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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 1942 SAILINGS, including one DM Convoy, WS 15 to 20B

SS Windsor Castle  (Maritime Quest, click to enlarge)

on to July to December 1942 Sailings

 

  

1942 Sailings

 

 

 

WS 15

 

 

The convoy sailed from Liverpool (10.1) and the Clyde (11.1), and finally formed up off Oversay on 12.1.42 in the formation shown below:

 

11C

PORT CHALMERS

 

21L

EMPIRE WOODLARK

 

31

HMS RESOLUTION

 

41C

STRATHMORE

(Commodore)

 

51C

STAFFORDSHIRE

 

61C

AUTOLYCUS

 

71C

PARDO

 

12L

MELBOURNE STAR

 

22L

OTRANTO

 

32C

HMS CHESHIRE

 

42C

BRITANNIC

 

52C

VICEROY OF INDIA

 

62C

HNethMS COLOMBIA

 

72C

DORSET

 

13L

ELISABETH BAKKE

 

23L

ORONTES

 

33C

HMS ASCANIA

 

43C

LACONIA

 

53C

STRATHNAVER

(Vice Commodore)

 

63C

CHRISTIAAN HUYGENS

 

73C

LLANGIBBY CASTLE

 

 

24L

ARAWA

 

34

HNethMS HEEMSKERK

 

44C

STIRLING CASTLE

 

54C

PASTEUR

 

64L

LETITIA

 

74C

AAGTEKERK

 

 

The A/S escort force was made up of the destroyers shown below:

 

VANOC and WALKER 12 to 15.1, VANQUISHER, VOLUNTEER and WITHERINGTON 12 to 17.1, ANTHONY 17 to 18.1, GARLAND and NORMAN 17 to 25.1, VANSITTART and VIMY 21 to 25.1.

 

Ocean escort, other than as shown above, was provided by the armed merchant cruisers ASCANIA and CHESHIRE, the Dutch AA cruiser HEEMSKERK and the destroyer BOREAS from 12 to 25.1, while the battleship RESOLUTION joined on 17.1 to 25.1, the convoy arriving at Freetown 25.1.42.

 

The first casualty for some time in WS convoys, and the first due to submarine attack, took place on 16.1 when LLANGIBBY CASTLE was hit right aft by a torpedo from U 402. She retired damaged to Ponta Delgada from whence, under escort and accompanied by a tug, she returned to Gibraltar and then to the UK for repairs.

 

A number of the warships listed as ocean escort were in fact on passage to the Indian Ocean for duty; also included was the Turkish destroyer DEMIR HISAR, recently completed in Britain. She was temporarily commissioned with a British crew for the delivery passage and operated as part of the escort.

 

The convoy sailed from Freetown 29.1 with its formation unchanged, escorted by the battleship RESOLUTION, armed merchant cruiser CHESHIRE and destroyer DEMIR HISAR for Capetown off which port it arrived 9.2 when DORSET, ELISABETH BAKKE, LACONIA, ORONTES and PASTEUR plus the Dutch submarine depot ship COLOMBIA were detached to enter Capetown under escort of RESOLUTION, arriving 10.2 while the remainder of the convoy went on to Durban, arriving 13.2, accompanied by the armed merchant cruisers DUNNOTTAR CASTLE and WORCESTERSHIRE and the sloop MILFORD.

 

The five Capetown ships (ELISABETH BAKKE remained at Capetown) sailed 14.2 escorted by the armed merchant cruiser CHESHIRE and made their rendezvous with the Durban contingent (less ARAWA and LETITIA) off that port on 17.2

 

The escort from Durban consisted of the cruiser CERES, and the destroyer NORMAN with the CHESHIRE from Capetown.

 

During the northward passage, a three part division of the convoy took place:

 

 

 

WS 15A

 

 

DORSET, LACONIA, MELBOURNE STAR, ORONTES, OTRANTO, PASTEUR and VICEROY OF INDIA detached 26.2 escorted to the vicinity of Aden by the cruisers CERES and COLOMBO, dispersing off Aden 1.3.42 to proceed independently to Suez.

 

 

 

WS 15B

 

 

BRITANNIC, STIRLING CASTLE and STRATHMORE detached on 26.2 and proceeded to Bombay escorted by the armed merchant cruiser WORCESTERSHIRE which was joined on 28.2 by the CORFU until 2.3, the convoy arriving at Bombay 4.3.

 

The remaining ships of the convoy formed the third reinforcement convoy for Singapore under the title:

 

 

 

DM 3

 

 

This convoy was composed of the ships shown below, and formed on 22.2:

 

11

PORT CHALMERS

 

21

STRATHNAVER

(Commodore)

 

31

STAFFORDSHIRE

 

12

AUTOLYCUS

 

22

EMPIRE WOODLARK

 

32

PARDO

 

13

HNethMS COLOMBIA

 

23

CHRISTIAAN HUYGENS

 

33

AAGTEKERK

 

 

The convoy was escorted by the battleship RAMILLIES and the destroyer NORMAN, both of which joined 22.2.

 

Singapore had, of course, surrendered while the Capetown ships were on their way to Durban; the orders for the convoy were therefore amended prior to the Durban sailing to proceed to Batavia to bolster the Allied garrison of the East Indies islands. Even this intention was overtaken by the Japanese advance, and the convoy was again diverted to Colombo, no doubt to the immense relief of all onboard.

