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CONVOY HG 61 - Page 2
Advance Sailing Telegram

Received from Tony Cooper - His source: Public Records Office, Kew.

Summary of Commodore Avery's Narrative of Voyage

May 6-1941:
In calm and clear weather, Convoy HG 61 left Gibraltar, less Mauritz, Urania and South Wales, the latter delayed while awaiting fresh water - joined at 18:00 same day. (Mauritz and Urania are listed in the next convoy, HG 62).

May 7:
Wind freshening N.W.
10:30-11:00 - The submarine (Dutch O 21) dived for trim.
Diversive steering was commenced after dusk and carried out every night throughout the voyage.

May 8:
Strong N.W. wind with rough sea and heavy swell. As there was only a small number of kites in the convoy, it was decided to conserve these until more dangerous areas were reached.

May 9:
Firing practice with A.A. armament was carried out.

May 10:
10:30-11:00 - O 21 dived for trim.
19:22 - The corvette Geranium, on the starboard quarter, hoisted Black Contact pendant in 36 23N 18 19W, and emergency turn to port was immediately carried out.
19:28 - The pendant was hauled down, and at
19:36 - the convoy resumed course.
20:09 - Cape Corso hoisted pendant 2 (in 36 33N 18 22W), emergency turn to starboard carried out.
20:14 - Marklyn, the rear ship in the port wing column, opened fire; escorts searching on the port quarter.
20:40 - HMS Jonquil reported that the object sighted was a wooden mast.
20:41 - Resumed mean course by emergency turn.

May 11:
09:30 - An unnamed American tanker, bound for Lisbon, was met in 37 54N 19 14W.
Strong southerly wind, moderate sea.
12:00 - A Portuguese barquentine, towing a small boat was sighted, 38 17N 19 30W.

May 12:
Strong southerly wind, with rough sea and heavy rain and poor visibility all day, clearing at sunset.
21:30 - Local Escort left (named on Page 1).

May 13:
06:00 - The submarine parted company.
07:40 - HMS Hilary with Italian prize Gianna M joined the convoy.
10:30 - Convoy was reorganized, and the captain of South Wales was appointed Commodore for after Aguila's dispersal to Clyde.
17:00 - Very heavy rain showers.

May 14:
Bright moonlight illuminating the ships, making them show up brilliantly.
10:00 - An attempt was made to fly kites, but due to weather conditions, this order had to be cancelled at 13:15.
11:30 - HMS Cavina and HMS Corinthian joined. Very heavy rain and freshening wind.
Noon - HMS Hilary left, but later rejoined.
17:00 - HMS Hilary parted company. Strong wind with rough sea and showers.

May 15:
07:15 - Passed to HMS Sandwich time of arrival at rendezvous 9 1/2 hours late.
07:40 - Sandwich reported above W/T.
08:00 - Fresh N.E. winds. Kites were ordered to be flown.
16:00 - Clock advanced 1 hour to M.S.T.
19:30 - HMS Legion joined, 49 53N 21 31W.
20:30 - Wind falling - negatived kites.

May 16:
Light southerly wind.
08:00 - Kites were ordered flown, but due to lack of wind they would not rise.
16:00 - Another unsuccessful attempt at flying kites.
16:15 - A friendly aircraft was sighted (52 11N 21 16W).
16:47 - Local Escort sighted.
17:45 - Local Escort joined. Intentions for the night was passed to the Senior Officer of the escort. Rescue Ship Zaafaran joined later.
19:00 - Change of route was received from the Senior Officer of Escort.
22:50 - The corvette on the starboard quarter hoisted Black Contact pendant.
22:58 - Emergency turn to port carried out.
23:04 - Contact pendant hauled down, and at
23:08 - mean course was resumed.

May 17:
07:30 - Fresh westerly wind and showery. Ordered kites to be flown but order had to be negatived as they would not rise in the falling wind.
09:00 - Friendly aircraft sighted ("Lerwick"?).
21:40 - HMS Reading joined.
21:41 - HMS Vanquisher ahead hoisted contact pendant, 53 34N 15 58W.
21:49 - HMS Winchelsea ahead hoisted contact pendant and HMS Vanquisher hauled down.
21:54 - Emergency turn 40° to starboard.
21:57 - HMS Vanquisher hoisted contact pendant.
22:04 - Pendant hauled down.
22:15 - Winchelsea astern hauled down contact pendant.
22:20 - Mean course resumed by emergency turn.
22:29 - The corvette on the starboard beam hoisted contact pendant.
22:30 - Emergency turn 40° to port.
22:31 - Corvette hauled down contact pendant.
22:32 - HMS Sandwich, on the port beam, hoisted cone over red flag.
22:34 - Mean course was resumed by emergency turn to starboard.
22:35 - Depth charges were heard to port.
22:36 - HMS Sandwich hauled down signal.

