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World War 2 at Sea

 

ROUTE TO THE EAST - the WS (Winston’s Special) CONVOYS

by the late Arnold Hague, Lieutenant Commander, RNR (Rtd) (c) 2007

WS CONVOYS - January to June 1941 SAILINGS, WS 5B to 9C

SS Arundel Castle (Maritime Quest, click to enlarge)

on to July to December 1941 Sailings

 

 

1941 SAILINGS

 

 

 

WS 5B

 

 

This convoy sailed in three sections, from the Bristol Channel (4 ships), Liverpool (6 ships), and from the Clyde (11 ships). The Bristol Channel and Liverpool sections, after their juncture, were oblige to anchor in Moelfre Bay from 8 to 11.1.41, prior to their final rendezvous with the Clyde section; they had therefore to enter Belfast Lough to complete with fresh water. Sailing from the Lough, and the junction with the Clyde ships, took place on 12.1.

 

The cruisers AUSTRALIA and NAIAD provided AA protection while the ships lay in Moelfre Bay, A/S protection was by the destroyers HARVESTER and HIGHLANDER and the sloop WELLINGTON.

 

The convoy sailing plan was:

 

 11

DUCHESS OF BEDFORD or ORBITA?

 

21

CAPETOWN CASTLE

 

31

EMPRESS OF JAPAN

 

41

ATHLONE CASTLE

(Commodore)

 

51

BRITTANIC

 

61

ORMONDE (Vice Commodore)

DURBAN CASTLE also shown here

 

71

DUCHESS OF RICHMOND

 

12

FRANCONIA

 

22

NEA HELLAS

 

32

WINDSOR CASTLE

 

42

EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA

 

52

WINCHESTER CASTLE

 

62

DUCHESS OF BEDFORD OR ORBITA?

 

72

HIGHLAND CHIEFTAIN=

 

 

23

ARUNDEL CASTLE

 

33

MONARCH OF BERMUDA

 

43

PENNLAND

 

 

63

SAMARIA

 

73

HIGHLAND PRINCESS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

74

DUCHESS OF YORK

 

 

Note added 25 Jan 2014: DUCHESS OF BEDFORD is listed in positions 11 and 62. The actual position is not known, but one of the two was probably taken by ORBITA which is listed in the next table, but not this one. HIGHLAND PRINCESS (73) is not mentioned again and her destination is not known. She is next found in convoy WS 12, leaving Liverpool 29.9.41.

DUCHESS OF YORK detached as an independent 17.1, CAPETOWN CASTLE and MONARCH OF BERMUDA detached to Gibraltar 15.1 escorted by NAIAD, rejoining the convoy at Freetown.

 

From 12.1 A/S protection was provided by the destroyers WITHERINGTON and Polish manned LEOPARD to 14.1, BEAGLE, FEARLESS, HARVESTER, HIGHLANDER, JACKAL, LEAMINGTON, LINCOLN, VANSITTART and WATCHMAN to 16.1.

 

Ocean escorts were the cruisers NAIAD and PHOEBE 12 to 15.1, AUSTRALIA and EMERALD 12 to 25.1. The battleship RAMILLIES accompanied the convoy 12 to 17.1.

 

The convoy arrived at Freetown 25.1, having received local A/S escort from the corvettes ASPHODEL and CALENDULA from 21.1, destroyers VELOX from 22.1 and VIDETTE and corvette CLEMATIS from 24.1.

 

The convoy sailed again from Freetown 29.1, with the addition of CAMERONIA, escorted locally by the destroyers FAULKNOR and FORESTER,sloop MILFORD and corvettes CLEMATIS and CYCLAMEN until 1.2, while the cruisers AUSTRALIA and EMERALD provided ocean escort, the former to Durban and the latter to Capetown. The convoy arrived at Capetown 8.2 and Durban 11.2, with ARUNDEL CASTLE, ATHLONE CASTLE, CAPETOWN CASTLE, DUCHESS OF BEDFORD, DURBAN CASTLE, EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA, EMPRESS OF JAPAN, MONARCH OF BERMUDA and WINCHESTER CASTLE entering Capetown, the remaining ships going on to Durban.

