Allied Warships

HMS Wanderer (D 74)

Destroyer of the Admiralty Modified W class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeDestroyer
ClassAdmiralty Modified W 
PennantD 74 
ModLong range escort 
Built byFairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. (Govan, Scotland) 
OrderedJan 1918 
Laid down7 Aug 1918 
Launched1 May 1919 
Commissioned18 Sep 1919 
End service 
History

Reconstruction to Long Range Escort finished in April 1943.

HMS Wanderer is not listed as active unit in the January 1945 Navy List

HMS Wanderer was sold on 31 January 1946 and broken up by Hughes Bolckow at Blyth.

 

Commands listed for HMS Wanderer (D 74)

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CommanderFromTo
1Cdr. Reginald Francis Morice, RN31 Jul 193924 May 1940
2Cdr. John Henry Ruck-Keene, RN24 May 194014 Nov 1940
3Cdr. Arthur Frederick St. George Orpen, RN14 Nov 194010 Feb 1942
4Lt.Cdr. Denis Harold Palmer Gardiner, DSC, RN10 Feb 1942early 1943

5Lt.Cdr. Reginald Fife Whinney, RN20 Apr 1943mid 1944
6Lt. Peter Roland Michell, RNmid 1944late 1944

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Notable events involving Wanderer include:


1 Sep 1939
The Polish destroyers Burza (Komandor Podporucznik Stanislaw Michal Nahorski, ORP), Grom (Komandor Podporucznik Aleksander Hulewicz, ORP) and Blyskawica (Komandor Podporucznik Wlodzimierz Andrzey Kodrebski-Poraj, ORP) were met in the North Sea by British aircraft and the British destroyers HMS Wallace (Lt.Cdr. William Maurice Lloyd Astwood, RN) and HMS Wanderer (Cdr Reginald Francis Morice, RN). They were escorted to Leith.

4 Sep 1939
The battleships HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.E.C. Blagrove, RN) and HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) both departed Scapa Flow to patrol to the east of the Fair Isle Channel. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Broke (Capt. R. Kerr, RN), HMS Wanderer (Cdr. R.F. Morice, RN) and HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN). They were joined at sea early in the afternoon of the 6th by three more destroyers; HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN).

6 Sep 1939
Late in the afternoon the battleships HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.E.C. Blagrove, RN) and HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) and their escorting destroyers; HMS Broke (Capt. R. Kerr, RN), HMS Wanderer (Cdr. R.F. Morice, RN) and HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN) returned to Scapa Flow from their patrol to the east of the Fair Isle Channel.

11 Apr 1940
HMS Fiji (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN) carried out gunnery trials in the Clyde area during which she was escorted by HMS Walker (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN) and HMS Wanderer (Cdr. R.F. Morice, RN). (1)

1 May 1940
HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN) took on board troops near Åfarnes, just north of Åndalsnes. The troops were ferried to her by the destroyers HMS Sikh (Cdr. J.A. Giffard, RN) and HMS Wanderer (Cdr. R.F. Morice, RN). However HMS Wanderer grounded and she had to be towed off by HMS Sikh.

HMS Southampton departed from the area around 0220 hours to proceed to the U.K.

She took the passage together with the destroyers HMS Walker (Lt.Cdr. A.A. Tait, RN) and HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN).

The ships were ordered to proceed to Sullom Voe where they arrived early in the evening. HMS Southampton then transferred troops to HMS Westcott which took them Scapa Flow arriving there around 0800/2.

HMS Southampton and HMS Walker were ordered to return to Åndalsnes to evacuate more troop. This order was cancelled around 0445/2 and the ships were ordered to return to Sullom Voe where they arrived early in the afternoon. (2)

14 Jun 1940
Convoy US 3, made up of the troopships (liners) Andes (25689 GRT, built 1939), Aquitania (44786 GRT, built 1914), Empress of Britain (42348 GRT, built 1931), Empress of Canada (21517 GRT, built 1922), Mauretania (35739 GRT, built 1939) and Queen Mary (81235 GRT, built 1936) with troop from New Zealand and Australia on board and escorted by the British heavy cruisers HMS Shropshire (Capt. J.H. Edelsten, RN), HMS Cumberland (Capt. the Hon. G.H.E. Russell, RN) and HMS Dorsetshire (Capt. B.C.S. Martin, RN) was joined around 0800 hours by HMS Argus (Capt. H.C. Bovell, RN), which came from Gibraltar, and joined around 1000 hours by the battlecruiser HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN) escorted by the Canadian destroyers HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lay, RN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. De Wolf, RCN), HMCS Fraser (Cdr. W.B. Creery, RCN) and HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Hibbard, RCN) which came from the U.K. Shortly afterwards HMS Dorsetshire left the convoy to proceed to Gibraltar.

Later that day, around 1500 hours, the convoy was joined by the destroyer HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, RN) and around 1600 hours by two more destroyers HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN) and HMS Westcott (Lt.Cdr. W.F.R. Segrave, RN). (3)

18 Jun 1940
Around 0400 hours HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN) departed the Clyde for Gibraltar. She was escorted by the Canadian destroyers HMCS Fraser (Cdr. W.B. Creery, RCN), HMCS Restigouche (Lt.Cdr. H.N. Lay, RN), HMCS St. Laurent (Lt.Cdr. H.G. De Wolf, RCN), HMCS Skeena (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Hibbard, RCN) and the British destroyer HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, RN). HMS Wanderer was however replaced by the escort destroyer HMS Atherstone (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, RN) shortly after sailing.

Around 1500 hours rendez-vous was made with the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Fearless (Cdr. K.L. Harkness, RN), HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. G.H. Peters, RN) and HMS Escapade (Cdr. H.R. Graham, RN) which had departed Scapa Flow for Gibraltar the previous day.

The destroyers that had been escorting HMS Hood were then detached.

25 Aug 1940
The British merchant Jamaica Pioneer is torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-100 east of Rockall in position 57°05'N, 11°02'W. Later the British destroyers HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. N.J.V. Thew, RN) and HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, DSC, RN) pick up 55 survivors.

28 Aug 1940

Operation Menace, the attack on Dakar, 23-24 September 1940.


Part I, initial movements of the Allied naval forces

The actual attack on Dakar took place on 23 and 24 September 1940 but preparations off course started earlier.

28 August 1940.

The battleship HMS Barham (Capt G.C. Cooke, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Gibraltar. She was escorted by HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN) and HMS Escapade (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN). They were joined at sea by HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, DSO, RAN) which sailed later.

29 August 1940.

The transports Anadyr (British, 5321 GRT, built 1930), Casamance (French, 5817 GRT, built 1921), Fort Lamy (British, 5242 GRT, built 1919), Nevada (French, 5693 GRT, built 1918) and the tanker Ocean Coast (British, 1173 GRT, built 1935) split off in position 54’N, 18’W from convoy OB 204 (which had departed from the British east coast on 26/27 August) to proceed to Dakar. When they split off their escort towards Dakar were the Free French sloop Savorgnan de Brazza and the Free French A/S trawler President Houduce.

31 August 1940.

On this day three groups of ships departed from British ports.

From Scapa Flow the following ships sailed; troopships Ettrick (British, 11279 GRT, built 1938), Kenya (British, 9890 GRT, built 1938) and Sobieski (Polish, 11030 GRT, built 1939). These were escorted by the light cruiser HMS Fiji (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN) and the destroyers HMS Ambuscade (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.T. White, DSO, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) and HMS Wanderer.

From Liverpool the following ships sailed; troopships Karanja (British, 9891 GRT, built 1931), Pennland (Dutch, 16082 GRT, built 1922) and Westernland (Dutch, 16313 GRT, built 1918) and the transport Belgravian (British, 3136 GRT, built 1937). These were escorted by the destroyers HMS Mackay (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN), HMS Vanoc (Lt.Cdr. J.G.W. Deneys, RN) and the corvette HMS Erica (Lt.Cdr. W.C. Riley, RNR).

From the Clyde the following warships sailed; HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham, CB, MVO, RN, the Commander of the upcoming operation), the destroyer HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, RN) and the French sloops (minesweepers) Commandant Dominé and Commandant Duboc.

