Allied Warships

HMS Hydrangea (K 39)

Corvette of the Flower class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeCorvette
ClassFlower 
PennantK 39 
Built byFerguson Shipbuilders. Ltd. (Port Glasgow, Scotland) 
Ordered31 Aug 1939 
Laid down22 Nov 1939 
Launched4 Sep 1940 
Commissioned3 Jan 1941 
End service 
History

HMS Hydrangea is not listed as active unit in the October 1945 Navy List

Sold in 1947.
Became the merchantile Hydralock in 1948.
Wrecked off Formosa on 25 February 1957.

 

Commands listed for HMS Hydrangea (K 39)

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. Joseph Eric Woolfenden, RNROct 19401 May 1943
2T/A/Lt.Cdr. Frederick Standen Howell, RNR1 May 194314 Feb 1944
3T/Lt. Trevor Davies Bennett, RNR14 Feb 1944late 1944

4T/Lt. Edwin Charles Leaver, RNRDec 19444 Jan 1945
5Lt.Cdr. Sydney Warren Hicks, RNZNVR4 Jan 1945Jun 1945

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Notable events involving Hydrangea include:


14 Feb 1941
HMS H 28 (Lt. L.W.A. Bennington, DSC, RN) participated in A/S exercises off Tobermory. Upon completion of these exercises she proceeded to Rothesay together with the Norwegian submarine B 1. They were escorted by the corvette HMS Hydrangea (Lt. J.E. Woolfenden, RNR). (1)

15 Feb 1941
HMS H 50 (Lt. M. Willmott, RN) departed Rothesay for Tobermory. She was escorted by HMS Hydrangea (Lt. J.E. Woolfenden, RNR). (2)

1 Mar 1941

Convoy HX 112.

This convoy departed Halifax on 1 March 1941 for the U.K.

On departure from Halifax it was made up of the following merchant vessels; Ahamo (British, 8621 GRT, built 1926), Auris (British (tanker), 8030 GRT, built 1935), Bic Island (British, 4000 GRT, built 1917), Black Condor (British, 5358 GRT, built 1921), Bonde (Norwegian, 1570 GRT, built 1936), Chaucer (British, 5792 GRT, built 1929), City of Oxford (British, 2759 GRT, built 1926), Dalcross (British, 4557 GRT, built 1930), Everleigh (British, 5222 GRT, built 1930), Ferm (British (tanker), 6593 GRT, built 1933), Gloucester City (British, 3071 GRT, built 1919), J.B. White (British, 7375 GRT, built 1919), Korshamn (British, 6673 GRT, built 1920), Lancaster Castle (British, 5172 GRT, built 1937), Lima (Swedish, 3762 GRT, built 1918), Margarita Chandris (Greek, 5401 GRT, built 1920), Mosli (Norwegian (tanker), 8291 GRT, built 1935), Mount Kassion (Greek, 7914 GRT, built 1918), Norefjord (Norwegian, 3082 GRT, built 1920), Reynolds (British, 5113 GRT, built 1927), Silvercedar (British, 4354 GRT, built 1924), Stad Haarlem (Dutch, 4518 GRT, built 1929), Tortu Guero (British, 5285 GRT, built 1921), Trekieve (British, 5244 GRT, built 1919), Venetia (British, 5728 GRT, built 1927) and Westland (Dutch, 5888 GRT, built 1931).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Ranpura (A/Capt.(Retd.) H.T.W. Pawsey, OBE, RN) and the corvettes HMCS Bittersweet (A/Lt.Cdr. J.A. Woods, RCNR) and HMCS Fennel (Lt. J.N. Smith, RCNR). The corvettes were however soon detached to return to Halifax.

In the morning of 4 March the heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.F. Wake-Walker CB, OBE, RN) was sighted which provided close cover for the convoy until the morning of 15 March.

