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CONVOY ON 25 – U.K.-Norway

Left Methil Roads on Apr. 5-1940 - ordered to turn around before arrival Norway
Names of ships were received from Don Kindell, based on the late Arnold Hague's database.
The reports were received from Tony Cooper, England (his source: Public Records Office, Kew).

There seems to be some disagreement as to the number of ships in this convoy. According to a document listing all the ON convoys, Convoy ON 25 had a total of 43 ships, 10 of which had joined from Kirkwall. 9 of the ships were British, 16 Norwegian, 9 Swedish, 4 Danish, 4 Finnish and 1 Estonian - 2 were detached (not bound for Norway). A document giving information on all the Norway-U.K. / U.K.-Norway convoys in general states it had 6 British and 25 neutral ships when leaving Methil on Apr. 5, with 1 British and 9 neutrals joining from Kirkwall (total of 41). Due to the German invasion of Norway, 17 turned back for Kirkwall, 1 of them being my father's ship, D/S Ringulv. For more information, see his letter No. 2 in Odd's Letters, as well as Rudzin's Diary and the text on the page about my father. (Note that all these pages are also available in Norwegian).

The document mentioned above adds that due to the reported activity of the German fleet, ON 25 was ordered by the C.-in-C., Home Fleet, to turn around when about 55 miles to the northeastward of Muckle Flugga (Shetlands)*. The next morning, on Apr. 8, only 17 ships were in company and these were sent to Kirkwall, then on to Methil. It was believed that the rest of the ships left the convoy intentionally in the course of the night, thinking the escort had ordered them to turn around because of the bad weather, but feeling they would be able to deal with this. 4 British and 20 neutral ships are said to have taken this action. 2 of the British ships** joined up with the returning Convoy HN 25 the following day, and 1 made it safely to the U.K. later on, but the 4th*** was torpedoed while returning independently to the U.K. Of the 20 neutral ships, 8 are said to have escaped, while 12 fell into German hands.

*My father's Letter No. 2, as well as Rudzin's Diary say that Ringulv turned around on Apr. 9, having already seen the coast of Norway.

** The external website that I've linked to at the end of this page states that it was the British Nyanza and North Devon that returned to the U.K. with Convoy HN 25 (scroll quite a ways down in the text under Apr. 9 on the site). As can be seen below, A. Hague indicates that the British Imperial Valley returned with that convoy.

** Checking with Jürgen Rohwer's "Axis Submarine Successes of World War Two" I find that the British Stancliffe was torpedoed and sunk by U-37 on Apr. 12-1940.'s page about this ship has more information (external link), giving the sinking location as "45 miles northeast of Muckle Flugga, Shetlands".

According to Arnold Hague, the following ships sailed in this convoy (in alphabetical order):

Finnish Ascania
Estonian Begonia (lost in Norway Apr. 29).
Danish Bertha
K Swedish Bullaren
K Swedish C. F. Liljevalch (seized in Norway).
Swedish Caledonia (1268 gt - for info, Norway also had a Caledonia, but this was a tanker and much larger than the Swedish ship).
British Cree (see also ON 24)
British Dalveen
Finnish Delaware (2441 gt - for info, there was also a Danish and a British ship by this name, 2280 gt and 1940 gt respectively).
Norwegian Diana* (Finland also had a ship by this name).
Norwegian Einvik*
K Norwegian Elna E* (I have a note for this ship saying she managed to get to Kirkwall on May 5-1940).
Norwegian Eros (for info, there was also a British and a Swedish ship by this name).
Swedish Forsvik (listed as Norwegian by A. Hague, but this was a Swedish ship).
Swedish Frey
Swedish Haga
Dutch? Helder (A. Hague lists this ship as the Dutch Helder of 3629 gt. Note that there was also a British Helder of 979 gt, which appears in a couple of HN convoys on this site, HN 14 and HN 15).
Norwegian Hjalmar Wessel*
Norwegian Ibis
K British Imperial Valley (returned to the U.K. with HN 25, according to A. Hague).
Norwegian Inger* (for info, Sweden and Denmark also had ships by this name).
Danish Lotte
Swedish Magdalena (for info, there was also a British ship by this name).
British Magrix (detached off Aberdeen, according to the external site that I've linked to at the end of this page).
Danish Mette
Swedish Nordöst
K British North Devon
British Nyanza
British Orangemoor
K Norwegian Ringulv*
Norwegian Roy*
K Norwegian Sarpfoss
Norwegian Sjofna*
K Norwegian Solhavn*
Danish Sophie
K Norwegian Stanja
K Norwegian Star*
British Swainby
K Norwegian Topdalsfjord*
Norwegian Vard
Finnish Veli Ragnar
Norwegian Vestland*
K Finnish Wappu

For info, some of these ships had previously arrived from Norway with Convoy HN 20 or HN 21 (Ascania is listed in HN 22, while a few of the others appear in HN 19).

All the Norwegian ships mentioned here are discussed on this website. The easiest way to find them all is via the Master Ship Index. When checking the above ships against the ships in this index, we find that the ones denoted * were later in allied control and, therefore, must have been among the ones that managed to get to the U.K. All the others are listed in the Homefleet section.

