6th January 1943
We have the honour to submit our report of the Board of Enquiry held
today, 8th January 1943, to investigate the circumstances
attending the presumed loss of His Majesty’s Ship BRAMBLE.
2. At noon
on the 29th December 1942, Convoy JW51B was in position
73°18’ North 11°45’ East, steering 071, speed 6 knots. The weather
Wind – gale force, from North North West.
Visibility – variable.
Sea – rough.
Five ships of the convoy had straggled, and Captain (D), 17th
Destroyer Flotilla, detached HMS BRAMBLE to search for the missing
ships. This was the last that was seen of her by any of the escort of
Convoy JW51B. HMS BRAMBLE was fitted with Type 271 RDF Set, and, as far
as is known, this set was operating correctly. It is not known if any of
the separated Merchant ships subsequently sighted her, and is has not
been possible to ascertain the names of these straggling ships nor to
interrogate the masters. They all eventually reached harbour.
3. On the 31st December 1942 at 1043A HMS HYDERABAD picked up
the following message on Fleet Wave:
“Addressed ONSLOW from BRAMBLE.
One cruiser bearing 300 degrees.
No other ship received this message. The same day, at approximately
1130A, during the action between the screening destroyers and one of the
German cruisers, three other engagements were observed over the Northern
horizon. Two of these were presumably Force ‘R’ engaging other enemy
forces. The third, and Easterly of the three, was apparently between a
fairly heavy ship on one side and a small ship firing one or two rounds
per salvo, with close range weapon tracer visible. This may have been
one of the cruisers of Force ‘R’ engaged with a damaged German
destroyer, but, on the other hand, it may have been HMS BRAMBLE being
attacked. At 1328A a heavy explosion of about two seconds duration was
observed on a bearing of 020° from the convoy, distant about twelve
miles. This may have been the end of the German destroyer, or the
destruction of HMS BRAMBLE.
4. In the absence of any news after HMS BRAMBLE’s signal to ONSLOW at
1039A, she must be considered sunk with all hands between that time and
about 1328A on the 31st December 1942, as a result of enemy
5. Another fact which cannot be overlooked is the possibility of HMS
BRAMBLE having been captured by enemy surface forces, in which event the
editions of the secret documents which she carried must be considered