Background Events, September 1939-March 1940
Battle of Atlantic
starts, 'Phoney War' on land, Battle of
The search for the German warships responsible for
RAWALPINDI's loss was discontinued at
0820/1st. Battleship RODNEY, battlecruiser
HOOD, destroyers PUNJABI, GURKHA,
KANDAHAR and NUBIAN arrived in the
Clyde, while battleship
destroyers FAULKNOR, FURY, FIREDRAKE and FORESTER were north of the Faroes to
cover AMCs returning to Northern Patrol.
DEVONSHIRE and light cruiser
NEWCASTLE were patrolling 62°N between
Norway and the Shetlands. Light
AURORA with destroyers ZULU, AFRIDI
were returning to Rosyth, with SOUTHAMPTON refuelling at Scapa Flow en route
and the ship arriving at Rosyth on the 2nd. Destroyer FORTUNE arrived from
Scapa Flow in the Clyde for repairs.
The C and D-class light cruisers were returning to port.
CARDIFF departed Scapa Flow on the 1st and arrived at
Loch Ewe on the 2nd, along with
COLOMBO early on the 2nd.
CERES reached the Clyde on the 2nd, COLOMBO and
CALYPSO arrived in the Tyne for refit, and CALYPSO
refitted prior to transfer to the
Mediterranean, completing on the 21st.
NORFOLK (above, later in the war - Navy Photos) and light cruiser
SHEFFIELD arrived at Scapa Flow.
French battleship DUNKERQUE was joined by large
destroyers MOGADOR and VOLTA, after they refuelled at
Belfast, and then proceeded down the
west coast of
Ireland. They were joined on the 2nd
by destroyers GUÉPARD, VALMY, VERDUN and LE TRIOMPHANT, which departed Brest on
the 1st. LE TRIOMPHANT then escorted light cruiser MONTCALM to Cherbourg for
repairs, arriving on the 3rd. The rest of the force arrived at Brest on the 3rd.
Armed merchant cruisers
AURANIA, SCOTSTOUN and
WORCESTERSHIRE arrived on their patrol lines south of Iceland, while FORFAR arrived in the
Clyde from Portsmouth.
and ECLIPSE, which had departed
the Clyde on 30 November, were
dispatched to investigate a possible German supply ship detected by W/T
procedure in 53°N, 13°W. No ship was located and the destroyers returned to
Clyde on the 4th escorting
Destroyer KELVIN was damaged in a collision with
(1952grt) at Portsmouth. Her repairs were completed
there on the 11th.
KHARTOUM departed Plymouth and arrived at Belfast, then continued, reaching
the Clyde on the 2nd.
Destroyer IMOGEN, IMPERIAL and IMPULSIVE searched for a
submarine reported in Edinburgh Channel. IMOGEN returned when her asdic was
found to be faulty. Destroyers FEARLESS and later
ASHANTI, which was detached from the
patrol, were also involved in the search. When weather conditions made asdic
operations unreliable, IMPERIAL and IMPULSIVE returned to Scapa Flow and FEARLESS to Loch Ewe,
all on the 2nd.
Destroyer VERITY attacked a submarine contact outside
Plymouth breakwater at 1445. Destroyer VETERAN was ordered to assist
Destroyers GLOWWORM and BOADICEA unsuccessfully
searched for a U-boat near Kentish Knock and the Tongue Light Vessel.
Convoy OA.44 of 19 ships departed Southend escorted by
destroyers WAKEFUL and
WHITEHALL from the 1st to 2nd, and
sister ships WOLVERINE and VERITY from the 2nd to 3rd. The convoy was dispersed on
the 3rd, and WOLVERINE and VERITY joined HXF.10.
Convoy BC.17 of steamers
ATLANTIC COAST, BARON GRAHAM, CLAN ROSS (Commodore), COXWOLD,
DUNKWA and GUELMA departed
Bristol Channel escorted by destroyers
MONTROSE and VESPER, and arrived in the Loire on the 3rd.
Convoy FN.46 departed Southend, escorted by
sloops GRIMSBY and WESTON, and arrived in the
Tyne on the 2nd.
Convoy FS.46 departed the
Tyne, escorted by sloops PELICAN
and HASTINGS, and reached Southend on the 2nd.
U.21 sank Norwegian steamer
ARCTURUS (1277grt) off the east coast of
Scotland in the North Sea. Nine crew were lost and
seven survivors picked up by Danish merchant ship IVAR (2145grt), guided to
the position by a RAF plane. Eight more survivors were rescued by Norwegian
steamer EVA (1599grt).
U.31 sank Finnish merchant ship
MERCATOR (4260grt) in 57‑39N, 00‑36W. One crewman was
lost and 18 survivors rescued by two minesweeping trawlers from
Aberdeen. A further 13 survivors
arrived at Boddam in the ship's boat.
U.29 was to have mined the approaches to Milford
Haven, but the lay was abandoned due to the port defences. U.29 withdrew when
she was detected by anti-submarine forces.
French steamer FLORIDE
(7030grt) was mined and sunk 1600 yards from Dunkirk Light House off
Dunkirk, with the loss of two crew.
She was beached at Malo les Bains where the hull broke in two and the ship
became a total loss.
Danish sailing vessel
CRETHE ran aground on South Goodwins. A destroyer rescued seven
crew and landed them at Ramsgate. (The Admiralty War Diary identifies the
destroyer as BULLDOG which was then in the
German trawler MAGDA
(137grt) was lost north of Heligoland.
Anti-submarine trawler PICT (462grt), escorting convoy
OG.8, reported striking a submerged object in 37-29N, 11-09W. French large
destroyer CHEVALIER PAUL with the convoy slowed after sighting a periscope.
Russian submarine L.1 laid mines off Nyhamn.
Allied ships in the South Atlantic were: (1) heavy
cruiser EXETER and light cruiser
AJAX, refitting a damaged propeller on this
date, at Port Stanley in the Falklands, (2) heavy cruiser
CUMBERLAND at Rio de
la Plata while New Zealand light cruiser
ACHILLES was patrolling near Rio de Janiero looking for German merchant ships off Trinidada Island and on the
2nd, looking into Cabadello and on the 3rd, visiting Pernambuco, (3) light
cruiser NEPTUNE, destroyers HARDY, HASTY, HERO, HOSTILE and submarine CLYDE
covering the Freetown to Natal shipping route, and (4) French heavy cruisers DUPLEIX (Flagship Duplat), FOCH with large destroyers MILAN and CASSARD operating north of Dakar.
Light cruiser EFFINGHAM and Australian light cruiser
PERTH arrived at Kingston.
Destroyer PUNJABI was badly damaged at 0200 in
collision with steamer LAIRDCREST (789grt), off
Holy Island, off the coast of Arran in the Clyde estuary as PUNJABI was
escorting battlecruiser HOOD into port. She was towed stern first into the
Clyde from Cumbrae, and repaired
at Govan from 8 December to 29 February 1940.
Battlecruiser HOOD and destroyers
KINGSTON, KHARTOUM and KASHMIR departed the Clyde at 1910 to patrol north of
AURORA arrived at Rosyth.
Six armed merchant cruisers were on Northern Patrol
duties, while MONTCLARE left from
Scapa Flow and LAURENTIC from Liverpool to join them.
DUNEDIN arrived in the Clyde to refit, completed on
CARDIFF arrived at Loch Ewe.
SHEFFIELD departed Scapa Flow on Northern Patrol in the
Convoy FN.47 departed Southend, escorted by
destroyer VALOROUS and sloop BITTERN, and arrived in the
Tyne on the 3rd.
Convoy FS.47 departed the
Tyne, escorted by sloops PELICAN
and HASTINGS, arriving at Southend on the 3rd.
U.28 and U.29 were reported radioing each other in
50-17N, 4-35W. Destroyers ANTELOPE, VETERAN and
WHITEHALL searched to the west of the
location, and destroyers GRENVILLE, VEGA, ACHATES and WINDSOR to the east. The search
continued until the 3rd without success.
Anti-submarine trawler LOCH DOON (534grt) reported
four unidentified ships as apparently destroyers, five miles east of Coquet
Light steering north. British aircraft later sighted five Danish fishing
smacks 90 miles east of Flamborough Head, and destroyers
JERSEY and JAGUAR were sent to
U.56 damaged steamer ESKDENE (3829grt) in 56‑30N,
01‑40W after she became separated from convoy HN.3 in bad weather, and
sank Swedish steamer RUDOLF
(2119grt) off Dundee in the Firth of Tay in 56‑15N, 01‑25W. Destroyers ICARUS
and ILEX were sent to investigate in case the steamers had been sunk by a submarine.
ESKDENE was abandoned by her crew, and all 29 picked up by Norwegian steamer
HILD (1356grt). ICARUS and ILEX then searched for the steamer, but without
success, and although aircraft located her at 1530/4th, surface ships could
still not find her. Finally she was located, again by aircraft, at dawn on
the 7th in 56-20N, 00-15W, towed to Shields on the
Tyne on the 8th by tug BULGER
screened by sloop STORK, and finally beached on Head Sands. RUDOLF lost nine
crew, with six survivors rescued by minesweeping trawler FIREFLY (394grt) and
eight by trawler CARDEW (208grt).
Convoy OA.45G of 24 ships departed Southend escorted
by destroyers ANTELOPE, AMAZON and sloop ENCHANTRESS. The sloop detached on
the 4th and the destroyers transferred to HG.9 on the 6th. OA.45G merged with
OB.45G to become convoy OG.9, escorted by destroyer VOLUNTEER and sloop
DEPTFORD until the 5th.
U.61 laid mines off
Newcastle during the night of the
1st/2nd, on which one steamer was sunk and one damaged.
U.58 laid mines off
Lowestoft, on which no shipping was sunk or
Convoy HXF.11 departed
Halifax at 1000 escorted by Canadian
destroyers ST LAURENT and SKEENA, which detached on the
3rd. Ocean escort was provided by armed
merchant cruiser ASCANIA and submarines NARWHAL and SEAL. On the 3rd, 70
miles from Halifax, steamers
MANCHESTER REGIMENT (5989grt) and OROPESA (14,118grt) collided.
MANCHESTER REGIMENT was taken in tow, but
foundered in mid-afternoon, and the crew taken aboard OROPESA.
detached on the 12th, while destroyer MACKAY from OB.49 escorted the convoy from
the 12th to 15th, when it arrived at Liverpool.
Force K received a sighting report at 1030 from a
South African bomber of a suspicious vessel in the area south of
Cape Agulhas, 74 miles 167° from Cape
Point. Battlecruiser RENOWN and heavy cruiser
SUSSEX went to the position to
investigate and found German passenger ship
WATUSSI (9522grt) which had departed Mozambique on 22/23 November. WATUSSI
scuttled herself when approached by SUSSEX, and the 196 passengers and
crew were picked up by her. To hasten her sinking, battlecruiser RENOWN
dispatched WATUSSI with main armament gunfire. The crew and passengers were
taken to Simonstown on SUSSEX, arriving at 2359/2nd.
