Here are some charts showing the progress of, and U-boat sightings/attacks on Convoys SC 121, HX 228, SC 122 and HX 229. The chart has been split into 3. Click on the pictures to get a larger version. As will be seen, I've overlapped them slightly (see also the analysis of the attacks):
Time & position illegible - Course 060, speed 9 knots, steering to pass through rendezvous 12:00Z/10 - 50 35N 32 02?W and towards position "AA", 54 40N 23 30W.
Convoy in 12 columns (No.'s 2 to 13) of 5 ships each, 57 ships present, 3 missing (stragglers): Empire Envoy (31), Henry Wynkoop (22) and Samuel F. B. Morse (115).
Escorts: Harvester (S.O.), Garland, Escapade, Burza (Polish destroyer), Narcissus, Roselys, Aconit, Renoncule, Bogue, Belknap and Badger (the latter is given as Badger in two documents, and as George E Badger in two others).
Strong northwest wind, rough sea and swell, overcast and dreary.
08:08Z - S.O. requested convoy to turn 30° to starboard.
08:22Z - Convoy's course 090°, 9 knots, 50 29N 32 25W. S.O. reported U-boat bearing 053?° at 06:45Z, 3 planes sent up from USS Bogue.
Time illegible - Passed water logged merchant ship's lifeboat (empty), 50 28N 32 00W.
Time illegible - Convoy altered course to 060°, position looks like 50 39N 31 33W (U-boat sighted by planes).
Time illegible, looks like 15:08Z - S.O. reported USS Bogue, Belknap and Badger parting company (position illegible). A separate document states that these 3 parted company at 15:00Z to return to Argentia - however, the latter is given as George E. Badger instead of Badger.
Time illegible - Convoy altered to 048?° towards position "AA".
Time illegible - Convoy's speed reduced to 8 knots to allow 3 stragglers sighted astern to rejoin.
20:00Z - Speed increased to 9 knots, stragglers rejoining (sunset convoy time).
20:29Z - Tucurinca (71) torpedoed port side aft, 51 10N 30 05W. Ship hoisted red light and fired 2 white rockets. She stopped and fell astern on even keel. (20:30Z, end of twilight convoy time).
20:31Z - W.T. 500 kcs P/L Message SSSS de T.R.71 (Tucurinca) torpedoed.
20:32Z - Andrea F. Luckenbach (74) torpedoed port side aft, 51 40N 30 05W. Huge explosion with sparks and heavy smoke to a big height. When smoke cleared, ship was seen sinking by stern at right angles to convoy (head NW) fore part up to funnel visible.
20:37Z - S.O. (Harvester) passed me close to starboard heading down convoy and signalled requesting me to keep steady course and speed (cousre was 048°, speed 9 knots).
20:40? to 21:00Z - Tjisalak (72) showed a bright white light on foremast, repeated signals were made, but rifle fire had to be used to draw his attention and have it extinguished.
20:55Z - Observed position Commodore's ship 51 13N 30 03W. Wind NNW 6/7, heavy sea and swell, overcast to cloudy and clear - slight moonlight.
21:09Z - R/T message intercepted, Harvester from Roselys "Port side not serious No. 71" (Tucurinca).
Escorts present on March 11 (after Harvester had been sunk): Destroyers Escapade, Burza, Garland, and corvettes Aconit, Renoncule, Narcissus, Roselys.
01:00Z - Light seen on starboard quarter of convoy (probably searchlights) 51 38N 29 18W.
01:05Z - R/T Message - All escorts from S.O. (Harvester) "Submarine on starboard quarter".
01:10Z - Depth charges heard on starboard quarter.
01:15Z - 3 rounds of gunfire (estimated 4" to 6" gun) and flashes on port beam (abreast No. 22 or 23 ship).
01:17Z - Large white flash on port side (one point abaft beam) 51 40N 29 16W, 2 white rockets fired and ship hoisted red light. (This was evidently when No. 23 Jamaica Producer was damaged*).
