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East Indies Fleet became the Eastern Fleet at the end of March 1942 with the arrival of Admiral Somerville
S E C R E T
WAR RECORDS OF THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF, EAST INDIES STATION
Part I – A DAY BY DAY CHRONOLOGICAL DIARY OF EVENTS.
HMS SUTLEJ arrived at Madras from Colombo.
HMS TRUSTY on passage from Mediterranean to Far East arrived at Aden and left for Colombo.
HMS CORFU arrived at Mombasa and left for Durban escorting H.T. DILWARA
HHMS GEORGIOS AVEROFF left Colombo for Bombay.
HMS Ships FALMOUTH and LAOMEDEN left Colombo for Trincomalee
HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN arrived at Seychelles from escort duty
HMS DORSETSHIRE left Bombay for Durban to assume escort duty with Convoy CM 25.
HMAS MANOORA arrived at Calcutta from Colombo for escort duty in the Bay of Bengal
HMS INDOMITABLE left Capetown for passage through East Indies Station to Aden
HMS FARA arrived at Colombo from Aden.
HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN left Seychelles for Mombasa.
HMIS SUTLEJ left Madras escorting Convoy MA 1 to Port Blair
HMS GLASGOW arrived at Colombo from escort duty with convoy BM 9 B
H.M. Ships FALMOUTH and LAOMEDEN arrived at Trincomalee from Colombo.
HMS HECTOR escorting RFA OLCADES arrived at Mauritius from the Cape.
HMS ABDIEL arrived at Aden from the Mediterranean and left for Colombo.
HMAS YARRA left Colombo for Batavia
B.D.V.’s BARMILL, JAN DE WAELE, and PRINCE DE LIEGE left Mombasa for Port T.
HMS LUCIA left Bombay for Depot Ship duties at Colombo.
HMS GLASGOW left Colombo escorting CLAN FORBES to Male (Maldives) and Port T
Convoy DM 1 escorted by H.M. Ships EMERALD, EXETER, and HMIS JUMNA left Port T for Malaya.
HMS COLOMBO left Aden for Mombasa escorting H.T. MENDOZA
HMIS INDUS left Trincomalee for Colombo
HHMS GEORGIOS AVEROFF arrived at Bombay from Trincomalee
HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN arrived at Mombasa from Seychelles.
HMS LAOMEDEN left Trincomalee for Colombo
HMS CORNWALL escorting Convoy SW 12 Z B arrived at Bombay
HMS CORFU escorting H.T. DILWARA arrived at Durban
HMS GLASGOW escorting CLAN FORBES arrived at Male (Maldives) and left for Port T
HMIS SUTLEJ with Convoy MA 1 arrived at Port Blair.
HMIS INDUS arrived at Colombo from Trincomalee
HMS GUARDIAN left Colombo for Diego Garcia
HMS GLASGOW escorting CLAN FORBES arrived at Port T
HMIS SUTLEJ left Rangoon for Trincomalee
Third Trawler Group consisting of H.M. Ships BALTA, HOXA, and FARA were allocated to Captain in Charge, Ceylon for local defence duties.
HMS LAOMEDEN arrived at Colombo from Trincomalee
HMS CALEDON escorting Convoy BM 10 (for Singapore) left Bombay.
HMS GLASGOW left Port T for Colombo
HMS GLASGOW arrived at Colombo from escort duty
HMS KIRRIEMOOR left Trincomalee for Port T
HMAS MANOORA escorting Convoy SR 2 left Calcutta for Rangoon
HMS CARTHAGE left Aden for Mombasa
HMS TRUSTY arrived at Colombo from Aden
HHMS GEORGIOS AVEROFF left Bombay to provide cover for Convoys BP 31 A and B
HMS RAMILLIES and Capetown section of Convoy WS 14 left Capetown to rendezvous with HMS CORFU and Durban section of this convoy from Durban
HMS INDOMITABLE (from Capetown) off the west coast of Socotra rendezvoused with H.M.A. Ships NAPIER, NESTOR, and NIZAM and proceeded in company to Aden.
HMS COLOMBO escorting H.T. MENDOZA arrived at Mombasa from Aden
HMS GUARDIAN arrived at Diego Garcia from Colombo
HMS ABDIEL arrived at Colombo from the Mediterranean Station.
HMS LUCIA arrived at Colombo from Bombay
HMS HECTOR left Mauritius for Seychelles.
HMIS SUTLEJ arrived Trincomalee from Rangoon
Free French sloop SAVOGNAN DE BRAZZA left Aden for Durban
B.D.V.’s BARMILL, JAN DE WAELE and PRINCE DE LIEGE arrived at Seychelles from Mombasa.
HMS TRUSTY left Colombo for the Far East.
HMS ATREUS and ALSEY left Colombo for Port T
HMS Ships ENTERPRISE and GLASGOW escorted SILVERLARCH and JALARATNA left Colombo to rendezvous with convoy BM 10 off Ceylon and take over escort duty of that convoy from HMS CALEDON
HMIS SUTLEJ left Trincomalee to rendezvous with Convoy BM 10
HMS HECTOR arrived Seychelles from Mauritius
HMS CALEDON arrived at Colombo from escort duty with convoy BM 10
B.D.V.’s BARSTOKE, BARBOUR, and BARONIA arrived at Mombasa from the Cape
B.D.V.’s PRINCE DE LIEGE and JAN DE WAELE left Seychelles for Port T
HMAS MANOORA arrived off Calcutta from escort duty with Convoy SR 2 for assembly of Convoy SR 3
HMAS MANOORA escorting convoy SR 3 left Calcutta for Rangoon.
H.M. Ships BALTA and HOXA left Colombo for Trincomalee having been allocated to that port for local defence duty.
HMS CALEDON left Colombo for Bombay
HMS CARTHAGE arrived at Mombasa from Aden.
HMS DEVONSHIRE carrying the Naval Branch of the Far Eastern Combined Bureau arrived at Colombo from Singapore
HMS HECTOR having embarked the Governor and Seychelles Volunteer Corps personnel left Seychelles for Mombasa.
Force L (H.M. Ships INDOMITABLE, NAPIER, NIZAM, and NESTOR left Port Sudan for Operation OPPONENT
HHMS GEORGIOS AVEROFF arrived at Bombay from escort duty.
HHMS QUEEN OLGA left Calcutta for return passage to the Mediterranean after refit.
HMS TEVIOTBANK arrived at Trincomalee from Singapore.
HMS MAURITIUS escorting H.T. EMPRESS OF RUSSIA arrived at Durban from Colombo
HMS EMERALD wearing the Flag of the Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet, left Batavia for Colombo.
H.M. Ships BALTA and HOXA arrived at Trincomalee from Colombo
HHMS PAUL KONDOURIOTIS arrived at Bombay from the Mediterranean to refit.
HMAS MANOORA escorting Convoy SR 3 arrived at Rangoon
HMS CALEDON arrived at Bombay for escort duty with Convoy BM 11
HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN escorting Convoy DM 14 left Mombasa for Port T.
HMS CORNWALL left Bombay for Aden to assume escort duty
HMS HECTOR arrived at Mombasa from Seychelles
B.D.V.’s PRINCE DE LIEGE and JAN DE WAELE arrived at Port T from Seychelles
HMAS MANOORA arrived off Calcutta from escort duty with Convoy SR 3 to meet and escort H.T. ELLENGA towards Rangoon.
HMS COLOMBO escorting H.T.’s SALWEEN and MENDOZA left Mombasa to rendezvous with Convoy SW 14, take over escort duty from HMS RAMILLIES, and escort Aden section WS 14 A to Aden.
HMS GUARDIAN left Diego Garcia for Port T
HMS CARTHAGE left Mombasa for Mauritius to embark military personnel for Diego Garcia.
H.M. Ships ATREUS and ALSEY left Port T for Colombo
HMS FALMOUTH left Trincomalee for Colombo
HMS CALEDON escorting BM 11 for Singapore left Bombay.
HMIS HINDUSTAN with an officers aerial survey party on board left Colombo for Port T. (see Appendix 3, paragraph 43)
HMS FALMOUTH arrived at Colombo from Trincomalee
HMS HECTOR left Mombasa for Aden.
B.D.V.’s BARSTOKE, BARBOUR, and BARONIA left Mombasa for Seychelles.
HMS CHITRAL escorting Convoy CM 26 left Durban for Mombasa
HMS GUARDIAN arrived at Port T from Diego Garcia
HMS RAMILLIES arrived at Mombasa from escort duty, with Convoy WS 14
HMS EMERALD, wearing the flag of Vice Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton, KCB, DSO, Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet arrived at Colombo from Batavia.
HMS GLASGOW arrived at Colombo from escort duty with Convoy BM 10
Force L arrived at Port T from Port Sudan
HMS GLASGOW left Colombo to rendezvous with HMS CALEON escorting Convoy BM 11 and take over the escort of this convoy.
The Flag of the Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet, was transferred from HMS EMERALD to his office in the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank Building in Colombo.
Force L left Port T for Operation OPPONENT
H.M. Ships ATREUS and ALSEY arrived at Colombo from Port T
HMS ENGADINE left Durban for passage through East Indies Station to Aden
HMS CORNWALL escorting Convoy AJ 1 left Aden for Colombo
HMS CALEDON arrived at Colombo from escort duty with Convoy BM 11
HMIS INDUS left Colombo for Madras
HMAS MANOORA arrived at Calcutta from escort duty
HMS CARTHAGE arrived at Mauritius and left for Diego Garcia. She had on board the Mauritius Garrison for the latter port.
B.D.V. BARMILL left Seychelles for Port T.
HMS ABDIEL left Colombo for Trincomalee
HMS TRUANT arrived at Colombo from the Mediterranean on passage to the Far East
HMS FALMOUTH left Colombo to provide anti submarine escort in the vicinity of Ceylon for Convoy BM 12 (Bombay to Singapore)
HMS ABDIEL arrived at Trincomalee from Colombo and left for Mining Operations at Port Blair
HMS EMERALD left Colombo to rendezvous with and escort convoy BM 12
HMS HAITAN (after conversion for use as a Base ship at Port T) was commissioned at Colombo.
B.D.V.’s BARSTOKE, BARBOUR, and BARONIA arrived at Seychelles from Mombasa
HMS ATREUS left Colombo for Trincomalee
HMS SHOREHAM left Aden for Colombo to dock
HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN arrived at Port T from escort duty with Convoy DM 2
HMIS INDUS arrived at Madras from Colombo and left escorting convoy MR 1
HMIS HINDUSTAN left Port T for Colombo
HMS DORSETSHIRE escorting Convoy CM 25 B arrived at Bombay
HMS CARTHAGE arrived at Diego Garcia from Mauritius
HMS ABDIEL arrived at Port Blair from Trincomalee
Convoy BA 13 sailed from Bombay for Aden
Convoys BM 12 and DM 2 made rendezvous near Port T and HMS EMERALD continued as escort of the combined convoys towards the Far East.
HMS CARTHAGE left Diego Garcia for Colombo
Operation OPPONENT satisfactorily completed by Force L
HMAS MANOORA left Calcutta escorting Convoy SR 4 towards Rangoon.
HMS ENDEAVOUR arrived at Colombo from Batavia on passage to the Mediterranean Station.
HMIS HINDUSTAN arrived at Colombo from Port T
HMS CHITRAL escorting convoy CM 26 (for Aden) arrived at and left Mombasa
HMS CORFU escorting convoy WS 14 B arrived at Bombay
HMS ATHENE arrived at and left Mauritius for the Far East.
HMS ABDIEL left Port Blair for Trincomalee
HMS BEAUFORT on passage to the Mediterranean arrived at Mombasa.
B.D.V. BARONIA left Seychelles for Port T.
HMS BEAUFORT left Mombasa
B.D.V. BARMILL arrived at Port T from Seychelles
HMS ABDIEL left Trincomalee for further mining Operations in the Andaman Islands.
HMS FALMOUTH arrived at Colombo from escort duty.
HMS CALEDON left Colombo for escort duty.
S.S. JALAPALAKA was sunk by gunfire from a Japanese submarine 50 miles off Madras (see Appendix 3, paragraph 34).
Tanker LONGWOOD bound from Abadan to Colombo was torpedoed 20 miles West of the end of Colombo searched channel, but reached harbour safely. Combined air and surface search for this submarine was instituted, but without results (See Appendix 3, paragraph 35).
B.D.V.’s BARSTOKE and BARBOUR left Seychelles for Port T
HMS GLASGOW arrived at Colombo from escort duty with Convoy BM 11
HMS CARTHAGE arrived at Colombo from Diego Garcia
HMS ALSEY left Colombo for Trincomalee
HMS EREBUS left Durban for Mombasa having been placed under the orders of the Commander in Chief, East Indies.
Part II - GENERAL SURVEY AND APPRECIATION
EAST INDIES SQUADRON
1. The ships of the East Indies Squadron were very fully occupied throughout the month with escort duties. With the Rapid worsening of the position in Malaya there began a stream of reinforcements of our land and air forces and there in Burma, which produced larger demand for escorts than ever before: concurrently some of the East Indies Squadron ships with better A.A. armament were send to the A.B.D.A. area
2. The expected activity by Japanese submarines started towards the close of the month on the East Indies Station, attacks being made off Madras and Colombo. The acute shortage of A/S vessels makes it quite impossible to give adequate protection to merchant shipping in focal areas, all the available vessels being concentrated on A/S escort of convoys carrying Military Personnel and equipment. The arrival of five Flower Class corvettes allocated from the Cape will mean a most welcome addition
The strategic importance of Ceylon as an operational and maintenance base grew daily as the Japanese progress in Malaya brought nearer the time when Singapore, even if held, would be little better than a beleaguered fortress and of no value as a naval base.
A mass of stores of all kinds originally intended for further East were diverted to Ceylon, and the question of finding accommodation remains a big problem.
The military garrison of the Island was strengthened by the arrived in early January of the 34th Indian Division (less one Brigade Group) from India, and later in the month of the M.N.B.D.O. A/A Brigade from the Middle East. Without adequate air forces, however, the protection of the Island with its vital bases at Colombo and Trincomalee is a virtual impossibility and with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour as a warning, I cannot view the situation with anything but grave concern.
During January, the Naval Branch of the Far East Combined Bureau arrived in Ceylon from Singapore and later the Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet, transferred his flag to shore accommodation at Colombo.
INDIAN OCEAN BASES
4. Work continued on the underwater defences at Addu Atoll and Diego Garcia and the two 6 inch shore defence guns were mounted by the M.N.B.D.O. at the latter base. The outline of the plans for the expansion of Addu Atoll as the main Fleet base were received and a joint reconnaissance by the three services by the three services will take place shortly. The Chiefs of Staff directive concerning the service responsibility for ocean bases was received during the month.
5. The inter Allied commands for the control of forces in the Far East were laid down, and General Wavell spent a few hours in Ceylon on his way to Batavia to take over the Supreme Command in the A.B.D.A. area.
6. The Treaty with Persia has at last been signed and though the future of the four Persian gun boats has not yet been finally decided, I intend to press for their retention and, if successful, to hand them over to the Flag Officer Commanding, Royal Indian Navy, whose need for them is a real one.
ROYAL INDIAN NAVY
7. With Ceylon under the Military control of India, the need for full liaison with General Headquarters, India, and the Flag Officer Commanding, Royal Indian Navy, has intensified, and the R.N. Liaison Officer has been appointed and taken up duties at Delhi.
8. The question of the control of Naval activities in Burma has been under consideration, since, although actually situated on the China Station, its problems have become more bound up with those of India and the Bay of Bengal generally. It was also obvious that with Singapore beleaguered and Penang in enemy hands, Rangoon and the Burma Coast generally could not receive the full attention that they merit. Interim arrangements were made for the Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet, to administer Rangoon, but the whole matter is being reviewed as it is realized that the defence of Rangoon is not of major importance. The main harbours in the Andaman Islands were mined by HMS ABDIEL with the intention of preventing their use by Japanese submarines and surface craft.
9. There was no interference with shipping by surface raiders during the month
10. The free flow of shipping was inevitably interrupted by the Far East war conditions and situation aggravated by the inability of the Port of Colombo to give quick turnaround to shipping. I have for a long time held – and put forward- the view that a full time representative of the Ministry of Transport was a pressing need for Colombo and it is satisfactory to learn that one has at last been appointed.
DISPOSITIONS OF NAVAL FORCES
11. On the 31st January 1942, the Naval Forces on the East Indies Station were disposed as follows:
PERSIAN GULF AREA
HMS SEABELLE (on passage from Bombay)
INDIAN COAST AND PORTS WEST OF CEYLON
Greek GEORGIOS AVEROFF
INDIAN COAST AND PORTS EAST OF CEYLON
HMIS SONVATI (due Madras 1st)
CEYLON AREA INCLUDING ADDU ATOLL
HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN
Greek QUEEN OLGA
BAY OF BENGAL
EAST AFRICAN COAST (Cape Guardafui to Durban)
French SAVORGNAN DE BRAZZA
HMS GRAF VAN VLANDEREN
APPENDIX I – PARTICULARS OF CONVOYS ESCORTED DURING JANUARY 1942
Convoy DM 1 (Port T to Malaya)
Convoy left Port T on 5th January escorted by H.M. Ships EMERALD, EXETER, and HMIS JUMNA. HMS DURBAN joined escort in 4 degrees 27 minutes South, 94 degrees 47 minutes East on 9th January.
