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World War 2 at Sea

 

ROUTE TO THE EAST - the WS (Winstonís Special) CONVOYS

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

WS CONVOYS - July to December 1941 SAILINGS, including two DM Convoys, WS 10 to 14B

MV Dunera (Ships Pictures, click to enlarge)

on to 1942 Sailings

 

 

1941 SAILINGS

(concluded)

 

 

 

WS 10

 

Sailing from Avonmouth 30.7.41, Liverpool 31.7 and the Clyde 2.8 the convoy assembled off Oversay 3.8 in the following formation:

11

PHEMIUS

 

21

INDRAPOERA

 

31

ORCADES

(Commodore)

 

41

STRATHALLAN

(Vice Commodore)

 

51

REINA DEL PACIFICO

 

61

WINDSOR CASTLE

 

12

DIOMED

 

22

ANDES

 

32

BRITANNIC

 

42

VOLENDAM

 

52

NEA HELLAS

 

62

WARWICK CASTLE

 

13

INDIAN PRINCE

 

23

RANGITIKI

 

33

HIGHLAND MONARCH

 

43

CAMERONIA

 

53

STIRLING CASTLE

 

63

NIGERSTROOM

 

 

 

34

MANCHESTER PORT

 

 

 

 

 

WARWICK CASTLE and WINDSOR CASTLE were in collision 6.8 and the former detached to Halifax NS escorted by the armed merchant cruiser WARWICKSHIRE.

Escorts from the UK for varying dates were:

AA cruiser CAIRO and destroyers WHITEHALL, WINCHELSEA and WITCH 2 to 5.8; armed merchant cruiser WORCESTERSHIRE and destroyers BROADWAY, GURKHA, ISAAC SWEERS, LANCE, LEGION and PIORUN 2 to 6.8; cruiser LONDON as ocean escort relieved on 10.8 by the cruiser EDINBURGH for the remainder of the passage. The destroyer JUPITER was in company throughout the passage to Freetown from the UK.

Local Freetown based escorts destroyers VELOX and WRESTLER and corvette BERGAMOT joined 14.8 and corvette CYCLAMEN 15.8, the convoy arriving at Freetown 17.8.

The convoy sailed from Freetown 21.8 in the same order as before, but with the Vice Commodore shifting into BRITANNIC. The local A/S escort is unknown but certainly included four corvettes; the cruiser EDINBURGH and destroyer JUPITER accompanied the convoy to Capetown where it arrived 2.9.

 

The following ships entered Capetown BRITANNIC, INDRAPOERA, NIGERSTROOM, PHEMIUS, REINA DEL PACIFICO, STIRLING CASTLE, STRATHALLAN, VOLENDAM and WINDSOR CASTLE, the remaining ships proceeding to Durban. The escort for this passage was the cruiser HAWKINS.

In South Africa the convoy divided, the Indian portion proceeding as WS 10B, while the ships for Aden, DIOMED, INDIAN PRINCE, INDRAPOERA, MANCHESTER PORT, NEA HELLAS, NIGERSTROOM, PHEMIUS and VOLENDAM went north under the designation CM 17. MANCHESTER PORT detached to Mombasa on 15.9, the rest of the convoy dispersed off Aden on 23.9.

 

WS 10B

Sailing from Capetown 6.9 under the escort of the armed merchant cruiser CARNARVON CASTLE a degree of shuffling of ships took place. Initially BRITANNIC, INDRAPOERA, NIGERSTROOM, PHEMIUS, STIRLING CASTLE, STRATHALLAN, VOLENDAM, and WINDSOR CASTLE sailed with BRITANNIC detaching independently on 8.9 to enter Durban and embark passengers from the CAMERONIA and rejoin. From Durban on 9.9 the ARONDA sailed escorted by the cruiser HAWKINS; on junction with the Capetown body CARNARVON CASTLE detached escorting INDRAPOERA, NIGERSTROOM, PHEMIUS and VOLENDAM which accompanied her to Durban. The convoy, now under escort by HAWKINS was formed as follows:

11

STRATHALLAN

 

21

ARONDA

(Commodore)

 

31

BRITANNIC

(Vice Commodore)

 

 

22

STIRLING CASTLE

 

32

WINDSOR CASTLE

 

 

 

The cruiser EMERALD relieved HAWKINS on 15.9 in 3.32S 51.12E, and the convoy arrived at Bombay 20.9.41.

WS 10X

This small convoy sailed from Avonmouth 14.8.41, Liverpool 15.8 and the Clyde 16.8, making its juncture late on 16.8:

11L

STRATHNAVER

(Vice Commodore)

 

21C

STRATHMORE

(Commodore)

 

31A

ORION

 

12L

PALMA

 

22L

BRISBANE STAR

 

32A

PORT JACKSON

 

 

BRISBANE STAR lost the convoy 19.8 and did not rejoin until 22.8.

