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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2000

HMS PINCHER (J 294) - Algerine-class Fleet Minesweeper

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Pincher (Navy Photos, 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 11th January 1943 at the same time as sister ship PICKLE she was launched on 19th August 1943. The seventh RN ship to carry this name, introduced in 1797 for a Gunboat. It was last used for a destroyer built in 1910 and wrecked in July 1918 on the Seven Stones. Her build was completed on 12th November 1943 and she had been adopted by the civil community of Swadlingcote, Derbyshire in place of sister ship HMS NIGER which was lost in July 1942 when she struck a mine off Iceland. The community had made the original adoption following a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in March 1942.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


ATLANTIC 1943 - NORMANDY 1944 - BURMA 1945


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field White a lobster proper.

a sprig of three oak leaves, Gold



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



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November        Contractors trials and commissioned for service in 7th Minesweeping

                          Flotilla on formation.

      12th            Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials.

                         On completion took passage to Tobermory for work-up and preparation for

                         operational minesweeping duties.


December        After Work-up took passage to Port Edgar to carry out minesweeping training.

                          Commenced minesweeping training in Forth area.


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January            Deployed in Forth area for minesweeping training.


February          Passage to Harwich to join HM Minesweepers PELORUS, PICKLE, FANCY,

                         LARNE, LENNOX, RECRUIT and RIFLEMAN to form 7th Minesweeper]



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

                         coastal convoys.

                         Nominated for service in Force J 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



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 nigh 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 Channels.

                         (Note: During Assault Phase continued minesweeping off Normandy and

                                      later during Build-up Phase was part of TROUT Defence Line for

                                      anti submarine patrol. Deployed for convoy escort 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        On release from Channel duties transferred to Harwich for minesweeping in

                          Nore Command and escort of convoys to Scheldt area.

                          (Note: During final months of 1944 extensive enemy attacks were being made

                                      by midget submarines and E-Boats which both also were used for

                                      minelaying operations.

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

                          landings (Operation MARKET GARDEN)


October             Nore Command duties with Flotilla in continuation.


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


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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 PLUCKY

                           as escort for convoy of Landing Ships (Tank) during passage from Falmouth

                           to Gibraltar.

        23rd            Detected submarine which later surfaced. Engaged with surface gunfire in

                           which HMS RECRUIT also took part. Submarine scuttled and was abandoned

                           by crew. Four officers and 37 ratings were rescued by ships of the convoy


                           (Note: Submarine was identified as U300 and had been damaged in earlier

                                       attack on Convoy USG2. For details see U-BOATS DESTROYED

                                       by P Kemp and HITLER’S U-BOAT WAR by C Blair.)

                           Later landed rescued German survivors at Gibraltar.


March                 Passage to Red Sea.


April                   Passage in Indian Ocean.

        14th            At Colombo with HM Minesweepers PLUCKY, RECRUIT, CHAMELEON,

                           VESTAL, PICKLE (SO) and RIFLEMAN.

                           Took passage with Flotilla to Trincomalee to commence Fleet duties.

24th                   Deployed with Flotilla and Indian 37th Minesweeping Flotilla as Force 63

                          for minesweeping prior to planned landings in Rangoon.

                          (Operation DRACULA.)



          1st          Carried out minesweeping off Rangoon during landing operations.

                         On release from DRACULA took passage to Trincomalee with Flotilla.


June                  Deployed with Flotilla at Trincomalee to prepare for planned minesweeping

                         off Phuket Island (Operation LIVERY)



        19th          Sailed from Trincomalee with HM Minesweepers PLUCKY, RIFLEMAN,

                         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 PLUCKY, RIFLEMAN

                         and RECRUIT to join Force 155 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  PINCHER 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 ships of the Flotilla in July 1946, Paid off in September for reduction to Reserve this ship was laid-up at Harwich. In 1951 she  recommissioned for service in the 4th Minesweeping Squadron based at Portland and during 1953 joined the Fisheries Protection Squadron. Following a refit in 1955 she resumed Fishery Protection duties including service off Iceland. Paid-off again in 1955 she laid-up at Chatham before being moved to Portsmouth in 1956. After being placed on the Disposal List in 1960 she was hulked and used as a Fender until sold to BISCO for demolition by Clayton and Davie at Dunston where she arrived in tow at the Breaker’s yard on 7th March 1962.



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