All these ships were expected to arrive at Freetown on 13 September where they would be joined by ships coming from Gibraltar and ships that were based at Freetown.

1 September 1940.

The outward passage was initially uneventful and Vice-Admiral Cunningham’s group joined up with the group that came from Liverpool at 0600/1 (zone -1). But that evening misfortune occurred when HMS Fiji was torpedoed by the German submarine U-32 when about 40 nautical miles north-northeast of Rockall in position 58°10’N, 12°55’W. She then returned to the Clyde. Her convoy then continued on escorted by the four destroyers until they met Vice-Admiral Cunningham’s force at 0900/2. The convoy was now known as ‘Convoy MP’. The place of HMS Fiji in the operation was subsequently taken over by the Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN).

2 September 1940.

HMS Barham (Capt G.C. Cooke, RN), HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, DSO, RAN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN) and HMS Escapade (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN) arrived at Gibraltar from Scapa Flow.

The destroyer escort for the MP convoy parted company at 1400/2 and was ordered to join HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) which was escorting Canadian troop convoy TC 7 to the Clyde.

Passage of the MP convoy southwards was relatively uneventful except for some submarine alarms and also some engine defects during which speed had to be reduced a bit.

6 September 1940.

HMS Barham (Capt G.C. Cooke, RN), HMS Inglefield (Capt. P. Todd, DSO, RN), HMS Echo (Cdr. S.H.K. Spurgeon, DSO, RAN), HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN) and HMS Escapade (Cdr. H.R. Graham, DSO, RN) departed Gibraltar for Freetown in the evening but now accompanied by ships from Force H; the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN), battleship HMS Resolution (Capt. O. Bevir, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO, RN), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN) and HMS Greyhound (Cdr. W.R. Marshall A'Deane, DSO, DSC, RN).

After passing between Madeira and the Canary Islands on the 8th this force, which constituted the major part of the warships involved in the upcoming operation, turned south at 0900/9. By 0800/11 the force was in position 20°18’N, 19°54’W about 1000 nautical miles south of Casablanca.

Vice-Admiral Cunningham in HMS Devonshire was then in position 16°50’N, 22°00’W, about 240 nautical miles to the south-west ward of the main force. He had just sighted the MS convoy (the five transports), escorted by Savorgnan de Brazza, some 300 nautical miles north-west of Dakar. Vice-Admiral Cunningham ordered the convoy Commodore to take the convoy into Freetown.

A signal was then received that Vichy-French warships had passed the Straits of Gibraltar and had turned south. Three light cruisers and three large destroyers were reported to have made up this force. It was not known where they were bound for but possibly Casablanca. Their appearance seriously affected the whole operation.

The Vichy-French cruiser force.

At 1850 hours on 9 September 1940, H.M. Consul General, Tangier, had informed Admiral Sir Dudley North, Flag Officer commanding North Atlantic, and repeated to the Foreign Office, that a French Squadron in the Mediterranean might try to pass through the Strait of Gibraltar within the next 72 hours. This report received confirmation the next day when the French Admiralty requested the British Naval Attaché, Madrid, to advise the Naval authorities at Gibraltar of the departure from Toulon on the 9th of three light cruisers of the Georges Leygues class and three large destroyers of the Fantasque class. They would pass through the Straits of Gibraltar on the morning of the 11th, no mention was made of their destination. This information reached the Admiralty at 2350/10 and Admiral North at 0008/11.

The Government policy with regards to Vichy warships at that time had been defined in a signal sent to all Commanders-in-Chief and Flag Officers commanding shortly after the attack on the battleship Richelieu at Dakar in July. This message, after stressing the importance of terminating the state of tension then existing between the French navy and ourselves, stated that His Majesty’s Government had decided to take no further action in regard to French ships in French colonial and North African ports, and went on to say ‘ We shall, of course, however, reserve the right to take action in regard to French warships proceeding to enemy controlled ports.’ Recent intelligence had indicated that it was highly improbable that any warships would make for the German occupied Biscay ports, and a Admiral North had not been informed of the Dakar project, he saw no reason to take any steps to interfere with the movements of the French warships.

Early on September 11th, the destroyers HMS Hotspur (Cdr. H.F.H. Layman, DSO, RN), HMS Griffin (Lt.Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO, RN) and HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN), which were hunting a reported submarine to the eastward of the Strait of Gibraltar. At 0445 they sighted six French warships steaming fast to the westward and reported them. At 0617/11, Admiral North informed the Admiralty that the lights of six ships, probably warships, steering west at high speed, had been reported by HMS Hotspur at 0515 hours in position 36°03'N, 04°14'W (60 miles east of Gibraltar) and that he had ordered the destroyers to take no further action. At 0711 hours he added that he intended to keep in touch with this force by air and that he would report probable destination.

Meanwhile, Vice-Admiral Somerville, commanding Force H, on receiving the signal from HMS Hotspur had brought HMS Renown (Capt C.E.B. Simeon, RN) and the only destroyer available, HMS Vidette (Lt. E.N. Walmsley, RN), to one hour’s notice for full speed. He did not put to sea because he too, believed the Government’s policy was to avoid interference with French warships as stated in the signal of 12 July.

The French squadron passed Gibraltar to the westward shortly after 0830/11 having given it’s composition in reply to the demand as the light cruisers Georges Leygues, Gloire, Montcalm and the destroyers Le Malin, Le Fantasque and L’Audacieux. This information reached the Admiralty at 1043/11 in a signal sent by Admiral North at 0917/11.

No further action was taken during the forenoon and the situation at noon was that the French Squadron was in position 35°00'N, 06°40'W (about 75 nautical miles south-south-west of Gibraltar) steering 213° at 20 knots. They were being observed by reconnaissance aircraft from RAF 200 Sq. based at Gibraltar. The Admiralty and Air Ministery were being kept informed.

Here was a complication that might well effect the Dakar operation should Dakar be the destination of the French Squadron. It does not seem to have been viewed in this light at the Admiralty, until the 1st Sea Lord himself, who was attending a meeting in the Cabinet Offices that forenoon, telephoned orders for HMS Renown and all available destroyers to raise steam for full speed. A signal to this end was then sent to Admiral Somerville at 1239/11. This was over twelve hours after the original message from Madrid had reached the Admiralty.

Movements of Force H, 11 to 14 September 1940.

The noon position and their course indicated Casablanca as the most probable destination of the French Squadron and at 1347/11 the Admiralty ordered Admiral Somerville to sea to intercept them. Further instructions followed at 1429 hours. These was no objection with them going to Casablanca but they could not be allowed to proceed to Dakar. Shortly after 1600 hours aircraft reported that the French Squadron had entered Casablanca.

Admiral Somerville left Gibraltar at 1630 hours in the Renown escorted by the destroyers HMS Griffin, HMS Velox (Cdr.(Retd.) J.C. Colvill, RN) and HMS Vidette. At 2006 hours he was ordered by the Admiralty to establish a patrol to intercept the French Squadron if they sailed southwards from Casablanca. In the early morning hours of the 12th at 0235 hours, HMS Vidette, encountered a four-funneled French destroyer (this was Milan) in position 33°55'N, 08°31'W (west-north-west of Casablanca). She sighted a darkened ship some 6 miles on her port bow. She challenged but got no reply. A searchlight was turned on and revealed a four-funneled French destroyer. Vidette then fired two salvoes and the French destroyer, ignoring a signal to stop, then retired at high speed behind a smoke screen. Shortly afterwards Vidette was recalled from her patrol and ordered to rejoin Renown.

The French squadron was still at Casablanca at 0923/12 according to an aircraft report. At 0934 hours, Admiral Somerville turned north to meet three more destroyers coming from Gibraltar. These were; HMS Hotspur, HMS Encounter and HMS Wishart (Cdr. E.T. Cooper, RN). These were met at 1300 hours, in position 33°05'N, 09°40'W. They then turned to the south-west again. HMS Hotspur was stationed to patrol closer inshore.

