Convoy PQ 15

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Convoy PQ 15 was an Arctic convoy sent from Iceland by the Western Allies to aid the Soviet Union during World War II. It sailed in late April 1942, reaching the Soviet northern ports after air attacks that sank three ships. Twenty-two ships arrived safely.

Ships[edit]

The convoy consisted of 25 merchant ships and was accompanied by one auxiliary, the oiler RFA Gray Ranger, which travelled with her own escort of destroyers.

The Close Escort was led by Commander J. Crombie in the minesweeper HMS Bramble and consisted of two other minesweepers and four trawlers, joined later by four destroyers and the antiaircraft ship HMS Ulster Queen.

There were two support groups: a Cruiser Cover Force led by Rear Admiral H. M. Burrough in the light cruiser HMS Nigeria, with the heavy cruiser HMS London and two destroyers; and a Distant Covering Force led by Admiral John Tovey, comprising the battleships HMS King George V and USS Washington (BB-56), (Rear Admiral Robert C. Giffen, USN, commanding), the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious, the heavy cruisers USS Tuscaloosa (CA-37), and USS Wichita (CA-45), the light cruiser HMS Kenya, and 10 destroyers.

The convoy was also covered by a patrol of four submarines off Norway, guarding against a sortie by German warships.

Action[edit]

PQ 15 sailed from Reykjavík, Iceland, on 26 April 1942 with its local escort. This was joined on 28 April by the ocean escort, giving the convoy an immediate total escort of 12 warships.

German aircraft sighted the convoy on 28 April while it was 250 nautical miles (463 km) southwest of Bear Island. However no attack developed for two days as the attention of German forces focused on the reciprocal Convoy QP 11, which left Murmansk in the Soviet Union on 28 April.

On 1 May the German Luftwaffe made its first attack on PQ 15, by six Junkers Ju 88s. The German bombers were unsuccessful, and lost one of their number.

Also on 1 May, the Distant Cover Force suffered two losses when King George V and the destroyer HMS Punjabi collided in fog. Punjabi sank and King George V was forced to return to port. Her place in the group was taken by the battleship HMS Duke of York, which steamed from Scapa Flow to reinforce the task force.

The escorts made an asdic contact on 2 May, which the destroyer HMS St. Albans and minesweeper HMS Seagull attacked. The submarine was damaged and forced to the surface; it was found to be the Polish Jastrzab, which was assigned to patrol off Norway but was some way out of position. Jastrzab was too badly damaged to continue and was abandoned and scuttled.

On 3 May at 01:30 in the half light of the Arctic summer nights, six Heinkel He 111 bombers of I. Gruppe, Kampfgeschwader 26, the Luftwaffe‍ '​s new torpedo bomber force, attacked the convoy, making the first German torpedo bomber attack of World War II.[1] Three ships were hit. Two were sunk, and one was damaged and later sunk by the German submarine U-251. Two aircraft were shot down and a third damaged, which subsequently crashed. A further attack by German high-level bombers at dusk was unsuccessful.

Deteriorating weather on 4 May prevented any German further attacks; an Arctic gale quickly turning into a snowstorm. PQ 15 arrived at the Kola Inlet at 2100 on 5 May with no further losses.

Aftermath[edit]

Three of PQ 15‍ '​s ships had been sunk, Botavon and Cape Corso by torpedo bombers and Jutland damaged by torpedo bombers and later sunk by U-251. Of the escorting warships, the submarine Jastrzab and destroyer Punjabi had been sunk and the battleship King George V had been damaged. However, 22 fully laden merchant ships had arrived safely in Murmansk, the largest Allied convoy yet to arrive in the Soviet Union.

The convoy was regarded by the Allies as a success, although it gave them a taste of the difficulties to come on the Arctic convoy run.

Ships in the convoy[2][edit]

