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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2001

HMS RIFLEMAN (J 299) - Algerine-class Fleet Minesweeper

HMS Pincher, sister-ship (Navy Photos/Mark Teadham, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

ALGERINE-Class Fleet Minesweeper fitted with Turbine propulsion machinery ordered on 30th April 1942 from Harland and Wolff, Belfast. Laid down on 20th April 1943 at the same time as sister ships RECRUIT and PLUCKY she was launched on 25th November 1943. The sixth RN ship to carry this name, introduced in 1804  for a Gun Brig built at Blackwall and purchased from the builder. It was last used for a destroyer built in 1910 at Cowes by JS White and sold in 1921. Her build was completed on 11th February 1944. This minesweeper was not adopted by any civil community in UK following a successful WARSHIP WEEK campaign for National Savings as her build had not been started.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

NORMANDY 1944 - BURMA 1945

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Green, a Maltese cross surmounted by a Roundel

 Gold, charged with a bugle, stringed, Black.



D e t a i l s   o f   W a r   S e r v i c e


(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search



1 9 4 4


February       Contractors trials and commissioned for service with 7th Minesweeping Flotilla..

      11th         Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.

      13th         On completion took passage to Tobermory for work-up

                      Took passage to join Flotilla at Harwich.

                      (Note: It is likely that minesweeping trials in Firth of Forth were limited due to

                                  intended future deployment

                      Joined HM Minesweepers PELORUS (SO), PICKLE, PLUCKY, FANCY, LARNE, PINCHER

                      LENNOX and RECRUIT to complete constitution of 7th Flotilla.


March            Deployed with Flotilla for minesweeping of east coast to ensure safe passage of coastal convoys.

                      Nominated for service in Force J with Flotilla for minesweeping support during planned

                      allied landings in Normandy (Operation NEPTUNE).



        8th         Passage to Portsmouth with ships of Flotilla to join Force J in Solent.

      12th         Deployed for minesweeping off Portsmouth.

      20th         Deployed in Thames Estuary with Flotilla.

      29th         Returned to resume service with Force J at Portsmouth for exercises prior to landings.


May               Nominated with Flotilla for clearance of Channel 8 to beach head areas.

                      (Note: An Isles Class Danlayer, a Motor Minesweeper and three Motor Launches were

                                  allocated for duty with the Flotilla for laying of markers and to provide assistance

                                  during NEPTUNE.)

                      Deployed with Flotilla for exercises including night sweeping and major exercise FABIUS III

                      in Bracklesham Bay.

                      (Note: During FABIUS III Flotilla came under E-Boat attack.)

                      Returned to Solent ion completion to prepare for NEPTUNE.

                      For details of naval activities prior to and during NEPTUNE see LANDINGS IN NORMANDY,

                      June 1944 (HMSO) and OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards.



       4th          Operation delayed for 24 hours.

       5th          Sailed from Portsmouth with Flotilla for clearance of Channel 8 ahead of first Assault convoys.

       6th          After arrival off JUNO Beach deployed for local minesweeping and for widening approach


                      (Note: During Assault Phase continued minesweeping off Normandy and later during Build-up

                                  Phase was part of TROUT Defence Line for patrol against any attempt by submarines

                                  or E-Boats to enter Task Force area..

                      Deployed for escort as required and returned to Portsmouth for refuelling and replenishment.)


July                  Retained in Forward Area for minesweeping after termination of NEPTUNE.

to                      (Note: During this period enemy minelaying and torpedo attacks were carried

August                          in French coastal waters. See references and HOLD THE NARROW

                                      SEA by P Smith.)


September        Transferred with HM Minesweepers PINCHER, LENNOX, RECRUIT and PLUCKY

                         for special duties and took passage to Harwich.

      17th            Deployed with Flotilla for Air Sea Rescue duties during Arnhem airborne

                         landings (Operation MARKET GARDEN)


October            Nore Command duties with Flotilla in continuation.

                         Deployed for mine clearance duties in Scheldt estuary and for escort of military convoy

                         to Antwerp.


November        Transferred to Plymouth Command with Flotilla and took passage to

                         Falmouth for anti-submarine patrol duties.

                         (Note: SCHNORKEL fitted U-Boats were being deployed in SW Approaches at convoy

                                      focal areas and level of escort and patrol was increase to meet this threat.)


December         Nominated for foreign service with and taken in hand for refit

                         (Note: HMS PELORUS and HMS LENNOX were replaced by HMS SQUIRREL and

                                      HMS VESTAL in order to have all ships in Flotilla with Turbine propulsion Machinery.

                                      This would ensure compatibility of maintenance requirements.

                         Ships were withdrawn for refit in rotation to ensure some of Flotilla was available

                         for Channel minesweeping and escort or patrol duties.)


1 9 4 5


January            Under refit and on completion prepared for passage to Colombo to join the

                         East Indies Fleet for minesweeping duties during planned landings.


