Thursday June 19-1941
Conference held in the office of the Naval Control Service in the Halifax Dockyard. The conference was addressed by Commander Oland, R.C.N., by the Captain of the A.M.C. HMS Maloja, and also by myself as Commodore. The usual instructions regarding Convoy Organisation and procedure were given.
Friday June 20th
Sailing of the Convoy was delayed five hours by Admiralty cable, as the route was altered and all ships had to be given new instructions.
At 12:30 I boarded the S/S Manchester Division, Captain H. Hancock. The Signal Staff were already on board.
At 15:15 we weighed anchor and proceeded,
16:00 - Passed Turtle Hd,
16:31 - Passed through Boom defence,
16:50 - Pilot disembarked,
17:00 - Proceeded at 6 knots,
17:20 - Passed Red Buoy. Set course 116 degrees,
18:50 - Reduced to 5 knots,
18:55 - A/C 081 degrees,
19:45 - Increased to 6 1/2 knots. Convoy now in formation 21 ships present. Cruiser HMS Maloja coming up into station between 4th and 5th columns. Local escorts present are HMCS Napanee and Dauphin Corvettes,
20:14 - Opened out Convoy to 5 cables.
Saturday June 21st
01:30 - Dense fog, sounding column numbers, heard ship blowing ahead of Convoy on port wing, ship must have cleared safely.
Noon position - 44 44N 60 58W. Distance 114 miles. Average speed 6.1 knots Bar: 30.01 steady, Air 55. Light airs smooth sea. Dense fog, have not seen Convoy since dusk last night.
14:55 - Heard ship's whistle right ahead, a ship passed down the column close to port of us, we could see her, and I hailed him to keep a steady course. The ship was towing a fog buoy. Another ship passed through the Convoy somewhere to starboard and a destroyer's whistle was heard. Must be a small Convoy outward bound, but it is disturbing. Fortunately all went well.
16:00 - Wind freshening at S.S.W. but fog as dense as ever. Bar: is falling slowly though.
18:45 - Fog began to lift and our ships to come into sight. Station keeping throughout the period of fog has been remarkably good, and now that we can see our ships, most of them are well up.
Have just received a signal from Halifax giving changes in the time of meeting the Bermuda section. I also received a corrected list of ships that sailed from Halifax. Two in the original list did not sail, while four other ships were added and are due to join up, if they can find us. Visibility is now up to four miles.
Sunday June 22nd
04:20 - In 45 00N 58 50W A number of ships from an outward bound Convoy came suddenly streaming through our columns. It was all most alarming, especially as the weather was not too clear, however, no accidents occurred. I dread to think what might have happened, especially if it had been dense fog. After all a ship lost in collision is just as great a loss as that of a ship torpedoed. In collision also two ships are involved with consequent loss or damage. The re-routing of our Convoy at the last moment was evidently the cause of this meeting. Also, it might be as well to warn Commodores, Escorts, and Masters of ships where they are likely to encounter other Convoys.
05:40 - A/C 094 degrees.
07:00 - A Stranaer flying boat in company.
08:00 - Flying boat informed Cruiser that Sydney ships were bearing 060 degrees 15 miles.
09:00 - 6.5 Kts.
09:14 - Cruiser left to make contact with Sydney ships.
09:30 - Norwgian ship Emma Bakke joined Convoy and took pennants 83.
Noon position - 44 58N 57 26W. Distance 146 miles. Av. Spd. 6.8 Kts. Total distance from port 260 miles. Bar: 29.73 Air 49, Fresh S.W. Wind, Mod Sea, low visibility.
13:05 - Cruiser reports Sydney ships now bearing 043 degrees 21 miles. Expect that they will join Convoy this evening about 20:00.
17:00 - Ship Kastor which has been absent from Convoy all day rejoined and resumed station, pennants No. 12. This ship must have got lost in the fog.
18:45 - Made R.V. position for the 24th.
20:30 - The Sydney ships are now in company on the port bow of Convoy. The light is failing but they have had their instructions through the Cruiser, who also gave them the R.V. for the 24th.
Monday June 23rd
Weather fine, but hazy. At daylight a number of ships were in sight, but the majority were in the mist, decided from soundings, that Convoy is south of track. Signalled escort Cruiser and stated that we were south, Cruiser agreed.
06:12 - A/C 082 degrees. Also signalled the alteration to be made at 14:00 Viz: 071, by signalling ships that we can see and asking them to signal ships beyond our range of visibility owing to haze, now find that nine Sydney ships joined, and that there is also another ship present, which I think must be Luculus. Have arranged pennant numbers for all ships from Sydney and have asked the Cruiser to go round the Convoy and notify them. This is being done.
One of our escorts we have not seen since we left Halifax on Friday, the other Corvette we saw once yesterday, and expect she is still present. Visibility has been low throughout.
Noon position - 44 57N 53 44W. Distance 160 miles. Av. Spd. 6.6 Kts. Total Distance 420 miles.
14:00 - In position Q.Q. A/C 073.
14:17 - Corvette Napanee rejoined convoy.
