Convoy TM 1 was the code name for an Allied convoy during the Second World War. Nine tankers, escorted by Royal Navy warships, attempted to reach Gibraltar from Trinidad. The convoy was attacked by a U-boat wolf pack in the central Atlantic Ocean, and most of the merchant vessels were sunk. This was one of the most successful attacks on Allied supply convoys throughout the entire war. The convoy was defended by the destroyer HMS Havelock, and three Flower class corvettes, HMS Godetia, HMS Pimpernel and HMS Saxifrage. Seven tankers were sunk during the attacks, two surviving to reach Gibraltar. Two U-boats were damaged during the attacks.
U-124 located HMS Godetia on 29 December 1942, escorting two tankers to join up with the main convoy. U-514 made contact with the convoy on 3 January and attacked and damaged the tanker MV British Vigilance, forcing her crew to abandon her though the ship remained afloat. By now aware that a large tanker convoy was headed through the Atlantic, presumably to deliver supplies to the allied armies in North Africa, Admiral Karl Dönitz, the German BdU (commander in chief of U-Boats) ordered wolf pack "Dolphin" to move into the area and attempt to intercept it.
U-381 made contact with the convoy on 8 January, and the wolf pack launched their first attacks that evening. U-436 attacked and sank the SS Oltenia II and damaged the MV Albert L. Ellsworth. HMS Havelock launched a counter-attack, damaging and driving off U-381, while Pimpernel and Godetia drove off U-571 and U-575 respectively. U-522 returned the following morning and attacked the convoy, damaging two tankers, the MV Norvik, and MV Minister Wedel, while U-442 damaged the Empire Lytton. U-181 and U-134 made attacks, but failed to hit any targets. Godetia retaliated with depth charges, damaging U-134.
U-620 kept in contact with the convoy, and in the evening of 9 January, U-522 attacked the two tankers she had damaged earlier in the morning, Norvik and Minister Wedel, and sank both of them. Meanwhile U-442 returned to the damaged and abandoned Empire Lytton and finished her off with two torpedoes, while U-436 returned to the abandoned Albert L. Ellsworth and sank her with shells from her deck gun. The U-511 came across the MV William Wilberforce, a merchant ship sailing unescorted and not part of convoy TM 1, and sank her.
The attacks resumed on the night of 10/11 January, with U-522 torpedoing the MV British Dominion. Her crew abandoned her, but the ship was only damaged and did not sink until U-620 arrived and sank her with a coup-de-grace torpedo and gunfire. Other attacks that evening and over the next two days, by U-571 and U-511, fail to score any successes. By now the convoy was approaching Gibraltar, and the destroyer HMS Quentin and the corvettes HMS Samphire and HMS Pentstemon were sent out to reinforce the escorts. Supported by allied air cover, the convoy reached Gibraltar without further loss on 14 January. Two tankers, the Cliona and the Vanja, survived from the original nine. The final action came on 24 January, when the abandoned hulk of British Vigilance, torpedoed by U-514 on 3 January, was discovered by U-105, and promptly sunk.
Order of battle
This along with the * indicates that the ship was sunk
|Name||Nationality||Tonnage||Cargo||Fate||Date of attack||Survivors||Dead||Notes|
|Albert L. Ellsworth (1937)||Norwegian||8,309 gross register tons (GRT)||Furnace oil||Damaged by U-436
Sunk by U-436*
|British Dominion (1928)||British||6,983 GRT||Aviation spirit||Damaged by U-522
Sunk by U-620*
|British Vigilance (1942)||British||8,093 GRT||Clean petroleum products||Damaged by U-514
Sunk by U-105*
|Cliona (1931)||British||8,375 GRT||Reached port safely|
|Empire Lytton (1942)||British||9,807 GRT||Aviation spirit||Damaged by U-442
Sunk by U-442*
|Minister Wedel (1930)||Norwegian||6,833 GRT||Furnace oil||Damaged by U-522
Sunk by U-522*
|Norvik (1938)||Panamanian||9,555 GRT||Furnace oil||Damaged by U-522
Sunk by U-522*
|Oltenia II (1928)||British||6,394 GRT||Furnace oil, lubricating oil, military stores||Sunk by U-436*||8 January||43||17|
|Vanja (1929)||Norwegian||6,198 GRT||Reached port safely|
|Name||Class||Navy||Date joined||Date departed||Notes|
|HMS Godetia||Flower-class corvette||Royal Navy||28 December||14 January|
|HMS Havelock||H-class destroyer||Royal Navy||28 December||14 January|
|HMS Pentstemon||Flower-class corvette||Belgian section, Royal Navy||12 January||14 January|
|HMS Pimpernel||Flower-class corvette||Royal Navy||28 December||14 January|
|HMS Quentin||Q-class destroyer||Royal Navy||12 January||14 January|
|HMS Samphire||Flower-class corvette||Royal Navy||12 January||14 January|
|HMS Saxifrage||Flower-class corvette||Royal Navy||28 December||14 January|
Wolf pack Dolphin
|U-134||Rudolf Schendel||0||Damaged by Godetia|
|U-381||Graf Wilhelm-Heinrich Pückler und Limpurg||0||Damaged by Havelock|
|U-511||Fritz Schneewind||1||Sank the unattached William Wilberforce|
|U-522||Herbert Schneider||2||Also damaged British Dominion|
|U-105||Jürgen Nissen||1||Sank abandoned British Vigilance on 24 January|
|U-124||Johann Mohr||0||Made initial sighting of convoy on 29 December|
|U-514||Hans-Jürgen Auffermann||0||Made contact with the convoy on 3 January and damaged British Vigilance|
- Blair, Clay Hitler's U-Boat War The Hunted 1942-1945 Random House (1998) ISBN 0-679-45742-9
- Darwin, Peter: A Day-By-Day History: World War II, 2007 ISBN 978-1-84999-045-5
- Morison, Samuel Eliot History of United States Naval Operations in World War II (Volume I) The Battle of the Atlantic 1939-1943 Little, Brown and Company, Boston (1947)
- Rohwer, Jürgen; Hummelchen, Gerhard (1992). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939-1945. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-105-X.
- Morison p.326
- Blair pp.145-147
- Rohwer & Hummelchen p.184
- "Convoy TMF.1". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. http://www.convoyweb.org.uk/misc/index.html?yy.php?convoy=TMF.1!~miscmain. Retrieved 2012-08-24.
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