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Commodore Gerald N. Jones' Narrative
Convoy ON 30
(Other convoys on this website for which G. N. Jones acted as Commodore: ON 4, HX 134).

Page 1 - Ships in ON 30

Saturday, Oct. 25:
10:30 - Conference held in the Conference Room of the Royal Liver Buildings. Meeting addressed by Captain Goff R.N., N.C.O., on procedure for leaving the port. I also spoke for a few minutes on general Convoy Organisation. A special talk was given on "Snow-flake" rockets, by Senior Officer of Armaments. An Air Force Officer also spoke on Air defence and attack. My staff boarded the M.S. Peisander the same day.

Oct. 26:
At 10:15 I received final instructions and at 11:30 boarded M.S. Peisander (Captain A. Shaw, Master) in the River Mersey, the ship lying North of the Rock Light.
13:15 - Commenced to weigh anchor.
13:30 - Proceeded seawards, other ships following out.
15:10 - Pilot left.
15:19 - Bar ship abeam 3 cables, set course 288°.
18:05 - Passed outer swept channel buoy, and set course to 298°. Light failing. There are 18 ships somewhere astern. Reduced to 8 Knots to allow the ships to come up into two columns. It will be morning before they are up. Wind is N.N.W. 6, partly cloudy, clear weather. We have one Corvette present, H.M.S. Dahlia.
21:42 - Chicken Light bearing North 6 miles. A/C (altered course) 321°.
23:15 - A/C 002 degrees. Strong North wind and rough sea.

Oct. 27:
03:10 - Mull of Galloway Light bearing 027°. A/C to 335°.
04:00 - A/C to 320°.
06:40 - A/C to 317°. Number 32, Athelduke*, fell astern with engine trouble during the night.
08:45 - Increased to 9 Knots. Port column consists of one ship, Number 31, S.S. Taranaki. Remainder of port column have never come up. Have no escort present to send down the line. The Milford ships are ahead about 5 miles. Wind N.W. by N. 7. Rough sea, indifferent visibility. Saw three objects thought to be parachutes come down in the water 2 miles away. Have informed a destroyer who has gone to search. Destroyer reported that the objects seen were ship's balloons that had burst and blown away.
09:55 - Mull of Kintyre bearing 047° 2 1/2 miles. A/C to 312°.
10:00 - Ships ahead are Liverpool, Clyde, Belfast and Milford sections. The 6 Liverpool ships formed our first column and passed us in the night.
10:45 - Altacarry Head 180° 6 miles.
11:00 - Hoisted signal for two columns.
Noon position - 55 31N 6 17W. Oversay Light bearing 320° 12 miles. Distance run 168 miles. Av. speed 8.15 Knots. Strong wind to moderate gale. Rising sea, drizzling showers.
12:20 - A/C to 310°. 8 Kts.
13:10 - A/C to 305°. Escorts present, Corvettes H.M.S. Monkshood, Arabis, Trawlers Northern Spray and Northern Gem.
15:15 - Oversay Light bearing 090° 6 miles. A/C to 323 Dgs.
15:35 - 9 Kts. Heavy head sea.
21:30 - Cross bearings with Barra Head and Skerryvore. A/C to 346°.
23:30 - Skerryvore bearing 060° 10 miles. A/C to 013°.

* Athelduke is not listed on the A 1 form for ON 30. She is, however, included in Arnold Hague's listing for this convoy - see Ships in all ON convoys.