 

The escort left the convoy to fuel at Addu Atoll on 28.2 and rejoined 29.2, on which day the armed merchant cruiser CORFU also joined the escort.

 

Orders were again changed on 2.3, CORFU to detach at once with AAGTEKERK, CHRISTIAAN HUYGENS, EMPIRE WOODLARK, PORT CHALMERS and STRATHANAVER to proceed to Bombay, arriving there 6.3.42. RAMILLIES and NORMAN took the remaining ships, of which STAFFORDSHIRE now became Commodore, to Colombo where they arrived 4.3

 

 

 

WS 16

 

 

The next convoy of the series assembled off Oversay on 17.2.42, having sailed from Liverpool and the Clyde (on 16.2):

 

11L

DENBIGHSHIRE

 

21L

MONARCH OF BERMUDA

 

31L

DELFTDIJK

 

41C

STRATHEDEN

(Commodore)

 

51C

VOLENDAM

 

61C

POTARO

 

12L

CITY OF LINCOLN

 

22L

STRATHAIRD

 

32L

DUCHESS OF RICHMOND

 

42C

NEA HELLAS

(Vice Commodore)

 

52C

DUCHESS OF YORK

 

62C

CITY OF EDINBURGH

 

13C

PORT JACKSON

 

23L

AWATEA

 

33L

MOOLTAN

 

43C

EMPIRE PRIDE

 

53C

ORMONDE

 

63C

BRISBANE STAR

(Rear Commodore)

 

 

 

34L

SIBAJAK

 

44L

CUBA

 

54C

BERGENSFJORD

 

 

 

STRATHAIRD sailed late, delayed with defects, and finally joined the convoy 21.2 under the escort of cruiser NEWCASTLE and destroyer PALADIN. CITY OF EDINBURGH and CITY OF LINCOLN both had problems with shifting cargo and returned to the Clyde and Liverpool respectively. POTARO also fell out 18.2 but proceeded to Freetown independently where she rejoined the convoy.

 

Escort from Oversay comprised:

 

The battleship MALAYA, aircraft carrier EAGLE, cruiser HERMIONE and destroyers ACTIVE, ANTHONY, BLANKNEY, CROOME, DUNCAN, FIREDRAKE, LAFOREY and LIGHTNING from 17 to 21.2, destroyers VERITY, WALKER and WITHERINGTON 17 to 22.2, aircraft carrier FORMIDABLE (she was on passage overseas), cruiser NEWCASTLE and destroyer PALADIN 21.2 to 1.3, destroyers BOREAS, BRILLIANT and WILD SWAN 26.2 to 1.3.

 

 The carrier ARGUS also took passage with the convoy en route to Gibraltar with fighter aircraft for the reinforcement of Malta.

 

The convoy arrived at Freetown 1.3.42.

 

The convoy sailed from Freetown, its merchant ship composition unchanged, on 6.3 escorted locally by the corvette NIGELLA for one day, the destroyers BRILLIANT and WILD SWAN to 8.3, the corvette JASMINE until 12.3 and the sloop BRIDGEWATER to 18.3. The cruiser NEWCASTLE provided the major escort until 17.3, the date on which the convoy split off Capetown, when the armed merchant cruisers CHESHIRE and DUNNOTTAR CASTLE and the sloop MILFORD joined.

 

BERGENSFJORD, BRISBANE STAR, DELFTDIJK, DENBIGHSHIRE, NEA HELLAS, PORT JACKSON, POTARO and SIBAJAK entered Capetown under the local escort of the corvettes FREESIA and FRITILLARY. The remaining merchant ships went on to Durban escorted by the armed merchant cruisers CHESHIRE, DUNNOTTAR CASTLE and WORCESTERSHIRE (which relieved MILFORD on 17.3), arriving at Durban 21.3.

 

The Capetown ships sailed on 22.3, escorted by the cruiser NEWCASTLE and the sloop MILFORD, and met the Durban vessels, excluding MONARCH OF BERMIDA, MOOLTAN and STRATHAIRD which remained in port, off Durban on 25.3. The convoy, its escort reinforced by the cruiser GLASGOW and armed merchant cruiser WORCESTERSHIRE from Durban, proceeded northward; NEWCASTLE detached at midnight on 25.3. On 1.4 the cruiser COLOMBO and armed merchant cruiser ALAUNIA relieved the escort and on 3.4 the convoy divided into the Aden and Bombay portions.

 

The combined convoy steamed in the following formation:

 

11

NEA HELLAS

(Vice Commodore)

 

21

DUCHESS OF RICHMOND

 

31

STRATHEDEN

(Commodore)

 

41

EMPIRE PRIDE

 

51

BRISBANE STAR

(Rear Commodore)

 

12

BERGENSFJORD

 

22

DUCHESS OF YORK

 

32

AWATEA

 

42

PORT JACKSON

 

52

DENBIGHSHIRE

 

13

VOLENDAM

 

 

33

SIBAJAK

 

43

DELFTDIJK

 

53

POTARO

 

 

Commodore ships remained as previously.

 

 

 

WS 16A

 

 

 BERGENSFJORD, NEA HELLAS and VOLENDAM formed the Aden convoy escorted by COLOMBO from the splitting position on 3.4 until dispersed off Aden 6.4.42 after which the ships went to Suez as independents.

