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Updated Aug. 24-2010
To Potentilla on the "Ships starting with P" page.
Tonnage: 925 displ.t.
Built in Renfrew, Scotland, launched Dec. 18-1941, completed 1942.
5 British built, Flower class corvettes were taken over by the Norwegian Navy in the U.K. They were Montbretia, Eglantine, Acanthus and Rose in 1941, and Potentilla in Jan.-1942. The Norwegian navy was to be responsible for supplying the crews, their salary, food and uniforms, while other expenses were to be paid by Royal Navy. They were used as escorts in the North Atlantic and carried out over 80 attacks against U-boats. When Potentilla was returned to Royal Navy in March of 1944, she was replaced by a Castle class corvette, which was named Tunsberg Castle under the Norwegian flag. Buttercup, also Flower class, was transferred after the loss of Tunsberg Castle in 1944. See individual links for details on each corvette.
Transcribed from a document received from Don Kindell - His source: The late Arnold Hague's database.
With Montbretia and Acanthus, Potentilla is listed among the escorts for Convoy HX 200 in July/Aug.-1942. All 3 of them subsequently escorted Convoy ON 122 (Aug.-1942), together with Eglantine and the British destroyer Viscount (and others - see ON convoy escorts). Several U-boats attacked during the night of Aug. 24/25, and sank 4 ships; 3 British (Katvaldis 3 died, Sheaf Mount 31 died, Empire Breeze 1 died) and the Norwegian D/S Trolla, which was torpedoed by U-438 (Franzius). 17 survivors were picked up by Potentilla - follow the link to Trolla for more info, see also the Commodore's report, as well as the external link provided below. Potentilla, Montbretia, Acanthus and Eglantine are now named as escorts for Convoy HX 205, which left Halifax on Aug. 30 and arrived Liverpool on Sept. 11. According to A. Hague, they all joined on Sept. 2; Potentilla parting company on Sept. 10, while the others remained until the 11th - see HX convoy escorts. The Commodore for HX 205 says "Escort was met at 09:00 on Sept 2 in 46 46N 51 10W".
Related external link:
In the Norwegian magazine "Krigsseileren", Issues No. 1 and No. 3 for 1977 two articles have been included, one describing the events surrounding Convoy SC 104, while the other is an account of Convoy ONS 144, both from Potentilla's viewpoint. (Please note that the correct term for Convoy ONS 144 is ON 144, as the ONS convoys were not established until 1943; the highest number being ONS 51). I'm unable to tell what year these articles were written and, therefore, I'm not sure if all the information is correct (new facts may have surfaced since then). Where an error is spotted I've added the correct information in parenthesis. The articles are signed Thorleif Tobiassen who has used the SSH Veterans Magazine for reference, and they're both written in the "first person" form, but I don't know whether T. Tobiassen was himself an eye witness on board Potentilla. The article dealing with Convoy ON 144 can be found on my page about Montbretia (which was sunk), while a summary of the account on Convoy SC 104 follows below - for info, Eglantine and Rose also escorted ON 144 (in addition to Potentilla and Montbretia already mentioned - see ON escorts). The ships sailing in this convoy are named in the section listing ships in all ON convoys, and the ships taking part in SC 104 can be found at ships in all SC convoys. (Both will be added to individual pages in my Convoys section in due course, with more details on each).
Convoy SC 104, consisting of 48(?) ships sailed from New York on Oct. 3-1942, escorted by escort group B6 (British destroyers Viscount and Fame, Norwegian corvettes Potentilla, Acanthus, Montbretia and Eglantine - see also SC escorts). The weather was bad, with gale force winds and very rough seas, and due to the violent movements of the corvette the effectiveness of the radar and asdic sets were greatly reduced. The men were called to their action stations in the early hours of Oct. 13, 16 men manning the depth charge throwers (Potentilla is referred to as a "Bangor class"). The first attack came at 04:25 and the Norwegian D/S Fagersten started to sink. Half an hour later the Norwegian D/S Senta and the British Ashworth were hit, going down in seconds with all hands. Due to the bad weather the U-boats got away undetected. At daybreak Potentilla was ordered to search for survivors and a lifeboat with 10 men from Fagersten was sighted, while their 2nd lifeboat with 19 on board was nowhere to be seen. Several U-boats were sighted in the course of the day, moving away at high speed (an attempt to lure the escorts away from the convoy?) and only Eglantine came close enough to fire a few rounds.
