Convoy HX 237

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Convoy HX 237
Part of World War II
Date 9–13 March 1943
Location North Atlantic
Result Inconclusive
Belligerents
War Ensign of Germany (1938-1945).svg Germany Naval ensign of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
 Canada
Commanders and leaders
Admiral Karl Dönitz Comm: R Gill
C-2 Group: EH Chavasse
Strength
19 U-boats 47 ships
5 escorts
Casualties and losses
3 U-boats destroyed
144 dead
3 ships sunk
(21,389 GRT)
58 dead

HX 237 was a North Atlantic convoy of the HX series which ran during the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II. It was one of several convoy battles that occurred during the crisis month of May 1943.

Background[edit]

HX 237 was an east bound convoy of 47 ships, plus local contingents, which sailed from New York on 1 May 1943 bound for Liverpool and carrying war materials. Convoy commodore was Capt. R Gill RNR in Pacific Enterprise. Mid-Ocean Escort Force group C2 joined the convoy from St Johns on 7 May. Escort group C2 was led by Cdr EH Chavasse in destroyer Broadway; other ships of this group were frigate Lagan and three corvettes. These were joined on the same day by a Support Group, SG 5, comprising escort carrier Biter and four destroyers.

Arrayed against them in the North Atlantic were the patrol lines Rhein, Elbe and Drossel, though although in the event only Rhein and Drossel, comprising 19 U-boats, engaged HX 237.[1]

Action[edit]

First contact was made on 9 May by U-359, which called up other boats from Rhein and commenced shadowing. U-359 was attacked by an escort, and lost contact, but the following day, 10 May, contact was regained by U-454. She also was driven off, by aircraft from Biter, but by evening a number of U-boats from both groups were in contact and began their attack. These were unable to penetrate the escort screen, though three ships that had become separated were sunk; the Liberty ship Fort Concord, sunk by U-403 and U-456 in the early hours of 11 May; the Norwegian tanker Sandanger, sunk by U-221 on 12 May, and Norwegian freighter Brand, sunk by U-603 on the night of 12/13 May.[2]

On 12 May U-89 was sighted by a Swordfish from Biter and destroyed by Broadway and Lagan.[3][4] Later the same day HX 237 came within range of Coastal Command aircraft, and Biter and her group detached to go to the aid of SC 129, which was coming under attack 200 miles to the south-west. That night U-456 was attacked by a Liberator flying at long range. The aircraft used FIDO, a new and secret homing torpedo, on the rapidly diving U-boat; she was damaged, but was able to surface and drive off the aircraft with anti-aircraft fire. The Liberator was able to summon help, however, and the next morning the destroyer Opportune found U-456 and attacked. The U-boat crash-dived, but was not seen again; it was later presumed she had been fatally damaged by the aircraft attack, the first instance of a U-boat being sunk by FIDO.[3][5]

On 13 May U-753 was found and attacked by a Sunderland, but the U-boat chose not to dive to escape, driving off the aircraft with flak. The Sunderland commenced circling and summoned help, which came in the form of Lagan and Drumheller. As U-753 dived away the Sunderland attacked with depth charges, followed by depth charges from the two ships. Nothing more was heard from U-753 and post-war analysis credited the aircraft and two ships with her destruction.[3][6]

With these losses, and little success in breaching the convoy’s defences, BdU called off the attack.

HX 237 continued without further interference and arrived at Liverpool on 17 May 1943.

Ships in the convoy[7][edit]