 

 

 

WS 16B

 

 

The Bombay detacchment steamed in the following order from 3.4.

 

11

POTARO

 

21

DUCHESS OF RICHMOND

 

31

STRATHEDEN

 

41

EMPIRE PRIDE

 

51

BRISBANE STAR

 

12

DELFTDIJK

 

22

DUCHESS OF YORK

 

32

AWATEA

 

42

PORT JACKSON

 

52

DENBIGHSHIRE

 

 

 

33

SIBAJAK

 

 

 

 

escorted by ALAUNIA and WORCESTERSHIRE (which joined at the splitting position) and duly arrived at Bombay 8.4.42.

 

 

 

WS 17

 

 

The convoy assembled off Oversay 23.3.42 in the following formation, final departure being made from Liverpool and the Clyde:

 

11C

GLAUCUS

 

21C

LEOPOLDVILLE

 

31C

ABOSSO

(Vice Commodore)

 

41C

TAMAROA

 

51C

FRANCONIA

(Commodore)

 

61C

ALMANZORA

 

71C

MATAROA

 

81C

LARGS BAY

 

12C

PORT WYNDHAM

 

22C

SAMARIA

 

32L

EMPRESS OF RUSSIA

 

42L

DUCHESS OF ATHOLL

 

52C

ORION

 

62C

CAMERONIA

 

72C

SOBIESKI

 

82C

BHUTAN

82C

REMBRANDT

(same position number)

 

13C

KINA II

 

23C

JOHAN VAN OLDENBARNEVELT

 

33L

ORONSAY

 

43L

DOMINION MONARCH

 

53C

WINDSOR CASTLE

 

63C

HMS KARANJA

 

73C

HMS ADAMANT

 

 

14C

DUNEDIN STAR

 

24C

CITY OF LINCOLN

 

34L

ARUNDEL CASTLE

 

44C

WINCHESTER CASTLE

 

54C

NIEUW HOLLAND

 

64C

HMS KEREN

 

74C

CLAN MACDONALD

 

84C

CITY OF EDINBURGH

 

 

Escorts during the passage were:

 

destroyers NEWPORT 23 to 25.3, BADSWORTH, BEVERLEY, KEPPEL, LEAMINGTON and VOLUNTEER 23 to 27.3, ANTELOPE 23 to 29.3, BOADICEA and ROCKINGHAM 23 to 30.3, aircraft carrier ILLUSTRIOUS, destroyers INCONSTANT, JAVELIN and PACKENHAM 23 to 31.3, cruiser SHROPSHIRE, armed merchant cruiser ALCANTARA and destroyers ALDENHAM, GROVE and LOOKOUT 24.3 to 6.4, destroyers ACTIVE, ANTHONY and WILD SWAN and corvettes COMMANDANT DETROYAT and HYDRANGEA 1 to 6.4.

 

BEVERLEY and NEWPORT were in collision 25.3, the latter returning to harbour.

 

WS 17 then split into two sections for the further passage to South Africa.

 

 

 

WS 17A

 

 

This convoy sailed from Freetown 9.4.42 made up of:

 

BHUTAN

CLAN MACDONALD

DOMINION MONARCH

DUCHESS OF ATHOLL

HMS KARANJA

HMS KEREN

LARGS BAY

 

ORONSAY

PORT WYNDHAM

REMBRANDT

SOBIESKI

WINCHESTER CASTLE

WINDSOR CASTLE

 

The formation of the convoy is unknown but it was escorted by the battleship MALAYA, cruiser HERMIONE and destroyers ACTIVE, ANTHONY, INCONSTANT, JAVELIN, LAFOREY, LOOKOUT, LIGHTNING and PACKENHAM, and arrived at Capetown 18.4, with the Durban ships arriving 22.4.

 

 

 

WS 17B

 

 

This convoy sailed from Freetown two days after WS 17A, on 11.4, and here the formation is known:

 

11

ABOSSO

(Vice Commodore)

 

21

TAMAROA

 

31

GLAUCUS

 

41

FRANCONIA

(Commodore)

 

51

MATAROA

 

61

ALMANZORA

 

12

KINA II

 

22

SAMARIA

(Rear Commodore)

 

32

LEOPOLDVILLE

 

42

ORION

 

52

CAMERONIA

 

62

CITY OF EDINBURGH

 

13

DUNEDIN STAR

 

23

EMPRESS OF RUSSIA

 

33

JOHAN VAN OLDENBARNEVELT

 

43

NIEUW HOLLAND

 

53

ARUNDEL CASTLE

 

63

CITY OF LINCOLN

 

 

 

 

HMS ADAMANT

(between cols 4 & 5)

 

 

 

Local escort was provided by the destroyers CROOME and WILD SWAN and corvettes COMMANDANT DROGOU and HYDRANGEA 11 to 14.4 and destroyer EXMOOR and corvette COMMANDANT DETROYAT 11 to 15.4.

 

The cruiser SHROPSHIRE provided the ocean escort and, with HMS ADAMANT, occupied a position between columns 4 and 5 of the convoy. The sloop MILFORD escorted from 18.4 until arrival of the convoy at Capetown 23.4.

