Naval History Homepage and Site Search


  British and Other Navies in World War 2 Day-by-Day
by Don Kindell

NAVAL EVENTS, SEPTEMBER 1939 (Part 1 of 2)
Friday 1st - Thursday 14th

HMS Cornwall, heavy cruiser (Ships Pictures, click to enlarge)

on to SEPTEMBER 1939, Part 2 


Note: all vessels and aircraft are British or Dominion unless otherwise identified - click for abbreviations.
Corrections with thanks to Donald Bertke

(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search)


Background Events - September 1939-March 1940
Battle of Atlantic starts, 'Phoney War' on land, Battle of River Plate






Friday, 1 September


Germany invaded Poland


Baltic - the first shots of the war were fired by German battleship SCHLESWIG HOLSTEIN at the Polish Gdansk (Danzig) fortifications of Westerplatte. She had arrived six days earlier when Hitler seized the Polish port of Gdansk for Germany, renaming it Danzig.


German naval forces - for the invasion of Poland were under the Command of Naval Group Command East (Adm Conrad Albrecht):


Commander Reconnaissance Force (Vize Adm Hermann Densch) had under his command light cruisers KÖLN, LEIPZIG, NÜRNBERG.


Officer Commanding Torpedo Boats (Konter Adm Gunther Lutjens) commanded destroyers BERND VON ARNIM, BRUNO HEINEMANN, ERICH STEINBRINCK, FRIEDRICH ECKHOLDT, FRIEDRICH IHN, GEORG THIELE, LEBERECHT MAAS, RICHARD BEITZEN, WOLFGANG ZENKER and the 1st MTB Flotilla with S.10, S.11, S.12, S.13, S.18, S.19 and depot ship TSINGTAU.


BRUNO HEINEMANN had a water feed pump break down and was forced to withdraw for repairs at Wilhelmshaven.


Officer Commanding Minesweepers (KptzS Friedrich Ruge in old torpedo boat T.196) commanded escort ships F.7, F.8, F.9, F.10, the 1st Minesweeping Flotilla with minesweepers M.1, M.3, M.4, M.5, M.7, M.111, M.132, the Experimental Barrage Command with old minesweepers ARKONA, NAUTILUS, OTTO BRAUN, PELIKAN, SUNDEWALL and the 3rd Motor Minesweeping Flotilla with motor minesweepers R.33, R.34, R.35, R.36, R.38, R.39, R.40.


German submarine forces - Officer Commanding U-boats East (FKpt Oskar Schomburg) commanded U.5, U.6, U.7, U.14, U.18, U.22, U.31, U.32, U.35, U.57.


U.5, U.6, and U.7 patrolled the Kattegat near Laeso.


U.22 patrolled inside the Irben Strait.


U.31, U.32, U.35 were off the Gulf of Danzig for minelaying and U.14 and U.18 on patrol off the Gulf of Danzig.


U.57 patrolled off Libau.


On the 2nd, U.22 and U.57 were withdrawn to provide relief for the other patrols. Both boats proceeded to Memel for refuelling, then departed on the 3rd. U.57 arrived at Kiel on the 5th and departed that day for patrol off Laeso.


On the 7th, the Gulf of Danzig U-boats were ordered to the North Sea.


On the 10th, the Baltic patrols were cancelled and the submarines returned to patrols and the U-boat Training School.


Polish naval operations - the Polish Fleet sortied from Gdynia, but not before Polish torpedo boat MAZUR was sunk in German air attacks. Destroyer WICHER, minelayer GRYF, and minesweepers CZAJKA, CZAPLA, JASKOLKA, MEWA, RYBITWA, ZURAW were able to leave port to conduct the mining of Gdansk Bay, code named Exercise RURKA.


In Puck Bay, near Gdynia, the Polish force was attacked by German dive bombers, and minelayer GRYF and minesweeper MEWA seriously damaged. GRYF was forced to jettison her mines to prevent the explosion of those still on deck and was unable to begin Exercise RURKA. MEWA was towed to Hela by RYBITWA.


Submarines ORZEL and WILK departed Gdynia for patrol in the Gulf of Gdansk and RYS, SEP, ZBIK also sailed from Gdynia for patrol in Puck Bay off Hela to attack German surface ships.


WILK attacked German destroyer ERICH STEINBRINCK unsuccessfully and was then damaged by depth charges dropped by her and FRIEDRICH IHN, but was able to continue on patrol.



British Home waters - battleship RAMILLIES (above - Maritime Quest) departed Scapa Flow for escort duties from Devonport.


Aircraft carrier COURAGEOUS with destroyer STURDY, after departing Portsmouth on 31 August, arrived at Portland at 1700. Destroyers ARROW arrived there at 1550, ACASTA, which had departed Portland at 0640 that morning, and ANTHONY arrived at 1615, and ACHATES at 1745.


Aircraft carrier HERMES, sailing from Plymouth, arrived at Portland at 2015, and destroyer ACHERON on the 2nd. Here they joined destroyer ANTELOPE which was already at Portland.


Central and South Atlantic – Destroyers DOUGLAS and WISHART departed Gibraltar for patrol. French destroyer BASQUE also left Gibraltar.


Heavy cruiser EXETER arrived at Freetown from Devonport and later the same day, departed for Cape Verde Island.


Heavy cruiser CUMBERLAND, which had departed Plymouth on 31 August after EXETER, was also en route for Freetown.


Mediterranean - destroyer ICARUS was damaged in collision with Greek steamer MICHALIS (4680grt) off Alexandria, while they were alongside each other at sea. ICARUS's hull was stove in, and she and the Greek steamer were escorted to Alexandria by destroyer INTREPID. Following temporary repairs, ICARUS proceeded on the 10th for repairs at Malta completing on 8 October.



Saturday, 2 September


British Home waters - battlecruiser RENOWN escorted by destroyer SARDONYX departed Portsmouth for Scapa Flow, arriving on the 4th.


Aircraft carrier COURAGEOUS escorted by destroyer STURDY departed Portland before dawn, and arrived at Plymouth later that day.


Destroyer ENCOUNTER departed Portland at 0545 and arrived at Plymouth.


Baltic - Polish naval auxiliary ships GYDNIE (538grt) and GDANSK (538grt) were sunk by German bombing in the Gulf of Gdansk.


Polish submarine SEP unsuccessfully attacked German destroyer FRIEDRICH IHN at 1238 with one torpedo, north of Heisternest. SEP was damaged in the counterattack, but able to continue on patrol.


German waters - Commander Reconnaissance Forces with light cruisers KÖLN, LEIPZIG, NÜRNBERG in the Baltic was ordered to the North Sea.


U-boat movements - U.31, U.32, and U.35 were in the Baltic near Hela to mine the approaches to the Gulf of Danzig. However, the escape of the Polish destroyers made these operations unnecessary and they were transferred from the Baltic to the Atlantic, first arriving at Wilhelmshaven. From there:


U.32 set out on patrol on the 5th,


U.31 and U.35 on the 9th,


U.31 and U.35 were ordered to patrol areas west and south of England, respectively, and U.32 to lay mines off the Bristol Channel on the 17th.


French Force de Raid, Atlantic - the Brest-based Force of battlecruisers DUNKERQUE, STRASBOURG, light cruisers GEORGES LEYGUES, GLOIRE, MONTCALM and large destroyers L'AUDACIEUX, LE FANTASQUE, LE MALIN, LE TERRIBLE, LE TRIOMPHANT, L'INDOMPTABLE, MOGADOR, VOLTA was ordered to Casablanca at high speed to protect the North African ports from attack from the sea, departing at 2000/2nd. The 2nd Destroyer Division of destroyers FOUGUEUX, FRONDEUR, L'ADROIT and 5th Division BRESTOIS, BOULONNNAIS, FOUDROYANT left Brest on the 2nd as local escort and to carry out an anti-submarine sweep in the local approaches. The local escort returned to Brest on the 3rd.


Minelaying cruiser LA TOUR D'AUVERGNE (former PLUTON), also at Brest, sailed with the Force de Raid to lay a defensive minefield off the Moroccan coast. She was detached on the 4th and arrived, unescorted, at Casablanca on the 5th, where she remained until her loss on the 13th.


When intelligence revealed the threat did not exist, the operations were cancelled and the forces arrived back at Brest at 0740 on the 6th. They received an additional escort from the 4th Destroyer Division with destroyers BOURRASQUE, ORAGE, OURAGAN, which departed Brest on the 5th.


French naval forces, Mediterranean - The French 2nd Second Squadron, battleships PROVENCE, BRETAGNE, LORRAINE with the nine destroyers of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla, which had departed Toulon 31 August, arrived at Oran on the 2nd. The Squadron carried on and arrived at Gibraltar on the 3rd.


The French 3rd Squadron arrived back at Toulon on the 2nd after covering convoy R.3.


Later that day, heavy cruisers, ALGÉRIE, COLBERT, DUPLEIX, FOCH, TOURVILLE with destroyers CHEVALIER PAUL, TARTU, VAUQUELIN of the 5th Large Destroyer Division, GERFAUT and VAUTOUR of the 7th Large Division, and CASSARD, KERSAINT,MAILLÉ BRÉZÉ of the 9th Large Division departed Toulon and arrived at Oran on the 3rd.


Mediterranean - Light cruiser ARETHUSA and the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla (less IMOGEN and ICARUS) departed Alexandria to patrol between Cape Matapan and Crete.


The destroyers arrived at Malta on the 4th, where they joined IMOGEN which earlier had been sent to Marseilles with dispatches, reaching Malta on the 3rd. All the destroyers then carried on to Gibraltar, arriving on the 5th to operate out of there on anti-submarine duties in the Atlantic.


Central and South Atlantic - Convoy AB.1 of British tankers BRITISH ARDOUR (7124grt, Cdre Mr H Fulcher), BRITISH LOYALTY (6993grt), BRITISH PRINCESS (7019grt), BRITISH MOTORIST (6891grt), BRITISH PROGRESS (4581grt) and steamers CITY OF HEREFORD (5105grt), CITY OF SHANGHAI (5828grt) ROWANBANK (5102grt) departed Gibraltar for Capetown. BRITISH FAITH (6955grt) had broken down just after weighing anchor and did not proceed with the convoy.


Light cruisers DAUNTLESS and DESPATCH (9th Cruiser Squadron) departed Gibraltar at 1930 and proceeded with the convoy.


Destroyers DOUGLAS, WATCHMAN, WISHART, WRESTLER of the 13th Destroyer Flotilla joined the convoy at 2200/2nd and carried out anti-submarine sweeps, before leaving at 0805/3rd.


Light cruiser DURBAN departed Gibraltar for Freetown where she arrived on the 8th with seaplane tender ALBATROSS.


DAUNTLESS was detached on the 11th and arrived at Freetown on the 13th.


On the 13th DESPATCH turned the convoy over to DURBAN which had departed Freetown on the 12th.

DESPATCH reached Freetown on the 14th. DURBAN reached Capetown on the 29th.


Indian Ocean - destroyers DECOY, DEFENDER, DELIGHT, DUCHESS which had departed Hong Kong on 28 August, left Singapore on the 2nd en route to join the Mediterranean Fleet.


Pacific - New Zealand light cruiser ACHILLES en route to the West Indies from New Zealand received orders to patrol off the west coast of South America.



Sunday, 3 September


Declarations of war - Great Britain and France declared war on Germany at 1115 and 1700 respectively. Australia, New Zealand, and British India also declared war.


Home Fleet, including German shipping - Adm Forbes was some 400 miles west of the Hebrides having just completed a sweep to the west to cover the trade routes with his battlefleet and destroyers were SOMALI, ASHANTI, BEDOUIN (defects corrected), ESKIMO, PUNJABI, TARTAR of the 6th Destroyer Flotilla and FAULKNOR, FEARLESS, FIREDRAKE, FORTUNE, FOXHOUND of the 8th Flotilla. ASHANTI and SOMALI had refuelled at Scapa Flow on the 2nd and the rest of the destroyers departed earlier on the 3rd, also after refuelling at Scapa.