In the morning of 5 March 1941, Convoy BHX 112, coming from Bermuda, merged with Convoy HX 112. so the following merchant vessels joined; Beduin (Norwegian (tanker), 8136 GRT, built 1936), British Commodore (British (tanker), 6865 GRT, built 1923), British Sincerity (British (tanker), 8538 GRT, built 1939), Cistula (Dutch (tanker), 8097 GRT, built 1939), Diloma (British (tanker), 8146 GRT, built 1939), Elona (British (tanker), 6192 GRT, built 1936), Erodona (British (tanker), 6207 GRT, built 1937), Franche-Comte (British (tanker), 9314 GRT, built 1936), Ixion (British, 10263 GRT, built 1912), Katendrecht (British (tanker), 5099 GRT, built 1925), Ocana (British (tanker), 6256 GRT, built 1938), Oilreliance (British (tanker), 5666 GRT, built 1929), Robert F. Hand (British (tanker), 12197 GRT, built 1933), San Cipriano (British (tanker), 7966 GRT, built 1937), Traveller (British, 3963 GRT, built 1922) and Winamac (British (tanker), 8621 GRT, built 1926). Their escort, the armed merchant cruiser HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN), then parted company.

At 1620N/14, HMS Ranpura parted company with the convoy.

At 0720Z/15, HMS Norfolk parted company with the convoy.

Later on the 15th the destroyers HMS Vanoc (Lt.Cdr. J.G.W. Deneys, RN), HMS Walker (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, RN), HMS Sardonyx (Lt.Cdr. R.B.S. Tennant, RN), HMS Scimitar (Lt. R.D. Franks, OBE, RN), escort destroyer HMS Viceroy (Lt.Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN) and the corvettes HMS Bluebell (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Sherwood, RNR) and HMS Hydrangea (Lt. J.E. Woolfenden, RNR) joined the convoy. HMS Viceroy was however soon detached while the destroyer HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) also joined (or early on the 16th).

During the night of 15/16 March the German submarine U-110 sighted the convoy and then attacked it damaging the tanker Erodona. Following this attack she was depth charged by HMS Volunteer and HMS Vanoc but she managed to escape without damage. Later that night U-110 made another attack but her torpedoes all missed.

During the night of 16/17 March the German submarine U-99 attacked the convoy resulting in the loss of the following ships; Venetia, Ferm, J.B. White, Korshamn, Beduin. The Franche Comté was damaged during these attacks.

Following these attacks the escorts encountered U-99's sister boat U-100. HMS Scimitar depth charged her causing damage. The U-boat than surfaced and was then rammed and sunk by HMS Vanoc. 6 survivors were picked up from the enemy submarine.

Shortly afterwards U-99 was depth charged by HMS Walker. The U-boat was damaged and had to surface. HMS Walker was able to pick up 40 survivors from the U-boat including it's famous Commanding Officer Otto Kretschmer.

On the 18th, HMS Bluebell was detached.

On the 19th, HMS Walker, HMS Sardonyx and HMS Scimitar were detached.

The convoy arrived in U.K. waters on the 20th.

6 May 1941

Convoy HX 125

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The convoy arrived in British waters on 22 May 1941.

8 Jun 1941

Convoy SL 77.

This convoy departed Freetown for the U.K. on 8 June 1941.

On departure from Freetown the convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Aliakmon (Greek, 4521 GRT, built 1913), Banfora (British, 9472 GRT, built 1914), Blackheath (British, 4637 GRT, built 1936), Boskoop (Dutch, 5620 GRT, built 1927), Chulmleigh (British, 5445 GRT, built 1938), Ile de Batz (British, 5755 GRT, built 1918), John Holt (British, 4975 GRT, built 1938), Kindat (British, 4358 GRT, built 1938), Macuba (Dutch (tanker), 8249 GRT, built 1931), Mahsud (British, 7540 GRT, built 1917), Peebles (British, 4982 GRT, built 1936), Spar (Dutch, 3616 GRT, built 1924) and Storaas (Norwegian (tanker), 7886 GRT, built 1929).

On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by armed merchant cruiser HMS Arawa (A/Capt. G.R. Deverell, RN) and the corvettes HMS Gardenia (Lt.Cdr. H. Hill, RD, RNR), HMS Marguerite (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Blundell, RNR) and the auxiliary A/S yacht HMS Surprise (Capt.(Retd.) E. Stubbs, RN).

