HALCYON-Class Minesweeper ordered from John I Thornycroft at Woolston on 23rd February 1933 with sister
ship to be named HMS HUSSAR as part of the 1st Group of
this Class.. Her reciprocating propulsion machinery was
to be supplied by the builder of West Hartlepool..
The ship was laid down on 11th July that year and launched on
17th April 193 as the 8th RN warship to carry this name which had
been introduced for a an 18 gun Brig-Sloop built
at Deptford in 1804 and which foundered in 1809. Last
used for a Torpedo Gunboat built by HM Dockyard Devonport
in 1894 and sold in 1920. Build was completed on 9th November 1934. During WW2 after a successful WARSHIP
WEEK National Savings campaign in January 1942 this
ship was adopted by the civil community of Plympton St. Mary, Devon.
B a t t l
e H o n o u r s
BALTIC 1855 - NEW ZEALAND 1863-66
- NORMANDY 1944
H e r a l d i c D a t a
On a field Green a Harrier Gold.
o t t o
sequer: 'I follow tenaciously'
M a n n i n g
D i v i s i o n
D e t a i l s
o f S e r v i c e
(for more ship information,
Naval History Homepage
and type name in Site Search
1 9 3 4
November Contractors Trials
9th Commissioned for service with 1st Minesweeping
Flotilla on completion of Acceptance
December Deployed with Flotilla at Portland and worked-up for
1 9 3 5 t o 1 9 3 6
Flotilla deployment in Home waters including
Fleet and Flotilla exercises with visits.
Attended Jubilee Review of the Fleet by HM King
George V at Spithead.
1 9 3 7
Attended Coronation Review of the Fleet by HM
King George VI
Nominated for reduction to Reserve.
Paid off into Reserve and laid-up at Chatham
1 9 3 8
Laid-up at Chatham
(Note: Ship may have been brought forward in
September 1938 during
the Munich crisis.
1 9 3 9
January Nominated for service with 5th Minesweeping Flotilla
July Commissioned for Service and prepared for passage to
nominated war station.
August Passage to Dover to join Flotilla.
September Deployed at Dover for minesweeping duties in English
Ships nominated for 5th Minesweeping Flotilla were:
HM Minesweepers HALCYON, HUSSAR, LEDA,
GOSSAMER, SKIPJACK and SPHINX. Some of these did
not join until
after declaration of war with Germany.)
20th Deployed with HMS SKIPJACK for minesweeping of
coastal convoy route and
sighted two floating mines which were sunk.
Assisted in rescue of some of ship’s company of
HM Corvette KITTIWAKE which
had been disabled after a torpedo attack.
Embarked 39 men.
October Deployed with HM Minesweepers HALCYON, SPEEDWELL,
SALAMANDER and HUSSAR to ensure clear passage
across Dover Strait for
military convoys taking BEF to French ports.
On completion transferred with Flotilla to
Humber for minesweeping in North Sea
to ensure safe passage for convoys to and from
November Grimsby deployment in continuation.
(Note: HMS HUSSAR was damaged when mine was
caught in sweep and exploded
December East Coast minesweeping in continuation.
1 9 4 0
January Transferred with Flotilla to Rosyth Command and based
(Note: HMS HALCYON and HMS HUSSAR were
transferred to 4th Flotilla
and remained at Grimsby.)
February Deployed for minesweeping of f east coast of
Scotland to ensure safe passage
3rd Under air attack north of Kinnaird Head during
minesweep and assisted in rescue
of survivors from HM Minesweeper SPHINX which
sustained serious structural
damaged in bombing. 54 of ship’s company lost
Tow of stricken ship failed when she capsized in
March Flotilla minesweeping and convoy defence in
April Transferred to 6th Minesweeping Flotilla with HMS
May Deployed for convoy defence in Nore Command.
25th Under air attack during clearance of passage ahead
of convoy off Zeebrugge
and hit by 500lb bomb which failed to explode
and passed through forward
structure and sustained further significant
Passage to Sheerness at reduced speed.
