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ADMIRALTY WAR DIARIES of WORLD WAR 2

 

WEST AFRICA COMMAND, FREETOWN - January to April 1943

 

Transcribed by Don Kindell

HMS Woodruff, Flower-class corvette, sailed from Freetown, 1st April 1943 (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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West Africa area, September 1939 to March 1942

 

 

 
 

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ADM 199/635

 

FLAG OFFICER IN CHARGE, WEST AFRICA

 

WAR DIARY – JANUARY 1943

 

(Incorporating all War Diaries rendered for January 1943 by subordinate authorities)

 

 

 

PART 1 – OPERATIONAL

 

Friday, 1st January

 

Aircraft reported sighting possible periscope in position 8-30N, 14-30W at 1113.

 

At 1755 hours, aircraft sighted U boat fully surfaced in position 8-30N, 14-25W from the port beam and dropped 6 depth charges set to 25 feet. The nearest was 50 feet from the U boat and forward of the conning tower, the top of which was visible at the time of the attack. Nothing further was observed.

 

C.F. 10 (4 ships) escorted by H.M. Ships HOLCOMBE, ILEX, WOODRUFF, and ASTURIAS sailed from Freetown.

 

Vichy French convoy of 3 merchant vessels sailed from Dakar for the Ivory Coast and Dahomey.

 

F.S. ADMIRAL (n.b. AMIRAL) MOUCHEZ arrived Bathurst.

 

H.M.Ships SARABANDE and COPINSAY sailed from Lagos for screening duties off Accra.

 

F.F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES and H.M.S. ORFASY sailed from Lagos for Takoradi escorting S.S. MATADIAN and S.S. KINGBURY for onward convoy in T.S. 28.

 

H.M.S. HOLCOMBE arrived Freetown and sailed again to join convoy C.F. 10.

 

H.M.S. BIRDLIP and M.L. 302 sailed from Bathurst to Dakar escorting H.T. HAI LEE and S.S. JAMES TURNER.

 

H.M.S. PORTSDOWN sailed from Bathurst escorting S.S. BOTHNICE to join convoy F.F.T. 6.

 

H.M. Ships CROCUS and ILEX sailed from Freetown to carry out A/S search for a U boat.

 

H.M.S. BELLWORT sailed from Bathurst to meet H.M.S. ASTURIAS.

 

Saturday, 2nd January

 

H.M.S. ILEX arrived Bathurst from A/S search off Dakar.

 

H.M. Ships BREDON and BARFOSS arrived Takoradi.

 

H.M. Ships LADY ELSA and WELLARD sailed from Pointe Noire for Bomb on passage to Simonstown.

 

H.M. Ships MILFORD, AMARANTHUS, YESTOR, and MORRIS DANCE sailed from Trinidad to meet convoy F.T.T. 6.

 

A/S search continued off Freetown by H.M.S. CROOME and M.L.s 278, 281, and 289 with air cooperation. H.M.S. CROCUS subsequently returned to Freetown.

 

H.M.S. PICT met S.S. MAIHAR in position M and escorted her to Freetown.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO and H.M.I.S. BALUCHISTAN with M.L.s 252 and 261 arrived Freetown escorting S.S. EMPIRE ELAINE and S.S. NEWCHWANG from Bathurst.

 

H.M.S. PETUNIA sailed from Freetown for the Azores escorting S.S. BASIL.

 

H.M.S. BELLWORT joined convoy C.F. 10.

 

Sunday, 3rd January

 

S.S. ADMIRAL MOUCHEZ sailed from Bathurst.

 

H.M.S. ILEX sailed from Bathurst.

 

H.M.S. BIRDLIP met H.T. HAI LEE off Dakar and escorted her to Bathurst.

 

H.M. Ships ARRAN and ST WISTAN arrived Bathurst from Freetown.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY and F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES arrived Takoradi from Lagos escorting S.S. MATADIAN and S.S. KINGSBURY for inclusion in Convoy T.S. 28.

 

H.M. Ships ORFASY and BREDON and F.S. COMMANDANT D'ENTIENNE D'ORVES with M.L.s 271, 290, and 296 sailed from Takoradi as escorted to convoy T.S. 28.

 

H.M.S. BARFOSS sailed from Takoradi.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH arrived Pointe Noire for fuel.

 

H.M.S. GLENROY escorted by H.M.S. JANUS arrived Pointe Noire from Simonstown and JANUS, having fuelled, both ships sailed again for Takoradi.

 

H.M.S. RUMBA parted company with Convoy S.T. 51.

 

Convoy W.S. 25 (9 ships) sailed from Freetown escorted by H.M. Ships ROCKWOOD, CROCUS, CHESHIRE, ALCANTARA, and QUILLIAM.

 

H.M. Ships BRIDGEWATER and ARMERIA sailed from Trinidad escorting S.S. DAVID STONE and S.S. BENJAMIN SMITH to Marshall (Liberia).

 

H.M.S. BURDOCK arrived Freetown from Gibraltar.

 

H.M.S. MORRIS DANCE returned to Trinidad as she was unable to maintain speed of Convoy F.T.T. 6.

 

H.M.S. PICT with M.L.s 209 and 244 sailed from Freetown escorting S.S. PHRONTIS and S.S. AMSTELKIRK to Takoradi.

 

M.L. s 278, 281, and 289 returned to Freetown from A/S Search off the port.

 

H.M.S. CARNARVON CASTLE sailed from Freetown to intercept Portuguese S.S. QUANZA.

 

H.M. Submarine P.614 left patrol area to return to Freetown.

 

Monday, 4th January

 

U Boat was sighted by H.M. Submarine P.614 in position 8-54N, 17-27W, but dived before an attack could be made.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH sailed from Pointe Noire for Freetown.

 

H.M. Ships HERTFORDSHIRE and LADY ROSEMARY arrived Takoradi.

 

H.M. Ships LADY ELSA and WELLARD arrived Bomba for Pointe Noire, on passage to Simonstown.

 

Tuesday, 5th January

 

H.M. Submarine P.615 on passage to Freetown was attacked by a U boat in position 10-47, 17-16W.

 

Norwegian S.S. TARN reported sighting a U boat in position 5-26N, 1-50E.

 

Portuguese S.S. PUNGUE arrived Freetown for examination and sailed again for Lisbon.

 

H.M. Submarine P.614 arrived Freetown from A/S patrol.

 

H.M. Ships FANDANGO and BUTSER sailed from Freetown for Bathurst escorting S.S. KAJANG and S.S. STARLING.

 

H.M.S. WOODRUFF parted company with H.T. LARGS BAY to make rendezvous with S.S. NORTH MOOR.

 

H.M.S. NORTHERN ISLES arrived Takoradi.

 

Wednesday, 6th January

 

H.M. Submarine P.615 arrived Freetown from the United Kingdom.

 

Portuguese S.S. QUANZA was sighted by aircraft in position 10-30N, 17-30W. H.M.S. CYCLAMEN sailed from Freetown to meet QUANZA and escort her to Freetown.

 

French submarine LA SULTANE attacked off Dakar by aircraft. Identity was established after the attack and submarine returned to Dakar.

 

A/S patrols were carried out with the cooperation of the R.A.F. to search for U boat, which attacked H.M. Submarine P.615 on the previous day.

 

H.M.S. HOLCOMBE arrived Bathurst and sailed again in company with H.M.S. ILEX to escort H.T. HAI LEE for Freetown.

 

M.L.s 263 and 1078 sailed from Takoradi for Lagos.

 

H.M.S. PETUNIA arrived Gibraltar.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES parted company with convoy T.S. 28 to meet convoy W.S. 25 and in company with H.M.I.S. BALUCHISTAN to escort S.S. HIGHLAND BRIGADE to Takoradi.

 

H.M.S. WOODRUFF failed to make rendezvous with S.S. NORTHERN MOOR and proceeded to Bathurst.

 

H.M.S. HERTFORDSHIRE, H.M.S. LADY ROSEMARY, M.L. 263, and M.L. 1078 sailed from Takoradi.

 

Thursday, 7th January

 

H.M.S. CYCLAMEN intercepted Portuguese S.S. QUANZA and escorted her to Freetown.

 

H.M.S. Ships BURDOCK, PETUNIA, and DRANGEY sailed from Gibraltar escorting three merchant vessels to Freetown.

 

H.M.S. BELLWORT arrived Bathurst from patrol.

 

H.M.S. GLENROY escorted by H.M.S. JANUS arrived Takoradi from Pointe Noire and sailed again on passage to Freetown and the United Kingdom.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES and H.M.I.S. BALUCHISTAN arrived Takoradi escorting S.S. HIGHLAND BRIGADE ex convoy W.S. 25.

 

M.L.s 209 and 244 arrived Takoradi from Freetown.

 

H.M.S. PICT arrived off Takoradi escorting S.S. AMSTELKIRK.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU oiled at sea from R.F.A. ORANGE LEAF in convoy F.T.T. 6.

 

Friday, 8th January

 

H.M.S. HOLCOMBE arrived Freetown from Bathurst escorting H.T. HAI LEE.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH arrived Freetown from Pointe Noire having afforded cover to convoy W.S. 25.

 

Netherlands submarine O.19 arrived Freetown on passage to the United Kingdom from Simonstown.

 

H.M.S. ILEX arrived Freetown from Bathurst having parted company with H.M.S. HOLCOMBE to search for M.L. 277.

 

H.M.S. BREDON and H.M.S. ORFASY with M.L.s 271, 290, and 296 arrived off Freetown from Takoradi escorting convoy T.S. 28. Boom gate was jammed and A/S protection was given to ships off the port by escort vessels to convoy T.S. 28 with the addition of six M.L.s. Continuous air cover was also provided during daylight hours by R.N. Air Station, Hastings.

 

H.M.S. BIRDLIP arrived Freetown from patrol.

 

H.M.S. HYDRANGEA oiled at sea from R.F.A. ORANGE LEAF in convoy F.T.T. 6.

 

....(n.b. bottom of page chopped)....

 

Saturday, 9th January

 

Examination of Portuguese S.S. QUANZA completed and she sailed from Freetown for Funchal and Lisbon with navicert.

 

H.M.S. CYCLAMEN with M.L.s 278 and 289 sailed from Freetown escorting H.T. HAI LEE to Bathurst.

 

H.M.S. CORINTHIAN arrived Freetown from Rio de Janeiro.

 

Convoy T.M. 1 heavily attacked by U boats in approximate position 28N, 28W. H.M. Tugs CHARON and AIMWELL sailed from Freetown to make rendezvous with H.M.S. BELLWORT off Bathurst before proceeding to assistance of damaged ships.

 

H.M.S. BREDON sailed from Freetown for Bathurst.

 

H.M.S. ILEX sailed from Freetown for Bathurst to fuel and, if required, to proceed to assistance of convoy T.M. 1.

 

H.M.S. CARNARVON CASTLE left patrol area for Rio de Janeiro in accordance with orders from the Admiralty.

 

H.M. Ships COPINSAY and SARABANDE sailed from Takoradi escorting S.S. CAP PADORAN for Lagos.

 

H.M. Ships MILFORD, AMARANTHUS, and YESTOR from Trinidad took over escort of convoy F.T.T.6 from H.M. Ships HYDRANGEA, DUNCTON, DUNKERY, INKPEN, PORTSDOWN, and F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU.

 

H.M. Ships BRIDGEWATER and ARMERIA met convoy F.T.T. 6 and ARMERIA having oiled from R.F.A. ORANGE LEAF both ships parted company with the convoy and set course for Marshall.

 

H.M.S. CROCUS parted company with convoy W.S. 25 for Pointe Noire.

 

Main Gate of Boom in operation again and convoy T.S. 28 entered harbour.

 

H.M.S. TAMARISK sailed from Freetown for Trinidad.

 

H.M. Ships ST WISTAN and ARRAN sailed from Bathurst for Dakar.

 

H.M.S. BREDON sailed from Freetown to Bathurst to escort H.M. Tugs AIMWELL and CHARON.

 

H.M. Ships COPINSAY and SARABANDE sailed from Takoradi.

 

Sunday, 10th January

 

H.M.S. ILEX sailed from Freetown to assist Convoy T.M. 1 which had been heavily attacked by U Boats. She was subsequently diverted to join H.M.S. HOLCOMBE in A/S search for reported U Boat.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN and H.M.S. ST WISTAN sailed from Bathurst for Dakar to assist escort of a French southbound convoy.

 

H.M. Ships COPINSAY and SARABANDE arrived Lagos escorting S.S. CAP PADORAN for onward escort to Port Harcourt.

 

H.M.S. WOODRUFF arrived Bathurst from Freetown.

 

M.L.s 1077 and 1076 arrived Freetown escorting S.S. PINZON.

 

U.S.S. MEMPHIS and U.S.S. SOMERS arrived Bathurst.

 

Monday, 11 January

 

H.M.S. CYCLAMEN with M.L.s 261 and 289 arrived Bathurst escorting H.T. HAI LEE.

 

H.M.Ships CYCLAMEN, BIRDLIP, BUTSER, FANDANGO sailed from Bathurst for Dakar to reinforce escorts of northbound French convoy.

 

H.M.S. CROCUS arrived Freetown from Pointe Noire.

 

H.M.S. RUMBA arrived Boma from Lagos to dock.

 

Aircraft reported sighting conning tower of U boat in position 2-40N, 26-47W.

 

H.M. Ships PICT and NORTHERN ISLES with M.L. 265 and F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES sailed from Takoradi.

 

R.A.F. reported sighting Portuguese destroyer GONZALUS in position 2-29N, 0-42W, course 200 degrees, and speed 16 knots.

 

H.M.S. CROCUS arrived Pointe Noire from escort duties with convoy W.S. 23 (n.b. W.S. 25) to boiler clean.

 

H.M.S. LADY ELSA and H.M.S. WELLARD sailed from Boma for Walvis Bay.

 

Wednesday, 12th January

 

H.M. Ships GLENROY and JANUS arrived Freetown on passage to the United Kingdom.

 

H.M.S. BELLWORT sailed from Bathurst for Dakar and having arrived returned to Bathurst.

 

H.M.S. CYCLAMEN with three trawlers arrived Dakar from Bathurst.

 

H.M.S. WOODRUFF with M.L.s 287 and 302 sailed from Bathurst for Freetown escorting H.T. HAI LEE.

 

H.M.S. BREDON arrived Bathurst escorting H.M. Tugs AIMWELL and CHARON.

 

H.M. Ships HOLCOMBE and ILEX abandoned U boat search and were ordered to return to Freetown by orders of the Admiralty.

 

H.M.S. DRAGON returning from escorting convoy F.T.T.6 was ordered to proceed to Freetown and H.M.S. HYDRANGEA to Bathurst.

 

H.M.S. PETUNIA was ordered to detach H.M.S. BURDOCK to proceed to Bathurst.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES escorting convoy T.S. 29 reported sighting a U boat in position 4-33N, 2-24W.

 

H.M. Ships HERTFORDSHIRE and LADY ROSEMARY arrived and sailed for Pointe Noire.

 

Wednesday, 13th January

 

(n.b. one line at top of page chopped)

 

Convoy KX.8 in about latitude 25 degrees North.

 

H.M.S. GLENROY and H.M.S. JANUS sailed from Freetown for the United Kingdom.

 

H.M.S. ILEX arrived Freetown from A/S patrol.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY sailed from Freetown to meet southbound French convoy.

 

H.M.S. BREDON with M.L.s 278 and 1072 sailed from Bathurst to Freetown escorting H.M. Tug CHARON, S.S. STARLING, and S.S. KAJANG.

 

H.M. Ships CYCLAMEN, BELLWORT, BUTSER, BIRDLIP, and FANDANGO sailed from Dakar for Casablanca escorting convoy D.64 which was also escorted by French Ships DUMONT and DURVILLE.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES parted company with escort of convoy T.S. 28 to screen BRISTOL COAST off Marshall.

 

The President of the United States of America arrived in Bathurst on his way to the Casablanca conference.

 

M.L. 265 arrived Takoradi.

 

M.L.s 1018 and 1014 sailed from Takoradi to investigate R.A.F. report of oil patch and sharks in approximate position 4-33N, 1-24W.

 

H.M.S. NORTHERN ISLES arrived Lagos from Takoradi for dynamo repairs, before proceeding to Simonstown.

 

H.M. Ships HERTFORDSHIRE and LADY ROSEMARY arrived Banana from Pointe Noire and sailed again for Walvis Bay having disembarked balance of crew of H.M.S. MERCATOR.

 

Thursday, 14th January

 

H.M.S. HOLCOMBE returned to Freetown from A/S patrol.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN arrived Freetown having parted company with French southbound convoy.

 

H.M.S. WOODRUFF with M.L. 302 and 287 arrived Freetown from Bathurst escorting H.T. HAI LEE.

 

M.L. 290 and 281 sailed from Freetown for Dakar escorting S.S. PONCE.

 

H.M. Submarine P.614 sailed from Freetown for Simonstown via Takoradi where she was ordered to carry out A/S training.

 

H.M.S. BURDOCK arrived Bathurst and sailed again to meet convoy KX.8.

 

M.L.s 1077 and 1076 arrived Bathurst from Freetown escorting S.S. PINZON.

 

M.L. 279 returned to Freetown from escorting H.M. Submarine P.614.

 

M.L.s 1018 and 1014 returned to Takoradi after negative result to investigation of R.A.F. report of oil patch and sharks in approximate position 4-33N, 2-24W.

 

Friday, 15th January

 

H.M.S. HOLCOMBE sailed from Freetown for Takoradi escorting H.T. HAI LEE.

 

H.M. Tug CHARON arrived Freetown from Bathurst.

 

M.L.s 305 and 251 sailed from Freetown to assist H.M.S. ST WISTAN to screen S.S. BRISTOL COAST, S.S. DAVID STONE, and S.S. BENJAMIN SMITH off Marshall.

 

H.M.S. HYDRANGEA arrived Bathurst from escort duties with convoy F.T.T. 6.

 

H.M.S. BREDON with M.L.s 278 and 1072 arrived Freetown escorting H.M. Tug CHARON, S.S. STARLING, and S.S. KAJANG.

 

H.M. Ships SARABANDE and COPINSAY sailed for Port Harcourt escorting S.S. CAP PADORAN.

 

H.M. TURCOMAN sailed from Takoradi to dock at Lagos.

 

H.M.S. BELLWORT parted company with convoy D.64 to make a rendezvous with convoy K.X. 8.

 

Belgian Training Ship MERCATOR taken over by the Royal Navy at Banana from the Belgian Government for the purpose of providing a submarine accommodation ship at Freetown.

 

H.M. Ships GLENROY and JANUS arrived Bathurst and sailed again for the United Kingdom.

 

M.L. 1018 sailed from Takoradi for further investigation of oil patch reported by the R.A.F. on the 12th January.

 

Saturday, 16th January

 

H.M.S. CORINTHIAN attacked confirmed submarine contact in position 23-34N, 16-34W. H.M.S. BELLWORT was ordered by H.M.S. CORINTHIAN to remain in the area while she rejoined convoy F.T.T. 6. There was no evidence that the attack was successful.

 

M.L. 1018 returned to Takoradi after further investigation of oil patch reported by the R.A.F. on the 12th January and reported that a submarine was observed stationary on the surface in position 04-44N, 1-54W and that she had also sighted the oil patch, samples of which were brought back.

 

H.M.S. NORTHERN ISLES sailed from Lagos, reports of her dynamo having been completed, for Walvis Bay en route to Simonstown.

 

H.M.S. ARMERIA arrived Freetown having escorted H.M.S. PHOEBE to Trinidad.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU and H.M.S. CORINTHIAN arrived Freetown from escorting duties with convoy F.T.T. 6.

 

H.M.S. PICT and F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES arrived Freetown from Takoradi escorting convoy T.S. 29.

 

H.M. Ships PETUNIA and DRANGEY arrived Freetown from Gibraltar escorting three ships ex convoy K.M.S. 6.

 

H.M.N.S. O.19 sailed from Freetown to refit in the United Kingdom.

 

H.M. Ships MILFORD, TAMARISK, AMARANTHUS, and YESTOR sailed from Trinidad for New Orleans.

 

H.M.S. GLENROY developed engine trouble off Dakar and H.M. Tug AIMWELL was ordered to proceed to her assistance but recalled to Bathurst. H.M.S. GLENROY reported she was able to proceed at 11 knots and was ordered to return to Bathurst with H.M.S. JANUS.

 

H.M.S. HYDRANGEA sailed from Bathurst to meet convoy K.X. 8.

 

H.M.S. WOODRUFF arrived Freetown from Bathurst.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO arrived Freetown from escorting convoy D.64.

 

H.M.S. SARABANDE and H.M.S. COPINSAY arrived Port Harcourt from Lagos.

 

H.M.S. CARNATIC sailed for Freetown from Gibraltar.

 

H.M. Ships INKPEN and PORTSDOWN arrived Bathurst.

 

Sunday, 17th January

 

H.M.S. GLENROY and H.M.S. JANUS arrived Bathurst and sailed again for the United Kingdom via Ponta Delgada.

 

H.M.S. TURCOMAN arrived Lagos from Takoradi for docking and refit.

 

H.M.S. BRIDGEWATER arrived Marshall with S.S. BENJAMIN SMITH and S.S. DAVID STONE and sailed again for Freetown.

 

M.L.s 281 and 290 sailed from Dakar for Bathurst having turned over the escort of S.S. PONCE to F.S. W.72. Both M.L.s subsequently arrived at Bathurst.

 

M.L.s 1014 and 1018 from Trinidad carried out A/S search to the west of 3-30W and in the area of the oil patch, which was reported by the R.A.F. on the 12th January.

 

Monday, 18th January

 

H.M. Ships DUNCTON and DUNKERY arrived Freetown from escorting convoy F.T.T. 6.

 

H.M.S. BRIDGEWATER arrived Freetown from Trinidad escorting S.S. BENJAMIN SMITH and S.S. DAVID STONE to Marshall.

 

H.M.I.S. BALUCHISTAN sailed from Takoradi for Walvis Bay calling at Pointe Noire for fuel.

 

H.M. Ships HOLCOMBE and ORFASY arrived Takoradi escorting H.T. HAI LEE.

 

Convoy F.T.T. 6 arrived Trinidad without loss.

 

M.L. 263 sailed from Lagos for Takoradi.

 

H.M.S. PICT with M.L.s 271 and 279 sailed from Freetown for Bathurst and Dakar escorting S.S. BELMOR and S.S. CALMAR.

 

M.L. 1018 and 1014 returned to Takoradi from A/S search.

 

H.M.S. CROCUS sailed from Pointe Noire to Matadi.

