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(The first MKS convoys consisted of ships returning from the assault on North Africa, Operation Torch).

Scroll down for info on MKS 3Y, or jump down by clicking on this link.

Convoy MKS 3X Cruising Order
According to Arnold Hague's "The Allied Convoy System" Convoy MKS 3X of 42 ships left Bone on Dec. 3-1942, and arrived Liverpool on the 19th.

The document from which I've transcribed the information in this table gives departure Algiers on Dec. 5-1942.

A 1 form and Report of Proceedings were received from Robert Martin, England - His source: Public Records Office, Kew.
The details have been compared to, and supplemented with, a list received from Don Kindell - His source: A. Hague's own research
. (Don's work, which covers "Royal & other Navies Day-by-Day in World War 2" can be viewed at this website).

For info, there was also a faster convoy, MKF 3, which had left Algiers on Nov. 23-1942 and arrived Clyde on Dec. 3.

Some of the ships in this convoy are mentioned in Convoy KMS 2, going in the other direction (Oct./Nov.-1942). Others had arrived with KMS 3 in Nov. (this convoy will be added).

(Note that a few of the ships that had Gibraltar as their destination, later proceeded to the U.K. with Convoy MKS 4).

Br=British, Am=American, Norw=Norwegian, Bel=Belgian, Po=Polish.

G = Joined at Gibraltar, A = Algiers portion, O-G = Oran to Gibraltar, A-G = Algiers to Gibraltar, A-O = Algiers to Oran.

Ocean Fame G
Dahomian O
*Empire Buckler G
Belgian Seaman A
Empire Prince A
Empire Flamingo A
Inventor A
Innesmoor G
Coombe Hill A
Empire Wyclif A
Thomas Stone O
English Monarch A
Troubadour A
Fort McLeod A
Empire Shearwater A
Fort Chilcotin A
Empire Banner A
Alexander Hamilton G
Selvik O-G

Francis Scott Key O

*Abbeydale O-G

William H. Seward O

Fort Babine A
Horace Binney G
Coxwold A-G

North Devon G

Pendeen A-G

Matthew P. Deady G

Carlton A
Jade A-G

Artemus Ward G

James Monroe G
Rajput O
Rudby G
Ocean Coast A-G

Lwow G

Dingledale A-O

*Norwich City G

Ocean Merchant G
Reverdy Johnson G
John Marshall G
Thomas Pinckney G
*Maplewood G
15 25
Lewant G
Alresford G
Empire Foam G
(Br - CAM)
Mobile City G
Andrew Hamilton G
75 85 95
Ocean Athlete G
* A. Hague's list agrees on the whole with the above. However:
He has no Norwich City - instead he has City of Norwich.
He has "Algiers to Gibraltar" for Abbeydale.
For Empire Buckler he has a note saying she arrived Swansea in tow on Dec. 20, and for Maplewood a note saying she straggled, arrived Cork.
He also has the following ships (not mentioned on the A 1 form):
The British Derwenthall and Ronan.

The fact that 2 ships appear in the same station on the form probably simply means that one left, the other joined, the latter taking up the station of the ship that left.

Commodore B. W. L. Nicholson was in Empire Prince, Vice Commodore was in Dahomian. (Commodore Vessel is actually given as Empire Pride, but as this ship is not included on the A 1 form I'm assuming this is a misprint).

Cruising speed: 7 1/2 knots.

From the Commodore's notes:

Algiers to Gibraltar:
Coxwold, Pendeen, Jade, Ocean Coast.

Algiers to Oran:

Oran to Gibraltar:
Selvik, Abbeydale, Ronan - (Note that only 2 ships have been denoted O-G on the A 1 form above).

Algiers portion:
Belgian Seaman, Empire Prince, Empire Flamingo, Inventor, Coombe Hill, Empire Wyclif, English Monarch, Troubadour, Fort McLeod, Empire Shearwater, Fort Chilcotin, Empire Banner, Fort Babine, Carlton, Alexander Hamilton (the latter is denoted G in the A 1 form).

Oran section:
Dahomian, Thomas Stone, Rajput. (See also text under Dec. 7 in the "Report of proceedings" below).

Remainder joined at Gibraltar (G).

Escorts - Convoy MKS 3X (as per Commodore's notes):
Algiers: HMS Rochester, Leith, Erne, Scarborough, Stork, Coreopsis, Azalea, Jonquil.
Ocean: Tay (S.O.), Wear, Ardrossan, Dunbar, Lyme Regis, Worthing, Coreopsis, Jonquil.

