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Old 08-20-2017, 04:41 AM   #1
blackswan40
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Operation Pedestal Convoy to Malta

In the summer of 1942, under the utmost secrecy, a convoy comprising fourteen of the fastest merchant ships afloat, departed Scotland bound for the tiny island of Malta, in the eastern Mediterranean. Under orders from Winston Churchill the convoy was to be escorted by the heaviest concentration of naval warships ever assigned to protect merchant shipping. At worst some of the ships must get through, or Malta would fall. Churchill instructed that he be kept informed as to the progress of the convoy at every stage.
On August 10, 1942 the most heavily defended convoy of WWII slipped quietly through the Straits of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean. Carrying food, diesel oil, coal, and vital aviation fuel, 14 merchant ships escorted by 34 naval warships would attempt to get through to the beleaguered island of Malta. During the three days and nights that followed, the convoy - codenamed 'Operation Pedestal' - would endure the most ferocious and heaviest bombardment of any convoy during World War II.


Vice-Admiral EN Syfret
Officer Commanding 'Operation Pedestal'


Tribute has been paid to the personnel of H.M. Ships but both officers and men will desire to give first place to the conduct, courage and determination of the Masters, officers and men of the merchant ships. The steadfast manner in which these ships pressed on their way to Malta through all attacks, answering every manoeuvring order like a well trained fleet unit, was a most inspiring sight. Many of these fine men and their ships were lost but the memory of their conduct will remain an inspiration to all who were privileged to sail with them.

The Royal Navy
'Convoy Escort'

Battleships
Nelson



Rodney

HMS Nelson ~ Flag Ship ~ Vice-Admiral EN Syfret

Aircrft Carriers



Victorious

Indomitable

Eagle

Furious

Light Cruisers
Phoebe ~ Sirius ~ Charybdis

Destroyers
Laforey ~ Lightning ~ Lookout ~ Quentin ~ Somali
Eskimo ~ Tartar ~ Ithuriel ~ Antelope ~ Wishart ~ Keppel
Vansittart ~ Wescott ~ Wrestler ~ Zetland ~ Wilton

The Royal Navy
'Close Escort Merchant Ships'

HMS Nigeria ~ Flag Ship ~ Rear-Admiral HM Burrough
Transferred to Destroyer HMS Ashanti after Nigeria torpedoed.

Cruisers
Nigeria ~ Kenya ~ Manchester ~ Cairo

Destroyers
Ashanti ~ Bramham ~ Bicester
Derwent ~ Foresight ~ Fury ~ Intrepid
Icarus ~ Ledbury ~ Pathfinder ~ Penn



Aircraft Carrier HMS Eagle

Capt. LD Mackintosh
13.15 Tuesday 11th August 1942
Sunk by four torpedoes from German U-Boat U-73
927 Survivors picked up by
Destroyers Laforey, Lookout and Tug Jaunty
16 Sea Hurricanes Lost
162 Crew Lost



Cruiser HMS Cairo
Captain CC Hardy DSO
Wednesday 12th August 1942
Sunk by the Italian submarine Axum north of Bizerta, Tunisia.
24 Crew Lost



Cruiser HMS Nigeria
Captain SH Paton
20.00hrs Wednesday 12th August 1942
Attacked by enemy submarine torpedo.
Heavily damaged returned to Gibraltar.
52 Crew Lost



Cruiser HMS Manchester
Captain H Drew DSO
Thursday 13th August 1942
At 0105hrs some 4 miles off Kellibia, Tunisia, was struck amidships on the starboard side by two torpedoes fired by Italian E-Boats and sank at 0400hrs.
10 Crew Lost
The complete history of HMS Manchester can be found at:



Destroyer/Minesweeper HMS Foresight
Captain Lt Commander RA Fell
Thursday 13th August 1942
Heavily damaged by Italian aircraft torpedo was scuttled by HMS TARTAR
4 Crew Lost

