Allied Warships

ORP Piorun (G 65)

Destroyer of the N class

NavyThe Polish Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassN 
PennantG 65 
Built byJohn Brown Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd. (Clydebank, Scotland) 
Ordered15 Apr 1939 
Laid down26 Jul 1939 
Launched7 May 1940 
Commissioned4 Nov 1940 
End service 
History

Former HMS Nerissa commissioned as Polish Piorun.
Cdr. Plawski assumed command.
Piorun means thunderbolt in English.

Returned to the Royal Navy on 26 October 1946 and served as British HMS Noble (renamed again). Scrapped at Dunston in December 1955.

 
Former nameHMS Nerissa

Commands listed for ORP Piorun (G 65)

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
1Kmdr por. Eugeniusz Jozef Stanislaw Plawski, ORP5 Nov 19402 Aug 1941
2Kmdr por. Stanislaw Hryniewiecki, ORP2 Aug 194130 Aug 1941
3Kmdr por. Eugeniusz Jozef Stanislaw Plawski, ORP30 Aug 194121 Dec 1941
4Kpt. mar. Franciszek Pitulko, ORP21 Dec 194117 Jan 1942
5Kmdr por. Stanislaw Hryniewiecki, ORP17 Jan 194224 May 1942
6Kmdr ppor. Tadeusz Gorazdowski, ORP24 May 194230 Apr 1943
7Kmdr por. Stanislaw Tytus Dzienisiewicz, ORP30 Apr 19437 Feb 1944
8Kmdr ppor. Tadeusz Gorazdowski, ORP7 Feb 19447 Jan 1945
9Kmdr ppor. Jan Tchorznicki, ORP7 Jan 194525 Nov 1945

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Notable events involving Piorun include:


16 Dec 1940

Convoy TC 8.

This convoy of troopships departed Halifax on 23 July 1940 for the U.K.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships; Capetown Castle (British, 27000 GRT, built 1938, carrying 1415 troops), Colombia (Dutch, 10782 GRT, built 1930, carrying [unknown number] troops), Pasteur (British, 29253 GRT, built 1938, carrying 2995 troops) and Pennland (Dutch, 16381 GRT, built 1922, carrying 1865 troops).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) and the destroyers HMCS Assiniboine (Capt. L.W. Murray, RCN) and HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, OBE, RN).

HMCS Assiniboine and HMCS Restigouche parted company in the morning of 17 December to return to Halifax.

HMS Revenge parted company with the convoy in the afternoon of 21 December also to return to Halifax.

On approaching the British Isles the convoy was devided into two. The Capetown Castle and Pasteur were escorted by the destroyers HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN), HMS Worcester (Lt.Cdr. E.C. Coats, RN), HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN), FSS Le Triomphant (Cdr. P.M.J.R. Auboyneau) and Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski).

The two Dutch ships were escorted by the destroyers HMS Bath (Cdr.(Retd.) A.V. Hemming, RN), HMS St. Marys (Lt. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN), HMS Montgomery (Cdr.(Retd.) H.F. Nash, RN), HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN) and HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN).

Both sections of the convoy proceeded to the Clyde.

Not all escorts remained with the convoy until the Clyde though.

[Further details not available at the moment.]

18 Dec 1940

Convoy WS 5A and the attack by the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper

This convoy departed U.K. ports on 18/19 December 1940. Destination for the majority of the convoy was Suez where the convoy arrived on 16 February 1941.

On 17 December 1940 the transport Rangitiki (British, 16698 GRT, built 1929) departed Avonmouth. She was escorted by HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN) towards the rendez-vous position.

On 18 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed Liverpool, they formed WS 5A slow;
Anselm (British, 5954 GRT, built 1935), Atreus (British, 6547 GRT, built 1911), Bhutan (British, 6104 GRT, built 1929), City of Canterbury (British, 8331 GRT, built 1922), City of London (British, 8956 GRT, built 1907), Delane (British, 6054 GRT, built 1938), Elizabethville (Belgian, 8351 GRT, built 1922), Menelaus (British, 10307 GRT, built 1923), Orbita (British, 15495 GRT, built 1915), Settler (British, 6202 GRT, built 1939) and Tamaroa (British, 12405 GRT, built 1922). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Witherington (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), sloop HMS Wellington (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, RN) and the corvettes HMS Clematis (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSO, DSC, RD, RNR), HMS Jonquil (Lt.Cdr. R.E.H. Partington, RNR), HMS Cyclamen (Lt. H.N. Lawson, RNR) and HMS Geranium (T/Lt. A. Foxall, RNR).

On 18 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed from the Clyde;
Costa Rica (Dutch, 8055 GRT, built 1910), Ernebank (British, 5388 GRT, built 1937), Leopoldville (Belgian, 11509 GRT, built 1929) and Neuralia (British, 9182 GRT, built 1912). Ernebank was however forced to return around 1800 hours on the 21st escorted by HMS Witch and HMS St. Mary’s. On the 22nd, HMS Wellington, was detached to take over the escort of the Ernebank. They were escorted by the anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Cairo (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) and the destroyers HMS Bath (Cdr.(Retd.) A.V. Hemming, RN), HMS St. Marys (Lt. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN), HMS St. Albans (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) S.G.C. Rawson, RN), HMS Worcester (Lt.Cdr. E.C. Coats, RN).

On 18 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed from Lough Foyle (Belfast); City of Derby (British, 6616 GRT, built 1921) and Stentor (British, 6148 GRT, built 1926). They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Venomous (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, RN).

The slow part of the convoy was met around dawn on the 19th by the light cruiser HMS Bonaventure (Capt. H.G. Egerton, RN) and the destroyers HMS Vesper (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN), HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, RN) and HMS Highlander (Cdr. W.A. Dallmeyer, RN).

Around 2300/21 all destroyers parted company with the slow part of the convoy.

On 19 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed Liverpool, they formed WS 5A fast;
Clan MacDonald (British, 9653 GRT, built 1939), Essex (British, 13655 GRT, built 1936) and Northern Prince (British, 10917 GRT, built 1929).

On 19 December 1940 the following troop transports / transports departed from the Clyde;
Adviser (British, 6348 GRT, built 1939), Arabistan (British, 5874 GRT, built 1929), Barrister (British, 6348 GRT, built 1939), Benrinnes (5410 GRT, built 1921), Clan Cumming (British, 7264 GRT, built 1938), Empire Song (British, 9228 GRT, built 1940) and Empire Trooper (British, 14106 GRT, built 1922).

Escort for the fast section of convoy WS 5A joined around dawn on the 20th and was provided by the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. E.G.N. Rushbrooke, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RNRN), destroyers HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN) and Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) which came from the Clyde. And also by the destroyers HMS Highlander, HMS Harvester and FSS Le Triomphant (Cdr. P.M.J.R. Auboyneau) which came from Londonderry. The first two of these destroyers had fuelled there after escorting the slow part of the convoy for a while. Also the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) (with fighters embarked for Takoradi) and the destroyers HMS Beverley (Cdr.(Retd.) E.F. Fitzgerald, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling joined from Liverpool.

The destroyers of the fast portion of the convoy were detached during the night of 21/22 December 1940.

At dawn on 23 December 1940 the slow and fast part of the convoy made rendez-vous and proceeded in company.

On the 24th, HMS Naiad parted company to return to the U.K. The heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. G.L. Warren, RN) and the light cruiser HMS Dunedin (Capt. R.S. Lovatt, RN) both joined the escort of the convoy.

At dawn on the 25th the convoy was attacked by the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper. She had made contact with the convoy with radar the previous day and had already made a torpedo attack shortly before 0400/25 but no hits had been obtained nor had the attack been noticed by the British.

Then shortly after 0800/25 she made visual contact with the convoy and it came as a surprise to the Germans to sight HMS Berwick.

Around 0830 hours the Germans opened fire on HMS Berwick but due to the bad visibility she soon shifted target to the troopship Empire Trooper which was not in her assigned station. The troopship was slightly damaged as was the merchant vessel Arabistan.

The convoy was ordered to scatter and HMS Berwick and HMS Bonaventure both engaged the German cruiser as did the corvette Cyclamen briefly.

Meanwhile HMS Dunedin laid a smokescreen to cover the ships of the convoy. HMS Furious flew off a few aircraft but these failed to find the German cruiser in the bad visibility.

HMS Berwick was damaged by gunfire from the German cruiser but she forced, together with HMS Bonaventure, the enemy to break off the action around 0915 hours.

In the evening HMS Boneventure was detached to search for the damaged Empire Trooper.

On the 28th the convoy was reassembled at sea (minus Empire Trooper which was ordered to proceed to Gibraltar via the Azores) and continued on to Freetown where it arrived on 6 January 1941.

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The convoy departed Freetown for South Africa on 8 January.

The convoy was now made up of the (troop) transports; Adviser, Anselm, Arabistan, Atreus, Barrister, Benrinnes, Bhutan, City of Canterbury, City of Derby, City of London, Costa Rica, Delane, Elisabethville, Empire Ability (British, 7603 GRT, built 1931), Menelaus, Neuralia, Orbita, Rangitiki, Settler, Stentor and Tamaroa.

On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.W.La T. Bisset, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.F. Wake-Walker CB, OBE, RN), heavy cruisers HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN), HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN), destroyers HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN), HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN), sloops HMS Milford (Cdr. (Retd.) the Hon. V.M. Wyndham-Quin, RN), HMS Bridgewater (A/Cdr. (Retd.) H.F.G. Leftwich, RN) and the corvettes HMS Asphodel (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) K.W. Stewart, RN) and HMS Calendula (Lt.Cdr. A.D. Bruford, RNVR).

At 0700N/9, the heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN) joined the convoy. She had also departed Freetown around the same time as the convoy but apparently acted independently until the time she joined the convoy.

At 0600N/10, HMS Formidable, HMS Dorsetshire, HMS Norfolk, HMS Velox and HMS Vidette parted company with the convoy. At the same time the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. R.D. Oliver, DSC, RN) joined.

It appears that HMS Bridgewater, HMS Milford, HMS Asphodel and HMS Calendula parted company on 12 January.

At 1000B/21, the heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN) joined the convoy and HMS Devonshire parted company.

At 1600B/22, HMS Hawkins parted company with the convoy taking the transports Anselm and City of Canterbury to Capetown where they arrived on 23 January.

The remainder of the convoy arrived at Durban on 25 January 1941 escorted by HMS Shropshire.

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The convoy departed Durban for Suez on 29 January 1941. It was now made up of the transports, Adviser, Anselm, Arabistan, Atreus, Barrister, Benrinnes, Bhutan, City of Canterbury, City of Derby, City of London, Costa Rica, Delane, Elisabethville, Empire Ability, Menelaus, Neuralia, Nieuw Holland (Dutch, 11066 GRT, built 1927), Orbita, Rangitiki, Settler, Stentor, Talamba (British, 8018 GRT, built 1924) and Tamaroa.

They were escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Shropshire and the light cruiser HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN).

Around 0800B/30, HMS Shropshire was relieved by the light cruiser HMS Enterprise (Capt. J.C. Annesley, DSO, RN).

In the morning of 31 January the transport Delane parted company with the convoy to return to Durban due to engine defects.

At 1000CD(-3.5)/4, HMS Ceres parted company taking the transports Nieuw Holland and Orbita with her to Kilindini / Mombasa where they arrived on 5 February.

At 1440CD/5, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Hector (Capt.(Retd.) F. Howard, DSC, RN) joined.

At 1500CD/5, the light cruiser HMS Capetown (Capt. P.H.G. James, RN) joined.

At 0430CD/6, HMS Capetown parted company with the convoy having been ordered to do so.

At 1730CD/10, HMS Enterprise parted company with the convoy to fuel at Aden. She rejoined the convoy around 2130C/11.

Around 0630C/11, the convoy was joined by the light cruiser HMS Caledon (Capt. C.P. Clarke, RN) and the sloops HMS Flamingo (Cdr. J.H. Huntley, RN) and HMS Indus (Cdr. Cdr. E.G.G. Hunt, RIN). HMS Hector then parted company with the convoy.

At 2300C/11, HMIS Indus parted company with the convoy upon being relieved by the sloop HMS Grimsby (Cdr. K.J. D'Arcy, RN).

At 1830C/13, HMS Flamingo parted company with the convoy to return to Aden and HMS Grimsby parted company with the convoy taking the transport Neuralia with her to Port Sudan.

At 0400C/14, HMS Enterprise parted company with the convoy.

The convoy escorted by HMS Caledon arrived at Suez on 16 February 1941. (1)

25 Jan 1941
At night, the 7th Destroyer Flotilla (including Piorun) left Scapa Flow with main forces of Home Fleet. The Allied ships were trying to intercept the German battlecrusiers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau that were breaking into the Atlantic. The 7th Destroyer Flotilla was ordered to provide cover for HMS Nelson, HMS Rodney and HMS Repulse. (2)

25 Jan 1941
As the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were reported to have left Kiel, Germany for operations in the Atlantic the Home Fleet sailed late in the evening to intercept them.

The ships that sailed from Scapa Flow were the following, battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of A/Adm. J.C. Tovey, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN), battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, CB, MVO, RN), light cruisers HMS Arethusa (Capt. Q.D. Graham, RN), HMS Galatea (Capt. B.B. Schofield, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN), HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN), HMS Mauritius (Cdr. A.R. Pedder, RN), HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), HMS Edinburgh (Capt. C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.E. Holland, CB, RN) and HMS Birmingham (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN) and the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, DSO, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN), HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, DSO, RAN), HMS Electra (Cdr. S.A. Buss, MVO, RN), HMS Escapade (Cdr. R.E. Hyde-Smith, RN), HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. R.H. Wright, DSC, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Keppel (Lt. R.J. Hanson, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski).

On the 27th, HMS Rodney, HMS Birmingham, HMS Edinburgh, HMS Mauritius and the destroyers HMS Beagle, HMS Brilliant, HMS Keppel and Piorun parted company to return to Scapa Flow which they did around 2345A/28 except for HMS Keppel and ORP Piorun which returned to Scapa Flow at 0700A/29.

They were to remain at Scapa Flow until 30 January when they would sail to relieve units still on patrol to enable them to return to base.

On 30 January the light cruisers HMS Naiad and HMS Phoebe arrived at Scapa Flow at 1100 hours. They were followed about half an hour later by the light cruisers HMS Galatea and HMS Arethusa.

HMS Nelson, HMS Repulse, HMS Bedouin, HMS Matabele, HMS Punjabi, HMS Tartar, HMS Echo, HMS Electra and HMS Escapade arrived at Scapa Flow at 1700A/30.

Light cruiser HMS Aurora also returned to Scapa Flow on 30 January.

27 Jan 1941
The Allied forces had to split. Piorun and two British destroyers were ordered to escort the battleship HMS Rodney and the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh. (2)

28 Jan 1941
Piorun and HMS Keppel are forced to return to base due to damaged caused by a storm. (2)

8 Feb 1941
The Polish destroyers Garland and Piorun formed part of the escort of a convoy bound for Canada / USA. (2)

9 Feb 1941

Convoy WS 6A.

This convoy departed U.K. waters on 9 February 1941 and arrived at Freetown on 1 March 1941.

The convoy was formed at in position from three sections of troopships / transports coming from Avonmouth, Liverpool and the Clyde.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships / transports; Almanzora (British, 15551 GRT, built 1914), Ascanius (British, 10048 GRT, built 1910), Bellerophon (British, 9019 GRT, built 1906), Bergensfjord (Norwegian, 11015 GRT, built 1913), Burdwan (British, 6069 GRT, built 1928), Cape Horn (British, 5643 GRT, built 1929), City of Athens (British, 6558 GRT, built 1923), City of Corinth (British, 5318 GRT, built 1918), City of Hankow (British, 7360 GRT, built 1915), City of Pittsburg (British, 7377 GRT, built 1922), Consuelo (British, 4847 GRT, built 1937), Dalesman (British, 6343 GRT, built 1940), Highland Brigade (British, 14134 GRT, built 1929), Kina II (British, 9823 GRT, built 1939), Leopoldville (Belgian, 11509 GRT, built 1929), Llandaff Castle (British, 10799 GRT, built 1926), Llangibby Castle (British, 11951 GRT, built 1929), Logician (British, 5993 GRT, built 1928), Masheer (British, 7911 GRT, built 1925), Manchester Citizen (British, 5343 GRT, built 1925), Mataroa (British, 12390 GRT, built 1922), Nova Scotia (British, 6796 GRT, built 1926), Opawa (British, 10354 GRT, built 1931), Port Alma (British, 8400 GRT, built 1928), Rangitata (British, 16737 GRT, built 1929), Ruahine (British, 10832 GRT, built 1909), Salween (British, 7063 GRT, built 1937), Scythia (British, 19761 GRT, built 1920) and Thysville (Belgian, 8351 GRT, built 1922).

Escort was initially provided by the light cruisers HMS Birmingham (Capt. A.C.G. Madden, RN), HMS Phoebe (Capt. G. Grantham, RN), armed merchant cruiser HMS Cathay (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.M. Merewether, RN), destroyers HMAS Napier (Capt. S.H.T. Arliss, RN), HMAS Nizam (Lt.Cdr. M.J. Clark, RAN), HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, OBE, RN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt. H.S. Rayner, RCN), HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Hibbard, RCN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN), Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski), ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski, ORP), HMS Keppel (?), HMS Broadwater (Lt.Cdr. C.L.de H. Bell, RD, RNR) and the escort destroyers HMS Atherstone (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN) and HMS Cottesmore (Lt.Cdr. J.C.A. Ingram, RN).

Information on this convoy is difficult to find but it appears that most of the A/S escort parted company with the convoy in the early evening of 12 February (according to the logbook of HMS Birmingham) and then proceeded as follows; HMAS Napier and HMAS Nizam to Scapa Flow passing north of Rockall, HMS Keppel, HMS Atherstone and HMS Cottesmore to Londonderry, HMCS Ottawa, HMS Restigouche, HMCS St. Laurent and HMCS Skeena through area 52°N to 53°N, 23°W to 20°W and then to Greenock through position 55°N, 15°W, HMS Legion, HMS Broadwater, ORP Piorun and ORP Garland through position 57°N, 19°W and then to Greenock while passing north of Rockall. All groups were to conduct A/S sweeps on their way back.

Shortly before noon on the 15th the battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) was sighted which was to join the convoy.

Shortly after Rodney joined HMS Phoebe parted company with the convoy to fuel at Gibraltar.

HMS Rodney remained with the convoy until 1700/16. She then set course to join convoy HX 108.

The battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt R.R. McGrigor, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN) and aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN) joined the convoy at 1000/17. They remained with the convoy until 1030/21 when they were relieved by HMS Malaya (Capt. A.F.E. Palliser, DSC, RN).

HMS Phoebe rejoined the convoy shortly before noon on 23 February 1941.

Shortly after noon on 25 February 1941 the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN) and HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC and Bar, RN) joined the convoy.

At 2030/25 the armed yacht HMS Surprise (Capt.(Retd.) E.C. Stubbs, RN) also joined.

Around 0900/27 the sloop HMS Milford (Cdr.(Retd.) the Hon. V.M. Wyndham-Quin, RN) and the destroyers HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN) and HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN) joined the escort of the convoy.

On February 28th, HMS Malaya parted company with the convoy to proceed to Freetown taking the destroyers HMS Faulknor and HMS Forester with her. Also on this day the destroyers HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) and HMS Isis (Cdr. C.S.B. Swinley, DSC, RN) joined the escort of the convoy.

At 1226A/1, a Walrus aircraft from HMS Birmingham force landed on the water 95° from position 09°25'N, 16°39'W. Birmingham searched for the aircraft rejoining the convoy for the night not having found the aircraft. A new search was not possible without first fuelling at Freetown.

Shortly before arrival at Freetown on 2 March 1941 the corvettes HMS Calendula (Lt.Cdr. A.D. Bruford, RNVR) and HMS Clematis (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSC, RD, RNR) joined. (1)

12 Feb 1941
The Polish destroyers Piorun, Garland and the British destroyer HMS Legion conduct an offensive patrol against enemy submarines. However, no U-boat was encountered. (2)

14 Feb 1941

Convoy SLG 1A.

This convoy departed Gibraltar on 14 February 1941.

It was made up of the following transports; Kenya (British, 9890 GRT, built 1930) and Sobieski (Polish, 11030 GRT, built 1939).

The convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Dunedin (Capt. R.S. Lovatt, RN) and the destroyers HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN), HMS Fortune (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN) and HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN).

At 2230A/14, HMS Wishart and HMS Vidette parted company to proceed to Freetown.

At 2100A/17, HMS Foresight and HMS Fortune parted company to return to Gibraltar where they arrived on the 19th.

At 1330A/20, the destroyers HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN), HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN), HMS Hurricane (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Simms, RN), Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) and ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski, ORP) joined.

The convoy arrived in the Clyde on 22 February 1941.

17 Feb 1941
Garland and Piorun were once again part of the Escort for a convoy. (2)

20 Feb 1941
The Polish destroyers Garland and Piorun were ordered to leave a convoy they were escorting and provide escort for two troop ships returning to England. (2)

15 Mar 1941

Convoy HG 56.

This convoy departed Gibraltar on 15 March 1941 and arrived in U.K. waters on 1 April 1941.

On departure from Gibraltar the convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Ary Lensen (British, 3214 GRT, built 1930), Aymeric (British, 5196 GRT, built 1919), Baron Haig (British, 3391 GRT, built 1926), Baron Nairn (British, 3164 GRT, built 1925), Baron Pentland (British, 3410 GRT, built 1927), Bruce M. (British, 1887 GRT, built 1927), Crane (British, 785 GRT, built 1937), Cressado (British, 1228 GRT, built 1913), Dayrose (British, 4113 GRT, built 1928), Fanefjeld (Norwegian, 1354 GRT, built 1920), Fendris (British, 1018 GRT, built 1925), Lech (Polish, 1568 GRT, built 19341927), Lissa (British, 1511 GRT, built ), Magne (Swedish, 3103 GRT, built 1912), Margareta (British, 1173 GRT, built 1904), Ocean Coast (British, 1173 GRT, built 1935), Philipp M. (British, 2085 GRT, built 1924), Procris (British, 1033 GRT, built 1924), Rhineland (British, 1381 GRT, built 1922), Rimfakse (Norwegian, 1334 GRT, built 1921), Thurso (British, 2436 GRT, built 1919), Treminnard (British, 4964 GRT, built 1922), Ulea (British, 1574 GRT, built 1936), Uskside (British, 2708 GRT, built 1937) and Wallonia (Swedish, 1435 GRT, built ).

