Allied Warships

HMS Walney (Y 04)

Sloop of the Banff class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeSloop
ClassBanff 
PennantY 04 
Built byGeneral Engineering & Drydock Co. (Oakland, California, U.S.A.). 
Ordered 
Laid down 
Launched10 Feb 1930 
Commissioned12 May 1941 
Lost8 Nov 1942 
History

Sunk by gunfire within Oran Harbour after first ramming both the outer and inner booms during Operation Reservist.

Walney was accompanied by her sister ship HMS Hartland in their attempt to capture the harbour.

On board the Walney when she was sunk were 200 men of the 6th US Armoured Infantry Division and a 35-strong US Naval contingent under the command of Lt.Cdr. George Deane Dickey U.S.N. aboard, and 6 US Marines.

There were only 14 survivors from the crew of the Walney itself, one officer (Lt. Wallace Dempsey Mosely RN) and 13 ratings. The commanding officer of the operation (see also further below) A/Captain Frederick Thornton Peters DSO, DSC, VC, RN also survived. 81 of Walney's crew went down with the ship along with all but a few of the troops carried aboard.

The ships captain Lt.Cdr. Peter Capel Meyrick, RN was blown to bits on the bridge by a shell, which also killed fifteen other officers and ratings gathered there. The only one to survive on the bridge was A/Captain Frederick Thornton Peters DSO, DSC, VC, RN who was the Group Commander of the whole operation, who was in overall charge of both Cutters, the two ML's smoke-layers before breeching the booms, the various boarding parties and the landing of the troops. A/Captain Thornton Peters who although blinded in one eye survived the assault. (He was killed when returning to the UK from the operation in a plane crash). He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in the operation.

 
Former nameUSCGC Sebago

Commands listed for HMS Walney (Y 04)

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. Philip Brian Pembery, RNR26 Jun 19412 Jul 1941
2Lt.Cdr. Peter Capel Meyrick, RN2 Jul 19418 Nov 1942 (+)

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Notable events involving Walney include:


20 May 1941

Convoy HX 128.

This convoy departed Halifax on 20 May 1941.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Alaska (Norwegian, 5681 GRT, built 1918), Alhama (British, 1352 GRT, built 1938), Aymeric (British, 5196 GRT, built 1919), Baron Haig (British, 3391 GRT, built 1926), Barrwhin (British, 4998 GRT, built 1929), British Colony (British (tanker), 6917 GRT, built 1927), Cape Clear (British, 5085 GRT, built 1939), Dorcasia (British (tanker), 8053 GRT, built 1938), Empire Kittyhawk (British, 5675 GRT, built 1918), Empire Mahseer (British, 5087 GRT, built 1920), Empire Storm (British, 7290 GRT, built 1941), Empire Sunbeam (British, 6711 GRT, built 1941), Gloucester City (British, 3071 GRT, built 1919), Harperley (British, 4586 GRT, built 1930), Hjelmaren (Swedish, 2467 GRT, built 1922), Inger Lise (Norwegian, 1582 GRT, built 1939), La Paz (British, 6548 GRT, built 1920), Lancaster Castle (British, 5172 GRT, built 1937), Leiv Eiriksson (Norwegian (tanker), 9952 GRT, built 1936), Llanover (British, 4959 GRT, built 1928), Montreal City (British, 3066 GRT, built 1920), Oltenia (British (tanker), 6394 GRT, built 1928), Pilar de Larringaga (British, 7046 GRT, built 1918), Silvercedar (British, 4354 GRT, built 1924), Skaraas (Norwegian (tanker), 9826 GRT, built 1936), Swiftpool (British, 5205 GRT, built 1929), Thorshavet (Norwegian (tanker), 11015 GRT, built 1938), Thorshavn (Norwegian (tanker), 6869 GRT, built 1930), Tilapa (British, 5392 GRT, built 1928), Torborg (British (tanker), 6042 GRT, built 1921) and Treminnard (British, 4964 GRT, built 1922).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS California (Capt. C.J. Pope, RAN) and the corvettes HMCS Alberni (Lt. G.O. Baugh, RCNR) and HMCS Rimouski (T/Lt. J.W. Bonner, RCNR). The corvettes soon returned to Halifax though.

Three recently transferred US Coast Guard Cutters were also with the convoy, though these had not been re-armed and worked up. These were the HMS Sennen (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN), HMS Totland (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) S.G.C. Rawson, RN) and HMS Walney (?).

On 24 May 1941, after the news was received that German warships were trying to break out into the Atlantic, the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) departed Halifax to join the convoy. She overtook and joined the convoy around 1345O/28.

In the morning of May 27th, Convoy BHX 128, merged with convoy HX 128. This was a few days later then had been intended. Convoy BHX 128 was made up of the following merchant vessels; Amsterdam (Dutch (tanker), 7329 GRT, built 1922), British Chivalry (British (tanker), 7118 GRT, built 1929), British Diligence (British (tanker), 8408 GRT, built 1937), British Fusilier (British, 6943 GRT, built 1923), Cardita (British (tanker), 8237 GRT, built 1931), Charles Racine (Norwegian (tanker), 9957 GRT, built 1937), Clavella (British (tanker), 8097 GRT, built 1939), Designer (British, 5495 GRT, built 1928), Drammensfjord (Norwegian, 5339 GRT, built 1920), Eulima (British (tanker), 6207 GRT, built 1937), San Cirilo (British (tanker), 8012 GRT, built 1937) and Thistlegorm (British, 4898 GRT, built 1940). They had departed Bermuda on 18 May escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Montclare (Capt.(Retd.) H.M. Spreckley, RN) which parted company after the convoys had merged.

Around 1900O/29, Convoy HX 128 was temporary joined by Convoy SC 32 and her escort, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Laconia (Capt.(Retd.) G.G.P. Hewett, RN). Convoy SC 32 took station astern of convoy HX 128.

Around 2200Z/31, HMS Revenge and HMS Laconia parted company with the convoys to return to Halifax or to proceed to Reykjavik respectively.

HMS California eventually went with the convoy to the U.K. although it had originally been intended for her to detach and proceed to Reykjavik.

A/S escorts commenced to join the convoy as from 30 or 31 May but sources vary on their composition. [this will have to be researched further in the future.]

The convoy arrived in U.K. waters on 6 June 1941.

