A Class AMC convoys continued

HMS Ausonia was escort for the following convoys (Public Records Office, Kew):

 

Convoy HX 12 Cruising Order
Departed Halifax on 12th December 1939 and arrived Liverpool on 27th December (35 ships).

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
11

Dunaff Head      British             Grain / General Destination Dublin

 

21

Scottish Star      British            Refrig / General        Destination Liverpool

31

Scholar               British              Cotton & Carb             Destination;     Liverpool

41

Corabella       British          Wheat   Destination Liverpool

51

San Diego         French          Foodstuffs        Destination   London

61

Pacific Exporter   British           Fresh Fruit        Destination London

71

Medon    British       Can Salmon Destination  London

 

81

Athelprincess    British         Crude Oil Destination  Dunkirk

91

British Science    British          Gas Oil Destination  London

12

Bengore Head British       General         Destination Belfast

22

Caledonian Monarch                 British Grain   Destination Liverpool

 

32

Domby British       Iron Ore         Destination   Cardiff

42

Elona      British  Petroleum  Destination Liverpool

52

Riley    British   Wheat  Destination Cardiff

62

Barrgrove   British            Wheat        Destination  Hull

72

King James   British            Wheat        Destination  Hull

82

Rockpool   British            Grain        Destination  London

 

92

Niceto de Larrinaga   British            Flour        Destination  London

13

Baron Maclay British       Scrap Steel         Destination Glasgow

23

Botwey                 British Flour   Destination Glasgow

 

33

Temple Yard British       Wheat         Destination   Avonmouth

43

Merchant Royal      British    Flour / Wheat  Destination Falmouth

53

Geo H Jones    American   Crude Oil  Destination Soton

63

Montrolite   British            Crude Oil        Destination  Soton

73

San Felix   British            Fuel Oil        Destination  Shell Haven

83

C.V. Doornum   British            Pulpwood        Destination  London

 

93

Nailsea Moor   British            Grain        Destination  Liverpool

14

Sirikishna British       Iron Ore         Destination Glasgow

24

Box Hill                 British Wheat   Destination Hull

 

34

Arndale British                Destination   Clyde

44

 

54

Sandsend    British   Grain  Destination Soton

64

F.S. Fales               Crude Oil        Destination   Le Havre

74

Mactra    British            Crude Oil        Destination  Le Harve

84

James Magee   American            Crude Oil        Destination  Le Harve

 

94

Athelchief   British            Crude Oil        Destination  Le Harve

 

Convoy Commodore was in Pacific Exporter, station 61. Vice Commodore was in Scholar, station 31.

Ocean Escorts were HMS Ausonia and S/MV Pasteur.

 

Convoy HX 23 Cruising Order

Departed Halifax on 26th February 1940 and arrived Liverpool on 12th March (26 ships).

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
11

Manchester Division      British              General Destination Manchester

 

21

Manchester Brigade      British             General        Destination Manchester

31

Tekoa               British              Refrig Food / Wool             Destination     Milford Haven

41

Pacific Grove       British          General   Destination London

51

HMS Ausonia         Escort

61

Pacific Enterprise   British           General        Destination London

71

Loch Dee    British       Grain Destination  Hull

 

81

Port Fairy    British         Refrig Food Destination  London

91

Benvenue    British          Wool Destination  London

12

Prince Rupert City British       Maize         Destination Liverpool

22

Iroquois                 British Diesel Oil   Destination Manchester

 

32

Gregalia British       General         Destination   Avonmouth

42

Hartlebury      British    Grain Destination Falmouth

52

 

62

Vancouver   British            Gasoline        Destination  London

72

Karabagh   British            Benzine        Destination  London

82

Dover Hill   British            General       Destination  London

 

92

Langleetarn   British            Grain        Destination  Hull

13

Niceto de Larrinaga British       Flour         Destination Glasgow

23

Cliona                 British  Fuel Oil  Destination Liverpool

 

33

Norwegian British       Metal / General         Destination   Avonmouth

43

Bolton Castle      British     Wheat  Destination Falmouth

53

 

63

 

73

Ruperra   British            Grain        Destination  Leith

83

San Casimiro   British            Fuel Oil        Destination  London

 

93

 

14

 

24

King Robert                 British    Destination Liverpool

 

34

Silverelm British    General            Destination   Liverpool

44

Ferncourt   Norwegian  Destination  Dunkirk

54

 

64

Eleni               Greek    General        Destination   Le Havre

74

Oilfield    British            Gasoline        Destination  London

84

San Arcadio   British                    Destination  Dunkirk

 

94

 

Port Fairy was in collision with Loch Dee. Both vessels returned to Halifax.

Ruperra lost touch during fog on the 27-02-1940 and did not rejoin the convoy.

 

 

 

 

Convoy HX 29 Cruising Order

Departed Halifax on 21st March 1940 and arrived Liverpool on 4th April (29 ships).