 

The constituents of the convoy changed somewhat on sailing from South Africa. The first section sailed from Capetown 12.2 escorted by EMERALD and the second from Durban 15.2 escorted by AUSTRALIA. On the junction of the two sections, the formation became:

 

PRIVATE 11

WINCHESTER CASTLE

 

21

EMPRESS OF JAPAN

 

31

ATHLONE CASTLE

 

41

FRANCONIA

 

51

ORMONDE

 

61

BRITANNIC

 

71

DUCHESS OF RICHMOND

 

12

DURBAN CASTLE

 

22

EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA

 

32

ARUNDEL CASTLE

 

42

NEA HELLAS

 

52

WINDSOR CASTLE

 

62

CAMERONIA

 

72

ORBITA

 

13

CAPETOWN CASTLE

 

23

DUCHESS OF BEDFORD

 

33

MONARCH OF BERMUDA

 

 

53 PENNLAND

 

63

SAMARIA

 

73

NIEUW HOLLAND

 

 

In addition, HIGHLAND CHIEFTAIN took passage with the convoy from Capetown to Durban.

 

From Durban both cruisers formed the escort until the latitude of Mombasa where, on 21.2, EMERALD detached with the EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA, EMPRESS OF JAPAN, ORMONDE and WINDSOR CASTLE for that port. The remainder of the convoy escorted by AUSTRALIA, proceeded to Suez arriving on 3.3.

 

 The amended formation after detachment of the Mombasa ships being:

 

PRIVATE 11

WINCHESTER CASTLE

 

21

DUCHESS OF BEDFORD

 

31

ATHLONE CASTLE

 

41

FRANCONIA

 

51

BRITANNIC

 

61

DUCHESS OF RICHMOND

 

12

DURBAN CASTLE

 

22

PENNLAND

 

32

ARUNDEL CASTLE

 

42

NEA HELLAS

 

52

CAMERONIA

 

62

ORBITA

 

13

CAPETOWN CASTLE

 

 

33

MONARCH OF BERMUDA

 

 

53

SAMARIA

 

63

NIEUW HOLLAND

 

 

 

 

WS 5BX

 

 

The ships detached to Mombasa from WS 5B took this designation when they sailed again on 24.2 escorted by the cruiser ENTERPRISE, in the following formation:

 

PRIVATE 11

EMPRESS OF JAPAN

 

21

ORMONDE

(Commodore)

 

12

WINDSOR CASTLE

 

22

EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

The cruiser CAPETOWN joined the escort 27.2, and the convoy arrived at Bombay 3.3.

 

From Bombay the convoy continued, under the same designation but with different ships, sailing from Bombay on 5.3 as follows:

 

AQUITANIA

 

EMPRESS OF JAPAN

 

escorted by the cruiser ENTERPRISE. The cruiser DURBAN joined the escort 8.3, with ENTERPRISE detaching on 9.3, and the convoy arrived at Singapore 11.3.41.

 

 

WS 6A

 

 

Convoy sailed from Avonmouth, Liverpool and the Clyde with all sections joining off Oversay 9.2.41, and consisted of:

 

ALMANZORA

ASCANIUS

BELLEROPHON

BERGENSFJORD

BURDWAN

CAPE HORN

CITY OF ATHENS

CITY OF CORINTH

CITY OF HANKOW

CITY OF PITTSBURGH

CONSUELO

DALESMAN

HIGHLAND BRIGADE

KINA II

LEOPOLDVILLE

 

LLANDAFF CASTLE

LLANGIBBY CASTLE

LOGICIAN

MAHSEER

MANCHESTER CITIZEN

MATAROA

NOVA SCOTIA

OPAWA

PORT ALMA

RANGITATA

RUAHINE

SALWEEN

SCYTHIA

THYSVILLE

 

Local escorts in UK waters for varying periods as shown below, were the destroyers

 

BROADWATER 6 to 9.2, ATHERSTONE, COTTESMORE and KEPPEL 6 to 12.2, RESTIGOUCHE and ST LAURENT 7 to 12.2, LEGION and PIORUN 8 to 12.2 and GARLAND 8 to 9.2.

 

The ocean escorts were the cruisers BIRMINGHAM and PHOEBE  and the armed merchant cruiser CATHAY. During the passage the battleship RODNEY escorted by destroyers ECLIPSE and ELECTRA were in company 15 to 17.2, the battlecruiser RENOWN and aircraft carrier ARK ROYAL joined 17.2 for a brief period, and the battleship MALAYA from 21 to 28.2.

 

The convoy arrived at Freetown 1.3, where it joined with WS 6B to sail again as a combined convoy.