 

Tuesday, 19th January

 

H.M. DUNCTON, F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU with M.L.s 261 and 278 sailed from Freetown to escort convoy S.T. 53 to Takoradi.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES sailed from Freetown to assist escort of convoy S.T. 53 to Takoradi.

 

U Boat situation made it desirable to cancel all independent sailings between Freetown and Takoradi, but on receipt of further information from the Admiralty, it was considered that independent sailing could be resumed and the order was subsequently canceled.

 

H.M. Submarine P.614 arrived at Takoradi to carry out A/S exercises before proceeding to join the South Atlantic Station.

 

M.L. 263 arrived Takoradi from Lagos.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO sailed from Freetown for Bathurst.

 

H.M.S. CROCUS arrived Matadi from Pointe Noire.

 

H.M.S. MERCATOR (ex Belgian Training Ship) sailed from Banana for Lagos, on passage to Freetown escorted by H.M.S. RUMBA.

 

Wednesday, 20th January

 

H.M.S. DUNKERY sailed from Freetown for Marshall to relieve H.M.S. ST WISTAN. Subsequently she was ordered to proceed to position 9-20N, 15-10W where a submarine was sighted by aircraft at 1331. H.M.S. CORINTHIAN was ordered to part company with Convoy K.X. 8 and carry out an A/S search in the same area. The search was unsuccessful and both ships were ordered to return to Freetown.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO arrived Bathurst from Freetown.

 

H.M.S. PICT sailed from Freetown for Bathurst escorting S.S. BELMOR.

 

H.M.S. BURDOCK took over as Senior Officer from H.M.S. CORINTHIAN in convoy K.X. 8.

 

Thursday, 21st January

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH sailed from Freetown for Dakar so as to be present during the negotiations between the Flag Officer Commanding, West Africa and Vice Admiral Collinet.

 

H.M.S. Ships ALCANTARA and WOODRUFF sailed from Freetown for Kingston (Jamaica), to provide ocean escort for A.F.D. XXIV.

 

H.M.S. CORINTHIAN arrived Freetown from escort duties with convoy K.X. 8 and A/S search off the port.

 

H.M.S. DUNKERY arrived Freetown from A/S search off the port.

 

Convoy K.X. 8 dispersed in position 5-47N, 15-23W escorted returning to Freetown independently.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN sailed from Freetown to relieve H.M.S. ST WISTAN off Marshall.

 

H.M. Ships CYCLAMEN, BUTSER, and BIRDLIP arrived Freetown from Casablanca.

 

H.M.S. PICT detached S.S. CALMAR off Dakar and returned to Bathurst.

 

M.L.s 271 and 279 arrived Bathurst.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO sailed from Bathurst.

 

M.L.s 244 and 209 sailed from Takoradi.

 

Friday, 22nd January

 

H.M. Ships BELLWORT, BURDOCK, BREDON, and HYDRANGEA arrived Freetown escorting convoy KX. 8.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN which sailed to relieve H.M.S. ST WISTAN off Marshall was ordered to return to Freetown as all merchant ships discharging off the Liberian surf port had sailed.

 

H.M.S. DUNKERY with M.L.s 251 and 302 sailed from Freetown escorting S.S. KAMA and S.S. MACGREGOR LAIRD with R.A.F. stores for Port Etienne and thence to meet and escort southbound convoy from Gibraltar from latitude 20 degrees North.

 

H.M. Ships PORTSDOWN and INKPEN with M.L.s 281 and 290 sailed from Bathurst for Freetown escorting five merchant vessels and one Boom Defence Vessel.

 

H.M.S. PICT arrived Bathurst from Dakar.

 

H.M.I.S. BALUCHISTAN arrived Pointe Noire from Freetown for fuel and sailed again for Simonstown.

 

H.M.S. ILEX sailed from Freetown escorting S.S. PRIAM.

 

Aircraft operating from Port Etienne reported sighting a U boat on the surface in position 27-41N, 13-58W.

 

F.S. JULES VERNE arrived Bathurst.

 

M.L.s 281 and 290 sailed from Bathurst.

 

H.M.S. HOLCOMBE sailed from Takoradi.

 

Submarine P.614 and surface craft carried out A/S exercises off Takoradi.

 

Saturday, 23rd January

 

H.M. Ships CORINTHIAN and ARRAN with M.L.s 1160 and 1087 sailed from Freetown to Bathurst escorting S.S. MALADIAN, S.S. TREFUSIS, S.S. CHATEAU ROND, and S.S. PINTO and thence to meet H.T.s BERGENSFIORD, LEOPOLDVILLE, and ORBITA in latitude 20N on the 28th January.

 

H.M.S. ST WISTAN arrived Freetown from screening duties off Marshall.

 

H.M.S. PETUNIA and H.M.S. ARMERIA sailed from Freetown for A/S exercises and on completion to overtake H.M.S. CORINTHIAN.

 

H.M.S. PICT with M.L.s 271 and 279 sailed from Bathurst escorting S.S. BELMOR to Freetown.

 

U.S.S. BENJAMIN SMITH sunk by U boat off Cape Palmas having sailed unescorted from Marshall, without approval of the Flag Officer Commanding, West Africa.

 

H.M. Ships SARABANDE and COPINSAY sailed from Lagos and arrived Takoradi.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU and F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES, H.M.S. DUNCTON and M.L.s 261 and 278 arrived Freetown from Takoradi escorting convoy S.T. 53.

 

H.M.S. CYCLAMEN sailed from Casablanca escorting H.T. BERGENSFIORD.

 

An U.S. Aircraft reporting sighting a U boat in position 2-25N, 2-56W.

 

H.M.S. DUNCTON and F.F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU and F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES with M.L.s 261 and 278 arrived Takoradi.

 

Sunday, 24th January

 

H.M.S. CARNATIC arrived Freetown on passage from the United Kingdom to Simonstown.

 

M.L. 305 sailed from Freetown to screen S.S. MALAKAL off Sulima.

 

U boat was sighted by aircraft in position 4-35N, 9-54W at 1058.

 

S.S. PALACIO was ordered to return to Takoradi and independent sailings between that port and Freetown were cancelled. An air search was instituted and the route of H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS was altered. H.M.S. PENN was also ordered to reinforce her escort to Freetown.

 

H.M.S. MERCATOR escorted by H.M.S. RUMBA sailed from Pointe Noire for Lagos.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU sailed from Takoradi escorting H.T. HAI LEE to Lagos.

 

H.M. Ships SARABANDE and COPINSAY sailed from Takoradi for Lagos escorting S.S. CAP PADORAN.

 

(n.b bottom of page chopped).

 

Monday, 25th January

 

H.M. Ships PORTSDOWN and INKPEN arrived Freetown escorting four merchant vessels.

 

M.L. 281 arrived Freetown escorting H.M.S. BARDELL who had straggled from her convoy.

 

Destroyers PATHFINDER and PANTHER arrived Freetown from Gibraltar to provide onward escort for H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS.

 

H.M. Ships ILLUSTRIOUS, ILEX, and HOLCOMBE arrived Freetown on passage from the Cape. H.M.S PENN was ordered to part company with H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS to search for Fleet Air Arm aircraft which was reported missing, but had in fact landed at the R.n. Air Station, Hastings. H.M.S. PENN subsequently arrived Freetown.

 

H.M.S. PICT with M.L.s 271 and 274 arrived Freetown from Bathurst escorting S.S. BELNOR.

 

Aircraft reported sighting U boat in position 19-12N, 17-15W.

 

U boat sighted by aircraft in position 27-41N, 13-58W.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY sailed from Takoradi for Accra escorting H.M. B.D.V.s BARFOSS and CONSBRO.

 

H.M.S. CROCUS sailed from Banana escorting S.S. RHESUS to Takoradi.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU arrived Lagos escorting H.T. HAI LEE from Takoradi.

 

Submarine P.614 sailed from St Vincent for Bathurst.

 

H.M. Ships BRIDGEWATER and ST WISTAN carried out A/S exercises with a submarine.

 

Wednesday, 26th January

 

H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS escorted by H.M. Ships PATHFINDER, PANTHER, HOLCOMBE, and ILEX sailed from Freetown for Gibraltar.

 

M.L.s 209 and 244 arrived Takoradi escorting tanker JENNY.

 

H.M.S. BRIDGEWATER sailed from Freetown escorting S.S. RHEXINOR towards Trinidad as far as approximately 35W where she is to meet tanker NORSOL and escort her to Freetown.

 

H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS diverted on account of U boat situation.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY escorting H.M.B.D.V. BARFOSS and H.M.B.D.V. CONSBRO arrived Accra from Takoradi to lay oil pipeline.

 

M.L. 285 sailed from Pointe Noire for Lagos after six week refit, escorting S.S. BELGIAN FISHERMAN.

 

French ships COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES sailed from Lagos for Pointe Noire to escort H.T. HAI LEE to Matadi.

 

H.M. Ships SARABANDE and COPINSAY arrived Lagos from Takoradi.

 

French source reported U.66 close inshore off coast of Rio de Oro about 70 miles north of La Aguena.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN arrived Bathurst with M.L.s 1089 and 1160.

 

H.M.S. PENN arrived Bathurst.

 

Coast defence exercises carried out at Takoradi.

 

Wednesday, 27th January

 

H.M.S. ARRAN sailed from Bathurst for Dakar.

 

H.M.S. CYCLAMEN parted company from south bound convoy and proceeded to Port Etienne.

 

H.M.S. HOLCOMBE ordered to fuel at Bathurst and then rejoin escort to H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS.

 

Aircraft reported U Boat on the surface in position 14-36N, 17-26W.

 

Thursday, 28th January

 

Transit aircraft reported sighting intermittent oil patches extending over length of 50 miles seen from position 4-25N, 5-31W. This aircraft also reported what appeared to be two landing barges lashed together and a considerable amount of wreckage in position 4-46N, 5-27W.

 

H.M.S. DUNCTON and M.L.s 265 and 263 sailed from Takoradi to investigate this report, which was believed to be the wreckage of S.S. BENJAMIN SMITH.

 

H.M.H.S. ATLANTIS arrived Freetown.

 

M.L. 305 returned to Freetown from screening S.S. MALAKAL off Sulima.

 

H.M. Ships ST WISTAN and BARDELL sailed from Freetown for Takoradi.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO arrived Bathurst from St Vincent.

 

F.S. GEORGES LEYGUES sailed from Dakar on enemy surface raider patrol in the St Pauls Rocks area.

 

H.M.S. CYCLAMEN arrived Port Etienne.

 

H.M.S. CROCUS arrived Takoradi from Pointe Noire.

 

H.M.S. PICT with M.L.s 277 and 296 carried out A/S exercises with a submarine.

 

Friday, 29th January

 

H.M. Ships BELLWORT, DRANGEY, and PICT with M.L.s 305 and 279 sailed from Freetown to Takoradi escorting Convoy S.T. 54 (3 ships).

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH sailed from Dakar for Freetown on completion of negotiations between the Flag Officer Commanding, West Africa, and Vice Admiral Collinet.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN sailed from Freetown for Bathurst escorting S.S. PONCE and S.S. CALMAR.

 

F.S. JULES VERNE arrived Dakar from Bathurst.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO with M.L.s 1077 and 1076 sailed from Bathurst for Freetown escorting S.S. EMPIRE LIMBA.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU arrived Pointe Noire from Lagos.

 

H.M. Ships BREDON and BELLWORT carried out A/S exercises with a submarine.

 

H.M. Ships BELLWORT, PORTSDOWN, DRANGEY, PICT, and BREDON carried out full calibre L.A. practice firings.

 

An empty raft was sighted by aircraft in position 6-55N, 21-28W.

 

H.M.H.S. ATLANTIS sailed from Freetown for Capetown.

 

F.S. ADMIRAL MOUCHEZ arrived Takoradi.

 

Saturday, 30th January

 

Aircraft attacked U boat in position 12-08N, 20-30W at 1356 hours, dropping 6 depth charges. Nos. 1, 2, and 3 fell just wide of the port bow, No. 4 was a near miss on the port beam, No. 5 was a direct hit between the conning tower and the stern, and No. 6 was under stern. U Boat lost in upheaval. Large oil patch 100 feet by 50 feet was seen, no bubbles, U boat surfaced suddenly, nose up at an angle of 45 degrees, remained awash for 8 minutes. Aircraft machine gunned conning tower. No sign of personnel. U Boat attempted to surface a second time but slowly sank back.

 

Two barges were seen beached in position 5-10N, 3-31W and 2 more in position 5-13N, 4-06W at 1410 hours.

 

H.M. Ships BURDOCK, PORTSDOWN, and BREDON with M.L.s 271, 277, 290, and 296 sailed from Freetown escorting S.S. CALGARY, WICKENBURGH, and TICONDEROGA to Bathurst, S.S. OUAD FEY to Dakar, and S.S. JENNY to vicinity of Port Etienne for onward passage to Gibraltar.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH arrived Freetown from Dakar.

 

M.L.s 279 and 305 returned to Freetown from escorting Convoy S.T. 54.

 

French ships RICHELIEU and MONTCALM sailed from Dakar for Bermuda.

 

H.M.S. CYCLAMEN sailed from Port Etienne for Bathurst.

 

H.M. Ships ARMERIA and PETUNIA arrived Freetown from Dakar escorting H.T. BERGENSFIORD.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES arrived Pointe Noire from Takoradi.

 

H.M.S. CORINTHIAN arrived Freetown from Bathurst escorting S.S. ORBITA.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU sailed from Pointe Noire for Banana escorting H.T. HAI LEE to embark U.S. Troops at Matadi.

 

Sunday, 31st January

 

Sixty eight survivors from S.S. BENJAMIN SMITH landed at Amanahia, Ivory Coast.

 

The pilot of a U.S. Transit Aircraft reported sighting one U boat in position 2-10N, 11-45W and another in position 5-45N, 10-30W.

 

H.M.S. PETUNIA arrived Bathurst from Dakar and sailed again to return to Dakar.

 

M.L.s 263 and 256 returned to Takoradi after investigation of wreckage reported by aircraft on the 26th January. No sign of any wreckage was seen.

 

H.M. Ships COPINSAY and MERCATOR sailed from Lagos to Takoradi to join convoy T.S. 30.

 

M.L. 285 arrived Lagos from Pointe Noire escorting S.S. BELGIAN FISHERMAN.

 

H.M. Submarine P.614 arrived Pointe Noire from Takoradi for fuel and sailed again for Simonstown.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU arrived Banana and sailed again escorting H.T. TAI LEE to Duala.

 

H.M.S. WOODRUFF arrived Trinidad from Freetown with H.M.S. ALCANTARA.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO with M.L.s 1076 and 1077 arrived Freetown from Bathurst escorting S.S. EMPIRE LIMBA.

 

H.M.S. CARNATIC sailed from Freetown for Point Noire for passage to Simonstown.

 

H.M.S. PICT detached from Convoy S.T 54 to escort S.S. HOGGAR to Port Bouet.

 

 

PART II – GENERAL

 

U Boat activity

 

There has been little U boat activity during the month and only two merchant ships have been torpedoed.

 

U Boat sightings and attacks by aircraft and H.M. ships have been reported in PART I of this diary, on the days they took place as also reports on Merchant Vessels torpedoed in these waters.

 

Employment of Escort Forces

 

All vessels during the month have been employed on local escort duties, with the exception of MILFORD, TAMARISK, AMARANTHUS, and WESTON and MORRIS DANCE who were under the orders of the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, until required to escort the Floating Dock from New Orleans to Freetown. These ships are now docking and MORRIS DANCE is being retubed.

 

CORINTHIAN arrived Freetown on 9th January from Rio de Janeiro, where she was docked.

 

All ships detached during December are still absent from West Africa.

 

Three destroyers, ADRIAS, QUADRANT, and REDOUBT, due to arrive on 6th January, have been allocated to my command until relieved by MALCOLM, WOLVERINE, and WITCH who will form part of the Freetown Escort Force.

 

RUMBA completed docking in Boma on 17th January, and in due course will return to Freetown.

 

Refits

 

TURCOMAN is at present refitting in Lagos.

 

SNOWDROP, COWSLIP, SOUTHERN PRIDE, and SOUTHERN GEM are refitting in the United Kingdom, and VIOLET and AUBRETIA are still working under command of the Commander in Chief, Western Approaches.

 

Training.

 

Exercises

 

A/S exercises have been carried out on every possible occasion, but the training submarine was not ready until 14th January and very few A/S vessels were available during the first half of the month.

 

Altogether one sloop, five corvettes, six trawlers, and five motor launches each carried out at least one practice.

 

PETUNIA, ARMERIA, and P.615 carried out night exercise on the night of 23rd/24th January. After an A/S P.8 during which PETUNIA fired her hedgehog, exercises were continued with the submarine on the surface until about 0230. Both corvettes fired Star Shell after gaining R.D.F. contact and Snowflakes were used when the submarine was at close range.

 

Rifle practices

 

Parties have been landed from WOODRUFF, BRIDGEWATER, and P.615 and have carried out Rifle Practice on the Goderich Rifle Range.

 

Full Calibre Practice Firings

 

During the month two visiting destroyers, one sloop, one corvette, an four trawlers carried out full calibre practices.

 

Unfortunately, no sleeve towing aircraft have been available so H.A. practices have not been possible.

 

On 24th January, H.M.S. P.614 and surface craft carried out A/S exercises off Takoradi.

 

D.E.M.S.

 

During the month 166 officers and men from visiting merchant ships have been instructed in the Merchant Navy A/A gunnery course, which after the 21st January was extended to three days, in accordance with the latest instructions.

 

The Dome teacher has been used for instruction since the 12th January and, in addition to the training of the D.E.M.S. ratings, it has also been used by the H.A. crews from H.M. ships in harbour.

 

Local Defence Exercises

 

At Lagos an exercise was carried out during the week commencing the 25th January to test the alertness of the local defence and all available H.D.M.L.s took part.

 

At Takoradi, M.l. 1014 acted as a target vessel for the C.D. searchlight exercises, which were carried out on the 15th January.

 

Neutral Shipping

 

Portuguese S.S. PUNGUE and S.S. QUANZA arrived in Freetown for examination and after the granting of Navicerts sailed for Funchal and Lisbon on the 5th and 9th January respectively.

 

S.S. QUANZA had previously sailed for Loanda with a navicert and as she had given no assurance that she would call at Freetown and was suspected of having a German Agent on board, stops were taken to intercept her which was done by H.M.S. CYCLAMEN, who escorted her to Freetown.

 

Cooperation with Vichy French in West Africa

 

Although final and detailed arrangements were not made for the coordination of the French naval and air forces and facilities with the British in West Africa until 29th January, certain provisional arrangements were made to assist the French by providing air and sea escorts for convoys, whenever practical, and shipping information was exchanged.

 

On the 10th January, two British trawlers were provided to assist in the protection of a French convoy bound from Dakar to the Ivory Coast and on 12th January the escort of a northbound convoy to Casablanca was reinforced by British escort vessels and air cover was provided.

 

On 11th January, Vichy French aircraft were given permission to fly over British West Africa territory, provided they remained 12 miles outside defended areas or, if wishing to land, obeyed the local approach regulations.

 

Also on the 11th January, a French Submarine exercise area was declared bounded on the west by the meridian of Gorce Island, on the North and East by the coast of Senegal, and on the south by the parallel of 14-23 North.

 

On Friday, 22nd January 1943, at the invitation of Rear Admiral Glassford, head of the United States Military Mission, and of Vice Admiral Collinet, Commandant de la Marine, Dakar, the Flag Officer Commanding, West Africa visited Dakar in company with the Air Officer Commanding, West Africa, Air Vice Marshall J.B. Cole-Hamilton, C.B.E., to discuss final, detailed arrangements for the coordination of effort from a naval point of view of the facilities made available from the successful negotiations between Admiral Glassford and the French authorities in Dakar.

 

The details of his visit and the agreement reached between the British Flag Officer Commanding, in West Africa, and Vice Admiral Collinet, Commandant de la Marine, Dakar, have been fully reported in his message 1721Z/25/1/43 from British Liaison Officer, Dakar, and in a subsequent report with enclosure to the Secretary of the Admiralty, No. 137/1440, dated 31st January 1943.

 

Extension of West African Area of Command

 

As a result of the negotiations at Dakar the area of the W.A. command was altered on the 29th January so as to extend the Northern limit of 26-10N.

 

At the same time, it was agreed that the coast of French West Africa between Cape Bojador and the boundary between French Guinea and Sierra Leone should became an independent French Command under a Flag Officer at Dakar, but for operational purposes, should remain under the direction of the British Flag Officer Commanding, West Africa (A.M. 2216A/29/1/43 refers).

 

Convoys and Shipping

 

During the month, 49 vessels arrived in Freetown and of those 3 were ex ON and O.N.S. convoys, 8 were ex T.S. convoys and 3 had been detached from K.M.S. convoys.

 

Departures during the same period, numbered 61 and of these 8 were sailed in S.T. convoys, 9 in W.S. convoys, 4 in C.F. convoy, 8 in S.R. convoy, and the remainder were independently routed.

 

On the 12th January, an officer from N.C.S. at Freetown was sent to Dakar to open up a N.C.S. sub office.

 

The Naval Control Service Officer, Acting Captain H.W. Shove, O.B.E., D.S.O., R.N. (ret) returned from his tour of West African ports on 16th January and his report was forwarded to the Secretary of the Admiralty under cover of my 233/122 of 2nd March 1943.

 

In view of the report of U boats being present, all independent sailings of ships from Takoradi to Freetown were cancelled from 19th January and on 24th January all independent sailings from Takoradi to the westward were also cancelled and ships ordered to assemble at that port to await escort.

 

Change of Command at Takoradi

 

 Captain W.H. Sandford, R.N. assumed the duties of the Naval Officer in Charge, Takoradi, as from A.M. 12th January vice Commander A.G. Boyce, R.N.

 

Air Passages to the United Kingdom

 

Owing to a variety of causes air passages to the United Kingdom from Lagos have become increasingly difficult.

 

Six naval officers spent four weeks at Lagos awaiting onward air passage to England and were ordered eventually to proceed by sea.

 

H.M. Belgian Training Ship MERCATOR

 

On the 18th January, the ex Belgian Training Ship MERCATOR was handed over to the Royal Navy and subsequently sailed from the River Congo for Freetown where she will be employed as a accommodation ship for the crews of submarines based on that port.

 

 

 

PART III - ADMINISTRATIVE

 

Freetown

 

Rainfall - There was practically no rainfall during the month, but 30,277 tons of water were supplied to ships in harbour.

 

Degaussing - Nine H.M. ships and twenty two merchant ships were tested over the open range and also one ship of the Royal Netherlands Navy.

 

D.E.M.S. - 155 visits were made to Merchant Vessels passing through Freetown and three ships were fitted with short range A/A armament including Oerlikons and Hotchkiss with their mountings and magazine lockers.