The Merchant Ships

1 Melbourne Star
2 Clan Ferguson 3 Deucalion 4 Empire Hope
5 Almeria Lykes 6 Dorset 7 Glenorchy
8 Santa Elisa 9 Waimarama 10 Wairangi
11 Rochester Castle 12 Ohio 13 Port Chalmers
14 Brisbane Star



MV Deucalion
Captain Ramsey Brown
'Blue Funnel Line'
13.40 Wednesday 12th August 1942
Sunk by Aerial Torpedo



MV Clan Ferguson
Captain A N Cossar
'Clan Line Steamers Ltd'
20.15 Wednesday 12th August 1942
Sunk by Aerial Bombs
9 Crew Lost - 53 Survivors



MV Empire Hope
Captain G Williams
'Shaw, Savill & Albion Line'
20.15 Wednesday 12th August 1942
Sunk by Aerial Bombs



MV Wairangi
Captain H R Gordon
'Shaw, Savill & Albion Line'
02.15 Thursday 13th August 1942
Sunk by German E-Boat Torpedo



SS Almeria Lykes
Captain W Henderson
'Lykes Bros Steamship Co'
05.10 Thursday 13th August 1942
Sunk by Torpedo



SS Waimarama
Captain R S Pearce
'Shaw, Savill & Albion Line'
08.16 Thursday 13th August 1942
Sunk by 12 Junkers 88s attack
80 Crew Lost including the 'Master'



MV Dorset
Captain J C Tuckett
'New Zealand Shipping Company'
09.38 Thursday 13th August 1942
Bombed - Abandoned and Sunk



MV Glenorchy
Captain G Leslie
'Glen Line Fleet'
20.15 Thursday 13th August 1942
Sunk by German E-Boat Torpedo
7 Crew Lost including the 'Master' - 88 Survivors taken POW Tunisia



Santa Elisa
Captain T Thompson
'Grace Line'
20.15 Thursday 13th August 1942
Sunk by torpedo

The Five Merchant Ships
'With their valuable cargo intact'
arrive at
'Malta's Grand Harbour'



MV Rochester Castle
Captain R Wren
'UNION-CASTLE MAIL STEAMSHIP CO'
1st to arrive 5.30pm Thursday 13th August 1942

Captain Richard Wren
awarded the
‘Distinguished Service Order’
The London Gazette 8th September 1942

For fortitude, seamanship and endurance in taking his ship through to Malta in the face of relentless attacks by day and night from enemy submarines, aircraft and surface forces.



MV Melbourne Star
Captain D R MacFarlane
'Blue Star Line'
2nd to arrive 6pm Thursday 13th August 1942
14 Crew Lost

Captain David Rattray MacFarlane
awarded the
‘Distinguished Service Order’
The London Gazette 8th September 1942

For fortitude, seamanship and endurance in taking his ship through to Malta in the face of relentless attacks by day and night from enemy submarines, aircraft and surface forces.

'Pedestal' by P C Smith
On page 158 the author states that Capt. MacFarlane perished when the Melbourne Star was sunk in the Atlantic 2 April 1943.
This is incorrect!
Capt. MacFarlane died of natural causes in 1984 aged 89



MV Port Chalmers
Captain H G Pinkney
'Commonwealth & Dominion Line'
'Port Line'
3rd to arrive 6.30pm Thursday 13th August 1942

Captain Henry George Pinkney
awarded the
‘Distinguished Service Order’
The London Gazette 10th September 1942

For fortitude, seamanship and endurance in taking his ship through to Malta in the face of relentless attacks by day and night from enemy submarines, aircraft and surface forces.



MV Brisbane Star
Captain F N Riley
'Blue Star Line'
4th to arrive 4.15pm Friday 14th August 1942
1 Crew Member Lost

Captain Frederick Neville Riley
awarded the
‘Distinguished Service Order’
The London Gazette 8th September 1942

For fortitude, seamanship and endurance in taking his ship through to Malta in the face of relentless attacks by day and night from enemy submarines, aircraft and surface forces.



