Letter from Admiral Commander-in-Chief, to The Secreatry of the Admiralty
Dated Dec. 15-1940
With reference to the report by the Master of S/S Ruahine, dated 7th December, forwarded by the Naval Officer-in-Charge, Avonmouth, in his letter of 9th December, 1940, regarding Convoy HX 90, it is noted that S/S Ville d'Arlon has not yet reached port, and it appears probable that she experienced further steering trouble, fell out, and was torpedoed while straggling.
It is understood from Lloyd's Shipping Index that S/S Tai Yin put back to Halifax, with weather damage, arriving there on 4th December.
The Master of S/S Ruahine infers that either or both of these ships may have compromised the convoy's route. There is no evidence to warrant this, and in any case neither ship would have been in possession of a route other than her own standard route for use in the event of separation from the convoy.
Nevertheless, it is requested that the Master of Tai Yin be called upon to report the reason for, and details of, his ship's movements, and similarly the Master of Ville d'Arlon, should she turn up (this ship was sunk - see Page 2).
Admiral Commander-in-Chief (name illegible, ends in "smith").
Proceedings with Convoy HX 90 (36 ships)
I have the honour to report that in accordance with instructions received from the Rear Admiral, Commanding Third Battle Squadron, HM Ship under my command sailed from Halifax N.S. to carry out the duties of Ocean Escort to Convoy HX 90 (37) ships on
Thursday, 21st Nov. - Zone plus 4
14:30 - Weather fine and clear, wind S. by E., sea smooth.
15:00 - Passed through boom defence.
16:30 - Convoy (11 ships) formed up. Took up day station between 4th and 5th columns. Speed 8 1/2 knots. Local escort HMCS Windflower and French and Aerial Escort in company.
16:40 - HMCS Assiniboine took over Local Escort duties.
17:10 - Aerial Escort parted company for base.
17:20 - HMCS Windflower and French parted company for base. Remained in day station for night.
Friday, 22nd Nov.
Daylight - Wind S.W. 3, fine and clear, sea smooth (11 ships in company).
Noon - Position 44 37N 59 37W. Distance run 157 miles. Reduced speed to 7 1/2 knots.
16:25 - Local Escort HMCS Assiniboine parted company for base.
18:00 - Barometer falling. Wind S.W. 4-5, sea moderate.
Saturday, 23rd Nov.
04:00 - Ran into fog.
05:00 - Daylight, fog cleared. Dutch S/S Harpefjell of SHX 90 in sight to Northward (Note: This was a Norwegian ship, not Dutch).
06:00 - Wind veered to NNE, force 6, and sea became rough.
07:30 - British S/S Quebec City of SHX 90 joined convoy.
07:55 - Sighted Convoy SHX 90 to Northward.
09:30 - Convoy SHX 90 (3 ships) joined convoy.
09:52 - Speed 8 1/2 knots.
Noon - Position 44 46N 55 38W. Distance run 170 miles. 16 ships in company. Speed 8 1/2 knots.
16:35 - Sent British S/S British Prince in to Sydney C.B. with shifted cargo and injured man (broken leg).
Page 2 of this report is missing. Some details from Nov. 24, 25 and 26 are available in the Commodore's report on HX 90 - Page 2.
Wednesday 27th Nov.
07:30 - Daylight, wind S. by W. 7, sea very rough. Overcast with heavy squalls. Convoy in sight astern. Proceeded to take station one mile ahead of Commodore. British S/S Stirlingshire reported loss of two boats (later sunk - see Page 2). Ships rejoining convoy during day.
Noon - Position 48 51N 42 23W. Distance run 184 miles. Speed 8 knots.
13:45 - Speed 9 knots.
15:40 - Wind veered to WSW 6-7, sea rough.
17:00 - 30 ships in company. Remained 1 1/2 miles ahead of convoy for night.
Thursday 28th Nov. - Zone plus 1 1/2
06:55 - In 50 13N 38 40W spoke British S/S Baron Yarborough Hull to Port Wade N.S. in ballast.
08:00 - Daylight. Overcast with hail and rain squalls. Wind SW. by W. 4. Sea moderate, 28 ships in convoy.
08:50 - Proceeded at 15 knots to investigate stranger ahead. Identified as British S/S W. Hendrik one of convoy (this ship was later sunk by German aircraft - see Page 2).