 

The miniature tracer range building on the Firing Range had almost been completed.

 

Controlling Mining - On the first two days of the month, divers were employed to recover the M.16 Loop junction box, which was repaired and continuity has now been found to be correct.

 

The G.L. Loop, M.14 Loop, G.L.13 Loop, and the M.13 Loop were laid between the 10th and the 28th January.

 

Naval Store Department - During January, S.S. CALGARY discharged 400 tons of naval stores from the United Kingdom and S.S. TICONDEROGA arrived from Curacao and discharged 8467 tons of oil fuel to Kissy oil tanks.

 

Occasions have arisen, when it has been found necessary to despatch urgent stores by air to Bathurst, Takoradi, Lagos, Pointe Noire, and Ascension Island.

 

Owing to the present shipping situation the replenishment of stocks has been seriously affected and the position in regard to Motor Transport has become acute owing to lack of spares.

 

Bathurst

 

Buildings and Improvements - The work on the officers quarters at the Marina was allocated a lower priority in favour of the Boom Defence Depot, but the buildings are habitable although minor details have yet to be completed.

 

The site for the Ammunition Depot has been cleared and the Deputy Armament Supply Officer from Freetown is expected to arrive shortly to report on its suitability before work is continued.

 

The work on the Admiralty pier has proceeded so slowly that it was decided to cancel the contract with the local firm and turn it over to the Army Construction and Repair Unit, who expect to complete it in March 1943.

 

The work on the new S.D.O. has progressed well and should be ready for occupation in the very near future.

 

The trial well to augment the local water supply has been tested by the Public Works Department, but although they reached a depth of 130 feet no real supply of water has yet been found.

 

Improvements and many necessary repairs have been effected in the Ratings' barracks and a library and recreation room has been opened for the use of all personnel.

 

Sickness - Out of a total establishment of 19 Officers and 120 ratings, 1 officer and 26 ratings were admitted to hospital and 2 Officers and 24 ratings were discharged.

 

Boom Defence - All work in connection with the laying of the boom was suspended on the 13th January in view of Their Lordships' decision to cancel this project and although the Capstan at the Boom Defence Depot was bedded down and the Offices nearly completed, no further alterations and additions will be undertaken.

 

Takoradi

 

Buildings and Improvements - The fourth sleeping block for Officers in the R.N. Barracks was completed during the month and work was continued on the additional sleeping block for ratings.

 

Five blocks were commenced in the new barracks for African ratings and the new Winch House on the breakwater was almost completed.

 

Sickness - During January, 36 cases were admitted to Hospital, and of these 24 were suffering from malaria.

 

Lagos

 

Docking and Repairs - During the month, H.M.S. TURCOMAN was docked and refitting, M.L. 1078 was surveyed and repairs were carried out to the main dynamo and donkey engine of H.M.S. NORTHERN ISLES

 

Sickness - The general health has remained good and although 49 cases were admitted to hospital with malaria, this number is not above the average for the last six months, but unfortunately two deaths occurred which were attributable to Malignant Malaria.

 

Buildings and Improvements - Approval was given by the Resident Naval Officer, Lagos, for the construction of a concrete building in the grounds of the R.N. barracks to take a type 60 W/T transmitted and an R.A.F. transmitter, which is being despatched from Freetown. It is proposed that both sets shall be remote control from the Naval Offices and two aerial masts 70 feet high will also be erected in the barracks' grounds.

 

No other construction has taken place at Lagos during January.

 

Royal Naval Air Station Komenda

 

Welfare and Recreation - The N.A.A.F.I. Canteen was opened during the month and has added greatly to the amenities of the Station. Further work was also carried out in preparation of hockey and cricket grounds.

 

Motor Transport - There are now 38 vehicles on the station including 8 Water tankers which arrived during the month and Fleet Air Arm and Royal Air Force technical ratings have been employed on the maintenance of this transport.

 

Progress in Construction Unit - Work has continued on all construction and has progressed satisfactorily.

 

With the exception of No. 2 runway and the Northern Taxi tracks less important items such as the No. 2 Motor Transport Garage and Car Park, all works are more then 70% completed and in many cases are nearing final completion.

 

Pointe Noire

 

Work on the oil fuel installation has continued during the month; two reservoirs are almost completed and the pipe lines down to the port are being laid down.

 

Operations to refloat S.S. PIERRE LOTI, aground off Corisico Island, continued during the month but without success. A skeleton crew was retained on board but the passengers were sent to Cape Town in S.S. TOUAREG.

 

 


 

 

 

ADM 199/635

 

FLAG OFFICER IN CHARGE, WEST AFRICA

 

WAR DIARY – FEBRUARY 1943

 

(Incorporating all War Diaries rendered for February 1943 by subordinate authorities)

 

 

 

Part 1 – WAR DIARY February 1943

 

February 1st

 

M.L. 1072 escorting MALAKAL sailed from Freetown for Sulima.

 

French submarine depot ship JULES VERNE escorted by H.M. Ship PETUNIA and F.S. GAZELLE sailed from Dakar for Pointe Etienne with a cargo of petrol.

 

H.M. Ships ORFASY and DUNCTON arrived Takoradi from Freetown.

 

H.M. Ships ALCANTARA and WOODRUFF on detached escort duty, sailed Trinidad for Recife.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN and H.M.M.L. 1160 sailed from Bathurst for Freetown escorting two merchant ships.

 

H.M. Ships CORINTHIAN and CYCLAMEN arrived Bathurst from Freetown.

 

F.F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES commenced boiler cleaning at Pointe Noire.

 

A U Boat was sighed on the surface by a U.S. Aircraft in position 00-50S, 6-20W, course 90 degrees at 1325.

 

February 2nd

 

H.M. Tug CHARON with M.L.s 279 and 305 sailed from Freetown for the Ivory Coast and Takoradi to salvage beached landing barges washed ashore from the American S.S. BENJAMIN SMITH when she was sunk off Sassandra on 23rd January.

 

H.M.S. COPINSAY and H.M.S. MERCATOR arrived Takoradi from Lagos. H.M.S. MERCATOR was on passage to Freetown where she will become a submarine accommodation ship.

 

H.M. Ships CORINTHIA, ARMERIA, and CYCLAMEN sailed from Bathurst for Freetown escorting two merchant ships.

 

H.M.M.L.s 271, 290, and 277 arrived Bathurst from Freetown escorting two merchant ships.

 

F.S. CALAIS arrived Bathurst from Dakar.

 

Convoy W.S. 26 arrived in the West Africa area.

 

February 3rd

 

F.S. GEORGES LEYGUES arrived Freetown from a Blockade runner patrol. This was the first visit of a French Naval Unit since the reentry of Vichy French West Africa into the war.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN and H.M.M.L.s 1160 and 1089 arrived Freetown from Bathurst escorting 2 merchant ships.

 

F.S. RICHELIEU and MONTCALM with escorts on passage to North America were diverted to avoid U boats.

 

F.F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU arrived Duala from Banana and commenced boiler cleaning.

 

H.M. Ships CROCUS, DUNCTON, ORFASY, COPINSAY, and MERCATOR with H.M.M.L. 256 and F.S. AMIRAL MOUCHEZ sailed from Takoradi for Freetown escorting convoy T.S. 30.

 

H.M.S. PETUNIA was detached from escorting JULES VERNE to meet convoy GIB 2.

 

H.M. Ships BELLWORT and ST WISTAN escorting BARDELL arrived Takoradi from Freetown.

 

F.S. CALAIS sailed from Bathurst for Dakar.

 

February 4th

 

H.M. Ships CORINTHIAN, ARMERIA, and CYCLAMEN arrived Freetown from Bathurst escorting 2 merchant ships.

 

Vice Admiral Collinet with the French Naval and Air Staff and accompanied by the British Naval Liaison Officer, Dakar, arrived at Bathurst for a short visit. After inspecting the R.A.F. Station, C.M. Base, and the minefield installations, an inspection of the harbour was carried out in M.L. 289.

 

H.M. Ships HYDRANGEA and ARMERIA sailed from Freetown with convoy S.T. 55 (2 ships).

 

M.L. 296 arrived Freetown from Bissau after delivering diplomatic mail.

 

H.M. Ships INKPEN and ARRAN with M.L.s 1141 and 1209 sailed from Freetown for Bathurst and Dakar with 3 merchant ships.

 

H.M.S. PICT sailed from Port Bouet escorting HOGGAR (Fr.) to meet convoy T.S. 30 and continue to Freetown.

 

H.M. Ships PETUNIA, BREDON, and PORTSDOWN sailed Port Etienne escorting convoy GIB II to Gibraltar.

 

H.M.S. DRANGEY arrived Takoradi from Freetown.

 

M.L. 290 and 277 sailed Bathurst for Dakar escorting one merchant ship.

 

H.M.S. REDOUBT was detached from Convoy W.S. 26 to escort LEOPOLDVILLE to Bathurst.

 

February 5th

 

M.L. 1072 arrived Freetown escorting MALAKAL from Sulima.

 

H.M.S. BURDOCK arrived Bathurst for fuel after having been detached from convoy duties.

 

H.M.S. REDOUBT arrived Bathurst with LEOPOLDVILLE.

 

H.M.S. Ships HOTSPUR, FORTUNE, INSTANT (n.b. INCONSTANT), and EXPRESS all escorting convoy C.F. 11 fuelled at Pointe Noire during the day.

 

Portuguese S.S. CUBANGO arrived Freetown for examination. All papers and the cargo were found to be in order and a navicert was granted. Ship sailed for Funchal and Lisbon.

 

February 6th

 

H.M. Ships CILICIA, CANTON, QUIBERON, QUICKMATCH, QUALITY, QUADRANT, RELENTLESS, RACEHORSE, WAYLAND, and H.H.M.S. ADRIAS with convoy W.S. 26 (16 ships) arrived Freetown.

 

F.S. GEORGES LEYGUES sailed from Freetown for Dakar.

 

Convoy D.60 arrived Dakar escorted by F.S. LA GRANDIERE, LE GRACIEUSE, and SERGEANT GOUARNE.

 

H.M.S. ST WISTAN with M.L. 287 and 279 arrived Port Bouet from Takoradi escorting H.M. Tugs CHARON to recover beached landing barges.

 

F.S.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES completed boiler cleaning at Pointe Noire and sailed for Congo thence to escort HAI LEE to Takoradi.

 

February 7th

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH sailed from Freetown on a blockade runner patrol.

 

H.M.S. RELENTLESS sailed from Freetown for Lagos to dock and fit new asdic dome. Thence to join Convoy W.S.26 on passage to South Africa.

 

H.M.S. BRIDGEWATER arrived Freetown from escort duty.

 

H.M. Ships REDOUBT and BURDOCK sailed from Bathurst for Freetown escorting H.T. LEOPOLDVILLE.

 

F.S. GEORGES LEYGUES arrived Dakar from Freetown.

 

F.F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES arrived and sailed Banana escorting HAI LEE with a U.S. Engineer Corps for Dakar.

 

H.M. Ships DUNCTON and COPINSAY arrived Marshall to screen 2 ships ex Convoy T.S. 30.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN with M.L.s 1141 and 1209 arrived Bathurst escorting one merchant ship.

 

H.M. Ships RUMBA and SABABANDE with M.L. 285 sailed from Lagos for Takoradi escorting one merchant ship.

 

M.L. 271 sailed Bathurst for Freetown escorting one merchant ship.

 

February 8th

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH reached her patrol area to search for blockade runners.

 

H.M.S. INKPEN attacked an Asdic Contact 5 miles to the west of the French submarine exercise area off Dakar. Contact was held for many hours and a number of attacks were made. Subsequent analysis, however, showed the target was probably non sub.

 

H.M.S. CROCUS arrived Freetown from Takoradi after being ordered to leave Convoy T.S. 30 and proceeded to Freetown to load bullion.

 

H.M. Ships ORFASY, MERCATOR, and PICT and F.S. AMIRAL MOUCHEZ and M.L. 256 -261 arrived Freetown from Takoradi escorting Convoy T.S. 30 (10 ships).

 

H.M. Ships ARMERIA and HYDRANGEA arrived Takoradi from Freetown escorting two merchant ships.

 

H.M.S. BELLWORT sailed from Takoradi for Freetown.

 

H.M.I.S. CARNATIC arrived Pointe Noire from Freetown to refuel.

 

2 U boats were known to be in contact with Convoy GIB 2 on its passage northward. H.M.S. PETUNIA obtained several contacts and carried out attacks on a U boat without visible results. H.M.S. BREDON, one of the escorts, was torpedoed in 29-55N, 13-57W and H.M.S. PORTSDOWN was narrowly missed by torpedoes. Only two survivors were picked up from the BREDON.

 

February 9th

 

H.M. Ships CANTON, CILICIA, QUIBERON, QUALITY QUICKMATCH, RACEHORSE, WAYLAND, CORINTHIAN, and H.H.M.S. ADRIAS sailed from Freetown with Convoy S.W. 26 (16 ships) for South Africa. The last two named ships broke off to meet three merchant ships to be sailed from Takoradi.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH reached the extreme westerly part of her patrol and altered course to return to Freetown.

 

H.M. Ships REDOUBT and BURDOCK arrived Freetown from Bathurst escorting LEOPOLDVILLE.

 

H.M.S. INKPEN reported that she was still in contact with a submarine at 0700. Contact was lot and she proceeded to Dakar.

 

F.S. GLOIRE sailed from Dakar for Bathurst to fuel, thence proceed on blockade runner patrol. She sailed from Bathurst at 1830.

 

H.M.S. SARABANDE arrived Takoradi from Lagos.

 

H.M.S. ARMERIA sailed from Takoradi for Boma to dock.

 

H.M.I.S. CARNATIC sailed from Pointe Noire for Simonstown.

 

H.M. Ships CYCLAMEN, FANDANGO completed boiler cleaning at Freetown.

 

H.M. Ships ORFASY and PICT commenced boiler cleaning at Freetown.

 

February 10th

 

H.M. Ships BRIDGEWATER, QUADRANT, FANDANGO, with M.L.s 287, 296, and 281 escorting Convoy S.R. 1 (9 ships) sailed from Freetown to meet convoy R.S. 1 and exchange escorts.

 

M.L. 271 arrived Freetown from Bathurst escorting 1 merchant ship.

 

H.M. Ships CROCUS and CYCLAMEN sailed from Freetown for Takoradi escorting LEOPOLDVILLE.

 

H.M.S. INKPEN sailed from Dakar for Bathurst.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN sailed from Bathurst to meet Convoy S.R. 1.

 

H.M.S. DRANGEY arrived Lagos from Accra.

 

H.M.S. RELENTLESS arrived Lagos from Freetown to dock and fit new asdic dome.

 

February 11th

 

H.M. Ships VALIANT, HOTSPUR, INCONSTANT, EXPRESS, and FORTUNE escorting Convoy C.F. 11 (3 transports) arrived Freetown from Cape Town.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH arrived Freetown from a blockade runner patrol.

 

M.L. 261 and 244 sailed from Freetown to meet H.M. Ships BELLWORT and RUMBA escorting 1 merchant ship.

 

French Auxiliary Cruiser QUERCY sailed from Dakar for Conakry.

 

F.F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU completed boiler cleaning and sailed from Duala for Lagos.

 

F.F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES arrived Takoradi from Banana escorting the HAI LEE.

 

H.M.S. SARABANDE sailed from Freetown for Takoradi escorting one merchant ship.

 

H.M.S. THYME (temporarily exchanged for COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES) sailed from Capetown for Freetown escorting one merchant ship.

 

H.M.S. QUADRANT was detached from Convoy S.R. 1 to return to Freetown.

 

H.M.S. DRANGEY sailed from Lagos for Takoradi escorting one merchant ship.

 

H.M.S. INKPEN arrived Bathurst from Dakar.

 

H.M. Ships PETUNIA, HAYDON, DUNKERY, and PORTSDOWN arrived Gibraltar with Convoy GIB 2 from Freetown.

 

February 12th

 

H.M.S. QUADRANT arrived Freetown from escorting Convoy S.R. 1.

 

H.M.S. BURDOCK sailed from Freetown escorting H.T. EMPRESS OF RUSSIA to meet destroyers from Gibraltar.

 

F.S. SERGEANT GOUARNE arrived Dakar escorting one French Merchant Ship from the Casamance.

 

H.M.S. INKPEN with M.L.s 1141 – 1209 sailed from Bathurst to meet Convoy S.R. 1.

 

H.M.S. HYDRANGEA and F.F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES sailed from Takoradi escorting 2 ships. F.F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES to join escorts to Convoy W.S. 16 and proceed to Cape Town. H.M.S. HYDRANGEA and 2 ships met H.M.S. CORINTHIAN and H.H.M.S. ADRIAS (detached from convoy W.S. 26 and proceeded to Freetown.

 

H.M.S. RELENTLESS undocked at Lagos and sailed to meet Convoy W.S. 26.

 

H.M.S. RUMBA was detached from escorting CAP PADORAN, from Takoradi to Freetown to relieve H.M.S. DUNCTON screening off Marshall.

 

F.F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU arrived Lagos from Duala.

 

H.M.S. ST WISTAN and H.M. Tug CHARON arrived Takoradi from Port Bouet after recovering 2 landing craft which were beached.

 

A transit aircraft reported sighting a U boat fully surfaced in 14-30N, 17-22W, course 193 degrees.

 

February 13th

 

H.H.M.S. ADRIAS was engaged in hunting an enemy submarine in position 3-42N, 6-33W. Several patterns were dropped without evidence of the result. After the 6th attack, the echo faded.

 

H.M.S. RANCHI arrived Freetown from Cape Town.

 

H.M.S. BELLWORT and M.L.s 261 and 244 escorting one merchant ship arrived Freetown from Takoradi.

 

M.L.s 287, 296, and 281 arrived Bathurst with 2 merchant ships detached from Convoy S.R. 1.

 

H.M. Ships CYCLAMEN, CROCUS, and DRANGEY arrived Takoradi from Freetown escorting S.S. LEOPOLDVILLE.

 

H.M.S. ARMERIA arrived Boma from Takoradi to dock.

 

H.M.S. INKPEN joined Convoy S.R. 1.

 

M.L.s 305 and 279 sailed from Takoradi for Freetown escorting one merchant ship.

 

H.M.S. DUNCTON at Marshall was relieved by H.M.S. RUMBA and sailed to escort a petrol lighter to Freetown.

 

February 14th

 

F.S. GLOIRE arrived Freetown from blockade runner patrol.

 

Convoy C.F. 11 escorted by H.M. Ships VALIANT, RANCHI, HOTSPUR, INCONSTANT, EXPRESS, and FORTUNE sailed from Freetown for the United Kingdom.

 

H.T. ESPERANCE BAY was to be detached to proceed to New York.

 

H.M. Ships DESPATCH, QUADRANT, and REDOUBT sailed from Freetown for Bathurst. The DESPATCH to refuel and proceed on patrol to intercept Spanish S.S. MONTE NARANCO.

 

F.S. AMIRAL MOUCHEZ sailed from Freetown for Dakar escorting one merchant ship for Bathurst.

 

M.l. 271 sailed Freetown for Cape Palmas escorting MALAKAL with W/T stores.

 

H.M. Ships CYCLAMEN and CROCUS sailed from Takoradi for Freetown escorting H.T. LEOPOLDVILLE.

 

H.M.S. ST WISTAN sailed from Takoradi for Accra to screen.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN was detached from Convoy S.R. 1 to proceed to Bathurst.

 

M.L.s 296 and 287 sailed from Bathurst for Dakar.

 

February 15th

 

Portuguese sailing ship ILDUT arrived Freetown under tow by H.M.S. HOLLY to discharge a cargo of salt. The ship's papers were examined by a member of the S.O. (I)'s staff and found to be in order.

 

F.F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU sailed from Lagos for Freetown escorting S.S. HILARY.

 

Pilot of a U.S. aircraft reported sighting the conning tower of a submarine in position 0-40N, 8-50E at 1100.

 

Three submarines sighted by a U.S. aircraft in positions 4-20N, 3-00W at 1430. All the submarines which were heading south, were painted white and fully surfaced.

 

A U.S. Aircraft reported sighting a submarine in position 12-20N, 17-50W.

 

H.M.S. QUIBERON and H.M.S. QUALITY arrived Pointe Noire from Convoy W.S. 26 for fuel.

 

Two motor launches detached from Convoy S.R. 1 for Port Etienne.

 

H.M.S. CORINTHIAN and H.H.M.S. ADRIAS arrived at Freetown from escort duty with Convoy W.S. 26.

 

H.M.S. HYDRANGEA was detached from Convoy W.S. 16 to escort H.T. HAI LEE to Dakar.

 

H.M.S. DUNCTON arrived Freetown from Marshall, escorting a U.S. Petrol Lighter.

 

F.F. GLOIRE sailed from Freetown to intercept Spanish S.S. MONTE NARANCO and blockade runners.

 

F.S. GEORGES LEYGUES sailed from Dakar for Bathurst to fuel and collect orders and intelligence for Block Runner Patrol.

 

H.M.S. QUADRANT and H.M.S. REDOUBT arrived Bathurst from Freetown.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH arrived Bathurst from Freetown and passed blockade runner intelligence to F.S. GEORGES LEYGUES.

 

M.L. 285 sailed from Lagos to Accra with British tanker NORSOL.

 

H.M.S. QUIBERON and H.M.S QUALITY escorting Convoy W.S. 26 to the Cape, called at Pointe Noire to refuel.

 

February 16th

 

H.H.M.S. ADRIAS sailed from Freetown for Bathurst to meet H.M.S. DESPATCH, thence to patrol to the eastward of the Cape Verde Islands to intercept Spanish S.S. MONTE NARANCO.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH after the meeting proceeded to St Vincent for fuel and thence to blockade runner patrol.

 

M.L. 209 and M.L. 244 sailed from Freetown to relieve F.S. LA GRACIEUSE and escort S.S. HOGGAR to Freetown.

 

F.S. LA GRACIEUSE proceed to Conakry and then escorted F.S. QUERCY to Dakar with troops.

 

M.L. 209 and M.L. 244 arrived Freetown with S.S. HOGGAR later in the day.

 

H.M.S. SARABANDE arrived Freetown from Takoradi with S.S. BELNOR.

 

H.M.S. PICT sailed from Freetown for Marshall to relieve H.M.S. RUMBA.

 

Convoys S.R. 1 and R.S. 1 meet at 1900 and exchanged escorts.

 

H.M.S. BURDOCK with H.T. EMPRESS OF RUSSIA met H.M.S. BOREAS at 1700.

 

H.M.S. PETUNIA sailed from Gibraltar from Freetown.

