Convoy SC 42


Convoy SC 42
Convoy
Part of World War II
Date 9-12 September 1941
Location North Atlantic
Result German victory
Belligerents
 Kriegsmarine  Royal Navy
 Royal Canadian Navy
Commanders and leaders
Admiral Karl Dönitz Comm: R Adm. WB Mackenzie
SOE:Lt.Cmdr. JC Hibbard
Strength
Markgraf group
14 U-boats
65 ships
4 escorts
Casualties and losses
2 U-boat sunk 16 ships sunk (68,259 tons)
4 ships damaged (14,132 tons)

Convoy SC 42 was the 42nd of the numbered series of World War II Slow Convoys of merchant ships from Sydney, Cape Breton Island to Liverpool.[1] SC 42 was attacked over a three night period in September 1941, losing 16 ships sunk and 4 damaged. This was the worst Allied loss following the attack on convoy SC 7 the previous year. Two attacking U boats were destroyed.

Contents

Background

Sixty-five ships departed Sydney on 30 August 1941[2] under local escort, bound for Liverpool. The convoy commodore was R.Adm. WB Mackenzie in Everleigh. A week later were met just east of the Strait of Belle Isle by the Canadian 24th Escort Group consisting of the Canadian River class destroyer Skeena (Lt Cdr JC Hibbard, senior officer) with Flower class corvettes Alberni, Kenogami, and James D. Prentice, RCN, and were prepared to reinforce the escort as the convoy entered an area where U-boats were known to be waiting.[4]

Ranged against them was the wolf pack Markgraf, a group of 14 U-boats in a patrol line southeast of Greenland.

Action

Early on 9 September U-85 sighted the convoy near Cape Farewell, Greenland and made an unsuccessful torpedo attack.[3] She then commenced shadowing, while other Markgraf boats moved in. The moon rose on the southern side on the convoy that night, and star shell or flashless powder, and quickly lost contact as the crew lost their night-vision in the flash of gunfire.[5] The convoy made two emergency turns over the next half-hour as ships in convoy reported sighting three more surfaced U-boats.[6] Another emergency convoy turn ninety minutes later caught Skeena pursuing a contact at speed; and while maneuvering to avoid collision, Skeena passed on reciprocal course a surfaced U-boat being fired upon by ships in convoy so closely Skeena's guns could not be depressed to bear.[7] U-652 torpedoed Baron Pentland and Tahchee during the excitement. The tanker Tahchee was towed back to port by Orillia;[3] but the 3410-ton British freighter Baron Pentland sank with 1512 standards of lumber and two of her crew.[8]

Another emergency turn by the convoy brought two hours of suspenseful quiet while Orillia aided Tahchee and searched for survivors astern of the convoy.[7] Then U-432 torpedoed the 3205-ton Dutch freighter Winterswijk and the 1113-ton Norwegian freighter Stargard.[7] The freighter Regin stopped to rescue Starguard's survivors and opened fire on a surfaced U-boat.[7] While Skeena and Kenogami searched for U-boats around stricken Winterswijk and Stargard, U-81 torpedoed the 3252-ton British freighter Sally Maersk, and the convoy made another emergency turn to avoid a surfaced U-boat.[9] U-82 torpedoed the 7465-ton British CAM ship Empire Hudson[3] less than two hours after Skeena regained station ahead of the convoy.[9]

Daylight on 10 September brought several periscope sightings and emergency turns by the convoy before U-85 torpedoed the 4748-ton British freighter Thistleglen.[10] Skeena and Alberni counterattacked and damaged U-85 with depth charges.[3] Thistleglen sank with 5200 tons of steel, 2400 tons of pig iron, and 3 of her crew.[8]