At 0405/13, HMS Renown sighted three darkened ships in position 31°25'N, 11°30'W. These were thought to be the three Fantasque class destroyers. They were steaming north at 20 knots and were allowed to proceed. Admiral Somerville continued his patrol but fuel began to become an issue. The weather was to rough for the destroyers to fill up at sea and two of them will have to be detached that evening to refuel. This would much reduce the chance to intercept the French Squadron and Admiral Somerville informed the Admiralty of this. Adding tat he considered a patrol should be established off Dakar. His signal crossed one from the Admiralty stating that according to French sources the Squadron would remain only shortly at Casablanca before proceeding to Dakar.

This forecast proved correct. At 1530/13 aircraft reported that the light cruisers were no longer at Casablanca. Due to his fuel situation Admiral Somerville signalled that he would leave his patrol area for Gibraltar at 2000 hours that evening. But at 1916 hours the Admiralty ordered him to steer for Dakar at 18 knots. This was being done but Vidette and Velox were detached to Gibraltar to fuel.

At 2335/19 the Admiralty cancelled the order so at 0121/14, Renown and the four remaining destroyers set course to return to Gibraltar which they reached at 2000/14.

Patrol of Dakar by Vice-Admiral Cunningham’s forces.

To return to Vice-Admiral Cunningham. He knew that the French Squadron had left the Mediterranean at 1542/11 and that Vice-Admiral Somerville had been ordered to intercept them. Within a couple of hours he learnt that the French Squadron had entered Casablanca. The next forenoon (0947/12) he was informed that Vice-Admiral Somerville had been ordered to establish a patrol and to prevent them from proceeding to the south.

Vice-Admiral Cunningham’s forces were then approaching Freetown. At 1145/12, an aircraft from HMS Ark Royal approached HMS Devonshire to report that the Ark Royal would be in position 13°59'N, 20°08'W at 1300 hours and expected to arrive at Freetown with HMS Barham, HMS Resolution and ten destroyers at 0700/14. The next morning, 13 September, at 0820 hours an aircraft again closed HMS Devonshire. An order was then passed that four destroyers were to be detached to join HMS Devonshire and the convoy before dark. At 1008 hours HMS Devonshire left the convoy to close Ark Royal’s force, sighing it an hour later 20 nautical miles to the north-north-east. Devonshire remained in visual touch until 1700 hours when course was set to return to the convoy taking the destroyers HMS Faulknor, HMS Foresight, HMS Forester and HMS Fury with him.

Shortly after 1800/13, Vice-Admiral Cunningham was informed that the French cruisers had left Casablanca and that Vice-Admiral Somerville in the Renown had been ordered to proceed to the Dakar area.

Shortly after midnight 13th/14th, a signal came in from the Admiralty ordering Vice-Admiral Cunningham to establish a patrol immediately to prevent the French cruisers from reaching Dakar, employing every available ship. The same orders went to the Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic. HMS Cumberland (Capt. G.H.E. Russell, RN), which had departed Freetown for the U.K. at 2000/13 was placed under Vice-Admiral Cunninham’s orders and HMS Cornwall (Capt. C.F. Hammill, RN), on her way from Simonstown to Freetown, was ordered to increase speed.

The original operation was now swallowed up in the task of intercepting the French ships. Time had become a factor of the utmost importance and without waiting for daylight, Vice-Admiral Cunningham and General Irwin, went over to see General de Gaulle on board the Westernland at 0120/14, who immediately roused Capitaine Thierry d’Argenlieu and armed him with a letter forbidding any French warship to proceed to Dakar. Within twenty minutes they were on their way back to the Dorsetshire with Capt. D’Argenlieu and the following measures were taken;

HMAS Australia which was coming from the Clyde to take the place of HMS Fiji was ordered to close HMS Devonshire, which would be steering for Dakar, then 400 nautical miles distant.

The Ark Royal was ordered to sent her six remaining destroyers; HMS Inglefield, HMS Greyhoud, HMS Fortune, HMS Echo, HMS Eclipse and HMS Escapade to Freetown to fuel and herself proceed with despatch to position 16’N, 17°40’W.

HMS Barham and HMS Resolution and the other four destroyers; HMS Faulknor, HMS Foresight, HMS Forester and HMS Fury, were to fuel at Freetown and leave for the Dakar area as soon as fuelling had been completed.

Convoy’s MP and MS were to proceed to Freetown with their French escorts.

HMS Devonshire meanwhile had altered course to the northward for Dakar at 0230/14, speed 18 knots. It was not possible to transfer General Irwin and his staff and the General thus found himself speeding northward with the orders for the landing while his troops went on to Freetown. HMAS Australia joined HMS Devonshire at 0300 hours and half an hour later the cruisers had worked up to 27 knots. HMS Cumberland and HMS Ark Royal were approaching from the south.

At 1000/14, HMS Devonshire and HMAS Australia were 200 nautical miles south of Dakar in position 11°23’N, 17°42’W, with HMS Cumberland and HMS Ark Royal respectively 45 and 100 miles astern of them. Aircraft from Ark Royal carried out reconnaissance ahead of Devonshire and Australia from this time onwards. Also flights over Dakar were carried out. That afternoon a large amount of shipping was reported in the harbour and also a submarine was sighted on the surface at 1533 in position 260°, Cape Manuel, 10 nautical miles, steering 260°. It could not be seen if the French cruisers had arrived at Dakar.

At 1900/14 the Devonshire and Australia, reduced to 17 knots on reaching the latitude of Dakar and then turned back to join Cumberland. She was met at 1940 hours and then the cruisers turned northward once more. They established a patrol line at 2320 hours, 4 miles apart, courses 270°-090°, between the meridians 17°30’W and 18°00W in latitude 16°00’N.

But they were too late. Just before midnight 14/15 September a message was received from the Admiralty that a Vichy report had announced that the cruisers had arrived safely at Dakar. The Vichy cruisers actually had arrived at Dakar at 1600/14.

Dawn air reconnaissance on the 15th failed to spot the cruisers at Dakar and by this time the three heavy cruisers were running low on fuel and at 1001 hours Vice-Admiral Cunningham sent a signal to the Admiralty to ask if he should withdraw to Freetown to refuel and prepare for operation ‘Menace’, leaving HMS Cumberland to patrol off Dakar, or to report the patrol about 0001/17 and accept indefinite delay of operation ‘Menace’. He recommended the first alternative.

At 1027 hours, however, the Ark Royal signalled that the cruisers had been located at Dakar. All ships then set course for Freetown to refuel except HMS Cumberland which was left to patrol off Dakar. The next day, the 16th, she met the Vichy French merchant vessel Poitiers (4185 GRT, built 1921) 100 miles south of Dakar and fired a salvo across her bows. Her crew then set her on fire and abandoned her. She was then sunk by gunfire from the cruiser.

Cancellation of Operation ‘Menace’.

By the evening of 15 September, Vice-Admiral Cunningham’s forces were all making once again for Freetown. A destroyer had been sent on ahead with the operation orders and two staff officers. The escape of the French cruisers, however, called for a drastic re-consideration of the original plan.

In London the War Cabinet met at 1000/16 to consider the new situation. The Prime Minister pointed out that in his view the operation had to be cancelled and at 1346/16, Vice-Admiral Cunningham received a signal that the landing of troops at Dakar in ‘Operation Menace’ was impracticable. It was proposed that General de Gaulle’s force should land at Duala with the object of consolidating his influence in the Cameroons, Equatorial Africa and the Chads. The British portion of the force was to remain at Freetown. Unless de Gaulle had any strong objection, this plan had to be put into operation forthwith.

Vice-Admiral Cunningham and General Irwin were reluctant to take this view. They replied at 1642 hours suggesting that if HMS Cornwall and HMS Cumberland would be added to their force they should be enough to deal with the French cruisers. The answer came at 2245 hours; they were left a liberty to consider the whole situation and discuss it with de Gaulle, whom they informed of the new proposal.

