H.M.S. OFFA,  
                                                                                                                             9th May, 1943.
  No. 1619/223.  
               I have the honour to forward herewith the reports of proceedings of the Third Escort Group for the period 29th April to 8th May, 1943.  
               These are divided into the following sections:  
               1.  OFFA.  
               2.  ORIBI.  
               3.  PENN.  
               4.  PANTHER.  
          2.  Experience with Convoy ONS 5 once again shows the terrible danger of using the Northern route.  On the night of 5th/6th May no less than 25 U-Boats attacked this convoy but, due to the distance steamed to meet it by the Third Support Group, and the fact that the weather precluded oiling at sea when met, two destroyers of the group had to be detached to return to harbour for fuel.  Furthermore, H.M.S. DUNCAN, the Leader of B.7 Group, and probably one of the most efficient escort vessels in the Western Approaches, also had to leave the convoy due to lack of fuel.  
               It is presumed that the long routeing to the North and West was originally planned as a defensive measure.  That is to say, extra mileage and bad weather were accepted because they would operate more unfavourably for the U-Boats then for the convoy and escorts.  With the provision of Support Groups this is no longer true and our policy should be to invite the enemy to attack so that he can be destroyed.  
          3.  It has become quite clear that in good weather conditions escorts which are fitted with R.D.F. Type 271 or 272, and which are handled with determination, will always defeat the U-Boat at night or in fog.  
               It therefore follows that to make a successful attack U-Boats must do so submerged.  It is probable, though, that such attacks will only be made by day.  
               The proper use of Support Groups by day will keep the U-Boats down and, therefore, evasive turns by even the slowest convoy will be effective, because in order to keep in touch the U-Boats must surface in order to attain the necessary speed, thereby offering themselves for attack.  Good weather is of course essential for the success of these tactics.  
          4.  With regard to Section 4, paragraphs 3, 4 and 5, I cannot concur in any way with these suggestions.  The whole point of the Support Groups is that they shall have the speed to move quickly from one convoy to another and, when in company with a convoy, move at very high speed to put the U-Boats down.  
          5.  Provided the convoy is routed through the best available weather, and supplied with efficient oilers, the situation with regard to fuel will not cause concern.  My experience with convoys HX 230 and SO 126 gives complete and ample proof of this contention.  
          6.  The escort oiler in ONS 5, the "British Lady", live up to the great reputation that she made for herself with the Fleet destroyers during the operations in Norway in the Spring of 1940.  It is essential, however, that this ship be properly fitted with rails for the hose in order that full use may be made of her very efficient and cheerful crew.  
                                                                                                         (7.  . . .   . . .  


                                                                      SECRET.                                               Page 2.  
          7.  The skill, determination and good drill displayed by all ships of B.7 Group during the time the Third Escort Group was supporting ONS 5, was beyond all praise.
               Furthermore, no difficulties were experienced in connection with the so-called "vexed question" of command.  
                                                                                     I have the honour to be,  
                                                                                           your obedient servant.  
                                                                                   SENIOR OFFICER
                                                                                THIRD ESCORT GROUP  
  The Commander-in-Chief, Western Approaches.  
       (Copies to:  The Director of A/S Warfare.  
                          The Rear Admiral (D), Home Fleet.)  
          (1)  Appendix I - Relevant Signals.  
          (2)  Appendix II - Communication.  
          (3)  Appendix III - Oiling at Sea.  
          (4)  Intercepted Signals.  
          (5)  Signal Log for Period 1200 4th May to 0800 6th May.  
                     (To D.A/S.W only, under separate cover).  
          (6)  Track Chart for Night of 4th/5th May.)  To D.A/S.W under separate  
          (7)  Track Chart for Night of 5th/6th May.)  cover.  



Click the icons to view the associated records

Return to the Convoy ONS 5 page