Convoy ONS 5 - Continuation of report by Commanding Officer, H.M.S. "TAY" - S.O.  Close escort in absence of H.M.S. "DUNCAN
 
   
  TAY, having received signal from B.7. to take over S.O. arrived in position Apples at 1600/3.  The weather was still bad and the convoy were starting to straggle again.  There was no H.F./D.F. activity and the night passed quietly.  IMPULSIVE was detached to Iceland during the night by order of C-in-C W.A.  During the morning of the fourth E.G.3. despatched PENN and PANTHER to St. Johns, N.F. to fuel and I also detached NORTHERN GEM with survivors in accordance with B.7's orders.  The convoy now consisted of thirty ships, the weather was improving and speed had increased to six knots.  Fuelling was still out of the question.
     
  2.  During the forenoon and afternoon H.F./D.F. activity indicated that U-boats were regaining contact, from port bow and beam.  At 1537/4 an aircraft called on R/T and reported attacking a submarine thirty five miles astern of the convoy.  This was thought to be an aircraft from Iceland, but nothing more was heard and he would not answer R/T.  It is requested that this may be investigated.  At this stage I despatched my 042005Z, requesting that PINK with his four stragglers be treated as a separate convoy.  
     
  3.  At dusk the situation was as follows.  U-boats were indicated by H.F./D.F. on the port bow, port quarter, starboard beam and starboard quarter.  Two sweeps by the support group had failed to sight any.  The weather was very clear, wind force 2, sea 22.  30 ships present in ten columns, course 202 dgs, speed seven.  Escorts were stationed as follows:  SUNFLOWER M, SNOWFLAKE P, TAY R, VIDETTE C, LOOSESTRIFE F, NORTHERN SPRAY H.  NORTHERN SPRAY did not have time to take up station, OFFA and ORIBI were covering the starboard and port bows at five miles distance.  
     
  4.  FIRST ATTACK.  At 2228/4 NORTHERN SPRAY, who was rejoining from rear, reported that NORTH BRITISH, a straggler six miles astern, had been torpedoed.  I had an H.F./D.F. bearing astern at the same time and ordered LOOSESTRIFE to join NORTHERN SPRAY, dropping SNOWFLAKE back to R and taking H myself.  There were now four close escorts - on the corners of the convoy.  
     
  5.  SECOND ATTACK.  At 2235 the attacks commenced on the main convoy and recalled LOOSESTRIFE from astern, sending him to S.  Neither he nor NORTHERN SPRAY got any contact.  At 2235 VIDETTE sighted a U-boat on his starboard bow which he attacked and forced to dive at 2247.  At 2254 Nos. 13 and 81 were seen to be torpedoed and next morning when NORTHERN SPRAY was picking up survivors it was discovered that 22 had also been hit.  The attack must have come from both sides - and Half Raspberry was ordered.  At 2304 VIDETTE got an RDF contact on the starboard beam of the convoy at 4000 yards, which he turned, chased and attacked (see incident 1VID), and at 2315 SNOWFLAKE detected and attacked a submarine at eight o'clock five miles (see Incident SNOWFLAKE No. 1).  He also reported torpedoes being fired.  At this stage I requested OFFA to move in and cover the starboard bow in VIDETTE's absence, having had an H.F./D.F. warning of a further submarine on the starboard bow.  
     
  6.  At 2350 I ordered VIDETTE to resume station, requesting OFFA to take position "A".  NORTHERN SPRAY, who had finished picking up NORTH BRITISH survivors was ordered to pick up survivors from this attack, and escorts resumed station ready for the next wave.  It is thought that both submarines involved in the attack were detected and depth charged during Half Raspberry.  
     
     

 

 
 
     
  7.  At 0018 SUNFLOWER detected and attacked a submarine on the port bow and rejoined twenty minutes later (See Incident SUNFLOWER No. 2).  At 0101 a bright flash was observed by several ships and fixed as five miles astern of the convoy.  No explanation can be advanced for this and survivors who were close state that no ship was in the vicinity.  Possibly is was a torpedo exploding at end of run or even possibly a damaged submarine blowing up.  
   
  8.  At 0142 SNOWFLAKE detected and chased a submarine on the port beam - he could not overtake and requested assistance from ORIBI.  Both ships carried out attacks (see Incident Snowflake No.  ) and in their absence I shifted LOOSESTRIFE from astern to the port quarter.  They did not rejoin until after the next attack.
     
  9.  At 0306 an H.F./D/F/ warning of a submarine close on the port bow was passed to the group, and at 0315 Nos 11 and 33 were torpedoed.  Half Raspberry was ordered and at 0318/5 LOOSESTRIFE detected by A/S and attacked a submarine (see Incident LOOSESTRIFE No. 1), rejoining immediately.  At 0328 TAY on the starboard quarter attacked a good A/S contact and rejoined (see Incident TAY No. 5).  LOOSESTRIFE was then ordered to pick up survivors from the ships who were torpedoed in this last attack, and at 0400 I ordered day stations to be assumed.  
     
  10.  Day stations were complete by 0500 and at 0700 I ordered NORTHERN SPRAY, who had 143 survivors on board, to proceed to St. Johns.  
     