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
11

Melmore Head      British              General Destination Dublin

 

21

Pacific Star      British             Refrig / General        Destination Liverpool

31

Invershannon               British                           Destination     Scapa

41

Sulairia       British          General   Destination Glasgow

51

HMS Ausonia         Escort

61

Pontfield   British           Gasoline        Destination Scotstown

71

Beaverford    British       General Destination  London

 

81

Hopecrest    British         Wheat / Lumber Destination  London

91

Ganges    British          Sugar Destination  London

12

Wayfarer British       General         Destination Liverpool

22

Georgios Potamianos                 Greek General   Destination Liverpool

 

32

Conus   British       Fuel Oil         Destination   Scapa

42

Pecten      British    Admiralty Fuel Destination Clyde

52

 

62

Rudby   British            Sugar        Destination  Greenock

72

Gold Shell   British            Lube Oil        Destination  Falmouth

82

Adula   British            Gas / Oil       Destination  London

 

92

Wray Castle   British            Grain        Destination  Liverpool

13

Caledonia Monarch British                Destination Liverpool

23

Adelfoi Chandri                Greek   Lead / Lumber  Destination Liverpool

 

33

Amakura British       General         Destination   Liverpool

43

Coryton      British     Scrap Steel  Destination Glasgow

53

 

63

Mactra     British      Fuel Oil   Destination  Milford Haven

73

Hartbridge   British            Wheat        Destination  London

83

British Chivalry   British            Fuel Oil        Destination  Sheerness

 

93

Point Arena  American   Copper / Trucks    Destination Le Harve

14

 

24

 

 

34

Suderholm Norwegian    General            Destination   Liverpool

44

Virgilia   British  Destination  Milford Haven

54

 

64

Condylis               Greek    General        Destination   Le Havre

74

Cadillac    British                    Destination  Falmouth

84

Harberton   British        Scrap Steel              Destination  Grangemouth

 

94

Nellie               Greek    General        Destination   Le Havre

 

 

Suderholm, Adula and Point Arena lost touch with the convoy on 22nd 23rd March.

Conus did not sail – instead she went out with the next convoy, HX 30.

Commodore was in Sulairia, Vice Commodore in Beaverford, and Rear Commodore in Pacific Star.

Ocean Escorts: HMS Ausonia and S/M Beveziers.

 

Convoy HX 44 Cruising Order

Departed Halifax on 20th May 1940 and arrived Liverpool on 3rd June (33 ships).

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
11

Stanwell      British              Scrap Destination Glasgow

 

21

Beckenham      British             Wheat        Destination Liverpool

31

Newfounland             British                           General  Destination     Liverpool

41

San Fabian       British          Crude Oil   Destination Liverpool

51

Langleetarn  British        Scrap Steel  Destination Swansea

61

Blairmore   British           Pit Props        Destination Falmouth

71

San Gerdo    British       Crude Oil Destination  Downs

 

81

Nailsea Moor    British         Grain Destination  Hull

91

Mahronda    British          General Destination  London

12

Corner Brook British       Paper / Steel         Destination Dublin

22

Grainton                 British Wheat   Destination Belfast

 

32

Llanishen   British          Wheat         Destination   Liverpool

42

Olev          Lumber Destination Mersey

52

Blairesk   British            Pit Wood        Destination  Falmouth

62

Baron Yarborough  British            Pit Props        Destination  Falmouth

72

Malayan Prince   British            General        Destination  London

82

Geo H. Jones   American            Crude Oil       Destination  Southampton

 

92

Hollinsid   British            Scrap Metal        Destination  Hull

14

Norman Monarch British    Scrap Iron            Destination Birkenhead

24

Cordelia                British   Fuel Oil  Destination Scapa

 

34

Dramatist British       General         Destination   Manchester

44

Araka      British     General  Destination Liverpool

54

Pontfield   British            Gasoline        Destination  London

64

Port Melbourne     British      Refrig   Destination  London

74

Acavus   British            Crude Oil       Destination  Paulliac

84

H.H. Rogers   American            Crude Oil        Destination  Le Harve

 

94

 

15

Inver shannon   British  Fuel Oil Destination  Scapa

25

San Ernesto   British   Gasoline Destination  Milford Haven

35

San Arcadio British    Crude Oil            Destination   Ardrossan

45

Charles Racine   Norwegian  Crude Oil  Destination  Liverpool

55

Goldmouth   British  Destination  Falmouth

65

Polarsol               Norwegian    Benzine        Destination   Falmouth

75

Europe    Norwegian Crude Oil                    Destination  Bordeaux

85

 

 

95

 

 

 

Commodore was in Newfoundland, Vice Commodore in Malayan Prince and Rear Commodore in Arakaka (from Bermuda).

Ocean Escort: HMS Ausonia.

 

 

 

Convoy HX 56 Cruising Order

Departed Halifax on 7th July 1940 and arrived Liverpool on 22nd July (48 ships).

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
11

Celtic Monarch      British              Pit Props Destination Hartlepool

21

Donacilla     British             Lube Oil        Destination London

31

Beechwood             British                           Pit Props  Destination     Hull

41

Pacific Grove       British          General   Destination London

51

Sulairia  British        General  Destination Glasgow

61

Europa   British           General        Destination Liverpool

71

Dalcairn    British       Grain Destination  Liverpool

81

Bayano    British         General Destination  Liverpool

91

Queen City    British          General Destination  Manchester

12

Brynymore British       Grain         Destination Hull

22

Inger Toft                 British    Pit Props   Destination Tyne

 

32

Vancouver   British          Kerosene         Destination   London

42

Tricula          British Fuel Oil Destination Thames

52

Granby  * British            Timber        Destination  Clyde

62

Eastern Trader  American            General        Destination  Liverpool

72

British Ardour   British            Benzine        Destination  Belfast

82

Montreal City   British            General       Destination  Milford Haven

92

Shirak   British            Benzine        Destination  Belfast

13

Warkworth British                Destination London

23

Uffington Court                British   Grain  Destination London

33

Kirnwood British       Timber         Destination   London

43

King Robert      British     Steel / Pit Props  Destination Hartlepool

53

Brockley Hill   British            Timber        Destination  Clyde

63

Thyra     Norwegian      Pulp Wood   Destination  Manchester

73

Kelet  *  Hungarian            Iron Ore       Destination  Milford Haven

83

Bengore Head    British            General        Destination  Belfast

93

Dosinia    British            Gasoline        Destination  Belfast

14

 

