Homepage is: http://shawweb.myzen.co.uk/stephen/index.htmWorld War 2 -
More on Dad's personal involvment
The text below has been collected from various Net sources and deals with Dad's wartime experiences - the Convoys, his ships, and his final wartime operation on Leros (listed in his war record as S S Leros!).
First the ships...
The Flower Class corvette programme used a design submitted by Smith`s Dock, Middlesbrough, based on their whale catcher SOUTHERN PRIDE and were designed to be built in mercantile yards.
Dad's first ship ARABIS was lent to the US navy as SAUCY on 30 April 1942. Returned to the RN as SNAPDRAGON in 1945. Sold 1946 and renamed KATINA as a merchant ship.
War was declared 3rd September 1939.
Arabis, K.73, Commissioned 14th February 1940.
Builder: Harland and Wolff, Ltd., Belfast, Northern Ireland, Length: 202' 2", Beam: 33', Draft: 14' 7", Displacement: 925 tons (measurements are the imperial feet(')and inches(") used before metrication). Top speed: 16.5 knots
Dad joined Arabis on 31st August 1940 when her Captain was Lt Cdr B Blewitt, RNR.- noteable events after that date involving Arabis include - (Note- entries have been abbreviated by omitting long lists of other ships involved)
On 31st August Arabis was listed against Drake IV, the Accounting Base at Devonport.
Convoy HX67- destroyers WALKER and WARWICK, sloop ROCHESTER, corvettes ARABIS and BLUEBELL joined the convoy. They remained with the convoy arriving at Liverpool on 4 September.
Convoy OB.210 departed Liverpool escorted by destroyer SKATE and corvettes ANEMONE and ARABIS. On 10 September, the escort was detached.
19th September 1940
Convoy OB.216 departed Liverpool escorted by destroyer VANQUISHER, sloop SCARBOROUGH, and corvette ARABIS. The convoy was joined on the 21st by escorted ship GLEANER and corvettes CAMELLIA and FLEUR DE LYS. The escort was detached on the 23rd.
20th September 1940
Steamer EMPIRE ADVENTURE was first taken in tow by British tug SUPERMAN, but sank on the 23rd. Twenty one crew were lost on steamer EMPIRE ADVENTURE. The survivors were rescued by corvette ARABIS.
Twenty six survivors from steamer BOKA were landed at Londonderry by corvette ARABIS. Eight crew were missing.
21 Sep, 1940
HMS Arabis (Lt.Cdr. A. Blewitt) picks up 23 survivors from the British whale factory ship New Sevilla that was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-138 52 miles northwest of Rathlin Island in position 55d 50m N, 07d 30m W.
23rd September 1940: Convoy SC4- destroyers ACTIVE, KEPPEL, and VANQUISHER, sloop LOWESTOFT, and corvettes ARABIS, CAMELLIA, FLEUR DE LYS, and HEARTSEASE joined the convoy and escorted it to its arrival at Liverpool on the 26th.
29th September 1940
Convoy OB.221 departed Liverpool with destroyer ANTHONY, corvettes ARABIS, CALENDULA, and COREOPSIS. Corvette ARABIS was detached on 2 October and destroyer ATNHONY and corvette CALENDULA left on 3 October.
From 1st October 1940 to 31st January 1941, Arabis came under the sloop Eaglet in Liverpool, flagship of Commander-in-Chief Western Approaches.
3rd October 1940
Convoy BHX.75 (ex Bermuda) - Destroyers AMAZON and ANTHONY, corvettes ARABIS, CALENDULA, and CLEMATIS, escort ship JASON joined on 3 October. The escort ship was detached later that day and the trawler the next day. The remainder of the escort arrived with the convoy at Liverpool on 7 October.
15th October 1940
Convoy OB.229 departed Liverpool escorted by destroyers CHELSEA, STURDY, WHITEHALL, corvettes ARABIS and HELIOTROPE. Destroyer CHELSEA was detached on the 16th and the rest of the escort on the 18th.
