The Arctic Convoy Club
of New Zealand
Veterans of the Arctic Convoys 1941 -
About 7,000 New Zealand officers and ratings served with the Royal Navy for varying periods during the Second World War. The peak was reached in September 1944 when the total strength of the Royal New Zealand Navy was 10,635 of whom 1,242 officers and 3,659 ratings (a total of 4,901) were serving overseas in ships and establishments of the Royal Navy.
New Zealanders saw active service in ships of every type from battleships and aircraft-
Arctic Convoys : New Zealanders in the Royal Navy
After making temporary repairs, the Trinidad sailed from Murmansk on 13 May, escorted by two destroyers. Next day she was badly damaged and set on fire in an attack by thirty-
On 30 April 1942 HMS Edinburgh, acting as close cover to a convoy escorted by six destroyers, four corvettes, and a trawler, was hit by two torpedoes from a U-
Two New Zealanders who sailed with several convoys during 1942 were mentioned in despatches. Sub-
After disabling the Onslow, the Admiral Hipper concentrated on the Achates and quickly crippled her, killing her captain and some forty others. But, ‘faithful as the fidus Achates of Virgil's epic’, the little ship carried on laying smoke to screen the convoy until she sank about two hours later, eighty-
During the morning the covering cruisers Sheffield (flagship of Rear-
Admiral Tovey, Commander-
In his report Rear-
The outward and homeward convoys in December 1943 were covered by two forces of the Home Fleet — Duke of York (flag of Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser), Jamaica, and four destroyers, and the cruisers Belfast (flag of Rear-
Many New Zealand officers of the Fleet Air Arm, as well as radar and telegraphist ratings, served in the escort aircraft-
For their part in successful attacks in bad weather on numerous torpedo aircraft during the passage of convoys in February 1945, Lieutenant (A) Quigg15 of the Nairana and Sub-
The frigate Loch Shin of the 19th Escort Group sank two U-
From August 1944 until May 1945, when the war with Germany ended, 260 merchant ships sailed in outward convoys to Russia with the loss of only two ships, and 245 sailed homeward, of which seven were lost.
From first to last some hundreds of New Zealand officers and ratings saw service in the Battle of the Atlantic in destroyers, corvettes, and other vessels escorting convoys across the Atlantic and to and from North Russia, Gibraltar, Sierra Leone, and the Mediterranean. They took part in many convoy battles with packs of U-
Many New Zealanders saw service with Arctic Ocean convoys to North Russia.
The passage of a Russian convoy was one of the most hazardous and arduous operations of the war at sea. The ships were exposed to attack by U-
From 1942 onward the convoys were run mainly during the winter months, when the long hours of darkness reduced the risk of air attack. The task of shepherding a convoy of slow, heavily laden ships through bitter Arctic gales and snowstorms was a grim ordeal. Weather damage was often severe. Several escort aircraft-
From August 1941 to May 1945 more than forty convoys totalling 792 ships were sailed outward and 739 returned; some sailed independently. Sixty-
Of all the New Zealanders who sailed with Russian convoys in ships of the Home Fleet, probably none had a ruder initiation than two drafts of ‘B Scheme’ candidates for commissions who were serving their preliminary sea-
Two officers and fifty-
"Although Lieutenant King, a young Reserve Officer, had been first lieutenant in the leader for one month only, he exercised complete control when the ship was seriously damaged by three 8-
The Fencer's Swordfish sank three U-
In the New Year honours list 1945, Lieutenant O'Connor12 was awarded the DSC for ‘good service and outstanding devotion to duty’ in HMS Whitehall, in which he had sailed with five Russian convoys. Lieutenant (A) Burgham13 of HMS Nairana was awarded the DSC and Lieutenant (A) O'Shea14 of the Campania a mention in despatches for good service with convoys in December 1944. Burgham took off from the snow-
Source : British Pathe News / YouTube
This photo is of New Zealanders of the shore-
Bill Carson (see his story here) is far right, back row, aged 21. He wrote names and some places of origin on the back of the photo, but it’s not clear in which order they should be.