 

All ships entered Capetown except EMPRESS OF RUSSIA, FRANCONIA and MATAROA which went on to Durban arriving there 26.4.

 

 

 

WS 17

 

 

Once again under its original designation, the convoy sailed from Capetown 27.4 and from Durban 1.5 to be joined by new ships from Port Elizabeth (the American BRAZIL, MORMACTIDE and MONTEREY). After the final rendezvous the convoy was formed as below. Numbers are suffixed C, D and P to indicate South African ports from which the ships sailed:

 

11C

ALMANZORA

 

21C

SAMARIA

 

31C

GLAUCUS

 

41D

WINDSOR CASTLE

(Commodore)

 

51C

JOHAN VAN OLDENBARNEVELT

 

61P

BRAZIL

 

12D

NOVA SCOTIA

 

22C

CAMERONIA

 

32C

CITY OF LINCOLN

 

42C

KINA II

 

52D

ELISABETHVILLE

 

62P

MONTEREY

 

13D

KHEDIVE ISMAIL

 

23D

MENDOZA

 

33C

CITY OF EDINBURGH

 

43C

DUNEDIN STAR

 

53C

NIEUW HOLLAND

 

63P

MORMACTIDE

 

 

 

 

 

 

64

CLAN MACDONALD

 

 

 

ADAMANT sailed with the convoy, probably between columns 3 and 4 a position also occupied by the ocean escort, the battleship REVENGE which sailed from Durban. The escort for the Capetown to Durban passage was the cruiser DAUNTLESS which continued with the convoy.

 

Off Mombasa on 7.5 ADAMANT detached independently for Mombasa, on 8.5 REVENGE and DAUNTLESS also did so, taking in to that port ALMANZORA, CAMERONIA, KHEDIVE ISMAIL, MENDOZA, NOVA SCOTIA and SAMARIA, ie the two port hand columns.

 

The battleship ROYAL SOVEREIGN and armed merchant cruiser CORFU took over the convoy until 11.5.42 when, in 05.30N 50.02E it again divided with:

 

 

 

WS 17A

 

 

CITY OF EDINBURGH, CITY OF LINCOLN, ELISABETHVILLE and GLAUCUS being escorted by CORFU to Aden to disperse on 14.5.42.

 

 

 

WS 17B

 

 

BRAZIL, CLAN MACDONALD, DUNEDIN STAR, JOHAN VAN OLDENBARNEVELT, KINA II, MORMACTIDE, MONTEREY, NIEUW HOLLAND and WINDSOR CASTLE detached as the Bombay convoy escorted by ROYAL SOVEREIGN and arrived at Bombay 16.5.42, less MONTEREY which detached as an independent for Abadan and BRAZIL, MORMACTIDE and MONTEREY for Karachi, detaching on 13.5.

 

 

 

WS 17BZ

 

 

A final passage under the WS 17 code was made when, on 10.5.42, a convoy sailed from Mombasa composed of:

 

11

MENDOZA

 

21

SAMARIA

 

31

ALMANZORA

 

41

CAMERONIA

 

12

CHANTILLY

 

 

32

NOVA SCOTIA

 

42

KHEDIVE ISMAIL

 

 

escorted by the armed merchant cruiser RANCHI to Bombay, arriving there 19.5.42, except for CHANTILLY and MENDOZA which detached as independents from position 09.40N 52.15E on 14.5.

 

 

 

WS 18

 

 

Sailing from the Clyde 15.4.42, the convoy comprised the following ships:

 

11L

PHEMIUS

 

21C

ORDUNA

 

31C

RANGITATA

 

41C

EMPRESS OF CANADA

(Commodore)

 

51

HMS HECLA

 

61C

ORBITA

 

12L

CLAN LAMONT

 

22L

DUCHESS OF BEDFORD

(Vice Commodore)

 

32C

REINA DEL PACIFICO

 

42C

MALOJA

 

52C

AORANGI

 

62C

CITY OF CAPETOWN

 

13C

SOUDAN

 

23L

CAPETOWN CASTLE

 

33C

EMPRESS OF JAPAN

 

43C

HIGHLAND CHIEFTAIN

 

53L

NIEUW ZEELAND

 

63C

WAIPAWA

 

24L

DEMPO

 

 

34L

MARNIX VAN ST ALDEGONDE

 

44C

HIGHLAND PRINCESS

 

 

 

 

The escort was formed from

 

destroyers BADSWORTH, GEORGETOWN, LANCASTER, LAUDERDALE and ST MARYS 15 to 19.4; BOADICEA and VOLUNTEER 15 to 20.4 and SALISBURY 15 to 22.4.

 

Ocean escort was the cruisers FROBISHER and GAMBIA and destroyers TETCOTT and VAN GALEN 15 to 29.4. Local escort off Freetown was provided by the destroyers BOREAS and WILD SWAN and corvette PETUNIA 26 to 29.4.

 

The convoy arrived at Freetown 29.4.1942

 

Sailing from Freetown 3.5, convoy composition was as from the UK plus RIMUTAKA. The American AGWILEON joined at sea later being detached to Walvis Bay 6.5.

 

Escorts were the destroyers BOREAS and WIVERN 3 to 4.5, the cruiser FROBISHER and destroyer VAN GALEN 3 to 6.5 and the corvette HYDRANGEA 4 to 5.5. Ocean escort was the cruiser GAMBIA, seaplane carrier ALBATROSS and destroyer TETCOTT 3 to 15.5. Off Capetown the whalers SOUTHERN GEM and SOUTHERN PRIDE joined on 14.5 as local escort to Capetown.