 

 

 

WS 6B

 

 

This small convoy sailed from Liverpool (ADDA, YOMA) 17.2, and the Clyde (BURMA, LLANSTEPHAN CASTLE, NORTHUMBERLAND and HMS CILICIA) on 18.2.41, in the following order

 

11

YOMA

 

21

LLANSTEPHAN CASTLE  (Commodore)

 

31

NORTHUMBERLAND

12

ADDA

 

22

BURMA  (Vice Commodore)

 

32

HMS CILICIA

 

 

BURMA returned to the Clyde on the day of sailing with defects, while CILICIA detached independently on 20.2.

 

Local escorts were the destroyers HESPERUS and HURRICANE 17 to 20.2, and GARLAND, LEGION and PIORUN 18 to 20.2., while the cruiser MAURITIUS provided ocean escort from 18.2 to 5.3 to Freetown. The corvettes CALENDULA and CLEMATIS joined from that port as local escorts on 3.3.

 

 

 

WS 6

 

 

The combined convoy sailed from Freetown 8.3, sailing order unknown but the following ships present:

 

ALMANZORA

ASCANIUS

BELLEROPHON

BERGENSFJORD

BURDWAN

CAPE HORN

CITY OF ATHENS

CITY OF CORINTH

CITY OF HANKOW

CITY OF PITTSBURG

CONSUELO

DALESMAN

KINA II

LEOPOLDVILLE

LOGICIAN

 

LLANDAFF CASTLE

LLANSTEPHAN CASTLE

MAHSEER

MANCHESTER CITIZEN

MATAROA

NORTHUMBERLAND

NOVA SCOTIA

OPAWA

PORT ALMA

RANGITATA

RUAHINE

SALWEEN

SCYTHIA

THYSVILLE

 

escorted by the cruisers BIRMINGHAM and PHOEBE  and the armed merchant cruiser CATHAY, the latter ship being relieved by the cruiser CORNWALL on 11.3.

 

On 21.3 ALMANZORA, BERGENSFJORD, LLANDAFF CASTLE, RUAHINE and SCYTHIA were detached as a fast section escorted by PHOEBE, entering Capetown that day to water ship, and then proceeding with PHOEBE to Durban where they arrived 26.3.

 

The remainder of the convoy was divided between Capetown and Durban in the usual fashion.

 

The Capetown section of the convoy sailed 27.3 escorted by the cruiser DORSETSHIRE and consisted of:

 

ASCANIUS

BURDWAN

CAPE HORN

CITY OF ATHENS

KINA II

 

LEOPOLDVILLE

LLANDAFF CASTLE

NOVA SCOTIA

OPAWA

PORT ALMA

 

The Durban section sailed 31.3 escorted by the cruisers CORNWALL and PHOEBE and comprised:

 

BELLEROPHON

BERGENSFJORD

CITY OF CANTERBURY

CITY OF CORINTH

CITY OF HANKOW

CITY OF LONDON

CITY OF PITTSBURG

CONSUELO

COSTA RICA

DALESMAN

 

DILWARA

ELISABETHVILLE

LLANSTEPHAN CASTLE

LOGICIAN

MAHSEER

MANCHESTER CITIZEN

SALWEEN

THYSVILLE

YOMA

 

TALAMBA joined at sea 10.4 having been escorted from the Seychelles by the cruiser GLASGOW, and CITY OF ATHENS and LLANDAFF CASTLE detached off Mombasa on 8.4 to enter that port.

 

The DORSETSHIRE detached to return to Durban 7.4, PHOEBE detached 10.4 being relieved by the cruisers CANBERRA (for that day only) and GLASGOW which remained until 13.4.

 

 CORNWALL remained with the convoy until 15.4.41, when it dispersed off Perim with ships proceeding independently to Suez.

 

 

 

WS 7

 

 

The convoy assembled in the Clyde anchorage and sailed from there 24.3.41 in the following formation:

 

11 DUCHESS OF YORK

 

21

STIRLING CASTLE

(Vice Commodore)

 

31

DUCHESS OF ATHOLL

 

41

EMPRESS OF CANADA

(Commodore)

 

51

WARWICK CASTLE

 

61

OTRANTO

 

12

VICEROY OF INDIA

 

22

DENBIGHSHIRE

 

32

ORION

 

42

STRATHEDEN

 

52

STRATHNAVER

 

62

ORCADES

 

13

ANDES

 

23

JOHAN VAN OLDENBARNEVELT

 

33

STRATHALLAN

 

43

PASTEUR

 

53

STRATHMORE

 

 

14

GEORGIC

 

24

DEMPO

 

34

ORONTES

 

 

54

GLENORCHY

 

 

 

GEORGIC detached to Halifax 28.3, STRATHAIRD (not allocated a number in the plan above) was in collision with STIRLING ASTLE shortly after sailing and obliged to return.