They were: K Todd, B Wallace (Auckland), P Hawker, L C Batchelor (Otago), J Childs, D Davies, D S Buston (Wellington), J A Hay, S Smith (Wellington), A C Dick (Auckland) (who died when the Trinidad torpedoed herself in March 1942), A S Anderson (Otago), H F Cockman (Canterbury), A Squire (Taranaki), A S Anderson (Otago), P Taylor, P Heal (Wellington), D C Culpan (Auckland), T Larson, D C Campbell (Otago), R C Hanson (Auckland), Petty Officer Hutton, M Hall, (Wellington), Jack Livingstone (Wellington), H Moss (Taranaki), J V Bond (Otago), C Wyeth, J Logan (Hawkes Bay), J Allen (Auckland), Chief Petty Officer Edwards, A Pritchard, P Reid, K K Supanovic, C Redman, D H Broad, H Camforth, P S Williams (Auckland) D H Scott, M A Ballengate (Canterbury), H Mace (Auckland), P Watson (Wellington), D Shepherd, L R Philpott (Auckland), R A Witford-
Photo: Courtesy of Ian Carson
Hudson was in charge of a multiple pom-
The successful defence against heavy odds of convoy JW 51B in the darkness and snowstorms of Arctic winter is one of the brightest pages in the proud record of Russian convoys. Fourteen merchant ships escorted by the destroyers Onslow, Captain R. St. V. Sherbrooke7 (Captain D, 17th Flotilla), Obedient, Obdurate, Orwell, Oribi, and Achates, corvettes Rhododendron and Hyderabad, minesweeper Bramble, and trawlers Vizalma and Northern Gem, sailed from Loch Ewe on 22 December 1942. There were New Zealanders, some of them veterans of the Arctic passage, in several of the escorts and the covering ships.
At 8.30 a.m. on 31 December, when the convoy was about 220 miles north-
The fires in the Onslow were successfully fought by parties organised and led by Lieutenant Lewis King, RNZNVR, who was awarded the DSC for his courage and leadership. Of his work Captain Sherbrooke wrote as follows:
Those who have been mentioned in this narrative were in no way different from the thousands of other New Zealanders who served at sea. Obviously it was not possible to mention all who served in the Royal Navy, and there seemed to be no other way to give some account of their service in all kinds of ships in many seas. Most of the work of the Navy is done by ships and men that are never in the news. Of New Zealanders who fought at sea, including those in the Royal New Zealand Navy, it can be said: ‘Their memory is linked for ever with the Royal Navy whose child they were, of whose traditions they were so proud and whose long annals, rich with romantic and splendid feats of arms, contains no brighter page than theirs’.
Source: New Zealand Electronic Text Collection, Victoria University of Wellington
1 Able Seaman C. S. Hood, RNZNVR; born Auckland, 26 Feb 1917; bootmaker; died while prisoner of war 26 Jun 1944.
2 Ordinary Seaman A. C. Dick, RNZN; born Bellaught, Northern Ireland, 31 Mar 1917; oil company employee; killed in action 29 Mar 1942.
CO HMS Basilisk, evacuation of Dunkirk, 1940; Captain, 1942; Rear-
5 Lieutenant J. A. Foster, RNZNVR, m.i.d.; born Wellington, 19 Oct 1919; telegraphist.
6 Petty Officer H. F. C. Hudson, RNZNVR, m.i.d.; born Auckland, 17 Jul 1918; tinsmith.
7 Captain Sherbrooke was awarded the Victoria Cross for his valorous defence of the convoy
As an Admiralty meteorologist, he was one of the team which worked out the weather forecasts for the invasion of Normandy in June 1944.
13 Lieutenant (A) A. R. Burgham, DSC, RNZNVR, m.i d.; born Onehunga, 30 Oct 1920; draughtsman.
14 Lieutenant (A) J. W. R. O'Shea, RNZNVR, m.i.d.; born Wellington, 11 Oct 1920; public servant.
15 Lieutenant (A) J. A. Quigg, DSC, RNZNVR; born Oamaru, 14 Dec 1918; clerk.
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