AJAX departed Port Stanley for Rio de la Plata,
and heavy cruiser
CUMBERLAND, when relieved, patrolled
southward before entering
German pocket battleship ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE sank
STAR (10,086grt) in the South Atlantic in 19‑15S, 05‑05E.
KENT arrived at Colombo.
Light cruiser PENELOPE departed
Malta on patrol duties and arrived
back on the 12th.
Destroyer DECOY was refitting at
Malta for corrosion to her
Convoy SL.11 departed
Freetown at 0700/2nd. Escorting sloop
FOWEY was slightly damaged in collision with steamer GRAINTON (6341grt) at
2040 in 8-51N, 14-37W, and on arrival at Southampton began a refit. The convoy
arrived on the 18th.
BRETAGNE entered the dock at Toulon and was under repairs from 2
December to 3 March 1940. She sailed on 10 March.
A suspected German battleship was
D/F'd in 62-30N,
13W, and battlecruiser HOOD and her destroyers were ordered to proceed as
fast as her escorts could steam without damage. Six armed merchant cruisers
between Iceland and the Faroes were also to
proceed south, but no contact was made.
DEVONSHIRE and light cruiser
NEWCASTLE were on patrol to the
northeast of the Shetlands.
SUFFOLK departed Scapa Flow for Northern Patrol in the
Denmark Strait, and arrived back in the
Clyde on the 14th.
ASHANTI departed Scapa Flow for Liverpool to refit a leaking feed
SOUTHAMPTON had problems with leakage in
several oil fuel tanks and marked vibration at high speed. She entered the
dockyard in the
Tyne on the 24th to repair.
Destroyers out of service on the 3rd were - ASHANTI
with leaking feed tanks arrived at Liverpool on the 4th to refit, COSSACK
repairing collision damage,
FAME repairing weather damage and
refitting to complete on the 24th, FORESIGHT repairing weather damage and refitting
to complete on the 24th, FORTUNE repairing weather damage, FOXHOUND repairing
and refitting to complete on the 11th, GURKHA with turbine defects en route
to Southampton, INGLEFIELD to dock at Leith with defects on the 8th, IMOGEN
docking to repair asdic, IMPERIAL at Scapa Flow with engine room defects
(after escorting battleship
RODNEY, IMPERIAL was to repair at Liverpool), INTREPID
and IVANHOE refitting to minelaying destroyers to complete on the 9th, KELLY
repairing damage and refitting to complete on the 12th, KELVIN
repairing collision damage to complete on the 12th, MOHAWK repairing bomb
damage, PUNJABI repairing collision damage, SIKH at Malta with turbine
defects, and TARTAR refitting and repairing rudder damage to complete on the
Convoy OA.46 of 19 ships departed Southend escorted by
destroyers KEITH, WIVERN and VETERAN from the
4th to 5th. On being released, WIVERN
proceeded to escort OA.47.
Convoy OB.46 departed
Liverpool escorted by destroyer
WALPOLE until the 3rd and destroyer ESCAPADE until the 5th.
Convoy BC.16S of four steamers, including BARON
KINNAIRD, departed the
Loire escorted by destroyers MONTROSE and VESPER, and
arrived in Bristol Channel on the 6th.
Convoy FN.48 departed Southend, escorted by
destroyer VALOROUS and sloop BITTERN. Due to increased German activity in the
the convoy was supported by destroyers JACKAL, JANUS and the Polish
BLYSKAWICA. The Polish ship detached that night, and the convoy arrived in
the Tyne on the 4th.
Convoy FS.48 departed the
Tyne, escorted by destroyer
WHITLEY and sloop STORK, and arrived at Southend on the 4th.
Destroyers ICARUS and ILEX carried out an
anti-submarine sweep on their way back to Rosyth after a ship had been
detected crossing the
May Island indicator loop. Destroyers
AFRIDI and ZULU searched inshore of May Island, and then proceeded to
Rosyth after being relieved by ICARUS and ILEX.
Destroyer VEGA attacked a submarine contact 9 miles SW
of St Catherines. Destroyers ACHATES and WINDSOR joined in the search.
Submarine SNAPPER, returning to Harwich from patrol in
was struck by a British 100 pound anti-submarine bomb, dropped by a
“friendly” Anson aircraft. A direct hit was scored at the base of the conning
tower, but the explosion only shattered four light bulbs.
Russian submarine SC.323 damaged German steamer OLIVA
(1308grt) with gunfire off Uto. She was damaged again by Russian submarine
S.1 off Rauma on the 10th.
U.31 sank Danish steamer
OVE TOFT (2135grt) in 55‑36N, 00‑46E and and
Norwegian steamer GIMLE (1271grt)
in 57‑15N, 01‑50E. OVE TOFT lost six crew and 15 survivors were
picked up, while GIMLE lost three and her 16 survivors were picked up by
Norwegian steamer RUDOLF (924grt).
(875grt) was lost in the
North Sea to an unknown cause.
KRETINGA (542grt) was seized by German warships as a prize in the
Baltic and renamed MEMELLAND for German service.
German pocket battleship ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE sank
steamer TAIROA (7983grt) in the
South Atlantic in 20‑20S, 03‑05E.
SHROPSHIRE arrived at Simonstown and
Force K arrived at Capetown. After refuelling, Force H departed the same day
and Force K on the 4th to patrol the Capetown-St Helena trade route.
Light cruiser NEPTUNE departed
Freetown and arrived at Dakar on the 4th.
Light cruiser EFFINGHAM departed
Kingston and arrived at Halifax on the 6th. However a
serious leak had been discovered in the starboard condenser on the 5th, and
she had to return to
Kingston for repairs.
Convoy SLF.11 departed
Freetown on the 3rd escorted by armed
DUNNOTTAR CASTLE and sloop MILFORD, the latter with the convoy
for the day only. On the 18th, DUNOTTAR CASTLE developed engine problems
and was sent to
Gibraltar. She was joined on the 20th by destroyer KEPPEL and
on the 21st by French destroyer MAILLÉ BRÉZÉ, and arrived at
Gibraltar on the 22nd. Destroyers
WHITEHALL and WIVERN joined the convoy
in Home Waters.
French large destroyer L’AUDACIEUX was proceeding to
Dakar to repair minor defects.
Malta for Gibraltar, en route to England.
BATTLESHIP NELSON DAMAGED BY MINE
Admiral Forbes with battleship
NELSON and heavy
cruiser DEVONSHIRE, en route to the
Clyde with destroyers FAULKNOR, FURY, FIREDRAKE and
FORESTER, entered Loch Ewe to enable the destroyers to refuel. At the
entrance, NELSON struck a mine 5.4 cables 38° from Rudha nan Sasan
triangulation station laid by U.31 on 28 October. She was seriously damaged,
but due to the shortage of minesweepers could not immediately be moved for
repairs. No boilers, engines, electrical, steering, or power machinery were
affected, but 52 crew were injured, nine seriously.
Salvage tugs RANGER (409grt) on other duties, and
DISPERSER (313grt) were diverted to Loch Ewe to assist. Destroyer
ECHO escorted RANGER from Kilchattan Bay, arriving on the 5th.
FAULKNOR remained at Loch Ewe and stood by from the 4th to 28th.
The damage to NELSON also forced sister ship
remain at the Clyde deferring her docking at
Liverpool until NELSON's status was
determined. Also, the light cruisers of the Northern Patrol in Loch Ewe could
not sail until minesweeping operations cleared the harbour. Attempting to
clear the field, armed patrol drifters GLEN ALPYN (82grt) and PROMOTIVE
(78grt) were mined and sunk on the 23rd. Five more mines were swept and it was
not until 4 January 1940 that NELSON could be safely
Old German steamer ILSENSTEIN (8216grt) sailed ahead
of NELSON to detonate any remaining mines. She had been purchased pre-war,
departed Rosyth on the 11th escorted by destroyers ESCORT and WOOLSTON for
Loch Ewe, and arrived on the 15th. Escorted by FAULKNOR, FOXHOUND and IMPULSIVE,
the damaged NELSON proceeded to
Portsmouth, and arrived on 7 January
for repairs beginning on the 14th. She was repairing until early June 1940,
arrived at Greenock on 8 June for refitting and departed on the 29th to
rejoin the Home Fleet at
FAULKNOR, FOXHOUND and IMPULSIVE were ordered to remain
at Portsmouth for two days, then return to the
Clyde. Destroyers ISIS, FAME and FORESIGHT proceeded
independently at the same time to Devonport and returned to the Clyde with FAULKNOR, FOXHOUND and
Gibraltar and sailing via Halifax, which she left on 18
November, battleship WARSPITE arrived in the Clyde, escorted by destroyers
EXMOUTH, ECLIPSE and
ECHO, which had departed the
Clyde on 30 November. The
battleship had been originally ordered to go to Portsmouth, but orders were changed in
early December due to RODNEY's rudder defect.
Submarines TRITON and TRIBUNE departed Rosyth on
Destroyers IMPERIAL and IMPULSIVE arrived at the
Clyde from Scapa Flow.
On Northern Patrol, the six armed merchant cruisers
which were ordered to search for a suspected German battleship on the 3rd
were returning to their patrol stations between the Faroes and
Iceland. Heavy cruiser
SUFFOLK and AMC LAURENTIC were west of the
Shetland Islands, proceeding to the Denmark Strait.
Portsmouth for duty with the Northern
Scapa Flow and departed for patrol on the 12th.
Light cruiser ENTERPRISE arrived at Portland from Portsmouth.
CALCUTTA departed the Thames and arrived at Loch Ewe on
the 5th to provide protection for damaged battleship
Destroyers ESKIMO and MATABELE joined destroyers
ICARUS and ILEX searching for a submarine in the Firth of Forth.
Destroyer VETERAN, which departed
Plymouth on the 3rd, was damaged in a
collision with steamer MIRIAM (1903grt) in the English Channel. VETERAN suffered minor
damage, arrived back at
Plymouth on the 4th but was able to
depart on patrol on the 5th. She arrived at Dover on the 9th after convoy
Patrol sloop MALLARD attacked a submarine contact in
Submarine SALMON departed Harwich on the 2nd for
patrol, and at 1330/4th fired six torpedoes at U.36 and sank her 75 miles SW
from Lister Light in 57‑00N, 05‑20E; forty crew were lost and
there were no survivors. U.36 had been sailing for northern
Norway, where she was to join U.38
on patrol and then proceed to a base at Zapadnaya Litsa Bay in Northern Russia for replenishment. At it
happened, the base was never used by U-boats.
Convoy OA.47 of nine ships departed Southend escorted
by destroyer WREN and sloop
ABERDEEN from the 4th
Destroyer WATCHMAN was with the convoy from the 4th to 5th, and sister ship
WIVERN, from OA.46, joined on the 5th, and remained until the convoy dispersed
on the 7th.
Convoy OB.47 departed
Liverpool escorted by destroyers
WINCHELSEA and VANOC until the 7th.
Convoy SA.20 of one steamer departed
Southampton, escorted by destroyer
ANTHONY, and arrived at
Brest on the 5th.
Convoy FN.49 departed Southend, escorted by
destroyer WHITLEY and sloop STORK, and arrived in the
Tyne on the 5th.