18th October 1940
Convoy HX.79, which had departed Halifax on the 8th escorted by Armed merchant cruisers MONTCLARE and ALAUNIA and Dutch submarine O.14, was reinforced in the Western Approaches by destroyers WHITEHALL and STURDY, escort vessel JASON, corvettes HIBISCUS, HELIOTROPE, COREOPSIS, ARABIS in the Western Approaches.
19th October 1940
HX-79: 49 ships. On 19 October, destroyers STURDY and WHITEHALL, escort ship JASON, corvettes ARABIS, COREOPSIS, HIBISCUS. Sighted 19th October by U-Boat U-47 (Kpt Gunther Prien). U-boats: U-28, U-46*, U-47*, U-48*, U-100* (* U-boats that fired torpedoes or shoot with gun)
The battle: In the face of the strong escort the u-boats sank during the night 19/20th October 12 ships for a total of 75,069 tons.
It is notable that U-47 under Kpt Prien was responsible for sinking the Royal Oak (on 14th October 1939), on which died dad's cousin and my namesake, Stephen Shaw, age 21, whose memorial is at Southsea. The convoy arrived at Liverpool 23 October.
Convoy OB.236 departed Liverpool escorted by destroyer BROKE, sloop LEITH and corvettes ARABIS and HELIOTROPE. The escort was joined on the 30th by destroyers MALCOLM and SARDONYX. On 1 November, corvette GENTIAN was with the convoy for the day only and the rest of the convoy escort, less sloop LEITH, was detached.
11th November 1940
Convoy OB.239, which had departed Liverpool on the 4th, but was recalled and arrived at Oban, departed Oban on the 10th escorted by corvette LA MALOUINE. The escort was joined on the 11th by destroyers BROKE, MALCOLMand SARDONYX and corvettes ANEMONE and ARABIS. On the 13th, destroyers MALCOLM and SARDONYX were detached and the remainder of the escort of 14 November.
27th November 1940:-
On 26 November, destroyers SALADIN and SCIMITAR joined the escort. Destroyer BROKE and corvettes ANEMONE, ARABIS, MALLOW joined on the 27th. Destoyer BROKE was detached on the 28th and corvette ARABIS on the 29th. The convoy arrived at Liverpool on the 30th
14th December 1940:-
Convoy OB.259 departed Liverpool escorted by corvette ARABIS. The corvette was detached that night.
18th December 1940
Convoy HX-94 (arr Liverpool 22nd)- Destroyer SCIMITAR and corvettes and ARABIS and MALLOW joined on the 18th. Corvette ARABIS was detached on the 19th.
Liverpool received a major bombing on the 20th-22nd December 1940, involving 500 German planes. Dad mentioned hurrying across Liverpool during a night-time raid to get back to Arabis after visiting a relative.
23rd December 1940 - The Arabis receives a new Captain, Lt Cdr John Stewart, who had previous command of ASW Trawler HMS St Elstan.
29th December 1940
Convoy OB.266 from Liverpool escorted by destroyers SCIMITAR and SKATE, corvette CLARKIA, armed boarding vessel CRISPIN, anti-submarine trawler MAN O WAR. The convoy was joined on the 29th by corvettes ARABIS and MALLOW, anti-submarine trawlers NORTHERN DAWN, NORTHERN PRIDE, ST ELSTAN. The escort, less the armed boarding vessel, were detached on the 31st.
1st January 1941:-
Ships LIst- Western Approaches Command - Londonderry- ARABIS (Lt Cdr J P Stewart RNR) dep Londonderry 29 Dec
Convoy SL59 (from Freetown)- On 1 January, destroyers SCIMITAR and SKATE, ocean boarding vessel CRISPIN, corvettes ARABIS, CLARKIA, MALLOW, anti-submarine trawlers MAN O WAR, NORTHERN DAWN, NORTHERN PRIDE, ST ELSTAN joined. The ocean boarding vessel and corvette CLARKIA were detached on 3 January. The convoy arrived at Liverpool on 5 January.
