Honour - BARENTS SEA 1942

Date - 31-December
Type - Fleet or Squadron Actions
Conflict - World War 2; 1939-45

Description About the end of 1942 the Admiralty began sending smaller groups of ships in convoy to Russia. The rationale was that the severity of the weather at that time of year would reduce the danger of air and U-boat attacks.

So convoy JW51A reached Kola Inlet on 25-Dec-1942 and was followed by the second part of the overall convoy operation as convoy JW51B.

Convoy JW51B comprised 14 merchant ships, with close escort of 6 destroyers and 5 smaller ships under command of Captain R Sherbrooke. Through distant escort comprised the cruisers  Sheffield  and Jamaica (each 12 x 6" guns). They left Kola Inlet after escorting JW51A, to meet JW51B halfway, and give support for the second half of the voyage. But by this time the bad weather had caused the convoy to part scatter.

Unfortunately, despite the severe weather conditions, the convoy was sighted by U-353 on 30-Dec. In response a German flotilla under Vice-Admiral Kummetz comprising the heavy cruisers Hipper and Lutzow (each 8 x 8" guns) plus 6 destroyers sailed to intercept. However the attacking force split up.

Despite the severity of the weather, Hipper located the convoy, severely damaged HMS Onslow and sank the minesweeper Bramble. Snow showers prevented Lutzow from engaging. Hipper attacked again and crippled HMS Achates which continued to fight for 2 hours before sinking.

The two British cruisers under Rear-Admiral R L Burnett arrived, sank a German destroyer and obtained 3 hits on the Hipper. The German ships retired to Alten Fjord.

Captain Sherbrooke was awarded the Victoria Cross.


HM Ships
 Achates Hyderabad  Jamaica  Northern Gem  Obdurate 
Obedient  Onslow  Orwell  Rhododendron  Sheffield 
This page last edited - 22 March, 2013.

Copyright Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.