According to this document, ON 23 had 6 British, 11 Norwegian, 4 Swedish, 2 Danish, 2 Finnish, and 1 Estonian ship, including the 2 from Kirkwall, mentioned in Bedouin's report further down on this page. 1 ship was detached (not bound for Norway - this was probably Sea Valour).
According to Arnold Hague, the following ships sailed in this convoy (in alphabetical order):
Swedish Bothnia (1343 gt - for info there was also a British ship by this name, 2407 gt).
Norwegian Erling Lindøe (see also ON 21).
Swedish Ferm (1026 gt - for info, Norway also had a ship named Ferm, but much larger).
Norwegian Graziella - from Kirkwall, according to one of the reports below. The same report also mentions picking up a ship named Gudrin from Kirkwall, but this was probably the
Danish Lise (1247 gt - for info, Norway also had a Lise, a tanker and much larger than the Danish one).
British Mersington Court
Norwegian? Motto (listed as Norwegian by A. Hague, but I believe this ship had been sold to Finland by then? See Motto).
British North Cornwall
Norwegian Rapid II
British Salmonpool (see also ON 22).
Danish Svanholm (1321 gt, listed as British by A. Hague, but I believe this ship would still have been Danish at that time. For info, Norway also had a Svanholm, which also appears in some of the Norway convoys; for instance, she's listed as Norwegian in the Advance Sailing Telegram for HN 19, as well as in A. Hague's list for ON 17. As can be seen by going to my page for HN 19, other ships in ON 23 had also sailed in that convoy, while others are listed in HN 18).
Note that Javelin's report also mentions Sea Valour in this convoy.
All the Norwegian ships mentioned here are discussed on this website, some are listed in the Homefleet section. The easiest way to find them all is via the Master Ship Index.
Summary of HMS Javelin's Report - Commanding Officer A. F. Pugsley:
ON 23 left Methil at 14:00 on March 27, consisting of 24 ships, escorted by Javelin, Janus, Juno and Eclipse. From the very beginning, strong headwinds were encountered and the convoy started to straggle badly when speed was increased to 7 knots; the maximum station keeping speed in calm weather appeared to be about 6 1/2 knots. At 17:15, when rounding May Island, the wind increased to a moderate gale, lasting till the evening of March 28, at which time the convoy was in 58 15N 02 15W. After this, better time was made and the convoy was turned over to Bedouin at 09:00 on March 29 in 59 19N 02 04W, Sea Valour having proceeded to Aberdeen at 07:30 the day before (as can be seen this ship is not included in A. Hague's list).
ON 23 had been unsuccessfully attacked by enemy aircraft between 19:50 and 20:17 on March 28. (According to a document about Convoys attacked by aircraft this happened at 19:56 on March 29 when 20 miles north of Kinnaird Head).
The Commanding Officer of HMS Javelin adds that "it is desired to draw attention to the excellent manner in which S.S. Salmponpool, No. 41, carried out her duties as guide and to her signalling which was above average both by flags and by morse". Salmonpool and Sea Valour had originally been intended for Convoy ON 22, see the report at HN 22.
Summary of HMS Bedouin's Report - Commanding Officer J. A. McCoy:
Bedouin sailed from Scapa for Kirkwall at 01:30 on March 29-1940, and picked up the Norwegian Gudrid (listed as Gudrin with no nationality in the report; should probably be Gudrid) and Graziella, before joining Convoy ON 23 at 09:00, taking over the duties as escort commander. The weather got really bad during that night but improved the next day, and station keeping of the ships was good. However, during the night of March 30/31, a northeast gale was encountered, veering south and accompanied by hail and rain so that the visibility was considerably reduced. Consequently, the convoy was badly scattered at daylight, and due to the bad visibility, a landfall was almost impossible. Bedouin, with Javelin and Salmonpool in company, proceeded south, believing the convoy had been driven northward, and in the course of the next few hours 3 more ships were found, but against the gale not much headway could be made. During the afternoon visibility improved to about 2 miles, and Bedouin and Javelin proceeded east in order to make a landfall, leaving the merchant vessels to follow. Vågsø Bay was finally recognized and from there Bedouin continued towards Hovden Light with the ships. She was subsequently informed by HMS Eskimo that 19 ships of ON 23 had already made it in, or were proceeding in, and added to the 4 in company with Bedouin this completed the convoy.
Bedouin now went on to act as escort for Convoy HN 23B from Norway to the U.K. - follow the link for the rest of her report.
Escorts named in this document:
Galatea, Arethusa, Calcutta, S/M Porpoise, Javelin, Eclipse, Eskimo, Juno, Bedouin, and Punjabi.
See also the text under March 27 on this external page, which mentions this convoy and its escorts (scroll down in the text).
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