Dates present (from Don Kindell - Stork is not included):
Dec. 3-Dec. 5:
Brixham, Felixstowe, Marigold, Polruan, Rothesay.
Dec. 5-Dec. 8: Azalea, Erne, Leith, Rochester, Scarborough.
Dec. 5-Dec. 19: Coreopsis, Jonquil.
Dec. 7-Dec. 8: Penstemon.
Dec. 8-Dec. 14: Wear.
Dec. 8-Dec. 16: Dunbar.
Dec. 8-Dec. 19: Ardrossan, Lyme Regis, Tay, Worthing.

Report of proceedings - Convoy MKS 3X (received from Robert Martin):

Dec. 5-1942:
14:00Z - Convoy of 20 ships in company sailed from Algiers. Convoy was routed well to the North in order to avoid submarine concentration East of Oran and to keep clear of fast East bound convoy.

Formentera Island and high land of Spain was sighted on 6th. During the night of 5th and day and night of 6th and 7th several "contacts" were investigated and depth charges fired by escort.

Dec. 7:
10:30 - Made R.V. off Oran where 7 ships joined Convoy from that port.

Convoy made very good speed in fine calm weather. During the night of 7th the R.V. off Europa with Gibraltar portion was retarded 4 hours which necessitated convoy manoeuvring by T flag turns in order to fill in time.

Dec. 8-10:
14:00Z - R.V. off Europa, detached 7 small ships to Gibraltar who had not sufficient fuel for the voyage to England. S.S. Pendeen had to be sent in having neither sufficient cargo or ballast to render her in a fit condition to sail with Convoy.

26 ships sailed from Gibraltar. Convoy of 42 ships was formed just before dark while passing through the Straits. Senior Officer of Escort from Tay boarded Empire Prince to confer with me and give me details of Gibraltar portion.

Dec. 8 calm day without incident until 23:00 when Coreopsis, on port bow of Convoy, fired hedge hog and depth charges and the alarm signal was given. S.O.E. came close alongside Empire Prince shortly after midnight and informed me that Coreopsis had picked up submarine on surface by R.D.F., had narrowly missed ramming, and had attacked her vigorously. He did not consider that Convoy had been sighted by submarine. No sighting signal was received the following day.

Nets had been got out by Empire Prince and Coombe Hill on leaving Algiers. Owing to heavy swell on Dec. 10th it was thought advisable to get the nets in. This was carried out without difficulty by Empire Prince in spite of 12° to 15° roll and after guys on both sides being fouled by landing craft on deck. Coombe Hill had difficulty with her nets, and was unable to get them in finally until the next morning, she bent one of the booms. Empire Banner reported, on being ordered to get her nets out on departure from Algiers, that her nets were broken. As we were then within visual signal touch of Algiers I sent a signal to D.E.M.S. Algiers requesting him to make careful inspection and to renew if possible the nets of any ships at that time in harbour, several spare nets had been brought out by ships in KMS 3.

Dec. 11:
During the night of 10th/11th strong Westerly winds were encountered, speed of advance of Convoy reduced to 3 1/2 knots, barometer fell very steeply. Full gale from S.W., ships of Empire, Fort and Ocean class, all light, rolling very violently. Convoy very scattered but collected towards evening of 11th.

Dec. 12/13:
Wind and sea increased all day, during night of 12th/13th two small ships, North Devon and Alresford, well laden from Gibraltar lost touch. Landing craft on foredeck, secured with considerable lashings of 3 1/2" wire broke adrift and went over the side (presumably from Empire Prince). Wind drew aft on 13th and Convoy was able to make better speed - 7 1/2 knots.

Dec. 13/14:
The wind backed from S.W. to S.E. and a S.E. gale burst with considerable fury.
At 07:00 14th, very dark, Empire Buckler showed "not under control" lights and came across the front of the Convoy, having lost her rudder. Wear was told to stand by her and later took her in tow. During the forenoon the storm broke with hurricane force. Tay requested me to inform him when I hove to, if I intended to. Tay and escort hove to but it was impossible to bring Empire Prince and various other very light ships up to the wind, and Convoy became very scattered, the two remaining craft on the after hatches went over the side at about 13:00.

By 18:00 on 14th only 23 ships were in sight. As our route took us gradually off the wind, Convoy made better headway, and by A.M. 15th, besides North Devon and Alresford, the only other absentees were Thomas Stone and Maplewood, and Dahomian Vice Commodore, who was reported proceeding at 7 knots, and having ballast trouble.

