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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2003

HMS BRAMBLE (i) (N 11) - Halcyon-class Minesweeper

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

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

HALCYON-Class Minesweeper ordered from HM Dockyard Devonport on 11 August 1937 with propulsion machinery to be supplied by Barclay Curle. The ship was laid down on 22nd November 1937 and launched on 12th July 1938. She was the 9th RN warship to carry this name which had been introduced for a 14 gun Brig Sloop captured at Ostend in 1656 and later expended in the Medway against Dutch warships. The last to carry the name was a Drifter hired during WW1. Build was completed on 22nd June1939 and this ship was adopted by the civil community of Aireborough, West Yorkshire after a WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in March 1942.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


ARCTIC 1941 - 42


  H e r a l d i c   D a t a
Badge: On a Field White, a Bramble, slipped and leaved Proper


 M a n n i n g   D i v i s i o n



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 3 9


June                        Contractors trials. Commissioned for service in 1st Minesweeping Flotilla.

                22nd       Commenced Acceptance Trials.


July                         On completion of trials and storing took passage to Portland to join HM

                                Fleet Minesweepers BRITOMART, HAZARD, HEBE, SEAGULL

                                SHARPSHOOTER and SPEEDY in 1st Minesweeping Flotilla.


August                  Carried out minesweeping trial in Lyme Bay with ships of Flotilla..

                                (Note: This field had been specially laid to establish minesweeping capabilities.

                                50 mines were swept.)

                                Took passage to War Station with Flotilla at Scapa Flow.


September             Deployed with Flotilla for minesweeping operations to ensure clear passage for

                                Home Fleet ships in and out of Fleet anchorage.


October                  Scapa Flow deployment in continuation.

                14th        Transferred to Clyde and cleared British deep anti-submarine mine field off


                                (Note: Home Fleet units were moved to Clyde area after the sinking of HM

                                Battleship ROYAL OAK at anchor in Scapa Flow by a torpedo from U47

                                which penetrated the anchorage.)


November              Resumed North Sea Service to ensure passages through East Coast Mine

                                Barrier were kept clear of mines.

                                (Note: Extensive enemy minelaying using magnetic mines was being carried

                                out in North Sea. See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY

                                by C Barnett.

December              Transferred to Stornoway for Atlantic convoy escort duties with Flotilla


1 9 4 0


January                  Returned to Scapa Flow for Fleet duties.


February                Home Fleet mine clearance duties in continuation.

to March


April                       Remained at Scapa Flow for Fleet duties with HMS HAZARD, HMS SPEEDY

                                HMS SEAGULL and HMS BRITOMART.

                                Nominated for refit at Leith with HMS BRITOMART and took passage to Forth.

                                (Note: This ship did not take part in operations to evacuate troops from Dunkirk)


May                        Under repair in commercial shipyard.


June                        On completion of refit and trials took passage to resume Flotilla duties at Scapa



July                         Scapa Flow mine clearance in continuation with Flotilla.




1 9 4 1


January                  Flotilla duties at Scapa Flow in continuation.

to                            Nominated for minesweeping operations based at Harwich.

February                Passage to Harwich.


March                    Deployed with HM Fleet Minesweepers HEBE, BRITOMART and

                                SHARPSHOOTER at Harwich for mine clearance operations between

                                the Thames Estuary and Portsmouth

                                Hit by bomb during air raid at Harwich.


April                       On completion of repair resumed mine clearance operations with Flotilla

                                in English Channel.

                                Transferred to Western Approaches Command for Atlantic convoy escort

                                and took passage with Flotilla to Stornoway.

                                (Note: This change was required because of the shortage of escorts caused

                                by the losses and damage during 1940 during evacuation operations

                                and the increase in threat of U-Boat attacks on convoys after bases

                                in French ports became available. See HITLER’S U-BOAT WAR

                                by C Blair and U-BOAT WAR IN THE ATLANTIC (HMSO).)