 

The convoy arrived off Capetown 15.5 and, while crossing the shallow waters of the Agulhas Bank between Capetown and Durban, encountered a minefield laid by the raider DOGGERBANK. As a result HMS HECLA was damaged and towed in to Simonstown by the cruiser GAMBIA, while the freighter SOUDAN, also mined, sank later that day.

 

SOUDAN was fortunate in suffering no casualties: her Master reported that on examining his ship after the explosion he found "No 2 Hold empty, the bottom having apparently been blown out and the stores loaded in that hold having fallen out of the hole. This was fortunate as the stores included 400 tons of TNT....".

 

Ships which arrived at Capetown were DEMPO, EMPRESS OF CANADA, MARNIX VAN ST ALDEGONDE, NIEUW ZEELAND, ORBITA, ORDUNA, PHEMIUS, REINA DEL PACIFICO, RIMUTAKA and WAIPAWA, while the remaining ships went on to Durban where they arrived 18.5 being escorted from Capetown by the cruiser CARLISLE.

 

There was considerable re‑organisation during the South African lay over, some ships unloading and returning in due course to the UK, and some, such as the two HIGHLANDs and AORANGI going on as independents to the Plate. Those that did sail as part of the convoy left Capetown 19.5 escorted by the armed merchant cruiser WORCESTERSHIRE and rendezvoused off Durban to proceed northwards, C and D suffix to the convoy position numbers indicate the port of departure. The convoy from the Durban rendezvous, numbers are suffixed C and D to indicate sailing port, sailed from Capetown 19.5 and Durban 22.5 and comprised:

 

11C

PHEMIUS

 

21C

EMPRESS OF CANADA

(Vice Commodore)

 

31C

REINA DEL PACIFICO

(Commodore)

 

41D

CAPETOWN CASTLE

 

12C

ORBITA

 

22C

MARNIX VAN ST ALDEGONDE

22C

ORDUNA

 

32C

DEMPO

 

42D

CLAN LAMONT

 

13C

WAIPAWA

(Rear Commodore)

 

 

33C

NIEUW ZEELAND

 

43D

CITY OF CAPETOWN

 

14C

BULKOIL

 

 

34D

EMPIRE WOODLARK

 

44D

LLANDAFF CASTLE

 

 

PHEMIUS returned to Capetown 19.5 and did not rejoin the convoy until 27.5; on 22.5 EMPRESS OF CANADA, MARNIX VAN ST ALDEGONDE and NIEUW ZEELAND detached, ORDUNA becoming Commodore. REINA DEL PACIFICO detached on 23.5.

 

The Durban detachment joined on 23.5, MARNIX VAN ST ALDEGONDE and NIEUW ZEELAND rejoined 24.5. LLANDAFF CASTLE detached 27.5 and EMPIRE WOODLARK 30.5.

 

The final split of the convoy took place on 2.6 when the port hand column (see below) detached to Aden with the remaining ships going on to Bombay where they arrived 7.6.

 

The combined convoy from 30.5 comprised:

 

11

WAIPAWA

 

21

ORBITA

 

31

ORDUNA

 

41

CAPETOWN CASTLE

 

12

PHEMIUS

 

22

MARNIX VAN ST ALDEGONDE

 

32

DEMPO

 

42

CLAN LAMONT

 

13

BULKOIL

 

 

33

NIEUW ZEELAND

 

43

CITY OF CAPETOWN

 

 

the port hand column, BULKOIL, PHEMIUS and WAIPAWA, being the Aden detachment.

 

The escort from Capetown was the cruiser FROBISHER and seaplane carrier ALBATROSS, the latter detaching 23.5 and rejoining 24.5; the battleship RESOLUTION joined from Durban 23.5. FROBISHER detached 27.5 escorting LLANDAFF CASTLE, and on 30 May the cruisers EMERALD and ENTERPRISE relieved the battleship and seaplane carrier, who proceeded escorting EMPIRE WOODLARK. EMERALD was relieved by the armed merchant cruiser WORCESTERSHIRE on 31.5. WORCESTERSHIRE took the Aden portion on to its dispersal point, while ENTERPRISE continued as escort to the Bombay section, the convoy dividing on 2.6 with the Bombay section arriving 7.6.

 

 

 

WS 19

 

 

This convoy assembled off Oversay 10.5.42 in the following formation:

 

11L

LANARKSHIRE

 

21L

MONARCH OF BERMUDA

 

31L

MORETON BAY

 

41C

STRATHNAVER

(Commodore)

 

51C

MOOLTAN

 

61A

AKAROA

 

12L

CLAN MACARTHUR

 

22L

ORMONDE

 

32L

SCYTHIA

 

42C

STRATHAIRD

 

52C

ORIZABA

(Vice Commodore)

 

62A

HIGHLAND MONARCH

 

 

23L

HIGHLAND BRIGADE

 

33L

ATHLONE CASTLE

(Rear Commodore)

 

43C

PASTEUR

 

53C

BORINQUEN

 

63C

SUSSEX

 

 

AKAROA detached as an independent for Bermuda 14.5.