The merchant vessels Aliakmon and Blackheath however soon returned to Freetown due to engine defects.

At 1015N/10, the convoy was joined by the corvette HMS Cyclamen (Lt. H.N. Lawson, RNR). She parted company around 0800N/11.

HMS Gardenia and HMS Marguerite and HMS Surprise parted company in the afternoon of 13 June.

Around 1130N/15, the heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN) joined the convoy as did the merchant vessels Anglo Indian (British, 5609 GRT, built 1938), Cordillera (British, 6865 GRT, built 1920), Gascony (British, 4716 GRT, built 1925), and Stornest (British, 4265 GRT, built 1921) which had been brought out from St. Vincent by the corvette HMS Cyclamen.

At 1810N/15, HMS Surprise parted company with the convoy.

Around noon on 21 June, the merchant vessel Peebles was detached to the Azores due to engine defects.

Around 1100Z/27, HMS Norfolk was detached to proceed to Scapa Flow.

Around 0700A/28, the armed boarding vessel HMS Hilary (Cdr. T.L. Owen, RD, RNR) joined the convoy.

Around 0100B/28, the armed boarding vessel Cavina (Cdr. C.B. Osborne, RD, RNR) joined the convoy.

Around 0800B/28, the corvette HMS Wallflower (Lt.Cdr. I.J. Tyson, RN) joined the convoy.

Around 1140B/28, the destroyer HMS Vanoc (Lt.Cdr. J.G.W. Deneys, DSO, RN) joined the convoy.

Around 1210B/28, the destroyers HMS Walker (Cdr. D.G.F.W. MacIntyre, DSO, RN), HNoMS Bath (Lt.Cdr. C.F.T. Melsom) and the corvette HMS Hydrangea (Lt. J.E. Woolfenden, RNR) joined the convoy.

Around 1300B/28, the rescue ship Toward (British, 1571 GRT, built 1923) joined the convoy.

The convoy arrived in U.K. waters on 2 July 1941.

3 Aug 1941
German U-boat U-401 in the North Atlantic south-west of Ireland, in position 50°30'N, 19°35'W, by depth charges from the British corvette HMS Hydrangea (Lt. J.E. Woolfenden, RNR).

5 Aug 1941
HMS Hydrangea (Lt. J.E. Woolfenden, RNR) picks up 36 survivors from the British merchant Cape Rodney that foundered west of Ushant in position 52°44'N, 11°41'W after being torpedoed and damaged west of Ireland in position 53°26'N, 15°40'W by German U-boat U-75.

Hydrangea also picks up 39 survivors from the British merchant Harlingen that was torpedoed and sunk by U-75 in the same attack.

19 Mar 1942

Convoy AS 2.

This convoy departed Charleston, South Carolina, USA on 19 March 1942.

The convoy was made up of the following (troop) transports; Agwileon (American, 6678 GRT, built 1907), Brazil (American, 20614 GRT, built 1929) and Mormactide (American, 7773 GRT, built 1941).

They were escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. R.D. Oliver, DSC, RN), escort carrier HMS Archer (Cdr. J.I. Robertson, RN) and the destroyers USS Upshur (Lt.Cdr. W.K. Romoser, USN), USS Du Pont (T/Lt.Cdr. F.M. Adamson, USN) and USS Cole (Lt.Cdr. W.L. Dyer, USN).

Around 0800Q/20, the destroyer USS Du Pont was detached to return to Charlestown.

Around 1200Q/22, HMS Devonshire was detached to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands where she arrived later the same day.

The convoy arrived at San Juan, Puerto Rico later the same day.

At 0900Q/23, the Agwileon departed San Juan for St. Thomas where she arrived later the same day to fuel. She was escorted by USS Cole.

Around 0630Q/24, the Brazil, Mormactide and HMS Archer departed San Juan. They were joined off the harbour entrance by USS Upshur who first had conducted an A/S sweep of the harbour prior to the departure of the convoy.

Around 1400Q/24, the Agwileon, HMS Devonshire and USS Cole joined the convoy coming from St. Thomas.