* A message from Jamaica Producer to Commodore, received at 06:50, March 11, states:
"Have superficial damage from internal explosion. Reply: Where you torpedoed? Reply back: We cannot explain explosion. No underwater damage. Deck damaged and lost two boats. Will submit written report on arrival". See also report further down on this page.
01:23Z - R/T message intercepted, Aconit from S.O. (still Harvester) "Have rammed submarine, stand by me".
A separate document, which appears to be a report by one of the escorts states the following:
"Attack by HMS Harvester, results unknown, but on resuming station Harvester forced U-444 to the surface with depth charges and rammed. Aconit also rammed. U-boat sunk and 5 prisoners taken". This is confirmed by Uboat.net's info for U-444, except the site says there were 4 survivors. See also Uboat.net's account on the convoy battle on this page, which mentions the loss of U-444 - both are external links. The same document states that Aconit later also had prisoners from U-432 on board, after having sunk that boat - see also statements in War Diary further down on this page.
01:28Z - R/T message intercepted, Harvester from Escapade "Alarm port" (evidently refers to this incident).
01:42Z - Ship torpedoed starboard column about No. 132. Two white rockets and ship showed red light. (This was evidently William C. Gorgas in 131) - No W/T report. D.R. position 51 43N 29 08W.
01:54Z - Made R/T report to S.O. (Harvester) from Commodore "Attacked starboard column".
02:25Z - Received R/T code message from HMS Escapade (now S.O.) "Request you will inform me what ships have been (1) damaged (2) sunk. What is your position, course and speed at 01:00Z" - 0201Z.
02:56Z - R/T message from No. 23 Jamaica Producer to Commodore "Am proceeding at reduced speed".
03:20Z - R/T message in code to Escapade (S.O.) from Commodore "Reference your 0201 (1) Tucurinca (71), (2) Luckenbach (74) unknown, 1 port wing column, 1 starboard wing column. P.C.S. at 01:00Z 51 38N 29 18W, 048°, 9 knots".
03:45Z - Ship torpedoed astern of centre column 51 53N 28 40W, ship hoisted red light and fired two white rockets. (This was evidently Lawton B. Evans in station 65).
03:47Z - R/T message intercepted, to all escorts from Escapade "Half Rasberry Ice".
03:55Z - Brant County (135) torpedoed 51 53N 28 40W. The ship fired two white rockets. Burst into flames, the fire was like an "inferno" and lit everything up like daylight. I could see the whole convoy and escorts ahead and on both wings.
04:13Z - W.T. message received "SSS de T.R. 135 Brant County torpedoed". (The operator who sent this message was a very brave, cool and gallant gentleman).
04:15Z - Brant County blew up with a tremendous explosion, throwing debris hundreds of feet into the air. (The scene was indescribable).
07:00Z - Obs. position 51 55N 28 16W, course 048°, speed 9 knots. Wind WNW 6/7, rough sea, heavy swell, overcast and clear.
08:00Z - 52 02N 28 04W, Empire Envoy (31) and Samuel F. B. Morse rejoined convoy. 53 ships present, 4 torpedoed and 2 missing, Henry Wynkoop (22) and Hopecrest (35).
12:46Z - U-boat reported ahead (060° 10' off). Shore based aircraft searching. (Sunderland Flying Boat). (Another document states that aircraft sighted a U-boat about 30 miles astern of the convoy and attacked, with an estimated 3 hits, between 10:42 and 12:25A).
13:05Z - Increased to 9 1/2 knots.
13:10Z - Emergency turn 45° to port.
14:00Z - 52 27N 27 13W, average speed for 24 hours 8.04 knots.
14:25Z - Route altered by C. in C. W.A. (Commander in Chief, Western Approaches).
14:26Z - San Vulfrano (124) reported by W.T. "Submarine astern" and opened fire.
14:28Z - Emergency turn 45° to starboard.
14:47Z - Course altered to 074° towards position "BB".
15:29Z - Stanlodge (33) reported submarine half mile astern by R/T. No attack developed.
