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Did convoy ships to England during WWII do a return trip?

Discussion in 'Convoys and Troopships' started by Jalahuaman, Mar 12, 2020.

  1. Jalahuaman

    Jalahuaman New Member

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    Hello everyone,,
    I've seen a few documentaries about the Battle for the Atlantic and convoys and the various strategies that both sides used.
    https://trackeasy.fun/usps/ https://showbox.tools/
    However- I haven't seen any details about the return trip.

    Did the Liberty ships etc do a return trip? Were they carrying cargo? Were they targeted?
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2020
  2. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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  3. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    As GRW said. Some ships had "continue on" orders to Murmansk with part of their cargo. Some went south, through the Med and the Indian Ocean, to the west end of the India-Burma-China supply chain. I know of one steamer who went on from that route to the US West Coast with ore from Australia. They then went through the Canal and would up in New York again. Free round-the-world trip, with enemy opposition to help cure boredom.
     
  4. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Naturally a lot of cargo ships went back empty ("in ballast").

    Early in the war, convoys would often depart ports like Halifax unescorted or with only an armed merchant cruiser and be met in mid-ocean by a full escort group when they reached the area where U-boats were active. Westbound convoys would be escorted through the danger zone and then disperse so each ship could proceed directly to its destination.
     
  5. James Stewart

    James Stewart Active Member

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    Add to this there which were in "fast convoys" and "slow convoys", even the fast ones were relatively slow so the slow ones were really slow.
    Fast large modern ships sailed independently their speed being their main protection, in a convoy or under escort they were put at risk, a calculated risk.
    In the Caribean, you could find convoys of tankers only......
    The point is well made that in the early war years ships were often conveyed to areas judged to be safe and then released to make their own way, one such convoy fell into the lap of Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.
     
  6. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    My two cents...
    As said the return ship would skirt around the middle of the North Atlantic where the vast majority of U-boats did there hunting...And lighter they would "speed" towards home...faster than a U-boat could follow (especially underwater) - U-boats generally weren't interested in return ships...they didn't have troops or cargo or anything worth sinking except the ship itself.
     
  7. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Re. the ships that sailed independently: A lot of these were sunk by U-boats because if the sub could get ahead of them, which they normally could by traveling on the surface, they were easy prey. Not only that, if they were torpedoed, they had only a faint chance of rescue-even if they got off a distress call. Sometimes the U-boat would give then extra water, food and blankets, but they still were never rescued. Finding a few small boats in the wide Atlantic was almost impossible and early in the war the Brits didn't always have the resources to go look for them. Being torpedoed in the N. Atlantic in wintertime was pretty much a death sentence. Compare this with being torpedoed when in convoy where rescue was almost a given, especially if you got on a lifeboat or a raft.
     
  8. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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