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Convoy HG 70 - Reports

Departed Gibraltar on Aug. 9-1941 and arrived Liverpool on the 23rd.
Arnold Hague gives 24 ships in this convoy. A 1 form is not available to me.

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

On this page:
HMS Faulknor's Report | HMS Avon Dale's Report

For info, the Rescue Vessel Copeland was with this convoy for a while. She was on her 10th voyage as such, having started this voyage from Clyde with the Gibraltar bound Convoy OG 71 on Aug. 14-1941, detached Aug. 17, then returned to Clyde with HG 70, Aug. 17-Aug. 21.

From The Captain (D), 8th Destroyer Flotilla, HMS Faulknor
to The Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth
The Commander-in-Chief, Western Approaches
The Flag Officer Commanding, Force 'H', HMS Nelson

dated Aug. 18-1941

HMS Faulknor left Gibraltar at 21:00 on Aug. 9, after passing over the D.G. range, joining Convoy HG 70 at dawn the following day, Aug. 10 - 50 miles west of Cape Trafalgar. The escort was then stationed as follows:
HMS Faulknor - 2 miles ahead
HMS Avon Vale and HMS Eridge - 3 miles on either beam
2 corvettes and 1 trawler - on each side
HMS Jasmine (S.O.) - astern of convoy.
The submarine Clyde was in "the usual position" between the columns and carried out dummy night attacks during the forenoon, reporting that they would be difficult during bright moonlight with the present escort.

14:05 - Avon Vale reported sighting a submarine on the surface, 8 miles on the port bow of the convoy, and closed at full speed to investigate. The Commodore was also informed, and Faulknor then closed Avon Vale at 20 knots, her best speed on one shaft. Both destroyers attacked several promising contacts near the position in which the sub had been seen to dive, but no definite results were obtained.
17:30 - The search was abandoned in order to rejoin the convoy before dark. When the sub had been sighted the Commodore had altered course to starboard, and signals amending the route were received from Vice Admiral Commanding, North Atlantic, and later from the Admiralty, the latter making it necessary for the convoy to alter course 80° after dark, a manoeuvre carried out perfectly without previous warning on sound signal alone.
Clyde returned to Gibraltar at dusk.

Aug 11:
01:45 - Empire Hunt* fell out of the convoy with engine trouble, the trawler Lady Hogarth standing by her. Neither ship rejoined before Faulknor parted company.
08:00 - Nestor, Encounter, Deptford and Convolvulus joined from the Gibraltar bound Convoy OG 70, which had left Liverpool on July 30. So as to keep down shadowing submarines, Faulknor moved out to visibility distance ahead of the convoy and Nestor took the position close ahead, while Encounter was stationed at visibility distance on the port side, Deptford taking station on the starboard side, and Convolvulus taking Lady Hogarth's place. This allowed for sufficient anti-aircraft protection, while doing the utmost to shake off any shadowing subs.
10:30 - A Focke Wolfe aircraft appeared, but when fired upon it retired and was not seen again. HMS Begonia claimed hits with her 2 pounder.
11:00 - 4 more corvettes from OG 70's escort arrived and reinforced the close screen.
17:20 - Avon Vale reported sighting a submarine to the port side of the convoy, and Encounter (or Nestor?) joined her in the hunt, the convoy altering course 40° to starboard for 4 hours. The 2 destroyers rejoined before dark when Nestor was detached to return to Gibraltar.

* I can find no Empire ship by this name - is it a mis-spelling of Empire Hurst? If so, this ship was bombed and sunk by German aircraft that same day. She was on a voyage from Aguilas for Barrow with 3704 tons of iron ore, crew of 30 and 5 gunners - 26 died. (Source: "Llloyd's War Losses", Vol I).

Aug 12:
07:30 - Deptford and the corvettes of the 32nd Escort Group left for Gibraltar, Encounter following them half an hour later.
14:00 - The first Catalina flying boat arrived and was ordered to circle around the convoy at 10 miles to keep down shadowing submarines. At the same time HMS Wild Swan and HMS Boreas arrived, taking station on the quarters at visibility distance for the same reason.
17:00 - 2 Focke Wolfe aircraft arrived, circling around at 5 miles, being careful to keep outside the destroyers' gun range. The Catalina attempted to engage them, but was outpaced.
The convoy altered course 40° for 4 hours after dark.

Aug 13 onwards:
Daylight - The 5 destroyers opened out to visibility distance from the convoy at equal intervals apart, this being considered the best way to keep shadowing submarine down. As the risk of air attack appeared negligable compared with the greater menace, the loss of anti-aircraft protection by this arrangement was accepted, and Avon Dale and Eridge were warned to close the convoy should Focke Wolfe aircraft arrive.
The Catalina, which had arrived at 09:30, reported having attacked 2 submarines 67 and 47 miles astern of the convoy, expending all the depth charges and bombs on them, claiming a hit with one of the bombs on the nearer of the 2 subs.
15:00 - 3 Focke Wolfe aircraft arrived, but they kept well outside the destroyers and made no attack attempt. Shortly afterwards one of them was seen by Faulknor as signalling with a bright light and a sub was sighted at 8 miles range, well on the port bow. The convoy was ordered to alter course to starboard, while Faulknor and Wild Swan closed the sub, which made off on the surface at a high speed for 15 mins before diving. Asdic contact was subsequently obtained 2 miles beyond the estimated point of diving, later confirmed as a submarine. Both the destroyers carried out "promising attacks", but Faulknor only had 3 depth charge patterns left after her attacks on the 10th, and it was necessary to detach Wild Swan at 19:50, so that she could rejoin the convoy before dark. Faulknor remained in the vicinity until 22:15, at which time fuel considerations forced her to abandon the search and head for Ireland, arriving at Loch Foyle for oil at 13:30 on Aug. 16, leaving again at 03:00 the next morning. She arrived at Portsmouth at 08:00 on Aug. 18, continuing to Southampton where she arrived that evening.

