Operation Sandwich (ii)

This was the British first supply convoy operation to Malta following the final defeat of the Axis forces in North Africa (May 1943).

By this time the flow of supplies to Malta was coming from the west, though the Strait of Gibraltar, rather than from the east via the Suez Canal. The 'KMS' convoys to North Africa and Malta generally sailed with 'OS' convoys from the UK to Freetown, Sierra Leone, or 'UG' convoys from the eastern seaboard of the USA to North Africa with the 'UGS' convoys associated with ‘Torch’ and subsequent North African operations. The combined OS.47/KMS.14 convoys, comprising 41 and 40 vessels respectively, departed Liverpool on 5 May and divided in the area to the west of Gibraltar on 16 May.

The KMS.14 convoy reached Gibraltar on the following day and then entered the Mediterranean, where several U-boats were operating. On 18 May, off the coast of Algeria, Oberleutnant Walther Huth’s U-414 sank the 5,979-ton British tanker Empire Eve of the KMS.14 convoy, which was being supported by the escort destroyers Holcombe, Farndale, Wheatland and Haydon, corvette Penstemon, and trawlers Bream and Prodigal, and also torpedoed and damaged the 7,134-ton British Fort Anne, but was itself sunk on 25 May by the corvette Vetch from the CTX.1 convoy’s escort.