Allied Warships

HMS Azalea (K 25)

Corvette of the Flower class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeCorvette
ClassFlower 
PennantK 25 
Built byCook, Welton & Gemmill (Beverley, U.K.) 
Ordered25 Jul 1939 
Laid down15 Nov 1939 
Launched8 Jul 1940 
Commissioned27 Jan 1941 
End service 
History

Sold on 5 April 1946 and became the merchantile Norte.
Sunk on 19 January 1955.  

Commands listed for HMS Azalea (K 25)

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and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

CommanderFromTo
1Lt. George Carlow Geddes, RNR6 Nov 1940mid 1945

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Notable events involving Azalea include:


17 Feb 1941
HMS H 50 (Lt. M. Willmott, RN) conducted exercises off Tobermory with HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR) and HMS Abelia (T/Lt. F. Ardern, RNR). (1)

18 Feb 1941
HMS H 50 (Lt. M. Willmott, RN) conducted exercises off Tobermory with HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR) and HMS Abelia (T/Lt. F. Ardern, RNR). (1)

20 Feb 1941
HMS H 50 (Lt. M. Willmott, RN) conducted exercises off Tobermory with HMS Violet (Lt.Cdr. K.M. Nicholson, RNR) and HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR). (1)

22 Feb 1941
HMS H 50 (Lt. M. Willmott, RN) conducted exercises off Tobermory with HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR) and another vessel [unable to read the name in the log of HMS H 50]. (1)

1 May 1941
HrMs O 21 (Lt.Cdr. J.F. van Dulm, RNN) carries out exercises off Gibraltar with HMS Faulknor (Capt. A.F. de Salis, RN) and HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR). Later exercises are carried out with aircraft from HMS Ark Royal (Capt. L.E.H. Maund, RN). (2)

1 Jul 1941
HrMs O 21 (Lt.Cdr. J.F. van Dulm, RNN), HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR) and HMS Stella Carina (Lt. J.V. Lobb, RANVR) depart from convoy HG 66 to join convoy OG 66.

A few hours later O 21 was ordered to establish a patrol off Cape Finisterre, Spain and leaves the formation. (3)

16 Sep 1941
HMS Severn (Lt.Cdr. A.N.G. Campbell, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Gibraltar together with HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR) and HMS Lord Hotham (T/Skr. F.J. Setterfield, RNR). (4)

18 Sep 1941
HMS Severn (Lt.Cdr. A.N.G. Campbell, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Gibraltar together with HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR) and HMS Fleur de Lys (Lt. (Retd.) A. Collins, RNR). (4)

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 1800B/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 (Kmdr.por. (Cdr.) E.J.S. Plawski), ORP Garland (Kmdr.por. (Cdr.) K.F. Namiesniowski) 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 2030B/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 2300B/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 0800B/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 0130B/25. This disposition was adopted to reduce the frontage of the convoy during its passage through the Straits.

At 0730B/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 1700B/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 0932B/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 0730B/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 1327B/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 0120B/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 0340B/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 1215B/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 2030B/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 0615B/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 0800B/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 0725B/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 1942B/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 2100B/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 0555B/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 0700B/29. The attacker was the Italian submarine Diaspro which managed to escape unharmed.

At 0810B/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 1500B/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 0835B/29. The remainder of Force X joined Force A at 1030B/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 0730B/29 onwards.

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

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

At 1945B/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 2120B/29, HMS Jonquil (Lt.Cdr. R.E.H. Partington, RD, RNR) at 2140B/29, HMS Fleur de Lys at 2150B/29 and finally HMS Arbutus (T/Lt. A.L.W. Warren, DSC, RNR) at 2340B/29. Nelson's screen now consisted of four destroyers and four corvettes.

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

At 1200B/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 1030B/29 course was shaped to the westward, keeping 40 nautical miles clear of the African coast.

At 1645B/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 1930B/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 1800B/30.

At 0928B/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 1030B/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 1930B/27. After an uneventful passage the Melbourne Star arrived at Gibraltar at 0700B/29. The Port Chalmers and City of Pretoria were spotted and reported by Italian aircraft at 1200B/27, shortly after leaving Malta. No enemy surface craft were seen until 2320B/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 0535B/28 the Commodore of the convoy ordered he Port Chalmers to part company. Port Chalmers then proceeded at full speed, wearing French colours.

At 0915B/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 1015B/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 1145B/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 1555B/28. The aircraft did not attack.