24

 

34

 

44

Gunborg   Swedish    Destination  Clyde

54

 

64

Forbes Hauptmann               American            Destination   Birkenhead

74

Silverelm    British                    Destination  Liverpool

84

Barrgrove    British      Steel               Destination  Hull

94

Everleigh    British                    Destination  Avonmouth

15

Hopepeak British       Wheat         Destination Hull

25

Alexia  *               British  Fuel Oil   Destination Scapa

 

35

Ahamo   British          Fuel Oil         Destination   Scapa

45

Craftsman          British Explosives Destination Liverpool

55

Speybank   British            Nitrates        Destination  Liverpool

65

Empire Confidence  British            Explosives        Destination  Clyde

75

Ruahine   British            Wool / Dairy        Destination  Liverpool

85

Atheltemplar   British            Fuel Oil       Destination  Clyde

 

95

Beemsterdijk   Dutch            General        Destination  Belfast

16

 

26

Western Prince                 British

 

36

Auris    British          Crude Oil         Destination   Clyde

46

Iroquois          British Gas Oil Destination London

56

San Conrado   British            Gasoline        Destination  Clyde

66

Flowergate  British            Sugar         Destination  Methil

76

Athelviking   British            Admiralty Fuel        Destination  Clyde

86

Rancher   British            Explosives       Destination  Liverpool

96

Port Wellington   British                    Destination  Avonmouth

17

 

27

 

 

37

British Courage   British          Fuel Oil         Destination   Clyde

47

Bruxelless          Belgian       Sugar Destination Liverpool

57

Storaas   Norwegian            Fuel Oil        Destination

67

Sea Giant  * British            Salvage Tug

77

 

87

 

 

 

Commodore, Rear Admiral Peyne was in Europa, Vice Commodore H. S. Pearley was in Pacific Grove and Rear Commodore in Sulairia.

Ships in row 5 through row 7 (except Western Prince) joined from Bermuda, escorted by HMS Ausonia. Western Prince joined at 20:00 on the 19th in 56 30N 13 44W – reason for delay unknown.

The ships denoted * were unable to maintain pre-arranged convoy speed. They are crossed out on the form, having dropped out of the convoy, Sea Giant already while in the Bermuda section. Granby dropped out on the 7th due to engine failure and was sent back to Halifax, while Kelet dropped out at 05:00 on the 8th.

The Commodore is not impressed with the ships’ ability to keep their stations, saying it was the worst he had ever experienced, and is equally critical with regard to visual and W/T signalling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Convoy HX 60 Cruising Order

Departed Halifax on 23rd July 1940 and arrived Liverpool on 7th August (60 ships).

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
11

Beaverhill      British              General Destination London

21

Maasdam     Dutch             General        Destination London

31

British General             British                           Fuel Oil  Destination     London

41

Daphnella       British          Benzine   Destination Clyde

51

Moveria  British        General  Destination Glasgow

61

Manchester Citizen   British           General        Destination Manchester

71

Bassano    British       General Destination  Liverpool

81

Clumberhall    British         Steel / Lumber Destination  Cardiff

91

Empire Springbuck    British          Scrap Iron Destination  Milford Haven

12

Uganda British       Pit Props        Destination Methil

22

Belcrest                 British    Grain   Destination Methil

 

32

Dalblair   British          Grain         Destination   Methil

42

Tafelberg          British       Fuel Oil Destination Clyde

52

Ringstad Norwegian           General        Destination  Glasgow

62

Dromore  British            General        Destination  Liverpool

72

Geraldine Mary   British            Newsprint        Destination  Manchester

82

King Idwal   British            Pig Iron       Destination  Milford Haven

92

British City   British            General        Destination  Milford Haven

13

King Alfred British Pit Props               Destination Methil    Sunk 7 Dead

23

Llanishen                British   Maize  Destination Leith

33

Loch Lomond British       Steel / Lumber         Destination   Hull

43

Andrea Brovig      Norwegian     Fuel Oil  Destination Clyde

53

Margarita Chandri   Greek            Grain        Destination  Glasgow

63

Manchester Exporter     British      General   Destination  Liverpool

73

San Marcos   American            General       Destination  Liverpool

83

Nestos    Greek            Scrap Iron        Destination  Milford Haven

93

W. Hendrik   British            Iron Ore        Destination  Cardiff

14

Saturmus Dutch       Pulp Wood         Destination   Methil

24

Beatus British       Pit Props         Destination   Hartlepool

34

Mabriton British       Steel / Lumber         Destination   Hartlepool

44

Cape Nelson   British    Destination  Glasgow

54

Olaf Bergh Norwegian       Scrap Iron         Destination   Manchester

64

American Oriole               American  Newsprint Destination   Manchester

74

Porjus   Swedish    Pit Props   Destination  Manchester

84

Erviken    Norwegian    Steel               Destination  Swansea

94

Simonburn    British       Wheat        Destination  Milford Haven

A14

Gogovale British       Flour         Destination Methil    Sunk 3 Dead

A24

Winterswijk              Dutch     Pit Props   Destination Hartlepool

 

A34

Sea Giant   British          Ballast         Destination   Glasgow

A44

Heron          British  Ballast Destination Glasgow

A54

San Felix   British            Fuel Oil        Destination  Liverpool

A64

Llangleetarn  British            Steel Powder        Destination  Birkenhead

A74

Baron Minto   British            Pig Iron        Destination  Mersey

A84

Thala   British            Iron Ore       Destination  Newport

 

