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Commodore's Narrative - Convoy ON 37

Page 1 - Ships in ON 37

Strong westerly winds were encountered on leaving Cape Wrath, which, on P.M. Thursday November 20th developed into a moderate N.W. gale. Convoy was considerably disorganised during the night, but the wind moderating somewhat the next morning, convoy was reformed, except for stragglers, by dark.

On Sunday evening November 23rd, convoy ran into a whole westerly gale with very heavy sea. Ships, being light, rapidly became unmanageable and most of the convoy had N.U.C. lights burning and numerous collisions were, with difficulty, avoided.

By day-break on Monday Nov. 24th, the convoy had scattered. Several isolated ships were sighted on Nov. 24th and 25th, but as this ship (probably meaning Commodore's ship) was hove to on both these days, no efforst could be made to reform convoy, which was not sighted again.

Senior Officer of Escort (USS Swanson) closed on Nov. 26th and passed Admiralty signal diverting convoy to "Queen" & "Roger" after which Escort was not seen again.

A succession of West and North Westerly gales was encountered until Tuesday Dec. 2nd when weather improved and Halifax was reached without further incident on Dec. 6th.

In connection with the above, the behaviour of the Commodore's ship Manchester Spinner is probably typical of a lightly laden, low powered ship in the North Atlantic during the winter months, and tends to show the difficulties with which the Masters of such ships have to contend.

This ship is 4,800 tons with a declared speed of 9 1/2 knots. On leaving Liverpool she was drawing 16' 4" forward and 19' 3" aft. In any head wind or sea she had great difficulty in steering and could not maintain her speed. She was frequently carrying as much as 30° of weather helm.

Although going at her utmost speed she only made good 132 miles in 49 hours, on 24th and 25th November, and on December 1st weather conditions were so bad that the Master could do nothing with the ship and had to stop the engines. Ship was drifting helpless broadside on to the sea for 10 hours.

During the night of Thursday November 20th in position 59 10N 18 48W the attached signal (not available to me) was intercepted on 500 metres by Commodore and Vice Commodore. It was at first thought that No. 54 (Elisabeth van Belgie) in this convoy had been in collision, but at daybreak it was seen that she was all right. It was therefore presumed that the signal originated from (1) another convoy in the vicinity or (2) a German submarine sending out a decoy message.

The patrol boats anchored in the swept channel to light up the floats were of the greatest assistance to the convoy leaving Liverpool and were much appreciated.

Page 1 - Ships in ON 37

Back to Convoy Index

To the next convoy in my list ON 38
will be added, as will ON 39 through ON 91
In the meantime, see Ships sailing in all ON convoys
The next available ON convoy is ON 92


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