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CONVOY HG 66 - Reports
Left Gibraltar on June 24-1941 and arrived Liverpool on July 9
Arnold Hague gives 16 ships in this convoy.

Transcribed from several documents received from Tony Cooper - His source: Public Records Office, Kew.

Available on this page:
HMS Farndale's Report | Rescue of survivors from Auris | HMS Westcott's Report

Merchant ships mentioned in these reports & misc. signals:
Erato (Commodore)
Estrella Do Mar (Portuguese - I believe this was a trawler).
Cortes (British)
Lublin (Polish)
Osric (Swedish)
Aghia Varvara (Greek) - From HG 64
Rhineland (British - from HG 65)
Shuna (British)
Como (British)
Serula (British) - from HG 65
Tintern Abbey (British)
Disa (Swedish)
Pelayo (British)
Empire Ness (British)
Empire Strait (British)
Cape Corso (Greek)

Auris is mentioned in Farndale's report - but this ship was not part of Convoy HG 66. See account on Farndale's rescue of survivors further down on this page.

HMS Farndale's Report
dated June 30-1941

All times are Zone-1

Escorts mentioned:
HMS Farndale (S.O. - until 08:00 on June 28), Wishart (until daylight on June 27), Azalea, Stella Carina, Folkestone, 3 M.L.'s (until 12:15 on the 25th), and Dutch submarine O 21.
Later (see HMS Westcott's report): HMS Westcott, Freesia, Folkestone, Myosotis, St. Albans, Azalea, Kos 8. (HMS Maori is also mentioned in Westcott's report, while Marigold, Hibiscus, Periwinkle and Auricula are mentioned in a signal from C.-in-C., W.A.).

Day Positions:

Stella Carina
2 M.L.'s

Farndale was stationed 500-2000 yards up sun from the convoy, as this was considered the most likely bearing from which air attacks would develop.

Night Positions:

Wishart –––––––––––Farndale
Stella Carina
2 M.L.'s

June 24-1941:
14:00 - Farndale and Azalea left the harbour and carried out A/S sweeps to the southward of Cape Carnero, while the convoy was forming up.
16:30 - Convoy formed up and proceeded, course 254 - speed 7 knots.
21:00 - Course 264. Farndale carried out dusk sweep ahead of the convoy to a depth of 7 miles, then rejoined at 21:50.

June 25:
00:01 - Course 230.
05:50 - Farndale took up position up sun from the convoy.
08:50 - Catalina aircraft joined escort.
09:35 - Farndale sighted an unidentified aircraft bearing 130°, 10 miles, course 200°, Ht 200'. Action stations, hoisted black flag. Informed the Catalina by V/S, unable to establish communication with it by R/T on 2410 k/cs.
09:42 - The unidentified aircraft disappeared without having altered course. It did not appear that the Catalina had seen it.
10:30 – 18:00 - O 21 left in order to carry out sweep on the port side, and on her return the following signal was made:
"We lost sight of convoy at 1225 distance 12 miles. We heard convoy on hydrophones at 1400 at a distance of 15 miles. After surfacing we sighted convoy again at 1545 by smoke, distance 13 miles, true bearing 285°". T.O.O. 1825.
11:00 – 12:15 - Emergency turns were exercised.
Noon position - 35 02N 7 34W.
12:15 - M.L.'s parted company.
16:50 - Stella Carina was detached to escort O 21 back to the convoy, and screen was adjusted as necessary.
19:30 - Course 267.
20:30 - Course 237.
22:30 - Course 275.

June 26:
10:35 – 18:00 - O 21 carried out sweep on starboard side of the convoy.
Noon position - 34 31N 10 11W.
16:30 - Stella Carina was detached to escort O 21 back to the convoy - screen adjusted.
Catalina aircraft, which had been delayed by fog at Gibraltar during the forenoon, never made contact with the convoy.
20:30 - Course 305.
22:30 - Course 270.

June 27:
07:30 - HMS Wishart left.
10:00 - Course 290.
10:10 – 11:10 - "Blue Camel" received. Action stations - Commodore informed etc.
11:20 - Course 307.
Noon position 34 41N 14 09W.
18:00 - Portuguese Estrella Do Mar dropped astern with engine trouble (hot bearings).
Convoy speed: 6 knots.
20:30 - Course 337.
21:15 - Speed 6 1/2 knots.
23:00 - Course 307. Estrella Do Mar rejoined.