H.N.M.S. DE RUYTER was met in 5 degrees 22 mins. South 100 degrees, 34 mins E. on 10th January and remained in company for three hours whilst Rear Admiral Doorman boarded HMS EMERALD to discuss route and policy with Commanding Officer. Later on 10th January, H.M. Ships JUPITER and ENCOUNTER and HMAS VAMPIRE joined escort in 5 degrees 30 minutes South, 100 degrees 55 minutes East.
Fighter escort and anti submarine air patrol provided by Dutch Air Force from Sunda Straits to northern end of Banka Strait.
H.N.M. ships DE RUYTER and VAN TROMP, and three Netherlands destroyers reinforced escort on 11th January for passage through Banka Straits in daylight on 12th January.
Netherland warships parted company and Convoy arrived Singapore on 13th January.
CONVOY MA 1 (Madras to Port Blair)
Sailed Madras 3rd January escorted by HMIS SUTLEJ speed 11 knots.
HMIS SUTLEJ and convoy arrived 7th January
CONVOY BM 10 (Bombay - Singapore)
CONVOY BP 31 (A) (Bombay to Basra) and Convoy BP 31 (B) (Karachi to Basra)
Ships sailed unescorted. HHMS GEORGIOS AVEROFF gave cover.
CONVOY SR 2 (Calcutta - Rangoon)
Sailed on 9th Jan, speed 10 knots. Escorted by HMAS MANOORA to Gulf of Martaban.
Convoy arrived 11th January.
CONVOY SS 1 (Calcutta - Singapore)
Convoy sailed unescorted from Calcutta on 10th Jan. Speed 10 knots.
Convoy was intercepted and ordered to close Trincomalee. The Commodore was informed that ships were to be diversely routed onwards to Batavia at best speed.
Convoy, less TAISANG (sunk) arrived Singapore 25th January.
CONVOY WS 14 (Cape – vicinity of Mombasa)
This convoy consisted of 20 ships.
The Capetown section, escorted by HMS RAMILLIES left on 9th Jan. to rendezvous with the Durban section, escorted by HMS CORFU off Durban on 13th January.
HMS CERES escorting H.T. ANDES left Durban on 14th Jan to overtake the convoy. ANDES joined the convoy on 16th January (n.b. copy not readable) degrees, 20 minutes South, 38 degrees 39 minutes E. and HMS CERES returned to Durban.
The convoy split into three sections in the vicinity of Mombasa as detailed below for onward passage to Aden, Bombay, and Malaya, as WS 14 A, WS 15 B, and DM 2, respectively.
HMS RAMILLIES arrived at Mombasa from escort duty on 21st January.
Convoy DM 2 (escorted by HMS RANCHI) made rendezvous with convoy BM 12 (escorted by HMS EMERALD in 1 degree 8 mins N, 81 degs 17 mins E. HMS RANCHI parted company and the combined convoys continued under the escort of HMS EMERALD. (see convoy BM 12 for particulars)
CONVOY DM 2 (Cape to Malaya)
CONVOY SR 3 (Calcutta - Rangoon)
Convoy sailed 14th January, escorted by HMAS MANOORA speed 12 ½ knots and arrived Rangoon on 16th January.
CONVOY CM 25 A (Durban – Aden) ………Convoy CM 25 B (Durban – Bombay)
Convoy sailed 13th January escorted by HMS DORSETSHIRE to rendezvous with ORCADES speed 16 knots.
CONVOY BM 11 (Bombay - Singapore)
CONVOY CM 26 (Durban - Aden)
Convoy sailed 20th January escorted by HMIS CHITRAL speed 10 ½ knots.
Convoy arrived at and left Mombasa 28th January.
Convoy arrived Aden 3rd February
CONVOY BM 12 (Bombay - Singapore)
CONVOY AJ 1 (Aden - Colombo)
Convoy sailed 23rd January escorted by HMS CORNWALL. EASTERN PRINCE detached in about 11 degs 30 mins N 62 degs 30 mins E to proceed independently to BOMBAY. EASTERN PRINCE arrived Bombay 30th January.
Convoy arrived Colombo 1st February
CONVOY BP 32 (Karachi - Basra)
Convoy sailed independently and unescorted
CONVOY MR 1 (Madras - Rangoon).
CONVOY BA 13 (Bombay - Aden)
Convoy left Bombay on 27th Jan at best speed.
CONVOY SR 4 (Calcutta - Rangoon)
CONVOY U.L.U. (Singapore - Bombay)
Convoy sailed 28th Jan. Escorted by H.M.A. ships VAMPIRE and YARRA. Speed after Banka Strait 10 ½ knots.
Convoy dispersed at 0530Z/31st January.
CONVOY BP 33 (Karachi - Basra )
Convoy sailed independently unescorted
APPENDIX II to Commander in Chief, East Indies Station.
HIRED TRANSPORT MOVEMENTS (NOT IN CONVOY) FOR THE MONTH OF JANUARY 1942
(n.b. in the text, these ships are listed in an intricate format. I have copied all information, but simplified it for entry.)
LYEEMOON - from Singapore 31st December to Colombo 13th January. Personnel 75.
MARNIX VAN ST ALDEGONDE - From Singapore 31st December to Durban 18th January. 531 naval, 2 Military, 10 R.A.F., 116 women, 275 children
PASHA - From Basra 5th January to Bombay 12th January. 54 personnel.
MENDOZA - From Aden 5th January to Mombasa 10th January. Escorted by HMS COLOMBO
WINDSOR CASTLE - from Bombay 7th January to Capetown 19th January. 242 service personnel for UK. 53 service personnel for South Africa
KOSCIUSZKO - from Durban 6th January to Mombasa 14th January. 6 service personnel for Bombay. 31 service personnel for Mombasa. Left Mombasa 15th January to Bombay arrived 24th January.
SANTHIA - left Karachi 9th January to Basra arrived 14th January. Troops and stores
ESANG - left Calcutta 12th January to Rangoon 15th January. 229 Military personnel
WINGSANG - left Rangoon 12th January to Calcutta 15th January. 37 Military personnel and 13 Japanese Nationals with escort.
CLAN FORBES - left Colombo 5th January to Port T 7th January. H.M.B.D.O. personnel escorted from Colombo by HMS GLASGOW. Left Port T 13th January to Diego Garcia 15th January. Escorted from Port T by HMIS CLIVE
NIEUW AMERSTERDAM - from Suez 11th January to Berbera 14th January. Left Berbera 14th January to Durban arrived 21st January. For Durban 19 and For U.K. 435 service and civilian personnel. 2000 evacuees Berbera to Durban
JOHAN DE WITT - from Bombay 14th January to Karachi 17th January. R.A.F. personnel
ORDUNA - left Suez 15th January to Berbera 17th January. 767 service personnel
OPHIR - from Bombay 17th January to Oosthaven 26th January. 285 Netherlands troops
CITY OF PARIS - from Suez 16th January to Aden 21st January. From Aden 23rd January to Colombo 1st February. 1375 M.N.B.D.O. personnel.
ELLENGA - from Calcutta 18th January to Rangoon 21st January. 1245 Military personnel. Escorted until 20th by HMAS MANOORA to 95 degs East
KAROA - from Rangoon 17th January to Calcutta 20th January. 202 Military. 73 Japanese and escort
CAPETOWN CASTLE - from Bombay 17th January to Colombo 20th January. From Colombo 22nd January to Fremantle 30th January. 137 Service Personnel. 137 Mercantile Marine.
SANTHIA - from Basra 17th January to Karachi 22nd January. Military personnel
VARELA - from Karachi 25th January to Bombay 27th January. 485 R.A.F. personnel
ZAMBEZIA - from Diego Garcia 24th January to Mauritius 31st January. Military personnel
ITRIA - from Persian Gulf 22nd Jan to Karachi 28th January. 328 personnel
EGRA - from Basra 30th January to Bombay 4th February. 77 service personnel
NIRPURA - from Basra 30th January to Karachi 6th February. 103 Military personnel
EL MADINA - from Basra 30th January to Bombay 4th February. 141 Military personnel
APPENDIX III to War Records of the Commander in Chief, East Indies Station for the month of January 1942
INTELLIGENCE AND MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION
On January 1st, the Commander in Chief, East Indies, informed the Commander in Chief Mediterranean, that in his view, it appeared that Vichy had now devised a method of evading our blockade unless we are prepared to take hostile action, as intelligence received had indicated that the French sloop D’IBERVILLE, two submarines, and the French Admiralty tanker ELORN were expected to leave Djibouti for Madagascar. It was also reported that these ships would evacuate all political prisoners from Djibouti.
2. The Commander in Chief, East Indies, pointed out that to capture the tanker, considerable surface forces would be required, and , even it such forces were available, it is unlikely the capture could be affected without bloodshed.
3. As no surface forces are available, the only possible action that could be taken would be from the air, by which action the tanker could be destroyed, which presumably be legitimate if the submarine were to dive.
4. It appears that it must be decided:
5. On January 6th, the Commander in Chief, Mediterranean, replied that he hoped negotiations for the surrender of Djibouti would start shortly, and that in the meantime, we must continue the blockade with our available forces, but that clashes with superior Vichy forces must be avoided.
6. On January 12th, the British Minister in Teheran informed the Secretary of State that the Persian Government has asked for the return of the four Persian Gunboats captured at the time of operations against Persia. The Persian government stated that these were required for the prevention of smuggling and maintenance of communication where land communication is difficult. Our Minister in Teheran suggested that at least two be returned to them as an experiment, and that if they were well used, the Persians would have a good naval claim for the return of the other two later on, when it was hoped our need for them would be less serious. The Persians are particularly sore about the attack we made on their infant Navy, and our Minister was of the opinion that we should see what they could do with half of it without Italian assistance on which they depended.
7. On the 31st January, the Commander in Chief, East Indies, informed the Admiralty that he was opposed in principle to the return of any of the Gunboats until the end of the war, for the following reasons.
8. If the Persian claim that piracy is rife and that they have no other means of combating it , we must do what we can with the ships at our disposal to put a stop to it.
9. It is understood that he Minister of State for the Middle East has been appraised of the facts and has informed the Foreign Officer that he, also, is opposed to the return of these vessels.
10. It is therefore recommended that all four gunboats be turned over to the Flag Officer Commanding, Royal Indian Navy, and they he be authorized to removed them from Persian waters where their continued presence is only likely to revive this controversy.
11. On January 31st, the Flag Officer Commanding, Royal Indian Navy, suggested that immediate action be taken to approach the Iraq Government for the sale of loan of the KING FAISAL 1st * (ex SANS PEUR) and the four Iraqi patrol vessels.
12. ELORN (tanker) left Djibouti on 16th/17th January.
YIANNIS (Greek) may have sailed Tamatave 27th January for Reunion
13. On December 31st, the Chief Censor, Mauritius, reported that an intercepted message address to a member of the crew of the submarine VENGEUR which was returned “addresses absent” indicated the possibility of the submarine having accompanied the sloop D’IVERVILLE to Djibouti.
14. On January 5th, the Naval Officer in Charge, Aden, reported air reconnaissance had revealed that a sloop, two submarines, and a tanker were still at Djibouti, and on 17th, he reported that these vessels had left Djibouti on the night of 16/17th January. They were sighted by aircraft in position 11 degrees 11 mins, 45 degs 15 mins E at 0810 GMT on 17th.
15. On January 8th, Staff Officer (Intelligence), Capetown in a report graded B 2 stated that no further convoys were contemplated for the near future, and the only French Merchant Ships at Madagascar are the coasters MARECHAL, GALLIENI, and GENERAL FOCH, and one other whose name was given as PAU.
16. On January 17th, the Admiralty informed the Commander in Chief, East Indies, that the French Armed Merchant Cruiser BOUGAINVILLE (ex VICTOR SCHOELCHER) of 3000 tons , and a speed of 17 knots, had been reported (Graded A2) as having sailed from Dakar about January 12th for Madagascar. The vessel was painted grey, with a black band round the top of the funnel and is believed to be armed with three 5.1 inch guns, also A/A guns on each wing of the bridge and abaft the mainmast. A further report (graded B2) indicated she carried fuel for 35 days.
17. On January 22nd, the Naval Officer in Charge, Aden, reported that a submarine of unknown nationality had been reported by aircraft at 0630 GMT in position 11 degrees 30 minutes N 45 degrees, 04 East. An air attack was carried out. On January 23rd, one submarine was seen by aircraft in Djibouti.
18. On January 21st, the Chief Censor, Mauritius, reported that intercepted code messages indicated a possibility of shipping movements between Madagascar and Reunion.
19. On January 3rd, the U.S. Naval Observer at Colombo informed U.S. Observers at Suez, Bombay, and Basra that he had been instructed by the Navy Department to direct loading in Ceylon and India of homeward bound American ships arriving with loading orders. This direction includes ships U.S. owned or controlled.
20. On January 28th, the American Consul at Rangoon advised the American Consul at Colombo that on account of the conditions at Rangoon, it was recommended by the American Military Mission that no American ships be ordered to Rangoon until further notice.
21. On January 6th, the Commander in Chief, East Indies, announced that the following is the general policy for shipping proceeding from the East Indies Station into the Dutch East Indies and Malaya.
Troop Transports ships carrying more than a certain number of service personnel will always be sailed in convoy unless instructions are given to the contrary.
M.T. Ships and Other Military Store Ships
Other Merchant Shipping Only ships loaded with essential war stores or food supplies may be sailed to ports in Malaya.
All ships are to be warned that in the vicinity of the Sunda Straits they may be met by Allied or British warships who may give them new instructions.
On January 21st, the Commander in Chief, East Indies, announced that owing to the presence of submarines in the Sunda Straits, the instructions under the headings M.T. Ships and
Other merchant ships might have to be amended and that pending a decision from the Naval Commander in the A.B.D.A. area, ships carrying M.T., war stores, or food stuffs, are to call at Colombo from whatever port for further orders, or to await the conformation of a convoy.
In a signal dated January 21st, the Supreme Commander in the A.B.D.A. area stated that he considered the time had arrived for all Merchant Shipping entering the A.B.D.A. area to do so in convoy.
22. On January 1st, the General Officer Commanding Nairobi, asked the Commander in Chief, East Indies, for his opinion regarding the scale of attack which might be expected on the East Coast of Africa regarding coast bombardment, carrier borne air attack, and possible landings, now that hostilities had broken out in the Far East. The Commander in Chief, East Indies, replied on January 2nd that in his view, the scale of seaborne attack on the East Coat remained as it was before the outbreak of war in the Far East, and Japanese preoccupations in Eastern Waters are such that they are unlikely to venture their naval forces so far afield, at least for the present. The East African Coast, moreover, does not offer sufficiently profitable objectives to justify an undertaking.
Transfer of Command
23. On January 5th, the War Office announced that the Defence Committee had approved the transfer of Iraq and Persia to the command of the Commander in Chief, Middle East, as soon as it could be arranged. The NOKKUNDI – MESHED route was to remain under the control of the Commander in Chief, India, and the boundary between the Middle East and India is to be drawn accordingly.
Reinforcements for Ceylon
24. During January, the Ceylon garrison was augmented by the 34th Indian Division of Infantry. Total 9000 men.
Liaison with India
25. On January 7th, the Commander in Chief, East Indies, announced that Commander D.E. Holland-Martin, had been given a station appointment as Naval Liaison Officer, India. His duties commenced on January 10th and comprise liaison between the Commander in Chief, East Indies and the Commander in Chief, India, the Air Officer Commanding India, and the Flag Officer Commanding, Royal Indian Navy. This officer visited Colombo on 3rd to 7th January, when he left by air for India to take up his appointment.
Visit of Ministry of War Transport Representative
26. The Naval Officer in Charge, Calcutta, reported on January 14 that Sir Thomas Ainscough, the Ministry of War Transport for India, Burma, and Ceylon was leaving Calcutta on January 17th for a visit to Colombo. Sir Thomas spent a week in Colombo and made recommendations to His Excellency the Governor as to steps he considered might be taken to speed up the turn round of shipping in Colombo. Copies of this report were forwarded direct to the Director of Sea Transport by the Commander in Chief, East Indies who in his covering letter stated that he regarded the recommendations more as a “palliative than a cure” and urged the appointment of an experienced individual who should be given powers to control transport generally.
Liaison with U.S.A. Authorities
27. On January 13th, the Admiralty announced that restrictions on subject matter consultations and information given to U.S. Shipyard and Official Representatives are withdrawn excepting the following.