[It is possible some of these ships did not sail from Freetown but joined the convoy at sea.]

On departure from Gibraltar the convoy was escorted by the destroyer HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN), sloop HMS Folkestone (Lt.Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), corvettes HMS Geranium (T/Lt. A. Foxall, RNR), HMS Verbena (Lt.Cdr. D.A. Rayner, DSC, RNVR) and the submarine HMS Olympus (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Dymott, RN).

HMS Velox, HMS Geranium and HMS Verbena parted company on 16 March to return to Gibraltar.

The light cruiser HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, RN) joined the convoy around 0900Z/23.

At 1600Z/24, HMS Olympus parted company with the convoy and proceeded to join convoy OG 56.

Around 1130Z/25, the armed boarding vessel HMS Corinthian (A/Cdr. E.J.R. Pollitt, RNR) joined the convoy.

Around 0800Z/27, the destroyer HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN), Léopard (Lt.Cdr. J. Evenou) and Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) joined the convoy.

Around 1000Z/27, the corvettes HMS Arabis (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Stewart, RNR), HMS Mallow (Lt.Cdr. W.B. Piggott, RNR) and HMS Violet (Lt.Cdr. K.M. Nicholson, RNR) joined the convoy.

Around 1700Z/27, the destroyers HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN), HMS Sardonyx (Lt.Cdr. R.B.S. Tennant, RN), HMS Scimitar (Lt. R.D. Franks, OBE, RN), HMS Burwell (Lt.Cdr. S.R.J. Woods, RNR), sloop HMS Fleetwood (Cdr. R.W. Moir, RN), A/S trawlers HMS Northern Gem (Skr.Lt. W.J.V. Mullender, DSC, RNR), HMS Northern Wave (T/Lt. W.G. Pardoe-Matthews, RNR) and rescue ship Zaafaran (1559 GRT, built 1921) joined.

Around 0930A/29, the destroyer HMS Broadwater (Lt.Cdr. W.M.L. Astwood, RN) joined the convoy.

24 Mar 1941
Piorun and British destroyers escorted a convoy to USA. The convoy was also protected by the battleships HMS Rodney and HMS Nelson and the light cruisers HMS Edinburgh and HMS Cairo, this was due to the fact that the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were operating in the North Atlantic. (2)

25 Mar 1941

Convoy WS 7.

This convoy was assembled off Oversay on 25 March 1941 for several destinations in the Middle and Far East.

This convoy was made up of the following troopships / transports; Andes (British, 25689 GRT, built 1939), Dempo (Dutch, 17024 GRT, built 1931), Denbighshire (British, 8983 GRT, built 1938), Duchess of Atholl (British, 20119 GRT, built 1928), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Empress of Canada (British, 21517 GRT, built 1922), Georgic (British, 27759 GRT, built 1932), Glenorchy (British, 8982 GRT, built 1939), Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (Dutch, 19429 GRT, built 1930), Orcades (British, 23456 GRT, built 1937), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Otranto (British, 20026 GRT, built 1925), Pasteur (British, 29253 GRT, built 1938), Stirling Castle (British, 25550 GRT, built 1936), Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932), Strathallan (British, 23722 GRT, built 1938), Stratheden (British, 23722 GRT, built 1937), Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935), Strathnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931), Viceroy of India (British, 19627 GRT, built 1929) and Warwick Castle (British, 20107 GRT, built 1930).

These ships had come from Liverpool and from the Clyde. While proceeding to the Oversay rendezvous (from the Clyde) the Strathaird collided with the Stirling Castle and was forced to return due to the damage sustained. The Stirling Castle also had damage but was able to continue.

On departure from the U.K. waters the convoy was escorted by the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN) (came from Scapa Flow), HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) (came from the Clyde), light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Commodore C.M. Blackman, DSO, RN) (came from the Clyde), AA cruiser HMS Cairo (A/Capt. I.R.H. Black, RN) (came from Moelfre Bay) and the destroyers HMS Somali (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Matabele (Cdr. R.St.V. Sherbrooke, DSO, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski), HMS Broadwater (Lt.Cdr. W.M.L. Astwood, RN) (these destroyers came with the Clyde section of the convoy), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, RN) (came with the Liverpool section of the convoy), HMS Viceroy (Lt.Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN), HMS Rockingham (Lt. A.H.T. Johns, RN), Léopard (Lt.Cdr. J. Evenou) (came from Londonderry), HMS Arrow (Cdr. R.E. Hyde-Smith, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN), HMS Eskimo (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN) (had come from Scapa Flow with HMS Nelson) and HMCS St. Clair (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Wallace, RCNR) (came from Tobermory).

Around 2150A/26, HMS Cairo parted company with the convoy.

In the morning of the 27th part of the destroyer escort parted company.

Around 1200A/28, the remaining destroyers parted company with the convoy.

Around 1230A/28, HMS Revenge parted company taking Georgic with her to escort her to Halifax.

Around 2200A/29, HMS Edinburgh parted company with the convoy to proceed to Gibraltar.

Around 1000A/1, the destroyers HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN) and HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN) joined the convoy coming from Bathurst.

Around 1350A/2, the destroyers HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN) and HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN) joined the convoy also coming from Bathurst.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 4 April 1941.

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The convoy departed Freetown for South Africa (Capetown and Durban) on 7 April 1941. The composition of the convoy was the same in which it had arrived at Freetown.

Escort on departure was also the same as on the convoy's arrival, battleship HMS Nelson, HMS Foxhound, HMS Duncan, HMS Wishart and HMS Vidette.

In the evening of April 7th, HMS Foxhound, picked up three crewmembers from the merchant vessel Umona that had been torpedoed and sunk on 30 March 1941 by the German submarine U-124.

At 0830Z/8 HMS Foxhound parted company with the convoy to return to Freetown due to defects.

The remaining three destroyers parted company at 1800Z/9 to return to Freetown.

Around 1430B/15, the light cruiser HMS Newcastle (Capt. E.A. Aylmer, DSC, RN) joined the convoy in position 30°30'S, 14°23'E and took over the escort. HMS Nelson then parted company to proceed to Capetown to fuel and then on to Simonstown for repairs to her leaking hull.

At 0900B/16, the convoy split up in position 33°53'S, 17°47'E in a Capetown portion and a Durban portion.

The Durban position was made up of the Denbighshire, Glenorchy, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Orontes, Otranto, Stirling Castle, Strathnaver, Viceroy of India and Warwick Castle. HMS Newcastle remained with this section until its arrival at Durban on 19 April 1941.

The remaining ships made up the Capetown section and arrived there on 16 April 1941. Dempo later went on independently to Durban arriving there on 20 April 1941.

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On 20 April 1941 the Capetown portion of the convoy departed. It was made up of the Andes, Duchess of Athol, Duchess of York, Empress of Canada, Orcades, Orion, Pasteur, Strathallan, Stratheden, and Strathmore. They were escorted by the cruiser HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN).

On 23 April 1941 the Durban portion of the convoy departed. It was made up of the Dempo, Denbighshire, Empress of Australia, Glenorchy, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Orontes, Otranto, Strathnaver, Viceroy of India and Warwick Castle. They were escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Carthage (Capt. (retired) H.L.I. Kirkpatrick, OBE, RN). The Stirling Castle which had arrived with the Durban section sailed on 26 April indepedently to Melbourne, Australia where she arrived on 10 May 1941.

These groups made rendezvous at 0900C/24 after which HMS Carthage parted company while HMS Hawkins continued on with the convoy.

Around 1600C/28, HMS Hawkins was relieved by the light cruisers HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, RN) and HMS Colombo (Capt. C.A.E. Stanfield, RN) which both had departed Mombasa earlier that day.

On 1 May the Bombay section of the convoy split off. it was made up of the Duchess of York, Johan van Oldebarnevelt, Strathmore and Warwick Castle. HMS Colombo went with them as escort. They arrived at Bombay on 5 May 1941.

The remainder of the convoy continued on, escorted by HMS Glasgow until it was dispersed on 3 May after which the ships proceeded independently to Suez. (3)

26 Mar 1941
The destroyers left the outbound convoy and joined another convoy heading to England. (2)

5 Apr 1941
The British battleship HMS Resolution and the Polish destroyers Garland and Piorun escorted troop ships to Hvalfjord, Iceland. They arrived in Iceland on the 9th. (2)

10 Apr 1941

Convoy TC 10.

This convoy of troopships departed Halifax on 10 April 1941 for the Clyde where it arrived on 19 April 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following troopships; Batory (Polish, 14287 GRT, built 1936) and Georgic (British, 27759 GRT, built 1932).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) and the destroyer HMCS St Croix (Cdr. H. Kingsley, RCN).

On 11 April 1941, HMCS St. Croix was detached to return to Halifax.

On 15 April 1941, the destroyers HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN) and Léopard (Lt.Cdr. J. Evenou) joined the convoy coming from Iceland.

On the 16th, Léopard was detached. Four more destroyers joined coming from Iceland, these were HMS Active (Lt.Cdr. M.W. Tomkinson, RN), HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. C.H.deB. Newby, RN) and ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski, ORP) and Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski).

On the 18th, HMS Active and HMS Echo were detached to Scapa Flow.

The convoy arrived in the Clyde on the 19th.

13 Apr 1941
Two destroyers, HMS "Legion" and ORP "Piorun", were ordered to rescue survivors from AMC "Rajputana". The ships picked up 283 men. (2)

19 Apr 1941

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HMS Hood and her four escorting destroyers had arrived at Hvalfiord, Iceland in the morning on 21 April. HMS Kenya had been ordered to join the Iceland - Faroer Islands patrol as was HMS Edinburgh. (4)

21 Apr 1941
HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski), ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski) and HMS Saladin (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Dover, RN) are ordered to return to the Clyde.

22 Apr 1941
HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski), ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski) and HMS Saladin (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Dover, RN) are ordered to proceed to Scapa Flow instead of returning to the Clyde.

23 Apr 1941
HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski), ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski) and HMS Saladin (Lt.Cdr. L.J. Dover, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow.

26 Apr 1941
Piorun was part of the escort of large convoy bound for the Middle East. (2)

26 Apr 1941

Convoy WS 8A

This convoy departed the Clyde on 26 April 1941 for various ports in the Far East and Mediterranean (see below).

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels and troop transports; Abbekerk (Dutch, 7889 GRT, built 1939), Aronda (British, 8328 GRT, built 1941), Clan Campbell (British, 7255 GRT, built 1937), Clan Chattan (British, 7262 GRT, built 1937), Clan Lamont (British, 7250 GRT, built 1939), Dominion Monarch (British, 27155 GRT, built 1939), Empire Song (British, 9228 GRT, built 1940), Empress of Asia (British, 16909 GRT, built 1913), Empress of Russia (British, 16810 GRT, built 1913), Highland Chieftain (British, 14135 GRT, built 1929), New Zealand Star (British, 12436 GRT, built 1935), Reina del Pacifico (British, 17702 GRT, built 1931), Sobieski (Polish, 11030 GRT, built 1939) and Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932).

The armed merchant cruiser HMS Pretoria Castle (A/Capt.(Retd.) A.V. Hemming, RN) also took passage in the convoy.

On departure from the Clyde the convoy was 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), HMS Hurricane (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Simms, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN), HMS Beagle, (Lt.Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and Bar, RN), HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, OBE, RN), HMCS Saguenay (Lt. P.E. Haddon, RCN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) and the escort destroyer HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN).

In the morning of the 29th HMS Beagle and HMS Eridge were detached to join the escort of convoy SL 71.

Shortly afterwards HMS Hurricane was detached to search for the survivors of the liner City of Nagpur that had been torpedoed and sunk earlier that day.

On 30 April, at 0400 hours, HMCS Ottawa, HMCS Restigouche, HMCS Saguaenay, HMS Legion and ORP Piorun parted company.

On 2 May the light cruiser HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN) joined shortly after noon. HMS Naiad was then detached and proceeded to Gibraltar where she arrived around 0900/4.

Earlier that morning HMS Repulse, HMS Harvester, HMS Havelock and HMS Hesperus had parted company with the convoy taking the transports Clan Campbell, Clan Chattan, Clan Lamont, Empire Song and New Zealand Star with them to Gibraltar.

The remainder of the convoy continued southwards. On 5 May the destroyers HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN) and HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN) joined followed on 6 May by two more destroyers; HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill Crichton, DSC, RN) and HMS Hurricane (Lt.Cdr. H.C. Simms, RN). The convoy arrived at Freetown on 9 May.

The convoy departed Freetown on 14 May having been joined by the Imperial Star (British, 12427 GRT, built 1934). The Highland Chieftain was unable to depart on the 14th. She sailed one day later to overtake the convoy. She was being escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Cicilia (Capt.(Retd.) V.B. Cardwell, OBE, RN).

On leaving Freetown A/S protection was given by the destroyers Highlander, HMS Duncan, HMS Boreas and HMS Wishart until 16 May.

HMS Mauritius was relieved by HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN) on 24 May.

The convoy arrived at Durban on 27 May minus the Empress of Asia, Imperial Star and Strathaird that had been detached to Capetown on the 24th. The Strathaird departed Capetown on the 25th to rejoin the convoy off Durban.

The remainder of the convoy arrived at Durban on 27 May escorted by HMS Hawkins.

On 31 May the Abbekerk, Aronda, Empress of Russia, Sobieski and Strathaird departed Durban escorted by HMS Hawkins. They arrived at Aden on 10 June after which the troopships / transports proceeded to Suez independently.

30 Apr 1941
Piorun and four British destroyers were ordered to join four troop ships returning from the Middle East to the U.K. (2)

3 May 1941
The convoy reached the Clyde without losses. Piorun was sent for repairs which lasted to 20 May 1941. (2)

18 May 1941

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

Part I.

Departure of the Bismarck from the Baltic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dispositions, 23 May 1941.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The chase

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

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

Measures taken by the Admiralty, 24 May 1941.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

British dispositions at 1800 hours on 24 May 1941.

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

Evening of 24 May 1941.

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

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

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

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

HMS Victorious aircraft attack the Bismarck.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Search measures, 25 May 1941.

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

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

DF position of the Bismarck of 0852/25.

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

Events during 25 May 1941.

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

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

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

At 1320/25 a good DF fix located an enemy unit within a 50 mile radius from position 55°15'N, 32°00'W. This was sent by the Admiralty to the Commander-in-Chief at 1419/25 and it was received at 1530/25. It was only in the evening that it was finally clear to all involved that Bismarck was indeed making for a French port. Air searches had failed to find her during the day. (5)

18 May 1941

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

Part II.

26 May 1941.

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

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

Force H, 26 May 1941.

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

Bismarck sighted at 1030/26.

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

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

First attack by aircraft from the Ark Royal.

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

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

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

Ark Royal's second attack, 2047/26.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bismarck, 26 May 1941.

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

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

The fourth Destroyer Flotilla makes contact, 26 May 1941.

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

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

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

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

Destroyers shadowing, late on 26 May 1941.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Destroyer night torpedo attacks, 26/27 May 1941.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Force H, 26/27 May 1941.

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

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

HMS Norfolk, 26/27 May 1941.

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

HMS Dorsetshire, 26/27 May 1941.

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

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

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

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

Bismarck 26/27 May 1941.

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

Situation before the action, 27 May 1941.

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

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

Commencement of action 0847/27.

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

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

Run to the southward.

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

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

Run to the northward.

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

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

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

End of the action.

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

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

Damage to the Bismarck.

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

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

Commander-in-Chief returns.

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

End of ‘Operation Rheinübung’.

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

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

22 May 1941

Convoy WS 8B

Convoy from the Clyde to Aden where it was dissolved.
Departure date: 22 May 1941.
Arrival date: 4 July 1941.

The following merchant ships (mostly troopships) were part of this convoy;
British:
Abosso (11330 GRT, built 1935), Almanzora (15551 GRT, built 1914), Duchess of Richmond (20022 GRT, built 1928), Georgic (27759 GRT, built 1932), Martand (7967 GRT, built 1925), Orduna (15507 GRT, built 1914).

Dutch
Christian Huygens (16287 GRT, built 1927).

The aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN) was also part of the convoy. She was to proceed to Gibraltar to deliver replacement aircraft. She detached from the convoy on 27 May 1941. In the morning of 28 May 1941, she was joined by the destroyers HMS Fearless (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN) and HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN) which escorted her to Gibraltar.

Escort was initially provided by the following warships;
Heavy cruiser HMS Exeter (Capt. O.L. Gordon, MVO, RN), light (AA) cruiser HMS Cairo (A/Capt. I.R.H. Black, RN), HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, DSO, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, DSC, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski), HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, RCN) and the escort destroyer HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN).

On 26 May 1941, all escorts were detached except HMS Exeter.

On 2 June 1941, while approaching Freetown, the destroyers HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill Crichton, DSC, RN) and HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN) joined the convoy. The next day the corvette HMS Marguerite (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Blundell, RNR) also joined.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 4 June 1941.

The convoy, less Abosso and Christiaan Huygens, departed Freetown on 6 June. It was escorted by the Exeter and had a local escort of the destroyers HMS Duncan, HMS Boreas and HMS Highlander (Cdr. S. Boucher, RN). The destroyers were detached on 8 June.

The convoy arrived at Durban, South Africa on 20 June 1941.

The convoy departed Durban for Aden on 23 June. The Dutch Nieuw Zeeland (11069 GRT, built 1928) had joined the convoy at Durban. Escort was still provided by HMS Exeter.

The convoy was dissolved off Aden on 4 July 1941 and the ships proceeded to their destination independently.

25 May 1941
The 4th Destroyer Flotilla comprising the British destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. P.L. Vian, DSO, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. H.T. Armstrong, DSO, RN), HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN) and the Polish destroyer Piorun (Cdr. E. Plawski, Polish Navy) was escorting convoy WS-8B when they received an order to leave the convoy and take part in the hunt for the German battleship Bismarck. (2)

26 May 1941
At 11.00 AM Capt. Vian (in HMS Cossack) received a radio report about the position of the Bismarck. He realized that the 4th Destroyer Flotilla was only 50 miles away and ordered to chase the enemy. Due to bad weather and high waves, the destroyers were able to maintain 27 knots speed (only two knots more than Bismarck), but continued the pursuit. Fortunately, British aircraft managed to hit the enemy with two torpedoes. One of them jammed the rudder and damaged the screws. The allied destroyers steamed in line formation, one about 25 cables from another. In darkness, Piorun lost contact with her British partners. At 2214hours lookouts spotted a large ship which identified herself as HMS Sheffield. At 2237 lookouts detected another large ship. The Polish commanding officer Cdr. Plawski was afraid of attacking the unidentified vessel, because it could be HMS Sheffield again. Piorun used an Aldis lamp to transmit a signal. The answer was 6" gunfire, The detected ship was the Bismarck!!! Cdr. Plawski ordered to open fire with the six 4.7" guns. During 59 minutes Piorun continued transmitting radio reports and traded fire with German battleship achieving several hits. Of course, 4.7" shells were able only to destroy some light AA guns, but not to penetrate heavy armour. The Polish destroyer was making lot of evasive manoeuvres, because Bismarck also used her 15" main armament. The British destroyers appeared on scene and conducted a torpedo attack against the German battleship. But all torpedoes missed the target. At 2336hours Piorun lost contact with the enemy. (2)

27 May 1941
Piorun continued searching for the German battleship, but only detected her own flagship HMS Cossack. At 05.00 AM Capt. Vian ordered Piorun to break off the action and return to base due to fuel shortage. However, the Polish destroyer tried to find the enemy for one more hour. At 06.00 AM Cdr. Plawski ordered to change course and head for Plymouth. (2)

28 May 1941
Piorun reached Plymouth with only 37 tons of fuel left in her tanks. (2)

30 May 1941

Convoy SL 76.

This convoy departed Freetown on 30 May 1941 for the U.K.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Albion Star (British, 7946 GRT, built 1919), Anadyr (British, 5321 GRT, built 1930), Asphalion (British, 6274 GRT, built 1924), Bactria (British, 2407 GRT, built 1928), Bennevis (British, 5356 GRT, built 1918), Bothnia (British, 2407 GRT, built 1928), Calabria (British, 1277 GRT, built 1916), Cape of Good Hope (British, 4963 GRT, built 1925), Capo Olmo (British, 4712 GRT, built 1923), Cathrine (British, 2727 GRT, built 1919), Clan MacPherson (British, 6940 GRT, built 1929), Clan Murray (British, 5953 GRT, built 1918), Dahomian (British, 5277 GRT, built 1929), Diomed (British, 10374 GRT, built 1922), Djurdjura (British, 3460 GRT, built 1922), Eirini Kyriaidgou (Greek, 3781 GRT, built 1922), Elswick Park (British, 4138 GRT, built 1920), English Trader (British, 3953 GRT, built 1934), Glenapp (British, 9503 GRT, built 1920), Gudrun Maersk (British, 2294 GRT, built 1937), Hamla (British, 4416 GRT, built 1929), Hampton Lodge (British, 3645 GRT, built 1911), Harbury (British, 5081 GRT, built 1933), Hatasu (British, 3198 GRT, built 1921), Kana (British, 2783 GRT, built 1929), Kerma (British, 4333 GRT, built 1928), Kiruna (Swedish, 5484 GRT, built 1921), Lackenby (British, 5112 GRT, built 1928), Lafian (British, 4876 GRT, built 1937), Lerwick (British, 5626 GRT, built 1938), Leto (Dutch, 4712 GRT, built 1929), Macgregor (British, 2498 GRT, built 1919), Magdala (Dutch (tanker), 8248 GRT, built 1931), Marylyn (British, 4555 GRT, built 1930), Miguel de Larrinaga (British, 5231 GRT, built 1924), Montferland (Dutch, 5790 GRT, built 1921), New Brunswick (British, 6529 GRT, built 1919), Observer (British, 5881 GRT, built 1928), Ogmore Castle (British, 2481 GRT, built 1919), Orfor (British, 6578 GRT, built 1921), Peebles (British, 4982 GRT, built 1936), Rinos (Greek, 4649 GRT, built 1919), River Afton (British, 5479 GRT, built 1935), Rothley (British, 4996 GRT, built 1936), Sheridan (British, 4665 GRT, built 1918), Silverlaurel (British, 6142 GRT, built 1939), Sitoebondo (Dutch, 7049 GRT, built 1916), St. Clair II (British, 3753 GRT, built 1929), Steaua Romana (British (tanker), 5311 GRT, built 1914), Sutherland (British, 5170 GRT, built 1940), Tantalus (British, 7724 GRT, built 1923), Teucer (British, 9079 GRT, built 1906), Thode Fagelund (Norwegian, 5757 GRT, built 1920), Ella (British, 1575 GRT, built 1930), Umvuma (British, 4419 GRT, built 1914) and Weirbank (British, 5150 GRT, built 1925).