Convoy FS.49 departed the
Tyne, escorted by sloops GRIMSBY and WESTON. Due to increased
German activity in the
North Sea, the convoy was supported by destroyers
JUNO and JUPITER. It arrived at Southend on the 5th.
Destroyer BROKE was investigating a submarine contact
one mile east of Slapton Sands Hotel near
Destroyers ESKIMO, MATABELE, ICARUS and ILEX departed Rosyth
to search for a suspected submarine in the Firth of Forth.
French large destroyer LE TRIOMPHANT departed
Cherbourg escorting light cruiser
GLOIRE to Brest, arriving on the 5th.
Steamer HAMSTERLEY (2160grt) in convoy FN.48 was
damaged by collision off Great Yarmouth, with one crewman lost. She was still
afloat the next day but seriously damaged.
Steamer TONGARIRO (8719grt) reported she had a
disabled rudder 180 miles SW of Land's End. At 0315/5th, destroyers VERITY
and WOLVERINE from the
Plymouth command were ordered to
assist. She was taken in tow, but broke away. At 1957/10th, she was 15 miles
off the Lizard and as a tug could not tow her, destroyer KEITH was ordered to, escorted by WOLVERINE.
U.31 sank Norwegian steamer
PRIMULA (1024grt) in 57‑15N, 01‑50E, 125 miles east
eight crew were lost and seven survivors
picked up by Danish steamer WM TH MALLING (1034grt) and taken to Methil.
German light cruiser NÜRNBERG laid mines in the
Skagerrak off Kristiansand from the 4th
German auxiliary submarine chaser
UJ.117 (trawler GUSTAV KORNER, 450grt) sank on a German defensive
minefield in the Belt. Later, in June 1940, she was salved and repaired.
destroyer HYPERION and Canadian destroyers ST LAURENT and SKEENA,
Halifax at 1000. HYPERION was detached early
on the 5th and at 1600/5th the Canadian ships turned over the convoy to ocean
escort by battleship REVENGE and French submarines SFAX and CASABIANCA as
protection against German battleships. The submarines were detached off the
Lizard on the 16th and arrived at Brest on the 17th, being escorted
into port by French sloop COMMANDANT RIVIERE. Meanwhile destroyers WOLVERINE,
WANDERER, WALPOLE and ARDENT provided escort in Home Waters from the 16th to
18th, when the convoy reached
KENT departed Colombo on escort duties, and
arrived back on the 14th.
Destroyer DIAMOND, having completed her refit,
departed Singapore en route to the Mediterranean.
Destroyer DELIGHT departed
Aden to return to the
WELLINGTON departed Malta for Gibraltar, where she arrived on the
8th. Next day, she sailed for Freetown to escort convoy SL.13 to
Minesweepers SUTTON and
ELGIN arrived at Gibraltar from Malta, and departed on the 8th for
French convoy 34.KF of four steamers had departed
Casablanca on the 3rd, but next day,
still near Casablanca, destroyer ORAGE was damaged
in collision with French steamer MARRAKECH. The convoy turned back and
arrived on the 6th. Steamers JAMAIQUE and LIPARI left with 37.KF on the 8th,
and MARRAKECH and MALGACHE with 38.KF on the 10th. ORAGE was able to leave on
the 28th for repairs at
Bizerte, arriving on the 30th
NORFOLK departed Scapa Flow and arrived at Belfast on the 6th, where she began
repairing defects, completed on the 21st.
On the Northern Patrol, seven armed merchant cruisers
were on patrol between the Faroes and Iceland, with light cruiser
eastward of them as close cover and battlecruiser
with destroyers KINGSTON,
KASHMIR and KHARTOUM north of the Faroes as distant cover. Heavy cruiser
SUFFOLK was proceeding east of Iceland and AMC LAURENTIC was west of Iceland to patrol the Denmark Strait.
CAIRO departed the Thames and arrived at Loch Ewe on
the 7th to provide protection for damaged battleship
SHARPSHOOTER sustained minor damage in
collision with a tanker.
Convoys OA.45G and OB.45G with a total of 44 ships
merged as convoy OG.9. Sloop DEPTFORD escorted the convoy on the 5th and
destroyers AMAZON and ANTELOPE from the
5th to 6th. French destroyers TIGRE and PANTHÈRE, which departed
Brest on the 4th, joined from the
and destroyer VOLUNTEER from the 5th to 9th. The convoy arrived at Gibraltar on the 11th with the French
destroyers and also destroyers HAVOCK and WATCHMAN, which had joined on the
Convoy FN.50 departed Southend, escorted by
sloops GRIMSBY and WESTON, and arrived in the
Tyne on the 6th.
Convoy FS.50 departed the
Tyne, escorted by destroyers
WALLACE and WOOLSTON, arriving at Southend on the 6th.
U.47 sank steamer
NAVASOTA (8795grt) from convoy OB.46
at 1425, 50 miles SW of Fastnet in 50‑43N, 10‑16W. Thirty seven
crew were lost, while destroyer ESCAPADE rescued 35 survivors and steamer CLAN FARQUHAR (7958grt) a further
ten. Destroyer WALPOLE was ordered to
search. Destroyers ESCAPADE and WINDSOR attacked U.47 at 1515,
inflicting light damage, and were then ordered to meet arriving convoy SLF.10
Anti-submarine trawler KINGSTON ANDALUSITE (415grt)
attacked a submarine contact off Folkestone. Destroyer BOADICEA was ordered
Convoy ON.4 of seven British ships departed Methil
escorted by destroyers ESKIMO, MATABELE, ICARUS and ILEX. Light cruisers
and EDINBURGH departed Rosyth on the 6th to provide close support, while
battlecruiser HOOD, and destroyers
KASHMIR and KHARTOUM, which departed Scapa Flow on the 6th, gave heavy
KANDAHAR and KINGSTON arrived at Sullom Voe to
refuel on the 7th, and left on the 8th to relieve KASHMIR and KHARTOUM for refuelling. The convoy
safely arrived at
Bergen on the 8th, while GLASGOW and
EDINBURGH arrived back at Rosyth on the 11th.
Danish steamer ALEXANDRA
(1463grt) was seized off
Esbjerg by two German armed
trawlers, and taken to Germany during the night by three
Belgian steamer KABINDA
(5182grt) ran aground and broke in half on the English coast.
Danish steamer EGYPTIAN REEFER (3159grt) ran aground
on the west coast of
Scotland, but was later refloated and
brought into port.
U.59 laid mines off Great Yarmouth in Cross Sands near
the Cockle Light Ship, on which two steamers were lost.
U.28 laid mines in
the Bristol Channel, but no shipping was sunk or
SANDWICH arrived at
Port Said from the Indian Ocean en route to the UK. Reaching Malta on the 9th, she left next
day for Gibraltar.
(7834grt) had departed
Hamburg for India before the start of the war,
and took refuge at
Lourenco Marques, before leaving for Bahia Blanca where she arrived on 13
October. She was ordered by the port authorities to leave within three days,
but various extensions were gained and she finally left on 4 December. On the
5th, in 39-25S, 57-15W, USSUKUMA was intercepted by heavy cruiser
CUMBERLAND and light cruiser
AJAX, and scuttled herself rather
than be captured.
AJAX embarked the crew of 23
officers, some on passage returning to
Germany, and 84 men.
DESPATCH captured German steamer
Punta Caldera, Chile and took her to Antofagasta, Chile, before leaving on the 14th
for the Panama
with a prize crew for the voyage back to Britain. Despite neutralist
protests, she passed through the Canal on the 25th, arrived at Bermuda on
12 January 1940 and was later renamed EMPIRE CONFIDENCE for British
DANAE was taken in hand for repairs at
Hong Kong, completed on
14 February 1940.
Motor Torpedo Boat Flotilla 1 arrived at
Portsmouth on the 6th, with base ship
VULCAN (trawler, 623grt) reaching there on the 8th after coming from Gibraltar in convoy HG.9. After
refitting, the Flotilla was based at Felixstowe and became operational in
On Northern Patrol were light cruiser
SHEFFIELD and seven AMCs between the
Faroes and Iceland, and heavy cruiser
SUFFOLK and AMC LAURENTIC in the Denmark Strait.
DEVONSHIRE arrived in the Clyde from Loch Ewe.
Light cruiser NEWCASTLE arrived at Scapa Flow from Northern Patrol.
Force W consisted of Fleet Tenders A and B (the dummy
battleships) and their destroyer escorts. MASHONA and SOMALI arrived at
Belfast on the 2nd from escort duty,
and BEDOUIN and NUBIAN, which departed the Clyde on the 4th, were to
rendezvous off Belfast Lough when Force W departed. The Force was to have
departed Belfast on the 4th, but was held
until the arrival of the ESCORT and ELECTRA, which left Portsmouth on the 5th. They finally
departed Belfast at 0600/6th escorting Force
W to Rosyth, where they arrived on the 9th.
Submarines THISTLE arrived at Rosyth and SNAPPER at
Harwich after patrol.
Due to communication and administration problems while
at sea, Rear Admiral Destroyers transferred to submarine depot ship TITANIA,
allowing light cruiser
AURORA to be released to the
Clyde for refit. She departed Rosyth, arriving on
the 7th for repairs that continued until the 31st. Meanwhile, destroyer depot
ship WOOLWICH departed
Portsmouth on the 16th, escorted by
destroyer BRAZEN, but the latter developed mechanical defects and was
detached at Plymouth. Destroyer BASILISK relieved
her and WOOLWICH reached the
Clyde on the 18th, with Rear Admiral Destroyers
transferring to her on the 19th.
Destroyer IMPERIAL arrived at Rosyth from
Destroyers WARWICK and VIMY arrived at Loch Ewe with
portable pumps for damaged battleship
NELSON, and sailed later that day for
Liverpool, arriving on the 7th.
DESTROYER MINELAYING OFF CROMER AND HMS JERSEY TORPEDOED
German destroyers ERICH GIESE, BERND VON ARNIM and
HANS LODY departed Wilhelmshaven to lay mines off Cromer. En
route, ARNIM had a mechanical breakdown and returned to port, but GIESE
carried out her lay during the night of the 6th/7th escorted by LODY. While
the minelay was in progress, destroyers JERSEY and JUNO, patrolling in the area,
were sighted four miles SE of Cromer Knoll Light. GIESE torpedoed JERSEY at 0235/7th and left her
badly damaged with Lt (E) J Le C Morris, Gunner (T) G L Blowers and eight
ratings killed, and Cadet A R W Archibald, Surgeon Lt H G Silverster and ten
ratings injured. Sister ships
JUNO, JACKAL and JANUS assisted
JERSEY was towed by JUNO, and screened by JACKAL,
which departed the
Humber at 0600. JANUS, also in the
Humber, did not leave until later
in the morning when the visibility improved. Tug YORKSHIREMAN (251grt) later
took over JERSEY and took her to Immingham.
JUNO and JACKAL attacked a
submarine contact near the location of her torpedoing. JERSEY received temporary repairs
at the Humber Graving Dock until 7 January and then proceeded to Amos Smith
Dock, Hull where she was under repair until
23 September 1940.
Two British steamers were sunk and one damaged on this
On the 8th, steamer
COREA (751grt) 1½ miles 65° from Cromer Coast Guard Station; eight crew lost, and seven survivors picked up by the Cromer lifeboat.