HMS Devonshire arrived at Freetown at 0630/17. The Vice-Admiral and the General proceeded to consult with General de Gaulle. The latter was much perturbed at the possible cancellation of the original plan and that very morning he sent a telegram to the Prime Minister desiring ‘to insist’ that the plan should be carried out and emphasising the vital importance to the Allies of gaining control of the basis in French Africa. He now urged on the Force Commanders that if the unopposed landing failed the Free French troops should attempt a landing at Rufisque. They decided to support this proposal and shortly after midnight they forwarded their recommendations to the Admiralty for consideration. The reply from H.M. Government came at 1159/18;
‘ We cannot judge relative advantages of alternative schemes from here. We give you full authority to go ahead and do what you think is best, in order to give effect to the original purpose of the expedition. Keep us informed.’

With a free hand such as is seldom enjoyed in these days of rapid communication by the leaders of an overseas expedition in unbroken touch with their Government, the Joint Commanders decided to proceed with ‘Menace’ on 22 September.

The French cruisers again, 19 to 26 September 1940.

The naval and military staffs were working hard at preparations for the landing when the next day, 19 September, French cruiser appeared again on the scene. HMAS Australia, which had left Freetown the day before to relieve HMS Cumberland on patrol, at 1019/19 in position 10°23’N, 16°54’W, north-west of Freetown, sighted the three La Galissonniere class cruisers 14 nautical miles off steering south-east. Once more the naval forces had to raise steam with all despatch. HMAS Australia and HMS Cumberland were already had on the trial. General de Gaulle again arranged for Captain Thierry d’Angenlieu to carry a message requisting the French cruisers to return to Casablanca.

General Irwin and his staff, with Admiral Cunningham’s Chief Staff Officer, Capt. P.N. Walter, were transferred to the troopship Karanja, and at 1400 hours HMS Devonshire left Freetown at 27 knots with the destroyers HMS Inglefield, HMS Greyhound and HMS Escapade. It was hoped to sight the French cruisers before dark. HMS Barham with HMS Fortune and HMS Fury made for a position to the south-east of the French. HMS Ark Royal, which had engine trouble to repair first, was to follow at 0500/20. A message came from the Admiralty that the French cruisers were not to return to Dakar.

The French cruisers turned back to the north-west and increased speed to 29 knots. Torrential rain was falling, hiding everything from view, but HMAS Australia and HMS Cumberland were able to keep in touch and at 1830/19 HMAS Australia managed to pass directions not to return to Dakar. She was then in position 09°02’N, 15°14’W, just keeping in touch while doing 31 knots. Then the French cruiser Gloire broke down and separated from the other two cruisers. The British then lost touch with these two cruisers. HMS Devonshire meanwhile was steaming to a position to cut off the way to Conakri in French Guinea. HMS Cumberland then regained touch with the two French cruisers (Georges Leygues (flag) and Montcalm) who were speeding north while HMAS Australia picked up the Gloire which was steering eastwards at reduced speed. Night had fallen when HMS Devonshire with HMS Inglefield still in company showed up. HMS Inglefield took Captain d’Argenlieu on board of the Gloire. The French captain refused to accede to his representations, but when Vice-Admiral Cunningham intervened he agreed to proceed to Casablanca. HMAS Australia escorted her until 21 September, leaving her then, on Admiralty instructions, to proceed unescorted.

HMS Cumberland meanwhile managed to keep in touch with the other two cruisers. Her attempts at parley failed, but the French signalled that ‘under no circumstances shall my cruisers pass under German control’. HMS Cumberland followed them all the way to Dakar but was unable to prevent them from entering, which they did at 0550/20.

Meanwhile, on 18 September, far away to the southward, a fourth French cruiser had been sighted escorting a naval tanker. This was the Primaguet escorting the Tarn. HMS Cornwall had departed Freetown on 16 September to meet HMS Delhi (Capt. A.S. Russell, RN) and HMS Dragon (Capt. R.W. Shaw, MBE, RN) off Cape Formosa (south Nigeria). They swept towards Fernando Po [now called Bioko] to intercept any French forces bound for the Cameroons with instructions to direct them back to Casablanca. On 17 September at 2000 hours information came that a French warship and an oiler had been in position 07°25’N, 14°40’W at 1500/15. The Cornwall proceeded to search and on the 18th her aircraft picked up the cruiser Primaguet and oiler Tarn 35 nautical miles ahead. The Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic ordered her to be shadowed.

Her lights were sighted at 2142/18 but disappeared at 0425/19. When dawn broke the horizon was clear. She was picked up again at 1009/19. A boarding party from HMS Delhi went on board. The Captain, after making a formal protest, asked to be allowed to remain stopped until 1700/19 after which she proceeded, first westward, then northward, being shadowed by HMS Cornwall and HMS Delhi until 1830/21 when HMS Delhi had to proceed to Freetown to refuel. HMS Cornwall shadowed her alone untul the 23rd when she was rejoined by HMS Delhi. For two days they followed her close, still steaming north. On the 25th Primaguet fuelled from the Tarn. They were then off the Cape Verde Island. The next day the Admiralty approved the cruisers to return to Freetown. The Primaguet gave a promise that she would proceed to Casablanca with the Tarn where they indeed arrived in due course. The British cruisers then turned south. They had kept the Primaguet and Tarn in sight for five days. Thus two out of the four cruisers in the area had been diverted to Casablanca without the use of force. (4)

31 Aug 1940

Convoy MP.


Convoy MP was part of the upcoming Dakar operation. The convoy departed Scapa Flow on 31 August 1940 for Freetown.

The convoy was made up of the troopships Ettrick (11279 GRT, built 1938), Kenya (9890 GRT, built 1930) and Sobieski (11030 GRT, built 1939). Escort was provided by the light cruiser HMS Fiji (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN) and the destroyers HMS Ambuscade (Lt.Cdr. R.A. Fell, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.T. White, DSO, RN), HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) and HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, DSC, RN). The next day the convoy was joined to the north of Ireland by the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire (Capt. J.M. Mansfield, DSC, RN), the destroyer HMS Harvester (Lt.Cdr. M. Thornton, RN) and the Free French sloops (minesweepers) Commandant Dominé and Commandant Duboc which came from the Clyde.

At 1709/1 (zone -1), HMS Fiji was hit by a torpedo fired by the German submarine U-32 when about 40 nautical miles north-northeast of Rockall in position 58°10’N, 12°55’W. She then left the convoy 10 minutes later and set course for the Clyde. She was joined by the destroyer HMS Antelope soon afterwards. The forward boiler room and five adjacent were flooded and five ratings had been killed.

Around 2030 hours HMS Fiji and HMS Antelope were joined by the destroyers HMS Ashanti (Cdr. W.G. Davis, RN), HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, DSO, RN) and HMS Volunteer. Fiji and her escort arrived at the Clyde around 1700/3. After inspection it was estimated repairs would take three to four months.

At 1930 hours on 1 September 1940 the destroyers HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, DSO, RN), HMS Tartar (Capt. C. Caslon, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN) and HMS Javelin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) to join HMS Fiji. Later they joined convoy's.

All destroyers that had been with the convoy parted company with the convoy on September 1st except for HMS Harvester which parted company with the convoy on the 3rd.

The place of HMS Fiji in the upcoming Dakar operation was taken by HMAS Australia (Capt. R.R. Stewart, RN) which departed the Clyde for Freetown on 6 September.

The convoy, escorted by the two Free French sloops (minesweepers), arrived at Freetown on 14 September 1940.

3 Oct 1940
At 1440/3 the MA/SB boats HMS MA/SB 42, HMS MA/SB 43 HMS MA/SB 51 departed Fowed as enemy activity was reported in the erea to the south of the Scillies / Lands End.

At 1535/3, the destroyers HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, DSC, RN) departed Plymouth to proceed to the area.

At 1815/3, MA/SB 42 signalled that nothing had been sighted.

At 1927/3, HMS Kelvin and HMS Wanderer were ordered to remain out for the night and patrol the Lizard / Start Point area and return to Plymouth at 0630/4. In fact they returned at 0745/4 [ADM 53/112889]. (5)

10 Oct 1940

Operation Medium.


Bombardment of Cherbourg.