A94

Thornlea   British            Grain        Destination  Belfast

B14

 

B24

 

 

B34

 

B44

 

B54

Lewant   Polish            General        Destination  Manchester

B64

Lyras     Greek            Timber         Destination  Methil

B74

Papalemos   Greek            Timber        Destination  Cardiff

B84

Bilderijk   Dutch            General       Destination  Belfast

B94

Graigwen   British     Grain               Destination  Belfast

15

Catrine   British          Lumber         Destination   Methil

25

Clea   British          Diesel & Gas         Destination   Methil

35

Scottish Heather   British          Admiralty Fuel         Destination   Invergordon

45

Explorer          American       General Destination Manchester

55

Amastra   British             Oil Fuel        Destination    Clyde

65

Rosewood British            Fuel Oil       Destination   Clyde

75

Indora   British          General         Destination   Liverpool

85

Cusodian   British          General         Destination   Liverpool

 95
16

Athel Viscount British       Admiralty Fuel         Destination Scapa

26

Anglo Peruvian              British     Lumber / Wheat    Destination Methil

 

36

Boka     Yugoslavian          General         Destination   Methil

46

 

56

Solfonn   Norwegian            Fuel Oil        Destination  Clyde

66

Dalfonn  Norwegian           Admiralty Fuel        Destination  Clyde

76

Davila   British            Fuel Oil        Destination  Milford Haven

86

El Mirlo   British            Gasoline       Destination  Manchester

 

96

 

 
The ships in the last 2 rows joined from Bermuda (Convoy BHX 60), escorted by HMS Alaunia.

Commodore, Vice Admiral R. A. Hornell was in Manchester Citizen, Vice Commodore; Vice Admiral Austin was in British General, and Rear Commodore in Explorer (from the Bermuda section).

The Commodore says the convoy had 59 ships, 54 of which were still present at rendezvous with local escort – however, there are more that 59 listed on the form.

Gogovale, King Alfred and Geraldine Mary were sunk by U 52 on Aug. 4.

Britain and Greece both had a ship named Heron; the former was 2374 gt, the latter 1516 gt. The commodore says in his comments that this was a small ship which was unable to maintain convoy speed, so perhaps this was the Greek one?
Sea Giant (British salvage tug, ex USN Contocook 1940) was also unable to maintain speed.
Papalemos, Mabriton, Porjus and Lewant became stragglers (the latter 2 rejoined at rendezvous) – time and position of departure unknown.

The Commodore states that visual and W/T signalling was poor with the exception of Bassano, Geraldine Mary, Dromore and Ringstad. As for ability to keep the stations, the column leaders are judged to be excellent, with Dromore particularly good, as well as Explorer from the Bermuda section.

Ocean Escort: HMS Ausonia sailed with the convoy from Halifax until rendezvous with local escort at 05:45 GMT on Aug. 4.
Local Escort: Canadian destroyer HMCS St. Laurent, British destroyers HMS Fortune, HMS Vanoc, HMS Winchelsea, the sloop HMS Sandwich and 1 corvette.

Convoy HX66 August 1940

Departed Halifax on Aug. 16-1940 and arrived Liverpool on the 31st. (51 ships in this convoy)

Commodore was in Bassa, Vice Commodore Rear Admiral H. C. Allen in Cairnesk. The Commodore says the convoy had 51 ships. Empire Scout fell out of the convoy during the night of Aug. 20/21 due to engine trouble, rejoined on the 29th. Helgøy fell out during the night of Aug. 24/25. Merchant Royal was missing when the Bermuda section (BHX) joined Halifax portion on Aug. 20. Yorkmoor was sent back to Sydney Aug. 18 – unable to keep up with convoy speed

Escorts: HMS Ausonia, until 14:00 on Aug. 27, 55 45N 23W, HMCS Assiniboine, HMCS Ottawa, HMS Mackay (destroyer), HMS Jason, HMS Hibiscus and HMS Heartsease (both corvettes).

The Commodore seems happy with the ships’ ability to keep their stations, in particular Gregalia, Empire Tiger and Vaalaren. Similarly, he brags about Gregalia, Esmond, Karamea, Empire Penguin and Coultarn for their visual and W/T signalling.

Commodore of HX 66A (after HX 66 had split at rendezvous point on Aug. 28) was H. C. Allen in Cairnesk, and Vice Commodore was Captain J. Davitt in Esmond. Escorts were HMS Jason and HMS Hibiscus, from “split position to arrival Firth of Forth (Methil)”. Air escort was present during “daylight hours Thursday 29th August and periodically during 30th and 31st August 1940.” This part of the convoy consisted of 19 ships, 16 were still present upon arrival, 3 ships having been sunk as follows:

Commodore Allen’s notes for HX 66A – dated Aug. 31-1940:
British S.S. Mill Hill, British Chelsea and Norwegian Norne, all torpedoed and sunk between 01:25 and 01:40 on Friday 30th August 1940 in approximate position 58 48N 06 50W.

Commodore’s notes on station keeping and signalling – HX 66A:
Station keeping “very good indeed, except Queen Maud who was generally astern of station. Signalling was “very good except Norwegian Grado who was very slow in answering signals.” Esmond (Captain Davitt), Gregalia (Captain Bankiers), Dornoch (Captain Davies) and Thistlegorm (name of Master unknown) were column leaders and were “magnificently handled, and particularly helpful and smart in signalling. They were a great help to me.”

Commodore Allen adds: “Commodores should be informed as far as possible (especially when approaching focal points such as North Channel and Pentland Firth) of the presence of other convoys.