09:30 - Assumed day station in convoy.
Noon - Position 50 30N 37 45W. Distance run 206 miles. Speed 8 1/2 knots.
13:55 - Closed and spoke in 50 40N 37 18W Norwegian S/S Bonde Hull to Sydney C.B. in ballast (Bonde had been part of Convoy OB 244).
14:38 - Resumed day station in convoy. Weather improving. Wind SW. by W. 3. Overcast, passing showers, visibility very good.
Friday 29th Nov. - Zone plus 1
08:30 - Daylight. Wind backed to S. 6 increasing, overcast with heavy rain squalls, sea rough, 22 ships in convoy.
09:50 - British S/S Grangepark dropped astern with engine trouble.
10:40 - Took station ahead of convoy and zig-zagged.
Noon - Position 51 57N 33 01W. Distance run 194 miles. Wind and sea increasing.
20:00 - Wind S. by W. force 8, o.d.m., sea high. Ahead of convoy 3-4 miles.
24:00 - Weather moderating. Sighted convoy lights to northward, very dispersed.
Saturday 30th Nov.
08:00 - Daylight. Wind S.W. 3-4, sea rough, overcast, rain squalls. 5 ships in company.
08:55 - Sighted several ships ahead. Rounded up scattered vessels and proceeded to join convoy.
11:00 - Took up Day Station in convoy (28 ships).
Noon - Position 53 08N 27 59W. Distance run 197 miles. Speed 9 knots.
13:10 - Sighted meeting ship right ahead.
13:30 - Spoke in 53 11N 27 38W British tanker Tornus Milford Haven to Houston in ballast.
16:00 - British S/S Alhama re-joined convoy.
18:40 - Sighted meeting vessel right ahead.
18:41 - Switched on side lights.
18:45 - Stranger passed through convoy. Identified as British S/S Empire Indus bound west.
22:00 - Wind WSW, 2-3, o.p., sea moderate.
Page 4 is missing. Some convoy details from Dec. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 are availabe in the Commodore's report on Page 2.
Friday - 6th Dec. - Zone plus 3 1/2 (HMS Laconia had left the convoy and headed back to Halifax by this time - the Commodore says in his report that she parted company at 17:00 on Dec. 1, in 54 25N 21 22W).
04:00 - Ran into fog, sea smooth. Wind NE. 3.
Noon - Position 43 06N 51 31W. Distance run 360 miles. Speed 12 knots.
13:00 - Fog cleared. Wind veered to SSW. 2-3.
18:55 - Heavy rain squalls. Wind veered to NNW. 4.
Saturday 7th Dec. - Zone plus 4
06:40 - Daylight. Wind N.W. 3-4. Fine and clear, sea slight.
Noon - Postition 43 25N 58 14W. Distance run 294 miles. Speed 12 knots.
15:00 - Wind backed to S.W. 2-3, sea smooth.
Sunday 8th Dec.
06:35 - Sighted Chebucto Head Light.
08:34 - Passed through boom defence.
09:02 - Anchored in Halifax Harbour.
The health of the ship's company is very good.
Signals - It is again observed that in the orders issued to BHX the signal "NP" still bears the signification that has been allocated to "HZ" by a Halifax correction to Consigs. It is submitted that the attention of the N.C.S.O. at Bermuda be drawn to Admiralty message 544A as to the meaning of signal "NP" and that he may be informed of the meaning allocated to "HZ", as a Halifax correction to Consigs, observing that inconvenience and confusion is caused after the junction of HX and BHX convoys by the existing state of affairs.
Consigs - It is submitted that Article 178 of Part 2 of D.M.S. be incorporated in Consigs. This is particularly necessary with Neutral vessels included in Convoy.
Darkening Ship - Satisfctory.
Station Keeping - Satisfactory on the whole, conditions being difficult, and Convoy partially dispersed by gales on three occasions.
Reference Admiralty Message 2311/9th November 1940 addressed to N.C.S.O's. Subject: Columns in Convoys to be 5 cables apart - After nearly one year's experience of escorting convoys, I am emphatically of the opposite opinion as to the "natural tendency" of Masters of vessels therein expressed.
The report is signed Captain - but I'm unable to read his name, intitials are G.G.C., last name possibly Alworth?
Back to Page 1 - Advance Sailing Telegram
Back to Page 2 - Commodore's Report