A Class AMC Convoys

AMC 00

The supplies of food, equipment and raw materials vital to Britain’s survival during the Second World War came to this country in thousands of merchant ships, sometimes independently but mostly in convoys. The Admiralty defined a convoy as “one or more merchant ships sailing under the protection of one or more warships”.

Given the clear success of convoys in the last eighteen months of the First World War, the system was re-introduced at the beginning of the new conflict, the first ocean convoy sailing from Liverpool on 8 September 1939. In the early stages of the war, convoys in the Atlantic lasted only a few hundred miles from the British Isles or the Canadian coast before dispersing, however as U-boats began to range further and further out into the ocean, in May 1941 the allies extended convoys right across the Atlantic.

The convoy system gathered ships together in relatively few groups, which made it more difficult for U-boats to find their targets and Allied anti-submarine forces could then be concentrated around the convoys. When the U-boats did locate a convoy and make an attack, they were open to counter-attack by its escort vessels. The success of the convoy system was greatly dependent upon the number of escort vessels available. Their chronic shortage in the early years of the war was the most serious problem, forcing many ships to sail independently or in unescorted groups and it was from among these that the greatest losses came.

AMC 01

British merchant ships in convoy (Copyright Imperial War Museum)

The Admiralty had assumed control of all British merchant shipping on 26 August 1939 which it exercised through the Trade Division, with its worldwide network of Naval Control Service staff stationed in every port used by British shipping. The Royal Canadian Navy’s equivalent managed British shipping in the USA between 1939 and 1941. The Trade Division was responsible for the plotting and movements of all merchant ships, convoys and convoy escorts, a task carried out next to the Submarine Tracking Room at the Admiralty. Convoys originating abroad were organised by the Royal Navy commander-in-chief in the area. Control of merchant ships and ports was vested in the Ministries of Shipping and Transport which were combined in the Ministry of War Transport on 9 May 1941 to unify responsibility for all aspects of maritime trade and port control in, to and from Britain.

AMC 02

As the best defence against submarine attack, a broad front formation was usually adopted for convoys with several columns of ships with up to five ships in each column. The columns were one thousand yards apart and the ships in each column 400 yards apart. This formation enabled the numbers of ships to be increased without having to add many more escort vessels, as it did not extend the convoy perimeter. Convoy sizes therefore increased from an initial average of 35 ships to one of more than 60.

The HX convoys were a series of North Atlantic convoys which ran during the Battle of the Atlantic in the Second World War. They were east-bound convoys and originated in Halifax, Nova Scotia from where they sailed to ports in the United Kingdom. They absorbed the BHX convoys from Bermuda en route. Later, after the United States entered the war, HX convoys began at New York.

AMC 03

Convoy routes from Canada to Britain

A total of 377 convoys ran in the campaign, conveying a total of about 20,000 ships. 38 convoys were attacked (about 10%), resulting in losses of 110 ships in convoy; a further 60 lost straggling, and 36 while detached or after dispersal, with loses from marine accident and other causes, for a total loss of 206 ships, or about 1% of the total.

The HX designation perpetuated a similar series that ran in First World War Atlantic Campaign in 1917 and 1918. HX convoys were organized at the beginning of the Atlantic campaign and ran without major changes until the end, the longest continuous series of the war. HX 1 sailed on 16 September 1939 and included 18 merchant ships, escorted by the Royal Canadian Navy destroyers HMCS St. Laurent and HMCS Saguenay to a North Atlantic rendezvous with Royal Navy heavy cruisers HMS Berwick and HMS York.

These were initially considered fast convoys made up of ships that could make 9-13 knots. A parallel series of slow convoys, the SC series, was run for ships making 8 knots or less, while ships making more than 13 knots sailed independently, until 14-knot CU convoys were organized in late 1943. The largest convoy of World War II was HX 300 which sailed for the UK via New York on 17 July 1944, with 167 merchant ships. It arrived in the UK, without incident, on 3 August 1944.

As fast convoys they were less vulnerable to U-boat attack than the slow convoys, but they still witnessed some of the great convoy battles of the war. Of the 40 convoys during the campaign which lost more than 6 ships, 5 were in the HX series.

HX 79 Attacked by a U-boat wolf pack in October 1940. 12 ships were lost, which, with the attack on Convoy SC 7 on the same day made the worst day’s shipping losses of the entire Atlantic campaign.

HX 84 Attacked on 5 November 1940, by the German cruiser Admiral Scheer. Five ships were quickly sunk, and only the sacrifice of the armed merchant cruiser HMS Jervis Bay and failing light allowed the rest of the convoy to escape. The oil tanker San Demetrio was part of this convoy.