 

H.M. Ships QUADRANT and REDOUBT sailed from Bathurst to rendezvous with Convoy C.F. 11.

 

H.M. Ships RUMBA and COPINSAY sailed Marshall for Freetown.

 

H.M.I.S. CARNATIC arrived Simonstown from Pointe Noire.

 

H.M.S. PORTSDOWN and H.M.S. DUNKERY sailed from Gibraltar for Freetown.

 

H.M.S. DRANGEY arrived Lagos from Accra.

 

F.S. AMIRAL MOUCHEZ arrived Dakar from Freetown.

 

H.M.S. HYDRANGEA arrived Dakar from Freetown, escorting H.T. HAI LEE.

 

H.M. Ships CORINTHIAN and DUNCTON commenced boiler cleaning at Freetown.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY completed boiler cleaning.

 

F.S. GEORGES LEYGUES sailed from Bathurst for Blockade Runner Patrol.

 

H.M.S. QUADRANT and H.M.S. REDOUBT sailed from Bathurst for Freetown.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN arrived Bathurst from Freetown.

 

February 17th

 

Spanish S.S. MONTE MARANCO which was thought to be carrying 6 kilos of platinum and two German naval ratings from the GRAF SPEE was sighted by aircraft at 1442 in position 13-46N, 24-08W, course 035, and speed 12 knots. H.M.S. DESPATCH and H.H.M.S. ADRIAS were informed and ordered to intercept.

 

H.M.S. BURDOCK which was escorting H.T. EMPRESS OF RUSSIA arrived Port Etienne for water.

 

M.L.s 287 and 1065 sailed from Dakar for Bathurst, and arriving the same day.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO was detached from Convoy R.S. 1 and arrived Port Etienne.

 

M.L.s 272, 265, and 1018 arrived Takoradi from Lagos.

 

H.M.S. PICT arrived Marshall from Freetown.

 

February 18th

 

H.M.S. ORFASY escorting S.S. NEWCHANG sailed from Freetown for Bathurst to join convoy D.66.

 

H.M.S. COPINSAY and H.M.S. RUMBA arrived Freetown from Marshall.

 

H.M.S. COPINSAY commenced boiler cleaning.

 

M.L.s 305 and 279 arrived Freetown from Dakar.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH intercepted Spanish S.S. MONTE NARANHO in position 14-42N, 23-01W at 1345 and placed an armed guard aboard and H.H.M.S. ADRIAS was ordered to escort her for one day towards Gibraltar.

 

February 19th

 

H.M.S. RUMBA sailed from Freetown with S.S. HOGGAR escorting her to Marshall to embark U.S. troops.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH arrived St. Vincent for fuel and sailed for Blockade runner patrol.

 

M.L.s 209 and 244 sailed from Freetown to escort a Merchant Ship to Marshall and Monrovia and return to Freetown.

 

H.M.S. HYDRANGEA sailed from Dakar for Bathurst and arrived the same day escorting H.T.

 

H.M. Ships MILFORD, TAMARISK, AMARANTHUS, and YESTOR sailed from New Orleans for Trinidad with A.F.D. 24.

 

M.L.s 302 and 251 arrived Bathurst with S.S. PINTO.

 

February 20th

 

F.F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU arrived Freetown from Lagos escorting S.S. HILARY.

 

M.L. 271 arrived Freetown from Cape Palmas escorting S.S. MALAKAL.

 

H.M. Ships BELLWORT and CYCLAMEN and F.F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU sailed from Freetown with Convoy S.T. 56 (BERGENSFIORD, LEOPOLDVILLE, and ORBITA). H.M.S. CYCLAMEN proceeded to Boma for docking.

 

F.A.M.C. QUERCY and F.S. LA GRACIEUSE arrived Dakar.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO arrived Bathurst from Convoy R.S. 1.

 

H.H.M.S. ADRIAS arrived Bathurst from patrol.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN with M.L.s 302, 281, and 251 sailed from Bathurst for Freetown escorting four merchant ships.

 

H.M.S. ST WISTAN arrived Lagos with H.M. Tug CHARON on salvage operations.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH arrived in her patrol area.

 

February 21st

 

Aircraft sighted a Merchant Vessel of about 4000 tons in position 6-00N, 11-58W. This ship was thought to be Spanish S.S. CASTILLO SAMANCAS.

 

H.M. Ships BRIDGEWATER and INKPEN arrived Freetown from convoy R.S. 1.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY arrived Dakar from Freetown escorting NEWCHANG.

 

F.S. LA GRACIEUSE, GAZELLE, and AMIRAL MOUCHEZ escorting two Merchant Vessels sailed from Dakar for Freetown.

 

H.M.S. BIRDLIP and H.M.S. BUTSER sailed from Gibraltar for Freetown escorting Convoy R.S. 1

 

H.M.S. ARMERIA sailed from Banana for Takoradi.

 

H.M.S. HYDRANGEA and H.H.M.S. ADRIAS sailed from Bathurst for Freetown escorting S.S. HAI LEE.

 

H.M.S. DRANGEY sailed from Lagos for Walvis Bay.

 

H.M.S. RUMBA arrived Freetown from Marshall.

 

M.L. 287 sailed from Bathurst for Freetown. (n.b. see entries on 22nd February. Should read for Dakar)

 

February 22nd

 

M.L.s 287 and 296 arrived Dakar from Bathurst.

 

F.S. GEORGES LEYGUES arrived Dakar.

 

F.S. SERGEANT GOUARNE, H.M.S. ORFASY, with M.L.s 287 and M.L. 296 sailed from Dakar escorting French ships northward.

 

H.M.S. PETUNIA arrived Bathurst from Gibraltar.

 

F.F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES arrived at Capetown from Pointe Noire.

 

H.M.S. PICT sailed from Marshall for Takoradi.

 

February 23rd

 

H.M.S. ARRAN with M.L.s 302, 281, and 251 arrived Freetown from Bathurst with four merchant ships.

 

H.H.M.S. ADRIAS and H.M.S. HYDRANGEA arrived Freetown from Bathurst escorting H.T. HAI LEE.

 

H.M.S. PORTSDOWN and H.M.S. BARWIND, with one M.L. escorting 2 merchant ships arrived Port Etienne.

 

H.M.S. CYCLAMEN arrived Takoradi from escort duties.

 

H.M.S. QUADRANT arrived Gibraltar from Dakar.

 

F.F.S. COMMANDANT BORY with M.L. 1018 sailed from Takoradi for Freetown

 

H.M.S. REDOUBT arrived Casablanca from Convoy C.F. 11.

 

H.M.S. DUNCTON completed boiler cleaning.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN commenced boiler cleaning.

 

H.M. Tug CHARON and M.L. 1042 sailed from Lagos with S.S. SANGARA.

 

February 24th

 

H.M. Ships BRIDGEWATER, HYDRANGEA, CROCUS, INKPEN and DUNCTON sailed from Freetown escorting Convoy S.R. 2 (11 ships).

 

Three U.S. Naval vessels sailed from Dakar for Trinidad escorting convoy T.O. 1.

 

H.M.S. CYCLAMEN sailed from Takoradi for Lagos.

 

H.M.S. BELLWORT and F.F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU arrived Lagos from Freetown with Convoy S.T. 56.

 

H.M.S. THYME arrived Takoradi from St. Helena.

 

M.L. 1052 sailed for Cotonomu with French recognition signals.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH arrived Bathurst after intercepting Spanish S.S. MONTE NARANCO and Blockade Runner patrol.

 

February 25th

 

French ships AMIRAL MOUCHEZ, LA GRACIEUSE, and GAZELLE arrived Freetown after escorting ships to Bathurst, The Casamance, and Conakry.

 

M.L.s 209 and 244 arrived Freetown from Marshall escorting S.S. KENMAN.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY with M.L.s 287 and 296 arrived Port Etienne escorting four French merchant ships.

 

H.M.S. PICT arrived Takoradi from Marshall.

 

H.M.S. ARMERIA arrived Takoradi from Boma.

 

H.M.S. BURDOCK sailed from Port Etienne for Bathurst, defects having been made good.

 

H.M.S. BELLWORT and F.F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU arrived Lagos with two ships for Takoradi.

 

H.M.S. BELLWORT and F.F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU sailed from Lagos for Takoradi escorting H.T. BERGENSFIORD.

 

H.M.S. PETUNIA sailed from Bathurst for Freetown.

 

H.M.S. CYCLAMEN arrived Lagos from Takoradi and sailed again for Duala to screen S.S. SANGARA.

 

M.L. 1052 arrived Lagos from Kotonou.

 

February 26th

 

The Master of S.S. BARON DUNMORE reported that he had sighted an unidentified merchant ship in position 25-57N, 34-13W, course 32 degrees, and speed 14 knots at 1750, She resembled German silhouette No. 78 in O.U. 6329 (1) The plot indicated that the CALVACADE may have been in the vicinity.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO sailed from Bathurst to join Convoy S.R. 2.

 

H.M.S. PETUNIA sailed from Bathurst for Freetown with two merchant ships.

 

H.M.S. THYME and H.M.S. PICT sailed from Takoradi for Freetown.

 

H.M.S. BELLWORT and F.F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU arrived Takoradi from Lagos with H.T. BERGENSFIORD.

 

H.M.S. COPINSAY completed boiler cleaning at Freetown.

 

H.M.S. BARWIND arrived Bathurst from Dakar with M.L.s 277 and 290.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH sailed from Bathurst for patrol, but later was ordered to return to Freetown.

 

February 27th

 

F.S. AMIRAL MOUCHEZ escorting the petrol lighter SOKONI sailed from Freetown for Dakar.

 

H.M.S. PETUNIA closed Freetown from Bathurst and proceeded to Marshall to escort S.S. HOGGAR.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH arrived Freetown.

 

H.M.S. BURDOCK arrived Bathurst from Port Etienne.

 

H.M.S. BELLWORT and F.F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU with M.L. 274 sailed from Takoradi for Lagos.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY and two M.L.s sailed from Port Etienne for Dakar.

 

H.M.S. CORINTHIAN completed boiler cleaning.

 

M.L.s 277 and 290 sailed from Bathurst for Freetown.

 

February 28th

 

H.M. Ships CORINTHIAN, SARABANDE with M.L.s 271 and 305 sailed from Freetown for Takoradi and Lagos escorting convoy S.T. 57.

 

H.M.S. QUADRANT sailed from Gibraltar for Freetown to meet convoy W.S. 27.

 

H.M.S. CYCLAMEN arrived Duala from Lagos escorting S.S. SANGARA in tow of tug CHARON.

 

H.M.S. BOREAS sailed from Gibraltar to Dakar.

 

H.M.S. PORTSDOWN arrived Freetown with convoy R.S. 1.

 

H.M.S. PETUNIA arrived Marshall from Freetown and sailed again for Freetown with S.S. HOGGAR.

 

H.M.S. BURDOCK sailed from Bathurst to reinforce escorts to Convoy O.S. 43

 

F.F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU and H.M.S. BELLWORT arrived Lagos from Takoradi with BERGENSFIORD.

 

 

 

PART II – GENERAL

 

U Boat activity

 

A marked decrease in U Boat activity has been noticeable during the month and this has corresponded with aircraft sightings which were below normal.

 

No merchant ships have been torpedoed, but H.M.S. BREDON was sunk and H.M.S. PORTSDOWN was narrowly missed by torpedoes when assisting to escort convoy GIB 2 on its passage northward.

 

Reports of attacks by H.M. Ships are given in Part 1 of this month's War Diary. There were no attacks carried out by aircraft.

 

Employment of Escort Forces.

 

The Freetown Escort Force has been employed throughout the month to the limit of its resources. Troop Convoys WS 26 and C.F. 11 called at Freetown during the first half of the month. The only additional escort available from Station resources was the reinforcement of C.F. 11 by H.M.S. QUADRANT and H.M.S REDOUBT from the latitude of Cape Verde to the latitude of Gibraltar, and reinforcement of W.S. by H.M.S. CORINTHIAN and ADRIAS from Freetown to the vicinity of Takoradi.

 

Three convoys were sailed to Gibraltar during the month, the first of which (GIB No.2) was escorted the whole way by ships of the Freetown Escort Force, reinforced during the last two or three days by H.M.S. HAYDON. It was escorting this convoy that the unfortunate loss of H.M.S. BREDON was sustained. In the case of both the other two Gibraltar convoys (S.R. 1 and S.R. 2) the Freetown escorts were met at a MOMP in about 26 degrees North by escorts from Gibraltar, escorting a Gibraltar to Freetown (R.S.) convoy. The escorts transferred and returned to their respective bases.

 

Three escorted convoys were run from Freetown to Takoradi and six in the reverse direction. Of these, some consisted of a single troop transport only. IN addition a number of small groups have been escorted coastwise between Port Etienne, Dakar, Bathurst, Freetown, Takoradi, Lagos, etc.

 

A/S screening duty at surf ports of Liberian and Gold Coasts have absorbed an average of one Trawler every day of the month.

 

Ten ships of the force, excluding minesweepers, were boiler cleaning at Freetown and one ship COMMANDANT DROGOU at Duala and ARMERIA had a short docking at Boma.

 

COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES left the station for a recuperative period at the cape, H.M.S. THYME coming from the Cape in her place. The Greek destroyer ADRIAS operated under command of Flag Officer, Commanding West Africa, arriving on the 6th and remaining throughout the rest of the month, as part of the Freetown Escort Force. This was a working up' period for the ship. One trawler H.M.S. ST WISTAN was employed practically continuously screening certain salvage operations in the Takoradi area. H.M.S. DRANGEY left West Africa in the course of the month for onward passage to the Cape and H.I.M.S. CARNATIC also passed through the station en route Bombay. H.M.S. BURDOCK was out of action for seven days with distiller defects and H.M.S. SARABANDE for eight days with boiler defects.

 

The following French ships have visited Freetown and have operated with the Freetown Escort Force during the month:

 

F.F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU and French ships (former Vichy) AMIRAL MOUCHEZ, GAZELLE, LA GRACIEUSE, and COMMANDANT BORY.

 

With the four latter ships satisfactory cordial relations were, in all cases, established. The F.F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU has since sailed, for the United Kingdom for refit, after twelve months on the station.

 

Training – A/S Exercises

 

The French Ships AMIRAL MOUCHEZ, GAZELLE, and LA GRACIEUSE were all given as much A/S training as time permitted during the period they were operating with the Freetown Escort Force.

 

A total of 17 A/S vessels have carried out exercises with the Training Submarine P.615 during the month.

 

Training of D.E.M.S. Personnel

 

During February, 175 Officers and men have been instructed in the Merchant Navy 3 days A/S Gunnery Course, which brings to the total to 3397 Officers and men since the course began.

 

Other forms of training have also been carried out onboard and ashore, including instructions with the Dome Teacher, which has also been used by ratings from H.M. Ships in Harbour.

 

Neutral Shipping

 

Portuguese S.S. CUBANGO and Lugger ILDUTY arrived during February. The former was examined and granted a navicert on the 5th February and sailed for Funchal and Lisbon on the same day. The latter had a cargo of salt for Freetown from Verde Islands and sailed in ballast for Bathurst on the 20th February.

 

Confirmation has now been received from the Admiralty that it was agreed with the Portuguese Authorities in January, that ships which do not take on cargo or passengers north of Loanda may proceed direct from Loanda to Funchal without undertaking to call at Freetown. Ships which do take on cargo and or passengers north of Loanda (e.g. Principe or Sao Thome) will continue to call at Freetown.

 

In view of the above, a considerable decrease is to be expected in the number of Portuguese passenger and cargo vessels calling at Freetown.

 

Spanish S.S. MONTE NARANCO was suspected of carrying contraband and on 18th February was intercepted by H.M.S. DESPATCH, who placed an armed guard on board and she was ordered to proceed to Gibraltar escorted by H.H.M.S. ADRIAS. It was also suspected that she had two German naval ratings from the GRAF SPEE.

 

Convoys and Shipping

 

During February, 95 Merchant vessels arrived at Freetown and of these 3 were ex O.N. and O.N.S. convoys; 5 ex C.N. convoys; 10 ex T.S. convoys, and 3 ex C.F. convoy.

 

Departures during the month numbered 82 of which 32 were sailed independently and of the remainder 16 were sailed in W.S. Convoy, 9 in S.T. convoys, 5 in C.F. convoys, and 20 in S.R. convoys.

 

The Naval Control Service Officer at Freetown visited Dakar between the 6th and 14th February in order to make arrangements for the establishment of a Naval Control Service at that port.

 

As a result of the visit a Lieutenant, R.N.R. was appointed temporarily to the staff of Admiral Collinet to act as Naval Control Service Officer at Dakar.

 

Salvage Operations

 

On 16th February M.V. SANGARA was successfully refloated off Accra and towed by H.M. Tug CHARON to Duala where she was successfully beached on the 28th February.

 

 

 

PART III – ADMINISTRATIVE

 

Freetown

 

Rainfall - There was no rainfall during the month of February, but ships were able to be supplied with approximately 41,500 tons of water.

 

Naval Store Department - Stores were received from the United Kingdom in S.S. TANAFJORD and from the United States in S.S. ZAREMBO.

 

F.S.S. CITY OF TOKIO arrived in Freetown from Durban on 23rd February.

 

Two new stores at the Kissy Dockyard were taken over by the Department.

 

Mr. Luke, the Senior Deputy Director of Stores, paid a short visit to Freetown on 22nd February.

 

Degaussing - Five H.M. Ships, one French warship, and 35 merchant vessels were tested over the open range during the month.

 

D.E.M.S. Department - 147 visits to Merchant ships were made during February.

 

French S.S. HOGGAR was fitted with two 20 mm guns, two pairs of twin Hotchkiss Machine Guns, and two P.A.C. rocket projectors. Two other British merchant vessels were also fitted with Oerlikon guns during their stay in harbour at Freetown.

 

The miniature Tracer Range building was almost completed, but no advice was received regarding the despatch of instructional equipment from the United Kingdom.

 

The D.E.M.S. Staff Officer visited Bathurst and Dakar from 7th to 12th February and proceeded to Takoradi and Lagos on the 24th February.

 

Controlled Mining - The G.L. 13 loop was laid on 11th February and a L Mark 11 Mine was recovered from the Bullom Shore and transported back to the C.M. Base on 17th February.

 

Bathurst

 

Buildings and Improvements - No further work was carried out on the Ammunition Depot as its use may now become redundant since the strategic situation in West Africa has changed.

 

The work on the Admiralty Pier has advanced sufficiently to allow oil fuel pipes to be carried and it is hope to lay temporary moorings in early March with the assistance of H.M.S. BARWIND.

 

Average progress has been made on the Admiralty fuel tanks and subject to tests proving satisfactory the oil fuel and diesel tanks should be ready to receive oil by the end of March.

 

The new S.D.O. has been completed and work was commenced dismantling the C.M. Station.

 

All work was completed on the Boom Defence Depot and H.M.S. BARWIND arrived on the 26th February to lift boom moorings.

 

No work was carried out on the Refrigerator plant but is hoped to commence this next month.

 

Sickness - Out of the total establishment of 17 officers and 95 ratings, 1 Officer and 10 ratings were admitted to hospital and 1 Officer and 13 ratings were discharged.

 

Blackout Arrangements - The modified Black out arrangements which were put into effect last month have proved to be effective.

 

Takoradi

 

As no report has been received in February, particulars will be include in the March War Diary.

 

Komenda

 

Aircraft Stores - During the month, the first supplies of stores for Walrus and Swordfish aircraft were received.

 

Sickness - The health of the Station personnel has remained very good and only eight cases of Malaria have occurred during February.

 

Welfare - Arrangements have been made for personnel to visit the R.A.F. Cinema at Takoradi and several matches in football, hockey, cricket, and tennis have been played there against the R.A.F. and at Secondi against Army teams. This recreation has done much to relieve the feeling of isolation at Komenda and to keep up morale.

 

Progress in Construction - During the last two months there has been a marked tendency fro the work on the construction of the station to slow down.

 

The reason for this slowing down of the work has been attributed to the long hours worked over a period of many months, the arrival of the hot season, and the lack of European supervisors and in consequence working hours have been reduced temporarily but will be resumed as soon as the labour has been rested.

 

A 2 inch pipeline is being constructed by the Royal Engineers from Elmina to the Station and by the end of the month had reached a point four miles from the station. When completed this water pipe will save the use of the eight 800 gallon water carriers, two of which have had to proceed to Elmina three times each day to satisfy the present station requirements of water.

 

Communications - Type 52 E.R.T. sets have been used for communications with Takoradi during the failure of the telephone and Fullerphone systems.

 

Electrical Supply - Work was commenced on the laying of two low tension cables for supplying outlying buildings with electrical current from the two 15 Kilowatt diesel driven generating sets.

 

Lagos

 

Clearing of the Sunken A/S Trawlers - The wreck of H.M.S. CANNA was demolished during the month and demolition work was commenced on the wreck of H.M.S. BENGALI.

 

H.M.S. KELT was made ready for towing by the 18th February, but unfortunately no tug could be made available for the purpose.

 

Buildings - Owing to the damage caused by the explosion in December, the naval petrol and oil store has had to be dismantled and a small concrete store will be erected in the dockyard close to the jetty to take its place.

 

The concrete W/T office which was commenced last month has been almost completed.

 

Sickness - The general health continued at the same normal level but there have been indications that M.L. Officers, twelve of whom have completed eighteen months without relief, are feeling the effect of this climate. Three Commanding Officers of M.L. have already been invalided and it is significant that one officer from H.M.S. CANNA, who has completed 20 months in West Africa has not responded to treatment for burns as well as others, equally badly burnt, but who have only been on the boats for a short time.

 

 


 

 

ADM 199/635

 

FLAG OFFICER IN CHARGE, WEST AFRICA

 

WAR DIARY – MARCH 1943

 

(Incorporating all War Diaries rendered for March 1943 by subordinate authorities)

 

 

 

Part 1 – WAR DIARY March 1943

 

1st March, Sunday

 

F.S. GAZELLE and F.S. LA GRACIEUSE sailed from Freetown for Dakar escorting S.S. CAP PADORAN as far as Bathurst.

 

H.M.M.L. 251 sailed from Freetown for Bissau.

 

F.S. GEORGES LEYGUES arrived Freetown from Dakar with Vice Admiral Collinet (Vice Admiral Commanding Dakar Naval District) on board, on a visit to the Flag Officer Commanding, West Africa.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY with two M.L.s arrived Dakar from Port Etienne.

 

H.M.M.L.s 277 and 290 arrived Freetown from Port Etienne and Bathurst.

 

F.S. AMIRAL MOUCHEZ arrived Dakar from Freetown with a petrol lighter in tow.

 

H.H.M.L.s 1065 and 1066 sailed from Bathurst and arrived Dakar.