7 Nov 1941
HrMs O 9 (Lt. H.A.W. Goossens, RNN) participated in A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Stork (Cdr. F.J. Walker, RN) and HMS Walney (Lt.Cdr. P.C. Meyrick, RN). (1)

2 Mar 1942
HrMs O 10 (Lt. Baron D.T. Mackay, RNN) participated in A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN) and HMS Walney (Lt.Cdr. P.C. Meyrick, RN). (2)

3 Mar 1942
HMS H 43 (Lt. R.B. Lakin, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Walney (Lt.Cdr. P.C. Meyrick, RN) and HMS Aberdeen (Lt.Cdr. S.G. Rivers-Smith, RN). (3)

20 Aug 1942
HMS H 32 (Lt. J.R. Drummond, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Walney (Lt.Cdr. P.C. Meyrick, RN), HMS Aberdeen (Lt. S.G. Rivers-Smith, RN), HMS Enchantress (Lt.Cdr. A.E.T. Christie, OBE, RN), HMS Hartland (Lt.Cdr. G.P. Billot, RNR) and HMS Clare (Lt.Cdr. L.H. Landman, RN). (4)

22 Oct 1942

Convoys KMS 1, KMF 1 for the landings at Algiers and Oran during Operation Torch.

Convoy KMS 1.

This convoy was assembled off Oversay on 23 October 1942.

It was made up of the following transports; Alcinous (Dutch, 6189 GRT, built 1925), Alphard (British, 5483 GRT, built 1937), Ardeola (British, 2609 GRT, built 1912), Benalbanach (British, 7153 GRT, built 1940), Charles H. Cramp (American, 6220 GRT, built 1920), Chattanooga City (American, 5687 GRT, built 1921), City of Worcester (British, 5469 GRT, built 1927), Clan MacTaggart (British, 7622 GRT, built 1920), Delilian (British, 6423 GRT, built 1923), Edward Ruthledge (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Empire Confidence (British, 5023 GRT, built 1925), Empire Mordred (British, 7024 GRT, built 1942), Fort McLoughlin (British, 7129 GRT, built 1942), Glenfinlas (British, 7479 GRT, built 1917), Havildar (British, 5401 GRT, built 1940), Hopecrown (British, 5180 GRT, built 1937), Jean Jadot (Belgian, 5859 GRT, built 1929), Lalande (British, 7453 GRT, built 1920), Lochmonar (British, 9412 GRT, built 1924), Lycaon (British, 7350 GRT, built 1913), Macharda (British, 7998 GRT, built 1938), Manchester Port (British, 7071 GRT, built 1935), Mark Twain (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Maron (British, 6487 GRT, built 1930), Mary Slessor (British, 5027 GRT, built 1930), Ocean Rider (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Viceroy (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Volga (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Wanderer (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Pacific Exporter (British, 6734 GRT, built 1928), Recorder (British, 5981 GRT, built 1930), Salacia (British, 5495 GRT, built 1937), Sobo (British, 5353 GRT, built 1937), St. Essylt (British, 5634 GRT, built 1941), Stanhill (British, 5969 GRT, built 1942), Tadorna (British, 1947 GRT, built 1928), Theseus (British, 6527 GRT, built 1908), Tiba (Dutch, 5239 GRT, built 1938), Urlana (British, 6852 GRT, built 1941), Walt Whitman (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), William M. Floyd (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), William M. Wirt (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942) and Zebulon B. Vance (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942).

Also part of the convoy were the landing ships Derwentdale (8390 GRT, built 1941), Dewdale (8265 GRT, built 1941) and Ennerdale (8280 GRT, built 1941).

On assembly the convoy was escorted by the escort carrier HMS Avenger (Cdr. A.P. Colthurst, RN), AA ship HMS Alynbank (A/Capt.(Retd.) H.F. Nash, RN), destroyer HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN), sloops HMS Deptford (Lt.Cdr. H.R. White, RN), HMS Stork (Cdr. G.N. Brewer, RN), corvettes HMS Convolvulus (A/Lt.Cdr. R.F.R. Yarde-Buller, RNVR), HMS Gardenia (T/Lt. M.M. Firth, RNVR), HMS Marigold (Lt. J.A.S. Halcrow, RD, RNR), HMS Pentstemon (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J. Byron, DSC, RNR), HMS Rhododendron (Lt.Cdr. L.A. Sayers, RNR), HMS Samphire (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Renny, DSC, RNR), HMS Vetch (T/A/Lt.Cdr. H.J. Beverley, DSO, DSC, RNR), HMS Violet (Lt. C.N. Stewart, RNR) and the minesweepers HMS Acute (Lt.Cdr. D. Lampen, DSO, RN), HMS Alarm (T/Lt.Cdr. R. Patterson, SANF(V)), HMS Albacore (Lt.Cdr. J.D.L. Williams, RN) and HMS Cadmus (Lt.Cdr. J.B.G. Temple, DSC, RN).

Around 1000A/4, the convoy was split up into two sections KMS A1 and KMS O1. KMS A1 was destined for Algiers and KMS O1 was destined for Oran. KMS O1 then proceeded to the westwards so as to pass the Straits of Gibraltar later.

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Convoy KMS A 1.

Convoy KMS A 1 was to pass the Strait of Gibraltar around 2345A/5; it was made up of the transports; City of Worcester, Glenfinlas, Jean Jadot, Lalande, Lochmonar, Macharda, Manchester Port, Maron, Ocean Rider, Ocean Viceroy, Ocean Volga, Ocean Wanderer, Sobo, Stanhill, Tiba and Urlana.

The landing ships Dewdale and Ennerdale were also part of the convoy.

The convoy was escorted by the sloop HMS Stork, corvettes HMS Convolvulus, HMS Marigold, HMS Pentstemon, HMS Samphire [this corvette might have already parted company though, see below] and the minesweepers HMS Acute, HMS Alarm, HMS Albacore and HMS Cadmus.

Around 0700A/5, the corvette HMS Samphire arrived at Gibraltar with defects from convoy KMS A1.

Around 0800A/5, the minesweepers HMS Algerine (Lt.Cdr. W.A. Cooke, RN), HMS Hussar (Lt. R.C. Biggs, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Speedwell (Lt.Cdr. T.E. Williams, RNR) departed Gibraltar to join convoy KMS A1.

Around 1830A/5, the M/S trawlers HMS Cava (T/Lt. R.L. Petty-Major, RNVR), HMS Juliet (Lt. L.B. Moffatt, RNR), HMS Othello (T/Lt. S.C. Dickinson, RNVR), HMS Stroma (Skr. J.S. Harper, RNR), HMS Hoy (T/Lt. G.H. McNair, MBE, RNVR), HMS Inchcolm (Skr. A.C. Whitcombe, RNR), HMS Mull (Lt. J. Plomer, RCNVR), HMS Rysa (T/Lt. J.H. Cooper, RNVR) and the motor launches ML 238, ML 273, ML 283, ML 295, ML 307, ML 336, ML 338, ML 444 departed Gibraltar to join convoy KMS A1.