16:43Z - HMS Garland reported Henry Wynkoop in position 52 05N 27 33W, speed 10 1/2 knots, steering for position "BB".
19:04Z - Speed of convoy reduced to 9 knots.
20:20Z - R/T message from Escapade (S.O.) "Alarm starboard".
23:17Z - Underwater explosion felt (nothing seen in convoy), 52 48N 25 34W, wind NNW 6, rough sea, heavy swell, overcast, hail squalls, clear.
During the above attacks the convoy kept good station. "Snowflakes" (which would have been useless in high wind) were never used at request of S.O. (HMS Harvester).
John O. Dunn - Commodore R.N.R.
Message from Commodore to Vice Commodore in Gaelic Star - 13:58, March 12:
"Please ask Jamaica Producer if he knows who opened fire on Port beam just before he was hit.
Reply: Following from Jamaica Producer:
At 23:16 on 10th (not sure which time zone is used here). Escort about two cables and four points on Port bow opened fire across my bow with tracer bullets. I went full speed ahead on Starboard helm and as I did so I saw Escort* blow up exploding amidships and detonating ammunition. Second explosion was seen about seventyfive yards from him, shortly after a jar was felt onboard followed by blast under bridge accompanied by a high column of water and oil which fell on bridge scattering all glass etc. and giving me the impression that it had been Torpedo. Daylight examination shows Port bow indented with flying mettle, also cooler house, all glass and doors shattered in bridge and vicinity. Also have slight underwater damage. From Master".
* This was HMS Harvester, which was sunk on March 11 by U-432 (U-boat later sunk by Aconit). Jamaica Producer was damaged that same day by U-590 - ref. external links below.
Related external links:
The loss of HMS Harvester
The attack on Jamaica Producer
From War Diary - dated March 11-1943:
It's difficult to distinguish between the numbers 5 and 3 in this report - some guessing has taken place.
Harvester sunk by submarine. Aconit has sunk submarine and is now searching for Harvester's survivors. Aconit W/T out of action.
(Escapade, 1545Z/11 to C. in C. W.A.)
Narcissus and Aconit in 051° 23', 028° (? 44') searching for Harvester's survivors. Aconit has sunk U-442 and U-432 today. Request reinforcement of escort in view of large number of U-boats in vicinity. My P.C.S. are 052° 32', 026° 40', 074°, 9.5 Weather 5478 0974.
(Escapade, 1700Z/11 to C. in C. W.A.)
On arrival of Narcissus at 1630Z Aconit reported Harvester torpedoed and sunk in 051° 23' 028° 40' at approx 1300Z. U-432 sunk by Aconit in vicinity at 1415Z. Now has prisoners from U-444 and U-432 and survivors on board. Narcissus also has survivors. Left vicinity 1730Z to rejoin HX 228. No further survivors visible. Aconit reports A/S out of action also damage to hull forward. Number of prisoners 26.
(Narcissus, 1731Z/11 to C. in C. W.A.)
Sailed Rhododendron in accordance with your 1438A/11. S.O.A. 12 knots.
(N.O.I.C. Greenock, 1738A/11 to C. in C. W.A.)
Your 1841/11 No. Tucurinca sank.
(Escapade, 1924Z/11 to C. in C., Plymouth)
Following ships of HX 228 were sunk during night 10th/11th: Tucurinca, Andrea F. Luckenbach, William L. Smith (this, of course, should be William C. Gorgas), Brant County, Lawton B. Evans (Note: The latter ship was not sunk). Jamaica Producer reports internal explosion, only superficial damage. Hopecrest missing. Consider this ship thought it healthier away from convoy and will arrive U.K. well in advance of main body*. Henry Wynkoop in 052° 05'N 027° 35'W at 1530Z/11 steering for BB at 10 1/2 knots. This ship started to abandon when last casualty exploded. 10 men still missing. Roselys has entire crew and passengers numbering 82 of Tucurinca. Tetela has 22 survivors from Luckenbach. No other survivors yet accounted for. No further information regarding Harvester's survivors.
