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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2002

HMS POLRUAN (J 97) - Bangor-class Minesweeper

HMS Polruan (David Hill, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

BANGOR-Class Minesweeper fitted with reciprocating machinery, ordered on 21st July 1939 from Ailsa Shipbuilding Co and laid down at Troon, Ayrshire on 6th November 1939. She was launched 18th July 1940 (below) and build was completed on 9th May 1941. She was the 1st RN ship to carry this name, which like others of the Class built in UK was that of a coastal town. In March 1942 she was adopted by the civil community of Budleigh Salterton, Devonshire after a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign.



B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


DIEPPE 1942 - NORTH AFRICA 1942-43 - SICILY 1943 - SALERNO 1943 - SOUTH FRANCE 1944


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field White, a popinjay perched upon

a trident fess wise Red




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 1


May                        Contractors trials and commissioned for service in 13th Minesweeping Flotilla.

                9th          On completion of build commenced Acceptance Trials


June                        Deployed at Rosyth for minesweeping trials and work-up for operational service


July                         Joined HM Minesweepers CLACTON, FELIXSTOWE, STORNOWAY, EASTBOURNE

                                BLYTH (Leader), EASTBOURNE and ILFRACOMBE. in North Sea.

                                Deployed to ensure clear passage for coastal convoys based at Harwich


August                  East Coast deployment with Flotilla in continuation.

to September


October                  Took part in joint minesweeping operation with ships of 9th and 13th Flotillas to

                                provide gaps in East Coast Mine Barrier and a known German minefield. These were

                                needed to provide destroyers based at Harwich and Sheerness with an assured clear

                                passage through minefields for interception of enemy warships in the North Sea or in

                                the English Channel. (Operation QO)

                                (Note: This was to counter any attempt by the German warships SCHARNHORST and

                                GNEISENAU to return to Germany from Brest.)


November              On completion of QO resumed Channel minesweeping at Harwich


December              Harwich deployment in continuation.


1 9 4 2


January                  East Coast minesweeping in continuation


February                Transferred with Flotilla for special duty at Belfast (Operation MAGNET)

                                Deployed for minesweeping in NW approaches to ensure clear passage for military

                                convoys bringing first US troops to the European Theatre.


March                    On completion transferred to Falmouth for minesweeping in Plymouth Command.


June                        Nominated for special duty in planned landing operation.

                                (Note: Some of channel minesweeping was undertaken in 9th Flotilla based

                                at Portland for service in the eastern part of the English Channel.)


July                         Transferred with Flotilla to Harwich for further service in North Sea for

                                East Coast minesweeping.

                                Nominated with Flotilla for minesweeping in support of planned landing

                                by British and Canadian troops at Dieppe (Operation JUBILEE)


August                  Passage to Portsmouth to prepare for JUBILEE.

                                Took part in preparatory exercises with ships of 9th and 13th Minesweeping


                                (Note: Other ships in Flotilla then included HM Minesweepers

                                EASTBOURNE, ILFRACOMBE, BLYTH, STORNOWAY,

                                CLACTON and FELIXSTOWE.)

                18th        Carried out joint operations to ensure safe passage of assault convoys.

                19th        On completion of sweep returned to Portsmouth.

                24th        Transferred with Flotilla to Portsmouth Command for Channel coast


                                (Note: For details of JUBILEE see the Naval Staff History and THE WATERY

                                MAZE by B Fergusson.)


September             Deployed with Flotilla and took part in special minesweeping operations

                                associated with clearance of passages for destroyers carrying out attacks

                                on German coast convoys off French coast.


October                  Nominated with ships of Flotilla for support of planned allied landings in

                                North Africa (Operation TORCH)

                                Prepared for foreign service.

                14th        Took part in exercises for planned landings in Irish Sea with Flotilla.

                                (Note: During these HMS EASTBOURNE collided with HMS ILFRACOMBE

                                and had to remain in UK for repair.)

                                These two ships were replaced by HMS BUDE and HMS RHYL

                                Deployed as escort for military convoy to Gibraltar.


November              Deployed at Gibraltar and prepared for minesweeping role in support of British

                                landings in the Mediterranean

                8th          Provided clear passage in front of assault convoy.