Destroyers MASHONA and MATABELE of the 6th Flotilla and FAME, FORESIGHT, FORESTER, FURY of the 8th departed Scapa Flow that evening to join Forbes at sea., FORESTER and FURY carried out anti-submarine attacks at 2140, WNW of Rockall in 58-53N, 18-42W.


Adm Forbes was also looking for German liner BREMEN (51,656grt) which was known to have departed New York on 30 August. However, BREMEN evaded British patrols and arrived at Murmansk on the 6th.


Destroyer SOMALI did capture German steamer HANNAH BOGE (2372grt) which had departed Shediac Bay in New Brunswick on 26 August. She was intercepted at 63‑20N, 16‑35W, taken to Kirkwall, arriving on the 5th, and later renamed CROWN ARUN in British service.


That evening at 1840, on report of German warships leaving Schillig Roads, the Home Fleet was deployed to the east of the Fair Isle Channel, arriving on station at 0600 on the 5th.


During the evening of 3 September, destroyer ESKIMO experienced a turbine problem and was returning to Scapa Flow alone when she encountered FAULKNOR, FIREDRAKE and FOXHOUND. She was at first taken for German, but no shots were fired and the encounter ended uneventfully. ESKIMO safely arrived at Scapa Flow and the defects were corrected on the 11th.


Loss of British liner Athenia - U.30 torpedoed ATHENIA (13,581grt) south of Rockall Bank in 56‑44N, 14‑05W. Soon on the scene were destroyers ELECTRA, ESCORT, American steamer CITY OF FLINT (4963grt), Norwegian steamer KNUTE NELSON (5749grt), Swedish pleasure yacht SOUTHERN CROSS.


Lost with ATHENIA, which sank on the 4th, were 93 passengers and 19 crew members. The 376 survivors were picked up by SOUTHERN CROSS and of these, 220 were transferred to CITY OF FLINT and the other 156 to the destroyers.


Adm Forbes had also dispatched destroyer FAME from his screen at 2300 to assist. When she was not needed to lift survivors, FAME carried out anti-submarine sweeps in the area.


KNUTE NELSON took the survivors to Galway and the rest were taken to Greenock.


CITY OF FLINT later took 223 American survivors to Halifax, arriving on the 13th, and escorted into port by US Coast Guard cutters BIBB (WPG.31) and CAMPBELL (WPG.32).


British northern waters - battleship ROYAL SOVEREIGN arrived at Scapa Flow at 1030/3rd, escorted by destroyers FAULKNOR, FORTUNE, ESKIMO, TARTAR.


Destroyer VALOROUS and sloop ENCHANTRESS departed Rosyth on the 2nd for patrol in the Pentland Firth.


British east coast - coastal minelayer PLOVER laid mines off Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth in Operation BRM.


Destroyers BROKE, WANDERER, WHITEHALL of the 15th Destroyer Flotilla departed Rosyth for patrol on the 1st. WANDERER and WHITEHALL carried out an anti-submarine sweep off Blyth, both destroyers arriving at Scapa Flow on the 4th.


German trawler SOPHIE BUSSE (215grt) was seized by British forces at Grimsby and renamed ELSIE CAM in British service.


Destroyer WITCH, 17th Flotilla departed Rosyth for Harwich on 31 August. (30th Destroyer Division, 17th Flotilla was at Milford Haven for escort duties.)


Escort vessel/destroyer WHITLEY and sloop PELICAN departed Harwich on the 3rd


German steamer POMONA (3457grt) was seized by British forces at London. Although the crew set her on fire, the ship was saved and renamed EMPIRE MERCHANT in British service.


Humber Force - light cruisers GLASGOW, SOUTHAMPTON and destroyers JERVIS, JACKAL, JAVELIN, JERSEY had departed the Humber on the 1st and were sweeping off the Norwegian coast for German shipping.


Destroyers JANUS and JUNO arrived in the Humber for operations on the 3rd after working up.


Destroyer JUPITER was at Grimsby repairing defects and arrived at Rosyth on the 6th.


The Humber Force arrived at Rosyth on the 7th after this patrol.


British North Sea submarine patrols - began off Horn Reef, in the approaches to the Kiel Canal and Wilhelmshaven, and on the extension of the Montrose-Obrestad air patrol line - the last sixty miles of which was beyond the range of the Anson aircraft then in service.


Operating off the Norwegian coast and stationed twelve miles apart were 2nd Flotilla submarines SEAHORSE, which had departed from Dundee on 24 August, SPEARFISH from Portland on 25 August, STURGEON from Portland on 27 August, SWORDFISH, also from Dundee.


SPEARFISH was attacked by a U-boat on the 3rd but dived when torpedo tracks were seen and escaped unharmed.


STURGEON was bombed by friendly aircraft in 56-34N, 01-04W at 1620 and 1642/4th.


SEAHORSE was also attacked by friendly aircraft, a RAF Coastal Command Anson of 233 Squadron, east of Dundee, at 2007/5th. She sustained minor damage, a claim made by the aircraft, but the Anson herself crashed into the River Eden because of fuel leaking from a damaged tank. The crew were rescued from their dinghy.


Submarines STERLET, OXLEY, and TRITON departed Dundee on patrol on 3, 4, and 5 September, respectively.


Submarines H.32, L.26, L.27, UNDINE, UNITY, URSULA of the 6th Flotilla departed Blyth on 31 August for patrols in the Heligoland Bight, being withdrawn for refuelling at dusk on the 11th and arriving back at Blyth after dawn on the 13th.


Danish waters - Danish fishing vessel NORDSTRAND (30grt) was sunk 70 miles west of Horn Reef Light by a mine.


German waters - after being arrested for a debt on 28 August, steamer NAPHTHA SHIPPER (5897grt) was seized by German forces at Hamburg and renamed ALTENGAMME in German service.


Baltic - U.14 attacked Polish submarine SEP south of Aland Island in the Baltic without success. U.18 also encountered a Polish boat on the 3rd, but was unable to attack.


Polish destroyer WICHER and minelayer GRYF, along with other smaller Polish units, were anchored at Hela, when they were attacked and damaged by German destroyers LEBERECHT MAAS and WOLFGANG ZENKER. MAAS sustained some damage and four dead from a shore based battery hit and the German ships were forced to withdraw without destroying the Polish ships. MAAS was repaired at Swinemünde, completing on the 10th and Norwegian steamer BJORNVIK (812grt) was damaged by the German ships gunfire at Gdynia. Failing to deal with the Polish ships, the German destroyers called in the Luftwaffe which sank WICHER, GRYF, minesweeper MEWA, and gunboat GENERAL HALLER two hours later. German forces later raided GRYF, which was sunk as a target ship ten miles north of Gydnia.


German MTB S.23 sank Polish pilot vessel LLOYD BYDGOSKI (80grt) at 54-35N, 19-08E near Hela.


Polish submarine WILK laid twenty mines east of Hela at 54-31N, 18-48E.


German minelaying operations - Beginning on the 3rd and continuing through to the 17th, German light cruisers EMDEN, KÖLN, KÖNIGSBERG, LEIPZIG, NÜRNBERG and sloop GRILLE covered minelaying operations from Terschelling 150 miles northward into the Heligoland Bight.


Destroyer HANS LODY was damaged on the 4th by an explosion of her anti-sweep device while loading mines. Her stern was damaged.


The first operation departed late on the 4th with three groups: First group – KÖLN, KÖNIGSBERG and destroyers DIETHER VON ROEDER and HANS LÜDEMAN; second group - sloop GRILLE with destroyers HERMANN KÜNNE and KARL GALSTER; third group - minelayers COBRA and ROLAND with destroyers ERICH GIESE and THEODOR RIEDEL.


Minefield F (Martha Hans) was laid by COBRA, ROLAND, GIESE and RIEDEL from Cuxhaven on the 4th, where they returned after the operation.


Minefield A (Martha Ida) was also laid COBRA, ROLAND, GIESE and RIEDEL sailing from Cuxhaven on the 5th.


Two barrages of Martha Gustav were laid on the 8th by COBRA and ROLAND, this time with destroyer FRIEDRICH IHN. After the operation, the ships proceeded to Emden.


Minefield B (Martha Eins), was laid on the 13th by minelayers COBRA, KAISER, ROLAND from Wilhelmshaven and by HANSESTADT DANZIG with destroyers BERND VON ARNIM, FRIEDRICH ECKHOLDT, THEODOR RIEDEL. Torpedo boats of the 6th Flotilla escorted the operation.


Minefield C (Martha Zwei), was laid on the 15th by COBRA, HANSESTADT DANZIG, KAISER, ROLAND, and destroyers ARNIM, STEINBRINCK, ECKHOLDT, RIEDEL with Torpedo and S-boats screening the operation.


Minefield G (Martha Drei), was laid on the 17th by COBRA and HANSESTADT DANZIG, escorted by torpedo boats of the 6th Flotilla.


U-boat operations - U.12, U.36, U.56, U.59, U.58 were on a patrol line off Great Fisher Bank and U.13, U.15, U.17, U.21, U.23 in the southern North Sea.


U.16, which departed Wilhelmshaven on the 2nd, laid mines in Tees Bay off Hartlepool on the 5th. Before returning to Wilhelmshaven on the 8th, she reconnoitred the approaches to Scapa Flow in the Pentland Firth.


U.20 was on passage for patrol in the northern North Sea off Utsire.


U.23, off Flamborough to lay mines, was recalled to Wilhelmshaven before the minefield was laid. They were laid by U.15 on the 6th.


U.24 had departed Wilhelmshaven on the 2nd to lay mines off Dunkirk, but the operation was cancelled, and she returned to Kiel on the 5th.


Minelaying off Dover and Calais had already been cancelled due to shortage of boats.


Dover Straits - destroyers CODRINGTON, BASILISK, BEAGLE, BLANCHE, BOADICEA, BOREAS, BRAZEN, BRILLIANT departed Dover on 31 August for patrol in the English Channel. The patrols were divided into two sectors - a north patrol area between Goodwin Sands and Sandetti Bank, and a south patrol area between the South Goodwins and Ruytingen Bank.


English Channel - in the Western Approaches Command, destroyers ESCORT and ELECTRA of the 12th Destroyer Flotilla departed Portland for patrol on the 2nd. ENCOUNTER departed Portland on the 2nd to join sister ship ECLIPSE at Plymouth, and EXMOUTH and ESCAPADE, also of the 12th Flotilla departed Portland on the 3rd.


Destroyer KEITH, 17th Destroyer Flotilla departed Plymouth on the 3rd.


French Channel coast - destroyers MALCOLM, VANSITTART, WIVERN, 16th Flotilla from Portsmouth arrived at Le Havre on the 3rd.


Central and South Atlantic - light cruisers CAPETOWN and COLOMBO departed Gibraltar for patrol west of Portugal in the area of 38N, 20W, and arrived back on the 12th.


Light cruiser DANAE departed Freetown for Simonstown, arriving on the 11th.


Light cruiser AJAX sailed from Rio de Janiero on 30 August and on the 3rd in 33‑30S, 53‑30W captured German steamer OLINDA (4576grt) which had departed Montevideo on the 2nd. As AJAX could not spare a prize crew, OLINDA was sunk with scuttling charges after the crew was placed aboard British tanker SAN GERALDO (12,915grt). AJAX had the distinction of firing the first British shots of the war.


Australian Navy - heavy cruiser CANBERRA departed Garden Island, Sydney for patrol late on the 2nd, followed by light cruiser HOBART and destroyer VOYAGER on the 3rd. HOBART patrolled the trade route between Gabo Island and Wilson's Promontory and VOYAGER in the vicinity of Cape Howe.


Destroyer VENDETTA, also after departing Garden Island, and on patrol 100 miles east of Port Stephens sighted steamer SPEYBANK (5154grt).


Destroyer VAMPIRE was on patrol off Cape Otway looking for Italian steamer ROMOLO (9780grt) which later arrived at Brisbane.


Sloops SWAN and YARRA were on anti-submarine patrol off Sydney.



Monday, 4 September


Western Atlantic - German steamer CHRISTOPH V DOORNUM (3751grt) was seized by Canadian forces at Botwood, Newfoundland, and renamed EMPIRE COMMERCE in British service.


