SS HARLINGEN Updated November 2007

At 05.20 hours on August 5, 1941, in position 53.26N, 15.40W (west of Ireland), SS Harlingen (with a cargo of 8,000 tons of West African produce from Lagos), was torpedoed by U-75. The master (Jack Willingham) and 38 other survivors were picked up by HMS Hydrangea and landed at Gourock and three crew members were rescued by HMS Zinnia and landed at Londonderry. Three crew members lost their lives and are commemorated on Tower Hill, panel 55.

ELLIOTT , Fireman and Trimmer, ROBERT, S.S. Harlingen (London). Merchant Navy. 8th August 1941. Age 55.

LUEN, Chief Officer, JAMES EDWARD, S.S. Harlingen (London). Merchant Navy. 25th November 1939. Age 43. Son of Albert Edward and Rebecca LUEN; Husband of Violet Victoria Luen, of Barry, Glamorgan. (Died in a separate  incident). See  "Lest We Forget"

STEVENSON , Second Engineer Officer, ROBERT JOHN, S.S. Harlingen (London). Merchant Navy. 5th August 1941. Age 61. Son of Fireman Robert Stevenson, M.N., and of Mary Stevenson (nee Gray), husband of Annie Kerr

 

Photo Courtesy of Library of Contemporary History, Stuttgart

 

SS HARLINGEN   5.415 tons. Built 1933 - Lithgows Ltd, Port Glasgow. Owner: J. & C. Harrison Ltd, London 

Sunk by U-75 (Helmuth Ringelmann) on 5 August 1941, in 53 26'.0 N, 15 40'.0

Complement:    42 (3 dead and 39 survivors).

CONVOY:  SL-81 From Lagos - Freetown (15 Jul) - Liverpool 

Cargo:  8000 tons of West African produce 

             

Notes on Loss:  At 05.20 hours on 5 AUG, 1941, U-75 attacked the convoy SL-81 west of  IRELAND and observed a column of fire and water after a first hit, and a column of water after a second hit. Ringlemann then had to dive and was not able to make any further observations. The two ships hit were the Harlingen and the Cape Rodney.

 

Three crew members from the Harlingen (Master Jack Willingham) were lost. . The Master, 34 crew members and four gunners were picked up by HMS HYDRANGEA (K 39) (LT J.E. Woolfenden) and landed at Gourock.  

 

 

 

 

 

Convoy HX 11 Cruising Order
Departed Halifax on Dec. 4-1939 and arrived
Liverpool on the 18th (Arnold Hague agreees with 45 ships).

Received, with thanks, from Roger Griffiths (his source: Public Records Office, Kew).

I have added the nationalities of the ships with the help of "The World's Merchant Fleets", R. W. Jordan.