28. On January 22, the Admiralty announced that agreement had been reached with the U.S. Navy Department permitting direct exchange of information between authorities of British and the U.S.A. by signal subject to the following limitations.
The general intention is to utilize the British U.S. networks so as to give the speediest possible dissemination or information to those concerned.
ACTIVITIES OF JAPANESE SUBMARINES
29. A report Graded A 2 has been received from the Supreme Command of A.B.D.A. area stating there were indications of a submarine base being established at Penang.
30. On January 22nd, Staff Officer (Intelligence) Singapore, reported that the S.S. JALARAJAN had been sunk by a submarine in position 00 degrees 18 minutes South, 88 degrees East on January 14th.
31. The Naval Officer in Charge, Rangoon, reported that on January 22nd, that the Norwegian ship NORD had been torpedoed and shelled in the Preparis North Channel in position 15 degrees 28 minutes North, 94 degrees 36 minutes East. Gunfire was heard in the same area in the early morning of January 22nd and it is assumed that the S.S. CHATSANG has also been lost as she is overdue.
31. (n.b. the preceding paragraph and this paragraph are both numbered 31.) A report dated 22nd January received from Singapore stated that the Dutch ship VAN OVERSTRATEN had been gunned by a submarine in position 1 degree 40 minutes North, 90 degrees, 13 minutes East on that date.
32. The Naval Officer in Charge, Trincomalee, reported on January 29th, the survivors of the I.W.T. vessel IDAR bound for Basra, had been landed in Jaffna, and that the ship had been gunned by a Japanese submarine at 0547 GMT on January 28th when in position 10 degrees 12 minutes North, 80 degrees, 13 minutes East.
33. On January 29th, the Naval Officer in Charge, Madras, reported that the American ship FLORENCE LUCHENBACH had been sunk 12 degrees 55 minutes North, 80 degrees 33 mins East. Survivors landed at Madras stated that he ship had been hit by two torpedoes at 0535 GM on January 29th.
34. On January 30th, Bombay Radio reported having heard a Raider distress message at 1300 GMT from the S.S. JALPALAKA giving her position as 13 degrees North, 81 degrees 09 minutes East and on January 31st, the Naval Officer in Charge, Madras, reported that this vessel had been sunk by gunfire from a submarine 085 degrees 50 miles from Madras high light. Interrogation of survivors indicated that this submarine was in company with a parent ship of 8000 to 10,000 tons, described as a three island cargo vessel with 2 masts, one cowel topped funnel, cruiser stern, straight stem, and Sampson posts fore and after, believed to be using Dutch colours.
35. On January 31st, the tanker LONGWOOD was torpedoed in position 10 miles 290 degrees from the fairway buoy at Colombo. The vessel was badly damaged but was able to put into Colombo under her own power.
36. A reported dated January 15th received from Diego Garcia indicated that a craft described as submersible with two sails and probably an engine had been seen in the area between Peros Banhos and Salomon.
37. HMS DORSETSHIRE reported on January 22nd that the British tanker TAMAHA had sighted a suspicious vessel in position 19 degrees 50 minutes North, 59 degrees 13 minutes East. The vessel was not underway.
Italian Ship ANFORA
A report from Ottawa stated that special intelligence indicated that the crew of the ship had been granted concessions in pay, which may indicate an impending attempt at escape. (n.b. handwritten note “At Movmngao”)
39. General Sir Archibald Wavell arrived at Colombo by plane p.m. 6th January and, after discussions with His Excellency The Governor and the heads of the three services, left Kogalla by Catalina aircraft for Singapore later in the day.
40. Major H.A. Bass, R.M. arrived in Colombo on January 23rd to take over the duties of Staff Officer (Intelligence), Colombo from Major J.M. Phillips, R.M. Major Bass assumed his duties as from January 27th.
41. The Senior Air Staff Officer and Senior Personnel Staff Officer arrived in Ceylon by air from India on 20th January for discussions with His Excellency the Governor, the Commander in Chief, East Indies, and the General Officer Commanding, Ceylon.
42. Captain C.A. Merriman, R.N. (retired) and Captain J.D.N. Wood, R.N. (retired) arrived in Ceylon on 30th January to assume duty as Captain in Charge Ceylon and Naval Officer in Charge Trincomalee, respectively.
43. An aerial survey party consisting of Captain (A) Hukisson, R.N. Commander Humphreys, R.N. and Lieutenant Vulliamy, R.N.V.R. arrived in Ceylon by air from the United Kingdom and on 18th January and proceeded to Port T in HMIS HINDUSTAN on 19th January to carry out a survey to investigate the possibility of constructing landing grounds there. On completion of their survey, the party returned to United Kingdom by air.
EASTERN FLEET ADMINISTRATION
45. After arrival in Colombo, the Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet, informed the Eastern Theatre that as from 24th January 1942, he would administer direct all ships of the Eastern Fleet other than the cruisers on the East Indies Station, ships of the Far Eastern Squadron, and those under Rear Admiral Malaya.
S E C R E T
WAR RECORDS OF THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF, EAST INDIES STATION
Part I – A DAY BY DAY CHRONOLOGICAL DIARY OF EVENTS.
HMS CORNWALL escorting convoy AJ 1 arrived at Colombo
Minesweepers BILLOW and ATMOSPHERE left Persian Gulf for Rangoon.
HMS ENTERPRISE arrived at Trincomalee from Singapore.
HMS TRUANT left Colombo for Batavia
HMS INDOMITABLE and HMA Ships NAPIER, NESTOR, and NIZAM (Force L) arrived at Trincomalee from Operation BELLOWS.
HMS CORNWALL and HMS Ships LISMORE and BATHURST escorting convoy JS 1 (for Java) left Colombo.
HMS ABDIEL arrived at Trincomalee from mine laying operations in the Andaman Islands and left for Colombo.
HMS CORFU escorting H.T. REINA DEL PACIFICO left Bombay for Colombo
HMS EMERALD arrived at Trincomalee from escort duty.
The Greek tanker SPONDILUS was torpedoed in position 6 degrees 10 minutes N. 79 degrees 30 minutes E (off Colombo) but made harbour safely. The ship claimed two hits on the U Boat which silenced the latter’s gunfire. A search was carried out by HMS FALMOUTH and HHMS QUEEN OLGA without result.
HNMS ISAAC SWEERS left Aden for Colombo.
HMS SHOREHAM arrived at Colombo from Aden.
HM Ships ROYAL SOVEREIGN and GUARDIAN left Addu Atoll for Trincomalee. HMAS LISMORE and BATHURST were detached from escort of convoy JS 1 to meet and provide A/S screen for these ships.
HMS DORSETSHIRE left Bombay for Colombo.
(n.b. page 2 missing)
HMS DORSETSHIRE arrived at Colombo from Bombay
HMS EMERALD arrived at Madras
HNMS ISAAC SWEERS arrived at Colombo from Aden
HMAS BATHURST returned to Colombo with engine trouble from escort duty.
HMS CARTHAGE escorting H.T. REINA DEL PACIFICO left Colombo for Durban
Minesweepers ATMOSPHERE and BILLOW arrived at Bombay from Persian Gulf.
HMS CALEDON arrived at Bombay from Colombo.
USS BOISE arrived at Colombo from Java.
HMS REVENGE left Trincomalee for Mombasa
HMS CORFU arrived at Bombay from Colombo.
HMS LAOMEDON on passage from Colombo to Trincomalee in convoy was torpedoed off the South east coast of Ceylon in position 6 degrees 13 minutes N. 82 degrees 25 minutes East. She proceeded towards Colombo under her own steam. HMS FALMOUTH was sent to escort her in. HMIS RAMDAS carried out a depth charge attack in the vicinity without result.
HMS EMERALD left Madras escorting convoy MR 3
HMS GUARDIAN arrived at Trincomalee from Addu Atoll.
HMS FALMOUTH escorting HMS TEVIOTBANK and RFA PEARLEAF arrived at Colombo from Trincomalee
HMS DORSETSHIRE escorting convoy JS 2 for Singapore left Colombo.
HM Ships EREBUS and MARGUERITE sailed in company from Mombasa for Seychelles on passage to Ceylon.
HMS ENTERPRISE arrived at Rangoon, landed the Royal Marine detachment embarked at Colombo and left for Trincomalee.
HMAS VAMPIRE arrived at Colombo from the Far East. VAMPIRE is placed under the orders of the Commander in Chief, East Indies, for operations with HMS HERMES.
HMS BARBOUR arrived at Colombo from Addu.
HMS TULIP left Durban for Mauritius
HMAS VAMPIRE left Colombo to rendezvous with HMS HERMES and provide A/S escort to Colombo.
HMS HECTOR escorting convoy AJ 2 left Aden for Colombo.
HHMS. QUEEN OLGA left Bombay for Aden.
HHMS. HEEMSKERK left Durban for Seychelles.
The British ship CLAN MURDOCH was unsuccessfully attacked by torpedo and gunfire in position 6 degrees 55 minutes N. 82 degrees 20 minutes E.
BDV BARONIA arrived at Addu Atoll from Seychelles
HMAS MANOORA left Colombo for Trincomalee
HMS CORNWALL arrived at Colombo from escort duty.
HMS COLOMBO escorting H.T. HIGHLAND MONARCH left Aden for Mombasa.
Convoy C 1 (for Fremantle) left Colombo escorted by HMS FALMOUTH and HMAS BATHURST
HM Ships ASTER and VERBENA arrived at Mauritius from Durban
HMS CALEDON escorting convoy BM 13 for Malaya left Bombay
HMS HERMES and HMAS VAMPIRE arrived at Colombo from Mauritius
HMS CORNWALL escorting convoy JS 2 X for Malaya left Colombo. Local A/S escort was provided by HMA. Ships LISMORE and VAMPIRE
HMS FALMOUTH and HMAS BATHURST returned to Colombo from escort duty.
HMS ENTERPRISE arrived at Trincomalee from Rangoon.
SS KAMUNING was attacked by a submarine near Trincomalee. Torpedo attack missed but the ship was set on fire by gunfire. Surface and air search was organized and the submarine was located and bombed by aircraft, but the bombs failed to explode. 63 survivors were picked up by HMS BALTA and taken to Trincomalee. KAMUNING was taken in tow towards Trincomalee but sank on passage.
HMS HOLLYHOCK arrived at Mauritius from Durban and HM Ships ASTER and VERBENA left Mauritius for Colombo.
Commodore Cosmo Graham, CB, former Senior naval Officer, Persian Gulf, assumed duty as Commodore Commanding Burma Coast. (see Appendix 3, paragraph 13). The Commander in Chief, East Indies, is responsible for the administration on the coast of Burma, including local defence forces acting under Admiralty orders.
SS JOHANNE JUSTESSEN was sunk in position 9 degs. 04 mins. N 75 degs, 56 mins E as a result of an explosion. No trace of torpedo or track was seen.
HNMS SUMATRA arrived at Trincomalee.
HM Ships EREBUS and MARGUERITE arrived at Seychelles from Mombasa.
BDV BARBOUR left Colombo for Trincomalee
HMS EMERALD arrived at Madras from escort duty.
HMS HOLLYHOCK left Mauritius for Colombo
814 Squadron temporarily based ashore in Colombo, reembarked in HMS HERMES
HM Ships EREBUS and MARGUERITE left Seychelles for Colombo.
HMS GLASGOW escorting convoy JS 3 (for Batavia) left Colombo. Local A/S escort was provided by HMS FALMOUTH and HMAS BATHURST.
HM Ships INDOMITABLE, NAPIER, and NESTOR left Trincomalee for Aden searching the Maldive Islands en route.
HMS EMERALD left Madras escorting convoy MR 4
The title of Senior Naval Officer, Port T lapsed and the Naval Officer in Charge, Addu Atoll, assumed duty as such.
HNMS HEEMSKERK arrived at Seychelles from Durban.
HM Ships WORCESTERSHIRE, CERES, and NORMAN escorting convoy WS 15 (comprising sections WS 15 A and WS 15 B, and DM 3) left Durban.
HMS CORFU left Bombay for Cochin
HMS CALEDON arrived at Colombo from escort duty.
HMS REVENGE arrived at Mombasa from escort duty.
USS BOISE left Colombo for Bombay to dock.
HNMS HEEMSKERK left Seychelles for Colombo
HMS CALEDON and HMIS CLIVE left Colombo escorting a convoy a fleet auxiliaries towards Addu Atoll.
Portuguese sloop GONVALVES ZARCO arrived at Colombo and left again after fuelling to rejoin the escort of Portuguese troopships taking reinforcements to Timor.
HMS DORSETSHIRE and HMAS BATHURST arrived at Colombo from escort duties.
HMS COLOMBO escorting H.T. HIGHLAND MONARCH arrived at Mombasa, the latter after leaving later escorted by HMS ALAUNIA.
HMAS VAMPIRE arrived at Colombo from escort duty.
HMS TULIP arrived Mauritius from Durban.
HMS ENTERPRISE left Trincomalee for Colombo
HMS HERMES and HMAS VAMPIRE left Colombo for Fremantle.
HMS ENDEAVOUR left Colombo for Bombay
HMS CORFU arrived at Cochin from Bombay
The British ship BHIMA was torpedoed and sunk in position 7 degrees 45 mins N. 73 degrees 31 mins E.
Convoy AJ 2 escorted by HMS HECTOR arrived at Colombo. HMS HECTOR left for Cochin
HMS ENTERPRISE arrived at Colombo from Trincomalee
HMS NIZAM sailed for Sumatra to embark R.A.F. personnel
The Russian ship ARKTIKA was unsuccessfully attacked with torpedoes in position 8 degrees 33 minutes N. 75 degrees 50 minutes E.
HMS RAMILLIES left Mombasa to join convoy WS 15 and escort section DM 3 for the Far East
HMS HERMES and HMAS VAMPIRE on passage from Colombo to Fremantle were diverted to Trincomalee.
HM Ships ROVER and ISIS and HMIS SUTLEJ arrived at Trincomalee from Java.
HNMS HEEMSKERK arrived at Colombo from Seychelles.
HMS EXPRESS arrived at Colombo from Java.
HMS DORSETSHIRE left Colombo for escort duty with Convoy JS 3. DORSETSHIRE was later ordered to proceed to Trincomalee.
HMS CALEDON and HMIS CLIVE arrived with a convoy of fleet auxiliaries at Addu Atoll.
Minesweepers ATMOSPHERE and BILLOW left Bombay for Colombo
HMS DURBAN arrived at Colombo from Java.
HM Ships ASTER and VERBENA arrived at Colombo from Mauritius
HMS HECTOR arrived at Cochin from Colombo
HMS EMERALD having escorted convoys MR 4 and SR 6 (which had been diverted to Calcutta) to the mouth of the Hoogli River, parted company and proceeded to an anchorage off Saugor Island to await arrived of convoy SR 7.
HMS COLOMBO escorted H.T. KHANDALLA left Mombasa to join convoy WS 15
HMS HOLLYHOCK arrived at Colombo from Mauritius
HMS HECTOR left Cochin for escort duty
HMS NORMAN arrived at Seychelles and left for Addu Atoll.
HMS DORSETSHIRE arrived at Trincomalee from Colombo and escort duty
HNMS HEEMSKERK left Colombo for Trincomalee
HMS CHITRAL escorting convoy AJ 2 left Aden for Colombo
HM Ships GRIFFIN, FORTUNE, and DECOY left Aden for Bombay
HMS ENTERPRISE with USS MOUNT VERNON and Convoy JS 4 (for Fremantle) left Colombo.
HMS CORNWALL arrived at Colombo from escort duty
HMS ENDEAVOUR arrived at Bombay from Colombo
HMAS LISMORE arrived at Calcutta from escort duty
HMS CERES arrived at Mombasa from escort duty.
Convoy BM 14 left Bombay. HMS HECTOR left Cochin to meet this convoy and escort it to Colombo
Convoys JS 3 and BM 13 arrived at Colombo escorted by HMS GLASGOW
HM Ships EREBUS and MARGUERITE arrived at Colombo from Seychelles
HMS TULIP left Mauritius for Colombo
HMS ASCANIA arrived at Mauritius from Cape and sailed, after fuelling, for Fremantle.
Convoys MR 5 and SR 7, which had been held at Madras and Calcutta respectively were sailed towards Rangoon
HMS CERES escorting H.T. THYSVILLE left Mombasa for Dante and Aden.
HMS DURBAN left Colombo for Mauritius
HMS CALEDON left Addu Atoll escorting convoy of fleet auxiliaries but parted company at dusk to proceed to Trincomalee at best speed.
HMS NORMAN arrived at Addu Atoll from Seychelles.
HMS DORSETSHIRE left Trincomalee for escort duty with convoy MR 5
Minesweepers ATMOSPHERE and BILLOW arrived at Colombo from Bombay
HM Ships ISIS and ROVER in tow of CITY OF PRETORIA and MALANKA respectively left Trincomalee for Bombay. HMIS SUTLEJ escorted them as far as Colombo where she was relieved by HMS FALMOUTH
HMS NORMAN left Addu Atoll for Colombo
HM Ships ROYAL SOVEREIGN, VAMPIRE and NIZAM left Trincomalee for Addu Atoll.
