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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 1942 SAILINGS, WS.21 to 25

RMS Queen Mary at Southampton postwar  (Gordon Smith, click to enlarge)

on to 1943 Sailings

 

  

1942 SAILINGS

(concluded)

 

 

WS 21

 

The convoy sailed from the Clyde 29.7.42 in the following order:

11A

JAMES LYKES

 

21C

CIRCASSIA

 

31C

NARKUNDA

(Commodore)

 

41L

MALOJA

(Vice Commodore)

 

51L

ANTENOR

 

12A

CURACAO

 

22C

LARGS BAY

 

32C

TAMAROA

 

42L

RANGITIKI

 

52L

SAMARIA

 

 

23C

AORANGI

 

 

43L

VOLENDAM

 

 

 

Local A/S escort was provided by the destroyers BRAMHAM and WILTON to 2.8, BICESTER, KEPPEL, LAMERTON, and SALISBURY to 4.8, while the armed merchant cruiser RANPURA and destroyers CATTERICK, LEDBURY and PETARD provided the ocean escort to Freetown where the convoy arrived 10.8. The destroyer VELOX joined the convoy on the day of arrival.

The convoy sailed from Freetown 15.8 with a number of additional ships, the formation being:

11

CHINA MAIL

 

21

JAMES LYKES

 

31

MALOJA

(Vice Commodore)

 

41

NARKUNDA

(Commodore)

 

51

CIRCASSIA

 

61

AORANGI

 

12

AMERICAN PRESS

 

22

CURACAO

 

32

ANTENOR

 

42

TAMAROA

 

52

RANGITIKI

 

62

LARGS BAY

 

 

23

LOOKOUT

 

33

VOLENDAM

 

43

SILVERWALNUT

 

53

SAMARIA

 

63

ERRIA

 

 

Commodore ships remained unchanged.

AMERICAN PRESS joined at sea on 18.8, ERRIA detached to St Helena 20.8.

Escort was the cruiser HAWKINS and destroyers CATTERICK and PETARD to Capetown, the armed merchant cruiser CORFU providing cover from Capetown to Durban. The armed merchant cruiser RANPURA joined 19.8 and also went to Durban while the corvettes AMARANTHUS and THYME provided cover off Durban from 29.8.

AMERICAN PRESS, ANTENOR, AORANGI, CHINA MAIL, CURACAO, JAMES LYKES, LOOKOUT, MALOJA and SILVERWALNUT entered Capetown 27.8, the remaining ships arrived at Durban 30.8.

The convoy sailed from Capetown 30.8 escorted by HAWKINS and AMARANTHUS, THYME joined 2.9 and the convoy re‑formed at the Durban rendezvous 3.9, as follows, SAMARIA and VOLENDAM joining from Durban:

11

AORANGI

 

21

JAMES LYKES

 

31

SAMARIA

(Commodore)

 

41

CHINA MAIL

 

12

LOOKOUT

 

22

SILVERWALNUT

 

32

MALOJA

(Vice Commodore)

 

42

AMERICAN PRESS

 

13

VOLENDAM

 

23

BANTAM

 

33

ANTENOR

 

43

CURACAO

 

 

The convoy was escorted from Capetown by the cruiser HAWKINS, from the meeting point joined by the armed merchant cruiser RANPURA and destroyer PETARD which had escorted SAMARIA and VOLENDAM out of Durban.

WS 21A

 

On 10.9 the convoy divided with AORANGI, BANTAM, JAMES LYKES, LOOKOUT, SAMARIA and SILVERWALNUT proceeding to Aden there to disperse as independents, escort being provided by RANPURA and PETARD, with the destroyers HERO and TETCOTT joining on 15.9. Dispersal took place on 16.9.

 

WS 21B

AMERICAN PRESS, ANTENOR, CHINA MAIL, CURACAO, MALOJA and VOLENDAM continued to Bombay escorted by HAWKINS. HAWKINS detached escorting VOLENDAM on 11.9 to Mombasa after being relieved by the cruiser ENTERPRISE that day. AMERICAN PRESS and CHINA MAIL detached as independents for the Persian Gulf during passage, the remaining ships reached Bombay on 19.9.42.