June 28:
07:20 - Speed 7 knots.
08:00 - Farndale parted company, 36 02N 16 30W, Folkestone taking over as Senior Officer of Escort. Course 098, speed 18.
Noon position: 35 51N 15 02W.

The following W/T organisation for Convoy HG 66 escort was assumed at 20:00 on June 24:

1 - All ships read own routines on 40 k/cs or H.F.
2 - Farndale and Folkestone guard on 107 k/cs.
3 - Wishart guard on 348.8 k/cs.
4 - Commodore in Erato guard on 500 k/cs for distress messages.
5 - All ships loud speaker or listening watch on 2410 k/cs.
6 - R/T on 2410 k/cs to be used for inter-communications and A/S operations.
Wishart was not fitted for R/T.
Reception on 40 k/cs and H.F. was mostly very poor during dark hours.

Use of Asdics at night:
"In view of O 21's report that the convoy could be detected by H.E. at a range of 15 miles it was decided to continue using Asdics transmissions. Moreover, in a close A/S screen, it is considered that the H.E. of the convoy, heard either direct or through the back of the A/S oscillator tends to drown any H.E. from a U-boat attacking on the surface".

Rescue of survivors from Auris:

Auris, on a voyage from Trinidad for Gibraltar with 11 493 tons of Admiralty fuel, was torpedoed on June 28-1941 by the Italian submarine Leonardo da Vinci. She had a crew of 59, 32 of whom died.

June 29-1941:
00:25 - In 35 30N 10 36W a message timed 2359/28 (Prefix Emergency) addressed to Farndale from V.A.C.N.A. was received. This was undecypherable and while efforts were still being made to decypher it, Whitehall W/T was heard asking for a check and repeat at 00:45. Repetition from Whitehall was received at 00:37 and 01:52 but without alteration.
02:18 - Correction to one group was received from Gib. W/T.
02:45 - SSSS from Auris in 34 27N 11 57W was received on the bridge in Farndale, from Gib. W/T on 40 k/cs. It was assumed that V.A.C.N.A.'s 2359/28 probably ordered Farndale to proceed to the rescue. Course 240° was shaped and speed increased to 22 knots.
02:50 - Course 240 - speed 22 knots.
03:12 - V.A.C.N.A.'s 2359/28 was again received from Whitehall as a correction but was still no different from the original.
04:11 - Received a message from V.A.C.N.A. timed 0231, stating that a Catalina would be sent at dawn, confirming the first assumption. Farndale attempted to get check and repeat of V.A.C.N.A.'s 2359/28 from Gib. W/T but failed to establish communication. Eventually Malta W/T answered on 8290 k/cs.
06:25 - The corrected version of 2359/28 was received in Farndale:
"Emergency. Farndale from VACNA. GYDA (Auris) torpedoed in position 34° 27' N 11° 57' W. Proceed to her assistance...2359A/28".
08:15 - Speed 18 knots.
08:38 - In 34 27N 11 57W. Course 270, speed 18 knots to search area. Visibility 12 miles.
09:02 - Attacked good contact with 6 D/C's which turned out to to be a large whale which surfaced.
09:40 - Course 180°.
10:10 - Entered oil fuel patches.
10:12 - Sighted rafts 160° - 5 miles.
10:15 – 13:35 - Course and speed as necessary to pick up survivors and search area.
11:43 - Sighted Catalina.
Noon position - 34 23N 11 45W.
13:35 - Left area for Gibraltar. Course 072, speed 18 knots.

June 30:
09:30 - Farndale arrived Gibraltar gate.

Picking up survivors from Auris:
"The main body of survivors were on two rafts, drifting to leeward. Both whaler and Motor boat were dropped in the middle of the area to pick up individual survivors, while Farndale went alongside the two rafts, one of which with about 14 men contained the Captain. In all, 6 Officers, 1 Able Seaman R.N. Gunner, 1 Merchant Marine Naval Gunner and 17 Chinese were rescued. Four others died on board or were dead when picked up, including the Chief Engineer, 3rd W/T Officer, 1 Able Seaman RN Gunner and one Chinese. The A.B. died during resuscitation efforts after 70 minutes on board. A burial service was held at 1800 in position 34° 55' N 10° 43' W, attended by most of the survivors".

Attack on Auris:
From survivors' stories it appears that the attacker was never seen. The 1st torpedo struck on the starboard side forward at 20:45 on June 28, but she was able to continue at 8 knots, steering evasive courses. Shortly afterwards 2 or 3 more explosions were heard. At 21:25 a second torpedo hit her in the engine room, starboard side, and the ship capsized within 2 minutes. No lifeboats were launched, but the captain dropped the confidential books in a weighted bag before abandoning ship.