Faeroes - destroyer FORTUNE attacked a submarine contact 30 miles south of Munken Rock in 61-11N, 07-39W.


British northern waters - battleships ROYAL OAK and ROYAL SOVEREIGN departed Scapa Flow, escorted by destroyers BROKE WANDERER, WHITEWALL for patrol in the North Sea.


WANDERER attacked a submarine contact at 1945, 90 miles east of the Orkneys, southeast of Sumburgh Head in 59-23N, 00-11W. WHITEHALL rejoined the escort at 1128/5th.


Destroyers FORESIGHT, FORESTER, FURY departed Scapa Flow on the 5th and joined the battleships at 1330/6th.


The force arrived back at Scapa Flow at 1709/6th.


British east coast - Destroyer JACKAL attacked a submarine contact NE of Flamborough Head in 54-29N, 00-05E.


U.13 laid mines off Orfordness during the night of 4/5 September. Two merchant ships were sunk and one damaged in this field. U.17 laid mines in the Downs.


Norwegian waters - German coaster LIANNE (125grt) was lost between Graverne, Sweden, and Hamburg about this time. She reportedly scuttled herself after sighting British light cruisers GLASGOW and SOUTHAMPTON sweeping in the area. However, it appears she was lost in a German minefield on the 7th, as reported by Greek steamer KOSTI (3933grt) herself  damaged earlier in the same field. There were no survivors from LIANNE. (Corrections thanks to Mark Viglietti)


German steamer JOHANNES MOLKENBUHR (5294grt) was intercepted by SOUTHAMPTON and scuttled herself 17 miles west of Stadlandet in 61‑40N, 03‑51E. Destroyer JERVIS took off the crew, landing them at Invergordon on the 6th, while JERSEY finished off the sinking ship.


German waters - U.3 and U.4 departed Wilhelmshaven for patrol in the Skagerrak, and U.21 and U.23 arrived back.


Destroyers assigned to the Eastern Area for the Polish campaign transferred to the North Sea to cover minelayers laying the "West Wall" minefield in the Heligoland Bight.


German MTB S.17 of the 2nd Flotilla was badly damaged by rough seas during North Sea operations, paid off on the 8th and used for spares. A number of other S-boats were less severely damaged in these operations.


RAF attacks on German naval units – were carried out at Wilhelmshaven and Brunsbüttel. Five Blenheims each of Nos 107, 110, and 139 Squadrons and six Wellington bombers each of Nos 49 and 83 targetted Schillig Roads, while six Wellingtons of 9 Squadron and eight from 149 Squadron targetted Brunsbüttel.


Battleships SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU at Brunsbüttel were attacked but escaped any damage.


At Wilhelmshaven, light cruiser EMDEN, just entering port followed by U.23, was damaged by splinters from two near misses and a Blenheim crashing into her bows. Nine crew were killed but EMDEN was completely repaired on the 16th.


At Schillig Roads, pocket battleship ADMIRAL SCHEER was hit by three 250 pound bombs which failed to explode and caused no damage. SCHEER had problems with her main engines, but was ready for sea on 10 October. She continued to have difficulties and started an extensive overhaul in February 1940 lasting into October 1940.


Destroyer DIETHER VON ROEDER, close by SCHEER was near missed, but not damaged.


Of the aircraft involved, ten, including all five of 139 Squadron failed to find the target and returned to base, one bombed Esbjerg, Denmark, and three attacked HM ships in the North Sea without success. Losses amounted to seven - two Wellingtons of 9 Squadron, four Blenheims of 107 Squadron, and one Blenheim of 110 Squadron shot down.


Baltic - Polish submarine SEP on patrol east of Hela fired two torpedoes at German minesweeper M.4 of the 1st Minesweeping Flotilla. M.4 was not hit, counter-attacked with depth charges and damaged SEP, which was able to continue her patrol.


German minelayers HANSESTADT DANZIG and TANNENBERG, escorted by motor minesweepers R-boats of the 5th Motor Minesweeper Flotilla laid minefield Undine II the southern entrance to the Sound. Training ship BRUMMER, escorted by minesweepers M.75, M.84, and M.85, laid minefield Undine III. On the 5th, TANNENBERG laid Undine I.


Minelayer PREUSSEN laid mines in minefield Grosser Bar at the entrance to the Great Belt. Greek steamer KOSTI (3933grt) was damaged on a mine in this field, two miles SE of Falsterbo Light Vessel after ignoring warnings from German patrol boats.


English Channel - Destroyer ACHERON departed Portland with a MA/SB on anti-submarine exercises with submarine H.31. Later that day at 1350, destroyer KELLY, which was working up nearby in Weymouth Bay, reported being attacked by a submarine. KELLY and ACHERON attacked a contact at 1550. H.31 was not damage


Destroyer WESSEX made two anti-submarine attacks off Eddystone Light during the day - in 50-13N, 03-32W at 1215 and in 50-09N, 3-59W at 1538.


Aircraft carrier COURAGEOUS departed Plymouth at 0845 on anti-submarine patrol with destroyers ANTHONY, ACASTA, AMAZON, ARDENT. Destroyer ECLIPSE attacked a submarine contact near COURAGEOUS off the Eddystone in 50-01.5N, 4-09W at 0940. After the attack, she joined the screen. ECLIPSE made another attack at 50-10.5N, 4-02E at 1915. The force returned to Plymouth the same day at 1720.


French Channel coast - destroyer CODRINGTON, French torpedo boat L'INCOMPRISE and a French seaplane attacked a submarine contact off Gravelines.


 Destroyers VENOMOUS, WREN, 16th Destroyer Flotilla embarked an advance party of the GHQ of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), arrived at Cherbourg and disembarked their troops that evening, returning to Portsmouth on the 5th. On the 7th at 0015, the two destroyers again sailed from Portsmouth and joined a convoy which was escorted to Cherbourg. They arrived back at Portsmouth at 1100.


St George’s Channel - steamer BLAIRBEG (3509grt) was abandoned after a submarine attack, although no damage was done. Destroyer WALKER attacked a contact SW of The Smalls at 51-10W, 6-32W. WALKER, now with VANQUISHER stood by the steamer while the crew re-embarked and continued their passage to Glasgow.


Mediterranean - heavy cruiser SUSSEX and destroyers COSSACK, MAORI, NUBIAN, ZULU departed Alexandria at 1930 to relieve light cruiser ARETHUSA and her destroyers on patrol. The patrol was discontinued on the 7th, and SUSSEX was instructed to send her destroyers to convoy Green 1.


South Atlantic - German steamer CARL FRITZEN (6594grt) departed Rotterdam on 10 August for Buenas Aires. She was due to make landfall off Cabo Polonio on the 4th, but was intercepted by light cruiser AJAX in 34‑19S, 48‑29W. As with OLINDA on the 3rd, AJAX was forced to scuttle CARL FRITZEN.



Tuesday, 5 September


British northern waters - while entering Scapa Flow to refuel, destroyer MATABELE found Switha Gate closed and instead headed through the emergency gate, running aground at 2025 and damaging her propellers. She was refloated by the boom vessels at 2130, and departed on the 6th for repairs at Chatham.


Destroyer SOMALI operating with battlecruiser HOOD attacked a submarine contact in Fair Isle Channel in 59-40N, 2-50W. Destroyer FURY, also in company, dropped depth charges.


Scottish west coast - patrol sloop KINGFISHER attacked a submarine contact off Ailsa Craig in the Clyde estuary.


British east coast - sloop PELICAN was involved in a minor collision with steamer STARLING (1320grt) in the Thames, but was able to continue her duties.


Norwegian waters - Three torpedoes were fired at light cruisers SOUTHAMPTON and GLASGOW 20 miles north of Utvaer, which were in company with destroyers JAVELIN, JERSEY, JERVIS. SOUTHAMPTON carried out her own depth charge attack.


German steamer FREIBURG (5165grt) had departed El Ferrol on 29 August disguised as Russian steamer EBRO and now reached Bergen, before continuing and arriving safely at Kiel on the 18th.


German waters - U.24 arrived at Wilhelmshaven.


Baltic - Polish submarine WILK on patrol in the Baltic was damaged by depth charges from a minesweeper of the 1st Minesweeping Flotilla, but was able to continue patrol.


Dover Straits - destroyer BLANCHE made an attack on U.17 laying mines off the North Goodwins. After investigating the area, a floating mine was sighted 8½ miles north of the Goodwins and the minefield reported back.


English Channel – destroyer SHIKARI departed Devonport and arrived at Portsmouth the same day.


Destroyer STURDY departed Devonport escorting outward-bound American steamer CAPPER, and arrived back on the 6th.


Destroyers KEITH, VENETIA, WESSEX, investigating a submarine contact off Eddystone, carried out an attack.


French Channel coast - French large destroyers JAGUAR, LÉOPARD, and PANTHÈRE of the 2nd Large Destroyer Division departed Brest, called at Cherbourg and arrived at Dunkirk on the 7th to cover minelaying operations off the Pas de Calais. PANTHÈRE arrived three hours after the first two after suffering a propeller problem en route.


Off Bay of Biscay - U.47 sank steamer BOSNIA (2407grt) to the north of Cape Finisterre in 45‑29N, 09‑45W. One crewman was lost and the survivors picked up by Norwegian tanker EIDANGER (9432grt) and taken to Lisbon. They returned to England in steamer HIGHLAND BRIGADE (14,134grt).


U.48 sank steamer ROYAL SCEPTRE (4853grt) NW of Cape Finisterre in 46‑23N, 14‑59W. One crewman was lost. Danish steamer ERRIA (8786grt) and Norwegian tanker PETROFINA (10095grt) searched for survivors, but they were picked up by steamer BROWNING (5332grt), deliberately spared by U.48 to save them. BROWNING's crew had taken to their boats when the submarine was sighted, but reboarded when she left the scene. The crew of ROYAL SCEPTRE was landed at Bahia on the 24th.


Gibraltar area - U.40 unsuccessfully attacked an Allied convoy west of Gibraltar.


Destroyer WRESTLER sent Yugoslav steamer JURKO TOPIC (5160grt), carrying a cargo of bauxite for Germany, into Gibraltar for contraband control - the first ship sent into Gibraltar during the war.


Atlantic and Mediterranean, Convoy GC.1 - of eleven passenger liners departed the Clyde escorted by destroyers VIVACIOUS, VANESSA, VANQUISHER, WAKEFUL. As they headed south, they were joined by destroyers VERITY, VOLUNTEER, WITHERINGTON, WOLVERINE of the 30th Division sailing from Milford Haven.


Battleship RAMILLIES and destroyers EXMOUTH and ESCAPADE departed Portland on the 5th to join them as the ocean escort group. Next day, destroyers ECLIPSE and ENCOUNTER left Plymouth to join them at sea, and all met up with the local escort NW of the Scillies on the 6th/1845. The Clyde destroyers then detached and returned.


The ocean escort destroyers made a number of attacks on suspected U boat contacts. ECLIPSE in 48‑05N, 11‑26W at 1140/7th, ECLIPSE again in 45‑27N, 16‑26W at 0900/8th, ENCOUNTER in 44‑44N, 16‑38W at 1223/8th, and finally ECLIPSE and EXMOUTH in 39‑36N, 16‑48W, 240 miles west of Cape St Vincent at 1118/9th.


On the 8th, the Milford Haven destroyers detached and returned to Plymouth.


At 1100/10th, French destroyers FORTUNE, RAILLEUSE, SIMOUN, which departed Gibraltar on the 9th, joined the convoy 350 miles west of Gibraltar.


At 1236/11th, north of Europa Point, the convoy was joined by French destroyers TORNADE, TRAMONTANE, TYPHON, which departed Gibraltar on the 11th. TRAMONTANE was sent six hours ahead of the convoy with dispatches for Gibraltar to avoid breaking radio silence.


The convoy, less liner SCYTHIA (19,761grt) which had detached off Gibraltar at 1300/11th, arrived safely at Gibraltar later on the 11th. RAMILLIES and destroyers FORTUNE, RAILLEUSE, SIMOUN also arrived.