19th January 1941
Convoy OG.50 departed Liverpool escorted by destroyers MALCOLM, SHIKARI, SKATE, sloop DEPTFORD, corvettes ARABIS and LA MALOUINE, anti-submarine trawlers LADY ELSA, WELLARD, ZENO, ocean boarding vessel MARSDALE. The destroyers, corvettes, trawlers were detached on the 20th
21st January 1941
Convoy HG-50 (from Gibraltar)- On the 21st, destroyers HESPERUS, JACKAL, MALCOLM, SHIKARI, SKATE, SKEENA, corvete ARABIS, anti-submarine trawler WELLARD joined the convoy. Corvette ARABIS was detached on the 23rd
23 Jan, 1941
The British merchant Lurigethan is bombed and damaged by a German FW200 aircraft. The crew abandoned ship and were picked up by the British corvette HMS Arabis, which stayed near the ship to wait for a tug. At 02.12 hours on 26 January 1941, the burning and abandoned Lurigethan was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-105 west of Ireland in position 53.46N, 16.00W.
From 1st February 1941 to 3rd January 1942, Arabis was under Ferret in Derry.
8th March 1941
Convoy OB.295 departed Liverpool, escorted by corvette HELIOTROPE and anti-submarine trawler NORTHERN DAWN. On 9 March, destroyers ECHO, ELECTRA, INGLEFIELD, SARDONYX, SCIMITAR, and VALOROUS, corvettes ARABIS, MALLOW, and VIOLET joined the escort.
18th March 1941
Convoy HG-55: corvettes ARABIS, MALLOW, and VIOLET and anti-submarine yacht PHILANTE joined. The convoy arrived at Liverpool on the 22nd.
23rd March 1941
Convoy OB.301 departed Liverpool, escorted by destroyers BURWELL, SARDONYX, SCIMITAR, and WATCHMAN, sloop FLEETWOOD, corvettes ARABIS and MALLOW, and anti-submarine trawler NORTHERN WAVE. The corvettes were detached on the 26th
Convoy HG-56: destroyers LEGION, SARDONYX, SCIMITAR, WATCHMAN, and BURWELL, Polish destroyer PIORUN, sloop FLEETSTONE, corvettes ARABIS, MALLOW, and VIOLET, and convoy rescue ship ZAAFAREN joined the convoy. The convoy arrived at Liverpool on 2 April.
6th April 1941:-
Convoy OG.58 departed liverpool escorted by corvettes AMARANTHUS, ARABIS, HELIOTROPE, and PRIMULA, -corvettes ARABIS and HELIOTROPE were detached on the 12th.
14th May 1941:-
Convoy OB.322 - Corvette ARABIS joined on the 14th.The escort was detached when the convoy dispersed on the 20th.
21st May 1941:-
Convoy HX.126 was joined on the 21st by destroyers BURNHAM and BURWELL, corvettes ARABIS, HELIOTROPE- Detached on the 22nd, corvettes ARABIS, HELIOTROPE, MALLOW
8th June 1941:-
Convoy SL.75 from Freetown - Corvette ARABIS joined on 8 June to 12 June.
Convoy OB.338 from Liverpool. corvettes ARABIS and VIOLET, joined the convoy outside Liverpool. This group was detached on the 26th.
27th June 1941:-
Convoy HX.133 from Halifax - corvettes ARABIS, CELANDINE, GLADIOLUS, and NASTURTIUM, and minesweepers NIGER and SPEEDWELL joined on the 27th.
