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Commodore E. C. Denison's Report
Convoy HX 234

Operations of U-boats in vicinity of and attacks on Convoy HX 234
April 21-25 1943 - All times GMT
(the report is incomplete)

The first intimation that Convoy was being shadowed was at 04:00/21 when HMS Pennywort, stationed on starboard quarter of Convoy, attacked a U-boat in Position 56 27N 47 30W. Course and speed of Convoy at the time was 074° 9 1/2 knots. It was known that Convoy ONS 3 was being attacked to the southeast and that Convoy ON 178 steering south 150 miles ahead of HX 234 had been sighted and reported. Course of Convoy was immediately altered to 050° and to 080° at 12:00/21. Course was again altered to 047° after dark at 21:30/21.

A strong Northerly gale had meanwhile sprung up with heavy snow blizzards and during the night the speed of the Convoy was reduced to 3-4 knots. At about 01:00/22 Amerika (No. 75), rear ship of the 7th column, was torpedoed and sunk in Position 57 30N 42 45W. No rockets were seen and no distress signals were intercepted. She was hit on the port side aft and amidships. The only ship in the Convoy that saw Amerika torpedoed was Washington Express (No. 84) who reported having seen 3 flashes and heard a syren. The latter ship did not fire any white rockets. Corner Brook (No. 64) reported that the last time she saw Amerika was just before the alteration of course at 21:30/21 and that she was then a long way astern of station. NOTE: Amerika had a declared speed of 14 knots.

HMS Asphodel picked up 54 survivors. It is regretted that there were 86 casualties. Convoy was slightly scattered during the gale, but as the weather moderated soon after daylight, quickly reformed. Course was altered to 060° at 12:00/22. Speed 9 1/2 knots. Patrolling Liberator reported several submarines to the southeast in Position 48 27N 40 00W at distances varying from 8-16 miles. Plane returned to base at dusk.

Evasive alterations of course of 30° to Port at 20:30/22 and 33° to starboard at 23:00/22 were carried out. Very heavy snow storms were encountered during the night of 22/23 which were of great assistance in hiding the Convoy which was not attacked.

At 08:00/23 course of Convoy was altered to 075°. At 12:00/23 HMS Vimy, who was on the starboard beam of Convoy, reported 2 submarines on the surface bearing 210° 15 miles and attacked with depth charges. Position of Convoy at the time was 59 16N 36 12W. HMS Highlander proceeded to reinforce HMS Vimy.

At 14:00/23 in Position 59 18N 35 30W Silvermaple (No. 101), leader of 10th column, was torpedoed starboard side aft. Master reported that she had been hit in the after peak tank which was full of water and that his cargo oil was leaking. He considered Torpedo must have been at the end of its run. It would appear to have been a glancing blow and Torpedo must have exploded outside the ship as, although a high column of water was observed damage was comparatively slight and ship was able to proceed with Convoy at 9 1/2 knots after about half an hour.

Convoy was immediately turned 90° to Port by two Emergency Turns. Mean Course of 075° was resumed at 15:15/23.

Two Liberators arrived at 16:00/23, patrolled round Convoy and reported sighting several U-boats. At 19:30/23 one of the planes reported a U-boat sinking in Position 59 45N 34 35W as a result of his attack. 13-16 survivors were seen swimming in the water.

At 18:30/23, HMS Anemone* (port beam of Convoy) reported firm contact and carried out a Depth Charge attack. Liberators returned to base at dusk.

* The Commodore refers to this ship as Anenome, both in his convoy notes and in this report - I'm assuming this should be the corvette Anemone.

Course of Convoy was altered to 090° at 18:45/23. Evasive alterations of Course of 20° to Port at 23:00/23 and 30° to starboard at 04:00/24 were carried out during the night.

HMS Pennywort (on starboard quarter of Convoy) sighted a U-boat bearing 150° 2 1/2 miles at 01:20/24 and fired star shell. U-boat dived.

The night of 23/24 was calm and clear with a bright moon. No attack materialised, which was surprising as the conditions were ideal for the U-boats of which there were many in the vicinity. Possibly the loss of one of their pack had depressed them.

At 06:00/24 2 Catalinas arrived and at 13:00/24 one of them reported a U-boat bearing 240° 30 miles (the 2's and the 3's in this handwritten report sometimes look alike, but I believe the time 13:00 given here is correct). An Easterly gale sprang up during the day and increased in violence during the night. Planes returned to base at dusk. As Convoy was still being shadowed, evasive alterations of 30° to starboard at 22:00/24 and 40° to Port at 03:00/25 were made during the night.

Senior Officer of Escort estimated that 12 U-boats were concentrated on Convoy on April 23rd.

The loss of such a fine ship as Amerika is very much deplored. It is, however, felt that had she been in her proper station, she might quite easily have escaped. Signal "submarines known to be in vicinity well closed up" had been made twice to the.........(unfortunately, the next page is missing, only a few lines are visible, where Commodore Denison says: "The skill, judgement and determination of the Senior Officer, Commander Day and the C.O.'s of the Escort Vessels were worthy of high commendation".)

Page 1 - cruising order HX 234

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