Operation FXP

'FXP' was the designation of Allied military convoys (together with a numerical suffix) plying the route from France to the UK with vessels which had delivered troops and equipment for 'Overlord' and subsequent North-West European operations (June/October 1944).

The only ship lost by the Allies in this series was the 3,385-ton British infantry landing ship Maid of Orleans. This had been laid down as cross-Channel ferry for the South Eastern & Chatham Railway Company of London, and had been requisitioned by the Admiralty as troop transport and completed in August 1918. In 1919 the ship was returned to its owner, and in 1923 transferred to the Southern Railway Company of London. In 1939 the ship was requisitioned once again, and was used as troop transport for the British Expeditionary Force and in the evacuations of Rotterdam and Dunkirk. On 1 June 1940, while returning from its sixth voyage to Dunkirk, and having rescued more than 5,000 men, the ship was badly damaged in a collision with the destroyer Worcester, which was returning from Dunkirk after being badly damaged by German bombers.

During 1942/43 Maid of Orleans converted into an infantry landing ship (headquarters) and took part in the Normandy landings of 'Overlord'.

At 21.30 on 28 June 1944, Maid of Orleans, returning to the UK in the FXP.18 convoy after delivering troops to France, was torpedoed by Oberleutnant Erich Dobberstein’s U-988 and sank within 30 minutes at position to the south-east of St Catherine’s Point, Isle of Wight. Five crew members were lost, while the master, 72 crew members, 18 gunners and two passengers (Observer Corps personnel) were rescued by the escort destroyer Eglinton, frigate Hotham and tug Empire Roger, and later landed at Portsmouth.