Convoy battles


Southend - Outward (N.-America) (North Atlantic and UK coastal waters)

10 Jul 1940 - 10 Jul 1940

The Convoy31 ships
First sightingOn 10 Jul 1940 by U-61
EscortsWhen leaving Methil on 9 July: Canadian destroyer HMCS St. Laurent (H 83) (Cdr H.G. De Wolf, RCN) until dispersion and the British corvette HMS Hibiscus (K 24) (LtCdr R. Phillips, RNR) until 12 July.


U-61 * (Oesten)

* U-boats that fired torpedo or used the deck gun

The battle

Beginning with OA-179, the convoys of this route sailed from Methil instead of Southend and because of this change this convoy and the following convoy OA-180 were combined into one. Most of its ships had sailed from Southend to Methil in convoy FN-214 from 5 to 8 July. On 9 July, the convoy OA-180 then left with 31 ships in two columns to proceed into the North Atlantic around Scotland.

Shortly after 13.00 hours 10 July, the ships had only recently reformed in two columns after passing the Pentland Firth in a single line when Alwaki as second ship in the starboard column hauled out of line and stopped with an increasing list to port and subsequently foundered in the evening. As no explosion had taken place and neither the aircraft escorting the convoy nor an anti-submarine sweep by the escorts indicated the presence of a U-boat it was assumed by the Admiralty that her loss was the result of sabotage. In fact the convoy had passed almost directly over U-61 which fired a spread of two torpedoes at the ship from such a close distance that they weren’t armed yet when they hit the hull, but the flooding through the holes made by the torpedoes caused the ship to sink eventually.

The reminder of the voyage was uneventful, the convoy split on 11 July off Skerryvore with the coastal section proceeding unescorted through the North Channel while the ocean section of 19 ships continued westward. On 12 July, the corvette had to be detached and returned to port because she rolled badly in a moderate northerly gale. On 13 July, the convoy was dispersed in position 55°45N/17°20W and the destroyer returned to the Clyde.

Article compiled by Rainer Kolbicz

Ships hit from convoy OA-180

Date U-boat Commander Name of ship Tons Nat.Map
10 Jul 1940U-61Jürgen Oesten Alwaki4,533nlA

1 ship sunk (4,533 tons).

We have a picture of this vessel.

16 convoys on route OA were hit by U-boats in the war. Read more about them.

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