T. Hodson, DSC, RNVR) and HMS Tintagel Castle (Lt. R. Atkinson, DSC and Bar, RNR).

23 May 1944

Combined convoy OS 78 / KMS 52.

This combined convoy was assembled off Oversay on 23 May 1944.

It was made up of the following transports; Adviser (British, 6348 GRT, built 1939), Alex (British, 3932 GRT, built 1914), Baron Elgin (British, 3942 GRT, built 1933), Carslogie (British, 3786 GRT, built 1924), Clunepark (British, 3491 GRT, built 1928), Dago (British, 1993 GRT, built 1917), Empire Falcon (British, 4970 GRT, built 1918), Empire Wolfe (British, 2888 GRT, built 1941), Fort Churchill (British, 7129 GRT, built 1942), Godfrey B. Holt (British, 3585 GRT, built 1929), Historian (British, 5074 GRT, built 1924), Hopecrest (British, 5099 GRT, built 1935), Inverbank (British, 5149 GRT, built 1924), Lago (Norwegian, 2552 GRT, built 1929), Mathilda (Norwegian, 3650 GRT, built 1920), Nailsea Moor (British, 4926 GRT, built 1937), Northleigh (British, 5450 GRT, built 1937), Redgate (British, 4323 GRT, built 1929), Robert Morris (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Stanhope (British, 2337 GRT, built 1919), Stuyvesant (Dutch, 4249 GRT, built 1918), Thistleford (British, 4781 GRT, built 1928), Troilus (British, 7422 GRT, built 1921) and Yearby (British, 5666 GRT, built 1929).

The rescue ship Pinto (British, 1346 GRT, built 1928) was also with the combined convoy.

On assembly off Oversay the convoy was escorted by the escort carrier HMS Activity (Capt. C. Wauchope, DSC, RN), frigates HMS Ascension (Lt.Cdr. A. Wilkinson, RNR), HMS Evenlode (T/A/Lt.Cdr. G.B. Medlycott, RNR), HMS Exe (Cdr. C.E.E. Paterson, RN) and the corvettes HMNZS Arabis (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Seelye, RNZNVR), HMS Berkeley Castle (T/Lt. F.A. Darrah, RNVR), HMS Carisbrooke Castle (T/Lt. W.H. Forster, RNR), HMS Dumbarton Castle (T/A/Lt.Cdr. P.F. Broadhead, RNR) and HMS Hadleigh Castle (Lt. C. Sandeman, RN).

The transport Stanhope had to return to the U.K. arriving in the Clyde on 25 May 1944.

The tanker Scottish American (British (tanker), 6999 GRT, built 1920) later joined at sea having parted company with convoy MKS 49. This ship was to refuel the escorts.

Around 1030Z/27, HMS Activity, HMS Ascension, HMS Carisbroke Castle and HMS Hadleigh Castle parted company with the convoy to temporary join northbound combined convoy SL 158 / MKS 49 which they did around 1540Z/28.

Around 1505Z/29, HMS Activity, HMS Ascension, HMS Carisbroke Castle and HMS Hadleigh Castle parted company with combined convoy SL 158 / MKS 49 taking the escort oiler Scottish American (British (tanker), 6999 GRT, built 1920) with them. They rejoined combined convoy OS 78 / KMS 52 around 1650Z/30.

On 30 May 1944, HMNZS Arabis parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Bermuda arriving there on 6 June 1944.

Around 0300Z/3, HMS Activity, HMS Ascension and HMS Berkeley Castle parted company with combined convoy OS 78 / KMS 52 to join northbound combined convoy SL 159 / MKS 50 which they did around 0600Z/3. HMS Ascension and HMS Berkeley Castle then immediately parted company again to rejoin combined convoy OS 78 / KMS 52.

On 4 June 1944, the convoy split into convoy OS 78 and KMS 52.

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Convoy OS 78, towards Freetown, was made up of the following transports; Clunepark, Godfrey B. Holt, Northleigh and Stuyvesant.

They were joined by the following transports coming from Gibraltar; Appledore (British, 5218 GRT, built 1929), Fort Glenyon (British, 7132 GRT, built 1943), Fort Thompson (British, 7134 GRT, built 1942), Ittersum (Dutch, 5199 GRT, built 1938) and Ocean Vanity (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942).

With these ships came also the new escort for this convoy which was made up of the sloop HMS Enchantress (Lt.Cdr. E.D.J. Abbot, DSC, RN), frigate HMS Ness (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.H. Marchington, MBE, RNVR) and the patrol vessel HMS Kilbirnie (T/Lt. E.R.H. Seddon, RNVR).

Also from Casablanca the the following transports joined on the 4th or the 5th; Gabriel Guist'Hau (French, 2325 GRT, built 1918), Lodestone (British, 4877 GRT, built 1938), Samdart (British, 7219 GRT, built 1944) and Samderwent (British, 7219 GRT, built 1944).

These ships had departed Casablanca on the 4th , escorted by the patrol vessels USS PC-473 (Lt. A.W. Silverstein, USNR), USS PC-475 (Lt. W.W. Devine, Jr., USNR) and USS PC-482 (Lt. D.W. Hunter, USNR) which did not join the convoy and returned to Casablanca on the 5th.

On 11 June 1944, the transport Slesvig (British, 3098 GRT, built 1938) departed Dakar to join the convoy.

On 11 June 1944, the Clunepark, Gabriel Guist'Hau and Northleigh arrived at Dakar after having been detached from the convoy.

Convoy OS 78 arrived at Freetown on 14 June 1944. Actually only the Slesvig and Stuyvesant arrived at Freetown with the escort. The other ships proceeded to other destinations independently.