U-82 torpedoed the 7519-ton British tanker Bulysses that evening.[3] U-82 then torpedoed the 3915-ton British freighter Gypsum Queen shortly after the convoy ordered an emergency turn.[11] Gypsum Queen sank quickly with 5500 tons of sulfur and ten of her crew.[8] Bulysses sank with 9300 tons of gas oil and 4 of her crew.[8] Other ships in convoy rescued survivors.[11] Corvettes Chambly and Moosejaw observed the fireworks of these attacks and surprised U-501 while steaming to reinforce the escort.[3] U-501 was first depth-charged by Chambly then rammed by Moose Jaw as the damaged submarine surfaced. The captain of U-501 jumped from the conning tower to Moosejaw's deck; and Moosejaw sent a boarding party to enter the submarine. Eleven Germans and one of the Canadian boarding party (Stoker William Brown)were lost when U-501 sank.[12] U-501 was the first U-boat sunk by Canadian escorts.[13]

Just after midnight on 10/11 September

HMS Leamington

On 11 September, the escort was reinforced by the naval trawler Buttermere and Flower class corvettes Wetaskiwin, Admiralty type flotilla leader Town class destroyer Leamington, the V and W class destroyer Veteran, and S class destroyers Skate, and edit] Aftermath

With the arrival of these reinforcements further attacks by Markgraf were stifled. Though the group continued to shadow, it was unable to mount any further assaults. Arrival on 12 September of the naval trawler Windermere and Town class destroyers St. Croix from convoy SC 41 and Columbia from convoy HX 147 allowed the remaining original escorts Skeena, Alberni, and Kenogami to leave for refueling .[3] On 13 September destroyers of the 2nd Escort Group departed for refueling following arrival of American destroyers Sims, Hughes, and Russell.[3] The last incident of the voyage took place three days later when U-98 torpedoed the 4392-ton British freighter Jedmore as the convoy approached North Channel on the late afternoon of 16 September.[13]

Convoy SC 42 arrived in Liverpool on 20 September 1941. Sixteen ships totalling 68,259 GRT had been sunk and four ships (14,132 GRT) damaged: One ship had turned back. Forty four ships arrived safely and unharmed, and two U-boats had been destroyed, though on eof these was not confirmed until after the war's end.

Table of losses

[8]

Allied ships sunk

Time and date Name Flag Casualties Tonnage Cargo Sunk by...
06:55, 9 Sep Empire Springbuck United Kingdom 42 5,591 GRT Steel and explosives U-81
21:37, 9 Sept Muneric United Kingdom 63 5,229 GRT iron ore 2 3,410 GRT lumber 20 3,205 GRT phosphates 2 1,113 GRT lumber 0 3,252 GRT wheat U-81
05:04, 10 Sept 4 7,456 GRT wheat U-82
10:30, 10 Sept Thistleglen United Kingdom 3 4,748 GRT steel & pig iron U-85
20:57, 10 Sept Bulysses United Kingdom 4 7,519 GRT gas oil U-82
21:00, 10 Sept Gypsum Queen United Kingdom 10 3,915 GRT sulfur U-82
00:10, 11 Sept Stonepool United Kingdom 42 4,815 GRT grain, oats & trucks 1 4,924 GRT general 0 1,980 GRT lumber U-82
02:10, 11 Sept Empire Crossbill United Kingdom 49 5,463 GRT steel U-82
02:30, 11 Sept Garm Sweden 6 1,231 GRT lumber 31 4,392 GRT iron ore U-98

U-boats destroyed

Date Number Type Captain Casualties Fate hit by...
10 September 1941 U-501 IX K/L H Forster 12 destroyed Chambly, Moosejaw
11 September 1941 U-207 VIIC K/L F Meyer 41 destroyed Leamington, Veteran

Notes

  1. ^ Hague 2000 p.133
  2. ^ Hague 2000 p.135
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Rohwer & Hummelchen 1992 p.82
  4. ^ Milner 1985 pp.67-8
  5. ^ a b Milner 1985 p.68
  6. ^ Milner 1985 pp.68-9
  7. ^ a b c d Milner 1985 p.69
  8. ^ a b c d e Hague 2000 p.136
  9. ^ a b Milner 1985 p.70
  10. ^ Milner 1985 p.71
  11. ^ a b Milner 1985 pp.71-2
  12. ^ Milner 1985 pp.72-3
  13. ^ a b Blair 1996 p.364
  14. ^ Milner 1985 p.73
  15. ^ Blair 1996 p.363

References

External links

Further reading


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