At 1725B/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 0200B/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 0900B/30. City of Pretoria followed during the afternoon. (5)

14 Jan 1942
HMS Severn (Lt.Cdr. A.N.G. Campbell, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Gibraltar together with HMS Spiraea (T/Lt. R.W. Tretheway, RNR) and HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR). (6)

27 Jan 1942
Around 1315A/27, HMS Turbulent (Cdr. J.W. Linton, DSC, RN) departed from Gibraltar for Malta. She carries some much needed stores and 10 passengers (2 for Malta and 8 for Alexandria) to Malta during this passage.

Before proceeding to Malta she conducted A/S exercises with HMS Pelican (Cdr. G.V. Gladstone, RN), HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR) and HMS Marigold (T/Lt. J. Renwick, DSO, RNR). Exercises were completed around 1800A/27.

(As no log of HMS Turbulent is available for January 1942 it is not possible to display a map.) (7)

14 Nov 1942

Convoy KMF 3.

This convoy departed the U.K. (Clyde) on 14 November 1942.

It was made up of the following (troop) transports;
Andes (British, 25689 GRT, built 1939), Bergensfjord (Norwegian, 11015 GRT, built 1913), Borinquen (American, 7114 GRT, built 1931), Christiaan Huygens (Dutch, 16287 GRT, built 1927), Coamo (American, 7057 GRT, built 1925), Duchess of York (British, 20021 GRT, built 1929), Empress of Australia (British, 21833 GRT, built 1914), Leopoldville (Belgian, 11509 GRT, built 1929), Mariposa (American, 18152 GRT, built 1931), Nea Hellas (British, 16991 GRT, built 1922), Orion (British, 23371 GRT, built 1935), Orontes (British, 20097 GRT, built 1929), Rangitiki (British, 16698 GRT, built 1929), Scythia (British, 19761 GRT, built 1920), Staffordshire (British, 10683 GRT, built 1929), Strathaird (British, 22281 GRT, built 1932), Strathallan (British, 23722 GRT, built 1938) and Windsor Castle (British, 19141 GRT, built 1922).

On departure from the U.K. the convoy was escorted by the destroyer HMS Scimitar (Lt.Cdr. C.G. Cuthbertson, DSC, RNR), sloops HMS Folkestone (Cdr.(Retd.) J.G.C. Gibson, OBE, RN), HMS Weston (Cdr. L.F. Durnford-Slater, RN), HMS Wellington (Lt. L.G. Toone, RN), HMS Gorleston (Cdr.(Retd.) R.W. Keymer, RN), HMS Totland (Lt.Cdr. L.E. Woodhouse, RN) and the corvette HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR).

On 15 November 1942, HMS Scimitar parted company.

On 20 November 1942, the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, DSO, RN), HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN) and HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, OBE, RN) joined.

Around 1500A/21, the Oran Section of the convoy parted company. The Oran Section was made up of the Andes, Borinquen and the Rangitiki. They arrived at Oran around 1730A/21 escorted by HMS Milne, HMS Quality, HMS Quentin and HMAS Quiberon.

The remainder of the convoy arrived at Algiers on 22 November.

12 Apr 1943
HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR) picks up 45 survivors from the British merchant Fresno City that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-706 in the North Atlantic in position 54°15'N, 30°00'W.

HMS Azalea also picks up 56 survivors from the British merchant Pacific Grove that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-563 in the North Atlantic in position 54°10'N, 30°00'W.

HMS Azalea also picks up 41 survivors from the Dutch merchant Ulysses that was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-563 in the North Atlantic in position 54°30'N, 30°30'W.

4 May 1943
HMS Upstart (Lt. P.C. Chapman, DSC and Bar, RN) conducted A/S exercises in Lough Foyle with HMS Northern Wave (T/Lt. J.P. Kilbee, RNR), ? (can't read the ships name in Upstart's log), HMS Scarborough (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Carnduff, RN), HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR), HMS Coltsfoot (T/Lt. the Hon. W.K. Rous, RNVR) and HMS Balsam (Lt. J.E.L. Peters, RNVR). (8)

5 May 1943
HMS Upstart (Lt. P.C. Chapman, DSC and Bar, RN) conducted A/S exercises in Lough Foyle with HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR), HMS Fleetwood (Cdr. W.B. Piggott, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Mignonette (Lt. H.H. Brown, RNR), HMS Qualicum (T/Lt. H. Stevens, RNVR) and HMS Fort York (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Corbet-Singleton, DSC and 2 Bars, RN). (8)

6 May 1943

Combined convoy OS 47 / KMS 14.

