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CONVOY OA 23 Report
Departed Southend on Oct. 21-1939 (15 ships), dispersed Oct 26

Summary of HMS Acasta's Report of Proceedings
Dated Oct 27-1939
Received from Tony Cooper, England - His source: Public Records Office, Kew

(As will be seen, there's not much about the convoy here, but I'm adding a summary of this report, in case someone is researching HMS Acasta).

HMS Acasta had sailed from Plymouth at 04:12 on Oct. 20 in order to meet up with Convoy HG 3 and subsequently met British Captain, which she escorted through that day, until the latter was detached for her destination Le Havre that evening. Acasta then proceeded to Dover, where she arrived at 08:05 on Oct. 21. Her commander states: "The ship completed with oil fuel and then secured to a buoy. I took the opportunity of calling at the offices of the Vice Admiral, Dover at the Castle and was informed that there is now a repair ship, HMS Sandhurst, stationed at Dover and that she is available to assist with urgent running repairs of any destroyer calling at the port".

Acasta left Dover again at 15:30 in order to meet up with Convoy OA 23 in the Downs, meeting this convoy passing the South Foreland at 15:45. Acasta obtained the convoy documents from the Goodwin Fork buoy pilot vessel, then joined the convoy, proceeding west via the searched channels, HMS Ardent joining off Folkstone at 17:00.

At dawn on Oct. 22 the convoy formed into 5 columns and proceeded without incident through the day, keeping well organized with a high standard of signalling.

Early the following morning, Oct. 23, the British Starling in station 32 left the convoy, believed to have detached for Bordeaux without orders. She was not seen to leave and was to have been 1 of the 3 units of the ocean section of the convoy, but was no longer present at dawn on the 23rd.

At 07:30 that morning the Commodore ordered the coastal ships to disperse, at which point the course of the ocean going ships was altered to 254°, before being ordered to form a line abreast with the speed increased to 13 knots, and a zig-zag ordered to commence at 08:30. However, at 08:28 the track of a torpedo was observed crossing close astern, from port to starboard. Acasta immediately turned to port, increasing to maximum speed to deliver a non-asdic counter attack. At the same time Ardent, who had to steam around the dispersing coastal ships, came in from the starboard quarter and was ordered to follow. The torpedo was fired from the direction of the rising sun, bearing 113° altitude 7°. Acasta steamed along the track for 1 1/4 miles and where it ceased she dropped 3 depth charges at wide intervals in position 228° Lizard 21 miles. The track was straight and more distinct that expected from a modern torpedo. The Torpedo Gunner's Mate, who was on deck aft, stated that the head of the track reached the ship's side at the engine room, indicating that the torpedo missed ahead of the convoy and Acasta. Ardent was now ordered to carry out an all-round A/S sweep in the vicinity where the charges fired.

Acasta had experienced problems with her asdic set since the night of Oct. 22/23, so she now attempted to attract the attention of HMS Grafton and Gallant which were hull-up to the northwestward, but, having failed to communicate with them, she started to close them at maximum speed. Shortly thereafter, they were both seen to turn directly away from her and take off at high speed, so Acasta rejoined Ardent. By 09:40 her spare A/S oscillator had been shipped an tuned, and she commenced a hunt together with Ardent, joined at 11:30 by Grafton and Gallant, which by that time had received instructions from C.-in-C., W.A.

Acasta obtained a good contact at 17:00 in position 232° Lizard 22', only 2 miles from where the torpedo had been fired at 08:28. A full pattern of depth charges was dropped at 17:20, the only visible result being "a curious patch of pale emerald green water about 150 feet by 75 feet and close to where the depth charges fired. This patch was persistent and was still clearly visible at dusk". Ardent made an attack on the same target at 18:00, dropping a further full pattern.

Both ships remained in the vicinity, holding the contact until 20:00, at which time a signal was received from C.-in-C., W.A. with orders to attack a U-boat off Dodman point. Ardent and Acasta proceeded to this position at 23 knots, rejoining Grafton and Gallant off Lizard. These 4 ships carried out a sweep between the Manacles and Looe Bay until 13:45 on Oct. 24, without result. At this time Grafton and Gallant returned to harbour, while the remaining 2 ships continued the sweep until 00:56 on Oct. 25, at which time another signal was received from C.-in-C., W.A. with orders to attack a U-boat in position by D/F 49 30N 04 45W. Arriving this position at 02:10, convoy SL 4A was seen to pass through.

During the rest of the night, Acasta shadowed the above mentioned convoy from the northward, the side away from the moon, changing over to the starboard bow of the convoy at dawn in order to be between it and the rising sun. She left the convoy at 09:00 that morning (25th) and swept back to the eastward, then in the vicinity of the D/F position, leaving the area at 17:30 to rendezvous with Grafton and Gallant near the Eddystone at 19:00. Mounts Bay was swept out during the early morning hours of Oct. 26, then at 08:40 course was set to return to Plymouth. At 11:00 the ships increased to maximum speed, a report having been received of a suspected crossing of the indicator loop. Grafton and Gallant proceeded up harbour, while Acasta and Ardent swept between Rame Head and Yealm Head until 12:45, at which time Acasta proceeded up harbour and secured to the oiler at 13:20. She left the oiler at 17:30, secured to No. 1 buoy in Plymouth Sound, remaining at 10 minutes' notice for steam as duty destroyer.

She proceeded to sea again at 03:50 on Oct. 27, the indicator loop having failed. She did an A/S sweep between Newstone and Penlee Point until 05:50 when the loop was reported correct and she again secured to No. 1 buoy. At 18:50 she proceeded up harbour and secured to No. 6 buoy Hamoaze, reverting to 8 hours' notice for steam.

Signature looks like C. T. Glasfurd - Lieutenant Commander.

Related external links:
OA and OB Convoys - Chronological list, starting with 1939.

OB Convoys

SL Convoys - SL 4 is included.

Back to Convoy Index

To the next available OA convoy in my list OA 92


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