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Convoy KMS 52 proceeded towards the Straits of Gibraltar. This convoy was made up of the transports / tanker; Adviser, Alex, Baron Elgin, Carslogie, Dago, Empire Falcon, Empire Wolfe, Fort Churchill, Historian, Hopecrest, Inverbank, Lago, Mathilda, Nailsea Moor, Pinto, Redgate, Robert Morris, Scottish American, Thistleford, Troilus and Yearby.

On 6 June 1944, the Carslogie, Empire Wolfe, Pinto, Scottish American and Thistleford arrived at Gibraltar together with the original escort of the convoy; HMS Exe, HMS Ascension, HMS Berkeley Castle, HMS Carisbrooke Castle, HMS Dumbarton Castle and HMS Hadleigh Castle.

From Gibraltar / Casablanca the transports / tanker; Benjamin Tay (British, 1814 GRT, built 1943), British Governor (British (tanker), 6840 GRT, built 1926), David Holmes (American (tanker), 7218 GRT, built 1943), Empire Dickens (British (tanker), 9819 GRT, built 1942) and Sheaf Crown (British, 4868 GRT, built 1929) joined the convoy.

Escort was now provided by the escort carriers HMS Attacker (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, DSO, MVO, RAN), HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), AA cruiser HMS Caledon (Capt. R.F. Nichols, RN), escort destroyer RHS Kriti, frigates HMS Evenlode (which had remained with the convoy), HMS Dart (Cdr. J.T. Jones, RD, RNR), HMS Shiel (Lt. H.P. Crail, DSC, RNR), HMS Gloxinia (Lt. D. Perry, DSC, RNR), HMS Primula (T/Lt. E.N. Wilding, RNVR), HMS Smilax (Lt. A. Branson, RNR) and A/S trawler HMS Wolborough (T/Lt. G.A. Hartnell, RNR).

On 7 June 1944, the following ships arrived at Oran Bay after having been detached from the convoy; HMS Attacker, HMS Hunter, Benjamin Tay and Sheaf Crown.

On 7 June 1944, the following transports / tanker joined coming from Oran Bay; Anglo-African (British, 5601 GRT, built 1929), Bourgogne (French (tanker), 9357 GRT, built 1937), Bret Harte (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Corchester (British, 2374 GRT, built 1927), Daniel H. Hill (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Empire Gareth (British, 2847 GRT, built 1942), Empire Wyclif (British, 6966 GRT, built 1941), Felix Grundy (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), George G. Meade (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), James Rumsey (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), Josiah Bartlett (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Louisa M. Alcott (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Luther Martin (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Norbryn (Norwegian, 5089 GRT, built 1922), Roger Williams (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Sarah Orne Jewett (American, 7176 GRT, built 1944), Tobruk (Polish, 7048 GRT, built 1942), Tristram Dalton (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942) and Zacapa (American, 5013 GRT, built 1909).

Also joining from Oran Bay were the LST's USS LST-602 (Lt. J.H. Mehus, USNR) and USS LST-603 (Lt. W.B. Sweet, USN).

On 8 June 1944, the following transports were detached to Algiers; Alex, David Holmes, Empire Gareth, Hopecrest, Mathilda and Norbryn.

On 8 June 1944, the following transports joined the convoy coming from Algiers; Chateau Latour (French, 1912 GRT, built 1914), Corfell (British, 1802 GRT, built 1934), Elise (Greek, 1986 GRT, built 1919), Empire Gain (British (tanker), 3738 GRT, built 1943), Empire Strength (British, 7355 GRT, built 1942), Empire Valour (British, 1906 GRT, built 1943), Gezina (Norwegian, 1828 GRT, built 1917), Hardingham (British, 7269 GRT, built 1942), Ingertre (Norwegian, 2462 GRT, built 1921), Jennings (British, 1148 GRT, built 1943), Lucia C. (Italian, 6123 GRT, built 1922), Ocean Vulcan (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Odysseus (Dutch, 1057 GRT, 1922), Oregon (French, 7705 GRT, built 1929), Palermo (British, 2797 GRT, built 1938), Samaye (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Samuel V. Shreve (British, 1813 GRT, built 1943), Thistledale (British, 7241 GRT, built 1942) and Ulla (British, 1575 GRT, built 1930). With these ships was also the salvage vessel USS Tackle (Lt. D.V. van Sand, USNR) which also joined the convoy.

On 9 June 1944, the transport Lago arrived at Philippeville after having been detached from the convoy.

On 9 June 1944, the transports Dago, Elise, Hardingham, Ingertre, Lucia C., Samaye and Samuel V. Shreve arrived at Bone after having been detached from the convoy.

On 9 June 1944, the following transports joined coming from Bone. Beaconsfield (British, 4635 GRT, built 1938), Empire Candida (British, 2908 GRT, built 1943), Nordnes (Norwegian, 4147 GRT, built 1932), Ousel (British, 1533 GRT, built 1922) and Skagerak (Norwegian, 4244 GRT, built 1936).

On 10 June 1944, the following transports arrived at Bizerta after having parted company with the convoy; Baron Elgin, Corchester, Empire Gain, Gezina, Jennings, Sarah Orne Jewett and Zacapa.

Also HMS Caledon, RHS Kriti, USS LST-602 and USS LST-603 arrived at Bizerta the same day after having been detached from the convoy.

On 10 June 1944, the following transports / tankers joined the convoy coming from Bizerta; Andrew W. Moore (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), British Chemist (British (tanker), 6997 GRT, built 1925), Edward Burleson (American, 7244 GRT, built 1943), Egbert Benson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Empire Noble (British, 7125 GRT, built 1944), Empire Unicorn (British, 7067 GRT, built 1943), Fort Chesterfield (British, 7100 GRT, built 1943), Fort Cumberland (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Fort Frobisher (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), George Leonard (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), John W. Brown (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Meline (Norwegian (tanker), 6983 GRT, built 1918) and Richard Rush (American, 7180 GRT, built 1943).

