Convoy Web is a searchable database of Second World War Convoys (and a rapidly developing resource for First World War Convoys) available in the reading room of Guildhall Library.
To demonstrate the power and versatility of this resource I thought I would show you an example from the Second World War.
Convoy Web is searchable by convoy name, vessel name, escort vessel name and port.
If one wished to know which ships were in Convoy PQ16 for example, we could search on that number and instantly we see that Convoy PQ 16 departed Reykjavik on the 21st May 1942 and arrived at Murmansk on the 30th May 1942.
There follows on from this a list of all of the Merchant Vessels, escorts etc. in the Convoy, together with the dates they were part of Convoy PQ16 as well as the date they arrived at their destination port.
Sadly many of the vessels did not reach their destination; such were the dangers of serving on the convoys! Brief details are given of losses with dates which will aid further research.
You will note that all the vessels shown offer links and if for example we selected the “Empire Lawrence” we would be taken to the convoy entries for that vessel up until the time she was bombed and sunk by a German aircraft on 27th May 1942 off the North Cape on a voyage from Reykjavik to Murmansk.
We can see that she served in other convoys and dates and ports of call are given if you click on the relevant link.
The Arctic Convoys were particularly dangerous – as evidenced by the PQ17 disaster in July 1942, in which 24 out of 35 merchant ships were lost, albeit after the convoy was dispersed. Its predecessor, PQ16, was considered a success with only 8 ships sunk in enemy air and submarine attacks.
Guildhall Library has been providing ports of call for our users for many years, especially from our Voyage Record Card (VRC) collection as they can contribute toward the proof required for medal claims like the Arctic Star award for service in these Arctic Convoys.
Volunteers have been entering detail from the VRCs and many other sources including the Lloyd’s Confidential Sheets to create this useful database. Their invaluable work has only been accessible to staff members in the past but has now been converted into this web site making it far easier to access the treasure of information it stores.
We are very grateful for the generosity of the web master and researchers past and present who have willingly donated time and expertise in making this invaluable and accessible resource. Access to this resource is available in Guildhall Library only. The site is regularly updated and additions made so do revisit the site when you come to the library.
Jeanie Smith, Assistant Librarian and Keeper of the Lloyd’s Marine Collection