Oct. 28:
Strong gale and steep head sea, squally and clear.
05:45 - Oigh Sgier Light bearing 095° 13 miles.
07:00 - Cross bearings place ship West. A/C 029°.
08:00 - A/C to 016°.
Daylight - only 4 ships present with us, also one Corvette. Nothing in sight astern.
08:40 - 7 Kts.
10:10 - Neist Point abeam, 2 miles. 6 Kts. A number of ships in sight astern.
Noon position - 57 33N 6 48W. Distance 143 miles. Av. speed 5.95 Kts. Fresh gale and steep head sea. Convoy badly adrift. Bar. 30.20.
12:05 - Vaterneish Point abeam 3 miles. A/C to 060°. Received information that 15 ships were 15 miles off Barra Head at 10:45, and another 9 ships 12 miles off Barra Head at 09:40.
13:15 - 8 Kts.
15:23 - Passed through Eilean Troddy Passage. A/C to 039°.
15:45 - 7 Kts. Hoisted signal H.F. "Form Convoy". A number of ships, about 20 are coming up and our front line will soon be formed.
16:10 - H.M.S. Sardonyx joined Convoy as escort. Fresh gale still blowing, and a steep head sea running.
18:00 - 7 Kts. Ships in the convoy cannot steer at a lower speed in the high sea running. Night is now falling, and the Convoy is only partly formed. We have information that the Loch Ewe ships are ahead and will join during the night.
20:00 - Rudha Re Light bearing 141° 6 1/2 miles. A/C to 025°.
22:17 - Ru Stoer Light bearing 047° E. A/C to 010°. Convoy is drifting eastwards, and headway is about 2 Kts. Strong North gale and very high steep sea.

Oct. 29:
Gale does not abate, though Bar. 30.18 is high and rising, the sea in these northern approaches is very wall sided.
04:00 - Wind easing slightly.
08:00 - Cape Wrath bearing 062°, 23 miles. A/C to North.
09:15 - A/C to 340°.
10:05 - A/C to 320°.
10:23 - 8 Kts.
11:05 - A/C to 310°.
11:55 - Air escort - a Catalina - in company.
Noon position 58 40N 5 57W. Distance 87 miles, 3.6 Kts. Bar. 30.23, strong wind and rough sea. Steep swell.
12:06 - Made the signal that clocks will be put back 60 minutes at 23:30.
13:05 - Made R.V. (rendezvous) signal for the 31st.
13:40 - Signal to fly kites made. 17 kites flown.
14:10 - 8 Kts.
14:21 - 58 50N 6 21W passed 2 mines. These mines were sunk by one of rear escorts.
16:25 - 9 Kts. Sighted 2 ships and escorts bound for Iceland.
17:00 - H.M.S. Malcolm, Commander Howard Johnson R.N. closed and gave us full information about absent ships, and also his method of screening, in the event of Aircraft or Submarine attack. We have 41 ships present at 17:00.
18:00 - Received instructions to detach Rota No. 94 to join PQ 3. This was done and Rota left our Convoy.
19:12 - Friendly aircraft in company. Convoy is in night cruising order. Columns 5 cables apart. Escorts present: Destroyers H.M.S. Malcolm, Sardonyx and Watchman, Corvettes H.M.S. Arabis, Dahlia and Monkshood, Trawlers Northern Spray, Northern Gem.
21:05 - Received amended route instructions from C.-in-C. W.A. (Commander in Chief, Western Approaches). At same time the three destroyers were ordered to return to port, position 59 20N 8 10W. We are left with 3 Corvettes and 2 Trawlers.

Oct. 30:
Moderate W.N.W. wind, clear weather.
04:30 - Made the alteration to new course of 255° by Red Lights.
07:30 - Daylight shows 14 ships are missing.
08:30 - 8 Kts.
09:00 - H.M.S. Arabis S.O.E. (Senior Officer Escort) now reports that a Corvette and 2 Trawlers have 14 ships in company, and are steering 234° to intercept the main body of Convoy. I now realise that it would have been wiser to postpone the alteration until daylight.
09:40 - A/C to 275°.
11:00 - There has been a tragedy. One of our own planes, a Whitley Bomber, has been shot down by the ships of the Convoy. The Aircraft was obviously British, and I was getting a light signal through to him, asking him to contact the other section of the Convoy, when a ship opened fire, and several followed suit. The Aircraft was hit in the starboard engine, and smoke poured out. The Bomber then unloaded 3 bombs, which fell near us, and exploded under water violently. The Bomber then came down into the sea, far ahead of Convoy, and I ordered S.S. Taranaki (Tarananki?) to proceed at full speed to the position. I also signalled H.M.S. Arabis, and she went to the position. Later Arabis and Taranaki who fell astern while picking up survivors returned. Arabis reported, "Have picked up 5 men out of a rubber dinghy". Taranaki picked the remaining airman out of the water, but unconcious, and I regret to report that he died*. I must speak most highly of the prompt and seamanlike manner in which the Taranaki dealt with the situation. I am afraid that gunners fired without instructions, and I consider that control of fire should be vested in the Captain or Officer on the bridge. The aircraft was so obviously British, and had made recognition signals, and was taking in my lamp signal, when someone opened fire on him. How deeply I regret the whole affair.