Local escorts were the Dutch AA cruiser HEEMSKERK and destroyers WHITEHALL and WITCH from Liverpool 15 to 17.8, destroyers GURKHA, ISAAC SWEERS, LANCE and PIORUN from the Clyde 17 to 19.8; DORSETSHIRE as ocean escort to Freetown from the Clyde.

Local Freetown escort of the destroyers BRILLIANT, VELOX (for one day only) and WRESTLER and corvettes CLEMATIS and CROCUS joined 27.8 and the convoy arrived at Freetown 28.8.41.

From Freetown the convoy sailed on 1.9 in the same cruising order with the battleship REVENGE as ocean escort. Corvettes AMARANTHUS (to 2.9) and ARMERIA, MIGNONETTE and WOODRUFF escorted to 3.9.

During the passage, REVENGE's Officer of the Watch chose to exercise a steering breakdown while in close company with the convoy; the resultant violent sheer towards ORION was potentially disastrous but, fortunately, the liner struck the battleship on the starboard bulge with only minor damage to both ships. Had the reverse been the case, the loss of ORION would have been almost inevitable with the possibility of heavy loss of life. The OOW was subsequently court martialled, and disciplined for having endangered both his ship and the transport.

Convoy arrived at Capetown on 11.9, and sailed once more on 14.9, still escorted by REVENGE, and in the same formation. The battleship was relieved by the cruiser CERES on 22.9 who took the convoy on to dispersal off Aden on 27.9, thereafter ships proceeded independently to Suez, arriving at varying dates between 1 and 4.10.41.

 

WS 11

Sailing from Bristol Channel ports (Swansea and Newport), Liverpool 30.8.41 and the Clyde 31.8, the convoy formed off Oversay in the order below:

11C

KINA II

 

21C

MOOLTAN

 

31C

ORONTES

(Commodore)

 

41L

OTRANTO

 

51C

CITY OF EDINBURGH

 

12S

BHUTAN

 

22L

EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA

 

32C

SCYTHIA

 

42

HMS GUARDIAN

 

52L

GLENORCHY

 

13S

BARRISTER

 

23L

NORTHUMBERLAND

(Vice Commodore)

 

33L

VICEROY OF INDIA

 

43L

DUCHESS OF YORK

 

53N

CITY OF MANCHESTER

 

14L

GLAUCUS

 

24L

ABOSSO

 

 

44C

LARGS BAY

 

54N

MANCHESTER PROGRESS

 

 

Escort locally was provided by the AA cruiser CAIRO and destroyers COSSACK, GARLAND, HIGHLANDER, ISAAC SWEERS, LEGION, LIVELY, PIORUN, WINCHELSEA and ZULU.

Ocean escort from sailing comprised the battlecruiser REPULSE, and destroyers ENCOUNTER and NESTOR, armed merchant cruiser DERBYSHIRE, sloop SUTLEJ and cutters SENNEN and TOTLAND. The aircraft carrier FURIOUS (to 4.9) and cruiser SHEFFIELD (to 2.9) were also present in the initial stage of the passage.

The convoy split into Fast and Slow portions on 4.9 to proceed separately to Freetown, the resultant formations being:

 

 

WS 11 Fast

 

11

MOOLTAN

 

21

ORONTES

(Commodore)

 

31

LARGS BAY

 

41

CITY OF EDINBURGH

 

12

EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA

12

OTRANTO

(same position number

 

22

SCYTHIA

 

32

GLENORCHY

32

HMS GUARDIAN

(same position number)

 

 

13

KINA II

 

23

VICEROY OF INDIA

 

33

 

DUCHESS OF YORK

 

 

 

 

34

 

BHUTAN

 

 

 

The revised convoy was escorted by the battlecruiser REPULSE and destroyers ENCOUNTER and NESTOR, joined off Freetown by VELOX and WRESTLER and the corvette STARWORT, arriving at Freetown 13.9.

WS 11 Slow

†The slow convoy reformed as shown:

11

GLAUCUS

 

21

NORTHUMBERLAND

(ex-Vice Commodore, now Commodore)

 

31

HMS DERBYSHIRE

 

41

CITY OF MANCHESTER

 

12

BARRISTER

 

22

ABOSSO

(Master as Vice Commodore)

 

32

RAPIDOL

 

42

MANCHESTER PROGRESS

 

 

HMS DERBYSHIRE escorted the slow convoy, leading column 3 of the convoy, which was joined by the RFA RAPIDOL on 8.9, an early Escort Oiler which joined the convoy for that purpose and for passage to Freetown. The cutters SENNEN and TOTLAND and the sloop SUTLEJ accompanied the convoy as A/S escort, and the convoy arrived at Freetown 15.9.41.