Report of Commander T. A. Powell R.N. of an interview with the Commanding Officer, HMS Mackay, on his return from escorting Convoy HX 66 (dated Sept.-1940):

There were two incidents, one before the convoy had “split” into its two portions, and one after.

First incident:
At 19:58/28th August, convoy HX 66, consisting of 53 ships in 8 columns was in position 58 06N 13 ?6W. The escort consisted of Mackay, Jason, Hibiscus and Heartsease. Heartsease was chasing stragglers (there’s a diagram here, showing Mackay in a location at the front and to the right of the convoy, Jason at the front middle of convoy, and Heartsease at the rear, while the merchant Kyno is noted at the very front in the left column, in other words, station 11).

It was broad daylight; visibility was good; there was a biggish sea which made asdic conditions bad for sloops and corvettes; one in four of Mackay‘s impulses quenched and Heartsease‘s impulses quenched almost continuously.

The convoy was due to “split” when the Commanding Officer of Mackay heard an explosion; there was very little concussion, “it sounded almost like a gun.” Mackay and the Commodore of the convoy agreed that the explosion was not like a torpedo and the possibility of a mine occurred to both. The escorting vessels proceeded as shown in the diagram (the diagram shows Mackay still in position to the front right of convoy, Jason in the front middle and Hibiscus to the front left of the convoy, with arrows drawn from Jason and Mackay towards the left of convoy and the word “search”). Mackay and Jason carried out a search in the direction shown up to 6 miles from the convoy without results, they then rejoined the convoy which had now “split”.

Second Incident:
At 12:30/29th August, convoy HX 66 B consisting of about 28 ships in 5 columns was being escorted by Mackay and Heartsease, when Mackay received a signal from Heartsease “Torpedo passed 20 ft. astern of me.” (Heartsease subsequently reported that this torpedo, which passed her 20 ft away, showed a twin line of bubbles, with a mist of fumes or spray between them; it was getting very near the end of its run).

The mean course of the convoy was 127°; it had just started on a “zig” to port. Mackay considers that the torpedo passed down the port side of the first or second ship of the starboard column, which was just saved by the zigzag. On receipt of this signal Mackay turned to join Heartsease on the starboard side of the convoy. A signal was then received from Heartsease “course of torpedo 250°”, indicating that the torpedo had been fired from the port side. Mackay therefore turned back towards the port bow of the convoy.

Meanwhile the Commodore ordered a large emergency turn to starboard to clear the “field of search”. Heartsease cut through the rear of the convoy to join Mackay, who organised a search on the reciprocal of the torpedo’s course. Shortly after joining, Heartsease obtained one echo at 500 yards and dropped one depth charge; thereafter she was a spectator owing to quenching. This was a very lucky echo and was useful to Mackay, who almost immediately confirmed it and started attacking course 270°, on a firm echo. Contact was lost at the normal time and one pattern was dropped.

On turning to attack again, Mackay found the target on his starboard bow instead of to port which showed that the U-boat had reversed its course. After turning, Mackay noticed a disturbing phenomenon namely: – “a cone of disturbed water, proceeding slowly, as if indicating that something was at the end of its run.” It stopped 15 yards from his starboard side still whirling. The object was “5 or 6 ins. high, 5 ins. in diameter and conical with a hole in the top.”

Mackay continued his attack and, during the second run in, a Sunderland Flying Boat confirmed his contact by dropping 3 250 lb. A/S bombs and 1 depth charge, which caused Mackay to lose contact prematurely on his way to drop his second pattern. A patch of oil appeared and Mackay carried out a third attack, the aircraft by this time having withdrawn. This attack appeared to be a good one but there were no indications of success except oil. There was a qualified A/S Officer in Mackay. The Commanding Officer of Mackay considers that the U-boat fired from the port bow of the convoy, at long range, so as to be outside Mackay‘s asdic range.

Suggestions and Observations by the Commanding Officer of Mackay:

  1. a) A/S vessels escorting convoys on dark nights should not make asdic transmissions unless a U-boat is known to be in the vicinity.
  2. b) The use of destroyers as Striking Force in the North Western Approaches is not advocated as they can hardly hope to meet with success except by luck; the inevitable errors in the reported position of the U-boat and the destroyers themselves renders success improbable. Successful search for a U-boat by any other type of vessel is still less likely owing to their low speed.
  3. c) The obvious place to find a U-boat, unless on passage, is near the convoy; destroyers should be withdrawn from the Striking Forces and used as escorts, with sloops or corvettes to back them up. All important convoys should have two destroyers in their escorts, which should be stationed 50° on either bow at 3 miles.
  4. d) Sloops and corvettes should be used as a close screen. In operational value one destroyer is considered to be worth 2 sloops or 6 corvettes. When a U-boat attacks, both destroyers should carry out a search and the sloops or corvettes should remain with the convoy.
  5. e) In a rough, or even a moderate sea, a corvette hunting astern of a convoy which she has been escorting takes a long time to rejoin. Her asdic is very unreliable in a short, roughish sea.
  6. f) When a destroyer is hunting and getting “warm” a corvette is liable to be a hindrance rather than a help.

 

Convoy HX95 December 1940

Report on Convoy HX 95 from Commanding Officer of HMS Ausonia to The Secretary of the Admiralty
Dated Dec. 28-1940

In accordance with Mercantile Convoy Instructions the following report is submitted for H.M. Ship under my Command during the period 10th December 1940 to 22nd December 1940, whilst acting as Ocean Escort to Convoy HX 95.