HNMS ISAAC SWEERS left Colombo for Java
HMS CORNWALL and HMAS MANOORA escorting convoy SU 1 (for Fremantle) left Colombo.
Convoy SR 7 on passage to Rangoon escorted by HMS EMERALD was turned and held at anchor off Saugor Island.
PART II - GENERAL REVIEW AND APPRECIATION
1. FAR EAST
The governing factor of naval activities on this Station was the progress of the war in the Far East. The successive stinging blows inflicted by the enemy culminated in the fall of Singapore on 15th February.
Until shortly before Singapore fell, the main task of HM Ships on this Station was the escorting of the convoys taking reinforcements of men and material there. Subsequently more convoys continued to be escorted through the Station, with Troops and war material destined for Java, Rangoon, and Australia. The demand for ocean escorts was therefore very heavy throughout the month and it was only possible to give ships the minimum time in harbour between one convoy and the next. Considering the age and condition of some of the ships, their steaming performances were very creditable.
With the fall of Singapore, Ceylon became the advanced base and also the receiving station for large numbers of ships and men withdrawn westward. The requisite rapid expansion of administrative facilities, in addition to the urgent defence works, created a variety of problems. The Army and R.A.F. were also expanding rapidly, and the supply of the necessary labour and materials for all the works required to be put in hand urgently and simultaneously, was a matter of considerable difficulty, aggravated by the natural desire of much of the Indian labour to return to their own country in a time of stress.
Details were received from Admiralty during the month, of the requirements of men and material for the various bases in the Indian Ocean area, and the planning of these is now in hand.
A combined service reconnaissance of Addu Atoll was carried out to implement the Chiefs of Staff’s plan for the defence of that base and joint conclusions of the General Headquarters India and myself based on the reconnaissance report were forwarded Home.
Work on the A/S protection at Addu Atoll was started by HMS KIRRIEMOOR on the arrival of the necessary boom working vessels.
5. ENEMY ACTION
There were eight definite attacks by Japanese submarines during the month. In which four ships were sunk and four reached harbour (the latter including HMS LAOMEDEN on passage in convoy between Colombo and Trincomalee). No successful attacks on submarines were made, although at least one occasion the merchant ship victim drove off her assailant with gunfire, and on another occasion – off Trincomalee – the submarine was located by aircraft; unfortunately the ensuing attack was not successful as the bombs failed to explode.
On the whole, conserving the volume of traffic and the thinness of the A/S forces I consider that the toll taken by U boats was providentially small.
6. MERCHANT SHIPPING
When Singapore fell and Java was attacked, Colombo became the terminal point for Eastern trade, and the focal centre for all convoys in the Indian Ocean area. The port and its facilities for loading, unloading, fuelling, provisioning, and repair work proved quite inadequate for the immense volume of traffic suddenly thrust on it and the resultant congestion gave cause for serious anxiety both on account of the slow turn-round of shipping and the vulnerable target presented by the full harbour and Examination anchorage.
There is a great lack of coordinating authority and the present stated of affairs has brought out the need which I put forward many months ago, for a full time representative of the Ministry of War Transport to grapple with a task that has became too much for any local part time representative.
7. DISPERSAL OF STORES
In view of the increased threat to Ceylon, Admiralty laid down a short term policy of dispersal of armament, naval and victualling stores, Durban to be used as a main stocking base for naval and victualling stores.
Armament stores are to be dispersed to ports on the west coast of India and the part of the Indian Ocean west of Ceylon, and arrangements have been put in hand. The quantities to be handled in Ceylon – Being the combined shipments for there and those intended for Singapore – have again put a great strain on lighterage and similar facilities, and the work of loading the A.S.I.S. ships with standard loads as well as trying to disperse stocks from Trincomalee, has, as a result, been slower than I should have liked. Every effort is being made to push ahead with dispersal as quickly as possible.
When the sources of fuel from the Netherlands East Indies were cut off, Trincomalee stocks were largely called upon to provide quick supplies for Java and Australia.
On the 28th February 1942, the Naval Forces on the East Indies Station were disposed as follows:
PERSIAN GULF AREA
INDIAN COAST AND PORTS WEST OF CEYLON
HMS GRIFFIN (due Bombay 1st)
HMS DECOY (due Bombay 1st)
HMS FORTUNE (due Bombay 1st)
Greek GEORGIOS AVEROFF
INDIAN COAST AND PORTS EAST OF CEYLON
HMIS HINDUSTAN (in vicinity Rangoon)
CEYLON AREA INCLUDING ADDU ATOLL
HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN
BAY OF BENGAL
USN OILER TRINITY
EAST AFRICAN COAST (Cape Guardafui to Durban)
HMS COLOMBO (due Aden 1st)
HMS ST MINVER
HMS GRAFF VAN VLANDEREN
HMS WORCESTERSHIRE (due Bombay 3rd)
Dutch ISAAC SWEERS
HMS RAMILLES (due Addu Atoll 1st)
HMS NORMAN (due Addu Atoll 1st)
Dutch COLOMBIA (due Addu Atoll 1st)
APPENDIX I – PARTICULARS OF CONVOYS ESCORTED DURING FEBRUARY 1942
Convoy MR 2 (Madras - Rangoon)
The convoy sailed 2nd February escorted by HMAS MANOORA to about 93 degrees East. Speed of advance 12 knots.
HMIS INDUS rendezvoused 15 degrees 25 mins N. 92 degrees 30 mins E on 5th February and escorted it to Rangoon arriving 6 February.
CONVOY JS 1 (Colombo – Singapore)
Convoy sailed 1100Z 3rd February, escorted by HMS CORNWALL, HMAS BATHURST, and HMAS LISMORE. Speed of advance 8 ½ knots.
HMA. Ships LISMORE and BATHURST were detached at daylight on 5th February to provide A/S screen for HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN and HMS GUARDIAN (proceeding to Ceylon from Addu Atoll).
HMAS HOBART relieved HMS CORNWALL in 5 degrees 40 minutes S 93 degrees East on 10th February.
Convoy arrived at Edam Island 14th February
Left Colombo 4th Feb. to overtake and join convoy on 5th February
CONVOY BA 14 (Bombay - Aden)
Convoy sailed independently and unescorted.
CONVOY ULU (Singapore to Bombay)
Convoy sailed 6th Feb. escorted by HMIS SUTLEJ, HMS DANAE, and HMAS YARRA.
CITY OF CANTERBURY detached in North Warri to proceed to Batavia.
HMAS HOBART and HMS ELECTRA escorted the remainder through Sunda Strait
DEVONSHIRE and FELIX ROUSSEL arrived Bombay 17th February
CONVOY N/N (Colombo – various destinations)
Convoy sailed 8th February, escorted by HMIS RAMDAS. HMS LAOMEDON torpedoed in position 06 degrees 13 mins N 82 degrees 25 min E at 1713 9th February. Remained afloat. HMIS RAMDAS escorting back to Colombo; speed 4 knots. Convoy scattered and proceeded independently. HMS FALMOUTH was sent to assist and LAOMEDON returned to Colombo under her own steam. RAMDAS carried out a depth charge attack without result. Remainder of convoy scattered and proceeded independently.
CONVOY SR 5 A (Calcutta - Rangoon)
Convoy sailed on 10th February escorted by HMIS INDUS and met Convoy MR 3 escorted by HMS EMERALD in position 15 degrees 10 mins N. 89 degrees 44 mins E on 12th February.
Convoys and escorts combined and arrived Rangoon 14th February.
CONVOY MR 3 (Madras - Rangoon)
Convoy sailed 9th February, escorted by HMS EMERALD and met Convoy SR 5 A escorted by HMIS INDUS in position 15 degrees 10 mins N 89 degrees 44 mins E on 12th February.
Convoys and escorted combined and arrived at Rangoon on 14th February
CONVOY JS 2 (Colombo to Singapore)
Convoy left on 10th February escorted by HMS DORSETSHIRE. Speed of advance 17 ½ knots, to meet HMS DRAGON in position 4 degrees 35 mins. S 96 degrees 50 mins E on 13th February when HMS DORSETSHIRE left the convoy to rendezvous with SJ 1
CONVOY BA 15 (Bombay - Aden)
Convoy sailed independently and unescorted.
CONVOY C 1 (Colombo - Fremantle)
Convoy sailed on 12th February escorted by HMAS BATHURST and HMS FALMOUTH – speed of advance 8 knots – and dispersed at dusk on 13th February, the escort returning to Colombo.
CONVOY AJ 2 (Aden - Colombo)
Convoy sailed on 12th February escorted by HMS HECTOR – speed of advance 10 knots – and arrived at Colombo on 20th February without incident
CONVOY (Colombo – Addu Atoll - Colombo)
Convoy sailed on 18th February escorted by HMS CALEDON and HMIS CLIVE
HAITAN to remain at Addu Atoll as accommodation ship
SINGU to fill all ships and shore establishments to full capacity of fresh water
PEARLEAF to discharge full cargo of oil to BRITISH LOYALTY
Convoy arrived Addu Atoll 0700 21st February
Convoy sailed Addu Atoll 26th February
Convoy arrived Colombo 1st March
NYHOLM sailed with the convoy from Colombo but later detached and proceeded independently to Fremantle, due 5th March
CONVOY JS 2 X (Colombo - Rangoon)
Convoy sailed 1000Z 14th February escorted by HMS CORNWALL, HMAS VAMPIRE, HMIS HINDUSTAN, and HMAS LISMORE. Speed of advance 9 knots. HMIS RAMDAS provided A/S escort to the Basses (S.E. of Ceylon) proceeding thence with TINGSANG to Madras.
CONVOY BM 13 (Bombay - Singapore)
Convoy left on 13th Feb. escorted by HMS CALEDON to vicinity of Ceylon – Speed of advance 10 knots – to meet HMS GLASGOW, HMS FALMOUTH, and HMAS BATHURST escorted convoy JS 3 in position 05 degrees 52 mins N 77 degrees 18 mins E on 17th Feb. Combined convoys were ordered to Colombo. HMS DORSETSHIRE met combined convoy in position 04 degrees 15 mins N 87 degrees 45 mins E on 23rd February, but was ordered to Trincomalee at best speed later on same day. Convoy returned to Colombo escorted by HMS GLASGOW arriving 25th February.
CONVOY JS 3 (Colombo - Batavia)
Convoy left on 16th February, escorted by HMS GLASGOW, HMS FALMOUTH, and HMAS BATHURST. Speed of advance 11 knots. To meet convoy BM 13 in position 05 degrees 52 minutes N 77 degrees 18 minutes East on 17th February (which see).
HMS GLASGOW relieved HMS CALEDON as S.O. 4 escort of combined convoy which was ordered to steer North on 21st February. BATHURST returned to Colombo with engine defects.
Convoy returned to Colombo 25th February.
CONVOY SJ 1 (Batavia - Colombo).
Convoy sailed on 12th February escorted by HMIS SUTLEJ and HMS EXPRESS and was joined by HMS DORSETSHIRE in position 05 degrees 57 mins S. 99 degrees 17 mins E. on 14th February.
HMS DORSETSHIRE parted company p.m. 17th February and proceeded to Colombo. HMS FALMOUTH joined escort on 20th February. MALANCHA (towing HMS ISIS) and CITY OF PRETORIA (towing HMS ROVER) diverted to Trincomalee escorted by HMIS SUTLEJ and arrived 21st February.
Convoy arrived Colombo 21st February.
CONVOY SJ 2 (Batavia - Colombo )
Convoy sailed on 15th February escorted by HMS DURBAN. Speed of advance 13 ½ knots. HMS JUPITER reinforced escort for passage of Sunda Strait.
Convoy arrived Colombo 22nd February
CONVOY SR 6 (Calcutta - Rangoon)
Convoy sailed on 17th Feb. escorted by HMIS INDUS and met convoy MR 4 escorted by HMS EMERALD in position 16 degrees 06 minutes N. 91 degrees 12 minutes East on 19th February. Convoys and escorts combined and proceeded towards Rangoon but were diverted to return to Calcutta arriving 22nd February.
CONVOY MR 4 (Madras - Rangoon)
Convoy sailed 16th February escorted by HMS EMERALD and met HMIS INDUS escorting convoy SR 6 in position 16 degrees 6 minutes N. 91 degrees 10 minutes East on 17th February. Convoys and escorts combined and proceeded towards Rangoon, but were diverted to Calcutta arriving on 22nd February. H.T. NEURALIA escorted by HMIS INDUS proceeding to Rangoon
CONVOY BP 35 (Karachi - Basra )
Convoy sailed on 17th February unescorted.
Convoys arrived on dates stated below.
CONVOY WS 15 comprising
WS 15 A WS 15 B DM 3 DM 3 B
(for Aden) (for Bombay) (for Colombo) (for Bombay
Capetown Section sailed 14th February escorted by HMS CHESHIRE and Dutch Submarine Tender COLOMBIA to rendezvous with the Durban Section on 17th February.
Durban Section sailed 17th February escorted by HMS WORCESTERSHIRE, HMS CERES, with HMS NORMAN as additional escort until clear of Madagascar.
HMS RAMILLIES sailed Mombasa 21st February to rendezvous with convoy in 10 degrees 22 mins S. 42 degrees E. on 22nd February and escort convoy DM 3 towards Addu Atoll
HMS COLOMBO sailed Mombasa escorting KHANDALLA 23rd February to rendezvous in 02 degrees 44 mins S. 43 degrees 20 mins E. on 24th February and relieve HMS CERES
HMS COLOMBO escorted convoy WS 15 A to Aden.
HMS WORCESTERSHIRE escorted WS 15 B to Bombay
HMS NORMAN rendezvoused with DM 3 on 28th February.
HM Ships RAMILLIES and NORMAN parted company with DM 3 and proceeded to Addu Atoll arriving 1st March and left same day to rejoin convoy.
HMS CORFU rendezvoused with DM 3 in 1 degree 15 mins S. 73 degrees 15 mins E. on 1st March and was detached 2nd March with STRATHNAVER, AAGTEKERK, PORT CHALMERS, EMPIRE WOODLARK, and CHRISTIAAN HUYGENS to proceed to Bombay (DM 3 B)
HMS RAMILLIES and HMS NORMAN with STAFFORDSHIRE, AUTOLYCUS, and PARDO proceeded to Colombo.
HMS FALMOUTH from Bombay rendezvoused with HMS CORFU in 16 degrees 20 mins N. 75 degrees 30 mins E. on 5th March.
WS 15 A arrived Aden 1st March.
WS 15 B arrived Bombay 4th March
DM 3 arrived Colombo 4th March
DM 3 B arrived Bombay 6th March
CONVOY BP 34 (Bombay - Basra)
Convoy left 13th February and arrived 19th February.
CONVOY SJ 6 (Batavia - Colombo)
Convoy sailed on 21st February escorted by HMAS HOBART - Speed of advance 17 knots - until 23rd February when HOBART parted company to return to Batavia.
CONVOY B A 16 (Bombay – Aden)
Convoy sailed on 18th February unescorted and arrived 1st March
CONVOY (Colombo - Batavia and Addu Atoll)
Convoy left on 23rd February escorted by HMS ASTER until 24th February when convoy dispersed and proceeded independently.
CONVOY (Trincomalee - Batavia)
Convoy sailed 23rd February escorted by HMS NIZAM until 24th February, when HMS NIZAM parted company and convoy proceeded independently.
CONVOY JS 4 (Colombo - Fremantle)
Convoy left on 24th February escorted by HMS ENTERPRISE to position 10 degrees 58 mins S 91 degrees 30 mins E. ENTERPRISE parted company on 26th February and convoy proceeded independently, arriving Fremantle on 3rd March.
CONVOY AJ 3 (Aden - Colombo)
Convoy left on 24th February escorted by HMS CHITRAL – speed of advance 12 knots – and arrived Colombo on 4th March
CONVOY BM 14 (Bombay - Colombo)
Convoy left on 25th February. HMS HECTOR joined convoy in position 15 degrees N 72 degrees 13 minutes E on 26th February and the convoy arrived Colombo on 1st March.
CONVOY SJ 4 (China area - Colombo)
Convoy left on 19th February escorted by HMS DRAGON until 21st February. Speed of advance 8 knots.
CONVOY SJ 7 (Batavia - Colombo)
Convoy sailed on 22nd February and arrived at destination without incident
CONVOY MR 5 (Madras - Rangoon)
Convoy left on 26th February escorted by HMIS TRAVANCORE and HMIS RAMDAS. HMS DORSETSHIRE rendezvoused with convoy in position 12 degrees 40 mins N. 82 degrees 30 mins E. on 27th February. Speed of advance 11 knots – and RAMDAS parted company owing to insufficient speed to keep up with convoy. HMIS TRAVANCORE returned to Madras
Convoy was diverted towards position 17 degrees 20 mins N 89 degrees 20 minutes E and turned back towards Rangoon.
