Convoy HX 156

Convoy HX 156 was the 156th of the numbered series of World War II HX convoys of merchant ships from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Liverpool.[1] Forty-three ships departed Halifax on 22 October 1941,[1] and were met two days later by United States Navy Task Unit 4.1.3 consisting of Gleaves-class destroyer Niblack, Clemson-class destroyer Reuben James, Wickes-class destroyer Tarbell, and Benson-class destroyers Benson and Hilary P. Jones.[2]

Convoy HX.156
Part of World War II
Date22 October 1941-5 November 1941
Location
Belligerents
 Kriegsmarine  Royal Navy
 United States Navy
Commanders and leaders
Admiral Karl Dönitz Rear-Admiral E W Leir DSO
Strength
52 merchant ships
16 escorts
Casualties and losses
1 ship sunk

The Action

31 October 1941

The German submarine U-552 sighted the convoy at dawn on 31 October 1941, and torpedoed Reuben James as the destroyer approached to investigate the Huff-Duff bearing of the sighting report.[3] A torpedo struck the port side and detonated the forward magazine.[3] The hull aft of the third stack remained afloat for 5 minutes; and 44 men were rescued from the crew of 159.[3]

Reuben James was the first United States warship sunk during World War II.[4] U-552 was driven off by the escort; but U-567 found the convoy that afternoon.

1 December 1941

Task Unit 4.1.3 handed the convoy off to the British 6th Escort Group on 1 November 1941.
U-552 and U-567 made two unsuccessful torpedo attacks on 1 November and maintained contact with the convoy through 3 November.[2] Empire Foam launched her Hawker Sea Hurricane to intercept a Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor aircraft, which it chased off. The Hurricane pilot was rescued by HMS Broke after ditching his aircraft.[5][6] The convoy reached Liverpool on 5 November.[1]

Ships in the convoy

These ships were members of Convoy HX 156.[7]