Signed by Farndale's Commander - name illegible.

Related external link:
Leonardo da Vinci - The attack on Auris is included.

In response to HMS Farndale's report, Captain (D) 13th Destroyer Flotilla had the following comments
(to The Vice Admiral Commanding, North Atlantic):

Points of interest are:
Dutch submarine's hydrophone picked up the ?(word invisible in margin of document, possibly "convoy") 15 miles. Our asdic set is an imperfect hydrophone and ?(invisible) approach this performance; it is not designed primarily ?(invisible) hydrophone and I concur in Farndale's paragraph 11 (this is the paragraph with the heading "Use of Asdics at night:" above).

With reference to S.1 -2/41 and to the "Blue Raid" warning received at 1010/27, the code word "Camel" (?) allotted to H.G. convoys and it is considered probable "Blue" warning was in fact intended for HG 65. It ?(invisible in margin) on 107 k/cs's from Whitehall.

I note that Auris was first struck at 2045(? invisible) emergency message from V.A.C.N.A. to Farndale was (? invisible) but was not received by Farndale in a decypherable (? missing) 0625/29. Farndale received an SSSS at 0245 and acted correctly, on this.

Signature looks like H. W. Williams.

HMS Westcott's Report
dated At Sea, July 9-1941

July 5:
21:30 - HMS Westcott met Convoy HG 66 in 52 37N 20 28W. She had left Convoy OB 341 at 01:00 that day, and at that time estimated position was 51 38N 20 44W, which was believed to be 040° 16 miles from correct position. The weather was foggy and no fix had been obtained since 15:10 on July 3. (Convoy OB 341 had departed Liverpool on June 30-1941). Westcott, St. Albans, Freesia and Myosotis carried out a search in very poor visibility and it was not until 18:16 that a fix could be obtained. This fix, added to the convoy's position reported by R/T by HMS Folkestone (which, as mentioned, had taken over as Senior Officer of Escort for HG 66 when Farndale left on June 28), enabled the escort to join at 21:30. The position was 12 miles to the southeast of correct track.

At 09:00 St. Albans had dropped a 6 charge pattern in 51 22N 22 38W (convoy not present at that time). Westcott and Myosotis also obtained echoes in this vicinity - all non-sub.

A message from C.-in-C. (0809B/5/7) had been received at 09:55, stating: "Important: Westcott, St. Albans, Azalea repeated Admiralty (781) F.O.C. North Atlantic Station, Maori, N.O. i/c Londonderry and Greenock from C in C, W.A. H.G. 66. If Westcott and St. Albans have sufficient fuel to stay with Convoy until 008° 00' W then Westcott is to detach St. Albans to join Azalea. If not Westcott detail one Corvette. Azalea remain with Convoy then fuel at Londonderry". St. Albans did not have enough fuel to carry out a prolonged search, so Myosotis was detailed, but was not detached until 18:00 when the visibility had improved sufficiently for sights to be taken. Westcott provided her with Azalea's position, and at 21:00 both portions of the convoy were in sight.

July 6:
07:00 - The convoy reformed - 53 24N 19 03W.

Escorts present:
HMS Westcott (A/A ahead), Freesia, Folkestone, Myosotis, St. Albans, Azalea (A/A astern), Kos 8 (A/A starboard quarter). The latter joined at 13:30 on July 7 in 55 18N 13 42W from the Gibraltar bound Convoy OG 67, which had left Liverpool on July 4.
Azalea was only able to keep A/S listening watch.
Stern and quarter sweeps were commenced 1 hour after sunset by Folkestone and St. Albans.

July 7:
07:30 - 1 Hudson aircraft arrived and identified itself, remained until noon, 55 16N 14 00W.
21:30 - Myosotis dropped 1 charge in 55 26N 10 38W. Freesia assisted in a search and several non-sub echoes were obtained.

July 8:
05:15 - 2 Hudson aircraft arrived in 55 30N 10 00W, remaining until noon.
12:00 - Freesia was detached with the Oban portion of the convoy, 55 40N 8 30W, while Folkestone and Myosotis were detailed for the B portion and St. Albans took the Clyde portion.
18:30 - Westcott, Azalea and Kos 8 parted company off Londonderry.

Convoy discipline was very good, especially station keeping.

