Minesweeper ordered from HM Dockyard
Devonport on 11 August
with propulsion machinery to be
supplied by Barclay Curle.
The ship was laid down
22nd November 1937 and launched on
12th July 1938. She was the 9th RN
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
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
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9 3 9
Contractors trials. Commissioned for
service in 1st Minesweeping Flotilla.
Commenced Acceptance Trials.
On completion of trials and storing took
Portland to join HM
Fleet Minesweepers BRITOMART, HAZARD,
SHARPSHOOTER and SPEEDY in 1st
Carried out minesweeping trial in Lyme
Bay with ships of Flotilla..
(Note: This field had been specially
laid to establish minesweeping
50 mines were swept.)
Took passage to War Station with
Flotilla at Scapa Flow.
Deployed with Flotilla for minesweeping
operations to ensure clear passage for
Home Fleet ships in and out of Fleet
Scapa Flow deployment in continuation.
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.)
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.
Transferred to Stornoway for Atlantic
convoy escort duties with Flotilla
1 9 4 0
Returned to Scapa Flow for Fleet duties.
Home Fleet mine clearance duties in
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
Under repair in commercial shipyard.
On completion of refit and trials took
passage to resume Flotilla duties at
Scapa Flow mine clearance in continuation with Flotilla.
1 9 4 1
Flotilla duties at Scapa Flow in continuation.
Nominated for minesweeping operations
based at Harwich.
Passage to Harwich.
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.
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
(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
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.)
Atlantic convoy defence with 3rd Escort
Group and Irish Sea Escort Force
(Note: During periods when not required
for escort these minesweeper
were deployed for minesweeping in
Nominated for detached service in North
(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
during October by three others of this
This ship had not be “articised” for
service in Polar areas.).
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.
HM Fleet Minesweepers GOSSAMER, HUSSAR
and LEDA joined PQ2
as Local Escort during final stage of
Detached from PQ2 with escort on arrival
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.
Detached from QP2 with Local Escort and
took return passage to Archangel
For minesweeping and patrol duties.
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.)
Detached from PQ3 with escort on arrival
and deployed for local minesweeping
and patrol duties.
Joined inward Convoy PQ5 (7 ships) with
HMS SEAGULL as reliefs for the
Ocean Escort from Iceland, HM Fleet
HAZARD and HEBE
(Note: HM Cruiser SHEFFIELD had been
deployed as Cruiser cover since 1st
December and also detached on 7th.)
Detached from PQ5 on arrival at
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
1 9 4 2
Detached from QP4 when HM Cruiser
EDINBURGH, HM Destroyers
ECHO and ESCAPADE joined Ocean Escort on 5th January during passage,)
Deployed at Archangel for local duties.
Nominated for return to UK ton be
refitted and “Articised”.
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
Russian destroyers GREMYASCHI and
SOKRUSHITELNY of Local
Took independent passage to Sunderland when QP6 dispersed.
Taken in hand by commercial shipyard in
Carried out post refit trials on
completion of dockyard work.
Nominated for further service in North
(Note: Commanding Officer, Captain J H F
Crombie DSC, RN.)
Passage to Iceland to join Ocean Escort
for inward Convoy PQ15.
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
(Note: HM Escort Destroyer also joined
as escort for the oiler GRAY
RANGER and three trawlers were deployed
for Local Escort)
HM AA Ship ULSTER QUEEN, HM Destroyers
BOADICEA, MATCHLESS, SOMALI, VENOMOUS
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.
HM Cruiser LONDON deployed for
additional cover till 1st May.
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
See CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by RA Ruegg, THE
CONVOYS by B Schoefield, CONVOY ! by P
ARCTIC CONVOYS by R Woodman.
HM Destroyer PUNJABI was sunk after
collision with HM
Battleship KING GEORGE V whilst deployed
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.
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.)
Detached from PQ15 with escort on
arrival at Murmansk.
Deployed at Murmansk for local duties
including minesweeping, AA
Guardship, patrol and local escort.
Joined outward Convoy QP12 with HM Fleet
GOSSAMER, SEAGULL, Soviet destroyers
SOKRUSHITELNY as Local Escort during
initial phase of passage from
(Note: Ocean Escort including HMS ULSTER
QUEEN and Home Fleet
ships from PQ15 together with HM Fleet
returning to UK for North Russian
Detached from QP12 with Local Escort and
returned to Kola Inlet.
Joined inward Convoy PQ16 (29 ships)
during passage into Kola Inlet
with HM Fleet Minesweepers GOSSAMER and
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.
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
Resumed North Russia local duties.
Deployed with HMS HAZARD, HMS LEDA, HM
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
Reykjavik and 24 were
lost during passage.)
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
Detached on merger of mercantiles with
ships from Murmansk.
Took return passage to Archangel with
(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.)
Deployed for local duties in North
(Note: No Russian convoys were sailed
during July and August after the
disastrous passage of PQ17. See
Nominated for return to UK with HMS LEDA
Joined Ocean Escort for outward Convoy
QP14 (20 ships) with HM
AA Ships ALYNBANK, POZARICA, PALOMARES,
BLANKNEY, MIDDLETON, HM Corvettes
DIANELLA, LA MALOUINE
(Free French), LOTUS, POPPY and four
(Note: Local Escort from Archangel
comprised HM Fleet Minesweepers
BRITOMART, HALCYON, HAZARD and
Ocean Escort supplemented by HM Escort
Aircraft Carrier AVENGER,
HM Cruiser SCYLLA, 16 destroyer and two
(Note: Ships in this convoy carried
survivors from PQ17 and Distant Cover
was provided by the Home Fleet.)
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.
HMS SOMALI sank whilst under tow by HM
See above references.
Detached from QP14 with AA Ships and
trawlers on arrival at Loch Ewe.
Took independent passage..
Involved in collision and sustained
significant structural damage to hull.
Repair arranged in Humber
Under repair in commercial shipyard in
Carried out post repair trials on
completion of dockyard work.
Nominated for further service in North
Prepared for service in Home waters.
Joined inward Convoy JW51B with HM
RHODODENDRON and two trawlers as Escort.
First German sighting.
HM Destroyers ACHATES, OBEDIENT,
ORIBI and ORWELL joined as Fighting
Escort during passage to
Passage delayed by weather conditions
and some ships straggled.
Cruiser cover provided by HMS SHEFFIELD
and HMS JAMAICA
with Distant cover from Home Fleet ships
including HM Battleship
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
Detached from escort to search for
Returned toward JW51B after enemy report
made by HMS OBDURATE
after coming under fire from German
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.
(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.)