At a later stage of the convoy passage GLENORCHY took position 63, retaining that thereafter.

 

A/S escorts for the convoy were supplied for the periods shown below by the destroyers:

 

LEGION and PIORUN 24 to 26.3, BROADWATER 24 to 27.3, BEDOUIN, MASHONA, MATABELE and SOMALI 24 to 28.3, LEOPARD, ROCKINGHAM, AA cruiser CAIRO and destroyers VICEROY and WINCHELSEA 25 to 26.3, ST CLAIR 25 to 27.3, ECLIPSE and FOXHOUND 25 to 28.3; while the cruiser EDINBURGH was present 24 to 29.3

 

Ocean escort was provided by the battleship REVENGE 24 to 28.3; she then detached and escorted GEORGIC to Halifax, NS. The battleship NELSON, accompanied by the destroyer ARROW, escorted the convoy to Freetown.

 

Off Freetown, the destroyers DUNCAN and FOXHOUND joined 1.4 and VIDETTE and WISHART 2.4 until arrival on 4.4

 

The complete convoy sailed Freetown 7.4 escorted by FOXHOUND to 8.4 and DUNCAN, VIDETTE and WISHART to 9.4. NELSON provided ocean escort from sailing until 15.4 when she was relieved by the cruiser NEWCASTLE which escorted the convoy to Capetown, arriving 16.4, and then took the Durban ships on to that port arriving 19.4, returning then to Simonstown.

 

ANDES, DEMPO, DUCHESS OF ATHOLL, DUCHESS OF YORK, EMPRESS OF CANADA, ORCADES, ORION, PASTEUR, STRATHALLAN, STRATHEDEN and STRATHMORE entered Capetown, DEMPO sailing later the same day as an independent to Durban where she arrived 20.4; the remaining ships went on to berth at Durban.

 

All ships of the convoy other than STIRLING CASTLE sailed to go on to Suez, the Capetown ships on 20.4 escorted by the cruiser HAWKINS, and the Durban ships on 23.4 escorted by the armed merchant cruiser CARTHAGE; both sections made a rendezvous on 24.4 whereon CARTHAGE detached.

 

The cruisers COLOMBO and GLASGOW sailed from Mombasa and relieved HAWKINS on 28.4 in 4S 42.06E until the convoy divided later in 5N 50E. Those ships not detaching as WS 7X, which is shown in the text below, continued with GLASGOW until 3.5 when they dispersed off Perim and proceeded independently to Suez all arriving during 6.5.41

 

 

 

WS 7X

 

 

The cruiser COLOMBO detached from the main body of WS 7 on 1.5 with DUCHESS OF YORK, JOHAN VAN OLDENBARNEVELT, STRATHMORE and WARWICK CASTLE for Bombay, where they duly arrived on 5.5.41.

 

The STIRLING CASTLE, which remained at Durban when the convoy sailed on 23.4, proceeded as an independent ship on 26.4 to Melbourne where she arrived on 10.5.41.

 

 

 

WS 8A

 

 

The convoy sailed from the Clyde on 26.4.41; the initial sailing included five ships ‑ CLAN CAMPBELL, CLAN CHATTAN, CLAN LAMONT, EMPIRE SONG and NEW ZEALAND STAR ‑ all destined for Malta as part of Operation Tiger. The sailing details available unfortunately exclude CLAN CHATTAN, possibly she occupied position 13.

 

11

HIGHLAND CHIEFTAIN

 

21

DOMINION MONARCH

(Vice Commodore)

 

31

STRATHAIRD

(Commodore)

 

41

CLAN CAMPBELL

 

51

ARONDA

 

12

EMPRESS OF ASIA

 

22

REINA DEL PACIFICO

 

32

SOBIESKI

 

42

CLAN LAMONT

 

52

EMPIRE SONG

 

 

23

EMPRESS OF RUSSIA

 

33

NEW ZEALAND STAR

 

43

ABBEKERK

 

53

HMS PRETORIA CASTLE

 

 

A/S escort comprised the destroyers HARVESTER, HAVELOCK and HESPERUS from 26.4 until detaching with the Gibraltar section 2.5, thence to Gibraltar; BEAGLE and ERIDGE from 26 to 29.4 when these two detached to join convoy SL 71, and HURRICANE, LEGION, OTTAWA, PIORUN, RESTIGOUCHE and SAGUENAY 26 to 29.4.

