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Article: The Perils of the Gibraltar Convoy Route

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    The Perils of the Gibraltar Convoy Route

    2 Comments by Doc Vernon Published on 20th January 2020 06:19 AM
    A convoy of 22 merchant ships left England on the night of 14th September 1941 for Gibraltar, in the convoy were four ships from the General Steam Navigation Company, the SS Stork, SS Lapwing, SS Starling and SS Petrel. SS Starling would the only one to arrive in port.
    On the return journey at 1.20 am on 25th September 1941, position 47 40’N 23 28’W, a torpedo struck the stern of the SS Petrel while Captain Klemp was still below decks. The ship was sinking so quickly there was only time to launch liferafts, rather than any of the lifeboats. SS Petrel went vertical, with the bow out of the water, for some minutes before sinking.
    The raft contained Captain Klemp, the 1st and 2nd Officers, ‘Sparks’ 3 ABs and a passenger, Mr Wearne a representative of the Gonzales Byas company.
    Some 20 minutes later SS Lapwing came into view, lowered its lifeboats and picked up survivors from the water. Eventually at about 6.00am it picked up the survivors from the raft from SS Petrel. As the lifeboat made its way back to Lapwing, that ship was herself torpedoed and sank in 1½ minutes.
    The lifeboat now contained 22 men, none of whom had any small boat sailing experience.
    At 8.00am on 27th September Captain Klemp and Mr Woodhouse, Chief Officer of the SS Lapwing, decided that they should set sail for the Portuguese coast. After four days sailing, however, a complete change in wind direction made them decide to head for Ireland instead.
    The men only had 1 ship’s biscuit and 3oz of water per day, with an occasional biscuit spread with Ideal Milk, and had to erect a canvas over the open boat to protect them from the worst of the weather. During the voyage three of the men died and were buried at sea.
    Mr Woodhouse kept a daily log on the back of an old discharge paper, and they continued for 15 days in total before striking land in Ireland. Mr Wearne the passenger wrote, “ as fine a bit of navigation as could be wished for.”
    They were put up in the Railway Hotel in Clifden, some 6 miles away from their landing position, before returning home.
    Captain Klemp was awarded the OBE and the Lloyds War Medal, and Mr Woodhouse the Lloyds War Medal.

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    Default Re: The Perils of the Gibraltar Convoy Route

    Convoy HG-73.
    U-124 - Petrel.
    U-203 - Lapwing.
    Thank-you to uboat(dot)net. Click on links within ( below ) for more detail.
    https://uboat.net/ops/convoys/convoys.php?convoy=HG-73

  4. Thanks Doc Vernon, Terry Sullivan thanked for this post
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    Default Re: The Perils of the Gibraltar Convoy Route

    Extracted from my book, SHIPPING COMPANY LOSSES OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR, BOOK II.

    CERVANTES (Captain Henry A. Fraser). Sailed from Lisbon and joined Convoy HG.73 which left Gibraltar on 17 September 1941, bound for Liverpool. Torpedoed by U.201 (Oblt. Adalbert Schnee) at 2.08am on the 27th, and sank in position 48º37´N 20º01´W. Eight died and 32 survived, including 3 from the Avoceta whom she had picked up the previous day.

    Other ships sunk in Convoy HG.73

    Avoceta (Captain Harold Martin). By U.203 (Kplt. Rolf Műtzelburg). One hundred and twenty-three died.. Forty picked up by the corvettes HMS Periwinkle (LtCdr. P. G. MacIver, RNR) and HMS Jasmine (LtCdr. C.D.B. Coventry, RNR) and landed at Milford Haven. Three picked up by the Cervantes survived her sinking, were picked up by the Starling and landed at Liverpool.
    Cortes (Captain Donald Roy MacRae). By U.124 (Kptlt. Johann Mohr). All 43 died.
    Empire Stream (Captain Stanley H. Evans). By U.124. Eight died. Twenty-seven picked up by the corvette HMS Begonia (T/Lt. T.A.R. Muir, RNR) and landed at Milford Haven.
    Lapwing (Captain Thomas J. Hyam). By U.203 when attempting to rescue survivors of the Cortes and
    Petrel (Captain John W. Klemp). By U.124. Twenty-three died. Nine, including Captain Klemp, in lifeboat belonging to the Lapwing, landed at Slyne Bay, County Galway, on 9 October.
    Margareta (Captain Holger Pihlgren). By U.201 (Oblt. Adalbert Schnee). All 34 picked up by the corvette HMS Hibiscus (LtCdr. C.C. Cuthbertson, RNR) and landed at Gibraltar.
    Siremalm (Nor.) (Captain Haakon Svendsen). By U.124. All 28 died.
    Varangberg (Nor.) (Captain Edward S. Stenersen). By U.203. Twenty-one died. Six picked up from floating debris and a raft by HMS Jasmine.
    HMS Springbank (A Fighter Catapult Ship). Captain C.H. Godwin, RN). By U.201. Thirty-two died and 201 survived. Most of the survivors were taken off the ship by HMS Jasmine before sinking her by gunfire. The remainder were rescued by HMS Hibiscus and HMS Periwinkle.

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