On 10 June 1944, the transport Oregon arrived at Tunis after having been detached from the convoy.

On 11 June 1944, the transports Empire Falcon, Empire Strength, Palermo and Yearby arrived at Malta after having been detached from the convoy. Also the escorts HMS Evenlode and HMS Smilax arrived at Malta.

On 11 June 1944, the transports / tanker; Destro (British, 3553 GRT, built 1920), Empire Collins (British (tanker), 9796 GRT, built 1942), Fort Beausejour (British, 7151 GRT, built 1943), Fort Marin (British, 7159 GRT, built 1943), Fort Meductic (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Kyklades (Greek, 7157 GRT, built 1941), Marit Maersk (Greek (former Danish), 1894 GRT, built 1938), Ocean Gallant (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Port Melbourne (British, 9142 GRT, built 1914), Sambre (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943) and Trajanus (Dutch, 1712 GRT, built 1930) departed Augusta to join the convoy.

On 12 June 1944, the following transports / tankers arrived at Augusta after having been detached from the convoy; Andrew Moore, Anglo-African, Beaconsfield, Bourgogne, Bret Harte, Chateau Latour, Cornfell, Daniel H. Hill, Edward Burleson, Egbert Benson, Empire Dickens, Empire Valour, Empire Wyclif, Felix Grundy, Fort Frobisher, George G. Meade, George Leonard, James Rumsey, John W. Brown, Josiah Barlett, Louisa M. Alcott, Luther Martin, Nailsea Moor, Ocean Vulcan, Odysseus, Ousel, Redgate, Richard Rush, Roger Williams, Thistledale, Tobruk, Tristram Dalton and Ulla. With these ships also USS Tackle had proceeded to Augusta.

On 15 June 1944, the following transports arrived at Alexandria; Fort Beausejour, Fort Chesterfield, Fort Marin, Fort Meductic and Trajanus. With them also HMS Gloxinia, HMS Primula and HMS Wolborough arrived at Alexandria.

On 16 June 1944, the following transports / tankers arrived at Port Said; Adviser, British Chemist, British Governor, Destro, Empire Collins, Empire Noble, Empire Unicorn, Fort Churchill, Fort Cumberland, Historian, Inverbank, Kyklades, Marit Maersk, Meline, Nordnes, Ocean Gallant, Port Melbourne, Robert Morris, Sambre, Skagerak and Troilus. With them HMS Dart and HMS Shiel arrived at Port Said.

6 Jun 1944
The escort carriers HMS Attacker (Capt. H.B. Farncomb, DSO, MVO, RAN), HMS Hunter (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN), AA cruiser HMS Caledon (Capt. R.F. Nichols, RN), escort destroyer RHS Kriti, frigates HMS Evenlode (which had remained with the convoy), HMS Dart (Cdr. J.T. Jones, RD, RNR), HMS Shiel (Lt. H.P. Crail, DSC, RNR), HMS Gloxinia (Lt. D. Perry, DSC, RNR), HMS Primula (T/Lt. E.N. Wilding, RNVR), HMS Smilax (Lt. A. Branson, RNR) and A/S trawler HMS Wolborough (T/Lt. G.A. Hartnell, RNR) departed Gibraltar and joined convoy KMS 52 for escort duty.

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Combined convoy OS 78 / KMS 52 ' for 23 May 1944.

12 Jun 1944

Convoy UGS 45.

This convoy departed Hampton Roads on 12 June 1944.

It was made up of the following transports / tankers; Anna Howard Shaw (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Betty Zane (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Carrillo (American, 5013 GRT, built 1911), Cartago (American, 4732 GRT, built 1908), Charles Piez (American, 7191 GRT, built 1943), Chatham C. Lyon (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Daniel Carroll (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Denewood (British, 7280 GRT, built 1943), Eclipse (British (tanker), 9767 GRT, built 1931), Empire Rock (British, 7061 GRT, built 1943), Esso Baltimore (American (tanker), 7940 GRT, built 1938), Felipi de Bastrop (American, 7247 GRT, built 1944), Francis Marion (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Franz Klasen (Panamanian (tanker), 12425 GRT, built 1932), Gulfcoast (American, 7140 GRT, built 1937), Henry Baldwin (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Henry Jocelyn (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Heywood Broun (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Hoegh Silverstar (Norwegian, 5415 GRT, built 1938), Hugh M. Smith (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), James Kerney (American, 7210 GRT, built 1944), John A. Donald (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), John B. Ashe (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), John Jay (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), John M. Parker (American, 7176 GRT, built 1944), Joseph Goldberger (American (tanker), 7218 GRT, built 1943), Joseph H. Martin (American, 7199 GRT, built 1943), Joseph McKenna (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Joseph S. Emery (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Joseph Warren (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Justin S. Morrill (American, 7194 GRT, built 1943), Kobad (French (tanker), 7329 GRT, built 1930), Langdon Cheves (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Longwood (British (tanker), 9463 GRT, built 1930), Louis D. Brandeis (American, 7200 GRT, built 1943), Lucretia Mott (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Mary M. Dodge (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Matthew B. Brady (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Meyer Lissner (American, 7207 GRT, built 1943), Moses Austin (American, 7244 GRT, built 1943), Mount Revelstoke Park (Canadian, 7144 GRT, built 1943), Nassarius (British (tanker), 8246 GRT, built 1944), Nathan Hale (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Norheim (Norwegian (tanker), 9816 GRT, built 1941), Norholm (Norwegian (tanker), 9813 GRT, built 1941), Paine Wingate (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Ponce de Leon (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Roald Amundsen (Norwegian, 7191 GRT, built 1943), Sambay (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Samcono (British, 7210 GRT, built 1944), Samcree (British, 7210 GRT, built 1943), Samcrest (British, 7210 GRT, built 1944), Samdak (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Samearn (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Samettrick (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Samforth (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Samfreedom (British, 7210 GRT, built 1944), Samingoy (British, 7255 GRT, built 1944), Samouse (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Samshire (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Samsmola (British, 7219 GRT, built 1944), Samstrae (British, 7219 GRT, built 1944), Samteviot (British, 7219 GRT, built 1944), Samtruth (British, 7210 GRT, built 1944), Smith Thompson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Stevenson Taylor (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Theodore Foster (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Thomas F. Cunningham (American, 7218 GRT, built 1943), Valldemosa (British (tanker), 7222 GRT, built 1935), Washington Irving (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), William A. Richardson (American, 7258 GRT, built 1942), William D. Hoard (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943) and William E. Pendleton (American, 7218 GRT, built 1943).

