Source: ADM 199 73
Commanding Officer, HMS JASON
Captain ‘D’, 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, HMS MILNE
Escort of Convoy JW53
following Report of Proceedings as Senior Officer of escort to
Convoy JW53 is submitted .
Sailed from Loch Ewe as Senior Officer in Charge of Local Escort.
Escorts in company HM Ships DIANELLA, BERGAMOT, POPPY, LORD
AUSTIN, and LORD MIDDLETON. HMS PYTCHLEY, MEYNELL, MIDDLETON,
HAZARD, SHARPSHOOTER and VIVACIOUS, were originally expected to
join off the Loch Ewe buoy, but all failed to make the rendezvous
owing to weather and other causes.
Air A/S Escort arrived.
HMS PYTCHLEY, MIDDLETON and MEYNELL joined. Convoy mustered 25
ships, organised in nine columns, remainder had been unable to
HMS HALCYON joined.
Air escort left.
Air escort arrived.
LORD MIDDLETON’s signal timed 0902 received, stating for’ard store
room flooded and heaving to. Ordered MIDDLETON to stand by and
report on situation. On receipt of further details from LORD
MIDDLETON, ordered him to return to Scapa if inadvisable to
continue and as he and MIDDLETON were now out of V/S range sent
DIANELLA back to pass message. MIDDLETON’s 1215 was received at
1230 and DIANELLA’s 1459 at 1606, stating he was escorting LORD
MIDDLETON to Scapa. (Visibility during this period about 1 mile).
Received HALCYON’s 1115 stating trawler KOMILES reported lashings
on deck cargo broken, necessary to proceed Faeroe Islands to
Passed signal to Commodore who made signal ordering KOMILES to
make good defects at Faeroe Islands and return to Loch Ewe. As
KOMILES had speed of 11 knots asked Commodore if he did not think
KOMILES could catch up with convoy after re-stowing cargo.
Commodore agreed and I drafted signal accordingly but signal could
not be passed as KOMILES was out of V/S touch.
Received LORD AUSTIN’s 1228 stating KOMILES had left convoy and
was out of sight.
Received LORD AUSTIN’s 1235 to Commodore stating that KOMILES had
Signal received from Commodore stating KOMILES had left convoy for
Heavy sea and swell from NW, V/S communication with escorts
difficult due to low visibility and height of waves; convoy
somewhat scattered and escorts out of position.
Hove to to carry out temporary repairs to ventilation trunking aft
which had carried away on Quarter Deck, thus causing leak into LL
and M/S compartments. Housed A/S dome to prevent damage by sea and
as A/s conditions were very bad.
Air escort arrived, reported 22 ships present. Told him speed 4
Gale continuing from SW, heavy seas and swell, visibility poor.
Received signal from Commodore stating KOMILES had reported by W/T
that hull was split and she was filling up, followed by SOS but
giving no position.
Set watch on MF/DF and Commercial Wave.
Commodore reported that at 0900 there were 19 ships in sight and
one had hove to to secure cargo.
Passed signal to PYTCHLEY ordering HALCYON to proceed back along
convoy route until 1800 to look for KOMILES. I estimated KOMILES
had re-stored cargo at Faeroe Islands and had split his hull in
endeavouring to catch up and might be about 50 miles astern, but
on asking Commodore if any estimation of distance could be
obtained from strength of KOMILES’ SOS, received reply ‘Within
radius of 30 miles’. I therefore ordered HALCYON back in the vain
hope of finding him and if unsuccessful by dark, hoped he might be
seen by Convoy JW53B coming up astern. I presumed that his SOS
would have been received by Shore Stations and other ships.
Received signal from PYTCHLEY that he had been unable to find
HALCYON and that my signal had not been passed. Decided it was now
too late to take any further action.
MIDDLETON reported 4 stragglers about 15 miles astern.
Commodore proposed wheeling 90° to port for about 10 miles, then
steering to Position C, in order to allow stragglers to catch up,
and requested an escort be sent back to bring them up.
Agreed at first, but as I estimated convoy was already 5 miles to
port of its track, considered a diversion of a further 10 miles
inadvisable, especially as convoy JW53B was expected to be
overtaking and that at this time smoke was sighted on the horizon
on the starboard quarter of the convoy.
Suggested that it would be preferable to reduce speed, to which
the Commodore agreed, reducing accordingly to 5 knots.
Ordered MIDDLETON to investigate smoke and inform stragglers of
convoy’s position, course and speed.
BLUEBELL and CAMELLIA joined escort. Aircraft patrol arrived but
departed before exchange of signals could be effected, having been
ordered to return home.
Received signal from LORD AUSTIN reporting damage by weather (port
lifeboat, bridge-rails and stanchions stove in, voice pipe depth
charge thrower missing, RDF wires carried away, Lewis gun mounting
bent), and one rating suffering from concussion. Was able to
confirm by 1712 that he was able to continue voyage.
Convoy increased to 7½ knots. Unknown whether stragglers and
rejoined owing to poor visibility and intermittent snow showers.
Detached PYTHCHLEY and MIDDLETON to Seidisfiord to fuel, PYTCHLEY
having previously reported they would have reached prudent limit
of endurance by that time.
Captain D 3 rendezvoused and took over command of the convoy which
was 36 hours behind schedule due to the adverse weather conditions
Commanding Officer HMS Scylla
considered that the Commanding Officer, HMS JASON, handled the
difficult situation of weather, escorts and stragglers in a very