The convoy left Girbraltar at 17:30, steering for a point 5 miles south of Carnero Point - speed 6 knots at 19:00 when convoy was forming up, increased to 7 1/2 knots at 20:05, zig-zagging from 20:23. However, at 21:10, zig-zagging had to be stopped, "owing to strange ship trying to pass through convoy". "The stranger, with Swiss colours on his side, now turned and steamed West between two of our lines, but at 22:00 the stranger turned again and, after making a whistle signal, managed to get round, though some confusion was caused in our ranks by the turn. Immediately after this the Convoy arrived at a point where the waters were covered with lighted buoys and fishing craft. By the time that we had passed through these fleets the moon had set".
At 00:20, Aug. 12 course was altered to 263°, Cape Spartel abeam 5 miles. The weather was fine, with a moderate to fresh wind and slight sea. At daylight, Fenja was found to be missing (44 ships present).
At 10:56 that morning Gothland signalled that a deserter from the Royal Artillery had been discovered stowed away on board. This was reported to the escorting Velox, who in turn was to notify Gibraltar. The stowaway was to be handed over to Military Authorities "at home".
At 11:00 Gwalia was found to have fallen astern with engine problems, and Velox went to investigate.
Noon position: 35 42N 07 33W.
Distance from Carnero Point: 106 miles.
Average speed: 6.25 knots.
Bar.: 30.23, air temp 72°.
Weather was fine and clear, with fresh northwesterly wind and moderate sea, but at 17:00 sea and swell were increasing. By this time Gwalia was back in her station, but the Swedish Neva was now falling astern.
Speed was reduced to 7 knots at 20:37, in view of the sea and swell.
At 07:20, Aug. 13 course was altered to 276°. Convoy was rather stretched out at this time, but Neva could be seen on the horizon astern.
Noon position: 35 28N 10 54W.
Distance: 166 miles.
Average speed: 6.92 knots.
Bar.: 30.27, air temp 76°, wind N.N.W. 5-6.
Rough sea and swell, causing many of the ships to roll heavily and ship water. Neva was still far astern.
At daybreak the next day (06:24, Aug. 14) Neva was almost "hull down", and at 08:00 that morning Fendris was starting to fall behind. About 45 minutes later, the Dutch Jan Drons* signalled that a doctor was required, and HMS Velox dropped astern, later signalling that the chief engineer on the Dutch ship had had his thumb stitched and dressed by Velox' doctor, and no further attention was needed.
Noon position: 35 45N 14 04W.
Distance: 160 miles.
Average speed: 6.6 knots.
Bar.: 30.27, air temp 74°. Rough sea and swell. Neva was no longer in sight.
At 17:00 however, Fendris was rapidly coming back into station.
At 20:00 that night course was altered to 306°.
Many ships were labouring and rolling heavily in the rough sea, but fortunately, Ariosto "is a grand ship and being laden with cork, is very comfortable. We are all being well looked after here and despite war anxiety, I am comparatively happy".
* The Commodore calls this ship Jan Bronn, while it's listed as Jan Drons in the Advance Sailing Telegram.
Course was altered again to 329° at 10:00 on Aug. 15.
Noon position: 36 52N 16 46W.
Distance: 151 miles.
Average speed: 6.25 knots.
Bar: 30.27, air 73°. Moderate to rough sea and swell, wind N.E. 5.
Ships still labouring and shipping water, but when the wind appeared to decrease during the afternoon the Commodore decided to increase speed to 7 1/2 knots. This signal was made at 17:00, but by 18:30 the slower ships were falling astern so the speed had to be reduced to 7 knots. Due to zig-zag, this meant an actual speed of under 6 1/2 knots. (As can be seen from the cruising order on Page 1, many of the ships in this convoy were very small).
At 22:00 that night, the local escort from Gibraltar, HMS Velox, parted company.
Wind freshened and sea and swell were heavier during the following night, and at dayligh of Aug. 16 the convoy was spread out to leeward, but the ships soon regained their correct stations.
The Chief Telegraphist had made frequent reports of radio oscillation in the convoy and at 11:02 the Commodore made a signal regarding this offence, using international code, signalling "Urgent. Cease Radio Interference".
Noon position: 39 07N 18 27W.
Distance: 157 miles.
Average speed: 6.5 knots.