On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Moreton Bay (Capt.(Retd.) C.C. Bell, RN) and the corvettes HMS Amaranthus (Lt. N.B.J. Stapleton, RNR), HMS Asphodel (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) K.W. Stewart, RN), HMS Clematis (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSC, RD, RNR) and HMS Columbine (T/Lt. S.J. Lavis, RNR).

At 1410N/1, HMS Amaranthus parted company with the convoy.

At 2320N/1, HMS Clematis parted company with the convoy.

At 2010N/4, the destroyer HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) joined the escort of the convoy.

At 1800N/6, HMS Velox parted company with the convoy.

At 0600N/7, HMS Asphodel and HMS Columbine parted company with the convoy.

Around 1200Z/10, the heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN) joined the convoy escort.

In the early hours of 13 June the convoy was attacked by the Italian submarine Benedetto Brin which managed to sink two merchant vessels; the Djurdjura and the Eirini Kyriakides

At 1855/13, the convoy was joined by the corvettes HMS Coreopsis (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Davies, RNVR) and HMS Fleur de Lys (Lt.Cdr. L.M. Carter, RNR).

During the morning of the 14th, HMS Coreopsis and HMS Fleur de Lys fuelled from HMS Fleur de Lys.

During the fuelling of the corvettes the light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.A.A. Larcom, RN) joined around 1130Z/14.

At 1030Z/16, the armed boarding vessel HMS Corinthian (A/Cdr. E.J.R. Pollitt, RNR) joined.

At 1600Z/16, the armed boarding vessel Maron (Cdr. (Retd.) J.H. Blair, DSC, RD, RNR) joined.

At 1630Z/16, the destroyers HMS Roxborough (Lt. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) joined.

At 2200Z/16, HMS Cumberland and HMS Sheffield parted company with the convoy.

In the early hours of the 17th the merchant vessel Cathrine, which had straggled from the convoy, was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-43.

At 1730Z/18, the destroyer HMS Westcott (Cdr. I.H. Bockett-Pugh, RN) and the corvettes HMS Auricula (T/Lt. W.W. White, RNR), HMS Marigold (T/Lt. J. Renwick, RNR) and HMS Periwinkle (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RNR) joined.

At 1740Z/18, HMS Coreopsis and HMS Fleur de Lys parted company.

At 0620A/19, the destroyer HMS Wanderer (Cdr. A.F.St.G. Orpen, RN) and the corvettes HMS Freesia (Lt.Cdr. T.P.G. Crick, RN) and HMS Hibiscus (Lt. H. Roach, RNR) joined.

At 2000A/19, HMS Roxborough parted company.

On 21 June 1941 the convoy arrived in British waters.

In the early hours of 22 June the Swedish merchant vessel Calabria, a straggler of convoy SL 76, was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-141.

31 May 1941

Convoy WS 8X.

This convoy departed the Clyde on 31 May 1941 and arrived off Aden on 11 July 1941 after which the convoy was dispersed and the ship proceeded to Aden independently.

The convoy departed from the Clyde around 2230B/31 and was made up of the following transports; Duchess of Bedford (British, 20123 GRT, built 1928), Port Wyndham (British, 11005 GRT, built 1935) and Waiwera (British, 12435 GRT, built 1934).

On departure from the Clyde the convoy was escorted by the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. A.J.L. Phillips, RN), the light cruiser HMS Neptune (Capt. R.C. O'Conor, RN) and the armed merchant cruiser HMS Esperance Bay (Capt.(Retd.) G.S. Holden, RN).

Around 0700B/1, the A/S escort joined the convoy. This was made up of the destroyers HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN), Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski), HMCS Saguenay (Lt. P.E. Haddon, RCN), HMS Wivern (Cdr. M.D.C. Meyrick, RN), HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, RN), HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN), HMS Brighton (Cdr.(Retd.) C.W.V.T.S. Lepper, RN), HMS St. Marys (Lt. K.H.J.L. Phibbs, RN) and HMS Sherwood (Lt.Cdr. S.W.F. Bennetts, RN).

Around 1445B/2, ORP Piorun obtained an A/S contact in position 53°30'N, 16°46'W at a range of 1200 yards. She immediately attacked with depth charges. A total of 18 depth charges was dropped in four attack runs after which the contact was lost and Piorun rejoined the convoy around an hour later.

Around 0700B/3, in position 50°22'N, 19°55'E, HMS Wivern, HMS Wild Swan and HMS Vansittart were detached to Gibraltar.

Around 0900B/3, in position 49°57'N, 20°05'E, HMS St. Marys and HMS Brighton were detached to return to the U.K.

Around 1200B/3, in position 49°20'N, 20°30'W, HMS Esperance Bay was detached to search for enemy supply vessels operating in the North Atlantic.

Around 1500B/3, in position 48°40'N, 20°59'E, HMS Legion was detached to make rendezvous with a transport.

Around 1845B/3, HMCS Sauguenay parted company to proceed to Canada.

Around 2000B/3, in position 46°50'N, 22°29'E, HMS Sherwood and ORP Piorun parted company to return to the U.K.

At 1825B/4, in position 42°25'N, 23°39'E, HMS Neptune was detached to intercept a vessel reported by the Esperance Bay as well as aircraft from HMS Victorious.

Around 2100B/4, HMS Victorious was also detached to aid in the search of this suspected enemy supply vessel.

Around 2100B/5, HMS Victorious and HMS Neptune rejoined the convoy. The enemy vessel had been intercepted but had been scuttled by her crew and salvage was not possible. HMS Neptune had picked up the German crew.

Around 0100A/7, HMS Victorious and HMS Neptune parted company. They had been ordered to proceed to Gibraltar.

Around 1400Z/9, the destroyer HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) joined the convoy escort.

The corvette HMS Aster (Lt.Cdr. E. Hewitt, RD, RNR) was to have joined the convoy coming from Bathurst. She had arrived at Bathurst late and she did not manage to join the convoy.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 11 June.

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The convoy departed Freetown on 15 June 1941 escorted by HMS Neptune.

The convoy arrived at Capetown on 24 June 1941 after which HMS Neptune proceeded to Simonstown.

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The convoy departed Capetown on 28 June 1941 still escorted by HMS Neptune.

The convoy arrived at Kilindini on 6 July 1941. It departed later the same day for Aden.

The convoy was dispersed on 11 July 1941. HMS Neptune then proceeded to Aden arriving later the same day. (3)

30 Jun 1941

Convoy WS 9B.

This convoy was formed off Oversay on 30 June 1941. It arrived at Freetown on 13 July 1941.

On assembly it was made up of the following (troop)transports; Arundel Castle (British, 19118 GRT, built 1921), Athlone Castle (British, 25564 GRT, built 1936), Ceramic (British, 18713 GRT, built 1913), Clan Forbes (British, 7529 GRT, built 1938), Elizabeth Bakke (Norwegian, 5450 GRT, built 1937), Mataroa (British, 12390 GRT, built 1922), Monarch of Bermuda (British, 22424 GRT, built 1931), Oronsay (British, 20043 GRT, built 1925), Pampas (British, 6345 GRT, built 1941), Pulaski (Polish, 6345 GRT, built 1912), Rangitata (British, 16737 GRT, built 1929) and Tamaroa (British, 12405 GRT, built 1922).

The transport Anselm (British, 5954 GRT, built 1935) had been unable to keep the required speed up during the passage from Liverpool to the rendezvous point and was ordered to proceed to the Clyde. She was not allowed to join the convoy.

On assembly the convoy was escorted by the light cruisers HMS Edinburgh (Capt. H.W. Faulkner, RN), flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, RN), HMS Galatea (Capt. E.W.B. Sim, RN), AA cruiser HMS Cairo (A/Capt. I.R.H. Black, RN), armed merchant cruisers HMS Cathay (A/Capt.(Retd.) C.M. Merewether, RN), HMS Chitral (Capt.(Retd.) G. Hamilton, RN), HMS Moreton Bay (Capt.(Retd.) C.C. Bell, RN), armed boarding vessel HMS Corinthian (A/Cdr. E.J.R. Pollitt, RNR) and the destroyers HMS Vanquisher (Cdr. N.V. Dickinson, DSC, RN), HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Wolverine (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Rowland, RN), HMS Castleton (Cdr. (Retd.) F.H.E. Skyrme, RN), HMS Reading (Lt.Cdr. D.V. Clift, RN), HMCS St.Francis (Lt.Cdr. H.F. Pullen, RCN), HMS Wells (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Lee, RN), HMS Maori (Cdr. R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) and ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski, ORP).

HMS Wolverine was detached with defects at 1324Z/31.

HMS Wells parted company with the convoy around 2200Z/1.

HMS Vanquisher, HMS Winchelsea, HMS Castleton and HMCS St. Francis parted company around 0400Z/2.

HMS Maori was detached at 1600Z/2.

HMS Cairo, ORP Piorun and ORP Garland parted company with the convoy around 1900Z/2 in position 49°20'N, 26°20'W.

HMS Reading was detached at 0400Z/3.

HMS Edinburgh parted company around 2315Z/3.

HMS Cathay parted company around 0630Z/4.

HMS Chitral and HMS Corinthian parted company around 0100Z/6.

Around 1115Z/10, in position 17.28'N, 20.50'W the destroyers HMS Wivern (Cdr. M.D.C. Meyrick, RN), HMS Wild Swan (Lt.Cdr. C.E.L. Sclater, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN) and corvette HMS Asphodel (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) K.W. Stewart, RN) joined.

The convoy arrived at Freetown on 13 July 1941.

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The convoy left Freetown in the same composition as in which it had arrived.

It was now escorted by the light cruiser HMS Galatea and the destroyers HMS Brilliant, HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. D.H. Maitland-Makgill Crichton, DSC, RN), HMS Vansittart (Lt.Cdr. R.L.S. Gaisford, RN) and HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN).

All destroyers parted company on the 18th, HMS Brilliant and HMS Velox at 1200/18 and HMS Boreas and HMS Vansittart at 1600/18.

At 0515/27, HMS Galatea parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Simonstown to fuel.

The transports Ceramic, Clan Forbes, Pampas, Elizabeth Bakke, Pulaski and Rangitata were detached to Capetown.

HMS Galatea departed Simonstown at 1530/27 and rejoined the remaining ships of the convoy at 0900/28.

The remaining ships and HMS Galatea arrived at Durban on 30 July 1941.

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The Clan Forbes, Elisabeth Bakke, Pampas and Pulaski departed Capetown on 30 July 1941 escorted by the armed merchant cruiser Queen of Bermuda (Capt. A.T.G.C. Peachey, RN).

On 3 August 1941 the Arundel Castle, Athlone Castle, Monarch of Bermuda and Oronsay departed Durban escorted by HMS Galatea. The Capetown and Durban section then merged and set course for Aden. Both escorts remained with the convoy until it was dispersed off Aden on 14 August 1941.

On 13 August the Athlone Castle and Elizabeth Bakke parted company forming convoy WS 9BX. They were escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Hector (Capt.(Retd.) F. Howard, DSC, RN) and arrived at Bombay on 16 August 1941. (3)

8 Jul 1941
HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) is joined by the destroyer ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski). (6)

9 Jul 1941
The battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) and the destroyer ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) made rendez-vous with the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), the detroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN) and the troopships Cameronia (16297 GRT, built 1920) and Scythia (British, 19761 GRT, built 1920).

HMS Faulknor and HMS Fury were detached shortly after HMS Royal Sovereign and ORP Piorun had joined. (6)

12 Jul 1941
The battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), the destroyers HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) and the troopships Cameronia (16297 GRT, built 1920) and Scythia (British, 19761 GRT, built 1920) arrived in the Clyde. (6)

21 Jul 1941

Convoy TC 12.

This troop convoy departed Halifax on 21 July 1941 and arrived in the Clyde on 28 July 1941.

Is was made up of the troopships Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Empress of Canada (British, 21517 GRT, built 1922), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Strathmore (British, 23428 GRT, built 1935) and Strathnaver (British, 22283 GRT, built 1931).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. C. Coppinger, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Havelock (Cdr. E.H. Thomas, DSC, RN), HMS Hesperus (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN), HMS Buxton (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) Earl Beattie, RN), HMCS Assiniboine (A/Lt.Cdr. J.H. Stubbs, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Cdr. H.N. Lay, RCN) and HMCS Columbia (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) S.W. Davis, RN).

On 23 July the destroyers HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN) and HMS Ripley (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Agnew, RN) joined the escort taking over from HMCS Columbia and HMS Buxton.

The other four destroyers remained with the convoy until 26 July and on this day the convoy was joined by the destroyers HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski), HMS Salisbury (Lt.Cdr. H.M.R. Crichton, RN), HMS Vanquisher (Cdr. N.V. Dickinson, DSC, RN) and HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, RN).

Around 2000/28, HMS Malaya parted company with the convoy to proceed to Scapa Flow. The destroyer HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) and escort destroyers HMS Heythrop (Lt.Cdr R.S. Stafford, RN) and HMS Croome (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Hayes, RN) had come out of Scapa Flow to escort her in.

2 Aug 1941

Convoy WS 10

This convoy assembled in the Clyde area on 2 August 1941 destined for the middle east area.

The convoy was made up of the following troop transports; Andes (25689 GRT, built 1939), Britannic (26943 GRT, built 1930), Cameronia (16297 GRT, built 1920), Highland Monarch (14139 GRT, built 1928), Indrapoera (Dutch, 10825 GRT, built 1925), Nea Hellas (16991 GRT, built 1922), Orcades (23456 GRT, built 1937), Rangitiki (16698 GRT, built 1928), Reina del Pacifico (17702 GRT, built 1931), Stirling Castle (25550 GRT, built 1936), Strathallan (23722 GRT, built 1938), Volendam (Dutch, 15434 GRT, built 1922), Warwick Castle (20107 GRT, built 1930), Windsor Castle (19141 GRT, built 1922) and the following transports; Diomed (10374 GRT, built 1922), Indian Prince (8587 GRT, built 1926), Manchester Port (7071 GRT, built 1935), Nigerstroom (Dutch, 4639 GRT, built 1939) and Phemius (7406 GRT, built 1921),

Escort was initially provided by the heavy cruiser HMS London (Capt. R.M. Servaes, CBE, RN) (2 – 10 August), armed merchant cruiser HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt.(Retd.) E.H. Hopkinson, RN) (2 – 6 August), the light cruiser HMS Cairo (A/Capt. I.R.H. Black, RN) (2 – 5 August), the destroyers HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, OBE, DSC, RN) (2 – 5 August), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Holmes, RN) (2 – 5 August), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN) (2 – 5 August), HMS Broadway (Lt.Cdr. T. Taylor, RN) (2 – 6 August), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN) (2 – 6 August), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) (2 – 6 August), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN) (2 – 6 August), HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) (2 – 6 August), ORP Piorun (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) (2 – 6 August) and HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. N.V.J.T. Thew, RN) (2 August – 17 August).

On 5 August, around 2200 hours, HMS Cairo, HMS Winchelsea, HMS Witch and HMS Whitehall parted company with the convoy.

On 6 August, around 2300 hours, HMS Worcestershire, HMS Broadway, HMS Gurkha, HMS Lance, HMS Legion, HrMs Isaac Sweers and ORP Piorun parted company with the convoy. Shorty afterwards the troopships Warwick Castle and Windsor Castle collided. Due to this the Warwick Castle was detached and was escorted to Halifax, Nova Scotia by HMS Worcestershire. Windsor Castle dropped astern and was brought back to the convoy the next day by HMS Jupiter who had been despached to search for her.Jupiter

Very early on the 9th HMS Jupiter was detached to fuel at Ponta Delgada, Azores. HMS Jupiter re-joined the convoy around 0700 on the 10th.

Around noon on 10 August, HMS London, was relieved by the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. H.W. Faulkner, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, RN) which had departed Gibraltar on the 8th. HMS Edinburgh remained with the convoy until it reached Freetown on the 17th.

When approaching Freetown A/S escorts joined the convoy. On 14 August 1941 two destroyers and a corvette joined, these were; HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and HMS Bergamot (T/A/Lt.Cdr. R.P. Chapman, RNR). The next day the corvette HMS Cyclamen (Lt. H.N. Lawson, RNR) also joined.

On 21 August 1941 the convoy departed Freetown for South Africa. Escort was provided by the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh until 2 September 1941, when part of the convoy (Troopships Britannic, Indrapoera, Reina Del Pacifico, Striling Castle, Strathallan, Volendam, Windsor Castle and the transports Nigerstroom and Phemius) arrived at Capetown. HMS Edinburgh then went to Simonstown. On departure from Freetown A/S escort was provided until dawn on the 24th by the destroyer HMS Jupiter and the corvettes HMS Anchusa (Lt. J.E.L. Peters, RNR), HMS Clematis (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSO, DSC, RD, RNR), HMS Crocus (Lt.Cdr. E. Wheeler, RNR) and HMS Cyclamen (Lt. H.N. Lawson, RNR). The corvettes then returned to Freetown while HMS Jupiter proceed to St. Helena.

The light cruiser HMS Hawkins (Capt. H.P.K. Oram, RN) then took over the remainer of the convoy and took these towards Durban were they arrived on 5 September 1941. These were the troopships Andes, Cameronia, Highland Monarch, Nea Hellas, Rangitiki and the transports Diomed, Indian Price and Manchester Port.

On 6 September 1941 the part of the convoy (minus Reina del Pacifico) that had entered Capetown on 2 September departed from Capetown escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Carnarvon Castle (Capt.(Retd.) H.N.M. Hardy, DSO, RN). On 8 September the Britannic split off and proceeded to Durban to embark troops that had been on the Cameronia. Britannic rejoined the next day escorted by Hawkins. The troop transport Aronda (9031 GRT, built 1941) was also with them and joined the convoy. After these ships had joined HMS Carnavon Castle then split off with the Indrapoera, Volendam, Nigerstroom and Phemius and took these ships to Durban.

The convoy (by now called WS 10B), now made up of the troopships Aronda, Britannic, Stirling Castle, Strathallan and Windsor Castle, and escorted by HMS Hawkins proceeded to Bombay where it arrived on 20 September 1941. En-route, in position 03.25’S, 51.12’E and on September 13th, HMS Hawkins had been relieved by the light cruiser HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN).

[Other ships that had been part of convoy WS 10 later proceeded to their destinations in other convoys.]

15 Aug 1941

Convoy WS 10X

This convoy departed U.K. ports on 14/15 August 1941 for Suez where the ships arrived between 1 to 4 October 1941.

The convoy assembled in the Clyde area on 15 August 1941.

The convoy was made up of the following troop transports; Brisbane Star (12791 GRT, built 1937), Orion (23371 GRT, built 1935), Strathmore (23428 GRT, built 1935), Strathnaver (22283 GRT, built 1931), And the transports Palma (5419 GRT, built 1941) and Port Jackson (9687 GRT, built 1937).

Escort was initially provided by the heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. A.W.S. Agar, VC, DSO, RN) (joined at sea on 17 August 1941 until 28 August when the convoy arrived at Freetown), the AA (light) cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holte, RNN) (15 – 17 August) and the destroyers HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN) (15-17 August), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Holmes, RN) (15-17 August), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN) (17-19 August), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN) (17-19 August), HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) (17-19 August) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) (17-19 August).

When approaching Freetown the convoy was joined on 26 August by a local escort made up of the destroyers HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) (left the convoy before noon on 27 August), HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and the corvettes HMS Clematis (Cdr. Y.M. Cleeves, DSO, DSC, RD, RNR) and HMS Crocus (Lt.Cdr. E. Wheeler, RNR). The convoy arrived at Freetown on 28 August 1941.

The convoy departed Freetown for Capetown on 1 September 1941. Escort was now provided by the battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) and the corvettes HMS Amaranthus (T/Lt. W.S. Thomson, RNR), HMS Armeria (T/Lt. H.N. Russell, DSC, RNR), HMS Mignonette (Lt. H.H. Brown, RNR) and HMS Woodruff (T/Lt. T. Muir, RNVR).

HMS Amaranthus parted company with the convoy around 1445Z/2 to return to Freetown due to defects.

Around 2133Z/2, HMS Revenge was rammed by the transport Orion. Damage to HMS Revenge was only minor but damage to the bow of the Orion was more serious. She dropped out of the convoy for a while but was later able to catch up again and was able of a speed of 15 knots.

At 1237Z/3, HMS Armeria, HMS Mignonette and HMS Woodruff parted company with the convoy to proceed to Takoradi.

The convoy arrived at Capetown on 11 September 1941.

The convoy departed Capetown for Suez on 14 September 1941. Escort was still provided by HMS Revenge until 22 September 1941 when the light cruiser, HMS Ceres (Capt. E.G. Abbott, AM, RN) took over until the dispersal of the convoy on 27 September 1941 when it was near Aden. The ships of the convoy then continued independently towards Suez where they arrived between 1 and 4 October 1941.