May                        Attached to 3rd Escort Group and deployed with HM Fleet Minesweepers

                                HAZARD, BRITOMART and HEBE.

                                Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes changed to J11 as part of

                                Total revision of these identities.)


June                        Atlantic convoy defence with 3rd Escort Group and Irish Sea Escort Force

to                            in continuation.

September             (Note: During periods when not required for escort these minesweeper

                                were deployed for minesweeping in Western Approaches.)


October                  Nominated for detached service in North Russia.

                                (Note: Three HALCYON Class Fleet Minesweepers had been transferred

                                to North Russia in August for minesweeping and convoy escort

                                in the White Sea based at Archangel.). They were relieved earlier

                                during October by three others of this Class.

                                This ship had not be “articised” for service in Polar areas.).

                18th        Joined escort for outward Russian Convoy PQ2 (Six ships) with HMS

                                SEAGULL and SPEEDY and took passage to Archangel. HM Destroyers

                                ECLIPSE and ICARUS were also deployed as escort for PQ2 cover provided

                                by HM Cruiser NORFOLK.

                29th        HM Fleet Minesweepers GOSSAMER, HUSSAR and LEDA joined PQ2

                                as Local Escort during final stage of passage.

                30th        Detached from PQ2 with escort on arrival at Archangel.



                3rd          Deployed with HMS LEDA and HMS SEAGULL as Local Escort for

                                outward convoy QP2 (12 ships) during initial stage of passage to UK from

                                Archangel. HMS ECLIPSE and HMS ICARUS formed Ocean Escort

                                with cover by HMS NORFOLK.

                5th          Detached from QP2 with Local Escort and took return passage to Archangel

                                For minesweeping and patrol duties.

                20th        Joined inward Convoy PQ3 (8 ships) with HMS SEAGULL and HMS

                                SPEEDY as Local Escort during final stage of passage into Archangel.

                                Ocean Escort comprised HM Destroyers BEDOUIN and INTREPID covered

                                by HM Cruiser KENYA.)

                22nd       Detached from PQ3 with escort on arrival and deployed for local minesweeping

                                and patrol duties.



                7th          Joined inward Convoy PQ5 (7 ships) with HMS SEAGULL as reliefs for the

                                Ocean Escort from Iceland, HM Fleet Minesweepers SHARPSHOOTER,

                                HAZARD and HEBE

                                (Note: HM Cruiser SHEFFIELD had been deployed as Cruiser cover since 1st

                                December and also detached on 7th.)

                13th        Detached from PQ5 on arrival at Archangel.

                29th        Deployed with HMS HEBE as Local Escort for outward Convoy QP4

                                (13 ships) on departure from Archangel.

                                (Note: Ocean Escort comprised HMS LEDA, HMS SEAGULL, HMS

                                SPEEDY, HM Trawlers BUTE and STELLA CAPELLA.)


1 9 4 2



                5th          Detached from QP4 when HM Cruiser EDINBURGH, HM Destroyers

                                ECHO and ESCAPADE joined Ocean Escort on 5th January during passage,)

                10th        Deployed at Archangel for local duties.

                                Nominated for return to UK ton be refitted and “Articised”.

                25th        Joined HM Cruiser TRINIDAD and HM Destroyer SOMALI in Ocean Escort

                                for outward Convoy QP6 (6 ships) with HMS HEBE when HMS HARRIER

                                and HMS SPEEDWELL of Local Escort detached.)

                27th        Russian destroyers GREMYASCHI and SOKRUSHITELNY of Local

                                Escort detached.

                28th        Took independent passage to Sunderland when QP6 dispersed.


February                Taken in hand by commercial shipyard in Sunderland.


March                    Under refit.



                10th        Carried out post refit trials on completion of dockyard work.

                                Nominated for further service in North Russia.

                                (Note: Commanding Officer, Captain J H F Crombie DSC, RN.)

                                Passage to Iceland to join Ocean Escort for inward Convoy PQ15.