The naval tanker USS Cossatot (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Glenwright, USNR) was also with the convoy.

On departure from Hampton Roads the convoy was escorted by Task Force 66 which was made up of the cutter USCGC Taney (Cdr. H.J. Wuensch, USCG, with COMTASKFOR 66, T/Capt. W.H. Duvall, USN, on board), destroyer escorts USS Pride (Lt.Cdr. W.H. Buxton, USCG, with COMCORTDIV 46, Cdr. R.G. French, USCG, on board), USS Mosley (Lt.Cdr. E.P. MacBryde, Jr., USCGR), USS Newell (Cdr. R.J. Roberts, USCG), USS Falgout (Cdr. H.A. Meyer, USCG), USS Lowe (Cdr. J.A. Alger, Jr., USCG), USS Joseph E. Campbell (Lt. J.M. Robertson, 2nd, USNR, with COMCORTDIV 21, T/Capt. L.M. Markham, Jr., USN, on board), USS Chase (Lt.Cdr. G.O. Knapp, 2nd, USNR), USS Laning (Lt.Cdr. Shuman, Jr., USNR), USS Barber (Lt. E.T.B. Sullivan, USNR), USS Fessenden (Lt.Cdr. W.A. Dobbs, USNR) and the patrol vessel Coutelas.

Around 1900Q/13, the transport Thomas Stone (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942) joined the convoy having been unable to departed with the convoy when it departed from Hampton Roads. She was sailed later on the 12th to overtake and join the convoy.

Around 1900Q/14, the escort carrier HMS Queen (A/Capt. K.J. D'Arcy, DSO, RN) (in an aircraft ferry role) joined the convoy coming from New York which she had departed on 13 June. She was escorted by the destroyer escorts USS Burrows (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Graham, USNR) and USS Loy (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Pond, Jr., USNR) which also joined the convoy.

On 16 June 1944, USS Cossatot fuelled USS Joseph E. Campbell, USS Loy, USS Chase, USS Barber and USS Laning.

On 18 June 1944, USS Cossatot fuelled the Coutelas.

Around 0800O/21, in position 33°31'N, 35°35'W, the transport Henry Baldwin was detached to the Azores. She was escorted by USS Falgout and USS Lowe. The destroyer escorts rejoined the convoy around 0945N/23.

During 21 June 1944, USS Cossatot fuelled USS Joseph E. Campbell, USS Loy, USS Laning, USS Barber, USS Chase, USCGC Taney and the Coutelas.

At 1738O/21, the tanker Valldemosa suffered an engine breakdown. USS Joseph E. Campbell was ordered to standby the stricken ship which was able to get underway later to rejoin the convoy which they did on 25 June.

At 1825N/23, the tanker Franz Klasen suffered an engine breakdown. USS Burrows was ordered to standby the stricken ship which was able to get underway later to rejoin the convoy which they did on 25 June.

Around 1400Z/26, the Casablanca section of the convoy broke off. This was made up of the following ships; Samconan, Samshireiu, Smith Thompson and HMS Queen. To escort them there the the minesweeping sloops La Boudeuse, La Gracieuse and the patrol vessels USS PC-482 (Lt. D.W. Hunter, USNR) and L'Indiscret. These escorts had departed Casablanca earlier on the 26th. They returned with the Casablanca section of the convoy on 27 June 1944.

During 26 June 1944, USS Cossatot fuelled USS Joseph E. Campbell, USS Loy, USS Chase, USS Laning and USS Barber.

Around 0745A/27, USS Fessenden and USS Falgout were ordered to proceed to Gibraltar. The firs one was to escort an Italian submarine from Gibraltar to Bermuda and the second was to pick up a liason officer and then rejoin the convoy.

Around 1300A/27, the transport Samcrest was detached to Gibraltar.

Around 1500A/27, the transport Patrick Henry (American, 7191 GRT, built 1941) and the rescue tug HMRT Athlete joined the convoy coming from Gibraltar. Also USS Falgout rejoined.

Around 1700B/28, the following ships were detached to Oran; Betty Zane, Cartago, Gulfcoast, Hugh M. Smith, Joseph Warren, Lucretia Mott and Ponce de Leon.