19 Aug 1941
After dark, HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN), parted company with convoy WS 10X. She then made an A/S sweep to the east-south-east with ORP Piorun (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) before setting course to return to Greenock.

31 Aug 1941

Convoy WS 11

This convoy assembled in the Clyde area on 31 August 1941 for the far east.

The convoy was made up of the following merchant ships; Abosso (11330 GRT, built 1935), Barrister (6348 GRT, built 1939), Bhutan (6104 GRT, built 1929), City of Edinburgh (8036 GRT, built 1938), City of Manchester (8917 GRT, built 1935), Duchess of York (20021 GRT, built 1929), Empress of Australia (21833 GRT, built 1914), Glaucus (7596 GRT, built 1921), Glenorchy (8982 GRT, built 1939), Kina II (9823 GRT, built 1939), Largs Bay (14182 GRT, built 1921), Manchester Progress (5620 GRT, built 1938), Mooltan (20952 GRT, built 1923), Northumberland (11558 GRT, built 1915), Orontes (20097 GRT, built 1929), Otranto (20026 GRT, built 1925), Scythia (19761 GRT, built 1920), Viceroy of India (19627 GRT, built 1929). The netlayer HMS Guardian (A/Capt. H.A.C. Lane, RN) also sailed in this convoy.

Escort was initially provided by the battlecruiser HMS Repulse (Capt. W.G. Tennant, MVO, RN), the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), the light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN) (31 August – 2 September), the anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Cairo (A/Capt. I.R.H. Black, RN) (31 August – 2 September), the armed merchant cruiser HMS Derbyshire (Capt.(Retd.) E.A.B. Stanley, MVO, DSO, RN), the destroyers HMS Cossack (Capt. E.L. Berthon, DSC and Bar, RN) (31 August – 4 September), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN) (31 August – 4 September), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN) (31 August – 4 September), HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) (31 August – 4 September), HMS Highlander (Cdr. S. Boucher, RN), HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, OBE, DSC, RN) (31 August – 2 September), HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN) (31 August – 2 September), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) (31 August – 3 September), ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski) (31 August – 3 September), the sloops HMIS Sutlej (Capt. P.A. Mare, RIN), HMS HMS Sennen (Lt.Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN) and HMS Totland (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) S.G.C. Rawson, RN).

HMS Cairo and HrMs Isaac Sweers parted company with the convoy on 2 September and proceeded to Northern Ireland. HMS Sheffield also left the convoy later this day.

ORP Piorun and ORP Garland parted company with the convoy shortly after noon on 3 September to assist a merchant vessel that was being bombed by German aircraft. By then HMS Winchelsea had also left the convoy.

HMS Furious was destined for Gibraltar and operated mainly a little away from the convoy. She left the convoy around 1100 hours on 4 September arrived at Gibraltar on 7 September escorted by HMS Cossack, HMS Zulu, HMS Legion and HMS Lively.

Shortly afterwards around 1300 hours on 4 September the convoy split into two sections, these were;
WS 11F (Fast); This convoy was made up of the merchants Bhutan, City of Edinburgh, Duchess of York, Empress of Australia, Glenorchy, Kina II, Largs Bay, Mooltan, Orontes, Otranto, Scythia, Viceroy of India. HMS Guardian was also part of this convoy.

Escort for this part of the convoy was provided by; HMS Repulse, HMIS Sutlej (Later went to the escort of convoy WS 11S), HMS Highlander (detached to fuel at the Azores), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, RAN) (joined around noon on 4 September coming from Gibraltar) and HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) (joined around 0800 hours on 7 September coming from Gibraltar).

Most of these ships oiled at sea from the RFA tanker Rapidol (2648 GRT, built 1917) (Master Lt.Cdr. A.E. Curtain, OBE, RNR). Rapidol later joined convoy WS 11S. At least HMS Highlander oiled at Ponta Delgada, Azores, she rejoined the convoy around noon on 6 September.

In the morning of 11 September 1941 two destroyers coming from Freetown joined the escort, these were HMS Velox (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Roper, DSC, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN). Later that day, around 1400 hours, the corvette HMS Starwort (Lt.Cdr. N.W. Duck, RD, RNR) also joined the escort. Shortly afterwards HMS Highlander parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Bathurst.

This part of the convoy arrived at Freetown on 13 September 1941.

The other section of the convoy was WS 11S (Slow); This convoy was made up of the merchants Abosso, Barrister, City of Manchester, Glaucus Manchester Progress and Northumberland.

Escort for this part of the convoy was provided by; HMS Derbyhire, HMS Sennen and HMS Totland.

This part of the convoy arrived at Freetown on 15 September 1941.

At Freetown the convoy (now called WS 11B) was re-grouped and departed from there on 18 September 1941 for the Cape.

The convoy was now made up of the merchants Barrister, Bhutan, City of Edinburgh, City of Manchester, Duchess of York, Empress of Australia, Glaucus, Glenorchy, Kina II, Largs Bay, Manchester Progress, Mooltan, Orontes, Otranto, Scythia, Viceroy of India and the Dutch liner (troopship) Nieuw Zeeland (11069 GRT, built 1928) joined the convoy at Freetown.

Escort was provided by the battlecruiser HMS Renown and the armed merchant cruiser Derbyshire. A/S escort was provided until 1800 hours 20 September 1941 by the destroyers HMS Velox and HMS Wrestler after which these returned to Freetown.

On 30 September the following ships put into Capetown escorted by HMS Derbyshire; Bhutan, City of Edinburgh, City of Manchester, Duchess of York, Glaucus, Glenorchy, Kina II, Largs Bay, Orontes, Viceroy of India and Nieuw Zeeland.

The other ships; Barrister, Empress of Australia, Manchester Progress, Mooltan, Otranto and Scythia arrived at Durban on 3 October escorted by HMS Repulse.

On 3 October 1941, Bhutan, City of Edinburgh, City of Manchester, Duchess of York, Glaucus, Glenorchy, Kina II, Largs Bay, Orontes, Viceroy of India and Nieuw Zeeland departed Capetown still escorted by HMS Derbyshire.

On 7 October 1941, Barrister, Manchester Progress, Mooltan, Otranto as well as the transports City of Canterbury (8331 GRT, built 1922), Dilwara (11080 GRT, built 1936), Eastern Prince (10926 GRT, built 1929), Johan de Witt (Dutch, 10474 GRT, built 1920), Llandaff Castle (10799 GRT, built 1926), Nieuw Holland (Dutch, 11066 GRT, built 1927) and Pulaski (Polish, 6516 GRT, built 1912). They were escorted by the battlecruiser Repulse until 13 October when she was relieved by HMS Ceres (Capt. H.H. McWilliam, RN). On 8 October these ships joined up with the ships coming from Capetown. HMS Derbyshire then left the convoy and returned to Capetown.

In the afternoon of 17 October 1941, HMS Glasgow (Capt. H. Hickling, DSO, RN) made rendez-vous with the convoy and then parted company taking the following ships with her; Barrister, City of Edinburgh, Duchess of York, Glaucius, Glenorchy, Johan de Witt, Kina II, Largs Bay, Orontes, Otranto, Nieuw Zeeland, Viceroy of India.

The other ships continued with HMS Ceres towards Aden where they arrived on 19 October 1941.

The ships taken over by HMS Glasgow proceeded to Bombay where they arrived on 22 October 1941. Three ships taken over by HMS Glasgow however were destined for Basra. One of these, the Barrister was unable to keep up with the convoy and was detached on 18 October. This ship arrived at Basra on 25 October. The other two ships destined for Basra, City of Edinburgh and Glenorchy were detached on 19 October and both arrived at Basra on 23 October 1941.

On 27 October 1941 the convoy departed Bombay for Colombo escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Hector (Capt.(Retd.) F. Howard, DSC, RN). The convoy was now made up of the transports; Glaucus, Johan de Witt, Kina II, Largs Bay, Nieuw Zeeland, Orion (23371 GRT, built 1935) and Ellenga (5196 GRT, built 1911).

They arrived at Colombo on 30 October 1941, minus the Kina II which was detached on 29 October and proceeded independently to Trincomalee.

On 31 October 1941 the convoy, now made up of Ellenga, Glaucus, Johan de Witt, Largs Bay, Nieuw Zeeland Orion and Rangitiki (16698 GRT, built 1929) departed Colombo for Singapore. The convoy was escorted by the light cruiser HMS Mauritius (Capt. W.D. Stephens, RN). They arrived at Singapore on 6 November 1941. (3)

2 Sep 1941
The Polish destroyers Piorun and Garland depart from Liverpool to conduct a ASW patrol.

3 Sep 1941
The Polish destroyers Piorun and Garland are ordered to pick up the survivors from the British merchant Fort Richepanche that was torpedoed that day by German U-boat U-567 some 450 miles southwest of Bloody Foreland in position 52°15'N, 21°10'W. Ten crew members, five gunners and seven passengers were picked up by the Polish destroyers on 4 September and landed at Greenock on 5 September

17 Sep 1941

Convoy WS 11X,
Troop convoy from Liverpool / Clyde to Gibraltar.

On 16 September 1941 the ships Ajax (7797 GRT, built 1931), City of Lincoln (8039 GRT, built 1938) departed from Liverpool to make rendes-vous the following day off Orsay Island with the following ships that had departed the Clyde on the 17th; City of Calcutta (8063 GRT, built 1940), Clan Ferguson (7347 GRT, built 1938), Clan Macdonald (9653 GRT, built 1939), Dunedin Star (11168 GRT, built 1936), Imperial Star (12427 GRT, built 1934), Rowallan Castle (7801 GRT, built 1939), HMS Breconshire (9776 GRT, built 1939) (Capt.(ret.) C.A.G. Hutchison, RN), HMS Princess Beatrix (4136 GRT, built 1939) (Cdr.(ret.) T.B. Brunton, RN), HMS Queen Emma (4136 GRT, built 1939) (Capt.(ret.) G.L.D. Gibbs, DSO, RN), HMS Royal Scotsman (3288 GRT, built 1936) (T/Cdr. J.W. Peters, RNR), HMS Ulster Monarch (3791 GRT, built 1929) (T/Cdr. J. Wilson, RNR) and Leinster (4302 GRT, built 1937).

Most of the ships of this convoy were to form the convoy for operation Halberd from Gibraltar to Malta. The following ships made only the passage to Gibraltar with convoy WS 11X; HMS Princess Beatrix, HMS Queen Emma, HMS Royal Scotsman, HMS Ulster Monarch and Leinster.

Escort for this convoy was provided by; battleship HMS Prince of Wales (Capt. J.C. Leach, MVO, RN), light cruisers HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. R.G. Stewart, RN), HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, RN), HMS Havelock (Cdr. E.H. Thomas, DSC, RN), HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, DSC, RN), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Holmes, RN), HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski), ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski, ORP) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNethN).

In the evening of the 19th (2115 hours, B.S.T.) the destroyers HMS Havelock and HMS Harvester were detached from the convoy to escort the liner (troopship) Stratheden (23722 GRT, built 1937) all the way to Halifax. Until that moment the Stratheden had also been part of convoy WS 11X. The position in which these ships were detached was 50°57'N, 24°55'E.

On 21 September the convoy was joined by three destroyers coming from Gibraltar; HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN), HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN). These destroyers had sailed from Gibraltar on the 18th.

Also sailed from Gibraltar on the 18th was the aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) escorted the destroyers HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN) and HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN) to provide cover for the convoy. Following this HMS Furious was then to proceed to Bermuda and finally to the US for a refit. The destroyers then made rendes-vous with the British battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN) coming from a refit in the United States. They then provided cover for the convoy joining it around 1200/21. Shortly after Rodney had joined the convoy HMS Prince of Wales left the convoy for Gibraltar escorted by HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning and HMS Oribi. They arrived at Gibraltar to fuel late on the 23th. They departed Gibraltar around 0400/24 and rejoined the convoy west of Gibraltar around 1200/24. Before HMS Prince of Wales rejoined the convoy HMS Rodney had departed the convoy and also headed for Gibraltar escorted by the destroyers ORP Piorun, ORP Garland and HrMs Isaac Sweers. HMS Rodney and her escorting destroyers arrived at Gibraltar at 0900/24. In the evening of the 24th, HMS Nelson sailed westwards escorted by the same destroyers that had brought HMS Rodney in giving the German and Italian spies across the Bay in Spanish Algeciras the impression that HMS Rodney had just relieved HMS Nelson as flagship of Force H. This diversion seemed to have had the desired effect. During the night HMS Nelson and her escorting destroyers reversed course and passed the Straits of Gibraltar to the eastward unseen after dark.

On the 20th the cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN) and the destroyer HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN) also departed Gibraltar to provide cover for the convoy.

On the 21th the cruisers HMS Kenya and HMS Euryalus departed the convoy for Gibraltar where they both arrived at 2300/22. After fuelling they departed before daylight on the 23th to rejoin the convoy to the west of Gibraltar. At Gibraltar Rear-Admiral H.M. Burrough, CB, RN, had hoised his flag on board HMS Kenya.

On the 23th the destroyer HMS Cossack (Capt. E.L. Berthon, DSC, RN) and escort destroyers HMS Heythrop (Lt.Cdr R.S. Stafford, RN) and HMS Farndale (Cdr. S.H. Carlill, RN) bolstered the escort in the approaches to Gibraltar joining the convoy around 0800/24. Also on the 24th light cruiser HMS Edinburgh (Capt. H.W. Faulkner, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, RN) departed Gibraltar at 1230 hours to join the convoy.

Also on the 24th two groups of destroyers arrived at Gibraltar to refuel. The destroyers HMS Foresight, HMS Forester, HMS Gurkha and HMS Lance arrived at 1600 hours. The destroyers HMS Legion, HMS Lively and HMS Zulu arrived at 1800 hours.

See 25 September 1941 'Convoy operation Halberd' for the continuation of the events..

22 Sep 1941
Late in the morning, HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), escorted HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) and ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski, ORP) parted company with the convoy and proceeded to Gibraltar.

24 Sep 1941
At 0830 hours, HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), and her escort HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) and ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski, ORP) arrived at Gibraltar.

At 1815 hours, HMS Nelson (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN), departed Gibraltar westwards. She was escorted by HrMs Isaac Sweers, ORP Piorun and ORP Garland. After a few hours course was reversed and they passed the Straits of Gibraltar eastwards to join up with the other forces. This was done to deceive enemy spies stationed in Spain. It was as if HMS Rodney had relieved HMS Nelson at Gibraltar and that HMS Nelson was now proceeding back to the U.K. After dark course was reversed so that they could not be spotted entering the Mediterranean to join up with the Halberd convoy / escorts.

25 Sep 1941

Operation Halberd
Supply convoy to Malta.

Continuation of the events of 17 September 1941, convoy WS 11X.

Situation at 1800 hours on 24 September 1941.

At 1800/24 the situation was as follows;
Convoy WS 11X was to the west of Gibraltar escorted at that moment by the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales (Capt. J.C. Leach, MVO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.T.B. Curteis, CB, RN), the British light cruisers HMS Edinburgh (Capt. H.W. Faulkner, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, RN), HMS Kenya (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN), the British destroyers HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN), HMS Lightning (Cdr. R.G. Stewart, RN), HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, RN), HMS Cossack (Capt. E.L. Berthon, DSC, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), the British escort destroyers HMS Farndale (Cdr. S.H. Carlill, RN) and HMS Heythrop (Lt.Cdr R.S. Stafford, RN).

At Gibraltar were the British battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.F. Somerville, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), the British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. L.E.H. Maund, RN), the British light cruiser HMS Hermione (Capt. G.N. Oliver, RN), the British destroyers HMS Duncan (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN with Capt. D.(13) Capt. H.W. Williams, RN, on board), HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Lively (Lt.Cdr. W.F.E. Hussey, DSC, RN), HMS Legion (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, RN), the Polish destroyers ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski), ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski, ORP) and the Dutch destroyer HrMs Isaac Sweers (Cdr. J. Houtsmuller, RNethN). Also at Gibraltar was the RFA oiler Brown Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941) and the British corvette HMS Fleur de Lys (Lt.(Retd.) A. Collins, RNR).

Approaching Gibraltar from the west were the British destroyers HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN) and HMS Lance (Lt.Cdr. R.W.F. Northcott, RN).

Movement of forces on the night of 24/25 September.

At 1815 hours, HMS Nelson departed Gibraltar and after passing farewell messages to HMS Rodney she proceeded westwards screened by HrMs Isaac Sweers, ORP Piorun and ORP Garland. These ships reversed course at 2130 hours and proceeded eastwards.

Shortly after HMS Nelson and her three escorting destroyers had departed Gibraltar harbour HMS Gurkha, HMS Zulu and HMS Lance, wich had been sent ahead to fuel aft Gibraltar, entered harbour.

At 2030/24 RFA Brown Ranger and her escort, corvette HMS Fleur de Lys departed Gibraltar to take up a position eastwards to fuel the destroyers that were to protect the Halberd convoy.

At 2300/24 HMS Rodney, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Hermione escorted by HMS Duncan, HMS Foresight, HMS Forester, HMS Lively, HMS Zulu, HMS Gurkha, HMS Legion and HMS Lance departed from Gibraltar eastwards to simulate a normal sortie by 'Force H' and to rendezvous with the convoy to the eastward of Gibraltar at 0800/25.

'Force Z', consisting of, HMS Princess Beatrix (4136 GRT, built 1939) (Cdr.(ret.) T.B. Brunton, RN), HMS Queen Emma (4136 GRT, built 1939) (Capt.(ret.) G.L.D. Gibbs, DSO, RN), HMS Royal Scotsman (3288 GRT, built 1936) (T/Cdr. J.W. Peters, RNR) (whose ultimate destination was Freetown), HMS Ulster Monarch (3791 GRT, built 1929) (T/Cdr. J. Wilson, RNR) and Leinster (4302 GRT, built 1937) escorted by the British corvettes HMS Jonquil (Lt.Cdr. R.E.H. Partington, RD, RNR), HMS Spiraea (T/Lt. L.C. Head, RNVR) and HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR) had been stationed behind the main convoy at dusk was ordered to proceed into Gibraltar Bay. It was hoped that the presence of these ships in the Bay would lay suspicion in the event of the convoy having been sighted and reported while passing through the Straits.

The remainder of convoy WS 11X, made up of transport ships Ajax (7797 GRT, built 1931), City of Calcutta (8063 GRT, built 1940), City of Lincoln (8039 GRT, built 1938), Clan Ferguson (7347 GRT, built 1938), Clan Macdonald (9653 GRT, built 1939), Dunedin Star (11168 GRT, built 1936), Imperial Star (12427 GRT, built 1934), Rowallan Castle (7801 GRT, built 1939) and HMS Breconshire (9776 GRT, built 1939) (Capt.(ret.) C.A.G. Hutchison, RN), with the escort, organised in two groups one mile apart, and led by the Vice Admiral, 2nd in Command, Home Fleet in HMS Prince of Wales, and the Rear Admiral commanding 18th Cruiser Squadron in HMS Edinburgh respectively, passed south of Europa Point at 0130/25. This disposition was adopted to reduce the frontage of the convoy during its passage through the Straits.

At 0730/25 HMS Rodney, HMS Ark Royal and their screening destroyers were sighted from HMS Nelson at a range of about 10 nautical miles. Half an hour later the convoy and its escort was sighted.

The escorting force was now reorganised into two groups;
Group 1: HMS Nelson, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Hermione, HMS Cossack, HMS Zulu, HMS Foresight, HMS Forester, HMS Laforey and HMS Lightning.

Group 2: HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Rodney, HMS Kenya, HMS Edinburgh, HMS Sheffield, HMS Euryalus, HMS Duncan, HMS Gurkha, HMS Legion, HMS Lance, HMS Lively, HMS Oribi, HrMs Iscaac Sweers, ORP Piorun, ORP Garland, HMS Fury, HMS Farndale and HMS Heytrop and the entire convoy.

Events of group 1 and group 2 during 25 September

At 1700/25 (time zone -2) HMS Duncan obtained an Asdic contact in position 36°36'N, 01°58'W and attacked with a pattern of four depth charges (more were intended but the starboard thrower failed to fire. Another depth charge attack was carried out by HMS Grukha at 1716 hours. She dropped a pattern of fourteen depth charges. HMS Duncan attacked again at 1750 hours with a second depth charge pattern. Both destroyers then proceeded to rejoin the screen at 1758 hours. Both ships sighted bubbles rising to the surface possibly from a damaged submarine.

Meanwhile on the 25th all destroyers of group 2 were fuelled by RFA Brown Ranger but not without delay as Brown Rangers speed was slower then anticipated and she was therefore further to the west then anticipated. This resulted in that not all destroyers were back in position at dusk. HMS Oribi was unable to find group 2 during the night and joined up with group 1 until daylight of the 26th when she rejoined group 1.

Events of group 1 and group 2 during 26 September

At 0932/26 lookouts on HMS Nelson spotted an Italian aircraft shadowing group 1 at a range of 10 miles. The aircraft was flying very low and had not been picked up by RDF. The fighters from HMS Ark Royal that were in the air failed to intercept this aircraft due to failure of the R/T equipment in the flight leaders aircraft. An enemy report from the aircraft was intercepted at 0935 hours. A re-broadcast of this signal by an Italian shore station was picked up 20 minutes later.

At 1300 hours Group 1 reversed course to close the distance to group 2 and HMS Hermione was stationed astern of HMS Ark Royal for RDF purposes and to give additional AA protection to the carrier.

At 1537 hours two aircraft were sighted low down to the eastward by HMS Zulu, HMS Nelson and HMS Hermione. These aircraft were at first thought to be Hudsons but turned out to be enemy when a signal they made was intercepted. By now it was too late to vector fighters towards them.

Movements of group 1 and group 2 and enemy air attacks during 27 September.

Around 0730/27 group 1 and 2 joined. HMS Ark Royal was now protected by HMS Euryalus (ahead) and HMS Hermione (astern) as close escort. Four Fulmar fighters were flown off at 0800 hours. This number was increased to ten at 1000 hours and twelve at 1100 hours and finally to sixteen at 1200 hours when it was though most likely air attacks might develop due to the fact the the forcehad been shadowed and reported by enemy aircraft from at least 0810 hours.