At 22:15 the British Susanne was torpedoed and sunk (this was in fact the American Susana, date given in other sources for the attack on these ships is Oct. 14; I'm not sure which time zone is used for the account in these articles), 15 minutes later the British Southern Empress was hit but stayed afloat. The U-boat which carried out this attack was sighted by Viscount and brought under fire, then depth charged and "surely went to the bottom" (this was U-221, which also sank Fagersten, Senta, Ashworth and Susana, but this boat was not sunk until Sept. 27-1943). At 23:30 the Nelle went down and shortly afterwards the Greek Nikolina Matkovik (the latter was in fact Yugoslavian, Nelle should be Nellie, which was Greek). Southern Empress was listing heavily so Potentilla was assigned to escort her as she proceeded, but at 01:30 the whale factory was hit by another 2 torpedoes and sank in 5 minutes. An hour later the British Empire Mersey was sunk. Potentilla rescued at least 80 from Southern Empress, many of whom were passengers and survivors of previous sinkings. (This ship was manned mostly by Norwegians; among her casualties were her captain Olaf K. Hansen and another Norwegian, Helge Dahl). The captain and 4 stokers from Nikolina Matkovik were found on a raft, and a lone man was found on another raft but as he spoke no English his identity was not known.
On the 15th U-619 (incorrect, this should be U-661) was rammed by Viscount and sunk with all hands at 01:45, but Viscount was now out of action with her bow stoved in and was escorted back to the convoy by Potentilla. While this took place radar contact with a U-boat on the surface was established and Potentilla gave chase. The conning tower could clearly be seen and Potentilla opened fire at about 400 yards away, causing the boat to crash dive. "This must have been a sure kill, as the U-boat's periscope scraped along our bottom in the same moment we fired a pattern of 10 depth charges. An hour later the same thing happened anew: A U-boat dived in front of us, the periscope scraped along our bottom and for the second time this morning a pattern of 10 depth charges was dropped squarely on his back." (According to U-boat net Potentilla and Eglantine damaged U-254, but no U-boat was sunk in this case).
Since the sinking of Fagersten the men on Potentilla had been continuously at their action stations or busy rescuing survivors, and the wear on them was beginning to show. They had no place to rest up because their bunks were occupied by the wounded, and by that time they had almost 100 men scattered all over the messdecks, resulting in a very crowded situation on a ship intended to accommodate 70. However, as the weather improved the next morning 35 survivors were transferred to Suderøy by the whale factory's crew, and "we now witnessed the perfect seamanship and perfect handling of the lifeboat. It was obvious that every man here knew exactly what to do." The following day another 36 survivors were transferred to Suderøy, while the rest remained on Potentilla and were treated by Southern Empress' doctor. (This doctor had all the brass buttons ripped off and stolen off his coat, which had been hung in the fan room to dry. On arrival Liverpool it was also discovered that some items had been stolen from the ratings' chests).
During the afternoon of the 16th Fame depth charged and blew U-353 to the surface, then rammed it, but in doing so the U-boat's hydroplane plates ripped open Fame's starboard side. 19 survivors from the boat were picked up by Fame, 20 by Acanthus which also participated in the sinking of the U-boat, 6 had died. Fame then headed for home. The last action came shortly before midnight, when a U-boat approached Potentilla at great speed. "A ramming was out of the question as the boat and the corvette approached each other on a head on collision course at a relative speed of over 30 knots, but the U-boat was hit by gun fire before it dived, and as a finale, a pattern of depth charges was dropped exactly on the spot where he dived." (According to U-boat net Potentilla did damage U-571 that day - see the link to U-boat net's account on SC 104 below).
Potentilla is reported to have sunk U-184 (Dangschat) when escorting Convoy ON 144 the following month (Nov. 20), 24.25N, 45.25W. According to U-boat Net this information is incorrect; the attack was against U-264 (Looks), and caused no damage.
Potentilla, Eglantine and Rose are now listed among the escorts for Convoy HX 217, joining the convoy at daylight on Dec. 5-1942 in 50 50N 47 05W, according to the Commodore's notes. See also the Commodore's narrative.
Skipping now to July-1943, when Potentilla, Acanthus and Rose are named among the escorts for Convoy HX 246, joining on July 6 (as per Commodore). At the end of Nov.-1943 Potentilla, Eglantine and Rose are mentioned in the westbound Convoy ON 212. (Eglantine had just returned from escort duties with the Arctic Convoy RA 54A).
Again, see the table above for information on further escort duties.
Scrapped at Gateshead in 1946.
Related external links:
Group Wotan and the Battle for Convoy SC 104 - Article with a very detailed description of the convoy battle (a section of Rob Fisher's Home Page).
Back to Potentilla on the "Ships starting with P" page.
The text on this page was compiled with the help of: "Nortraships flåte", J. R. Hegland, articles found in "Krigsseileren", Issues No. 1 and No. 3 for 1977 by Thorleif Tobiassen and misc. others for cross checking facts.