17:00 - 8.5 Kts. Believe BHX must be ahead of us, according to W/T message received, BHX was to be at P.P. several hours after us, but I think that BHX must have cut the corner and gone ahead.
20:30 - Received urgent message from Admiralty to make a drastic alteration of course.
22:00 - A/C 046 degrees. Weather very uncertain, as it has been since leaving, as visibility has been bad throughout. Now it is blowing N.E. 5-6, poor visibility.
Tuesday June 24th
03:25 - Cruiser signals that BHX is now 45 miles ahead of us.
04:00 - A/C to 054 as we appear to be North.
05:19 - Made corrected R.V. position for tomorrow.
05:20 - HMS Sandwich, Primrose and Hepatica joined Convoy. Hepatica has been sent to search for other sections of Convoy.
07:00 - Received instructions from Admiralty that SC 35 and this Convoy are to make one solid Convoy until local R.V. is reached. We must find the other sections first. Weather continues patchy.
10:00 - Altered course 20 degrees to starboard to avoid Virgin Rocks.
Noon position - 46 20N 50 26W. Distance 160 miles. Av. Spd. 6.6 Kts. We must have had current against us. Total distance from port 580 miles. Bar: 30.02 Air 44. moderating N.E. wind, moderate sea and swell. Overcast, and fog patches. Corvette reported having made contact with some stragglers belonging to SC 35.
19:00 - A/C 354 degrees.
21:00 - BHX section has at last been located and will join up tomorrow.
Wednesday June 25th
Moderate visibility, light wind and slight sea.
08:00 - BHX in sight on port bow.
Noon position - 49 03N 49 49W. Distance 182 miles. Av. Spd. 7.5 Kts. Total Distance 762 miles. Wind fresh, moderate sea and swell. Fog patches.
15:00 - BHX coming into position astern, at same time SC 35 sighted ahead. 16 ships of Bermuda section now in station astern as well as a straggler from SC 35. I intended to try and reorganise Convoy so as to place as many tankers as possible in the center, but that will have to wait for clearer weather, at present fog patches descend on us without much warning. S/S Luculus a ship sent out from Halifax to join this Convoy is coming up astern one of the Corvettes reports.
17:00 - Made R.V. for the 27th.
20:04 - 6.5 Kts. Cannot overtake SC 35 tonight. Bar: is falling steeply.
20:05 - Opened out the Convoy to 5 cables.
20:33 - A/C 001 degrees Bar: 29.25 falling. We are in for trouble by the look of things.
Thursday June 26th
Drizzling rain, overcast, moderately clear.
04:00 - A/C 039 degrees. SC 35 now ahead. 8 Kts.
06:23 - Turned Convoy 20 degrees to port to leave SC 35 to starboard. Wind increasing rapidly to gale force with rising sea. Bar: 28.90.
07:40 - A/C back to 039 degrees. SC 35 is going to form astern of us.
10:30 - Made R.V. for 28th, so if ships are scattered we should meet then.
11:00 - SC 35 now on the beam. Visibility is very low now and the wind is blowing a fresh gale. SC 35 will never be able to manoeuvre into station in this weather.
Noon position - 51 41N 49 20W. Distance 168 miles. Av. Spd. 7 Kts. Total Distance 930 miles. Bar: 28.86. Air 39. Full gale with a high dangerous sea. Convoy is now straggling, visibility is low due to driving rain. Reduced to 6.5 Kts.
16:00- Full gale, terrific squalls, very few ships in sight. Convoy badly broken up, I am afraid. Ocean Escort and about 15 ships in sight. Bar: 28.78, and still falling. I am very troubled and wonder what the night will bring. No. 31 S/S British Prince signals that she has lost two boats, is unable to steer at this slow speed in this weather, and is going on faster. Number 52 Southern Princess (listed in station 65 on the convoy form) has fallen across the Convoy, signalling steernig gear jammed. she disappeared astern. Bar: 29.76 steady.
19:00 - Bar: is rising a shade, but squalls are terrific.
Firday June 27th
Bar: rising very slowly, and weather is definitely showing signs of improvement. Received SSSS signal from convoy ahead attacked by Submarines. Four ships gone. We do have plenty to worry about.
04:00 - 40 ships present or in sight, also our three escorts, and 1 Corvette HMS Windflower belonging to slow section. These little ships have been wonderful, but must have had a dreadful night. I am amazed that these small Corvettes maintained station with us throughout the gale. Stout fellows, and great hearts still exist.
06:00 - 41 ships present.
09:10 - Received "amended destination" signal from Admiralty. Will make the signal to ships concerned as soon as we have fine weather. Up to now I am not sure what ships are in the Convoy, as there are one or two in question. I have never had the weather to make the necessary signals, I have yet to station the ships properly. Fog and gales since sailing have made my task difficult beyond belief.
11:30 - Received "Amended Route" for this Convoy and for SC 35 from Admiralty. There is something seriously wrong with this as the date and position of local escort R.V. mean that we shall have to steam at 5.6 Kts., and many ships cannot steer at this speed.
