Convoy OA 178

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Convoy OA 178
Part of World War II
Date 4 July 1940
Location English Channel
Result German victory
Nazi Germany Luftwaffe,
War Ensign of Germany (1938-1945).svg Kriegsmarine
United Kingdom:
Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy,
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Merchant Navy
Commanders and leaders
OTL Oskar Dinort (StG 2) Comm:Capt. RP Galer RD, RNR
Escort: Lt Cdr Frederick J.G. Jones RD, RNR (HMS Clarkia)
2 Gruppen of dive bombers from StG 2,
A force of E-boats
1 corvette, 1 destroyer[1]
14 merchant ships[2]
Casualties and losses
none 4 ships sunk
9 damaged

Convoy OA 178 (OA: UK (Thames) Outbound 1939–41) was an Atlantic convoy that sailed in July 1940 from the Thames Estuary via the English Channel, prior to dispersal to various transatlantic destinations.[3]

Departure and escort[edit]

OA 178 assembled off Southend-on-Sea on the coast of Essex and departed on 3 July.[1] It consisted of 14 merchant ships, escorted by the Flower class corvette HMS Clarkia.[1] Convoy Commodore was Capt. RP Galer, in SS Peterton.[3] The convoy passed the Straits of Dover during the night of 3/4 July and by the afternoon of 4 July was in the Channel, some 20 nautical miles (37 km; 23 mi) south of Portland Bill.


At about 1300 hrs[4] on 4 July two Gruppen of Junkers Ju 87 dive bombers from StG 2 attacked the convoy in the English Channel off Portland Bill.[2] The Stukas were armed with 50 kilograms (110 lb) bombs and attacked in waves of six aircraft. There was no Allied air cover and the attack lasted about two hours.[4]

In this attack one ship, MV Dallas City was sunk and five ships, SS Antonio, SS Argos Hill, SS Briarwood, SS Eastmoor and Danish turbine steamer TS Lifland were damaged.[2] The Antonio rescued 67 survivors, including two with serious injuries, from ships that were sunk.[4]

Some ships of the convoy took shelter in Portland Harbour, where the Luftwaffe attacked them again. Also in Portland Harbour were a number of other ships, which were hit in the attack. The Royal Navy anti-aircraft ship HMS Foylebank was severely damaged, and sank the next day with the loss of 176 lives.[5] The tug Silverdial was also sunk[5] and the cargo ships SS City of Melbourne, SS East Wales and MV William Wilberforce were damaged.[2]

Bombs had damaged the Antonio's rudder and the stanchions supporting her propellor shaft.[4] She had to reduce speed and did not reach anchorage in Portland Harbour until about 2300 hrs.[4] The continuing air raid prevented her from landing the survivors she had rescued until mid-day on 5 July.[4]

At dusk those members of the convoy that had remained at sea were 13 miles (21 km) south of Portland when they were attacked by German E-boats. Four ships were sunk, and one damaged. The cargo ship SS Elmcrest was sunk by a torpedo and 16 of her crew were lost.[2] SS Hartlepool was damaged.[2]

Also lost were the Dutch ships SS Britsum and SS Deucalion, and the Estonian ship SS Kolga.[5] The Deucalion's wreck lies south of Selsey Bill,[6] which suggests that either she was a straggler or she was dive-bombed before the main air raid off Portland Bill.


On 5 July OA 178's lone escort was reinforced by the destroyer HMS Broke (D83).[1] She remained with the convoy until 6 July[1] when it dispersed in the Southwest Approaches.

The severity of loss and damage that OA 178 sustained was such that all subsequent OA convoys were re-routed, from Methil in Fife around the north of Scotland to avoid the English Channel.[2]


Allied ships sunk

Date Name Nationality Casualties Tonnage (GRT) Sunk by…
4 July 1940 Dallas City British 4,952 aircraft
4 July 1940 Britsum Dutch 5,255 aircraft
4 July 1940 Deucalion Dutch 1,796 aircraft
4 July 1940 Kolga Estonian 1 3,526 E-boat S-19
4 July 1940 Elmcrest British 16 4,343 E-boat S-20


  1. ^ a b c d e Kindell, Don (19 April 2009). Smith, Gordon, ed. "Naval Events, July 1940, Part 1 of 2, Monday 1st- Sunday 14th". British and Other Navies in World War 2 Day-by-Day. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Slader, 1988, page 55
  3. ^ a b A.Hague: OA 178 at convoyweb
  4. ^ a b c d e f Webster, Peter; Quinn, Peter (17 October 2005). "The Story of the SS Dover Hill in Russia, 1943". WW2 People's War. BBC. Retrieved 2 July 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c "Day 308 July 4, 1940". World War II Day-by-Day. 4 July 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  6. ^ Allen, Tony (2010). "SS Deucalion (+1940)". The Wreck Site. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 


  • Slader, John (1988). The Red Duster at War. London: William Kimber. pp. 54–55. ISBN 0-7183-0679-1. 

Coordinates: 50°31′N 2°26′W / 50.517°N 2.433°W / 50.517; -2.433