Report of Proceedings from the Commanding Officer of HMS Montclare
to The Secretary of the Admiralty, London.
Dated Dec. 9-1940.
November 29 (Zone plus 4)
15:00 - Weighed and proceeded ahead of S/S Marathon still unberthing.
15:40 -Turned Red Buoy and set course 116 degrees 12 knots. S/S Marathon 3 miles astern.
16:45 - In station in convoy, course 090 degrees, 7 knots.
17:00 - All ships in station except S/S Marathon who joined during the night.
November 30 (Zone plus 4)
10:00 - Altered course to 180 degrees together.
10:30 - Altered course to 090 degrees together. These alterations were effected by making beforehand that course will be altered to 180° at 10:00 and to 090° at 10:30 using signal C.P. Commodore had mentioned at conference that he would practice turning 90 degerees together, so some ships turned and some did not as no further signal was made as an executive.
11:45 - Passed American S/S Gale Estbound.
Noon position - 44 25N 59 55W.
13:45 - British trawler C. Argus passed through convoy.
14:00 - Altered course together to 180 degrees.
14:30 - Altered course together to 090 degrees.
16:30 - 8 1/2 knots.
16:45 - Local Escort parted company - 44 25N 59 00W. Local Escort used too bright a signalling lamp at dusk and dawn.
December 1 (Zone plus 4)
07:00 - In position 20' 180 degrees of Junction position. Altered course to 360 degrees together.
08:00 - Altered course 090 degrees together.
08:15 - Altered course 045 degrees. Montclare 7 miles north of convoy; visibility 6-7 miles.
09:15 - In estimated position of SHX 92. Visibility 7-8 miles - no sign of convoy.
10:15 - Rejoined convoy.
10:30 - Obtained D/F of SHX, 291 degrees.
10:45 - Convoy altered course 090 degrees.
10:50 - Proceeded course 280 degrees 14 knots to close SHX 92.
11:00 - Convoy steering 100 degrees 7 knots.
Noon position (Montclare) - 44 42N 56 18W.
Noon position (Convoy) - 44 36N 55 48W.
12:07 - Altered course 100 degrees, 15 1/2 knots. No sign of SHX although we are 25 miles astern of convoy and the visibility is 9 miles. Possibility of reciprocal D/F bearing though Commodore obtained same bearing.
13:09 - Obtained another bearing of SHX, 294 degrees. If bearings are not reciprocal SHX might be about 40 miles 290 degrees from HX. Continued back to convoy as a further search would have prevented my return to HX before dark, also wind had shifted and fog was possible. Did not wish to be out of touch with both convoys.
14:50 - In position in convoy. Commodore reports S/S Cardita obtained bearing of SHX at 13:00 122 degrees.
15:15 - Course 097 degrees 9 knots.
15:45 - 8 knots. Obtained a position of SHX to the South and East of us.
16:30 - Dropped astern of convoy as wind was rising.
December 2 (Zone plus 4)
02:00 - Wind on beam force 6-7, could not steer so proceeded ahead of convoy.
07:00 - Dropped back into convoy, visibility 1 mile.
09:00 - Visibility 3-4 miles. Searched round convoy for stragglers S/S Anna Knudsen (Nor) and Mount Kyllene (Gr). Returned to convoy.
Noon position - 44 12N 51 26W (D.R.).
13:50 - Altered course 047 degrees. Gave SHX Rendezvous for Noon, December 3rd.
23:30 - Put clocks on one hour.
December 3 (Zone plus 3)
Star sights put convoy 27' West of estimated position.
08:15 - Altered course 067 degrees, 9 knots.
09:10 - Asked SHX for position, course and speed.
09:35 - SHX bearing 057 degrees 29'.
10:00 - Convoy HX altered course 045 degrees. Montclare proceeded to contact SHX.
Noon position - 46 04N 48 25W. HX Convoy bearing 290 degrees 16 miles.
12:15 - Sighted smoke ahead.
14:00 - Joined SHX and gave her course and speed for joining.
14:50 - Left SHX to rejoin HX. At 16:00 HX (should this be SHX?) was 20' 108 degrees from HX.
16:30 - Rejoined HX.
16:40 - Speed 8 1/2 knots.
December 4 (Zone plus 3)
08:00 - Visibility 1 1/2 miles.
09:30 - Visibility 4 miles, proceeded to try to locate SHX.
10:45 - Sighted SHX.
11:45 - Joined SHX convoy. Two ships missing from SHX 92 since the night of December 2nd - S/S Sir Ernest Cassel and S/S Randa.
11:55 - Altered course of convoy SHX to 325 degrees 8 1/2 knots.
Noon position - 48 36N 44 35W.
15:30 - SHX astern of HX in position - thank Heaven! Course 045 degrees 8 knots.
16:00 - 8 1/2 knots.
16:00 Westerly winds force 6-8 continued all night.
23:30 - Put clocks on one hour.