27th-29th - Attacks on Halifax/UK convoy HX133 - A total of 10 U-boats attack Halifax/UK convoy HX133 south of Iceland - Five ships are lost but the convoy escort sinks two U-boats. Corvettes "Celandine", "Gladiolus" and "Nasturtium" account for "U-556" on the 27th, and destroyers "Scimitar" and "Malcolm", corvettes "Arabis" and "Violet" and minesweeper "Speedwell" sink "U-651" on the 29th. The escort had been reinforced to a total of 13 ships as a result of 'Ultra' intercepts of Enigma codes. This, the first of the big convoy battles, leads to the development of additional convoy support groups.
29 Jun, 1941:-
Convoy HX-133 - The German submarine U-651 was sunk south of Iceland, in position 59.52N, 18.36W, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Malcolm, HMS Scimitar, the corvettes HMS Arabis and HMS Violet and the minesweeper HMS Speedwell.
HMS Arabis (Lt.Cdr. P. Stewart) also picks up a survivor from the British merchant Greyburn one of U-651's last victims.
1st July 1941
Ship Lists- Western Approaches- Londonderry- 8th Escort Group - corvette ARABIS (Lt Cdr J P Stewart RNR) dep 21 Jun
13th July 1941:-
Convoy SC.36 from Sidney, CB, joined by ARABIS. With corvette ARABIS, the convoy arrived at Liverpool on the 19th.
11th August 1941:-
Convoy ON.6 departed Liverpool, escorted by corvette ARABIS, detached on the 17th
17th August 1941
Two conflicting reports on record-
Convoy HX.142 from Halifax, corvette ARABIS joined and on the 18th, the convoy arrived at Liverpool with destroyer BOADICEA and corvette ARABIS.
Convoy HX.143 from Halifax joined by Arabis - The convoy arrived at Liverpool on the 20th.
1st September 1941:
Convoy ON.11 from Liverpool. Joined on 1 September by corvettes ARABIS, MONKSHOOD, and PETUNIA. These escorts were detached on 4 September.
5th September 1941:
Convoy SC.41 from Sydney, CB -Corvette ARABIS joined on 5 September. The convoy arrived at Liverpool on 11 September.
15th September 1941
Convoy ON.16 from Liverpool, Corvettes ARABIS and PETUNIA joined on the 15th. and the corvettes ARABIS and PETUNIA were detached on the 20th.
20th September 1941:
Convoy HX.149 from Halifax joined by corvette ARABIS. The convoy arrived at Liverpool on the 25th.
On 27th September 1941, Dad moved from Ordinary Coder to A/Leading Coder (Tx).
5th October 1941:-
Convoy ON.23 from Liverpool. joined on the 5th by corvettes ARABIS, ARROWHEAD, CELANDINE, DAHLIA, MONKSHOOD, and PETUNA
13th October 1941:
Convoy HX.153 from Halifax, - joined -corvette ARABISdetached on the 17th.
Convoy ON.30 from Liverpool, escorted corvettes ARABIS, DAHLIA and MONKSHOOD - These escorts were detached on 2 November
4th November 1941:
Convoy SC.51 from Sydney CB - joined- corvette ARABIS, detached on 7 November.
9th December 1941
Convoy ON.44 from Liverpool - joined :- ARABIS, detached on the 12th
15th December 1941:
Convoy HX.163 from Halifax,-joined by corvette ARABIS, - detached on the 18th.
28th December 1941:-
Convoy ON.51 from Liverpool was joined by ARABIS. The escorts were detached on 2 January
Dads papers show a transfer from Arabis to Bryony (at Derry) effective 4th January 1942, however his memories of the war indicated that he remained on Arabis until it left Derry to join the US Navy on 30th April 1942. Bryony was not launched until 15th March 1941, and commissioned on 4th JUNE so Dads war records are in error (and indeed may also be later when he left Bryony).
7th January 1942:
Convoy HX.167 from Halifax, joined by corvettes ARABIS, DAHLIA, MONKSHOOD, and SNOWFLAKE
20th January 1942:
Convoy SC.64 from Sydney, CB, joined by corvettes ARABIS, The convoy arrived at Liverpool on the 23rd.
