Convoy - William Sail 12X

      Ron - For those interested in the Convoy - William Sail 12X, Paul Morrell has kindly sent in loads of information.
      I have laid out the basic site and will be adding to it as I go.

      The opening picture of the convoy brought a lump to my throat, the thought of our fathers actually on those ship's as they were on their way to three and a half years of misery.
      The photo shows a Vought SB 2U Vindicator Scout Bomber - USS Ranger which was flying an Anti Submarine patrol over the convoy.

      Ships include:
      USS West Point - USS Mount Vernon - USS Wakefield - USS Quincy (Heavy
      USAT Leonard Wood - USS Vincennes (Heavy Cruiser) - USS Joseph T Dickman
      USS Orizaba Ap-24 also sailed with Convoy though not pictured in photo

      It is isn't quite finished yet, I will be adding some graphics and a map.
      Just thought you all would like a browse.
      If anybody has more to add please do so.

      Thanks again Paul, much appreciated.

      Janet - What a totally amazing photo, do we have any idea where it was taken ?

      Keith - If I replied at sea, I can only imagine the "response" I would get. On a serious note, in the Atlantic, the U.S.S. Ranger was the only carrier at that time in the Atlantic and I believe was to remain so. I would suspect the photo was taken after they had left Canada, and it looks as if the ships are in a turn to the right. If George Duffy is reading this he will no doubt tell us the nautical term, i.e port or starboard. I'm a landlubber!
      Both the cruisers Vincennes and Quincy would be sunk in the disastrous Battle of Savo Island, off Guadalcanal in 1942. For those interested, but do not want in depth(no pun intended) read:
      "The Lost Ships of Guadalcanal" by Robert D.Ballard, the man who found the Titanic and Bismark. ISBN 0-297-81315-6 Published in the U.K. by Weidenfield & Nicolson. Good book, and easy to read.
      Paul, thanks for the photograph and information.

      Paul - >Janet and Keith, I do not have an exact location for the convoy WS12X photograph , but the aircraft came from the carrier USS RANGER CV-4 as we know, RANGER was with the convoy from the time they left Halifax (November 10th 1941) until November 27th when she detached and returned to Trinidad along with fellow escort vessels the US destroyers USS RHIND DD-404 and USS TRIPPE DD-403. My guess is the photo was taken in South Atlantic waters en-route for Cape Town, sometime between WS 12X leaving Trinidad on November 19th 1941 and November 27th when RANGER detached from the convoy. I hope this is of interest, I will try and attach a picture of the RANGER as a passing interest.

      Janet - In the first letter my Dad ever wrote to my Mum after being freed he described the " green islands " off trinidad as the " most beautifull place he had seen since leaving home ", He had butchers shops in london in the mid-late 50's he had lots of customers that were "West Indian" and made many, many friends, he did always tell my Mum he would have liked to have lived out there, this now all makes sense.

      It is an amazing photo isn't it, and especially considering the age !

      Roger - This made fascinating reading; thank you! I hadn't appreciated, for example, the effective removal of the U-boat threat from the approaches to Capetown through the action against their supply vessel. Nor, though it now seems obvious (bearing in mind how much of the west side of Malaya the Japanese by then controlled) did I realise that the troopships' journey from India to Singapore was not just a dash in as near as possible a straight line across the Andaman Sea and down the Straits of Malacca. On a flat map, going round the east end of Sumatra seems to involve a very time-consuming dog-leg; maybe on a curved globe it is less so. I spoke with Dad about this convoy information and he said, yes, he remembers well such places as the 'Dragon's Mouth' and 'Serpent's Mouth' straits separating Trinidad from Venezuela (they went through both), and the muddy colour of the water, way out to sea, just south from there, due to the huge volumes of mud brought down by the Orinoco. It was when he mentioned passing near the volcano Krakatao between Sumatra and Java that I thought I'd better check where the Berhala Straits, mentioned in this William Sail 12X account, are. Alongside this convoy account I have read the 'diary' of movements of 148 Field Rgiment RA (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) and they correspond very well. I was momentarily thrown by 'typo' in the Task Force 14.2 account, where it says 'West Point and Wakefield were loaded [in Bombay], and at 1300 hrs on 29th Jan these ships sailed...' The date was of course 19th, 29th being arrival day in Singapore. According to the 148 Field Regiment diary, they were 'embarked on lighters at dock and taken aboard USS Wakefield' on 15th January (the extreme tides, we now know, being the probable reason for the lighters), and the diary entry for the next two days is 'nothing to report.'

      Then: '19/1/42 1230 USS Wakefield weighed anchor and sailed in convoy.'
      The diary comes to an end as follows:
      "29/1/42 0800 Arrived at Singapore. Disembarkation began immediately. Regiment moved to camp near Tek Hock village, Tampines Road. 30 to 31/1/42 Nothing to report."

      Thereafter things must have got a bit too hectic for diary-keeping!