 

The battle cruiser REPULSE and cruiser NAIAD accompanied the convoy to 2.5 and then proceeded to Gibraltar, the cruiser MAURITIUS escorted 2 to 9.5 and the armed merchant cruiser PRETORIA CASTLE accompanied the convoy to Freetown.

 

DOMINION MONARCH and HIGHLAND CHIEFTAIN were in collision 8.5 but proceeded with the convoy. HIGHLAND CHIEFTAIN must have suffered major damage as she spent over 200 days under repair at Durban after arrival there.

 

Approaching Freetown, A/S cover was provided by the destroyers DUNCAN and WISHART from 5.5 and BOREAS and HIGHLANDER from 6.5, until the arrival of the convoy at Freetown on 9.5.

 

The convoy sailed from Freetown 14.5 in a new formation:

 

11

IMPERIAL STAR

 

21

REINA DEL PACIFICO

 

31

STRATHAIRD

(Commodore)

 

41

EMPRESS OF RUSSIA

 

12

ABBEKERK

 

22

ARONDA

 

32

EMPRESS OF ASIA

 

42

SOBIESKI

 

 

23

DOMINION MONARCH

(Vice Commodore)

 

33

HIGHLAND CHIEFTAIN

 

 

 

 

IMPERIAL STAR joined at Freetown having made an independent passage from Britain; HIGHLAND CHIEFTAIN sailed late on 15.5 from Freetown, escorted by the armed merchant cruiser CILICIA to overtake the convoy and join at sea.

 

The destroyers BOREAS and WISHART to 15.5, and DUNCAN and HIGHLANDER to 16.5, provided A/S escort; the cruiser MAURITIUS was ocean escort from 14 to 24.5, then relieved by the cruiser HAWKINS and armed merchant cruiser PRETORIA CASTLE.

 

STRATHAIRD detached independent 23.5, arrived Capetown 24.5 and then sailed again the same day for Durban. IMPERIAL STAR went direct to Capetown arriving 24.5, all other ships were intended for Durban and arrived there 27.5 except for EMPRESS OF ASIA. She suffered a mutiny amongst her firemen and was ordered back to Capetown on 25.5; delayed by weather she finally entered the port 26.5. HIGHLAND CHIEFTAIN went in to Capetown for emergency repairs following the collision reported earlier, arriving 25.5. After completion of the temporary work, she proceeded later to Durban for lengthy and permanent repair work.

 

The convoy sailed from Durban 31.5, escorted by the cruiser HAWKINS, in the following formation:

 

11

SOBIESKI

 

21

STRATHAIRD

 

31

EMPRESS OF RUSSIA

 

12

ARONDA

 

 

32

ABBEKERK

 

 

and arrived off Aden 10.6 from whence all ships proceeded to Suez independently arriving on 13.6, except STRATHAIRD which arrived 14.6.41.

 

 

 

WS 8B

 

 

A smaller convoy, sailing from the Clyde 22.5.41 as below:

 

11

CHRISTIAAN HUYGENS

 

21

GEORGIC

(Commodore)

 

31

DUCHESS OF RICHMOND

(Vice Commodore)

 

41

ORDUNA

 

12

ABOSSO

 

22

MARTAND

 

32

ALMANZORA

 

possibly 42

HMS ARGUS

 

 

Local escort was provided by the AA cruiser CAIRO and destroyers COSSACK, ERIDGE, MAORI, OTTAWA, PIORUN, SIKH, RESTIGOUCHE and ZULU from 22 to 26.5. The aircraft carrier ARGUS was with the convoy for passage to Gibraltar, detaching 27.5, and the cruiser EXETER provided the ocean escort. The destroyers BOREAS and DUNCAN joined off Freetown 2.6 and the corvette MARGUERITE 3.6, the convoy arriving at Freetown 4.6.

 

Unusually, the cruiser EXETER carried out the function of Convoy Commodore for the UK to Freetown passage owing to illness of the Commodore on 23.5, until 27.5 when the Master of the GEORGIC was appointed Commodore.

 

ORDUNA and ALMANZORA were in collision 31.5 but continued with the convoy.

 

A reduced convoy sailed from Freetown 6.6 as follows:

 

11

ALMANZORA

 

21

GEORGIC

(Commodore)

 

31

DUCHESS OF RICHMOND

(Vice Commodore)

 

12

ORDUNA

 

 

32

MARTAND

 

 

Local destroyer escort was BOREAS, DUNCAN and HIGHLANDER until 8.6 with EXETER as ocean escort to Durban, where the convoy arrived 20.6.