The re‑united convoy sailed from Freetown 18.9, leaving ABOSSO, HMS GUARDIAN and NORTHUMBERLAND behind but adding NIEUW ZEELAND to the convoy. Unfortunately, a sailing order for this leg of the passage is not available.

 

Local escort on sailing was the destroyers VELOX and WRESTLER to 20.9, destroyer ENCOUNTER, sloop SUTLEJ and corvette WOODRUFF to 21.9 and the battlecruiser REPULSE and armed merchant cruiser DERBYSHIRE; the former went to Durban arriving 3.10, while DERBYSHIRE took in the Capetown section which arrived 30.9.41.

BHUTAN, CITY OF EDINBURGH, CITY OF MANCHESTER, DUCHESS OF YORK, GLAUCUS, GLENORCHY, KINA II, LARGS BAY, NIEUW ZEELAND, ORONTES and VICEROY OF INDIA entered Capetown.

The convoy underwent a considerable re‑organisation while in South Africa, so that on 3.10 the Capetown section sailed in the initial formation shown below:

11

GLENORCHY

 

21

ORONTES

(Commodore)

 

31

DUCHESS OF YORK

 

12

BHUTAN

 

22

VICEROY OF INDIA

 

32

KINA II

 

13

CITY OF MANCHESTER

 

23

LARGS BAY

 

33

GLAUCUS

 

14

CITY OF EDINBURGH

 

 

34

NIEUW ZEELAND

 

 

GLAUCUS sailed a day late to overtake, having been delayed with a wire round her screw, but joined the convoy on 5.10.

 

Escort was provided by the armed merchant cruiser DERBYSHIRE until the juncture with the Durban section, when she returned to Capetown.

The Durban ships, plus those joining at that port, sailed 7.10, and after the rendezvous on 8.10 the sailing order became:

11

DILWARA

 

21

MOOLTAN

 

31

LLANDAFF CASTLE

(Vice Commodore)

 

41

ORONTES

(Commodore)

 

51

GLENORCHY

(Rear Commodore)

 

61

OTRANTO

 

12

CITY OF CANTERBURY

 

22

EASTERN PRINCE

 

32

NIEUW HOLLAND

 

42

CITY OF EDINBURGH

 

52

VICEROY OF INDIA

 

62

DUCHESS OF YORK

 

13

PULASKI

 

23

MANCHESTER PROGRESS

 

33

CITY OF MANCHESTER

 

43

NIEUW ZEELAND

 

53

LARGS BAY

 

63

KINA II

 

 

 

34

BHUTAN

 

44

BARRISTER

 

54

JOHAN DE WITT

 

64

GLAUCUS

 

 

Escort was provided by the battlecruiser REPULSE from Durban until 13.10 when the cruiser CERES relieved her until the convoy dispersed off Aden 19.10.41.

WS 11X

 

The following ships detached from the main body of WS 11 on 17.10 in position 10N 52.30E to form WS 11X,

BARRISTER, (detached independent to Basra on 21.10) CITY OF EDINBURGH, DUCHESS OF YORK, GLAUCUS, GLENORCHY, JOHAN DE WITT, KINA II, LARGS BAY, NIEUW ZEELAND, ORONTES, OTRANTO and VICEROY OF INDIA under the escort of the cruiser GLASGOW, for Bombay.

CITY OF EDINBURGH and GLENORCHY detached 19.10 as independents for Basra, the remaining ships arrived at Bombay 22.10. No sailing plan is available for this leg of the passage.

From Bombay, a depleted convoy sailed 27.10 in this formation:

11

GLAUCUS

(Vice Commodore)

 

21

ORION

(Commodore)

 

 

 

22

NIEUW ZEELAND

 

32

KINA II

 

13

JOHAN DE WITT

 

23

LARGS BAY

 

 

 

The convoy, escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HECTOR, arrived at Colombo 31.10, less KINA II which detached to Trincomalee 29.10 as an independent.

From Colombo the convoy, excluding KINA II and plus RANGITIKI in position 12, escorted by the cruiser MAURITIUS, sailed on 31.10 and arrived in Singapore 6.11.41. ELLENGA joined from Madras as an independent ship 1.11.

 

WS 11X

†IMPORTANT - Do not confuse this totally separate convoy from the UK to Gibraltar for Operation Halberd (a relief convoy to Malta) with the previously noted Indian Ocean detachment from WS 11.

 

Sailing from Liverpool 16.9.41 and the Clyde 17.9, this convoy consisted principally of warships and merchantmen destined for Operation Halberd, a relief convoy for Malta.