The convoy was then escorted into the Mediterranean from Gibraltar on the 11th by light cruiser GALATEA and French destroyers FORTUNE, RAILLEUSE, SIMOUN, TORNADE, TRAMONTANE, TYPHON, all of the French 1st Flotilla.


ECLIPSE, ENCOUNTER, ESCAPADE, EXMOUTH arrived at Gibraltar from Oran on the 14th.


The French destroyers were relieved near Malta on the 14th by destroyers GREYHOUND and GLOWWORM of the 1st Flotilla. French convoy L.2, which departed Marseilles on the 12th, joined the convoy for passage to Beirut.


Liner DURHAM CASTLE (8240grt) detached from the convoy off Malta at 1000/14th and CLAN FERGUSON (7250grt) at 1600/15th in 34‑41N, 22‑42E for Istanbul, escorted by destroyer GALLANT.


On the 16th, the convoy was escorted by French destroyers CASSARD, KERSAINT, MAILLÉ BRÉZÉ, TORNADE, TRAMONTANE, TYPHON.


Liners BRITANNIC (26,943grt), DUCHESS OF BEDFORD (20,123grt), MONTCALM (16,418grt), REINA DEL PACIFICO (17,702grt), STRATHAIRD (22,284grt) detached at 0700/16th in 33‑29N, 26‑59E.


Liners ORCADES (23,456grt), ORFORD (20,043grt), ORION (23,371grt, Convoy Cdre Rear Adm C A M Sarel, OBE Rtd) arrived at Alexandria at 2100/16th.


RAMILLIES rejoined the Mediterranean Fleet with which she worked up from February to June 1939 after refitting.


Central and South Atlantic - German steamer INN (2867grt) departed Belem on 25 August for Hamburg and at 2000/5th, was captured by light cruiser NEPTUNE 400 miles SW of Teneriffe, Canary Islands. After the crew was taken off, INN was scuttled and NEPTUNE arrived at Dakar on the 8th.


Destroyers HUNTER, HYPERION and sloop BRIDGEWATER attacked a submarine contact 24 miles west of Cape Sierra Leone Light House.


Destroyers HAVOCK and HOTSPUR departed Freetown for South America Station.


Indian Ocean - on the 18th, liners BRITANNIC, DUCHESS OF BEDFORD, REINA DEL PACIFICO, STRAITHAIRD departed Suez as convoy Red 1, escorted by sloop EGRET from the18th to 20th. On the 20th, EGRET was relieved by light cruiser LIVERPOOL in 20N, 39E, which remained with the convoy until the 27th. Aircraft carrier EAGLE joined on the 24th. BRITANNIC and DUCHESS OF BEDFORD proceeded to Bombay, REINA DEL PACIFICO to Colombo, Calcutta and Singapore and STRAITHAIRD to the Cape.



Wednesday, 6 September


Declaration of war - South Africa declared war on Germany.


US Neutrality Patrol - The United States instituted the Patrol around the territorial United States.


Area 0 - Placentia Bay and Halifax south to 40° north, destroyers BENHAM (DD.397), DAVIS (DD.395), ELLET (DD.398). JOUETT (DD.396) of the 18th Destroyer Division. BENHAM and DAVIS departed Newport, Rhode Island, on patrol on the 5th.


Area 1 - NW-SE line off Georges Shoal, destroyers HAMILTON (DD.141) 30th Division and LEARY (DD.158) 22nd Division were based at Boston. HAMILTON departed Norfolk for patrol on the 10th.


Area 2 - 43‑05N, 65‑30W to 37‑50N, 70‑20W, destroyers HOPKINS (DD.249), GOFF (DD.247) 21st Division from Newport, and Patrol Squadron 54 embarked on minesweeper OWL (AM.2). GOFF departed Newport on patrol on the 10th.


Area 3 - 37‑50N, 70‑20W to 34‑10N, 73‑05W, destroyers BARRY (DD.248), DECATUR (DD.341)(Flagship, Destroyer Squadron 10), REUBEN JAMES (DD.245) 21st Division, and MANLEY (DD.74) 22nd Division, operating from Norfolk, with Patrol Squadrons 52 and 53. BARRY and MANLEY departed Norfolk on the 6th for Miami and Jacksonville, respectively.


Area 6 - Florida Straits, Yucatan Channel, and adjacent waters, destroyers BABBITT (DD.128), CLAXTON (DD.140) 30th Division, departed Yorktown and Norfolk, respectively, on the 13th for Key West.


Area 7 & 8 - Eastern Caribbean, south of 23‑10N, heavy cruisers SAN FRANCISCO (CA.38), TUSCALOOSA (CA.37) 7th Cruiser Squadron, destroyers BORIE (DD.215) BROOME (DD.210), SIMPSON (DD.221), TRUXTON (DD.229) 27th Division, Patrol Squadron 33 embarked on small seaplane tender LAPWING (AVP.1), Patrol Squadron 51 on small seaplane tender GANNET (AVP.8), and small seaplane tender THRUSH (AVP.3). On the 14th, SAN FRANCISCO and TUSCALOOSA departed Norfolk for San Juan, Puerto Rico, via New London, and Guantanamo Bay, respectively.


Area 9 - Within three hundred miles of the American coast between Newport and Cape Hattaras, heavy cruisers QUINCEY (CA 39), VINCENNES (CA 44) 7th Cruiser Squadron.


In Reserve in Hampton Roads. Old battleships ARKANSAS (BB.33), NEW YORK (BB.34), TEXAS (BB.35), WYOMING (BB.32) and aircraft carrier RANGER (CV.4).


Northern Patrol and Armed Merchant Cruiser Conversions - the Patrol began with the 7th and 12th Cruiser Squadrons given the task of enforcing the British blockade and contraband work. Due to the age of the cruisers and arduous nature of the North Atlantic, only an average of three cruisers were stationed between Iceland and the Faroes, and two to the south of the Faroes. More ships were needed and armed merchant cruisers began to be assigned in mid-October.


Light cruisers CALEDON and CALYPSO, 7th Cruiser Squadron and CARDIFF and DUNEDIN, 12th Squadron had already departed Scapa Flow on the 5th. DIOMEDE, 7th Squadron left on the 9th and EFFINGHAM and EMERALD, 12th Squadron on the 10th.


After their first patrols, CALEDON and CALYPSO returned to Scapa Flow on the 11th, DUNEDIN and CARDIFF on the 13th, DIOMEDE on the 16th, EMERALD on the 17th and EFFINGHAM on the 20th.


By the 28th, 108 eastbound merchant ships were sighted by the Northern Patrol of which 28 were sent into Kirkwall for inspection.


German steamer MINDEN, intercepted by light cruiser CALYPSO on the 24th, was the only German ship encountered in this period. However, several neutral ships, including two large tankers carrying fuel to Germany, were seized.


On 1 October, armed merchant cruisers ALAUNIA, ASCANIA, ASTURIAS, AURANIA, CALIFORNIA, JERVIS BAY, MONTCLARE, SALOPIAN, SCOTSMAN were allocated to the Northern Patrol.


Armed merchant cruisers were also assigned to other duties - ASCANIA, ASTURIAS, LETITIA to the Halifax station by mid-November, MONTCLARE to the South Atlantic on 1 November, CICILIA arrived at Freetown on 3 November, and SALOPIAN was en route to Freetown from Plymouth on 3 November. ARAWA and MORETON BAY, converted at Sydney, arrived on the China Station in late October.


The armed merchant cruisers completed their conversions as follows:


September - ALAUNIA (27th), ASTURIAS (28th), RAWALPINDI (19th), SALOPIAN (18th).


October - ANDANIA (28th), ARAWA (17th), ASCANIA (16th), AURANIA (2nd), CALIFORNIA (15th), CARNARVON CASTLE (9th), CATHAY (11th), CHESHIRE (30th), CHITRAL (4th), CILICIA (9th), DUNOTTAR CASTLE (22nd), JERVIS BAY (15th), LAURENTIC (15th), MONTCLARE (15th), MOOLTAN (15th), MORETON BAY (13th), QUEEN OF BERMUDA (28th), RANCHI (23rd), SCOTSTOUN (15th), TRANSYLVANIA (5th),


November - ANTENOR (7th), AUSONIA (13th), CANTON (4th), CORFU (25th), FORFAR (6th), Australian KAMIMBLA (20th) WORCESTERSHIRE (21st), LETITIA (6th), MALOJA (24th), RANPURA (30th).


December - ALCANTARA (20th), CARINTHIA (30th), CARTHAGE (26th), CIRCASSIA (20th), COMORIN (30th), DERBYSHIRE (4th), DUNVEGAN CASTLE (20th), ESPERANCE BAY (5th), HECTOR (20th), PRETORIA CASTLE (4th), RAJPUTANA (16th), Australian MANOORA (12th).


January 1940 - BULULO (4th), LACONIA (6th), PATROCLUS (2nd), VOLTAIRE (4th), WOLFE (10th), Australian WESTRALIA (17th).


August 1940 - Canadian PRINCE ROBERT (3rd), New Zealand MONOWAI (30th).


December 1940 - Canadian PRINCE DAVID (28th), PRINCE HENRY (4th).


Home Fleet - Adm Forbes returned to Scapa Flow to refuel his ships after completing the patrol begun on 31 August.


British northern waters - heavy cruiser NORFOLK, which departed Devonport on the 3rd, arrived at Scapa Flow after refitting.


Light cruiser AURORA was relieved by heavy cruiser NORFOLK in 18th Cruiser Squadron. AURORA continued to serve at Scapa Flow as flagship to Rear Admiral Destroyers, Home Fleet.


Destroyer FEARLESS departed Scapa Flow for Haugesand to embark the Polish political mission and shortly after leaving, attacked a submarine contact off the Orkneys. FEARLESS reached Haugesand on the 7th and embarked the political mission.


Scottish west coast - destroyers ELECTRA, ESCORT, FAME departed Greenock after landing the survivors from steamer ATHENIA.


British east coast - destroyers JERVIS and JAVELIN attacked a submarine contact off Aberdeen.


Polish destroyers BLYSKAWICA, BURZA, GROM, departed Rosyth for Plymouth, arriving on the 9th. On passage through the Minches on the 7th in 56-55N, 07-05W, they depth charged a submarine contact.


Destroyer SABRE departed Rosyth escorting steamer SHOAL FISHER (698grt).


The first of the Methil-to-Thames convoys, FS.1, departed the Firth of Forth, escorted by destroyer BROKE and sloops BITTERN, ENCHANTRESS, and arrived at Southend on the 8th.


U.15 laid a minefield off Flamborough during the night of 5/6 September which sank two merchant ships.


Destroyers JACKAL, JANUS, JUNO departed the Humber to meet Norwegian steamer BATAVIA (962grt) in the North Sea bringing back the British Berlin Embassy staff from Rotterdam. JACKAL and JANUS made anti-submarine attacks in the Thames Estuary at 51-36N, 01-38E and 51-29N, 01-26E.


Destroyer BEAGLE made two attacks on a submarine contact off North Foreland.


Humber Force - the two cruisers and four destroyers arrived at Rosyth to boiler clean after operations in the North Sea.


German waters - U.13 arrived at Wilhelmshaven, U.14 at Swinemünde, and U.36 at Kiel.


English Channel - aircraft carrier HERMES departed Portland escorted by destroyers KEMPENFELT, ACASTA, AMAZON, ANTELOPE, ARDENT to cover the first BEF troop convoy, arriving at Devonport at 1930/6th.


Southwestern Approaches/off Bay of Biscay - U.38 sank steamer MANAAR (7242grt) NW of Cape St Vincent in 42-01, 14-38W. Seven crewmen were lost and the survivors rescued by Dutch steamer MARS (1582grt), Italian liner CASTELBIANCO (4895grt) and Portuguese liner CARVALHO ARAUJO (4560grt). The 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, less ICARUS and INTREPID, reached the area from Gibraltar on the 7th to protect shipping and hunt for submarines. INTREPID sailed to join them on the 9th.