* A document dated Nov. 15-1941 states the following:
"Master Taranaki in convoy ON 30 reports picking up Airman in Sergeant Air Gunners uniform from British Bomber shot down. Identification disc reads 817097 A. F. F. Andrew. Artificial respiration unsuccessful".

Noon position - 59 39N 11 58W, 205 miles, Av. speed 8.2 Kts., Bar. 30.12, steady. Strong W.N.W. wind, rough sea and swell, heavily overcast, occasional thick drizzle.
13:00 - The lost section of the Convoy has rejoined, and all ships are now present.
14:00 - A/C to 270°, 8.5 Kts. Made R.V. signal for November 1st. Cannot alter the standard routes yet, as I have not received my new route instructions from C.-in-C. W.A. Made signal that clocks will be put back 60 minutes at 23:30. Also course to be altered to 245° at 18:00 - the Evasive Course. It will put Convoy back on track at 08:00 tomorrow.
17:00 - Opened up to 5 cables.
18:00 - A/C 245°. Wind is easing off and visibility has improved.
23:30 - Clocks put back one hour.

Oct. 31:
Daylight came in at 07:00. Closed columns in to 3 cables, and increased speed to 9 Kts.
07:15 - A/C 255°.
07:29 - Received signal from C.-in-C. W.A. that our American escorts will be in 58 00N 23 00W at 17:00 tomorrow. Reduced speed to 7 Kts. to make the R.V. on time.
09:00 - Made signal for all ships to half mast colours.
10:00 - Air Gunner L. Andrews buried from S.S. Taranaki.
11:00 - Made R.V. position for Nov. 2nd.
Noon position - 58 29N 17 15W, distance 183 miles, Av. speed 7.32 Kts., Bar. 30.20. Moderate to light winds, rough to smooth sea, mainly overcast.
12:15 - A/C to 285° evasive turn. A quiet fine afternoon, Convoy in perfect order.
16:00 - Made signal re alteration of course at 20:00. Called attention of all ships to Convoy sailing instructions regarding alteration of course by wheeling.
18:30 - Received new instructions from C.-in-C. W.A., stating that we are to rendezvous with U.S. destroyers at 08:00Z on the 2nd in Position 57 18N 28 00W and we are to increase speed accordingly. Have had to flash the signal 8.5 Kts. all around the Convoy, and the use of lights at night is alarming.
19:00 - 8.5 Kts.
20:00 - A/C to 250° to meet track at daylight. Weather fine, light W.N.W. wind, cloudy and clear.

Nov. 1:
07:30 - A/C to 256°. Convoy in good order, and all ships - 40 - are present.
07:40 - Closed Convoy in to 3 cables.
10:13 - Signalled R.V. for the 3rd of November, this must be on my own route, as I have not yet had an amended route from C.-in-C. W.A.
11:20 - Friendly aircraft in company - a four engined Consolidated Liberator.
12:00 - A/C to 275°.
Noon position - 58 00N 23 20W. Distance 192 miles. Av. speed 8 Kts. Bar. 30.16, steady. Wind S.S.E. 2-3. Sligth sea and swell, fine weather.
14:15 and onward - passed much floating wreckage, and a water logged lifeboat.
16:30 - Received amended route signal from C.-in-C. W.A.
16:55 - Made an amended R.V. for Nov. 3rd.
17:09 - Opened out to 5 cables.
19:00 - A/C to 244° the evasive turn to return to the track at daylight. Night is fine, wind S.S.E. 3, slight sea, cloudy and clear.