  11.  Heavy H.F./D.F. activity from 0654 till 0846 indicated U-boats on the port bow and one on the port quarter.  EG3 sent ORIBI off to sweep out on the port bow and beam after these U-boats - the result being at 0902 the first of three U-boats close together being sighted by ORIBI about twelve miles from the convoy, who depth charged the area and forced them all to dive.  At about 0900 OFFA and TAY started to attempt to oil from ARGON, (canvas hose) and BRITISH LADY respectively.  
     
  12.  FIRST DAYLIGHT ATTACK on May 5th.  
  Convoy of 26 ships in ten columns, course 202, speed seven and a half, weather and visibility good, escorts in DE4 as follows:  VIDETTE "C", SUNFLOWER "M", SNOWFLAKE "P", LOOSESTRIFE "F", ORIBI detached, OFFA and TAY fuelling.  At 1041 No. 21 was torpedoed - on the starboard side - the Commodore executed an emergency turn to starboard which I requested him to cancel and at 1043 I ordered Artichoke.  At 1046 SUNFLOWER and OFFA gained contact and each attacked.  I ordered SUBFLOWER to circle the wreck and subsequently to pick up survivors, screened by SNOWFLAKE.  OFFA meanwhile was still attacking his contact and considered himself in contact with a submarine.  Escorts than resumed station.  I consider that the submarine came down from ahead firing from the centre of the convoy, and that SUNFLOWER attacked him (see incident SUNFLOWER No. 3).   
     
  13.  H.F./D.F. activity then indicated U-boats on the port and starboard bows and right ahead and astern.  E.G.3. then ordered ORIBI to fuel, and OFFA joined the screen ahead of the second column, TAY moving over to ahead of the ninth column.  When ORIBI had completed fuelling, OFFA started again and ORIBI took her place on the screen.  
     
  14.  At 1725 TAY's A/S was out of action and at 1742 Nos. 101 and 91 were torpedoed, followed closely by BLONDE, No. 73.  Reliable survivors from 101 and 91 report that torpedoes were seen approaching from port.  At 1744 No. 73 sighted  
     
     

 

 
 
     
  14.  (ctd)  and engaged a periscope close on his starboard beam, being torpedoed in the ER almost immediately.  It is possible that the U-boat torpedoed Nos. 91 and 101 with his bow tubes and No. 73 with his stern tube - but no confirmation is available.  At the same time VIDETTE, who was moving over from position "C" to the oiler (62), reports sighting torpedo tracks from the starboard beam.  They either all missed or one hit No. 73.  At 1748 I requested OFFA and ORIBI to carry out Observant around the wreck.  As TAY's A/S was out of action I then picked up survivors and ordered VIDETTE to carry on with Artichoke - the Commodore insisted on doing emergency turn to port which was executed at about 1752.  OFFA obtained a good A/S contact and continued to attack for some time.  
   
  15.  At 1838 the Commodore resumed the original course - an aircraft from Iceland who had flown a great distance to meet the convoy appeared at 1754.  He carried out two tasks and then had to return to base.  The visibility had closed down to half a mile, and at 1845 escorts were ordered to resume station.  H.F./D.F. activity indicated that submarines were all around and preparations were made for the night to come.
     
  16.  LAST NIGHT'S SERIES OF UNSUCCESSFUL ATTACKS on 6th MAY.  
  23 ships in about ten columns, course 202 till 2300, then 180 dgs, and at 2359/5 to 156, speed seven and a half.  Calm sea, no wind, drizzle and heavy mist.  Escorts in NE5, TAY "A" (asdic listening watch only), SUNFLOWER "M",  VIDETTE "C", SNOWFLAKE "R", LOOSESTRIFE "H", OFFA and ORIBI rejoining from astern to take up position five miles on each bow.  At 2241 the first of about twenty four attempted attacks from every direction except ahead was detected, and the battle continued without stop until 0420.  The situation was confused - it is quite out of the question to give a detailed account on chronological order - but the group tactics of hitting all submarines quickly and hard and then rejoining at full speed achieved most satisfactory results - no ships being torpedoed - four submarines being certainly destroyed, one very probably and many other attacks being made.  For details, see narratives of attacks on submarines by individual ships.  TAY's R/T log provides all other details required.  All ships worked hard, capably and with intelligence, and considerable humor and the situation was always well in hand.  
     
  17.  OFFA and ORIBI parted company at 0600/5 and the First escort group joined at dawn from ahead.  They carried out wide sweeps ahead and astern and then joined the close screen.  On their way to the convoy they had sighted and attacked two submarines with promising results.  
     
  18.  During the forenoon of the sixth, VIDETTE fuelled in very low visibility - at 1500, the Western Local escort, SO Barris, joined, having been homed from ahead, and after extracting three ships from the convoy with some difficulty, VIDETTE and LOOSESTRIFE were left to escort them in, TAY, SUNFLOWER and SNOWFLAKE proceeding to St. Johns, N.F.  
     
  19.  PINK and her portion who had lost one ship were reinforced by SENDEN from the first escort group, and arrived one day after the remainder.  
     
     
     
     
     
     
                                                                                      
                                                                                   
     
     
     
     
     
     
     


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