Around 2230A/5, the monitor HMS Roberts (Capt. J.G.Y. Loveband, RN), escort destroyers HMS Bicester (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN), HMS Bramham (Lt. E.F. Baines, DSO, RN), HMS Cowdray (Lt.Cdr. C.W. North, RN), HMS Zetland (Lt. J.V. Wilkinson, RN) and the corvette HMS Samphire (with her repairs completed) departed Gibraltar to join convoy KMS A1.

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Convoy KMS O 1.

Convoy KMS O 1 was to pass the Strait of Gibraltar around 1630A/6; it was made up of the transports; Alcinous, Alphard, Benalbanach, Charles H. Cramp, Chattanooga City, Clan Mactaggart, Delinlian, Edward Rutledge, Empire Confidence, Empire Mordred, Havildar, Lycaon, Mark Twain, Mary Slessor, Pacific Exporter, Recorder, Salacia, St. Essylt, Thesues, Walt Whitman, William Floyd, William Wirt and Zebulon B. Vance.

The landing ship Derwentdale was also part of this convoy.

The convoy was escorted by the AA ship HMS Alynbank, sloop HMS Deptford, corvettes HMS Gardenia, HMS Rhododendron, HMS Vetch and HMS Violet.

Around 1500A/6, the minesweepers HMS Brixham (Lt. G.A. Simmers, RNR), HMS Bude (Lt. F.A.J. Andrew, RN), HMS Clacton (A/Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) L.S. Shaw, RNR) and HMS Felixstowe (T/Lt. C.G. Powney, RNVR) departed Gibraltar to join the convoy KMS O1.

After dark on the 6th, the M/S trawlers HMS Coriolanus (T/Lt. N. Hunt, RNVR), HMS Eday (T/Lt. W.Y. Surtees, RNR), HMS Inchmarnock (T/Lt. C.G.V. Corneby, RNR), HMS Kerrera (Skr. R.W. Slater, RNR) and the motor launches ML 280, ML 458, ML 463, ML 469, ML 471, ML 480, ML 483 and HDML 1127, HDML 1128 and HDML 1139 departed Gibraltar to join convoy KMS O1.

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Operation Crupper.

Two ships from Convoy KMS 1, the Ardeola and Tadorna formed part of Convoy KMS 1A after the convoy had split up. They were to proceed to Malta unescorted. The Admiralty had decided to make use of the expected confusion of the landings in North Africa to run two 'small' merchant ships with important cargo to Malta. These ships were considered expendable. They parted company with convoy KMS 1A on 8 November. They did not reach Malta however. When off Cape Bon on 9 November, they were taken under fire by Vichy French coastal batteries, despite the darkness, and then captured by motor torpedo boats. They were brought into Bizerta where their cargo was unloaded. The ships were later taken over by the Italians.

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Convoy KMF 1.

This convoy was assembled off Oversay on 26 October 1942.

It was made up of the following (troop) transports; Awatea (British, 13482 GRT, built 1936), Batory (Polish, 14287 GRT, built 1936), Cathay (British, 15225 GRT, built 1925), Dempo (Dutch, 17024 GRT, built 1931), Derbyshire (British, 11660 GRT, built 1935), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Ettrick (British, 11279 GRT, built 1938), Exceller (American, 6597 GRT, built 1941), Leinster (British, 4302 GRT, built 1937) Letitia (British, 13595 GRT, built 1925), Llangibby Castle (British, 11951 GRT, built 1929), Marnix van St. Aldegonde (Dutch, 19355 GRT, built 1930), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Mooltan (British, 20952 GRT, built 1923), Nieuw Zeeland (Dutch, 11069 GRT, built 1928), Orbita (British, 15495 GRT, built 1915), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Reina del Pacifico (British, 17702 GRT, built 1931), Sobieski (British, 11030 GRT, built 1939), Strathnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931), Tegelberg (Dutch, 14150 GRT, built 1937), Viceroy of India (British, 19627 GRT, built 1929), Warwick Castle (British, 20107 GRT, built 1930) and Winchester Castle (British, 20012 GRT, built 1930).

The headquarters ships HMS Bulolo (Capt.(Retd.) R.L. Hamer, RN), HMS Largs (Cdr. E.A. Divers, OBE, RNR), the landing ships HMS Glengyle (Capt.(Retd.) D.S. McGrath, RN), HMS Karanja (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) D.S. Hore-Lacy, RN), HMS Keren (A/Cdr. S.E. Crewe-Read, RN), HMS Princess Beatrix (Cdr.(Retd.) T.B. Brunton, DSC, RN), HMS Queen Emma (Capt.(Retd.) G.L.D. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Royal Scotsman (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Armstrong, DSC, RD, RNR), HMS Royal Ulsterman (A/Lt.Cdr. W.R.K. Clark, DSC, RD RNR) and HMS Ulster Monarch (Lt.Cdr. N.A.F. Kingscote, RNR) and the attack transports USS Almaack (T/Capt. C.L. Nichols, USN), USS Leedstown (Cdr. D. Cook, USNR), USS Samuel Chase (Capt. R.C. Heimer, USCG) and USS Thomas Stone (Capt. O.R. Bennehoff, USN) were also part of the convoy.

On assembly off Oversay on the 27th the convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C.H.J. Harcourt, CBE, RN), escort carrier HMS Biter (Capt. E.M.C. Abel Smith, RN), destroyer HMS Clare (Lt.Cdr. L.H. Landman, RN), sloops HMS Aberdeen (Lt.Cdr. H. Day, RN), HMS Enchantress (Lt.Cdr. A.E.T. Christie, OBE, RN), HMS Ibis (Lt.Cdr. H.M. Darell-Brown, RN), cutters HMS Hartland (Lt.Cdr. G.P. Billot, RNR), HMS Walney (Lt.Cdr. P.C. Meyrick, RN), frigates HMS Exe (A/Cdr. M.A.O. Biddulph, DSC, RN), HMS Rother (Lt.Cdr. R.V.E. Case, DSC and Bar, RD, RNR), HMS Spey (Cdr. H.G. Boys-Smith, DSO and Bar, RD, RNR), HMS Swale (Lt.Cdr. J. Jackson, RNR) and HMS Tay (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Sherwood, RNR).

Around 1120A/2, the destroyers HrMs Isaac Sweers (Capt. W. Harmsen, RNN) and HMS Escapade (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) joined coming from the Azores.

Around 0200A/3, the AA ships HMS Palomares (A/Capt.(Retd.) J.H. Jauncey, RN), HMS Pozarica (Capt.(Retd.) L.B. Hill, DSO, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Achates (Lt.Cdr. A.H.T. Johns, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) Lord Teynham, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN), HMS Verity, (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN) and HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, RN) departed Gibraltar to join the convoy. At 1045A/3, the destroyer HMS Wivern (Cdr. M.D.C. Meyrick, RN) also departed to join the convoy. She had been unable to depart earlier due to defects.