 

The following ships sailed:

AJAX

HMS BRECONSHIRE (Commodore)

CITY OF CALCUTTA

CITY OF LINCOLN

CLAN FERGUSON

CLAN MACDONALD

DUNEDIN STAR

IMPERIAL STAR

LEINSTER

HMS PRINCESS BEATRIX

HMS QUEEN EMMA

ROWALLAN CASTLE

HMS ROYAL SCOTSMAN

STRATHEDEN

†HMS ULSTER MONARCH

 

 

The destroyers HARVESTER and HAVELOCK escorted from the Clyde, detaching with STRATHEDEN to Halifax NS on 19.9 (under the designation CT 3) arriving there 24.9. The remaining escort, to Gibraltar and then Operation Halberd, consisted of the battleship PRINCE OF WALES, cruisers EURYALUS and KENYA, and destroyers BLANKNEY, GARLAND, ISAAC SWEERS, LAFOREY, LIGHTNING, ORIBI, PIORUN, WHITEHALL and WITCH.

Force H sortied from Gibraltar, joined the convoy on 24.9 to the westward and escorted it during Operation Halberd.

 

HM Ships PRINCESS BEATRIX, QUEEN EMMA, ROYAL SCOTSMAN, ULSTER MONARCH and LEINSTER detached to Gibraltar 25.9.41 and did not join Operation Halberd.

 

WS 12

The convoy sailed from Liverpool (9 ships) 29.9.41 and the Clyde (15 ships), and formed off Oversay on 1.10.41 in the following formation (numbers of personnel embarked appear in brackets after the ship's name*):

11C

CLAN CAMPBELL

 

21C

PERSEUS

 

31C

STRATHAIRD

(3070*)

(Commodore)

 

41C

CITY OF PARIS

(1590*)

 

51L

MENDOZA

(1369*)

 

61C

HMS PRINCE BAUDOUIN

 

12C

EMPIRE TRUST

 

22C

ALMANZORA

(2034*)

 

32C

EMPRESS OF RUSSIA

(2544*)

 

42C

ORMONDE

(2464*)

 

52L

DUCHESS OF RICHMOND

(3045*)

(Vice Commodore)

 

62C

HMS ROYAL ULSTERMAN

 

13C

HIGHLAND BRIGADE

(1225*)

 

23C

EMPIRE PRIDE

(2015*)

 

33C

EMPRESS OF CANADA

(1968*)

 

43L

SAMARIA

(3062*)

 

53L

DOMINION MONARCH

(1732*)

 

63L

CLAN LAMONT

 

14L

SARPEDON

 

24C

LEOPOLDVILLE

(1528*)

 

34C

NARKUNDA

(1836*)

 

44L FRANCONIA

(3094*)

(Rear Commodore)

 

54L

HIGHLAND PRINCESS

 

64L

PERTHSHIRE

 

 

ROYAL ULSTERMAN and PRINCE BAUDOUIN detached and fuelled at Ponta Delgada 5 to 10.10.

Local escort from the Clyde was the destroyers ASSINIBOINE and SAGUENAY, with armed merchant cruiser CATHAY and minelayer AGAMEMNON in company, all from 30.9 to 4.10. The destroyer SIKH escorted 30.9 to 5.10, destroyers BADSWORTH, BRADFORD, BRIGHTON, LANCASTER and NEWARK 1 to 3.10; the AA cruiser CAIRO and destroyers VERITY, WHITEHALL and WITCH 1 to 4.10, destroyer BEVERLEY 2 to 3.10 and the destroyers BLANKNEY and STANLEY 1 to 7.10; destroyer ISAAC SWEERS was present on 7.10 and GURKHA on 8.10.

 

The aircraft carrier ARGUS, ferrying aircraft to Gibraltar, was with the convoy 30.9 to 5.10 and then detached with SIKH; while HIGHLAND PRINCESS detached to Halifax on 4.10 with AGAMEMNON and CATHAY escorted by ASSINIBOINE and SAGUENAY.

The cruiser DEVONSHIRE provided ocean escort from 1.10 until relieved on 12.10 by the cruiser DORSETSHIRE which escorted the convoy to Freetown.

Local escort from Freetown, destroyers VELOX and WRESTLER joined 11.10 and the convoy arrived at Freetown 14.10.41.

The convoy sailed from Freetown 19.10, without the NARKUNDA, but with ULSTER MONARCH added; Vice Commodore becoming the Master of EMPRESS OF CANADA and the Rear Commodore in FRANCONIA.

Local escorts were the destroyers VELOX and WRESTLER and corvettes ANCHUSA, CALENDULA and MIGNONETTE 19 to 22.10. The cruisers DEVONSHIRE and DORSETSHIRE provided ocean escort, the former detaching 30.10 and the latter proceeding with the convoy to Durban, the armed merchant cruiser DERBYSHIRE joined the escort 30.10 and also proceeded with the convoy to Durban.

ROYAL ULSTERMAN and ULSTER MONARCH detached from the convoy 21.10 to Takoradi, from where they eventually returned to Freetown and then Gibraltar. PRINCE BAUDOUIN detached to St Helena, arriving there 24.10, sailing the same day, she made contact with DERBYSHIRE, and rejoined the convoy with the armed merchant cruiser on 30.10.