Around 0900P/25, the troopship Monterey (American, 148017 GRT, built 1932) and USS Du Pont joined the convoy. They had departed Charleston around 1900Q/21.

Around 0645P/26, USS Du Pont was detached from the convoy. She was to proceed to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

Around 0400P/27, USS Upshur was detached from the convoy. She was to proceed to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

Around 0600P/28, USS Cole was detached to proceed to Bermuda.

Around 1500N/1, the corvettes FFS Commandant Detroyant and HMS Hydrangea (A/Lt.Cdr. J.E. Woolfenden, RNR) joined.

Around 1400N/2, HMS Devonshire parted company with the convoy to proceed ahead of it to Freetown where she arrived around 0600Z/3.

The convoy arrived around 1430Z/3. (3)

24 Mar 1942

Convoy WS 17.

This convoy was assembled off Oversay on 24 March 1942.

It was made up of the following (troop) transports;
Abosso (British, 11330 GRT, built 1935), Almanzora (British, 15551 GRT, built 1914), Arundel Castle (British, 19118 GRT, built 1921), Bhutan (British, 6104 GRT, built 1929), Cameronia (British, 16297 GRT, built 1920), City of Edinburgh (British, 8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Lincoln (British, 8039 GRT, built 1938), Clan MacDonald (British, 9653 GRT, built 1939), Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939), Duchess of Athol (British, 20119 GRT, built 1928), Dunedin Star (British, 11168 GRT, built 1936), Empress of Russia (British, 16810 GRT, built 1913), Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), Glaucus (British, 7596 GRT, built 1921), Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (Dutch, 19429 GRT, built 1930), Kina II (British, 9823 GRT, built 1939), Largs Bay (British, 14182 GRT, built 1921), Leopoldville (Belgian, 11509 GRT, built 1929), Mataroa (British, 12390 GRT, built 1922), Nieuw Holland (Dutch, 11066 GRT, built 1927), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Oronsay (British, 20043 GRT, built 1925), Port Wyndham (British, 11005 GRT, built 1935), Rembrandt (British, 5559 GRT, built 1941), Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921), Sobieski (Polish, 11030 GRT, built 1939), Tamaroa (British, 12405 GRT, built 1922), Winchester Castle (British, 19141 GRT, built 1922) and Windsor Castle (British, 19141 GRT, built 1922).

The submarine depot ship HMS Adamant (Capt. R.S. Warne, RN) and the landing ships HMS Karanja (British, 9891 GRT, built 1931, Cdr.(Retd.) C. Naylor, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Keren (British, 9890 GRT, built 1930, Lt.Cdr. E.G. Welchman, RN) were also part of the convoy.

On assembly the convoy was being escorted by the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire (Capt. J.T. Borrett, OBE, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Alcantara (A/Capt.(Retd.) J.D. Harvey, RN), destroyers HMS Pakenham (Capt. E.B.K. Stevens, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. C.P.F. Brown, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Javelin (Cdr. G.E. Fardell, RN), HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN), HMS Keppel (Cdr. J.E. Broome, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt. A.S. Pomeroy, RN), HMS Beverley (Lt.Cdr. J. Grant, RN), HMS Leamington (Lt. B.M.D. I'Anson, RN), HNoMS Newport (?), HMS Rockingham (Lt.Cdr. A.H.T. Johns, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Badsworth (Lt. G.T.S. Gray, DSC, RN), HMS Grove (Lt.Cdr. J.W. Rylands, RN) and HMS Aldenham (Lt. H.A. Stuart-Menteth, RN).

Around 0130A/25, HMS Beverley and HNomS Newport collided, the latter had to proceed to Liverpool for repairs.

Around 0333Z/27, HMS Keppel picked up a U-boat transmitting on her HF/DF. HMS Grove, HMS Aldenham and HMS Leamington were ordered to search for this U-boat. HMS Leamington sigted the U-boat which then dived. A hunt was then started on completion of which HMS Leamington set course to return to the U.K. while HMS Grove and HMS Aldenham set course for the Azores where they were to refuel before rejoining the convoy. The hunt was considered 'not succesfull' but in fact postwar, the German U-boat U-587 is credited to have been sunk in this attack.