Around 0800A/3, the destroyer HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. H.N.A. Richardson, DSO, DSC, RN) joined the convoy coming from the Azores.

Around 1300A/3, the light cruiser HMS Jamaica (Capt. J.L. Storey, RN) also departed Gibraltar to join the convoy.

Around 1830Z/3, HMS Sheffield parted company with the convoy to proceed to Gibraltar where she arrived at 0815A/3, she was to fuel and then join ' Force O '.

Around noon on 4 November 1942, the convoy was split up into two sections KMF A1 and KMF O1. KMF A1 was destined for Algiers and KMF O1 was destined for Oran. KMF O1 then proceeded to the westwards so as to pass the Straits of Gibraltar later.

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Convoy KMF A 1.

Convoy KMF A 1 was to pass the Strait of Gibraltar around 0100A/6; it was made up of the (troop) transports; Almaack, Awatea, Cathay, Dempo, Ettrick, Exceller, Leedstown, Marnix van St. Aldegonde, Otranto, Sobieski, Strathnaver, Viceroy of India and Winchester Castle.

The headquarters ship HMS Bulolo and the landing ships HMS Karanja, HMS Keren, HMS Royal Scotsman, HMS Royal Ulsterman and Ulster Monarch and the attack transports USS Samuel Chase and USS Thomas Stone were also part of the convoy.

[exactly which ships of the escort went on with this part of the convoy will have to be researched further.]

In the morning of 5 November, HrMs Isaac Sweers parted company with the convoy to join ' Force H '. HMS Escapade and HMS Marne were apparently detached to Gibraltar on the convoy passing the Strait of Gibraltar.

Also on 5 November, the corvettes HMS Spiraea (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Miller, DSC, RNR) and HMS Jonquil (Lt.Cdr. R.E.H. Partington, RD, RNR) departed Gibraltar to join convoy KMF A1.

Around 0200A/6, the destroyers HMS Broke (Lt.Cdr. A.F.C. Layard, RN), HMS Malcolm (A/Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Vanoc ( A/Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar to join convoy KMF A1 and relieve HMS Achates, HMS Antelope, HMS Amazon and HMS Wivern. After having been relieved these destroyers arrived at Gibraltar around 0545A/6. Also arriving at Gibraltar were the Leinster, HMS Royal Scotsman, HMS Royal Ulsterman and Ulster Monarch.

Around 1000A/6, HMS Broke, HMS Malcolm, HMS Vanoc and HMS Wrestler joined ' Force O ' while the screen on ' Force O ' joined the convoy, the destroyers / escort destroyers involved were ORP Blyskawica (Lt.Cdr. L. Lichodziejewski, ORP), HMS Lamerton (Lt.Cdr. C.R. Purse, DSC, RN), HMS Wheatland (Lt.Cdr. R. de L. Brooke, DSC, RN) and HMS Wilton (Lt. A.P. Northey, DSC, RN). The AA ship HMS Tynwald (Capt.(Retd.) P.G. Wodehouse, DSO, RN) also joined the convoy from ' Force O ' at the same time.

Around 0535A/7, in position 37°34'N, 00°01'W, the attack transport USS Thomas Stone was torpedoed and damaged by an enemy aircraft. HMS Spey remained with the damaged ship. At 2040A/7, the destroyers HMS Wishart and HMS Velox joined and the ship was taken in tow by HMS Wishart. HMS Spey by that time had departed with the ships 24 landing craft in which the ships troops had embarked. She was to escort them to Algiers but all had to be scuttled and the troops were taken on board HMS Spey. At 0535A/8 the tug St. Day joined which also passed a tow. The damaged ship anchored off Algiers around 1030A/11 being towed there by HMS Wishart and HMS St. Day.

Around 0725Z/7, HMS Clare parted company to join ' Force O ' which she did around 0913Z/7.

Around 1815A/7, the section destined for ' C Sector ' (Charlie Sector) parted company with the convoy. It was made up of the USS Almaack, USS Leedstown, USS Samuel Chase, Exceller and Dempo. With them were also transports from convoy KMS A1. They were escorted by the AA ship HMS Tynwald, escort destroyers HMS Cowdray, HMS Zetland, sloop HMS Enchantress, minesweepers HMS Algerine, HMS Hussar, HMS Speedwell, corvettes HMS Pentstemon, HMS Samphire, MS trawlers HMS Cava, HMS Othello and the motor launches HMS ML 273 and HMS ML 295. At 2135A/7, the beacon submarine HMS P 45 (Lt. H.B. Turner, RN) made contact with the force and the ships were guided to their positions for the landings. From convoy KMS A1 the transports Macharda and Maron were destined for Charlie sector. They were escorted by the sloop HMS Stork and the corvettes HMS Pentstemon and HMS Samphire.

Around 1900A/7, The remainder of convoy KMF A1 split into two sections, one for ' A Sector ' (Apple Sector) and one for ' B Sector ' (Beer Sector).

The force for ' A Sector ' was made up of HMS Karanja and the Marnix van St. Aldegonde and Viceroy of India. With them were also transports from convoy KMS A1. They were escorted by the AA ship HMS Pozarica, escort destroyers HMS Bicester, HMS Bramham, frigate HMS Rother, minesweeper HMS Cadmus, MS trawlers HMS Juliet, HMS Rysa, HMS Stroma and the motor launches HMS ML 283, HMS ML 336 and HMS ML 338. At 2214A/7, the made contact with their beacon submarine HMS P 221 (Lt. M.F.R. Ainslie, DSC, RN). A few minutes later they stopped and the landings commenced. From convoy KMS A1 the following ships were assigned to ' A Sector '; Dewdale, Lalande, Manchester Port, Ocean Viceroy and Ocean Wanderer. They were escorted by the corvettes HMS Convolvulus and HMS Marigold.

The force for ' B Sector ' was made up of HMS Bulolo, HMS Keren and the Awatea, Cathay, Otranto, Sobieski, Strathnaver and Winchester Castle. With them were also transports from convoy KMS A1. They were escorted by the AA ship HMS Palomeres, destroyer ORP Blyskawica, escort destroyers HMS Lamerton, HMS Wheatland, HMS Wilton, minesweepers HMS Acute, HMS Alarm, HMS Albacore, MS trawlers HMS Hoy, HMS Incholm, HMS Mull and the motor launches HMS ML 238, HMS ML 307 and HMS ML 444. They made contact with their beacon submarine HMS P 48 (Lt. M.E. Faber, RN) around 2220A/7 hours and landing operation commenced shortly afterwards. From convoy KMS A1 the following ships were assigned to ' A Sector '; City of Worcester, Ennerdale, Glenfinlas, Jean Jadot, Lochmonar, Ocean Rider, Ocean Volga, Sobo, Stanhill, Tiba and Urlana. They were escorted by the sloop HMS Stork and the corvettes HMS Pentstemon and HMS Samphire which then went on with the ships for the ' Charlie sector '.