(Escapade, 2040Z/11 to C. in C. W.A.)
W.D. Note: For William L. Smith read W.C. Gorgas. See Escapade, 2030Z/12.
We congratulate Harvester on the destruction of a U-boat on March 11th.
(1st S.L., 2122A/11 to Harvester).
Sailing Sabre as soon as ready to reinforce escorts of HX 228. Estimated P.C.S. at 1200A/12 53° 43'N 20° 52'W, 075°, 9 knots.
(C. in C. W.A., 2330A/11 to N.C.I.C. Londonderry).
* Hopecrest did indeed leave the convoy and proceeded to port alone. I've received an E-mail from someone who was on board at the time, Arthur H. Clark, who says the following:
"....towards the end of the U-boat attack we shot through on our own mainly I suppose because we were faster than the average ship in the convoy, but the day after we were attacked by a U-boat, but the torpedoe went into a deep tank abaft of the engine room and when soundings were taken, the only water found was in the deep tank, so we carried on to Glasgow...". Roger Griffiths, who has sent me all these documents for HX 228, has also provided me with some info from her log, which says there was a loud explosion aft at 04:40 on March 11, and she started to ship water which was held at bay by use of the pumps. At 08.10 a submarine was sighted and shots were fired by the Hopecrest; at 10.15 am the action stopped. She arrived Glasgow on March 14, and Arthur says she was later seen in dock there by another crew member, with a large hole in her side. For more about this, please see the discussion in a thread on my Ship Forum, starting with my own query here (as will be seen in the forum thread, Arthur had initially thought that Hopecrest was in Convoy SC 122). Tony Cooper, England has told me that according to Lloyd's List, the damage to Hopecrest was caused by concussion after a depth charge was fired too close to her, causing damage to the deep tanks. However, Hopecrest was alone on the ocean when the explosion occurred, so this does not seem right.
Rainer (from Uboat.net) has since investigated this matter further, and states the following (on the Ship Forum):
"At 07.25 hours on 11 March 1943, U-406 fired two FAT and one G7e torpedoes at a tanker in convoy HX-228, but missed and heard two detonations after 11 minutes 42 seconds. A torpedo runs in this time about 11 kilometres and probably one of the FAT (running along the course of the attacked ship) caught up with HOPECREST, which was a romper not far ahead of the convoy at this time, and detonated in the keel wake or at the end of its run so close to the ship that concussion caused some damage to her.
It is the only reported U-boat attack that correspond to the time mentioned in the log of HOPECREST, which was very likely chased by U-406 and U-359 until both U-boats were forced to dive by an aircraft (probably a Sunderland flying boat) around 10.40 hours.
Only U-359 then continued to follow the ship and fired a torpedo at 11.12 hours which was reported as hit. Around this time HOPECREST fired at an periscope, probably this was misinterpreted by the Germans. Some hours later, the U-boat was again forced to dive by an aircraft, lost contact to the romper and was passed overhead by the convoy around 15.00 hours".
Commodore's Report on Collision between
the American Samuel F. B. Morse, the Norwegian Vav and the British British Statesman:
All 3 ships joined the convoy at New York, Febr. 28-1943,
Approximate time of collision was 04:15 to 04:20A on March 14. Convoy's position 54 50N 11 51W. Wind SW 4 (gusty), moderate sea, very heavy W'ly swell, cloudy and clear with passing rain squalls.
At 08:00A, March 14, Naranio (113) reported collison. At 08:06A British Statesman reported being involved in collision. S.O.E. (HMS Escapade) asked to investigate.
Noon March 14 - Vav rejoined convoy, extensive stern damage visible - 55 08N 09 58W.
19:00A March 14 - Samuel F. B. Morse (115) rejoined convoy. Ordered to proceed with Clyde portion under escort of HMS Garland to that port for repairs.
John O. Dunn - Commodore R.N.R.
To Page 1 - Advance Sailing Telegram
To Page 2 - Cruising Order