On the 12th, steamer
KING EGBERT (4535grt) in convoy FS.53, four miles SW of Haisborough
Light off Cromer; one member of the crew lost and 32 survivors rescued.
On the 21st, British steamer DOSINIA (8053grt) in
convoy FN.57 was badly damaged ½ mile SW of Haisborough Light off Cromer.
Escorting sloop WESTON detailed a trawler to stand by the damaged ship, which
was taken to Hull.
Minesweeping trawler ST DONATS (349grt) was positioned
9 miles S of Cromer Knoll Light Vessel to divert southbound shipping away
from the mine area, while minesweeping trawler PELTON (358grt) diverted northbound
Destroyer VANSITTART, escorting a convoy, was in a
collision with a transport in the
English Channel. She was repaired and
refitted at Portsmouth, completing on 19 January.
Convoy OA.48 of 11 ships departed Southend escorted by
destroyers ACASTA and ARDENT from the 6th to 8th, and destroyer
WHITEHALL and sloop ENCHANTRESS from
the 8th to 9th, when they detached to OA.49.
Convoy OB.48 departed
Liverpool escorted by destroyers
WALKER and WHIRLWIND until the 9th.
Anti-submarine trawler LOCH TULLA (423grt) attacked a
submarine contact 14.4 miles 105° from Sule Skerry.
Destroyer GRENVILLE attacked a submarine contact 18
miles S by E of Orfordness.
WASHINGTON (209grt, Skipper J A.Jennison
RNR) was sunk off Caister near
Great Yarmouth on a mine laid by U.59 on the 5th; seven crew were lost and
there was only one survivor.
U.31 sank Swedish steamer
VINGA (1974grt) in 56‑25N, 01‑08E, but all her crew
were rescued by Danish steamer TRANSPORTER (1561grt).
U.31 sank Norwegian steamer
FOINA (1674grt) in the North Sea NW of Rattray Head with the loss
of 18 crew.
U.47 sank Norwegian tanker
BRITTA (6214grt) 45 miles SW of Longships Light; six crew were
lost and 25 survivors picked up by Belgian trawler MEMLINC (129grt).
Battleship BARHAM departed
Alexandria on the 1st escorted by
destroyers DAINTY and DEFENDER. The destroyers were relieved off Malta by sisters ships DUNCAN and
DUCHESS, later departing
Gibraltar on the 6th for the
PROVENCE, escorted by three
destroyers, which had departed Toulon on the 4th, arrived at Gibraltar with Vice Amiral Ollive
onboard to take command of the Casablanca command. They should have
sailed that evening, but a wire wrapped itself around PROVENCE’s propeller shaft preventing
her leaving. Amiral Ollive embarked in submarine depot ship JULES VERNE,
escorted by destroyers BORDELAIS and LA RAILLEUSE, which arrived on the 11th
from Casablanca. JULES VERNE departed that day, escorted by
destroyers ALBATROS and VAUBAN, while
PROVENCE was able to leave Gibraltar on the 12th for Toulon with BORDELAIS and
BIRMINGHAM departed Hong Kong on the 6th after receiving a
report that German steamer BURGENLAND (7320grt) had departed Kobe on the 5th. No contact was
made and she patrolled with submarine PANDORA and armed merchant cruiser
MORETON BAY in the area of Kii Channel.
However BIRMINGHAM did stop a Dutch freighter
which was allowed to continue after inspection.
Admiral Forbes transferred his flag to battleship
WARSPITE in the
Clyde. At this time, his only other capital ship was battlecruiser
badly in need of attention after her scheduled refit in November had been cut
On Northern Patrol, light cruiser
SHEFFIELD and seven AMCs were between
the Faroes and
Iceland, and heavy cruiser
SUFFOLK and AMC LAURENTIC in the Denmark Strait.
CAIRO departed Scapa Flow for Loch Ewe.
Destroyer IMPERIAL arrived in the
Clyde from Rosyth.
RODNEY, destroyers IMPERIAL, IMPULSIVE,
GURKHA, three more destroyers and two tugs departed the
Clyde for Liverpool.
Destroyer INGLEFIELD escorted tanker DAGHESTAN
(5742grt) from Invergordon to
Convoy FS.51 departed the
Tyne, escorted by destroyers
VALOROUS, VIVIEN and sloop BITTERN, arriving at Southend on the 8th. Convoy
FN.51 was delayed 24 hours due to the danger of mines.
U.23 sank Danish steamer
(2400grt) in 57‑31N, 02‑17E.
Danish steamer HAFNIA (2031grt) was nearby and searched
unsuccessfully for any survivors. She also observed U.23 searching.
U.38 sank British steamer
WALTON (4660grt) south of Vestfjord in 67‑53N, 14‑29E.
Thirteen crew were lost, with 12 survivors picked up by German steamer SEBU
(1894grt) and landed at Bodo, and another 22 rescued by Norwegian steamer
U.47 sank Dutch steamer
TAJANDOEN (8159grt) in the
English Channel in 49‑09N, 04‑51W.
Six crew were lost, but British steamer LOUIS SCHEID (6057grt) rescued 62
survivors. Dutch steamer NAALDWIJK (2041grt) searched for those who were missing,
but without success.
From the 8th to 21st, 38 eastbound merchant ships were
sighted by the Northern Patrol and 24 sent in for inspection. The low numbers
was partly due to the fact that from the 9th to 17th, the armed merchant
cruisers had been withdrawn from the Patrol.
German pocket battleship ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE sank
steamer STREONSHALH (3895grt)
south of Trinidad in 25‑01S, 27‑50W.
CUMBERLAND were on patrol in the Falkland Island area. The Admiralty
anticipated that the German pocket battleship might attack Port Stanley on the anniversary of the
Falkland Island naval battle in which a
British force under Vice Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee defeated a German force
under Vice Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee on 8
December 1914. When the attack did not materialize, they entered
Port Stanley on the 9th. EXETER left late that morning to escort Falkland Island Company ship LAFONIA (1961grt) to
Rio de la Plata.
ARETHUSA, which departed
Alexandria on the 1st on patrol,
arrived at Malta for refitting
from the 7th to 18th.
DAUNTLESS, now attached to the 9th
Cruiser Squadron, departed
Singapore on patrol, arriving back on
LOWESTOFT completed her lengthy refit in
Hong Kong on the 2nd, and sailed on
the 7th. Reaching Singapore on the 13th and Colombo on the 18th, she departed
2 January 1940 and arrived at
Port Said on the 13th. She arrived at
Malta on 18 January and Gibraltar on the 28th, and made Plymouth on 5 February for refitting,
completed on the 21st.
After leaving the East Indies Command, sloop EGRET
completed a refit at
Malta on the 7th, arrived at Gibraltar on the 10th and departed on
the 11th to reach
Freetown on the 16th. She sailed on
the 19th escorting convoy SLF.13 and arrived at Cardiff on
2 January 1940 for duty with Convoy C.
Light cruiser ENTERPRISE departed Portland for Halifax, NS, arriving on the 15th.
On Northern Patrol were two cruisers and one
AMC in the Denmark Strait, and seven AMCs between the
Faroes and Iceland.
DIOMEDE departed Loch Ewe
for Northern Patrol at 1700. DRAGON and COLOMBO arrived at Scapa Flow on the 12th, CARDIFF and DELHI on the 15th via Loch Ewe,
and DIOMEDE on the 16th, also via Loch Ewe.
Light cruiser NEWCASTLE departed Scapa Flow for Northern Patrol to
relieve light cruiser
SHEFFIELD, and arrived back on the 17th.
Armed merchant cruiser
MONTCLARE arrived in the
Clyde after Northern Patrol.
ECHO arrived in the Clyde.
Destroyer INGLEFIELD arrived at
Leith for docking. Repairs were
completed on the 11th and she arrived at Rosyth the same day.
Submarines TRIDENT and TRIUMPH arrived at Rosyth, while
STARFISH arrived at
Blyth after patrols.
Patrol sloops PC.74 and KINGFISHER collided at
Eglinton with slight damage to both ships.
Convoy OA.49 of 11 ships departed Southend escorted by
WHITEHALL, WREN and WITCH, although
WHITEHALL was detached to convoy HX.10
on the 9th. Sloop ENCHANTRESS joined on the 8th from OA.48 and stayed until
the 11th when she also detached to HX.10. WREN and WITCH detached on the 9th,
followed by KEITH on the 11th.
Convoy OB.49 departed
Liverpool escorted by destroyer MACKAY
until the 10th and
WARWICK until the 11th.
After being delayed 24 hours because of mines,
convoy FN.51 departed Southend, escorted by destroyers WALLACE and WOOLSTON.
They arrived in the
Tyne on the 9th.
Convoy HN.4 of nine British ships departed
Bergen escorted by destroyers
ESKIMO, MATABELE, ICARUS and ILEX, but the convoy made slow progress in bad
weather. Destroyers ELECTRA, ESCORT, NUBIAN and MAORI departed Rosyth on the
10th to relieve the escorts and on the same day, heavy weather forced ESKIMO,
ILEX and three steamers to heave to. MATABELE lost touch and patrolled until
daylight before attempting to rejoin the convoy. Destroyer ISIS arrived at
Scapa Flow on the 9th to escort the
four ships of the west coast section with one of the convoy destroyers. Then
on the 11th, ELECTRA, ESCORT, NUBIAN and MAORI relieved ESKIMO, ILEX and ICARUS which went on to the
Clyde, arriving on the 12th. The convoy reached Methil
safely on the 12th.
Convoy HX.10 arrived at
Liverpool escorted by heavy cruiser
YORK, which began a refit there.
U.48 sank steamer
(6668grt), a straggler from convoy OB.48, at 1225, 80 miles SW of Fastnet in
50‑28N, 08‑28W. Nine crew were lost and the survivors picked up
by Belgian trawler MARIE JOSE ROSETTE (139grt) and British trawler TRITTEN. A
flying boat attacked U.48 at 1455 and destroyers WALKER and WHIRLWIND were
detached from convoy escort, making two attacks at 1526 in 50-12N, 9-05W. Some
damage was done to the submarine.
(1088grt) was sunk on a mine near Gull Light Vessel near Ramsgate.
Steamer ULSTER HERO (483grt) reported sighting a
submarine 16 miles from Ramsey, Isle of Man. Escort sloop MALLARD and anti-submarine
trawler KING SOL (486grt) were sent to investigate.
Destroyer WANDERER attacked a submarine contact
After British aircraft bombed a submarine contact,
destroyers ESCORT and ELECTRA, detached from Force W and searched 85
miles NW of Cape Wrath. U.43 was badly damaged in the air attack, but was
able to reach
Wilhelmshaven on the 14th. Destroyer ISIS
joined in the search.
(989grt) was sunk in a collision with the wreck of steamer GOODWOOD (2796grt)
one mile north of Flamborough Head. The crew were rescued by Swedish steamer
French steamer OUED TIFLET (1194grt) arrived at
Cartagena after being damaged on a
nearby defensive minefield.