26th Passage from Sheerness to Thames commercial
(Note: Facilities at Sheerness were not
available for such additional work
since the dockyard was to be used for control of
vessels deployed to assist
in the evacuation of allied troops from Dunkirk.
27th Taken in hand for repair .
Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes
changed to J71
June Under repair in London.
9th Carried out post refit trials and took passage to
Harwich for minesweeping
duties in Nore command based at .Harwich.
10th During minesweeping operations off Lowestoft with HMS HALCYON and
HMS SPEEDWELL, under air attacks which were
25th Taken in hand for repair at Great Yarmouth.
(Note: This is possibly for machinery defect as
no record of any enemy action
has been traced.)
August On completion resumed minesweeping duties in Nore
September Deployed additional for anti-invasion patrol and convoy
defence in North Sea.
December (Note: Ships in North Sea were under constant threat and experienced many
1 9 4 1
January North Sea minesweeping and convoy defence in continuation with Flotilla.
April (Note: HMS SALAMANDER joined Flotilla after repair in
during service in 4th Minesweeping Flotilla.)
Transferred with Flotilla to
Western Approaches Command for convoy escort in
view of the shortage
of escorts following recent losses and damage to
destroyers and corvettes.
Fit of ASDIC equipment in HALCYON Class
minesweepers and their
larger displacement made them particularly
suited for this duty.)
May Nominated for refit and passage to Southampton.
19th Taken in hand for refit in commercial shipyard.
June Under refit
12th Carried out post refit trials before resuming
deployment with Flotilla
18th Deployed for Atlantic convoy defence and passage to
(Note: Some ships of the Flotilla were deployed
for escort of ships between UK
26th Deployed with HMS SALAMANDER and HALCYON to assist
ss ATLANTIC CITY which had been hit by torpedo
in NW Approaches during
passage to Freetown with Convoy OS1. Carried out
30th Deployed in Iceland with same ships as part of Local
Escort Force for defence
of ships on entry or departure from Seidisfjord.
August Iceland deployment in continuation.
Nominated for service in North Russia after
20th Sailed from
Hvalfjord to provide anti-submarine
protection with HMS HALCYON
and HMS SALAMANDER for ships of first convoy to
Other ships deployed for escort were:
HM Destroyers ELECTRA, ACTIVE and IMPULSIVE till
29th. with Home
Fleet ships providing Distant Cover between 24th
and 30th August.
For full details of all Russian convoy passages
with names of the escorts 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.).
31st Detached from DERVISH convoy on arrival at
September Deployed for minesweeping in North Russia,
28th Joined Convoy QP1 with HMS HALCYON and HMS
SALAMANDER as Local Escort
for first stage of outward passage to Orkneys.
(Note: This was first return convoy from North
Russia. See references.)
30th Detached from QP1 with Local Escort and returned to
October North Russia deployment in continuation
10th Provided Local Escort for inward convoy PQ1 for
entry into Archangel.
Nominated for return to UK for “Arcticisation”
and made independent passage
1st Taken in hand for refit work by commercial
shipyard in London.
13th On completion took passage from Thames to Scapa Flow
for special duties.
18th Deployed in Scapa Flow for preparatory exercises to
provide support for planned
commando raid on Lofoten Islands. (Operation
(Note: This was carried out in conjunction with
a similar raid on the islands
of Vaagso and Maaloy by another force of ships
22nd Deployed with HM Cruiser ARETHUSA, HM Destroyers
ESKIMO, SOMALI, WHEATLAND, LAMERTON, Polish ORP
and KUJAWIAK, HM Norwegian Corvettes ACANTHUS,
HALCYON and SPEEDWELL, HM Landing Ships
(Infantry) PRINZ ALBERT
and PRINCESS CHARLOTTE for support of landings.