 

the escort comprised:

 

destroyers KEPPEL, LEAMINGTON and VOLUNTEER 10 to 13.5, ST MARYS 10 to 15.5 and CASTLETON 10 to 16.5.

 

The cruiser MAURITIUS, armed merchant cruiser CARNARVON CASTLE and destroyers BELVOIR and HURSLEY escorted 11 to 22.5 while a local escort of the destroyers VELOX on 19.5 and BOREAS and WILD SWAN on 20.5 joined from Freetown, where the convoy arrived on 22.5.42.

 

Unusually, while still an HM ship, CARNARVON CASTLE had 1044 troops embarked for passage.

 

The convoy sailed from Freetown 26.5 escorted by the destroyers BOREAS and VELOX to 28.5, the armed merchant cruiser ALCANTARA 26 to 29.5, destroyer BELVOIR 26 to 31.5 while the cruiser MAURITIUS, destroyer HURSLEY and sloop MILFORD covered the whole passage from Freetown to Capetown where they convoy arrived 5.6.42. The cruiser SHROPSHIRE joined off Capetown to escort the Durban ships to that port where they arrived 9.6.42. HIGHLAND BRIGADE, which proceeded to the Plate, detached from the convoy 28.5 to go to Takoradi where she arrived 31.5 later proceeding to South America.

 

CLAN MACARTHUR, MORETON BAY, ORIZABA, ORMONDE, PASTEUR and STRATHAIRD went on to Durban, remaining ships entered Capetown.

 

On 11.6:

 

ATHLONE CASTLE (Vice Commodore)

BORINQUEN

LANARKSHIRE

MONARCH OF BERMUDA

 

MOOLTAN

STRATHNAVER (Commodore)

SUSSEX

TAKLIWA

 

sailed from Capetown and were joined off Durban 15.6 by the ships from that port plus EMPIRE TROOPER, sailing that day. Armed merchant cruiser CHESHIRE escorted from the Cape to Durban joined by the cruiser SHROPSHIRE on 12.6. Destroyers BELVOIR and HURSLEY joined on 14.6 and the cruiser EMERALD brought out the Durban section.

 

SHROPSHIRE remained with the convoy to 18.6 when she was replaced by the cruiser MAURITIUS, in her turn relieved by the cruiser DEVONSHIRE on 26.6 to 27.6 when the armed merchant cruiser CORFU took over until 30.6 when the convoy arrived at Aden. EMERALD and the destroyers BELVOIR and HURSLEY detached 23.6 to go to Mombasa.

 

ATHLONE CASTLE, ORIZABA and STRATHAIRD detached on 27.6 for Bombay where they arrived 1.7.42; escorted by the cruiser DEVONSHIRE.

 

 

 

WS 19P

 

 

As is the case with many convoys, the reason for repeating a convoy number albeit with an alpha suffix, was no doubt well known at the time and probably recorded in signals; however no information has survived the years and the reason remains a mystery. The convoy sailed from Liverpool 31.5 and the Clyde 1.6.42 as shown below:

 

11L

POELAU ROEBIAH

 

21L

CHRISTIAAN HUYGENS

 

31C

ARAWA

 

41C

ORCADES

(Commodore)

 

51C

STAFFORDSHIRE

 

61L

TALISSE

 

12C

MEXICO

 

22L

LACONIA

 

32C

VICEROY OF INDIA

(Vice Commodore)

 

42C BRITANNIC

 

52C

CATHAY

 

62C

J W MCANDREW

 

13L

NEW ZEALAND STAR

 

23L

ORONTES

 

33C

STRATHALLAN

 

43C

AQUITANIA

 

53C

OTRANTO

 

63C

CRISTOBAL

 

 

24L

SANTA ROSA

 

34L

ANDES

 

44C

WARWICK CASTLE

 

54C

SANTA ELENA

 

64C

JAVA

 

 

AQUITANIA detached independently on 7.6 under the designation WS 19Q.

 

The escorts were:

 

destroyers BUXTON, MANSFIELD and SALISBURY to 1.6, KEPPEL, LEAMINGTON and WELLS to 4.6 and BEAGLE and DOUGLAS to 6.6. Battleship NELSON accompanied the convoy to Freetown, detaching en route to arrive there 13.6. The aircraft carrier ARGUS, ferrying aircraft to Gibraltar, was with the convoy until detaching 5.6, and the destroyers BLACKMORE and DERWENT were with the convoy throughout and were joined by VELOX on 11.6 from Freetown where the convoy arrived on 15.6.42.

 

The convoy sailed from Freetown 19.6 in an amended formation, shown below, with some additional ships:

 

11

NEW ZEALAND STAR

 

21

STRATHALLAN

(Vice Commodore)

 

31

ORONTES

 

41

ORCADES

(Commodore)

 

51

ANDES

 

61

CHRISTIAAN HUYGENS

 

71

CRISTOBAL

 

12

MEXICO

 

22

LACONIA

 

32

MARIPOSA

 

42

BRITANNIC

 

52

OTRANTO

 

62

SANTA PAULA

 

72

TALISSE

 

13

JAVA

 

23

SANTA ROSA

 

33

J W McANDREW

 

43

WARWICK CASTLE

 

53

CHATEAU THIERRY

 

63

VICEROY OF INDIA

(Rear Commodore)

 

73

POELAU ROEBIAH

 

 

24

CATHAY

 

34

SANTA ELENA

 

44

STAFFORDSHIRE

 

54

ARAWA

 

 

 

 

The battleship NELSON occupied a position between columns 41 and 51 of the convoy.