Around 0910Z/27, HMS Badsworth parted company with the convoy to return to the U.K.

Around 1500Z/27, HMS Keppel, HMS Volunteer and HMS Beverley parted company with the convoy to return to the U.K. Both HMS Badsworth and HMS Volunteer reported after having parted company that U-boats were trailing the convoy.

Around 1545Z/27, HMS Lookout parted company with the convoy to proceed to Azores to refuel before she was to rejoin the convoy.

Around 0800Z/29, HMS Grove and HMS Lookout rejoined from fuelling at the Azores. Shortly afterwards HMS Pakenham, HMS Javelin and HMS Inconstant parted company to proceed to the Azores to refuel. HMS Aldenham rejoined the convoy later in the day.

HMS Pakenham, HMS Javelin and HMS Inconstant arrived at Ponta Delgada around 1300Z/29. HMS Pakenham departed Ponta Delgada around 1910Z/29 followed by the other two destroyers shortly before midnight.

HMS Pakenham rejoined the convoy around 1330Z/30. During her absence HMS Antelope (around 1820Z/29) and HMS Boadicea (around 0915Z/30) had parted company with the convoy to return to the U.K. via the Azores.

Around 1730Z/30, in position 31°00'N, 22°42'W, HMS Illustrious parted company with the convoy to proceed direct to Freetown escorted by HMS Pakenham and HMS Rockingham. HMS Lookout, HMS Grove and HMS Aldenham were left with the convoy as A/S escorts.

At 2008Z/30, a message was received by HMS Illustrious from the Admiralty which stated that a large battleship or battlecruiser had been sighted at 0148Z/30 in position 24°48'N, 15°40'W proceeding on a course of 300°. As this course would have brought this vessel in close proximity of the convoy HMS Illustrious decided to remain in close proximity of the convoy. HMS Rockingham was sent back to the convoy to divert the convoy to the westwards. After having transferred the order she set course to return to the U.K. via the Azores. HMS Javelin and HMS Inconstant meanwhile joined HMS Illustrious and HMS Pakenham around 1945Z/30.

At 0348Z/31, a message was received that the reported battleships course had been 200° instead of 300°. The convoy was therefore altered course. HMS Illustrious and her escorting destroyers then swept astern of the convoy before setting course direct to Freetown around 0846Z/31. (Position was then 28°50'N, 24°20'W).

At 1430Z/2, HMS Javelin was detached from the screen of HMS Illustrious to proceed to Bathurst to refuel. She later proceeded to Freetown independently.

In the afternoon of 2 April, HMS Shropshire fuelled HMS Grove.

In the afternoon of 3 April, HMS Shropshire fuelled HMS Aldenham.

HMS Illustrious, HMS Pakenham and HMS Inconstant arrived at Freetown around 0830Z/4.

Around 0900Z/4, the destroyer HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, RN) joined the convoy escort.

Around 1900Z/4, the corvettes HMS Hydrangea (A/Lt.Cdr. J.E. Woolfenden, RNR) and FFS Commandant Detroyant (?) joined the convoy escort.

The convoy arrived at Freetown in the morning of April 6th. (4)

11 Apr 1942

Convoy WS 17B.

This convoy departed Freetown on 11 April 1942.

It was made up of the following (troop) transports;
Abosso (British, 11330 GRT, built 1935), Almanzora (British, 15551 GRT, built 1914), Arundel Castle (British, 19118 GRT, built 1921), Cameronia (British, 16297 GRT, built 1920), City of Edinburgh (British, 8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Lincoln (British, 8039 GRT, built 1938), Dunedin Star (British, 11168 GRT, built 1936), Empress of Russia (British, 16810 GRT, built 1913), Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923), Glaucus (British, 7596 GRT, built 1921), Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (Dutch, 19429 GRT, built 1930), Kina II (British, 9823 GRT, built 1939), Leopoldville (Belgian, 11509 GRT, built 1929), Mataroa (British, 12390 GRT, built 1922), Nieuw Holland (Dutch, 11066 GRT, built 1927), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Samaria (British, 19597 GRT, built 1921) and Tamaroa (British, 12405 GRT, built 1922).