The convoy divided off Capetown, with CLAN CAMPBELL, DOMINION MONARCH, EMPIRE PRIDE, EMPIRE TRUST, EMPRESS OF CANADA, PRINCE BAUDOUIN, LEOPOLDVILLE, MENDOZA, PERTHSHIRE, SARPEDON and STRATHAIRD entering that port on 29.10, the remaining ships going on to Durban and arriving there 3.11, CITY OF HONGKONG joining en route on 2.11.

STRATHAIRD sailed for Durban on 4.11, followed by DOMINION MONARCH, EMPIRE PRIDE, EMPIRE TRUST, EMPRESS OF CANADA, LEOPOLDVILLE, MENDOZA and PERTHSHIRE from Capetown on 5.11 escorted by the armed merchant cruiser DUNNOTTAR CASTLE, while the Durban ships (including STRATHAIRD) left harbour on 8.11 to form the convoy shown below. NIEUW AMSTERDAM and NOVA SCOTIA joined from Durban, ASCANIUS joined from Mombasa on 14.11. SARPEDON remained at Capetown, HIGHLAND BRIGADE and ORMONDE remained at Durban:

11

SAMARIA

 

21

FRANCONIA

 

31

EMPRESS OF RUSSIA

 

41

STRATHAIRD

 

51

EMPIRE PRIDE

 

61

EMPRESS OF CANADA

 

12

CITY OF PARIS

 

22

CLAN LAMONT

 

32

ALMANZORA

 

42

LEOPOLDVILLE

 

52

MENDOZA

 

62

DOMINION MONARCH

 

13

NIEUW AMSTERDAM

 

23

CLAN CAMPBELL

 

33

EMPIRE TRUST

 

43

PERTHSHIRE

 

53

PERSEUS

 

63

DUCHESS OF RICHMOND

 

 

 

 

44

ASCANIUS

 

54

NOVA SCOTIA

 

 

 

On combination of the two sections, the battlecruiser REPULSE became ocean escort until 14.11 when she was relieved in 5.10S 34E by the battleship REVENGE which took the convoy on to the vicinity of Aden where all ships dispersed on 20.11.41 and proceeded to Suez independently; CITY OF PARIS entered Aden and grounded in so doing, she sailed 22.11 for Suez as an independent. See below for previously detached ships.

WS 12J

DOMINION MONARCH, DUCHESS OF RICHMOND and EMPRESS OF CANADA formed this separate convoy in 06.05N 52.30E on 17.11, escorted by the cruiser GLASGOW, arriving Colombo 23.11.41.

 

 

WS 12V

From Colombo DOMINION MONARCH and EMPRESS OF CANADA (Commodore) sailed on 24.11 escorted by the cruiser GLASGOW for Singapore. In 6.14N 92E on 26.11 the convoy rendezvoused with the cruiser DRAGON which was escorting AWATEA, the cruisers then exchanged charges with GLASGOW returning to Colombo with AWATEA and DRAGON taking on WS 12V to Singapore, arriving there 28.11.41.

WS 12X

This is quite the most extraordinary convoy of the series, and possibly of the whole 1939‑1945 period. British troops had been embarked in personnel ships in the UK and took passage to Halifax NS as convoy CT 5, at which port a major contingent of Canadian troops awaited passage to Britain. The British troops were therefore transferred to six American transports lying in the port for onward passage to India and, eventually, to Singapore.

It should be noted that this transfer took place on 8 and 9.11.41, 30 days BEFORE the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on 7.12.41, and the German declaration of war on the USA on 11.12.41; furthermore all the American transports were commissioned ships of the United States Navy!

 

The six transports were:

 

JOSEPH T DICKMAN (AP 24)

LEONARD WOOD (AP 25)

MOUNT VERNON (AP 22) (Commodore)

 

ORIZABA (AP 24)

WAKEFIELD (AP 21)

WEST POINT (AP 23)

 

Convoy sailed from Halifax 10.11 and arrived at Port of Spain 17.11 to re‑fuel.

Escort from Halifax was entirely U S Navy until arrival at Capetown, and consisted of

aircraft carrier RANGER, cruisers QUINCY and VINCENNES, and destroyers MAYRANT, MCDOUGALL, MOFFATT, RHIND, ROWAN, TRIPPE, WAINWRIGHT and WINSLOW.

 

The convoy sailed from Port of Spain 19.11, being joined then by CIMARRON, and proceeded direct to Capetown; RANGER and the destroyers RHIND and TRIPPE detached 27.11 in 17S 20W to return to Trinidad, the convoy proceeded and arrived at Capetown 9.12.41.

The convoy sailed from Capetown 13.12 with the cruiser DORSETSHIRE as ocean escort, the US destroyers in company as A/S escorts until 14.12. The British Convoy Commodore had embarked in WEST POINT.

