Convoy PQ 15


Convoy PQ 15

Convoy PQ 15 was an Arctic convoy sent from Iceland by the Western Allies to aid the Soviet Union during World War II. It sailed in late April 1942, reaching the Soviet northern ports after air attacks that sank three ships. Twenty-two ships arrived safely.

Contents

Ships

The convoy consisted of 25 merchant ships and was accompanied by one auxiliary, the oiler Gray Ranger, which travelled with her own escort of destroyers.

The Close Escort was led by Commander J. Crombie in the minesweeper trawlers, joined later by four destroyers and the antiaircraft ship Rear Admiral H. M. Burrough in the light cruiser HMS Nigeria, with the heavy cruiser HMS London and two destroyers; and a Distant Covering Force led by Admiral John Tovey, comprising the battleships HMS King George V and USS Washington (BB-56), (Rear Admiral Robert C. Giffen, USN, commanding), the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious, the heavy cruisers USS Tuscaloosa (CA-37), and USS Wichita (CA-45), the light cruiser HMS Kenya, and 10 destroyers.

The convoy was also covered by a patrol of four submarines off Norway, guarding against a sortie by German warships.

Action

PQ 15 sailed from Reykjavik, Iceland, on 26 April 1942 with its local escort. This was joined on 28 April by the ocean escort, giving the convoy an immediate total escort of 12 warships.

German aircraft sighted the convoy on 28 April while it was 250 nautical miles (463 km) southwest of Bear Island. However no attack developed for two days as the attention of German forces focused on the reciprocal Convoy QP 11, which left Murmansk in the Soviet Union on 28 April.

On 1 May the German Luftwaffe made its first attack on PQ 15, by six Junkers Ju 88s. The German bombers were unsuccessful, and losr one of their number.

Also on 1 May, the Distant Cover Force suffered two losses when King George V and the destroyer HMS Punjabi collided in fog. Punjabi sank and King George V was forced to return to port. Her place in the group was taken by the battleship HMS Duke of York, which steamed from Scapa Flow to reinforce the task force.

The escorts made an asdic contact on 2 May, which the destroyer HMS St. Albans and minesweeper HMS Seagull attacked. The submarine was damaged and forced to the surface; it was found to be the Polish Jastrzab, which was assigned to patrol off Norway but was some way out of position. Jastrzab was too badly damaged to continue and was abandoned and scuttled.

On 3 May at 0130 in the half light of the Arctic summer nights, six Heinkel He 111 bombers of I. Gruppe, Kampfgeschwader 26, the Luftwaffe's new torpedo bomber force, attacked the convoy, making the first German torpedo bomber attack of World War II.[1] Three ships were hit. Two were sunk, and one was damaged and later sunk by the German submarine Arctic gale quickly turning into a snowstorm. PQ 15 arrived at the Kola Inlet at 2100 on 5 May with no further losses.

Aftermath

Three of PQ 15's ships had been sunk, Botavon and Cape Corso by torpedo bombers and Jutland damaged by torpedo bombers and later sunk by U-251. Of the escorting warships, the submarine Jastrzab and destroyer Punjabi had been sunk and the battleship King George V had been damaged. However, 22 fully laden merchant ships had arrived safely in Murmansk, the largest Allied convoy yet to arrive in the Soviet Union.

The convoy was regarded by the Allies as a success, although it gave them a taste of the difficulties to come on the Arctic convoy run.

Ship list

  • Alcoa Cadet
  • Alcoa Rambler
  • Bayou Chico
  • Botavon
  • Cape Corso
  • Cape Race
  • Capira
  • Deer Lodge
  • Empire Bard
  • Empire Morn
  • Expositor
  • Francis Scott Key
  • Gray Ranger ...Fleet Oiler
  • Hegira
  • Jutland
  • Krassin
  • Montcalm
  • Mormacrey
  • Mormacrio
  • Paul Luckenbach
  • Seattle Spirit
  • Southgate
  • Texas
  • Topa Topa
  • Zebulon B Vance

Notes

  1. ^ Macintyre, p. 270.

References

  • Blair, Clay. Hitler's U-Boat War Vol I. (1996) ISBN 0-304-35260-8.
  • Kemp, Paul. Convoy! Drama in Arctic Waters (1993) ISBN 1-85409-130-1.
  • Macintyre, Donald. The Naval War Against Hitler. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971. No ISBN number.
  • Schofield, Bernard. The Russian Convoys BT Batsford, 1964. ISBN (none)
  • PQ 15 at Convoyweb

External Links

http://www.sunymaritime.edu/stephenblucelibrary/pdfs/Convoy%20to%20Murmansk%20-%20PQ%2015.pdf


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