HMS DORSETSHIRE left convoy at 96 degrees E on 2nd March and convoy arrived Rangoon without loss.
CONVOY MS 5 (Fremantle - Bombay)
Convoy sailed about 22nd February escorted by USS PHOENIX to cross meridian 10 degrees S on 28th February. Speed of advance 12 ½ knots.
HMS ENTERPRISE to rendezvous with convoy in position 10 degrees 58 mins S 91 degrees 30 mins E on 28th February and USS PHOENIX parted company.
Convoy arrived Colombo 5th March.
CONVOY SM 2 (Batavia - Fremantle)
Convoy left on 19th February escorted by HMS DRAGON to position 08 degrees 09 mins S 103 degrees 51 mins E. Speed of advance 8 knots.
CONVOY SM 3 (Batavia - Fremantle)
Convoy left on 20th February unescorted
Speed of advance 8 knots.
CONVOY SJ 5 (Batavia - Colombo)
Convoy sailed 20th February escorted by HMS EXETER till 1230 on 22nd February. Speed of Advance 8 knots.
Convoy arrived on dates given.
CONVOY SM 4 (Batavia - Fremantle)
Convoy left on 23rd February unescorted
CONVOY SJ 8 (Batavia - Colombo)
Convoy sailed on 26th unescorted. Speed of advance 9 knots.
CONVOY SR 7 (Calcutta - Rangoon)
Convoy left on 25th February and was joined by HMS EMERALD for escort duty off Saugor Island. Speed of advance 10 knots. Convoy turned in position 20 degrees 32 mins N. 88 degrees 14 mins E on 28th February and anchored off Saugor Island. Convoy proceeded again on 1st March and arrived at Rangoon without loss on 5th March. HMIS INDUS joined convoy in position 15 degrees 20 mins N. 93 degrees 25 mins. E on 3rd March.
HMS EMERALD left convoy on 4th March in vicinity of 95 degrees East.
CONVOY S 1 (Madras – various destinations)
Convoy left on 28th February escorted by HMAS LISMORE. Speed of advance 8 ½ knots.
CONVOY C 4 (x) (Cochin - Fremantle)
Convoy left on 28th February unescorted. Speed of advance 9 knots
CONVOY C 3 (Cochin - Fremantle)
Convoy left on 25th February escorted by HMS CORFU. HMI Ships NETRAVATI and SONAVATI provided A/S escort until 26th February and 27th February respectively. HMS CORFU dispersed convoy in 00 degrees 40 mins N. 78 degrees 10 mins E and ships proceeded independently. HMS CORFU proceeded to meet convoy DM 3.
CONVOY C 4 (Colombo - Fremantle)
Convoy left on 25th February escorted by HMS EXPRESS. HMS EXPRESS parted company and ships proceeded independently at dusk on 26th February.
APPENDIX II to Commander in Chief, East Indies Station.
HIRED TRANSPORT MOVEMENTS (NOT IN CONVOY) FOR THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY 1942
(n.b. in the text, these ships are listed in an intricate format. I have copied all information, but simplified it for entry.)
GOVERNOR - from Suez 30th January to Singapore. Personnel 147
MADRAS CITY - from Suez 30th January to Singapore. Personnel 162
ILE DE FRANCE - from Suez 30th January to Bombay arrived 6th February. Personnel 4251
EMPIRE CAPE - from Suez 31st January to Singapore. Personnel 233
MAURETANIA - from Suez 31st January to Aden arrived 6th February. Personnel 4158
EMPIRE GLYN - from Suez 1st February to Cochin arrived 17th February. Personnel 252
HADLEIGH - from Suez 1st February to Cochin arrived 20th February. Personnel 188
MASULA - from Suez 1st February to Colombo arrived 16th February. Personnel 159
ORACADES - From Suez 1st February to Colombo arrived 9th February. Personnel 3632.
REINA DEL PACIFICO - from Bombay 3rd February to Colombo arrived 6th February. Service personnel. Escorted by HMS CORFU to Colombo and HMS CARTHAGE to Durban
ORESTES - from Suez 8th February to Massawa. Personnel 590 Royal Air Force; from Massawa 21st February to Aden arrived 25th February; from Aden 25th February to Colombo 4th March.
EMPRESS OF JAPAN - from Colombo 13th February to Durban 22nd February. Women and children evacuees; service personnel
DURBAN CASTLE - from Suez 18th February to Colombo 27th February; from Colombo 2nd March to Adelaide 12th March. Personnel: Army 1st Class 80; 2nd Class 15; troop deck 1394. Total 1482
STRATHALLAN - from Suez 17th February to Colombo 27th February. Personnel: RN 56, Army 3228; R.A.F. 3586
ERINPURA - from Rangoon 15th February to Madras 18th February. Personnel 1293 passengers
ETHIOPIA - From Rangoon 15th February to Madras 18th February. Personnel 818 passengers
VARSOVA - From Rangoon 15th February to Madras 18th February. Personnel 532 passengers
KAROA - from Rangoon 15th February to Madras 18th February. Personnel 1140 passengers
EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA - from Colombo 19th February to Durban 2nd March. Personnel for Durban 193; personnel for United Kingdom 474. Total 667
DUCHESS OF BEDFORD - from Colombo 15th February to Durban 25th February; evacuees 904, R.A.F. 9, D.B.S. 5. Total 918
CITY OF CANTERBURY - from Colombo 22nd February to Bombay 26th February. Personnel R.A.F. 12, R.N. 87, Civilians 23. Total 122
JALAGANGA - from Rangoon 19th February to Calcutta 21st February. Personnel 1 R.A.F. Officer and 12 Airmen. Total 13 R.A.F.
RISALDAP - from Rangoon 19th February to Akyab 20th February
ANDES - from Suez 18th February to Colombo 27th February. Personnel HQ 6th Australian Division, 3200 troops
KEDAH - from Batavia to Colombo 7th March. Personnel 400 Military ex C.H.Q. ABDACOM
SANTHIA - from Basra 25th February to Bombay 3rd March. Personnel RN 33, Military 53, Total 86
HMAS HOBART - from Batavia 27th February to Colombo 5th March. 648 evacuees.
HMS DANAE - from Batavia 27th February to Colombo 5th March. 319 evacuees
APPENDIX III to War Records of the Commander in Chief, East Indies Station for the month of February 1942
YIANNIS (Greek) - Left Tamatave 1st February for Reunion escorted by S/M MONGE. Believed left Reunion for Tamatave
A ship arrived Djibouti A.M. 16th February, escorted by submarine. (This may have been A.M.C. BOUGAINVILLE)
2. On February 3rd, Staff Officer (Intelligence) Capetown reported that the French A.M.C. BOUGAINVILLE had arrived at Tamatave on February 1st with 60 tons of mails.
3. On February 7th, information received through the Chief Censor Mauritius indicated that the ex Greek ship YIANNIS was at Reunion with the submarine MONGE and was loading cargo for France which might be transshipped at Madagascar.
4. The Naval Officer in Charge, Aden, on February 9th, reported that intelligence from many sources indicated that one or possibly two ships were expected to arrive at Djibouti between the 13th and 15th instants. The Commander In Chief, East Indies, informed the Flag Officer, Red Sea, that he regretted he had insufficient forces to effect an interception without clashing with superior forces.
5. The B.A.D. Washington in a reported Graded A2, and dated 13th February stated that the French submarine BEVEZIERS and sloop D’ENTRECASTEAUX were due to sail from Dakar on February 11th and that the Auxiliary cruiser QUERCY from Cotonou would meet them at sea and accompany them to Madagascar.
6. On February 16th, the Naval Officer in Charge, Aden, reported that air reconnaissance showed that one merchant ship accompanied by a submarine had arrived at Djibouti.
7. The Chief Censor, Mauritius, reported that on February 22nd, the two messages from Comoro Islands showed that loading was in progress there.
8. On January 30th, the U.S. Naval Observer at Colombo informed the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations that communications were unreliable and slow, and that timely information regarding conditions here were, therefore, not available in the U.S.A.
In emergency situations, it was considered essential that the direction of operations in this area be delegated to a single agency, and that for close liaison with the Naval Control as regards safety of shipping and for availability of necessary communication facilities the essential location for such an Agency is Colombo.
9. On February 18th, the B.A.D. Washington, reported the U.S. Authorities do not consider reports by Vesca are yet sufficiently complete to warrant cessation of reports by U.S. Observers, and that that a tentative agreement has been reached to evolve a common reporting system which would further reduce cable traffic.
10. On February 17th, the Commander in Chief, East Indies, issued instructions that ships proceeding independently into the Bay of Bengal are to be routed via Colombo in case it may be possible to provide onward escort, and that it was essential that such ships should be provided with route instructions for their whole voyage in order to avoid unnecessary delay at Colombo if no escort is available.
11. On February 24, the Admiralty announced that is has been decided that the basis on which speeds of merchants ships are estimated should be standardized and that such speed is to be calculated by the Master after being asked “what is the continuous speed which you estimate your ship can maintain under moderate weather conditions having regard to her waterway conditions?”
12. The Portuguese sloop GONCLAVES ZARCO called at Colombo for fuel and sailed on February 18th to escort the troop ship JOAO BELO to Timor, but on March 1st, the Admiralty informed the Commander in Chief, East Indies that the Portuguese Ministry of Marine had ordered the two ships to return to Colombo owing to the situation in Timor.
13. Commodore Graham was appointed Commodore Commanding Burma Coast on February 2nd, and on February 8th, the Commander in Chief, East Indies, informed him that he had been directed to coordinate the activities of all local defence craft available from India and Burma for the defence of the Bay of Bengal including Burma.
The Duties of the Commodore Commanding Burma Coast are:
a). Operational Command of all Local Naval Defence vessels and personnel now employed and about to be employed in Burmese waters.
b). Command of all Naval shore establishments in Burma.
Commodore Graham assumed duties on February 14th.
14. On February 22nd, the War Office informed the Commander in Chief, East Indies, that the Commander in Chief, India, had assumed full responsibility for the defence of Burma.
GERMAN SHIPS AT MARMAGOA
15. On February 24th, the British Consul at Marmagoa reported that persistent rumours indicated that two of the German ships refuging at Goa would shortly make an attempt to escape. On the same date, the Vice Consul reported that the ships were unlikely to move until they had taken on fresh water and that no request for fresh water had so far been made.
16. The Commander in Chief, East Indies, informed on February 12th that the U.S. Air Corps wished to make a survey of the Islands of Coctivy and Diego Garcia with the object of exploring the possibilities of establishing a trans Indian Ocean air route.
The Naval Officer in Charge, Kilindini, reported on February 19th, that a U.S. Survey Party was expected at Mombasa between 20th and 25th February by Flying Boat and proposed visiting Chagos, Cocos, and the Seychelles.
17. On February 4th, the Naval Officer in Charge, Seychelles reported that an unidentified aircraft painted gray had been sighted from the Farquhar Islands on January 31st. There were no distinguishing marks.
18. The question of informing Owners of Indian Shipping Companies regarding losses through enemy action has been raised by the Commander in Chief, East Indies, and the Admiralty have suggested that the Flag Officer Commanding Royal Indian Navy:
The Admiralty will continue to be responsible for informing Owners of Vessels lost in the Far East who have offices in the United Kingdom.
Japanese Insurance Rates
19. The Chief Censor, Mauritius, reported on February 22nd that intercepted messages indicated that War Risk Pool Rates in force Thailand to Singapore are 2% for Japanese or Japanese controlled vessels and 2.4% for French Vessels.
Prisoners of War Centres
20. The Director of Naval Intelligence informed the Commander in Chief, East Indies, on February 25th, that the Joint Intelligence Committee had considered the provisions required for Combined Services interrogation centres for India and the Far East.
The Bombay area is considered suitable and will have mobile units in East Indies or elsewhere based on the parent organisation.
21. On February 25, the Admiralty announced that it had agreed with the United States that in the event of HM and U.S. Warships requiring to cooperate tactically against the enemy, command will be exercises by that Officer of either Power who is senior in rank, or when rank of two officers is equal, by the officers who has been longest in his rank.
ACTIVITIES OF JAPANESE SUBMARINES
22. On February 3rd, the Colombo Radio received a submarine report from the SS SPONDILUS. She was shelled and torpedoed in position 6 degrees 10 mins North 79 degrees 20 minutes East. She was not sunk and subsequently arrived in Colombo.
23. On February 6th, in a report Graded B 1 Christmas Island reported a submarine close to South Point.
24. The SS JALATARANG was gunned and sunk by torpedo in approximate position 12 degrees 39 minutes North and 81 degrees East on January 30th. Eleven Indian survivours were picked up by SS KEPONG.
25. HMS LAOMEDON was torpedoed in position 6 degrees 13 minutes North, 82 degrees 25 minutes East on February 9th, but was not sunk and subsequently arrived at Colombo under her own steam.
26. On February 13th, the SS CLAN MURDOCH reported that she had been unsuccessfully attack both by torpedo and gunfire by a submarine when in position 6 degrees 55 minutes North 82 degrees 20 minutes East
27. The SS KAMUNING was attacked in position 8 degrees 32 minutes North, 81 degrees 44 minutes East on February 14th. An unsuccessful attempt was made to tow her to Trincomalee and she sank in position 8 degrees 35 minutes North, 81 degrees 25 minutes East.
28. The SS JOHANNE JUSTESSEN was sunk in position 9 degrees 4 minutes North, 75 degrees 56 minutes East on 15th February. The sinking occurred as a result of an explosion, and no torpedo or track was seen.
29. The SS BHIMA was torpedoed and sunk in position 7 degrees 45 minutes North 73 degrees 31 minutes East on February 20th.
30. The Russian ship ARKTIKA was attacked in position 8 degrees 33 minutes North, 75 degrees 50 minutes East on February 21st. Two torpedoes were fired at the ship, both of which missed. On arrival in Colombo, the Master sent the following message to the Russian Embassy in London.
“SS ARKTKIA was attacked by a Japanese submarine at 0735 G.M.T. on February 21st, while on passage Karachi to Colombo. Two torpedoes were fired simultaneously and both missed. ARKTIKA was flying the Russian flag. Submarine did not come to the surface.”
31. The following incidents not previously reported in despatches occurred during January.
i). The SS JALARAJAN was sunk in position 0 degrees 12 minutes South 97 degrees East on January 14th.
ii). The SS EIDSVOLD was torpedoed and abandoned off Christmas Island on January 20th.
STAFF CHANGES AND VISITS DURING FEBRUARY 1942
Two R.A.F. Staff Officers responsible for R.D.F. organisation in India, Burma, Ceylon, and Indian Ocean Bases visited Ceylon at the end of the month to consult the Commander in Chief, East Indies Station, concerning R.D.F. planning and organisation.
S E C R E T
WAR RECORDS OF THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF, EAST INDIES STATION
Part I – A DAY BY DAY CHRONOLOGICAL DIARY OF EVENTS.
HM Ships DECOY, FORTUNE, and GRIFFIN arrived at Bombay from Aden.
HM Ships TEVIOTBANK and ASTER left Trincomalee for the Andaman Islands (Operation “P”). They were later joined by HMS CALEDON who arrived at Trincomalee from Addu Atoll.
HMIS CLIVE arrived Colombo from Addu Atoll
HMN Ships JACOB VAN HEEMSKERK and ISAAC SWEERS on passage to the Netherland East Indies were ordered to return to Colombo
HM Ships DECOY and FORTUNE left Bombay for Colombo
HMIS SOPHIE MARIE was sunk in the Southern entrance to MacPherson Strait, Andaman Islands, she was presumably mined.
Convoy SU 1 escorted by HM Ships CORNWALL, EXPRESS, and HOLLYHOCK left Colombo for Fremantle.
Convoy BM 14 arrived at Colombo from Bombay
HM Ships EREBUS and MARGUERITE left Colombo for Trincomalee.
HM Ships RAMILLIES and NORMAN arrived at Addu Atoll and left for Colombo.
HMS GUARDIAN left Trincomalee to join Convoy S I (southward bound from Madras).
HM Ships EREBUS and MARGUERITE arrived at Trincomalee from Colombo.
USS MARBLEHEAD left Trincomalee for Durban
B.D. Vessels BARLANE and BARRIER arrived at Colombo from the Far East.
HMAS BATHURST escorting Convoy C 3 left Colombo for Cochin.
HMS GLASGOW left Colombo for escort duty.
HMS RANCHI left Addu Atoll for Colombo
HHMS IERAX on passage to Calcutta for refit arrived at Karachi.
HMS HECTOR arrived at Cochin from escort duty.
Vice Admiral Helfrich, accompanied by his staff, arrived at Colombo by air from Java to establish himself as Commander In Chief, Netherlands Forces in the East, with his Headquarters at Colombo.
