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Convoy ON 152 Cruising Order
Departed Liverpool on Dec. 9-1942 and arrived New York on Dec. 31 (Arnold Hague says 15 ships).
Transcribed from several documents received from Roger Griffiths (his source: Public Records Office, Kew).

I have added the details on ships sunk and casualties with the help of:
"The Allied Convoy System", Arnold Hague,
"Axis Submarine Successes of WW II", Jürgen Rohwer, and
"The World's Merchant Fleets". R. W. Jordan.

Norw=Norwegian, Br=British, Gr=Greek, Ru=Russian, Bel=Belgian, Du=Dutch, Am=American, Pa=Panamanian.
RV=Rescue Vessel, †=died

Ships sailing from:
L=Liverpool, M=Milford, G=Clyde, A=Aultbea.

Please note that the ships included in this table are those sailing from the U.K. only.
More ships joined from Iceland and Halifax, and are named in the Notes below (note also that some of the stations changed).

11 (M)
Montreal City
coal - general
New York
sunk - 40 (39?)

21 (L)
New York
31 (L)
New York
41 (L)
New York
51 (G)
New York
61 (M)
Grey County
Saint John N.B.
71 (A)
81 (G)
12 (M)
china clay
New York
22 (M)
New York
32 (M)
President Francqui
New York
42 (L)
New York
52 (A)
62 (M)
Oregon I
St. John N.B.
(Da / Br 1940)
72 (M)
82 (A)
sunk - 34
33 (A)
Friedrich Engels***
New York
43 (G)
53 (A)
New York
63 (A)
St. John's N.F.
73 (G)
Coity Castle
* Veni lost touch with the convoy during the night leading up to Dec. 12 and returned to Clyde.
** President Francqui later joined Convoy ON 154, and was sunk - see this external page as well as this website, which has a lot of information on the battle for this convoy.
*** For info, Friedrich Engels and Hollywood (which joined ON 152 from Iceland) had recently arrived Loch Ewe from Murmansk with Convoy QP 15 on Nov. 30 - see this external site.

Arnold Hague also mentions an American ship named Maiden Creek as having foundered while in this convoy on Dec. 31, cargo of zinc and copper concentrate - no casualties. This ship is not mentioned in the convoy documents.

Commodore H. J. Woodward D.S.O. & Bar. was in Bonneville, Vice Commodore was the captain of Beaconstreet, Rear Commodore was the captain of Leadgate.

The Rescue Vessel Rathlin was on her 10th voyage as such, starting her voyage from Clyde on Dec. 10-1942, to Halifax Dec. 26 - subsequently returned to the U.K. with Convoy HX 222 on Jan. 8-1943. ("Convoy Rescue Ships", Arnold Hauge).

Daily positions of convoy at 08:00 are available on request via the contact address provided at the bottom of this page. For info, Mike Holdoway has plotted its course, it can be reached through this page on his website (click on "charted convoy routes").

Friedrich Engels, Chateau Thierry (from Iceland) and Sommerstad were "very good and prompt" at visual signalling.

Hartbridge, Oropos, Leadgate and Rathlin "made too much smoke, Hartbridge being the worst offender".

Ships joining from Iceland at 16:00N on Dec. 15 in 56 18N 27 40W, and their stations:
Chateau Thierry (Am - station 31), Greylag (Pa - 12), K. Artiki (Ru - 23; is this a misspelling of Komsomolets Arctiki?), Hollywood (Am - 33), Pleiades (Am - 53), Ann Skakel? (Am - 63, name is actually given as Vienskagll, but I believe this is a misspelling, because in the Commodore's list of ships missing on Dec. 24 [further down on this page] the ship in station 63 is given as Ann Skakel), Henry Mallory (Am - 73 - probably Henry R. Mallory?), Melantic (Am - 82).

The above ships should have joined on Dec. 13, but they were not met. The Senior Officer of the escort reported them on the morning of Dec. 14, bearing 168° by RDF. On Dec. 15 they were reported 70 miles astern. The Commodore says: "It was necessary to reverse the course of the convoy at daylight and steam back on our track. Among other difficulties, they had to contend with the presence of the Greylag who can only do 7 knots" ..... "On a previous occasion I sent her back to N.Y. on the second day out as she could only do about 4 knots in fine weather. I do not think she is suitable for inclusion in convoy." Course was resumed after the Iceland section had joined on Dec. 15.

"This took place in waters known to be infested with U-boats and where, during the following night, the S.O. Escort got bearings of 5 or 6 of them. It was also nearly full moon. To say that this procedure is highly undesirable is an understatement. This junction of the Iceland section with ON(S) convoy is going to be a matter of great difficulty in winter for the following reasons:

1 - Westbound ships are very light and are at the mercy of the wind. The speed of a slow convoy may vary between 2 and 9 knots. Both these speeds have been logged on this voyage in this ship doing revolutions for 7.5 knots.

2 - 20° of leeway has been experienced.

3 - It will be seen that forecasting one's position, even 12 hours ahead, is almost impossible with any degree of accurary.