2nd February 1942:
Convoy ON.62 from Liverpool, joined by ARABIS - detached on the 7th
12th February 1942:
Convoy HX.173 from Halifax, joined by ARABIS, The escorts all detached on the 13th and the convoy arrived at Liverpool on the 14th.
During her two years service in the Battle of the Atlantic, Arabis escorted 47 Atlantic and 11 Gibraltar convoys
Dad stayed on Arabis in N. Ireland until she was handed over, and then went to join
The order was placed with the well known Northern Ireland builders, Harland & Wolff of Belfast. After a total of eleven months work the vessel was launched on the 15th March 1941, being completed to the short forecastle design.
During this period of the war the German Luftwaffe where bombing various installations all over Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In one of the air raids over Belfast the shipyard of Harland & Wolff became a target and a direct hit was scored on the vessel K192 and was sunk during the fitting out stage of the construction.
HMS. Bryony was in a bad state, no upper deck, no between deck, and what superstructure remained was a tangle. All that remained was a set of ribs sticking out of the water, no hull plates, probably there were some plates left from the keel and bilge keel, but it was impossible to ascertain to this, as there was so much water in what remained of the hull, it looked like a load of scrap metal.
When the dust had settled from the air raid and the management and Admiralty had inspected the damage to K192 it was believed feasible to re-float and rebuild the vessel.
On the 4th June 1942 K192 was commissioned and became known as HMS. Bryony, her captain being at this time Lieutenant / Commander John Parker Stewart RNR, who had moved over from the Arabis, and the ships motto read:
QUID HABEO IDEM TENEO
which translated reads
What I Have, the same I hold.
After leaving Belfast the ship proceeded across the Irish Sea to Tobermory in Scotland for a two week work and training exercise to familiarise the crew with their new ship.
Following their exercises the ship sailed to Gladstone Dock, Liverpool which was to become their base until June 1943.
While under going the exercises the crew learnt that they would be going on their first convoy, known as P.Q.18, to North Russia. Not everyone on board the ship was happy about this because of the fate of the previous convoy, P.Q. 17, which was the most disastrous convoy on record.
The above information is taken from the book written by Ron Horabin, 'Tribute to a Flower.'
Convoy PQ18:- Bryony as escort- 7 to 21 September 1942: Loch Ewe to Archangel.
Her commanding officer for PQ18 was Lieut. Com. J.P. Stewart, DSC, RNR Convoy PQ18 comprised two sections. The largest, 40 merchantmen, sailed from Loch Ewe on the late afternoon of 2 September 1942 with a small escort to rendezvous with the Iceland section, 8 merchant ships, which sailed at 0700 hrs on the 5th to meet them with escorts :- destroyers MALCOLM, ACHATES and AMAZON; AA ships ULSTER QUEEN and ALYNBANK; minesweepers HARRIER and GLEANER; corvettes BRYONY, BERGAMOT, BLUEBELL and CAMELIA; three trawlers, each towing a little motor minesweeper.
On the 8th two submarines P614 and P615 joined the escort and travelled on the surface with Bryony watching over them.
The discipline of the convoy was not very good and Stewart had to warn the OLIVER ELLSWORTH on more than one occasion that she was in danger and threatening the security of the screen.
The convoy was attacked by 44 German aircraft just south of Spitzbergen
on the 13th and some 70 torpedoes doing 50 knots were dropped at about
1000 yards range against the long lines of wallowing freighters.
The convoy Commodore had issued emergency turn procedures to "comb" the path of the torpedoes which was in general followed by the British ships, but the Russian and American ships in the convoy tended to pay no attention to signals, the 9th and 10th columns did not turn and except for one ship they were all sunk, 9 ships in all.
Lieut. Com. Stewart, stationed astern with his two submarines, noticed that there was a tendency for the ship s to reduce speed during an air attack, some were almost stationary. On the 14th U 457 fired 4 torpedoes at the convoy . One hit the tanker ATHELTEMPLAR, fortunately in the engine room and not the fuel tanks, passing under the rescue ship COPELAND and just astern of BRYONY.