This combined convoy was assembled off Oversay on 6 May 1943.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Albion Star (British, 7946 GRT, built 1919), Amstelkerk (Dutch, 4457 GRT, built 1929), Baron Dunmore (British, 3938 GRT, built 1933), Baron Yarborough (British, 3388 GRT, 1928), Brika (British, 4412 GRT, built 1929), Chateauroux (British, 4765 GRT, built 1921), City of Agra (British, 6361 GRT, built 1936), City of Auckland (British, 8336 GRT, built 1914), City of Calcutta (British, 8063 GRT, built 1940), City of Hereford (British, 5101 GRT, built 1927), City of Oran (British, 7323 GRT, built 1915), Clan Forbes (British, 7529 GRT, built 1938), Clan MacBean (British, 5000 GRT, built 1918), Clumberhall (British, 5198 GRT, built 1930), Collegian (British, 7886 GRT, built 1923), Daldorch (British, 5571 GRT, built 1930), Egret (British, 1391 GRT, built 1937), Eildon (British, 1447 GRT, built 1936), Empire Barrie (British, 7168 GRT, built 1942), Empire Beatrice (British, 7046 GRT, built 1943), Empire Brook (British, 2852 GRT, built 1941), Empire Carpenter (British, 7025 GRT, built 1943), Empire Chamois (British, 5684 GRT, built 1918), Empire Clive (British (CAM ship), 7069 GRT, built 1941), Empire Commerce (British, 3722 GRT, built 1943), Empire Cougar (British, 5758 GRT, built 1919), Empire Eve (British (CAM ship), 5979 GRT, built 1941), Empire Galahad (British, 7046 GRT, built 1942), Empire Geraint (British, 6991 GRT, built 1942), Empire Lake (British, 2852 GRT, built 1941), English Prince (British, 7275 GRT, built 1943), Explorer (British, 6235 GRT, built 1935), Filleigh (British, 4856 GRT, built 1928), Fort Anne (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Fort Douglas (British, 7129 GRT, built 1942)), Fort Drew (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Fort Thompson (British, 7134 GRT, built 1942), Fort Vermillion (British, 7133 GRT, built 1942), Govert Flinck (Dutch, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Groix (British, 9975 GRT, built 1922), Guinean (British, 5205 GRT, built 1936), Harmonic (British, 4558 GRT, built 1930), Havildar (British, 5401 GRT, built 1940), Indian Prince (British, 8587 GRT, built 1926), James Barbour (American, 7176 GRT, built 1943), John Holt (British, 4964 GRT, built 1943), Kingsland (British, 3669 GRT, built 1930), Kong Haakon VII (Norwegian, 7073 GRT, built 1942), Liberian (British, 5129 GRT, built 1936), Llancarvan (British, 4910 GRT, built 1937), Lombardy (British, 3379 GRT, built 1921), Lwow (Polish, 1409 GRT, built 1932), Macharda (British, 7998 GRT, built 1938), Manchester Port (British, 7071 GRT, built 1935), Maplewood (British, 4566 GRT, built 1930), Masirah (British, 6578 GRT, built 1919), Merkland (British, 1363 GRT, built 1934), Myrtlebank (British, 5150 GRT, built 1925), Nea (Norwegian, 1877 GRT, built 1921), Nestor (British, 14629 GRT, built 1913), Nigerstroom (Dutch, 4639 GRT, built 1939), Ocean Valour (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Vanity (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Verity (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Pencarrow (British, 4841 GRT, built 1921), Phrontis (Dutch, 6616 GRT, built 1926), Prince de Liege (Belgian, 2588 GRT, built 1938), Rallus (British, 1871 GRT, built 1922), Salawati (Dutch, 6643 GRT, built 192), Sellinge (British, 2327 GRT, built 1916), Silversandal (British, 6770 GRT, built 1930), Spero (British, 1589 GRT, built 1922), Stad Vlaardingen (Dutch, 8501 GRT, built 1925), Stanforth (British, 1817 GRT, built 1915), Tactician (British, 5996 GRT, built 1928), Thurland Castle (British, 6372 GRT, built 1929), Topsdalfjord (Norwegian, 4271 GRT, built 1921), Trader (British, 6087 GRT, built 1940), Tynemouth (British, 3168 GRT, built 1940) and Umvuma (British, 4419 GRT, built 1914).

On assembly the convoy was escorted by the sloops HMS Scarborough (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Carnduff, RN), HMS Deptford (Lt.Cdr. H.R. White, RN), corvettes HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR), HMS Balsam (Lt. J.E.L. Peters, RNVR), HMS Coltsfoot (T/Lt. the Hon. W.K. Rous, RNVR), HMS Mignonette (Lt. H.H. Brown, RNR), minesweepers HMS Fort York (Lt.Cdr. C.H. Corbet-Singleton, DSC and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Parrsboro (T/A/Lt.Cdr. J.G. Raven, DSC, RNVR), HMS Qualicum (T/Lt. H. Stevens, RNVR), HMS Wedgeport (T/A/Lt.Cdr. G.L. Fetherstonhaugh, RNR), HMS Hazard (Lt.Cdr. L.C. Smith, RN) and the M/S trawler HMS Prodigal (T/Lt. G.C. Norman, RNR).