Sailed from Scapa Flow
(Note: One of the Landing Ships developed
machinery defects on passage and
had to return to Scapa Flow. This was a major
setback since some 12
Commando personnel were embarked in this ship
and their loss seriously
reduced the number available for the landings on
Lofoten. HM Survey Ship
SCOTT, another of this Class was also deployed
to provide accurate
26th Present at landings by commandos which were made on
a reduced scale.
28th Operation terminated because of air threat.
(Note: Ships later came under air attack during
which HMS ARETHUSA was
1 9 4 2
1st Returned to Scapa Flow with ANKLET Force
On release from Home Fleet special duty took
passage to Iceland for
escort of convoy to North Russia.
8th Sailed from
Hvalfjord as part of escort for
Russian Convoy PQ8 with HMS
SPEEDWELL during passage to Murmansk.
11th HM Cruiser
TRINIDAD, HM Destroyers MATABELE and
SOMALI joined escort.
17th Under attack by U454 during which HMS MATABELE was
sunk and one of convoy
was hit but arrived later despite damage.
Detached from PQ8 on arrival and resumed
minesweeping duties at Murmansk.
24th Deployed for Local Escort of outward convoy QP6 with
Russian destroyers GREMYASCHI and SOKRUSHITELNY.
27th Detached from QP6 with Local Escort and returned to
February Deployed for local minesweeping.
22nd Deployed with HM Cruiser NIGERIA, HMS HAZARD and HMS
Russian destroyers GROMKI and GROZNI to provide
Local Escort for final stage
of passage into Murmansk.of Russian Convoy PQ11
Detached from PQ11 on arrival and resumed local
1st Deployed as Local Escort with HMS SHARPSHOOTER for
initial stage of passage
of return convoy QP8 from Murmansk.
3rd Detached from QP8 with Local Escort and returned to
11th Deployed with HM Fleet Minesweepers HUSSAR,
Russian destroyer GREMYASCHI as Local Escort
during passage into
12th Detached from PQ12 on arrival at Murmansk.
21st Joined outward convoy QP9 with HM Fleet
HUSSAR, NIGER, SPEEDWELL and Russian destroyer
on sailing from Kola Inlet as Local Escort
during initial stage of passage to Iceland.
23rd Took return passage to Kola Inlet with Local Escort
on relief by ships of
10th Deployed with HM Fleet Minesweepers GOSSAMER, HUSSAR
Russian destroyer for Local Escort of convoy
QP10 during initial stage of
passage to Iceland.
12th Detached from QP10 with Local Escort and returned to
17th Deployed to meet inward convoy PQ14 for Local Escort
with HM Fleet
Minesweepers GOSSAMER, HUSSAR and NIGER.
(Note: Although two Russian destroyers joined
for this duty, it is not
certain whether the RN minesweepers joined.
19th Convoy PQ14 arrived at Murmansk.
28th Joined outward convoy QP11 as Local Escort for
initial stage of passage
from Murmansk to Iceland with HM Fleet
HUSSAR, NIGER and two Russian destroyers,
29th Detached from QP11with Local Escort after relieved
by Ocean Escort and
took return passage to Murmansk.
1st Despatched with HM Fleet Minesweepers, GOSSAMER,
NIGER to assist HM Cruiser EDINBURGH which had
been disabled after
being hit by torpedo from U456 on 30th April
whilst part of escort for return
(Note: The cruiser had embarked bullion at
Murmansk. See references.)
2nd In action against German destroyers with ships of
Ocean Escort including
HM Destroyers FORESIGHT, FORESTER, Russian
and SOKRISHITELNY. Torpedo from German destroyer
Z24 hit the cruiser
which prevented further attempts to save
stricken ship which was then sunk
by a torpedo from HMS FORESIGHT.
Took part in rescue of ship’s company of HMS
EDINBURGH with other ships
of the Ocean Escort. See references.
3rd Return passage to Murmansk.
21st Joined return convoy QP12 as part of Ocean Escort
for return passage to UK.