At 1255 hours RDF picked up enemy aircraft formations closing in on the convoy, one from the north and one from the east, both 30 miles distant. Position was 37°48'N, 08°50'E. Fighters were vertored towards these formations and one enemy aircraft was shot down at 1300 hours. Six enemy torpedo bombers approached from the port bow and beam of the convoy. Two were shot down at 1302 hours, most likely by AA fire from HMS Rodney and HMS Prince of Wales. An unknown number of torpedoes were dropped by the other aircraft. No hits were obtained but HMS Lance was narrowly missed by two of these torpedoes. HrMs Isaac Sweers was missed with one torpedo by 30 yards and HMS Rodney by one torpedo by 100 yards. One of the attacking aircraft was shot down by the destroyers while another torpedo bomber meanwhile was shot down by the Fulmars from the Ark Royal. Finally at 1310 hours a Fulmar was accidentaly shot down by HMS Prince of Wales. The first attack was was now over.

At 1327/27 RDF reported a group of aircraft splitting into two formations and approaching from the east. Destroyers on the starboard wing of the screen opened fire at 1329 hours when six or seven torpedo bombers (BR 20's) were seen approaching very low from the starboard bow and beam. Position was 37°49'N, 08°58'E.

Three of these aircraft pressed on through the barrage put up by the destroyers and made a most determined attack on HMS Nelson who was swinging to starboard to comb the tracks. On aircraft dropped its torpedo out 450 yards 20° on Nelson's starboard bow passing over the ship at a height of 200 feet. This aircraft was almost certainly shot down astern of HMS Nelson by HMS Sheffield and HMS Prince of Wales. The track of the torpedo was not seen until about 150 yards ahead of the ship and no avoiding action was possible and the torpedo hit HMS Nelson on the port bow 10 feet below the waterline. The speed of HMS Nelson was reduced to 18 knots.

The second aircraft of this formation missed HMS Nelson with its torpedo by about 100 yards while the third aircraft was claimed to have been shot down by HMS Laforey. It's W/T operator, the only one of the crew alive but wounded, was picked up by HMS Forester.

Three or four aircraft from this group attacked from the starboard quarted but without result.

One torpedo bomber was shot down by the Fulmars at 1336 hours. One of the Fulmars was now shot down by mistake by pompom fire from HMS Rodney but the crew was rescued by HMS Duncan.

At 1345 hours the third attack started. RDF reported a group coming in from the south-west. Ten or eleven S.79's split into two groups and were seen coming in low over the water and were taken under fire from the escorting ships on the starboard side of the convoy. Seven or eight of the attackers then retired to the south-west and disappeared but three others tried to work round the starboard bow of the convoy which then turned ay 60° to port. The three attackers were then driven off by gunfire from the destroyer screen and dropped their torpedoes at long range but one torpedo narrowly missed HMS Lightning. One of these aircraft was shot down by a Fulmar as it retired. Position of this attack was 37°50'N, 09°06'E.

At 1354 hours three of the aircraft that had initialy turned away returned from astern. Two of these retired again on being fired at but the third pressed on to attack HMS Ark Royal but it was shot down by AA fire from that ship and HMS Nelson before it had dropped it's torpedo.

At 1358 hours one aircraft, seen right ahead of HMS Nelson, dropped a torpedo outside the screen. HMS Cossack was able to avoid this torpedo by the HE of this torpedo being picked up by her Asdic set.

Attempt to intercept the Italian battlefleet

While the third air attack was still in progress at 1404 hours an emergency report was received from an aircraft operating from Malta that it had sighted two Italian battleships and eight destroyers in position 38°20'N, 10°40'E steering a course of 190° at 20 knots at 1340 hours. The position of HMS Nelson when this report was received was 37°46'N, 09°04'E so the enemy was only 70-75 miles away. At this time HMS Nelson, with it's gun armament unimpaired was thought to be capable of 18 knots or more. Admiral Somerville decided to proceed towards the enemy at best speed with HMS Nelson, HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Rodney and the destroyers HMS Duncan, HMS Gurkha, HMS Lance, HMS Lively, HrMs Isaac Sweers and ORP Garland, leaving HMS Kenya, HMS Edinburgh, HMS Sheffield and ten destroyers with the convoy. HMS Euryalus, HMS Hermione and the destoyers HMS Piorun and HMS Legion remained with the Ark Royal.

It was also decided to fly off two Swordfish aircraft from the Ark Royal to take over shadowing duties from the aircraft operating out of Malta and to arm and fly off air striking force as soon as possible.

Ark Royal launched the two Swordfish at 1448 hours. It was intended to have launched them earlier but the launch was delayed due to the main armamant of HMS Ark Royal being in action and the recovery of two Fulmar fighters which were short on fuel.

In the meantime, at 1425 hours, the aircraft that was in contact with the Italians now also reported four cruisers and eight destroyers 15 nautical miles west-south-west of the enemy battlefleet. They were steering the same course and speed.

Meanwhile, at 1417 hours, the battleships had been ordered to form on HMS Nelson who had increased speed and proceeded ahead of the convoy. However at 1433 hours it became necessary for HMS Nelson to reduce speed to avoid further flooding due to the damage sustained. The Vice Admiral, 2nd in Command, Home Fleet in HMS Prince of Wales was now ordered to proceed with his flagship, HMS Rodney, HMS Edinburgh, HMS Sheffield and six destroyers to close the enemy at best speed. HMS Nelson meanwhile took station astern of the convoy.

While these instructions were carried out a report was received that the enemy had reversed course to 360°. This was followed by a further report that the enemy was steering 060°. Also a report was received that the battleships were of the Littorio class and not Cavour's as was previously believed. It was now clear that the enemy tried to avoid contact. It was still hoped that a striking force from HMS Ark Royal would be able to inflict damage to the enemy and reduced his speed allowing our battleships to overtake him before dark.

At 1530 hours a Fulmar fighter which was short of fuel force landed on the water astern of the Ark Royal. The crew was picked up by ORP Piorun.

At 1540 hours, HMS Ark Royal launched her stiking force of twelve Swordfish and four Fulmars. These aircraft did not find the enemy force and all aircraft returned to HMS Ark Royal around 1900 hours.

Between 1620 and 1645 hours, Fulmars from the CAP drove off an air attack threatening from the port side of the convoy. Later a shadowing enemy aircraft was shot down by Fulmars.

At 1658 hours, the Vice Admiral, second in Command Home Fleet, was ordered to reverse course and rejoin the convoy which was done at 1851 hours. No further reports of the enemy had been received for almost two hours and even if the striking force from HMS Ark Royal was able to inflict damage on the enemy these could not be intercepted before dark.

Detachment of Force X and the convoy.

At 1855 hours, on reaching the Skerki Channel, the escort of the convoy was split up into two forces, Force A, made up of HMS Nelson, HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Rodney, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Duncan, HMS Gurkha, HMS Legion, HMS Lively, HMS Lance, HMS Fury, HrMs Isaac Sweers, ORP Piorun and ORP Garland split off from the convoy while Force X, made up of HMS Kenya, HMS Edinburg, HMS Sheffield, HMS Hermione, HMS Euryalus, HMS Cossack, HMS Zulu, HMS Foresight, HMS Forester, HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning, HMS Oribi, HMS Farndale and HMS Heythrop remained with the convoy.

Between 1915 and 1930 hours enemy aircraft twice approached the convoy but turned away after fire had been opened on them. They were probably CR.42 fighters.

Night T/B attack on Force X and the convoy and loss of the Imperial Star.

Between 2000 and 2040 hours four torpedo bomber attacks were made on the convoy and Force X from the port beam, two or three aircraft taking part in each attack. The first two attacks had no result for the Italians.

During the third attack the two rear ships in the port column of the convoy collided with each other, these were the Rowallan Castle and the City of Calcutta. No serious damage was sustained and both were able to proceed on their way.

During the fourth attack, at 2032 hours, in position 37°31'N, 10°46'E the Imperial Star was struck by a torpedo on her port side aft. HMS Oribi was also attacked and narrowly missed by a torpedo four minutes later. She was able to shoot down the aircraft that had dropped this torpedo with her pompom and oerlikons.

When the Imperial Star was torpedoed it is probable that the explosion blew away both propellers and her rudder. In addition no.6 hold and the after engine room were both flooded.

HMS Heythrop, the rear ship of the port screen, proceeded alongside, but did not attempt to take Imperial Star in tow as she did not consider she was a suitable vessel to do so.

About 2045 hours HMS Oribi was ordered by HMS Euryalus to go to the assistance of the Imperial Star. When Oribi closed Heythrop was already standing by, and while Heythtop took off the passengers of the Imperial Star, HMS Oribi proceeded alongside to receive a report of the damage. It was decided to attempt to tow her to Malta.

For two hours the most determined attemps were made by HMS Oribi to tow the Imperial Star to Malta and although a speed of 8 knots was obtained nothing could be done to prevent her steering in circles. At is thought that her damaged stern was now acting as rudder.

Eventually, at 0120/28, HMS Oribi found herself being dragged stern first by her tow sheering off and she was forced to slip the tow. Oribi went alongside to consult again and it was reluctantly decided that there was no other choice then to scuttle the ship. Three depth charges were placed lashed together abreast a bulkhead and these were fired by a safety fuse.

HMS Oribi cast off 0340/28 and the depth charges were fired eleven minutes later, starting a large fire aft. As this did not spread quickly, Oribi shelled Imperial Star with 4.7" S.A.P. shells. Oribi finally left her at 0452 hours. Imperial Star was by that time heavily on fire fore and aft and listing badly. Aircraft from Malta could not find the wreck of the Imperial Star so there is no doubt that she sank.

HMS Oribi then made off from the scene along the convoy route at 32 knots and came with them near Malta 1215/28 having passed unmolested within 7 nautical miles from the Sicilian coast in daylight.

Passage of the convoy and Force X through the narrows.

In the meantime the convoy and Force X had proceeded through the narrows along the south coast of Sicily.

In the meantime. at 2030/27, HMS Hermione had departed the convoy to carry out a bombardment of Pantellaria harbour. Having completed the bombardment HMS Hermione rejoined Force X at 0615/28. At daylight HMS Farndale and HMS Heythrop were detached to fuel at Malta.

Although several formations of enemy aircraft were detected between dawn and the arrival of the convoy at Malta, the excellent protection given by shore based fighters from Malta prevented any attack from developing.

At 0800/28 a report was received that no enemy surface forces were reported near the convoy. The cruisers HMS Kenya, HMS Sheffield, HMS Euryalus and HMS Hermione then proceeded ahead to Malta to fuel where they arrived at 1130 hours. The remainder of Force X and the entire convoy, with the exception of the Imperial Star, arrived later in the afternoon.

Movements of Force A during 28 September.

While Force X and the convoy continued on to Malta, Force A proceeded to the west at 14 knots, which was the best speed of HMS Nelson at that time.

At 0725/28 HMS Ark Royal flew off one A/S patrol and three fighters. At 0812 hours one enemy shadower was seen but it escaped into a cloud.

At 1025 hours HMS Nelson sighted a Cant. 506 aircraft very low down and fighters were vectored in. After a chase to the south-east this aircraft was shot down near Cape de Fer, Algeria.

Shadowers were again reported at 1640 hours and again one hour later but due to a failure of the R/T transmitter in Ark Royal it was not possible to vector fighters in time to intercept. An enemy report made by Italian aircraft was intercepted at 1720 hours.

At 1942/28 one of the destroyers of the screen, HMS Duncan, obtained an Asdic contact in position 37°30'N, 03°45'E. She carried out two depth charge attacks but with no apparent result. HMS Legion closed to co-operate but did not gain contact. Both ships left the area at 2012 hours to rejoin the screen.

At 2020 hours speed was reduced to 12 knots to reduce the strain on bulkheads and decks of HMS Nelson. At this time Nelson was about 8 feet down by the bows and it was estimated that 3500 tons of water had entered the ship.

At 2100/28, HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Rodney, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Gurkha, HMS Lance, HMS Legion, HMS Lively, HMS Fury and HrMs Isaac Sweers were detached to proceed to the eastward and rendezvous with Force X. HMS Nelson, escorted by HMS Duncan, ORP Piorun and ORP Garland, continued on to Gibraltar.

At 0555/29, in position 37°30'N, 06°25'E, HMS Prince of Wales obtained an RDF surface echo ahead, and an emergency turn of 40° to port was carried out with all ships at 0609 hours. Three minutes after this turn HMS Gurkha sighted a torpedo track approaching. It was too late to alter course to avoid. A second torpedo track followed a few seconds later. Both torpedoes appeared to pass underneath the ship. HMS Gurkha then turned to port in the direction from which the torpedoes had approached and HrMs Isaac Sweers also joined to hunt the submarine. No A/S contacts were obtained and no depth charges were dropped. HMS Gurkha and HrMs Isaac Sweers rejoined the screen at 0700/29. The attacker was the Italian submarine Diaspro which managed to escape unharmed.

At 0810/29 HMS Gurkha obtained an A/S contact in position 37°26'N, 07°14'E. At 0815 hours a pattern of fourteen depth charges was dropped. Six minutes later a heavy underwater explosion was heard. At 0841 hours HMS Gurkha was ordered to rejoin screen and the hunt was abandoned.

Movements of Force X during 28/29 September on the return trip from Malta.

In the meantime the ships that are part of Force X had all fuelled at Malta and at 1500/28 the escort destroyers HMS Farndale and HMS Heythrop were sailed followed at 1615 hours by HMS Kenya, HMS Edinburgh and HMS Oribi. The remainder of Force X sailed at 1830 hours. HMS Farndale and HMS Heythrop joined Force A at 0835/29. The remainder of Force X joined Force A at 1030/29.

Movements of HMS Nelson and passage to Gibraltar.

In the meantime HMS Nelson and her three escorting destroyers were still proceeding to the west. They were joined by aircraft to provide additional A/S protection from 0730/29 onwards.

At 1110/29, ORP Piorun obtained a doubtful A/S contact and dropped one depth charge.

At 1909/29, HMS Duncan also obtained A/S contact and dropped one depth charge.

At 1945/29 the A/S screen was reinforced by the destroyer HMS Rockingham (Lt.Cdr. A.H.T. Johns, RN) coming from Gibraltar. Later in the evening four corvettes also joined for additional A/S protection of the damaged battleship, HMS Samphire (Lt.Cdr. F.T. Renny, DSC, RNR) joined at 2120/29, HMS Jonquil (Lt.Cdr. R.E.H. Partington, RD, RNR) at 2140/29, HMS Fleur de Lys at 2150/29 and finally HMS Arbutus (T/Lt. A.L.W. Warren, DSC, RNR) at 2340/29. Nelson's screen now consisted of four destroyers and four corvettes.

At 0130/30 HMS Samphire and HMS Arbutus obtained an A/S contact and dropped depth charges without result, the contact was probably non-sub.

At 1200/30 HMS Nelson entered Gibraltar Harbour.

Movements of Force A and Force X as of 1030 hours on 29 September.

Meanwhile after all ships of Force X had joined up with force A at 1030/29 course was shaped to the westward, keeping 40 nautical miles clear of the African coast.

At 1645/29, in position 37°26'N, 04°37'E, HMS Lively, sighted an object resembling a ship's lifeboat with mast at a range of 1000 yards. This was soon identified as the conning tower and periscope of a submarine momentarily breaking surface. Two torpedo tracks were sighted shortly afterwards. Lively immediately attacked with a pattern of fourteen depth charges at 1650 hours. HMS Legion, which was next to Lively in the destroyer screen, had already dropped a pattern of five depth charges about a minute and a half earlier. HMS Legion then joined up with HMS Lively to hunt this submarine.

At 1700 hours HMS Lively obtained a definate A/S contact and attacked with another pattern of fourteen depth charges five minutes later. After having dropped this pattern contact was regained at 1715 hours. Contact was however soon lost at and not regained. The hunt was abandoned at 1745 hours.

At 1930/29, HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Kenya, HMS Sheffield, HMS Laforey, HMS Lightning, HMS Oribi, HMS Foresight, HMS Forester and HMS Fury parted company with the rest of the force and proceeded ahead to arrive at Gibraltar p.m. 30 September 1941. They arrived at Gibraltar at 1800/30.

At 0928/30, in position 37°10'N, 00°56'E, HMS Gurkha, obtained Asdic contact wich was confirmed as a submarine. She immediately attacked and fired a pattern if fourteen depth charges at 0935 hours. A black circular buoy with electric cable attached to it came to the surface after this attack. At 0945 hours a loud underwater explosion was heard and felt and oil started to come to the surface. Gurkha was unable to gain contact on the submarine from now on. HMS Legion who was by now assisting Gurkha in the hunt obtained contact and attacked with a fourteen depth charge pattern at 0955 hours. A second fourteen depth charge pattern was fired at 1009 hours. During Legion's second attack wreckage and oil came to the surface. Among the wreckage picked up was an Italian dictionary, a mattess, a pillow, numerous pieces of wood, some with bright screws and a piece of human scalp attached to a piece of wood by a splinter of metal. The interiors of the dictionary, the mattress and the pillow were dry. There was now no doubt that an Italian submarine was sunk by HMS Gurkha and HMS Legion.

All ships in this force entered Gibraltar harbour between 0700 and 0900 hours on 1 October.

Convoy MG 2, passage of three merchant vessels from Malta to Gibraltar.

At noon on the 26th the first out of three empty transports, the Melbourne Star (11076 GRT, built 1936), departed Malta for Gibraltar. At 1030/27 the other two ships Port Chalmers (8535 GRT, built 1933) and City of Pretoria (8049 GRT, built 1937). These last two ships were escorted by the corvette HMS Gloxinia (Lt.Cdr. A.J.C. Pomeroy, RNVR) until 1930/27. After an uneventful passage the Melbourne Star arrived at Gibraltar at 0700/29. The Port Chalmers and City of Pretoria were spotted and reported by Italian aircraft at 1200/27, shortly after leaving Malta. No enemy surface craft were seen until 2320/27 when it was believed that an E-boat was sighted by the Port Chalmers which was following in the wake of the City of Pretoria. The Port Chalmers opened fire on the E-boats bow wave with it's 4" gun. The enemy then returned fire with a machine gun. After six rounds of 4" the enemy crossed the stern of the Port Chalmers and was not seen again. The City of Pretoria had not seen the enemy at all. The action had taken place about 15 nautical miles south-south-west of Pantelleria.

At 0535/28 the Commodore of the convoy ordered he Port Chalmers to part company. Port Chalmers then proceeded at full speed, wearing French colours.

At 0915/28 an Italian Cant. 506 seaplane approached from the direction of the French north African coast and circled the City of Pretoria. This aircraft then made off to the westward and gave the Port Chalmers the same attention. Both ships were wearing French colours and had taken care to keep all service personnel out of sight. Both ships were fully ready for action, but did not open fire as the aircraft took no offensive action.

At 1015/28 the City of Pretoria was circled several times by a large three-engine seaplane, with distinct French markings, which approached from the direction of Bizerta.

At 1145/28 the City of Pretoria sighted a twin-engined Italian seaplane stopped on the water, five nautical miles to the north. She lost sight of this aircraft at 1215 hours.

The Port Chalmers was circled by an Italian aircraft at 1555/28. The aircraft did not attack.

At 1725/28 the City of Pretoria was attacked by three Italian torpedo bombers. As the aircraft approached with obviously hostile intentions the British colours were hoised and fire was opened as soon as the leader came in range. By skilful handling all three torpedoes were avoided. A submarine periscope was then reported on the starboard quarter by two independent lookouts. Three smoke floats and a depth charge set to 150 feet were dropped and under the cover of the smoke the City of Pretoria turned away.

When the City of Pretoria was approaching Cape de Gata at 0200/30 an unidentified vessel, possibly a submarine, was seen to be following. Two or three rapid shots, followed by a dull explosion, were heard. City of Pretoria made smoke and dropped smoke floats and then made close in Almeira Bay, into territorial waters, thus shaking off her pursuer.

The Port Chalmers arrived at Gibraltar at 0900/30. City of Pretoria followed during the afternoon. (7)

2 Oct 1941
HMS Edinburgh (Capt. H.W. Faulkner, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, RN), HMS Cossack (Capt. E.L. Berthon, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Zulu (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) and ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski, ORP) departed Gibraltar.

HMS Edinburgh, ORP Piorun and HMS Garland were to proceed to the U.K. escorting ships while en-route. On departure from Gibraltar they were escorting transports Leinster (British, 4302 GRT, built 1937) and City of Pretoria (British, 8049 GRT, built 1937). [No futher details available for the moment.]

HMS Cossack and HMS Zulu were detached (either on 3 or 4 October) while en-route to join HMS Argus to escort her to Gibraltar together with HMS Sikh. (8)

6 Oct 1941
HMS Edinburgh (Capt. H.W. Faulkner, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) and ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski, ORP) which were escorting the transports Leinster (British, 4302 GRT, built 1937) and City of Pretoria (British, 8049 GRT, built 1937) were joined in position 48°16'N, 25°11'W by the troop transports Duchess of Bedford (20123 GRT, built 1928) and Sobieski (Polish, 11030 GRT, built 1939) and their escort, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Cheshire (Capt.(Retd.) J.M. Begg, RN) which were coming from Freetown.

They were joined on 6 October by two destroyers [thought to be HMS Verity (Cdr. R.H. Mills, RN) and HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Holmes, RN)] and on 7 October by one destroyer [though to be HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN)]

In the morning of 10 October the convoy split into three parts which sailed to Clyde; Sobieski, escorted by HMS Edinburgh, ORP Piorun and ORP Garland arriving on the 10th. To Liverpool; Duchess of Bedford and Leinster escorted by HMS Cheshire, HMS Verity and HMS Witch arriving on the 11th. To Swansea, City of Pretoria also arriving on the 11th. HMS Whitehall had apparently been detached to Londonderry, arriving on the 10th.

