Torsdag 15. juni returnerer M/T Spinanger fra New York til England med konvoi HX 244.
Commodore Sir Raymond Fitzmaurice R.N.R. was in Empire Bunting, Commodore W.O. Meek R.N.R. acted as Vice Commodore in Samuel Bakke, Rear Commodore in Eskbank.
Average speed: 9 knots.
From the Commodore's notes:
75 ships sailed from New York, 18 from Halifax = 93. 7 of them either never joined or lost convoy in dense fog off and after Halifax. These returned to Halifax or St. John's N.F. leaving 86 ships in convoy.
Fort Albany, Hubert Howe Bancroft, Curacao, Brimanger, Fort Fraser, Roger Williams and Tarleton Brown lost touch in dense fog and returned to port. (However, there's a separate document saying Tarleton Brown rejoined convoy).
Station keeping and signalling "excellent", and "the whole of the great convoy behaved admirably", but he considers that "Empire Bunting is not at present suitable for Commodore Ship, though the Master and officers were most helpful and the accommodation suitable, the ship is not reliable. The main engines broke down once and the dynamoes 6 times and finally broke down completely, leaving no degaussing, no R/T, no possibility of charging batteries, or use 6" signalling lamp, no electric light. The Master truly observed that "The main engines, when they worked, were just grand, but it was the little B.....s that wouldn't work."
He adds: "The amount of signalling necessary in such a large convoy is great and entails very hard and responsible work on the part of Senior Signal and W/T ratings on the Commodore's staff, Vice Commodore's staff, and the Senior Officer of Escort's staff. I am much indebted to all these for their excellent and accurate work. Captain Holley(?) S.O. Escort, HMS Burnham was most helpful at all times and gave me very cheerful and willing assistance in communications and in everything else to do with the convoy's welfare".
"Off Halifax in dense fog the two parts of the convoy of nearly 100 ships were looking for each other, not a very pleasant situation. No enemy incidents and a remarkable freedom from S/M [submarine] scares; one of the most peaceful voyages from this point of view I remember. Difficulties of keeping such a large convoy together in the dense fogs were considerable, the skill and seamanship of the Masters which enabled the convoy to do this is now of a very high order, and ships of all Nationalities seem to be getting equally good at it".
At 13:00 on June 26 in accordance with W/T message from C. in C. W.A. 14 fast ships were ordered to proceed to destinations with Escort group 40 ahead of convoy, leaving 72 ships in convoy.
At 20:15 on June 28, 4 fast ships (11 knots) were ordered to proceed at best speed to catch the tide at Bar Light Vessel, Liverpool - leaving 68 ships in convoy. Convoy was split at 05:00 June 29 off Barra Head (Loch Ewe portion, Belfast portion, Clyde portion and Mersey portion). "I think all 86 ships of this great convoy must have arrived safely at their destinations in the U.K."
Suggestions for improvements:
"Though I always tell Masters at Conference about Mersigs. Vol. II many ships still seem unaware of its existence when a signal is made by it, and much time is wasted by ships asking what the signal means. Communications with such a large convoy are difficult and columns being 5 cables apart add greatly to the difficulties of the accuracy of flag or flashing signals to the more distant ships. In these great convoys it is essential that Escort vessels should convey changes of destination or special important orders individually to ships. Signalling by flashing or flags accurately to distant ships, important orders, is quite impossible. I was extremely fortunate in having an S.O. Escort who was a splendid and willing helper and did everything to ensure C. in C. W.A. signalled orders being given to ships concerned by Escort vessels. We had 31 changes of destination alone, in one day, and visibility was nearly always very poor and often almost nil.
The first considerations in chosing a Commodore's ship should be
a) - Reliability of main and auxiliary machinery and a good syren or steam whistle
b) - Suitable for signalling by flags
c) - The Commodore should be able to lie down and have his meals not lower down than the deck below the bridge.
d) - The ship should be British
e) - The Master should not be one that does not welcome being Commodore's ship".
From New York 04:00 June 15: HMS Chelsea (S.O.), HMCS Shawinigan, HMCS Barrie, HMCS Quesnel
From Halifax 18:15 June 19: HMS Buxton (S.O.), HMCS Buctouche, HMCS Nipigon.
HMS Chelsea left during fog at 18:15 June 19, the others left at 13:50 June 20 in 44 43N 51 09W. At the same time the following joined:
HMS Burnham (S. O. Ocean Escort), HMCS La Malbaie, HMS Barle, HMCS Mayflower, HMCS Pictou, HMCS Bittersweet, HMCS Skeena - left off Oversay June 29.
At 12:15 June 21? (40th group - Support group): HMS Lulworth, HMS Bideford, HMS Hastings, HMS Waverley(?) - left at 14:20 June 26.
Fra dekksdagboken er det lite informasjon å hente. Det meldes om stille vær og sjø, og tidvis tett tåke. Posisjoner noteres ikke i loggen, ei heller kurs eller fart. Mannskapet utfører forefallende arbeid, vasker og maler skipet. Søndag 20. juni registreres det at skipet slingrer tungt utpå kvelden, på tross av lett bris og relativt lave bølgehøyder på 1,25-2,5 meter.
Skipet frakter igjen olje og drivstoff for eskorteskipene. Eskorteskipene kommer innimellom inntil for å bunkre. Været er relativt bra under hele overfarten. Mannskapet maler og maler. Tåken kommer og går. Dagene er monotone.
Tirsdag 29. juni ankommer skipet Clyde-fjorden og ankrer opp. Onsdag 30. går skipet til kai for å losse. Det pumpes olje til oljelektere og andre skip som kommer bi. Torsdag 1. juli er skipet ferdig med lossing til land. Skipet skifter ut til ny ankerplass ute på fjorden. Det utføres arbeider på hoveddamprøret på dekk i regi av Nortraship. Skipet har også, på oppdrag fra den norske Marine, fraktet en rømling fra den norske destroyeren St Albans over fra New York. Rømlingen overleveres nå norske marinemyndigheter.
Sent på kvelden torsdag 1. juli er Nortraship ferdig med sine arbeider. Skipet letter anker og tar fatt på returreisen til New York.