HX106 on 8 February 1941 the two German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau appeared over the horizon but the presence of the escorting Royal Navy battleship HMS Ramillies was enough to deter attack.

HX 112 Attacked in March 1941, this battle was notable for seeing the loss to the German navy of two of its U-boat aces, Otto Kretschmer and Joachim Schepke.

HX 156 was being escorted by the United States Navy in October, 1941, when U552 torpedoed USS Reuben James, the first US warship sunk in the Second World War.

HX 212 suffered the heaviest loss of any HX convoy in 1942.

HX 228 Was one of several convoys attacked sequentially in March 1943. Two U-boats were destroyed while sinking four merchant ships and the escort commander’s destroyer.

HX 229 Attacked in March 1943, this action, which converged with the action around SC 122, was the largest convoy battle of the Atlantic campaign.

AMC 04

A convoy at sea as viewed from an escorting warship. (Copyright Imperial War Museum)

 

The Bermuda and Halifax Escort Force

In June 1940, along with the purpose built warships, the 3rd Battle Squadron of the Bermuda and Halifax Escort Force contained eleven Armed Merchant Cruisers. Four of these improvised warships were former Cunard A Class liners, the Alaunia, Ascania, Aurania and the Ausonia. The eleven AMC’s of the force consisted of:

ALAUNIA (Capt H J Woodward DSO Retired)

ASCANIA (Capt C H Ringrose-Wharton Retired)

AURANIA (Capt I W Whitehorn Retired)

AUSONIA (Capt H G Norman)

COMORIN (Capt J I Hallett Retired)

ESPERANCE BAY (Capt G S Holder Retired)

JERVIS BAY (Capt E S F Fegen Acting)

LACONIA (Capt G G P Hewett Retired)

RAJPUTANA (Capt F H Taylor DSC Retired)

RANPURA (Capt R I Money Retired)

VOLTAIRE (Capt C L Bate Retired)

Investigating the service histories of these eleven AMC’s gives a good insight into the Royal Navy losses in the early years of the Second World War and what was expected of these “liners in battledress” when they were used to fill the gaps because of the lack of purpose built warships. The majority of these ships were commanded by former naval officers with years of experience, recalled from retirement in the countries hour of need. A mere six months later, when on the 1st January 1941, Rear Admiral Bonham-Carter took over command of the Force, hoisting his flag in the battleship, Royal Sovereign, only Alaunia, Ascania, Ausonia and Laconia remained.

Five ships of the original Bermuda and Halifax Escort Force, Alaunia, Ascania, Ausonia, Esperance Bay and Ranpura, appear to have survived the war unscathed, although all of them saw enemy action of one description or another. Of the other six, one, HMS Aurania, was torpedoed by a U boat but managed to limp home, two more, HMS Rajputana and HMS Laconia were sunk by U boats and two, HMS Jervis Bay and HMS Voltaire, were sunk by German surface ships, the Jervis Bay famously took on the German battleship, Admiral Scheer and the Voltaire the German raider, Thor.

AMC 05

An aerial view of a convoy getting ready to sail for Britain from Bedford Basin, Halifax, Nova Scotia on 1st April 1942.

 

HMS Jervis Bay

On 5 November 1940 HMS Jervis Bay was the sole escort for convoy HX84, which consisted of 37 freighters sailing from Halifax to England. The German battleship Admiral Scheer located the convoy in the late afternoon and decided to attack immediately as it would be difficult to find targets in the dark. The Jervis Bay was hopelessly out-gunned and outranged by the 11-inch guns of the German ship but Captain Fergen of the Jervis Bay, decided to advance to meet the raider, in the hope of delaying the Germans long enough to enable most of the convoy to escape. The convoy was ordered to scatter and the Jervis Bay, dropping smoke floats as she went, endeavoured to bring the Admiral Scheer within the range of her seven, 6 inch guns.

In this aim she never succeeded, although her guns fired often, every shot fell short of the enemy, whilst the 11 inch shells from the raider began to hit. The crew had little protection from blast or splinters and casualties were heavy. The bridge was soon hit and with it the Jervis Bay’s gunnery control centre. Captain Fergen lost an arm and soon afterwards was killed by another shell along with most of the other officers. Nevertheless, this one-sided battle lasted for 24 minutes. At the end of that period the Jervis Bay was ablaze and her guns out of action and the order was given to abandon ship. The Jervis Bay finally sunk 755 nautical miles south-southwest of Reykjavic and only 65 of her crew were picked up by the Swedish freighter Stureholm.

The sacrifice of the Jervis Bay had not been in vain, they had bought enough time for the convoy to scatter and allow the remaining ships to escape. Instead of the whole convoy, the Admiral Scheer only succeeded in destroying 5 freighters in the short time left before nightfall. With the loss of the Jervis Bay, the armed freighter Beaverford, engaged the German battleship and managed to hold her off for a further 5 hours before she too was sunk at 10.45, with all hands.