Noon position - 55 37N 46 35W. Distance 153 miles. Av. Spd. 6.4 Kts. Total Distance 1083 miles. Fresh gale to moderate wind, hight to rough sea and swell. Bar: 29.05 falling. Air 43. Received signal from SC 35 Commodore giving his position and arranging for R.V. tonight. I do not think that it can be done. Consider that we should R.V. at daylight.
13:00 - Altered course 026 degrees. 6 Kts.
13:46 - Signalled R.V. for 29th. Weather is still unsettled and heavy rain has fallen all day, would be glad of a few hours of clear fine weather, so as to be able to see all the ships.
20:00 - Opened Convoy out to 5 cables for the night.
Saturday June 28
Overcast, light N.E. wind, drizzling rain.
04:05 - Closed Convoy into 3 cables.
05:00 - A/C 039 degrees. Can see leaders of SC 35 on starboard quarter far astern. The rain ceased for a time and visibility improved.
07:22 - 6 Kts.
07:27 - Turned 90 degrees to starboard.
07:45 - Made another 90 degree turn to starboard, to reduce distance between Convoys.
08:03 - Rapidly running down towards the SC 35 crowd, so turned 180 degrees to port in complete turn. The ships are a little out of station as a result of this manoeuvre, but will soon be right again. Now on course 039 again.
09:00 - SC 35 is close astern. A number of signals received from Commodore of SC 35 complaining that our rear ships are straggling into the columns of his Convoy. I have made enough signals, but stragglers like the poor, are always with us.
09:00 to 11:00 - Signalled changes of destinations to ships in Convoy.
11:45 - Increased to 7 Kts. to take our Convoy out of the lines of SC 35.
Noon position - 55 25N 44 07W. Distance 135 miles. Av. Spd. 5.6 Kts. Total distance from port 1218 miles. Bar: 29.30 Air 43. Fresh north wind. Mod. sea and swell. Weather now becoming fine.
14:42 - 6.5 Kts.
14:00 to 16:00 - Changed the positions of a number of ships in the Convoy according to new destinations received. I have to try to place as many tankers in the middle columns as possible, but all cannot be placed in those columns.
15:30 - Tanker Southern Princess out of Convoy two days rejoined. I have placed her in position 85.
16:30 - Signalled an Admiralty message to the ships regarding Envelope "C".
17:00 - Southern Princess reports that while 24 miles out from Convoy she could hear loud W/T Oscillations coming from Convoy.
17:12 - Repeated the R.V. Signal received from Commodore SC 35. He has informed me that he will make all courses and speeds for both Convoys, and also the R.V.'s, so responsibility for arriving at local R.V. must rest with the Commodore of SC 35. It is a very unsatisfactory situation. It would have been far better if I had been sent to Sydney to take the slow Convoy, then the Senior Officer would have been here in the lead.
17:30 - Made signal regarding W/T Oscillations. Reduced or increased speed several times in order to try and maintain a satisfactory distance ahead of SC 35.
Sunday June 29th
Moderate N.E. wind, and moderate sea and swell, inclined to freshen and sea to rise.
02:28 - Decreased speed to 6.5 Kts. Receiving signals from the Commodore of SC 35 regarding our speeds. It seems impossible to adjust the speed of two Convoys (separate), with two distinct Commodores.
07:53 - Made a signal regarding excessive smoke and dumping of rubbish in convoy.
Noon position - 57 08N 41 12W. Distance 142 miles. Av. Spd. 6 Kts. Total Distance from port 1360 miles. Bar: 29.67. Air 47. Fresh wind, rough sea and swell. Cloudy weather.
16:47 - Repeated R.V. for the first of July.
16:00 - Reduced to 6 Kts. We have drawn ahead of the other Convoy rapidly this afternoon. Made signal regarding alteration of time, clocks to be advanced one hour at midnight to Zone plus two.
20:50 - 6.5 Kts. Revs 38. Distance ahead of SC 35 is 7400 yards.
Monday June 30th
It is never dark now, only a few hours of dusk. Clocks were advanced 60 minutes at midnight.
03:55 - Ocean Escort made a signal regarding smoke in the convoy. I know it does get bad and yet I know how hard Engineers try to keep down the evil. The ships are not fitted with proper fans for ventilation and the coal is just smoky. The Maloja now gives us the hourly range distance from the Convoy astern.
10:04 - 7 Kts.
10:08 - Hoisted "E" flag and made an emergency turn of 45 degrees to starboard.
10:26 - Returned to mean course by emergency turn, hoisting "I" flag.
10:40 - Made an emergency turn of 45 degrees to port from the mean course.
10:55 - Returned to the course again. Convoy SC 35 followed our movements.
11:02 - Reduced to 6.5 Kts.
12:00 - Reduced to 6 Kts.
Noon position - 53 49N 38 42W. Distance 129 miles. Av. Spd. 5.6 Kts. Total distance from Halifax 1489 miles. Bar: 29.54 falling. Air 49. Wind S.E. 5 increasing. Sky heavily overcast. Drizzling rain and rising sea. I think that we are in for a little bad weather again.
16:20 - Repeated the R.V. signals as made by Commodore SC 35.
16:31 - Signalled alteration of time signal. The Bar: is steadily falling, and all points to bad weather.