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Commodore's Narrative - Convoy ON 36

Page 1 - Ships in ON 36

Nov. 13-1941
Sailed in low visibility. Pilot of Glenogle did not wish to proceed, so anchored, but shortly after weighed and proceeded as did the remainder of Convoy.

The dates are missing in the margin of the document, but I'm assuming they are given in chronological order, as follows:

Nov. 14:
Daylight - 32 ships in sight. Visibility good. Calculated I should have 37 ships, but a number of changes were made which is shown in A 1.
16:18 - Chelsea dropped a Depth Charge to the Westward and well clear of Convoy. Nothing came of it.

Nov. 15:
Very strong Northerly tides and a mistake in calculation of speed made on Aultbea R.V. so passed it, turned round and picked them up by 11:30.
At 12:40 proceeded on our route.
By 17:00 38 ships were in compnay.

Nov. 16:
Pos. 08:00 GMT - 59 19N 11 42W.
Light starboard wind continued helping us on our way. Kites could not be flown, but balloons were up to 8°W. Skiensfjord reported she had been in collision with Chelsea at 00:20. Broke later signalled the latter had returned to U.K.
Norman Star joined from Loch Ewe for Trinidad.

Nov. 17:
Pos. 08:00 GMT - 59 40N 19 17W.
11:10 - Signal from C in C ordered course 220°; sighted a C. Class Cruiser to the Northward.

Nov. 18:
Post 08:00 GMT - 58 27N 23 20W.
I was likely to be 24 miles ahead of R.V. and had meant to steer delaying course but Broke signalled that the Iceland ships were steering for "J" postion so continued at reduced speed. Cobalt Corvette joined us, reported that she had lost Convoy (Iceland 2 ships) in a gale. Visibility increased to about 2' so he did not sight the Iceland ships. Meanwhile HMS Broadway with Corvettes, number could not be made out, had joined up and relieved Broke, who had escorted us with his usual energy and care. In turning South (219°) at 17:00 in light wind and sea increasing, all ships were in sight at dusk. Heavy seas.

Nov. 19:
Daylight - Wind falling and many ships straggling but all 38 in sight. Increased signals as to Pos. of Iceland ships. They were eventually sighted on the port beam.

Nov. 20:
08:00 Pos. 55 49N 30 40W.
P.m. - Broadway reported serious defect and left the Convoy for U.K.
U-boat reported to the South and West of us.
Atheltemplar, Wolf joined from Iceland. I turned 40° off the course each night except when weather made it dangerous and inadvisable. Heavy sea through the night and some ships showed N.U.C. lights.

Nov. 21:
Post. 08:00: 53 23N 33 17 1/2W.
Weather improved somewhat during day.

Nov. 22:
Pos. 08:00: 52 46N 37 18W.
Bad weather and S.W. wind.
Arrowhead (now 8.0) signalled for U.S.N.C. and steered for a new and more Westerly position "P". The signal ordering a new O on the previous day had been missed. Owing to bad weather, Convoy was somewhat straggling, though we kept together.

Nov. 23:
Pos. 08:00: 51 12N 39 34W.
Blowing hard W.N.W. - all 39 ships in sight, ships fell out but recovered and rejoined.

Nov. 24:
Pos. 08:00: 50 08N 43 09W.
Heavy seas.
Sighted Frumenton of ON 35.

Nov. 25:
Pos. 08:00: 49 16N 46 42W.
Dirty weather and low visibility, but before dark 31 ships were in sight and Escort of 7 Corvettes. I was much struck at the way the Escort did their work throughout in heavy weather experienced. They appear to be fine sea boats. Lieut. Commander Skinner in Arrowhead was S.O.

Nov. 26:
Post 08:00: 47 49N 50 09W.
35 ships in sight. Weather improved. Ancylus reported having been in collision with Olaf Fostenes but was proceeding to Halifax. This occurred in 49 24N 46 15W at 05:00 GMT 25th. (Olaf Fostenes, a Norwegian ship, may have been on an independent voyage at the time).
At 19:30 with a good departure off Cape Race the convoy was dispersed in groups for their destination.
At 17:30, Glenogle had to stop for repairs to her Starboard engine. Proceeded again at 21:15, and arrived at Halifax 19:00 on 28th. The Glenogle is a fine ship with very good accomodation for Commodore and staff and most ably commanded by Captain J. H. Brown, but unfortunately her engines are not reliable, one broke down twice. Nor has she any modern aids to navigation, so that I cannot recommend her for use as Commodore's ship.
Forgive my position as on GMT, not BST as ordered.

A number of ships fired their Snowflakes inadvertently, so that, if loaded, I do not think the triggers should be kept cocked. It seems the lanyard is either tripped over or vibration releases the trigger.

I have told the Canadian Authorities that rather more signalling on RT seemed to be going on between the Escorts than was wise and that signals were made with the lamp later than was advisable.

Signed, R. W. Barrow

For info, Mike Holdoway has made a chart of the progress of this convoy on his site - it can be reached through this page (external link).

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