CORNWALL and light cruiser
GLOUCESTER departed Diego Suarez for
Simonstown, after which
CORNWALL was to transfer to the South
Atlantic Command and
GLOUCESTER to join Hunter Force I.
New Zealand light cruiser
refuelled at Montevideo, left on the 9th for the
Plate and joined sister ship
AJAX on the 10th. The two then
joined heavy cruiser EXETER on the 12th and the three
took up patrol in the Plate estuary.
In air operations in the
South Atlantic, a Skua of 800 Squadron,
landing on aircraft carrier ARK
ROYAL, missed the landing wires and crashed
into the sea. Sub Lt P T Bethell was killed, but Leading Airman J B Taylor
RODNEY, escorted by destroyers ECLIPSE, GURKHA and FEARLESS, arrived at
Liverpool for repairs. The ships followed convoy SLF.10B
Battlecruiser HOOD and destroyers
KINGSTON, KANDAHAR, KASHMIR
and KHARTOUM left their patrol area
covering convoy HN.4 and proceeded to the Clyde, arriving on the 10th.
Admiral Forbes withdrew the armed merchant cruisers
from Northern Patrol. The threat of German mining, brought home by the damage
to NELSON, prevented his heavy ships from leaving and entering port, and
therefore were unable to cover the Northern Patrol ships. Seven armed
merchant cruisers left the Patrol for the
Clyde and Liverpool. Light cruiser
SHEFFIELD was en route to the Tyne, passing Fair Island Channel
at 2100/9th while light cruiser NEWCASTLE proceeded to Scapa Flow to relieve her on Northern
Patrol duties. Heavy cruisers
BERWICK moved from the Denmark Strait to SE of Iceland.
DEVONSHIRE departed the Clyde to relieve
Northern Patrol, and arrived at
Scapa Flow after patrol on the 22nd.
YORK began refitting at Liverpool.
CERES departed the
Clyde, and arrived at Scapa Flow on the 16th.
Armed merchant cruiser CHITRAL arrived in the
Chatham for Invergordon, arriving on
and ECLIPSE departed the Clyde to rendezvous and escort
arriving battleship BARHAM.
Destroyer IMOGEN drydocked at Govan to repair defects.
Convoy BC.18 departed
Bristol Channel, escorted by destroyers
MONTROSE and VESPER, and arrived in the Loire on the 11th. The convoy
returned, departing on the 13th and arrived back in the Bristol Channel on the 15th.
Convoy FN.52 departed Southend, escorted by
destroyers VIVIEN, VALOROUS and sloop BITTERN, and arrived in the
Tyne on the 10th.
Convoy FS.52 departed the
Tyne escorted by destroyer
WHITLEY and sloop STORK, arriving at Southend on the 10th.
U.20 sank Danish steamer
MAGNUS (1339grt) in 57‑48N, 00‑35W; her sole survivor
was picked up four days later on the 13th by British trawler PHILIPPE
U.48 torpedoed tanker
SAN ALBERTO (7397grt) from convoy OB.48
west of the English Channel in 49‑20N, 09‑45W. One member of the crew
was lost and the survivors abandoned ship to be picked up by Belgian tanker
ALEXANDRE ANDRE (5322grt). However, the rescue was cut short when the Belgian
tanker's engines became partially disabled.
SAN ALBERTO broke in half
and the forward section sank in 49-28N, 9-51W. The stern section was
relocated on the 11th and reboarded by her crew who were able to restart her
engines. She was able to proceed for ten hours, but eventually scuttled
by destroyer MACKAY.
Convoy HG.10 departed
Gibraltar with 62 ships, escorted by
destroyers WATCHMAN, ACTIVE, HAVOCK and the French CHEVALIER PAUL and TARTU. The French ships remained
with the convoy from the 8th to 16th when they arrived at Brest. ACTIVE was detached that
evening, still on the 9th. HAVOCK and WATCHMAN detached to OG.9 on the 10th
and escorted that convoy for one day before arriving back at Gibraltar. HAVOCK then left on the
12th to return to Sheerness for repairs. On the 15th, the convoy was joined
by destroyers VISCOUNT and ANTELOPE from OG.10 and also destroyer VIVACIOUS. All
three were with the convoy when it arrived at Liverpool on the 16th.
Northwest of Mossamedes, heavy cruiser
Force H encountered German steamer ADOLF
LEONHARDT (2990grt), which had departed
Lobito on the 8th. She scuttled
herself off South Africa rather than be captured, and
her six officers and 19 crew were picked up by SHROPSHIRE.
French sloop COMMANDANT DUBOC attacked a submarine
contact 2.5 miles 357° from
DORSETSHIRE arrived at Simonstown.
Light cruiser EFFINGHAM arrived at
Bermuda for refitting, completed on
German merchant ship NORDMEER (5671grt) departed
Curacao, and despite efforts by
French submarine OUESSANT to intercept her in Mona Passage on the 15th, was able to
reach Vigo on
5 January 1940.
German steamers SEATTLE (7369grt),
HANNOVER (5537grt), WESERMUNDE
(5356grt), VANCOUVER (8269grt),
HENRY HORN (3164grt),
(1383grt), KARIBIA (428grt)
FRISIA (561grt) were also at Curacao. Only SEATTLE and HANNOVER
had managed to escape before 10 May 1940 when the remaining ships, less
steamer WESERMUNDE which had been sold to the United Fruit Company on 28
December 1939, were seized by Dutch forces and renamed for Dutch service –
VANCOUVER became CURACAO, PATRICIA the ARUBA, ESTE
the SURINAME, HENRY HORN the BONAIRE, ALEMANIA the ST MARTIN,
KARIBIA the ST
EUSTATIUS, and FRISIA the SABA.
10 May 1940, two other German steamers
were in Dutch Caribbean ports, the ANTILLA
(4363grt) at Aruba and
GOSLAR (6040grt) at Paramaribo, Suriname. These ships were scuttled
by their crews to avoid capture.
On Northern Patrol, two cruisers were between the
Orkneys and the Shetlands, and four cruisers between the Shetlands and
Armed merchant cruisers
TRANSYLVANIA, WORCESTERSHIRE, ASTURIAS
and ANDANIA arrived in the
Clyde after Northern Patrol
duties. SCOTSTOUN was due to arrive with them, but was delayed by
weather and only reached the
Clyde on the 11th. Armed merchant cruisers
CANTON and DERBYSHIRE departed the
Clyde for Portsmouth.
WITHDRAWAL OF C AND D-CLASS CRUISERS FROM NORTHERN PATROL
The old C and D-class light cruisers began to be
withdrawn from the Northern Patrol as they were relieved by armed merchant
cruisers. The first ones to leave for less arduous stations were
and DRAGON. All the ships were
refitted and by the spring of 1940 had been reassigned:
CALYPSO of the 7th
Cruiser Squadron to the Mediterranean Fleet. They arrived on station late
December to relieve light cruisers
PENELOPE for duty in Home
Waters. DRAGON, also 7th Cruiser Squadron, which was refitting at Chatham until the end of February,
arrived at Malta on
12 March 1940. From the 11th
DELHI, after completing her refit
at Belfast at the end of January, arrived at
Malta on 6 February to relieve
light cruiser GALATEA.
DESPATCH had arrived in the
West Indies in October, and were joined
DIOMEDE of the 7th Cruiser Squadron, which left
Plymouth for Bermuda on 6 February. She had
completed her refit in late January and relieved light cruiser
CARDIFF, 7th Cruiser Squadron
completed her refit at
Plymouth at the end of January and
was to have joined the 8th Cruiser Squadron in the America and West Indies Station.
Instead she was assigned to the Gunnery School as a Training Ship, arriving
at Portland on 23 February with a reduced complement for
this duty. After the invasion of
France and during the invasion
threat of the summer of 1940, CARDIFF served in the 2nd Cruiser
Squadron, Home Fleet, but in October 1940, she returned to the Gunnery School.
DUNEDIN, 11th Cruiser Squadron took
CARDIFF’S place. She departed Portsmouth for Bermuda on 6 February, and arrived
on station in mid-month to relieve Australian light cruiser
which in turn relieved New Zealand light cruiser
Atlantic. ACHILLES headed for duty in the
CERES sailed for the
East Indies, via the Mediterranean leaving Scapa Flow on the 28th, and COLOMBO, 11th Squadron joined the
9th Cruiser Squadron in the
East Indies, also via the Mediterranean departing Scapa on
SHEFFIELD arrived at Wallsend for
docking from the 11th to 17th for repairs, leaving on the 18th.
HM King George VI took passage in destroyer CODRINGTON
from Dover to
Boulogne escorted by destroyers
BASILISK, BEAGLE, BOADICEA, BOREAS and BRILLIANT. The King and the ships arrived
back at Dover that night.
JUNO, JAGUAR, JANUS and JUPITER
departed the Humber to sweep for U-boats off Terschelling. No contact was made and they
arrived back on the 11th.
ABERDEEN, on convoy escort with
destroyer WAKEFUL, attacked a submarine contact 24 miles 145° from the Owers
and then rejoined the convoy. Destroyer ACHERON was sent to investigate, but
in St Helen's Bay on the 11th, the starboard engine failed and put her out of
Patrol sloop PUFFIN attacked a submarine contact in
Destroyer FORESTER attacked a submarine contact in
57-59N, 05-25W. Patrol sloop KINGFISHER also searched the area.
Destroyer WOLVERINE, escorting steamer TONGARIRO in
tow, attacked a submarine contact in 49‑49N, 05‑25W. She was
joined by destroyer KEITH, but the contact was not regained.
After delivering Force W to Rosyth, destroyers SOMALI
and BEDOUIN proceeded to the
Clyde. Sister ship MASHONA escorted tanker DAGHESTAN
from Invergordon to
Scapa Flow, and also proceeded to the
Destroyer GURKHA arrived at
Portsmouth for docking.
Sloop FLAMINGO departed
Leith at 1300 for Rosyth after
completing repairs following her November collision. She joined sloop PELICAN
off Inchkeith at 1530 and both headed for the Tyne.
Convoy OA.50G departed Southend with 36 ships escorted
by destroyers VISCOUNT and ANTELOPE, and on the 11th merged with OB.50G,
escorted by destroyers WITHERINGTON and VIMY to form OG.10 - a total of 56
ships. VISCOUNT, ANTELOPE, WITHERINGTON and VIMY were all with the convoy
from the 11th to 13th when VISCOUNT and ANTELOPE detached to HG.10. French
destroyers JAGUAR and LÉOPARD, which departed
Brest on the 12th, escorted from
the 13th to 18th, when the convoy arrived at Gibraltar. The day before, the 17th,
destroyer WISHART had joined off
Soviet submarine S.1 sank German steamer
BOLHEIM (3324grt) with gunfire off
Rauma near Bjorneborg.
Soviet submarine SC.322 sank German steamer
REINBEK (2884grt), en route from
Leningrad to Oskarshamn on the west
coast of Sweden, in the Gulf of Finland.
Soviet submarine SC.323 sank Estonian steamer
KASSARI (379grt) off Uto with the
loss of one member of crew.
