April 26, 2012
A contributor is trying to put together an article for this year’s edition of ‘The Dog Watch’ about the US
convoys (1-10) which carried troops from Australia and New Zealand in 1940 and 1941. He is particularly interested in US3.
Do you know of a site where we can find out which units of the second AIF were carried by each convoy?
He has come up with enough material about the make-up of the troop ships side of the convoy but there seems to be some differences in the escorts which are listed on various sites. It would also help to know where the troops of the convoys apart from US3 were landed (US3 ended in Gourock).
The Shiplovers’ Society is still operating though our numbers are none too strong and I continue to produce TDW each year.
This year’s edition which, will be number sixty-nine, is my tenth as editor and celebrates eighty-two years for the Society.
I hope that you have kept up you interest in our magazine. Unfortunately each time you have spoken at a muster I have not been able to attend.
At present I am busy working on articles already sent and chasing up hard on those promised.
Maybe you know of a site which could be helpful with this article or if you have any other suggestions they would be appreciated.
Hoping that you are enjoying good health.
Hon Ed The Dog Watch
Some detail of the designated US convoys: from 2nd NZEF Trooping Voyages
World War Two convoys on regular routes, were generally
given designators, with serial numbers added for each
successive convoy e.g. those from Australia to the Middle
East with 2nd AIF & NZ troops were known as "US" convoys
(at least until USA entered the war, when they became OW).
U.1 to U.5 were the numbers or designators of the
individual ships carrying Australian troops in Convoy in
"US.1". Ships with NZ troops had a prefix "Z".
"US.1" 'Orion' with the Commodore M.B. Blackwood RN - Jan.
1940. Empress of Japan … U.1; Orcades… U.2.; Strathnaver
U.3; Otranto…. U.4.; Orford …. U.5; Escorted by battleship
Ramillies, with Leander, Australia, Canberra, Kent and
"US. 2" 'Strathaird' with the Commodore was Capt. R.C.
Garsia RAN - Apr./May 1940. 'Dunera', Ettrick, Nevasa &
Neuralia from W.. escorted by Adelaide, then Sydney,
Ramillies, Kent. Orcades. "Y.2", "Y.3", & 'Y.4" aerial
"US.3" Commodore's ship was the Empress of Britain, Queen
Mary, Mauretania II, Empress of Canada, Empress of Japan,
escorted by HMNZS Leander, Australia and Canberra. - May -
June 1940. Capt. JWA Waller, RN, Commodore. From Sydney,
Australia, to Gourock, Scotland, with 5,500 troops.
"US.4" Orcades, Otranto
"US.5" . 'Christiaan Huygens' and 'Indrapoera' were part
"US.7" Orion. Escorted by HMAS Perth .
"US.8" Awatea, Queen Mary, Aquitania, Mauretania, Dominion
Monarch escorted by HMAS Canberra. From Bass Strait
30.12.40 to Colombo with troops
"US.9" Departed Sydney Feb. 4 1941. Queen Mary, Aquitania,
Mauretania joined in Melbourne, and Nieuw Amsterdam .
Escorted by HMNZS Leander. 5th Reforcements.
"US.10" Queen Elizabeth, Mauretania, Queen Mary, Aquitania
Return convoys on that route had the designator reversed
'City of Perth' and Esperance Bay (Transport "88"), was in
"SU. 1". 12 ships.
"SU.4" Felix Roussell escorted by HMS Chitral
The Royal New Zealand Navy by SD Waters. (Wellington, 1956)
LOOKING BACK SIXTY YEARS
"It was a marvelous sight to see the five big ships slowly
moving out of the Wellington Harbour from our vantage
point at Kilburn. The ships were loaded at night. The
troops had left Trentham training Camp by train at
midnight. There was a lot of secrecy and there wasn't any
information printed in the newspapers. The people of
Wellington had a rough idea when the troops were leaving
even though the soldiers weren't allowed to notify anyone.