On 9 November the ships involved in the landings anchored in Algiers Bay.

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Convoy KMF O 1.

Convoy KMF O 1 was to pass the Strait of Gibraltar around 2230A/6; it was made up of the (troop) transports; Batory, Duchess of Bedford, Durban Castle, Letitia, Llangibby Castle, Monarch of Bermuda, Mooltan, Nieuw Zeeland, Orbita, Reina del Pacifico, Tegelberg and Warwick Castle.

The headquarters ship HMS Largs and the landing ships HMS Glengyle, HMS Princess Beatrix and HMS Queen Emma were also part of the convoy.

Around 1950A/4, the light cruiser HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, CB, RN) departed Gibraltar to join convoy KMF O1.

For the landings at Oran three main beaches were selected. ' X ', ' Y ' and ' Z ' beach. There was also one subsidiary beach, ' R '.

The fast convoy, KMF O1, would, after passing through the Straits of Gibraltar make rendezvous with the slow convoy, KMS O1 in position 36°26'N, 01°15'W.

The convoys would then be diverted into nine groups, these were;
For ' X ' beach
Group I, 1st Division; Batory, HMS Princess Beatrix, Queen Emma, 2nd Division; Benalbenach, Mark Twain, Mary Slessor and Walt Whitman. They were escorted by the light cruiser HMS Aurora, destroyer HMS Wivern, corvettes HMS Gardenia, HMS Vetch and the motor launch HMS HDML 1139.
Group VIII, LST HMS Bachaquero (A/Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. McMullan, RNR) escorted by the M/S trawler HMS Horatio (T/Lt. C.A. Lemkey, RNR).

For ' Y ' beach
Group II; HMS Glengyle, Monarch of Bermuda, Llangibby Castle, Clan Mactaggart and Salacia. They were escorted by the destroyers Brilliant, HMS Verity, M/S trawlers HMS Coriolanus, HMS Eday, HMS Inchmarnock, HMS Kerrera and the motor launches HMS ML 458, HMS ML 463, HMS ML 469, HMS ML 471 and HMS HDML 1128.

For ' Z ' beach
Group III, 1st Division; Duchess of Bedford, Durban Castle, Ettrick, Warwick Castle. 2nd Division; Derwentdale, Reina del Pacifico and Tegelberg. They were escorted by the light cruiser HMS Jamaica, escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), minesweepers HMS Brixham, HMS Bude, HMS Clacton, HMS Felixtowe, HMS Polruan (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.S. Landers, RNR), HMS Rothesay (Cdr. A.A. Martin, DSC, RD, RNR), HMS Rhyl (Cdr. L.J.S. Ede, DSO, RN), HMS Stornoway (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.R. Fraser, RNR) and the motor launches HMS ML 280, HMS HDML 1127.

Group V; Alcinous, Alphard, Charles H. Cramp, Chatanooga City, Delilian, Recorder and Zebulon B. Vance. They were escorted by the sloop HMS Deptford, cutters HMS Hartland, HMS Walney, corvettes HMS Rhododendron, HMS Violet and the motor launches HMS ML 480 and HMS ML 483.

Group VI, 1st division; Derbyshire, Letitia, Mooltan and Nieuw Zeeland. 2nd division, Empire Confidence, Lycaon and Theseus.

Group VII, 1st division, Empire Mordred, Havildar, Pacific Exporter and St. Essylt. 2nd division; Edward Rutledge, William Floyd and William Wirt. Groups VI and VII were escorted by the light (AA) cruiser HMS Delhi (Capt. A.T.G.C. Peachey, RN), destroyer HMS Vansittart, sloop HMS Aberdeen and the frigates HMS Exe and HMS Swale.

Group IX; LST's HMS Misoa (T/Lt. K.G. Graham, RNR) and HMS Tasajera (Lt.Cdr. W.E. Gelling, DSC, RD, RNR). They were escorted by the M/S trawlers HMS Fluellen (T/Lt. B.J. Hampson, RNR), HMS Ronaldsay (T/Lt. A. Stirling, RNR) and HMS Shiant (T/Lt. A.C. Elton, RNR).

For ' R ' beach
Group IV; HMS Royal Scotsman, HMS Royal Ulsterman and HMS Ulster Monarch. They had the same escort as Group III.

Two submarines were stationed off the beaches as beacons, these were HMS Ursula (Lt. R.B. Lakin, DSC, RN) and HMS P 54 (Lt. C.E. Oxborrow, DSC, RN).

8 Nov 1942

The landings at Oran as part of Operation Torch

For the landings at Oran the Centre Naval Task Force was deployed.

This Task Force was made up of the following warships; battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), escort carriers HMS Biter (Capt. E.M.C. Abel Smith, RN), HMS Dasher (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Jamaica (Capt. J.L. Storey, RN), HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), AA cruiser HMS Delhi (Capt. A.T.G.C. Peachey, RN), AA ship HMS Alynbank (A/Capt.(Retd.) H.F. Nash, RN), destroyers HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN), HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Bulldog (Cdr. M. Richmond, OBE, DSO, RN), HMS Beagle (Cdr. R.C. Medley, DSO, RN), HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) Lord Teynham, RN), HMS Achates (Lt.Cdr. A.H.T. Johns, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Wivern (Cdr. M.D.C. Meyrick, RN), HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, DSO, RN), HMS Verity, (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. T. Johnston, RN), escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN), HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), submarines HMS Ursula (Lt. R.B. Lakin, DSC, RN), HMS P 54 (Lt. C.E. Oxborrow, DSC, RN), minesweepers HMS Rhyl (Cdr. L.J.S. Ede, DSO, RN), HMS Felixstowe (T/Lt. C.G. Powney, RNVR), HMS Clacton (A/Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) L.S. Shaw, RNR), HMS Polruan (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.S. Landers, RNR), HMS Rothesay (Cdr. A.A. Martin, DSC, RD, RNR), HMS Stornoway (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.R. Fraser, RNR), HMS Bude (Lt. F.A.J. Andrew, RN), HMS Brixham (Lt. G.A. Simmers, RNR), sloops HMS Aberdeen (Lt.Cdr. H. Day, RN), HMS Deptford (Lt.Cdr. H.R. White, RN), cutters HMS Hartland (Lt.Cdr. G.P. Billot, RNR), HMS Walney (Lt.Cdr. P.C. Meyrick, RN), frigates HMS Exe (A/Cdr. M.A.O. Biddulph, DSC, RN), HMS Swale (Lt.Cdr. J. Jackson, RNR), corvettes HMS Gardenia (T/Lt. M.M. Firth, RNVR), HMS Vetch (T/A/Lt.Cdr. H.J. Beverley, DSO, DSC, RNR), HMS Rhododendron (Lt.Cdr. L.A. Sayers, RNR), HMS Violet (Lt. C.N. Stewart, RNR), M/S trawlers HMS Coriolanus (T/Lt. N. Hunt, RNVR), HMS Fluellen (T/Lt. B.J. Hampson, RNR), HMS Horatio (T/Lt. C.A. Lemkey, RNR), HMS Eday (T/Lt. W.Y. Surtees, RNR), HMS Inchmarnock (T/Lt. C.G.V. Corneby, RNR), HMS Kerrera (Skr. R.W. Slater, RNR), HMS Shiant (T/Lt. A.C. Elton, RNR), HMS Ronaldsay (T/Lt. A. Stirling, RNR), motor launches ML 280, ML 458, ML 463, ML 469, ML 471, ML 480, ML 483 and the harbour defence motor launches HDML 1127, HDML 1128 and HDML 1139.