10 October 1940.

The battleship HMS Revenge (Capt. E.R. Archer, RN) departed Plymouth for a night bombardment of Cherbourg during the night of 10/11 October. She was being escorted by the destroyers HMS Jackal (Cdr. C.L. Firth, MVO, RN), HMS Jaguar (Lt.Cdr. J.F.W. Hine, RN), HMS Javelin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN), HMS Jupiter (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, RN), HMS Kashmir (Cdr. H.A. King, RN), HMS Kelvin (Cdr. J.H. Allison, DSO, RN) and HMS Kipling (Cdr. A. St. Clair-Ford, RN).

A cover force was also sailed from Plymouth on the same day. This force was to provide cover to the east of the bombardment force and was made up of the light cruisers HMS Newcastle (Capt. E.A. Aylmer, DSC, RN), HMS Emerald (Capt. F.C. Flynn, RN), the British destroyers HMS Broke (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, RN), HMS Wanderer (Cdr. J.H. Ruck-Keene, DSC, RN and the Polish destroyers Garland (Cdr. K. Namiesniowski, ORP) and Burza (Cdr. A. Doroszkowski, ORP).

The light cruiser HMS Cardiff (Capt. P.K. Enright, RN) escorted by the destroyers HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN) and HMS Volunteer (Lt.Cdr. N. Lanyon, RN) departed Portsmouth to provide cover for the operation to the west of the bombardment force.

A flotilla of MA/SB boats was sailed from Plymouth to provide anti E-boat protection. These were HMS MA/SB 40, HMS MA/SB 42, HMS MA/SB 43, HMS MA/SB 44, HMS MA/SB 45, HMS MA/SB 46 and HMS MA/SB 51.

During the bombardment HMS Revenge fired 120 rounds of 15” in eighteen minutes from range between 14000 and 16000 yards. Her escorting destroyers fired 801 rounds of 4.7” during the first four minutes of the bombardment and then formed a screen on the battleship.

Large fires were seen to erupt in the target area. Shore defences opened up as for being under air attack. The ships were fired on only after the bombardment had ceased. No ships were hit though despite the enemy fire being accurate.

The western cover group returned to Plymouth at 0800/11.

The bombardment force and the eastern cover group arrived at Portsmouth around the same time.

9 Feb 1941

Convoy HX 108.

This convoy departed Halifax on 9 February 1941 and arrived in UK waters on 27 February 1941.

On departure from Halifax the convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Bonde (Norwegian, 1570 GRT, built 1936), Brant County (Norwegian, 5001 GRT, built 1915), Dalemore (British, 5835 GRT, built 1922), Dalmore (British, 5193 GRT, built 1927), Danae II (British, 2660 GRT, built 1936), Empire Bronze (British, 8142 GRT, built 1940), Empire Eland (British, 5613 GRT, built 1920), Empire Hawk (British, 5032 GRT, built 1919), Empire Simba (British, 5691 GRT, built 1919), Forest (British, 4998 GRT, built 1937), G.S. Walden (British (tanker), 10627 GRT, built 1935), Gitano (British, 3956 GRT, built 1921), Holmpark (British, 5780 GRT, built 1927), James J. Maguire (British (tanker), 10525 GRT, built 1939), Lechistan (Polish, 1937 GRT, built 1929), Llanover (British, 4959 GRT, built 1928), Loch Don (British, 5249 GRT, built 1937), Manchester Exporter (British, 5277 GRT, built 1918), Markhor (British, 7917 GRT, built 1929), Mount Taurus (Greek, 6696 GRT, built 1920), Nicolaou Virginia (Greek, 6869 GRT, built 1920), Queen Maud (British, 4976 GRT, built 1936), Redgate (British, 4323 GRT, built 1929), Rookley (British, 4998 GRT, built 1940), Saint Bertrand (British, 5522 GRT, built 1929), San Gerardo (British (tanker), 12915 GRT, built 1929), Silverelm (British, 4351 GRT, built 1924), Standella (British (tanker), 6197 GRT, built 1936) and Willemsplein (Dutch, 5489 GRT, built 1910).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Maloja (A/Capt. V. Hammersley-Heenan, RN) and corvettes HMCS Mayflower (A/Lt.Cdr. G.H. Stephen, RCNR) and HMCS Snowberry (T/Lt. R.S. Kelley, RCNR).

Both Canadian corvettes were not to return to Halifax but were to proceed to the UK to complete fitting out there and then work up at Tobermory.

On 12 February 1941 the convoy was joined by the ships from convoy BHX 108 which had departed Bermuda on 7 February. These were the following merchant vessels; Adula (British (tanker), 8040 GRT, built 1937), Aircrest (British, 5237 GRT, built 1940), Bianca (Norwegian (tanker), 5688 GRT, built 1926), British Progress (British (tanker), 4581 GRT, built 1927), Cape Clear (British, 5085 GRT, built 1939), Comedian (British, 5122 GRT, built 1929), Director (British, 5107 GRT, built 1926), Donacilla (British (tanker), 8113 GRT, built 1939), Emma Bakke (Norwegian, 4721 GRT, built 1929), Leikanger (Norwegian, 4003 GRT, built 1923), Losada (British, 6520 GRT, built 1921), Luminetta (British (tanker), 6159 GRT, built 1927), Misoa (British (tanker), 4800 GRT, built 1937), Putney Hill (British, 5215 GRT, built 1940), Queen Maud (British, 4976 GRT, built 1936), Rapana (British (tanker), 8017 GRT, built 1935), Saintonge (British (tanker), 9386 GRT, built 1936), San Casimiro (British (tanker), 8046 GRT, built 1936), Sepia (British (tanker), 6214 GRT, built 1936), Twickenham (British, 4762 GRT, built 1940) and Yngaren (British, 5246 GRT, built 1921). These ships had been escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Aurania (A/Capt. I.W. Whitehorn, RN) which parted company when the convoys merged.

Two of the merchant vessels, the Bonde and Dalemore, apparently returned to Halifax.

Around 1730Q/18, the battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) joined the convoy.

Around 1500Q/19, HMS Maloja parted company with the convoy.

At 1410Z/20, HMS Rodney parted company with the convoy.

On the 24th, the destroyers HMS Wanderer (Cdr. A.F.St.G. Orpen, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), HMS Montgomery (Cdr.(Retd.) H.F. Nash, RN) and the auxiliary A/S trawler HMS York City (Skr. W. Tucker, RNR). joined the convoy. Corvette HMS Periwinkle (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RNR) joined on the 25th but was detached the following day.

The convoy arrived in UK waters on the 27th.

13 Feb 1941
HMS H 44 (Lt. A.R. Hezlet, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Wanderer (Cdr. A.F.St G. Orpen, RN), HMS Sabre (Lt. P.W. Gretton, DSC, RN) and HMS Scimitar (Lt. R.D. Franks, OBE, RN). (6)

18 Feb 1941

Convoy SL 66.

This convoy departed Freetown on 18 February 1941 and arrived in U.K. waters on 14 March 1941.

On departure from Freetown the convoy was made up of the following merchant vessels; Amberton (British, 5377 GRT, built 1928), Ardenvohr (British, 5025 GRT, built 1940), Benlomond (British, 6630 GRT, built 1922), Benvenue (British, 5920 GRT, built 1927), Berbery (British, 5248 GRT, built 1919), Berhala (Dutch, 6622 GRT, built 1927), Bothnia (British, 2407 GRT, built 1928), Bradglen (British, 4741 GRT, built 1930), British Colony (British (tanker), 6917 GRT, built 1927), British Desteny (British (tanker), 8470 GRT, built 1937), British Power (British (tanker), 8451 GRT, built 1936), British Pride (British (tanker), 7106 GRT, built 1931), British Resolution (British (tanker), 8408 GRT, built 1937), Cape Wrath (British, 4512 GRT, built 1914), Darlington Court (British, 4974 GRT, built 1936), Egba (British, 4989 GRT, built 1914), Esneh (British, 1931 GRT, built 1919), Etrib (British, 1943GRT, built 1919), Glendene (British, 4412 GRT, built 1929), Glenpark (British, 5136 GRT, built 1939), Gold Shell (British (tanker), 8208 GRT, built 1931), Harpasa (British, 5082 GRT, built 1934), Hjalmar Wessel (British, 1742 GRT, built 1935), Hoogkerk (British, 5132 GRT, built 1911), Kerma (British, 4333 GRT, built 1928), Kingbury (British, 4898 GRT, built 1937), Lord Cochrane (British, 4157 GRT, built 1934), Lynton Grange (British, 5029 GRT, built 1937), Marita (Norwegian, 1931 GRT, built 1919), Meropi (Greek, 4181 GRT, built 1911), Norman Monarch (British, 4718 GRT, built 1937), O.A. Kundsen (Norwegian (tanker), 11007 GRT, built 1938), Ornefjell (British, 1334 GRT, built 1937), Peterston (British, 4680 GRT, built 1925), Petter (Norwegian (tanker), 9109 GRT, built 1935), River Afton (British, 5479 GRT, built 1935), Salamis (Norwegian (tanker), 8286 GRT, built 1939), Salvus (British, 4815 GRT, built 1928), Serbino (British, 4099 GRT, built 1919), Sir Ernest Cassel (British, 7739 GRT, built 1910), Sobo (British, 5353 GRT, built 1937), Somme (British, 5265 GRT, built 1919), South Wales (British, 5619 GRT, built 1929), Temple Yard (British, 5205 GRT, built 1937), Toward (British (rescue ship), 1571 GRT, built 1923), Trevorian (British, 4599 GRT, built 1920), Ulla (British, 1575 GRT, built 1930) and Warfield (British, 6070 GRT, built 1917).

