, ' H.M.S. "ACHATES" recommissioned after a long
rt-S-.’fit at Swan Hunter's Yard on the Tyne in April, 1942.
.I'There she had been provided with a new bow, the original
one having been virtually blown off by a mine when
operating in Icelandic waters the previous year.
After the customary work up - brief but
strenuous - she was assigned to the Clyde Special Escort
Force, a force which had been formed as a small reserve
of ships which could be used to reinforce the escort
groups employed on the regular convoy cycles as occasion
And so it was from the friendly shores of
Gourock that she was to operate for the final busy months
of her career. '
Her first real job was as part of the escort
to P.Q. 16, the midsummer convoy to N. Russia which, under
conditions of continuous daylight, suffered heavy and
seemingly endless air attack throughout the last week of
a brilliant May. Thus early in the new comission were
the guns and their crews well tried.
A spell at Murmansk, an uneventful return
convoy, a short period of boiler cleaning leave and
"ACHATES" was off again to fulfil a similar function for
P.Q. 18. . This convoy, sailed in September, again
suffered heavy air attack, though this time mainly from
torpedo bombers. Together with U Boats they accounted
for over a dozen ships. Most memorable from "ACHATES"
point of view were the many abortive U Boat hunts in the
very difficult Arctic conditions which prevail in those
waters, and the fact that we opened our score against
the Luftwaffe. our destination this time was Archangel -
remembered now only for its wooden construction and the
number of nights on which we had to land parties of
seamen to fight fires caused by incendiary bombs.
Then a rush back to the Clyde at a pleasant
eighteen knots the whole way, a few days storing and on
to Gib. to find the largest assembly of escorts we had
ever seen. A week there of conferences and preparations
and out to escort the great -of'ships appearing
magically from the Atlantic watdzs and bound for the
beaches of North Africa. our role during a period of
ten days or so involved only some desultory bombardment
and a lot of patrolling off shore. When screening some
heavy units on the passage back to Gib. we did, however,
gain contact with a submarine and after several attacks
were credited with having sunk her. Certainly there
.was much wreckage to be seen though I think she was
probably of Vichy French origin.
Not so successful were our efforts on the
homeward voyage when in a rising gale in the Bay of Biscay
the empty troopship "WARWICK CASTLE" was torpedoed and
sunk. It gave us, though, our first taste of the pitiful
task of picking up survivors, the difficulties of getting