                26th        Sailed from Reykjavik with HMS SEAGULL and HMS LEDA as Senior

                                Officer for Ocean Escort with three trawlers for inward Convoy PQ15

                                (26 ships) during the passage to Murmansk.

                                (Note: HM Escort Destroyer also joined as escort for the oiler GRAY

                                RANGER and three trawlers were deployed for Local Escort)

                28th        HM AA Ship ULSTER QUEEN, HM Destroyers BADSWORTH,

                                BOADICEA, MATCHLESS, SOMALI, VENOMOUS and Norwegian

                                ST ALBANS joined to supplement Ocean Escort during Arctic transit.

                                HM Submarine STURGEON was also deployed with escort and HM Cruiser

                                NORFOLK provided cruiser cover.

                30th        HM Cruiser LONDON deployed for additional cover till 1st May.



                2nd         HMS NIGERIA cover concluded.

                                (Note: Additional Distant Cover was provided by ships of Home Fleet

                                which included US Navy ships. For full details of all Russian

                                Convoy operations with names of warships and mercantiles

                                See CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by RA Ruegg, THE RUSSIAN

                                CONVOYS by B Schoefield, CONVOY ! by P Kemp and

                                ARCTIC CONVOYS by R Woodman.

                                HM Destroyer PUNJABI was sunk after collision with HM

                                Battleship KING GEORGE V whilst deployed with the

                                Distant Covering force.)

                                Convoy under heavy and sustained attacks by submarines and aircraft

                                after sighting by reconnaissance aircraft. Three mercantiles were lost.

                                Submarine contact by HMS SEAGULL and HMNorS ST ALBANS

                                was attacked and later it was established that this was the Polish

                                JASTRZAB which had been out of her allotted patrol area and had been sunk.

                3rd          During further air attacks one mercantiles was hit and damaged but

                                able to reach Murmansk.

                                (Note: 15 of the mercantiles in PQ15 were US flagged.)

                5th          Detached from PQ15 with escort on arrival at Murmansk.

                6th          Deployed at Murmansk for local duties including minesweeping, AA

                                Guardship, patrol and local escort.

                21st         Joined outward Convoy QP12 with HM Fleet Minesweepers LEDA,

                                GOSSAMER, SEAGULL, Soviet destroyers GROZNI and

                                SOKRUSHITELNY as Local Escort during initial phase of passage from

                                Kola Inlet.

                                (Note: Ocean Escort including HMS ULSTER QUEEN and Home Fleet

                                ships from PQ15 together with HM Fleet Minesweeper HARRIER

                                returning to UK for North Russian service.)

                23rd        Detached from QP12 with Local Escort and returned to Kola Inlet.

                30th        Joined inward Convoy PQ16 (29 ships) during passage into Kola Inlet

                                with HM Fleet Minesweepers GOSSAMER and SEAGULL.

                                Detached with Fleet Minesweepers, HM Destroyer MARNE and HM AA

                                Ship ALYNBANK as escort for six ships of PQ16 into Archangel.

                                Under air attacks without casualties.



                1st           Detached from convoy with escort on arrival in Archangel.

                                (Note: PQ16 was the largest convoy to North Russia up to this

                                date and had sailed from Reykjavik with 26 ships.)

                2nd         Resumed North Russia local duties.

                10th        Deployed with HMS HAZARD, HMS LEDA, HM Corvette DIANELLA

                                and two Russian destroyers after despatched from Archangel to carry out

                                search for surviving ships and personnel from inward Convoy PQ17 which

                                had been dispersed on orders from Admiralty because of threat of attack by

                                German battleship TIRPITZ, armoured ships ADMIRAL SHEER, LUTZOW

                                and cruiser ADMIRAL SCHEER. For details see above references, Naval

                                Staff History and THE CONVOY IS TO SCATTER by J Broome.

                                (Note: By 24th June five ships from PQ17 had been escorted into

                                Archangel.39 ships sailed with convoy from Reykjavik and 24 were

                                lost during passage.)