AMC 06

Painting of HMS Jarvis Bay by Montague Dawson. (Copyright Historic Dockyard Museum, Chatham).

AMC 07

The German battleship Admiral Scheer photographed in Gibraltar.

 

HMS Voltaire

On 4 April 1941 HMS Voltaire (A/Capt. James Alexander Pollard Blackburn, DSC, (retired), RN) was on isolated patrol in the central Atlantic, about 900 nautical miles west of the Cape Verde Islands: at 0615 hrs she was spotted by the lookouts of the German raider Thor and the ships headed for each other. At 0645 hrs the opponents opened fire and by 0649 hrs Voltaire was ablaze, by 0715 hrs only 2 guns remained in action and by 0800 hrs she hoisted a white flag, sinking shortly afterwards by the stern with a heavy port list in position 14º30’N, 40º30’W. 75 dead and 197 survivors rescued by the Germans. In the action, Thor expended 724 rounds of 15-cm.

HMS Comorin

On 6 April 1941 HMS Comorin (Capt. John Ignatius Hallett, DSO, RN (retired)) caught fire in heavy weather in the North Atlantic and had to be abandoned. There were 20 dead and 455 survivors. The wreck was shelled and sunk in position 54º34’N, 21º20’W the next day by the British destroyer HMS Lincoln (G 42).

HMS Rajputana

On 13 April 1941 HMS Rajputana (Capt. Frederick Henry Taylor, DSC, RN (retired)) was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-108 west of Reykjavik, Iceland in position 64º50’N, 27º25’W. 283 survivors were picked up by the British destroyer HMS Legion and landed at Reykjavik. 40 of her crew went down with the ship.

 

HMS Laconia

On 12 September 1942, HMS Laconia, carrying some 80 civilians, 268 British Army soldiers, about 1,800 Italian prisoners of war, and 160 Polish soldiers (on guard), was struck and sunk by a torpedo from submarine U-156 off the coast of West Africa. The U-boat commander, Kapitänleutnant Werner Hartenstein called for assistance in clear and his crew immediately commenced rescue operations and was joined by the crews of other U-boats in the area. Heading to a rendezvous with Vichy French ships under Red Cross banners, the U-boats were attacked by a U.S. B-24 Liberator bomber.

This event profoundly affected the operations of the German fleet, which abandoned the practice of attempting rescue of civilian survivors under the “Laconia Order” of Admiral Karl Dönitz, which set the precedent for the subsequent unrestricted submarine warfare for not only the German Navy, but also for the United States Navy. The controversy over the incident concerns the assistance and protection that military forces must afford non-combatants at sea during wartime. One international bestseller and numerous articles on the subject have been published about the incident. Admiral Karl Dönitz was indicted for the ‘Laconia order’ at the Nurnberg trials.

 

HMS Aurania

On 21 October 1941 HMS Aurania was sailing as an escort for convoy SL 89, bound from Halifax to the Clyde. She was straggling behind the convoy with a group of four other armed merchant cruisers and was sighted by U-123, under the command of Reinhard Hardegen. At 04.28 hours he fired three torpedoes at her, two of them hitting the Aurania in the bow and under the bridge. The ship began to flood at the Number 3 hold, causing a list to port that eventually reached 25 degrees. The Aurania‘s cargo of empty drums acted to keep her afloat, and the captain was able to reduce the list to 15 degrees and get underway again. Meanwhile other convoy escorts had chased U-123 away from the scene. During the confusion a lifeboat had been launched containing six men, but it swamped upon hitting the water. One of the escorts, the Hunt class destroyer HMS Croome, picked up three of the men, but was unable to locate the others. Some hours later U-123 came across the sinking lifeboat, with a single survivor, and took him prisoner. Meanwhile Aurania was escorted back to Rothesay Bay by the sloop HMS Totland, arriving on 23rd October. The Germans claimed that she had been sunk. On 24 March 1942 she was sold to the Admiralty because of the damage sustained in the attack, laid up for some time, she was converted to a repair ship.

AMC 08

The former ‘A’ Class Cunard liner Aurania, sister ship to Alaunia, Ascania and Ausonia, all of which formed part of the original Bermuda and Halifax Escort Force, seen here  lying safely at anchor at Rothesay after a German propaganda broadcast had erroneously claimed that she had been sunk.

The five surviving ships of the original eleven in the Bermuda and Halifax Escort Force, Alaunia, Ascania, Ausonia, Esperance Bay and Ranpura, all appear to have survived the war unscathed. Three were converted to Fleet Repair Ships, one into a Landing Ship and one a Troopship. A short history of each is as follows.

