Convoy HG 76

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Convoy HG 76
Part of World War II
Date 19-23 Dec 1941
Location eastern Atlantic
Result British victory
Belligerents
War Ensign of Germany 1938-1945.svg Germany Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Commanders and leaders
Admiral Karl Dönitz Commodore: Sir Raymond Fitzmaurice
Escort Cdr: Capt. Frederic John Walker
Strength
Seeräuber
10 U-boats
HG 76
32 Ships
17 Escorts
Casualties and losses
4 U-boats destroyed 2 Ships sunk
2 Escorts sunk

HG 76 was an Allied convoy of the HG (Homeward from Gibraltar) series during World War II .

It was notable in seeing the destruction of four U-Boats for the loss of four ships, which was regarded as the first major victory for the Allies in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Background[edit]

HG 76 comprised 32 ships homeward bound from Gibraltar, many in ballast, or carrying trade goods.

There was a strong escort, consisting of 36th Escort Group, usually two sloops (Stork and Deptford) and seven corvettes (Convolvulus, Gardenia, Marigold, Penstemon, Rhodedendron, Samphire and Vetch) under the command of FJ Walker; this force was augmented by the new escort carrier Audacity, and her three escorting destroyers, Blankney, Stanley and Exmoor II plus four other warships, the sloops Fowey and Black Swan, and the corvettes Carnation and La Malouine: A total of 17 warships.

Ranged against them was the wolfpack Seeräuber (Sea Robber, or Pirate) of six U-boats (U-67, U-107, U-108, U-131, U-434 and U-574), reinforced later by a further three boats.

Action[edit]

HG 76 sailed from Gibraltar on 15 December 1941, and was reported almost immediately by German agents across the bay in neutral Spain; these were able to report the convoy’s composition, escort strength and departure time.

HG 76 was also sighted later that day by U-74, en route to the Mediterranean, but was lost in poor visibility, while BdU was confused by an agents report that the convoy had returned to port.

The Sea Robbers were arrayed in a patrol line south of Cape St Vincent, but HG 76 was able to pass through the line without detection.

Meanwhile one of the boats, U-127 was detected on a routine ASW sweep by a group of four destroyers from Gibraltar; but after a brief but devastating attack U-127 was destroyed by the Australian destroyer HMAS Nestor.

On 16 Dec HG 76 was sighted by a Fw 200 Condor patrolling from Bordeaux; from this U-108 gained contact and commenced shadowing whilst the other Sea Robbers closed in.

During the night of the 16th/17th the wolf pack closed in, until by morning on the 17th four boats were in contact.

However vigorous patrolling by the escorts and by aircraft from Audacity led to U-131 being detected; she was attacked by Stork, with Penstemon and the three destroyers in concert. U-131 was driven to the surface and sunk, though not before shooting down one of the Martlets.

On the night of 17/18th the U-boats attacked again; aggressive counter-measures prevented any hits, while at dawn on the 18th U-434 was sighted by the destroyers; she was attacked and rammed by Blankney, which was damaged in the process.

During the rest of the day several of the escorts had to leave; the sloops Black Swan, Fowey, with the corvettes Carnation and La Malouine returned to Gibraltar to re-fuel, while Blankney departed for repairs, escorted by Exmoor II.

On the night of 18/19 Stanley sighted U-574 astern, shadowing the convoy; she attacked, but was herself torpedoed and sunk. Stork and Samphire followed up the attack and destroyed U-574, picking up survivors from both. Also during the night U-108 attacked successfully, torpedoing Ruckinge, which was abandoned, to be sunk later by Samphire.

On the 19th the convoy was attacked by a force of Condors; they caused no damage, but 2 were shot down, and another damaged, by Martlets from Audacity. Also that day, the Sea Robbers were joined by three more boats from Bordeaux, U-71, U-567 (captained by U-boat ace KL Endrass), and U-751. Were dispatched to join the Sea Robbers; they were to arrive on the 21st. Over the next three days the three remaining boats from Seeräuber, U-67, U-107 and U-108 continued to shadow, attacking without result.

On 21st the three boats from Bordeaux, and the U-boats again prepared to attack.

Walker attempted to draw off the attack by having Deptford make a demonstration some way off from the convoy; This was unsuccessful, as some of the merchant ships were confused by the display, and also fired star-shells, revealing their position. U-567 was able to sink Annavore, while Bigalk, in U-751 sighted Audacity, zig-zagging behind the convoy without her escort. He fired, and Audacity was sunk, hit by 3 torpedoes. Marigold, Vetch and Samphire counter-attacked, but without result.

Later that night Deptford spotted a U-boat on the surface; she attacked, and dropped depth-charges, with no apparent result; however, post-war analysis revealed that she had sunk U-567. Following this Deptford collided with Stork, damaging them both.

During 22 Dec U-71 and U-751 remained in contact, to be joined by U-125 (en route to America), while HG 76 was reinforced by the destroyers Vanquisher and Witch.

On 23 December, Donitz, shaken by his losses and the lack of success, called off the attack; U-67, U-107, U-108 and U-751 returned to bases in France.

Conclusion[edit]

Despite the loss of Audacity and the three other ships, the safe arrival of 30 ships and the destruction of three U-boats ( U-127 was not included, and U-567 not confirmed until after the war) was judged to be an outstanding victory. It also confirmed Walker as the Royal Navy’s foremost expert in anti-submarine warfare.

By contrast Adm. Donitz and the U-boat Arm was shaken by their losses, particularly that of Endrass, who was the leading U-boat ace at that time.