The next large wave of attacks came on 19 September 1942 as the convoy crossed the Dvina Bar. Twelve Junkers Ju 88s attacked the convoy, one of them dive bombing HMS Bryony. The bombs fell wide and Bryony was unscathed. The convoy finally reached Archangel without further incident on 21st September.
Com. Russell of MALCOLM noted "The commanding officer of BRYONY whom I passed coming up channel, appeared to have had his sense of propriety considerably upset by having a female Pilot on board." The Germans mounted a heavy air attack on Archangel the same night from airfields only 50 miles away. All the ambulances and other medical supplies had their "Gift to the Soviet people from Coventry" etc painted out before they were landed often, at this stage, to be left on the dockside.
Details of PQ18 are in the Admiralty files ADM199/758 and 1709 and ADM237/169 in the Public Record Office at Kew.
On PQ18, four trawlers were with the escorts. After the bitter lesson of PQ17, this convoy of forty merchant ships had a formidable escort of eighteen destroyers, a cruiser, an aircraft carrier, two anti-aircraft ships and the four trawlers, but still in devastating attacks by the Germans, thirteen vessels were lost.
On September 13 two ships were sunk by U-boats, the Russian Stalingrad and the American Oliver Ellsworth. Hull trawler St Kenan rescued the master and three other survivors of the Oliver Ellsworth from a raft. Later that same day there was a mass attack on the convoy by ninety torpedo-bombers, which produced the fantastic sight of more than one hundred torpedoes racing for the convoy. Eight ships were hit. Trawler Daneman, steaming at the rear of the convoy, picked up four survivors from one of the stricken ships, the British Empire Stevenson.
Seaman Gunner G. R. Lunn:
'One of these four seamen couldn't swim, and we put it down to his threshing madly about in the sea which kept him afloat and warm enough to survive. Another older man was about to be rescued when the planes attacked again and we had to get under way and leave him to drown. I can still see him, cold in the water, trying to reach one of our sailor's hands to get a grip so that he could be pulled aboard to safety, but we were being attacked by a torpedo bomber and the skipper rang full ahead. We had to leave him and watch his bald head and red football jersey vanish behind us; as we were the last ship in the convoy he would never be picked up.'
St Kenan rescued 64 survivors during and after the mass torpedo-bomber attack. These included the entire ship's company of the Panamanian ss Macbeth, all picked up from boats and rafts, and survivors from the American ss Oregonian. Ten of these were grabbed from the sea in a shocking state from their icy exposure and the oil and water they had swallowed. When rejoining the convoy with her mercy load St Kenan was attacked by a twin-engine bomber, which hurtled in on a shallow dive, but the trawler's pumping Oerlikon forced the German to release his bombs prematurely and harmlessly.
Still the attack on the convoy by planes and U-boats went on, The American Mary Luchenbach went up in a flash and a bang she was said to be carrying H.E. ammunition and gelignite fuses, Gunner Lunn: 'There was a tremendous explosion and debris showered down on us on Daneman like hail. Nothing and no one was left when the smoke cleared.'
For four more days convoy PQ18 fought off its attackers, and then the weather took a hand. As the ships neared the River Dvina leading to Archangel they ran into a fierce gale. Several merchantmen ran aground.
PQ18 was the last of the 'PQ' convoys, for the code letters were then changed.
BRYONY returned as part of the escort with QP15 (32 merchant ships with 30 escorts) which left the Kola Inlet on 17th November 1942, arriving back at Loch Ewe on 30th November 1942..
On 16 January 1943 she sailed from Loch Ewe as escort for 3 ships for convoy JW52 but heavy weather forced them to turn back as deck cargoes threatened to go overboard.
In February 1943 the A Frame Accoustic Hammer at the ships bow was removed.