      Some completely un-related snippets of information from Dad, let's hope his
      memory is still reliable:
      He recalls the name of the Japanese in charge of his last camp (Ubon, eastern Thailand) as Capt. Seti, with whom, as an NCO, he had to negotiate
      to head off an ugly riot situation that was looming because of the combination of abusiveness and youth of many of the guards, who were cadets.

      In that interview Seti used an interpreter, as he always had done. Then shortly after, when he had to tell about the imminent end of the war, he used his own very good english, from his schooldays in England!

      Dad recalls a friendly Korean named Dagyama in an earlier camp, either Chungkai or Nong Pladuk.

      Ron - Another bit of info from Singapore The Pregnable Fortress.

      One of the divisional units, the 9th Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, had voyaged to Halifax with other units aboard the Warwick Castle, a ship of 20,000 tons, and the men were not very pleased when attempts were made to cram them into some of the comparatively less luxurious American ships. Something of a revolt took place - armed American seamen were involved in helping put it down - but finally the matter was resolved by spreading the troops more evenly over the fleet. The 9th were made to suffer for this 'mutiny'. When they got to India, they had to undergo forced route marches with full packs.

      Ron - Paul Morrell sent the diary entries in.

      War Diaries of Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton

      There is quite alot on the William Sail 12X in it.

      Thanks again Paul

      Paul - I am very interested in researching the details of the convoy that carried the British 18th Division out to Halifax, Nova Scotia. I believe this convoy was designated Outward North 30 (ON 30) and included the vessels: Orcades, Oronsay, Andes, Sobiesky, Duchess of Atholl, Rena Del Pacifico, Warwick Castle and Durban Castle. I would be very interested in any stories/recollections or maybe ship postcards/photos that anyone may have of this convoy and that they would be kind enough to share with me please. If anyone is interested I have two lovely photos of the Orcades and the Oronsay.

      Ron - The Convoy Outward North 30, which left Britain the end of Oct 1941 is now covered under - Convoy Outward North 30

      George - >Paul, First of all, to the readers of this "forum", I have been away for almost two weeks. We - my wife and I - attended a convention of United States Merchant Marine Veterans in Seattle, Washington. As we had never visited that area of this vast country, we spent several extra days sightseeing in the area.

      To give you an idea of the distance, our westward flight was via Dallas/Fort Worth. Over four hours from Boston to DFW and then another four hours from DFW to Seattle! Returning, we had a non-stop flight, Seattle to Boston, and with the advantage of the jet-stream covered the distance is about four and a half hours! Nevertheless, a long trip spanning three time zones.

      I, too, was impressed by the aerial photos of the convoy consisting of the WEST POINT, MOUNT VERNON, WAKEFIELD, and others. Of some interest is that those three vessels were owned and operated, prior to their conscription by the United States government, by the United States Lines company of New York In early October of 1941, when I went to New York looking for employment as a merchant marine officer, that same United
      States Lines hired me and put me on the cargo-carrier AMERICAN LEADER.

      It is entirely possibly that they could have put me aboard any one of those three ships as a "junior" watch officer. If so, I could have had a far different future than what resulted!

      Paul, I have searched my material looking for information on convoy ON-30, and find nothing. Not even a mention of it. Predecessors to the ON convoys were designated as OB, but, again, no clue. There is a very good U-boat site at Take a look at that, particularly the Phorums section where a number of knowledgeable individuals hold forth. It may be they can be of assistance.

      Tom - >Ron, I saw mention of Prince of Wales survivors being amalgamated with Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders and thought I would let you know that Royal Marine Bob Brown was with us in the 135 Regt. RA.I would welcome contact with him if possible. He was a survivor from the Prince of Wales and gave us some interesting talks of their exploits when chasing the German Battleships.

      I wish to thank you and all others for the research and information and especially the pictures of the convoy. I was in the 135 Field Regt. RA.and travelled from Gourock to Halifax NS.on Sobieski, then to Singapore on Mount Vernon.Thanks for giving me the dates etc.and filling in gaps in my memory.

      Tom - >Ron, Thank you for the inclusion to the Monthly Revue. Yes, add it to the Researching POW's. Also if it is possible may I add two more names of comrades that I have been trying to contact for a long time? Gunner Fenney 135 RA. Jo Steward. Royal Corps of Signals. attached to 135 RA.I would be grateful if anyone can help.Thanks again for the site, I am busy reading and learning and will help where I can to add to the story.

      Paul - I would like to contact anyone who may have served with the 5th Beds & Herts and sailed for Singapore aboard the USS West Point. My late grandad sailed aboard West Point, RAMC attached to the Sherwood Foresters. I have had the privilege of speaking to gentlemen from the Cambridgeshires, Sherwood Foresters, RAMC, RASC, Royal Engineers and Royal Artillery who were aboard but as yet I have not had the pleasure of speaking to anyone who served with the Beds &q Herts. Can anyone help please.



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