                                On release deployed for minesweeping along North African coast to ensure clear passage

                                for coastal convoys and warships carrying out interception patrols

                                (Note: For details see Naval Staff History and ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE

                                CLOSELY by C Barnett.)


December              North African coast deployment in continuation.


1 9 4 3


Her crew at Malta in 1943 (enlargement is 1.7Mb)


January                  Deployed for minesweeping and convoy defence between Algiers and Bone.

to March


April                       Took part in joint operation with ships of Flotilla and those of the 12th Minesweeping Flotilla

to May                   to clear minefields as far east as Tripoli to enable passage of routine convoys to be resumed

                                from Gibraltar to Port Said.

                                (Note: 13th Flotilla then comprised HM Minesweepers RHYL (Leader), BUDE, BRIXHAM,

                                CLACTON, FELIXSTOWE, POLRUAN, ROTHESAY and STORNOWAY.

                                14th Flotilla was made up if the larger ALGERINE Class Fleet Minesweepers.)


June                        On completion of clearance of convoy route transferred with Flotilla for duty in Malta.

                                Nominated for minesweeping support of planned allied landings in Sicily (Operation HUSKY).

                                Took part in preparation for HUSKY and deployed for minesweeping in central Mediterranean.



                9th          Deployed in advance of assault convoys to ensure clear passage to British beachheads.

                10th        Carried mine sweeping in selected anchorage for assault ships.

                                On completion deployed with Flotilla for minesweeping in support of allied advance.

                                (Note: For details see Naval Staff History and ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY.)


August                  On release from operations off Sicily returned to Malta

                                Nominated for minesweeping support of planned landings on mainland of Sicily at Salerno.

                                (Operation AVALANCHE.)


September             Prepared for AVALANCHE in Malta with Flotilla.

                                (Note: HMS FELIXSTOWE and HMS ROTHESAY were detached for duty as Danlayers

                                with the 12th Flotilla. See above references.)

                7th          Deployed for minesweeping in advance of assault convoys.

                8th          Carried out clearance of mines in the north of Salerno Bay prior to landings by US troops.

                12th        Released from AVALANCHE and took return passage to Malta.

                                (Note: 36 mines were swept during these operations.)


October                  Deployed for minesweeping in central Mediterranean.

to November         Nominated with ships of Flotilla to relive 14th Minesweeping Flotilla in an operation to clear

                                mines in Straits of Bonifacio.


December              Passage to Maddalena with Flotilla.

                16th        Deployed for Minesweeping operations off Corsica and Sardinia.

                18th        During operation off Sardinia, HMS FELIXSTOWE detonated a mine in position 3 miles east

                                of Cape Ferro and sank without any loss of life. Rescue was carried out by ships of Flotilla.

                31st         During minesweeping off east coast of Corsica HMS CLACTON sank when a mine collected

                                in her sweep wire exploded on the quarterdeck. 43 survivors were rescued.



1 9 4 4


January                  Deployed for continuation of Minesweeping operations with the five remaining ships

                                of Flotilla.

                                (Note: HMS RHYL was refitting in Malta.)

                20th        Straits of Bonifacio operations in continuation without HMS BUDE and HMS ROTHESAY

                                which had been detached for service as Danlayers with 12th Flotilla during minesweeping

                                support of planned allied landings in north of Italy at Anzio. (Operation SHINGLE)


February                Deployed at Maddalena for minesweeping with Flotilla.

to April                 


May                        On relief by a ship of 19th Minesweeping Flotilla took passage with HM Minesweepers

                                STORNOWAY, BUDE AND BRIXHAM to Naples for joint operation with ships of 12th

                                Minesweeping Flotilla to provide clear passage between Naples and Anzio for supply of

                                by sea of stores and personnel for military operations.


June                        Deployed with same ships of both Flotillas to clear entrance to port of Civitavecchia


July                         HMS ROTHESAY joined 13th Flotilla to replace HMS BUDE.

                                Deployed with the other four of the 13th Flotilla, ships of 12th and 19th Minesweeping

                                Flotillas to clear passage between Anzio and Leghorn. (Operation LOBSTER).