The submarine depot ship HMS Adamant (Capt. R.S. Warne, RN) is also part of the convoy.

On departure from Freetown the convoy is escorted by the heavy cruiser Shropshire, destroyer HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, RN), escort destroyer HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and the corvettes HMS Hydrangea (A/Lt.Cdr. J.E. Woolfenden, RNR), FFS Commandant Detroyant (?) and FFS Commandant Drogou (?).

Around 0130Z/12, the escort destroyer HMS Exmoor (Lt.Cdr. L.StG. Rich, RN) joined the convoy escort.

Around 0600N/14, HMS Wild Swan parted company with the convoy to return to Freetown. She arrived at Freetown on the 15th.

Around 1800N/14, HMS Hydrangea and FFS Commandant Drogou parted company with the convoy to proceed to Cape Palmas to pick up survivors from torpedoed ships and then return to Freetown.

Around 1830N/15, HMS Croome, HMS Exmoor and FFS Commandant Detroyant parted company with the convoy.

Around 0700A/19, the sloop HMS Milford (Cdr.(Retd.) the Hon. V.M. Wyndham-Quin, RN) joined the convoy.

Around 0300B/23, the convoy split into a ' Capetown section ' and a ' Durban section '.

The Capetown section was made up of the majority of the convoy and arrived there later on 23 April escorted by HMS Milford.

The Durban section continued on escorted by HMS Shropshire and was made up of the Empress of Russia, Franconia and Mataroa. They arrived at Durban in the morning of 26 April.

16 Apr 1942

Convoy WS 18.

This convoy was assembled off Oversay on 16 April 1942.

It was made up of the following (troop) transports; Aorangi (British, 17491 GRT, built 1924), Capetown Castle (British, 27000 GRT, built 1938), City of Capetown (British, 8046 GRT, built 1937), Clan Lamont (British, 7250 GRT, built 1939), Dempo (Dutch, 17024 GRT, built 1931, Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Empress of Canada (British, 21517 GRT, built 1922), Empress of Japan (British, 26032 GRT, built 1930), Highland Chieftain (British, 14135 GRT, built 1929), Highland Princess (British, 14133 GRT, built 1930), Maloja (British, 20914 GRT, built 1923), Marnix van St. Aldegonde (Dutch, 19355 GRT, built 1930), Nieuw Zeeland (Dutch, 11069 GRT, built 1928), Orbita (British, 15495 GRT, built 1915), Orduna (British, 15507 GRT, built 1914), Phemius (British, 7406 GRT, built 1921), Rangitata (British, 16737 GRT, built 1929), Reina del Pacifico (British, 17702 GRT, built 1931), Soudan (British, 6677 GRT, built 1931) and Waipawa (British, 12436 GRT, built 1934).

The destroyer tender HMS Hecla (Capt. E.F.B. Law, RN) was also part of the convoy.

On assembly from Oversay the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Gambia (Capt. M.J. Mansergh, CBE, RN, Senior Officer), heavy cruiser HMS Frobisher (Capt. J.F.W. Mudford, RN), destroyers HMS Georgetown (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RNR), HMS Lancaster (A/Cdr. N.H. Whatley, RN), HMS Salisbury (Lt.Cdr. M.H.R. Crichton, RN), HMS St. Marys (Lt.Cdr. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt. A.S. Pomeroy, RN), HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HrMs Van Galen (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Burghard, RNethN) and the destroyer escorts HMS Badsworth (Lt. G.T.S. Gray, DSC, RN), HMS Lauderdale (Lt. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN) and HMS Tetcott (Lt. R.H. Rycroft, RN).

Around 0700N/19, HMS Badsworth and HMS Lauderdale parted company to return to the U.K.

Around 1900N/19, HMS Lancaster, HMS St. Marys, HMS Boadicea and HMS Volunteer parted company to return to the U.K.