Other ships in Ocean Escort were:
HM Auxiliary AA Ship ULSTER QUEEN, HM Destroyers
ESCAPADE, INGLEFIELD, BADSWORTH, VENOMOUS,
ST ALBANS, HM Trawlers CAPE PALLISER, NORTHERN
NORTHERN WAVE and VIZALMA.)
1st Detached from QP12
and took passage to Humber for refit
7th Taken in hand for
refit in commercial shipyard.
Type 271 was fitted during this period, For details of the development
and use of radar
by the Royal Navy see RADAR AT SEA by D Howse.)
21st Carried out post
refit trials on completion of refit work and resumed
minesweeping duties in Home waters.
deployment in Iceland to be confirmed.
August Home waters deployment in
deployment to be confirmed.
the disastrous passage of convoy PQ17, no sailings of convoys
were made to
North Russia. See references and ENGAGE THE ENEMY
MORE CLOSELY by C
September Deployed in Iceland
8th Part of escort for
escort joined on 9th September. See references for details.)
12th Convoy under submarine attacks during which U88 was
sunk by HM Destroyers
FAULKNOR, ONSLOW and IMPULSIVE.
14th Under air attacks which sank eight ships.
Sank mercantile ss ALTHELTEMPLAR which had been
damage in air attack.
(Note: Tow of this ship to Lowe Sound was
deemed unsuitable in view of intensity
18th HM Minesweepers BRITOMART, HALCYON, HAZARD and
joined as Local Escort into Kola Inlet.
Detached from PQ 18 and deployed for local
minesweeping in North Russia,
October North Russia minesweeping in continuation.
December (Note: Russian convoy traffic was suspended during this
period because of the
Home Fleet commitments for support of landings
in North Africa.
1 9 4 3
3rd Deployed with HMS SEAGULL for Local Escort of
Russian Convoy JW51B for
final stage passage to Kola Inlet.
4th Detached from JW51B with HMS SEAGULL on arrival at
5th Resumed local mine clearance.
29th Joined HMS SEAGULL for passage to UK as part of
escort for return Convoy RA52.
(Note: Escort included: HM Destroyers BEAGLE,
ICARUS, MATCHLESS, MUSKETEER, OFFA, ONSLAUGHT,
ONSLOW and Polish ORP PIORUN, HM Corvettes
HYDERABAD (RIN), RHODODENDRON and OXLIP.
HMS ONSLOW was returning to UK after repair of
damage during Battle of Barents Sea. See
3rd Convoy under submarine attack.
9th Detached from RA52 on arrival at Loch Ewe.
(Note: Deployed as SO Escorts when Home Fleet
destroyers detached for passage
to Scapa Flow.
17th Taken in hand for refit at commercial shipyard in
March Under refit.
8th Carried out post refit trials on completion of
On completion of work-up for operational service
deployed in Home
waters for minesweeping and convoy defence.
May Home waters duties in continuation.
September Nominated for return to North Russia for minesweeping and
October Took passage from Scapa Flow to North Russia with Home Fleet
to escort empty mercantiles left in North Russia
during period of suspension
of routine convoys. See references.
Resumed detached service for Local Escort and
1st Provided Local Escort with HMS SEAGULL and two
Russian destroyers including
GROMKI for passage of return
convoy RA54A during initial stage of passage
from Kola Inlet
3rd Detached from RA54B and resumed minesweeping
27th Joined HM Destroyers INCONSTANT, WHITEHALL and HM
HEATHER as part of Ocean Escort for return
convoy JW54B to UK.
9th Detached from RA54B after uninterrupted passage on
relief by western
12th Deployed JW55A outward convoy to Kola Inlet from
Loch Ewe as Local
Escort with HM Fleet Minesweeper COCKATRICE.
15th Detached from JW55B on arrival of Ocean Escort and
returned to Scapa Flow.