No warning signals were received that the convoy was being shadowed. W/T guards kept were:
Westcott - D/F
Folkestone - Aircraft
St. Albans - 500 k/cs.

MEET signal:
When Westcott joined at 21:30 on July 5, she was informed that changes of destination for some ships had been passed to the Commodore. The MEET signal (para F) showed that the only outstanding alteration was Cortes for Belfast for degaussing, but this alteration had already been passed to the Commodore via Folkestone in Admiralty's message 1821B/21. Cortes subsequently reported her D.G. correct and the Commodore altered her destination to Barry Roads; this was altered later when the Commodoore was told by Westcott to send all British Channel ships to Belfast for onward convoy. It was later discovered that the MEET signal D showed Lublin's destination as Holyhead; both Lublin and the Commodore had previously thought that her destination was Liverpool, as this ship had not been included in the MEET signal F, nor in Admiralty's 1750/28 or 1821B/2 to Folkestone. Westcott's commander states "It is submitted that para F. of MEET signal should be abolished and that Senior Officers of Local Escorts should be instructed to check ALL destinations with Commodore. Those given by Local Escort being correct in case of doubt".
At 18:00 on July 8, C.-in-C.'s 1531B/8 was passed to the Commodore, amending the destination of his ship Erato to Liverpool.

Misc. signals:
Westcott, St. Albans, Myosotis, Marigold, Hibiscus, Periwinkle, Freesia, Auricula repeated Admiralty (753) from C in C, W.A. - My 0211B/4 Part 1 H.G. 66 (D) Meet Aghia Varvara (SVQH) to Ardrossan. Rhineland, Shuna to Glasgow, Como to Belfast, Estrello Domar (sic) to Belfast f. o.. Cortes to Belfast for Degaussing. Serula, Tintern Abbey, Osric to Workington. Disa to Barrow.

From C in C, W.A. My 0211 4th Part 2 Final. Pelayo to Liverpool, Erato to Preston, Lublin to Holyhead. Empire Ness to Barry Roads. (E) Cape Corso, Disa, Serula, Shuna, Tintern Abbey, Empire Ness, Empire Strait, Osric, Bristol Channel ships are to proceed to Belfast for onward Convoy.

Fokestone from Admiralty. Final destination of Cortes changed to Belfast for degaussing (1821B/2).

Folkestone from Admiralty. For Commodore H.G. 66. Final destination read in two columns. Ship. Destination. Disa, Barrow. Aghia Varvara, Ardrossan. Rhineland, Glasgow. Erato, Preston. Empire Strait, Oban (1750/28).

Westcott repeated Admiralty (855) and Folkestone from C in C, W.A. Important. H.G. 66 inform Commodore that destination of Erato is altered to Liverpool (1531B/8).

C in C, W.A. and Westcott from Maori. Important. Passed Osric in position 052° 46' N, 18° 15' W at 2300B. Ship is in hand steering. Have instructed Master to join H.G. 66 in position 053° 20' N, 019° 25' W at 0500Z(?)/6 (0021B/6).

C in C, W.A. repeated Admiralty, Admiralty for D.N.I. and Commander (D), Liverpool from Westcott. H.G. 66 reformed. Maori's 0021B/6 not to Admiralty. Osric has not rejoined. Commodore's Petty Officer Telegraphist had heard rumours from the Norwegian Telegraphists of Osric that his ship might belt from Convoy if Germany declared war on Russia (1230B/6).

Swedish Osric:
When the 2 portions of HG 66 re-united after having become separated in fog, Osric was absent. Maori, which left the convoy at noon on July 5 in 51 46N 22 00W, reported (0021B/6 above) that she had passed Osric and that her captain had been instructed to join HG 66 in 53 20N 19 25W at 07:00 on the 6th. At this time the convoy was 10 miles to the east of the position given by Maori, but there was no sign of Osric, though a search was made for 20 miles ahead and astern in very good visibility. When the Commodore was consulted, he reported the following:
"My P.O. Tel. whilst onboard Osric at Gibraltar was asked by her W/T Operator, who is one of the several Norwegians onboard, if they would be justified in seizing the ship if the Osric tried to bolt; he thought this likely if Germany declared war on Russia".
St. Albans was detached at 15:30 on July 6 in 54 10N 17 48W in order to search astern for the Swedish ship, and if not found was to pass Westcott's 1230B/6, which was done at 18:00.

Westcott's report is signed by her Commanding Officer, name illegible.

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