Around 1800B/28, the following ships joined the convoy coming from Oran; Andrew Briscoe (American, 7244 GRT, built 1944), Asa Gray (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Bret Harte (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Cape Howe (British, 6999 GRT, built 1943), Crosby S. Noyes (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Dallington Court (British, 6889 GRT, built 1929), Empire Bombardier (British (tanker), 8202 GRT, built 1943), George F. Patten (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), James Jackson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Jonathan Worth (American, 7177 GRT, built 1943), Robert F. Stockton (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Robert T. Hill (American, 7244 GRT, built 1943), Tristram Dalton (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), William G. Fargo (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943) and Woodbridge Ferris (American, 7200 GRT, built 1943). Also joining from Oran were the AA cruiser HMS Colombo (Capt. C.T. Jellicoe, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), destroyers USS Madison (T/Cdr. D.A. Stuart, USN), USS Livermore (T/Cdr. H.E. Siedel, Jr., USN) and the naval tug USS ATR-1 (Lt.(jg) H.L. MacGill, USN).

At 0800B/29, the transport Samfreedom parted company with the convoy to proceed ahead of it to Algiers to embark a British convoy commodore. She was escorted by USS Joseph E. Campbell. They rejoined the convoy around 1400B/29 together with three other ships joining from Algiers, these were the following; Crackshot (British, 2379 GRT, built 1924), Lucia C. (Italian, 6123 GRT, built 1922) and Motia (Italian, 2336 GRT, built 1918).

Around 1700B/29, the following ships were detached to Algiers; Bret Harte, Jonathan Worth, Meyer Lissner, Samstrae and Thomas F. Cunningham.

Around 1340B/30, the Lucia C. was detached to Philippeville.

Around 1900B/30, HMRT Athlete was detached to Bone while the transport Ocean Trader (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942) joined the convoy coming from Bone.

Around 0100B/1, USS Madison and USS Livermore were detached to westbound convoy GUS 44.

At 0730B/1, British escorts joined the convoy. These were the frigate HMS Shiel (Lt. H.P. Crail, DSC, RNR, with Cdr. J.T. Jones, RD, RNR, (S.O. 49th Escort Group) on board), minesweeper HMS Sharpshooter (Lt.Cdr. W.L. O'Mara, DSC, RN) and the corvettes HMS Gloxinia (Lt. D. Perry, DSC, RNR) and HMS Primula (T/Lt. E.N. Wilding, RNVR). With them the transport Hjalmar Wessel (Norwegian, 1742 GRT, built 1935) also joined;

The entire current escort and the naval tanker USS Cossatot then proceeded to Bizerta as did the following ships of the convoy; Crosby S. Noyes, Empire Bombardier, Longwood, Nassarius and William E. Pendleton.

On 2 July 1944, the following ships departed Augusta to join the convoy; Empire Baxter (British, 7024 GRT, built 1941), John Stagg (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Thistledale (British, 7241 GRT, built 1942) and Vasco (British, 2878 GRT, built 1939).

On 3 July 1944, following ships arrived at Augusta after having parted company with the convoy; Andrew Briscoe, Asa Gray, Cape Howe, Carrillo, Charles Piez, Chatham C. Lyon, Crackshot, Dallington Court, Daniel Carroll, Empire Rock, Esso Baltimore, Francis Marion, Franz Klasen, George F. Patten, Henry Jocelyn, Hjalmar Wessel, James Jackson, John Jay, Joseph Goldberger, Joseph H. Martin, Joseph McKenna, Joseph S. Emery, Justin S. Morrill, Kobad, Langdon Cheves, Louis D. Brandeis, Moses Austin, Motia, Norheim, Norholm, Ocean Trader, Paine Wingate, Patrick Henry, Roald Amundsen, Robert F. Stockton, Robert T. Hill, Theodore Foster, Tristram Dalton, Valldemosa, Washington Irving, William G. Fargo Woodbridge N. Ferris and USS ATR-1.

On 6 July 1944, the following ships arrived at Alexandria after having been detached from the convoy; Samdak, Samouse, Samtruth, Thistldale and Vasco. The corvettes HMS Gloxinia and HMS Primula also arrived at Alexandria.

The remainder of the convoy arrived at Port Said on 7 July 1944 escorted by HMS Shiel and HMS Sharpshooter.

24 Jun 1944

Convoy GUS 44.

This convoy departed Port Said on 24 June 1944.

On departure from Port Said the convoy was made up of the following transports / tankers; Baron Herries (British, 4574 GRT, built 1940), British Governor (British (tanker), 6840 GRT, built 1926), British Tradition (British (tanker), 8443 GRT, built 1942), Cardinal Gibbons (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Fernbrook (Norwegian, 4633 GRT, built 1932), George K. Fitch (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Jan Slievens (Dutch, 7178 GRT, built 1942), John Fitch (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), Lewis Emery Jr. (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Malvina (Dutch (tanker), 8249 GRT, built 1932), Meonia (Danish, 5214 GRT, built 1927), Oscar Underwood (American, 7207 GRT, built 1944), Sampford (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Sherman O Houghton (American, 7207 GRT, built 1944), Wayne Macveach (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943) and William M. Meredith (American, 7180 GRT, built 1943).

On departure from Port Said the convoy was escorted by the frigate HMS Shiel (Lt. H.P. Crail, DSC, RNR, with Cdr. J.T. Jones, RD, RNR, (S.O. 49th Escort Group) no board) and minesweeper HMS Sharpshooter (Lt.Cdr. W.L. O'Mara, DSC, RN).

On 25 June 1944 the following transports joined the convoy coming from Alexandria; Empire Lionel (British, 7030 GRT, built 1942), Fort Meductic (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Nathaniel Macon (American, 7177 GRT, built 1943) and Samphire (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943). They were escorted by the corvettes HMS Gloxinia (Lt. D. Perry, DSC, RNR) and HMS Primula (T/Lt. E.N. Wilding, RNVR) which also joined the convoy.