Off Mombasa on 23.12, MOUNT VERNON detached independently (the cruiser COLOMBO having failed to make the rendezvous) to Mombasa, there to remain until sailing to join convoy DM 1. ORIZABA also left the convoy, on 21.12.41 in 4S 43E, under the escort of the cruiser CERES, also for Mombasa.

 

The remainder of the convoy continued to Bombay under the escort of DORSETSHIRE, arriving on 27.12.41.

 

 

 

WS 12Z

 

Sailing from Liverpool and the Clyde 12.11.41, the convoy formed off Oversay on 13.11.41 as below:

11L

ADRASTUS

 

21L

MATAROA

 

31C

NARKUNDA

(Commodore)

 

41L

ORDUNA

 

51C

DEUCALION

 

12L

EMPIRE STAR

 

22L

DUCHESS OF BEDFORD

(Vice Commodore)

 

32C

AORANGI

32C

EMPRESS OF JAPAN

(same position number)

 

42L

MONARCH OF BERMUDA

 

52C

ABBEKERK

 

13L

SUSSEX

 

23L

EMPRESS OF ASIA

 

 

43L

CAPETOWN CASTLE

 

53C

RIMUTAKA

 

 

 

34C

ARUNDEL CASTLE

 

 

 

 

Escort was provided by the destroyers BADSWORTH, EXMOOR, VANQUISHER, WHITEHALL and WITCH from 13 to 16.11, MAORI 13 to 17.11. The destroyers FORESIGHT, FORESTER and FURY joined the convoy 16 to 19.11. The battleship ROYAL SOVEREIGN accompanied by the destroyers DULVERTON and SOUTHWOLD escorted from 16 to 24.11.

Approaching Freetown the destroyers VELOX and VIMY joined 21.11 and the corvette CLOVER 22.11, the convoy arriving at Freetown 25.11.

The convoy sailed Freetown 28.11, in a varied sailing order:

11

SUSSEX

 

21

DUCHESS OF BEDFORD

 

31

NARKUNDA

 

41

MONARCH OF BERMUDA

 

51

DEUCALION

 

12

ADRASTUS

 

22

EMPRESS OF ASIA

 

32

EMPRESS OF JAPAN

 

42

CAPETOWN CASTLE

 

52

RIMUTAKA

 

13

EMPIRE STAR

 

23

MATAROA

 

33

ARUNDEL CASTLE

 

43

ORDUNA

 

53

ABBEKERK

 

 

 

34

AORANGI

 

 

 

 

The escort consisted of the destroyers DULVERTON and SOUTHWOLD 28.11 to 14.12, sloop MILFORD and corvettes HOLLYHOCK and VERBENA 28.11 to 15.12, corvettes ASTER and MARGUERITE 15 to 18.12 and the battleship ROYAL SOVEREIGN throughout the passage to Durban where the convoy arrived 18.12.41.

The convoy sailed from Durban 24.12, with some variations, the sailing plan being:

11

ORDUNA

(Vice Commodore)

 

21

CAPETOWN CASTLE

(Commodore)

 

31

DUCHESS OF BEDFORD

 

41

NARKUNDA

(Rear Commodore)

 

12

ARONDA

 

22

DEUCALION

 

32

EMPRESS OF JAPAN

 

42

AORANGI

 

13

EASTERN PRINCE

 

23

ADRASTUS

 

33

INDRAPOERA

 

43

ABBEKERK

 

14

NIEUW AMSTERDAM

 

 

34

EMPIRE STAR

 

44

SUSSEX

 

 

The battleship ROYAL SOVEREIGN escorted the convoy to the vicinity of Mombasa where, in position 1.26S 48.44E, fresh escorts made a rendezvous and the convoy separated into three detachments as follows:

WS 12ZA

For Aden, escorted by the cruiser COLOMBO, were:

 

ARONDA

EASTERN PRINCE

 

NIEUW AMSTERDAM

ORDUNA

 

off Aden the ships dispersed independently for Suez on 4.1.42.

 

WS 12ZB

For Bombay, escorted by the cruiser CORNWALL, were:

 

ADRASTUS

CAPETOWN CASTLE

DEUCALION

DUCHESS OF BEDFORD

 

EMPIRE STAR

EMPRESS OF JAPAN

INDRAPOERA

ORIZABA

 

ORIZABA was brought out from Mombasa by the old cruiser COLOMBO. The convoy arrived at Bombay 6.1.42.