Bar.: 30:27, air temp. 74°. Fresh northeasterly wind and rough sea. All ships labouring heavily and shipping water.
An attempt was made at 13:55 to increase speed to 7 1/2 knots, but had to be reduced to 7 knots at 16:52, because near ships were straggling. Due to the time lost because of the weather, the Commodore suggested that zig-zagging should be eliminated that night, and the Senior Officer in HMS Folkestone concurred. It was hoped that some of the lost time would be made up in this way, so that they might be able to meet the local escort on time.
A 2 masted schooner was sighted at 20:00 that night.
At 20:30, when in 40 00N 19 00W, course was altered to 354°, 7 knots. Fresh wind and rough sea with heavy northeasterly swell.
Wind and sea increased in force and height during the night leading up to Aug. 17, the sea being very heavy at daylight.
At 09:40 Empire Tern hoisted a signal saying her steering gear was disabled and she was obliged to stop engines, adding that damage could be repaired in two hours; by 11:00 she was out of sight.
Noon position: 41 36N 19 17W.
Distance: 155 miles.
Average speed: 6.45 knots.
Bar.: 30.35, air temp. 72°, wind force 6. Rough sea and steep swell.
Many of the ships were deeply laden with ore cargoes and had a hard time. The Polish Wilno frequently fell astern. The weather continued to be wild and threatening and the Commodore again signalled Folkstone that they should cease zig-zagging at dark, which they did at 21:45.
The weather improved somewhat during the night leading up to Aug. 18, though there was still a fresh northeasterly wind and rough sea.
Zig-zagging resumed at 06:30, and at daylight Empire Tern was spotted on the horizon astern, rapidly coming up. However, Mansuria was now well astern, having gradually dropped behind during the last 24 hours. The sky was heavily clouded, wind fresh, but sea moderating later that morning.
Noon position: 44 16N 19 32W.
Distance: 161 miles.
Average speed: 6.7 knots.
Bar.: 30.44, air temp. 72°, Wind N.E. 5. Sky overcast, sea moderate to rough.
Empire Tern was back in station by 12:50 that day, as leader of column 3.
During the night leading up to Aug. 19 the wind had fallen away and the sea and swell had died down. With the exception of Mansuria and Wilno, the ships were in good formation at daybreak.
At 08:29 destination signal was received from Folkestone that the following changes had been made:
Pacific - for Grangemouth (originally Glasgow)
Ariosto - for Barrow (originally Liverpool)
Fendris - for Bristol (originally Dublin?)
Spero - for London (originally Clyde)
Spero signalled that she had to obtain bunkers before proceeding to London, so would go to Ardrossan, together with Caverock and Gothland.
At 10:23 speed was reduced to 7 knots, so as not to arrive at the rendezvous too early, as the convoy was now steaming too rapidly.
Altered course at 11:00 (006°).
At 11:57 a signal was received from Auk stating that she had been in collision with Wrotham the previous night, due to the latter being well astern of her station. Some damages had resulted, but not serious. As a result of this signal the Commodore placed Wrotham in station 35 instead of the original 33. It looks like he had had this ship in a previous convoy as well (OG 38 from Liverpool to Gibraltar), because he says she was a very bad station keeper at that time. He signalled her several times and on one occasion found her many miles astern and to starboard at daybreak. "When I signalled her regarding this lapse, I received an impertinent reply by daylight lamp as follows: 'Why don't you get on to 32'. In Gibraltar I spoke to the Master of the Wrotham about his bad station keeping and he merely persisted in useless argument and blaming other ships. He then admitted that there was no zig zag clock in his ship. I instructed him to obtain one. He said his Owners would not sanction the cost. Finally I had an order made out by the ? for the man to get a clock. On sailing day he said that he had failed to get one. I am convinced that the S.S. Wrotham was to blame for the collision last night, and I consider the Master, S. Davies, unsatisfactory".
Noon position: 47 14N 19 50W.
Distance: 179 miles.
Average speed: 7.45 knots.
Bar.: 30:52, air temp 72° - wind N.N.E., slight sea.
Pacific was instructed to move to station 13 that afternoon (Neva's original station).
The convoy was now ahead of schedule, so a signal was made to Folkestone suggesting speed should be reduced to 6 1/2 knots during the night hours, but Folkestone considered it better to keep present speed.
Unfortunately, the rest of the narrative is missing...
Page 1 - Cruising Order