Friday, August 02, 2019

Fullbore Friday

It isn't often that a ship's name so perfectly captures her nature.

Look at this timeline.

- March 1940: a 441 foot enemy blockade runner, captured after the sea cocks were open and a fire burned for 4-days.
- January 1941: sent to the yards for conversion to ... an escort carrier.
- June 1941: conversion complete.
- September 1941: first convoy mission, embarking her full complement of eight Martlets (F4F Wildcats) of No. 802 Squadron FAA.

18-months from warprize to warship.

She was in four convoys and her aircraft shot down seven Luftwaffe Fw 200 Condor bombers/maritime patrol aircraft.

That last convoy was her last ... the epic Convoy HG 76.

Read the whole thing, but so ended a fullbore ship; HMS AUDACITY;
As the sky was darkening, an aircraft reported a U boat 15 miles to the port (left) side of
the convoy. It was the U-107, although hunted, it could not be found. This U Boat was bringing in others, namely, the U-108; U-71; U-751 and U-567.
In spite of an accident involving the illumination of the convoy by starshell, when the escorts were returning, no attack actually materialised and the 20th December 1941 passed without incident. 
During that afternoon, two patrolling Martlett's had spotted 2 U Boats ahead, and this enabled the convoy to steer around them. During the 21st, several U Boats were sighted, 2 of which were 25 miles astern. Sub Lt Brown spotted them, side by side, with a plank across the gap. He strafed the boats with gunfire. Walker sent back 4 ships, but they escaped. 
At 1130 hrs 2 more were sighted to port to which Marigold and Convolvulus investigated. Not long afterwards another was spotted 10 miles to port and at 1500 hrs another was sighted. Walker surmised that the following night would be rather interesting.

The convoy sailed into the night, Audacity moving to her normal night place away from the convoy. Walker recommended that she went to port side of the convoy, but McKendrick preferred starboard (landside) and he sailed off without an escort as 2 had departed, damaged. 
Walker moved away from the convoy to "fake" an attack but the convoy decided it was real and threw up snowflake in abundance thus revealing their true position and thwarting Walkers attempt at fooling the U Boats. 
As Walker raced back he was in time to see a norwegian tanker, Annavore, some 3324 tons, explode in flames at the rear of the convoy. Walker mistakenly ordered a "buttercup" attack and the convoy again fired off illumination, showing up the Audacity. U-751 could not believe their luck, striking the carrier aft, going out of control. 
Audacity stopped engines and, as escorts hurried toward her, the U-751 came in as close as to be opened up on by an oerlikon gun. Two more torpedoes and the Audacity sank in 10 minutes.
Interesting side-note on the AUDACITY's "airwing."

One of her pilots? The legendary Captain Eric Melrose "Winkle" Brown, CBE, DSC, AFC, Hon FRAeS, RN.

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