April 1943: Following a friendly collision repairs were needed, and with more armaments fitted, and a unique second yard arm, in April 1943 Bryony left home base for some light Atlantic work including the final part of the journey for HX233, escorted from 12th-20th April 1943- convoy arrived at Liverpool from New York on 21st April.
Dads war papers show that he received a share of salvage GBP 6.70 on 18th May 1943 in respect of an Icelandic trawler - writing is poor but it looks similar to Arinbjorn Hersir. Possibly a 136 foot long Trawler registration RE1 which had been built in Selby in 1917 and was not scrapped until January 1952 in Scotland.
21st May to 29th May 1943- escorted the start of convoy OS48/KMS15 from Liverpool which was split on 29th May when Bryony continued:
On 29th and 30th May 1943, escorted the final leg of convoy KMS 15G which arrived at Gibraltar on 30th May 1943.
30th and 31st May- escorted convoy UGS8A for a couple of days- the rest of the convoy arrived at Tripoli on 8th June.
June 1943: 44th Escort Group for escort of outward convoy KMS16B to Gibraltar. Ships included HM Corvettes BERGAMOT, BRYONY, HONEYSUCKLE, HYDERABAD RIN and RHODODENDRON.
24th June to 6th July- Bryony escort for KMS18B, from Clyde to "Operation Husky". On 27th June Dad received a first good conduct badge. On 30th June 1943 Dad was still recorded on Bryony but transferred from Eaglet (Liverpool) to Hannibal (Algiers) until 30th September 1943. His war records give no indication of being wounded.
9th July 1943- Operation Husky (note Bryony had left the operation on 6th July):
A grand total of 2,590 US and British warships - major and minor were mostly allocated to their own landing sectors, but the Royal Navy total included the covering force against any interference by the Italian fleet. Many of the troops coming from North Africa and Malta made the voyage in landing ships and craft. As they approached Sicily with the other transports late on the 9th in stormy weather, Allied airborne landings took place. Sadly, many of the British gliders crashed into the sea, partly because of the weather. However, early next day, on the 10th, the troops went ashore under an umbrella of aircraft. The new amphibious DUKWS (or "Ducks") developed by the Americans played an important part in getting the men and supplies across the beaches.
There was little resistance by the Italians and few Germans, and the counter-attacks that were mounted were soon driven off. Syracuse was captured that day and within three days the British Eighth Army had cleared the south east corner of Sicily. At month's end the Allies held the entire island except the north-eastern part.
September 1943: The Italian surrender was signed in Sicily on the 3rd, but not announced until the 8th.
7th to 9th July 1943 - UGS10 arriving at Port Said on 10th July. Not too sure when Dad was injured (foot- probably a shrapnel wound), but guessing he was on Bryony up to August 1943 at least - his war records show a transfer from Bryony on 1st October 1943 - and he was probably on some of the following work:
19th to 22nd July 1943 - UGS11 to Port Said.
28th to 30th July 1943- KMS21G arriving at Gibraltar on 29th July.
7th to 9th August 1943- KMS21 arriving at Port Said on 9th August.
16th to 25th August 1943 - MKS22 Alexandria to Gibraltar.
30th August 1943 to 10th September 1943- KMS24 Gibraltar to Port Said.
16th to 25th September 1943- MKS25, Alexandria to Gibraltar.
29th September to 11th October - KMS27 - Gibraltar to Port Said.
Dad's war records indicate he left Bryony on 1st October.
An interesting date that one. Why a transfer in the middle of a convoy? Looking up the record for that convoy, I found a record of a U boat attack on - 1st October. The record reads: "On October 1, 1943 continuing in convoy KMS.27, SS Stanmore was struck by a torpedo from U-223. She was taken in tow but on October 3, 1943 she broke in two on being beached at Tenes (midway between Oran and Algiers in position 36.41N, 01.10E). There were no casualties from the crew of forty-nine.".