Name Flag Tonnage (GRT) Notes
Aedanus Burke (1943)  United States 7,176 Returned
Alcoa Trader (1920)  United States 4,986
Avristan (1942)  United Kingdom 7,266
Belgian Gulf (1929)  Panama 8,237
HMS Biter (D97)  Royal Navy Escort 7 May - 13 May
Escort carrier
Braga (1938)  Norway 1,671 Uk For Iceland
Brand (1927)  Norway 4,819 Straggled and sunk by U-603 on 12 May
British Valour (1927)  United Kingdom 6,952 Escort Oiler
HMS Broadway (H90)  Royal Navy Escort 7 May - 16 May
HMCS Chambly  Royal Canadian Navy Escort 7 May - 16 May
Corvette
City Of Dundee (1921)  United Kingdom 5,273
City Of Eastbourne (1923)  United Kingdom 5,563
Clan Macarthur (1936)  United Kingdom 10,528
Consuelo (1937)  United Kingdom 4,847 Vice-Commodore
Delhi (1925)  Sweden 4,571
Dorcasia (1938)  United Kingdom 8,053
Dromore (1920)  United Kingdom 4,096
HMCS Drumheller  Royal Canadian Navy Escort 7 May - 16 May
Corvette
Empire Emerald (1941)  United Kingdom 8,032
Ernebank (1937)  United Kingdom 5,388
Fort Aklavik (1943)  United Kingdom 7,132
Fort Concord (1942)  United Kingdom 7,138 Straggled 7 May, Sunk 11 May by U-403 and U-456
Frontenac (1928)  Norway 7,350
G C Brovig (1930)  Norway 9,718
Gdynia (1934)  Sweden 1,636
Gulfwing (1928)  United States 10,217 Escort Oiler
Henry Villard (1942)  United States 7,176
Herbrand (1935)  Norway 9,108
James Turner (1942)  United States 7,177
John F Appleby (1942)  United States 7,181
Joseph Warren (1943)  United States 7,176 Fitted With Anti-torpedo Net Device (AND)
HMS Kirkella (FY174)  Royal Navy Escort 16 May - 17 May
ASW trawler
Kong Sverre (1941)  Norway 7,238
Lady Rodney (1929)  United Kingdom 8,194 Halifax to St. Johns, Newfoundland
HMS Lagan (K259)  Royal Navy Escort 7 May - 16 May
Frigate
Laurent Meeus (1930)  Belgium 6,429
Leerdam (1921)  Netherlands 8,815
Magdala (1931)  Netherlands 8,248
HMCS Morden  Royal Canadian Navy Escort 7 May - 16 May
Corvette
Mormacmar (1920)  United States 5,453
Moses Cleaveland (1943)  United States 7,176
HMCS Noranda (J265)  Royal Canadian Navy Escort 1 May - 4 May
Norefjord (1920)  Norway 3,082
Norholm (1941)  Norway 9,813
Northern Sun (1931)  United States 8,865
HMS Obdurate  Royal Navy Escort 9 May - 13 May
Destroyer
Opalia (1938)  United Kingdom 6,195
HMS Opportune  Royal Navy Escort 9 May - 13 May
Destroyer
Pacific Enterprise (1927)  United Kingdom 6,736 Capt R Gill CBE Rd RNR (Commodore)
HMS Pathfinder (G10)  Royal Navy Escort 9 May - 13 May
Destroyer
HMS Primrose (K91)  Royal Navy Escort 7 May - 16 May
Corvette
Richard Hovey (1943)  United States 7,176 Fitted With Anti-torpedo Net Device (AND)
Saint Bertrand (1929)  United Kingdom 5,522
Sandanger (1938)  Norway 9,432 Straggled 8 May and sunk by U-221
Spinanger (1927)  Norway 7,429 Escort Oiler
HNoMS St. Albans  Royal Norwegian Navy Escort 4 May - 7 May
Destroyer
Stanmore (1940)  United Kingdom 4,970
Stephen A Douglas (1942)  United States 7,176 Returned
Strinda (1937)  Norway 10,973 Escort Oiler
HMCS Timmins  Royal Canadian Navy Escort 1 May - 6 May
Corvette
HMCS Trail  Royal Canadian Navy Escort 1 May - 7 May
Corvette
Trondheim (1939)  Norway 8,258
USS Yukon (1919)  United States Navy 5,970 Store ship
Warfield (1917)  United Kingdom 6,070
Wendell Phillips (1942)  United States 7,176 Joined Convoy ON 180 & returned St John’s, Newfoundland
Winona (1919)  United States 6,197 Returned to St John’s, Newfoundland

Aftermath[edit]

HX 237 was seen as a success by the Allies. Three ships had been lost, but 38 ships arrived safely; another four had been forced to return and two had detached to other destinations.[8] In return, three U-boats had been destroyed, though two of these were unconfirmed at the time. Several others had been damaged and forced to return to base. The convoy was another in a series of set-backs suffered by the U-boat Arm, collectively known as Black May.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Blair p327
  2. ^ Blair p328
  3. ^ a b c Kemp p116
  4. ^ Neistle p44
  5. ^ Neistle p67
  6. ^ Neistle p87
  7. ^ "Convoy HX.237". Arnold Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  8. ^ Hague p

References[edit]

External links[edit]