SS Ohio
Captain D W Mason
'Texas Oil Co'
5th to arrive 7am Saturday 15th August 1942
aided by Destroyers HMS Bramham and HMS Penn

Constantly under attack, day and night, from aerial bombing, submarine torpedo and E-Boat attack, 9 Merchant Ships were sunk, the remaining 5 Merchant Ships arrived at Malta with their valuable cargo.



from Surbiton Surrey England
awarded the
‘George Cross’
The London Gazette 4th September 1942

During the passage to Malta of an important convoy Captain Mason’s ship suffered most violent onslaught. She was a focus of attack throughout and was torpedoed early one night. Although gravely damaged, her engines were kept going and the master made a magnificent passage by hand-steering and without a compass. The ship’s gunners helped to bring down one of the attacking aircraft. The vessel was hit again before morning, but though she did not sink, her engine room was wrecked. She was then towed. The unwieldy condition of the vessel and persistent enemy attack made progress slow and it was uncertain whether she would remain afloat. All next day progress somehow continued and the ship reached Malta after a further night at sea.
The violence of the enemy could not deter the Master from his purpose. Throughout he showed skill and courage of the highest order and it was due to his determination that, in spite of the most persistent enemy opposition, the vessel, with her valuable cargo, eventually reached Malta and was safely berthed.

The President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt takes great pleasure in presenting the
Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal to Fredrick August Larsen Jr Junior Third Officer and Francis A. Dales Cadet Midshipman U.S. Merchant Marine Academy



For Heroism Beyond the Call of Duty

Their Ship SS Santa Elisa was carrying drums of high octane aviation fuel one of two American ships in the Pedestal Convoy orders were to get through at all costs
Heavily escorted the convoy moved into the Mediterranean and before noon of that day the enemy's attacks began from that moment onwards the small convoy
of fourteen ships and heir large escort was under constant attack.
Assigned the command of an anti-aircraft gun mounted on the bridge Larsen contributed to the successful defense of his own ship for three days at 4:00am on the morning of the fourth day eboats penetrated the escort screen using the cloak of darkness to sneak in close one raked the bridge with heavy machine gun fire the other eboat fired a torpedo from the opposite side of the ship when the torpedo detonated it set fire the fuel onboard reluctantly order were given to abandon ship two hours passed and the survivors were picked up by a destroyer which then proceeded to take in tow another ship that had been hit by bombs earlier and could not maneuver the SS Ohio.
After being under attack by enemy aircraft for five hours SS Ohio was hit again the crew abandoned her and the destroyer had no choice but to cut her loose.
But her cargo was of the upmost importance for the defense of Malta and it had to get through two destroyers came in one on the port side the other on the starboard side lashed themselves to the stricken tanker and dragged her along in determined effort
to get her to grand harbor Malta the tankers decks superstructure had been wrecked by the bombardment she had been under
but Larsen's anxiety to get into the fight caused him to take inventory of her armament.
He found a anti-aircraft gun mounted abaft the stack which needed only minor repairs to put it back in action.
The young cadet of his own ship Francis A. Dales a British Gunner's mate and three of his men volunteered to help him.
Though the ships were under constant attack they boarded the SS Ohio repaired the anti-aircraft gun and manned it with Larsen
taking the trainers position and the gunner's mate and the cadet alternating as pointers.
The shackled ships creeping forward ever neared to Malta made tempting targets were attacked again and again all that day by
wave after wave on enemy aircraft and only beaten off by effort beyond that of maximum bombs straddled them scoring near misses but no direct hits were made until noon the next day when the tanker finally received a bomb down her stack which blew out the bottom of her engine room .
Though she continued settle until her decks were awash they fought her through until dusk when they were at last under the blanket of Malta based aircraft.
The magnificent courage of this young third officer and cadet-midshipman constitutes a degree of heroism which will be an
enduring inspiration to the seaman of the United States Merchant Marine and the British Merchant Navy everywhere.

Last edited by blackswan40; 08-24-2017 at 04:51 AM.
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