Later, between latitudes 49°N and 42°N, the AA cruiser HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN) was near the convoy to provide cover.

On 7 May 1943, the Ocean Valour developed a fire in her lower bunker. As she was carrying ammunition and at 0800Z/7 she was detached in position 55°18'N, 08°58'W to return to Belfast.

Around 0200Z/9, HMS Mignonette was detached to make rendezvous with the merchant vessel Empire Guinevere (British, 7072 GRT, built 1942) which had been unable to sail with the convoy and had left Barrow-in-Furness later to proceed and join the convoy via the south of Ireland.

Around 0800Z/10, HMS Mignonette and the Empire Guinevere joined the convoy in position 49°16'N, 14°12'W as did the corvette HMS Spiraea (Lt. A.H. Pierce, OBE, RNR) and the merchant vessel Ocean Volunteer (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942) which came from Milford Haven.

At 0722Z/11, when the convoy was in position 47°07'N, 14°19'W, the air cover, a Halifax aircraft (Sqdn. 58/D), reported sighting a submarine bearing 217° - 10 nautical miles from the convoy. On receipt of this report HMS Mignonette was ordered to proceed to this position and she was ordered to rejoin by 1000Z/11 if not in contact. The convoy changed course to 150°.

At 0749Z/11, the aircraft reported that she had sighted and attacked a submarine in position 280° - 8 nautical miles. HMS Fleetwood was ordered to proceed to this position and she was ordered to rejoin by 1030Z/11 if not in contact. At 0820Z/11, HMS Fleetwood reported that she was in the position marked by the aircrafts smoke float and at 0856Z/11, she reported that she was in contact. On receipt of this info, HMS Mignonette and HMS Wedgeport were ordered to join HMS Fleetwood.

The convoy altered course to 200° at 1200Z/6.

At 1345Z/11, HMS Fleetwood reported that the submarine had been sunk and that she had picked up 39 survivors and HMS Mignonette another 6. The submarine in question was U-528 which had been damaged by the depth charges from the aircraft and HMS Fleetwood. The damaged U-boat managed to surface and was then scuttled by her crew.

At 1500Z/11, HMS Fleetwood, HMS Mignonette and HMS Wedgeport were ordered to rejoin the convoy. HMS Fleetwood and HMS Mignonette were back in station by 2130Z/11. HMS Wedgeport could not find the convoy in the bad visibility and was ordered to remain behind the convoy until the following morning. At 2000Z/11, the convoy altered course to 182°

On the 12th, HMS Wedgeport was homed on to the convoy and resumed station at 1140Z/12. Earlier, the Llancarvan had to stop in approximate position 45°35'N, 14°10'W with engine trouble and at 0608Z/12, HMS Qualicum was ordered to remain with her until further orders. They were subsequently ordered to proceed to Lisbon which was the port of destination of the Llancarvan.

At 0800Z/12, the convoy was in position 44°56'N, 14°03'W, course 182°, speed 6.75 knots.

At 1315Z/14, in position 38°50'N, 12°17'W, HMS Prodigal was detached to escort Merkland to the territorial waters of Lisbon and the Brika to Huelva. HMS Prodigal was then to proceed to Gibraltar. In the end the destination of the Brika was changed to Gibraltar and HMS Prodigal escorted her to her new destination.

Also on the 14th, HMS Mignonette transferred her six German survivors from U-528 to HMS Fleetwood.

At 0600Z/15, the convoy was in position 37°15'N, 11°32'W when course was altered to 135°. HMS Fleetwood was now detached to Gibraltar to land her prisoners and complete with depth charges, ammunition and fuel and then rejoin the convoy.

At 1830Z/15, in position 36°02'N, 10°36'W, convoy KMS 14 parted company to make rendezvous with convoy UGS 8 which was effected in the afternoon of the 16th in position 35°44'N, 08°15'W. Convoy KMS 14 was made up of the following merchant vessels; Baron Yarborough, City of Agra, City of Auckland, Clan Macbean, Collegian, Daldorch, Egret, Eildon, Empire Beatrice, Empire Carpenter, Empire Clive, Empire Commerce, Empire Eve, Empire Guinevere, English Prince, Explorer, Filleigh, Fort Anne, Fort Vermillion, Govert Flinck, Havildar, Indian Prince, James Barbour, Kingsland, Kong Haakon VII, Lwow, Macharda, Manchester Port, Masirah, Myrtlebank, Nea, Nigerstroom, Ocean Vanity, Ocean Verity, Ocean Volunteer, Pencarrow, Prince de Liege, Rallus, Salawati, Sellinge, Spero, Stanforth, Tactician, Thurland Castle, Topsdalfjord, Trader and Tynemouth.