Dutch steamer IMMINGHAM
(398grt) struck a mine off Kallautsoog, off the Dutch coast and sank on the
11th; her crew of seven was rescued.
JOTUN (534grt) was lost by grounding south of Berwick.
FIRE KING (758grt) was sunk in collision with steamer DUKE OF
LANCASTER (3814grt) in the
Irish Sea off the Isle of Man.
French heavy cruiser ALGÉRIE arrived at
SAILING OF CANADIAN TROOP CONVOY TC.1
Canadian troop convoy TC.1, consisting of troopships
MONARCH OF BERMUDA (22,424grt), EMPRESS OF BRITAIN (42,348grt),
DUCHESS OF BEDFORD (20,123grt), EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA (19,665grt)
and AQUITANIA (45,647grt)
carrying 961, 1,303, 1,312, 1,235 and 2,638 troops respectively, departed
Halifax. The convoy was escorted out of
Halifax by Canadian destroyers OTTAWA, FRASER, RESTIGOUCHE and
ST LAURENT, and battleship
provided heavy support.
REPULSE and aircraft carrier FURIOUS had
just arrived at Halifax escorting liner DUCHESS OF RICHMOND (20,022grt), carrying British civilians being evacuated to Canada. REPULSE, FURIOUS,
light cruiser EMERALD, and destroyers HUNTER and HYPERION departed
Halifax and steamed ahead of the
troop convoy to sweep for German raiders. HUNTER and HYPERION were detached
at dusk on the 10th and rejoined at 0800/11th. Because of the severe cold,
FURIOUS was unable to launch aircraft due to frozen hydraulic lines until the
11th, but then fog soon curtailed operations. Once out of the Halifax approaches, the local
escort, HUNTER and HYPERION returned to Halifax, while at sea on the 14th,
EMERALD was relieved by light cruiser NEWCASTLE.
Convoy HXF.12 departed
Halifax at 0900 escorted by Canadian
destroyer SKEENA, which was detached on the 12th. Ocean escort was armed merchant
cruiser ALAUNIA and French submarine ACHILLE. ALAUNIA detached on the 22nd
and ACHILLE arrived at
Brest on the 22nd, escorted into
port by sloop COMMANDANT RIVIERE. Destroyer WALKER escorted the convoy in
Home Waters from the 23rd and HXF.12 arrived at Liverpool on the 24th.
Light cruiser GALATEA departed
Malta on patrol and arrived back
on the 19th.
OLYMPUS departed Diego Suarez to
check Prince Edward Island in the southern Indian Ocean for suspected German
raiders, but made no sightings.
French destroyer TEMPÊTE passed
Gibraltar east to west.
Convoy SL.12 departed
Freetown escorted by sloop ROCHESTER and arrived on the 26th.
French heavy cruisers TOURVILLE and COLBERT, assisted
by sloop D'IVERVILLE, departed
Malta for contraband control
duties off the west of Greece. The cruisers arrived at
Beirut on the 12th.
Convoy K.6 departed Bombay with troopships RAJULA
(8478grt), D'ARTAGNAN (15,105grt), ROHNA (8602grt),
CAP TOURAINE (8009grt),
LANCASHIRE (9557grt), TAIREA (7933grt) and TALAMBA (8018grt), escorted by
Australian light cruiser HOBART and armed merchant cruisers MALOJA and RANCHI
from the 10th to 15th. The convoy arrived at Suez on the 20th and Port Said on
the 21st, and was escorted by Australian destroyers VAMPIRE and VOYAGER from
the 21st to 24th. They were relieved on the 24th by Australian sister ships
VENDETTA and WATERHEN from the 24th to 26th when the convoy reached Marseilles.
Battleship VALIANT departed
Plymouth on trials after refit,
escorted by destroyers ACASTA and ARDENT. She was to have arrived back on the
11th, but due to submarine activity in the area, remained at sea overnight
with destroyers ENCOUNTER, ARDENT, ACASTA and GRENADE. She then headed for
Portland, reaching there on the 12th
and leaving on the 14th for
Bermuda. VALIANT was met by destroyer HYPERION on the
21st, 240 miles 70° from Mount Hill Light and reached
Bermuda on the 22nd for working up
after the refit. She arrived back at Bermuda on the 25th.
A U-boat was sighted in the vicinity of the
Plymouth indicator loops. Exercises
were cancelled and submarine H.43 was ordered to return to harbour on the
surface. Destroyer WOLVERINE and sloop LONDONDERRY hunted 60° and 320°
respectively from a position 4 miles 45° from Eddystone, and WOLVERINE also
took destroyer BRAZEN under orders to join in the search. A tug reported
bumping a submerged object inside the loop at 1115. Destroyers ENCOUNTER,
GRENADE, WHITEHALL and sloop LONDONDERRY searched without success but
WOLVERINE did make a contact 6.5 miles 112° from Rame Head.
Light cruiser GLASGOW arrived at
Light cruiser EDINBURGH arrived at Rosyth.
Old German merchant ship ILSENSTEIN (8216grt),
acquired pre-war, departed Rosyth escorted by destroyer ESCORT and escort
ship WOOLSTON for Loch Ewe. After reaching the
Pentland Firth, WOOLSTON returned to
Rosyth. Destroyer ELECTRA was ordered to join ESCORT, but ILSENSTEIN could
not proceed in the heavy weather.
Destroyer MOHAWK was in collision with a tug as she
headed down the
Tyne. Temporary repairs were completed in the
Tyne on the 14th.
Polish destroyer BLYSKAWICA fired on an unidentified
aircraft off Harwich.
Destroyer BEDOUIN departed Rosyth with tanker
DAGHESTAN (5742grt) for Invergordon, then proceeded to
Scapa Flow and on to the Clyde, arriving on the 12th.
Convoy OA.51 departed Southend on the 11th escorted by
destroyers VETERAN and BROKE until the 13th when they were relieved by
destroyers WHITEHALL and WIVERN. After the convoy
dispersed on the 14th,
WHITEHALL and WIVERN joined SL.11.
Convoy OB.51 departed
Liverpool escorted by destroyer
VOLUNTEER and sloop DEPTFORD.
Convoy BC.17 of steamers BARON GRAHAM, CLAN
ROSS (Commodore), DUNKWA and GUELMA
departed the Loire escorted by destroyer VESPER, and arrived in the
Bristol Channel on the 12th.
Convoy SA.21 of two steamers departed
Southampton, escorted by destroyer
WINDSOR which reported a submarine contact in 50-15N, 02-00W. The convoy
arrived at Brest on the 12th.
Convoy AXS.8 of one steamer, escorted by destroyer
VIVACIOUS, arrived at
Brest from Barry.
Convoy FS.53 departed the
Tyne, escorted by destroyer WALLACE
and sloop HASTINGS, and arrived at Southend on
the 12th. Convoy FN.54 was delayed for 24 hours, but destroyer WHITLEY and
sloops FLAMINGO and STORK guarded the ships overnight and were joined by
A U-boat was reported in the Channel near
Portsmouth and destroyers ACHERON, VEGA
and WHITSHED were ordered to search.
French battleship DUNKERQUE with 100 tons of gold for
deposit in Canada and light cruiser GLOIRE
departed Brest at 1700 for Halifax escorted by large destroyers
MOGADOR, VOLTA, LE TRIOMPHANT, LE TERRIBLE and VALMY. VALMY detached on the 12th
and the rest of the destroyers on the 13th. DUNKERQUE and GLOIRE arrived on
U.38 sank Greek steamer
GAROUFALIA (4708grt) in 64‑36N, 10‑42E with the loss
of four crew.
U.61 laid mines off the Firth of Forth.
Battleship MALAYA, which had been escorted by
Australian destroyers VENDETTA and WATERHEN in the Red Sea, arrived at Suez after duty in the Indian Ocean.
Submarine OSWALD departed
Alexandria for patrol in the Mediterranean until the 23rd.
On Northern Patrol, three cruisers were between the
Orkneys and the Faroes, and four cruisers between the Faroes and
Iceland. There was no patrol in the
Denmark Strait on this date. Light cruisers
DRAGON arrived at
Submarine SALMON sighted German liner
BREMEN (51,731grt) at 0930 in 57‑37N,
05‑15E, but British submarines were not permitted to sink merchant
ships without warning at this time. Instead, SALMON attempted to stop her 70
miles SSW of Lister Light in 57-00N, 5-45E, but BREMEN ignored her and an arriving
German Do.18 aircraft forced SALMON to dive. BREMEN arrived safely at Wesermünde
midday on the 13th.
Submarine UNDINE arrived at
Blyth for repairs until the 23rd.
ECLIPSE departed the Clyde to escort battleship
Meanwhile BARHAM and destroyers DUCHESS and DUNCAN, which had departed Gibraltar on the 6th for service with
the Home Fleet, were 9 miles west of the Mull of Kintyre when
DUCHESS (Lt Cdr R C M White) was run
down at 0437 in an accidental collision with BARHAM. Struck abreast the
forecastle, DUCHESS capsized and then exploded killing many men in the water.
She sank at 0503 with the loss of Lt Cdr White, Lt G W Murray, Lt (E) O P
Tilden, Lt J M L Scholfield, Commissioned Gunner H P Gordon, Py/Midshipman C L Kretschmer
RNR and 124 ratings. Only Py/Lt J R Pritchard RNVR and 22
ratings were rescued by
ECHO and ECLIPSE. EXMOUTH and
DUNCAN screened BARHAM's entry into the Clyde while ECLIPSE and ECHO stood by at the location of
the sinking until daylight.
Auxiliary patrol trawler EMILION (201grt) was damaged in a collision with Spanish steamer
MONTE NAVAJO (5754grt) near the Goodwin Buoy. She sustained slight damage and
the Spanish ship continued without taking any action.
Destroyers SOMALI, BEDOUIN, MASHONA, and ILEX arrived in
ARRIVAL OF CANADIAN TROOP CONVOY TC.1
Destroyers ESKIMO, BEDOUIN, MASHONA, SOMALI, KANDAHAR,
KHARTOUM, KINGSTON, KASHMIR, FEARLESS, ILEX, IMPERIAL and IMPULSIVE departed the
Clyde to sweep ahead of Canadian troop convoy TC.1 as it approached the
British Isles and bring it into the Clyde. However, IMPERIAL was held up and
did not join, and destroyer MATABELE joined the escort force at sea.
Submarine SALMON and RAF Coastal Command aircraft
sighted German destroyers HERMANN KÜNNE, FRIEDRICH IHN, ERICH STEINBRINCK,
RICHARD BEITZEN and BRUNO HEINEMANN in the
North Sea en route to the Tyne on a minelaying mission.
Admiral Forbes, concerned for the safety of convoy TC.1, departed Greenock
with battleships WARSPITE,
HOOD, and destroyers INGLEFIELD, ICARUS, IMOGEN, IMPERIAL, ISIS
and FOXHOUND on the 13th. Destroyers FORESTER and
FIREDRAKE departed Loch Ewe and joined the force off the Mull of Kintyre.
