|Convoy OB 293|
|Part of World War II|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Admiral Karl Dönitz||
escort:LtCdr JM Rowlands
|Casualties and losses|
2 U-boats sunk|
3 ships sunk|
OB 293 was a North Atlantic convoy which ran during the battle of the Atlantic in World War II. It was notable for seeing the loss to the Kriegsmarine (KM) of U-47, with her commander KL Günther Prien, the person responsible for the sinking of HMS Royal Oak two years previously.
OB 293 was a west-bound convoy of 37 ships, either in ballast or carrying trade goods, and sailed from Liverpool on 2 March 1941 bound for ports in North America.
It was escorted by an escort group of two destroyers, Wolverine and Verity, and two corvettes, Arbutus and Camellia. They were led by LtCdr Rowlands of Wolverine, which would stay with them till they left the Western Approaches. (At this stage of the campaign escort groups were too scarce to provide "end-to-end" cover).
On 6 March 1941 the convoy was sighted by U-47 commanded by Prien. After sending a sighting report he set to shadowing the convoy, being joined throughout the day by three other boats. They were U-99 (Kretschmer), U-70 (Matz) and UA (Eckermann).
On the night of the 6/7 March the pack launched its attack.
In the early hours of 7 March U-99 slipped into the convoy from ahead, to attack on the surface; she torpedoed the tanker Athelbeach, sinking her, and the whale factory ship Terje Viken, which was damaged. U-70 hit a freighter Dunaff Head, which sank, and a Dutch tanker, Mijdrecht. She was only damaged, however, rounding on U-70 and attempting to ram; U-70 was forced to crash-dive to escape. UA hit a freighter but did not sink her.
The response of the escorts was swift and effective. The U-boats were subjected to a fierce bombardment as the warships chased down contacts; over 100 depth charges were expended over a five-hour period. UA was damaged but was able to escape; U-99 only escaped by diving deep and waiting out the attack. U-70 was damaged in the onslaught and forced to the surface, where she was fired on and sunk by the corvettes Camellia and Arbutus.
U-47 avoided damage and was able to stay in contact with the convoy, sending further reports and requesting re-inforcements. He had also been able to torpedo Terje Viken, which was straggling after being damaged, though she still remained afloat. The escorts attempted to bring her to port, but she finally sank on the 14th; her loss was credited to both U-99 and U-47.
Meanwhile, on the night of 7th/8th, at about 1am on the 8th, Wolverine sighted a U-boat on the surface which she identified as U-47. She and Verity attacked, and after four hours, which had shown evidence of damage, the U-boat was driven to the surface within yards of Wolverine, before diving again. The destroyer sent down a pattern of depth charges and was rewarded with an underwater explosion, marked by an orange glow, and flames that broke the surface.
Wolverine was credited with destroying U-47, and this featured in the official record until the late 1990s. However, after reviewing the available records modern historians regard this attack as being directed against UA, which was badly damaged, but survived to reach port.
No conclusion can be reached about the fate of U-47, and it is thought likely to be the result of a diving accident.
The success of the defence of OB 293, with the loss of the U-boat ace Prien, coupled with the successful defence of Convoy HX-112, and the loss of two more aces, Kretschmer and Schepke, one week later, marks a minor turning point in the Atlantic campaign.
|Athelbeach (1931)||United Kingdom||6,568||Sunk by U-99; 7 dead. 37 survivors.|
|Basil (1928)||United Kingdom||4,913|
|Bayano (1917)||United Kingdom||6,815||Vice-Admiral Sir F M Austin KBE CB (Commodore)|
|Capsa (1931)||United Kingdom||8,229|
|Cardium (1931)||United Kingdom||8,236|
|City of Baroda (1918)||United Kingdom||7,129|
|Delilian (1923)||United Kingdom||6,423||Damaged by U-70 & towed to Clyde|
|Dunaff Head (1918)||United Kingdom||5,258||Sunk by UA; 5 dead & 39 survivors.|
|Eastgate (1940)||United Kingdom||5,032|
|Embassage (1935)||United Kingdom||4,954|
|Empire Attendant (1921)||United Kingdom||7,524|
|Empire Wildebeeste (1918)||United Kingdom||5,631|
|Jade (1938)||United Kingdom||930|
|Loreto (1913)||United Kingdom||6,682|
|Michael J Goulandris (1921)||Greece||6,669|
|Mijdrecht (1931)||Netherlands||7,493||Damaged by U-70|
|Miralda (1936)||United Kingdom||8,013|
|New Brunswick (1919)||United Kingdom||6,529|
|New Westminster City (1929)||United Kingdom||4,747|
|Peru (1916)||United Kingdom||6,569|
|Port Caroline (1919)||United Kingdom||8,263|
|Sacramento Valley (1924)||United Kingdom||4,573|
|Terje Viken (1936)||United Kingdom||20,638||Sunk by U-99; 2 dead and 105 survivors.|
|Tregarthen (1936)||United Kingdom||5,201|
|Vernon City (1929)||United Kingdom||4,748|
|Viking Star (1920)||United Kingdom||6,445|
|Waroonga (1914)||United Kingdom||9,365|
|White Crest (1928)||United Kingdom||4,365|
|Name||Class||Type||Date joined||Date departed||Notes|
|HMS Arbutus||Flower||Corvette||2 March||7 March||attacked and sank U-70, 7 March|
|HMS Beverley||Town||Destroyer||4 March||8 March|
|HMS Camellia||Flower||Corvette||2 March||7 March||attacked and sank U-70, 7 March|
|HMS Chelsea||Town||Destroyer||2 March||7 March|
|HMS Verity||V and W||Destroyer||2 March||7 March||attacked and damaged UA, 7 March|
|HMS Wolverine||V and W||Destroyer||2 March||7 March||attacked and damaged UA, 7 March|
|U-37||IX||KL Nicolai Clausen||N/A||Did not make contact|
|U-47||VIIB||KK Günther Prien||hit Terje Viken||lost, cause unknown; originally credited to d/c attacks by Wolverine, Verity|
|U-70||VIIC||KL Joachim Matz||hit Athelbeach hit Delilan, hit Mijdrecht||rammed by Mijdrecht, attacked and sunk by Arbutus, Camellia|
|U-99||VIIB||KK Otto Kretschmer||hit Terje Viken (sank later), sank Athelbeach|
|UA||UA||FK Hans Eckermann||sank Dunaff Head||attacked by Wolverine, Verity; damaged and force to return to base|