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  #1  
Old 30th September 2009, 15:09
Brian Brian is offline
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KG40 & Convoy HX.84 November 1940

Hi guys

Perhaps a naive question but I don't know the answer!

One of the ships in Convoy HX.84 bombed by KG40 was the Swedish freighter Vingaland, damaged on 8 November. She was sunk the following day by an Italian submarine.

The question is - why was this vessel, from a neutral country, sailing with a British convoy?

Cheers
Brian
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Old 30th September 2009, 15:49
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Re: KG40 & Convoy HX.84 November 1940

IIRC from books I've read on the Battle of the Atlantic, I don't think that was unique but you could check the composition of convoys of the period at http://www.convoyweb.org.uk/ to see whether it was common practice.
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Old 30th September 2009, 16:38
Tony Kearns Tony Kearns is offline
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Re: KG40 & Convoy HX.84 November 1940

Brian,
It was not unusual for neutral Irish shipping to sail in the Atlantic convoys.
regards
Tony K
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Old 30th September 2009, 17:36
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Re: KG40 & Convoy HX.84 November 1940

Nick & Tony

Thanks for not laughing at the question!!

OK, so were the 'neutral' vessels requisitioned by the British authorities and crewed by the Merchant Navy? Or was there some other arrangement, particularly with Irish vessels? Did these Irish vessels have 'Eire' painted on their sides, etc? Would they have flown the tricolour whilst in convoy?

The reason I ask is that I am interested in Luftwaffe attacks on neutral shipping in 1940, but assume that such ships could hardly be considered 'neutral' if sailing in a British convoy!

Please enlighten me.

Cheers
Brian
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Old 30th September 2009, 21:26
Stig Jarlevik Stig Jarlevik is offline
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Re: KG40 & Convoy HX.84 November 1940

Brian

Not a naval expert by far, but during WW 2 Sweden was in a tricky situation. To survive we needed to both import and export stuff via ocean vessels. We traded with both Britain and Germany, they were together I believe the two largest trading partners we had. Each arrival and departure had to be negotiated with the two combatant nations. Germany had by that time taken both Denmark and Norway and for us we had to negotiate a safe passage through the so called Skagerak blockade if we wanted to move out into the North Sea and still further away. Then we needed to negotiate a safe passage through British waters as well. Vingaland was part of SOL (Swedish Orient Line) which was a shipping line not connected with Germany and presumably had an easier task negotiating via our Foreign Ministry a safe passage with Britain. These negotiations during the war years never included any promise of a safe conduct, just a permission to pass through certain blockades. Swedish vessels had to take their chances just like every other vessel in a given area.

Already at this early stage it was very much obvious that it was far safer to move a vessel in convoys and I am quite certain everyone concerned did their best to negotiate passage inside such convoys whenever possible.

Large numbers of Swedish vessels were sailing to German ports both in the Baltic and on the Atlantic Coast. Many were sunk as can be seen on Rolf Skiolds home page http://www.mareud.com/

I think if you contact him you can get a far more detailed and comprehensive answer than I am able to give....

Cheers
Stig
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Old 30th September 2009, 22:20
Brian Brian is offline
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Re: KG40 & Convoy HX.84 November 1940

Thanks Stig

May I quote you?

Cheers
Brian
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Old 7th October 2009, 17:31
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Re: KG40 & Convoy HX.84 November 1940

Brian,
It probably had something to do with the type cargo that they were carrying and where they were going. I've read that neutral ships still ran during the night with all their running lights on and from many accounts U-Boats and surface raiders made no attempt to stop them. If they were stopped and there was contraband on the the manifest it wasn't a good thing for them. Also sailing alone on prearranged route didn't mean much as the British merchant fleet still ran fast single ships and would probably be sent along these same routes. The book about U-Boat ace Otto Kretschmer described searching neutral ships traveling in 1939 and 1940 coming from Sweden. The Germans at that time hadn't perfected their contraband list and gave their cargo as "Lumber" which wasn't on the list.
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Old 7th October 2009, 20:14
Brian Brian is offline
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Re: KG40 & Convoy HX.84 November 1940

Hi Nokose

Thanks for your input. Unfortunately for neutral ships there wasn't much chance of stop and search when being attacked by a Heinkel, FW200 or Ju88! Did Swedish ships have 'SWEDEN' painted on their sides?

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Brian
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Old 7th October 2009, 20:48
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Re: KG40 & Convoy HX.84 November 1940

Brian,
No, it wouldn't help with aircraft attack. Most news reels that I've seen the attack came from the stern unless it was a torpedo or stuka attack. I don't have a lot of my U-Boat books anymore but I believe they were painted white or light color with a large flag of the country painted on the sides with the name above the flag.
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Old 7th October 2009, 22:18
Bruce Dennis Bruce Dennis is offline
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Re: KG40 & Convoy HX.84 November 1940

[quote=Nokose;93553]

Brian,
No, it wouldn't help with aircraft attack. Most news reels that I've seen the attack came from the stern unless it was a torpedo or stuka attack.
... quote]

I can’t say what the Luftwaffe early-war training on this point included with any certainty, but it is odd to think of any aircraft attacking a merchant ship without first looking it over: certainly this was taught to Allied aircrew and was in fact a part of deciding what tactic to employ. I am not talking about convoys with flak-ships for protection, where in-and-out as quickly as possible was the rule for attackers, but rather solo ships or small lightly escorted convoys. Also, I’m not trying to be argumentative, but even getting into position to attack from the stern would offer the majority of aircraft an opportunity to see more of the ship. The neutral markings were meant to be large and prominent, and there are many examples of these being adequately recognised by approaching aircraft. A look at the exploits of the Allied anti-shipping groups operating from Malta will give an insight into what was possible in ship ID and choosing angles of approach. Concerning the night-time illumination of neutrals, this was enough to deter (most) U-boat captains, subject to the orders in force at the time.

HTH,
Bruce
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