10 Oct 1941
HMS Edinburgh (Capt. H.W. Faulkner, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.N. Syfret, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. E.J.S. Plawski) and ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski, ORP) arrived at Greenock with the transport Sobieski (Polish, 11030 GRT, built 1939). (4)

17 Oct 1941
The Polish destroyers Piorun and Garland depart from Gourock as part of the escort of a convoy to Canada.

24 Oct 1941
The Polish destroyers Piorun and Garland were detached from convoy they are escorting in order to reach St. John's, Canada for refuelling. Five and half hours after they reach the harbour they depart from again and head back to the convoy.

26 Oct 1941
The Polish destroyers Piorun and Garland reach Halifax, Canada with the convoy they are escorting.

4 Nov 1941
The Polish destroyers Piorun and Garland depart from Halifax, Canada as part of the escort for a convoy to the Clyde.

12 Nov 1941
The Polish destroyers Piorun and Garland enter Greenock harbour.

14 Nov 1941
Piorun arrived at Glasgow for general repairs.

12 Feb 1942
Piorun (Lt. Cdr. Hryniewiecki) was ordered to make a ASW search in the Irish Sea to find and neutralize a U-boat reported there. The search is unsuccessful.

13 Feb 1942
Piorun returns to Gourock.

13 Feb 1942
Around 0030A/13, the battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN) departed Greenock for Liverpool where she is to be taken in hand for refit. She was escorted by the destroyer ORP Piorun (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki, ORP).

Around 0300Z/13, the destroyer HMS Watchman (Lt.Cdr. E.C.L. Day, RN) joined.

HMS Rodney, ORP Piorun and HMS Watchman arrived at Liverpool around 1600Z/13. (9)

26 Feb 1942
Piorun became part of the escort of a convoy to Canada.

28 Feb 1942
The convoy Piorun is escorting was caught by a strong storm. The Polish ship suffered no damage.

11 Mar 1942
At night Polish lookouts on Piorun spotted a surfaced U-boat trying to slip into the convoy. The Germans also spotted the destroyer as the U-boat submerged. She was detected by the asdic and attacked with depth charges. After this attack, contact was lost and the Germans managed to slip away.

12 Mar 1942
Piorun entered St. John's, Canada.

17 Mar 1942
Piorun came to Argentia, Canada.

21 Mar 1942
Piorun departed from Canada as part of the escort of a convoy to Great Britain.

27 Mar 1942
Piorun met a lonely Norwegian tanker. A boarding party inspected the tankers documents and she was ordered to join the convoy.

29 Mar 1942
Piorun meets another tanker. This time it was a British vessel which was also ordered to join the convoy.

1 Apr 1942
The convoy, of which Piorun is part of the escorts reaches Gourock.

8 Apr 1942
After boiler cleaning Piorun was loaded with British gold in order to transport this cargo to Canada. At 16.30hours the Polish ship left Gourock and later that day entered Londonderry.

9 Apr 1942
Piorun departed from Londonderry and joined the escort of a convoy to Canada.

16 Apr 1942
Piorun entered Halifax harbour where the gold was unloaded.

26 Apr 1942
Piorun left Argentia, Canada with a convoy to Great Britain.

9 May 1942
Piorun reached Greenock.

31 May 1942
Piorun was involved in the escort of another convoy to Canada.

2 Jun 1942
Piorun attacked two submerged U-boats.

4 Jun 1942
Around 17.00hours Piorun dropped depth charges on an enemy U-boat.

8 Jun 1942
The convoy Piorun is escorting reaches Canada.

16 Jun 1942
Piorun departed from Canada as part of the escort of a convoy to Great Britain.

20 Jun 1942
The convoy Piorun is escorting is caught by a heavy storm.

25 Jun 1942
Piorun reached Greenock.

5 Jul 1942
Piorun departed from Great Britain with a convoy to Canada.

12 Jul 1942
During a storm, the convoy was attacked by U-boats. Piorun dropped depth charges twice.

20 Jul 1942
Piorun arrived at Argentia, Canada.

14 Aug 1942
Piorun departed from Canada as part of the escort of a convoy to Great Britain.

17 Aug 1942
Piorun is damaged during a storm.

20 Aug 1942
Piorun arrived at Gourock. She has go undergo some repairs.

30 Aug 1942
Piorun arrived at Londonderry.

31 Aug 1942
Piorun became part of the escort of a convoy to Canada.

31 Aug 1942
HMS H 43 (Lt. J.C.Y. Roxburgh, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Harvester (Cdr. A.A. Tait, DSO, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski), HMS Fowey (Lt.Cdr. R.M. Aubrey, RN) and HMS Black Swan (Cdr. T.A.C. Pakenham, RN). (10)

10 Sep 1942
The convoy Piorun is escorting reached Canada. The convoys escort entered St. John's.

11 Sep 1942
Piorun left St. John's as escort of a convoy to Argentia.

14 Sep 1942
Piorun arrived at Argentia, Canada.

15 Sep 1942
Piorun joined the escort of a convoy to Great Britain.

24 Sep 1942
Piorun entered Gourock and was sent off for general repairs.

24 Dec 1942
HrMs O 15 (Lt. A.J. Schouwenaar, RNN) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Mackay (Capt. S.V. Jephson, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski). (11)

30 Dec 1942

Convoy RA 51.

This convoy departed the Kola Inlet on 30 December 1942.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HMS Kent and HMS Berwick returned to Scapa Flow on the 6th. (12)

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

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy RA 51 ' for 30 December 1942.] (13)

5 Jan 1943
Around 0900A/5, the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. P.J. Mack, DSO and Bar, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet) and HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) and the destroyers HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski) arrived at Scapa Flow from convoy cover operations. (12)

8 Jan 1943
HrMs O 15 (Lt. A.J. Schouwenaar, RNN) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski). (11)

17 Jan 1943

Convoy JW 52.

This convoy departed Loch Ewe on 17 January 1943.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Atlantic (British, 5414 GRT, built 1939), Cornelius Barnett (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), Dan-Y-Bryn (British, 5117 GRT, built 1940), Delsud (American, 4982 GRT, built 1919), El Oriente (Panamanian, 6012 GRT, built 1910), Empire Baffin (British, 6978 GRT, built 1941), Empire Clarion (British, 7031 GRT, built 1942), Empire Portia (British, 7058 GRT, built 1942), Empire Snow (British, 6327 GRT, built 1941), Empire Tristram (British, 7167 GRT, built 1942), Gulfwing (American (tanker), 10217 GRT, built 1928), Nicholas Gilman (British, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Faith (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942) and Temple Arch (British, 5138 GRT, built 1940).

The RFA tanker Oligarch (6894 GRT, built 1918) was also with the convoy.

On departure from Loch Ewe the convoy was escorted by the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS Ledbury (Lt. D.R.N. Murdoch, RN), HMS Middleton (Lt. C.S. Battersby, RN), minesweeper HMS Britomart (Lt.Cdr. S.S. Stammwitz, RN), corvettes HMS Lotus (Lt. H.J. Hall, DSC, RNR), HMS Starwort (Lt. A.H. Kent, RNR) and the A/S trawlers HMS Northern Pride (T/Lt. A.L.F. Bell, RNR) and HMS St. Elstan (Lt. R.M. Roberts, RNR).

On 21 January the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Offa (Cdr. R.A. Ewing, DSC, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski), HMS Beagle (Cdr. R.C. Medley, DSO, RN) and HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Lee, RN) joined the convoy coming from Seidisfjord which the had departed the day before. HMS Blankney, HMS Ledbury and HMS Middleton were then detached to Seidisfjord where they arrived on 22 January.

Also on 21 January the Empire Baffin was detached from the convoy to proceed to Akureyri where she arrived on 23 January. She was unable to keep up with the convoy.

On 24 January 1943, the convoy was attacked by four German HE 115 torpedo bombers. No damage was sustained and two of the attackers were shot down by AA fire. U-boats were also in contact with the convoy. U-302 was driven off before she could attack around 0434B/24. At 2008B/24, U-622 fired four torpedoes at the convoy but no hits were obtained.

At 0820B/25, U-622 was driven off by air cover. Also on the 25th a shadowing aircraft dropped a bomb but no damage was inflicted.

The convoy arrived in the Kola Inlet on 27 January 1943.

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To provide close cover for the convoy ' Force R ' was deployed.

' Force R ', made up of the heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. A.E.M.B. Cunninghame-Graham, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral L.H.K. Hamilton, CB, DSO and Bar, RN) and the light cruisers HMS Glasgow (Capt. E.M. Evans-Lombe, RN) and HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) departed Seidisfjord on 21 January.

at 0832B/24, the German submarine U-625 fired four torpedoes at HMS Kent and HMS Bermuda. No hits were obtained. HMS Glasgow appeared to be detached at the time of the attack to oil destroyers from the convoy escort. The attack appeared to be unobserved.

' Force R ' arrived in the Kola Inlet on 26 January.

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To provide distant cover for the convoy a ' Battleforce ' was deployed.

The ' Battleforce ', which departed Scapa Flow on 21 January, was made up of the battleship HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir B. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN), light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. A.G. West, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN) and HMS Montrose (A/Cdr. W.J. Phipps, OBE, RN).

On 22 January the destroyers HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN), ORP Orkan (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) and HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) arrived at Seidisfjord to fuel. They departed later the same day to join the Battleforce which they did on 23 January in approximate position 66°12'N, 22°50'W. The original destroyer screen was then detached. HMS Inglefield and HMS Montrose to Akureyri and HMS Faulknor and HMS Eclipse were to return to Scapa Flow.

On 27 January 1943 the ' Battleforce ' arrived at Akureyri. (12)

29 Jan 1943

Convoy RA 52.

This convoy departed the Kola Inlet on 29 January 1943.

On departure it was made up of the following merchant vessels; Beauregard (American, 5976 GRT, built 1920), Briarwood (British, 4019 GRT, built 1930), Daldorch (British, 5571 GRT, built 1930), Dynastic (British, 5773 GRT, built 1919), El Almirante (Panamanian, 5248 GRT, built 1917), El Oceano (Panamanian, 6767 GRT, built 1925), Empire Meteor (British, 7457 GRT, built 1940), Gateway City (American, 5432 GRT, built 1920), Greylock (American, 7460 GRT, built 1921) and Wind Rush (American, 5586 GRT, built 1918).

The damaged destroyer HMS Onslow (Lt.Cdr. T.J.G. Marchant, RN) was also part of the convoy. She was not a part of the escort.

On departure from the Kola Inlet the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Offa (Cdr. R.A. Ewing, DSC, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. J.A. Burnett, DSC, RN), HMS Beagle (Cdr. R.C. Medley, DSO, RN) and HMS Bulldog (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Lee, RN), minesweepers HMS Harrier (Cdr. A.D.H. Jay, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Seagull (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Pollock, RN), corvettes HMS Honeysuckle (Lt. H.H.D. MacKillican, DSC and Bar, RNR), HMS Hyderabad (Lt. S.C.B. Hickman, DSC, RNR), HMS Oxlip (Lt. C.W. Leadbetter, RNR), HMS Rhododendron (Lt. L.A. Sayers, RNR) and the A/S trawlers Lady Madeleine (T/Lt. W.G.Ogden, DSC, RNVR), HMS Northern Gem (Skr. H.C. Aisthorpe, RNR), HMS Northern Wave (T/Lt. W.G. Pardoe-Matthews, RNR) and HMS Vizalma (T/Lt. J.R. Anglebeck, RNVR).

From 1 February onwards the convoy was shadowed by enemy U-boats.

On 2 February, HMS Onslow was detached to proceed independently to Scapa Flow where she arrived on 4 February.

On 3 February, the merchant vessel Greylock was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-255.

On 4 February, HMS Forester was detached to report the convoy's position and then proceed to Seidisfjord to fuel. Also on this day the destroyer HMS Vivacious (Lt.Cdr. R. Alexander, RN) and escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and HMS Middleton (Lt. C.S. Battersby, RN) departed Seidisfjord to join the convoy which they did the following day.

After the relief escorts had joined on the 5th, HMS Onslaught, HMS Offa, HMS Matchless, HMS Musketeer, ORP Piorun, HMS Icarus, HMS Beagle and HMS Bulldog were then etached from convoy to Seidisfiord to fuel, arriving there later the same day.

HMS Seagull and HMS Honeysuckle were also detached to Seidisfjord for some repairs and fuel. They too arrived at Seidisfjord later on the 5th.

On 6 February, HMS Seagull and HMS Honeysuckle departed Seidisfjord to rejoin the convoy which they did on the 7th.

On 7 February, HMS Vivacious was detached from the convoy to join the ' Battleforce '.

On 8 February, HMS Middleton was detached from the convoy to proceed to the Clyde. HMS Blankney, HMS Harrier and HMS Seagull were detached from the convoy to proceed to Scapa Flow.

Later on 8 February, HMS Honeysuckle, HMS Hyderabad, HMS Oxlip and HMS Rhododendron were detached from the convoy to proceed to the Clyde while HMS Lady Madeleine, HMS Northern Gem, HMS Northern Wave and HMS Vizalma were detached to proceed to Belfast.

The convoy arrived at Loch Ewe on the 9th as did all the escorts at their respective destinations.

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To provide close cover for the convoy ' Force R ' was deployed.

' Force R ', made up of the heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. A.E.M.B. Cunninghame-Graham, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral L.H.K. Hamilton, CB, DSO and Bar, RN) and the light cruisers HMS Glasgow (Capt. E.M. Evans-Lombe, RN) and HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) departed the Kola Inlet on 30 January.

' Force R ' arrived at Scapa Flow on 4 February.

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To provide distant cover for the convoy a ' Battleforce ' was deployed.

The ' Battleforce ', which departed Akureyri on 30 January, was made up of the battleship HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir B. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN), light cruiser HMS Sheffield (Capt. A.W. Clarke, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Cdr. A.G. West, RN), HMS Oribi (Cdr. J.E.H. McBeath, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Obedient (Cdr. D.C. Kinloch, RN) and ORP Orkan (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki).

On 1 February, they arrived in the covering position near 73°45'N, 12°40'E. They left this position for Hvalfjord on 2 February.

On 3 February, HMS Obedient was detached to fuel at Seidisfjord.

On 4 February, HMS Anson, HMS Sheffield, HMS Inglefield, HMS Oribi and ORP Orkan arrived at Hvalfjord.

(12)

15 Feb 1943

Convoy JW 53.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A ' carrier ' force made up of the escort carrier HMS Dasher (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, DSO, RN) and the destroyer HMS Impulsive and the escort destroyers HMS Blankney (Cdr. P.F. Powlett, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and HMS Ledbury (Lt. D.R.N. Murdoch, RN) was also to be deployed from Seidisfjord but as HMS Dasher and HMS Blankney suffered weather damage in the built up stage of the convoy operation so the deployment of the ' carrier ' force was cancelled. HMS Impulsive then went to Akureyri to join the ' battle ' force instead. (14)

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

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

26 Feb 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Offa (Cdr. R.A. Ewing, DSC, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski) and HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) returned to Akureyri, Iceland from convoy cover operations. (16)

1 Mar 1943

Convoy RA 53.

This convoy departed the Kola Inlet on 1 March 1943.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the 9th they set course to proceed to Scapa Flow where they arrived on the 11th. (14)

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

[For more info on this convoy see the event ' Convoy RA 53 ' for 1 March 1943.] (17)

6 Mar 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Admiral J.C. Tovey, KCB, KBE, DSO, RN, C-in-C Home Fleet), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN), HMS Offa (Cdr. R.A. Ewing, DSC, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. E.N.V. Currey, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski) and HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow from a convoy cover operation. (18)

7 Mar 1943
The battleship HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir B. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN), light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) and the destroyers ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN) and HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Hvalfjord. (19)

10 Mar 1943
The battleship HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir B. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN), light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) and the destroyers ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN) and HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) arrived at Hvalfjord from Scapa Flow.

Before entering some exercises were carried out. (19)

20 Mar 1943
The battleship HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir B. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. A.E.M.B. Cunninghame-Graham, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral L.H.K. Hamilton, CB, DSO and Bar, RN), light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) and the destroyers ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN) and HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) departed Hvalfjord for Scapa Flow. En route various exercises were to be carried out with a force proceeding from Scapa Flow to Hvalfjord.

The ' opposing force ' was made up of the battleship HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN), light cruisers HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.L. Burnett, CB, OBE, RN), HMS Glasgow (Capt. E.M. Evans-Lombe, RN), destroyers HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Echo (Lt. R.H.C. Wyld, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Brecon (Lt.Cdr. T.D. Herrick, DSC and Bar, RN) which had departed Scapa Flow for Hvalfjord also on the 20th. (20)

22 Mar 1943
The battleship HMS Anson (Capt. H.R.G. Kinahan, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir B. Fraser, CB, KBE, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Kent (Capt. A.E.M.B. Cunninghame-Graham, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral L.H.K. Hamilton, CB, DSO and Bar, RN), light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) and the destroyers ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN) and HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC, RN) arrived at Scapa Flow from Hvalfjord. (20)

4 Apr 1943
HMS Newfoundland (Capt. W.R. Slayter, DSC, RN) departed Plymouth for patrol in the Bay of Biscay and subsequent onward passage to Gibraltar where she arrived on the 9th. On departure from Plymouth the Polish destroyers ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski) and ORP Orkan (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki) were with her. These destroyers returned to Plymouth on the 8th. (12)

20 Apr 1943
The battleship HMS Malaya (Capt. J.W.A. Waller, RN) departed Gibraltar for Scapa Flow. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN), HMS Velox (Lt. G.B. Barstow, RN) and HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, DSC, RN).

Around 1530/22, the destroyers HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. J. Mowlam, DSO, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski) joined HMS Malaya.

At 1550/22, HMS Antelope, HMS Velox and HMS Wishart were detached. They arrived back at Gibraltar on April, 24th.

Around midnight during the night of 24/25 April, HMS Matchless, HMS Meteor and ORP Piorun were detached to Londonderry to fuel. They had been reliever by the destroyers HMCS Iroquois (Cdr. W.B.L. Holms, RCN), HMS St. Marys (Lt. D.B.G. Dumas, RN) and the escort destroyer HMS Stevenstone (Lt. P.B.N. Lewis, DSC, RN). (21)

5 May 1943
With her refit completed, the battleship HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), departed Plymouth around 1100B/5 for Scapa Flow. She is escorted by the destroyers ORP Orkan (Cdr. S. Hryniewiecki), ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) and the escort destroyer HMS Wensleydale (Lt. W.P. Goodfellow, RNVR).

Around 1130B/5, the destroyer HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Blankney (Lt.Cdr. D.H.R. Bromley, RN) and HMS Brecon (Lt.Cdr. T.D. Herrick, DSC and Bar, RN) joined and the original escort parted company to return to Plymouth.

HMS Valiant, HMS Tumult, HMS Blankney and HMS Brecon arrived at Scapa Flow around 0730B/7. (22)

9 May 1943
Around 2000B/9, the destroyer ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) joined HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Wallace, DSC, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN) and HMS Tuscan (Lt.Cdr. G.I.M. Balfour, RN).

HMS Anthony then parted company to proceed to Gibraltar.

HMS Rodney, HMS Meteor, HMS Tuscan and ORP Piorun arrived at Plymouth around 1930B/11. (23)

1 Jun 1943
Around 0715B/1, the battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN) departed Plymouth for Scapa Flow. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Onslow (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz). They arrived at Scapa Flow around 0700B/3. (24)

17 Jun 1943
Around 1400B/17, the battleships the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Gibraltar. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Echo (Lt. R.H.C. Wyld, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz).

They were joined on the 18th by the destroyer HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN) which came from Londonderry where she had been boiler cleaning.

Around 1330B/21, they were joined by the aircraft HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN) and her escort made up of the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN) and HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN). These ships had departed Gibraltar around 2015B/19. [Actually the destroyers departed two hours previously, presumably to conduct an A/S sweep before the carrier left the harbour.]

They arrived at Gibraltar in the afternoon of the 23rd minus HMS Tumult and HMS Tyrian which had been detached. These destroyers only arrived on June 26th. (25)

28 Jun 1943
The battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Echo (Lt. R.H.C. Wyld, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) departed Gibraltar for Algiers. (26)

30 Jun 1943
The battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Echo (Lt. R.H.C. Wyld, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) arrived at Algiers.

They departed for Alexandria later the same day.

Around noon on 1 July 1943, HMS Offa and ORP Piorun parted company to proceed to Mers-el-Kebir. This was after the destroyers HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN) and RHS Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas) have joined coming from Bizerte.

2 Jul 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) departed Mers-el-Kebir for Gibraltar. (27)

3 Jul 1943
Around 1530B/3, the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN), destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) departed Gibraltar for Mers-el-Kebir where they arrived around 0845B/4 minus HMS Panther and HMS Penn which had detached to return to Gibraltar.

HMS Indomitable escorted by HMS Troubridge, HMS Tumult, HMS Quilliam, HMS Quail and HMS Queenborough actually joined at sea as they had already left Gibraltar around 1600B/2 for exercises. (28)

3 Jul 1943
The battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. C.H.L. Woodhouse, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, DSO, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and 3 Bars, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) arrived at Gibraltar from Mers-el-Kebir. (27)

5 Jul 1943
Around 1430B/5, ' Force H, 1st Division ', which was made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN) and the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz), departed Mers-el-Kebir for Algiers where they arrived around 0800B/6. (28)

6 Jul 1943
Around 1415B/6, ' Force H, 1st Division ', which was made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN), light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. J.F. Stevens, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz), departed Algiers for their role in ' Operation Husky ', the Allied landings on Sicily. ' Force H ' was the main cover force for the operation and was divided into three ' divisions '.

They were to proceed to a position to the south of Malta to be in a position to intervene in the case the Italian Fleet would come out to attack the landing forces. (29)

8 Jul 1943
Around 0530B/8, the destroyers HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Nubian (Cdr. D.E. Holland-Martin, DSC, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Laforey (Capt. R.M.J. Hutton, DSO, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN) and HMS Loyal (Lt.Cdr. H.E.F. Tweedie, DSC, RN), which came from Malta, joined ' Force H, 1st Division ', which was at that time made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN), light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. J.F. Stevens, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz).