 

H.H.M.S. ADRIAS carried out A/S practices with H.M. Submarine P.615.

 

H.M.S. RUMBA sailed from Marshall to meet convoy S.T. 57.

 

H.M.H.S. ATLANTIS arrived Freetown.

 

Convoy W.S. 27 sailed for Freetown from Gibraltar.

 

H.M.S. CONSBRO arrived Takoradi.

 

H.M.M.L.265 arrived Takoradi from Freetown.

 

H.M.M.L.s 1016 and 1042 sailed from Lagos for Takoradi to relieve H.M.M.L. 1014 and 1018.

 

H.M.S. BELLWORT and F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU sailed from Lagos for Freetown escorting H.T. BERGENSFIORD and H.T. LEOPOLDVILLE.

 

S.S. SANGARA was successfully beached off Duala in position 3-56-50N, 9-34-44E p.m. to day.

 

Spanish S.S. MONTE NARANCO, suspected contraband carrier, arrived at Gibraltar with guard onboard from H.M.S. DESPATCH, escorted by H.H.M.S. ADRIAS.

 

2nd March, Tuesday

 

H.M.S. PETUNIA arrived Freetown from Bathurst and Marshall escorting S.S. HOGGAR with troops for Oran due to sail in convoy S.L. 126.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH sailed from Freetown on blockade runner patrol.

 

H.M. Ships BUTSER and BIRDLIP arrived Freetown from Gibraltar and Agadir with convoy S.R. 1 Y.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT BORY with M.L. 1018 arrived Freetown from Takoradi, Sassandra, and Tabou escorting S.S. ST LOUIS, S.S. PORT ARCHAMBAULT, and S.S. CHELMA. All these ships had been discharging cargo off the Ivory Coast.

 

H.M.S. CYCLAMEN arrived Boma to dock.

 

H.M.H.S. ATLANTIS sailed from Freetown.

 

H.M.M.L. 274 sailed from Takoradi for Port Bouet to establish liaison with the French authorities.

 

3rd March, Wednesday

 

H.M.S. DUNKERY arrived Freetown from Gibraltar having been detached from Convoy R.S. 2 to search for Spanish S.S. MONTE NARANCO.

 

H.M.S. RUMBA arrived Freetown from screening duties off Marshall.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY with two M.L.s sailed from Dakar and arrived Bathurst.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT BORY with H.M.M.L.s 244, 279, and 302 sailed from Freetown escorting S.S. PORT ARCHAMBAULT, S.S. CHELMA, and S.S. ST LOUIS to Dakar and S.S. KANJANG for Bathurst.

 

H.M. Ships BRIDGEWATER, HYDRANGEA, INKPEN, DUNCTON, and CROCUS turned over Convoy S.R. 2 to Gibraltar naval forces and took over escort of Convoy R.S. 2.

 

F.S. GAZELLE and F.S. GRACIEUSE arrived Dakar from Freetown.

 

H.M.S. BOREAS arrived Dakar escorting S.S. JAMES PARKER from Casablanca.

 

H.M.M.L.s 1016 and 1043 arrived Takoradi from Lagos to relieve H.M.M.L.s 1014 and 1018

 

H.M.S. ARMERIA sailed from Trinidad with S.S. ORBITA to join H.M.S. BELLWORT and F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU off the port and continue in convoy to Freetown.

 

Admiral Collinet gave a reception aboard F.S. GEORGES LEYGUES to which Flag Officer Commanding, West Africa's Staff and a number of other officers were invited.

 

4th March, Thursday

 

H.M.S. THYME arrived Freetown from Takoradi.

 

H.M.S. SUSSEX arrived Freetown from the United Kingdom on passage to Cape Town.

 

F.S. GEORGES LEYGUES sailed from Freetown for blockade runner patrol.

 

F.S. GAZELLE and F.S. LA GRACIEUSE arrived Dakar.

 

H.M.M.L.s 261 and 201 sailed from Freetown to join and assist escort of H.T. LEOPOLDVILLE, H.T. BERGENSFIORD, and S.S. ORBITA to Freetown.

 

H.M. Ships CORINTHIAN and SARABANDE with H.M.M.L.s 264 and 305 arrived Takoradi from Freetown escorting convoy S.T. 47 having detached S.S. CALGARY and S.S. BRITISH COAST to Lagos.

 

H.M.S. PICT arrived Takoradi escorting S.S. SOLARIUM from Freetown.

 

H.M.S. BOREAS sailed from Dakar for Freetown escorting S.S. JAMES PARKER.

 

H.M. Ships PELICAN, SENNEN, ROTHER, SPEY, and WEAR arrived Freetown escorting convoy O.S. 43.

 

H.M.S. BURDOCK arrived Freetown from Lagos.

 

H.M.S. QUADRANT parted company from Convoy W.S. 27 and proceeded to Bathurst to effect repairs.

 

H.M.M.L.s 287 and 296 sailed from Bathurst for Freetown escorting s.s. RUTHENFIELL.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN and H.H.M.S. ADRIAS carried out A/S exercises with H.M.S. P.615.

 

5th March, Friday

 

H.M. Ships BURDOCK and THYME sailed from Freetown escorting S.S. HOGGAR to Dakar.

 

F.S. AIR FRANCE III sailed from Dakar for Port Etienne to embark victims of an air crash.

 

H.M. Ships CORINTHIAN and SARABANDE with H.M.M.L.s 272 and 278 sailed from Takoradi for Freetown escorting Convoy T.S. 32.

 

H.M.S. BOREAS sailed from Dakar for Freetown.

 

H.M.S. QUADRANT arrived Bathurst with defects having parted company from convoy W.S. 27.

 

H.M.S. PICT sailed from Takoradi for Lagos for repairs.

 

Portuguese lugger SAO MIGUEL arrived with a cargo of 72 tons of salt for Freetown. Examination revealed neither contraband nor clandestine mail.

 

6th March, Saturday

 

H.M.S. SUSSEX sailed from Freetown to relieve H.M.S. DESPATCH on blockade runner patrol.

 

H.M.M.L. 277 sailed from Freetown to search for wreckage of H.M.M.L. 251 which was rammed by H.M.S. BURDOCK in position 9-09N, 14-28W. H.M.M.L. 251 was bound for Freetown from Bissau with diplomatic mail. The mail and all the crew were saved.

 

H.M.S. BOREAS arrived Freetown from Gibraltar and Dakar escorting U.S. Troopship JAMES PARKER on passage to Marshall to disembark American troops.

 

H.M. Ships BELLWORT and ARMERIA arrived Freetown from Lagos and Takoradi escorting H.T. BERGENSFIORD, H.T. LEOPOLDVILLE, and S.S. ORBITA.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH arrived Freetown after being relieved on patrol by H.M.S. SUSSEX.

 

H.M.S. QUAIL arrived Dakar escorting S.S. ALMANZORA, ex Convoy W.S. 27.

 

F.S. LA GAZELLE sailed from Dakar for the Casamance.

 

H.M.S. QUADRANT sailed from Bathurst for Dakar.

 

Swiss S.S. CALANDA arrived Takoradi, where she were examined for contraband, but nothing found.

 

7th March, Sunday

 

H.M.M.L.s 287 and 296 arrived Freetown from Dakar, Port Etienne, and Bathurst, escorting S.S. RUTENFJELL.

 

H.M. Ships BELLWORT, ARMERIA, and ARRAN with H.M.M.L.s 256 and 290 sailed from Freetown for Takoradi escorting Convoy S.T. 58.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU arrived Freetown from Lagos having straggled from the troop convoy, which arrived on the 6th March, owing to engine defects.

 

H.M.S. QUAIL sailed from Dakar to rejoin Convoy W.S. 27.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT BORY with H.M.M.L.s 302, 244, and 279 arrived Dakar from Freetown escorting S.S. CHELMA and S.S. ST LOUIS.

 

H.M. Ships BURDOCK and THYME arrived Dakar escorting S.S. HOGGAR and sailed again for Freetown escorting S.S. ALMANZORA.

 

H.M.S. QUADRANT (ex W.S. 27) arrived Dakar from Bathurst to dock and fit new asdic dome.

 

F.S. LA GRACIEUSE sailed from Dakar for Conakry.

 

F.S. LA GAZELLE sailed from Casamance escorting two merchant vessels to Dakar.

 

H.M.S. HYDRANGEA arrived Bathurst from escorting Convoy R.S. 2.

 

H.M.S. PICT arrived Lagos from Takoradi to dock.

 

H.M. Ships INKPEN, DUNCTON, and CROCUS were detached from convoy R.S. 2 to escort southbound shipping.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO was detached from Convoy R.S. 2 to salvage wreckage of M.L. 251.

 

8th March, Monday

 

H.M.M.L. 277 arrived Freetown from unsuccessful search for wreckage of M.L. 251.

 

Convoy W.S. 27 arrived Freetown from the United Kingdom escorted by H.M. Ships MALAYA, RAIDER, QUEENBOROUGH, WOLVERINE, and QUAIL.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH sailed from Freetown on blockade runner patrol.

 

F.S. GAZELLE arrived Dakar escorting two merchant ships from Casamance.

 

F.S. LA GRACIEUSE arrived Conakry.

 

F.S. AIR FRANCE III sailed for Port Etienne for Dakar with victims of air crash.

 

H.M.S. BRIDGEWATER arrived Freetown with tug MASTERFUL, STENHILL, and EMPIRE GYPSY.

 

H.M.S. PORTSDOWN sailed from Freetown for Marshall to screen U.S. Transport JAMES PARKER whilst disembarking U.S. troops.

 

H.M.M.L. 261 sailed from Freetown escorting H.M.S. BARBROOK to assist H.M.S. FANDANGO and H.M. Tug AIMWELL to salvage M.L. 251 in position 9-50N, 14-28W.

 

H.M.S. DUNCTON sailed from Marshall for Freetown.

 

H.M. Ships HYDRANGEA and ORFASY sailed from Bathurst for Freetown, escorting tug AIMWELL, S.S. CAP PADORAN, and S.S. NEW BROOKLYN.

 

H.M.S. QUADRANT docked at Dakar.

 

H.M.M.L. 263 arrived Takoradi from Accra escorting S.S. EMPIRE LIVINGSTONE.

 

At 1136, aircraft sighted a merchant vessel in position 26-50N, 14-41W, course 225 degrees, speed 6 knots.

 

At 1741/4 aircraft sighted an unidentified merchant vessel in Cape Bojador area.

 

9th March, Tuesday

 

H.M.M.L. arrived Freetown from Takoradi escorting H.M.S. CONSBRO on passage to North Africa.

 

H.M.S. WOLVERINE sailed from Freetown for Marshall escorting American transport JAMES PARKER.

 

H.M. Ships THYME and BURDOCK arrived Freetown from Dakar escorting S.S. ALMANZORA to join Convoy W.S. 27.

 

H.M.M.L. 261 arrived Freetown with H.M.S. FANDANGO and H.M.S. BARBROOK from attempt to salvage H.M.M.L. 251. H.M.S. FANDANGO sank M.L. 251 with all confidential books on board by gunfire before she received message that H.M.S. BARBROOK and H.M. Tug AIMWELL had been ordered to assist in salvage.

 

F.S. AIR FRANCE III arrived Dakar from Port Etienne with bodies and crew from crashed aircraft.

 

H.M.S. QUADRANT undocked at Dakar.

 

H.M.S. PETUNIA carried out A/S exercises.

 

10th March, Wednesday

 

H.M. Ships CROCUS, INKPEN, and DUNCTON arrived Freetown from escorting Convoy R.S. 2.

 

H.M.S. SUSSEX arrived Freetown from blockade runner patrol.

 

H.M. Ships CORINTHIAN and SARABANDE with H.M.M.L.s 272 and 278 arrived Freetown from Takoradi escorting Convoy T.S. 32 (5 ships).

 

Tug AIMWELL arrived Freetown.

 

H.M.M.L.s 279 and 302 sailed from Dakar and arrived Bathurst.

 

F.S. GEORGES LEYGUES arrived Dakar from blockade runner patrol.

 

H.M.S. WOLVERINE arrived Marshall with U.S. transport JAMES PARKER and sailed again to return to Freetown.

 

H.M.S. PETUNIA carried out Oropesa sweeping practices.

 

H.M. Ships PELICAN, SENNEN, WEAR, SPEY, and ROTHER carried out A/S exercises with H.M.S. P.615.

 

Swiss S.S. CALANDA sailed from Takoradi for Las Palmas.

 

H.M.S. ARETHUSA arrived Pointe Noire for fuel and sailed again for Freetown on passage from Simonstown.

 

11th March, Thursday

 

Convoy W.S. 27 sailed from Freetown for the Cape escorted by H.M. Ships SUSSEX, QUEENBOROUGH, RAIDER, PETUNIA, CROCUS, and QUAIL.

 

H.M.S. WOLVERINE arrived Freetown from Marshall.

 

H.M. Ships BIRDLIP, BURDOCK, and BUTSER sailed from Freetown for Dakar escorting S.S. PALACIO, S.S. ZAREMBO, and S.S. YANKEE ARROW to Bathurst; S.S. MARY KINGSLEY to Dakar, and R.F.A. FORTOL to Port Etienne to refuel escorts of convoy S.L. 126.

 

H.M. Ships MALAYA and WOLVERINE, and H.H.M.S. ADRIAS sailed from Freetown for Gibraltar escorting S.S. CITY OF CAPETOWN to latitude 28-08N, whence she proceeded to the United Kingdom independently.

 

H.M. Ships ORFASY and HYDRANGEA arrived Freetown from Bathurst escorting S.S. GABOU, S.S. CAP PADORAN, and S.S. NEW BROOKLYN.

 

H.M.M.L. 244 sailed from Dakar for Bathurst escorting S.S. OUED FEZ.

 

H.M.S. QUADRANT sailed from Dakar and arrived Bathurst.

 

F.S. GLOIRE sailed from Dakar on blockade runner patrol.

 

H.M.S. CILICIA on blockade runner patrol sighted an unidentified ship in position 5-35S, 11-48W, but lost contact with her.

 

H.M.M.L.s 279 and 302 sailed from Bathurst escorting S.S. KAJANG to Freetown.

 

H.M. Ships BELLWORT, ARMERIA, and ARRAN with H.M.M.L.s 290 and 256 arrived Takoradi escorting Convoy S.T. 58 from Freetown.

 

H.M. Ships BIRDLIP and BUTSER carried out A/S exercises with H.M.S. P.615.

 

At 0445 hours, H.M.S. CILICIA sighted a ship in position 5-35N, 11-48W apparent course 340 degrees. H.M.S. CARNARVON CASTLE and F.S. GLOIRE, both on ocean patrol, were ordered to join H. M.S. CILICIA in search. H.M.S. DESPATCH left Freetown to join search and aircraft carried out cross over patrols. In a later signal from H.M.S. CILICIA, it is suggested that the unidentified ship may have been S.S. CLAN MCNEIL on a reciprocal course to the one above.

 

12th March, Friday

 

Convoy S.L. 126 sailed from Freetown for the United Kingdom escorted by H.M. Ships PELICAN, WEAR, SPEY, ROTHER, SENNEN, and F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH arrived Freetown from blockade runner patrol and sailed again to search for the unidentified ship sighted by H.M.S. CILICIA on the previous day.

 

H.M.M.L. 244 sailed from Dakar for Bathurst escorting S.S. OUED FEZ.

 

H.M. Ships CARNARVON CASTLE, DESPATCH, and CILICIA cooperated with F.S. GLOIRE and the Royal Air Force in search for unidentified ship sighted by H.M. CILICIA on the previous day.

 

H.M. Ships BELLWORT and ARMERIA sailed from Takoradi to Lagos for escort duties.

 

H.M.S. CYCLAMEN arrived Pointe Noire after docking at Boma; fuelled and sailed again escorting S.S. SIRANGER to Takoradi.

 

H.M.S. PORTSDOWN sailed from Marshall for Freetown.

 

H.M.S. QUADRANT sailed from Bathurst to meet and escort H.M.S. MALAYA to the North.

 

H.M.M.L. 1052 sailed from Lagos for Porto Novo with F.F. recognition signals.

 

13th March, Saturday

 

H.M.M.L.s 279 and 302 arrived Freetown from Bathurst escorting S.S. KAJANG.

 

H.M.S. PORTSDOWN arrived Freetown from screening duties off Marshall.

 

H.M.S. WOLVERINE arrived Dakar for fuel and sailed again.

 

H.M. Ships BELLWORT and ARMERIA arrived Lagos from Takoradi and having fuelled sailed again to join Convoy W.S. 27.

 

H.M. Ships SARABANDE and RUMBA (n.b. spelled RHUMBA in Diary) carried out A/S exercises with H.M.S. P.615.

 

Transport EMPRESS OF CANADA, after being diverted 3 times, finally to Takoradi, was torpedoed between the engine room and the boiler room at 2350 hours in position 1-13S, 9-57W. The ship listed 15 degrees starboard and began to sink. At the time, she was proceeding at a speed of 18 knots using zig zag No. 9, course 062 degrees. A second torpedo struck the ship at 0050/14 on the starboard ship abreast the bridge. She sank within 20 minutes. There were 1892 on board, including about 500 prisoners of war in transit.

 

14th March, Sunday

 

H.M.S. CORINTHIAN sailed from Freetown to pick up survivors from S.S. EMPRESS OF CANADA torpedoed and sunk in position 1-13S, 19-57W.

 

H.M.S. BOREAS returned to Freetown from escorting H.M.S. MALAYA, fuelled and sailed again to assist in rescue of survivors from S.S. EMPIRE CANADA.

 

Convoy S.T. 59 sailed from Freetown for Takoradi, escorted by H.M.Ships RUMBA, DUNCTON, PORTSDOWN, and SARABANDE.

 

H.M. Ships DUNKERY and ORFASY sailed to Bathurst escorting S.S. CAP PADORAN from Freetown.

 

H.M.S. BURDOCK arrived Dakar escorting S.S. MARY KINGSLEY.

 

H.M. Ships CROCUS and PETUNIA detached from Convoy S.W. 27 to pick up survivors from S.S. EMPRESS OF CANADA.

 

H.M.M.L.s 1209 and 1141 arrived Bathurst from Dakar escorting S.S. MATANG.

 

F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU arrived Bathurst for fuel and sailed again to rejoin convoy S.L. 126.

 

H.M.S. HERO arrived Pointe Noire to refuel and sailed again for Freetown.

 

H.M.S. QUAIL arrived Takoradi, ex Convoy W.S. 27, escorting U.S. Troopship JAMES PARKER, refuelled and watered and sailed again to rejoin Convoy W.S. 27.

 

H.M.M.L. 263 sailed from Takoradi for Accra on screening duties off that port.

 

H.M.M.L. 256 and 305 sailed from Takoradi to carry out search for submarine reported by aircraft to be in position 2-50N, 3-30W.

 

S.S. CLAN MCNEIL on arrival at St.Helena reported that her position at 0500 on 11th March was 7-54S, 16-14W. She had not sighted H.M.S. CILICIA or any other ship at that time. It is thought that the ship sighted by H.M.S. CILICIA may have been a homeward bound blockade runner and H.M. Ships on patrol were informed accordingly.

 

It was learned that H.M.S. QUADRANT picked up 10 survivors from U.S. Ship CITY OF FLINT in position 11-50N, 18-04W on 12th March. This ship had been torpedoed and shelled by a U boat off the Azores at 1900 hours on 25th January.

 

Aircraft sighted 24 lifeboats in position 1-13S, 9-46W a.m. 14/4 – vicinity of sinking of EMPRESS OF CANADA.

 

15th March, Monday

 

H.M.S. ARETHUSA arrived Freetown from Cape Town and Pointe Noire on passage to Charleston, via Bermuda.

 

H.M.S. BURDOCK sailed from Dakar, escorting S.S. HOGGAR, S.S. CHELMA, and S.S. DUNKERQUE to join Convoy S.L. 126.

 

H.M. Ships PELICAN and SENNEN arrived Dakar to refuel and sailed again to rejoin Convoy S.L. 126.

 

H.M.S. BARFOSS sailed from Takoradi to complete the laying of the oil pipeline at Accra.

 

H.M.M.L. 290 sailed from Takoradi to take stores to Abidjan and having screened S.S. FORT DE VAUT whilst discharging cargo to escort her to Takoradi.

 

H.M.M.L 271 sailed from Takoradi for Port Bouet to escort S.S. BAMAKO to Freetown.

 

COMSOLANTFOR reported that the KOTA NOPAN (ex Dutch), a homeward blockade runner, was intercepted by a U.S. Task Force in position 7S, 21W at 1727/10/3. This is just outside Flag Officer Commanding, West Africa's Command limits. KOTA NOPAN was boarded but not in time to prevent an internal explosion which cost 8 of the boarding party their lives and sank the ship. 72 prisoners were taken, some of which were German Naval Personnel.

 

16th March, Tuesday

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH arrived Bathurst, H.M.S. CILICIA arrived Freetown, and F.S. GLOIRE arrived Dakar from blockade runner patrols.

 

R.F.A. FORTOL arrived Port Etienne escorted by H.M. Ships BIRDLIP and BUTSER.

 

Independent sailings between Lagos and Takoradi resumed.

 

H.M. Ships BOREAS, PETUNIA, and CROCUS returned to Freetown from rescue operations for survivors from S.S. EMPRESS OF CANADA.

 

H.M.S. DUNCTON parted company from Convoy S.T. 59 to discharge W/T stores at Cape Palmas.

 

H.M.S. HERO arrived Takoradi from Point Noire on passage to Freetown.

 

H.M.S. BRIDGEWATER and H.M.M.L. 281 carried out A/S exercises with H.M.S. P.615.

 

H.M.M.L.s 256 and 305 returned to Takoradi from A/S search.

 

H.M. Tug CHARON arrived Pointe Noire from Duala, refuelled and sailed again for Corisco Bay to assist in salvage of S.S. PIERRE LOTI.

 

S.S. CABO VERDE arrived for examination, but no contraband was found. Navicert was granted and ship sailed at 1530 hours for Lisbon.

 

17th March, Wednesday

 

H.M.S. CILICIA sailed from Freetown on blockade runner patrol.

 

H.M.S. ARETHUSA sailed from Freetown for Charleston via St. Vincent and Bermuda for fuel.

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH sailed from Bathurst on blockade runner patrol.

 

H.M. Ships SPEY and ROTHER arrived Port Etienne and having refuelled, sailed again escorting R.F.A. FORTOL.

 

H.M.S. BIRDLIP sailed from Port Etienne to join S.L. 126.

 

H.M.S. DUNKERY and ORFASY arrived Bathurst from Freetown escorting S.S. CAP PADORAN.

 

H.M.S. THYME sailed from Freetown to escort shipping into port from Position X.