                26th        Sailed from Archangel with HM Fleet Minesweepers HAZARD, LEDA,

                                SEAGULL, Russian destroyers GROZNI, GREMYASCHI and KUIBYSHEV

                                as Local Escort for ships during passage to join outward Convoy QP13

                                (36 ships).

                28th        Detached on merger of mercantiles with ships from Murmansk.

                                Took return passage to Archangel with same escort.

                                (Note: Ocean Escort included HM Fleet Minesweepers NIGER and HUSSAR

                                returning from service in North Russia. HMS NIGER was lost after

                                striking a mine in a British field off Iceland, See references.)


July                         Deployed for local duties in North Russia.

to                            (Note: No Russian convoys were sailed during July and August after the

August                  disastrous passage of PQ17. See references.)


September             Nominated for return to UK with HMS LEDA and SEAGULL.

                13th        Joined Ocean Escort for outward Convoy QP14 (20 ships) with HM

                                AA Ships ALYNBANK, POZARICA, PALOMARES, HM Destroyers

                                BLANKNEY, MIDDLETON, HM Corvettes DIANELLA, LA MALOUINE

                                (Free French), LOTUS, POPPY and four trawlers.

                                (Note: Local Escort from Archangel comprised HM Fleet Minesweepers

                                BRITOMART, HALCYON, HAZARD and SALAMANDER.)

                17th        Ocean Escort supplemented by HM Escort Aircraft Carrier AVENGER,

                                HM Cruiser SCYLLA, 16 destroyer and two submarines.

                                (Note: Ships in this convoy carried survivors from PQ17 and Distant Cover

                                was provided by the Home Fleet.)

                20th        Under submarine attacks during which HMS LEDA was sunk by U435 and

                                the mercantile SILVER SWORD (a PQ17 survivor) sunk by U255

                                HM Destroyer SOMALI was damaged by a torpedo from U703 and disabled.

                24th        HMS SOMALI sank whilst under tow by HM Destroyer ASHANTI.

                                See above references.

                26th        Detached from QP14 with AA Ships and trawlers on arrival at Loch Ewe.

                                Took independent passage..

                27th        Involved in collision and sustained significant structural damage to hull.

                                Repair arranged in Humber


October                  Under repair in commercial shipyard in Humber.


November              Under repair

                30th        Carried out post repair trials on completion of dockyard work.


December              Nominated for further service in North Russia.

                                Prepared for service in Home waters.

                22nd       Joined inward Convoy JW51B with HM Corvettes HYDERABAD,

                                RHODODENDRON and two trawlers as Escort.

                24th        First German sighting.

                25th        HM Destroyers ACHATES, OBEDIENT, OBDURATE, ONSLOW,

                                ORIBI and ORWELL joined as Fighting Escort during passage to

                                Kola Inlet.

                                Passage delayed by weather conditions and some ships straggled.

                27th        Cruiser cover provided by HMS SHEFFIELD and HMS JAMAICA

                                with Distant cover from Home Fleet ships including HM Battleship


                30th        Convoy under threat of attack by German armoured ship LUTZOW.

                                Cruiser ADMIRAL HIPPER and destroyers which had been sailed from

                                Altenfjiord after sighting report from U354.

                31st         Detached from escort to search for stragglers.

                                Returned toward JW51B after enemy report made by HMS OBDURATE

                                after coming under fire from German ships.

                                Encountered ADMIRAL HIPPER with 11in main armament and

                                destroyers which carried out attack.

                                Sustained immediate fatal damage and sank in position 73,18N 30,06E

                                with no survivors.

                                (Casualty List - note on casualties)

                                (Note: HMS HYDERABAD had sighted enemy ships beforehand but made

                                no enemy report as the ships were believed to be Russian destroyers.

                                This delay may not have been significant but at least would have

                                given earlier warning of the presence of the enemy force.)





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