Around 2000N/19, HrMs Van Galen and HMS Tetcott parted company to refuel at Ponta Delgada, Azores and to rejoin the convoy on completion. The departed Ponta Delgada to rejoin the convoy on the 20th.

Around 0915N/21, HMS Georgetown and HMS Salisbury parted company to refuel at Ponta Delgada, Azores.

Around 1900N/22, HrMs Van Galen rejoined.

Around 1030N/23, HMS Tetcott rejoined. Both had been delayed in rejoining the convoy due to them having difficulty finding the convoy.

Around 0930N/26, the destroyers HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, RN), HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and the corvette HMS Petunia (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rayner, RD, RNR) joined.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 29 April 1942.

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The convoy departed Freetown on 3 May 1942 in the same composition with the addition of the troop transport Rimutaka (British, 16576 GRT, built 1923), transport Agwileon (American, 6678 GRT, built 1907) and the seaplane carrier HMS Albatross (A/Capt. F.W.H. Clarke, RN).

Escort on departure from Freetown was provided by the light cruiser HMS Gambia, heavy cruiser HMS Frobisher, destroyers HMS Wivern (Cdr. M.D.C. Meyrick, RN), HMS Boreas, HrMs Van Galen and escort destroyer Tetcott.

Around 1245Z/4, the corvette HMS Hydrangea (A/Lt.Cdr. J.E. Woolfenden, RNR) joined. The corvette FFS Commandant Detroyant was also to have joined the convoy but failed to do so.

Around 1430Z/4, HMS Wivern and HMS Boreas were detached.

Around 1020Z/5, HMS Hydrangea parted company.

In the morning of 8 May 1942, HMS Frobisher fuelled HMS Tetcott and on completion of doing so parted company with the convoy around 1315Z/8 to escort the Agwileon to Walvis Bay. This ship was detached from the convoy as she was unable to keep up.

In the morning of 9 May 1942, HMS Gambia fuelled HrMs Van Galen however after only 57 tons of fuel had been transferred to hose parted due to the bad weather conditions. These two ships then parted company with the convoy to proceed to St. Helena, which was only 52 nautical miles away, where they were able to complete fuelling (another 155 tons was transferred) while at anchor. HMS Gambia rejoined the convoy around 1550A/10. HrMS Van Galen proceeded independently to Capetown arriving there on 22 May 1942.

Late in the morning of the 14th, HMS Gambia transferred 20 tons of fuel to HMS Tetcott which was running low.

Around 1300B/14, the A/S whalers HMS Southern Gem (T/Lt. D.C. Hayes, RNVR) and HMS Southern Pride (T/Lt. F.A. Darrah, RNVR) joined.

Around 0300B/15, the Capetown section parted company. It was made up of the Dempo, Empress of Canada, Marnix van St. Aldegonde, Nieuw Zeeland, Orbita, Orduna, Phemius, Reina del Pacifico, Rimutaka and Waipawa. HMS Albatross, HMS Tetcott, HMS Southern Gem and HMS Southern Pride went with them. The Capetown section arrived there later the same morning.

The remainder of the convoy continued on to Durban escorted by HMS Gambia.

At 1600B/15, HMS Hecla suffered a heavy explosion on the starboard side. Position was to the south of Cape Aghulas, in 36°06'S, 19°55'E. It was though that she had been torpedoed but this was soon changed to being mined. HMS Gambia stood by the stricken vessel. Later it was found out that also the transport Soudan had also been mined and had been sunk as a result of the damage sustained.

HMS Hecla and HMS Gambia arrived off Simonstown around 0800B/16. HMS Hecla was immediately docked in the Selborne dry dock.

The Durban section of convoy WS 18 was then joined around 1000B/16 by the AA cruiser HMS Carlisle (Capt. D.M.L. Neame, DSO, RN). This ship had been en-route from Durban to Simonstown and had now been ordered to escort the Durban section with HMS Gambia absent.

The Durban section arrived at Durban around noon on the 18th.