2) – The Convoy commenced to leave harbour at 13:00 Tuesday 10th December. Form A 1 which is attached shows the position of the ships in Convoy.

S/S Empire Caribou, S/S Empire Mariner, S/S Norefjord and S/S Yselhaven did not sail in Halifax portion of convoy. HMS Ausonia sailed 15:30, 10th December 1940.

3) – Reference paragraph 129 of the Mercantile Convoy Instructions:

  1. a) – HX 95
    b) – Local Escort
    HMCS Restigouche and HMCS French. HMCS French up to 17:00, 10th December. HMCS Restigouche up to 16:45, 11th December.

Ocean Escort
HMS Ausonia between columns 4 and 5 and about one cable astern of the leading ships. By night station was kept in line with the leading ships to facilitate station keeping (see remarks).

Air Escort
Two aircraft of the R.C.A.F. maintained an outer A/S patrol during daylight hours up to 14:40, 11th December 1940.

  1. c) – Average speed maintained by Convoy over the 11 days, 14 hours, 29 minutes was 8.08 knots. Total distance 2250 nautical miles.
  2. d) – During the period 13th to 16th December, when driving rain, heavy snow squalls and a strong Southerly sea were experienced, 6 ships lost touch, namely: British S/S Indian Prince, S/S Harbledown, S/S Gloucester City, Greek S/S Dimitirios Inglessis, Mount Pelion and Georgios P.

Owing to these severe weather conditions no particular action was taken as regards stragglers, one of which subsequently caught up and rejoined however.

I should explain that D/F procedure for stragglers was not employed owing to the full uncertainty regarding when these ships actually lost touch, as over a period of 2 days no roll call – so to speak – by the Ocean Escort was possible. If these stragglers had been “hove to” (which was more than probable) for as much as even 24 hours, there was little or no chance of their rejoining. In these difficult circumstances, and the uncertain activities of enemy surface raiders, I decided that the use of D/F was not justified.

At Noon on the 17th (when 17 ships of a total of 23 were in company) the weather improved and I commenced to sweep to Southward for stragglers, but, at 12:30 S/S Indian Prince was sighted about 7 miles astern. This ship reported that no other ships of Convoy were in sight astern of her. I therefore decided to take no action as regards searching for the other 5 ships, as, had I done so it entailed leaving main portion of Convoy to the mercy of any enemy raiders which might appear.

Taking into consideration the bad weather conditions experienced during the major part of the voyage, station keeping was particularly good, with the exception of the 5 missing ships, 3 of which were Greeks. Previous to losing touch the station keeping of Greek S/S Mount Pelion was extremely dangerous. On the night of 12th December this ship for no apparent reason steered across the front of Convoy and narrowly missed colliding with HMS Ausonia. I consider it was due to the bad seamanship displayed by this ship that S/S Harbledown, No. 11 and S/S Dimitrios Inglessis, No. 12 and she herself, No. 21 eventually lost touch with the Convoy.

  1. e) – I have no criticisms to offer, as Rear Admiral O. H. Dawson handled and navigated his Convoy with the skill and precision of a sea Officer of long experience. He frequently consulted me by signal throughout the voyage on all points affecting the navigation.
  2. f) – It is suggested that certain Allied Ships, particularly Greek should not – repeat not be given a position as column leaders. Their station keeping is invariably bad, and they are exceptionally slow repeating flag signals. Much better place all Greeks well in rear where they can do the least harm.

General Remarks
A perfect junction was made with HMS Voltaire, BHX portion (11 ships) at 07:40, 13th December. S/S Rudby from BHX having been detached to Halifax 10th December. At 08:25 HMS Voltaire parted company and HMS Ausonia proceeded to lead BHX portion into station astern of HX portion. This manoeuvre was completed by 11:30 and the whole Convoy of 23 ships proceeded on a course 028 degrees, speed 8 1/2 knots.

Except for the last 2 days, continuous snow squalls and a strong Southerly and S.W. sea were experienced. With this heavy following sea and the speed of the Convoy only 7 1/2 knots, HMS Ausonia was unmanageable and, in consequence I decided to proceed ahead of the leaders, carrying out a sweep across front of Convoy over an arc of 90 degrees at 12 knots, both by day and night. This lasted over a period 15th to 17th December. At dusk on the 17th, weather moderated and HMS Ausonia resumed station in Convoy but at 05:00 on 18th December, with a rising wind and sea it again became necessary to proceed ahead after narrowly missing collision with S/S Pacific Grove, No. 51. This incident which occurred before dawn was due to HMS Ausonia refusing to turn at 12 knots with full port rudder and port engine stopped.

Finally I resumed station in Convoy between columns 4 and 5 at 09:30 20th December, where station was maintained until parting company on 22nd December. HMS Ausonia‘s instructions were to part company at 09:00 GMT 21st December, 24 hours before R/V with local escort, but orders having been received from Admiralty that R/V was to be delayed for 24 hours HMS Ausonia remained with convoy (18 ships) until 10:18 GMT 22nd December, parting company in position 61 30N 20 48W. Course was then shaped for Halifax N.S.

Darkening Ship
At the Convoy Conference held at 10:00 on 10th December 1940, I particularly cautioned the masters of all ships of the importance of being properly darkened throughout the voyage. That, in the event of lights being shown, I should give a preliminary warning of 4 flashes on a shaded torch, after which they would be liable to machine gun fire over and across the offender’s stern.

There were several irregularities in this respect, as follows:

At Dusk on 17th December
S/S Maaskerk – Showed light from Saloon Window.
S/S Pacific Star – Showed a steaming light and scuttle light under foremost part of bridge.
S/S Lindenhall – Bow lights burning, evidently by mistake.
S/S Baltrover – Scuttle light, abreast Mainmast.