 

H.M.S. HERO sailed from Takoradi for Freetown.

 

H.M.S. CYCLAMEN arrived Takoradi from Pointe Noire.

 

H.M. Ships ARMERIA and BELLWORT parted company from W.S. 27 and proceeded to Takoradi.

 

H.M. Ships QUADRANT and WOLVERINE and H.H.M.S. ADRIAS arrived Gibraltar escorting H.M.S. MALAYA from Freetown.

 

H.M.S. RAIDER arrived Pointe Noire to refuel and sailed again to rejoin Convoy W.S. 27.

 

Master of S.S. BARON DUNMORE reported sighting an unidentified merchant ship, resembling silhouette of the German Bahia-Pernambuco type in position 25-57N, 34-13W, course 320 degrees, speed 14 knots at 1750 hours.

 

18th March, Thursday

 

H.M.S. BOREAS arrived Freetown with over 800 survivors from S.S. EMPRESS OF CANADA.

 

French ships LA GRACIEUSE, DUMONT D'URVILLE, and COMMANDANT DELAGE arrived Dakar escorting convoy C.D. 4 (three ships).

 

H.M.S. BIRDLIP sailed from Port Etienne to meet convoy S.L. 126.

 

19th March, Friday

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO sailed from Freetown for Dakar escorting H.M.S. CONSBRO on passage to Gibraltar.

 

H.M. Ships PETUNIA, CORINTHIAN, and CROCUS arrived Freetown with survivors from S.S. EMPRESS OF CANADA.

 

H.M.S. THYME returned to Freetown without having met merchant vessels in position X.

 

H.M.S. HERO arrived Freetown from Takoradi having escorted U.S. transport JAMES PARKER on the first part of her passage to America.

 

H.M.S. ARETHUSA arrived St. Vincent to refuel.

 

H.M. Ships RUMBA, SARABANDE, DUNCTON, and PORTSDOWN arrived Takoradi escorting Convoy S.T. 59 (4 ships) from Freetown.

 

H.M. Ships CYCLAMEN, ARRAN, PORTSDOWN, and DUNCTION with H.M.M.L.s 305 and 256 sailed from Takoradi for Freetown escorting Convoy T.S. 33 (10 ships).

 

H.M.S. BUTSER parted company from convoy S.L. 126 and proceeded to St Vincent.

 

H.M.S. BURDOCK escorting R.F.A. FORTOL parted company with convoy S.L. 126 and proceeded to make a rendezvous with Convoy O.S. 44.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY sailed from Bathurst for Dakar

 

H.M. Ships BRIDGEWATER and HYDRANGEA carried out A/S exercised with H.M.S. P.615.

 

Portuguese lugger SAO MIGUEL which arrived Freetown on 5th March, sailed at 1916 hours for Bathurst, with a cargo of coconuts, for which, navicert issued by Comptroller of Customs, Freetown.

 

20th February, Saturday

 

H.M.S. HERO sailed from Freetown on passage to the United Kingdom, via Bathurst and Gibraltar for refuelling purposes.

 

H.M.S. INKPEN sailed from Freetown escorting S.S. WILLIAM GLASTON to Robertsport and Monrovia and to screen her off both these ports.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY arrived Dakar escorting S.S. OUED FEZ from Bathurst.

 

F.S. GLOIRE sailed from Dakar on blockade runner patrol.

 

H.M.S. ARMERIA sailed Takoradi for Lagos.

 

H.M. Ships QUADRANT and WOLVERINE sailed from Gibraltar to join Convoy W.S. 28.

 

21st March, Sunday

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH arrived Freetown from Blockade runner patrol.

 

H.M.M.L.s 290 and 296 sailed from Freetown for Liberian surf ports on screening duties.

 

H.M. Ships BRIDGEWATER, BOREAS, HYDRANGEA, and THYME with H.M.M.L.s 302 and 287 sailed from Freetown escorting Convoy S.R. 3.

 

F.S. LA GRACIEUSE sailed from Dakar escorting four merchant ships to join Convoy O.S. 44.

 

H.M.S. BELLWORT and H.M.S. ARMERIA sailed from Takoradi for Freetown escorting H.T. HAI LEE.

 

H.M.S. DUNKERY with two M.L.s sailed from Bathurst escorting H.M.S. BARWIND and S.S. CAP PADORAN.

 

22nd March, Monday

 

H.M.S. BUTSER arrived St. Vincent escorting R.F.A. FORTOL from Convoy S.L. 126.

 

H.M.S. BURDOCK sailed from St. Vincent for Bathurst.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO arrived Dakar from Freetown.

 

H.M.S. SABABANDE sailed from Takoradi with aircraft spirit for the Royal Air Force at Port Bouet.

 

H.M. Ships CORINTHIAN and PETUNIA with H.M.M.L.s 261 and 279 sailed from Freetown to meet convoy O.S. 44.

 

H.M. Ships CADMUS, CONVOLVULUS, KINGSTON CHRYSOLITE, and ARCTIC RANGER sailed from Gibraltar for Freetown escorting Convoy S.R. 3.

 

H.M.S. CORINTHIAN and H.M.S. PETUNIA carried out A/S exercised with H.M.S. P.615.

 

H.M.M.L. 263 arrived Takoradi escorting S.S. NAIRNBANK and H.M.S. VARFOSS from Accra. H.M.S. BARFOSS had completed the laying of the oil pipe line at Accra.

 

23rd March, Tuesday

 

H.M.S. CILICIA arrived Freetown from blockade runner patrol.

 

H.M.S. HYDRANGEA returned to Freetown with defects from escort duties with Convoy S.R. 3.

 

H.M.M.L.s 278 and 281 sailed from Freetown to join escorts of convoy T.S. 33.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO arrived Dakar escorting H.M.S. CONSBRO.

 

H.M.S. REDOUBT sailed from Gibraltar to Freetown escorting S.S. ULSTER MONARCH.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN parted company with Convoy T.S. 33 and proceeded to Marshall.

 

H.M.S. BUTSER sailed from St. Vincent for Freetown, escorting R.F.A. FORTOL.

 

H.M.S. CORINTHIAN, H.M.S. PETUNIA, and H.M.S. COLTSFOOT sailed from Freetown to meet Convoy O.S. 44.

 

H.M.M.L. 263 sailed from Takoradi to screen S.S. CALUMET off Accra.

 

A U.S. Clipper Aircraft sighted an unescorted ship, hove to, alleged to be a supply ship, flying red-yellow-red flag, at 0830 in position 6-43N, 11-32W, 12 miles off the coast. Aircraft investigated shortly afterwards and found no sign of supply ship off Robertport. H.M.S. INKPEN also in the vicinity at 0830 had nothing to report. Note: PLUS ULTRA and ESCOLNA (both Spanish) were approximately the above position at the time stated, travelling southbound and northbound, respectively.

 

24th March, Wednesday

 

Convoy O.S. 44 arrived Freetown from the United Kingdom escorted by H.M. Ships ROCHESTER, SCARBOROUGH, FLEETWOOD, SPIRAEA, MIGNONETTE, COLTSFOOT, and F.S. LA GRACIEUSE with H.M.M.L. 289.

 

H.M.M.L. 244 arrived Freetown escorting H.M.S. BARWIND which had straggled from convoy O.S. 44.

 

H.M.S. ARMERIA arrived Freetown escorting H.T. HAI LEE from Takoradi.

 

H.M.S. UGANDA arrived Freetown from the United Kingdom.

 

H.M. tug INTENT sailed from Dakar towing H.M.S. CONSBRO, escorted by H.M.S. FANDANGO to join Convoy S.R. 3.

 

H.M.S. BOREAS arrived Dakar.

 

H.M.S. BURDOCK arrived Bathurst to refuel and sailed again to join Convoy R.S. 3.

 

H.M.S. COPINSAY and H.M.M.L.s 272 and 277 carried out A/S exercise with H.M.S. P.615.

 

H.M.M.L. 290 arrived Takoradi from Port Bouet escorting S.S. FORT DE VAUX.

 

H.M.S. SARABANDE returned to Takoradi after delivering the petrol to the Royal Air Force at Abidjan to allow Catalina aircraft to operate from there.

 

H.M.M.L. 290 sailed from Takoradi to carry out an A/S search in position 4-26N, 2-32W.

 

25th March, Thursday

 

H.M.S. COLTSFOOT arrived Freetown from the United Kingdom having escorted Convoys O.S. 44 and O.S.S. 44 and been relieved in her duties by H.M.S. BELLWORT.

 

H.M.M.L.s 278 and 281 were detached from Convoy T.S. 33 to screen S.S. WILLIAM GASTON off Monrovia. H.M.S. INKPEN proceeded to Marshall from Monrovia to relieve H.M.S. ARRAN screening off that port, in order that she could return to Freetown.

 

F.S. GEORGES LEYGUES sailed from Dakar to relieve F.S. GLOIRE on blockade runner patrol.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY sailed from Dakar escorting S.S. OUED FEZ to Port Etienne.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO arrived Dakar from escorting H.M.S. CONSBRO to join Convoy S.R. 3.

 

H.M.M.L. 287 arrived Dakar escorting one M/V which had developed engine trouble whilst in Convoy S.R. 3.

 

H.M. Ships MALCOLM and WOLVERINE arrived Dakar to refuel and sailed again to rejoin Convoy W.S. 28.

 

H.M.S. ASHANTI arrived Dakar with S.S. EMPIRE MIGHT in tow.

 

H.M. Ships MILFORD, WOODRUFF, TAMARISK, YESTOR, and MORRIS DANCE sailed from Trinidad, escorting A.F.D. XXIV to Freetown.

 

H.M.S. HERO arrived Gibraltar from Freetown on passage to the United Kingdom.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO sailed from Dakar with F.S. ARGO for Freetown.

 

26th March, Friday

 

H.M. Ships CYCLAMEN, PORTSDOWN, and DUNCTON with H.M.M.L.s 256 and 305 arrived Freetown escorting Convoy T.S. 33 from Takoradi.

 

H.M.S. CARNARVON CASTLE arrived Freetown from Montevideo and blockade runner patrol.

 

S.S. MAURETANIA arrived Freetown on passage to the United Kingdom from Cape Town.

 

H.M.M.L.s 209 and 272 sailed from Freetown to relieve H.M.M.L.s 278 and 281 at Marshall and to escort S.S. WILLIAM GASTON to Cape Palmas and Takoradi.

 

H.M.S. ASHANTI sailed from Dakar for Gibraltar.

 

F.S. GLOIRE arrived Dakar from blockade runner patrol.

 

H.M.S. THYME parted company with Convoy S.R. 3 and proceeded to Dakar escorting S.S. EMPIRE SUCCESS.

 

F.S. LA GRACIEUSE carried out A/S exercises with H.M.S. P.615.

 

H.M.M.L. 290 returned to Takoradi from A/S search and had nothing to report.

 

H.M.S. SARABANDE sailed from Takoradi for Walvis Bay escorting Tug MASTERFUL towing S.S. BENALDER on passage to Cape Town for docking.

 

H.M. Tug CHARON sailed from Libreville for Lagos for docking and repair.

 

The Flag of Vice Admiral F.H. Pegram, C.B., D.S.O., R.N., was struck at sunset.

 

27th March, Saturday

 

H.M.S. CILICIA sailed from Freetown on blockade runner patrol.

 

H.M. Ships MALCOLM, QUADRANT, WOLVERINE, and WITCH arrived Freetown escorting Convoy W.S. 28. Convoy consisted of 13 transports and three special service vessels, but S.S. EMPIRE MIGHT was towed to Dakar by H.M.S. ASHANTI as she had straggled and was on fire.

 

H.M.S. KENYA arrived Freetown from the United Kingdom for onward passage to the Cape as escort to Convoy W.S. 28.

 

H.M.S. BUTSER arrived Freetown escorting R.F.A. FORTOL from St Vincent.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO sailed from Dakar to Freetown escorting F.S. ARGO

 

H.M.S. BIRDLIP arrived Dakar.

 

F.S. DUMONT D'URVILLE sailed from Dakar escorting S.S. QUERCY.

 

The Flag of Vice Admiral W.B. Rawlings, C.B., O.B.E., R.N. was transferred to shore at 0800 on 27th March.

 

28th March, Sunday

 

H.M.S. INKPEN arrived Freetown, escorting two United States merchant vessels from Marshall.

 

H.M.M.L. 271 arrived Freetown from Takoradi, Sassandra, and Robertsport escorting French S.S. BAMAKO.

 

H.M.Ships CROCUS, PORTSDOWN, and DUNCTON with H.M.M.L.s 265 and 277 sailed from Freetown escorting Convoy S.T. 60 to Takoradi.

 

F.S. ALSACE with H.M.M.L.s 302 and 287 sailed from Dakar for Bathurst.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY sailed from Dakar for Port Etienne escorting S.S. OUED FEZ.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN arrived Freetown from Marshall.

 

H.M.S. ROCHESTER and H.M.S. BALSAM carried out A/S exercises with H.M.S. P.615.

 

H.M.S. THYME sailed from Dakar to join escorts to Convoy R.S. 3.

 

H.M. Ships CORINTHIAN, PETUNIA, DUNKERY, and BELLWORT arrived Takoradi escorted Takoradi section (3 ships) of Convoy O.S.S. 44.

 

H.M.S. BRIDGEWATER reported that S.S. LAGOSIAN, in Convoy R.S. 7 was torpedoed and sunk in position 25-35N, 15-43W at about 1159 hours. 39 survivors were rescued by S.S. EMPIRE DENNIS.

 

H.M.S. BRIDGEWATER also reported the sinking of S.S. SILVER BEACH in the same convoy, either torpedoed or mined, in position 25-20N, 15-55W at about 1417 hours. No survivors. H.M.S. BRIDGEWATER suggested that there is a great possibility of mines in this area, depth of water 120 fathoms.

 

H.M.S. REDOUBT and H.M.S. ULSTER MONARCH arrived Freetown to join Convoy W.S. 28.

 

H.M.M.L.s 278 and 281 arrived Freetown after having been relieved off Marshall by H.M.M.L.s 209 and 272.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO arrived Freetown escorting F.S. ARGO from Dakar.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY joined escorted of Convoy S.R. 3.

 

H.M. Ships COPINSAY and BUTSER and F.S. LA GRACIEUSE carried out A/S exercises with H.M.S. P.615.

 

French cable ship arrived Bathurst to lay Dakar – Bathurst cable.

 

Belgian S.S. MOANDA (4621 G.T.) reported that she had been torpedoed and was on fire in position 24-44N, 16-50W during the night 28th/29th March. H.M.S. BURDOCK stood by, but no wreckage at daylight. S.S. MOANDA believed sunk, H.M.S. BURDOCK rejoined convoy. B.N.A. Lisbon reported through Gibraltar on that 9 survivors from an unknown Belgian ship has been picked up by the Portuguese ship FOCA in position 24-29N, 17-37W.

 

30th March, Tuesday

 

Convoy W.S. 28 sailed from Freetown escorted by H.M. Ships KENYA, MALCOLM, QUADRANT, REDOUBT, WITCH, and WOLVERINE and accompanied by H.M. Ships BULOLO, KEREN, and LARGS.

 

F.S. LA GRACIEUSE and H.M.S. INKPEN sailed from Freetown to escort S.S. PINZON to Bathurst and S.S. BAMAKO to Dakar.

 

H.M.S. UGANDA sailed from Freetown for the United Kingdom.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO and H.M. Tug AIMWELL sailed from Freetown to search for survivors from S.S. CELTIC STAR.

 

H.M.S. WASTWATER ordered to search for survivors from S.S. CELTIC STAR and the Royal Air Force cooperated.

 

H.M.M.L.s 1065 and 1066 sailed from Port Etienne escorting three merchant vessels to Dakar.

 

H.M.S. WITCH and H.M.S. WOLVERINE carried out A/S exercises with H.M.S. P.615.

 

H.M.M.L. 261 sailed from Takoradi to escort S.S. MAFUTA to Accra.

 

H.M.M.L. 285 sailed from Takoradi for Port Bouet to screen and escort S.S. ST BASILE.

 

31st March, Wednesday

 

H.M. Minesweepers No. 5, 6, 7, and 8 arrived Freetown from Recife on passage to the Cape.

 

H.M.M.L.s 271 and 305 sailed from Freetown escorting French S.S. VENDOME to Sassandra and Takoradi.

 

H.M.Ships ROCHESTER , FLEETWOOD, SPIRAEA, MIGNONETTE, COLTSFOOT, BALSAM, HYDRANGEA, and BUTSER with H.M.M.L. 244 sailed from Freetown escorting Convoy S.L. 127 to the United Kingdom. H.M.M.L. was included to observe effect of camouflage, H.M.S. BUTSER ordered to escort R.F.A. FORTOL to join Convoy O.S. 45 and H.M.S. HYDRANGEA to escort two merchant vessels to Casablanca.

 

H.M.S. THYME arrived Dakar from Convoy R.S. 3 and sailed again, escorting Convoy D.70.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY sailed from Port Etienne for Dakar.

 

H.M.S. BIRDLIP sailed from Dakar.

 

H.M. Ships BURDOCK and BRIDGEWATER arrived Bathurst with Cable Ship LADY DENNISON PENDER and tugs EMPIRE DENNIS and EMPIRE ACE.

 

F.S. GEORGES LEYGUES sailed from Dakar on blockade runner patrol.

 

H.M.S. WASTWATER rescued survivors from S.S. CELTIC STAR and proceeded to Freetown.

 

Aircraft crashed in position 4-30N, 17-12W after sighting CELTIC STAR survivors. 3 survivors of the aircraft were picked up in position 3-50N, 17-25W at 1805 hours. N.B. These survivors landed with S.S. CELTIC STAR survivors at 1100 on the 2nd April from H.M.S. WASTWATER.

 

 

 

PART II – GENERAL

 

U Boat Activity

 

The month of March has shown a renewal of sinkings in the area of the West Africa Command. Three merchant vessels were lost by U boat attacks on Convoy R.S. 7 in the area about 25-00N, 16-01W.

 

S.S. EMPRESS OF CANADA was torpedoed and sunk in position 1-13S, 9-57W at 2350 G.M.T. on the 13th March.

 

S.S. CELTIC STAR was torpedoed and sunk at 2305 on the 19th March in position 4-08N, 17-33W.

 

Convoys

 

Convoy W.S. 27 arrived Freetown on the 8th March escorted by H.M. Ships RAIDER, QUEENBOROUGH, QUAIL, and WOLVERINE. H.M.S. QUADRANT had joined W.S.27 from Gibraltar, but unluckily damaged her dome and oscillator on passage, thought to be due to striking a whale. Spares were available at Bathurst and H.M.S. QUADRANT called and collected them on the 5th March, proceeding to Dakar on 7th and docked there on 8th March, thanks to the ready cooperation of the French authorities who adjusted their own docking programme to permit of this being done. Auxiliary spares were sent by air from Gibraltar and H.M.S. QUADRANT was enabled to complete with fuel at Bathurst on 11th and sail thence on 12th as escort to H.M.S. MALAYA to Gibraltar; it being then too late for H.M.S. QUADRANT to continue southward from Freetown with W.S. 27. W.S. 27 left Freetown on 11th escorted by H.M.S. RAIDER, H.M.S. QUEENBOROUGH, H.M.S. PETUNIA, H.M.S. QUAIL, and H.M.S. CROCUS (the three destroyers being destined for the Eastern Fleet). It was necessary to detached H.M.S. PETUNIA and H.M.S. CROCUS on 14th to pick up survivors of H.T. EMPRESS OF CANADA. In spite of a such reduced escort, however, the convoy passed out of the Western African Command without incident.

 

Convoy W.S. 28 arrived Freetown on the 27th March escorted by H.M. Ships QUADRANT and WOLVERINE from Gibraltar and H.M. Ships MALCOLM and WITCH from Casablanca.

 

H.M.S. REDOUBT was too late completing repairs at Gibraltar to join this convoy but arrived in Freetown two days later escorting S.S. ULSTER MONARCH.

 

The arrival of this convoy marked the return of three destroyers, H.M. MALCOLM, WOLVERINE, and WITCH to the destroyer force of the West African Command, which had been entirely depleted prior to Operation TORCH in October of last year. With the arrival of these three destroyers, H.M. Ships REDOUBT and QUADRANT which been lent to the Command since January 1943 proceeded to join the Eastern Fleet sailing from Freetown as escort to Convoy W.S. 28 on the 30th March.

 

Convoy O.S. 43, escorted by H.M. Ships PELICAN, ROTHER, WEAR, SENNEN, and SPEY arrived from the United Kingdom on the 4th March, the escorts having been reinforced by H.M.S. BURDOCK from Bathurst. After a stay of eight days at Freetown, the same Escort Group of the Western Approaches Command, sailed from Freetown, escorting Convoy S.L. 126 to the United Kingdom. Additional escorts were provided by F.S. COMMANDANT DROGOU who was due to return to the United Kingdom for annual refit, and H.M.S. BURDOCK joined the escort from Dakar on the 25th March.

 

R.F.A. FORTOL proceeded to Port Etienne ahead of the Convoy to simplify the problem of oiling escorts.

 

Convoy O.S. 44 arrived Freetown on the 24th March, after being successfully attacked by U Boats before entering the area of the West Africa Command.

 

This convoy was escorted by H.M. Ships ROCHESTER, SCARBOROUGH, FLEETWOOD, SPIRAEA, MIGNONETTE, COLTSFOOT, and BALSAM and was reinforced by F.S. LA GRACIEUSE from Dakar and H.M.S. DUNKERY from Bathurst.

 

Convoy S.L. 127 sailed from Freetown on the 31st March escorted by the same Western Approaches Group which had brought out Convoy O.S. 44 but with the addition of H.M.S. HYDRANGEA on passage to the United Kingdom for refit and for a short period, H.M.S. BUTSER, who acted as special escort to R.F.A. FORTOL, who was employed to fuel escort vessels.

 

The sailing of S.T. and T.S. Convoys during the month call for little comment. They were sailed at irregular intervals as had been done in the past, but it is hoped to run them to a regular schedule in the future so as to fit in with the arrivals and departures of O.S. and S.L. convoys and thereby simplify the difficulties of administration by Captain (D) Freetown Escort Force and the organisation of local representative officers of the Naval Control Service, Sea Transport, and Ministry of War Transport in West Africa.

 

The number of escorts, other than M.L.s which it was found possible to provide for the protection of these local convoys were as follows:

 

Convoy No.

No. of Escorts

 

 

S.T.57

Two

 

 

S.T.58  

Three

 

 

S.T.59

Four

 

 

S.T.60  

Three

 

 

T.S.32  

Two

 

 

T.S.33

Four

From the numbers given above, it will be realised that it was indeed fortunate that no attacks took place on these thinly escorted Convoys.

