S E C R E T.
 
     
  From . . . . SENIOR OFFICER, 1st SUPPORT GROUP,   H.M.S. PELICAN.
  Date  . . . . 12th May 1943.  
  To     . . . . THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF, WESTERN APPROACHES,  
                   THROUGH THE COMMODORE, WESTERN APPROACHES, LONDONDERRY.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  
  Subject:    1st SUPPORT GROUP, REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS, 4th - 12th May.  
                   (All times Zone +2 except where otherwise stated.)  
                   Enclosures:  i.  Track Chart.  
                                     ii.  Relative Signals.  
                                    iii.  Report of Attack on U-Boat.  
                                    iv.  H/F D/F Report.  
                                     v.  SPEY's Report of Attack.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  
  Sir,  
                  I have the honour to submit the following report of proceedings of H.M.S. PELICAN and 1st Support Group under my command from 4th - 12th May.  
     
                  2.  At 1200 4th May H.M. Ships PELICAN, WEAR, SPEY, JED and SENNEN sailed from St. JOHN'S Newfoundland at 14 knots in accordance with C. in C. W.A's 040819Z to support O.N.S. 5.  
     
  5th May.  3.  O.N.S. 5 was heavily beset and at 100 C. in C.W.A's 051104Z was received ordering the group to proceed at best speed leaving SENNEN to follow.  Speed was increased to 16 knots.  During the afternoon the weather, which had been clear, thickened and fog brought visibility down to 2 cables.  
     
  6th May.  4.  It was expected that O.N.S. 5 on a course of 156 degrees would be contacted from ahead at about 0400.  The group was spread from left to right in the order WEAR, PELICAN, JED, SPEY, ships 4 miles apart on a course of 030 degrees.  From R/T signals received it was apparent that the convoy was being subjected to many attacks and these signals came in useful for homing by H/F D/F.  I had previously informed TAY (Senior Officer of Convoy Escort) that ships would form extended screen on both bows and beams on joining and that a sweep astern of the convoy would be carried out at first light.  SENNEN was proceeding to support PINK with a detached section of the convoy in accordance with C. in C.W.A's 052037Z.  
     
                  5.  At 0350 WEAR reported the convoy bearing 330 degrees 8 miles and at 0352 PELICAN obtained a small Radar echo bearing 040 degrees, 5300 yards.  This was followed up and it was immediately obvious from the rate of change of bearing that it came from something on an approximately opposite course to that of the group.  A few minutes after 0400 a wake was sighted and then the U-boat about 2 cables ahead in the fog.  (See Appendix III for report of attack.)  
     
                  6.  This was a good example of a support group arriving at just the right moment to achieve complete surprise.  The U-Boat proceeding at about 9 knots probably thought herself clear of immediate danger and it is considered that she had been either driven off after an attempt to attack or was proceeding ahead to take up a day attack position.  
     
                  7.  I had in the meantime ordered JED to support PELICAN and WEAR and SPEY to take up their screening positions and to carry out their sweep astern of the convoy at first light.  
     
                  8.  PELICAN and JED continued the hunt until 0615.  I then discontinued the hunt as it was clear from TAY's signals (e.g. TAY's 060800Z) that due to ramming, expenditure of depth charges, rounding up of scattered ships and the departure of the 3rd Support Group there were at that time only  
     
                                                                                                  Continued over . . . . . . . .  
     
     

 

 
 
     
                                                                    S E C R E T.                                                Page 2.  
   
 
1st Support Group, Report of Proceedings 4th - 12th May continued.
 
     
                  8.  (continued) . . . .  two effective ships on the close screen.  I considered that the submarine was either destroyed or so severely damaged as to be no further menace to the convoy and that it was more important that PELICAN and JED should reinforce the close screen in case of daylight attack.  WEAR and SPEY were sweeping astern at this time and the convoy was in close proximity to the area of the hunt.  
     
                  9.  At 0805 SPEY reported sighting a U-Boat and WEAR proceeded to support her.  SPEY reported obtaining two hits on the conning tower and carrying out two depth charge attacks before losing contact with the U-Boat probably very deep.  WEAR and SPEY reported proceeding to rejoin at 1015.  I concurred in this action in view of the fog and the weak convoy screen.  
     