HM Ships EXPRESS and HOLLYHOCK arrived at Colombo from escort duty
Report of raider attack from received from Cocos Islands.
HMS PANGKOR arrived at Colombo from the China Station.
HMS VERBENA left Colombo for Trincomalee.
HMS HECTOR left Cochin escorting convoy C 5 to Bombay
HHMS AETOS, on completion of refit, left Calcutta for Madras on passage to the Mediterranean.
Convoy MR 6 arrived at Rangoon.
HMS ENDEAVOR on passage from Java to Aden arrived at Karachi.
HHMS IERAX left Karachi for Bombay.
Auxiliary vessels PANGKOR and BULAN placed under the orders of the Commander in Chief, East Indies.
Arrivals at Colombo
HM Ships RAMILLIES and NORMAN escorting Convoy DM 3.
HMS CHITRAL escorting convoy AJ 3
HMS RANCHI from Addu Atoll.
HMS GUARDIAN from escort duty
HM Ships DECOY and FORTUNE from Bombay
HMAS LISMORE escorting coastal convoy
HNMS COLOMBIA from Aden
HMS TULIP from Mauritius
HMS DURBAN arrived at Mauritius from Colombo
HHMS IERAX arrived at Bombay from Karachi.
HMS WORCESTERSHIRE escorting Convoy WS 15 B arrived at Bombay
HMS FALMOUTH with HM ships ROVER and ISIS in tow arrived at Bombay and left to rendezvous with Convoy DM 3 B
HMIS NETRAVATI escorting SINGU left Colombo for Trincomalee
HHMS SPETSAI left Calcutta for Colombo.
Convoy SR 7 arrived at Rangoon.
Convoy MS 5 arrived at Colombo.
HMS DURBAN left Mauritius for Durban
HMS DORSETSHIRE arrived at Trincomalee from escort duty
HMS VERBENA arrived at Trincomalee from Colombo.
HM Ships ARROW and HOTSPUR arrived at Bombay from Aden.
HHMS AETOS arrived at Madras from Calcutta
HHMS AETOS left Madras for Trincomalee
HMS ENGADINE arrived at Trincomalee from Aden.
Convoy SU 2 escorted by HMAS HOBART and HM Ships SHOREHAM and TULIP left Colombo for Fremantle.
HM Ships RAMILLIES, DECOY, and FORTUNE left Colombo for Trincomalee
HMS CHITRAL and HMIS SONAVATI left Colombo for Bombay.
HMS GLASGOW arrived at Colombo from escort duty
H.N.M. Ships HEEMSKERK and ISAAC SWEERS arrived at Colombo
HMS CORFU arrived at Bombay from Addu Atoll
HMS FALMOUTH arrived at Bombay escorting convoy DM 3 B
HMS HECTOR escorting convoy C 5 arrived at Bombay
HMS KEDAH placed under orders of Commander in Chief, East Indies
HMIS NETRAVATI escorting SINGU arrived at Trincomalee
HM Ships RAMILLIES, DECOY, and FORTUNE arrived at Trincomalee
HMIS INDUS arrived at Calcutta from Rangoon.
HMS TRUSTY arrived at Calcutta from Java
HMS ARROW left Bombay for Colombo
HMS RANCHI left Colombo escorting V.S.T. HOLBROOK and H.T. KATOOMBA for Bombay.
HMS DRAGON with HMS KEDAH in tow arrived at Colombo from Netherlands East Indies
HM Ships CALEDON, TEVIOTBANK, and ASTER returned to Trincomalee from Operation P 1.
HMS TRUANT and HMIS JUMNA arrived Colombo from Netherlands East Indies.
HMS MARGUERITE arrived at Colombo from escort duty.
HMIS CLIVE left Colombo for survey duty at Diego Garcia.
HHMS IERAX left Bombay for Colombo.
HHMS SPETSAI arrived at Colombo from Calcutta.
HMIS JUMNA placed under the orders of Commander in Chief, East Indies.
HMS TENEDOS left Calcutta for Trincomalee
HNMS VAN DER ZAAN and HMS ARROW arrived at Colombo from Java and Bombay respectively
Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton, KCB, DSO assumed supreme control of Ceylon with the title of Commander in Chief Ceylon
HMS ABDIEL left Colombo for Addu Atoll and Mombasa.
HMS ENTERPRISE left Colombo for escort duty with H.T. TALMA.
HMS NORMAN left Colombo for Trincomalee escorting local convoy.
HMS EXPRESS left Colombo for escort duty
HM Ships ALSEY and ATREUS left Colombo for Trincomalee.
HMIS JUMNA left Colombo for Bombay.
HMS WARSPITE left Fremantle for Trincomalee.
HM Ships INDOMITABLE, DECOY, and FORTUNE left Trincomalee for Aden.
Ceylon brig LUKSHMI GOVINDA sunk by gunfire from a Japanese submarine off Madras. HMS EMERALD picked up survivors.
HM Ships ROYAL SOVEREIGN, RAMILLIES, NAPIER, NESTOR, NIZAM, TENEDOS, and EXPRESS left Ceylon ports for exercises south of Ceylon.
HMS VERBENA and HHMS AETOS left Trincomalee with coastal convoy.
HMS CORFU left Bombay for Aden.
HM Ships GRIFFIN and HECTOR left Bombay for Colombo.
HMIS HINDUSTAN and HEINRICH JESSEN with Commodore, Burma Coast, on board arrived Calcutta from Rangoon.
Force V comprising HM Ships FORMIDABLE, PALADIN, and PANTHER left Capetown for Mauritius on passage to Colombo.
HHMS SPETSAI and HMAS LISMORE left Colombo for Bombay and escort duty, respectively.
HMIS SUTLEJ escorting two ships left Colombo for Calcutta.
HMS ALSEY arrived at Trincomalee from Colombo.
Netherlands submarines K 14, K 15 arrived at Colombo from Java
HHMS AETOS having attacked a submarine in position 6 minutes 52 minutes north 73 degrees east at 0750 GMT arrived at Colombo. There were indications that this attack was successful.
HM Ships ROYAL SOVEREIGN, EXPRESS, and TENEDOS arrived at Colombo from Trincomalee.
HMS GRIFFIN arrived at Colombo from Bombay
HHMS IERAX arrived at Colombo from Trincomalee
HM Ships NAPIER, NIZAM, and NORMAN left Trincomalee for exercises off Ceylon
HMIS JUMNA arrived at Bombay from Colombo.
Norwegian ship MABELLA was sunk by torpedo and gunfire in position 014 degrees North 081 degrees 21 minutes East.
HMS HECTOR arrived at Colombo from Bombay.
HM Ships TULIP and ENGADINE arrived at Colombo from Trincomalee
HHMS AETOS left Colombo for Bombay.
HHMS SPETSAI arrived at Bombay from Colombo
HMAS LISMORE arrived at Colombo from escort duty
HNMS SOEMBA arrived at Colombo from Java.
Portuguese GONCALVES ZARCO escorting transport JOAO BELO arrived Colombo. These ships had been ordered by the Portuguese Government to return to Colombo whilst on passage to Portuguese Timor.
HMAS BATHURST left Colombo for escort duty.
HMS GLASGOW left Colombo for Durban to assume escort duty.
HHMS IERAX left Trincomalee for Madras
HMS NESTOR left Trincomalee for Colombo
HMS CALEDON left Trincomalee for escort duty.
HMS GRIFFIN and HNMS ISAAC SWEERS left Colombo for Addu Atoll.
HMS ABDIEL left Mombasa for Durban
HHMS IERAX arrived at Madras from Trincomalee
HMS FOXHOUND arrived at Bombay from Aden and left for Colombo.
HM Ships VERBENA and MARGUERITE left Colombo for escort duty in the Ceylon area with convoy K R 1
Dutch submarine K 11 arrived at Colombo from Java
HMS NESTOR arrived at Colombo from Trincomalee
HMAS BATHURST arrived at Colombo from escort duty
HMS GRIFFIN and HNMS ISAAC SWEERS arrived at Addu Atoll from Colombo
HHMS AETOS arrived at Bombay from Colombo
HHMS IERAX left Madras for Calcutta
HMS SHOREHAM arrived at Colombo from Addu Atoll.
HMS FOXHOUND arrived at Colombo from Bombay
HMS ENTERPRISE arrived Colombo escorting H.T. TALMA (from Aden)
HMS DANAE left Colombo for Bombay
HMS GRIFFIN and HNMS ISAAC SWEERS left Addu Atoll to rendezvous with HMS WARSPITE and escort her to Trincomalee
HMS REVENGE left Durban for Mauritius
HMIS SONAVATI escorting convoy C 5 arrived at Bombay
Portuguese sloop GONCALVES ZARCO escorting JOAO BELO left Colombo for Goa
HMS CORFU escorting convoy AJ 4 left Aden for Colombo.
Force V called at Mauritius to fuel.
HMS RESOLUTION arrived at Mauritius from Durban and left to rendezvous with HM Ships NAPIER and NIZAM en route to Addu Atoll.
HM Ships INDOMITABLE, DECOY, and FORTUNE left Aden for Addu Atoll.
HHMS IERAX arrived at Calcutta from Madras.
Convoy KR 1, escorted by HM Ships CALEDON, VERBENA, and MARGUERITE arrived at Colombo.
HM Ships NAPIER, NIZAM, and NORMAN left Trincomalee for rendezvous with HMS RESOLUTION.
HMS EMERALD left Madras for Trincomalee
HMA Ships BATHURST and LISMORE left Colombo escorting Convoy C 11
HM Submarine O 19 (n.b. O 19 was Dutch – dk) arrived at Colombo from Madras
HM Ships VERBENA and MARGUERITE left Colombo escorting R.A.F.A. SHENKING and V.S.I.S. TAIPING for Addu Atoll
HMS EMERALD arrived at Trincomalee from Madras.
HHMS AETOS left Bombay for Aden.
Tanker SAN CIRILO was torpedoed approximately 420 miles south of Ceylon. HMAS NORMAN was sent to her assistance.
HMS RAMILLIES left Trincomalee to rendezvous with HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN and proceed to Addu Atoll.
HMA ships NAPIER, NORMAN, and NIZAM arrived at Addu Atoll from Trincomalee
HMS GUARDIAN with High Speed Battle Practice Target in tow and escorted by HMS SCOUT left Colombo for Addu Atoll
HMS WARSPITE with HMS GRIFFIN and HNMS ISAAC SWEERS in company arrived at Trincomalee from Fremantle. HMS GRIFFIN and HNMS ISAAC SWEERS left Trincomalee to rendezvous with HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN.
HMAS BATHURST arrived at Colombo from escort duty.
HM Ships DANAE and HOTSPUR left Bombay for Basrah and Colombo respectively.
Torpedoed tanker SAN CIRILO escorted by HMAS NORMAN arrived at Colombo.
HMS REVENGE arrived at Mauritius from Durban.
HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN left Colombo to rendezvous with HMS RAMILLIES and destroyer escort before proceeding to Addu Atoll.
HMA Ships NAPIER and NIZAM left Addu Atoll to rendezvous with, and escort HMS RESOLUTION towards Addu Atoll.
HMS TRUANT left Colombo for patrol.
Force V (HM Ships FORMIDABLE, PALADIN, and PANTHER) arrived at Colombo from Mauritius.
Senior Officer of Force V arrived Colombo by Albacore from HMS FORMIDABLE.
HM Ships HOTSPUR and KELANTAN arrived at Colombo from Bombay and Cocos Islands respectively
HM Ships DORSETSHIRE and EMERALD left Trincomalee for exercises. HMS DORSETSHIRE afterwards proceeding to Colombo.
HNM Ships HEEMSKERK and SOEMBA left Colombo for Trincomalee and Bombay respectively.
HM Ships ROYAL SOVEREIGN and RAMILLIES, GRIFFIN, FOXHOUND, and HNMS ISAAC SWEERS arrived at Addu Atoll from Ceylon
HM Ships INDOMITABLE, DECOY, and FORTUNE arrived Addu Atoll from Aden.
HMS GUARDIAN with High Speed Battle Practice Target in tow and escorted by HMS SCOUT arrived at Addu Atoll from Colombo.
HMS CORFU escorting convoy AJ 4 arrived at Colombo from Aden.
Admiral Sir James Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, assumed command of the Eastern Fleet wearing his flag in HMS WARSPITE. His title “Senior Officer, Force V” then lapsed.
VSIS DEMODOCUS escorted by HM Ships VERBENA and MARGUERITE arrived at Addu Atoll from Fremantle.
HM Ships ROYAL SOVEREIGN, RAMILLIES, INDOMITABLE, NAPIER, NORMAN, GRIFFIN, FORTUNE, DECOY, NIZAM, FOXHOUND, and HNMS ISAAC SWEERS left Addu for exercises in that area.
HMA LISMORE left Addu Atoll escorting R.A.F.A. SHENKING for Colombo via Diego Garcia. HM Ships GUARDIAN and SCOUT left Addu Atoll to reinforce escort.
HMS ENGADINE escorted by HMS TULIP left Colombo for Addu Atoll.
HMS CORNWALL arrived at Colombo from escort duty.
HMIS SUTLEJ left Calcutta for Akyab
HNMS SOEMBA arrived at Bombay from Colombo.
HM Ships RESOLUTION, ROYAL SOVEREIGN, REVENGE, RAMILLIES, INDOMITABLE, GRIFFIN, DECOY, FOXHOUND, NAPIER, NORMAN, and HNMS ISAAC SWEERS arrived at Addu Atoll from exercises in that area.
HM Ships GUARDIAN and SCOUT returned to Addu from Target Towing duty.
VSIS DEMODOCUS and tanker ATHELSTANE left Addu Atoll for Colombo escorted by HM Ships VERBENA and MARGUERITE.
HM Ships WARSPITE, PALADIN and HOTSPUR left Trincomalee for Colombo
HMS RANCHI left Bombay for Seychelles
HMS DANAE arrived at Basrah from Colombo
HMS ENGADINE escorted by HMS TULIP arrived at Addu Atoll from Colombo.
HMS ATREUS left Colombo for Addu Atoll to repair a damaged Guard Loop
HMAS LISMORE escorted R.A.F.A. SHENKING arrived at Diego Garcia.
HM Ships REVENGE, RAMILLIES, ROYAL SOVEREIGN, INDOMITABLE, NAPIER, NIZAM, NORMAN, FORTUNE, FOXHOUND, GRIFFIN, DECOY, and HNMS ISAAC SWEERS left Addu Atoll for exercises.
The following units of the Eastern Fleet left Colombo for Addu Atoll:
HM Ships WARSPITE (wearing the Flag of Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet), FORMIDABLE, ENTERPRISE, CORNWALL, CALEDON, DRAGON, NAPIER, HOTSPUR, ARROW, PANTHER, PALADIN, and EXPRESS.
HMS EMERALD and HNMS HEEMSKERK left Trincomalee for Addu Atoll.
HMS HERMES and HMAS VAMPIRE left Trincomalee
HMIS HINDUSTAN and HMS ATREUS left Colombo for Addu Atoll.
HMAS LISMORE escorting R.A.F.A> SHENKING left Diego Garcia for Colombo
HMS DORSETSHIRE left Colombo to join the Eastern Fleet.
HMS EXPRESS returned to Colombo from local escort duty with the Eastern Fleet.
HMS SHOREHAM escorting RFA APPLELEAF left Colombo
HM Ships COLOMBO and ALAUNIA left Mombasa to escort Convoys WS 16 A and WS 16 B to Aden and Bombay respectively.
HMIS CLIVE left Addu Atoll for Colombo.
PART II - GENERAL BRIEF SURVEY AND APPRECIATION
The beginning of the month was marked by a serious deterioration of the situation in the Netherlands East Indies. Sumatra was occupied by the enemy. Java had been attacked and as a result of the Battle of Java, was practically denuded of sea power. Consequently units of the Allied Naval Forces were ordered to withdraw to the East Indies Station.
Admiral Helfrich, the Netherlands Commander in Chief having left Rear Admiral van Staveren in Java, arrived in Colombo with his staff by air, to set up an organisation to operated his forces from Ceylon in cooperation with Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet.
ALLIED NAVAL FORCES
During the month, Allied Naval Forces arrived in the Ceylon area from Eastern Waters. The R.N.N. Cruiser JACOB VAN HEEMSKERK and destroyer ISAAC SWEERS which were on passage to Java were ordered to return to Colombo. HNMS SOEMBA and VAN DE ZAAN also arrived during the month.
Netherlands submarines (K 11, K 14, and K 15) having since their arrival at Colombo been utilized in maintaining patrols in the Bay of Bengal while their surface craft have carried out many escort and convoy duties.
U.S. Cruiser MARBLEHEAD arrived on this station for repairs and has passed through en route to the United States of America. U.S. Cruiser BOISE has been undergoing repairs at Bombay.
Greek destroyers AETOS whilst on passage from Calcutta to rejoin the Mediterranean Fleet carried out an attack on an enemy submarine west of Colombo which from evidence received was considered successful.