Nov. 2:
Wind has hauled to W.N.W., with misty showers. Bar. 30.14 rising.
06:00 - In 57 23N 27 50W we are practically at the R.V. position, where we are to meet the U.S. Destroyers.
06:45 - Closed Convoy in to 3 Cables.
08:00 - 57 18N 28 05W, an American Destroyer, and 4 American Consolidated Liberators in sight.
08:05 - A/C to 256°. Received signalled information that four other U.S. Destroyers, and 7 Merchant ships from Iceland were ahead, 20 miles.
09:45 - Altered standard route of Convoy by signal.
10:00 - Sighted ships ahead, gave "Convoy station pennants" to U.S. Destroyers for the new arrivals.
11:00 - 57 12N 29 00W five U.S. Destroyers and seven Merchant ships joined Convoy.
11:25 - 8 Kts., to allow for new companions to join. Our own British escorts now left, 57 10N 29 12W.
11:30 - Placed the two CAM ships in inside position.
11:45 - Signalled R.V. position for Nov. 4th.
Noon position - 57 12N 29 07W. Distance 205 miles. Av. speed 8.2 Kts. Distance from Bar Light Vessel 1200 miles. Bar. 30.28, moderate N.E. wind, moderate sea, part cloudy, fine and clear.
12:05 - A/C to 236°. The name of our American escorts are as follows: U.S. Destroyers Charles F. Hughes, Madison, Lansdale, Gleaves and Simpson. Our average speed since leaving the Bar Light Vessel is 7.2 Kts.
12:53 - 8.5 Kts.
15:47 - 9 Kts. The slowest ship in the Convoy is the American ship Stone Street, No. 66. Her speed has been signalled to me as being 9 Kts., so we can do no more than that from now on.
17:00 - 8.75 Kts. Opened out to 5 cables for the night.
18:00 - A/C to 206° to meet the track at daylight. Weather remained fine throughout the night, and no incidents to report. The moon was bright, and the ships were visible throughout the night.

Nov. 3:
Fine, quiet weather, wind E.S.E. 2-3, slight sea, Bar. 30.42.
06:50 - Closed to 3 cables. Convoy in very good order, and all ships present - 47.
07:14 - 9 Kts.
07:22 - A/C to 208°.
09:35 - Signalled R.V. for the 5th.
11:00 - Exercised Convoy at Emergency turns, 45°.
Noon position 54 15N 32 36W. Distance 219 miles. Av. speed 9.13 Kts. Total distance since leaving Bar Light Vessel now 1413 miles. Av. speed 7.336 Kts. Bar. 30.42, light to moderate E. wind, slight sea, partly overcast. A/C to 227°, our daily evasive turn.
16:35 - 8.75 Kts.
19:00 - A/C to 198°. Wind is S.E. 4, weather has become damp, and visibility has deteriorated.

Nov. 4:
Moderate S.E. to S. wind, a long swell is making the ship lift uneasily. I think we are in for a change in the weather, although Bar. is only moving down very slightly.
07:00 - Closed in to 3 cables.
08:45 - Received enemy submarine positions from the S.O. Escort. There seems to be two groups to the S.W. of us.
09:27 - Reduced to 8 1/2 Kts., and one or two ships are having difficulty in keeping up.
10:00 - Signalled the R.V. for Nov. 6th.
Noon position - 51 23N 35 09W. Distance 200 miles. Av. speed 8.33 Kts. Bar. 30.32, strong S. wind, rough sea and swell. Actual speed of Convoy now down to 7 1/2 Kts. Total distance from Bar Light Vessel, 1619 miles.
12:04 - A/C to 185°. An evasive turn to port, taking Convoy 20 miles to port of track by 19:00.
16:45 - Opened out to 5 cables for night cruising order.
16:50 - 8 Kts. Our slowest ship is straggling, so must reduce speed as shown.
16:50 - Signalled for Snow Flake rockets to be loaded. Half of the ships did not understand the signal.
19:00 - A/C to 220°.