According to the external website that I've linked to at the end of this page (see text under Apr. 5) the 12 ships denoted K were in the Kirkwall section. The same site states that Dalveen, Caledonia, Delaware, Roy, Diana, Einvik, Inger, Vestland, Hjalmar Wessel, Orangemoor, Frey, Cree, Bullaren, Wappu, Star and Ringulv arrived at Kirkwall on Apr. 9, while Nordöst arrived on the 10th, Solhavn on the 11th, Topdalsfjord on the 12th, and Helder on the 13th. Bertha, North Devon and Imperial Valley arrived Methil on the 11th, 12th and 16th respectively, and Nyanza arrived Tyne on the 13th. The site adds that Veli Ragnar arrived Kirkenes, Norway, and Forsvik sailed to Gothenburg. Magdalena, Lotte, Mette, Begonia, Eros, Sjofna, Ibis, Vard, Ascania, Haga, Sophie, Swainby, Sarpfoss, C. F. Liljevalch and Stanja were either lost or captured when the convoy was recalled on Apr. 8. 24 ships lost touch continuing towards Bergen. Note, however, that Sjofna was under allied control until she was lost in 1944, so must have managed to get to the U.K. (The other Norwegian ships in this group ended up in the Homefleet, as already indicated).

HMS Vivien's Report - Commanding Officer W. D. G. Weir:
At 20:30 on Apr. 9-1940, HMS Vivien, HMS Woolston and HMS Wolsey departed Rosyth, having received instructions to proceed to Kirkwall with despatch for the returning Convoy ON 25. Speed was increased to 20 knots when clear of Inchkeith, and again to 26 knots when clear of traffic off Firth of Tay, maintaining this speed until arrival off Kirkwall at 06:50 on Apr. 10. At that time the convoy, 18 ships in 3 columns with Caledonia as Commodore leading the port column, was passing through the gates, led by HMS Breda.

Vivien was stationed ahead to port, Woolston on the port flank and Wolsey astern, joined at 10:55 by HMS Bittern, which was stationed on the starboard flank. At 13:30 an A/S contact was investigated by Woolston, but this was decided to be "non-sub". However, when Vivien at 14:25 obtained a good contact and observed a track of oil (58 20.3N 2 24.8W), an immediate attack with full pattern was made at 14:36. Woolston closed to assist and also obtained contact. Considerable patches of oil were seen after the first attack, and a second attack was made at 15:14. At 15:25, Woolston was ordered to rejoin the convoy, Wolsey having occupied her port flank position while she was gone. At 15:36 (15:30?), bombs were seen to fall near the convoy, landing 200 yards ahead of Breda, but no damage was suffered. Heinkel aircraft was engaged by the escort, and was forced to retire to the westward.

Vivien, meanwhile, remained in the vicinity of the A/S contact till 16:24, at which time the decision was reached that the contact had been "non-sub" (believed to be a wreck in position 58 18N 2 25W), though encouraging evidence to the contrary had been observed.

At 17:25* an aircraft was again seen coming from astern with cloudy exhaust, dropping bombs from approximately 8000 feet abreast the leading ships of the convoy and between the centre and starboard columns. The aircraft was engaged, but when it was seen that it was also engaged by fighters, fire was witheld. It was noted to be damaged, though released a further salvo of bombs ahead of the convoy, causing no damage. The fighters continued the action and 2 parachutes were seen to be released (one unoccupied), then at 17:45 the enemy aircraft crashed very heavily 1 1/2 miles from Viviven in approx. 58 01N 1 53(?)W and must have sunk immediately. Vivien proceeded to the position at full speed, and the following items were picked up (nothing remained of the aircraft itself, No. 6998, He 111, DHB-B-Stand)):
A map of the north coast and English Channel with coastal sections.
Portion of homing map for Germany with lights
Miniature Jane's Fighting Ships
6 cylinders, believed to be air bottles for life saving gear.
Notebook, recovered by Wolsey.

HMS Woolston rescued the surviving parachutist who turned out to be the pilot, with a cut in his head and a bullet wound in his right shoulder.

*Another document giving info on various aircraft attacks on convoys, states the following:
During the afternoon of Apr. 10-1940, the 17 ships that had returned to Kirkwall and were continuing to Methil, were shadowed by aircraft in Moray Firth. An attack developed at 17:32 that day; 1 German aircraft was shot down by fighters that had been sent out. No ships damaged.

HMS Bittern detached at 08:20, Apr. 11, on orders from the C.-in-C., Rosyth. No further incidents occurred and the convoy reached Elieness at noon.

Escorts, mentioned in this document:
Manchester, Southampton, Calcutta, Breda, Javelin, Juno, Janus, Eclipse, Grenade.
Distant cover: Home Fleet.

Additionally, the text under Apr. 3 and Apr. 5 on this external page mentions this convoy and its escorts (scroll down in the text). It's also mentioned in the text under Apr. 7

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