The original destroyer screen then proceeded to Malta to refuel. They returned later the same day, around 1720B/8, after which the relief destroyers were detached to convoy MWF 36. HMS Quilliam, HMS Quail and HMS Queenborough had already rejoined around 1505B/8.

The light cruisers HMS Aurora (Commodore W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN) also joined early on the day. They then proceeded to Malta around 1100B/8 to refuel. They rejoined around 0900B/9.

HMS Cleopatra and HMS Euryalus were detached at 1450B/8 to Tripoli to refuel there. They rejoined around 1140B/9. (29)

9 Jul 1943
The 1st and 2nd divisions of ' Force H ', the main cover force for Operation Husky, were operating in the area the south of Malta. They had met around dawn.

The ' 1st Division ', was at that time made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Rear-Admiral. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN) and the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz).

The ' 2nd Division ' was at that time made up of the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Echo (Lt. R.H.C. Wyld, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN) and RHS Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas).

Also operating in the area was ' Force R ', the battlefleet oiling force, it was made up of the RFA tankers Pearleaf (5911 GRT, built 1917) [this tanker was apparently not present at the moment] and Cedardale (8132 GRT, built 1939). These tankers were escorted by the corvettes HMS Delphinium (Cdr. V.F. Smith, DSO, RD, RNR), the A/S trawler HMS Wolborough (T/Lt. H.S. May, RNR), A/S whalers HMSAS Protea (Lt. G. Burn-Wood, SANF), HMSAS Southern Isles (Lt. M.R.T. Terry-Lloyd, SANF), HMSAS Southern Sea (Lt. W.L. Graham, SANF) and the M/S trawler HMS Romeo (T/S.Lt. G. Clixby, RNVR). During the day twelve destroyers were fuelled by this force which then proceeded to Benghazi.

The light cruisers HMS Aurora (Commodore W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN) rejoined the ' 1st Division ' around 0900B/9 having been detached around 1100B/8 to refuel at Malta.

The light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. J.F. Stevens, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) rejoined the ' 1st Division ' around 1140B/9 having been detached around 1450B/8 to refuel at Tripoli.

At 1255B/9, ' Force Q ', made up of HMS Aurora, HMS Penelope, HMS Inglefield and HMS Offa parted company to patrol to the east of the south-east tip of Sicily and for bombardment duties. (29)

10 Jul 1943
The 1st and 2nd divisions of ' Force H ', the main cover force for Operation Husky, were still operating in the area the south of Malta.

The ' 1st Division ', was made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Rear-Admiral. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN), light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. J.F. Stevens, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz).

The ' 2nd Division ' was made up of the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Echo (Lt. R.H.C. Wyld, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN) and RHS Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas).

Around 0630B/10, ' Force Q ', made up of the light cruisers HMS Aurora (Commodore W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN) and the destroyers HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN) and HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) rejoined after patrol and bombardment duties during the night.

Around 1930B/10, ' Force Q ', now made up of the same light cruiser but now with the destroyers HMS Ilex and HMS Raider parted company to patrol the northern flank of the assault area. (29)

11 Jul 1943
The 1st and 2nd divisions of ' Force H ', the main cover force for Operation Husky, continue to operate in the Ionian Sea near Malta.

The ' 1st Division ', was made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Rear-Admiral. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN), light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. J.F. Stevens, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz).

The ' 2nd Division ' was made up of the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Echo (Lt. R.H.C. Wyld, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) and RHS Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas).

' Force R ', the battlefleet oiling force, departed Benghazi to rendezvous with ' Force H '. ' Force R ' was made up of the RFA tankers Pearleaf (5911 GRT, built 1917) and Cedardale (8132 GRT, built 1939). These tankers were escorted by the corvettes HMS Delphinium (Cdr. V.F. Smith, DSO, RD, RNR), the A/S trawler HMS Wolborough (T/Lt. H.S. May, RNR), A/S whalers HMSAS Protea (Lt. G. Burn-Wood, SANF), HMSAS Southern Isles (Lt. M.R.T. Terry-Lloyd, SANF) and HMSAS Southern Sea (Lt. W.L. Graham, SANF).

Around 0700B/10, ' Force Q ', made up of the light cruisers HMS Aurora (Commodore W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN) and the destroyers HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) and HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN) rejoined after a patrol to the east of Sicily.

At 0900B/11, HMS Aurora and HMS Penelope parted company to proceed to Malta to refuel. They rejoined around 2000B/11.

Around 1530B/11, HMS Petard which was required for other duties was relieved by the escort destroyer HMS Brecon (Lt.Cdr. T.D. Herrick, DSC and Bar, RN).

Around 1700B/11, ' Force Q ', now made up of the light cruisers HMS Cleopatra, HMS Euryalus and the destroyers HMS Ilex and HMS Echo parted company to patrol to the east of Sicily during the night. They were to proceed to Malta to refuel upon completion of their patrol.

' Force R ' departed Benghazi on this day to rejoin. (29)

12 Jul 1943
Between about 0900B/12 and 1315B/12, the capital ships of ' Force H, 1st Division ', which made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Rear-Admiral. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN), destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) and the escort destoyer HMS Brecon (Lt.Cdr. T.D. Herrick, DSC and Bar, RN), anchored off Valetta, Malta while their escorting destroyers went into the harbour to fuel.

When they departed from Malta ' Force H, 2nd division was approaching to do the same as the 1st division. The second division at that time made up of the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN) and RHS Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas). The ' 2nd Division 'departed Malta again around 1930B/12.

In the meantime the light cruisers HMS Aurora (Commodore W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN), which had fuelled the previous day, remained underway near Malta.

Around 1715B/12, ' Force Q ', still made up of light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. J.F. Stevens, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) and HMS Echo (Lt. R.H.C. Wyld, RN), departed Malta to operate off the east coast of Sicily during the night. (29)

13 Jul 1943
The 1st and 2nd divisions of ' Force H ', the main cover force for Operation Husky, were still operating in the Ionian Sea near Malta.

The ' 1st Division ', was made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Rear-Admiral. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN), light cruisers HMS Aurora (Commodore W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN) and the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) and the escort destroyer HMS Brecon (Lt.Cdr. T.D. Herrick, DSC and Bar, RN). At dawn HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN) relieved HMS Brecon which was then detached to Malta.

The ' 2nd Division ' was made up of the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN) and RHS Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas).

' Force Q ', still made up of light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. J.F. Stevens, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) and HMS Echo (Lt. R.H.C. Wyld, RN) was operating to the east of Sicily. At 0420B/13, when HMS Euryalus detected a surface contact at a range of 10200 yards. The squadron then proceeded as to get into a favourable position relative to the moon. The radar reports, continuing, at 0432B/13, HMS Euryalus fired starshell at the target, which was now at a range of 5800 yards, which in the starshell's illumintation was seen to be a submarine on the surface. The squadron was immediately turned 90° to starboard and HMS Ilex and HMS Echo were detached to hunt the enemy. They had orders to rejoin an hour later if not in contact. At 0535B/13, when in position 37°25'N, 16°07'E, HMS Ilex obtained a firm contact about 700 yards away on her starboard bow. HMS Ilex made six depth charge attacks while HMS Echo made three attacks. After HMS Echo's last attack the Italian submarine Nereide surfaced at 0655B/13. Both destroyers immediately opened fire. HMS Echo scored a hit on the hull below the subvmarines conning tower and while passing ahead of the enemy she dropped four depth charges set to 50 feet. The Italian crew began to jump overboard and the Italian submarine sank within a minute or so after surfacing. HMS Echo picked up five officers and fifteen men, including the Commanding Officer. HMS Ilex picked up seven men. The destroyers then left the area at high speed and at 0812B/13 they rejoined HMS Cleopatra and HMS Euryalus. ' Force Q ' then joined ' Force H '.

At 1715B/13, ' Force Q ' parted company for another patrol during the night. ' Force Q ' was now made up of HMS Cleopatra, HMS Euryalus, HMS Quilliam and HMS Quail.

At 1820B/13, the ' 1st Division' and ' 2nd Division ' parted company. At 1925B/13, a requist came in for a battleship bombardment of Catania airport. The ' 2nd Division ' was closest to Catania and proceeded at 20 knots to comply. Course was reversed however when the bombardment was later cancelled. (29)

14 Jul 1943
At 0206B/14, ' Force Q ', made up of the light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. J.F. Stevens, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), was attacked by six enemy torpedo bombers. HMS Euryalus reported sighting two torpedoes and HMS Quail reported being missed by one by 100 yards.

At 0715B/14, ' Force Q ' joined ' Force H, 2nd Division ' which was made up of the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN) and RHS Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas).

Around 1215B/14, ' Force Q ' was ordered to refuel at Malta and was detached from ' Force H, 2nd Division. They were however recalled at 1750B/14 and rejoined after dark.

In the aftenoon, ' Force H, 1st Division ', arrived at Malta to fuel. These were the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Rear-Admiral. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN), light cruisers HMS Aurora (Commodore W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN), and the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) and HMS Echo (Lt. R.H.C. Wyld, RN). (30)

15 Jul 1943
' Force H, 2nd Division ' which was made up of the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN) and RHS Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas) kept patrolling the area during the day. ' Force Q ', made up of the light cruisers HMS Cleopatra (Capt. J.F. Stevens, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. E.W. Bush, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN) was with ' Force H, 2nd Division ' during the day. ' Force Q ' was detached at 1700B/15 for yet another patrol to the east of Sicily.

Early in the evening, ' Force H, 1st Division ', made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Rear-Admiral. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN), light cruisers HMS Aurora (Commodore W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN), and the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) and HMS Echo (Lt. R.H.C. Wyld, RN) departed Malta to resume their patrol off Sicily to provide cover for the ships participating in the landings. (30)

16 Jul 1943
Around 0020B/16 ' Force H, 1st Division ' which was made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Rear-Admiral. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable (Capt. G. Grantham, CB, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN), light cruisers HMS Aurora (Commodore W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN), and the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) and HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. R.H.C. Wyld, RN) was attacked by an Italian aircraft. The aircraft was difficult to identify and was first thought to be friendly but at 0028B/16 HMS Indomitale was hit by a torpedo abreast the boiler room on her port side. Position of the attack was 36°22'N, 16°08'E.

Following the attack, HMS Indomitable, listed 12° to port. She lost speed and subsequently dropped out of line which at that point had been HMS Aurora, HMS Nelson, HMS Rodney, HMS Indomitable and HMS Penelope. On seeing her dropping astern Vice-Admiral Willis ordered ORP Piorun and HMS Echo to join her, later HMS Ilex was also ordered to stay with the carrier. Eventually HMS Indomatable rejoined the Division.

At 0730B/16, rendezvous was effected with ' Force H, 2nd division ' which was made up of the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Rear-Admiral. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN) and RHS Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas).

HMS Formidable then joined the 1st Division while the damaged HMS Indomitable joined the 2nd Division which then proceeded to Malta to refuel arriving there in the morning.

At 1530B/16, HMS Formidable was detached to proceed to Malta escorted by the destroyer HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) and escort destroyers HMS Lauderdale (Lt. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN) and HMS Oakley (Lt.Cdr. T.A. Pack-Beresford, RN). These three ships had joined the force shortly before HMS Formidable was detached. They apparently did not enter Malta but just escorted the carrier there. (31)

17 Jul 1943
Around 0930B/17, ' Force H, 1st Division ', made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Rear-Admiral. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), light cruisers HMS Aurora (Commodore W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN), and the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) and HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. R.H.C. Wyld, RN) arrived at Malta. (31)

18 Jul 1943
Around 1300/18, the light cruiser HMS Aurora (Commodore W.G. Agnew, CB, RN) and the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN) and HMS Echo (Lt.Cdr. R.H.C. Wyld, RN) departed Malta for a sweep along the south coast of Calabria. No shipping was sighted. One aircraft was shot down by HMS Ilex.

Around 1045/19, HMS Troubridge, HMS Tumult, HMS Quilliam, HMS Offa and ORP Piorun were detached to hunt a reported U-boat.

HMS Aurora, HMS Ilex and HMS Echo returned to Malta around 1420/19.

HMS Troubridge, HMS Tumult, HMS Quilliam, HMS Offa and ORP Piorun returned to Malta around 0145/20. (32)

20 Jul 1943
Around 1330/20, the light cruisers HMS Aurora (Commodore W.G. Agnew, CB, RN), HMS Penelope (Capt. G.D. Belben, DSC, AM, RN) and the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) departed Malta for a bombardment of Crotone.

The bombardment was carried out shortly before 0200/21. Main targets were the harbour area and a chemical plant.

The force returned to Malta around 1600/21. (33)

30 Aug 1943

Operation Hammer.

Bombardment of the coastal batteries on the Calabrian coast adjacent to the Straits of Messina.

The battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Rear-Admiral. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), light cruiser HMS Orion (Capt. G.C.P. Menzies, RN) and the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) and HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) departed Malta around 1945B/30 for operation Hammer.

Before the bombardment was carried out the destroyers HMS Quilliam, HMS Quail and HMS Queenborough conducted a sweep in the Gulf of Squillace.

Bombardments were carried out during the morning of August 31st after which they returned to Malta in the early evening. (34)

1 Sep 1943
The battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN) and HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN) departed Malta for exercises. On completion of the exercises they proceeded to bombard the Italian coast near Capo dell'Armi, Calabria. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.F. Taylor, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN) and HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN).

The destroyers HMS Loyal (Lt.Cdr. H.E.F. Tweedie, DSC, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) had been patrolling in the area during the night of 1/2 September joined them for a while before proceeding to Augusta later on 2 September 1943.

HMS Warspite, HMS Valiant, HMS Faulknor, HMS Fury, HMS Eclipse, HMS Inglefield, HMS Intrepid and HMS Raider also proceeded to Augusta on 3 September but they departed again later the same day and proceeded to Malta. (35)

7 Sep 1943
Around 1600B/7, ' Force H ', both the ' 1st Division ' and the ' 2nd Division ' departed Malta for the Tyrrhenian Sea. They were to provide cover for the landings at Salerno during ' Operation Avalanche '.

The ' 1st Division ' was made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Rear-Admiral. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN) the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (Capt. R.L.B. Cunliffe, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral C. Moody, RN). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. E.P. Hinton, DSO and Bar, MVO, RN), HMS Petard (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Egan, RN), HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz).

The ' 2nd Division ' was made up of the battleships HMS Warspite (Capt. H.A. Packer, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.LaT. Bisset, RN), HMS Valiant (Capt. L.H. Ashmore, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.K. Scott-Moncrieff, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. C.H. Campbell, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Echo (Lt. R.H.C. Wyld, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. E. Mack, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Inglefield (Cdr. C.F.H. Churchill, RN), HMS Ilex (Lt.Cdr. V.A. Wight-Boycott, OBE, RN), HMS Intrepid (Cdr. C.A.de W. Kitcat, RN), HMS Raider (Lt.Cdr. K.W. Michell, RN) and RHS Vasilissa Olga (Lt.Cdr. G. Blessas).

Around 0800B/8, the ' 1st Division ' was joined at sea by the French destroyers Le Fantasque (Capt. C.Y.F.M. Perzo) and Le Terrible (Cdr. P.J.G.M. Lancelot) which came from Bizerta.

At 1630B/8, HMS Eclipse was detached to act as beacon for troop-carrying aircraft. She rejoined at 0630/9.

Around 2100B/8, both divisions were attacked by enemy torpedo bombers when about 60 nautical miles south-west of Capri. Several ships sighted torpedo tracks and both HMS Warspite and HMS Formidable reported being narrowly missed. The attacks continued until 0025B/9.

At 1330B/9, the ' 2nd Division ' less HMS Eclipse and HMS Ilex but with Le Terrible was detached to meet the Italian battlefleet that was coming from La Spezia to surrender in accordance with the terms of the armistice. The ' 2nd Division ' then escorted the Italian fleet to Malta where they arrived in the morning of the 11th.

At 1530B/9, HMS Eclipse was once more detached for beacon duties.'

During the day both carriers had provided eight fighters for a continuous CAP patrol during daylight.

As of 0550B/10, the CAP patrol was started up again by the carriers and was kept up throughout the day. Nothing of interest happened on this day.

At 1800B/10, Le Terrible was detached to fuel at Palermo and then rejoin the fleet.

At 0600B/11, the CAP patrol was started up yet again.

At 1900B/11, ' Force H, 1st Division ' withdrew from the area in which several German submarines were now known to be operating.

Around 1800B/12, ' Force H, 1st Division ' returned to Malta. Both French ships had proceeded to Algiers where they also arrived on the 12th. (36)

16 Sep 1943
Very late in the evening, the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral A.U. Willis, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Rear-Admiral. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN) departed Augusta to return to Malta where they arrived the next morning. They had been escorted by the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Quilliam (Capt. S.H. Carlill, DSO, RN), HMS Quail (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Jenks, RN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz). (37)

26 Oct 1943
The battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN) and HMS Rodney (Capt. R.O. Fitzroy, RN) departed Malta for Algiers. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) and HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN). (38)

28 Oct 1943
HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN) and HMS Rodney (Capt. R.O. Fitzroy, RN), HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) and HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) arrived at Algiers. (38)

29 Oct 1943
In the afternoon, the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN) and HMS Rodney (Capt. R.O. Fitzroy, RN) departed Algiers for the UK. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Troubridge (Capt. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Tumult (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN), HMS Tyrian (Cdr. C.W. Greening, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. S.T. Dzienisiewicz) and HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN).

At 1745A/30, the destroyers HMS Teazer (Lt.Cdr. A.A.F. Talbot, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Rocket (Lt.Cdr. H.B. Acworth, OBE, RN) and HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN) joined coming from Gibraltar after which HMS Tartar and HMS Offa parted company to fuel at Gibraltar.

At 0310A/31, HMS Tartar and HMS Offa rejoined.

At 0845A/31, HMS Troubridge, HMS Tumult, HMS Tyrian and ORP Piorun parted company.

At 0400A/4, HMS Rocket and HMS Teazer parted company.

At 0430A/4, the remainder of the screen, HMS Tartar, HMS Offa and HMS Obedient, parted company due to fuel shortage.

At 1830A/4, HMS Rodney parted company with HMS Nelson to proceed to the Clyde where she arrived in the evening of November 5th.

HMS Nelson continued on to Rosyth where she arrived in the early afternoon of the 6th. The destroyers HMS Hardy (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN) and HMCS Huron (Lt.Cdr. H.S. Rayner, DSC, RCN) had departed Scapa Flow around 1700A/5 and made rendezvous around 2055A/5. They remained with the battleship until around 1100A/6 when off May Island. They returned to Scapa Flow around 2000A/6. (39)

27 Mar 1944

Convoy JW 58.

This convoy departed Loch Ewe on 27 March 1944 and arrived in the Kola Inlet on 4 April 1944.

On departure the convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Andrew Carnegie (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Arunah S. Abell (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Barbara Frietchie (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Benjamin H. Latrobe (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Benjamin Schlesinger (American, 7176 GRT, built 1944), Charles Gordon Curtis (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Charles Henderson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Dolabella (British, 8142 GRT, built 1939), Edward P. Alexander (American, 7201 GRT, built 1943), Empire Prowess (British, 7058 GRT, built 1943), Fort Columbia (British, 7155 GRT, built 1942), Fort Hall (British, 7157 GRT, built 1943), Fort Kullyspell (British, 7190 GRT, built 1943), Fort Vercheres (British, 7128 GRT, built 1942), Fort Yukon (British, 7153 GRT, built 1943), Francis Scott Key (American, 7191 GRT, built 1941), Francis Vigo (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), George Gale (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), George M. Cohan (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), George T. Angell (American, 7176 GRT, built 1944), Grace Abbott (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Hawkins Fudske (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Henry Villard (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), James Smith (American, 7181 GRT, built 1942), John B. Lennon (American, 7198 GRT, built 1943), John Carver (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), John Davenport (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), John McDonogh (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Joseph N. Nocollet (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Joshua Thomas (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Joyce Kilmer (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Julien Poydras (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), Lacklan (British (tanker), 8670 GRT, built 1929), Morris Hillquit (American, 7210 GRT, built 1944), Nicholas Biddle (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Noreg (Norwegian (tanker), 7605 GRT, built 1931), Pierre S. Dupont (American, 7176 GRT, built 1942), Thomas Sim Lee (American, 7191 GRT, built 1942), Townsend Harris (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), W.R. Grace (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), William D. Byron (American, 7210 GRT, built 1944), William Matson (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), William McKinley (American, 7200 GRT, built 1943), William Moultrie (American, 7177 GRT, built 1942), William Pepper (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943) and William S. Thayer (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943).

The rescue vessel Rathlin (British, 1600 GRT, built 1936) was also with the convoy.

On departure from Loch Ewe the convoy was escorted by the destroyers HMS Westcott (Cdr.(Retd.) H. Lambton, RN), HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. P.J. Cowell, DSC, RN), HMS Wrestler (Lt.Cdr. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN), HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr J.H. Eaden, DSC and Bar, RN), minesweepers Rattlesnake (Lt.Cdr. A.E. Coles, RD, RNR), Orestes (Lt.Cdr. A.W.R. Adams, RN), HMS Onyx (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.C.L. Gaussen, RNVR) and the corvettes HMS Bluebell (Lt. G.H. Walker, DSC, RNVR), HMS Honeysuckle (T/Lt. J.A. Wright, RNR), HMS Lotus (Lt. C.S. Thomas, RNR), HMS Rhododendron (T/Lt. O.B. Medley, RNVR) and HMS Starwort (Lt. A.H. Kent, RNR).

On 28 March 1944, the light cruisers HMS Diadem (Capt. E.G.A. Clifford, RN), i>USS Milwaukee (T/Capt. C.F. Fielding, USN), escort carriers HMS Activity (Capt. G. Willoughby, RN), HMS Tracker (A/Capt. J.H. Huntley, RN) and the destroyers HMS Venus (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson DSO, RN), HMS Scorpion (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Clouston, RN), HMS Serapis (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. S.V. Storheill) departed Scapa Flow to join the convoy which they did on 29 March.

