WS Convoy Series 


The WS series of fast military convoy carried troops and equipment to the Middle East, India and occasionally, to the Far East. The series ran from August 1940 (WS.1) to August 1943 (WS.33) when it was replaced by the KMF series, instigated for Operation Torch, sailing to the North African ports and eventually to Suez.

The WS series sailed mainly from Liverpool and the Clyde, the two sections joining south of Oversay in the Outer Hebrides. The combined convoy, often splitting to fast and slow groups, then sailed to Freetown, Sierra Leone, before continuing to the Cape. Here the convoy usually split once more - one section stopping over in Capetown, the other in Durban. Convoy would once again reform off Durban before continuing into the Indian Ocean where it would split again into the Suez section (usually designated 'A') and the Indian section to Bombay (designated 'B') and other destinations east e.g. Singapore, Bhutan etc. I have grouped the WS convoys together by number although it should be noted that often several distinct convoys sailed under the same number being differentiated by a letter suffix e.g. WS.8A, WS.8B, WS.8C and WS.8X were four different convoys.

The constant division and reforming of convoy makes this series extremely difficult to research. Also, escorts continually joined and left the convoy; either joining at ports of call or rendezvousing at sea, particularly in the Indian Ocean. For this reason, no attempt to include escorts has been attempted save occasionally when ocean escorts are specifically stated in the files.

The WS series contained the pre-war large liners converted to troop ships and usually maintained a minimum cruising speed of 19+ knots although very large ships (e.g. Queen Mary etc) travelled independently subsequent to WS.1.

It should also be noted that troop embarkation dates could be several days prior to the convoy sailing.

The author wishes to express thanks to Dominique Lemaire and Donald Bertke for diligently proofreading these convoy pages.