 

Introduction of the DM (Durban Military) Convoys

 

 

DM 1

This, the first use of the designation, stood for "Durban Malaya" and was the first of a series of three convoys to reinforce the Singapore garrison. Escorted initially by the cruiser EMERALD, which brought out the transport MOUNT VERNON from Mombasa, the convoy was made up of:

 

AORANGI

MOUNT VERNON

 

NARKUNDA

SUSSEX

 

Escorted by EMERALD, a rendezvous was made at the fuelling stop "Port T" (Addu Atoll) from where the escort was reinforced by the cruisers DURBAN and EXETER and sloop JUMNA from 9.1. The Dutch cruiser DE RUYTER was present on 10.1, and again 11 to 12.1 while the destroyers ENCOUNTER, JUPITER and VAMPIRE joined 10.1 until the convoy arrived at Singapore on 13.1.42.

WS 14

 

Sailing from the Bristol Channel, Liverpool and the Clyde, the convoy assembled off Oversay on 9.12.41 as follows:

11L

TROILUS

 

21C

WARWICK CASTLE

(Rear Commodore)

 

31L

ORESTES

(Vice Commodore)

 

41C

ABOSSO

 

51C

DUCHESS OF ATHOLL

(Commodore)

 

61C

DURBAN CASTLE

 

71A

HIGHLAND PRINCESS

 

81C

EMPIRE PINTAIL

 

12C

CITY OF PRETORIA

 

22C

EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA

 

32C

SCYTHIA

 

42C

ESPERANCE BAY

 

52C

STRATHALLAN

 

62C

ATHLONE CASTLE

 

72A

HIGHLAND MONARCH

 

82C

CLAN CAMERON

 

13C

EMPIRE CURLEW

 

23C

EMPIRE ORIOLE

 

33L

ORONSAY

 

43C

REINA DEL PACIFICO

 

53C

CAMERONIA

 

63C

EMPIRE PEREGRINE

 

73A

EMPIRE EGRET

 

83C

HMS CILICIA

 

 

24C

EMPIRE CONDOR

 

34L

ANDES

 

44L

ORCADES

 

54C

HMS ENGADINE

 

 

74A

EMPIRE WIDGEON

 

 

 

Escort was provided as follows:

destroyers BEVERLEY, CROOME, LANCASTER, NEWARK, SHERWOOD, WESTCOTT and WITHERINGTON and auxiliary AA ship ULSTER QUEEN 9 to 12.12, FOXHOUND, GURKHA and NESTOR 9 to 13.12, VANQUISHER 13 to 14.12 and VOLUNTEER and WITCH 13 to 15.12. The battleship RAMILLIES, and destroyers BADSWORTH and BEAUFORT 13 to 21.12. The armed merchant cruiser CILICIA was with the convoy throughout the passage to Freetown.

 

Local Freetown escort of the destroyers BRILLIANT and HURWORTH joined 18.12 and VANSITTART and WILD SWAN 19.12 until the arrival of the convoy at Freetown on 21.12.41.

 

The convoy sailed from Freetown 25.12 in a different order:

 

11

EMPIRE PINTAIL

 

21

TROILUS

 

31

ORESTES

(Vice Commodore)

 

41

WARWICK CASTLE

(Rear Commodore)

 

51

DUCHESS OF ATHOLL

(Commodore)

 

61

ORONSAY

 

71

HIGHLAND PRINCESS

 

81

ATHLONE CASTLE

 

12

CLAN CAMERON

 

22

EMPIRE PEREGRINE

 

32

EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA

 

42

ORCADES

 

52

STRATHALLAN

 

62

ESPERANCE BAY

 

72

ABOSSO

 

82

DURBAN CASTLE

 

13

EMPIRE WIDGEON

 

23

EMPIRE CONDOR

 

33

EMPIRE EGRET

 

43

EMPIRE CURLEW

 

53

CAMERONIA

 

63

SCYTHIA

 

73

REINA DEL PACIFICO

 

83

ANDES

 

 

24

CITY OF PRETORIA

 

34

EMPIRE ORIOLE

 

44

HIGHLAND MONARCH

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOSSO detached to Takoradi on 26.12, ORESTES fell out with engine defects 27.12 and thereafter proceeded independently to Durban, ANDES was sent ahead on 3.1.42 to Capetown subsequently rejoining the convoy on 5.1.42.

Escort on sailing was the battleship RAMILLIES, destroyers BEAUFORT and HURWORTH and sloop BRIDGEWATER until 4.1.42 off Capetown where they were relieved by the armed merchant cruiser DERBYSHIRE, while the old cruiser CERES joined on 6.1.42. The destroyer BRILLIANT also sailed from Freetown and detached with ABOSSO while the destroyer VIMY was present from sailing until 27.12; the convoy arrived at Capetown 5.1 and Durban 8.1.42.

ANDES, ATHLONE CASTLE, CAMERONIA, DUCHESS OF ATHOLL, DURBAN CASTLE, ESPERANCE BAY, HIGHLAND PRINCESS, ORONSAY, REINA DEL PACIFICO, SCYTHIA and STRATHALLAN formed the Durban contingent.

