Convoy Escort 21 September 1939

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Mark McShane, Sep 7, 2021.

  1. Mark McShane

    Mark McShane Junior Member


    Can anyone help decipher this logbook entry, it is a logbook entry from HMS MACKAY 21 September 1939. In the brackets it states the two escorts in convoy that they challenged. I cannot make any sense of the entry, going through destroyers and escort names and also searching convoys at sea around this time, I've had no luck. Maybe someone here can help?


    Attached Files:

  2. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    This Convoy???
    ConvoyWeb - Arnold Hague Database - OB convoys


    The OB series of convoy sailed from Liverpool and catered for vessels sailing transatlantic to North and South America; for the South Atlantic to Freetown, the Cape and beyond together with coastal traffic. En route, vessels sailing from the Bristol Channel ports (Avonmouth, Barry, Newport and Cardiff) would join the convoy at a designated position, usually a few miles south of the Smalls Lighthouse (51.43N, 5.40W). The convoy was initially routed south through St. Georges Channel (see OS series to Freetown, Sierra Leone, for ships bound for the South Atlantic (later sailing with the KMS series to Gibraltar) and the ON series sailing west to Halifax although initially these were still dispersed before reaching their destination. The OA series ceased on October 24, 1940 (OA.234).

    The OB series of mercantile convoy sailed from Liverpool into the Atlantic to be dispersed about about 750 nautical miles west of Lands End. At intervals, the OB convoy would join with the complementary OA series (sailing from Southend) to sail to Gibraltar. In this case both OA and the OB would be designated "G" and become the OG series. Even when dispersing in the Atlantic, the OB convoy would combine with the OA convoy if they met at sea. The OB series ran from September 1939 until July 1941 when it was replaced by the OS series to Freetown and the ON series to Halifax.
    Rattler and timuk like this.
  3. Mark McShane

    Mark McShane Junior Member

    MACKAY had left OB-7 at 0000 23rd, this sighting was at 2340 23rd when MACKAY was returning back to Milford Haven.
  4. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    Hello Mark good to hear from you again.
    My effort below - if I read correctly then the other destroyer could be ESK as both operated together at that time. Maybe others read it differently.

    "2345 Two Destroyers sighted astern. Private challenge made and replied.(Express & another in convoy).
    Steering ? 260 deg 15? 2400 Destroyers out of sight".

    Mark McShane and timuk like this.
  5. Mark McShane

    Mark McShane Junior Member

    Thanks Hugh, I was looking for a destroyer starting with EA, Express matches up much better.
  6. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    I think it's Steering approx 260 degrees 15 knots (kts) (see how the writer writes his p in replied and Express, although he has spelt approx as aprox).

    Mark McShane and Hugh MacLean like this.
  7. Rattler

    Rattler Junior Member

    Per wouldn't HMS Express and Esk be at Scapa Flow arming/victualling/storing in preparation for escort duty for HMS Royal Sovereign (to Portsmouth) on 23 Sept?

  8. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Info from

    HMS Express (H 61) of the Royal Navy - British Destroyer of the E class - Allied Warships of WWII -

    Notable events involving Express include:

    22 Sep 1939
    To conduct an operation against German shipping off the Norwegian coast the light cruiser HMS Aurora (Capt. G.B. Middleton, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral R.H.C. Hallifax, RN) and the destroyers HMS Tartar (Capt. G.H. Warner, DSC, RN), HMS Punjabi (Cdr. J.T. Lean, RN), HMS Eskimo (Cdr. St. J.A. Micklethwait, RN) and HMS Bedouin (Cdr. J.A. McCoy, RN) departed Scapa Flow as well as the light cruisers HMS Southampton (Capt. F.W.H. Jeans, CVO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral G.F.B. Edward-Collins, CB, KCVO, RN), HMS Sheffield (Capt. E. de F. Renouf, CVO, RN), HMS Glasgow (Capt. F.H. Pegram, RN) and the destroyers HMS Jervis (Capt. P.J. Mack, RN), HMS Javelin (Cdr. A.F. Pugsley, RN) and HMS Jupiter (Lt.Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, RN) departed Rosyth. HMS Jersey (Lt.Cdr. A.M. McKillop, RN), coming from the Chatham Dockyard, joined at sea.

    To provide cover for this operation two forces were deployed from Scapa Flow. One force was made up of the battlecruisers HMS Hood (Capt. I.G. Glennie, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.J. Whitworth, CB, DSO, RN), HMS Repulse (Capt. E.J. Spooner, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Fame (Cdr. P.N. Walter, RN), HMS Firedrake (Lt.Cdr. S.H. Norris, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN) and HMS Fortune (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, RN).

    The other force was made up of the battleships HMS Nelson (Capt. G.J.A. Miles, RN, flying the flag of Admiral J.M. Forbes, KCB, DSO, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. E.N. Syfret, RN), aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (Capt. A.J. Power, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Faulknor (Capt. C.S. Daniel, RN), HMS Fearless (Cdr. K.L. Harkness, RN), HMS Foxhound (Lt.Cdr. P.H. Hadow, RN), HMS Somali (Capt. R.S.G. Nicholson, DSC, RN), HMS Mashona (Cdr. P.V. McLaughlin, RN) and HMS Matabele (Cdr. G.K. Whitmy-Smith, RN). Later the destroyers HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN), HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN), HMS Esk (Lt.Cdr. R.J.H. Couch, RN) and HMS Express (Cdr. J.G. Bickford, RN) joined at sea.

    The raid was abandoned when HMS Javelin and HMS Jersey collided in position 57°09'N, 03°08'W at 2038/22.

    All forces returned to their port of departure on 23 September but not before HMS Hood reported an explosion at 1330/23. The destroyers HMS Firedrake and HMS Fortune were detached to investigate but no contact was obtained. In fact this was indeed an attack by a German submarine; U-24 which reported to have made a failed torpedo attack at 1328/23 on HMS Hood and two escorting destroyers.

    23 Sep 1939
    Around 2330/23, HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) departed Scapa Flow for Portsmouth. She was escorted by the destoyers HMS Esk (Lt.Cdr. R.J.H. Couch, RN) and HMS Express (Cdr. J.G. Bickford, RN).

    They arrived at Portsmouth around 1200/26. HMS Royal Sovereign was to be taken in hand for refit and modernisation at the Royal Dockyard. This was however cancelled and it was decided to give the ship a short refit only to make her fit for further service as in her current state she was deemed unfit for service. This refit however was to take place at the Devonport Dockyard at Plymouth. (1)
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2021
    Hugh MacLean and timuk like this.
  9. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    That info ties in with that on naval-history Phoney War, World War 2.
    Beginning to suspect that Mackay has misidentified the destroyer as HMS Express.

    Mark McShane and Hugh MacLean like this.
  10. Mark McShane

    Mark McShane Junior Member

    Thanks all, known movements of Express can rule out this escort and Mackay has indeed mis-identified the escort that exchanged signals. I suspect VIMY and VERSATILE in the outbound OB-8, to follow up I will be getting copies of their logbooks that may help.
    Hugh MacLean and timuk like this.
  11. Mark McShane

    Mark McShane Junior Member

    Logbooks for both VIMY and VERSATILE confirm they were about 130' north of MACKAY at this time, the search continues...

Share This Page