                  10.  WEAR and SPEY rejoined at about 1500.  At 1507 both PELICAN and TAY obtained what appeared to be a ground wave bearing which fixed a U-Boat 001 degrees 7 miles from the convoy.  By this time the fog had lifted slightly and visibility varied between one and five miles.  PELICAN swept out to 15 miles from the convoy on the bearing but without result.  
     
                  11.  Having carried out a sweep on both quarters of the convoy (convoy course 180 degrees) PELICAN took up extended screen position ahead for the night while all other ships were stationed on close screen as requested by TAY.  
     
  7th May.  12.  At 0600 PELICAN, WEAR and JED parted company from the convoy in accordance with C in C.W.A's 062357Z and swept back along the convoy course searching for torpedoed ships that might still be afloat.
     
                  13.  Between 0830 and 1200 in approximate position 50°North, 45°West, the group apparently passed through the Western Ocean Whales Spring Mating Ground.  The weather was calm, thick fog, visibility less than one cable and unusually warm.  Numerous fish echoes of exceptional clarity were obtained and frequently the recorder markings would show a pair of fish coming together and separating.  Echoes of ever varying amplitude on the R.D.F. Scan gave evidence of the great beasts thrashing on the surface in amorous ecstasy.  Before the situation was appreciated JED interrupted one romance with a ten-charge Minol pattern.  I myself have witnesses a pair of whales once performing the procreative act.  It is a rare and impressive sight but I can only conclude that it was the illusion of privacy fostered by the fog coupled with the unwonted spring heat that gave rise to the surely unparalleled orgy on the occasion.  Shortly after noon the disturbances entirely ceased.  Perhaps this incident may be considered of sufficient biological interest to be extracted and forwarded to the B.B.C. with a view to elucidation by Julian Huxley and "Commander" Campbell at some future Brains Trust Session.  
     
  8th May.  14.  During the forenoon JED and WEAR encountered wreckage and lifeboats.   The weather was still foggy but no surface ship echoes were picked up by R.D.F.  At 1100 in accordance with C. in C.W.A's 080906Z proceeded on a course of 300 degrees to support O.N. 181, which was then proceeding in a S.W. direction along the limits of the Greenland ice pack.  At 2030 C in C.W.A's 082030Z was received and course was altered to 055 degrees to support O.N.S. 6 to the North Eastward.  
     
  9th May.  15.  During the night the East wind increased to a full gale.  This blew the fog away but necessitated reducing speed to 10 knots.  Shortly before the time expected to contact O.N.S. 5 C. in C.W.A's 092312Z was received ordering 1st Support Group to proceed at best speed to St. JOHN'S.  
     
                                                                                       Continued over, Para 16 . . . . . . . ..  
     
     

 

 
 
     
                                                                    S E C R E T.                                                Page 3 .  
   
 
1st Support Group, Report of Proceedings 4th - 12th May continued.
 
     
                  16.  Nothing of further interest occurred except that the group became involved in heavy broken pack ice in low visibility on the afternoon of Tuesday 11th May through adjusting course according to the information given in the Newfoundland ice bulletins of the 9th and 10th.  From painful experience it was found that pack ice dangerous to shipping extended about 120 miles further to the South Eastward than the limits given in the Bulletin.  This discrepancy was pointed out to Flag Officer Newfoundland.  We were fortunate that the only damage suffered was a broken Chernikeef log in JED.   
     
                  17.  The group arrived at St. JOHN'S at 1630 12th May.  
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
                          I have the honour to be, Sir,  
     
   
                          Your Obedient Servant,  
     
                                                     
     
                                               COMMANDER, R.N.  
     
  Distribution:  
          C. in C.W.A. through COMMODORE, NORTH WESTERN APPROACHES,  
                                                                        2 copies with voyage track chart.  
          C. in C.W.A. direct:                               1 copy.  
          Director, Anti-Submarine Warfare, direct  
                                                                        1 copy with recorder trace and attack track chart.  
          C. in C.N. & W.A. through Captain (D) Newfoundland,  
                                                                        1 copy.  
     
     
     
     

 


 

Click the icons to view the associated records

Return to the Convoy ONS 5 page