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

On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Comorin (Capt.(Retd.) J.I. Hallett, DSO, RN).

Around 1345N/3, 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 coming from Gibraltar.

Around 0700N/8, the destroyers HMCS Ottawa (Cdr. E.R. Mainguy, RCN), HMCS Assiniboine (A/Lt.Cdr. J.H. Stubbs, RCN), HMS Churchill (Cdr.(Retd.) G.R. Cousins, RN) and ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski) joined.

Around 1800N/9, the destroyers HMS Wanderer (Cdr. A.F.St.G. Orpen, RN), HMS Witch (Lt.Cdr. J.R. Barnes, RN), escort destroyer HMS Vivien (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Beattie, RN) and the corvettes HMS Nasturtium (Lt.Cdr. J.F.C. Bartley, DSC, RNR), HMS Periwinkle (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RNR) and HMS Primrose (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A. Ayre, RNR).

At 1915Z/9, HMS Kenya parted company with the convoy but she rejoined it at 2000A/10 after having been ordered to do so. While absent from the convoy HMS Kenya sighted and engaged a German Focke Wulf aircraft but it was not damaged and disappeared to the east.

At 2000A/11, HMS Kenya parted company with the convoy to proceed to Plymouth.

The convoy arrived in U.K. waters on 14 March 1941.

11 Mar 1941

Convoy HX 114.

This convoy departed Halifax on 11 March 1941 and arrived in UK waters on 30 March 1941.

This convoy was made up of following merchant vessels; Cardita (British (tanker), 8237 GRT, built 1931), Cerinthus (British (tanker), 3878 GRT, built 1930), Chesapeake (British (tanker), 8955 GRT, built 1928), Clavella (Dutch (tanker), 8097 GRT, built 1939), Colonial (British, 5108 GRT, built 1926), Corrales (British, 5363 GRT, built 1930), Cristales (British, 5389 GRT, built 1926), Elmdene (British, 4853 GRT, built 1939), Emile Francqui (Belgian, 5859 GRT, built 1929), Empire Mermaid (British, 6381 GRT, built 1919), Harmatris (British, 5395 GRT, built 1932), Heranger (Norwegian, 4877 GRT, built 1930), Inger Lise (Norwegian, 1582 GRT, built 1939), Labette (British, 4989 GRT, built 1919), Lapland (British, 1330 GRT, built 1936), Lunula (British (tanker), 6363 GRT, built 1927), Malakand (British, 7649 GRT, built 1919), Nestos (Greek, 5764 GRT, built 1919), New Texas (British, 6568 GRT, built 1919), Pandias (Greek, 4981 GRT, built 1912), Pentridge Hill (British, 7579 GRT, built 1941), Roxby (British, 4252 GRT, built 1923), Royal Emblem (British, 4900 GRT, built 1940), Skeldergate (British, 4251 GRT, built 1930), Tilapa (British, 5392 GRT, built 1928), Torr Head (British, 5021 GRT, built 1937), Toward (British (rescue ship), 1571 GRT, built 1923) and Zagloba (Polish, 2864 GRT, built 1938).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Chitral (Capt.(Retd.) G. Hamilton, RN).

Shortly after departure the merchant vessel Labette was to return to Halifax with engine trouble.

On the 14th the convoy merged with convoy BHX 114 coming from Bermuda. The following merchant vessels then joined the convoy; Adellen (British (tanker), 7984 GRT, built 1930), Carelia (British (tanker), 8062 GRT, built 1938), Comanchee (British (tanker), 6837 GRT, built 1936), Dephnella (British (tanker), 8078 GRT, built 1938), Hidlefjord (British (tanker), 7639 GRT, built 1928), Inverlee (British (tanker), 9158 GRT, built 1938), Kaia Knudsen (Norwegian (tanker), 9063 GRT, built 1931), Lincoln Ellsworth (British (tanker), 5580 GRT, built 1927), Otina (British (tanker), 6217 GRT, built 1938), President de Vogue (Norwegian (tanker), 9320 GRT, built 1935), San Conrado (British (tanker), 7982 GRT, built 1936), Thalatta (Norwegian, 5671 GRT, built 1922), Thorshavet (Norwegian (tanker), 11015 GRT, built 1938) and Velox (Norwegian, 3831 GRT, built 1922 ).

The escort of convoy BHX 114, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Worcestershire (A/Capt. J. Creswell, RN), then parted company.

Around 1200OP/15 the battleship HMS Rodney (Capt. F.H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton, RN) joined the convoy. She parted company at 1520P/16 when a warship was sighted which turned out to be HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) which was to join the convoy to take over from HMS Rodney.

At that moment the armed merchant cruiser HMS Laconia (Capt.(Retd.) G.G.P. Hewett, RN), which was in sight, reported heavy calibre gunfire on the horizon. HMS Rodney increased speed and set course towards this reported gunfire. HMS Royal Sovereign briefly followed but due to her slower speed opted to remain between the enemy and the convoy. HMS Royal Sovereign remained in position between the enemy and the convoy until late in the evening.

The source of the gunfire was the German battlecruiser Gneisenau which was in the process of sinking the merchant vessel Chilean Reefer (British, 1739 GRT, built 1936). She spotted the tops of the approaching British battleship and quickly got underway and made off at high speed. HMS Rodney was left with picking up the survivors of the Chilean Reefer unable to catch the German battlecruiser due to her inferior speed. HMS Rodney then continued to patrol the area where convoy HX 114 was passing through during the next few days.

At 1545N/24, the merchant vessels Inger Lise and Velox were detached with orders to join convoy SC 25.

HMS Chitral parted company with the convoy at 1930N/24 and set course for Halifax.

On the 25th, the merchant vessel (tanker) Lincoln Ellsworth with a cargo of fuel oil parted company with the convoy to proceed to Reykjavik was she was to discharge her cargo. She arrived at Reykjavik the next day.

HMS Chitral parted company with the convoy at 1930N/24 and set course for Halifax. The convoy was joined by destroyers late on the 24th or early on the 25th by the destroyers HMS Wanderer (Cdr. A.F.St.G. Orpen, RN), HMS Vanity ( Lt. I.W.T. Beloe, RN), HMCS Columbia (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) S.W. Davis, RN), HMS Montgomery (Lt.Cdr.(Emgy.) W.L. Puxley, RN), sloop HMS Weston (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G. Sutton, RN), corvettes HMS Nasturtium (Lt.Cdr. J.F.C. Bartley, DSC, RNR), HMS Periwinkle (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RNR), HMS Primrose (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A. Ayre, RNR) and the auxiliary A/S trawlers HMS Arab (T/Lt. C.A. Shillan, RNVR), HMS Ayrshire (T/Lt. L.J.A. Gradwell, RNVR) and HMS Lady Madeleine (T/Lt. W.G. Ogden, RNVR). Destroyers HMS Montgomery, HMS Vanity, sloop HMS Weston and the auxiliary A/S trawlers were detached later to join other convoys. The remainder of the escort remained with the convoy until its arrival in UK waters on the 30th.