On 28 June 1944 the following transports / tankers departed Augusta to join the convoy; Beaconsfield (British, 4635 GRT, built 1938), Beckenham (British, 4636 GRT, built 1937), Charles A. Warfield (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Cistula (Dutch (tanker), 8097 GRT, built 1939), Edward N. Hurley (American, 7191 GRT, built 1943), Edward Richardson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Edwin L. Godkin (American, 7198 GRT, built 1943), Empire Cobbett (British (tanker), 9811 GRT, built 1942), Empire Harbour (British (tanker), 797 GRT, built 1943), Empire Nugget (British (tanker), 9807 GRT, built 1942), Empire Stength (British, 7355 GRT, built 1942), Empire Wordsworth (British (tanker), 9891 GRT, built 1942), Fort Clatsop (British, 7157 GRT, built 1943), Furnifold M. Simmons (American, 7177 GRT, built 1943), Hopestar (British, 5267 GRT, built 1936), Houston Volunteers (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Joseph T. Robinson (American, 7196 GRT, built 1943), Kola (British, 1538 GRT, built 1924), Louis McLane (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), M.M. Guhin (American, 7180 GRT, 1943), Mactra (British (tanker), 6193 GRT, built 1936), Madras City (British, 5080 GRT, built 1940), Moray Coast (British, 687 GRT, built 1940), Moses Rogers (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), Pronto (Norwegian, 2201 GRT, built 1920), Regent Lion (British (tanker), 9551 GRT, built 1937), Sun (American (tanker), 9002 GRT, built 1928), Thomas Hart Benton (American, 7187 GRT, built 1943), Thomas Sumter (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Trondheim (Norwegian (tanker), 8258 GRT, 1939), Walter E. Ranger (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943) and Zaanstroom (Dutch, 1646 GRT, built 1920).

The following transports / tankers were detached to August where the arrived on 28 June 1944; British Tradition, Empire Lionel, Fort Meductic, George K. Fitch, Jan Lievents, Malvina, Oscar Underwood, Sampford and Samphire.

On 29 June 1944, the transport Robert Newell (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943) joined the convoy coming from Malta.

On 30 June 1944, the transport Meonia arrived at Tunis after having been detached from the convoy.

On 30 June 1944, the transports Baron Herries , Empire Harbour, Furnifold M. Simmons and Hopestar arrived at Benghazi after having been detached from the convoy while the following transports / tankers joined the convoy coming from Benhazi; Haakon Hauan (Norwegian (tanker), 6582 GRT, built 1935), Jobshaven (Dutch, 3528 GRT, built 1916), Murena (Dutch (tanker), 8252 GRT, built 1931), Neritina (British (tanker), 8228 GRT, built 1943) and Tarleton Brown (American, 7191 GRT, built 1943).

Also the current escort, which arrived at Bizerta on 30 June 1944, was relieved by a new escort which was made up of the AA cruiser HMS Caledon (Capt. R.F. Nichols, RN), the cutter USCGC Ingham (Cdr. K.O.A. Zittel, USCG, with COMTASKFOR 65, T/Capt. W.R. Headden, USN on board) and the escort destroyers USS Price (Lt.Cdr. J.W. Higgins, Jr., USNR, with COMCORTDIV 58, T/Cdr. E.E. Garcia, USN on board), USS Stanton (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Tiffany, USNR), USS Strickland (Lt.Cdr. A.J. Hopkins, USNR), Forster (Lt. J.N. Clayton, USNR), Stockdale (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Luther, USNR), Hissem (Lt.Cdr. W.W. Low, USNR), USS Otter (Lt.Cdr. D.M. Kerr, USNR, with COMCORTDIV 62, T/Cdr. J.F. Bowling, Jr., USN), USS Hubbard (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Mabley, USNR), USS Hayter (Lt.Cdr. H.J. Theriault, USNR), USS Varian (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Petrie, USNR), USS Scroggings (T/Lt.Cdr. H. Kriloff, USN) and USS Jack W. Wilke (T/Cdr. R.D. Lowther, USN).

Around 0037B/1, the destroyers USS Madison (T/Cdr. D.A. Stuart, USN) and USS Livermore (T/Cdr. H.E. Siedel, Jr., USN) joined for jammer duty (against German radio controlled bombs).

Around 0415B/1, the transports Beaconsfield, Kola and Pronto were detached to Bone. Later the Jobshaven was detached to Philippeville.

Around 0550B/1, the rescue tugs HMRT Mindful and HMRT Aspirant joined the convoy.

Around 0643B/2, the transports / tankers Beckenham, British Governor, Fort Clatsop and Zaanstroom as well as HMRT Mindful were detached to Algiers.

Around 0715B/2, the transports / tankers Bourgogne (French (tanker), 9357 GRT, built 1937), Empire Dickens (British (tanker), 9819 GRT, built 1942), Empire Falcon (British, 4970 GRT, built 1918), Fomalhaut (French, 5795 GRT, built 1936) and Peribonka (British, 5673 GRT, built 1937) joined coming from Algiers.

Around 0410B/3, HMS Caledon parted company with the convoy to proceed to Gibraltar.

At 0620B/3, USS Madison and USS Livermore parted company to proceed to Oran Bay taking the transports Edward N. Hurley, Edward Richardson, Edwin L. Godkin, Joseph T. Robinson, Louis McClane, M.M. Guhin, Moses Rogers, Tarleton Brown, Thomas Hart Benton and Thomas Sumter with them. Around the same time the following transports joined from Oran Bay; Belgian Airman (Belgian, 6960 GRT, built 1942), Gulfcoast (American, 7140 GRT, built 1937) and Samhope (7210 GRT, built 1944). Also joining were the naval tanker USS Merrimack (T/Capt. R.A. MacKerracher, USN), stores ship USS Polaris (T/Cdr. C.R. Miller, USN) and the tug USS Cocopa (Lt. J.C. Hutcheson, USNR) which was towing the damaged destroyer USS Laub (T/Cdr. A.C. Roessler, USN).