 

 

 

WS 21P

 

This convoy sailed from the Clyde 17.7.42. An unusual feature is the juncture at sea with an American convoy (AS 4) which had sailed from the USA with supplies for the 8th Army in North Africa. After the juncture the following formation was used, prior to that the ships from the UK had steamed in their original numbered positions. The ships joining from AS 4 are indicated by A after their convoy number, the rendezvous was made on 5.8.42 in 09.05S 011.07W:

 

11L

WINDSOR CASTLE

(Vice Commodore)

 

21C

ORONSAY

 

31C

EMPRESS OF JAPAN

(Commodore)

 

41C

DUCHESS OF ATHOLL

 

 

12A

EMPIRE ORIOLE

 

22A

TARN

 

32L

DUCHESS OF YORK

 

42A

ZAANDAM

 

52A

AMERICAN MANUFACTURER

52A

EXHIBITOR

 

 

23A

HAWAIIAN SHIPPER

 

33A

SANTA CRUZ

 

43A

MORMACDALE

 

 

 

Escort was provided by the destroyers BUXTON to 20.7, GEORGETOWN to 22.7 and VIMY from 25 to 27.7. The cruiser ORION and destroyers NEPAL and TJERK HIDDES escorted throughout the passage to Freetown, where the convoy arrived 27.7.42.

Sailing from Freetown on 2.8 the escorts were the destroyer BOREAS to 6.8, corvette COMMANDANT DUBOC to 13.8 and the ORION, NEPAL and TJERK HIDDES to Capetown where the convoy arrived 13.8.42.

When the convoy sailed from Capetown 16.8, only 10 ships were present:

11

WINDSOR CASTLE

 

21

ORONSAY

 

31

EMPRESS OF JAPAN

 

41

DUCHESS OF ATHOLL

 

12

EMPIRE ORIOLE

 

22

EXHIBITOR

 

32

DUCHESS OF YORK

 

42

ZAANDAM

 

 

23

HAWAIIAN SHIPPER

 

33

TARN

 

 

 

EXHIBITOR, with defects, detached to Mozambique 22.8.

 

The cruiser SHROPSHIRE and destroyer DUNCAN escorted until 19.8, destroyers NEPAL and TJERK HIDDES 19 to 24.8 and the cruiser ORION 19 to 29.8 on which date ships dispersed off Aden.

WS 21PG

 

This convoy consisted of only three ships, the balance of WS 21P, which were met off Durban on 19.8 by the armed merchant cruiser ALAUNIA and corvette THYME. It would appear that the ships had, in fact, made the passage from Capetown in company with WS 21P. On 20.8 the cruiser ENTERPRISE with destroyer DUNCAN and corvette CYCLAMEN joined, whereon THYME detached.

The convoy, Commodore in SANTA CRUZ, steamed in line abeam AMERICAN MANUFACTURER, SANTA CRUZ, MORMACDALE reading from port to starboard.

CYCLAMEN detached from the escort early on 25.8, ENTERPRISE and DUNCAN later the same day, ALAUNIA then took station between AMERICAN MANUFACTURER and SANTA CRUZ. SANTA CRUZ detached independent on 30.8, when MORMACDALE became Commodore, ALAUNIA then moving to the starboard wing of the two ship convoy. The corvette MARGUERITE joined on 1.9, ALAUNIA detached and the convoy duly dispersed off Hormuz later that day.

WS 21S

 

Not, in fact, properly one of the convoys of this series as the title was applied to the ships destined for Operation Pedestal, a relief convoy to Malta from the UK. Prior to passing the Straits of Gibraltar on 10.8.42 however, the convoy did bear the style shown and the convoy sailing order is therefore included from the Clyde from which it sailed on 2.8.42 until passing the Straits on 10.8:

11

DEUCALION

 

21

PORT CHALMERS

 

31

EMPIRE HOPE

 

41

GLENORCHY

 

12

CLAN FERGUSON

 

22

MELBOURNE STAR

 

32

OHIO

 

42

SANTA ELISA

 

13

ROCHESTER CASTLE

 

23

DORSET

 

33

BRISBANE STAR

 

43

WAIRANGI

 

 

24

WAIMARAMA

 

34

ALMERIA LYKES

 

 

 

The escort for the convoy was unusually strong, in that it included ships of the Home Fleet on passage for the operation as reinforcements for the ships usually based on Gibraltar. They included the battleships NELSON, RODNEY, the aircraft carriers EAGLE, FURIOUS, INDOMITABLE, VICTORIOUS, cruisers KENYA, NIGERIA and destroyers AMAZON, BICESTER, BLYSKAWICA, DERWENT, ICARUS, INTREPID, LAMERTON, LEDBURY, MALCOLM, PENN, SARDONYX, VENOMOUS, WILTON, WISHART and WOLVERINE and ZETLAND at various times during the passage from the Clyde to the Straits.