9 Apr 1941

Convoy SC 28.

This convoy departed Halifax on 9 April for Liverpool where it arrived on 28 April 1941.

Upon departure from Halifax the convoy was made up of the following merchant ships: Aeas (Greek, 4729 GRT, built 1915), Akabahra (Norwegian, 1524 GRT, built 1929), Aldington Court (British, 4891 GRT, built 1929), Almenara (British, 1851 GRT, built 1922), Anna Bulgaris (Greek, 4603 GRT, built 1912), Armathia (British, 4683 GRT, built 1919), Baron Inchcape (British, 7005 GRT, built 1917), Beckenham (British, 4636 GRT, built 1937), Bernhard (Norwegian, 3563 GRT, built 1924), Bosworth (British, 6672 GRT, built 1919), Bristol City (British, 2864 GRT, built 1920), Buccinum (British (tanker), 5237 GRT, built 1910), Cressdene (British, 4270 GRT, built 1936), Despina (Greek, 3016 GRT, built 1907), Embassage (British, 4954 GRT, built 1935), Euthalia (Greek, 3553 GRT, built 1918), Georgios P. (Greek, 4052 GRT, built 1903), Gezina (Norwegian, 1828 GRT, built 1917), Gullpool (British, 4868 GRT, built 1928), Katvaldis (British, 3163 GRT, built 1907), King Stephen (British, 5274 GRT, built 1928), Kisnop (British, 5874 GRT, built 1919), Manatee (British, 5948 GRT, built 1920), Matronna (Greek, 2846 GRT, built 1902), Navarino (British, 4841 GRT, built 1937), Niceto de Larrinaga (British, 5591 GRT, built 1916), Prins Willem van Oranje (Dutch, 1303 GRT, built 1918), Rossum (Dutch, 2118 GRT, built 1928), Runswick (British, 3970 GRT, built 1930), Sildra (Norwegian (tanker), 7313 GRT, built 1927), Trojan Star (British, 9037 GRT, built 1936), Wellfield (British (tanker), 6054 GRT, built 1924) and West Amargosa (British, 5462 GRT, built 1919).

On departure from Halifax the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Chitral (Capt.(Retd.) G. Hamilton, RN). Submarine HMS Talisman (Lt. M. Willmott, RN) joined the escort on the 11th. Battleship HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN) joined the convoy on the 13th and was detached on the 20th as was HMS Talisman. HMS Chitral was detached on the 21st.

On 24 April 1941 the destroyer HMS Scimitar (Lt. R.D. Franks, OBE, RN), corvettes HMS Dianthus (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) C.E. Bridgman, RNR), HMS Mallow (Lt.Cdr. W.B. Piggott, RNR), HMS Marigold (T/Lt. J. Renwick, RNR), HMS Nasturtium (Lt.Cdr. J.F.C. Bartley, DSC, RNR), HMS Periwinkle (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RNR), HMS Primrose (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) A. Ayre, RNR) and the minesweepers HMS Bramble (Capt. M.H. Evelegh, RN), HMS Hazard (Lt.Cdr. J.R.A. Seymour, RN) and HMS Speedy (Lt. J.G. Brookes, RN) joined the convoy. The minesweepers departed later the same day. On the 26th, corvette HMS Mallow was detached. The destroyer HMS Wanderer (Cdr. A.F.St.G. Orpen, RN) joined on the 27th.

The convoy arrived at Liverpool on the 28th.

2 Jun 1941
German U-boat U-147 torpedoed and sank the Belgian merchant ship Mokambo in position 56°38'N 10°24'W. In the follow-up attack by the convoy escort the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Wanderer (Cdr. A.F.St.G. Orpen, RN) and the corvette HMS Periwinkle (Lt.Cdr. P.G. MacIver, RN) depth charged the U-147 to destruction.

3 Jun 1941
The British tanker Inversuir is torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-75 north of the Azores in position 48°30'N, 28°30'W. HMS Wanderer (Cdr. A.F.St.G. Orpen, RN) later picks up 9 survivors.

12 Jul 1941

Convoy WS 9C

This convoy was formed at sea and was initially made up of the British merchants/ troop transports Avila Star (14443 GRT, built 1927), City of Pretoria (8049 GRT, built 1937), Deucalion (7516 GRT, built 1930), Durham (10893 GRT, built 1934), Leinster (4302 GRT, built 1937), Melbourne Star (11076 GRT, built 1936), Pasteur (30447 GRT, built 1939), Port Chalmers (8535 GRT, built 1933) and Sydney Star (11095 GRT, built 1936).

They were escorted by the battleship HMS Nelson (Capt. T.H. Troubridge, RN) (12-20 July), cruisers HMS Manchester (Capt. H. Drew, DSC, RN) (12-17 July), HMS Arethusa (Capt. A.C. Chapman, RN), (12-17 July), AA cruiser HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck (Cdr. E.J. van Holthe, RNN) (12-15 July), cruiser-minelayer HMS Manxman (Capt. R.K. Dickson, RN), (15-16 July), destroyers HMS Winchelsea (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, OBE, DSC, RN) (12 July), HMS Vanoc (Lt.Cdr. J.G.W. Deneys, DSO, RN) (12-15 July), HMS Wanderer (Cdr. A.F.St.G. Orpen, RN) (12-15 July), ORP Garland (Lt.Cdr. K.F. Namiesniowski, ORP) (12-15 July), HMS Gurkha (Cdr. C.N. Lentaigne, RN) (12-15 July), HMS Cossack (Capt. E.L. Berthon, DSC and Bar, RN) (12-17 July), HMS Maori (Cdr. R.E. Courage, DSO, DSC and Bar, RN) (12-17 July), HMS Sikh (Cdr. G.H. Stokes, RN) (12-17 July), HMS Lightning (Cdr. R.G. Stewart, RN) (12-17 July), HMAS Nestor (Cdr. A.S. Rosenthal, RAN) (12-17 July), HMS Fearless (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) (17-20 July), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, DSO, DSC, RN) (18-20 July), HMS Foresight (Cdr. J.S.C. Salter, RN) (17-20 July), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, DSC and Bar, RN) (17-20 July), HMS Foxhound (Cdr. G.H. Peters, DSC, RN) (17-20 July), HMS Fury (Lt.Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN) (17-20 July), escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, RN) (18-20 July), HMS Eridge (Lt.Cdr. W.F.N. Gregory-Smith, RN) (18-20 July), HMS Farndale (Cdr. S.H. Carlill, RN) (18-20 July) and sloop HMS Stork (Lt. G.T.S. Gray, DSC, RN) (12-13 July).

The merchant ships from the convoy departed either Avonmouth, Liverpool, the Clyde area and Belfast. The convoy was finally formed up at sea early on the 13th in position 55°40'N, 06°55'W.

The passage of the convoy was uneventful.

HMS Gurkha and ORP Garland left the convoy around 0330/15 reaching the limit of their endurance. HrMs Jacob van Heemskerck, HMS Vanoc and HMS Wanderer did the same around 1830/15. Around 2000/15 HMS Manxman joined the convoy, she parted company at 1900/16 and set course for Gibraltar. The merchant Avila Star had meanwhile left the convoy at 1000/16.

At 0700/17 the 8th Destroyer Flotilla was to join the convoy coming from Gibraltar but due to thick for no contact was made. At 1000/17 the Pasteur left the convoy for Gibraltar escorted by HMS Manchester, HMS Maori, HMS Lightning and HMAS Nestor. Shortly afterwards the fog lifted and the 8th Destroyer Flottilla was sighted and joined the convoy. At 1200/17 the Leinster also left the convoy for Gibraltar escorted by HMS Arethusa, HMS Cossack and HMS Sikh.

At 1800/18 HMS Firedrake joined the convoy coming from Gibraltar.