 

Convoy S.R. 3 left Freetown 21st March escorted by H.M. Ships BRIDGEWATER (S.O.), BOREAS, and THYME and was joined by H.M.S. BURDOCK on 24th after fuelling at Bathurst. H.M.S. THYME was despatched on 26th to escort back to Dakar one Merchant ship unable to maintain convoy speed. H.M.S. BOREAS continued with S.R. 3 to Gibraltar, so that when a MOMP rendezvous with Convoy R.S. 3 was made on the 28th, the R.S. 3 was reduced to only two escorts, H.M. Ships BRIDGEWATER and BURDOCK.. The lack of H.M.S. THYME was disastrous in that a series of severe attacks were made on Convoy R.S. 3 the same day in the course of which 3 large ships were torpedoed out of original total of 6. H.M.S. THYME rejoined R.S. 3 on the 30th and, of the three remaining ships, one had lost contact, one (with H.M.S. THYME) put into Dakar on the 31st and the last arrived at Bathurst with H.M.S. BRIDGEWATER, also on 31st. It is not thought that any counter attacks made by the escorts were successful but some damaged by air attack may subsequently have been made on the large force of U boats which from this time were located in that area. Full report from ships concerned has not yet been received.

 

Ships Attached, Temporary, to the Freetown Escort Force

 

H.H.M.S. ADRIAS, was not employed on escort duty between 1st and 11th March during which period, she was working up to join the Mediterranean Fleet. On 11th March, H.H.M.S. ADRIAS sailed as escort to H.M.S. MALAYA to Gibraltar, arriving there on 17th.

 

H.M.S. BOREAS arrived Dakar from Gibraltar on the 3rd March, escorting U.S. transport JAMES PARKER and sailed again the following day for Freetown, where she arrived escorting this Transport on the 5th March.

 

While at Freetown, she developed serious leaks in her lubricating oil tanks which were temporarily repaired by H.M.S. PHILOCTETES and she sailed from Freetown on the 11th March as an escort for H.M.S. MALAYA until she was relieved by H.M.S. QUADRANT from Dakar when she returned to Freetown arriving on the 14th March.

 

On arrival at Freetown she oiled with despatch and sailed to rescue survivors from S.S. EMPRESS OF CANADA returning to Freetown on the 18th March with 793 survivors onboard.

 

On the 21st March she left Freetown with Convoy S.R. 3 for Gibraltar.

 

H.M.S. QUADRANT carried out escort duties with Convoys W.S. 27 and H.M.S. MALAYA finally leaving the command with Convoy W.S. 28.

 

H.M.S. REDOUBT was undergoing repairs at Gibraltar until the 23rd March after she sailed escorting S.S. ULSTER MONARCH to Freetown, subsequently leaving the Command as an escort to convoy W.S. 28.

 

H.M.S. THYME, who was detached from the South Atlantic Station in exchange for F.S. COMMANDANT D'ESTIENNE D'ORVES, arrived in Freetown on the 4th March, since when she has been employed on escort duties.

 

It is hoped that she will be able to rejoin the South Atlantic Station in about five weeks time.

 

During the month, H.M.S. HERO passed through this command independently on passage to the United Kingdom for refit from the Mediterranean.

 

Motor Mine Sweepers

 

B.Y.M.S. 805, 806, 807, and 808 arrived in Freetown on the 31st March from South America on passage to Eastern Waters.

 

H.M.S. WASTWATER who was escorting them was detached on the 30th March to rescue survivors from S.S. CELTIC STAR torpedoed close to the route of three minesweepers and was able to rescue 60 of them.

 

Rescue of Survivors from S.S. EMPRESS OF CANADA

 

The torpedoing of H.T. EMPRESS OF CANADA at midnight 13th/14th March necessitated the employment of three ships from the Freetown Escort Force in rescue work and one destroyer on passage to the East.

 

H.M.S. CORINTHIAN sailed from Freetown at 0800 14th March and H.M.S. Ships PETUNIA, CROCUS, and BOREAS were detached from Convoy W.S.27 at 0400 15th March to rescue survivors.

 

These ships did very good work in rescuing 1495 survivors. All four ships remarked on the vicious persistence with which sharks and barracudas attacked people in the water, and all four equally commented favourably on the behavior of the Italian prisoners of war and unfavourably on the behavior of the Polish army survivors. CORINTHIAN also comments unfavourably on the bearing of the British Merchant Navy seaman, but H.M.S. CROCUS on the other hand spoke highly of these latter. It is satisfactory to be able to record that Naval Officers and men (survivors) are all reported to have behaved in the best traditions of the Service. From reports rendered by H.M.Ships BOREAS, CORINTHIAN, PETUNIA, and CROCUS it is evident that all four ships made careful and thorough preparation for the reception of the survivors and that the actual work of rescue was carried out in an efficient seamanlike manner.

 

A/S Trawlers

 

The low speed of the older trawlers RUMBA, SARABANDE, and ARRAN has been adversely reported on by the S.O. Escorts and 9 knots appears to be the maximum speed they can attain. In the case of H.M.S. ARRAN this low maximum speed may be due to propeller damage and she is due to refit at Lags in the near future.

 

Training

 

Owing to the large operation commitments during the month it has not been possible to allow escort vessels sufficient time in harbour to carry out a satisfactory amount of A/S and gunnery practices. It is hoped, however, with the small increase in ships promised shortly that more time will be available for this most important training.

 

Eighty one Merchant Navy Officers and Men have carried out a 3 day A/A gunnery course and one hundred and one D.E.M.S. ratings have received other forms of instruction. The D.E.M.S. training centre at Freetown has provided facilities for the training of Navy and Army personnel.

 

Neutral Shipping

 

The Portuguese lugger SAO MIGUEL arrived in Freetown on the 5th March with a cargo of 72 tons of salt for Sierra Leone. The examination of this vessel revealed no contraband or Clandestine mail and she sailed again with a navicert for Bathurst with a cargo of coconuts on the 19th March.

 

Portuguese S.S. CABO VERDE arrived in Freetown for examination on the 6th March and as no contraband was found, she was granted a navicert and sailed again the same day for Lisbon.

 

Shipping Through Freetown

 

During March, 160 vessels arrived in this port and of these 2 were in R.S. Convoys, 9 in C.N. convoys, 33 in O.S. convoys, 21 in W.S. and 13 in T.S. convoys.

 

For the same period 159 ships sailed from Freetown and of these 63 were in S.L. convoys, 20 in W.S., 25 in S.T., 12 in S.R., 11 in Dakar groups besides 27 independently routed.

 

 

 

PART III – ADMINISTRATIVE

 

Freetown

 

Rainfall - There was no rainfall during March, but ships were supplied with 47,718 tons of water.

 

Naval Store Department - Large consignments of naval stores arrived from the United Kingdom during the month and considerable quantities were shipping to ports in the West African Command including Dakar, St. Vincent, Bathurst, Cape Palmas, Lagos, Takoradi, and Pointe Noire.

 

M.R. A.J. Lowat relieved Mr. A.W. Holden as N.S.O. at Freetown on 28th March.

 

F.S.S. CITY OF DIEPPE left Freetown for Gibraltar on 12th March.

 

The first four storage sheds in the Kissy Dockyard area were completed during the month and taken into use by the Naval Store Department.

 

Degaussing - 15 H.M. Ships and 67 merchant vessels were tested over the open range during March.

 

D.E.M.S. Department - 145 visits to ships in Freetown were paid by the staff of the D.E.M.S. Department and included routine inspections and the maintenance and repair of equipment.

 

The Miniature Tracer Range Building has been completed except for internal painting and information received from the Admiralty that the instructional equipment will be shipping in the near future.

 

9 twin Lewis Machine Guns, 1 single Lewis Machine Gun, and 16 P.A.C. (D) equipment have been fitted to ships during the month.

 

Commander E.O. Round, R.N.R. relieved Commander H.G. Williams, R.N.R. as the D.E.M.S. Staff Officer on the 22nd March.

 

Controlled Mining - During the month hands were engaged on unpacking crates for L Mk III mines, on unloading L Mk III sinkers, Buoyance chambers, etc and on cleaning L Mk 11 function boxes.

 

Lieutenant Commander Tweedy took over the duties of Controlled Mining Officer on 12th March.

 

Service Works

 

Kissy Oil Tanks - The Diesel tank to be erected in this compound has been replaced by an American tank and the work is progressing steadily.

 

East Kissy Tank Ready-Use Depot - The Americans have made fair progress and 9 out of 22 tanks are partly erected.

 

Wellington Tank Depot - Four of the 60 tanks have been completed by the Americans and the work continues satisfactorily.

 

R.N. Barracks, Kissy - The first section is now complete with the exception of the Sick Quarters and the Recreation block, both of which should be finished next month.

 

In the second Section 4 Officer's huts and 4 rating's huts have been nearly completed, but work has been slowed up owing to shortage of labour.

 

New England - Half the officer's accommodation has been completed and 20 officers of the Cypher Staff moved in on the 26th of the month. Work continued on the other half and on the mens' quarters, all of which it is hoped to complete in April.

 

Civilian Quarters, Ross House - Three extra huts are under construction to house the extra Dockyard workmen expected shortly.

 

Controlled Mining Base - The Railway connection from the Boom Defence deport is 80% complete, but work has been delayed owing to other priority jobs.

 

No. 2 W/T Station, Aberdeen - Work on two additional accommodation huts has been started, but is being delayed by priority work on New England.

 

Extension to Cline Wharf - This work has been deferred indefinitely at present and may be undertaken by the Military.

 

Naval Store Officer's Garages - Almost all the buildings and workshops have been completed. The shops are in use but there is a delay completing roads and drains, due to lack of labour.

 

Deep Water Quay

 

The Americans have driven 219 piles, and the road access and excavation behind the wharf is bout 30% completed. About 70% of the material is in the vicinity of the site.

 

M.L. Slipway - The excavations are almost complete and concreting on the slipway has been started. Work on the cofferdam has also been started.

 

Royal Naval Armament Depot, Tasso Island - Work on 2800 yards of main roads has been started and two quarries for the supply of laterite have been opened up.

 

Charlotte Falls Water Supply - The pipe line to Kissy Oil Fuel Deport was officially opened at the end of the month and the flow of water has continued satisfactorily. Work on the reservoir and chlorination plant at Allenstown has started.

 

Dockyard Offices - These buildings have been completed and the staffs of the Superintending Civil Engineer and Cashier have moved in.

 

Naval Store Officer's Stores - 4 Iris Huts have been completed and foundations have been laid for 3 American type huts.

 

Victualling Store Officer's Stores - Two Iris huts are complete and the foundations of two American type huts are half complete.

 

Sickness - A total number of 27 officers and ratings were discharged to hospital with Malaria during the month.

 

Recreation - A sailing club has been formed and two lifeboats have been borrowed from the Receiver of Wrecks to allow personnel the opportunity of taking part in this sport, which has proved very popular.

 

Komenda

 

Water Supply - The two inch pipe line from Elmina which is being laid by the Royal Engineers, has reach a point only (quarter) mile from the station.

 

Communications - Telephone cables are being laid and it is proposed to install a 50 line exchange at Komenda.

 

Health - The health of the station has remained very good, and the percentage of sickness during the month was 2.5%. Four cases of malaria were discharged to hospital.

 

Lagos

 

Sunken Trawlers - The demolition of the sunken trawlers is proceeding as satisfactorily as possible and it is expected the work will be complete early in June. One of the main difficulties is that heavy demolition charges cannot be used as the concussion causes disturbance to the Electric Power Plan on Iddo Island about of a mile away. There have also been delays due to a breakdown on the crane.

 

More than half of H.M.S. BENGALI has, however, now been removed and when work has finished there will only remain the innermost trawler H.M.S. SPANIARD. H.M.S. SURPRISE of course remains to be dealt with and it seems that the same process will in the end have to be applied to remove this wreck.

 

Building - Due to unhealthy overcrowding the extension of ratings accommodation at R.N. Barracks, Lagos asked for by me in my 1330/3/4/1942 and approved by the Admiralty message 0124/9/5 has had to be put in hand although every endeavour has been made to do without it. The estimate given last April was 750 pounds but due to the cost of living allowance granted throughout Nigeria last November, labour costs have enormously risen and the same building will now be in the neighbourhood of 1000 pounds. The building will be part of the standard Lagos hutment type – i.e. wood with concrete floor. Part of the cement tennis court as originally in place is being used as the floor.

 

Health - The general health has continued to be normal for this part of the West African coast.

 

Victualling Store Officer's Cold Store - Excavation, concrete foundations and block work to floor level is half finished. Three of the Belfast Roof Tresses are completed.

 

Dockyard - The foundations of 5 workshops are complete and the finish of the floor awaits details of machinery.

 

The foundation and wells of the plate shop and smithery are almost completed and work on the gantry has started.

 

The pipe line to supply water from the Charlotte Falls supply had been started.

 

General - The shortage of labour is getting more and more acute due to the approval from the Ministry of Agriculture for Civilians to return to the bush to plant rice.

 

Bathurst

 

Service works - Work on the Ammunition Depot, the Cold Storage Plant, and the Marina barracks scheme was suspended pending a decision as to whether these works were to be completed.

 

Admiralty Pier - Construction has been completed with the exceptions of the dolphins and the 4th Class moorings have been laid.

 

Admiralty Oil Tanks - These tanks are completed and ready to receive fuel oil and diesel oil.

 

Offices for the Base Accountant Officer - This work is almost completed and will be ready for occupation in the near future.

 

Sickness

   

Officers

Ratings

 

 

 

Establishment  

16

93

 

 

 

Admitted to hospital  

11

 

 

 

Returned to duty  

13

Takoradi

 

Service Works - The fourth cabin block or officers and the fourth sleeping block for ratings have been completed in the R.N. Barracks.

 

Work on the African compound is nearly completed as also the Depth Charge and Coppersmith's workshop at the Coastal Force base.

 

 


 

 

ADM 199/635

 

FLAG OFFICER IN CHARGE, WEST AFRICA

 

WAR DIARY – APRIL 1943

 

 

Thursday, 1st April

 

H.M.S. DESPATCH sailed from Freetown for Recife and Rio de Janeiro.

 

H.M.S. QUEEN OF BERMUDA arrived Freetown on passage from Durban to the United Kingdom.

 

H.M.S. SCARBOROUGH sailed from Freetown for the United Kingdom and was ordered to overtake and reinforce the escort force to Convoy S.L. 127.

 

H.M.S. UGANDA was ordered to patrol in latitude 33 degrees North and subsequently to proceed to Gibraltar instead of the United Kingdom.

 

H.M.M.L.s 1065 and 1066 arrived Dakar from Port Etienne escorting S.S. MARY KINGSLEY, BUFFLE, and PERSISTANTE.

 

F.S. VICTORIA arrived Bathurst to fuel and water escorting S.S. TOURS and ALSACE on passage to Dakar.

 

H.M.M.L. 1042 sailed from Takoradi for Half Assini escorting S.S. KAJANG.

 

H.M. Ships CORINTHIAN, PETUNIA, BELLWORT, and DUNKERY sailed from Takoradi for Freetown escorting Convoy T.S. 34 (14 ships)

 

H.M. Ships ALCANTARA and AMARANTHUS sailed from Trinidad to rendezvous with Admiralty Floating Dock XXIV and thence to Freetown.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO sailed from Monrovia for Freetown.

 

Friday, 2nd April

 

H.M.M.L. 244 returned to Freetown from escort duties with Convoy S.L. 127.

 

H.M.S. WASTWATER arrived Freetown from Recife with survivors from S.S. CELTIC STAR.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO and H.M.T. AIMWELL arrived Freetown from carryout of search for survivors of S.S. CELTIC STAR.

 

H.M.S. CARNARVON CASTLE sailed from Freetown on anti blockade runner patrol.

 

Convoy S.T. 61 (4 ships) sailed from Freetown escorted by H.M. Ships ARMERIA, CYCLAMEN, and FANDANGO, and H.M.M.L. 278 and 279.

 

H.M.S. QUEEN OF BERMUDA sailed from Freetown for the United Kingdom.

 

F.S. LA GRACIEUSE arrived Dakar escorting S.S. BAMAKO from Freetown.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY with H.M.M.L.s 1065 and 1066 sailed from Dakar escorting S.S. MEDIE II and S.S. FINISTERRE to meet H.M.S. BURDOCK and H.M.S. INKPEN escorting S.S. TOVELIL from Bathurst and subsequently to join Convoy S.L. 127.

 

F.S. VICTORIA sailed from Bathurst for Dakar escorting S.S. TOURS and ALSACE.

 

H.M. Ships PORTSDOWN and DUNCTON with H.M.M.L.s 277 and 265 arrived Takoradi escorting Convoy S.T. 60 (three ships) from Freetown.

 

H.M.S. INKPEN arrived Bathurst from Freetown escorting S.S. PINZON.

 

H.M.S. INKPEN and H.M.S. BURDOCK sailed from Bathurst escorting S.S. TOVELIL to rendezvous with Convoy S.L. 127.

 

Saturday, 3rd April

 

H.M.M.L. 290 arrived Freetown escorting S.S. FORT DE VAUX from Takoradi and Sassandra.

 

H.M.M.L.s 1231 and 1089 sailed from Freetown to meet and escort stragglers from Convoy S.L. 127 and return with them to Freetown.

 

F.S. VICTORIA arrived Dakar from Bathurst escorting S.S. ALSACE.

 

H.M.S. CROCUS arrived Lagos from Takoradi escorting S.S. CAP PADORAN.

 

H.M.M.L.s 1065 and 1066 arrived Bathurst from Port Etienne escorting S.S. ALSACE.

 

Portuguese S.S. PUNGUE called Freetown at 1050 for cargo navicert. Ship was boarded by Customs and Security Authorities and by a member of the Staff Officer (Intelligence) staff. Examination satisfactorily completed, Navicert was issued and ship continued on voyage at 1750.

 

Sunday, 4th April

 

F.S. AIR FRANCE IV sailed from Dakar to investigate aircraft report of a raft with survivors in position 22-40N, 17-50W.

 

H.M.Ships QUADRANT and REDOUBT arrived Pointe Noire ex Convoy S.W. 28 to refuel and subsequently to rejoin the convoy.

 

H.M.S. DUNCTON sailed from Takoradi for Accra to relieve H.M.M.Ls 263 and 261 screening S.S. RICHMOND HILL and S.S. MAFUTA.

 

H.M.S. RUMBA in tow of LIDA sailed from Takoradi for Lagos escorted by H.M.S. PORTSDOWN.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO arrived Monrovia from Freetown,.

 

CMB Port Etienne reported a raft in position 22-40N, 17-00W at 1000Z. No mention of survivors. AIR FRANCE IV was sailed from Dakar to investigate.

 

Monday, 5th April

 

H.M.M.L.s 1231 and 1089 returned to Freetown having been unable to meet the stragglers from Convoy S.L. 127, which arrived Freetown independently.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN sailed from Freetown to relieve H.M.M.L.s 272 and 279, screening S.S. WILLIAM GASTON off Marshall.

 

H.M.S. BIRDLIP arrived Dakar to reinforce escort to Convoy D.B.F. 1.

 

F.S. GLOIRE sailed from Dakar on anti blockade runner patrol.

 

H.M. Ships BURDOCK, ORFASY, and INKPEN arrived Dakar escorting two merchant vessels ex convoy S.L. 127.

 

H.M. Ships MALCOLM, WOLVERINE, and WITCH arrived Pointe Noire to refuel after parting company with Convoy W.S. 28.

 

H.M.S. ULSTER MONARCH arrived Pointe Noire from Convoy W.S. 28 to refuel and sailed again to rejoin the Convoy to continue her passage to the Cape.

 

H.M. Ships RACEHORSE and RELENTLESS arrived Pointe Noire from the Cape, refuelled and sailed again to join the escort force to convoy W.S. 28.

 

H.M. Ships QUADRANT and REDOUBT sailed from Pointe Noire to rejoin Convoy S.W. 28.

 

H.M. Ships PORTSDOWN and RUMBA arrived Lagos from Takoradi.

 

H.M.M.L. 261 arrived Lagos from Accra to dock.

 

H.M.M.L. 263 arrived Takoradi from Accra.

 

Raft with men on board was sighted in position 22-40N, 17-50W at 0855/4/4 by French aircraft on escort duty. Raft had yellow tent erected on it. Food and water dropped. An escort vessel from a French convoy was detached to pick up survivors.

 

Tuesday, 6th April

 

H.M.M.L. 296 sailed from Freetown to take the Fleet Salvage Officer to Conakry.

 

H.M.B.Y.M.s 805, 806, 807, and 080 sailed from Freetown for Takoradi on passage to the Cape via Pointe Noire and Walvis Bay.

 

Convoy T.S. 34 (14 ships) arrived Freetown from Takoradi escorted by H.M. Ships CORINTHIAN, BELLWORT, PETUNIA, and DUNKERY.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY sailed from Dakar for Bathurst escorting S.S. MATANG.

 

H.M. Ships BURDOCK, BIRDLIP, and INKPEN with H.M.M.L.s 302 and 287 sailed from Dakar escorting Convoy D.B.F. 1

 

H.M.S. WOLVERINE and H.M.S. WITCH sailed from Pointe Noire to Lagos and Takoradi, respectively.

 

An Able Seaman survivor from Greek S.S. GRANICOS, picked up at 1545/4 by M.V. LEICHTON stated GRANICOS sailed Rio de Janeiro 11th March for Freetown and was torpedoed on 28th March about 2030. Ship sank immediately. No boats gotten away. Brazilian member of crew taken onboard submarine.

 

Wednesday, 7th April

 

H.M.M.L. 285 arrived Freetown from Takoradi and Sassandra escorting S.S. ST BASILE.

 

H.M.M.L. 296 returned to Freetown having left the Fleet Salvage Officer at Conakry.

 

Convoy R.S. 3 X (3 ships) arrived Freetown from Gibraltar escorted by H.M.S. SNOWDROP, F.S. PRESIDENT HOUDOUCE and H.M.I. ships KUMAON, and KATHIAWAR.

 

F.S. GEORGES LEYGUES returned to Dakar from anti blockade runner patrol.

 

H.M.S. WOLVERINE arrived Lagos from Pointe Noire and having refuelled sailed again in company with H.M. Ships CROCUS and PORTSDOWN for Takoradi escorting S.S, CAP PADORAN, S.S. TREVAYLOR, and S.S. TANAFJORD. S.S. CAP PADORAN reported engine room defects and subsequently returned to Lagos escorted by H.M.S. CROCUS.