In addition, HM Ships IERAX and SPETSAI have operated on this station, while the Greek cruiser GEORGIOS AVEROFF and destroyer PAUL CONDOURIOTAS have remained in Bombay.
About the middle of the month Japanese forces attacked and invested Timor. Portuguese reinforcements on their way from East Africa in transport JACA BELA escorted by Sloop GONCALVES ZARCO were ordered by the Portuguese Government to return to Colombo for fuel and water. They later left for Goa. It was stated at the time that it was essential from the diplomatic angle to provide this fuel and water as stocks existed at Marmagoa.
The situation in Burma throughout the month has been no less serious. Normal routine life in Rangoon ceased on the first day of the month, but convoys continued to arrive there up to the fifth day. Out forces commenced their withdrawal at the end of the first week.
Commodore Burma Coast continued to operate his forces and was responsible for the safe evacuation of many nationals.
By virtue of greater numbers in troops, mechanized vehicles, and aircraft, the enemy have been able to maintain their steady advance.
Our problem is the difficulty in keeping open the sea lines of communication.
Although warnings were promulgated in the usual manner of the mines laid by HMS ABDIEL during the previous month, it is regretted that HMIS SOPHIE MARIE struck a mine in the Macpherson Strait and sank.
With the growing threat from the East it was decided to evacuate the garrison at Port Blair. SS NEURALIA was accordingly detailed for this duty. Certain demolitions were to be carried out by a special detachment of sappers and miners. Ordered were passed that trucks and mules were not to be evacuated but were to be handed over to the Chief Commissioner. Subsequently, a request was made for another ship to evacuate the remaining citizens, this unfortunately could not be granted owing to the war situation.
It was deemed necessary that the South Preparis Channel should be mined. The operation was carried out during the first week of the month by TEVIOTBANK escorted by HMS ASTER and HMS CALEDON. The extent of the “danger” area was published in Q.O.A. 425.
The lack of surface and anti submarine vessels in this area continued to be a source of anxiety. HMS DANAE was sent to operate under the orders of the Senior Naval Officer, Persian Gulf. The only anti submarine vessel at his disposal is HMS SEABELLE. HMS PANGKOR and HMS KEDAH were allocated to the Persian Gulf, but in the case of the latter, sailing was delayed by machinery troubles.
It is of interest that HMS KEDAH arrived at Colombo in tow of HMS DANAE. (n.b. in chronology, it stated in tow of DRAGON). She was employed in the evacuation from Java and carried several members of General Wavell’s staff. The breakdown caused considerable delay and shortage of food and water. The KEDAH is still undergoing repairs.
Enemy submarine activity during the month was slight. There were only two ships attacked with torpedoes, one the MABELLA (Norwegian) was sunk and the other SAN CIRILO (Tanker), although torpedoed from 400 miles south of Ceylon managed to make the return journey under her own steam. One Ceylonese brig, the LUKSHMI GOVINDA was sunk by gunfire from a Japanese submarine in the Bay of Bengal. The survivors being rescued by HMS EMERALD.
The inference to be drawn from this is that enemy submarines were mainly concerned in reconnaissance and the attacking of tankers.
TRADE AND SHIPPING
Shipping on the station continued normally throughout the month, in spite of the threat from enemy submarines. Escorts were provided wherever possible, especially in the case of the more important ships, but owing to the scarcity of escorts it was not possible to organize any regular scheme of convoys.
BOMBAY, COLOMBO, and CALCUTTA all reported congestion during the month due to having to handle military convoys and ships originally destined for Singapore and the Far East. This was aggravated at the end of the month when it was decided to limit the number of ships in Calcutta to 30 in view of the threat from Japanese aircraft operating from Burma.
In the case of Colombo there were regularly between 100 and 110 vessels in the harbour, although official berthing capacity only allows for 45. The increased numbers were accommodated by making use of double, and sometimes triple berthing. On the 30th due to a threat of enemy action a dispersal theme was put into effect and all shipping both inside and outside the harbour which showed no immediate prospect of working cargo was dispersed to various anchorages round the southern coast of India, to be recalled when the threat was less imminent.
Units allocated for service with the Eastern Fleet arrived at intervals, a carrier force consisting of HMS INDOMITABLE and two destroyers returned to Ceylon after carrying out an aircraft ferry service to Sumatra.
The Third Battle Squadron units arrived on the station and carried out individual practice periods between their utilization as ocean escorts.
Admiral Sir James Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, assumed command of the Eastern Fleet on March 26th hoisting his flag on HMS WARSPITE. Units of the Eastern Fleet left Colombo for Addu Atoll on March 30th.
The FORMIDABLE and two destroyers arrived at Addu Atoll towards the end of the month. The cruisers EMERALD, ENTERPRISE, and DORSETSHIRE were employed on convoy work.
On 12th March, it was announced that Vice Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton had assumed the duties of Commander in Chief, Ceylon with rank of Admiral as from the 5th March.
In general, the work of the Navy in the Indian Ocean has gone smoothly in spite of the shortage of craft, but ships have, in consequence, had little respite.
The dispositions of the Naval Forces on the East Indies Station on the 31st March 1942 were as follows:
PERSIAN GULF AREA
HMS KIMBERLEY (towed by NARINGA)
INDIAN COAST AND PORTS WEST OF CEYLON
HMS WESTFOLD V and VI
HMS GLOBE VI and VII
Persian gunboat CHABAAZ
Persian gunboat CHAROKH
HMS EMPIRE FULMAR
HMS CORU (?CORFU)
HHMS PAUL CONDOURIOTIS
HHMS GEORGIOS AVEROFF
HNMS WILLEM VAN DER ZAAN
HNMS Submarines K 11, K 14, K 15
Submarine O 19
Operating in area
HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN
HNMS ISAAC SWEERS
At Addu Atoll
INDIAN COAST AND PORTS EAST OF CEYLON
On patrol north of Sumatra
EAST AFRICAN COAST
APPENDIX I – PARTICULARS OF CONVOYS ESCORTED DURING MARCH 1942
CONVOY SU 1 (Colombo – Australia)
Convoy sailed 0130Z 1st March escorted by HMS EXPRESS, HMS CORNWALL, and HMS HOLLYHOCK.
HMAS MANOORA sailed from Trincomalee 28th February to rendezvous in 5 degrees North, 79 degrees East 1st March.
HMS EXPRESS and HMS HOLLYHOCK returned to Colombo 3rd March.
SILVER WILLOW, EMPIRE GLADE, MADRAS CITY, and MATHURA detached at sea to proceed to Adelaide escorted by HMAS MANOORA.
Remainder of convoy arrived Fremantle 15th March.
CONVOY (Colombo – Trincomalee)
Convoy sailed at 0900 1st March escorted by HMS EREBUS and HMS MARGUERITE. Detached HONDURAS before entering Trincomalee Harbour.
CONVOY C 5 (Colombo – Bombay)
Convoy sailed 0630 2nd March escorted by HMAS BATHURST to the vicinity of Cochin.
YOMA to be detached and sent to Karachi
HMS HECTOR rendezvoused with the convoy and escorted to Bombay. Convoy arrived at Bombay 6th March 1942
CONVOY SU 3 (Colombo – Fremantle)
Convoy sailed at 0930Z 2nd March escorted by HMS GLASGOW. Speed of advance 15 ½ knots.
Convoy dispersed in position 4 degrees 20 minutes North, 82 degrees 38 minutes East. Destination and route changed. Proceeded to Adelaide.
CONVOY (Durban – Mombasa)
Convoy sailed 0600Z 2nd March escorted by HMS ALAUNIA. Speed of advance 13 knots. Convoy arrived Mombasa 9th March.
CONVOY (Colombo – Trincomalee)
Convoy sailed 1600 5th March escorted by HMIS NETRAVATI. ISMAILA to be detached off Trincomalee and proceed independently to Madras.
EURYBATES to be detached also
SINGU arrived Trincomalee 7th March.
CONVOY (Trincomalee – Fremantle)
Convoy sailed 5th March escorted by HMS MARGUERITE until dawn 7th March, thence ships to proceed independently and HMS MARGUERITE to return to Colombo. HMS MARGUERITE arrived Colombo 8th March
CONVOY SU 2 (Colombo to Fremantle)
Convoy sailed 1145Z 6th March escorted by HMAS HOBART, HMS SHOREHAM, and HMS TULIP. Speed of advance 11 knots. Convoy arrived Fremantle 20th March.
CONVOY (Burma – Calcutta)
Convoy sailed 2000 7th March escorted by HMIS HINDUSTAN. Convoy arrived Calcutta 11th March.
CONVOY B P 35 (Bombay – Basra)
Convoy sailed 7th March unescorted.
CONVOY K R 1 (Mombasa – Colombo)
Convoy sailed 0515 10th March escorted by HMS ALAUNIA. Speed of advance 11 knots. NARKUNDA was detached after dark in about 8 degrees N, 65 degrees East to proceed independently. HMS FALMOUTH sailed Bombay 0215 18th March to meet NARKUNDA 18th March and escort her to Bombay.
HMS CALEDON, HMS VERBENA, and HMS MARGUERITE escorting STAFFORDSHIRE sailed Colombo 17th March to rendezvous with convoy. HMS ALAUNIA took over escort of STAFFORDSHIRE until dusk 24th March.
HMS CALEDON, HMS VERBENA, and HMS MARGUERITE escorted convoy KR 1, less NARKUNDA, to Colombo. Convoy arrived Colombo 20th march. HMS FALMOUTH and NARKUNDA arrived Bombay 19th March.
CONVOY N/N (n.b. “no number”) (Trincomalee – Colombo)
Convoy sailed 11th March escorted by HMS VERBENA and HHMS AETOS.
Convoy, less ERLING BROVIG, arrived convoy 13th March.
CONVOY BA 17 (Bombay – Aden)
Sailed Bombay 1000Z 12th March.
Arrived Aden 18th March.
CONVOY C 6 (Cochin – Fremantle)
Convoy sailed at 0600 12th March escorted by HMAS BATHURST. Speed of advance 9 knots
HMAS BATHURST arrived Colombo 15th March.
CONVOY N/N (Madras – Colombo)
Convoy sailed 1020 12th March escorted by HMS ASTER. Speed of advance 13 knots.
ENGADINE escorted by HMS TULIP to rendezvous with convoy in 8 degrees 46 minutes North, 81 degrees, 42 minutes East 13th March.
Convoy arrived at Colombo 14th March.
CONVOY C 8 (Colombo to Bombay).
Convoy sailed 0800 14th March escorted by HHMS AETOS. Speed of advance 12 knots. HMIS SONAVATI rendezvoused in 9 degrees 40 minutes North, 75 degrees 40 minutes East at 0900 15th March and provided A/S escort to Bombay.
KOTAGEDE parted company for Karachi in vicinity of 16 degrees 30 minutes North, 71 degrees, 40 minutes East.
HHMS AETOS arrived Bombay 17th March.
HMIS SONAVATI arrived Bombay 18th March.
CONVOY C 7 (Colombo - )
Convoy sailed 1530 13th March escorted by HMS HOLLYHOCK. NURANI, BRITISH GENIUS, and ALETTA arrived Trincomalee 15th March. ILLINONIAN and DARDANUS detached off Trincomalee and proceeded independently.
CONVOY C 9 (Colombo – Adelaide)
Convoy sailed 15th March escorted by HMAS BATHURST speed of advance 10 knots.
Convoy dispersed at dusk 16th March.
HMAS BATHURST returned to Colombo
CONVOY AJ 4 (Aden – Colombo)
Convoy sailed 0600 18th March escorted by HMS CORFU. Speed 13 ½ knots
Convoy arrived Colombo 25th March
CONVOY C 11 (Colombo - )
Convoy sailed 20th March escorted by HMAS BATHURST and HMAS LISMORE.
HMAS LISMORE and ATHELSTANE detached 1200 21st March. Remainder dispersed 1300 21st March. HMAS BATHURST arrived Colombo.
CONVOY BA 18 (Bombay – Aden)
Convoy sailed Bombay unescorted independently.
CONVOY WS 16 A and WS 16 B (Capetown – Aden – Bombay)
Capetown portion sailed 22 March escorted by HMS NEWCASTLE.
Durban portion sailed 1000Z 25th March escorted by HMS GLASGOW and HMS WORCESTERSHIRE to rendezvous with Capetown portion at 1500Z 25th March in 31 degrees South, 31 degrees, 15 minutes East. Speed of advance 12 ½ knots.
HMS COLOMBO left Mombasa 31st March to rendezvous with convoy in 1 degree, 33 minutes South, 44 degrees, 28 minutes E. at 0400Z 1st April.
HMS COLOMBO escorted WS 16 A to Aden
WS 16 B escorted by HMS ALAUNIA and HMS WORCESTERSHIRE detached daylight 3rd April to proceed to Bombay.
HMS GLASGOW arrived Mombasa 2nd April.
WS 16 A arrived Aden 6th April
WS 16 B arrived Bombay 8th April
CONVOY BP 37 (Bombay – Basra)
Convoy sailed 23rd March unescorted.
Convoy arrived 28th March.
CONVOY B A 19 (Bombay – Aden)
Convoy sailed on dates given unescorted.
CONVOY C 12 (Colombo - )
Convoy sailed p.m. 27th March escorted by HMS ASTER.
HMS ASTER to escort ARLETTA to Addu Atoll. Remainder of convoy to be detached dusk 30th March in vicinity of equator to proceed independently.
APPENDIX II to Commander in Chief, East Indies Station.
HIRED TRANSPORT MOVEMENTS (NOT IN CONVOY) FOR THE MONTH OF MARCH 1942
(n.b. in the text, these ships are listed in an intricate format. I have copied all information, but simplified it for entry.)
ST ESSYLT - from Colombo 4th March to Bombay arrived 8th March. Personnel: 245 Australian troops and M.T. , less Hospital Unit from Bombay. From Bombay 14th March to Fremantle arrived 30th Mar.
LANCASHIRE - from Karachi 10th March. To Colombo. 800 Troops
DUNERA - from Bombay 7th March. To Colombo. Personnel: Military 41. R.N. 193. Nurses 68. Total 302
PASTEUR - from Suez 9th March to Aden. Aden to Durban. Durban to UK. Personnel: R.N. 153, R.H.N. 216. Army 250. R.A.F. 250. Merchant Navy 100. Prisoners of war 1000. Total 1969
VICEROY OF INDIA - From Suez 11th March. Durban 24th March. Personnel: R.N. 743. Army 526. R.A.F. 513. Merchant Navy 60. Prisoners of war 1000. Total 2839
INDRAPOERA - From Persian Gulf 2nd March. To Bombay. Personnel: Army 1226
ISLAMI - From Persian Gulf 1st March. To Bombay. Personnel: 53. R.N. 25. Total 58.
ILE DE FRANCE - From Suez 1st March. To Bombay. Personnel: R.A.F. 10 Officers, 79 ratings. Total 89.
HMS RANCHI - From Rangoon 7th March. To Bombay. Civilian evacuees: Men 126, Women 37, Children 2. Total 165.
COMPIEGNE - From Durban 4th March. To Mombasa arrived 13th March. Personnel for Mombasa Army 121. From Mombasa. To Bombay. Personnel” For Middle East via Bombay- Army 8. For Bombay-Shah of Persia’s party 11. Total 140.
STIRLING CASTLE - From Bombay 9th March. To Colombo 11th March. Personnel for Australia. Army 658. R.I.N. 72, Naval Civilians 12. Personnel for Colombo R.N. 740. For Australia (formerly in JOHAN DE WITT) 100 evacuees. Total 1582.
JOHANN DE WITT - From Bombay 9th March. To Colombo 13th March. Military 101. R.N. 151. Civilian evacuees 84. Total 235
TALMA - From Aden 9th March. To Colombo 18th March. Personnel: R.A.F. 900. Escorted by HMS ENTERPRISE from 62 degrees East to Colombo
NIUEW AMSTERDAM - From Suez 6th March. To Colombo
CAP ST JACQUES - From Persian Gulf 8th March. To Bombay 15th March. Personnel: Military 524. R.N. 2. Nursing Sisters 91. Total 617
KAROA - From Madras 12th March. To Colombo 15th March. Personnel. Military 1st Class 13, 2nd Class 30, I.O.R.’s 1309. Total 1266. Escorted by HMS ASTER
STRATHNAVER - From Bombay 13th March. To Capetown 26th March. Personnel: Navy 250. Evacuees 250. D.B.S. 250. Total 750. From Capetown to U.K.
WESTERNLAND - From Suez. Personnel: Army: 1st Class 225. 2nd Class 45. 3rd Class 2598. Total 2766
NEURALIA - From Port Blair 12th March. To Madras 15th March. Approx 2000 evacuees, including survivors from SOPHIE MARIE. Escorted by HMS EMERALD
YOMA - from Bombay 13th March. To Karachi arrived 15 March. Troops
ORESTES - From Colombo 12th March. To Calcutta 17th March. R.A.F. Personnel 475. Escorted by HMIS SUTLEJ
OTRANTO - from Suez 10th March. To Aden 15th March. 5423 personnel. From Aden 15th March. To Colombo 21st March.