Nov. 5:
Strong wind or moderate gale to south, rough sea and swell, ship labouring and rolling.
06:55 - Closed in to 3 cables.
07:26 - A/C to 205°.
08:00 - 8 1/2 Kts.
09:57 - Signalled change of time.
10:48 - Signalled R.V. for the 7th.
12:00 - A/C 184°.
Noon position 48 55N 37 16W. Distance 175 miles. Av speed 7.3 Kts. Total distance from Bar Light Vessel 1794 miles. Fresh S.W. wind, rough sea and swell. Bar. 30.14.
12:12 - Signalled an alteration of course 216° for 20:00.
13:07 - Received new route instructions via Washington.
14:00 - A/C to 202°.
14:10 - Signalled alterations of course to 236° at 20:00. Received "submarine position" report. Wind now S.E. fresh with drizzling rain, which has shut out over half the ships but trust signal for course alteration will reach rear ships, though I cannot be certain that it will.
17:00 - Made the R.V. signal for the 7th, light is bad, hope the ships get it.
20:00 - A/C to 236° by red lights owing to poor visibility. Vice Commodore and Rear Commodore, 31 and 81 repeated the red lights. Hope all ships see the signal. Continuous drizzle and fresh wind throughout the night.

Nov. 6:
Bar. has fallen slowly to 30.06 by 04:00. Heavy rain.
06:30 - Closed Convoy in to 3 cables, all ships are present, as we found during a clear spell.
08:00 - Wind shifted to North, after heavy squall of rain. Bar. is rising again. Have made signal to S.O. Escort, telling him that I propose keeping S.S. Hardanger with the Convoy, if necessary sending him to Halifax, unless other instructions are received.
09:30 - Signalled R.V. for the 8th.
09:55 - U.S. Destroyer Gleaves dropped depth charges.
12:00 - A/C 255°.
Noon position 46 37N 40 42W. Distance 206 miles. Av. speed 8.24 Kts. 2000 miles from Bar Light Vessel. Bar. 30.04 rising. Variable winds and heavy rain storms until 08:00, when wind came out at N.N.W. and began to freshen again.
12:30 - Made the signal for altering course to 230° at 19:00. Received submarine report for the 5th.
16:38 - Opened out to 5 cables.
19:00 - A/C to 230°. Strong North wind, rough sea and swell.

Nov. 7:
Moderate N.N.E. wind, moderate sea and swell. Convoy all in good order at daylight.
06:25 - Closed in to 3 cables.
06:53 - 8 3/4 Kts.
08:15 - 9(?) Kts.
09:00 - Received submarine report, appears to be one enemy submarine S.W. of our track.
09:50 - Made R.V. signal for the 9th.
10:00 - A/C to 240°. Received a change of destination message via Ottawa, and Louisburg: King Arthur to proceed to Philadelphia - informed King Arthur.
12:00 - A/C to 231°.
Noon position - 44 56N 44 31W. Distance 192 miles. Av. speed 8 Kts. Total distance from Bar Light Vessel 2192 miles. Total Av. speed 7.6 Kts. Wind N.E. 3, slight sea, part overcast. Bar. 30.24.
12:15 - No. 93, Celtic Star fell out of Convoy with engine trouble, signalled "will be stopped for four hours". One of the U.S. Destroyers, U.S.S. Gleaves is remaining with the Celtic Star. This ship fell out of Convoy HX 134 in mid Atlantic in Sept.* and did not rejoin
16:29 - 8.5 Kts. Opened out to 5 cables.
20:00 - A/C to 255°. Wind S.W. 5 and freshening, sea rising. Bar. falling slowly.

* Note that HX 134 did not sail in Sept., but in June - so it looks like the Commodore has written down the wrong designation here. Also, Celtic Star is not listed in HX 134 - she is, however, listed in Convoy HX 148 from Sept.-1941. Perhaps G. E. Jones was the Commodore for that convoy as well(?). He also acted as Commodore for HX 134. As can be seen, he turned in an equally long and very detailed narrative of that convoy's passage as well.