The Capetown convoy sailed on 9.1.42 as follows:

11

HIGHLAND MONARCH

(Vice Commodore)

 

21

CLAN CAMERON

 

31

WARWICK CASTLE

(Commodore)

 

41

ORCADES

 

51

EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA

 

12

EMPIRE EGRET

 

22

EMPIRE ORIOLE

 

32

EMPIRE WIDGEON

 

42

CITY OF PRETORIA

 

52

EMPIRE CONDOR

 

13

EMPIRE PINTAIL

 

23

EMPIRE PEREGRINE

 

33

EMPIRE CURLEW

 

43

TROILUS

 

53

MALANCHA

 

 

Local escort was provided until 10.1 by the corvettes HOLLYHOCK and VERBENA, the battleship RAMILLIES sailed to the Durban rendezvous.

At the Durban rendezvous on 13.1.42 a considerable re-organisation of the convoy took place, ORCADES leaving the convoy for Durban and the sailing positions becoming:

 

11

ORESTES

(Rear Commodore)

 

21

HIGHLAND MONARCH

 

31

NOVA SCOTIA

 

41

DUNERA

(Commodore)

 

51

DILWARA

(Vice Commodore)

 

61

WARWICK CASTLE

 

71

EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA

 

12

EMPIRE ORIOLE

 

22

EMPIRE EGRET

 

32

ESPERANCE BAY

 

42

EMPIRE CONDOR

 

52

EMPIRE PEREGRINE

 

62

TROILUS

 

72

CITY OF PRETORIA

 

13

EMPIRE PINTAIL

 

23

ANDES

23

THYSVILLE

(same position number)

 

33

CLAN CAMERON

 

43

EMPIRE CURLEW

 

53

EMPIRE WIDGEON

 

63

MALANCHA

 

73

CITY OF CANTERBURY

 

 

24

DUCHESS OF ATHOLL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DUCHESS OF ATHOLL broke down, returned to Durban and transferred her troops to ANDES which joined the convoy 16.1 taking the position of THYSVILLE which straggled on the first night out of Durban.

The cruising order of the convoy was so organised that columns 1 and 2 formed the Aden detachment, columns 3,4 and 5 (less DUNERA) the Bombay section, and columns 6 and 7 convoy DM 2 for Singapore.

Escort from Durban was the battleship RAMILLIES to 20.1, cruisers CERES 16 to 22.1 and COLOMBO 20 to 22.1.

WS 14A

The original convoy split into three sub convoys on 19.1, that for Aden being designated WS 14A and formed from the two port hand columns of the original convoy. Escorted by the cruiser CERES, the convoy dispersed off Aden 22.1.42. The straggler THYSVILLE also arrived off Aden in due course.

 

 

WS 14B

The Bombay section was formed from the centre three columns of the original convoy on 19.1 (excluding DUNERA) and, escorted by the armed merchant cruiser CORFU, arrived at Bombay 28.1.42. Prior to arrival, on 25.1, CLAN CAMERON, EMPIRE CURLEW, EMPIRE PEREGRINE and EMPIRE WIDGEON detached as independents for Basra.

DM 2

 

This convoy, carrying reinforcements for Singapore, was to make junction in due course with ships from Bombay in convoy BM 12.

Detaching from the original WS convoy on 19.1.42 under the escort of the battleship ROYAL SOVEREIGN, it headed for Addu Atoll where the rendezvous with BM 12 was to take place on 28.1.42. The sailing order on detachment was as follows:

11

TROILUS

 

21

MALANCHA

 

31

DUNERA

(Commodore)

 

41

CITY OF PRETORIA

 

12

WARWICK CASTLE

 

22

CITY OF CANTERBURY

 

32

EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

On approaching Addu Atoll 26.1 the convoy's orders were altered and only ROYAL SOVEREIGN and EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA (the latter short of fuel) entered, EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA duly rejoining after fuelling. The convoy was then escorted by the armed merchant cruiser RANCHI until 28.1, when the convoy made the arranged rendezvous with BM 12 from Bombay, with DEVONSHIRE, the Vice Commodore taking position 13, PLANCIUS 23, EMPRESS OF ASIA 33 and FELIX ROUSSEL 42.

The escort then consisted of the cruiser EMERALD which was relieved on 31.1. by the cruisers DANAE and JAVA joined by the sloops SUTLEJ and YARRA the following day. The cruiser EXETER and destroyers JUPITER and VAMPIRE joined on 2.2 and the whole convoy arrived at Batavia 3.2.42 where the ships which originally formed BM 12 together with CITY OF CANTERBURY detached under the original designation for Singapore.

It is pertinent to note here that this re‑formed BM 12, less EMPRESS OF ASIA which was bombed and burnt out in the approaches, arrived at Singapore only days before the surrender to the Japanese, with the consequent loss of all the troops embarked, many of whom had sailed to Bombay in previous WS convoys. 

 
 

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revised 4/12/10


 

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