 

HMS Alaunia

In August 1939 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted into an armed merchant cruiser. She served in the Halifax Escort Force, Bermuda and Halifax Escort Force, North Atlantic Escort Force, East Indies Station, Eastern Fleet, Plymouth. On the 8th December 1944, she was sold to the Admiralty and converted into a repair ship. This conversion was completed in August 1945 and she was stationed at Devonport. Sold for scrap in September 1957 and scrapped at Blyth.

HMS Ascania

In October 1939 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted into an armed merchant cruiser. She served in the Halifax Escort Force, Bermuda and Halifax Escort Force, North Atlantic Escort Force, New Zealand Station. In October 1942 she was returned and used as troopship by the Ministry of War Transport. In 1943 she was converted into a landing ship LSI(L). In December 1947 she was returned to her owners. In 1956 she was requisitioned again and used as troop transport during the Suez war. In January 1957 scrapped at Newport.

 

HMS Aurania

In October 1939 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted into an armed merchant cruiser. She served in the Northern Patrol, Halifax Escort Force, Bermuda and Halifax Escort Force, North Atlantic Escort Force, Plymouth Command. She was damaged on the 21st October 1941 by U-123. On 24th March 1942 sold to the Admiralty because of the damage sustained in the attack and laid up for some time, before conversion into a repair ship which finished in 1944 and commissioned as HMS Artifex. She remained in service after 1945 for training duties and was placed in reserve in 1955. She was scrapped at La Spezia, Italy 1961.

 

HMS Ausonia

In September 1939 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted into an armed merchant cruiser. She served in the Halifax Escort Force, Bermuda and Halifax Escort Force, North Atlantic Escort Force, America and West Indies Command. On 27th March 1942 she was sold to the Admiralty and converted to a repair ship until 1944. Laid up from 1946. 1958 stationed at Malta for the Mediterranean fleet. In September 1964 decommissioned at Portsmouth and scrapped in August 1965 at Castellon, Spain.

 

HMS Esperance Bay

In December 1939 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted into an armed merchant cruiser. She served in the South Atlantic Station, Halifax Escort Force, Bermuda and Halifax Escort Force, Freetown Escort Force. On 12th November 1941 she was returned and used as troopship by the Ministry of War Transport. In 1945 she was returned to her owners. Scrapped in 1955.

 

HMS Ranpura

In December 1939 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted into an armed merchant cruiser. She served in the Mediterranean Fleet, South Atlantic Station, Halifax Escort Force, Bermuda and Halifax Escort Force, North Atlantic Escort Force, East Indies Station, Eastern Fleet (Indian Ocean). In May 1943 sold to the Admiralty and converted to a repair ship.

 

 

HMS Ausonia and other A Class Liner convoys

 

HMS AUSONIA  
         
Date convoy sailed Joined convoy as escort Convoy No. Left convoy Date convoy arrived
12/12/39 12/12/39 HX 012 25/12/39 27/12/39
12/01/40 12/01/40 HXF 016 21/01/40 24/01/40
04/02/40 04/02/40 HXF 019 14/02/40 17/02/40
26/02/40 26/02/40 HX 023 09/03/40 12/03/40
21/03/40 21/03/40 HX 029 02/04/40 04/04/40
20/05/40 20/05/40 HX 044 30/05/40 03/06/40
09/06/40 10/06/40 HX 049 20/06/40 24/06/40
06/07/40 06/07/40 BHX 056 11/07/40 11/07/40
23/07/40 23/07/40 HX 060 04/08/40 07/08/40
16/08/40 16/08/40 HX 066 27/08/40 31/08/40
12/09/40 12/09/40 BHX 073 17/09/40 17/09/40
26/09/40 26/09/40 HX 076 29/09/40 29/09/40
18/10/40 18/10/40 BHX 082 22/10/40 22/10/40
30/10/40 30/10/40 BHX 085 04/11/40 04/11/40
14/11/40 14/11/40 HX 088 25/11/40 30/11/40
10/12/40 10/12/40 HX 095 22/12/40 27/12/40
05/01/41 05/01/41 HX 101 17/01/41 22/01/41
12/01/41 12/01/41 HXF 016 21/01/41 21/01/41
01/02/41 01/02/41 BHX 107 07/02/41 07/02/41
13/02/41 13/02/41 HX 109 26/02/41 04/03/41
21/03/41 21/03/41 HX 116 04/04/41 09/04/41
03/06/41 03/06/41 WS 9A 06/06/41 21/07/41
20/06/41 20/06/41 SC 035 04/07/41 09/07/41
06/07/41 12/07/41 OB 343 20/07/41 21/07/41
01/08/41 01/08/41 HX 142 12/08/41 18/08/41
11/08/41 17/08/41 ON 006 24/08/41 24/08/41
05/09/41 05/09/41 SC 043 08/09/41 20/09/41
         

February 1942 Passage to Bermuda from Halifax. On 27 March 1942 she was sold to the Admiralty to be converted to a repair ship.