The sloops HMS Starling (Capt. F.J. Walker, CB, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Wild Goose (Lt.Cdr. D.E.G. Wemyss, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Whimbrel (Lt.Cdr. W.J. Moore, DSC, RNR), HMS Wren (Lt.Cdr. S.R.J. Woods, RNR) and HMS Magpie (Lt.Cdr. R.S. Abram, RN) departed Scapa Flow also on 28 March to join the convoy which they too did on 29 March.

On 29 March 1944, the destroyers HMS Saumarez (Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN), HMS Onslow (Capt. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.C.A. Ingram, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Leonard, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Orwell (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, DSO, RN), HMS Impulsive (Lt.Cdr. P. Bekenn, RN), HMS Beagle (Lt.Cdr. N.R. Murch, RN), HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.W. Hawkins, RN), HMS Keppel (Cdr. I.J. Tyson, DSC, RD, RNR) and HMS Walker (Lt.Cdr. A.N. Rowell, RN) departed Skaalefiord, Iceland and joined the convoy.

On 29 March 1944, the German submarine U-961 was sunk near the convoy by HMS Starling.

Also on 29 March, two more merchant ships joined the convoy, these were the Gilbert Stuart (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943) and John T. Holt (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943) coming from Reykjavik, Iceland. The merchant vessel Eloy Alfaro (American, 7176 GRT, built 1944) had also sailed with them but had to return and proceeded to Seidisfjord before she could join the convoy due to ice damage. She arrived at Seidisfjord on the 30th. These ships were escorted by the frigate HMS Fitzroy (Lt. C.D.C. McNeil, RNVR) and the minesweepers HMS Chamois (T/A/Lt.Cdr. D.P. Richardson, RNVR) and HMS Chance (T/Lt. P.P. Lees, RNVR). These escorts did not join the convoy.

Also on 29 March the minesweepers HMS Rattlesnake, HMS Onyx, HMS Orestes and the corvette HMS Starwort parted company with the convoy. The minesweepers proceeded to Skaalefjord, Faeroer Islands arriving there later the same day. HMS Starwort proceeded to Londonderry arriving the on the 30th.

On 30 March four German shadowing aircraft were shot down by fighters from the escort carriers which themselves lost two aircraft.

On 31 March the German submarine U-673 was damaged by HMS Beagle and aircraft from HMS Tracker.

On 2 April two German shadowing aircraft were shot down by fighters from the escort carriers. Also the German submarine U-360 was sunk by Hedgehog attack from HMS Keppel.

On 3 April the German submarine U-288 was sunk by aircraft from the escort carriers.

ON 4 April, the convoy (39 ships) was split into two sections, one proceeded to the Kola Inlet arriving later the same day with the original escort. The other (with 10 ships), with a local escort which joined on this day to the White Sea where it arrived on the 6th. This local escort was made up of the Russian destroyers Gremyashchiy, Razumniy, Razyarenniy and Valerian Kyubishev.

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Distant cover for this convoy was provided by a battleforce known as ' Force 1 ', it departed Scapa Flow around 1200A/30 and was made up of the battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Admiral B.A. Fraser, GCB, KBE, RN), HMS Anson (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO and Bar, RN flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. the Hon. A. Pleydell-Bouverie, RN), HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. P.B.N. Lewis, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski), HMCS Algonquin (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Piers, DSC, RCN) and HMCS Sioux (A/Lt.Cdr. E.E.G. Boak, RCN).

Around 0250A/31, the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, DSO, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RD, RNR) and HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN) joined coming from Skaalefjord, Faeroer Islands.

Around 0340A/31, the original destroyer screen were detached to Skaalefjord arriving there later the same day.

On 2 April ' Force 1 ' proceeded to join ' Force 2 ' coming from Scapa Flow for the upcoming Operation Tungsten. (40)

30 Mar 1944
Around 1200A/30, the battleforce, aka ' Force 1 ', departed Scapa Flow to provide cover for convoy JW 58 and Operation Tungsten. It was made up of the battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Admiral B.A. Fraser, GCB, KBE, RN), HMS Anson (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO and Bar, RN flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. the Hon. A. Pleydell-Bouverie, RN), HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. P.B.N. Lewis, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski), HMCS Algonquin (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Piers, DSC, RCN) and HMCS Sioux (A/Lt.Cdr. E.E.G. Boak, RCN).

[For more info see the events ' Convoy JW 58 ' for 27 March 1944 and ' Operation Tungsten ' for 30 March 1944.] (41)

30 Mar 1944

Operation Tungsten

Air attacks by the FAA against the German battleship Tirpitz

Around 1200A/30, ' Force 1 ', departed Scapa Flow. It was made up of the battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN, flying the flag of Admiral B.A. Fraser, GCB, KBE, RN), HMS Anson (Capt. E.D.B. McCarthy, DSO and Bar, RN flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), light cruiser HMS Belfast (Capt. F.R. Parham, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslaught (Cdr. the Hon. A. Pleydell-Bouverie, RN), HMS Javelin (Lt.Cdr. P.B.N. Lewis, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski), HMCS Algonquin (Lt.Cdr. D.W. Piers, DSC, RCN) and HMCS Sioux (A/Lt.Cdr. E.E.G. Boak, RCN).

Ships of ' Force 1 ' was first to provide cover for Convoy JW 58 for part of it's passage to Northern Russia.

Around 1900A/30, ' Force 2 ' departed Scapa Flow. It was made up of the light cruisers HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.la T. Bisset, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.T. Addis, DSO, RN), HMS Jamaica (Capt. J. Hugh-Hallett, DSO, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Furious (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSO, DSC, RN), escort carriers HMS Searcher (Capt. G.O.C. Davies, RN), HMS Pursuer (A/Capt. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Fencer (A/Capt. W.W.R. Bentinck, OBE, RN), HMS Emperor (A/Capt. T.J.N. Hilken, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Swift (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Gower, RN), HMS Verulam (Lt.Cdr. W.S. Thomas, DSC, RN), HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, RN), HMS Virago (Lt.Cdr. A.J.R. White, RN) and HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN).

The RFA oilers Black Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941) and Blue Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941) were also with ' Force 2 '.

Around 0250A/31, the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, DSO, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Mackenzie, RD, RNR) and HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN) joined ' Force 1 ' coming from Skaalefjord, Faeroer Islands.

Around 0340A/31, the original destroyer screen of ' Force 1 ' was detached to Skaalefjord arriving there later the same day.

On 2 April ' Force 1 ' fuelled its destroyers (by the battleships) and proceeded to join ' Force 2 ' coming from Scapa Flow for the upcoming Operation Tungsten. Rendezvous was effected around 1600A/2.

Some regrouping was done and the battleship HMS Duke of York and the destroyers HMS Marne and HMS Matchless parted company to proceed to position 74°00'N, 12°30'E from where they were to provide cover for the operation.

' Force 1 ' was now made up of HMS Anson, HMS Victorious, HMS Furious, HMS Belfast, HMS Jamaica, HMS Milne, HMS Meteor, HMS Swift, HMS Ursa, HMS Undaunted and HMS Virago. This force proceeded to the flying off position for Operation Tungsten which was in approximately 71°30'N, 19°00'E.

' Force 2 ' was now made up of HMS Royalist, HMS Sheffield, HMS Searcher, HMS Pursuer, HMS Fencer, HMS Emperor, HMS Onslaught, HMS Verulam, HMS Vigilant, HMS Wakeful, HMCS Algonquin and HMS Sioux.

And there was also ' Force 7 ' the oiling force made up of the RFA oilers Black Ranger, Blue Ranger escorted by ORP Piorun and HMS Javelin.

In the morning of 3 April, HMS Victorious and HMS Furious launched air strikes against the German battleship Tirpitz in the Altafjord. In two strikes the German battleship was hit by a total of 15 bombs. In total 123 of the crew of the Tirpitz were killed and 329 were wounded for the loss of only four British aircraft.

Course was then set by all units to return to Scapa Flow.

Around 1400A/3, the escort carrier HMS Searcher, which had developed engine trouble, parted company with ' Force 2 '. She was given an escort, made up of the the light cruiser HMS Jamaica and the destroyers HMS Virago and HMS Wakeful.

On 4 April the destroyer HMS Ulysses (Lt.Cdr. R.J. Hanson, DSO, DSC, RN) departed Scapa Flow to join ' Force 7 ', the oiling force as additional escort.

HMS Duke of York, HMS Marne and HMS Matchless arrived around 0915A/5.

' Force 1 ' and ' Force 2 ' arrived around 1600A/6.

Around 0115A/7, HMS Searcher, HMS Jamaica, HMS Virago and HMS Wakeful arrived at Scapa Flow.

Around 0330A/7, the fuelling force arrived at Scapa Flow. (40)

13 Apr 1944

Operation Pitchbowl.

The object of this operation was to provide fighter protection to RAF Beaufighters operating in two strikes against shipping in the Norwegian Leads.

The light cruiser HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.la T. Bisset, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.T. Addis, DSO, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Berwick (Capt. N.V. Grace, RN), escort carriers HMS Emperor (A/Capt. T.J.N. Hilken, DSO, RN), HMS Fencer (A/Capt. W.W.R. Bentinck, OBE, RN), HMS Pursuer (A/Capt. H.R. Graham, DSO, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Onslaught (Cdr. the Hon. A. Pleydell-Bouverie, RN), HMCS Sioux (A/Lt.Cdr. E.E.G. Boak, RCN) and ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski) left Scapa Flow to proceed to the flying off position in 62°00'N, 02°30'E.

Visibility was poor throughout the day and no flying was possible. On the following day, the first RAF strike was postponed owing to bad weather conditions and the force reversed its course.

In the afternoon of the 14th there was no improvement in the weather and the second RAF strike was also cancelled. The following day was the weather was the same and the operation was now abandoned. The force then returned to Scapa Flow arriving in the afternoon of the 15th. (42)

12 May 1944

Operations Brawn, Proteus and Potluck.

Operation Brawn was planned as a repetition of Operation Tungsten, (the Fleet Air Arm attack on the German battleship Tirpitz in the Altenfiord in Northern Norway). Operation Proteus was a repetition of Operation Veritas (reconnaissance of a seaborne assault of the Narvik area, as part of the cover plan for the upcoming landings in Normandy (Operation Neptune). The two Operations to be carried out by the same force while the escort carrier squadron was to act a diversion to the south by attacking shipping off the Norwegian coast (Operation Potluck).

' Force 7 ', made up of the aircraft carriers HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.R. Moore, KCB, DSO, CVO, RN, Second-in-Command Home Fleet), HMS Furious (Capt. G.T. Philip, DSO, DSC, RN), heavy cruisers HMS Kent (Capt. G.A.B. Hawkins, DSC, MVO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.R. McGrigor, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Devonshire (Capt. D.K. Bain, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. M. Richmond, DSO, OBE, RN), HMS Marne (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Matchless (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Walmsley, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Musketeer (Cdr. R.L. Fisher, OBE, DSC, RN), HMS Oribi (Lt.Cdr. J.C.A. Ingram, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Savage (Cdr. M.D.C. Meyrick, DSO, RN) and HMS Venus (Cdr. J.S.M. Richardson DSO, RN) departed Scapa Flow on 12 May and proceeded to the flying off position for Altenfiord reaching the area P.M. on the 14th. At this time it was evident that weather conditions would be unsuitable and the force stood off to the north-west until the following day.

P.M. on the 15th the weather conditions were again not favourable but the strike was flown off in the hope of an improvement in the weather conditions over the target. Unfortunately the target was covered by a thick bank of cloud with no apparent opening and the strike had no option but to return, being landed on without incident.

Having meanwhile lost the advantage of surprise, Vice-Admiral, Moore abandoned Operation Brawn and proceeded to the southward to carry out Operation Proteus the following day.

By 0900B/16 weather conditions had deteriorated sufficiently to prevent any flying operations and 'Force 7 ' again withdrew to the north-west. A weather reconnaissance was flown by two Barracudas from HMS Victorious to try and find a suitable break in the weather for Operation Proteus. One Barracuda returned and reported bad weather conditions for at least 120 miles to the south-west. The other Barracuda could not find HMS Victorious and was lost with her crew.

Operation Proteus too then had to be abandoned and ' Force 7 ' withdrew to Scapa Flow arriving there P.M. on 18 May 1944.

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Meanwhile operation Potluck was carried out. This operation was planned as another strike against shipping on the Norwegian coast, between Rorvik and Frohavet, by the Escort Carrier Squadron, the main object was to create a diversion for Operation Brawn, being carried out simultaneously further north. In this it was completely successful as Vice Admiral Moore's ' Force 7 ' remained apparently undetected in their operation area for about 48 hours.

The result of Operation Potluck was damage to several merchant ships and armed trawlers. Also a fish oil factory was hit by bombs. 4 German He-115 floatplanes were shot down, a FW-200 and a Me-110 were damaged. Own losses were one aircraft.

The force involved was made up of the escort carriers HMS Emperor (A/Capt. T.J.N. Hilken, DSO, RN), HMS Striker (Capt. W.P. Carne, RN), light cruisers HMS Royalist (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral A.W.la T. Bisset, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. C.T. Addis, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Onslow (Capt. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN), ORP Piorun (Cdr. T. Gorazdowski) and ORP Blyscawica (Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski). It had left Scapa Flow on 12 May and proceeded towards the Norwegian coast, arriving in the flying off position around 1230B/14 by which time the force had been detected by German aircraft which were now shadowing the force. In view of the main object of the operation, see bave, this was all to the good as it had been the intention.

After withdrawing to the westward, the force was attacked by six to eight German Me-110's. Gunfire from the 5.25" turrets of HMS Royalist turned the formation away and Sea Hurricane fighters from HMS Striker caused them to jettison their bombs and make flee at high speed for home, one of them meanwhile having been damaged)

On 15th May, the force closed the Norwegian coast again and at 0425B/15 a second strike of eight bombers and seven fighters which proceeded to attack the fish oil factory at Fosnavaag and two armed coasters off the shore. The strike returned without loss and due to the unfavourable weather reports from inshore, Rear-Admiral Bisset decided not to carry out any further strikes and returned towards the west. The Force arrived back at Scapa Flow on 16 May 1944. (40)

1 May 1945

Operation Judgement.

The main object of the operastion was the destruction of U-boat depot ships at Kolbotn. The secondary object was to destroy enemy shipping anchored of Sandnesjoen.

The Force deployed for this operation departed Scapa Flow around 1130B/1 and was made up of the heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. J.G.Y. Loveband, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral R.R. McGrigor, CB, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Diadem (Capt. A.M. Knapp, RN), escort carriers HMS Queen (A/Capt. K.J. D'Arcy, DSO, RN), HMS Searcher (Capt. J.W. Grant, DSO, RN), HMS Trumpeter (A/Capt. K.S. Colquhoun, RN) and the destroyers HMS Carysfort (Lt.Cdr. L.St.G. Rich, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Zambesi (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Palmer, RN), HMS Savage (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Malins, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Scourge (Lt.Cdr. C.G.H. Brown, DSC, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. R.E.D. Ryder, VC, RN), Orwell and HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC and Bar, RN).

In the early morning of 3 May the destroyers were fuelled by HMS Norfolk, HMS Searcher, HMS Trumpeter and the RFA tanker Blue Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941) which had also been deployed.

At 1020B/3, the Blue Ranger parted company escorted by HMS Obedient and HMS Orwell. HMS Orwell escorting the Blue Ranger arrived at Scapa Flow on 7 May. HMS Obedient had been detached and already arrived at Scapa Flow on 5 May.

Around 1600B/4, the escort carrier commenced flying off aircraft to attack the German base at Kilbotn, just south of Harstad. During the attacks the depot ships Black Watch (5035 GRT, built 1939) and Senja (858 GRT, built 1938). Also sunk was the submarine U-711 which was alongside the Black Watch. Aircraft involved were eight Avengers and four Wildcats from 846 Squadron in HMS Trumpeter, eight Avengers and four Wildcats from 853 Squadron in HMS Queen, and twenty Wildcats from 882 Squadron in HMS Queen.

By 1809B/4, all aircraft had landed on except for one Avenger and one Wildcat. All crews were lost.

At 0700B/5, HMS Norfolk and HMS Diadem parted company to proceed ahead to Scapa Flow where they arrived around 0800B/6.

The destroyers HMS Carysfort, HMS Zambesi, HMS Savage, HMS Scourge and HMS Opportune also arrived at Scapa Flow, most likely late on the 6th.

The three escort carriers remained at sea and were joined around 2359B/6 by the escort carrier HMS Campania (Capt. C.B. Alers-Hankey, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN), HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. H. Øi) and ORP Piorun (Lt.Cdr. J. Tchorznicki, ORP). (43)

6 May 1945

Operation Cleaver.

Entry of a naval surface force into the Skagerrak and Kattegat.

The following forces took part in this operation;
' Force 5 ' which was made up of the light cruisers HMS Birmingham (Capt. H.W. Williams, RN), HMS Dido (Capt. R.F. Elkins, OBE, RN) and the destroyers HMS Zephyr (Capt. J.H. Allison, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Zealous (Cdr. R.F. Jessel, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Zest (Lt.Cdr. R.B.N. Hicks, DSO, RN) and HMS Zodiac (Lt.Cdr. H.R. Rycroft, DSC, RN).
This force departed Rosyth in the evening of the 6th.

' Force 6 ' which was made up of the heavy cruiser HMS Norfolk (Capt. J.G.Y. Loveband, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral R.R. McGrigor, CB, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Scourge (Lt.Cdr. C.G.H. Brown, DSC, RN, with Capt. P.G.L. Cazalet, DSC, RN on board), HMS Savage (Lt.Cdr. C.W. Malins, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Obedient (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Offa (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Thorpe, DSO, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. R.E.D. Ryder, VC, RN), HMS Zambesi (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Palmer, RN) and HMS Carysfort (Lt.Cdr. L.St.G. Rich, DSO and Bar, RN). This force departed Scapa flow early the 7th except to joined the escort carriers HMS Queen (A/Capt. K.J. D'Arcy, DSO, RN), HMS Searcher (Capt. J.W. Grant, DSO, RN), HMS Trumpeter (A/Capt. K.S. Colquhoun, RN) which had still been at sea after operation Judgement together with the escort carrier HMS Campania (Capt. C.B. Alers-Hankey, DSC, RN) and the destroyers HMS Obdurate (Lt.Cdr. R.D. Franks, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN), HNoMS Stord (Lt.Cdr. H. Øi) and ORP Piorun (Lt.Cdr. J. Tchorznicki, ORP). The cruisers and the destroyers joined the escort carriers around 1000B/7.

HMS Campania, HMS Obdurate, HNoMS Stord and ORP Piorun then parted company.

And the 40th Minesweeping Flotilla made up of HMS Catharine (Cdr. Kenneth Hillam Fraser, RN), 6541 HMS Cynthia (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.L. Chatwin, RNVR), HMS Elfreda (T/A/Lt.Cdr. L. Jolly, RNVR), HMS Grecian (T/A/Cdr. C.R. Fraser, DSC and Bar, RNR) and HMS Gazelle (Lt.Cdr. J.D. Sutcliffe, RN), HMS Maenad (Cdr. C.E. Duggan, RD, RNR), HMS Steadfast (T/A/Lt. A.H. Hall, RNVR) and HMS Tattoo (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) F.G. Rogers, RD, RNR). They departed Rosyth of the 6th.

Force 5 and the 40th M/S Flotilla arrived at Copenhagen, Denmark on 9 May. The 40th M/S Flotilla swept Force 5 through the minefields.

Force 6 returned to Scapa Flow on 10 May. (43)

Media links


The Kellys

Langtree, Christopher


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 199/1136
  2. Personal communication
  3. ADM 199/1138
  4. ADM 199/396
  5. ADM 234/322
  6. ADM 53/115040
  7. ADM 199/831
  8. ADM 199/661
  9. ADM 53/116589
  10. ADM 173/17252
  11. File 2.12.03.6397 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  12. ADM 199/632
  13. ADM 53/115428 + ADM 53/116072 + ADM 53/116118 + ADM 53/116142 + ADM 199/427 + ADM 199/429 + ADM 199/644
  14. ADM 199/632 + ADM 234/369
  15. ADM 53/117036 + ADM 53/117630 + ADM 53/117714 + ADM 199/632
  16. ADM 53/117630 + ADM 53/117714 + ADM 199/632
  17. ADM 53/117573 + ADM 53/117631 + ADM 53/117715 + ADM 199/632
  18. ADM 53/117631 + ADM 53/117715 + ADM 199/632
  19. ADM 53/116898 + ADM 53/117024 + ADM 199/632
  20. ADM 53/116898 + ADM 53/117024 + ADM 53/117691 + ADM 199/632
  21. ADM 53/117879 + ADM 199/767
  22. ADM 53/118672
  23. ADM 53/118479
  24. ADM 53/118480
  25. ADM 53/117670 + ADM 53/118252 + ADM 118480 + ADM 118673 + ADM 118714
  26. ADM 53/117518 + ADM 53/118673 + ADM 53/118714
  27. ADM 53/117635 + ADM 53/117719 + ADM 199/640
  28. ADM 53/118254 + ADM 53/118481 + ADM 199/767
  29. ADM 199/641 + ADM 234/356
  30. ADM 199/640
  31. ADM 234/356
  32. ADM 53/116991 + ADM 199/640
  33. ADM 53/116991 + ADM 53/118341 + ADM 199/640
  34. ADM 53/118315 + ADM 53/118255 + ADM 53/118482 + ADM 199/641
  35. ADM 53/118676 + ADM 53/118717 + ADM 199/640
  36. ADM 199/641 + ADM 234/358
  37. ADM 53/118256 + ADM 53/118483 + ADM 199/641
  38. ADM 53/118257 + ADM 53/118484 + ADM 199/641
  39. ADM 53/118257 + ADM 53/118484 + ADM 199/632 + ADM 199/641
  40. ADM 199/1427
  41. ADM 53/118818 + ADM 53/118965 + ADM 53/119291 + ADM 53/120690
  42. ADM 53/118996 + ADM 53/119343 + ADM 53/119422 + ADM 53/120283 + ADM 53/120421 + ADM 53/120485 + ADM 199/1427
  43. ADM 199/1440

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


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