The names of the vessels were blackout but you could
recognise the vessels by their shape. They were painted
battleship grey, even the numbers funnels were grey, but
the numbers on the bow were in black. The ships had been
stripped down with all the brass railings taken off so
sunlight could not reflect. Going over our men were fed
rabbit, if done properly it tasted just like chicken. On
board the Aquitania they were served only two meals a day,
breakfast and dinner, as there were so many men to be fed.
Sleeping accommodation was hammocks. " O.B. Posted 18 the
Aquitania leaving Wellington 1940
VOYAGE ACCOUNT - letter home
Reg. No 42151
5th Reinforcement 5 /14/41
As we are unable to send cables home to NZ; as we are
told, I thought I would drop you a note to let you know a
bit about the voyage.
Amsterdam and the Mauritania were two the two troopships
that left NZ and on the trip on the Amsterdam I only feed
the fish once, that was crossing the Tasman so that was
not so bad for me.
10th April we sailed into the Sydney harbour and passed
the Queen Elizabeth loaded with Aussies; then pulled into
the wharf opposite to where the Isle of France was tired
up. There we loaded on more food supply plus twelve
hundred Aussies and by joves they are great lads, and
there was no leave for us there so we were very
disappointed as Sydney was a town where we wanted leave.
11th Set sail for Fremantle, and just out side the heads
of the Sydney harbour we picked up the Queen Mary so by
this time we had with us the biggest convoy that has ever
left NZ or Australia. As we were told by the Aussies that
came on board our boat, it was the first trip for the
Queen Elizabeth out to Australia so the troopships were
Amsterdam, Mauritania, Isle of France, Queen Mary and
Queen Elizabeth .
16th Sailed into Fremantle harbour where the two Queen 's
and the Isle of France anchored outside while the
Amsterdam and the Mauritania sailed on and tired up to the
wharf. There we managed to capture two days leave and the
people of Perth gave us a great welcome to their town.
Showing us the town in their cars, free rides on the
buses, trams, boats, etc., also cup of tea and dance
arranged for us at different places. There were boys
scouts scattered all over the town to give us any
information what we wanted to know.
19th Set sail again up the coast of Australia and after
three days out from Fremantle we left the main convoy and
set off for the Singapore Naval Base and arrived there on
the 24th of April.
Anzac morning was spent transhipping on to the Acquitania,
a cattle boat what we called her when we went on board but
we soon got settled down. The afternoon was spent on a
small route march to a swimming bath about two miles from
the boat, I will say the swim was good, but the march had
me beat, it was too hot, enough to melt a man into a
grease spot. There was no leave for us so one night we
rushed the gangway and made an escape onto land where we
could get a bit of fresh air. Myself I never want to see
the place again, too hot and the water is rotten so the
climate does not suit me. I cannot say I have been to
Singapore though I was within 15 miles of it, and I saw
the town when we were sailing for Colombo.
Left the Aussies at Singapore and on the 26th set sail for
Colombo and arriving there on the 1st May where we picked
up part of the old convoy, Mauritania and the Isle of
France while the two Queens sailed straight for Egypt. At
Colombo I captured three days leave so I had quite a good
look around the town. One trip I did was 60 miles out to
the rubber plantation and the rice field etc., it was very
interesting trip. The roads are very narrow there, a two
way road there we would use as a one way road in NZ. You
should see them drive their cars in town, if we drove ours
in town in NZ how they do there traffic inspectors would
have a job to control the traffic, an inch is nothing to
6th May set sail for Suez and just before we struck the
Red Sea we passed the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth on
their return trip. Just at present I am writing this at
Suez, waiting to go ashore to catch a train to go into
camp near Cairo.....
"The local girls volunteered at the Army Service Club,
Wellington and gave the returning troops meals or tea and
toast while they were waiting for the troop trains. The
food was awful e.g. baked beans. People think New Zealand
was never affected by the war but we were. We had
rationing. Sugar, butter, cheese, tea, petrol and even
clothing coupons. All went to England to feed the troops
and the civilians. Many had vegetable gardens and
everybody helped everyone. Wellington had blackouts and
trams, buses did not run at night. " O.B. Posted 18 the
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