U.47 sank steamer RIO CLARO (4086grt) SW of Ireland in 50-27N, 13-45W. All the were rescued.


Caribbean - French light cruiser JEANNE D’ARC and submarine SURCOUF, escorting a merchant ship, arrived at Barranquilla, Colombia, to embark French citizens for transport home for military service.


Mediterranean - light cruiser ARETHUSA and destroyers HARDY, HASTY, HEREWARD, HERO, HOSTILE arrived at Alexandria.


Destroyers GREYHOUND and GLOWWORM departed Alexandria for Malta for convoy duty with convoy GC.1 and French convoy L.2.


Destroyers AFRIDI, GURKHA, MOHAWK, SIKH departed Port Said to return to Alexandria after a brief stay in the Red Sea.


Indian Ocean - light cruiser LIVERPOOL departed Masirah island in the Arabian Sea and arrived at Aden on the 8th.



Thursday, 7 September


Atlantic - ten German submarines on patrol in the Atlantic were ordered to return to Germany for replenishment.


Home Fleet - Adm Forbes returned to sea at 0730 with battleships NELSON (Flag) and RODNEY, battlecruiser REPULSE, aircraft carrier ARK ROYAL, light cruisers AURORA, SHEFFIELD, and destroyers FAULKNOR, FIREDRAKE, FORESIGHT, FORTUNE, FURY, ASHANTI, BEDOUIN, MASHONA, PUNJABI, SOMALI, TARTAR. Missing were ESKIMO and MATABELE repairing defects and FAME, FEARLESS, FORESTER, FOXHOUND standing by at Scapa Flow..


FIREDRAKE attacked a submarine contact at 1730 and claimed a sinking, FORESIGHT returned on the 8th with defects, and ASHANTI had turbine problems, arrived at Greenock on the 8th and repaired at the Denny yard at Dunbarton from the12th to 27th.


The force patrolled off the Norwegian coast as far north as 63° north to intercept any German shipping and returned to Scapa Flow on the 10th without any results partly due to poor visibility.


Hebrides - Polish destroyer BLYSKAWICA with destroyer BURZA attacked a submarine contact 10 miles south of Uist.


British east coast – destroyers JERVIS and JERSEY attacked a submarine contact off Fidra island, Firth of Forth.


The first of the Thames-to-Methil coastal convoys, FN.1, departed the Thames Estuary, escorted by destroyers WHITLEY, WITCH and sloop PELICAN, and arrived at Methil on the 9th.


Destroyer JACKAL attacked a submarine contact in the Thames Estuary.


Norwegian waters - German steamer VEGESACK (4061grt), which had departed Santa Marta, Colombia, on 17 August, was lost when she ran aground off Jaeren, near Flatoe in the Stavanger area.


German steamer ALBERT (788grt) departed Bergen on the 5th. Although challenged by destroyer FEARLESS off Kristiansand on the 7th, she was able to escape into Norwegian waters and arrived safely at Hamburg on the 11th.


German waters - U.10 departed Kiel to patrol in the Kattegat, returning on the 17th, U.14 departed Swinemünde, while U.18 arrived there and departed later that day for Kiel, arriving on the 8th.


Baltic - the Polish Westerplatte fortifications, at which German battleship SCHLESWIG HOLSTEIN had fired the first shots of the war, fell to German forces, and the bombardment of the fort ceased.


Polish submarine RYS laid ten mines off the Vistula Estuary at 54-42N, 19-04E.


U.22 in the Baltic unsuccessfully attacked Polish submarine ZBIK on patrol.


The German submarines still in the Baltic for the Polish operations were withdrawn for duty in the North Sea.


Dover Straits - destroyer BRAZEN attack a submarine contact off South Foreland.


English Channel - destroyer WREN departed Portsmouth and escorted submarine NARWHAL as far as 4W.


Destroyer SARDONYX departed Portsmouth escorting submarine OBERON to join a convoy at Orfordness on the 10th.


Destroyer STURDY departed Devonport on escort duty and arrived at Milford Haven on the 10th.


steamer BEN LOWERS (5943grt) was attacked by a submarine off Land's End. Destroyers KEITH and VENETIA were sent to hunt for U-boat.


UK-out convoys - The first of the Thames through the Channel-to-Halifax convoys, OA.1, departed the Thames Estuary for Halifax. Escorting destroyers ACASTA, AMAZON, ANTELOPE left Devonport at 0733/7th and at 1740 in the Downs, passed destroyers BASILISK, BRAZEN, BRILLIANT. At 1855, the escorting destroyers met the 17 ships of the convoy.


Southwestern approaches/off Bay of Biscay - U.33 sank steamer OLIVE GROVE (4060grt) 250 miles SW of Fastnet in 49‑05N, 15‑58W and the survivors were picked up by American steamer WASHINGTON (7030grt)


U.34 sank steamer PUKKASTAN (5809grt) 70 miles SW of Land's End in 49‑23N, 07‑49W, and the entire crew was picked up by Dutch steamer BILDERDYK (6856grt).


U.47 sank steamer GARTAVON (1777grt) 260 miles WNW from Cape Finisterre in 47‑04N, 11‑32W, and the entire crew of 22 were picked up by Swedish tanker CASTOR (8714grt) and taken to the Azores.


U.37 unsuccessfully attacked steamer DEFENDER (8200grt) 170 miles SW from Cape Finisterre. steamer RICHMOND HILL (5491grt) and tanker DE TAMAHA (6496grt) also reported being attacked by submarines (also U.37) 140 miles W by N and 145 miles W by S of Cape Finisterre, respectively.


3rd Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean to UK - the 3rd Flotilla, less ICARUS under repair at Malta, departed Malta on the 5th and arrived at Gibraltar on the 6th. The rest of the Flotilla, less INTREPID delayed by engine room defects at Gibraltar, departed on the 7th. INTREPID was able to sail on the 9th.


ILEX, IMOGEN, IMPERIAL, IVANHOE arrived at Plymouth on the 9th.


On the 9th, 270 miles west of Cape St Vincent in 36-47N, 14-16W, INGLEFIELD and the 12th Destroyer Sub-Division attacked a submarine contact. IMPULSIVE, INGLEFIELD, INTREPID, ISIS arrived back at Gibraltar on the 11th and then sailed for Plymouth.


On the 12th, INGLEFIELD and INTREPID attacked submarine contacts.


On the 14th, INTREPID with destroyer VESPER, 17th Flotilla attacked a submarine in the Bristol Channel 80 miles SW of Milford Haven and claimed a sinking.


After steamer BAHARISTAN (5479grt) was attacked just before midnight in Mounts Bay, INTREPID, en route to Plymouth to refuel, attacked a submarine contact at 0115/15th which destroyer AMAZON was also searching for.


IMPULSIVE, INGLEFIELD, IVANHOE arrived at Plymouth late on the 14th for refuelling, followed by INTREPID early on the 15th.


Mediterranean convoys - convoying began with those proceeding east called "Green", westbound called "Blue" and troop convoys designated "Red". Escorted convoying continued only until 16 October and was completely abandoned on 2 December.


Convoy AB.2 Slow departed Gibraltar with 25 merchant ships on the 7th. Redesignated Green 1, it was escorted by destroyers DOUGLAS, VELOX, VIDETTE, VORTIGERN from the 7th to 10th and also joined by French destroyers L'ALCYON and TROMBE. At 1845/9th, VIDETTE attacked a submarine contact off Oran.


On the 10th, the escorts were relieved by destroyers COSSACK, MAORI, NUBIAN, ZULU which stayed until the 13th. French torpedo boats POMONE joined from 0745/10th until 0700/12th and IPHEGENIA from 0700/12th to 1230/12th to assist the escort between Algiers and Malta. On the 11th, COSSACK and ZULU attacked a submarine contact.


From Malta on the 13th, the convoy was escorted by destroyers GARLAND, GIPSY, GRENADE, GRIFFIN, but GARLAND was damaged on the 16th and detached to Alexandria with GRIFFIN. Sloop ABERDEEN joined on the 14th until the 16th, while GIPSY and GRENADE remained with the convoy until its arrival at Alexandria on the 18th.


Central and South Atlantic - heavy cruiser CUMBERLAND arrived at Freetown from Plymouth, then departed for Rio de Janiero on the 9th, arriving on the 15th.


Heavy cruiser EXETER arrived at Rio de Janiero and at 0100/8th sailed for Montevideo.



Friday, 8 September


Northern Patrol - because Adm Horton, Vice Admiral Northern Patrol could not coordinate the activities of his cruisers from a flagship at sea, he left light cruiser EFFINGHAM and transferred his flag ashore at Kirkwall to new headquarters named HMS PYRAMUS. Rear Adm W F Wake-Walker OBE hoisted his flag in EFFINGHAM, as Rear Admiral 12th Cruiser Squadron.


Home Fleet - battlecruisers HOOD, RENOWN, light cruisers BELFAST, EDINBURGH, and destroyers FAME, FEARLESS, FORESTER departed Scapa Flow for patrol between Iceland and the Faroes to reinforce the blockade. Destroyer FURY which had departed Scapa Flow on the 7th with the NELSON force joined the HOOD at sea on the 8th. This force returned to on the 12th, and as with the NELSON ships, found that poor visibility led to a hlack of sightings. The light cruisers were detached for patrol duties, refuelled at Sullom Voe on the 15th and did not arrive back at Scapa Flow until the 20th.


Humber Force - light cruisers GLASGOW, SOUTHAMPTON and destroyers JAVELIN, JERSEY, JERVIS, JUPITER left Rosyth to search for German shipping departing Rotterdam for Hamburg in operation GH, which was conducted during the night of the 8th/9th. No contact was made and the Humber Force arrived in the Humber on the 9th.


British east coast – convoy FS.2 departed Methil for Southend and arrived on the 10th.


Destroyer MATABELE was docked at Chatham from the 8th to 10th to replace two propellers damaged by grounding at Scapa Flow on the 5th. She left on the 11th to return to Scapa.


Danish waters - Finnish sailing vessel OLIVE BANK (2795grt) sank on a mine in the North Sea in 55‑53N, 05‑07E, 105 miles SW of Bouvbjerg, Denmark. Fourteen crewmen were lost, with the survivors picked up by a Danish fishing boat and taken to Esbjerg.


German waters - U.3, U.14, U.17, U.36 arrived at Wilhelmshaven and U.5, U.7, U.15, U.16, U.18, U.56 at Kiel. U.16 then proceeded to Kiel.


Baltic - German steamers HELFRID BISSMARK (727grt) sank in the Sound between Sjaelland and Sweden and HELGA SCHRODER (656grt) in the Baltic, both the victim of mines.


Dutch waters - Dutch minesweeper WILLEM VAN EWIJK was lost off Terschelling and minelayer WILLEM VAN DER ZAAN damaged off Den Helder when they struck Dutch mines.


Dover Straits - destroyers BLANCHE and BRILLIANT attacked a submarine contact five miles NNE of North Goodwin.


English Channel - a flying boat made two attacks on submarine contacts, one in Mounts Bay and one south of the Lizard. Two destroyers departed Plymouth to investigate.


Destroyer SHIKARI departed Portsmouth and arrived at Devonport the same day to begin rearming.


U.26 laid a minefield off Portland on which three steamers were sunk.


Southwestern Approaches - destroyers JACKAL, JANUS, JUNO, 14th Division, 7th Flotilla arrived at Devonport for escort duties in the Western Approaches. Destroyer ECHO, also 14th Division arrived next day from Chatham. Escorting continued until 8 October when JACKAL and JANUS arrived back at Grimsby. JUNO, delayed by defects, docked at Devonport from 30 September to 14 October and did not arrive back in the command until 17 October when she reached Rosyth. ECHO, having been relieved by new destroyer JAGUAR in the 7th Flotilla, was transferred to the 12th Flotilla and remained in the Western Approaches.


U.34 severely damaged British tanker KENNEBEC (5548grt) 70 miles W by S of the Bishops in 49‑18N, 08‑13W. She was scuttled by destroyer WOLVERINE when found to be beyond salvage and her crew rescued by Dutch steamer BREEDYK (6861grt).


steamer CADILLAC (1262grt) was attacked by U.52, 180 miles SW of Cape Clear but not damaged.