December 5 (Zone plus 2)
04:20 - Ship took a sheer against full helm; proceeded ahead of convoy.
07:45 - S/S Anna Knudsen (Nor) rejoined convoy.
Noon position - 50 44N 41 39W. Wind West 6-7 all day, with heavy sea.
19:00 - Wind moderating.
December 6 (Zone plus 2).
08:00 - Increased to 9 knots.
Noon position - 52 47N 37 46W.
13:00 - Course 042 degrees. Signalled Commodore that speed was a good 9 1/2 knots; several ships dropping astern.
14:00 - Received signal making rendezvous 24 hours later, i.e. (time missing) GMT December 11th.
15:30 - 8 knots.
16:00 - S/S Empire Steelhead steering engine broke down. Reports will be ready in 30 minutes.
December 7 (Zone plus 2)
05:00 - Blowing force 7 from the S.E., had to leave convoy as ship would not steer.
09:00 - Wind S.E. 8-9; visibility 2-3 miles. Not sure if all convoy is present, one may be adrift.
Noon position - 54 59N 34 22W. Visibility 1/4 mile.
16:00 (13:00? 18:00?) - Wind eased to force 6; visibility 3/4 mile; took station on starboard beam of No. 91.
December 8 (Zone plus 2)
04:10 - Ship running at 70 revolutions on Port and 30 revolutions on Starboard engine, making 8 1/2 knots. Heavy squall from 6 points abaft beam and ship swung 53 degrees to port and remained on that course for 10 minutes despite full speed on engines and full helm. Came back onto course 2 cables from one of the convoy.
04:30 - Proceeded ahead of convoy at 10 knots; now blowing about 9-10 from direction 260 degrees.
07:50 - Squall of force 12 hit ship and again she fell off her course.
08:10 - Resumed course 14 knots.
08:20 - Altered course 250 degrees to sight convoy.
09:20-09:30 - Passed eight ships of convoy to S.E. of us. Did not see Commodore's ship. Wind now 260 degrees force 12 and very heavy sea, some ships may have hove to.
10:00 - Attempted to alter course to 040 degrees; at 14 knots with helm hard over the ship would not come past 350 degrees.
10:30 - Hove to 8 1/2 knots course 235 degrees.
10:35 - Depth charges went overboard and detonated; all depth charges set to safe and primers withdrawn.
Noon position - 56 43N 34 20W. Now too late to overtake convoy in daylight so remained hove to.
18:50 - Altered course 040 degrees 13 knots. Weather moderated slightly.
19:30 - Increased to 14 knots. Ship will not steer at 13 knots.
19:50 - Tried 13 knots again, but had to increase to 14 knots in every squall.
December 9 (Zone plus 2)
07:45 - Altered course 070 degrees; wind 250 degrees 5-8; heavy squalls.
08:00 - Altered course 120 degrees.
09:00 - Commenced zigzag. Visibility 6 miles, less than a mile in squalls.
10:00 - Altered course 100 degrees.
10:50 - Sighted HMS Rodney Westbound. Rodney stated she had not seen convoy so at 11:08 altered course 250 degrees 12 knots.
Noon position - 58 14N 27 24W. This position is the Convoy Rendezvous for 9th. Convoy not to East or Rodney would have seen them.
12:00 - Course 255 degrees 12 knots. Hope to meet them but expect they may be scttered.
12:30 - Informed Rodney I should be making a signal to C-in-C, Western Approaches at 01:00 and he asked me to give his position, course and speed.
14:00 - Closed Rodney to obtain signal which is Important.
14:30 - Set course 255 degrees 13 knots to return to Halifax; wind west 5-8; heavy hail squalls; visibility 1-6 miles. Ships known to be absent from convoy were: S/S Mount Kyllene from HX 92 and S/S Randa and S/S Sir Ernest Cassel from SHX 92. As convoy was not seen for the last two days more may have been lost in the bad weather.
A signal was made at 02:00 10th December when well clear of convoy to say Montclare had left convoy. The reason for leaving early was that there was no chance of rejoining the convoy and it was important that we should be far enough from convoy to signal in the likely event our receiving a signal for transmission to Commodore.
C.B.04024, Paragraph 129 (what follows appears to be replies to questions in a standard form, which is not available).
a) - HX 92
b) - Between 4 & 5 columns when weather was good enough for Montclare to keep in the convoy.
c) - Average speed 7.6 knots.
d) - D/F proceudre
e) - This was the Commodore's first convoy. The Commodore stated at the conference that he intended practising 90 degree turns together at prearranged times with the intention of using (? word missing) after dark. I consider this a dangerous proceeding anyway, but to carry it out he used the signal: "C.P.180° 1600", this signal to mean: "Alter course together to 180 degrees at 1600 without further signal". This is not the normal meaning of the signal C.P. and I consider it very dangerous for individual Commodores to use signals which are already in Consigs, with meanings entirely different to that laid down.
f) - nil.
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