Ships In The Convoy[1][edit]

Name Flag Tonnage (GRT) Notes
Adjutant (1922)  United Kingdom 1,931
Algerian (1924)  United Kingdom 2,315
Alresford (1922)  United Kingdom 2,472
Annavore (1921)  Norway 3,324 Sunk by U-567[2]
HMS Audacity (D10)  Royal Navy Escort 14 Dec - 21 Dec. Escort Carrier. Sunk by U-751[3]
Baron Newlands (1928)  United Kingdom 3,386
Benwood (1910)  Norway 3,931
HMS Black Swan (L57)  Royal Navy Escort 14 Dec - 16 Dec. Sloop
Blairatholl (1925)  United Kingdom 3,319
HMS Blankney (L30)  Royal Navy Escort 14 Dec - 18 Dec. Destroyer
HMS Campion (K108)  Royal Navy Escort 15 Dec - 16 Dec. Corvette
HMS Carnation (K00)  Royal Navy Escort 14 Dec - 15 Dec
Corvette
Cisneros (1926)  United Kingdom 1,886
Clan Macinnes (1920)  United Kingdom 4,672
HMS Coltsfoot (K140)  Royal Navy Escort 16 Dec - 16 Dec. Corvette
HMS Convolvulus (K45)  Royal Navy Escort 14 Dec - 30 Dec. Corvette
Cressado (1913)  United Kingdom 1,228 Rear-Admiral Sir O H Dawson KBE
HMS Deptford (U53)  Royal Navy Escort 14 Dec - 22 Dec. In collision with HMS Stork on 22 Dec
Disa (1918)  Sweden 2,002
Empire Darwin (1941)  United Kingdom 6,765 CAM ship
HMS Exmoor (L08)  Royal Navy Escort 14 Dec - 18 Dec. Destroyer
Fagersten (1921)  Norway 2,342
Finland (1939)  United Kingdom 1,375
HMS Fowey (L15)  Royal Navy Escort 14 Dec - 16 Dec. Sloop
Fylingdale (1924)  United Kingdom 3,918
HMS Gardenia (K99)  Royal Navy Escort 14 Dec - 19 Dec.

Detached to Convoy ON 48. Corvette

HMS Hesperus (H57)  Royal Navy Escort 16 Dec - 16 Dec. Destroyer
HMS Jonquil (K68)  Royal Navy Escort 14 Dec - 30 Dec. Corvette
HMS La Malouine (K46)  Royal Navy Escort 14 Dec - 16 Dec. Corvette
Lago (1929)  Norway 2,552
Lisbeth (1922)  Norway 2,732
HMS Marigold (K87)  Royal Navy Escort 14 Dec - 30 Dec. Corvette
Meta (1930)  United Kingdom 1,575
Ocean Coast (1935)  United Kingdom 1,173
Ogmore Castle (1919)  United Kingdom 2,481
Ottinge (1940)  United Kingdom 2,870
Ousel (1922)  United Kingdom 1,533
HMS Penstemon (K61)  Royal Navy Escort 14 Dec - 30 Dec. Corvette
Portsea (1938)  United Kingdom 1,583
Ruckinge (1939)  United Kingdom 2,869 Sunk by U-108[4]
HMS Samphire (K128)  Royal Navy Escort 14 Dec - 30 Dec. Corvette
San Gorg (1919)  United Kingdom 615
Sheaf Crown (1929)  United Kingdom 4,868
Shuna (1937)  United Kingdom 1,575
Spero (1922)  United Kingdom 1,589 Vice-Admiral Sir R Fitzmaurice KBE DSO (Commodore)
HMS Stanley (I73)  Royal Navy Escort 14 Dec - 19 Dec. Sunk by U-574[5] On 19 Dec
HMS Stork (L81)  Royal Navy Escort 14 Dec - 22 Dec. Sloop.
In collision with HMS Deptford on 22 Dec
Switzerland (1922)  United Kingdom 1,291
Thyra (1925)  Sweden 1,796
Thyra (1925)  Sweden 1,796
Tintern Abbey (1939)  United Kingdom 2,471
Vanellus (1921)  United Kingdom 1,886
HMS Vanoc (H33)  Royal Navy Escort 23 Dec - 29 Dec. Destroyer
HMS Vanquisher (D54)  Royal Navy Escort 23 Dec - 29 Dec. Destroyer
HMS Vetch (K132)  Royal Navy Escort 14 Dec - 30 Dec. Corvette
HMS Volunteer (D71)  Royal Navy Escort 25 Dec - 29 Dec. Destroyer
HMS Witch (D89)  Royal Navy Escort 23 Dec - 29 Dec. Destroyer

Axis Submarines Destroyed[edit]

Date Number Type Captain Casualties Sunk by…
17 December 1941 U-131 IX Fregattenkapitän Arend Baumann[6] 0 HMS Stork
18 December 1941 U-434 VIIC Korvettenkapitän Wolfgang Heyda[7] 2 HMS Blankney,
HMS Stanley
19 December 1941 U-574 VIIC Kapitänleutnant Dietrich Gengelbach[8] 27 HMS Stork
21 December 1941 U-567 VIIC Kapitänleutnant Engelbert Endrass[9] 47 HMS Deptford

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Convoy HG.76". Arnold Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "Annavore - Norwegian Steam Merchant". Www.Uboat.Net. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "HMS Audacity (D10) - British Escort Carrier". Www.Uboat.Net. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "Ruckinge - British Steam Merchant". Www.Uboat.Net. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "HMS Stanley (I73) - British Destroyer". Www.Uboat.Net. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  6. ^ "Fregattenkapitän Arend Baumann". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "Korvettenkapitän Wolfgang Heyda". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  8. ^ "Kapitänleutnant Dietrich Gengelbach". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  9. ^ "Kapitänleutnant Engelbert Endrass". www.uboat.net. Retrieved 5 November 2013.