At 0700/18 HMS Avon Vale, HMS Eridge and HMS Farndale joined the Pasteur, HMS Manchester, HMS Lightning and HMAS Nestor. HMS Maori then left that group and joined the group that was made up of the Leinster, HMS Arethusa, HMS Cossack and HMS Sikh. HMS Manchester departed the ‘Pasteur group’ at 1000/19 to join the ‘Leinster group’ which she did at 1500/19.

The ‘Pasteur group’ arrived at Gibraltar shortly after noon on the 19th and around 0330/20 the ‘Leinster group’ arrived at Gibraltar. Troops aboard these ships then disembarked.

Around 0200/20, HMS Edinburgh, HMS Manxman, HMS Lightning, HMAS Nestor, HMS Avon Vale, HMS Eridge and HMS Farndale departed Gibraltar to rendez-vous with the now incoming convoy WS 9C. They joined the convoy shortly before noon, the six F-class destroyers of the 8th Destroyer Flotilla then left to refuel at Gibraltar.

For the continuation of the events see the event for 21 July 1941 on Operation Substance. (7)

3 Aug 1941
German U-boat U-205 was damaged in the North Atlantic south-west of Ireland, in position 50°27'N, 19°50'W, by depth charges from the British destroyer HMS Wanderer (Cdr. A.F.St.G. Orpen, RN) and the Norwegian destroyer St. Albans (Lt.Cdr. S. Storheill).

5 Dec 1941
HMS H 34 (Lt. W.A. Phillimore, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Wanderer (Cdr. A.F.St.G. Orpen, DSC, RN) and HMS Newmarket (Lt.Cdr. C.W. North, RN). (8)

14 Mar 1942
HMS H 50 (Lt. H.B. Turner, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Volunteer (Lt. A.S. Pomeroy, RN), HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN), HMS Leamington (Lt.Cdr. H.G. Bowerman, RN), HMS Badsworth (Lt. G.T.S. Gray, DSC, RN) and aircraft. (9)

11 Jan 1943
HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN) picks up 46 survivors from the British merchant Ocean Vagabond that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-186 south of Iceland in position 57°17'N, 20°11'W.

22 Jan 1943
HMS Oberon (Lt.Cdr. J.W. McCoy, DSC, RN) shifted from Campbeltown to Rothesay. En-route A/S exercises were carried out with HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN). (10)

8 Jun 1943
HMS H 33 (Lt. J.A. Spender, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with and HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN), HMS Honeysuckle (Lt. H.H.D. MacKillican, DSC and Bar, RNR), HMS Vanquisher (Lt.Cdr. G.A.G. Ormsby, RN), HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lt. R.W.B. Lacon, DSC, RN). (11)

11 Jun 1943
HMS H 33 (Lt. J.A. Spender, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with USS Madison, USS Lansdale, HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, RN) and HMS Inconstant (Lt.Cdr J.H. Eaden, DSC, RN). (11)

12 Jun 1943
HMS H 33 (Lt. J.A. Spender, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, RN) and HMS Amazon (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN). (11)

25 Aug 1943
German U-boat U-523 was sunk in the North Atlantic west of Vigo, in position 42°03'N, 18°02'W, by depth charges from the British destroyer HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, RN) and the British corvette HMS Wallflower (Lt. G.R. Greaves, RNR).

26 Aug 1943
HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, RN) delivered an advance RAF party to Portugal to implement agreement signed on August 18th 1943 between Britain and Portugal for the use of the Azores to operate their aircraft. (12)

5 Nov 1943
HMS H 33 (Lt. D.G. Kent, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Dahlia (Lt. M.S. Work, RNR), HMS Hurricane (Cdr. E.C. Bayldon, DSC, RN) and HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, RN). (13)

17 Jan 1944
German U-boat U-377 was sunk in the North Atlantic south-west of Ireland, in position 49°39'N, 20°10'W, by depth charges from the British destroyer HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, RN) and the British frigate HMS Glenarm (Lt.Cdr. W.R.B. Noall, DSO, RNR).

6 Apr 1944
HMS Safari (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.R.G. Harvey, RN) conducted attack exercises for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) in the Clyde area during which HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, DSC, RN) served as the target. These included night exercises. (14)

7 Apr 1944
HMS Safari (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.R.G. Harvey, RN) conducted night attack exercises for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) in the Clyde area during which HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, DSC, RN) served as the target. Upon completion of these night exercises Safari proceeded to Rothesay. (14)

9 Apr 1944
HMS Safari (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.R.G. Harvey, RN) conducted attack exercises for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) in the Clyde area during which HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, DSC, RN) served as the target. (14)

12 Apr 1944
HMS Safari (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.R.G. Harvey, RN) conducted attack exercises for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) in the Clyde area during which HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, DSC, RN) served as the target. (14)

13 Apr 1944
HMS Safari (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.R.G. Harvey, RN) conducted attack exercises for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) in the Clyde area during which HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, DSC, RN) and HMS Bridgewater (Cdr.(Retd.) R.H. Mack, RN) served as the targets. These included night exercises. (14)

14 Apr 1944
HMS Safari (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.R.G. Harvey, RN) conducted night attack exercises for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) in the Clyde area during which HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, DSC, RN) and HMS Bridgewater (Cdr.(Retd.) R.H. Mack, RN) served as the targets. Upon completion of these night exercises HMS Safari proceeded to Rothesay. (14)

16 Apr 1944
HMS Safari (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.R.G. Harvey, RN) conducted attack exercises for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) in the Clyde area during which HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, DSC, RN) served as the target. The exercices had to be abandonded due to the bad visibility. (14)

17 Apr 1944
HMS Safari (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.R.G. Harvey, RN) conducted attack exercises for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) in the Clyde area during which HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, DSC, RN) served as the target. (14)

18 Apr 1944
HMS Safari (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.R.G. Harvey, RN) conducted attack exercises for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) in the Clyde area during which HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, DSC, RN) and HMS Kihna (A/Cdr.(Retd.) A.R.W. Sayle, RD, RNR) served as the targets. (14)

20 Apr 1944
HMS Safari (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.R.G. Harvey, RN) conducted attack exercises for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) in the Clyde area during which HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, DSC, RN) and HMS Braithwaite (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Mackay, RD, RNR) served as the targets. THese included night exercises. (14)

21 Apr 1944
HMS Safari (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) J.R.G. Harvey, RN) conducted night attack exercises for the C.O.Q.C. (Commanding Officers Qualifying Course) in the Clyde area during which HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, DSC, RN) and HMS Braithwaite (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Mackay, RD, RNR) served as the targets. Upon completion of these exercises HMS Safari proceeded to Rothesay. (14)

4 May 1944
HMS H 28 (Lt. A.S. Melville-Ross, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Pennywort (T/Lt. A.W. James, RNR), HMS Wanderer, HMS Drury (Lt. N.J. Parker, RN), HMS Calder (T/A/Lt.Cdr. E. Playne, RNVR) and HMS Scarborough (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Carnduff, RN). (15)

5 Jul 1944
German U-boat U-390 was sunk 1500hrs on 5 July 1944 in the Baie de la Seine, English Channel, in position 49°52'N, 00°48'W, by depth charges from the British destroyer HMS Wanderer (Lt.Cdr. R.F. Whinney, DSC and Bar, RN) and the British frigate HMS Tavy (T/A/Lt.Cdr. Frank Ardern, RNR).

1986
Reginald Fife Whinney published his memoirs 'The U-boat Peril'.

Lt.Cdr. R.F. (Bob) Whinney, RN took command of HMS Wanderer on 20 April 1943.
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) three times for sinking enemy submarines.
He was promoted to Commander on 31 December 1944.

Media links


British destroyers & frigates

Norman Friedman


Destroyers of World War Two

Whitley, M. J.

Sources

  1. ADM 53/112213
  2. ADM 53/113252
  3. ADM 53/112036 + ADM 53/111885 + ADM 53/112448
  4. ADM 234/318
  5. ADM 199/372
  6. ADM 173/16780
  7. ADM 53/114626 + ADM 53/114204 + ADM 199/1138
  8. ADM 173/16767
  9. ADM 173/17271
  10. ADM 173/17864
  11. ADM 173/17783
  12. Personal communication
  13. ADM 173/17788
  14. ADM 173/18620
  15. ADM 173/18473

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


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