Name Flag Tonnage (GRT) Notes
Alcoa Cadet (1919)  United States 4,823 Lost in N.Russia after arrival
Alcoa Rambler (1919)  United States 5,500 At Reykjavik 15-26 Apr
HMS Badsworth (L03)  Royal Navy Escort 28 Apr - 5 May
Rescued survivors from Jutland
Bayou Chico (1920)  United States 5,401
HMS Belvoir  Royal Navy Escort 28 Apr - 28 Apr
HMS Boadicea (H65)  Royal Navy Escort 28 Apr - 5 May
Destroyer
Botavon (1912)  United Kingdom 5,848 Torpedoed and sunk later by convoy escort
Capt H J Anchor OBE RD RNR (Commodore)
HMS Bramble (J11)  Royal Navy Escort 26 Apr - 5 May
Cape Corso (1929)  United Kingdom 3,807 Sunk by aircraft torpedo
HMS Cape Palliser (FY256)  Royal Navy Escort 26 Apr - 5 May
ASW trawler
Cape Race (1930)  United Kingdom 3,807 At Reykjavik 15-26 Apr
Vice-Commodore
Capira (1920)  Panama 5,625
HMS Chiltern  Royal Navy Escort 26 Apr - 5 May
Deer Lodge (1919)  United States 6,187 At Reykjavik 16-26 Apr
HMS Duke of York (17)  Royal Navy Escort 2 May - 5 May
Empire Bard (1942)  United Kingdom 3,114 Joined From Reykjavik. Heavy-lift crane ship N Russia
Empire Morn (1941)  United Kingdom 7,092 CAM ship at Reykjavik 16-26 Apr
HMS Escapade (H17)  Royal Navy Escort 2 May - 5 May
Expositor (1919)  United States 4,959 Reykjavik 15-26 Apr
HMS Faulknor (H62)  Royal Navy Escort 2 May - 5 May
Francis Scott Key (1941)  United States 7,191
Gray Ranger (1941)  United Kingdom 3,313 Detached, Arrived Lerwick 8 May
Replenishment oiler
Hegira (1919)  United States 7,588
HMS Hursley (L84)  Royal Navy Escort 28 Apr - 28 Apr
HMS Inglefield (D02)  Royal Navy Escort 28 Apr - 5 May
Jutland (1928)  United Kingdom 6,153 Bombed, Wreck Sunk By U-251
HMS Kenya (14)  Royal Navy Escort 28 Apr - 5 May
Cruiser
HMS King George V (41)  Royal Navy Escort 28 Apr - 2 May
Battleship
Krassin (1917)  Soviet Union 4,902 Icebreaker on passage
HMS Lamerton (L88)  Royal Navy Escort 28 Apr - 4 May
Destroyer
Lancaster (1918)  United States 7,516
HMS Leda (J93)  Royal Navy Escort 26 Apr - 5 May
HMS Ledbury (L90)  Royal Navy Escort 26 Apr - 27 May
HMS London (69)  Royal Navy Escort 30 Apr - 1 May
Heavy cruiser
HMS Marne (G35)  Royal Navy Escort 29 Apr - 5 May
Destroyer
HMS Martin (G44)  Royal Navy Escort 29 Apr - 5 May
Destroyer
HMS Matchless (G52)  Royal Navy Escort 28 Apr - 5 May
Destroyer
HMS Middleton (L74)  Royal Navy Escort 28 Apr - 4 May
Destroyer
Minerve  Free French Naval Forces Escort 1 May - 5 May
Submarine
Montcalm (1904)  United Kingdom 1,432 Icebreaker on passage
Mormacrey (1919)  United States 5,946
Mormacrio (1919)  United States 5,940
HMS Nigeria (60)  Royal Navy Escort 28 Apr - 2 May
HMS Northern Pride (FY105)  Royal Navy Escort 26 Apr - 5 May
ASW trawler
HMS Oribi (G66)  Royal Navy Escort 29 Apr - 5 May
Destroyer
HMS Unison (P43)  Royal Navy Escort 1 May - 5 May
Submarine
ORP Jastrząb (P551)  Polish Navy Escort 1 May - 5 May
Submarine
2 May 1942 was mistakenly engaged by the HNoMS St. Albans and HMS Seagull.

She was attacked with depth charges and made to surface, there she was strafed with the loss of 5 crew (including British liaison officer) and 6 injured, including the commander. The ship was badly damaged and had to be scuttled, near 71°30′N 12°32′E / 71.500°N 12.533°E / 71.500; 12.533

Paul Luckenbach (1913)  United States 6,606
HMS Punjabi  Royal Navy Escort 29 Apr - 1 May
Destroyer
Lost in collision with HMS King George V
HMS Seagull (J85)  Royal Navy Escort 26 Apr - 5 May
Seattle Spirit (1919)  United States 5,627
HMS Somali (F33)  Royal Navy Escort 28 Apr - 5 May
Destroyer
Southgate (1926)  United Kingdom 4,862 At Reykjavik 16-26 Apr
HNoMS St. Albans (I15)  Royal Norwegian Navy Escort 28 Apr - 5 May
HMS Sturgeon (73S)  Royal Navy Escort 28 Apr - 1 May
Submarine
Texas (1919)  United States 5,638
Topa Topa (1920)  United States 5,356
HMS Ulster Queen  Royal Navy Escort 28 Apr - 5 May
HNoMS Uredd (P-41)  Royal Norwegian Navy Escort 1 May - 5 May
Submarine
USS Madison (DD-425)  United States Escort 28 Apr - 6 May
USS Plunkett (DD-431)  United States Escort 28 Apr - 6 May
USS Tuscaloosa (CA-37)  United States Escort 28 Apr - 6 May
Heavy cruiser
USS Wainwright (DD-419)  United States Escort 28 Apr - 6 May
Destroyer
USS Washington (BB-56)  United States Escort 28 Apr - 6 May
Battleship
USS Wichita (CA-45)  United States Escort 28 Apr - 6 May
Heavy cruiser
USS Wilson (DD-408)  United States Escort 28 Apr - 6 May
Destroyer
HMS Venomous (D75)  Royal Navy Escort 28 Apr - 5 May
Destroyer
HMS Victorious (R38)  Royal Navy Escort 28 Apr - 5 May
Aircraft carrier
HMT Vizalma  Royal Navy Escort 26 Apr - 5 May
ASW trawler
Zebulon B Vance (1942)  United States 7,177

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Macintyre, p. 270.
  2. ^ "Convoy PQ.15". Arnold Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 16 October 2013. 

References[edit]

  • Blair, Clay. Hitler's U-Boat War Vol I. (1996) ISBN 0-304-35260-8.
  • Kemp, Paul. Convoy! Drama in Arctic Waters (1993) ISBN 1-85409-130-1.
  • Macintyre, Donald. The Naval War Against Hitler. New York: Charles Scribner‍ '​s Sons, 1971. No ISBN number.
  • Schofield, Bernard. The Russian Convoys BT Batsford, 1964. ISBN (none)
  • PQ 15 at Convoyweb

External links[edit]