                                (Note: This covered an area of 234 square miles from which 250 mines were accounted for.

                                A number of Danlayers and auxiliary minesweepers were also used to support

                                this extensive operation


August                  Nominated for minesweeping support of planned allied landings in South France

                                (Operation DRAGOON – Formerly ANVIL)

                                (Note: This operation was under overall US Navy Command.)

                                For details of DRAGOON see LANDINGS IN SOUTH FRANCE (HMSO).

                                Took passage to Naples on completion of LOBSTER.

                9th          Sailed from Naples as part of escort for Convoy SS1B (ALPHA) during passage to Ajaccio.

                                (Note: HM Minesweepers ROTHESAY, RHYL, BUDE, BRIXHAM, STORNOWAY,

                                LARNE, CLINTON, OCTAVIA, STORMCLOUD, WELFARE, US Destroyer FC

                                DAVIES and 18 smaller craft were also deployed for escort of SS1B (ALPHA)

                13th        Rejoined convoy on departure from Ajaccio.

                14th        Arrived at nominated rendezvous position.

                15th        Joined by HM Minesweeper ARIES of 19th Flotilla and carried out sweep in advance of the

                                assault craft on passage to YELLOW Beach south of St.Tropez.

                                After arrival deployed of beaches for minesweeping to clear all landing areas.

                16th        Deployment for minesweeping in landing areas continued.

                18th        Deployed with CTG80.10 under command of Commander Messmer, USN and deployed to

                                clear Bormes Roads and Hyeres Roads during which 11 mines were accounted for.

                24th        Deployed for clearance of Gulf of Fos and under shore fire from batteries between Cape

                                Mejean and Cape Couronne without damage. Sweeping suspended.

                25th        Resumed operations.

                31st         Completed operation and released from DRAGOON.

                                (Note: 173 mines were dealt with and their positions had been determined by air



September             Passage to Malta for R&R and routine maintenance.

                                Nominated for minesweeping duties off Greek coast to ensure clear passage for support

                                of military operations.

                                Passage to carry out minesweeping for clearance of Gulf of Patras and Gulf of Corinth.

                                (Note: HMS RHYL rejoined Flotilla for this operation.)

                                (For details of military operations see Military Staff History.)


October                  Minesweeping to clear entrances to ports in southern Greece in continuation.

to November         (Note: 353 mines swept. Many explosive and other devices intended to delay

                                minesweeping were encountered with consequent need to replace parts of sweep gear.)

                                Nominated for return to UK to pay-off and reduce to Reserve status

                                Passage to Malta to prepare for passage to UK.


December              Took passage to Devonport to pay-off and de-store


1 9 4 5


January                  Paid-off and de-stored.


February                Reduced to Reserve status

to March


April                       Laid-up in Reserve Fleet

to August


Presumably laid up with a sister ship - a sad contrast with her launching


 P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS POLRUAN was placed on the Disposal List in 1949 and sold to BISCO in 1950 for demolition by T Young at Sunderland. In June 1950 the ship was taken in tow to the Tyne and handed over to the ship breaker.






from David Hill
Chairman, Polruan Town Trust, Polruan, Fowey

The above record shows that the ship was adopted in March 1942 by the civil community of Budleigh Salterton,  Devon and not by Polruan. I am the Chairman of Polruan Town Trust in Polruan Cornwall which is a Charity owning feudal lands in the village. We have in our possession a copy of the ship's badge, photos of the ship, photos of her launching, and one of her crew at Malta in 1943 (all seen above - with thanks to David Hill). Recently we were given the ensign from the ship from a sailor who “collected” it when the ship was decommissioned and sent to the breakers yard. The original items [ships plaque and photos] were given by the ship at the time [1940?] to the local Parish Council who have loaned them to the Trust as they have a building to exhibit them in. I would be grateful for any information on  how the ship was apparently was adopted by Budleigh Salterton rather than Polruan.

One additional snippet for you is the ships badge – you refer to this as a popinjay which I understand is a description of a parrot. Residents of the Village where often referred to as “Pollyroosters” and therefore I had assumed that the ships plaque had possibly reflected this as it was effectively a “Polly Parrot”.


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