Nov. 8:
00:30 - Misty weather. Wind S.W. by W 7. Rough moderate sea.
01:00 - Fog.
07:00 - Weather cleared a little, a few ships to port.
07:40 - Managed to get a signal by lamp to leaders to reduce to 7 Kts. Escort reports Convoy straggled out far astern.
08:30 - Can see three miles, about 14 ships not in station. Passed new destination instructions to Alaska, No. 41. These orders came through G.B.M.S. from Ottawa. Made signal to Hardanger No. 25 to proceed to Placentia Bay f. o..
10:00 - Dense fog again. Wind W.S.W. 7, rough head sea. Sounding our column numbers.
Noon position - 43 43N 48 16W. Distance 181 miles. Av. speed 7.54 Kts. Total distance 2373 miles. Bar. 29.98 steady, strong west by south wind, rough head sea and swell. Dense fog. I can continue on this course until tomorrow when Convoy track would meet the East-West track from *43N 50W. If I could have only one hour clear, I would increase speed again, but cannot be sure that all ships would get the sound signal.
19:50 - The fog has suddenly cleared, and the night is fine, but ships continued to show "full power" lights long after it had cleared, and we had to signal them to put the lights out. Even the lights can be seen on ships far astern. I reduced to 7 Kts. this morning, to allow ships to close up. Then down came the fog again, and despite our 7 Kts., the Convoy has straggled badly. While ships are navigated in this manner in fog, it would be useless to try and turn the Convoy by sound signals, more than half the ships would know nothing of the signal.

Please be advised that from the point denoted * and through the rest of the narrative the document is rather blurry, so that the numbers 5 are difficult to distinguish from the numbers 3 in some places.

Nov. 9:
Fine weather, light N.W. wind, smooth sea, slight head swell.
06:42 - Closed in to 3 cables.
07:11 - 8.5 Kts. After consultation with S.O. Escort, have made preparatory signal for dispersal. West Indies and South America ships will leave Convoy at 14:00, ships for U.S. ports at 16:30, remainder of ships at 17:00. Tanker British Dominion signalled his sailing orders are for New York. My convoy forms received at Liverpool show this ship bound to Halifax. Have replied that the Master must use his own judgement, and that I would personally carry out the sailing orders received, as the Liverpool Convoy form may have an error in it.
08:15 - Norwegian ship Hardanger, for St. John's, N.F., left Convoy for Placentia Bay escorted by U.S. Gleaves, 43 08N 51 30W. All ships of Convoy with exception of the CAM ship Eastern Star* No. 82 and Celtic Star No. 93, are present. No. 82 must have fallen out of Convoy during the fog.
09:20 - 8.7 Kts. Heavy rain throughout the morning.
Noon position 43 09N 52 10W. Distance 175 miles, Av. speed 7.29 Kts. Bar. 30.21 rising.
12:15 - Weather is changing and visibility falling. After signalling the S.O. of Escort, have decided to detach West Indies and South America ships immediately, remainder of convoy later, as I am afraid of fog.
12:15 - Detached 9 ships for West Indies and South America.
01:15 - Detached all ships for American ports.
01:50 - Dispersed Convoy in 43 10N 52 33W. Total distance 2566 miles. Av speed 7.3 Kts. Actually our average from Butt of Lewis was 8.3 Kts. The U.S. Destroyers did a fine job of escorting, and I am grateful to the Officers and men for their protection. The protection of our own escort ships we accept as a matter of course, but we do appreciate their great work, and also the care and preparation required in the Departments ashore, whose members watch over us from afar. For all these things, we are thankful. Finally our thanks for a safe Convoy passage are due to Him who watches over us at all times. So ends another Convoy Log.

* On the convoy form this ship is listed as Eastern City (Eastern Star was Norwegian and had been sunk in May that year).

Note on Peisander
In conclusion I wish to state that the Motor Ship Peisander has proved an excellent ship for Commodore's duties. Captain A. Shaw never spared himself in giving me every possible aid and assistance. Captain Shaw is a fine type of Shipmaster, of wide and varied experience, highly educated, and a man worth knowing. The officers, especially Mr. Brown, the Chief Officer, gave of their best, and the navigation was accurate and reliable.

I personally have been well treated and made a guest of the Alfrted Holt Company. My staff have been well looked after, and I am indeed grateful for the manner in which we have been cared for.

Commodore - Gerald E. Jones, D.S.O., C.B.E., R.N.R.

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