DEVONSHIRE and light cruiser
GLASGOW on Northern Patrol patrolled
in 53‑55N, 25‑00W to cover the convoy. Light cruisers
and EDINBURGH departed Rosyth, called at
Scapa Flow, proceeded to Fair Island
Channel and then patrolled between the Shetlands and the Faroes. Destroyers
AFRIDI, MAORI and NUBIAN departed Rosyth and swept north at 25 knots.
DELHI on Northern Patrol were to
concentrate 10 miles 180° from Myggenoes Light in the Faroes, where they were
joined by light cruisers
DRAGON which were
proceeding to patrol stations.
Submarines SEAHORSE, STURGEON, UNITY and L.23 departed
Blyth around midnight on the 12th/13th, SUNFISH
and SNAPPER departed Harwich on patrol, and SHARK, already on patrol, was
moved to a position off the mouth of the Jade River.
Convoy TC.1's only incident of the voyage occurred on
the 17th off Northern Ireland in 55-30N, 6-54W as the
convoy neared its destination. Outward-bound liner SAMARIA (19,597grt) entered the
eastbound convoy in fog and collided with aircraft carrier
away several antennas and lifeboats and grazing liner AQUITANIA. On arrival in the Clyde, FURIOUS and battlecruiser
REPULSE returned to the command of Admiral Forbes, who reached the
Clyde on the 17th after escorting
TC.1 into port.
DESTROYER MINELAYING OFF THE TYNE
HERMANN KÜNNE, FRIEDRICH IHN, ERICH
STEINBRINCK, RICHARD BEITZEN and BRUNO HEINEMANN laid the minefield off the
Tyne near Newcastle during the night of the
12th/13th. On the return, HEINEMANN had a fire in her turbine room and had to
stop, STEINBRINCK standing by, but she was able to restart and carry on.
Destroyers IHN and STEINBRINCK later suffered equipment defects and were
detached to Wilhelmshaven. Eleven Allied merchant
ships grossing 18,979 tons were sunk and destroyer KELLY and a large tanker
badly damaged in the field:
On the 13th, Belgian steamer
ROSA (1146grt) 6½ miles off the Tyne Breakwater; one crewman was
On the 13th, minesweeping trawler
WILLIAM HALLET (202grt, Skipper C W Hannant
RNR) 3½ miles ESE of St Mary's Light.; eight
crew went missing with the one survivor, First Fireman C Hobson,
picked up by trawler
BEN ARTHUR (201grt).
On the 14th, tankers
INVERLANE (9141grt) and ATHELTEMPLAR (8939grt) from convoy FN.54
were badly damaged at 1140 in 55‑05N, 01‑07W. INVERLANE lost 37
men from her crew of 40 and went ashore at Roker, near Whitburn Steel. The
forepart of the ship was refloated, towed to the
Tyne on the
17 December 1940 by fleet tug BANDIT, and later to
Scapa Flow where she was sunk as a
blockship on 30 May 1944. ATHELTEMPLAR lost two crew
and 38 were rescued, but survived to
be sunk in September 1942.
Destroyers MOHAWK and KELLY had departed the Tyne
earlier on the 14th to join sloop FLAMINGO which had been escorting FN.54
on anti-submarine patrol, and were dispatched to assist INVERLANE and
ATHELTEMPLAR 13 miles off the mouth of the Tyne.
At 1530/14th, minesweeping trawler
JAMES LUDFORD (506grt, Lt Cdr H R J
Lewis Rtd and Chief Skipper D Macarthur
RNR) was lost in the Tyne. There was only one
survivor, and both officers and 15 ratings were lost. Until JAMES LUDFORD was
mined, it was believed the damage to the tankers was caused by a submarine.
On arrival, KELLY herself struck a mine in 55-05N,
01-02.5W at 1617/14th which exploded just astern and damaged her propellers,
rudder and after spaces. She was taken in tow by MOHAWK, later relieved by a
tug which originally had been sent to tow ATHELTEMPLAR. Escort
vessel WOOLSTON and sloops
GRIMSBY and WESTON screened the
withdrawal. Captain Mountbatten, who led the 5th Destroyer Flotilla on KELLY,
transferred to sister ship KELVIN which had completed on 27 November and was
working up at
Portland. KELLY was repaired in the
Tyne by mid-February 1940, but on the day of her degaussing trials, was
involved in two minor collisions - with a tanker at the dock and while
backing off with a drifter in the channel - and did not return to duty until
Still on the 14th, auxiliary patrol trawler
EVELINA (202grt, Skipper J W Cowling
RNR) and anti-submarine trawler
SEDGEFLY (520grt, Chief Skipper R W
Stocks RNR) off the
Tyne. There were no survivors from either trawler,
EVELINA losing one officer and eight ratings and SEDGEFLY one officer and
On the 15th, Norwegian steamer
RAGNI (1264grt) in 55‑02N, 01‑12W; six crew went
missing and 13 survivors were rescued. Just 20 minutes after RAGNI, Norwegian
steamer H C FLOOD (1907grt) was
lost in 55‑02N, 01‑12W; four crew were lost and 17 survivors
On the 15th, Norwegian steamer
STRINDHEIM (321grt) in the
Tyne in 52-02N, 1-17.5W; nine
crew were lost and two survivors rescued.
On the 16th, steamer
AMBLE (1162grt) was badly damaged in 54‑52N, 00‑48W,
with 17 survivors rescued by escort vessel WALLACE. AMBLE
drifted ashore between Whitburn and
Sunderland, was refloated and towed to
Sunderland on the 25th, but later
On the 19th, Danish steamer
JYTTE (1877grt) 18 miles east of Souter, in the
ten crew were lost and
eight survivors picked up by Danish steamer AVANCE (1582grt).
Convoy FN.53 departed Southend, escorted by
destroyer WHITLEY and sloops FLAMINGO and STORK, and arrived in the
Tyne on the 13th.
Trawler VALERIA (189grt) reported sighting a
suspicious vessel near 5A Buoy off
Lowestoft, course ESE. Polish destroyer BLYSKAWICA
was dispatched to assist, but ordered to return to Harwich at daylight if no
contact was made.
The 20th Destroyer Flotilla was re-formed for
minelaying duties for the first time since the First World War.
Lt R H M Heriot-Hill, Petty Officer M Fortrum, Leading
Airman M McLoughlin (RAF) and Air Mechanic L Moorhead were killed when their
Walrus of 754 Squadron struck a balloon cable near
British minefield SC was laid on the 12th, 18th and
27th December, 16 January and 14 February by auxiliary minelayer
HAMPTON westward of Folkestone Gate.
Convoy OB.52 departed
Liverpool escorted by destroyers
WINDSOR and WALPOLE until the 14th. OA.52 did not sail.
Convoy FN.53, after being delayed a day by weather,
was escorted from the south by destroyer GREYHOUND with close escort by
escort vessel WHITLEY, sloops FLAMINGO and STORK. The convoy was
especially important as it included six tankers.
Russian submarine SC.322 damaged German steamer HELGA
BOGE (2181grt) with gunfire, four miles north of Revalstein.
U.13 laid mines off
Dundee in the Firth of Tay, on which
ship was sunk.
HEAD (496grt) was sunk 1/2 mile S of North Caister Buoy on a mine laid by
U.59 on the 5th; five crew were lost.
Swedish steamer TORO
(1467grt) was sunk on a mine 35 miles S of Copenhagen, off
Malmo between Trelleborg and
Falsterbo in 55‑20N, 13‑04E.
Convoy HX.12 departed
Halifax at 1000 escorted by Canadian
destroyers SAGUENAY and
SKEENA. At 1800/14th, they handed the convoy over to
an ocean escort consisting of French submarine PASTEUR which detached on the
20th, and armed merchant cruiser AUSONIA, which left on the 25th. PASTEUR was
joined by French large destroyer VALMY and sloop GAZELLE on the 23rd, and
later arrived at
Brest. Destroyers WANDERER and
WALKER escorted the convoy from the 24th to 27th, when it arrived at Liverpool on the 27th.
Convoy SLF.12 departed
Freetown escorted by armed merchant
cruiser CILICIA and arrived at Liverpool on the 25th.
Allied Hunter Groups in the
South Atlantic were disposed late on the
12th as follows:
Force G - Heavy cruiser
EXETER, light cruiser
AJAX and the New Zealand
off the Uruguay coast near Rio de la Plata.
Force H - Heavy cruisers
SHROPSHIRE sweeping off the west coast
Force I - Aircraft carrier
EAGLE, heavy cruiser
CORNWALL, light cruiser
GLOUCESTER arrived at Durban on the 12th, low on fuel,
after chasing into the
Indian Ocean on a false raider report.
EAGLE and GLOUCESTER were expected to need a week
to boiler clean at Simonstown.
Force K - Aircraft carrier
ROYAL and battlecruiser RENOWN in the Pernambuco area.
Force X - Aircraft carrier
HERMES, French heavy
cruisers DUPLEIX, FOCH, and British destroyers HARDY, HOSTILE and HERO were north of
St Paul Rocks. British light cruiser NEPTUNE joined Force X on the 12th.
Additionally, heavy cruiser
CUMBERLAND was in the Falklands, boiler cleaning and
refitting on short notice. Sister ship
DORSETSHIRE was at Simonstown,
preparing to relieve heavy cruiser EXETER on the South America
SEVERN was halfway between
St Helena and Bahia en route to the Falklands,
and sister CLYDE approaching Dakar.
Submarine SALMON on patrol 130 miles W of Jutland in
the North Sea in 56-47N, 4-00E sighted German light cruisers KÖLN, NÜRNBERG
LEIPZIG at 1036 while they were covering the five German destroyers returning
from the minelaying mission off the Tyne. She fired six torpedoes at 1124,
hitting LEIPZIG amidships with two torpedoes
and NÜRNBERG with one. At 1357, the cruisers were joined by destroyers
HERMANN KÜNNE, RICHARD BEITZEN and BRUNO HEINEMANN of the Tyne force, two F-boats and four M-boats.
After she got home,
LEIPZIG was laid up for a time and
decommissioned for repairs on 27 February 1940 which did not complete until
1 December 1940. Even then, she did not
return to active duty and with some guns removed and a maximum speed of 22 knots,
was relegated to training duties. NÜRNBERG's bow was blown off and her
repairs were not completed until late May 1940.
The following destroyers proceeded to carry out
anti-submarine patrols - AFRIDI, MAORI and NUBIAN from Rosyth in 56-15N, 3-30E;
JERVIS, JUNO, JANUS, JAGUAR and JUPITER of D.7 from the Humber in
54-55N, 3-10E; and eight ships of D.1 from Harwich in 53-30N, 3-00E.
Destroyer KELLY departed Rosyth to relieve destroyer
BASILISK escorting destroyer depot ship WOOLWICH in 57-08N, 1-53W.
Escort ship WOOLSTON departed Rosyth to
search for a submarine reported by aircraft. It was found to be the Polish
WILK, and WOOLSTON returned.
SOUTHAMPTON and EDINBURGH departed Rosyth and arrived at
Scapa Flow later the same day.
COLOMBO departed Scapa Flow on Northern Patrol duties
and arrived back on the 18th.
Destroyer DUNCAN departed the
Clyde escorting steamer DUFFIELD
(8516grt) to Liverpool, and arrived back on the 14th.