U.29 torpedoed British tanker REGENT TIGER (10,177grt) 250 miles WSW of Cape Clear in 49‑57N, 15‑34W but she did not sink until the 10th in 49-48N, 14-33W. The survivors were rescued by Belgian steamer JEAN JADOT (5859grt).


British trawler STAUNTON (283grt) 75 miles west of Ushant took to their boats when approached by a U-boat, but it did not attack. American steamer AMERICAN FARMER (7430grt) assisted the crew.


U.48 sank steamer WINKLEIGH (5055grt) 500 miles west of Ushant in 48‑06N, 18‑12W. Her survivors were rescued by Dutch liner STATENDAM (28,291grt).


Gibraltar - light cruiser GALATEA arrived at Gibraltar.


Mediterranean - the Mediterranean Fleet instituted contraband control patrols in the Aegean, the approaches to the Adriatic, and south of the Messina Strait.


Central Atlantic - French large destroyers LE CHEVALIER PAUL, TARTU, VAUQUELIN of the 5th Large Destroyer Division departed Casablanca for Dakar for escort duties. On the 13th, convoy Number 39 with steamers AURIGNY, KERQUELEN, KILISSI left Dakar, escorted by the destroyers and arrived at Casablanca on the 18th. VAUQUELIN, TARTU and CHEVALIER PAUL departed Casablanca on the 20th, 24th and 25th respectively, escorting different convoys to Marseilles.


South Africa - German steamer HAGEN (5988grt) was seized at Durban by South African authorities, and renamed EMPIRE SUCCESS in British service.


Indian Ocean - heavy cruiser CORNWALL arrived at Penang.


Australian waters - Australian destroyers VAMPIRE and VOYAGER sailed from Port Philip to reinforce light cruiser SYDNEY at Fremantle on the west coast of Australia.



Saturday, 9 September


British northern waters - the Admiralty received reports that exaggerated the capability of German bombers and decided that for the time being, Scapa Flow was too vulnerable to air attack.


Netlayer GUARDIAN departed Scapa Flow on the 9th to put down an anti-submarine net in Loch Ewe.


British east coast –destroyers made a number of depth charge attacks on contacts off Norfolk, starting with JERVIS and JUPITER at 1042, 40 miles west of Orfordness, JAVELIN and JERSEY at 1400, one mile west of Haisborough, JERSEY at 1453, 16 miles west of Cromer, and JUPITER 1510, 24 miles north of Cromer.


Convoy FN.2 departed Southend, and arrived at Methil on the 10th.


Norwegian waters - two German steamers ran aground - CLARE HUGO STINNES I (5294grt) on Raftsund in the Lofotens, refloated on the 17th and BALDUR (5805grt) near Lister, later salved


North Sea –Dutch steamer MARK (1514grt) sank on a mine in 56‑45N, 04‑04E.


Submarine URSULA on patrol in the Heligoland Bight 35 miles NW of Borkum Island in 53-52N, 06-05E fired four torpedoes at U.35 at 1912 and one more at 1933, but all missed. U.23, also in the area, reported being missed by three torpedoes at 1950 and U.21 reported sighting submarine URSULA.


German waters - U.22 arrived at Kiel. U.58 arrived at Kiel.


Baltic - Polish submarine ZBIK laid 20 mines NE of Heisternest, at 54-45N, 18-44E, one of which accounted for German minesweeper M.85.


Dover Straits - minelayer ADVENTURE and auxiliary minelayers HAMPTON and SHEPPERTON arrived at Dover for operations.


British Expeditionary Force - the first BEF convoy arrived in France and by 7 October, 161,000 men, 24,000 vehicles and 140,000 tons of stores had reached France. Troops and vehicles were convoyed from Southampton, tanks, guns, ammunition and stores from Newhaven and petrol from Poole and Fawley. Among the British merchant ships involved were ACHILLES (11,404grt), BELLEROPHON (9019grt), EURYMEDON (6223grt), GLENEARN (8986grt). GLENSTRAE (9460grt), LYCAON (7350grt), MARON (6487grt), RHESUS (6530grt). Steamer GLOUCESTER CITY (3071grt) was among six fitted to carry ammunition.


Engish Channel - Destroyer KEITH attacked a submarine contact near Wolf Rock.


UK-out convoys - OA.2 sailed from Southend and destroyers JACKAL, JANUS, JUNO from Devonport on the 9th to escort the convoy, but JUNO returned on the 10th. JACKAL and JANUS joined up on the 11th, the convoy dispersed at 1600/12th in 49-30N, 12-30W and the destroyers returned to Devonport on the 13th.


OB.2 departed Liverpool on the 9th escorted by destroyers VANQUISHER, WALKER, WINCHELSEA, but WINCHELSEA was soon detached to escort convoy OB.3 on the 11th.


Southwestern Approaches - aircraft carrier COURAGEOUS with destroyers KEMPENFELT, ARDENT, ECHO left Plymouth for anti-submarine duties in the Western Approaches in Operation AS.2. At 1030/10th, COURAGEOUS’ aircraft attacked a submarine contact 280 miles W by S of Ushant and at 1250/10th made another attack 270 miles west of Ushant. During these operations, a Swordfish of 822 Squadron was unable to locate the carrier at the end of its patrol on the 10th and lost with its crew, Lt W A H Playfair, Sub Lt (A) H A Wheatman, Naval Airman 1/c F Frizzel. COURAGEOUS arrived at Milford Haven late on the10th, departed on the 11th and all ships arrived back at Plymouth on the 14th.


U.48 unsuccessfully attacked steamer JAMAICA PROGRESS SW of Ireland.


Mediterranean - destroyer GRENVILLE made a submarine contact at 0508, but was relieved by destroyers MOHAWK and SIKH so she could continue on to Malta.


Destroyer WISHART attacked on a submarine contact off Gibraltar.


Convoy Blue 1 departed Alexandria and Port Said with twenty ships, escorted by destroyers HARDY, HASTY, HEREWARD, HERO, HOSTILE and sloop ABERDEEN which all departed Port Said on the 9th. On reaching Gibraltar on the 19th, the convoy was redesignated HG.1 for passage to England.


Indian Ocean - destroyer STRONGHOLD had left Plymouth on 26 August for duty with the China Force. She then departed Malta on the 2nd, Suez on the 6th, and reached Aden on this date, the 9th. Arriving at Bombay on the 13th, she departed on the 15th, reached Colombo on the 17th, left the 18th and arrived at Singapore on the 23rd.


Light cruiser GLOUCESTER departed Mombasa on patrol and arrived back on the 15th.


Light cruiser MANCHESTER departed Colombo on patrol and arrived back on the 14th.


Chinese waters - heavy cruiser DORSETSHIRE departed Shanghai and arrived at Hong Kong on the 18th.


Australian waters - Australian destroyer STUART on patrol off Terrigal in Broken Bay, north of Sydney, attacked a submarine contact which later proved to be rocks. On the 10th, she continued the hunt with destroyer WATERHEN, both of which had just completed recommissioning trials.



Sunday, 10 September


Declarations of war - Canada declared war on Germany.


Northern Patrol - light cruiser EMERALD departed Scapa Flow for Northern Patrol and arrived back on the 17th.


Northern waters - destroyer FEARLESS at sea with battlecruiser HOOD was detached from the screen to investigate a merchant ship which proved to be Swedish.


British west coast – patrol sloop PUFFIN attacked a submarine contact off Barmouth in Cardigan Bay.


British east coast - convoy FS.3 departed Methil and arrived at Southend on the 12th.


steamer GOODWOOD (2796grt) was sunk by a mine, one mile southeast of Flamborough Head, laid by U.15 on the 6th. One member of the crew was lost.


steamer MAGDAPUR (8641grt) sailing in ballast to Southampton to embark BEF equipment for France was sunk on the 10th in 52‑11N, 01‑43E off Orfordness by a mine laid by U.13 on the 4th. Six crew were lost.


North Sea - the British submarine force suffered its first loss of the war. On the Montrose-Obrestad air patrol line, SW of Stavanger, TRITON sighted OXLEY. After repeated challenges to which OXLEY failed to respond, TRITON fired two torpedoes at 2100 believing her to be an enemy. One torpedo struck and sank OXLEY at 58‑30N, 05‑42E. Only the commanding officer Lt Cdr H.G. Bowerman and AB H S Gluckes survived. The casualties were Lt R P Coppinger, Lt FK Manley RNR, Sub Lt W H Palmer, Warrant Engineering Officer R W C Robertson and forty nine ratings. Lt Cdr Bowerman was not held at fault for the loss and assumed command of destroyer WALPOLE on 21 November.


German waters - U.17 arrived at Kiel.


Baltic - a small German fishing vessel was sunk on a mine off Trelleborg, S Sweden and the survivors rescued by another German trawler.


Dutch waters - minelaying destroyers ESK and EXPRESS left Portsmouth early on the morning of the 10th and laid 120 mines that night in minefield AA off Terschelling in 53-32N, 5-07E before returning to Immingham. Next night, the 11th/12th, they laid field QQ in the Bight at 54-04N, 4-19E.


English Channel – destroyer JACKAL attacked a submarine contact 10 miles S by W of the Needles, Isle of Wight.


Aircraft carrier HERMES and destroyers ILEX, IMOGEN, ISIS departed Portland on anti-submarine patrol, arriving at Plymouth on the 12th.


UK-France convoys and sailings - convoy of steamers BRIGHTON, CANTERBURY, MAID OF ORLEANS, PARIS departed Southampton on the 9th and anchored in the Solent overnight before setting of with troops for Cherbourg. MAID OF ORLEANS was damaged in a minor collision with the escort at the start, but was able to continue.


Convoy MB.1 of six slow cargo ships departed Southampton escorted by destroyers SARDONYX and two others (possibly VENOMOUS and WREN) from Portsmouth Command, arriving at at Brest on the 12th.


Bay of Biscay - U.34 was attacked by an Allied aircraft with a single bomb in the Bay, but no damage was done.


Mediterranean - destroyers COSSACK, MAORI, NUBIAN, ZULU had departed Alexandria on the 4th and after a patrol off Crete reached Malta. Leaving there on the 8th, they joined the escort of convoy AB.2 (Green 1) on this date, the 10th. Sister ships AFRIDI, GURKHA, MOHAWK, SIKH sailed from Alexandria on the 11th for escort duties and returned on the 17th. AFRIDI, GURKHA, SIKH left again on the 19th and headed for Malta. These duties continued until 7 October when 4th Flotilla was ordered to return to England.


Caribbean - light cruiser ORION arrived at Kingston.


Australian waters - Australian heavy cruisers AUSTRALIA, CANBERRA and light cruiser ADELAIDE searched for suspected German minelayers off Gabo Island until the 13th.


Pacific - Canadian destroyers FRASER and ST LAURENT, which departed Vancouver on 31 August, passed through the Panama Canal en route to Halifax where they arrived on the 15th.


German steamer TACOMA (8268grt) arrived at Talcuhuano, Chile to avoid New Zealand light cruiser ACHILLES on patrol off the west coast of Chile. There she joined steamers OSORNO (6951grt) which had arrived on the 1st and FRANKFORT (5522grt) on the 6th. ACHILLES made a 70 mile dash on this date to intercept LAHN (8498grt), but the German steamer escaped into territorial waters and later arrived at Talcuhuano on the 16th. Meanwhile, ACHILLES arrived at Valapariso late on the 10th.



Monday, 11 September


Northern Patrol - light cruiser ENTERPRISE, which departed Portsmouth on the 9th, arrived at Scapa Flow for Northern Patrol duty with the 12th Cruiser Squadron.


Light cruisers CALYPSO and CALEDON arrived at Scapa Flow after Northern Patrol duty.


Northwestern approaches - U.47 sank steamer FIRBY (4869grt) 300 miles WNW of Cape Wrath in 59‑40N, 13‑50W. The survivors were rescued by destroyer FEARLESS, detached from HOOD’s screen.