All these necessitated flashing signals being made and also the firing of 1 round 3″ H.A. Blank by the Ocean Escort.

At Dusk on 19th December
S/S Baltrover – Switched on a bright white stern light, visible many miles.

At 20:30 20th December
S/S Pacific Grove – Apparently a torch flickering for about 20 minutes aft on poop deck.

At Dawn 22nd December
S/S Indian Prince – Scuttle Light.
S/S Mangkalihat – Scuttle Light.
S/S Maaskerk – Very Bright Light from Saloon Window or door in passenger accommodation port side amidships.

Several bursts of machine gun were fired astern of him to enforce darkening, which had the desired effect – after I had drawn up alongside him and given the usual preliminary warning of 4 flashes from a shaded signal lamp. This was a particularly bad offence as day was barely breaking and Convoy was then into almost 20 degrees W. Longitude.

Defects etc.
M/V F. J. Wolfe reported degaussing gear out of action at 10:14/13.

S/S Lindenhall lost her 2 port lifeboats and S/S Pacific Grove (Commodore’s Ship) one port lifeboat, on the 15th December – due to heavy seas.

S/S Pacific Star dropped out at 15:20, 20th December with spindle on steering shaft broken, but rejoined at 09:00 21st December. I consider this was a most creditable performance and informed her Commander by V/S accordingly, a point which he appeared to appreciate.

HMS Ausonia arrived at Halifax N.S. at 09:14 on 28th December 1940.

(Signed)
Geoffrey H. Freyberg
Captain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Convoy HX101 January 1941

Departed Halifax on 5th January 1941 and arrived Liverpool on 22nd January. (25 ships)

Commodore was in Melmore Head, Vice Commodore in Tregarthen. Oban Commodore in Ottinge.

Bermuda Section escorted by HMS Rajputana, Captain F. H. Taylor, R.N. Sailed Jan. 3-1941, joined HX portion on Jan. 9. (26 1/2 hrs late due to bad weather)

The BHX 101 convoy form also lists El Aleto in the Bermuda portion, crude oil for Liverpool, station 71, with a note saying: Parted company A.M. Jan. 9.
This form also has a note for Prince de Liege, Nairnbank (Vice Commodore, Captain J. W. Greig) and Manaqui, saying they all parted company just before dark on Jan. 5, as did Harpathian, so only 7 ships were present when meeting the main portion of the convoy (HX 101).

Nairnbank stopped to secure lifeboat in 38 00N 59 56W at 15:30 GMT on Jan. 5-1941.
Harpathian and Prince de Liege stopped just before dark on Jan. 5, possibly to secure cargo.
Manaqui was last seen just before dark that same day – all these ships were in the Bermuda portion and were in approx. position 38 25N 59 25W.

HMS Rajputana, the escort and Commodore Vessel of the Bermuda portion, left at dawn on Jan 9 in order to locate the main portion of the convoy, which she did at 14:30 GMT. When she subsequently returned to the BHX portion El Aleto was found to be missing. BHX 101 was turned over to the Ocean escort for HX 101, HMS Ausonia, and Rajputana proceeded to search for El Aleto, but set course for Halifax when she had still not been seen by dark.

The convoy arrived rendezvous with local escort on Jan. 17.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Convoy BHX107 February 1941

Departed Halifax on 3rd February 1941 and arrived Liverpool on the 28th February (21 ships).                            11 ships joined from Bermuda (BHX 107), escorted by HMS Ausonia. (Originally consisting of 13 ships).

The ships stations within the convoy are shown below.

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
11

Baron Dechmont      British             Steel & Lumber Destination; Grimsby

 

21

Tottenham      British            Phosphates       Destination; Loch Ewe

31

Conus               British              Fuel Oil            Destination;     Clyde

41

Tresillian       British          Wheat

51

Harmala         British          Wheat        Destination;   Barry Roads

61

Dan-y-Bryn   British           Wheat        Destination;   Liverpool

71

Black Osprey    American       Steel & Trucks Destination;  Barry Roads

Sunk – 25 Dead

12

Jolee            American        Phosphorus      Destination;     Lock Ewe

22

Bachaquero                 Fuel Oil      Destination;   Loch Ewe

32

John  Pedersen Norwegian       Fuel Oil         Destination;   Clyde

42

Ruckinge      British            Pit Props     Destination;  Samothrak

52

Athelqueen    British        Molasses     Destination; Birkenhead

62

Edwy R. Brown   British            Gasolene, Kerosene        Destination; Liverpool

Sunk – 50 Dead

72

San Emiliano   British           Aviation Spirit   Destination;  Barry Roads

13

Hercules         Dutch           General Cargo   Destination;   London

23

Solarium    British        Kerosene, Benzine   Destination; Clyde

33

Empire Blanda    British             Steel                 Destination;      Glasgow

Sunk – 40 Dead

43

Lord Byron   British       Wheat

53

Taria             Dutch           Acetone, Diesel Oil, Gas Oil      Destination;  Liverpool

63

Benjamin Franklin Norwegian  General & Aircraft            Destination;        Liverpool

Sunk – 29 Dead

73

San Amado    British          Gasolene, Kerosene        Destination;  Holyhead

14 24 34

Mount Rhodope    Greek                  Steel & General      Destination;         Glasgow

44 54

Ann Stathatos  Greek             Grain            Destination;  Liverpool

64 74

Frontenac      Norwegian      Diesel Oil     Destination;  Belfast

The BHX 107 convoy form also lists Cadillac, British, Gasolene, destination Barry Roads in station 52 and Alhama, British, Bauxite, destination Larne in station 72.