 

 

WS 22

 

Sailing from Liverpool 28.8.42 and the Clyde 29.8 with a final junction off Oversay, the convoy sailing order is shown below:

 

11L

SUFFOLK

 

21L

ORDUNA

 

31C

ALMANZORA

 

41C

CALIFORNIA

(Commodore)

 

51C

RANGITATA

 

 

71C

HIGHLAND BRIGADE

 

12L

NIEUW HOLLAND

 

22L

ORCADES

 

32L

ANDES

(Vice Commodore)

 

42C

NEA HELLAS

 

52C

DOMINION MONARCH

 

62C

FRANCONIA

62C

MATAROA

(same position number)

72C

HIGHLAND CHIEFTAIN

 

 

23C

LEINSTER

 

33C

BOISSEVAIN

 

43C

JOHAN VAN OLDENBARNEVELT

 

53C

HIGHLAND PRINCESS

 

63C

RUYS

 

73C

CANARA

 

 

LEINSTER detached to Gibraltar 4.9 escorted by LAFOREY and LOOKOUT from that base.

Local A/S escort was the destroyers BLYSKAWICA to 31.8, BICESTER, BULLDOG, KEPPEL and ZETLAND to 1.9, BEVERLEY and CHESTERFIELD to 2.9. Ocean escort was the cruiser AURORA, armed merchant cruiser CARTHAGE and destroyers PARTRIDGE and QUIBERON to 9.9; with a local Freetown escort of the destroyers ANTELOPE 6 to 9.9 and PINDOS 7 to 9.9 when the convoy arrived at Freetown.

When the convoy sailed from Freetown 13.9, the sailing order had been re‑organised and one ship (SIBAJAK) had joined in lieu of LEINSTER, the new positions being shown below:

11

NIEUW HOLLAND

 

21

ORDUNA

 

31

ALMANZORA

 

41

CALIFORNIA

 

51

RANGITATA

 

61

ANDES

 

71

HIGHLAND BRIGADE

 

12

SUFFOLK

 

22

DOMINION MONARCH

 

32

FRANCONIA

 

42

NEA HELLAS

 

52

ORCADES

 

62

MATAROA

 

72

HIGHLAND CHIEFTAIN

 

13

HIGHLAND PRINCESS

 

23

RUYS

 

33

JOHAN VAN OLDENBARNEVELT

 

43

SIBAJAK

 

53

BOISSEVAIN

 

63

CANARA

 

 

 

HIGHLAND BRIGADE and HIGHLAND PRINCESS detached to Takoradi 15.9 escorted by the destroyer BOREAS, ANTELOPE was detached also to return to Freetown while DERWENT and PINDOS escorted until 18.9. AURORA, the armed merchant cruiser ALCANTARA and destroyers PARTRIDGE and QUIBERON went through to Capetown with the convoy.

The convoy arrived off Capetown 25.9 and ALMANZORA, ANDES, CALIFORNIA, CANARA, DOMINION MONARCH, JOHAN VAN OLDENBARNEVELT, NEA HELLAS, NIEUW HOLLAND, ORDUNA, RUYS and SIBAJAK entered that port, the remaining ships going to Durban under the escort of the cruiser SHROPSHIRE, arriving there 29.9.

Sailing from Capetown on 29.9 ALMANZORA, DOMINION MONARCH, FRANCONIA, JOHAN VAN OLDENBARNEVELT, NIEUW HOLLAND and ORDUNA were joined from Durban on 3.10 by BOISSEVAIN, CALIFORNIA, CANARA, EKMA, FELIX ROUSSEL, INDRAPOERA, RANGITATA, RUYS. Of these ships, ALMANZORA and RANGITATA arrived at Mombasa 12.10, EKMA, FELIX ROUSSEL and ORDUNA arrived at Aden 16.10; all other ships went to Bombay arriving 17.10.42, except CANARA detached to Karachi.

