MV Melbourne Star
Blue Star Line




Home Page
Launch Day
Malta Convoy
Attack
Rescue
Survivors
Memorial
Picture Gallery
Passenger Lists
Dunedin Star
Links
The Royal Navy and Merchant Ships
of
'Operation Pedestal'
August 1942



The hardest fought convoy
to Malta during World War II



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:
www.2ndhmsmanchesterassoc.org.uk








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








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. 








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







SS 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.







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


*





Captain Dudley William Mason GC
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.





'Operation Pedestal'
The Official Report submitted to the Admiralty by Vice Admiral EN Syfret
Published in The London Gazette 1948
(go to the 'Links Page' for details)





Next
'Melbourne Star - Her final voyage'





Home Page







www.melbournestar.co.uk


*