Br=British, Da=Danish, Fr=French

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

11
Lady Glanely
wheat
Glasgow
(Br)

21
Scottish Monarch
lumber
Glasgow
(Br)

31
Hartlepool
cotton - pig iron
Liverpool
(Br)

41
Tregarthen
grain
Liverpool
(Br)

51
Manchester Exporter
*
general
Liverpool
(Br)

61
Broompark
grain
London
(Br)

71
Comanchee
lube oil
London
(Br)

81
Sire
general
London
(Br)

91
Loch Dee
lumber
London
(Br)

12
Clearpool
ores
Glasgow
(Br)

22
Shekatika
iron ore
Glasgow
(Br)

32
Manchester Spinner
general
Manchester
(Br)

42
Arizona
gen. nitrate
Liverpool
(Fr)

52
Caspia
gasolene
Liverpool
(Br)

62
Hannington Court
timber - lead -
canned goods
London
(Br)

72
Harlingen
wheat
Hull
(Br)

82
Urla
grain
Hull
(Br)

92
British Union
fuel oil
Rosyth
(Br)

13
Parthenia
general
Glasgow
(Br)

23
Clunepark
steel bl.
Glasgow
(Br)

33
Prince Rupert City
cotton
Manchester
(Br)

43
Nailsea Manor
iron ore
Manchester
(Br)

53
Varand
aviation spirit
Liverpool
(Br)

63
Everleigh
wheat
London
(Br)

73
Shirvan
benzine
Plymouth
(Br)

83
Aldersdale
fuel oil
Plymouth
(Br)

93
El Grillo
crude oil
Le Havre
(Br)

14
Carslogie
lumber
Glasgow
(Br)

24
Saganaga
iron ore
Glasgow
(Br)

34
Llanishen
timber spelter
Avonmouth
(Br)

44
Athelfoam
molasses
Avonmouth
(Br)

54
Dorelian
general
Avonmouth
(Br)

64
Glenpark
wheat
Falmouth
(Br)

74
Wendover
wheat
Falmouth
(Br)

84
Wanstead
grain
Falmouth
(Br)

94
British Fusilier
fuel oil
Portsmouth
(Br)

15
Tower Field
iron ore
Manchester
(Br)

25
Haxby
grain
Manchester
(Br)

35
Gogovale
pit props
Cardiff
(Br)

45
Parracombe
wheat
Avonmouth
(Br)

55
Embassage
grain
Cardiff
(Br)

65
Athelviscount
fuel oil
Plymouth
(Br)

75
Armanistan
flour
Falmouth
(Br)

85
Tilsington Court
wheat
Falmouth
(Br)

95
Scottish Maiden
crude oil
Donges
(Br)

* From HXF 11.

 


Notes:
Commodore was in Tregarthen, Vice Commodore was in Comanchee, and Rear Commodore in Lady Glanely.

Ocean Escorts: HMS Revenge, the French subs S/Ms Sfax and Casabianca.

Notes:
Commodore R. Eliot, R.N.R. was in
Newfoundland, Vice Commodore was Captain Griffith in Pacific Grove
.

The convoy had 14 ships, 10 of which were present on arrival at Local Escort rendezvous.
According to the Commodore, the average speed was only 5. 2 knots from No. 1 Buoy, Halifax to rendezvous on Dec. 12.

Chancellor reported she had been rammed by Athelchief at 20:00 on Dec. 2, with the result that her engine room was flooded and required assistance. Oropesa was ordered by the Commodore to go to her assistance and to stand by in her vicinity until fog lifted. Athelchief initially reported no serious damage, but later announced she had to return to port with leaking forepeak. She's listed in Convoy HX 12.

Oropesa later reported the following (to the Commodore - time looks like 03:05, Dec. 3):
"All crew of Chancellor saved - ship almost awash - dangerous to navigation approximate position 44 30N 61 51W. Oropesa proceeding - still fog", and a few hours later: "Confidential Code & Code tables of Chancellor not destroyed".
Nothing was received from Chancellor after her first distress message at 00:00.

Arnold Hague's "The Allied Convoy System" claims that Chancellor collided with Athelchief and Oropesa, while "The World's Merchant Fleets 1939-1945" by R. W. Jordan says she collided with Athelchief about 70 miles from Halifax - taken in tow but sank, all 42 survived.

From The Commodore's notes:
Manchester Progress was out of convoy from the night of Dec. 4 in fog till ?(date illegible), and was generally poor at station keeping.
Torr Head was out of convoy on the night of Dec. 11 - reason not known. (She had a minor defect for a short time).
Sulairia was out of the convoy twice during voyage.

Leading ships of columns were generally good at station keeping, but rear ships, with the exception of De Grasse, were generally well astern.
Lack of good daylight signalling lamps made visual signalling difficult. In good visibility, flag signalling was good.

There's also a document, stating the following, date Dec. 4 (note that HMS Revenge was escort for Convoy HX 11, which left Halifax on Dec. 4 - with regard to Manchester Regiment mentioned here, see also [dispersed] Convoy OB 41 at this external link):
"Immediate - Revenge (R) in C A.W.I. Capt. i/c H.M.C.D?. Halifax from P.A. 3.
S.S. Manchester Regiment abandoned after collision and is danger to navigation. S.S. Oropesa returning to Halifax with survivors. Tug Foundation Roosevelt proceeding to scene. Detach Hyperion(?) to stand by Manchester Regiment reported to be in position 44 30' N 61 52'W but verification of this position is being obtained".
Checking with "The World's Merchant Fleets", I find that this ship is said to have collided with Oropesa (in convoy) on Dec. 4, 1939 and sank 150 miles southwest of Cape Race. 9 died, 63 survived.

Also on Dec. 4, the following signals were intercepted between 11:48 and 12:00 GMT:
Oropesa from Manchester Regiment: "Have you got our boats".
Manchester Regiment from Oropesa: "Taking last third boat & coming up to you".
Oropesa from Manchester Regiment: "Do not think that vessel is in immediate danger of sinking - flooded to water levels - no change in soundings".