They were escorted by HMS Fort York, HMS Parrsboro, HMS Wedgeport and HMS Hazard.

In the early hours of 16th May 1943, the Maplewood straggled from the convoy and was not seen again. She proceeded independently to Freetown.

Around 0700Z/6, in position 34°43'N, 10°14'W, rendezvous was made with convoy OS 47G, the Gibraltar section of the convoy. The following merchant vessels now joined the convoy; Anglo-African (British, 5601 GRT, built 1929), Benledi (British, 5943 GRT, built 1930), Carlton (British, 7210 GRT, built 1942), Cefn-Y-Bryn (British, 5164 GRT, built 1939), Clan Murray (British, 5953 GRT, built 1918), Empire Ruskin (British, 7037 GRT, built 1942), Empire Torrent (British, 7076 GRT, built 1942), Fort Ellice (British, 7129 GRT, built 1942), Fort Livingstone (British, 7135 GRT, built 1942), Fort Simpson (British, 7133 GRT, built 1942), Jan Lievens (Dutch, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Mahout (British, 7921 GRT, built 1925), Ocean Messenger (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Pilgrim (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Trader (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Wayfarer (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942) and Stancleeve (British, 5970 GRT, built 1942).

They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Wishart (Cdr. H.G. Scott, DSC, RN) and the ASW trawlers HMS Foxtrot (T/Lt. J.B. Bald, RNVR) and HMS Reighton Wyke (Skr. G.M. Sutherland, RNR).

At 1000Z/16, rendezvous was made with the Casablanca section of the convoy which had departed that port on the 15th. The following merchant vessels now joined the convoy; Empire Addison (British, 7010 GRT, built 1942), Essex Trader (British, 7237 GRT, built 1943), Fort Rupert (British, 7142 GRT, built 1942) and Orient City (British, 5095 GRT, built 1940).

These had been escorted to the rendezvous with the convoy escorted by the destroyers USS Guest (T/Cdr. H. Crommelin, USN), USS Thatcher (T/Cdr. L.R. Lampman, USN) and USS Brownson (T/Cdr. J.B. Maher, USN).

These destroyers then returned to Casablanca where they arrived on the 17th having taken the following merchant vessels with them; Baron Dunmore, Empire Barrie, Fort Douglas, Fort Drew and Fort Thompson.

Around the same time the HMS Foxtrot and HMS Reighton Wyke were detached to proceed to Gibraltar. HMS Wishart was to join the combined convoy UGS 8 / KMS 14.

At 0700Z/19, in position 25°57'N, 16°27'W, the RFA tanker Fortol (2629 GRT, built 1917) and her escorts, the corvette HMS Bellwort (A/Lt.Cdr. N.F.R. Gill, RNR) and the ASW whaler HMS Wastwater (T/Lt. W.J.L. Storey, RNVR) joined the convoy. The Fortol was to fuel the escorts which commenced at 0900Z/19 when HMS Scarborough went alongside.

At 1106Z/19, when the convoy was in position 25°38'N, 16°51'W, the air escort, a Sunderland flying boat, reported having sighted a periscope bearing 120° - 14 nautical miles from HMS Scarborough, the escort leader. Immediately HMS Balsam was ordered to proceed to this position and at 1114Z/19, HMS Coltsfoot was ordered to join her. HMS Scarborough slipped from the Fortol at 1120Z/19 to also proceed to the scene.

At 1120Z/19, HMS Scarborough arrived on the reported location and with the two corvettes a large square search was carried out until 1615Z/19, but no contact was obtained. The escorts then made off to rejoin the convoy after having dropped a depth charge pattern each for exercise purposes. [No enemy submarine appeared to have been in the immediate area, closest one was U-511 but she was further to the west.]

Around 0200Z/20, HMS Scarborough, HMS Balsam and HMS Coltsfoot rejoined the convoy.

Around 1050Z/20, HMS Fleetwood rejoined the convoy from Gibraltar.

During the 20th, all escort vessels fuelled from the Fortol.

Around 1600Z/22, in position 14°52'N, 18°05'W, two merchant vessels joined the convoy coming from Dakar [No clue on their identity] escorted by local escorts. Four of the merchant vessels then parted company to proceed to Dakar escorted by the local escorts. These were the Empire Addison, Empire Cougar and Fort Livingstone. [No clue on the identity of the fourth.]