May 18:
Strong N.W. wind, moderate sea. Ordered kites to be flown but 2 were lost; Aguila's, Baron Stranraer's, and later Cape Corso's kite foundered.
08:45 - A Wellington aircraft flew over the convoy.
10:00 - Baron Yarborough's and Cape Corso's kites came down.
10:30 - A hostile aircraft was sighted, flying low from the eastward, passing down the convoy from ahead between columns 6 and 7.
10:33 - Bombs were dropped close to Fort Richepanse, and a stick of bombs, delayed action, fell close to Gianna M. The ships in columns 4, 5, 6, and 7 opened fire as soon as the plane came within range, as did the escorts, and it disappeared to the southward. The columns were then opened out to 5 cables apart. Fort Richepanse reported that damage from the cannon fire was not serious and no one was hurt, while Gianna M reported pump room flooded, and she was down slightly by the head; speed reduced by 1/2 knot.
10:45 - The friendly aircraft mentioned above appeared on the scene.
11:46 - Contact pendant hoisted by the corvette on the starboard beam and pendant 6 was hoisted by City of Lancaster astern. HMS Reading, on the port quarter, opened fire with A.A.
11:51 - Emergency turn 40° to port carried out.
12:09 - Contact pendant hauled down, and at
12:11 - mean course was resumed by emergency turn. The aircraft reported by City of Lancaster turned out to be a friendly Hudson.
16:58 - Enemy aircraft sighted on the starboard bow, proceeding across the convoy and dropping bombs on the port side. The escort and Marklyn opened fire.
17:15 - Black Contact pendant hoisted by HMS Winchelsea on the port beam, and at
17:16 - an emergency turn 40° to starboard was carried out.
17:39 - Winchelsea dropped depth charges, then at
17:40 - she hauled down the black pendant and at
17:42 - course was resumed.
City of Lancaster and Caverock had kites up througout the day.
23:53 - The convoy was attacked by enemy aircraft approaching from the starboard beam and flying across the convoy's course, using gunfire. The ships and escorts opened fire; the aircraft was last seen at 00:40 on the 19th.

Damage to ships following air attack on May 18:
South Wales - damage to bridge, 1 Naval Rating slightly injured.
Auk - bullet holes in rafts.
Lanahrone - slight damage.
Baron Cochrane - steam whistle damaged, out of action for sound signals, main mast? shot away.

May 19:
03:30 - Course was altered to 051°.
03:25 - A loud explosion was heard and seen on the starboard beam in 54 57N 11 10W.
03:30 - Emergency turn 40° to port carried out. Flares falling and light floats observed in the water.
03:57 - Star shells were being fired over the convoy from the starboard quarter.
04:43 - Emergency turn 40° to port carried out.
05:58 - HMS Vanquisher reported having 2 survivors from Empire Ridge on board, and Commodore Avery learnt that she had been attacked or mined when the explosion was heard at 03:25. At the time of the explosion, the sky was overcast and in the dark it was impossible to distinguish the other ships in the convoy, except those immediately abeam and astern. After persistent air attacks during the previous day and night it was difficult at the distance from the explosion to determine whether the explosion was a result of an attack by U-boat, aircraft or caused by a mine (Empire Ridge had, in fact been torpedoed by U-96 - see Page 1).
07:25 - Friendly aircraft sighted.
07:35 - Enemy aircraft sighted ahead in ?N 10 35W - reported by escort.
12:05 - 3 friendly aircraft in company.
12:20 - Up for split position.
15:10 - 2 aircraft left the convoy.
15:50 - 1 aircraft joined.
17:05 - City of Lancaster's kite dropped in the sea.
20:35 - Commenced reorganising the convoy.
21:45 - Convoy reorganised. Vanquisher reported putting the 2 rescued seamen from Empire Ridge on board HMS Legion.
23:00 - Oban portion was detached in ?N 08 00W. Entered North Channel in 2 columns.

May 20:
05:30 - Vanquisher and Winchelsea parted company in 55 31N 06 45W.
06:35 - The Rescue Vessel Zaafaran parted company in 55 31N 06 33W.
07:00 - HMS Cavina and Corinthian left in 55 25N 06 45W.
10:07 - Clyde portion detached, and the rest of the convoy proceeded, the captain of South Wales Commodore, 55 08N 05 48W.
10:19 - Baron Stranraer fired one round.
12:52 - Formed single line ahead for Clyde - 6 ships. Pilot boarded at 18:00 and the 6 ships arrived off Gourock at 19:20.

Related external links:
Dutch submarines of the O 21 class - Includes info on HNMS O 21.

See also this website
O 21

Back to Page 1

Back to Convoy Index

To the next HG convoy in my list HG 62


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