Rear Admiral Hugh Hext Rogers, Convoy Commodore, Battle of the Atlantic
Detail of painting of convoy OB330 by Rear Admiral Hugh Hext Rogers
The convoy system was vital to Allied success in the Battle of the Atlantic. Merchant ships were arranged in a grid and travelled to their destination together, accompanied by as much Royal Navy and air support as resources and location allowed. The vessels were easier to protect and as a whole took up less sea-space than when travelling independently and so were harder for enemy vessels to find.
While each vessel had its own master, the convoy as a whole had a commander who travelled on board a merchant navy vessel and was the senior merchant navy officer. He was in charge of keeping the ships in good order, relaying changes in course, liaising with the commander of the Royal Navy vessels etc. These men were often retired, experienced officers and members of the Royal Naval Reserve.
Rear Admiral Hugh Hext Rogers (1883-1955), an ex Royal Navy officer and member of the Royal Navy Reserve with a distinguished career, served as a convoy commodore during the second world war. During his time at sea he completed a number of drawings of the vessels in his convoys in their correct order, perhaps as an aid to memory or to exercise his artistic talent.
These drawings are now held in the Paintings and Drawings collection of the Merseyside Maritime Museum, accession number MMM.1992.67. Please note that they are not currently on display, but you can see a selection in this online feature. Click on the thumbnails below to see a larger version of each drawing:
Battle of the Atlantic 70th anniversary
2013 is the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic. Find out more about this turning point of the Second World War in Merseyside Maritime Museum's Battle of the Atlantic gallery and our online features.