The sailing order was:

11

ORDUNA

 

21

DOMINION MONARCH

 

31

CALIFORNIA

 

41

FRANCONIA

 

12

EKMA

 

22

JOHAN VAN OLDENBARNEVELT

 

32

NIEUW HOLLAND

 

42

RUYS

 

13

FELIX ROUSSEL

 

23

BOISSEVAIN

 

33

CANARA

 

43

ALMANZORA

 

 

24

RANGITATA

 

34

INDRAPOERA

 

 

 

Escorts were the armed merchant cruisers ALCANTARA and RANCHI from Capetown to Durban where ALCANTARA detached and was replaced by the cruiser DEVONSHIRE.

WS22A

The convoy divided on 11.10 with RANCHI taking onward the Aden portion arriving at that port 16.10.42 being met by BEAUFORT and TETCOTT on 14.10 as additional escorts.

 

WS 22B

 

After the division, the Bombay section proceeded escorted by the cruiser HAWKINS, which had joined from Mombasa on 10.10; the convoy arrived at Bombay 17.10 less CANARA, detached to Karachi on 15.10.

 

WS 23

A small convoy which was somewhat delayed in its final departure, so that ships had to water at Belfast Lough prior to final rendezvous on 4.10.42. The convoy formation on final sailing was:

11

SILVERSANDAL

 

21

KINA II

 

31

CAPETOWN CASTLE

(Commodore)

 

41

MORETON BAY

 

12

PORT JACKSON

 

22

EMPRESS OF RUSSIA

(Vice Commodore)

 

32

HIGHLAND MONARCH

 

42

STRAAT MALAKKA

 

 

Escorts were the destroyers BEAGLE 4 to 8.10, BICESTER, WRESTLER and ZETLAND 4 to 10.10, cruisers DESPATCH and DURBAN, armed merchant cruiser QUEEN OF BERMUDA and destroyers KANARIS and PUCKERIDGE 4 to 15.10, destroyers ANTELOPE 13 to 16.10 and VELOX 14 to 16.10, on which date the convoy arrived at Freetown.

On 20.10 the convoy sailed, formation unchanged, escorted by DURBAN, the armed merchant cruiser CARTHAGE, and KANARIS 20.10 to 5.11. DESPATCH and the sloop MILFORD overtook the convoy 23.10 and stayed until 31.10, destroyer AVON VALE was present 20 to 23.10, corvettes TAMARISK 20 to 25.10 and AMARANTHUS 25 to 26.10, while the destroyer NORMAN and corvettes ROCKROSE and THYME joined 30.10 to continue to escort to Durban, which was reached on 5.11.

RIMUTAKA sailed from Capetown and joined the convoy for the passage to Durban.

Sailing from Durban 9.11, MORETON BAY and RIMUTAKA remained behind. The convoy was escorted by the cruiser DAUNTLESS to 11.11, armed merchant cruiser CARTHAGE to 17.11, cruiser HAWKINS from 11 to 16.11 and cruiser MAURITIUS 16 to 17.11.

 

HAWKINS detached from the convoy 16.11 taking with her EMPRESS OF RUSSIA to Mombasa arriving there on 18.11; on 17.11 the remaining ships divided into Aden and Bombay sections.

 

 

 

WS 23A

 

From 17.11, HIGHLAND MONARCH, KINA II, PORT JACKSON and STRAAT MALAKKA were escorted by CARTHAGE to Aden where they arrived 21.11.42.

 

 

WS 23B

 

†From 17.11 MAURITIUS escorted the remaining ships of WS 23 to Bombay, where they arrived 24.11.42, other than SILVERSANDAL which detached to Karachi on 22.11.

 

WS 24

 

 

This was one of the more unusual WS convoys, in that it departed greatly from the normal route. At the end of October 1942 the first great amphibious invasion convoys were at sea heading for North Africa from both the UK and USA; hence it was highly undesirable to have an additional troop convoy crossing their routes and, indeed, the focal point of Operation TORCH. Hence WS 24, which sailed from Liverpool 30.10.42 and the Clyde 31.10, was routed far to the west in the Atlantic and was obliged to use the port of Bahia in Brazil, who had declared war on the Germany and Italy on 22.8.42, as a fuelling stop rather than Freetown.