February           Passage to rejoin ships of Flotilla in Channel.

        17th          Deployed with HM Minesweepers RECRUIT, RIFLEMAN and PINCHER as escort for convoy

                         of Landing Ships (Tank) during passage from Falmouth to Gibraltar.

        22nd         Rescued some of the 41 survivors from U900 which was sighted on the surface and engaged

                         by HMS PINCHER. The submarine later scuttled. See U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp.

         26th         Detached from convoy at Gibraltar and took passage with sister ships of Flotilla

                         to Colombo.


March               Passage in Mediterranean and Red Sea


April                 Passage in Indian Ocean.

        14th          At Colombo with HM Minesweepers PINCHER, RECRUIT, CHAMELEON, VESTAL,

                         PICKLE (SO) and PLUCKY

                         Took passage with Flotilla to Trincomalee to commence Fleet duties.

        24th          Nominated for minesweeping support of planned landings at Rangoon with Flotilla and Indian

                         37th Minesweeping Flotilla as Force 65 (Operation DRACULA.)

                         Took passage to Akyab with Flotilla.

        29th          Sailed with ships of Force 65 as part of escort for Convoy ABLE for minesweeping

                         operations in support of assault.

                         (Note: For details off other naval activities associated with DRACULA see WAR

                                          WITH JAPAN (HMSO) and THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton.)



         1st           Commenced minesweeping to clear approach passage for assault ships.

                         (Operation BROOM).

         3rd           Deployed with Force 65 to ensure clear passage to enable ships to berth at Rangoon.

                         On release from DRACULA returned with Flotilla to Colombo.

                         (Note: Ships of Flotilla were successively withdrawn from service for refit and

                                     maintenance pending support of  planned British landings in the Andamans

                                     and Malaya. Some of the ships went to Durban or Port Elizabeth in South Africa.)


June                  Deployed with Flotilla at Trincomalee to prepare for planned minesweeping

                         off Phuket Island (Operation LIVERY)



        19th          Sailed from Trincomalee with HM Minesweepers PINCHER, PLUCKY, VESTAL and

                         SQUIRREL for LIVERY.

                         (Note: Cover was provided by HM Battleship NELSON, HM Cruiser SUSSEX. HM Escort

                                     Aircraft Carriers AMEER and EMPRESS, screened by four destroyers of East Indies

                                     Fleet. Dan laying was carried out by RIN minesweepers.)

        24th          HMS SQUIRREL damaged by detonation of mine and had to be sunk after rescue of survivors

.                        Seven of ship’s company were killed.

        26th          Came under air attack by suicide aircraft after completion of LIVERY.

                         HMS VESTAL was seriously damaged and also had to be sunk.

                         20 of ship’s company were lost.

                         (Note: For details of LIVERY see WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO) and

                                     THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton.)

                         Took return passage to Trincomalee.


August              Deployed at Trincomalee to prepare for planned landings in Malaya (Operation ZIPPER)

                          (Note: This operation was delayed by several factors including the return of service personnel

                                       to UK and US insistence on timing of landings to suit their overall policies.

                                       See references.)

                          Passage to Colombo

        15th           Sailed from Colombo with HM Minesweepers PINCHER, PLUCKY and RECRUIT to join

                          Force !55 comprised also of 6th Minesweeping Flotilla and RIN minesweepers.

         30th          Carried out minesweeping operations to clear approaches to Penang prior to entry of HMS

                          NELSON, HM Cruisers CLEOPATRA and SUSSEX,



          4th           Deployed in Malacca Straits for mine clearance of entry into Singapore by Eastern Fleet ships

                          prior to formal surrender of Japanese forces in Malaya.


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS  RIFLEMAN remained in the Far East with the Flotilla for minesweeping operations to ensure safe passage of shipping into ports in the area. She returned to UK with the remaining sister ships of the Flotilla in July 1946. Paid off at Sheerness in September she was reduced to Reserve status and laid-up. This ship was recommissioned for service in the 2nd Minesweeping Flotilla, Mediterranean Fleet after refit in 1947. at Portsmouth. Based in Malta during subsequent service deployed in the Mediterranean and on took part Fleet and Flotilla exercises as well as Mediterranean Fleet exercises and visits annual programmes. At the end of 1954 she returned to UK with sister ships PLUCKY, CHAMELEON and RECRUIT to Pay-Off. After arrival at Portsmouth on 13th December she reduced to Reserve status and was laid-up. During 1958-59 this ship was refitted including installation of a SQUID anti-submarine mortar to improve her capabilities as an escort. In 1970 the ship was transferred to Barrow where she was used to provide accommodation for Reserve Fleet personnel and those standing-by warships and submarines under construction by Vickers-Armstrong. Placed on the Disposal List in 1972 she was sold to BISCO for demolition by WH Arnott Young at Dalmuir where she arrived in tow in October that year.



For more about Algerine-class Minesweepers, see



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revised 23/4/11
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