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CONVOY HG 51 Report
Departed Gibraltar on Jan. 17-1941 and arrived Liverpool on Febr. 4

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Summary of Report of Proceedings - Convoy HG 51
From The Commanding Officer of HMS Folkestone to Captain "D", Liverpool
Dated Febr. 4-1941
Received from Tony Cooper. (His source: Public Records Office, Kew).

Further details have been added with the help of:
"The Allied Convoy System" Arnold Hague
"Convoy Rescue Ships 1940-1945", Arnold Hague
"The World's Merchant Fleets", R. W. Jordan.
"Lloyd's War Losses", Vol I & Vol. II.

Jan. 17-1941:
14:30 - The convoy departed Gibraltar.

Jan. 18:
08:15 - HMS Firedrake joined in 35 42N 06 57W.

Jan. 19:
10:40 - Boarded the Portuguese trawler Alcatraz in 35 27N 10 38W.

Jan. 20:
By daylight, Neva had fallen well astern and never rejoined the convoy after that.
21:05 - Firedrake left in 35 29N 13 06W.

Jan. 23:
10:00 - The convoy was due to rendezvous with Convoy SLS 62* at this time, but the convoy was well astern due to southwesterly gale. A search carried out by Folkestone that afternoon proved fruitless.

* Arnold Hague lists no Convoy SLS 62. There was however, a Convoy SL 62, which had left Freetown on Jan. 10-1941 and arrived Liverpool on Febr. 3. This convoy is available at the last external link below (note that Hedera, which Folkestone's Commander says was missing from SLS 62 further down in his report, is not included in SL 62 on the site, nor is Chulmleigh, mentioned as being in the SL portion further down on this page - Olympier, however, is included. (SL 62 had more than the 8 or 9 ships indicated in Folkestone's report, so perhaps there was a slow portion, Convoy SLS 62 afterall?).

Jan. 24:
14:20 - A multi engined flying boat passed overhead in approximate position 39 08N 19 21W, on approx. course 270°.

Jan. 25:
09:30 - HMS Deptford (to westward) was sighted and spoken to, position 40 55N 19 55W. This ship belonged to the OG convoy going in the other direction (possibly OG 50, which had left Liverpool for Gibraltar on Jan. 16).
11:30 - A search for SLS 62 resulted in sighting it and closing at
16:02 - 8 ships, Hedera having been absent since Jan. 20.
18:00 - Estimated position of HG 51: 41 16N 20 45W - Convoy SLS 62, 27 miles 235° from HG 51.
19:50 - Folkestone rejoined HG 51.

Jan. 26:
10:40 - Proceeded astern and re-established contact with SLS 62, 16 miles astern of HG 51.
15:00 - Returned to HG 51.
15:30 - Convoy turned to southward and at
17:30 - The two portions joined in approximate position 42 53N 20 49W (8 ships from SLS 62 and 13 ships of HG 51).

Jan. 27:
At daylight, Pacific and Homeside were missing, following a gale during the night. Avoceta reported coal situation becoming serious.

Jan. 28:
That morning, signals were intercepted from Homeside*, stating she was making water and abandoning ship in 43 52N 18 40W (about 245 miles astern).
Noon - Pacific was seen 5 miles astern, while Glenlea and Chulmleigh were 10 miles astern.

* Homeside, on a voyage from Pepel for Middlesbrough with 7100 tons of iron ore, is listed as having departed Freetown on Jan. 8-1941. She had a crew of 35 and 2 gunners. The message mentioned above was the last heard from the ship. Officially posted as missing on March 19, "arbitrator decided Marine Loss". Note that a casualty list for this ship is available from Mike Holdoway's page about SL 62 - link at the end of this text.

Jan. 29:
Chulmleigh was still 8 miles astern that afternoon, and never rejoined, but Pacific and Glenlea had now caught up.

Jan. 30:
09:15 - HMS Tulip joined in 52 33N 19 48W.
15:30 - HMS Volunteer and the Rescue Vessel Toward* joined in 52 57N 18 50W.
18:30 - Selene was now 5 miles astern, having stopped earlier with N.U.C. (Not Under Control) balls flying.

* Toward, requisitioned on Dec. 14-1940, was on her first voyage as Rescue Vessel, having started this voyage from Clyde on Jan. 26-1941 with the U.K.-Gibraltar Convoy OG 51 - detached Jan. 29, then returned to Clyde with HG 51.

Jan. 31:
At daylight, Glenlea, Baron Tweedmouth and Taberg were 3 miles astern, while Selene and Salamaua could not be seen, and never rejoined.
P.M. - Signal was received regarding HMS Egret and HMS Londonderry joining at dark. Estimated position of convoy was 15-18 miles to the southeastward of line. Volunteer was despatched to search to the northwestward with instructions to return by dark. An attempt was made to establish contact on Manoeuvring Wave, but without success.

Febr. 2:
06:00 - Toward picked up survivors from the Belgian Olympier* from an open boat burning distress flares, approximate position 55 30N 09 10W.
11:45 - HMS Egret joined in 55 30N 07 57W.
12:00 - Oban portion parted company in 55 30N 07 59W, escorted by Tulip.
At approx 19:40, Egret left off Islay.
During the night, the Clyde portion, escorted by Volunteer, the Belfast ships and ships bound for Barrow, Preston and Workington left the convoy as planned.

* Olympier, on a voyage from Durban for Immingham with 6502 tons of iron ore and 293 tons of calcium carbide, had been bombed by German aircraft when 250 miles southwest of Ireland on Jan. 30-1941, after having become detached from Convoy SL 62. Attacked again the next day and sunk. 8 died, 19 survivors were rescued (Arnold Hague says 20 men were picked up from the boat, which had initially been sighted by an escort).

Febr. 3:
"About 12 hours had to be wasted so as not to enter the 20 fathom line off Liverpool in the dark". Therefore, 2 ships for the Bristol Channel, both 11 knots ships, were sent ahead at 10:30 and estimated time of arrival at rendezvous 53 48N 05 08W amended accordingly.

Febr. 4:
Entered Liverpool Swept Channel.

General remarks:
"Commodore of SL portion stated in reply to a signal that the advertised speed of Chulmleigh was 8 knots, but she had never done more than 7 knots in the finest weather. She is listed as a 10 knot ship in C.A.F.O. 585/40.
The station keeping of Glenlea was bad. She was generally astern, but when "up" would wander out to the side clear of the wing column.
Apart from above station keeping generally was good considering the amount of adverse weather experienced. The convoy was considerably effected both as regards speed and leeway by wind and sea".

Lieutenant Commander
Name elligible, looks like A. Churchill, who says this was the last HG convoy he escorted home, having started out as escort for Convoy HG 41 in Aug.-1940.

The Captain "D", Liverpool has added his comments to this report on Febr. 8, as follows:
"It is requested that Chulmleigh's speed may be further investigated, and her nominal speed altered if necessary. It is alo suggested that the bad station keeping of Glenlea and Neva may be brought to the notice of the owners".

Signature illegible

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Related external links:
HG (& SL) Convoys - In chronological order.

See also Mike Holdoway's website about the
SL convoys - He also has a section on the OS convoys, going in the other direction. They can be reached via the main page.

HMS Firedrake

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To the next HG convoy in my list HG 52


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