The relatively small convoy consisted of the following ships:

11

TAMAROA

 

21

ATHLONE CASTLE

(Vice Commodore)

 

31

STIRLING CASTLE

(Commodore)

 

41

INDOCHINOIS

 

51

LARGS BAY

 

 

22

ARAWA

 

 

42

EMPRESS OF SCOTLAND

 

 

 

During the passage INDOCHINOIS lost the convoy on 7.11 and proceeded independently; to the anxiety of the Commodore and Senior Officer of the Escort who had no idea as to her fate or whereabouts. She eventually rejoined the convoy, at sea, on 30.11.42! TAMAROA made a more decorous exit, being detached to Freetown on 8.11 escorted by the whaler SOUTHERN PRIDE.

Escorts were, from Liverpool to the Clyde, the destroyers SARDONYX and SKATE, from the Clyde HOLCOMBE, OFFA, ONSLOW, ORIBI and ROTHERHAM to 3.11, the US seaplane tender BARNEGAT 31.10 to 2.11.

 

Ocean escort was provided by the armed merchant cruiser QUEEN OF BERMUDA joining 3.11 to 17.11, destroyer ILEX 9 to 17.11 and cruiser DESPATCH and destroyer ROTHERHAM 11 to 17.11.

 

The convoy arrived at Bahia 17.11 to fuel and water and, while there, took the rare opportunity to land troops (at the insistence of the Brazilian authorities) for a route march which turned into something of a Victory Parade for the inhabitants excited by the Allied landings in North Africa ten days previously.

Sailing from Bahia 20.11 the convoy was escorted by the armed merchant cruisers QUEEN OF BERMUDA joined by ALCANTARA and destroyer ROTHERHAM to Durban, arriving 4.12 while the cruiser DESPATCH was present until 23.11 and destroyer ILEX until 25.11. The destroyer NORMAN joined 29.11, corvette ROCKROSE 30.11 and destroyer NEPAL 1.12, all to Durban. Corvette THYME was present 30.11 to 2.12.

 

WS 24A

 

Sailing from Durban 13.12.42 in company with convoy CM 36, ARAWA went north to Aden, arriving 28.12.42.

 

 

WS 24B

Sailing from Durban 6.12.42, ATHLONE CASTLE and STIRLING CASTLE were escorted by the cruiser FROBISHER to 12.12 and then by the cruiser MAURITIUS to arrive at Bombay on 17.12.42.

WS 25

Sailed from Avonmouth, Liverpool and finally the Clyde 18.12.42 in the following formation:

11L

TARIFA

 

21L

RANGITIKI

 

31C

BRITANNIC

(Commodore)

 

41L

ESPERANCE BAY

 

51A

HIGHLAND BRIGADE

 

 

22L

CITY OF LINCOLN

 

32L

ORION

(Vice Commodore)

 

42A

MATAROA

 

52A

HIGHLAND PRINCESS

 

 

Escort was provided by the destroyers BADSWORTH, HAYDON and WOLVERINE 18 to 24.12, armed merchant cruisers CARNARVON CASTLE, CHESHIRE and destroyers QUILLIAM and ROCKWOOD 18 to 31.12, destroyer ILEX 27 to 31.12 and corvettes CROCUS and WOODRUFF 30 to 31.12, the convoy arriving at Freetown 31.12.42.

The convoy sailed with the same ships and formation from Freetown 3.1.43, with HIGHLAND BRIGADE detaching to Takoradi en route escorted by the corvette COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES and minesweeper BALUCHISTAN.

Escort from Freetown was the corvettes CROCUS 3 to 9.1, CYCLAMEN 6 to 7.1, armed merchant cruiser CHESHIRE and destroyers QUILLIAM and ROCKWOOD 3 to 18.1, armed merchant cruiser ALCANTARA 4 to 9.1 and destroyer EXPRESS 16 to 18.1, the convoy arriving at Durban 18.1.43.

Durban was the ultimate destination of this convoy, ships then dispersed as independents to either South America, the UK or New York City via Freetown.

WS 25W

 

 

Despite the use of a convoy designation this was, in fact, an unescorted passage by QUEEN MARY from the Clyde to Suez sailing on 23.12.42 via Freetown and Capetown, arriving at Suez 18.1.43. An AA and A/S escort was provided on sailing for the initial twenty four hours only, details are unknown. †

 

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revised 4/12/10


 

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