Further interceptions on Dec. 5:
Bowring St. Johns from tug Hawes: "SS Ena de Larrinaga lost three propeller blades 180 miles west of our position - requires tug".
(Tug Hawes also calling Manchester Regiment and apparently bound for her position).
Tug Hawes from Bowring St Johns via Cape Race: "Must leave you decide which steamer proceed to meantime endeavouring ascertain if Franklyn? or other proceeding assistance of Ena will advice soonest".

Escorts:
Ocean: HMS Ascania, and submarines HMS Narwhal, and HMS Seal.
Ascania
left at 20:30 on Dec. 12, and returned to Halifax, arriving Dec. 19 - ref. her report on Page 2.
Local: HMCS
Skeena and St. Laurent
.
Western Approaches:
HMS Mackay, Wer?, HMS Wren and HMS Witch.

Convoy HXF 11 sailed from Halifax at 10:00.

Ships of the convoy left harbour and formed up well after passing No. 1 Buoy, setting course 083. Narwhal and Seal joined up there and took up positions No.'s 53 and 54. Ascania assumed position No. 41 and maintained it generally throughout the passage. The Local Escort consisting of HMCS Skeena and St. Laurent took station in accordance with C.B. 04024 page 54 figure 2, Skeena to Port and St. Laurent to starboard. Aircraft of the the Royal Canadian Air Force maintained an outer A/S patrol during the hours of light.

14:00 - Speed was increased to 11 knots. It was a bright afternoon and sea was calm.
19:35 - Fog set in and the Commodore made the signal on his syrens for a reduction of speed to 9 knots.
20:03 - A report was received by W.T. that Chancellor had been rammed and had her engine room flooded, requiring assistance, and at
20:40 - Athelchief reported it necessary to return to port with as leaking forepeak. Oropesa was ordered by the Commodore to stand by Chancellor. A report giving position of Chancellor was sent by Ascania but owing to difficulty in getting through on H.F. this had to be passed on 425 KC's. Fog continued during the night and at
23:15 - Ascania, who had moved out ahead of the convoy had to alter course to avoid a ship who was stopped in fog.

Dec. 3:
03:00 - Course of the convoy was altered to 089 without further signal. Dense fog until
07:00 - when it began lifting and the convoy began reforming.
10:30 - Local Escort were ordered to proceed to Halifax and submarines were stationed on each bow of the convoy 30' before the beam of the leading ships of wing columns, at a distance of 4 cables, with HMS Narwhal to starboard and HMS Seal to port.
11:03 - Speed increased to 11 knots.
Noon position: 44 44N 58 28W.
Distance made good: 209 miles.
14:00 - Commenced zig-zagging and ceased at 16:00 - speed during the night: 11 knots.
17:15 - Crossed 100 fathoms line.
23:00 - Clocks advanced 30 minutes.

Dec. 4:
03:00 - Clocks advanced 30 minutes. Wind rising during early morning and continued Force 7 till noon. Convoy steering steady course and at
10:53 - reduced speed to 10 knots to allow rear ships to overtake. Sulairia reported bad coal.
Submarines experiencing no difficulties.
Noon position by DR: 44 51N 53 05W.
Distance run: 230 miles.
15:09 - Increased to 11 knots, wind dropping during the afternoon and at
17:00 - fog coming on again so the convoy speed was reduced to 9 knots.

Dec. 5:
Dense fog.
09:07 - Passed 100 fathom line. Considerable advantage found by being in next berth to Commodore and Vice Commodore, signals being carried out by Searchlight and Aldis light in thick fog.
Speed: 9 knots throughout the day.
Noon position by DR: 44 51N 48 10W.
Distance run: 210 miles.
17:00 - Heavy rain, fog lifted.
18:35 - Convoy altered course by Red Light Signal to 069.

Dec. 6:
Misty weather during the night and at daylight Beaverdale, Inkosi,
Manchester Progress
and Torr Head, as well as Narwhal and Seal were missing from the convoy.
07:40 - Altered course to 033.
08:35 - Speed increased to 11 knots.
11:30 - Torr Head rejoined.
Noon position by observation: 46 12N 43 55W.
Distance run: 197 miles.
Carried out exercises with the convoy during the afternoon.
15:35 - Course 055, speed 9 knots. Fine and calm.

Dec. 7:
At daylight Narwhal, Beaverdale, Inkosi and Manchester Progress all rejoined, leaving only Seal now absent. Continued at 9 knots to allow Seal to overtake. It was not possible to reach signalled rendezvous by noon, so altered course at noon to 060.
Noon DR: 48 13N 39 32W.
Distance run: 216 miles. Weather fine, westerly winds Force 4.
23:00 - Put clocks on 30 minutes.