 

HX convoys sailing from North America to the UK

HXF convoys sailing from Halifax to the UK – Fast

BHX convoys sailing from Bermuda to join HX convoys of the same number

OB convoys sailing from Liverpool

ON convoys sailing from UK to North America

SC convoys sailing from North America to the UK

WS convoys sailing from UK to Suez, Bombay

 

 

HMS AURANIA  
         
Date convoy sailed Joined convoy as escort Convoy No. Left convoy Date convoy arrived
27/05/40 27/05/40 BHX 046 02/06/40 02/06/40
28/05/40 02/06/40 HX 046 09/06/40 12/06/40
21/06/40 21/06/40 HX 052 02/07/40 06/07/40
18/07/40 18/07/40 BHX 059 23/07/40 23/07/40
31/07/40 31/07/40 HX 062 11/08/40 15/08/40
24/08/40 24/08/40 HX 068 04/09/40 08/09/40
21/09/40 21/09/40 HX 075 03/10/40 07/10/40
14/10/40 14/10/40 BHX 081 19/10/40 19/10/40
03/12/40 13/12/40 HX 093 11/12/40 18/12/40
12/01/41 12/01/41 SC 019 26/01/41 02/02/41
07/02/41 07/02/41 BHX 108 12/02/41 12/02/41
23/02/41 23/02/41 HX 111 07/03/41 12/03/41
06/04/41 06/04/41 HX 119A 15/04/41 22/04/41
10/05/41 10/05/41 HX 126 21/05/41 28/05/41
11/06/41 17/06/41 OB 334 20/06/41 25/06/41
11/07/41 11/07/41 HX 138 14/07/41 27/07/41
12/07/41 13/07/41 SC 037 14/07/41 28/07/41

 

 

HMS ASCANIA  
         
Date convoy sailed Joined convoy as escort Convoy No. Left convoy Date convoy arrived
08/11/39 08/11/39 HXF 008 19/11/39 21/11/39
02/12/39 02/12/39 HXF 011 12/12/39 15/12/39
27/12/39 27/12/39 HXF 014 05/01/40 08/01/40
20/01/40 20/01/40 HXF 017 29/01/40 01/02/40
13/03/40 13/03/40 HX 027 25/03/40 28/03/40
06/04/40 06/04/40 HX 033 15/04/40 20/04/40
26/04/40 26/04/40 HX 038 08/05/40 12/05/40
31/05/40 31/05/40 BHX 047 08/06/40 08/06/40
16/06/40 16/06/40 BHX 051 21/06/40 21/06/40
11/07/40 11/07/40 HX 057 23/07/40 26/07/40
04/08/40 04/08/40 HX 063 16/08/40 19/08/40
27/08/40 27/08/40 BHX 069 01/09/40 01/09/40
13/09/40 13/09/40 HX 073 24/09/40 28/09/40
10/10/40 10/10/40 BHX 080 15/10/40 15/10/40
24/10/40 24/10/40 HX 083 02/11/40 07/11/40
23/11/40 23/11/40 BHX 091 28/11/40 28/11/40
04/12/40 04/12/40 BHX 094 09/12/40 09/12/40
25/01/41 25/01/41 HX 105 06/02/41 09/02/41
18/02/41 18/02/41 SC 023 08/03/41 09/03/41
21/03/41 21/03/41 HX 116 04/04/41 09/04/41
06/05/41 06/05/41 HX 125A 18/05/41 22/05/41
18/06/41 18/06/41 BHX 134 23/06/41 23/06/41
28/06/41 28/06/41 BHX 136 03/07/41 03/07/41
30/06/41 30/06/41 HX 136 13/07/41 18/07/41
22/07/41 22/07/41 HX 140 02/08/41 06/08/41
31/07/41 05/08/41 ON 003 08/08/41 14/08/41
10/09/41 10/09/41 HX 149 24/09/41 25/09/41
13/09/42 13/09/42 HX 207 24/09/42 25/09/42
         

 

 