 

Convoy Commodore was in Harmala, Vice Commodore was in Athelqueen.

BHX 107 left Bermuda at 11:00 on Feb. 1-1941. Local escort for this section was HMCS Elk, which remained till 15:00 that same day. Ocean escort was HMS Ausonia (Captain G. Freyberg), in station between columns 4 and 5. The convoy had air escort while it was forming up and until 13:00.

Average speed of Bermuda portion: 7.51 knots.

Alhama (Bermuda section) reported having insufficient coal on Febr. 2 and was ordered to proceed to Halifax to refuel. Cadillac (also of the Bermuda section) had constant trouble with steering gear and HMS Ausonia consequently suggested that on Febr. 3 that if this trouble continued it would be best for her to proceed to Halifax for repairs, rather than risk becoming a straggler later on. The captain agreed and signalled that if he could not regain station within an hour, he would proceed to Halifax. When Cadillac was not seen at daylight on Febr. 4, it was assumed that she had proceeded to Halifax as suggested.

The remaining 11 ships of the Bermuda portion, plus 7 stragglers from the HX portion that had been picked up by BHX 107, joined the HX portion at 17:30 on Febr. 7. HMS Ausonia then returned to Halifax with arrival at 15:51 on Febr. 9.

Edwy R. Brown was sunk by U-103 on Febr. 17 (no survivors).
Black Osprey was sunk by U-96 on Febr. 18. 11 survivors picked up by Norwegian Mosdale.
Empire Blanda is believed to have been sunk by U-69 on Febr. 19 (no survivors).
Benjamin Franklin was sunk by U-103 on Febr. 19 – there were no casualties from the initial attack, but the majority of the crew perished later – follow the link for more details.
All these ships had straggled from the convoy.

Ocean Escort: HMS Laconia.

 

 

Convoy HX134 July 1941

Except from Convoy Commodore’s report for HX134:

Friday 4th July.

Light wind and smooth sea. Aircraft of the Coastal Command in company at various times during the night.

There is no darkness up in these Latitudes, which has its advantages.

07:05 – 6.75 Knots

08:08 – 6.5 Knots

09:15 – Signallalled ship Ancylus her new destination viz. the Mersey.

Noon position – 61 39N 25 56W. Distance 148 miles. Av. Spd. 6.4 Kts. Total distance from port 1966 miles.

Bar: 29.90. Air 52. Moderate to light fresh winds, and slight sea. A number of local escorts for SC 35 joined up.

13:07 – 7 Knots

16:00 – 61 33N 25 00W. Several ships of local escort for HX 134 joined. Following are the names of these ships,

HMS Salamander, Britomart, Hollyhock, Carnation, St. Apollo, Angle, Nigella, Aubretia, St. Clair. HMS Bulldog proceeded to Iceland, will return tomorrow to this Convoy. HMS Maloja, together with the Newfoundland escorts, the rescue ship Copeland and the oil tanker Sveve all left for Iceland.

 

With them went HMS Ausonia and escorts from SC 35.

 

 

 

Convoy BHX109 (Bermuda section) February 1941

Convoy BHX 109 Cruising Order
Departed Bermuda on 11th February 1941 (Halifax section left on 13th February)
and arrived Liverpool on 4th March (36 ships for the combined convoy).

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
11

Duke of Sparta      British             Lumber & Lead Destination Clyde

 

21

Coimbra      British            Gas Oil        Destination Loch Ewe

31

Lucellum               British              Aviation Fuel             Destination;     Clyde

41

Port Dunedin       British          Refrig General   Destination; Clyde

51

British Chivalry         British          Admiralty Fuel        Destination   Clyde

61

British Fortitude   British           Motor Spirit        Destination;   Manchester

71

Uranienborg    Danish       Sulphur Destination;  Manchester

 

81

Merchant    British         Sugar & General Destination  Liverpool

91

Prins Maurits    Dutch          Sugar Destination;  Belfast

12

 

22

Corbis                 British

32

Hjelmaren Swedish       Phosphates         Destination;   Glasgow

42

Taron      British

52

Vivi    Norwegian

62

Dalhanna   British            Sugar & General        Destination; Liverpool

72

 

82

 

 

92

 

 

 

 

 

4 ships sailing in the Halifax section were sunk. They were the British Holmelea, sunk by U-47 on 28th February, Cadillac, sunk by U-552 on 1st March and Pacific, sunk by U-95 on 2nd March, as well as the Norwegian Augvald, sunk by U-147 on 2nd March.

BHX 109 left Bermuda at 10:00 on 11th February 1941 (Prins Maurits was to sail from St. Georges Harbour at 10:00), and had formed up by 12:30 that day. All the ships were still with the convoy on 14th February, but the weather was bad with strong winds and low visibility and the next morning Prins Maurits was no longer in sight (since 04:00 that morning). At 05:45 that morning (15th February) a signal was received from HX 109 that it was 10 hours late, so speed was reduced to 5 knots.

At daybreak on 16th February only 8 ships were in sight, but that afternoon Prins Maurits rejoined the convoy.

The 9 ships from the Bermuda section were handed over to HMS Ausonia at 16:00 on 17th February. The following ships were missing:
Duke of Sparta, Coimbra, Corbis, Vivi and Hjelmaren, reason not known.

Escort, Bermuda portion: HMCS Prince David (also acting as Commodore, Commander W. B. Armit, RCNR).

Escort for combined convoy: HMS Ausonia