 

The convoy, with the addition of NIEUW ZEELAND in position 22, sailed Durban with EXETER as escort 23.6 and dispersed off Aden 4.7.41, all ships proceeding independently to Suez.

 

 

 

WS 8X

 

 

Sailing from the Clyde 31.5.41, this small convoy comprised:

 

11

PORT WYNDHAM

 

21

DUCHESS OF BEDFORD

(Commodore)

 

31

HMS ESPERANCE BAY

 

41

WAIWERA

 

 

A strong destroyer escort of BRIGHTON, LEGION, PIORUN, SAGUENAY, ST MARYS, SHERWOOD, VANSITTART, WILD SWAN and WIVERN escorted to 3.6; the cruiser NORFOLK provided ocean cover to Freetown, while the aircraft carrier VICTORIOUS and cruiser NEPTUNE were in company 3 to 5.6. The convoy was met by the destroyer VELOX and corvette ASTER 9.6 and arrived at Freetown 11.6. ESPERANCE BAY detached from the convoy on 3.6 in 49.14N 20.34W to commence a patrol.

 

The convoy continued its passage unchanged, leaving Freetown 15.6 and arriving at Capetown 24.6. After fuelling etc, it sailed again 28.6, called at Kilindini 6.7 thence to Aden where it dispersed as independent ships on 11.7, finally arriving at Suez 15.7.41. The cruiser NEPTUNE escorted the convoy throughout its passage.

 

 

 

WS 8C

 

This convoy, and its embarked troops, was intended for the seizure of the Azores and made the short passage from UK ports to the main Fleet base at Scapa Flow to be held there while the final political decisions were made. In the event the operation was cancelled, as it had been on several previous occasions; none however had come so close to being ordered into action as this proposed landing. The ships then returned to the Clyde, disembarked their troops, and dispersed.

 

The convoy was an integrated force prepared for an opposed landing and was made up of HM Ships serving as Landing Ships Infantry, both the large and small variants, Landing Ships Tank Mk 1, RFA tankers, mercantile personnel ships and MT ships. The ocean escort would also have included major warships to support the intended landing, and to protect the islands thereafter.

 

HM Ships in the convoy were:

 

LSI (Assault)

KARANJA

PRINCE CHARLES

QUEEN EMMA

ROYAL SCOTSMAN

ULSTER MONARCH

 

LST (1)

BACHAQUERO

MISOA

 

RFA tankers

DEWDALE

ENNERDALE

 

 

Personnel ships

BATORY

NARKUNDA (Commodore)

ORMONDE

WINCHESTER CASTLE

 

Motor Transport (MT) ships

CLAN MACDONALD

DUNEDIN STAR

MACHARDA

POTARO

SILVERTEAK (Vice Commodore)

SUFFOLK

 

 

The convoy sailed from the Clyde 9.8.41 arriving at Scapa Flow the following day, SUFFOLK and POTARO being damaged in collision while entering the Flow.

 

The destroyer escort from the Clyde comprised BULLDOG, CASTLETON, CHARLESTOWN, ECHO, INTREPID, WHITEHALL, WINCHELSEA and WITCH.

 

The convoy remained at Scapa Flow until 15.8 when it returned to the Clyde to disperse, arriving 17.8. The two damaged ships, POTARO and SUFFOLK, sailed from Scapa Flow for the Clyde on 12.8.41.

 

The return passage escorts were the destroyers ANTELOPE, CASTLETON, CHARLESTOWN, DOUGLAS, GEORGETOWN, INTREPID, LEAMINGTON, and SALADIN and the AA ship POZARICA.

 

 

 

WS 9A

 

 

This convoy made its final rendezvous off Oversay 3.6.41 after clearing the feeder ports of Avonmouth and Liverpool, and was formed from the following ships:

 

11

HIGHLAND BRIGADE

 

21

SAMARIA

 

31

EMPRESS OF JAPAN

(Commodore)

 

41

DURBAN CASTLE

51

FRANCONIA

(Vice Commodore)

 

61

CAPETOWN CASTLE

 

12

AAGTEKERK

 

22

EASTERN PRINCE

 

32

MOOLTAN

 

42

ORBITA

 

52

LLANGIBBY CASTLE

 

62

MENDOZA

 

 

23

EMPIRE CONDOR

 

33

EMPIRE CURLEW

 

43

EMPIRE EGRET

 

53

EMPIRE WIDGEON

 

 

 

Local escort was the AA cruiser CAIRO, the armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA and the destroyers COSSACK, MAORI, OTTAWA, RAMSEY, RESTIGOUCHE, RICHMOND, SIKH, VANQUISHER, WINCHELSEA and ZULU from 3 to 7.6.