Name Flag Tonnage (GRT) Notes
Alchiba (1920)  Netherlands 4,427 Iceland
Ancylus (1935)  United Kingdom 8,017 Oil tanker. Onward To N Russia
Anna Knudsen (1931)  Norway 9,057
Arabian Prince (1936)  United Kingdom 1,960 4 Passengers
Athelvictor (1941)  United Kingdom 8,410
Benmacdhui (1911)  United Kingdom 6,869
Brabant (1938)  Belgium 2,483 2 Passengers
Bralanta (1936)  Norway 9,608
British Governor (1926)  United Kingdom 6,840 Scapa Flow
Cape Breton (1940)  United Kingdom 6,044
Charlbury (1940)  United Kingdom 4,836
Chepo (1919)  Panama 5,707 Returned, See Convoy HX 158
Clan Macquarrie (1913)  United Kingdom 6,471
Comanchee (1936)  United Kingdom 6,837
Delilian (1923)  United Kingdom 6,423
Edam (1921)  Netherlands 8,871 27 Passengers
Eidanger (1938)  Norway 9,432
El Capitan (1917)  Panama 5,255 Onward To N Russia
El Estero (1920)  Panama 4,219
Empire Confidence (1935)  United Kingdom 5,023 12 Passengers
Empire Day (1941)  United Kingdom 7,242 CAM ship
Empire Foam (1941)  United Kingdom 7,047 CAM ship
Empire Rainbow (1941)  United Kingdom 6,942 CAM ship
Empire Tern (1919)  United Kingdom 2,479
Gallia (1939)  Norway 9,974
Ganymedes (1917)  Netherlands 2,682
Gudrun Maersk (1937)  United Kingdom 2,294 Iceland to Belfast
K G Meldahl (1938)  Norway 3,799
Kollbjorg (1937)  Norway 8,259
Leiv Eiriksson I (1936)  Norway 9,952 Ex-Iceland
Leonatus (1938)  Panama 2,242
Lewant (1930)  Poland 1,942 2 Passengers
Maihar (1917)  United Kingdom 7,563 1 Passenger
Markhor (1929)  United Kingdom 7,917
Mergus (1906)  Sweden 1,368 Iceland to Clyde
Munin (1899)  Norway 1,285 Iceland To Clyde
Nestor (1913)  United Kingdom 14,629 197 Passengers
Norefjord (1920)  Norway 3,082
O A Knudsen (1938)  Norway 11,007
Polar Chief (1897)  United Kingdom 8,040
Prince De Liege (1938)  Belgium 2,588
Prins Willem Van Oranje (1938)  Netherlands 1,303
San Alvaro (1935)  United Kingdom 7,385 4 Passengers
San Arcadio (1935)  United Kingdom 7,419 1 Passenger
San Emiliano (1939)  United Kingdom 8,071 4 Passengers
Sandanger (1938)  Norway 9,432
Skaraas (1936)  Norway 9,826
Sourabaya (1915)  United Kingdom 10,107 28 Passengers
Stanlake (1923)  United Kingdom 1,742 Possibly joined this convoy
Svanholm (1922)  United Kingdom 1,321
Troubadour (1920)  Norway 5,808 6 Passengers
HMCS Annapolis (I04)  Royal Canadian Navy Escort 22 – 24 Oct , Destroyer
USS Alchiba (AKA-6) (1939)  United States 6,198 to Reykjavik, Armed 'Attack cargo ship'
USS Benson (DD-421)  United States Navy Escort 24 Oct – 1 Nov , Destroyer
USS Hilary P. Jones (DD-427)  United States Navy Escort 24 Oct – 1 Nov , Destroyer
USS Niblack (DD-424)  United States Navy Escort 24 Oct – 1 Nov , Destroyer
USS Reuben James (DD-245)  United States Navy Escort 24 Oct, sunk by U-552 on 31 Oct 41 (prior to US declaration of war)
USS Tarbell (DD-142)  United States Navy Escort 24 Oct – 1 Nov , Destroyer
HMS Verity (D63)  Royal Navy Escort 31 Oct – 4 Nov , Destroyer
HMS Wolverine (D78)  Royal Navy Escort 31 Oct – 4 Nov , Destroyer
HMS Camellia (K31)  Royal Navy Escort 31 Oct – 4 Nov , Corvette
HMS Larkspur (K82)  Royal Navy Escort 31 Oct – 5 Nov , Corvette
HNoMS Montbretia  Royal Norwegian Navy Escort 31 Oct – 5 Nov , Corvette
HNoMS Eglantine  Royal Norwegian Navy Escort 1 – 5 Nov , Corvette
HMS Broke (D83)  Royal Navy Escort 1 – 4 Nov , Flotilla leader
HMS Buxton (H96)  Royal Navy Escort 1 – 4 Nov , Destroyer
HMS Begonia (K66)  Royal Navy Escort 1 – 4 Nov , Corvette
HMT King Sol (FY235)  Royal Navy Escort 1 Nov , Trawler

Notes

  1. Hague 2000 p.127
  2. Rohwer & Hummelchen 1992 p.94
  3. Morison 1975 p.94
  4. Silverstone 1968 p.9
  5. Wise, James E. Jr. (1974). "Catapult Off – Parachute Back". United States Naval Institute Proceedings. pp. 70–77.
  6. Hague, Arnold (2000). The Allied Convoy System 1939–1945. Naval Institute Press. p. 79. ISBN 1-55750-019-3.
  7. "Convoy HX.156". Arnold Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 20 October 2013.

References

  • Hague, Arnold (2000). The Allied Convoy System 1939–1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-019-3.
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1975). History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume I The Battle of the Atlantic 1939-1943. Little, Brown and Company.
  • Rohwer, J.; Hummelchen, G. (1992). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-105-X.
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1968). U.S. Warships of World War II. Doubleday and Company.
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