At 1100Z/23, in position 12°45'N, 18°30'W, one of the mercant vessels which was to proceed to recife was detached. This was most likely the City of Hereford.

At 1700Z/23, in position 11°08'N, 18°41'W, two additional escorts joined, these were the corvette HMS Armeria (Lt. M. Todd, RNR) and the ASW whaler HMS Buttermere (Lt. J.D.E. Lewis, RNR).

Around 1100Z/25, the convoy was approaching the end of the swept channel into Freetown. Some ships of the convoy split off forming convoy OSS 47 escorted by HMS Bellwort, HMS Armeria, HMS Buttermere and HMS Wastwater. [The ships that split off were probably the following (to be researched further); Albion Star, Amstelkerk, City of Calcutta, Clan Forbes, Empire Galahad, Empire Geraint, Guinean, Harmonic and Lombardy.]

Three merchant vessels; Lida (Polish, 1387 GRT, built 1938), Peterston (British, 4680 GRT, built 1925) and Rhesus (British, 6530 GRT, built 1911) joined convoy OSS 47 coming from Freetown escorted by the armed boarding vessel HMS Corinthian (Cdr. E.J.R. Pollitt, RNR), corvette HMS Burdock (Lt.Cdr. E.H. Lynes, RD, RNR) and the ASW trawlers HMS Birdlip (Lt. E.N. Groom, RNR) and HMS Duncton ( Lt. J.N. Burgess, RANVR).

On these ships joining, HMS Bellwort, HMS Buttermere and HMS Wastwater parted company with convoy OSS 47 and also entered Freetown.

Convoy OSS 47 continued on to Takoradi though most of the merchant vessels were detached to proceed independently before arrival at Takoradi. (9)

3 Jul 1943
HMS H 34 (T/Lt. R.L. Willoughby, RNR) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Sabre and HMS Fame (Capt. R. Heathcote, DSO, RN), HMS Rochester (Cdr. H.V. King, OBE, RN) and HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR). (10)

4 Jul 1943
HMS P 511 (Lt. C.W. Taylor, RNR) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle together with HMS Rochester (Cdr. H.V. King, OBE, RN), HMS Geranium (T/Lt. A.R.J. Tilston, DSC, RNR), HMS Mignonette (Lt. H.H. Brown, RNR), HMS Balsam (Lt. J.E.L. Peters, RNVR), HMS Coltsfoot (T/Lt. G.W. Rayner, RNVR) and HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR). (11)

28 Jul 1943

Convoy SL 134.

This convoy departed Freetown on 28 July 1943.

It was made up of the following merchant vessels; Aleksandar I (Yugoslavian, 5948 GRT, built 1927), Anna (Greek, 5173 GRT, built 1919), Baron Inchcape (British, 7005 GRT, built 1917), Cape Clear (British, 5085 GRT, built 1939), City of Yokohama (British, 7341 GRT, built 1922), Clan MacIlwraith (British, 4839 GRT, built 1924), Clan Murray (British, 5953 GRT, built 1918), Dunelmia (British, 5207 GRT, built 1929), Elorn (French, 5482 GRT, built 1930), Empire Barrie (British, 7168 GRT, built 1942), Empire Geraint (British, 6991 GRT, built 1942), Empire Grebe (British, 5736 GRT, built 1918), Empire Plover (British, 6109 GRT, built 1920), Empire Ruskin (British, 7037 GRT, built 1942), Empire Torrent (British, 7076 GRT, built 1942), Essex Trader (British, 7237 GRT, built 1943), Ettrickbank (British, 5138 GRT, built 1937), Fort Ellice (British, 7129 GRT, built 1942), Fort Halkett (British, 7133 GRT, built 1942), Fort Jemseg (British, 7134 GRT, built 1943), Fort Steele (British, 7133 GRT, built 1942), Jaarstroom (Dutch, 2480 GRT, built 1922), King Stephen (British, 5274 GRT, built 1928), Kohistan (British, 5884 GRT, built 1930), Liberian (British, 5129 GRT, built 1936), Lida (Polish, 1387 GRT, built 1938), Lombardy (British, 3379 GRT, built 1921), Mahout (British, 7921 GRT, built 1925), Malancha (British, 8124 GRT, built 1937), Markhor (British, 7917 GRT, built 1929), Ocean Fame (British, 7173 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Pilgrim (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Trader (British, 7178 GRT, built 1942), Ocean Volunteer (British, 7174 GRT, built 1942), Princ Andrej (Yugoslavian, 5041 GRT, built 1930), Royal Star (British, 7900 GRT, built 1919), Sheridan (British, 4665 GRT, built 1918), Silverlaurel (British, 6142 GRT, built 1939), Stancleeve (British, 5970 GRT, built 1942), Testbank (British, 5136 GRT, built 1937), Telesfora de Larrinaga (British, 5780 GRT, built 1920), Testbank (British, 5083 GRT, built 1937) Ville d'Amiens (British (former French), 6975 GRT, built 1924) and Waterland (Dutch, 6847 GRT, built 1922).

