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Notes on Convoy HX 252 and Commodore Rear Admiral R. M. King's Narrative

Page 1 - Ships in HX 252

Aug. 14-1943
47 ships sailed from New York under Commodore Rear Admiral R. M. King, D.S.C. (Vice Commodore Rear Admiral C. H. G. Benson). Western Local Escort W6 consisting of 1 T.B.D. 1 corvette, 2 minesweepers (see Page 1).

Aug. 15:
1 U.S. ship returned to New York (this was Nathaniel Bacon, see Page 1). 46 ships in Convoy.

Aug. 17:
9 ships (including rescue ship Bury) joined in H.O.M.P. (=55 ships). (It looks like Lady Rodney is not included here - again, see Page 1). 1 T.B.D. Chelsea sailed to overtake.

Air Cover: 3 sorties from Newfoundland covered convoy between 07:28Z and 22:41Z.

Aug. 18:
13:30Z - Chelsea met convoy. 1 M/S returned to Halifax.
Escort, 2 T.B.D., 1 corvette, 1 M/S.

Aug. 19:
U-boat attack reported, but following casualties probably caused by collision in fog:
J. Pinckney Henderson (U.S.), general, afloat, on fire.
J. H. Senior (Panamanian tanker), gasoline and planes, afloat, salvable.
Santos (Norw), general, sunk (follow link for more details on her loss).
Possibly one other ship involved.
Western Local Escort of 2 T.B.D.'s, 1 corvette and 1 M/S. The corvette and M/S left convoy, stood by the wrecks and hunted U-boats. Tugs are proceeding to assistance and 1 frigate, 2 T.B.D.'s, 3 corvettes and 1 trawler to hunt for U-boats in vicinity.

Aug. 20:
08:00Z - Ocean Escort 2 T.B.D.'s, 2 frigates, 4 corvettes relieved W6. One trawler and tug possibly overtaking (escorts are named on Page 1).

Commodore's Narrative of Voyage

(Daily positions of convoy at 08:00 BST are available on request via address provided at the bottom of this page.)

Convoy commenced to leave New York at 06:00 (E.W.T.) 14th August. At ? fog came down while convoy was abreast of (D) buoy, swept channel, and did not lift until 13:10 thus delaying forming up, also last ships did not pass gate until 10:36 (1 1/2 hrs late). There were only four escorts, Montgomery S.O. Herbrand did not join convoy till 05:45 (E.W.T.) 15th August and Nathaniel Bacon returned to New York with engine defects.

Aug. 15:
Both wing columns and rear ships of columns fired L.A. guns at smoke targets. Sound signals were excercised.

Aug. 16:
A.M. - All ships, except Pacific Shipper (unable owing to deck cargo) ran P.V.'s successfully. Sound signals were excercised.

Aug. 17:
H.O.M.P. position 42 57N 60 20W was made at 14:00Z, time ordered. Halifax portion was in station at 16:00Z.

Aug. 18:
S.E. gale commenced about 12:00Z with V depression increasing to force 6 by 16:00Z. Speed was reduced to 9 1/4 knots as ships were steering badly with wind on starbord quarter. Gale decreased rapidly and had dropped to force 3 by 21:00Z.
At 20:23Z course was altered to 054 in position AE for position AF.
At 21:30Z speed was increased to 9 1/2 knots. Fog came down at 22:00Z. It was dark at 23:00Z.

Aug. 19:
At 00:50Z noise like two guns being fired was heard on port quarter, followed by large glow in fog and what sounded like depth charges.
At 01:00Z Escort reported track of torpedo sighted.
At 01:15Z S/O signalled by R/T to Commodore "Same course please".
At 01:35Z S/O signalled by R/T that two rear escorts were in contact and hunting to kill. Asked if any ships hit.
At 01:55Z Number 45, Cairnesk, reported that number 34, Santos, was abandoning ship. Having received W/T message to that effect.
At 02:00Z S/O E. ordered rescue ship Bury to stand by Santos. I stopped making fog sound signals at 01:00Z until 03:00Z in case U-boat was following convoy. No ships made W/T signal stating that they had been hit or attacked.
At 04:35Z S/O E. reported that two destroyers were screening convoy.
At 05:20Z suggested to S/O E. that M/F D/F guards be ordered to assume duty. Reply "yes". Guards detailed.
At 10:00Z made signal to S/O E., and R/T ships in convoy that would arrive in position AF about 11:00Z, and intended to continue present course and speed.
At 10:45Z fog commenced to lift.
At 11:50Z fog had cleared enough to count 48 ships and I reduced to 9 knots to allow stragglers to catch up, and convoy to regain station.
By 13:00Z fog was again dense.
At 13:50Z S/O E. reported number 42, J. Pinckney Henderson, sunk (listed in station 41 of A 1 form). Number 32, J. H. Senior hit, still afloat (note that these ships were not torpedoed, but had collided). No news of number 34, Santos.
At 15:40Z E. L. Mundopan (he probably means El Mundo, Pan.) with Grenadier and Hesperia joined convoy.
At 19:45Z course was altered to 042 for position AG.
At 20:28Z number 11, Richard Montgomery, reported torpedo track by W/T.
At 20:30Z S/O E. made convoy attacked* to escorts, and to Commodore "Go straight on". From 20:31 to 20:50Z several depth charges were heard.
At 20:38Z signal was made to ships in columns to cease making sound signals.
At 21:10Z S/O E. reported - Consider no ships hit.
At 22:00Z ordered leading ships of columns only, to make sound signals. Fog continued all night.

