Convoy HX 126

January 14, 2010HX 126

It's been a while since we've been in touch, I hope you're well and happy.

Today, I happened upon a page on your site where you say: I used the reports of HX126 from a Norwegian site about Convoys and the Battle of the Atlantic http://www.warsailors.com/. It is run by a lady Siri Lawson living in the US, her Dad was a Norwegian sailor in WW2, in general Siri runs a wonderful site that is a great reference facility, we correspond from time to time, and she has links to AHOY on this site. But, although she carries just about all the Atlantic Convoy steaming formations and names the ships, there is no such information for HX126, nor can I track one down anywhere. The page in question is here


I know the messages on that page are probably fairly old now, and I don't know if Cyril is still alive, but I just wanted to mention that I do indeed have the information for Convoy HX 126, you'll find it here 


 There's also some details on ONS 5, mentioned on your page


Siri Lawson

"Siri/US" <siri@lawson.net>

Convoy HX 126


Cyril Hill is certainly going strongly, here is his response, Steve sent my mail on to his Dad

Very best wishes.


From: Cyril Hill
To: Mackenzie Gregory
Cc: Stephen Hill ; Sue Adams
Sent: Sunday, January 17, 2010 1:36 AM
Subject: Re: Convoy HX 126

Dear Mac,

You sent an e-mail to my son, Steve, on 13 Jan about convoy HX 126. He has sent me a copy of your e-mail and attachments.

I sent you an e-mail on 5 Dec '08 about the Canadian production for television of a documentary about the Battle of the Atlantic. That production has since been shown here and in Canada and, so Toronto tell me, very successfully. I thought it very good work, notably because it included information about German action and experiences - something which does not always get enough attention. I was surprised that HX 126 was not mentioned and it was wrong to say that
Harperley was the first ship sunk in ONS 5.

However, these are minor criticisms and I am relieved that my appearance was suitably brief.

HX 126
My memories varied from yours on a number of points.  I recorded our escort when we left Halifax as Aurania and a submarine which, I was told, was the Free French 'Surcouf'.  Your source did not record the sub though there was a reference to there being a sub. I see that in the report that you now forward it names HMS Tribune as the submarine escort.

I said, and maintained despite your argument otherwise, that I saw three tankers on fire. It now seems from these latest papers that I was wrong. British Security was on fire; the main report does not refer to others on fire. But in the notes
"Ships were sunk as follows" the captain of the Cockaponset says that the Rosewood got in Security's flames and caught fire. Perhaps I was partly right.

The first ship sunk was 'Norman Monarch' not 'Northern Monarch

I am unclear about the position of Darlington Court as given in "Cruising Order until the loss of Norman Monarch. May 20 1941". I am certain that Darlington Court was alongside us in position 71;  I was looking at her as she was hit.

The reports in the notes of a violent explosion felt by many was of interest to me. I believe I told you that we had a shock severe enough to have thrown me to the deck if I had not grabbed a stanchion. I have wondered if the cause was the Hood blowing up: The reassembled HX 126 met Tovey's fleet seeking Bismarck.

ONS 5.
You may remember that I was unable to accept your view of the loss of the North Britain. You suggested that what I saw was the loss of the West Maximus. But what I saw was a ship that when hit immediately lay on her side. The table "ONS 5 Cruising Order" says that Maximus lost 5 or 6 men. But North Britain lost 35 and that is more in accord with what I saw.

I take that the Cruising Order was the result of planning in an Office. Once at sea the Order might be changed. Thus, the notes to the Cruising Order show that three ships left the convoy and that columns 9 and 10 became disorganised due to the gale and ships colliding. North Britain was in position 91 and may have been affected.

The notes say that North Britain became a straggler and was sunk by a U-boat on May 5,  there being 11 survivors.

I do find all this very difficult to reconcile with the fact that the only ship in that convoy that I could name, apart from Harperley, was North Britain - and I was never within two miles of her , according to these reports.

I see that since we were last in contact you have tacked on to the end of your own very fine account of the battle for ONS 5 the account of Arthur Howell who was in Northern Spray. That is a particularly useful addition. I am a little puzzled , however, because Howell says that we, survivors from Harperley and Harbury, were picked up and that later Northern Spray launched a boat whish went across to Harbury - still afloat- to confirm that it could not be saved.

Spray loitered until the boat returned and then Harbury was sunk by gunfire. I was within a few feet of all this and remember nothing of it.

Well, it is good to know that you are still compiling a record which I am sure will be a source for future historians.

Best wishes,


To: Steve Hill

Convoy HX 126


Some 5 years ago I was telling your Dad that I could not find the cruising order for Cionvoy HX126 on Siri Lawson's site, how wrong I was then.

Here is a note from Siri.

Is Cyril still with us? I do hope so.

All the best,


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