 

Ocean escort was provided by the cruiser BIRMINGHAM and the armed merchant cruiser DUNNOTTAR CASTLE throughout the voyage, while the local destroyer escort from Freetown of VANSITTART and WILD SWAN joined 13.6 and BOREAS, BRILLIANT, HIGHLANDER and VELOX 16.6; the convoy arriving at Freetown 18.6.41.

 

The convoy sailed again from Freetown on 20.6 with the addition of:

 

BERGENSFJORD

 

CHRISTIAAN HUYGENS

 

the whole escorted by the destroyers BOREAS, VANSITTART, VELOX and WILD SWAN to 22.6. The cruiser BIRMINGHAM was the ocean escort, and she and the convoy arrived off Capetown 1.7 where CAPETOWN CASTLE, DURBAN CASTLE, EASTERN PRINCE, EMPIRE WIDGEON, EMPRESS OF JAPAN and LLANGIBBY CASTLE entered harbour, the remaining ships proceeding to Durban to arrive there 4.7. BIRMINGHAM was relieved as escort by the cruiser HAWKINS on 2.7.

 

EASTERN PRINCE sailed from Capetown 2.7 and proceeded to Durban, arrving there 4.7. sailing from that port with the main Durban contingent.

 

All the Capetown ships sailed 5.7 escorted by the cruiser BIRMINGHAM, and were joined on 9.7 in 29.30S 33.40E by:

 

AAGTEKERK

ARONDA

EASTERN PRINCE

EMPIRE CONDOR

 

EMPIRE CURLEW

EMPIRE EGRET

THYSVILLE

 

from Durban escorted by the cruiser HAWKINS, all of which had sailed on 8.7. The convoy proceeded to Aden and dispersed off that port on 21.7.41 to proceed as independents to Suez, less the ships detached earlier to form convoy WS 9AX.

 

 

 

WS 9AX

 

 

Three ships, CAPETOWN CASTLE, DURBAN CASTLE and EMPRESS OF JAPAN, detached from convoy WS 9A in 9.10N 51.40E on 18.7 to proceed to Bombay escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HECTOR, arriving 22.7.41. From Bombay, the same three ships sailed with the armed merchant cruiser ANTENOR as escort on 27.7 for Colombo, arriving 30.7.

 

From Colombo, CAPETOWN CASTLE and EMPRESS OF JAPAN sailed on 1.8 escorted by the cruiser MAURITIUS, later relieved by the cruiser DURBAN, to arrive at Singapore 5.8.41.

 

 

 

WS 9A2

 

 

One of the rare WS convoys that did not commence passage from Britain, this convoy formed at Durban 11.7.41 comprising:

 

11

ILE DE FRANCE

 

21

MAURETANIA

 

31

NIEUW AMSTERDAM

 

 

escorted by the cruiser CORNWALL to Perim where the ships dispersed as independents on 18.7 for Suez, their arrivals being staggered to avoid congestion, MAURETANIA on 21.7, NIEUW AMSTERDAM on 23.7 and ILE DE FRANCE on 21.7.

 

CORNWALL, after dispersing the convoy, entered Aden to land passengers, on 19.7.41.

 

 

 

WS 9B

 

 

Sailing from Avonmouth (A) 27.6.41, Liverpool (L) 28.6 and the Clyde (C) 29.6, the convoy forming at sea off Oversay on 30.6:

 

11C

TAMAROA

 

21C

ORONSAY

(Commodore)

 

31C

HMS CATHAY

31C

HMS EDINBURGH

(same position number)

 

41C

CLAN FORBES

 

51C

PAMPAS

 

12C

PULASKI

 

22L

ATHLONE CASTLE

 

32C

HMS MORETON BAY

 

42A

ARUNDEL CASTLE

 

52L

RANGITATA

 

13L

ANSELM

 

23L

MONARCH OF BERMUDA

 

 

43A

MATAROA

 

53L

ELISABETH BAKKE

 

14C

HMS GALATEA

 

24L

CERAMIC

 

34C

HMS CHITRAL

 

 

54C

HMS CAIRO

 

 

ANSELM returned with defects to the Clyde, and was later sunk on her passage to Freetown on 5.7.41 with the loss of approximately 250 troops. When sunk she was in company with a naval survey ship, both being escorted by corvettes and did NOT bear any convoy designation. The not infrequent attribution of her loss to convoy WS 9C is incorrect.