Also parted of the Centre Naval Task Force were the following amphibious ships; headquarters ship HMS Largs (Cdr. E.A. Divers, RNR, flying the flag of Commodore T.H. Troubridge, RN), landing ships infantery HMS Glengyle (Capt.(Retd.) D.S. McGrath, RN), HMS Princess Beatrix (Cdr.(Retd.) T.B. Brunton, DSC, RN), HMS Queen Emma (Capt.(Retd.) G.L.D. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Royal Scotsman (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Armstrong, DSC, RD, RNR), HMS Royal Ulsterman (A/Lt.Cdr. W.R.K. Clark, DSC, RD RNR) and HMS Ulster Monarch (Lt.Cdr. N.A.F. Kingscote, RNR), RFA Derwentdale, landing ships tank HMS Bachaquero (A/Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A.W. McMullan, RNR), HMS Misoa (T/Lt. K.G. Graham, RNR) and HMS Tasajera (Lt.Cdr. W.E. Gelling, DSC, RD, RNR).

Also parted of the Oran Attack Force were the ships in convoys KMS O1 and KMF O2.

Around 1700Z/6, convoy KMS O1 passed through the Straits of Gibraltar followed by convoy KMF O1 around 1830Z/6. These convoys then merged to the east of the Straits of Gibraltar. These convoys came direct from the U.K. and were made up of the following (troop) transports; Alcinous (Dutch, 6189 GRT, built 1925), Alphard (British, 5483 GRT, built 1937), Batory (Polish, 14287 GRT, built 1936), Benalbanach (British, 7153 GRT, built 1940), Charles H. Cramp (American, 6220 GRT, built 1920), Chattanooga City (American, 5687 GRT, built 1921), Clan Mactaggart (British, 7622 GRT, built 1920), Delinlian (British, 6423 GRT, built 1923), Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Durban Castle (British, 17388 GRT, built 1938), Edward Rutledge (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Empire Confidence (British, 5023 GRT, built 1925), Empire Mordred (British, 7024 GRT, built 1942), Havildar (British, 5401 GRT, built 1940), Letitia (British, 13595 GRT, built 1925), Llangibby Castle (British, 11951 GRT, built 1929), Lycaon (British, 7350 GRT, built 1913), Mark Twain (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Mary Slessor (British, 5027 GRT, built 1930), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Mooltan (British, 20952 GRT, built 1923), Nieuw Zeeland (Dutch, 11069 GRT, built 1928)), Orbita (British, 15495 GRT, built 1915), Pacific Exporter (British, 6734 GRT, built 1928), Recorder (British, 5981 GRT, built 1930), Reina del Pacifico (British, 17702 GRT, built 1931), Salacia (British, 5495 GRT, built 1937), St. Essylt (British, 5634 GRT, built 1941), Tegelberg (Dutch, 14150 GRT, built 1937), Thesues (British, 6527 GRT, built 1908), Walt Whitman (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Warwick Castle (British, 20107 GRT, built 1930), William Floyd (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), William Wirt (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942) and Zebulon B. Vance (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942).

Also part of these convoys was the headquarters ship HMS Largs and the landing ships infantery Glengyle, Queen Emma, Queen Beatrix, Royal Scotsman, Royal Ulsterman, Ulster Monarch and RFA Derwentdale.

From the above warships the following had come direct from the U.K. with convoys KMS 1 and KMF 1; escort carrier HMS Dasher, AA ship HMS Alynbank, destroyer HMS Vansittart, sloops HMS Aberdeen, HMS Deptford, cutters HMS Hartland, HMS Walney, frigates HMS Exe, HMS Swale and the corvettes HMS Gardenia, HMS Rhododendron, HMS Vetch and HMS Violet.

On 2 November 1942, the minesweepers HMS Rhyl, HMS Clacton, HMS Polruan, HMS Rothesay and HMS Stornoway departed Gibraltar to join convoy KMS 1.

Around 0300A/3, the light cruiser HMS Jamaica departed Gibraltar to join convoy KMF 1 coming from the U.K.

Around 1950A/4, the light cruiser HMS Aurora departed Gibraltar to join convoy KMF O1.

Around 0430A/6, the battleship HMS Rodney and the destroyers HMS Bulldog, HMS Boreas and HMS Beagle departed Gibraltar as part of Force H.

Around 1500A/6, the destroyer HMS Vansittart, which had arrived at Gibraltar on the 5th, departed Gibraltar to join convoy KMS O1 with her were also the minesweepers HMS Bude, HMS Brixham and HMS Felixtowe.

A few hours later, shortly after dark on the 6th, the landing ships tank HMS Bachaquero, HMS Misoa and HMS Tasajera departed Gibraltar to join convoy KMS O1. They were escorted by the M/S trawlers HMS Fluellen, HMS Horatio, HMS Ronaldsay, HMS Shiant, HMS Coriolanus, HMS Eday, HMS Inchmarnock, HMS Kerrera, the motor launches ML 280, ML 458, ML 463, ML 469, ML 471, ML 480, ML 483 and the harbour defence motor launches HDML 1127, HDML 1128 and HDML 1139.

Around 2200A/6, the escort carrier HMS Dasher and the destroyers HMS Wivern, HMS Amazon, HMS Achates, HMS Acheron, HMS Boadicea and HMS Brilliant departed Gibraltar to join the convoys.

