Convoy HG 53

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Part of World War II
Date8–11 February 1941
Result German victory
 Kriegsmarine  Royal Navy
Commanders and leaders
KL Nicolai Clausen R Adm. OH Dawson
1 U-boat
5 bombers
1 heavy cruiser
21 merchant ships
2 escorts
Casualties and losses
1 bomber 9 merchant ships sunk (15,217 tons)

Convoy HG 53 was the 53rd of the numbered series of World War II HG convoys of Homeward bound merchant ships from Gibraltar to Liverpool.[1] Convoy HG 53 lost nine ships during a coordinated attack in February 1941. HG 53 was one of the few Atlantic convoys to have ships sunk by submarines, by aircraft, and by surface ships.


Twenty-one ships departed Gibraltar on 6 February 1941 bound for Liverpool and escorted by the V and W-class destroyer Velox and the Grimsby-class sloop HMS Deptford. The convoy commodore was Rear Admiral Sir OH Dawson aboard Dagmar.[2]


Convoy HG 53 was attacked by five of these KG 40 bombers.

While southbound to African waters[3] on the evening of 8 February German Type IX submarine U-37 sighted the convoy southwest of Cape St. Vincent and torpedoed the British freighters Courland and Estrellano after midnight.[4] U-37 reported the convoy to Bordeaux-Mérignac Air Base and commenced shadowing the convoy providing beacon signals for Kampfgeschwader 40. Five Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor bombers took off at dawn and found the convoy at noon 400 miles (640 km) southwest of Lisbon. The Fw 200s bombed from an altitude of 150 feet (46 m) because they lacked bombsights. Each flight mechanic fired at their target ship with a ventral machine gun during the approach to discourage anti-aircraft gunners; but one of the bombers was hit in a wing fuel tank[5] and crash-landed in Spain when fuel was exhausted on the return trip.[3] Six of the twenty bombs dropped hit ships,[5] sinking the convoy commodore's freighter Dagmar, the Norwegian freighter Tejo, and British freighters Britannic, Jura, and Varna. U-37 sank the British freighter Brandenburg after dark and continued sending beacon signals for the German cruiser Admiral Hipper. Admiral Hipper found and sank the straggling British freighter Iceland on 11 February.[4]


Hipper was distracted from further search by finding convoy SL 64 and sinking seven ships from that unescorted convoy.[4] The escort of convoy HG 53 was reinforced by the Grimsby-class sloop Londonderry on 18 February, by the F-class destroyer Fury on 20 February, and by the S-class destroyer Sabre, the Town-class destroyer Leamington, and the Flower-class corvette HMS Anemone from convoy OG 53 on 22 February. The surviving 12 ships of convoy HG 53 arrived in Liverpool on 24 February 1941. Nine ships totaling 15,217 GRT had been sunk.[2]

Merchant ships in convoy[edit]

Name[2] Flag Casualties[6] Tonnage (GRT) Cargo Sunk by...
Brandenburg  United Kingdom 23 1,473 Ore U-37
Britannic II  United Kingdom 1 2,490 Ore KG 40 bomber
Courland  United Kingdom 30 1,325 General U-37
Coxwald  United Kingdom 1,124 Scrap iron
Dagmar I  United Kingdom 5 2,471 Oranges KG 40 bomber
Dago  United Kingdom 1,757 Oranges
Disa  Sweden 2,002 Ore
Egyptian Prince  United Kingdom 3,490 Oranges
Empire Lough  United Kingdom 2,824 Ore
Empire Tern  United Kingdom 2,479 Ore
Empire Warrior  United Kingdom 1,306 Ore
Estrellano  United Kingdom 6 1,982 General U-37
Iceland  United Kingdom 1,236 Oranges Admiral Hipper
Jura  United Kingdom 17 1,759 Ore KG 40 bomber
Marklyn  United Kingdom 3,090 Ore
Ousel  United Kingdom 1,533 Ore
Sally Maersk  United Kingdom 3,252 General
Tejo  Norway 4 967 General KG 40 bomber
Vanellus  United Kingdom 1,886 Ore
Varna  United Kingdom 1,514 Pit props KG 40 bomber
Wrotham  United Kingdom 1,884 Ore

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hague 2000 p. 177
  2. ^ a b c "HG Convoy Series". Arnold Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  3. ^ a b Blair pp. 234 & 235
  4. ^ a b c Rohwer & Hummelchen p. 50
  5. ^ a b Bekker pp. 371–373
  6. ^ Hague 2000 p.179


  • Bekker, Cajus (1964). The Luftwaffe War Diaries. New York: Ballantine Books.
  • Blair, Clay (1996). Hitler's U-Boat War — The Hunters 1939–1942. Random House. ISBN 0-394-58839-8.
  • Hague, Arnold (2000). The Allied Convoy System 1939–1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-019-3.
  • Rohwer, J.; Hummelchen, G. (1992). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-105-X.