4 - The winter visibility in these latitudes is often poor.

5 - There is only 8 hours daylight.

6 - Both sections are several days out and sights are often unobtainable for days at a time.

So that even with the skillful use of RDF the meeting is more a matter of good luck than of good management.

I would suggest that Russian ships for U.S.A. assemble at Loch Ewe and not Iceland and that the escorts of U.S.A. ships which run between Iceland and the States be prepared to take them on to St. John's, N.F. if junction is missed, and that in no circumstances should an ON(S) Convoy have to reverse its course in submarine waters."

Westerly gales were practically continuous from Dec. 16 until Dec. 24, and largely owing to light ballasting the convoy was widely scattered. "Owing to the slow speed of very light ships against the prevailing westerly winds in winter the length of the round voyage is very great. The difficulties of extra cost and time lost loading and discharging ballast are realised but it may still be found worthwhile to load westbound slow ships with more ballast than at present. In particular the Commodore's ship M/S Bonneville was so lightly laden that she was unmanageable when hove to".

At daylight on the 24th the following were present (where stations have not been noted, they were the same as already mentioned):
Beaconstreet, K. Artiki (Komsomolets Arctiki?), Chateau Thierry, Friedrich Engels (station 32), Hollywood, Bonneville, Sommerstad, Parklaan (51) and Adamas.

The following were missing:
Greylag, Olney, Rathlin, Hartbridge (52 - reported defect in circulating pump), Pleiades, Grey County, Oregon I, Ann Skakel (63), Leadgate, Henry (R?) Mallory, Malantic, Montreal City*, and Oropos (81)**.

* Oropos was believed to have been sunk on Dec. 18 by U-621 with the loss of her entire complement.
** Montreal City was torpedoed on Dec. 21 by U-591 - there were no survivors.

The Commodore says, "An SSSS message was received at 03:10 Z believed to have come from the straggling Montreal City, saying she had been torpedoed in 50 23N 38 00W". The operator in Bonneville (Commodore's ship), Bryn Lewis, who had recently joined the ship from Port Talbot, read this position wrong and failed to report it until 08:00 ship's time when the correct position was received from the Vice Commodore. "The C.P.O. Tel. on my staff reports that he is not interested in W/T and is not likely ever to become fit to take a Cabinet Watch."

A number of U-boats were near the convoy between Dec. 13 and Dec. 17, and "in consequence, several orders for route diversion were received. Burnham got bearings of 5 or 6 of them on the night of the 16th and 17th Decemeber. I think that the only reason the convoy was not heavily attacked was the very heavy weather".

At 16:30 on Dec. 25, in 45 24N 49 26W, Hollywood was sent to St. John's with defects, escorted by St. Clair.
On Dec. 28 in 42 46N 61 42W, Chateau Thierry and Adamas were detached for Halifax.
At 07:30 on Dec. 30 in 39 48N 72 30W Parklaan was detached to Baltimore.

Ships joining from Halifax at 13:00p on Dec. 28 at HOMP - 42 46N 61 42W (I believe most of these are misspelt):
Santos (Norw*), Chomedy, Shirvan, M. Lykes (Margaret Lykes?), Hagood, Ealga, Sweo (mis-spelling of Spero?), N. Y. (New York City?) Chromium(?), F. Weller (might be Fred W. Weller? which is listed as travelling from New York to Halifax with Convoy HX 220 at the end of Dec.-1942), Fort Townshend, Zaristicles (Aristides?), Boriare (?).

* The "Movement Card" for Santos states that she she left River Mersey on Dec. 11-1942, arrived Halifax Dec. 27, left the same day with arrival New York Jan. 1-1943. In fact, she had left the U.K. in Convoy ON 153, which departed Liverpool on Dec. 11, but lost touch with this convoy en route - see next page.

Local: Bodo
From Oversay: HMS Burnham (till Dec. 21), HMCS Skeena (till Dec. 16), HMCS Agassiz (till Dec. 28, fuelled at St. John's), HMCS Sackville (till Dec. 21), HMCS Galt (till Dec. 21), HMCS Wetaskiwin (till Dec. 21).
From Dec. 21 in 50 43N 37 57W: HNoMS Lincoln (till Dec. 22) and HM(C)S Georgetown (till Dec. 23).
From Dec. 23 in 48 30N 42 40W: HMCS St. Clair (till 16:30p Dec. 25, escorted Hollywood), HMCS Dundas (as far as HOMP) and HMCS Brantford (till Dec. 25).
From Dec. 25 in 46 33N 47 30W: HMS Chelsea and HMCS Truro (both till Dec. 28 at HOMP).
From Dec. 28 at HOMP to New York: HMCS Matapedia, HMCS Milltown and HMCS Rimouski.

Aircraft escort seen on Dec 11, 12, 13, 24, 29 and 31.

More details on all the Norwegian ships named in this table can be found in the alphabetical ship lists of this website.

Related external links:
The loss of Oropos
The loss of Montreal City

Back to Convoy Index

To the next ON convoy in my list ON 153


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