Operation RA

This was the designation of Allied Arctic convoys (together with a numerical suffix) plying the route from ports in the northern USSR to Loch Ewe and the Clyde river estuary on the west coast of Scotland as successors to the 'QP' series, and as such reciprocals of the 'JW' series (December 1942/May 1945).

There were 21 such convoys, of which the first was RA.51 of 30 December 1942/11 January 1943 with 14 merchant vessels escorted by the destroyers Faulknor, Fury, Inglefield, Echo, Eclipse and Beagle, minesweeper Gleaner, and anti-submarine trawlers Cape Argona, Cape Mariato, Daneman and St Kenan, with heavier cover from the light cruisers Jamaica and Sheffield to 2 January and then from the heavy cruisers Berwick and Kent, proceeded to the west without making contact with the Germans. Distant cover was provided by the battleships King George V and Howe, light cruiser Bermuda, and destroyers Montrose, Musketeer, Queenborough, Raider, Worcester and Free Polish Piorun. The convoy reached Loch Ewe on 9 January 1943.

The last of the RA convoys was RA.67 of 23/30 May 1945, after the end of the war in Europe, with 25 merchant ships and the 1,600-ton rescue ship Rathlin. Escort was provided by essentially the same forces as had escorted the JW.67 outward convoy which had reached the Kola inlet on 20 May, namely the escort carrier Queen, destroyers Obdurate and Onslow, the 4th Escort Group with the destroyer escorts Bazeley, Bentinck, Byard, Drury and Pasley, and the Canadian 9th Escort Group with the frigates Loch Alvie, Matane, Monnow, Nene and St Pierre.

The 9th Escort Group was detached from the RA.67 convoy on 16 May to halt the Arctic U-boats proceeding from the Vestfjord to Trondheim and accompany them to Loch Eriboll in the north of Scotland on 19 May. These U-boats included U-278, U-294, U-295, U-312, U-313, U-318, U-363, U-427, U-481, U-668, U-968, U-992, U-997 and U-1165, with the last boat, U-716, following later before all of the surrendered German boats were sunk in ‘Deadlight’.