HMS ALAUNIA
         
Date convoy sailed Joined convoy as escort Convoy No. Left convoy Date convoy arrived
05/10/39 05/10/39 HG 002 13/10/39 13/10/39
17/11/39 17/11/39 HXF 009 26/11/39 29/11/39
10/12/39 10/12/39 HXF 012 22/12/39 24/12/39
28/01/40 28/01/40 HXF 018 06/02/40 08/02/40
18/02/40 18/02/40 HX 021 01/03/40 04/03/40
29/03/40 29/03/40 HX 031 09/04/40 13/04/40
22/04/40 22/04/40 HX 037 06/05/40 07/05/40
25/06/40 25/06/40 HX 053 07/07/40 10/07/40
22/07/40 22/07/40 BHX 060 27/07/40 27/07/40
03/08/40 03/08/40 BHX 063 08/08/40 08/08/40
15/08/40 15/08/40 BHX 066 20/08/40 20/08/40
28/08/40 28/08/40 HX 069 08/09/40 12/09/40
24/09/40 24/09/40 BHX 076 29/09/40 29/09/40
06/10/40 06/10/40 BHX 079 11/10/40 11/10/40
20/10/40 20/10/40 HX 082 31/10/40 06/11/40
14/11/40 14/11/40 HX 087 26/11/40 29/11/40
12/12/40 12/12/40 BHX 096 18/12/40 18/12/40
24/12/40 24/12/40 BHX 099 29/12/40 29/12/40
26/12/40 26/12/40 HX 099 06/01/41 11/01/41
21/01/41 21/01/41 BHX 104 09/02/41 09/02/41
17/02/41 17/02/41 BHX 110 23/02/41 23/02/41
05/03/41 05/03/41 HX 113 16/03/41 21/03/41
20/04/41 20/04/41 HX 122 04/05/41 08/05/41
29/05/41 29/05/41 BHX 130 05/06/41 05/06/41
04/09/41 04/09/41 HX 148 15/09/41 17/09/41
10/03/42 10/03/42 KR 001 17/03/42 20/03/42
02/10/42 04/10/42 CM 032A 08/10/42 unknown
04/11/42 04/11/42 PB 010 11/11/42 11/11/42
17/05/43 17/05/43 BA 044 25/05/43 25/05/43
27/07/43 27/07/43 KA 008 02/08/43 02/08/43
08/08/43 08/08/43 AB 009 13/08/43 13/08/43
25/08/43 25/08/43 BA 047 31/08/43 31/08/43
08/09/43 08/09/43 AB 010 14/09/43 14/09/43
09/02/44 09/02/44 BM 085A 12/02/44 12/02/44
         

Additional information for convoys escorted by Ausonia

 

Convoy HXF.19

4 February 1940 – Departed Halifax at 1400 escorted by Canadian destroyers SAGUENAY and SKEENA, which detached on the 5th. Ocean escort was armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA, which left on the 14th.

 

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Convoy HX.23

26 February 1940 – Departed Halifax at 0800 escorted by Canadian destroyers FRASER and ST LAURENT until 1710/27th, when they turned the convoy over to ocean escort, armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA. She detached on 9 March.

 

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Convoy HX.29

21 March 1940 – Departed Halifax at 0900 escorted by Canadian destroyers OTTAWA and ST LAURENT. The destroyers turned over the convoy to armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA and French submarine SIDI FERRUCH at 1745/22nd. The armed merchant cruiser was detached on 2 April.

 

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Convoy HX.44

20 May 1940 – Departed Halifax at 0900 escorted by Canadian destroyers SAGUENAY and SKEENA, which were detached on the 21st. Convoy BHX.44 departed Bermuda on the 19th escorted locally by sloop PENZANCE and an ocean escort of armed merchant cruiser JERVIS BAY. The convoy rendezvoused with HX.44 on the 25th and the armed merchant cruiser was detached. The Armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA assumed command of escort of the convoy from the destroyers at 1800/21st. The armed merchant cruiser was detached on the 30th.

 

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Convoy HX.49

9 June 1940 – Departed Halifax at 0900 escorted by Canadian destroyers SAGUENAY and ASSINIBOINE, which were detached on the 10th. Ocean escort was armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA. Armed merchant cruiser LACONIA had departed with the convoy but ran aground in Halifax Harbour, and AUSONIA was sailed in her place at 1900/9th. She was detached on the 20th.

 

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Convoy BHX.56

7 July 1940 – Ddeparted Bermuda on the 6th escorted by ocean armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA. The convoy rendezvoused with convoy HX.56 on the 11th when the armed merchant cruiser was detached

 

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Convoy HX.60

23 July 1940 – Ddeparted Halifax escorted by Canadian destroyer OTTAWA and auxiliary patrol vessel FRENCH at 0730, which were detached on the 24th. The local escort turned the convoy over to the ocean escort, armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA at 2105. The armed merchant cruiser was detached on 4 August. Convoy BHX.60 departed Bermuda on the 22nd escorted locally by sloop PENZANCE and an ocean escort of armed merchant cruiser ALAUNIA. The convoy rendezvoused with convoy HX.60 on the 27th and the armed merchant cruiser was detached

 