Around 0815A/4, the following transports Empire Strength, Moray Coast and Peribonka were detached to Gibraltar.

At 1740A/4, the following tankers Haakon Hauan, Neritina and Trondheim were detached to Casablanca escorted by the minesweeping sloop La Boudeuse and the patrol vessels L'Eveille and USS PC-482 (Lt. D.W. Hunter, USNR).

Around the same time the transports Hopecrest (British, 5099 GRT, built 1935) and Sambanka (British, 7219 GRT, built 1944) as well as the tug USS Cherokee (Lt. L.G. Johnson, USN) which was towing the damaged destroyer escort USS Barr (Lt.Cdr. P.T. Dickie, Jr., USNR) joined coming from Casablanca. They had been escorted to the rendezvous by the same escorts that were now escorting the above listed vessels to Casablanca.

On 6 July 1944, all escorts fuelled from USS Merrimack.

Around 0400O/9, USS Menges parted company to contact the ships joining from the Azores. Around 0800O/9 she returned with the tanker Norsol (Norwegian (tanker), 8236 GRT, built 1941) as well as the tug USS Carib (Lt. A.T. Terrio, USN) which was towing the damaged destroyer escort USS Menges (Lt.Cdr. F.M. McCabe, USCG). These ships had been escorted to the rendezvous by the A/S trawler HMS Paynter (T/Lt. T.B.S. Brown, RNVR). HMS Paynter did not join the convoy.

Around 0615Q/16, when in position 35°31'N, 65°40'E, USS Merrimack parted company with the convoy to proceed to Bermuda. To escort her to that place the escort destroyers USS Jesse Rutherford (Lt.Cdr. B.M. Henry, USNR), USS Traw (Lt.Cdr. J.T. Kilbreth, Jr., USNR) and USS Leland E. Thomass (Lt.Cdr. L.E. Rosenberg, USNR) had joined. They arrived at Bermuda around 2130Q/16.

Around 1320Q/16, the three tugs with their tows were detached to Bermuda. To escort them the escort destroyers USS Price and USS Stockdale. They arrived at Bermuda around 2000Q/17. The two destroyer escorts remained out patrolling of Bermuda and arrived at Bermuda around 0600Q/18.

Around 1900Q/16, the ' Chesapeake Bay Section ' of the convoy made up of 15 transports / tankers parted company. They were escorted by the destroyer escorts USS Hubbard (which now had COMCORTDIV 62 on board), USS Hayter, USS Scroggings and USS Jack W. Wilke. The ' Chesapeake Bay Section ' entered Chesapeake Bay in the morning of the 17th. The four destroyer escorts then proceeded to New York.

Around 0800Q/17, the ' Delaware Section ' of the convoy, which was made up of thee tankers (Gulfcoast, Norsol and Sun), parted company escorted by USS Varian. Around 0348Q/18, the tankers entered the swept channel and USS Vervain parted company to proceed to New York where she arrived in the afternoon.

The bulk of the convoy arrived at New York in the morning of 18 July 1944.

18 Jul 1944

Convoy MKS 56.

This convoy departed Port Said on 18 July 1944.

On departure from Port Said the convoy was made up of the transports / tankers; Avristan (British, 7266 GRT, built 1942), Canara (British, 7024 GRT, built 1942), Durenda (British, 7241 GRT, built 1922), Empire Baxter (British, 7024 GRT, built 1941), Empire Confidence (British, 5023 GRT, built 1925), Fort Orleans (British, 7166 GRT, built 1943), Jersey Hart (British, 7275 GRT, built 1943), Manchester Division (British, 6048 GRT, built 1918), Meline (Norwegian (tanker), 6983 GRT, built 1918), Raymond T. Baker (American, 7207 GRT, built 1944), Samana (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Sambur (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Samcleve (British, 7219 GRT, built 1943), Thistledale (British, 7241 GRT, built 1942), Troubadour (Panamanian, 6428 GRT, built 1920), Van der Capelle (Dutch, 7037 GRT, built 1942) and Wanderer (British, 5079 GRT, built 1925).

The rescue tug HMRT Hesperia was also part of the convoy

On departure from Port Said the convoy was escorted by the frigates HMS Dart (Cdr. J.T. Jones, RD, RNR) and HMS Shiel (Lt. H.P. Crail, DSC, RNR).

On 19 July 1944 the convoy was joined by the transports; Caduceus (British, 4364 GRT, built 1927), Empire Tide (British, 6978 GRT, built 1941), Fort Meductic (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Indiana (Panamanian, 5751 GRT, built 1917), Vasco (British, 2878 GRT, built 1939) which came from Alexandria. They were escorted by the minesweeper HMS Sharpshooter (Lt.Cdr. W.L. O'Mara, DSC, RN) and the corvettes HMS Gloxinia (Lt. D. Perry, DSC, RNR) and HMS Primula (T/Lt. E.N. Wilding, RNVR).

On 21 July 1944, the Manchester Division arrived at Alexandria apparently having been detached from the convoy.

Around 1750B/23, the following transports / tankers departed Augusta to join the convoy which they did around 0630B/24 in position 36°23'N, 15°08'E; Carrillo (American, 5013 GRT, built 1911), Cotton Valley (British, 1155 GRT, built 1943), Empire Fay (British (tanker), 814 GRT, built 1943), Empire Lass (British (tanker), 813 GRT, built 1941), Esneh (British, 1931 GRT, built 1919), Pan-Maryland (American (tanker), 7701 GRT, built 1938), Piere Soule (British, 7191 GRT, built 1943), Stephen A. Douglas (British, 7219 GRT, built 1942) and Vito (Norwegian, 5181 GRT, built 1937). They were escorted by Italian torpedoboat Ardimentoso and the corvettes Driade and Baionetta.]