 

H.M. Ships ARMERIA and CYCLAMEN with H.M.M.L.s 278 and 279 arrived Takoradi from Freetown escorting Convoy S.T. 61 (three ships)

 

H.M.M.L. 1016 sailed from Takoradi for Half Assini to relieve M.L. 1042.

 

H.M.S. ARRAN arrived Marshall from Freetown.

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO sailed from Monrovia to Takoradi escorting S.S. NEW BROOKLYN.

 

U.S.A. aircraft ferry pilot reported submarine in position 14-08N, 17-04W at 1438, course south. U boat crash dived on being sighted. Graded B 2.

 

AIR FRANCE IV arrived Port Etienne 1900/6 with 6 survivors from S.S. MOANDA. Search continued for second raft.

 

Thursday, 8th April

 

H.M.S. BUTTERMERE with H.M.M.M.S.s 102, 103, 105, 106, and 107 arrived Freetown from Recife. All these Motor Minesweepers, except H.M.M.M.S. 107, which is detained for the Persian Gulf, were on passage to the Levant.

 

F.S. VICTORIA sailed from Dakar for Casamance.

 

F.S. LA GRACIEUSE sailed from Dakar escorting S.S. BAMAKO.

 

H.M.S. BRIDGEWATER with H.M.M.L.s 1044 and 1141 arrived Dakar from Bathurst.

 

H.M.S. CROCUS sailed from Lagos for Takoradi, escorting S.S. GODFREY B. HOLT.

 

H.M. Ships ARMERIA and CYCLAMEN sailed from Takoradi for Lagos escorting S.S. HAI LEE.

 

H.M.M.L. 277 sailed from Takoradi for Accra to relieve H.M.S. DUNCTON.

 

H.M.M.L. 1042 arrived Takoradi from Half Assini.

 

H.M.S. WITCH arrived Takoradi from the south.

 

H.M.S. DUNCTON sailed from Lagos for Takoradi.

 

R.A.F. aircraft at 1840 in position 17-18N, 21-23W sighted a U boat of 500 tons, course 217 degrees, speed 10 knots, fully surfaced, 7 miles distant, while flying at 900 feet. Attacked at angle of 100 degrees from submarine's wake at 50 feet. 5 depth charges dropped. Submarine had been submerged 10 second when depth charges exploded. After explosions a vivid green patch about 15 feet in diameter was observed.

 

Friday, 9th April.

 

H.M. Ships INKPEN, BURDOCK, ORFASY, and BIRDLIP with H.M.M.L.s 302 and 287 arrived Freetown from Dakar escorting Convoy D.B.F. 1.

 

H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM arrived Freetown from Capetown on passage to the United Kingdom.

 

H.M.M.L.s 209 and 272 returned Freetown from Marshall where they had been screening U.S.WILLIAM GASTON being relieved by H.M.S. ARRAN.

 

H.M.S. SNOWDROP sailed from Freetown to rendezvous with Convoy T.S. 35.

 

H.M.M.L.s 296 and 256 sailed from Freetown for rendezvous with ESSO WASHINGTON and escort to Freetown.

 

Convoy R.S. 4 (10 ships) sailed from Freetown escorted by H.M. Ships CORINTHIAN, DUNKERY, INKPEN, WASTWATER, F.S. PRESIDENT HOUDOUCE and H.M.M.L. s 290 and 281.

 

F.S. GEORGES LEYGUES sailed from Dakar on Blockade runner patrol.

 

F.S. LA GRACIEUSE arrived Dakar from submarine hunt with H.M.M.L.s 1044 and 1141.

 

H.M.S. DUNCTON arrived Takoradi from Accra.

 

H.M. Ships WOLVERINE and PORTSDOWN arrived Takoradi from Lagos escorting S.S. TREVAYLOR and S.S. TANAFJORD.

 

H.M.M.L. 271 from Freetown and H.M.M.L. 305 from the Ivory Coast arrived Takoradi escorting F.S. VENDOME.

 

H.M.M.L. 266 sailed from Takoradi for Accra escorting S.S. CYMBULA.

 

H.M.S. MALCOLM sailed from Pointe Noire for Freetown.

 

H.M. Ships ARMERIA and CYCLAMEN arrived Lagos from Takoradi escorting S.S. HAI LEE.

 

S.S. BAMAKO was torpedoed in position 14-57N, 17-15W at 0045.

 

Unidentified merchant ship, 1 funnel, 2 masts passed northwest of St Helena on a northerly course.

 

Saturday, 10th April

 

French submarine ARGO and H.M.M.L. 2089 sailed from Freetown for Conakry and Dakar.

 

H.M.S. BIRMINGHAM sailed from Freetown to the United Kingdom.

 

H.M. Ships WOLVERINE and WITCH sailed from Takoradi for Freetown.

 

H.M.S. CROCUS arrived Takoradi from Lagos escorting S.S. G.B. HOLT

 

H.M.S. FANDANGO arrived Takoradi from Monrovia escorting S.S. NEW BROOKLYN.

 

H.M.M.L. 266 returned Takoradi from Accra.

 

H.M. Ships CROCUS, DUNCTON, and PORTSDOWN with H.M.M.L.s 265 and 266 sailed from Takoradi for Freetown escorting Convoy T.S. 35 (eighteen ships).

 

H.M. M.L. 265 returned to Takoradi with engine trouble and H.M.M.L. 279 was sailed from Takoradi to take her place in the escort of Convoy T.S. 35.

 

H.M.M.L. 1052 sailed from Lagos for Port Novo.

 

At 1155, aircraft sighted, in position 04-58N, 16-42W wreckage comprising of 1 upturned lifeboat, top of deckhouse, boxes, and planks.

 

At 1811, in position 9-38N, 15-22W, aircraft sighted a lifeboat with 30 persons on board.

 

Sunday, 11th April.

 

H.M.M.L.s 256 and 296 arrived Freetown escorting S.S. WASHINGTON.

 

H.M. B.Y.M.s 805, 806, 807, and 808 arrived Takoradi from Freetown on passage to Pointe Noire and Cape Town.

 

H.M.M.L. 1052 arrived Lagos from Porto Novo.

 

U.S. Ferry Aircraft reported sighting a U boat on the surface in position 13-08N, 18-26W at 1050.

 

At 1840/11, U.S. aircraft sighted a U boat on the surface in position 13N, 19W.

 

Wreckage and an empty lifeboat were seen in the vicinity of 03-50N, 14-48W at 1025. Probably from S.S. CELTIC STAR.

 

Deckhouse wreckage was seen in position 10-18N, 16-42W at 1220/11.

 

Report received from British Consul, Las Palmas, stating that Spanish gunboat ADEN returned to port p.m. 6th April having gone out to locate crew from German submarine sunk yesterday off Mahaiomas, South of Grand Canary. 50 survivors understand to have landed on beach south of Island p.m. 6th.

 

Monday, 12th April

 

H.M.S. ORFASY ordered to leave convoy T.S. 35 and proceed to Marshal to screen S.S. PENNSYLVANIA.

 

H.M.M.L. 1016 arrived Takoradi from Half Assini escorting S.S. KASANG.

 

H.M. B.D.V. BARFOSS with H.M.M.L. 305 sailed from Takoradi for Accra to repair oil pipe line.

 

H.M. Ships ARMERIA and CYCLAMEN sailed from Lagos for Takoradi escorting S.S. HAI LEE.

 

Complete complement of British Merchant Ship EMPIRE WHIMBREL rescued. 24 by H.M.S. WOLVERINE and 29 by H.M.S. WITCH. S.S. EMPIRE WHIMBREL was torpedoed and sunk in position 02-10N, 15-55W at 0359 11th April.

 

A cargo passenger ship of about 7000 tons with 1 tall funnel was seen by a British Merchantman in approximate position 8S, 25W at 2005. The ship appeared to be steering as if she had a rendezvous to keep. The only Allied ship in that vicinity at that time was the MANDALAY (5529 G.T.), a cargo ship. No illustration of this ship is available. She is an old vessel built in 1908.

 

U.S. Ferry aircraft reports submarine in position 9-30N, 15-40W at 1015 which crash dived on sighting.

 

Tuesday, 13th April

 

H.M.S. MALCOLM arrived Freetown from Pointe Noire.

 

H.M. Ships WITCH and WOLVERINE arrived Freetown from Takoradi with survivors of EMPIRE WHIMBREL.

 

Blockade runner PORTLAND sunk by F.S. GEORGES LEYGUES in position 6-12N, 21-15W.

 

H.M. Ships ARMERIA and CYCLAMEN arrived Takoradi from Lagos escorting HAI LEE.

 

Wednesday, 14th April

 

H.M.M.L.s 244 and 256 sailed from Freetown for Dakar escorting S.S. W.R. CHAMBERLAIN JUNIOR. H.M.M.L. 244 to call at Conakry and then to rejoined H.M.M.S. 256.

 

H.M. Ships WITCH, WOLVERINE, and MALCOLM sailed from Freetown for Dakar and Casablanca to join W.S. 29.

 

H.M. Ships BLACK SWAN, MYOSOTIS, MALLOW, STONECROP, CAMPION, and F.S. LA MALOUINE arrived Freetown from the United Kingdom escorting Convoy O.S. 45 (eleven ships).

 

H.M.M.L.s 287 and 296 sailed from Freetown to rendezvous with S.S. BULKOIL and escort to Freetown.

 

H.M.S. BUTSER arrived Bathurst from Freetown.

 

H.M.Ships BELLWORT, PETUNIA, BIRDLIP, and H.M.I.S. KUMAON, and KATHIAWAR sauced from Freetown escorting Convoy S.T. 62 (eight ships) to rendezvous with Convoy O.S.S. 45 and thence to Takoradi.

 

French submarine ARGO and H.M.M.L. 289 sailed from Conakry for Dakar.

 

H.M. Ships ARMERIA and CYCLAMEN sailed from Takoradi for Lagos.

 

H.M.S. COPINSAY arrived Marshall from Freetown to screen S.S. PENNSYLVANIA.

 

H.M.Ships VIRGINIA, HUSSAR, PIROUETTE, CONVOLVULUS, SPEEDWELL, and THYME, and F.S. SAVORGNAN DE BRAZZA sailed from Gibraltar for Freetown escorting Convoy R.S. 4.

 

American Army aircraft reports sighting submarine at 0925 in position 05-01S, 11-10W.

 

Report received that gunfire was heard off Monrovia at 09 hours G.M.T. today April 14th and again half an hour later. Ships visible in distance appeared to be steaming northwards.

 

Thursday, 15th April

 

H.M. Ships SNOWDROP, CROCUS, DUNCTON, and PORTSDOWN with H.M.M.L.s 279 and 266 arrived Freetown from Takoradi escorting Convoy T.S. 35 (seventeen ships)

 

S.S. QUEEN MARY arrived Freetown from Capetown on passage to the United Kingdom.

 

F.S. LA GRACIEUSE and H.M.M.L. 1141 arrived Port Etienne after leaving convoy S.R. 4.

 

H.M.S. BUTSER sailed from Bathurst for Freetown escorting tug CROCODILE and S.S. MATANG.

 

H.M. Ships ARMERIA and CYCLAMEN arrived Lagos from Takoradi.

 

H.M.M.L. 277 arrived Lagos from Accra escorting S.S. CYMBULA.

 

American authorities reported that a C. 87 aircraft sighted a submarine at 1123 in position 5-35S, 12-55W, course 350 degrees.

 

Another submarine was sighted by aircraft in position 5S, 11-10W at 0925/14.

 

Friday, 16th April

 

S.S. QUEEN MARY sailed from Freetown for the United Kingdom

 

H.M.M.L. 274 sailed from Takoradi for Port Bouet escorting F.S. VENDOME.

 

51 survivors from the PORTLAND, including 1 sick U boat rating, landed at Dakar.

 

Saturday, 17th April

 

H.M.S. BUTSER arrived Freetown from Bathurst escorting S.S. MATANG and tug CROCODILE.

 

H.M.M.L. s 296 and 287 returned Freetown without S.S. BULKOIL with whom they had been sent to rendezvous.

 

H.M.M.M.S. 107 and H.M. Submarine P.615 sailed from Freetown for Takoradi, Pointe Noire, and Capetown.

 

H.M.M.L. 278 sailed from Takoradi for Cape Palmas escorting S.S. BRITISH COAST.

 

Sunday, 18th April

 

French submarine ARGO and H.M.M.L. 281 arrived Freetown from Dakar.

 

H.M. Ships BURDOCK, CROCUS, PORTSDOWN and BUTSER with H.M.M.L.s 209, 272, 1071, and 1231 sailed from Freetown escorting Convoy F.T. 7 (five ships). H.M. Ships BURDOCK and CROCUS with H.M.M.L.s 1072 and 1231 to Bathurst with S.S. NEW NORTHLAND and S.S. PINTO. H.M. Ships BURDOCK CROCUS to escort remaining ships towards Trinidad, subsequently to disperse and proceed to Recife to escort H.M. L.S.T.s to Freetown.

 

H.M.S. BUTTERMERE sailed from Freetown escorting S.S. CALUMET to overtake the Bathurst section of Convoy F.T. 7.

 

H.M.S. Ships BLACK SWAN, STONECROP, CAMPION, MALLOW, MYOSOTIS, F.S. LA MALOUINE, and H.M.M.L.s 1076, 287, 1137, 1018, 296, and 279 sailed from Freetown for submarine hunt.

 

H.M. B.D.V. BARFOSS and H.M.M.L. 305 arrived Takoradi from Accra.

 

H.M. B.Y.M.S.s 805, 806, 807, and 808 sailed from Takoradi for Pointe Noire and the Cape.

 

American authorities report that an Ascension Based B 25 aircraft sighted a submarine on the surface at 1405 in position 6-25N, 11-22W, course 080 degrees, speed 15 knots. Attack carried out with three 500 pound demolition bombs and three depth charges; oil and air bubbles resulted; final result doubtful. Aircraft searched area until dark.

 

Monday, 19th April

 

H.M.M.M.S. 107 returned Freetown.

 

H.M. Ships BLACK SWAN, MALLOW, CAMPION, MYOSOTIS, and STONECROP and F.S. LA MALOUINE returned to Freetown from submarine hunt.

 

M.H. M.L. 287 returned Freetown from Submarine hunt and ordered out again.

 

H.M.S. BUTTERMERE returned Freetown escorting S.S. CALUMET with engine defects and being unable to overtake convoy F.T. 7.

 

H.M.S. BUTTERMERE sailed from Freetown for Bathurst.

 

H.M. Ships MALCOLM, WOLVERINE, and WITCH arrived Casablanca from Dakar.

 

H.M.S ships CYCLAMEN and ARMERIA sailed from Lagos for Takoradi escorting S.S. ALMANZORA.

 

All survivors (entire ship's complement) from S.S. EMPIRE BRUCE rescued by H.M.M.M.S. 107 landed Freetown. M.L.s continued to search for U Boat.

 

Tuesday, 20th April

 

H.M.M.L. 289 arrived Freetown from Bissau.

 

H.M. Ships STONECROP, BLACK SWAN, MALLOW, CAMPION, and MYOSOTIS with F.S. LA MALOUINE sailed from Freetown for the United Kingdom escorting Convoy S.L. 128 (thirty four ships) – FORTOL to be detached to join Convoy O.S. 46 and S.S. NEWCHWANG to be detached for Bathurst.

 

H.M.M.L.s 296, 279, 1081, and 1076 returned Freetown from submarine hunt.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY sailed from Freetown for Bathurst, subsequently to provide screen for Cable Ship LADY DENNISON PENDER between Bathurst and Dakar.

 

H.M.S. COPINSAY arrived Freetown from Marshall escorting S.S. PENNSYLVANIA STAR.

 

F.S. AIR FRANCE IV sailed from Port Etienne escorting S.S. OUED FEZ and S.S. NELEUS to rendezvous with R.S. 4.

 

H.M.S. INKPEN detached from R.S. 4 with engine defects arrived Port Etienne.

 

H.M.S. PETUNIA arrived from Freetown escorting S.T. 62 (O.S.S. 45) (Takoradi part – seven ships)

 

H.M. Ships ARMERIA and CYCLAMEN arrived Takoradi from Lagos escorting S.S. ALMANZORA.

 

H.M.M.L. 271 sailed from Takoradi for Accra escorting S.S. SUTHERLAND.

 

H.M. Ships PORTSDOWN and BUTSER with H.M.M.L. 1072 and 1231 arrived Bathurst from Freetown escorting S.S. NEW NORTHLAND and S.S. PINTO.

 

H.M. Ships MALCOLM, WOLVERINE, and WITCH sailed from Casablanca to rendezvous with Convoy W.S. 29.

 

H.M.M.L. 1052 sailed from Lagos for Porto Novo.

 

Reported by the French that Spanish M.V. TRAMONTANA always in Port Etienne when convoys are approaching. She is a large fishing trawler type, but always sighted in area too deep for fishing.

 

Wednesday, 21st April

 

M.L. 1137 returned Freetown from submarine hunt.

 

H.M.M.L. s 302 and 285 sailed from Freetown to rendezvous with S.S. AMERICAN SUN and escort to Freetown.

 

H.M.S. SARABANDE arrived Pointe Noire escorting Tanker MALAY from Walvis Bay.

 

H.M. Ships BIRDLIP and BELLWORT arrived Lagos from Takoradi with H.M.I. ships KATHIAWAR and KUMAON escorting S.S. JENNY, S.S. ALLIGATOR, and S.S. EMPIRE OBERON.

 

H.M.S. BUTTERMERE arrived Bathurst from Freetown.

 

H.M.M.L. 1052 arrived Lagos from Porto Novo.

 

H.M.M.L.s 261 and 277 sailed from Lagos for Takoradi escorting S.S. CYMBULA.

 

Thursday, 22nd April

 

H.M.M.L.s 209 and 272 returned Freetown having been detached from Convoy F.T. 7 by H.M.S. BURDOCK.

 

H.M. Ships PETUNIA, ARMERIA, and CYCLAMEN sailed from Takoradi for Freetown escorting Convoy T.S. 36 (three ships).

 

H.M.S. ARRAN arrived Takoradi from Liberia escorting S.S. WILLIAM GASTON.

 

H.M. Ships BUTSER, PORTSDOWN, and BUTTERMERE sailed from Bathurst for Freetown escorting S.S. NEW NORTHLAND, S.S. DINAE II, S.S. KANA, and S.S. PINTO.

 

H.M. B.Y.M.S. s 805, 806, 807 and 808 arrived Pointe Noire arrived Pointe Noire from Takoradi.

 

H.M.M.L. 277 returned Lagos with engine defects.

 

Friday, 23rd April

 

H.M.M.L.s 302 and 285 returned Freetown escorting S.S. AMERICAN SUN.

 

H.M.M.L. 274 arrived Takoradi from Port Bouet having been replaced by H.M.M.L. 265.

 

H.M. Ships BELLWORT and BIRDLIP with H.M.M.L. 277 sailed from Lagos for Takoradi escorting S.S. CAP PADORAN.

 

H.M.M.M.S 102, 103, and 106 arrived Bathurst from Convoy S.L. 128 escorting S.S. NEWCHWANG.

 

Saturday, 24th April

 

H.M. Ships PORTSDOWN, BUTTERMERE, and BUTSER with H.M.M.L. 290 arrived Freetown from Bathurst escorting S.S. NEW NORTHLAND, S.S. DINAE II, and S.S. KANA.

 

H.M.S. SNOWDROP with H.M.M.L.s 296, 281, 289, 209, 266, 287 sailed from Freetown to rendezvous with and provide long distance A/S screen for Convoy A.F.D. XXIV, escorted by H.M. Ships ALCANTARA, MILFORD, AMARANTHUS, TAMARISK, WOODRUFF, YESTOR, and MORRIS DANCE.

 

H.M.M.L. 1044 with F.S. VICTORIA arrived Port Etienne.

 

H.M.S. ORFASY with H.M.M.L. 1072 and 1231 sailed from Bathurst escorting Cable Ship LADY DENNISON PENDER to repair cable.

 

H.M. B.Y.M.S. 805, 806, 807, and 808 sailed from Pointe Noire for Walvis Bay.

 

H.M.I.S. KATHIWAR sailed from Lagos for Pointe Noire escorting H.M.S. KELT in tow by Tug ALLIGATOR, S.S. EMPIRE OBERON, S.S. EMPIRE CLUB, S.S. EMPIRE DENNIS.

 

Report received that British ship PORT ROYAL PARK at 16/1645/April, in position 21-10S, 07-36E sighted a vessel resembling a blockade runner OSORNO steering a North easterly course. Vessel was lightly laden and it could not be identified.

 

Sunday, 25th April

 

H.M. Ships CORINTHIAN, THYME, and DUNKERY returned Freetown together with H.M. Ship VIRGINIA and French ships PRESIDENT HOUDOUCE and SAVORGNAN DE BRAZZA from Gibraltar all escorting Convoy R.S. 4 (twenty one ship).

 

H.M. Ships BUTSER, PORTSDOWN, and BUTTERMERE with H.M.M.L. 290 arrived Freetown from Bathurst escorting S.S. NEW NORTHLAND, S.S. KANA, and S.S. DINAE II.

 

H.M.M.L. 261 arrived Takoradi from Lagos.

 

H.M.S. BIRDLIP arrived Takoradi from Lagos.

 

Unidentified motor vessel about 5000 tons, flush desk, cruiser stern, stream lined bridge, 2 masts with heavy crosstrees, 2 or 3 sets of Sampson posts, lightly laden, reported in position 21-10S, 07-36E at 16/1645/April, steering a North Westerly course.

 

An ungraded report from a French source stated that U boats have been seen recently in Bay of Kikombo, 11S, 13-50E and off Bay of Moita Seeca, 06-05S, 12-18S.

 

Aircraft reports sighting submarine in position 19-56N, 18-20W, course 180 degrees, at 0710.

 

Monday, 26th April

 

H.M.M.L.s 209, 272, 302, 285 sailed from Freetown to carry out an Anti Submarine Sweep.

 

H.M. Ships PETUNIA, ARMERIA, and CYCLAMEN arrived Freetown from Takoradi escorting Convoy T.S. 36 (four ships).

 

H.M.M.L. 281 returned Freetown with broken asdic.

 

H.M.S. BELLWORT with H.M.M.L. 277 arrived Takoradi escorting S.S. CAP PADARAN from Lagos.

 

H.M. Ships BIRDLIP, BELLWORT, FANDANGO, and ARRAN sailed from Takoradi for Freetown escorting Convoy T.S. 37 (nineteen ships).

 

H.M.S. ORFASY with H.M.M.L.s 1072 and 1231 arrived Bathurst from Dakar escorting Cable Ship LADY DENNISON PENDER.

 

H.M.S. BOREAS sailed from Casablanca for Freetown escorting S.S. CLAN LAMONT and S.S. AORANGI.