U-223 was launched 16/4/1942 and entered active service on 1/02/1943 - and was sunk on 30/3/1944 with the loss of 23 men. 27 survived. The attack on the Stanmore was on the subs third patrol. Slightly different date due to mid-night timing: Between 01.01 and 01.05 hours on 2 Oct, 1943, U-223 fired torpedoes and Gnats at merchants and escorts of the convoy KMS-27 near Cape Ivi, Algeria and heard five detonations. Wachter reported two steamers and two destroyers damaged. However, only the Stanmore was hit and badly damaged.
As his Bryony joining date was recorded before the ship was launched, clearly in error, it is quite likely that his date of leaving the ship was also inaccurate possibly meant to be 11th not the 1st.
14th to 23rd October 1943 - Bryony escorted MKS28 from Alexandria to Gibraltar.
BRYONY was sold to the Norwegian government in 1948 and renamed POLARFRONT II.
Their short length and shallow draught made them uncomfortable ships to live in; even when they were modified, after the fall of France, to enable them to counter the extended range of the German 'Wolf-packs'.
A fortnight of constant rolling and pitching on transatlantic convoy duty tended to exhaust all who sailed in them.
The ratings in the crews were mostly reservists with only a few key positions, such as Cox'n, Chief Bos'n's mate, Gunlayer, Chief Engineer etc., being filled by regular or recalled personnel; the officers were reservists, almost without exception, with the Captain usually ex-merchant navy.
Service aboard was monotonous and debilitating for long periods, either because of the need for constant vigilance in the face of those twin dangers, the sea and the enemy, or because of, in the North Atlantic at least, the cold.
When action came, it could be prolonged and brutal with the sight and aftermath of the sinking of freighters or of other warships. The torpedoing of a corvette itself would be especially dramatic: its few compartments below the water line would cause it to sink in seconds, with few survivors. Over 20 corvettes fell victim to torpedo or mine during the War.
Normally sleeping conditions on board for officers and petty officers were relatively reasonable, but for the seamen in a crowded, stuffy and water laden forecastle they were a great hardship. The inability to store perishable food for more than 2 or 3 days led to a boring repetition of corned-beef and powdered potato for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Since most of the crewmen were young, persistent sea-sickness was the principal health-hazard. Home-leave was possible only when the ship was refitting or cleaning boilers, but local leave was liberally granted on both sides of the ocean at the end of convoy duties. After the Normandy landings in 1944, the Flower-class gave way in the Atlantic to the newer and faster frigates and Castle-class corvettes.
The SBS first operated in the Aegean in September 1943, when men from M and S Detachments had the task of securing Simi.
This was one of the Italian-held Dodecanese islands which the British were attempting to bring under their control, with the ultimate aim of opening a new front in the Balkans. While small units moved onto some of the islands, Jellicoe parachuted onto Rhodes to try and convince the Italian commander not give in to the Germans stationed there. He failed, and soon the British-held islands were under attack, weakly-defended Cos being the first to fall.
The first landing attempt on Simi in October was fought off by Major Jock Lapraik and his men together with the Italian garrison , with Lassen intimidating those of his new allies who weren't too keen on fighting. Simi was soon facing heavy air attacks and had to be abandoned.
The only large British formation was an infantry brigade on Leros, and with Cos had gone the only airfield. Jellicoe and several patrols were present when the Germans assaulted Leros in November, their job being to attack paratroopers as they landed. However the fall of the island was inevitable, but unlike most of the garrison almost all of the SBS escaped to Turkey and were sent back to Palestine.
NOVEMBER 1943 British Aegean Campaign - Conclusion -
German forces land on Leros on the 12th and capture the Island after four day's heavy fighting against the British and Italian defenders. The campaign comes to an end when Samos is evacuated on the 20th, but not before two more 'Hunts' fall victim, this time to Hs293 glider bombs.
At this point Dad was taken prisoner by the Germans and spent the rest of the War as a POW.