Destroyer VANITY, which departed Rosyth on the 12th
for the Humber, was in a collision in the
North Sea with steamer WELSH TRADER
(4974grt) in convoy FS.54. VANITY was able to continue to the Humber where she received emergency
repairs. She left on the 17th for permanent repairs and conversion to an
escort ship at
Plymouth, arriving on the 19th.
Convoy FN.54 departed Southend, escorted by
destroyer WALLACE and sloops PELICAN and
HASTINGS, and arrived in the Tyne on the 14th.
Convoy FS.54 departed the
Tyne, escorted by destroyers
VALOROUS, VIVIEN and sloop BITTERN, arriving at Southend on the 14th.
There was no convoy FS.55 as it was delayed by fog and later cancelled.
CAPE SIROTOKO (590grt) attacked a submarine
contact five miles 170° from Portland Bill.
Patrol sloop PINTAIL attacked a submarine contact
seven miles 164° from Portland Bill.
Anti-submarine trawler LADY ELSA (518grt) attacked a
submarine contact six miles NNE of Kentish Knock. A destroyer stood by at the
U.38 sank steamer
(4104grt) ¼ mile NNW of Honningsvaag. Thirty one crew were lost, with four
survivors picked up by Norwegian patrol boat FIRDA and one more by Norwegian
steamer NORDNORGE (991grt).
U.57 sank Soviet steamer
ASHKHABAD (1173grt, formerly Estonian
MINA as she is usually identified) off Cross Sand.
Swedish steamer ALGOL (978grt) was damaged on a mine
in 55‑19N, 12‑28E. Six of the crew were rescued.
BATTLE OF THE RIVER
AJAX (Flagship Commodore Harwood,
Captain C H L Woodhouse), New Zealand light cruiser
(Captain W E Parry) and heavy cruiser
EXETER (Captain F S Bell)
encountered German pocket battleship ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE off Rio de la Plata in 34‑28S, 49‑05W.
The battle began at 0620 and in a short engagement, EXETER was wrecked by SPEE's
gunfire and forced to retire at 0729 in a near sinking condition to the Falklands where she arrived on the
EXETER received four 11in hits with Lt Cdr J
Bowman-Manifold, Act/Sub Lt C A L Morse, Paymaster Sub Lt D H Tyler, Captain H
R D Woods RM and fifty six ratings killed, and Captain Bell, Py/Ty/Paymaster
Sub Lt J E Causton RNVR, Act/Gunner (T) T J Lynn, Paymaster Midshipman L de N W
Penn-Gaskell and twenty ratings wounded.
AJAX had two of her four turrets
put out of action and ACHILLES fired 1240 rounds of 6 inch ammunition, almost
her entire stock.
AJAX had seven ratings killed and
two wounded, and ACHILLES four ratings killed and three crew wounded.
Damage to ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE, both material
and psychological, caused her captain to turn away and head for Montevideo
for repairs in that port. Thirty seven crew had been killed and 57 wounded.
She arrived in
Montevideo very early on the 14th,
followed closely by
AJAX and ACHILLES which
immediately took up blockade of that port against SPEE's departure.
British Force H with heavy cruisers
SHROPSHIRE arrived at Capetown for
refuelling before setting off for
Rio de la Plata. Allied Force X with
HERMES and French heavy cruisers FOCH and DUPLEIX arrived at
Dakar for refuelling, also before setting off for
Rio de la Plata. In night flying operations
off Dakar on the 16th, Lt B E Coombs was killed when his
Swordfish of 814 Squadron from HERMES ditched at sea. The pilot and air
gunner were rescued.
DOUGLAS and VIDETTE departed Gibraltar to conduct a night-time
patrol off Cadiz.
Australian light cruiser
SYDNEY, escorting liner STRATHALLAN (23,722grt) with the 2nd Australian Imperial Force to the Middle
East, was relieved by Australian light cruiser
ADELAIDE which continued the
escort round the Leeuwin Promontory before returning to Fremantle.
SYDNEY arrived at Sydney on the 18th for a refit that
lasted from then until the 5 January.
Submarine REGULUS departed
Hong Kong on the 13th and patrolled
off the Soviet Pacific port of Vladivostok to check if U-boats were
using it. She spent Christmas Day in Bosfor Vostochny Strait, the channel leading to
Vladivostok and reported "The
patrol was disappointing. No German merchant ships were sighted", before
arriving back on 4 January.
At 1131, six miles SW of Heligoland, submarine URSULA
made contact with the German cruiser force which SALMON had attacked and
damaged the day before. URSULA fired four torpedoes at light cruiser
LEIPZIG which missed and hit escort
ship F.9 sinking her with heavy
casualties. Destroyer RICHARD BEITZEN rescued fifteen survivors. Submarine
SHARK was ordered into the Bight and at 1045/14th, sighted a light cruiser
and four destroyers in 54-01N, 7-46E, but was unable to attack. A further
attempt was made on the 18th when RAF Coastal Command bombers were sent to
attack German warships in the Heligoland Bight and around Schillig Roads and
Wilhelmshaven. However nothing was
accomplished and the bomber force suffered heavy losses.
SUFFOLK arrived at the Clyde.
The 20th Destroyer Flotilla was formed with destroyer
EXPRESS (SO), ESK, IVANHOE, INTREPID, IMPULSIVE and ICARUS.
and ECLIPSE arrived at Rosyth.
Anti-submarine trawler LORD WAKEFIELD (418grt)
attacked a submarine contact off
Convoy OA.53 departed Southend escorted by sloop
ENCHANTRESS from the 14th to 16th when it dispersed. Destroyer
WHITEHALL from convoy SL.11 joined
from the 15th to 16th.
Convoy OB.53 departed
Liverpool escorted by destroyers
WINCHELSEA and VANOC until the 17th, when the convoy dispersed.
Destroyers WINCHELSEA and VANOC attacked a submarine
contact five miles NW of Holyhead. Destroyer WARWICK joined the search at
Destroyer GRENADE attacked a submarine contact 12
miles 172° from Portland Bill. Destroyers VEGA and WHITSHED joined to assist.
Armed merchant cruiser
CALIFORNIA went ashore at Farland
Minelayer PRINCESS VICTORIA departed
Portsmouth at 2100/14th for minelaying
Operation GF (a line 6.1 miles long in a direction of 009° from 51-48.8N,
2-19.1E) escorted by destroyers EXPRESS and ESK. They were joined off Dover by destroyers BASILISK and
BOREAS and the field was laid at 1130/15th. PRINCESS VICTORIA, EXPRESS and ESK,
escorted by destroyers CODRINGTON and BRAZEN laid another line on
German torpedo boats JAGUAR and SEEADLER operated in
the Skagerrak from the 14th to 16th, and
captured six merchant ships carrying contraband before returning to port.
British Force I, consisting of aircraft carrier
heavy cruiser CORNWALL and light cruiser
GLOUCESTER which had arrived at
Durban on the 12th, put to sea on the 14th when it was reported that pocket
battleship ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE was in Montevideo harbour. However, after a few
hours steaming, the force was recalled for escort duty in the
Indian Ocean and arrived back at Durban on the 15th.
CUMBERLAND (Captain W H G Fallowfield),
cutting short a refit in the Falkland Islands, joined cruisers
ACHILLES off Montevideo at 2200/14th.
French Force Z of battleship
LORRAINE, light cruisers JEAN DE
VIENNE and MARSEILLAISE, departed Halifax escorting French steamers
INDOCHINOIS (6500grt), LOUIS L D (5795grt), JEAN L D (5795grt), and British CITY OF PRETORIA (8046grt)
carrying aircraft for France. Destroyers MAILLÉ BRÉZÉ,
KERSAINT, VAUBAN and BISON departed Casablanca and joined the convoy at
1050/22nd, and TEMPÊTE, TYPHON and TORNADE, also from Casablanca joined at 0815/23rd. At
0650/24th, Force Z escorted by MAILLÉ BRÉZÉ, KERSAINT, VAUBAN and ALBATROS left
the convoy to the other destroyers, which accompanied it to Casablanca, and then proceeded to Oran arriving at 1000/25th. Force
Z reached Toulon at 0800/27th.
Australian light cruiser
PERTH departed Kingston on patrol duties, and
arrived back on the 31st.
DESTRUCTION OF GERMAN LINER COLUMBUS
German liner COLUMBUS
(32,581grt) departed Vera Cruz,
American destroyers BENHAM (DD.397), LANG (DD.399),
JOUETT (DD.396) and BAGLEY (DD.386) were stationed off Vera Cruz to watch for
German merchant ships there. When
COLUMBUS set out, LANG and JOUETT
immediately began screening her. Meanwhile Australian light cruiser
PERTH was stationed in the Yucatan
Channel screened by American heavy cruiser VINCENNES (CA.44) and destroyers
EVANS (DD.78) and TWIGGS (DD.127) of the 64th Destroyer Division.
On the 16th, destroyers PHILIP (DD.76, LCDR E F Crowe)
and LEA (DD.118, LCDR Franklin W Slavin,
LEA was the flagship of
Commander Destroyer Squadron 32) relieved JOUETT and LANG as COLUMBUS sailed north along the US coast.
On the 17th, destroyers COLE (DD.155, LCDR P F Dugan)
and ELLIS (DD.154, LCDR T G Peyton) of the 60th Destroyer Division relieved
PHILIP and LEA. At 2000/17th, French tanker SHEHERAZADE (13,467grt)
reported COLUMBUS in 30-25N, 79-31W steering
On the 18th, American destroyers UPSHUR (DD.144) and
GREER (DD.145) of the 61st Destroyer Division relieved COLE and ELLIS.
On the 19th, American heavy cruiser TUSCALOOSA (CA.37,
CAPT H A Badt) and destroyer BABBITT (DD.128) of the 53rd Destroyer Division,
which had departed Norfolk on the 16th, relieved UPSHUR and GREER.
On the 19th, off
Cape May, off the southeast tip of
New Jersey in 40-17N, 71-05W, COLUMBUS was challenged by British
destroyer HYPERION which had departed Bermuda and was led to
COLUMBUS by plain language radio
reports from the US ships. She scuttled herself
and the 597 man crew was picked up by TUSCALOOSA and BABBITT. HYPERION left
the rescue to the American ships and arrived back at Bermuda on the 22nd.
On the 14th, German steamer
ARAUCA (4354grt) departed Vera Cruz. She was trailed
by American destroyer TRUXTON (DD.229) of the 56th Destroyer Division, making
plain language reports which alerted French warships in the area. Also
alerted by three American naval patrol aircraft, light cruiser
had departed Bermuda on the 9th and had been patrolling near
Nassau, intercepted her at
Florida. However, ARAUCA reached American waters and
that afternoon, a boarding party from American destroyer PHILIP (DD.76, LCDR
E F Crowe) of the 64th Destroyer Division went aboard and checked her. Later
that day, ARAUCA moored in Port Everglades. ORION, joined by destroyer HEREWARD,
patrolled for a time offshore, but
ARAUCA never sailed again under the
German flag. She was taken over by the American authorities in August 1941
and on 20 April 1942, was commissioned as USS