The French armed merchant cruiser Quercy was also part of the convoy.

On departure from Freetown the convoy was escorted by the destroyer ORP Burza (Kmdr.ppor. (Cdr.) F. Pitulko), escort destroyer HMS Blackmore (Lt. H.T. Harrel, RN), sloop HMS Rochester (Cdr. H.V. King, OBE, RN, Senior Officer of the A/S escort) and the corvettes HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RNR), HMS Balsam (Lt. J.E.L. Peters, RNVR), HMS Mignonette (Lt. H.H. Brown, RNR) and HMS Snowdrop (T/Lt. W.A. Burnett, RNVR).

The corvette HMS Burdock (Lt.Cdr. E.H. Lynes, RD, RNR) sailed a day late (29th) to overtake and join the convoy.

At dawn on the 29th, the Lida and Stancleeve were found to be missing from the convoy. These ships had to part company during the night and both returned to Freetown with defects on the 30th.

Around 1400Z/28, HMS Burdock joined the convoy.

Around 1900Z/28, in position 10°58'N, 17°10'W, the Dunelmia, Fort Halkett, King Stephen and Testbank were detached from the convoy to proceed independently to destinations in South America. During this passage the Fort Halkett was sunk by the German submarine U-185.

Around 0500Z/1, in position 14°43'N, 17°47'W, the Quercy parted company with the convoy to proceed to Dakar independently in contrary to her sailing orders as she was supposed to only part company later at the rendezvous point with the ships coming from Dakar.

Around 0630Z/1, the Dakar section of the convoy joined. It was made up of the merchant vessels Fort Douglas (British, 7129 GRT, built 1942) and Hoggar (French, 5146 GRT, built 1923) and the tug Empire Oberon (British, 242 GRT, built 1943). With them was the corvette HMS Geranium (T/Lt. A.R.J. Tilston, DSC, RNR) and two ML's. HMS Geranium joined the convoy. The ML's, which were to have escorted the Quercy to Dakar returned with the Empire Oberon which was found to be unable to keep up with the convoy.

Around 0800Z/1, ORP Burza was detached to Dakar to effect repairs to a defective boiler joint. At the same time HMS Blackmore was detached to St. Vincent.

Around 2000Z/1, the Jaarstroom was detached to Dakar as she was unable to keep up with the convoy.

Around 0130Z/2, ORP Burza rejoined the convoy having effected repairs at Dakar.

Around 0600Z/2, HMS Snowdrop was detached to convoy OS 52.

Around the same time the RFA tanker Fortol (2629 GRT, built 1917) joined the convoy coming from convoy OS 52. Her escort, the corvette HrMs Friso (Lt.Cdr. P.L.M. van Geen, RNN) returned to convoy OS 52.

Around 1600Z/3, the merchant vessel Chelma (French, 4968 GRT, built 1920) joined the convy from Port Etienne. She was escorted to thee rendezvous by the sloop La Grandiere which did not join the convoy.

Around 1900Z/3, HMS Blackmore rejoined the convoy coming from St. Vincent.

On 6 August 1943, HMS Rochester and HMS Azalea fuelled from the Fortol.

On 7 August 1943, HMS Balsam and HMS Geranium fuelled from the Fortol.

On 8 August 1943, HMS Blackmore and HMS Burdock fuelled from the Fortol.

On 9 August 1943, ORP Burza and HMS Mignonette fuelled from the Fortol.

Around 1000Z/9, the Chelma, Elorn, Hoggar parted company with the convoy to proceed to Casablanca. To escort them to this place the patrol vessels USS PC-472 (Lt. M. Beerman, USNR), USS PC-480 (Lt.(jg) F.W. Meyers, Jr., USNR) and USS PC-482 (Lt. N.P. Hallowell, Jr., USNR) had come out from Casablanca.

Around 1725Z/9, in position 33°58'N, 09°33'W, the Fortol escorted by HMS Blackmore parted company to proceed to Gibraltar.

Around 0600Z/10, in position 35°13'N, 09°50'W, the light (AA) cruiser HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, DSO, RN) joined the convoy coming from Gibraltar.