Around 1600B/24, the following transports / tankers arrived at Augusta after having parted company with the convoy at 0545B/24 in position 36°22'N, 15°13'E; Canara, Empire Tide, Fort Meductic, Jersey Hart, Meline, Raymond T. Baker, Thistledale, Van der Capelle and Vasco. [They were most likely escorting in by the same ships that had escorted the vessels leaving Augusta.]

Around 1630B/24, in position 36°35'N, 13°33'E, the following merchant vessels joined from Augusta (they had sailed late); Empire Copperfield (British, 6013 GRT, built 1943) and Fort Dauphin (British, 7133 GRT, built 1943).

On 24 July 1944, the transports / tankers Antonia (Dutch (tanker), 3357 GRT, built 1938) and Cape Brenton (British, 6044 GRT, built 1940) departed Malta to join the convoy which they did at 1100B/24 in position 36°29'N, 14°28'E. Also joining from Malta were the auxiliary minelayer HMS Teviotbank (Cdr.(Retd.) R.D. King-Harman, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), submarine HMS Tactician (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Collett, DSC and Bar, RN) and a reinforcement for the A/S escort the Yugoslavian corvette Nada.

On 25 July 1944, the Antonia, Empire Fay and HMRT Hesperia arrived at Bizerta after having been detached from the convoy at 1630B/25 2 nautical miles north of Bizerta while the transport Redgate (British, 4323 GRT, built 1929) joined the convoy as did the AA cruiser HMS Caledon (Capt. R.F. Nichols, RN) and the landing ship HMS Thruster (A/Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. McMullan, DSC, RNR) around the same time.

On 26 July 1944, the Vito arrived at Bone after having been detached from the convoy at 0615B/26 in position 37°23'N, 07°44'E, while the transport Empire Trent (British, 5006 GRT, built 1927) and the tug HMRT Aspirant joined the convoy around the same time.

On 27 July 1944, the Cotton Valley, Empire Baxter, Empire Copperfield, Empire Lass, Fort Dauphin, Indiana, Pan-Maryland, Pierre Soule, Stephen A. Douglas, HMS Thruster and HMRT Aspirant all arrived at Algiers after having been detached from the convoy at 1425B/27 in position 37°04'N, 03°06'E, while the transports Balfe (British, 5369 GRT, built 1920), Baron Douglas (British, 3899 GRT, built 1932), Baron Herries (British, 4574 GRT, built 1940), Cromarty (British, 4974 GRT, built 1936) and Lieutenant de la Tour (French, 5844 GRT, built 1917) joined the convoy.

On 28 July 1944, the Carrillo, Esneh and Lieutenant de la Tour arrived at Oran Bay after having parted company with the convoy at 1500B/28 in position 36°00'N, 00°38'W, while the the transports Cydonia (British, 3517 GRT, built 1927) and Jobshaven (Dutch, 3528 GRT, built 1916) joined the convoy.

On 29 July 1944, the following transports arrived at Gibraltar; Balfe, Baron Douglas, Baron Herries, Caduceus, Cape Brenton, Cydonia, Durenda and Fort Orleans. With them HMS Caledon, HMS Tactician, HMS Dart, HMS Shiel, HMS Sharpshooter, HMS Gloxinia, HMS Primula and Nada also arrived at Gibraltar.

The remaining transports joined convoy MKS 56G for further passage to the U.K. now escorted by a new escort which joined off Gibraltar. This new escort was made up of the destroyer HMS Hesperus (Cdr. G.V. Legassick, RD, RNR), frigates HMS Cotton (Lt.Cdr. I.W.T. Beloe, RN), HMS Gardiner (A/Lt.Cdr. W.G.H. Bolton, DSC, RD, RNR) and the corvettes HMS Flint Castle (T/Lt. S.G. Wright, RNVR), HMS Oxford Castle (T/Lt. H.E. Holden, DSC, RNR), HMS Rushen Castle (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.C. Warwick, DSC and Bar, RNR) and HNoMS Tunsberg Castle (?). With this new escort also the following merchant vessels joined the convoy; Algonquin Park (Canadian, 7130 GRT, 1942), Empire Wyclif (British, 6966 GRT, built 1941), Framlington Court (British, 4888 GRT, built 1924) and Glaisdale (British, 3777 GRT, built 1929) as did the escort oiler San Tirso (British (tanker), 6266 GRT, built 1913) and the rescue ship Gothland (British, 1286 GRT, built 1932).

Also on 30 July the Redgate arrived at Gibraltar after having straggled from the convoy.

At 1600B/31, the convoy merged with convoy SL 165 coming from Freetown to form the combined convoy SL 165 / KMS 56. (15)

Sources

  1. ADM 173/16288
  2. ADM 199/387
  3. ADM 234/325 + ADM 234/326
  4. ADM 199/414 + ADM 199/656 + ADM 223/679 + ADM 234/335
  5. Report of proceedings of the 10th Destroyer Flotilla for February 1941 + Report of proceedings of HMAS Stuart for February 1941
  6. ADM 199/414 + ADM 199/656
  7. ADM 173/17167
  8. ADM 199/415
  9. ADM 173/17140
  10. ADM 53/116424
  11. ADM 199/650
  12. ADM 173/17330
  13. ADM 53/ + ADM 187/22 + ADM 199/651
  14. ADM 199/773
  15. ADM 199/319

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


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