 

Escort from Freetown, in addition to NELSON included the battleship RODNEY and the destroyers DERWENT, PATHFINDER, PENN and QUENTIN to 26.6 plus VELOX to 22.6 only. The cruiser SHROPSHIRE joined as escort when the battleships detached, and the convoy arrived Capetown 1 and Durban 4.7.42. CATHAY, J W McANDREW, JAVA, LACONIA, MARIPOSA, MEXICO, NEW ZEALAND STAR, ORONTES, SANTA ELENA, SANTA ROSA, STAFFORDSHIRE and STRATHALLAN entering Capetown.

 

 

 

WS 19L

 

 

Further changes in the convoy formation took place in South Africa, with the faster ships sailing under the above designation from Capetown on 4 and Durban on 7.7.42. After rendezvous, their formation was:

 

11

WARWICK CASTLE

 

21

VICEROY OF INDIA

(Commodore)

 

31

ORONTES

 

41

STRATHALLAN

 

12

SANTA ELENA

 

22

SANTA ROSA

 

32

MEXICO

 

42

LACONIA

 

 

23

J W McANDREW

 

33

CRISTOBAL

 

 

 

LACONIA, too slow to maintain the required convoy speed, was detached 11.7 and ordered to join WS 19P. WARWICK CASTLE was detached on 13.7, under the escort of the cruiser CALEDON, to go to Mombasa.

 

Escort from Durban was the cruiser MAURITIUS, joined on 8.7 by the Dutch cruiser HEEMSKERK, this ship was detached later that day to join the slow convoy WS 19P. The cruiser DEVONSHIRE relieved MAURITIUS 14.7 who escorted until the convoy arrived at Aden on 17.7.

 

 

 

WS 19P

 

 

The remaining ships from Capetown and Durban, also sailing on 4 and 8.7, formed the slow convoy at a rendezvous off Durban on 8.7, under the original designation and steamed in the following order:

 

11

CHATEAU THIERRY

 

21

CHRISTIAAN HUYGENS

 

31

OTRANTO

 

41

CATHAY

 

12

NEW ZEALAND STAR

 

22

TALISSE

 

32

SANTA PAULA

 

42

STAFFORDSHIRE

 

13

POELAU ROEBIAH

 

23

MARIPOSA

 

33

JAVA

 

 

 

Escort was provided by the the Dutch cruiser HEEMSKERK and armed merchant cruiser CHITRAL, CARNARVON CASTLE was also present 8 to 9.7. The cruiser ENTERPRISE joined on 16.7 and HEEMSKERK detached 17.7 on which day the convoy divided.

 

LACONIA, detached as too slow from WS 19L, joined the convoy on 12.7, position unknown but possibly 43.

 

 

 

WS 19PB

 

 

CATHAY, JAVA, MARIPOSA, OTRANTO, SANTA PAULA and STAFFORDSHIRE were detached on 17.7 for Bombay under this designation, escorted by the cruiser ENTERPRISE, arriving 23.7.42.

 

MARIPOSA and SANTA PAULA detaching 21.7 to Karachi as independents.

 

 

 

WS 19PA

 

 

The balance of the ships in WS 19P proceeded to Aden under this title, off which port they dispersed on 20.7.42 and sailed as independents to Suez where they arrived 23.7.42.

 

 

 

WS 19W

 

 

Not strictly a convoy as the single ship was not escorted except for the first 24 hours, nevertheless this convoy code was used; some signals show it also as WS 19A. The single ship was the QUEEN MARY which cleared the Clyde 23.5.42, called at Freetown 30‑31.5, arrived Capetown 6.6 sailing again 10.6 and arrived at Suez 22.6.42. Her return passage was via Capetown and Rio de Janeiro to New York.

 

Escort was confined to the Western Approaches and comprised the AA cruiser CAIRO and destroyers BEAGLE, DOUGLAS, KEPPEL and SARDONYX for the day of sailing only.

 

 

 

WS 19Z

 

 

No connection whatever with the other convoys of this numeration, this convoy was made up of the ships from the UK for Operation HARPOON, a relief convoy to Malta. Leaving the Clyde 5.6.42, the merchant ships were BURDWAN, CHANT, ORARI, TANIMBAR and TROILUS escorted by the cruisers KENYA, LIVERPOOL and destroyers BADSWORTH, BEDOUIN, BLANKNEY, ESCAPADE, ICARUS, KUJAWIAK, MARNE, MATCHLESS, MIDDLETON and ONSLOW. The convoy passed through the Straits of Gibraltar 12.6.42 and thereafter is recorded as Operation HARPOON.

 

 

 

WS 19Q

 

 

Another single ship convoy, AQUITANIA detached from the original WS 19P to proceed independently, called at Freetown 11.6 and arrived at Simonstown 20.6. Sailing 22.6 she called at Diego Suarez 30.6, Aden 3.7 and arrived at Suez 8.7.42. Her return passage was made via Diego Suarez, Capetown and Freetown to Boston for docking.