Around 0300A/7, the aircraft carrier HMS Furious, AA cruiser HMS Delhi and the escort destroyers HMS Farndale, HMS Avon Vale, HMS Calpe and HMS Puckeridge departed Gibraltar for the operation.

Around 0300A/7, the destroyers HMS Westcott and HMS Verity departed Gibraltar for the operation.

Landing beaches, Oran

The port of Oran, is situated at the head of a large bight between Cape Falcon, the rocky north-eastern end of the promontory of which Pointe Corales is the north-western extremity, to the west and Cap d'Aguille, to the east. This bight is divided into three bays of nearly equal size by Point Canastel and by Point Mers-el-Kebir which projects in an easterly direction from the foot of Jebel Santon and is surmounted by a powerful fortress. The heights of Jebel Murjajo lie westward of Oran with the conspicuous Fort Santa Cruz at their eastern end. The artificial harbour at Oran consists of six basins. It is protected on its northern side by a stone breakwater extending eastwards about a mile and a quarter from Pointe Mona on which, at the eastern end of the cliffs under Jebel Murjajo, lies Fort Lambourne.

The arrangement of landing beaches at Oran was comparatively simple and consisted of three main beaches; 'X', 'Y' and 'Z' and one subsidiary beach 'R'.

An armoured column from Combat Command 'B' would land at 'X' beach which lay at El Mrairia close to Cape Figalo, with orders to capture La Lourmel airfield, block the main roads north-east and south of La Lourmel, advance south of Debkra, and assist in the capture of the airfields at Tafraoui and Es Senia.

The 26th Regimental Combat Team would land at 'Y' beach near Les Andalouses with orders to take control of the Jebel Murjajo heights and capture Oran from the west.

The 18th Regimental Combat Team would land at 'Z-Green' beach near Arzew with the orders to capture the coastal defence, the port of Arzew and the port of Oran from the east. The 16th Regimental Combat Team would land at 'Z-White' beach to secure a bridgehead for Armoured Combat Command 'B', cover the east flank of the Oran Force and then take part in the capture of Oran.

Combat team 'B' would land at 'Z-Red' beach to capture Tafaraoui, Es Senia and Oggaz airfields and assist in capturing Oran from the south.

A portion of the First Ranger Battalion would made a subsidiary landing at 'R' beach southeast of Cape Carbon to capture the batteries at Fort la Ponte. The remainder of the battalion landed in Arzew harbour.

Meanwhile a parachute battalion was flown from the U.K. and dropped at H-hour near Tafaraoui airfield with orders to neutralise all aircraft on Es Senia airfield and capture Tafaraoui landing ground.

Instructions for Assault, Oran Beaches

The fast assault convoy, KMF O1, after proceeding through the Mediterranean at 11.5 knots under the orders of Commodore Troubridge, would meet the slow convoy, KMS O1, in position 36°26'N, 01°15'W around 1600A on 7 November 1942.

Here the convoys are split into nine groups; For ' X ' beach
Group I, 1st Division; Batory, HMS Princess Beatrix, Queen Emma, 2nd Division; Benalbenach, Mark Twain, Mary Slessor and Walt Whitman. They were escorted by the light cruiser HMS Aurora, destroyer HMS Wivern, corvettes HMS Gardenia, HMS Vetch and the motor launch HMS HDML 1139.
Group VIII, LST HMS Bachaquero escorted by the M/S trawler HMS Horatio.

For ' Y ' beach
Group II; HMS Glengyle, Monarch of Bermuda, Llangibby Castle, Clan Mactaggart and Salacia. They were escorted by the destroyers Brilliant, HMS Verity, M/S trawlers HMS Coriolanus, HMS Eday, HMS Inchmarnock, HMS Kerrera and the motor launches HMS ML 458, HMS ML 463, HMS ML 469, HMS ML 471 and HMS HDML 1128.

For ' Z ' beach
Group III, 1st Division; Duchess of Bedford, Durban Castle, Ettrick, Warwick Castle. 2nd Division; Derwentdale, Reina del Pacifico and Tegelberg. They were escorted by the light cruiser HMS Jamaica, escort destroyers HMS Calpe, HMS Farndale, minesweepers HMS Brixham, HMS Bude, HMS Clacton, HMS Felixtowe, HMS Polruan, HMS Rothesay, HMS Rhyl, HMS Stornoway and the motor launches HMS ML 280, HMS HDML 1127.

Group V; Alcinous, Alphard, Charles H. Cramp, Chatanooga City, Delilian, Recorder and Zebulon B. Vance. They were escorted by the sloop HMS Deptford, cutters HMS Hartland, HMS Walney, corvettes HMS Rhododendron, HMS Violet and the motor launches HMS ML 480 and HMS ML 483.

Group VI, 1st division; Derbyshire, Letitia, Mooltan and Nieuw Zeeland. 2nd division, Empire Confidence, Lycaon and Theseus.

Group VII, 1st division, Empire Mordred, Havildar, Pacific Exporter and St. Essylt. 2nd division; Edward Rutledge, William Floyd and William Wirt. Groups VI and VII were escorted by the AA cruiser HMS Delhi, destroyer HMS Vansittart, sloop HMS Aberdeen and the frigates HMS Exe and HMS Swale.

Group IX; LST's HMS Misoa and HMS Tasajera. They were escorted by the M/S trawlers HMS Fluellen, HMS Ronaldsay and HMS Shiant.

For ' R ' beach
Group IV; HMS Royal Scotsman, HMS Royal Ulsterman and HMS Ulster Monarch. They had the same escort as Group III.

Two submarines were stationed off the beaches as beacons, these were HMS Ursula and HMS P 54.

HMS Aurora would be stationed ahead of Group II, HMS Jamaica ahead of Group III and HMS Delhi ahead of Group IV. On reaching position 35°52'N, 00°10'5"W, in the Gulf of Arzew, HMS Jamaica would proceed independently for fire support duty off 'Z' beach. On reaching position 35°48'N, 00°54'W, HMS Aurora was also detached from her group to patrol to the north of Mers-el-Kebir to engage, if needed reinforced by HMS Jamaica, any escaping vessels from Mers-el-Kebir during the darkness. During daylight HMS Aurora was to remain outside the range of the shore batteries. Meanwhile around 0400A/8, HMS Delhi, would leave her group to meet the aircraft carriers at 0530A/8 in position 36°07'N, 00°45'W so as to provide additional AA protection.

The battleship HMS Rodney, escorted by HMS Bulldog, HMS Boreas and HMS Beagle, detached from Force H, was to protect the anchorage from attack by heavy enemy units. She too was to join the carriers around 0530A/8.

Initial landings were to be made at all beaches simultaneously at H-hour with the follow up forces being landed as soon as possible.

Oran attack opens, 8 November 1942.