Around 1700Z/10, in position 35°58'N, 10°40'W, the escort destroyer HMS Brissenden (Lt. D.C. Beatty, RN) joined the convoy coming from Gibraltar. She was to have joined earlier but while en-route to rendezvous with the convoy had been diverted to search the area near position 35°35'N, 06°57'W where an SOS signal from an aircraft had been sent from around 2200Z/9. She had abandoned her search, having found nothing, around 0927Z/10 and then set course to join the convoy.

At 1722Z/12, when the convoy was in position 40°12'N, 15°58'W, HMS Azalea reported contact on an enemy FW 200 aircraft. The escort closed up to provice better AA protection for the convoy. At 1750Z/12, the enemy aircraft was seen to jettison some bombs well clear of the port quarter of the convoy and at 1815Z/12, the escorts resumed their previous stations.

At 1925Z/12, the enemy aircraft commenced a bombing run at a height of 10000 feet from the port beam of the convoy. HMS Scylla opened a rapid and accurate fire. The enemy bombs fell between the second ship of the second column and the leading ship of the third column causing no damage. At 1950Z/12, HMS Scylla reported her radar screen clear of enemy aircraft.

At 1141Z/13, HMS Scylla reported contact on an enemy FW 200 aircraft. The position of the convoy at 1200Z/13 was 42°12'N, 16°15'W.

At 1306Z/13, this aircraft made a bombing run from the port quarter of the convoy at a height of 15000 feet. HMS Scylla's AA fire was impressive and the bombs again missed, falling 70 feet astern of the Royal Star which was the leading ship of the 7th column.

Around 2100Z/13, in position 43°30'N, 16°17'W, HMS Scylla parted company to join the combined convoy OS 53 / KMS 22.

At 1105Z/14, a FW 200 aircraft was sighted and it was driven off by the Liberator air escort / patrol which scored some hits on it. At 1200Z/13, the convoy was in position 45°07'N, 16°47'W.

At 1215Z/14, in position 44°58'N, 16°46'W, the light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) closed the convoy to cover it against surface attack. At 1223Z/13, she reported a FW 200 in sight and directed the relief Liberator air escort / patrol to it. The enemy made off and was not seen again.

Around 2000Z/15, in position 47°40'N, 15°13'W, six ships of the convoy, capable of 12 knots, were detached to proceed ahead escorted by HMS Burdock (S.O.) and HMS Brissenden. The ships in question were the Ettrickbank, Mahout, Malancha, Markhor, Royal Star and Silverlaurel.

At 0600Z/16, in position 50°04'N, 15°32'W, HMS Bermuda parted company with the convoy to proceed to Plymouth.

At 1320Z/17, the Empire Geraint was detached to proceed to Avonmouth escorted as far as 07°00'W by HMS Geranium.

The convoy arrived in U.K. waters on 18 August 1943 after which the ships proceeded to their respective destinations. (12)

28 Aug 1943
HMS H 33 (T/Lt. C.P. Thode, RNZNVR) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Geranium (T/Lt. A.R.J. Tilston, DSC, RNR), HMS Azalea (Lt. G.C. Geddes, RD, RNR), HMS Balsam (Lt. J.E.L. Peters, RNVR) and HMCS St. Croix (A/Lt.Cdr. A.H. Dobson, DSC, RCNR). (13)

13 Feb 1944
HMS H 34 (Lt. R.L. Jay, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Azalea (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Geddes, RD, RNR), HMCS Morden (T/Lt. E.C. Smith, RCNVR), HMCS Amherst (T/A/Lt.Cdr. L. de la C. Audette, RCNVR) and HMS Bluebell (Lt. G.H. Walker, DSC, RNVR). (14)

14 Feb 1944
HMS H 34 (Lt. R.L. Jay, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Lough Foyle with HMS Azalea (Lt.Cdr. G.C. Geddes, RD, RNR), HMCS Halifax (T/Lt. M.F. Oliver, RCNR) and HMCS Fredericton (A/Lt.Cdr. John Eric Harrington, RCNVR). (14)

Sources

  1. ADM 173/16790
  2. File 2.12.03.6404 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  3. File 2.12.03.6407 (Dutch Archives, The Hague, Netherlands)
  4. ADM 173/16986
  5. ADM 199/831
  6. ADM 173/17567
  7. ADM 199/1218
  8. ADM 173/18373
  9. ADM 199/963 + ADM 199/975 + ADM 199/2201
  10. ADM 173/17796
  11. ADM 173/17926
  12. ADM 199/585 + ADM 199/963 + ADM 199/964 + ADM 199/2101
  13. ADM 173/17785
  14. ADM 173/18492

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


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