GOGRA - from Suez 10th March. To Aden 17th March. 147 personnel. From Aden 17th March. To Colombo 27th March
CORNISH CITY - from Suez 10th March. To Aden 16th March. 189 personnel. From Aden 16th March. To Colombo 25th March.
CROMARTY - from Suez 11th March. To Colombo 24th March. 202 Personnel
WEST POINT - from Suez 12th March. To Fremantle 25th March. 5333 Personnel
LACONIA - From Suez 13th March. To Aden 17th March. 3146 Personnel. From Aden 18th March. To Bombay 23rd March.
BEGUM - From Suez 13th March. To Colombo 26th March. 227 personnel and M.T.
SINNINGTON COURT - from Suez 13th March. To Colombo 28th March. 221 personnel and M.T.
CLAN MACTAVISH - from Suez 13th March. To Aden 18th March. 238 personnel and M.T. From Aden 19th March. To Colombo 27th March.
CLAN FORBES - from Diego Garcia 13th March. To Addu Atoll 15th March. Escorted by HMS SHOREHAM
STAFFORDSHIRE - from Colombo 16th March. To Durban 29th March. Personnel: R.N. 292, Dockyard 125, D.B.S. 17, Families 13. Escorted by HMS CALEDON, VERBENA, and MARGUERITE to 7 degrees 30 minutes N 70 degrees 30 minutes E then by HMS ALAUNIA until dusk 24th March.
DUNERA - from Colombo 14th March. To Bombay 18th March. R.A.F. 1295, Army 131, R.N. 93
AALSUM - from Suez 14th March. To Colombo 28th March. 230 personnel and M.T.
UFFINGHAM COURT - from Suez 14th March. To Colombo 29th March. 261 personnel and M.T.
BENRINNES - from Suez 14th March. To Aden 20th March. From Aden 20th March. To Colombo 29th March. 231 personnel and M.T
STIRLING CASTLE - from Colombo 14th March to Melbourne 28th March. R.N. 182, Army 728, Civilians 115
KAIMATA - from Suez 16th March. To Colombo 27th March. 230 personnel and M.T.
THYSVILLE - from Suez 16th to Port Sudan 20th March. From Suez Personnel 146. From Port Sudan to Aden. Aden to Mombasa.
ILE DE FRANCE - from Bombay 16th March. To Durban 25th March. 61 mercantile crew
KUTSANG - from Calcutta 18th March. To Akyab 20th March. Personnel
JOHAN DE WITT - from Colombo 18th March to Bombay 22nd March. 843 personnel. Escorted by HMS EXPRESS until dark 19th March. Met by HMS FALMOUTH daylight 21st March and escorted to Bombay.
ERINPURA - from Chittagong 17th March. To Akyab 18th March. 1100 personnel
WINSANG - from Chittagong 17th March. To Akyab 18th march. 300 personnel.
NIEUW AMSTERDAM - from Colombo 19th March. To Durban 28th March. 770 Netherlands naval personnel. 600 European passengers.
ERINPURA - from Akyab 20th March. To Calcutta 21st March. R.A.F. 35. Refugees 2000
BRITANNIC - from Bombay 18th March. To Capetown 31st March. Personnel
CHANTILLY - from Mombasa 21st March. To Berbera 28th March. Personnel – unescorted
BURMA - from Mombasa 21st March. To Berbera 28th March. Personnel
EMPIRE SCOTT - from Suez 19th March. To Fremantle 17th April. 250 personnel and M.T.
DUNERA - from Bombay 19th March. To Karachi 21st March. Army and R.A.F. personnel
GLEN PARK - from Suez 18th March. To Fremantle 16th April. 250 personnel and M.T.
SKJELBRED - from Suez 18th March. To Fremantle 9th April. 251 personnel and M.T.
DUKE OF ATHENS - from Suez 19th March. To Fremantle 16th April. 253 personnel and M.T.
SEROOSKERK - from Suez 21st March. To Aden 26th March. From Aden 27th March to Fremantle 18th April. 270 personnel and M.T.
KUTSANG - from Akyab 22nd March. To Calcutta 25th March. 1000 refugees
MAURETANIA - from Durban 23rd March. To Suez 2nd April. 4927 personnel. (unescorted)
ELLENGA - from Akyab 24th March. To Calcutta 26th March. 2000 evacuees
ROHNA - from Bombay 25th March. To Colombo 28th March. 991 personnel escorted by HMIS SONAVATI.
ERINPURA - from Akyab 27th March. To Calcutta 29th March. Personnel. Attacked by 4 engine bomber in 20 degrees 23 minutes N. 90 degrees, 15 minutes E. 28th March. No damage
HEINRICH JESSEN - from Akyab 27th March. To Calcutta 30th March. Personnel
TAKSANG - from Calcutta 24th March. To Akyab. 249 personnel
MARON - from Calcutta 24th March. To Akyab. 50 personnel
DORSET - from Suez 25th March. To Aden 29th March. From Aden 29th March. To Fremantle, 940 personnel
OTRANTO - from Colombo 27th March. To Durban 7th April. R.N. Personnel 75. Military families 37. Dockyard 15, civilians 359
LANCASHIRE - from Basra 29th March. To Bombay. 400 personnel.
MELBOURNE STAR - from Suez 28th March. To Aden 1st April. From Aden 1st April. To Fremantle. 1095 personnel
KAROA - from Bombay 29th March. To Addu Atoll. 304 personnel.
LACONIA - from Bombay 29th March. To Capetown 12th April. Personnel
ORONTES - from Colombo 31st March. To Durban. Personnel 59, service families 94, civilians 306
SALWEEN - from Adelaide 31st March. To Colombo. 90 personnel. 13 released internees.
APPENDIX III to War Records of the Commander in Chief, East Indies Station for the month of March 1942
On March 15th, the Commander in Chief, East Indies, informed the Admiralty that Portuguese sloop GONCALVES ZARCO and the transport JOAO BELO had arrived in Colombo. The Commanding Officer had no orders as to his next destination, and as Colombo Harbour is very congested, the Commander in Chief, East Indies suggested the Portuguese Naval Authorities be asked to agree to the ship sailing for Marmagoa as soon as possible as they have embarked bunkers and water enough for the passage.
The Naval Attaché at Lisbon informed the Admiralty that the Ministry of Marine stated that the ships were bound for Marmagoa but no fuel was available there, and that they would deeply appreciate if the ships could be completed with fuel and water. Attention was called to the fuel facilities conceded to us in the Azores.
On March 17th, the Admiralty informed the Commander In Chief, East Indies, that is was important to our Atlantic fuelling situation that the Portuguese should be given all the fuel and water which they require at Colombo.
On March 19th, the Commander in Chief, East Indies, informed the Admiralty that he had informed the Portuguese Consul in Colombo that the GONCALVES ZARCO should have all the fuel and water required, and that she had sailed filled to capacity.
2. CONDE arrived Tamatave 17th March escorted by D’ENTRECASTEAUX and submarine. Staff Officer (Intelligence) Capetown’s 1040 of 18th March (A 1)
MARECHAL GALLIENI at Diego Suarez 11th March.
SAGITTAIRE expected Tamatave 12th April (part of convoy). Staff Officer (Intelligence) Capetown’s 0950 of 24th March
3. On March 5th, Staff Officer (Intelligence) Capetown stated that in a reported graded A 2 that the French auxiliary Cruiser QUERCY had left Tamatave on March 4th for Fort Dauphin to load mica for France and that she was carrying mails and cargo.
4. On March 12th, Staff Officer (Intelligence) Capetown reported that on examination of photos taken on an air reconnaissance of Diego Suarez showed the following ships present: Sloop D’IBBERVILLE, three submarines (one in dock), the tanker ELORN, German ship WARTENFELS, the Italian ships DUCA DEGLI ABRUZZI and SOMALIA, and one other ship, probably the A.M.C. BOUGANVILLE. One other 6000 ton ship, which could not be identified, was secured bows on to the jetty near the graving dock.
5. On March 13th, the Chief Censor Mauritius reported that on March 12th, a broadcast in Malyache from Madagascar announced that a mail for Europe would leave shortly by warship.
6. On March 24th, Staff Officer (Intelligence) Capetown stated in a report, graded A 2 that an auxiliary cruiser and a submarine had called at Fort Dauphin during the previous week. The cruiser was presumed to be the QUERCY.
7. On March 25th, Staff Officer (Intelligence) Capetown in a report graded B 2 that the French tanker ELORN was due to leave Diego Suarez on March 15th for Dakar with 9000 tones of fuel on board.
8. The Chief Censor Mauritius reported on March 26th that two messages despatched from officers of the VILLE DE VERDUN on March 23rd referred to her impending departure. One telegram stated “silent until middle of May.”
HM NETHERLANDS NAVY
9. On March 1st, Vice Admiral Helfrich announced he had resigned command of the Allied Forces under his command and that all forces except submarines were being withdrawn, the remaining forces being sent to Colombo.
Admiral Helfrich and a number of his staff Officers arrived at Colombo on March 3rd and has set up an organisation to act in co operation with the Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet.
GERMAN SHIPS AT MARMAGOA
10. On March 5th, the Flag Officer Commanding, Royal Indian Navy informed the Commander in Chief, East Indies, that information obtained from the Government of India Intelligence Bureau and graded A 1 stated that the Turkish Government was negotiating for the three German ships at Marmagoa and enquiring if Portuguese crews were available. The information was obtained from highly secret sources and cannot be used at present. HM Government have information and the Turkish Government will presumably ask for their agreement before attempting to move the ships.
11. On March 12th Vice Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton announced that he had assumed duties of the Commander in Chief, Ceylon, and the general direction of all armed forces in Ceylon, with acting rank of Admiral as from 5th March.
On March 11th, the Commander in Chief, Ceylon, informed the Chiefs of Staffs that he did not intend in normal circumstances to exercise supreme command of all the fighting services in Ceylon as appropriate commands already exist for each service.
12. On March 7th, the Flag Officer Commanding, Royal Indian Navy, reported that sabotage attempts on merchants have been made by swimmers attaching explosive charges below the waterline, and any boats in the vicinity of British and Allied Merchant ships from which bathing is being carried out should be regarded with suspicion.
13. On March 11th it was reported from Australia that on March 2nd a torpedo fired by a Japanese submarine passed without exploding directing under the Dutch steamship GENERAL VERSPYCK, who is not degaussed, and it seems clear a magnetic pistol was not employed.
14. On March 19th, the Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet, informed the Admiralty that the following account of the loss of HMAS YARRA had been collected by survivors:
On March 4th at 0630 when approximately 350 miles south of Tjilatjap, three cruisers and four destroyers suddenly emerged and opened heavy fire, scoring several hits. By 0700, it was apparent the ship was sinking and “Abandon Ship” was ordered. Only two Carley Floats got away with 26 survivors, subsequently three Dutch officers and one Chinaman were picked up. Of those on the raft, fifteen from HMAS YARRA died of exhaustion, also two of Dutch officers and the Chinaman. Those remaining were picked up by the Dutch submarine K 10 at 1430 on March 9th.
15. On March 14th the Admiralty announced that there is a good reason to believe that enemy raiders if stopped by British warships have orders to withhold fire until British ship is stopped and is lowering a boat. The raider will not send their own boat if they can avoid doing so.
On March 18th The Admiralty announced on March 14th, an enemy raider had successfully simulated the recognition procedure, and it is apparent the system is compromised. Ships are again warned of this system providing an indication only that that a successful exchange of signals does not constitute proof that a merchant ship is friendly.
German ship WARTENFELS
16. On March 26th, the Admiralty announced that they had received a report graded B 2 that the German ship WARTENFELS was expected to leave Diego Suarez about March 28th with a cargo probably for Europe.
(n.b. no heading, but WARTENFELS ends and Air Reconnaissance of Andaman Islands, et al follows.)
17. Air reconnaissance of the Andaman Island area shows that the Japanese are now using these waters, the following is a summary of sightings”
18. On March 18th the Admiralty announced that the Chiefs of Staff had decided that in the interest of operational and administration efficient command of bases in the Indian Ocean area will be as under:
Except in regard to Adamans and Nicobars, Commander in Chief in Chief India, will exercise control as in (a) above in his capacity as Agent of the War Officer and not in his capacity as member of the Defence Council of the Government of India.
19. On March 22nd, the Admiralty issued instructions that the following message be broadcast:
“The enemy has today broadcast messages purporting to come from owners in Norwegian ships in the Pacific and Indian Oceans offering them bribes to proceed to Japanese controlled ports. These messages should be disregarded. Olsen.”
(n.b. another break with no heading)
20. On March 25th, the Commander in Chief, Ceylon, informed General Headquarters, India that after discussion with Admiral Somerville, it had been agreed the main centre for collation of service intelligence should be situated in Delhi, and at the same time it was agreed the organisation in Ceylon should be known as the Combined Operational Intelligence Centre Ceylon.
Naval Intelligence at Delhi. It is our intention, therefore, that Captain Harkness, together with certain officers now forming part of the Far East Combined Bureau should proceed to establish themselves in Delhi. This will provide the strengthening of Naval Intelligence required for planning and making combined appreciations.
Y ORGANISATION. We are of the opinion that it is essential to retain the Naval “Y” Organisation at Colombo, which includes special intelligence, but we will arrange for the closest possible liaison with India.
21. On March 31st the Commander in Chief, East Indies, ordered a dispersal of shipping in Colombo Harbour.
ACTIVITIES OF JAPANESE SUBMARINES
22. On March 1st, the American ship PRESIDENT POLK when in position 18 degrees 50 minutes North, 71 degrees 54 minutes East reported that a submarine was attempting to follow her. An air search in the vicinity reported a submarine which submerged when sighted.
23. On March 8th, a fisherman reported that when fishing off Udappawa (20 miles north of Chilaw) a submarine surfaced close to his boat and he was questioned by members of her crew. The description given by this fisherman indicated that the submarine was of the “pocket type.”
24. On March 14th, the Norwegian ship MABELLA was sunk in position 14 degrees North 81 degrees 20 minutes East.
25. On March 14th the Greek destroyer AETOS reported that she had carried out an apparently successful depth charge attack in position 6 degrees 52 minutes North, 78 degrees, 57 minutes east.
26. On March 10th, the Ceylonese brig LUKSHMY GOVINDA while en route from Akyab to Jaffna, was sunk by gunfire by a Japanese submarine in position 13 degrees 22 minutes North 87 degrees, 27 minutes east.
27. On March 21st, the S.S. SAN CIRILO, while on passage from Colombo to Melbourne, was torpedoed in position 00 degrees 40 minutes South, 79 degrees 40 minutes East. The ship did not sink and subsequently returned to Colombo under her own power.
28. On March 31st, the S.S. CLAN MCINNESS reported an attack by a submarine in position 7 degrees 48 minutes North 73 degrees 30 minutes East.
29. On March 31st, the S.S. BRITTANY reported sighting a periscope in position 7 degrees 10 minutes North 79 degrees 07 minutes East.
ATTACKS BY JAPANESE AIRCRAFT
30. The Norwegian ship PROMISE was attacked by a 4 engine flying boat in position 19 degrees 38 minutes North, 86 degrees 25 minutes East on March 28th. No damage or casualties were inflicted.
31. The S.S. OLTENIA II was twice attacked by a 4 engine flying boat in position 18 degrees 36 minutes North 85 degrees 33 minutes East on March 29th, and suffered some damage.
APPENDIX IV to Commander in Chief, East Indies Station War Reports for the month of March 1942.
1. Naval Defence
The organisation is as follows:
Note: Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton assumed supreme control in Ceylon as Commander in Chief on 10th March 1942.
EASTERN FLEET SUPPORT VESSELS
with thanks to Rob Stuart
RFA Appleleaf (5,892 tons, 1917)
RFA Pearleaf (5,993 tons, 1917)
British Loyalty (6,993 tons, 1928)
British Genius (8,553 tons, 1939)
British Sergeant (5,868 tons, 1922)
Athelstane (5,571 tons, 1918)
RFA Broomdale (8,334 tons, built 1937)
RFA Bishopdale (8,405 tons, 1937)
RFA Cedardale (8,132 tons, 1939)
Aletta (Dutch, 3,085 tons, 1927)
VICTUALLING STORES ISSUING SHIPS (VSIS)
Taiping (4,324 tons, built 1926)
Changte (apparently a sistership of Taiping)
Demodocus (6689 tons, 1912)
NAVAL STORES ISSUING SHIPS (NSIS)
Hong Siang (launched 1912, 3703 GRT)
ARMAMENT STORES ISSUING SHIPS (ASIS)
No information available
No information available
No information Available
LOCATIONS OF SUPPORT VESSELS ON KEY DATES