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On 19 May 1942, the Capetown section of the convoy departed from there. It was now made up of the Bulkoil (American (tanker), 8071 GRT, built 1942), Dempo, Empress of Canada, Marnix van St. Aldegonde, Nieuw Zeeland, Orbita, Orduna, Phemius, Reina del Pacifico and Waipawa. HMS Albatross was also with the convoy which was escorted by HMS Frobisher. The Phemus however had to return to Capetown later the same day.

On 23 May 1942, the Durban section of the convoy departed from there. It was made up of the Capetown Castle, City of Capetown, Clan Lamont (British, 7250 GRT, built 1935), Empire Woodlark (British, 7793 GRT, built 1913) and Llandaff Castle. They were escorted by the battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. A.R. Halfhide, CBE, RN).

The two sections then merged, but the Reina del Pacifico was detached to proceed independently to Bombay arriving there on 2 June.

Around 0615C/27, the Phemus rejoined the convoy after having returned to Capetown on the 19th.

Around 2300C/27, the Llandaff Castle parted company with the convoy to proceed to Diego Suarez. HMS Frobisher went with her as escort. They arrived there around 2000C/29.

Around 1330C/30, the light cruisers HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN) and HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C.A. Annesley, DSO, RN) joined. HMS Resolution, HMS Albatross and the Empire Woodlark then parted company to proceed to Kilindini where they arrived the following morning.

At 0745D/31, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt.(Retd.) E.H. Hopkinson, RN) joined. HMS Emerald then parted company.

Around 1530D/2, HMS Worcestershire parted company taking the Bulkoil, Phemius and Waipawa with her to Aden where they arrived around 0900C/4.

The remainder of the convoy continued on towards Bombay escorted by HMS Enterprise. It arrived at Bombay around 1100FG/7. (4)

23 Nov 1942

Convoy CF 8.

This convoy departed Capetown on 23 November 1942.

It was made up of the troop transports;
Franconia (British, 20175 GRT, built 1923) and Ruys (Dutch, 14155 GRT, built 1937).

On departure from Capetown the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Alcantara (A/Capt.(retd.) J.D. Harvey, RN) and the destroyer HMAS Norman (Cdr. H.M. Burrell, RAN).

Around 0730C/24, HMAS Norman parted company with the convoy to proceed to Simonstown.

Around 1600B/24, HMS Alcantara parted company with the convoy to make rendezvous with convoy WS 24 on the 28th.

The convoy continued on unescorted and arrived at Freetown on 3 December 1942. In the approaches to Freetown the corvette HMS Hydrangea (A/Lt.Cdr. J.E. Woolfenden, RD, RNR) had joined for A/S protection. (5)

12 Dec 1942
HMS P 614 (Lt. H.W. Wilkinson, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Freetown together with HMS Hydrangea (A/Lt.Cdr. J.E. Woolfenden, RD, RNR), FFS Commandant Drogou, HMS Viviana (Skr. R. Trueman, RNR) and HMS Northern Isles (T/Lt. J.M. Baldry, RNVR). (6)

21 Dec 1942
HMS P 614 (Lt. H.W. Wilkinson, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Freetown together with HMS Hydrangea (A/Lt.Cdr. J.E. Woolfenden, RD, RNR) and FFS Commandant d'Estienne d'Orves. (6)

24 Dec 1942
HMS P 614 (Lt. H.W. Wilkinson, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Freetown together with HMS Holcombe (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Pinchin, DSC, RN), HMS Hydrangea (A/Lt.Cdr. J.E. Woolfenden, RD, RNR) and HMS ML 289 (T/Lt. S.E. Slater, RNVR). (6)

19 Mar 1943
HMS P 615 (Lt. C.W.St.C. Lambert, DSC and Bar, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Freetown with HMS Bridgewater (Cdr.(Retd.) N.W.H. Weekes, OBE, RN) and HMS Hydrangea (A/Lt.Cdr. J.E. Woolfenden, RD, RNR). (7)

Sources

  1. ADM 173/16714
  2. ADM 173/16790
  3. ADM 53/115779
  4. ADM 199/1211
  5. ADM 199/2336
  6. ADM 173/17529
  7. ADM 199/635

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


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