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Convoy SHX.66

16 August 1940 – Ddeparted Sydney, CB escorted by Canadian destroyer SAGUENAY and joined HX.66 at sea. The destroyer was detached on the 18th. At 1750, the convoy was turned over to armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA, but ASSINIBOINE remained with the convoy until 2020. The armed merchant cruiser was detached on the 27th

 

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Convoy HX.73

13 September 1940 – Departed Halifax at 1400 escorted by Canadian destroyer ASSINIBOINE plus auxiliary patrol vessels FRENCH, LAURIER, and REINDEER which later turned the convoy over to ocean escort, armed merchant cruiser ASCANIA on the 14th. The armed merchant cruiser was detached on the 24th. Convoy BHX.73 departed Bermuda on the 12th escorted by ocean escort, armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA, and rendezvoused with HX.73 on the 17th, when AUSONIA detached

 

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Convoy HX.76

26 September 1940 – Ddeparted Halifax at 1715 escorted by Canadian destroyer SAGUENAY, armed patrol boat FRENCH, and auxiliary patrol boats HUSKY and REINDEER in the harbour. Patrol boat FRENCH returned to harbour after dark. At 1930/27th, Canadian destroyer SAGUENAY departed the convoy leaving the ocean escort, armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA as the ocean escort. Convoy BHX.76 departed Bermuda on the 24th escorted by ocean escort armed merchant cruiser ALAUNIA. The convoy rendezvoused with convoy HX.76 on the 29th and the armed merchant cruiser was detached.

 

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Convoy BHX.85

1 November 1940 – Ddeparted Bermuda on 30 October escorted by ocean escort armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA. The convoy rendezvoused with HX.85 on the 4th and the armed merchant cruiser was detached

 

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Convoy HX.88

14 November 1940 – Canadian destroyer ASSINIBOINE turned the convoy over to armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA at 1500/15th. The armed merchant cruiser was detached on the 25th.

 

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Convoy HX.95

10 December 1940 – Ddeparted Halifax at 1401 escorted by Canadian destroyer RESTIGOUCHE and auxiliary patrol vessel FRENCH. At 1700, patrol vessel FRENCH departed the convoy and at 1555/11th, destroyer ASSINIBOINE departed the convoy. Ocean escort was armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA, which was detached on the 22nd.

 

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Convoy HX.101

6 January 1941 – Departed Halifax escorted by armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA, corvette COLLNGWOOD, patrol vessel OTTER. The corvette and the patrol vessel were detached the next day.

 

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Convoy HXF.16

12 January 1941 – Departed Halifax at 1000 escorted by Canadian destroyers OTTAWA and SAGUENAY, which detached on the 13th. The ocean escort was armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA, which detached on the 21st.

 

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Convoy HX.116

21 March 1941 – Departed Halifax, escorted by armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA. Battleship ROYAL SOVEREIGN was with the convoy from 23 to 31 March. The armed merchant cruiser was detached on 4 April.

 

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Convoy WS.9A

3 June 1941 – Escorted by Anti-aircraft cruiser CAIRO and destroyers RICHMOND, RAMSEY, COSSACK, MAORI, SIKH, ZULU, OTTAWA, RESTIGOUCHE, VANQUISHER, and WINCHELSEA. Armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA was with the convoy from 3 to 6 June.

 

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Convoy SC.35

20 June 1941 – Departed Sidney CB, escorted by armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA and auxiliary patrol boats RACCOON and REINDEER. The patrol vessels were detached on the 24th. On the 24th, sloop ABERDEEN and corvettes TRILLIUM and WINDFLOWER joined the convoy. The corvettes were detached on 4 August. On 4 August, destroyers BULLDOG and SALISBURY, corvettes AUBRETIA, CARNATION, HOLLYHOCK, and NIGELLA, and minesweepers BRITOMART and SALAMANDER joined the convoy. Minesweepers SEAGULL and SHARPSHOOTER joined on 7 July. Corvette PICOTEE joined on 8 July. On 8 July, sloop ABERDEEN and the minesweepers were detached. The convoy arrived in the Clyde on 9 July.

 

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Convoy OB.343

6 July 1941 – Departed Liverpool, escorted by destroyers SABRE, SHIKARI, and VENOMOUS, corvettes CLARKIA, DIANELLA, and KINGCUP, and anti-submarine trawlers LADY ELSA, MAN O.WAR, NORTHERN DAWN, and WELLARD. This group, less corvette CLARKIA, was detached on the 12th. On the 12th destroyer HARVESTER, armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA, and corvettes HEPATICA, PRIMROSE, TRILLIUM, TULIP, and WINDFLOWER joined. The convoy was dispersed on the 20th.