 

UK based escorts were the AA cruiser CAIRO and destroyers CASTLETON, GARLAND, MAORI, PIORUN, ST FRANCIS, VANQUISHER, WINCHELSEA and WOLVERINE 29.6 to 2.7, WELLS 29.6 to 1.7 and READING 29.6 to 3.7.

 

The cruiser EDINBURGH was with the convoy 29.6 to 3.7; the armed merchant cruisers CATHAY and CHITRAL detached 4 and 6.7 respectively, the cruiser GALATEA and armed merchant cruiser MORETON BAY detached 13.7. The ocean boarding vessel CORINTHIAN, on passage with the convoy, detached to patrol 6.7.

 

An unusual feature of the escort for this convoy is the inclusion of the cruisers and armed merchant cruisers in the sailing plan.

 

Local escort of the destroyers BRILLIANT, WILD SWAN and WIVERN and corvette ASPHODEL joined 10.7 and the convoy arrived at Freetown 13.7.

 

The convoy sailed from Freetown, its formation unchanged. 16.7 escorted by the destroyers BOREAS, BRILLIANT, VANSITTART and VELOX to 18.7 and with the cruiser GALATEA as ocean escort to Durban.

 

Off Capetown on 27.7 CERAMIC, CLAN FORBES, ELISABETH BAKKE, PAMPAS, PULASKI and RANGITATA entered that port, the remaining ships proceeding to Durban, where they arrived 29.7.

 

On sailing from Capetown 30.7, CERAMIC (for Australia) and RANGITATA, MATAROA and TAMAROA remained behind, the remaining ships were escorted by the armed merchant cruiser QUEEN OF BERMUDA to rendezvous with the Durban ships sailing 3.8. Of the ships arriving at Durban only ARUNDEL CASTLE, ATHLONE CASTLE, MONARCH OF BERMUDA and ORONSAY sailed for the passage northward, escorted by the cruiser GALATEA. The convoy, less those ships detaching as convoy WS 9BX, arrived off Aden 14.8.41 and dispersed, ships then proceeding to Suez independently.

 

 

 

 

WS 9BX

 

 

ATHLONE CASTLE and ELISABETH BAKKE detached from WS 9B on 13.8 and, escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HECTOR, arrived at Bombay 16.8.41.

 

 

 

WS 9C

 

 

Sailing from Newport  (N), Swansea (S) , Liverpool and the Clyde and assembling off Oversay 13.7.41, this convoy consisted principally of ships destined for Operation Substance, a supply convoy to Malta.

 

Convoy formation on sailing was:

 

11C

HMS MANCHESTER

 

21C

AVILA STAR

 

31C

PASTEUR

(Commodore)

 

41C

MELBOURNE STAR

(Vice Commodore)

 

51

HMS MANXMAN

 

12S

DEUCALION

 

22C

LEINSTER

 

32C

HMS NELSON

 

42N

DURHAM

 

52L

CITY OF PRETORIA

 

13C

HNethMS HEEMSKERK

 

23N

PORT CHALMERS

 

33L

SYDNEY STAR

 

 

53C

HMS ARETHUSA

 

 

PASTEUR had 4200 troops embarked for the relief of the Gibraltar garrison.

 

Escorts were, from the Bristol Channel the cruiser HEEMSKERK and the sloop STORK ( the latter until 13.7). Dutch AA cruiser HEEMSKERK and destroyers GARLAND, GURKHA, VANOC and WANDERER 12 to 15.7; battleship NELSON, cruisers MANCHESTER, ARETHUSA and destroyers COSSACK, LIGHTNING, MAORI, NESTOR and SIKH 12 to 17.7. The cruiser EDINBURGH was in company on 20.7, the minelayer MANXMAN from 15 to 16.7 and the destroyer FIREDRAKE joined from Gibraltar 18.7. The destroyer WINCHELSEA also sailed with the convoy, her detachment date is not known.

 

PASTEUR detached to Gibraltar 17.7 escorted by MANCHESTER, LIGHTNING and NESTOR plus AVON VALE, ERIDGE and FARNDALE from Gibraltar; LEINSTER also detached that day with ARETHUSA plus COSSACK and SIKH, while AVILA STAR detached as an independent on 16.7. All ships of the convoy destined for Gibraltar had arrived by 20.7.41.

 

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revised 25/1/14


 

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