The attack opened, after some delay at 0116A/8. The assault on 'X' beach was delayed by around 35 minutes due to the strong current. The appearance of a small Vichy-French convoy of four ships escorted by a trawler had also caused some delay. One of the merchant vessels, the Eridan (9928 GRT, built 1929) had sabotaged her engines. She was boarded by an armed guard. The other three merchant vessels, the Agen (4186 GRT, built 1921), Carthage (2440 GRT, built 1897) and Montaigne (2770 GRT, built 1920) initially escaped to the north-east but then ran into Allied forces. They then beached themselves south of Cape Figalo.

The appearance of the convoy had the effect that the minesweepers were badly delayed and were almost run over by the ships proceeding to 'X' beach. The minesweepers were then ordered to keep clear and no sweep was carried out ahead of the ships proceeding to 'X' beach.

Despite some delays and other difficulties [it would go to far to give a full account of the landings here] that landings were successful.

HMS Walney's assault on Oran harbour.

It had been decided, that the cutters HMS Walney and HMS Hartland were to attack Oran harbour to prevent the French from performing demolition operations to destroy the ports facilities. They were to attack shortly after 0300A/8.

The cutters were to land American troops and anti-sabotage parties with orders to seize the shore batteries covering the harbour, prevent the scuttling of the dock and harbour works and prevent the blockage of the harbour. The motor launches ML 480 and ML 483 were to provide a smoke screen. HMS Aurora was to provide cover fire if needed and also to distract and confuse the shore batteries.

The attack was carried out under the command of A/Capt. (Retd.) F.T. Peters, DSO, DSC, RN, which was embarked on board HMS Walney. The attack commenced at 0245A/8, when HMS Walney and HMS Hartland with ML 480 and ML 483 in company, approached the harbour entrance. Sirens were heard sounding ashore and all lights in the town had been extinguished. For a time the force circled off the entrance while an announcement was made in French by loud hailer from HMS Walney. The reply was hostile. A searchlight was quickly trained on the Walney and she came under a heavy, though inaccurate, machine gun fire. Followed by the Hartland, she at once turned away northwards coming round in a full circle to charge the booms. At the same time ML 480 went on ahead to full speed, laying a smoke screen, but hit the outer boom, coming to rest under heavy fire half way across it. She got off again at 0310A/8, just as HMS Walney, after completing her circle, charged the two booms at 15 knots, through the smoke and entered the harbour. On reaching it, A/Capt. Peters, slipped three canoes, manned with special parties, but at least one of the was sunk almost immediately by gunfire.

HMS Walney herself was steaming up the harbour to westwards at slow speed was hit by pompom fire from the Ravin Blanc battery. Half way up the harbour she narrowly missed ramming a French destroyer proceeding towards the harbour entrance. It raked her with two broadsides from point blank range, wrecking her main engines, and a few minutes later she came under heavy cross fire from the destroyer Epervier laying alongside to the south and from submarines and destroyers moored to the northward. At last, blazing forward and amidships, she drifted out of control bows on to the jetty ahead of the Epervier. An attempt to get heaving lines ashore failed and she drifted once more slowly out into the harbour. Her guns were out of action, their crew virtually wiped out. Sixteen officers and men were lying dead on her bridge where A/Capt. Peters was the sole survivor. Below only five officers and men of the landing parties remained alive amidst scenes of undescridale carnage. Nothing further could be done and the ship was abandoned, her few survivors, including A/Capt. Peters were taken prisoner. The abandoned wreck rolled over shortly afterwards.

HMS Hartland's assault on Oran harbour.

When HMS Walney entered Oran harbour at 0310A/8, Lt.Cdr. Billot waited five minutes, in compliance with his orders, before heading towards the harbour entrance. As she approached the smoke screen laid by ML 480, HMS Walney was picked up by a searchlight, and came under a devastating fire from the Ravin Blanc battery which killed nearly all her guns crews and temporarily blinded Lt.Cdr. Billot with a splinter. Before he recovered his sight the ship struck the breakwater, but eventually she entered the harbour and made for her objective, the Quai de Dunkerque, under gunfire from point blank range from the destroyer Typhon laying alongside it. Shells bursting inside her hull brought her to a standstill turning her mess decks, on which the troops were waiting, into shambles. Then with fires raging fore and aft, she drifted alongside the mole but she almost immediately was blown back into the harbour where she anchored while being under heavy fire from the French but these then ceased fire so that the ship could be abandoned. By 0410A/8, all survivors had left and at 0525A/8 there was an explosion on board but she remained afloat buring furiously. She later blew up and sank after a huge explosion which caused damage to buildings in a large area around the mole.

Oran captured.

While HMS Walney and HMS Hartland were gate-crashing into Oran Harbour, HMS Aurora was patrolling five miles away to the northward. At 0527A/8, she opened fire on the searchlight illuminating HMS Hartland, successfully extinguishing its beam. Then shortly before first light she engaged and disabled a Vichy-French destroyer of the Simoun-class from a range of 6000 yards. This destroyer later sank and appears to have been the Tramontaine.

Around 0600A/8, two more destroyers of the Simoun-class were seen leaving Oran, but seeing that they were standing by their sinking consort, HMS Aurora for a time withheld her fire. These destroyers were however soon in action with HMS Boadicea and HMS Calpe, and when they fired torpedoes at HMS Aurora she too opened fire from 13600 yards. In the ensuing fight HMS Boadicea was hit forward, and one of the French destroyers, being severely damaged and set on fire by a broadside, was driven inshore [this was the Tornade]. The action ended abruptly at 0727A/8, when the other destroyer, on being hit aft, turned and fled to the direction of Oran [this was the Typhon]. Meanwhile the sloop / minelayer La Surprise was sunk by HMS Brilliant around 0630A/8.

Aircraft from HMS Furious, HMS Biter and HMS Dasher had meanwhile attacked airfield destroying enemy aircraft on the ground and also in the air with only small losses to themselves.

Shore batteries managed to hit the Reina del Pacifico and Llangibby Castle. HMS Rodney proceeded closer inshore and opened fire at 1010A/8 on the Jebel Santon battery from a range of over 20000 yards. The battery was engaged several times during the day before HMS Rodney retired to seaward again.

Fighting continued on 9 November 1942. At 1024A/9, HMS Jamaica and HMS Aurora engaged the Epervier and Typhon. The Epervier was driven ashore in flames south of Cape de l'Aiguille while the Typhon retired to Oran where she too was beached.

The Vichy-French at Oran capitulated around noon on the 10th. (5)

Sources

  1. File 2.12.03.6368 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  2. File 2.12.03.6379 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  3. ADM 173/17247
  4. ADM 173/17216
  5. ADM 234/359

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


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