HMS Hollyhock at Trincomalee in March 1942. Photograph by kind permission of Mr Tommy Thompson

HMS Hollyhock at Trincomalee in March 1942. Photograph by kind permission of Mr Tommy Thompson

I have so far found her involvement in the following convoys:

30th Dec 1940 - 10th March 1941:

OB267 / SLS59 / OB273 / HX101 / OB279 / HX104 / OB285 / HX107 / OB292 / SC23.

After escorting convoy SC23 in early March 41, Hollyhock reported damage to the ship’s life boats, staunchions, depth charge rails etc, due to bad weather, so she was out of action for a couple of weeks whilst undergoing repairs and a boiler clean.

After repairs, she escorted a convoy from Greenock to Rosyth, during which time she was attacked by a Focke Wulfe fighter, but sustained no hits.

Between April 14th & May 24th 41:

HX122 / HX119 / HX124 / OB310 /  OB314 / OB318 / SC31.

At 04.42 hours on 10th May 1941, U-556 (Wohlfarth) attacked the convoy OB-318 southeast of Cape Farewell in 59°23N/35°25W (grid AK 1470) and reported two ships with 10.000 tons sunk. The xB-Dienst assumed from a SOS message that one of the ships was the Dutch steam merchant Hercules, but the torpedo missed the British steam merchant Chaucer.

In fact, only the Aelybryn (Master Harold William Brockwell) was hit and damaged. The ship was towed to Reykjavik by the British corvette HMS Hollyhock (K 64) (LtCdr T.E. Davies OBE), arriving on 17 May. The master and all 44 crew members were picked up by the British armed trawler HMS Daneman (FY 123) (Lt A.H. Ballard).

Between June 8th & 9th July:

OB331 / OB340 / SC33 /  SC 35 / HX134.

Except from Convoy Commodore's report for HX134:

"Friday July 4th Light wind and smooth sea. Aircraft of the Coastal Command in company at various times during the night. There is no darkness up in these Latitudes, which has its advantages. 

07:05 - 6.75 Kts.

08:08 - 6.5 Kts.

09:15 - Signalled ship Ancylus her new destination viz. the Mersey.

Noon position - 61 39N 25 56W. Distance 148 miles. Av. Spd. 6.4 Kts. Total distance from port 1966 miles. Bar: 29.90. Air 52. Moderate to light fresh winds, and slight sea. A number of local escorts for SC 35 joined up.

13:07 - 7 Kts.

16:00 - 61 33N 25 00W. Several ships of local escort for HX 134 joined. Following are the names of these ships, HMS Salamander, Britomart, Hollyhock, Carnation, St. Apollo, Angle, Nigella, Aubretia, St. Clair. HMS Bulldog proceeded to Iceland, will return tomorrow to this Convoy. HMS Maloja, together with the Newfoundland escorts, the rescue ship Copeland, and the oil tanker Sveve all left for Iceland. With them went HMS Ausonia and escorts from SC 35."

Between 8th July to 9th October, Hollyhock sailed up the Clyde to Glasgow for a refit for tropical service. This included a refrigerator, air-cooling, type 271 RDF radar, and extending the forecastle beyond the bridge, and also minesweeping gear.

The crew learned that the minesweeping gear was to be used to sweep the Eastern Fleet into Madagascar when they invaded it in May 1942.

Whilst under refit, Hollyhock was reallocated to the South Atlantic Command. She sailed on 14th October to join with convoy OS9 as an additional escort. However, she had to return to GREENOCK that same day with defects, but sailed again on the 15th to overtake the convoy.

On the 25th, she was detached with the ‘hunt’ class destroyer LAMERTON, to arrive in PontaDelgada (Portugal) the following day to refuel. She again sailed to overtake convoy OS9 with which she entered Freetown on 5th November 1941.

Between 11th & 16th November, Hollyhock escorted convoy ST8 to Takoradi, she then returned to Freetown between 17th & 22nd November. On the 27th, she left Freetown escorting a large troop convoy to Simonstown along with HMS Royal Sovereign, refuelling at Pointe Noire en route arriving on or around. She was to have escorted convoy WS12Z, but for an unknown reason, did not. While she was in Simonstown, she had some defects rectified, and had a boiler clean.

It was at this time (7th December 1941) that Japan entered the war. This caused many problems and changes, one of which was the transfer of Hollyhock to the EAST INDIES FLEET .

WS.14C From Capetown

HMS Hollyhock and some crew in dock at Cape Town

HMS Hollyhock and some crew in dock at Cape Town


9th January to 19th January 42 Escorted convoy WS.14c

She sailed out of Simonstown on February 4th bound for Durban 3 days later. Later that evening (8th Feb) she set sail to escort convoySU1, refuelling at Mauritius and finally reached Colombo on 28th Feb. 

Here, the Hollyhock was deployed locally as an escort along with 4 other corvettes, who formed an escort force (Aster S.O) which sailed south of Good Hope to escort any important vessels around the Cape. Whilst berthed tied up on the seaward side of Cape Town harbour, a merchant ship that was attempting to berth in high winds caused its hawser to drag down Hollyhock’s mast and aerials.

This meant that when the five corvettes (escort group Aster S.O) were ordered to Colombo, Hollyhock stayed behind until a new mast could be fitted. She then sailed to Colombo alone, via Durban and Mauritius.

On arrival at Colombo, half the crew went up country by train to an old rest camp for a week. On 2nd March she departed Colombo with the heavy Cruiser CORNWALL & the Destroyer EXPRESS, escorting convoy SU1 (carrying Australian troops returning from the middle east now that Australia was under threat), which was bound for Fremantle, Western Australia. Hollyhock returned to Colombo that evening.

On the 7th she left with the liner RANCHI, (at that time an armed Merchant Cruiser, later to become a troop ship.) and returned again on the 11th. She sailed again on the 13th bound for Trincomalee with convoy C7, returning yet again to Colombo on the 20th.

At the end of the month she revisited Trincomalee, arriving with the 'Isle' class Trawler HOXA, but sailed again that same night.

HX120 / HX123 /  

The HX prefix denoting the Halifax - UK, later New York City route.

The OB prefix denoting the Convoy route between Liverpool, usually joined by the OA convoy of the same number. Convoy OB318 was the convoy involved with the capture ofU-boat U110 and the Enigma encryption machine.

SC prefix the convoy route Sydney CB later Halifax or New York to UK, commenced 1941.

SLS prefix denoting convoy route Freetown to UK Slow.

The SU prefix denoting the convoy route between Suez and Australia 1940-41.

Arrival                          Departure

Colombo 3.3.42          Colombo 7.3.42

Colombo 11.3.42          Colombo 11.3.42

Trincomalee 15.3.42    Trincomalee 18.3.42

Colombo 20.3.42        Colombo 21.3.42

Trincomalee 31.3.42    Trincomalee 31.3.42

Trincomalee 8.4.42        —————

leave Trincomalee harbour, along with the minelayer HMS Tiviot Bank, RFA Pearl Leaf, the tanker British Sergeant and RFA Athelstane. They were sailing southwards, with orders to keep close inshore and to be at least 40 miles from Trincomalee by dawn on the 9th.

At around 12 o'clock, 9 Japanese aircraft from Admiral Nagumo's carrier fleet attacked the Hollyhock and Athelstane. The Hollyhock sunk within 5 minutes, with bombs going straight down her funnel. In all, 53 lives were lost, the Captain, 2 officers and 50 ratings. Only 16 survived the attack, five of the 9 aircraft then turned their attentions to the Athelstane, she was also sunk, but all hands were saved. It is known that the Athelstane survivors picked up the remaining men from the Hollyhock.