* As far as I'm able to determine, Convoy HX 252 was not attacked at all.

Aug. 20:
12:00Z - Fog lifted slightly. S/O E. closed and passed letter giving new route, from C.-in-C. N.A.
13:30Z - Depth charges dropped by escort; later reported as false alarm.
14:30Z - Lady Rodney detached to St. John's N.F.
14:50Z - Ocean Escort, Assiniboine S/O took over.
16:30Z - Altered course to 060 for new route. 47 ships in convoy, three casualties, rescue ship Bury to St. John's N.F. (more in Notes for Bury on Page 1), 5 stragglers.
17:50Z - Montgomery and Chelsea left. Montgomery reported that he would ask C.-in-C. for Commodore's R/V's for next two days and stragglers new route to be promulgated by BAMS. Fog all night.

Aug. 21:
Fog at daylight and remained till 21:20Z when it cleared, and 46 ships were counted. 6 ships not accounted for.
At 15:45Z at request of S/O E. course was altered by wheeling to ? for four hours as he thought convoy was possibly being shadowed by U-boat.
At 22:00Z course was altered to 060 by wheeling and at 23:00 to 065 for position AM. Speed 9 knots. This alteration made R/V for 22nd August incorrect and I requested S/O E. to ask for amended R/V for 22nd August and R/V for 23rd August to be made by BAMS.

Aug. 22:
Fog at daylight but cleared later. Number 21 reported that number 11, Richard Montgomery, was last heard when she repeated course 060 at 16:30Z on 20th August.
At 19:30Z Kentuckian rejoined convoy.

Aug. 23:
John Hay rejoined during night of 22-23rd August.
At 10:00Z Theodore Dwight Weld rejoined with damaged bow and reported she had been in collision with Santos at 00:55Z on 19th August and another ship name unknown at 01:59Z 19th August. Times of collisions fit in with U-boat attack 18-19th August. Separate report enclosed (see Page 3).

Aug. 24:
Strong wind from NW at daylight and continued.
At 12:00Z George C. Childress rejoined with nets out. Received signal from S/O E. that number 12, Robert Fulton (this ship is listed in station 13 of the A 1 form), had arrived St. John's N.F. having lost convoy. This left one ship missing, number 11, Richard Montgomery, last heard to repeat sound signal for alteration of course to 060, 16:30Z 20th August.

Aug. 25:
19:00Z - Detached fast convoy of 8 ships ahead with 2 escorts to U.K. ports (these ships are named on Page 1).
23:20Z - Number 72, Culfcoast, and number 74, John A. Brown, her next astern, collided. Separate report forwarded (available on Page 3). Both ships seaworthy.

Aug. 26:
Detached Alcoa Cutter with escort to join Iceland convoy.

Aug. 27:
09:00Z - Detached Loch Ewe section of 7 ships (named on Page 1).
07:00Z - Received message from S/O E. destination Liverpool.

Aug. 28:
04:40Z - Received signal from C.-in-C. W.A. destination Glasgow.
05:30 - Left convoy, Boskoop in charge of Mersey section, in position 54 34N 05 21W Vice Commodore having broken down in Pacific Shipper at 03:05Z. Proceeded to Clyde independently.

HX 252 started badly when fog came down in the middle of swept channel New York, the U-boat attack resulting in two ships sunk and two damaged*. Theodore Dwight Weld with a badly damaged bow was a cause of anxiety and although the ship reported she could do 10 1/2 knots I did not care about increasing speed to more than 9 knots until we were in coastal area especially as she was inclined to straggle at night. Two American ships collided at night while in my column with a steady course and speed. A large number of ships had to stop for short periods with engine or steering defects. One ship, Richard Montgomery parted company in fog and no news of her to date 28th.

My staff and I embarked in Glenbeg on Friday 13th August, and after having destination of ship altered three times, Glenbeg left the convoy in the Irish Channel for Glasgow.

*Please note again that no U-boat or submarine attacks are reported on the dates in question by Jürgen Rohwer in his "Axis Submarine Successes of World War II".

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