While Faulknor was with the convoy, "station keeping, the manoeuvring at night and the complete absence of any funnel smoke by day were a credit to every ship in the convoy".

A. F. de Salis
Captain (D) Eighth Flotilla

There's a handwritten note added to the above document, signed by ? Churchill on Sept. 21-1941, stating: "Noted with interest. Particularly para 13. It is estimated that HG 70 was in approximate position 40° 40'N 15° 50' at 1500/13th August" (para 13 is the one starting with the arrival of 3 Focke Wolfe aircraft at 15:00 on Aug. 13).

Report from Commanding Officer of HMS Avon Vale
to Vice Admiral Commanding, North Atlantic through Captain D, 13th Destroyer Flotilla
dated Aug. 17-1941

This account covers events after Captain D, 8th Destroyer Flotilla had left HG 70 with HMS Wild Swan at around 17:30 on Aug. 13-1941, in order to hunt a submarine sighted ahead.

Convoy's course 000, speed 7 knots, wind northeast 3, sea 35, visibility good, position 42 38N 16 12W.

A message had been received from C.-in-C., W.A. (1612A/13), after which the necessary instructions were passed on to the Commodore. The corvette HMS Jasmine, stationed astern, was instructed to detail a corvette, and to inform the British Briarwood and the Yogoslavian Sud* of change of route.

* Sud, on a voyage from Gibraltar to Halifax in ballast, was attacked the following day, Aug. 14-1941, by the Italian submarine Marconi, and eventually sunk by U-126. She had a crew of 33, all of whom were saved (Source: "Lloyd's War Losses", Vol I and "Axis Submarine Successes of World War Two", Jürgen Rohwer - see also the external links at the end of this page).

During the night, the destroyer HMS Avon Vale was stationed 2 miles ahead, the destroyer HMS Eridge 4000 yards on the starboard beam, the destroyer HMS Boreas on the port quarter with orders to patrol at visibility distance down moon at moonrise. The destroyer HMS Wild Swan, which had rejoined at dusk, was stationed on the starboard quarter. In the event of submarine attack, the corvettes were to search close to the convoy, while the destroyers attempted to intercept at about 4000 yards from the convoy. However, no attacks developed, and at daylight the destroyers resumed their stations at visibility distance from the convoy, as previously instructed by Captain D, 8th Destroyer Flotilla.

At 12:00, Boreas requested permission to proceed, but was asked to "stick it" till 20:00, as it was "desired in the event of a further visit by Focke Wulf aircraft during the afternoon that it would be desirable for them to be able to report the escort all present on their return".

The destroyers carried out an independent search for shadowing submarines outward from the convoy at 20:00, with orders to meet up with Avon Vale 20 miles astern of the convoy at 21:00. Strict instructions were given as regards reduction in signalling, so as to avoid the enemy observing the departure of the destroyers.
At 21:00 the destroyers formed upon Avon Vale 3000 yards apart, course 162, speed 15 knots, commencing A/S sweep back along the course of the convoy.
A signal from V.A.C.N.A. (2045A/14) was received at 21:12, but by that time it was too late to comply (there's no info on what was said in this signal).

Wild Swan requested permission to proceed at best speed for Gibraltar at 11:37 the following day, Aug. 15, in order to land a case of "strangled hernia", and this was given.
At 20:00A that same day, when in 38 02N 12 06W, an aircraft was sighted, flying dangerously close to the ships, but Yankee Clipper, bound for Lisbon, recognized it in time.
Later that night, at 23:08, when in 37 33N 11 20W, the Portuguese steamer Colonial was sighted, bound out of Lisbon on course 225.

A steamer was also sighted the next day, when in position 37 12N 10 50W at 01:06, Aug. 16. It was showing few lights, and when approached it proved to be the Argentinian Josefinas (this should probably be Josefina S) with destination Lisbon.
When in 38 50N 7 44W at 13:05, a steamer closed by Boreas turned out to be the Spanish trawler Vega Surez No. II.
At 16:35, in 35 50N 6 32W, the Spanish trawler Logrado Grozando and an unidentified trawler were sighted. They were not fishing, and were steering for Cadiz.

At 19:50 the destroyers made contact with P.W.S.S. Europa Point.

Signed, Lieutenant in Command, signature illegible.

Related external links:
HG (& SL) Convoys - In chronological order.

The attacks on Sud

Italian sub Marconi

HMS Avon Vale

Back to Convoy Index

To the next HG available convoy in my list (report only) HG 72


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