HX-52 Back To Avonmouth

HX Convoys

On 14th June the Dorelian left Montreal to return to Avonmouth in the UK. 

It arrived off Halifax, Nova Scotia on the 17th. This was the assembly point for the convoys returning to the UK from, or routed by North America. These convoys were the HX series. The Dorelean joined HX-52 as one of 18 merchant ships.

The HX convoys started in September 1939, three ships were hit in the four months to the end of 1939 and another six ships in the first two months of 1940, but in March, April and May the U-boats had no successes.

Unfortunately the U-boat form improved in June 1940. The first June convoy, HX-47 left on 2nd June from which a straggler was hit on 14th June. The convoy itself was attacked on the 15th and two ships hit.

As Alister sailed with HX-52 on 21st June HX-49 which had left on 9th June was being attacked by U-boats losing four ships on the 20th, 21st and 22nd June.

HX-52 Voyage Home

HX-52 started initially with four escorts, almost immediately one ship, the Canadian Magog became a straggler and the British Holystone also left the convoy as a straggler on 23rd. Neither ship could maintain the required speed of 9 knots.

After two days three of the escorts broke away. These would be local escort ships that protect the convoy out of costal waters and then return for another convoy.

On 25th June HX-2 was joined by 11 more ships from Bermuda. The remaining escort vessel HMS Aurania protected the convoy until 2nd July when about 230 nautical miles out from Ireland she handed over to the destroyers HMS Hurricane and HMS Wolverine and sloop HMS Scarborough, corvette HMS Gardinia for the run in to the UK. They were entering a much narrower area where U boats were likely to lurk so a heavy escort was necessary.

The straggler Magog was now two days behind the convoy and on the 5th of July only 90 nautical miles from Ireland she was attacked and eventually sunk by U-99, thankfully all 23 crew were safe. The poor old Magog at 7.5 knots was 1 ½ knots too slow to stay in the convoy but she had to carry on and hope to get through without protection. The first casualty of Alister’s personal war on his first voyage though probably he knew nothing of it. By 5th July he and the Dorelian had arrived in Avonmouth.

The Dorelian spent two weeks in Avonmouth then four days in Cardiff before returning to Swansea to complete the voyage.

View HX-52 21/06/1940 in a larger map

No comments: