HX-68 To Glasgow, The U-Boats Step It Up

The Dorelean reached Montreal on 14th August and turned round quickly. Leaving on 18th it waited at Sydney from 23rd to join convoy HX-68 which left Halifax on 24th August. By 8th September she arrived safely in Glasgow. Seemingly a smooth passage but she had been lucky.

As Alister was sailing on 25th and 26th with HX-68 convoy HX-65 was being attacked by U-boat and aircraft with 8 ships sunk and one damaged, most of the crew of these ships did not survive. On 28th and 30th August convoy HX-66 lost 4 ships. So 15 ships had been sunk in front of Alister but his convoy got through.  In HX-72 less than two weeks behind him 11 ships were sunk and three damaged: U-100 sank seven of those ships. (U-100 was itself sunk on 17th March 1941).

The advantage of the access from the French coast is now coming into play, most of the successful U-boats in August had come from or would go to the new base at Lorient. The convoys were now forced further North, coming in to the UK to the North of Ireland. The U-boats were now massing before attacking at night as a group and the poor merchant sailors were often lost with their ships.

Whether a convoy was attacked or lucky it must have been terrifying during the voyage knowing you could be hit at any time. You only knew you were safe when you go into port. Then you turned round and did it again! Alister had two weeks back in Glasgow before it was time to go again. He was still not even sixteen and a half years old.

The map below shows the U boat attacks in the North Atlantic starting from 24th August 1940, you will have to zoom to differentiate all the markers; 64 ships were attacked, sadly 59 were sunk. Details of the attacks are easily accessible on www.uboat.net.

It is notable that SC convoys started in this period. "S" is for Slow I guess, these convoys consisted of ships inbound to the UK from North America that were not fast enough to keep up the 8 knots that the HX convoys wished to achieve.

View HX-068 24/08/1940 in a larger map

The map shows the attacks between 24-Aug-40 and 23-Sep-40 in the N Atlantic and approaches, the convoys are, HX-65, HX-66, HX-70, HX-71, HX-72, OB-201, OB-203, OB-205, OB-206, OB213, OB-215, SC-1, SC-3, OA-200, OA-204, OA-210 and SL-43.