Aircraft carrier ARK ROYAL and destroyers FAULKNOR, FIREDRAKE, FOXHOUND, FURY left Scapa Flow at 2030 for an anti-submarine patrol NW of Ireland. Destroyer FORTUNE was replaced by destroyer ESKIMO at 2100 on the 11th and aircraft carrier HERMES was assigned to relieve ARK ROYAL as soon as possible.


U.30 sank steamer BLAIRLOGIE (4425grt) west of Ireland in 54‑59N, 15‑08W, but remained with the crew until American steamer AMERICAN SHIPPER (7430grt) was sighted. She rescued them.


British east coast - Convoy FN.3 departed Harwich on the 11th escorted by destroyer BROKE and sloops BITTERN and ENCHANTRESS. Sweeping ahead of the convoy, BROKE attacked a submarine contact seven miles ENE of Orfordness and BITTERN, also escorting submarine OBERON in FN.3 made another attack on a contact off Cromer Knoll Light Vessel. Destroyers MATABELE and SOMALI joined in the latter attack. Then 14 miles east of Orfordness, BROKE made yet another, all this still on the 11th. BROKE's asdic set went out of action and required repair, and the convoy arrived at Methil on the 12th.


North Sea - U.4 at 54-30N, 7-40E sighted a British submarine, but lost contact when she submerged to approach. There is no report to indicate which submarine this was.


U.13 departed Wilhelmshaven for patrol off Orfordness.


Kattegat - U.59 sighted a British submarine at 0655 near Samso before arriving at Kiel at 1735.


Baltic - Polish submarine WILK in the Baltic was ordered to England. She was sighted by German destroyer RICHARD BEITZEN on the 14th, but identified as Swedish and left alone. WILK carried on and arrived on the 20th.


Dover Straits - destroyer BLANCHE made a submarine attack five miles NNE of North Goodwins in 51-24N, 1-39E.


Dover Straits minefields - British minelaying began with a mine barrage GR laid across the Straits of Dover with a channel left open for Allied ship use off the Goodwins. Navigational markers were laid between the Goodwins and Dyck by survey ships FRANKLIN and SCOTT from 7 to 10 September.


The field was laid from the 11th to 16th between Galloper and North Hinder by cruiser-minelayer ADVENTURE, coastal minelayer PLOVER and converted train ferries HAMPTON and SHEPPERTON. Minesweepers HARRIER, HUSSAR, SKIPJACK accompanied the force and anti-aircraft cruiser CAIRO and 19th Destroyer Flotilla (less BULLDOG in the Mediterranean) provided escort.


Cover was given by light cruisers SOUTHAMPTON, GLASGOW and destroyers JAVELIN, JERSEY, JERVIS, JUPITER of the Humber Force, which departed the Humber at 1830/10th for Sheerness, where they arrived on the 11th. They remained at Sheerness until 14 September when they returned to the Humber, arriving the same day.


English Channel - light cruisers CERES and CARADOC departed Portland to cover a BEF troop convoy, and arrived at Plymouth on the 14th.


UK-France convoys - BC.1F of steamers FENELLA and TYNWALD departed Barry Roads escorted by destroyers KEITH and VIVACIOUS, and arrived safely in the Loire on the 12th.


BC.1S of steamers BARON MINTO, BELLEROPHON, TRELAWNY departed Bristol Channel at the same time and arrived in the Loire on the 13th.


UK-out convoy - OA.3 of three ships and OA.3A with 12 ships, departed Southend. Destroyers AMAZON and JUNO sailed from Plymouth and joined the convoys as escorts the same day, the 11th. The convoys dispersed in 47-31N, 12-30W and JUNO returned to Plymouth on the 15th.


UK-out OB.3 - had departed Liverpool escorted by destroyers MACKAY and WINCHELSEA until this date, the 11th when they joined convoy OB.2 (see following). On the 12th, escort for OB.3 was provided by destroyer VANESSA and sloop PC.74.


Destroyers VANQUISHER and WALKER, escorting convoy OB.2, collided at 2240, 200 miles SW of Cape Clear with both ships badly damaged. Initial reports indicated VANQUISHER, with 14 ratings killed, was probably sinking and WALKER was unseaworthy.


Aircraft carrier COURAGEOUS and her destroyers provided cover for the damaged destroyers, with KEMPENFELT detached to assist at 0540/12th, rejoined COURAGEOUS at 1000, detached again at 1430 and returned to COURAGEOUS at 1730.


Destroyers MACKAY and WINCHELSEA of OB.3 (see above) then joined the convoy, and MACKAY attacked a submarine contact at 53-00N, 5-07W, NW of Bardsey Island.


To assist the damaged destroyers, tugs NEPTUNIA and SALVONIA departed Falmouth at 0100/12th.


With WALKER in company, destroyer ARDENT took VANQUISHER in tow stern first on the 13th, arriving still under tow at Plymouth on the 14th, where she was under repair until 3 January.


WALKER arrived at Plymouth on the 14th, escorted by destroyers IMPULSIVE and IVANHOE, and she repaired until 11 November.


MACKAY and WINCHELSEA arrived back at Liverpool on the 16th.


French waters - French aircraft carrier BÉARN departed Brest escorted by destroyers FOUGUEUX, FRONDEUR, L'ADROIT, and arrived back on the 27th.


Southwestern Approaches - U.38 sank British tanker INVERLIFFEY (9456grt) 270 miles WSW of Land's End in 48‑14N, 11‑48W, whose crew was rescued by American steamer R G STEWART (9229grt).


Gibraltar - Destroyer WRESTLER was slightly damaged in collision with Spanish steamer NURIA R (2733grt) at Gibraltar, departed on 16 December and arrived at Malta on the 19th for refitting and repair to the collision damage. She was under repair from 29 December to 6 March, leaving Malta on 9 March for Gibraltar.


Mediterranean Fleet - battleships WARSPITE, BARHAM, MALAYA, heavy cruisers DEVONSHIRE, SUSSEX, light cruisers ARETHUSA, PENELOPE, and destroyers AFRIDI, GURKHA, MOHAWK, SIKH of the 4th Flotilla departed Alexandria for gunnery exercises. That evening, BARHAM and PENELOPE returned to Alexandria and aircraft carrier GLORIOUS joined the fleet from Alexandria, when they proceeded to the west end of Crete to cover the passage of convoys GC.1 and Green 1.


Already at sea were destroyers HASTY HARDY, HERO, HEREWARD, HOSTILE of the 2nd Flotilla from Port Said on the 9th to escort Blue 1. Heavy cruiser SHROPSHIRE arrived at Malta on the 11th, departed Malta that day for Gibraltar, and arrived on the 13th with personnel for RAF No 202 Squadron. She left the same day and reached Marseilles on the 15th. Meanwhile heavy cruiser SUSSEX arrived at Malta on the 13th for docking.


For troop convoy GC.1 escort duty, light cruiser GALATEA had departed Alexandria on the 5th and arrived at Gibraltar on the 8th. Destroyers GLOWWORM and GREYHOUND of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla arrived at Malta on the 7th and departed on the 13th escorting GC.1 and French convoy L.2 to Alexandria.


Destroyers GALLANT, GRAFTON, GRENVILLE arrived at Malta on the 10th for the same duty. GRAFTON and GALLANT went on to Gibraltar. Destroyers GARLAND, GIPSY, GRIFFIN, GRENADE departed Alexandria on the 10th, arriving at Malta on the 12th, and departing the next day as escorts to Green 1.


The heavy units of the Fleet patrolled to the west of Crete until 16 September to cover the convoys.


Central Atlantic - German pocket battleship ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE and accompanying supply ship ALTMARK had a near encounter with heavy cruiser CUMBERLAND, which was sighted by GRAF SPEE’s aircraft only 30 miles away on an intercepting course. However, CUMBERLAND was en route from Freetown to Rio de Janiero and did not even sight the aircraft.



Tuesday, 12 September


Destroyer JAGUAR – commanded by Lt Cdr J F W Hine was completed, and following working up at Portland, joined the 7th Flotilla at Rosyth, arriving on the 28th.


Northern Patrol - light cruisers CALEDON and CALYPSO left Scapa Flow for Northern Patrol duties, and arrived back on the 19th.


Northwestern approaches - aircraft carrier ARK ROYAL aircraft attacked a submarine 150 miles NW of Cape Wrath. Destroyers FAULKNOR and FIREDRAKE were detached to search, but failed to make contact. Destroyers FAME and FORESTER from were despatched to search the area. The destroyers returned to Scapa Flow later that day.


Home Fleet units - battleship NELSON, battlecruiser REPULSE, and destroyers SOMALI, BEDOUIN, MASHONA, PUNJABI, TARTAR of the 6th Destroyer Flotilla departed Scapa Flow for Loch Ewe at 1915, and light cruisers AURORA and SHEFFIELD for Sullom Voe, the latter arriving on the 12th.


NELSON, REPULSE, MASHONA and SOMALI arrived at Loch Ewe (the small port of Aultbrea, designated Port A for security reasons) at 0730/13th. BEDOUIN, PUNJABI, TARTAR were detached on anti-submarine patrol, joined by ESKIMO which departed Scapa on the 11th did not reach Loch Ewe until the 15th.


Light cruiser NEWCASTLE departed Plymouth following a refit, arrived at Scapa Flow on the 13th to work up and joined 18th Cruiser Squadron on the 15th.


British east coast - Convoy FS.4 departed Methil, escorted by destroyers VALOROUS, WALLACE, WANDERER. WANDERER attacked a submarine contact near Inner Dowsing, and the convoy arrived at Southend on the 14th.


Sloop BITTERN attacked a submarine contact 18 miles off Flamborough.


Sloop ENCHANTRESS attacked a submarine contact off Flamborough Head.


U.13 on patrol in the central North Sea near Orfordness picked up four men from a downed German Do.18 aircraft.


Destroyers of the 19th Flotilla attacked a submarine contact near Kentish Knock.


Destroyer BRAZEN’s condenser problems were repaired at Chatham beginning on the 12th and completing on the 19th.


Kattegat - German destroyer RICHARD BEITZEN and torpedo boat T.107 conducted an anti-shipping patrol in the Kattegat from the 12th to 14th, without result.


U.56 departed Kiel to patrol off the east coast of Laeso island, Denmark.


German waters - U.40 arrived at Wilhelmshaven.


Baltic - German experimental ship OTTO BRAUN was damaged by a Polish coastal defense battery at Hela. Reports in contemporary Allied press reports identified her as battleship SCHLESWIG HOLSTEIN.


Dover Straits - destroyer BRILLIANT struck the Dover breakwater on the 12th, docked at Dover to make her seaworthy before proceeding to Chatham, where she arrived on the 15th. Repairs completed on 16 October.


UK-France convoy - DB.1 of one fast steamer, escorted by destroyers SCIMITAR and VANSITTART departed Southampton for Brest, arriving on the 13th.


French waters - French destroyer SIROCCO departed Brest escorting submarine SIDI FERRUCH to Cherbourg, arriving on the 13th. SIROCCO arrived back on the 16th.


Mediterranean - French destroyers BORDELAIS, L'ALCYON, TROMBE of the 8th Destroyer Division departed Marseilles escorting Convoy Number 14 to Oran, arriving on the 14th.


Caribbean - light cruiser ORION and Australian light cruiser PERTH departed Kingston on patrol and arrived back on the 18th.


Central Atlantic - light cruiser DURBAN departed Freetown for Capetown, arriving on the 28th to repair defects.


Indian Ocean - aircraft carrier EAGLE departed Colombo on raider hunting duties for a week around Ceylon, the Maldives, and Seychilles.


Pacific - New Zealand light cruiser ACHILLES arrived at Valparaiso for refuelling and then departed on the 13th on patrol.



Wednesday, 13 September


Northern Patrol - light cruiser DELHI arrived at Scapa Flow for duty with the 12th Cruiser Squadron on Northern Patrol.


Northwestern approaches - U.27 sank British trawler DAVANA (291grt) 21 miles NW by N from Tory Island. Survivors were rescued by steamer WILLOWPOOL (4815grt).


British northern waters - Destroyer MATABELE escorting tanker MIXOL departed Rosyth for Scapa Flow. Submarine OBERON proceeded in company and was detached at Dundee. MATABELE and MIXOL arrived at Scapa Flow on the 14th.


U-boat operations, Scottish east coast - the last two of six submarines departed Germany to operate off the Scottish coast against British warships. On the 7th, U.36 had left Kiel for Wilhelmshaven, and then with U.21, U.23, U.31 and U.35 left that port on the 9th. On the same day, U.36 sighted submarine SEAHORSE.


On the 13th, both U.14 and U.24 left Kiel, initially for operations in the Moray Firth area. U.14 went on to reconnoitre Scapa Flow until the 25th and U.24 stayed in the Moray Firth area until the 27th. By then, of the total seven U-boats– three were deployed off the Firth of Forth, one east and one southeast of Moray Firth, one in the North Sea between Shetlands and Norway, and U.24 in the Moray Firth area.


U.21 attacked a destroyer off the Firth of Forth on the 22nd, U.14 a submarine off Duncansby Head on the 24th, and U.24 destroyer FORESIGHT off the Shetlands, also on the 24th, but all failed due to torpedo defects.


British east coast - destroyer WALLACE was badly damaged in a collision with steamer REDRIFF (1577grt) off Lowestoft and reported in danger of sinking. WALLACE was attended by destroyer WANDERER and met by tugs, temporarily repaired at Yarmouth, then taken to Hull where repairs were completed on 23 October.


Sloop WESTON ran aground on the Shipwash, was refloated without assistance and was able to proceed to Rosyth. The only damage was to her anti-submarine dome and she was soon back to duty.


Convoy FN.4 departed Southend and arrived at Methil on the 14th.


North Sea - German trawler STOLP (122grt) was sunk in accidental collision with torpedo boat LUCHS in the North Sea.


Dutch waters - U.3 departed Wilhelmshaven for patrol off Terschelling.


Norwegian steamer RONDA (5136grt) was mined and sunk off Terschelling in 54-10N, 4-34E, with 17 crew lost. The survivors were rescued by Italian steamer PROVVIDENZA (8459grt).


German waters - U.6 arrived at Kiel.


U.16 was in dock in Wilhelmshaven from 13th to 29th for repair to her electrical system.


Baltic - Greek steamer KATINGO HAJIPATERA (3661grt) was damaged on a mine off Falsterbo, Sweden and ran aground. She was refloated and proceeded the same day to Copenhagen escorted by a Swedish minesweeper.


During the night of the 13th/14th, Polish minesweepers JASKOLKA, RYBITWA, CZAJKA laid 60 mines south of Hela to prevent German battleship SCHLESWIG HOLSTEIN shelling the Hela Peninsula.


Dover Straits - destroyer JAVELIN, with sister ship JERSEY in company, attacked a submarine contact near the East Goodwin Light Vessel.


Destroyer BLANCHE attacked a submarine contact five miles east of Dungeness.


English Channel - destroyer MALCOLM attacked a submarine contact 22 miles east of Guernsey.


UK-France convoy - Destroyers VENOMOUS and WREN escorted convoy MB.2 from Southampton to Brest from the 13th to 14th. The following convoy, MB.3 was cancelled.


UK-out convoys - Convoys OA.4 and OB.4A of 31 ships, departed Southend. Destroyers ANTELOPE and ACASTA departed Plymouth and escorted the convoys from North Foreland from the 13th to 16th, before arriving back at Plymouth on the 17th.


Convoy OB.4 departed Liverpool escorted by destroyers WHIRLWIND and WARWICK until the 16th.


Southwestern Approaches – U.35 was attacked by a British aircraft which dropped three bombs west of Ireland. No damage was done.


 U.29 sank tug NEPTUNIA (798grt) SW of Ireland at 49‑20N, 14‑40W. She was en route to tow destroyer WALKER. Her 21 man crew was rescued by steamer BRINKBURN (1598grt) after spending 28-30 hours in the ship's boat.


U.26 sighted a submarine, presumably French, south of Ireland, but was not able to attack.


Casablanca, Morocco - French minelaying cruiser LA TOUR D'AUVERGNE (CV H J E Dubois) was offloading mines at Casablanca when a mine being disarmed accidently exploded, setting off a chain reaction that blew up and destroyed the ship at anchor.


EV 1/c A E H Pugliesi-Conti was killed and CV Dubois, LV H G E O L'Hertier, Commander of Marine Detachment Lt Marc, Doctor 1/c Tarello CH MO, Reserve Officer EV 1/c Merlen, IGM 2/c Salle, Supply Officer 2/c Levaique, Reserve Officer EV 1/c Lepeque and Doctor 3/c F Brunet went missing. Two officers were wounded and some two hundred ratings killed or missing. Many of the rest of her crew of 17 officers and 407 ratings were wounded.


Trawlers ETOILE DU MATIN, SULTAN, MARIE MERVEILLEUSE were lost and a number of other ships in the harbour damaged by the explosion. Auxiliary minesweepers CHELLAH (70grt), GOSSE (300grt), and CHARCOT were badly damaged and not repaired. ALCOR and GRODIN were damaged.


Mediterranean - destroyers GRENADE, GRIFFIN, GARLAND, GIPSY, of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla departed Malta to escort Convoy Green 1 en route to Alexandria. On the 16th, GARLAND was damaged by the explosion of one of her depth charges dropped while steaming at slow speed. The explosion not only damaged her stern but wrenched loose another depth charge on the depth charge thrower. The second depth charge was thrown into the water and exploded under the ship. GARLAND was towed to Alexandria by GRIFFIN, arriving on the 17th. Additionally, four of GARLAND's more seriously wounded crewmen were transferred to light cruiser GALATEA which also arrived at Alexandria on the 17th. After emergency repairs, GARLAND was taken to Malta in October for repair, which lasted until 16 May 1940.


Heavy cruiser SUSSEX struck a submerged wreck with her propeller in the Ionian Sea and docked at Malta on the 13th.


Chinese waters - Heavy cruiser KENT departed Hong Kong on patrol, and arrived back on the 28th.



Thursday, 14 September


Destroyer KINGSTON – commanded by Lt Cdr P Somerville was completed, and after working up at Portland, joined the 5th Flotilla on 19 October.


United States - 68 old destroyers were ordered to be recommissioned from mothball reserve status for Neutrality Patrol duties.


British northern waters - battleship RODNEY, battlecruiser HOOD, and destroyers TARTAR, ESKIMO, BEDOUIN, PUNJABI departed Scapa Flow on the evening of the 14th and arrived at Loch Ewe next morning. En route, three of the destroyers detached to join ARK ROYAL.


Destroyer MATABELE departed Scapa Flow and arrived at Loch Ewe later the same day.


ARK ROYAL group, NW approaches - TARTAR, BEDOUIN, PUNJABI joined the screen of aircraft carrier ARK ROYAL at daylight on the 14th.


U.30 attacked steamer FANAD HEAD (5200grt) 280 miles WNW of Malin Head in 56‑43N, 15‑21W. Her contact report was received and ARK ROYAL launched three Skuas of 803 Squadron at 1440 and dispatched TARTAR, BEDOUIN, PUNJABI to assist. FANAD HEAD was sunk before help arrived.


The Skuas attacked U.30, but two of them were lost from the explosion of their own bombs in the sea. Both gunners, PO Airman J Simpson (Griffiths' aircraft) and PO Airman G V McKay (of Thurston's) were killed, but both 803 Squadron pilots, Lt R P Thurston (aircraft L 2957) and Lt G B K Griffiths RM (L 2873), were picked up by U.30 and made prisoners.


U.30 was damaged, headed for Reykavik while making emergency repairs and arrived on the 19th, landing a wounded crewman. Next day, the 20th September, she departed for Germany.


TARTAR picked up the survivors from the steamer and ARK ROYAL launched six more Swordfish at 1655 - three each from Nos 818 and 821 Squadrons. One of 821’s aircraft attacked a submarine contact. Destroyers FAME and FORESTER later arrived on the scene after the survivors of FANAD HEAD had already been rescued.


Steaming towards FANAD HEAD's position, ARK ROYAL escorted by destroyers FAULKNOR, FOXHOUND, FORTUNE, FIREDRAKE was attacked by U.39 NW of Ireland at 1507, but the torpedoes exploded prematurely. FAULKNOR, FOXHOUND, FIREDRAKE counter-attacked and sank U.39 at 1546 in 58‑29N, 11‑50W. FAULKNOR picked all the submarine's 42 man crew.


At 1750, 60 miles SW of Rockall, seven aircraft bombed a submarine contact, and TARTAR, ESKIMO, BEDOUIN, and PUNJABI, which were hunting in the area, were dispatched to join this hunt. They arrived at Loch Ewe on the 15th.


British east coast - Convoy FS.5 departed Methil and arrived at Southend on the 16th.


North Sea - British trawler HAWARDEN CASTLE (210grt) was lost to the gunfire of U.17.


Norwegian waters - on patrol off Norway at 56-22N, 1-28W, submarine STURGEON sighted SWORDFISH, which like OXLEY on the 10th, was off station. Failing to identify SWORDFISH as friendly, STURGEON fired three torpedoes at 0043 which all missed. As a result of these potentially fatal problems, the distance between patrol stations was increased to 16 miles.


Baltic - German Stuka bombers attacked Jastarnia Harbour and sank Polish minesweeper JASKOLKA, damaged minesweepers CZAPLA and RYBITWA, and caused minor splinter damage to minesweepers CZAJKA and ZURAW.


Polish submarine ORZEL arrived at Tallinn, Estonia, escorted by Estonian torpedo boat SULEV, to land Lt Cdr Kloczkowski to hospital. The submarine was interned.


English Channel - light cruiser CARADOC departed Plymouth on patrol and arrived back on the 16th.


Destroyers KEMPENFELT and ECHO departed Plymouth on escort duties at 0703 on the 14th.


Destroyer SKATE arrived at Cherbourg.


Southwestern approaches - aircraft carrier HERMES departed Plymouth with destroyers IMOGEN and ISIS for anti-submarine duty in the Western Approaches west of 12-00W and south of 250° from Land's End. They were joined on the 16th by destroyers IMPERIAL and ILEX. On the 17th, IMOGEN attacked a submarine contact. The group was designated to relieve ARK ROYAL’s, but they returned to Plymouth on the 18th when these operations were suspended.


 U.28 sank steamer VANCOUVER CITY (4955grt) SW of Ireland in 51‑23N, 07‑03W, with three crew lost. American steamer PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT (13,869grt) headed for her to rescue survivors, but received a signal that a Dutch tanker had picked them up and continued on her way.


U.29 sank steamer BRITISH INFLUENCE (8431grt) SW of Ireland in 49‑43N, 12‑49W. Norwegian steamer IDA BAKKE (5455grt) rescued her crew.


Freetown, Sierra Leone-UK (SL) convoys - the first of the convoys, SL.1, departed Freetown, escorted by light cruiser DAUNTLESS. She was relieved on the 21st in 25‑30N, 21‑40W by light cruiser CAPETOWN, which had departed Gibraltar on the 17th. CAPETOWN continued as escort until the 24th when she returned to Gibraltar. The convoy arrived at Liverpool on 1 October.


Central and South Atlantic - from 14 September to 12 October, French submarines PERSÉE and PONCELET, 6th Submarine Division and AGOSTA and OUESSANT, 8th Division from Admiral West patrolled the Azores area for German blockade runners. Following this operation, PERSÉE and PONCELET headed for Cherbourg for long overhauls lasting until mid-June 1940, while AGOSTA and OUESSANT proceeded to Martinique, arriving on the 29th.


Light cruiser DANAE departed Simonstown on patrol.


Indian Ocean - Destroyer DARING arrived at Singapore on the 3rd while sister ships DUNCAN and DAINTY, which had departed Hong Kong on the 10th, arrived on the 13th. All three departed Singapore on the 14th to join the Mediterranean Fleet. 


on to SEPTEMBER 1939, Part 2
or back to RN Day-by-Day Homepage

revised 7/4/12
further editing is required