The Escorts

HMS PelicanHMS Spey
HMS Pelican (Private Collection - Haydn Redfarn) HMS Spey (Imperial War Museum)

HMS Pelican (S.O), HMS Spey, HMS Lowestoft, HMS Rother and HMS Erne were originally detailed as escorts for Convoy OS.33. However, HMS Erne, which was fitted with HF/DF, did not sail as she had insufficient practice and was not considered to be efficient. Also, two French vessels, FS Léopard (from Greenock) and FS Commandant Du Boc (from Londonderry) were ordered to accompany the convoy to Freetown partly to act as additional support but also to obtain data on their endurance figures and fuel consumption at economic speed.

The escorts performed well as far as protecting the convoy was concerned and no losses were sustained by the merchant fleet while under their protection. For example, the formation reported on July 11 was FS Léopard and HMS Pelican, 7 miles and 2 miles ahead of the convoy respectively. HMS Spey and HMS Rother, 7 miles on the port and starboard beam and HMS Lowestoft and FS Commandant Du Boc, 2.5 miles on the port and starboard bow.

However, on July 12, 1942 in position 31.46N, 23.19W, FS Léopard collided with HMS Lowestoft causing serious damage. HMS Lowestoft was holed in the forward boiler room so that the main engine was unworkable and even lost her funnel. Léopard, with only 2.5 days of fuel remaining, took Lowestoft in tow and together they departed, making for the Azores.

HMS Jonquil was then ordered to provide additional support and joined the escorts on July 14. Also, HMS Penn and HMS Quentin were ordered to rendezvous with the convoy and arrived July 15, 1942 so that the convoy remained well protected.

A number of attacks were carried out on the U-boats over the period of July 11 to July 14 but only one was successful; that carried out on U-136 on July 11, 1942 by HMS Pelican. A copy of form 1203 (Report of attack on U-Boat) submitted by Commander Boyes Smith of HMS Spey can be seen here.

See the Site Map for further details of all aspects of the Convoy.