Dec. 15/16/17:
The wind moderated during daytime 15th, but during the night of 15th/16th a gale came out of S.S.E. and South with a full gale. Convoy was literally blown along and made about 8 1/2 knots. During 16th and 17th the wind continued to blow at gale force but was now well fair, and it was possible to get Convoy into three columns during 17th, preparatory to passing into North Channel. Belfast portion under orders of Innesmoor, Liverpool portion Inventor, Clyde Commodore. Convoy arrived with 5 absentees, North Devon, Alresford, Empire Buckler, Thomas Stone and Maplewood.

During the 4 to 5 days gale the barometer at one time fell to 27.80 and remained at 28.20 for four days. I cannot speak too highly of the work of the escort craft during a trying passage, I felt the greatest confidence in S.O. Escort in Tay who did everything possible to keep his group and the Convoy as intact as possible and kept me immediately informed of every move.

Of 5 ships in the Convoy fitted with A.N.D. Ocean Merchant unable to stream as winches out of order, Empire Banner port after boom carried away, and topping lift starboard derrick fore plates broken, Empire Athlete nets broken (this should probably be Ocean Athlete) in several places reported at Gibraltar. I however finally elicited the information that her starboard nets were intact and put her on starboard wing starboard nets out. Empire Prince guys were fouled by landing craft on deck but ran nets for five days thanks to ingenuity of Master a great advocate for the equipment. It was observed at Algiers that no steps were being taken to ensure that A.N.D. ships were clear of cargo on deck, and I remonstrated with the P.S.T.O. and D.S.T.O. on this subject. I have much faith in the value of A.N.D. and I consider that as many A.N.D. ships as possible should be used in Mediterranean Convoys where weather and sea must be more favourable than in the Atlantic, and the equipment would result in considerable saving of loss of tonnage. The saving of the Ocean Pilgrim* had a stimulating effect amongst the Masters of KMS 3. I sensed previously a feeling of moderate obstruction and excuses.

* U-263's attempt at torpedoing Ocean Pilgrim on Nov. 20-1942 (Convoy KMS 3, in which the Norwegian Prins Harald was sunk) resulted in no hits (torpedo exploded in her net defences).

B. W. L. Nicholson.

A. Hague refers to this convoy as MKS 3Y

Transcribed from the document received from Don Kindell; his source: Arnold Hague, whose heading for this portion is Lisbon, Dec. 12-1942. In his "The Allied Convoy System" he gives departure Philippeville on Dec. 6, arrival Liverpool on the 23rd (24 ships).

Baron Forbes
At Algiers to Dec. 9
Released at Algiers from internment
See Bosphorus
Sunk - See Notes at end of table
City of Venice
Eastern City
CAM ship
Empire Summer
Empire Webster
Fort Bourbon
Via Algiers
G. C. Brøvig
"Certainly escorted" (A. Hague's note)
Straggled - returned to Gibraltar
Kong Sverre
Ocean Pilgrim
Ocean Valentine
Ocean Wayfarer
Orient City
Port Patrick
Prince de Liege

Bretwalda, on a voyage from Philippeville and Algiers for Belfast in ballast, was torpedoed and sunk on Dec. 18-1942 by U-563. She had a crew of 40 and 16 gunners - 1 gunner was killed. ("Lloyd's War Losses", Vol I).

Dec. 6-Dec. 7:
Deptford, Wishart.
Dec. 9: Marigold.
Dec. 9-Dec. 13: Convolvulus, Lunenburg, Nasturtium, Vetch.
Dec. 11-Dec. 13:
Penstemon, Weyburn.
Dec. 13-Dec. 21: Palomares.
Dec. 13-Dec. 23:
Azalea, Bleasdale, Krakowiak, Lauderdale, Melbreak.
Dec. 21-Dec. 23:

Related external links:
The attack on Bretwalda

SL, HG and MKS and MKF convoys - In Chronological order. The MKS and MKF convoys start on this page for 1942.

Liberty Ships - Alphabetical list.
List of Liberty Ships by Hull No. - Includes info on the men for whom the ships were named (from Wikipedia).

This site has more on the the "Ocean" and "Fort" ships mentioned in this convoy.
Empire Ships - Also listed in alphabetical order. The site also has a section listing the Liberty ships.

Back to Convoy Index

To the next MKS convoy in my list MKS 4


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