 

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Convoy HX.142

1 August 1941 – Departed Halifax escorted by destroyer ANNAPOLIS, armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA, and corvettes COLLINGWOOD and ROSTHERN. Corvette ROSTHERN was detached later that day. Corvettes DAUPHIN and NAPANEE joined on the 2nd and were detached later that day. Destroyer ANNAPOLIS was detached on the 3rd. Destroyer CHESTERFIELD and corvettes HEPATICA, TRILLIUM, and WINDFLOWER joined on the 4th, destroyer CHURCHILL and corvettes ARROWHEAD and EYEBRIGHT joined on the 5th, and corvette CAMILLIA joined on the 6th. Corvette COLLINGWOOD was detached on the 5th and the remaining escorts were detached on the 12th when relieved by destroyers BEAGLE, BOADICEA, KEPPEL, SABRE, SALISBURY, SHIKARI, and SKATE, corvettes HEATHER, ORCHIS, and SNOWDROP, minesweepers HAZARD, HEBE, and SEAGULL and anti-submarine trawlers ARAB, AYRSHIRE, and NORWICH CITY. Destroyers KEPPEL, SHIKARI, and SKATE, the minesweepers, and the trawlers were detached on the 13th. On the 14th, destroyer SALISBURY was detached, on the 15th, destroyer SABRE and corvette ORCHIS were detached, on the 16th, destroyer BEAGLE. On the 17th, corvette ARABIS joined and on the 18th, the convoy arrived at Liverpool with destroyer BOADICEA and corvette ARABIS

 

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Convoy SC.43

5 September 1941 – Departed Sydney, CB, escorted by armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA and corvettes ARVIDA, BARRIE, DAUPHIN, and HEPATICA. The armed merchant cruiser was detached on the 8th and destroyer READING and corvette PRESCOTT joined.

 

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Ships log references to Ausonia

 

Mentioned in all four ships logs for the WS 9A convoy, 3rd June 1941.

 

HMS RAMSEY (G 60) – ex-US Destroyer

HMS SIKH (F 82) – Tribal-class Destroyer

HMS WINCHELSEA (D 46) –  V & W-class Destroyer

HMS ZULU (L 18) – Tribal-class Destroyer

 

Joined military convoy WS9A in Clyde with HM Cruiser CAIRO, HM Destroyers COSSACK, MAORI, OTTAWA (RCN), RESTIGOUCHE (RCN), RICHMOND, SIKH, VANQUISHER, WINCHELSEA, ZULU and HM Armed Merchant Cruiser AUSONIA as Local Escort during passage in NW Approaches.

 

The WS 9A was one Winston’s Special (WS), Route to the East convoys.

 

HMS ROCKINGHAM (G 58) – ex-US Destroyer

 

February 1942

Passage to Bermuda for escort of HM Armed Merchant Cruiser AUSONIA from Halifax.

 

 

Escort Force & Armed Merchant Cruisers (Serving with Ausonia)

 

January 1941 – Halifax Escort Force

 

ALAUNIA (Capt H J Woodward DSO Rtd)

ASCANIA (Capt C H Ringrose-Wharton Rtd)

AURANIA (Actg Capt L W Whiteborn)

AUSONIA (Capt G H Freyberg CBE Rtd)

CORMORIN (Capt J L Hallett Rtd)

LACONIA (Capt G G P Hewett Rtd)

MALOJA (Actg Capt V Hammersley-Heenan Rtd)

MONTCLARE (Capt H M Spreckley Rtd)

RAJPUTANA (Capt F H Taylor DSC Rtd)

RANPURA (Actg Capt H T W Pawsey)

VOLTAIRE (Actg Capt J A P Blackburn Rtd)

 

 

November 1941 – North Atlantic Escort Force

 

ASCANIA (Capt C H Ringrose-Wharton Rtd)

AURANIA (Actg Capt I W Whitehorn)

AUSONIA (Capt G H Freyberg CBE Rtd)

CALIFORNIA (Capt C J Pope RAN)

CHESHIRE (Capt J M Begg Rtd)

CHITRAL (Capt G Hamilton Rtd)

CIRCASSIA (Actg Capt E V Lees)

DERBYSHIRE (Capt E A B Stanley DSO, MVO Rtd)

LACONIA (Capt G G P Hewitt Rtd)

MALOJA (Actg Capt V Hammersley-Heenan Rtd)

RANPURA (Actg H T W Pawsey)

WOLFE (Actg Capt W G A Shuttleworth Rtd)

WORCESTERSHIRE (Actg Cdr J S K Woodall, Actg)

 

February 1942 – America and West Indies Command

 

AUSONIA (Capt G H Freyberg CBE Rtd)

CIRCASSIA (Act/Capt E V Lees)