Dec. 8:
00:30 - Put clocks on 30 minutes.
At daylight Ascania moved out to Northward to try and get in touch with Seal. Showery and calm.
Noon DR: 49 54N 34 48W.
Distance run: 207 miles. Noon, altered course to 088.
Zig-zagging all day, speed 9 knots. Seal came up from astern just before dark and took up her position on the Port bow.
22:05 - Convoy altered course 20 to port to avoid a large ship with lights on, steering 150.

Dec. 9:
07:40 - Began zigzagging.
09:00 - Passed a British steamer 4 miles off, steering 270. Carried out convoy exercises during forenoon.
Noon position: 49 45N 29 37W.
Distance run: 200 miles.
12:25 - Altered course to 085. Weather bright and fine, slight sea. Speed: 9 knots.

Dec. 10:
Course 085. Speed: 9 knots. Zigzagging at daylight.
10:48 - Altered course to 088.
Noon dead reckoning: 50 02N 24 46W.
Distance run: 188 miles. Weather fine, sea slight.
23:00 - Put clocks on 30 minutes.

Dec. 11:
00:30 - Put clocks on 30 minutes. Course 088, speed 10 knots. Began zigzagging at dawn.
11:00 - Inkosi had a funeral on board of a distressed British seaman (this probably means a seaman who was a passenger on board, having previously been torpedoed?).
Noon position by DR: 50 10N 18 42W.
Distance run: 233 miles.
Submarines stationed in 53 and 54 positions before dark.
Convoy assumed G.M.T. at midnight, but Ascania made no alterations to her clocks. Heavy rain squalls.

Dec. 12:
06:00 - Increased speed to 10 knots. Misty rain at daylight, visibility poor, only about 1 mile. Torr Head not present.
07:45 - Arrived at rendezvous and altered course to 098 and at
08:50 - reduced speed to 9 knots. Local escort not sighted. Visibility poor all day, but at noon it was about 3 miles.
Noon position: 50 17N 13 16W.
Distance: 203 miles.
Mackay joined convoy just before dark at 17:00 and at
20:30 - Ascania left the convoy, setting course 257 at 14 1/2 knots.
This was the second consecutive occasion on which Ascania had been unable to make contact with the local escort in Western Approaches in the vicinity of the rendezvous, due to low visibility. "In this connection, 0815 GMT is not an easy time to effect a junction in that position, as it is hardly daylight by that time. Were it possibly an hour or two later, this would enable destroyers to speed(?) at visibility distance and steam along the course of approach, and would enable full advantage to be taken of the visibility improving as the sun got higher".

Remarks:
"This convoy was particularly lucky in its weather conditions which were generally favourable except on the occasions of fog. No rough weather was experienced. The convoy had plenty in hand as regards time.

The station keeping was on the whole satisfactory and the Commodore's handling was quite satisfactory, every opportunity being taken to exercise the convoy at alterations of course".

Dec. 13:
Course 257, speed 14 1/2 knots. Keeping to the southward clear of convoys and Trade Routes, zigzagging during daylight hours, and steady course during the night.
Noon position by observations: 49 25N 16 36W.
Distance run Westward: 264 miles. Misty rain in the afternoon, falling glass but cleared during the night, only moderate sea.

Dec. 14:
Course 257, speed 14 1/2 knots. Fine and clear, only slight sea. Nothing sighted all day. Warmish, temperature of air at noon 56, rising to 58 at midnight. Sea 56.
Noon position by DR: 48 15N 24 17W.
23:00 - Put clocks back 30 minutes.

Dec. 15:
01:00 - Clocks put back 30 minutes. Brilliantly fine, light north-westerly breeze, sea slight.
04:00 - Altered course to 251. Steady course throughout the day.
Noon position by observations: 46 45N 33 26W.
Distance run: 318 miles. Very fine.

Dec. 16:
Course 251, speed 14 knots.
10:00 - Altered course to 263.
Observed noon position: 45 07N 40 41W.
Distance run: 318 miles. Wind getting up from southwest and blowing hard with heavy rain during the night.
23:00 - Put clocks back 30 minutes.

Dec. 17:
01:00 - Put clocks back 30 minutes. Course 263, speed 14 knots. Blowing hard from northward, very cold.
Noon position by dead reckoning: 44 24N 48 50W.
Distance run: 350 miles.

(David Simpson - January 2007)



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