 

 

 

WS 19Y

 

 

The final single ship convoy of the WS 19 sequence, QUEEN ELIZABETH cleared the Clyde 17.6.42 escorted by the AA cruiser DELHI and destroyers BOADICEA, KEPPEL, LEAMINGTON, SALISBURY and ST ALBANS for that day only. Thereafter she steamed independently, calling at Freetown 25.6, Simonstown 4.7 and arriving at Suez 18.7.42. Her return passage to New York was made via Capetown and Rio de Janeiro.

 

 

 

WS 20

 

 

Convoy sailed from Liverpool 20.6.42 and the Clyde 21.6 to a rendezvous off Oversay on 21.6 when the convoy formation became:

 

11

ABOSSO

 

21

DUCHESS OF RICHMOND

 

31

EMPRESS OF RUSSIA

 

41

STRATHEDEN

(Commodore)

 

51

BANFORA

 

61

ESPERANCE BAY

 

 

12

DURBAN CASTLE

 

22

ORION

(Vice Commodore)

 

32

EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA

 

42

BERGENSFJORD

 

52

AWATEA

52

LEOPOLDVILLE

(same position number

 

 

72

CUBA

 

13

PALMA

 

23

STIRLING CASTLE

 

33

STRATHMORE

 

43

ADRASTUS

43

BATORY

(same position number)

 

53

ARUNDEL CASTLE

53

NARKUNDA

(same position number0

 

 

73

EMPIRE PRIDE

 

 

 

 

44

NIGERSTROOM

 

 

 

 

 

NIGERSTROOM returned to the Clyde with defects, and ARKUNDA detached to Gibraltar 28.6. AWATEA, which was using automatic steering, and EMPIRE PRIDE collided 28.6 but remained with the convoy.

 

Local escort was provided by the destroyers GEORGETOWN and SALISBURY 21 to 24.6, BOADICEA and RIPLEY to 25.6, BEAGLE, ST ALBANS, VIDETTE and WOLVERINE to 26.6 and VANSITTART to 27.6; while the local Freetown escort was BLACKMORE and BRILLIANT from 26.6, VIMY from 28.6 and BOREAS, VELOX and WIVERN from 30.6. The convoy arrived at Freetown 2.7.42

 

The destroyer WISHART joined the convoy 26.6 to detach NARKUNDA to Gibraltar also accompanied by ANTELOPE, BEAGLE, VIDETTE and WOLVERINE.

 

Ocean escort was provided by the battleship MALAYA and destroyer ANTELOPE from 26.6 to 2.7, the battleship occupying a position between columns 3 and 4.

 

The convoy sailed from Freetown 6.7.42 with a slight variation in positions, possibly the formation adopted after the departure of ships referred to in the earlier part of the narrative:

 

11

ABOSSO

 

21

DUCHESS OF RICHMOND

 

31

EMPRESS OF RUSSIA

 

41

STRATHEDEN

 

51

BANFORA

 

61

ARUNDEL CASTLE

 

12

DURBAN CASTLE

 

22

ORION

 

32

EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA

 

42

BERGENSFJORD

 

52

AWATEA

52

LEOPOLDVILLE

(same position number)

 

 

13

PALMA

 

23

STIRLING CASTLE

 

33

STRATHMORE

 

43

ADRASTUS

 

53

EMPIRE PRIDE

 

63

ESPERANCE BAY

 

 

 

34

CUBA

 

44

BATORY

 

 

 

 

Local escort was provided by the destroyers BOREAS and VELOX, both detached 8.7, the latter to take BATORY in to Takoradi. Ocean escort comprised the battleship MALAYA and destroyers BLACKMORE, BRILLIANT and WIVERN to Capetown where the convoy arrived 17.7.42

 

ABOSSO, ADRASTUS, BANFORA, BERGENSFJORD, CUBA, DUCHESS OF RICHMOND, EMPIRE PRIDE, EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA, ESPERANCE BAY, LEOPOLDVILLE and PALMA entered Capetown escorted by MALAYA and BLACKMORE. BRILLIANT took the rest of the convoy onward, being relieved by the cruiser SHROPSHIRE 17.7, to Durban where it arrived 20.7.

 

When the convoy sailed from Capetown 23.7, escorted by the cruiser GAMBIA, ESPERANCE BAY remained in port, and BANFORA sailed for passage to Durban only. The Durban ships (other than AWATEA and EMPRESS OF RUSSIA) made a rendezvous off that port 26.7, and the convoy steamed northward. The cruiser FROBISHER relieved GAMBIA 30.7, when GAMBIA took STIRLING CASTLE from the convoy bound for Mauritius and then Australia. The armed merchant cruiser WORCESTERSHIRE joined the convoy 30.7 as an additional escort.

 

 

 

WS 20A

 

 

 

The convoy divided 1.8.42, all ships except ABOSSO, ADRASTUS, EMPIRE PRIDE and ORION going to Aden off which port they dispersed on 6.8.42 to proceed to Suez as independents; escort was provided by FROBISHER.

 

 

 

WS 20B

 

 

ABOSSO, ADRASTUS, EMPIRE PRIDE and ORION proceeded to Bombay under the escort of WORCESTERSHIRE later relieved by the cruiser DEVONSHIRE, to arrive at Bombay 9.8.42.

  

 

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revised 4/12/10


 

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