31st Taken in hand for refit in commercial shipyard in
1 9 4 4
January Under refit
February Nominated for service as Leader of 1st Minesweeping Flotilla.
Other ships in Flotilla were:
HM Fleet Minesweepers BRITOMART, GLEANER,
HUSSAR, JASON, SALAMANDER, SEAGULL and
3rd Carried out post refit trials on completion of
7th Deployed at Scapa Flow for anti-submarine work-up
9th Carried out Flotilla minesweeping exercises..
April Flotilla exercises in continuation in North Sea.
Passage to Portsmouth with calls in east coast
30th Deployed at Portsmouth and nominated for
for planned allied landings in Normandy
May Took part in preparatory exercises including Exercise
(Note: For details of naval activities before
and during NEPTUNE see
LANDINGS IN NORMANDY June 1944 (HMSO) and
NEPTUNE by K. Edwards. For specific information about
minesweeping activities see THEY LED THE WAY by
Three Motor Launches and four Isles-Class
Danlayers were attached to
the Flotilla for this specialised operation.)
On completion of defence exercise deployed in
Solent for briefing and
June Deployed at Portsmouth for briefing and preparations
for minesweeping of
Channel 9 in advance of Assault convoys taking
troops of 3rd Infantry
Bde to SWORD Beaches.
4th Operation delayed by 24 hours.
5th Sailed from Solent to commence Channel clearance.
No mines cleared or exploded.
6th On completion deployed for mine sweeping of
8th Deployed for widening the area between Approach
Channels 5 and 6.
9th Carried out minesweeping, defence patrols off
Eastern Task Force area and
to escort of Channel convoy as required.
19th Whilst replenishing fuel in rough weather alongside
RFA sustained damage
forward and holed.
Withdrawn from NEPTUNE.
20th Passage to Harwich for repair
July At Harwich awaiting repair.
8th Taken in hand for repair in commercial shipyard.
17th On completion of repair took passage to rejoin
Flotilla for minesweeping
and defence duties off Normandy coast.
19th Channel deployment in continuation for support of
allied military operations.
(Note: Minesweeping to keep clear passage
across English Channel was vital
in view of extensive minelaying by aircraft.
1st Withdrawn from operation after machinery defects
and took passage to Portsmouth
2nd Taken in hand for repair by HM Dockyard, Portsmouth.
30th On completion resumed Flotilla duties in Channel.
(Note: Because of this period under repair the
ship was not present when HMS
JASON, BRITOMART, HUSSAR, and SALAMANDER
under rocket attack by RAF TYPHOON aircraft on
. These ships were carrying out minesweeping off
Le Havre to ensure clear
anchorage for bombardment of Le Havre by HM
with HM Monitors EREBUS and ROBERTS.
and HMS HUSSAR were sunk by these attacks,
HMS SALAMANDER damaged beyond repair,
and HMS JASON and two trawlers
September Minesweeping deployment in continuation in English
October (Note: Other ships of Flotilla were HM Minesweepers
SPEEDWELL, GLEANER, HAZARD, SHARPSHOOTER and
Minesweeping requirements progressively moved
eastward during this
period and had reached the Belgian coast by the
end of October.)
Ships of Flotilla were gradually withdrawn for
refit but returned on
November Deployed in southern North Sea with Flotilla.
2nd HM Danlayer COLSAY was sunk by a human torpedo (NEGER)
(Note: Clearance of approach Channels to ports
in Europe was essential to ensure
safe passage of military convoys supporting
allied advance in the Low countries.)
22nd Passage to Leith for refit.
23rd Taken in hand for refit in commercial shipyard
December Under refit
1 9 4 5
January Under refit
March Harbour trials and prepared for duties with Flotilla.
April On completion of post refit trials took passage to
rejoin Flotilla at Harwich.
(Note: During 1945 extensive enemy minelaying
was being carried out by
submarines, aircraft and small surface craft.)
May After VE Day deployed with ships of Flotilla for
clearance of allied and German
August mines in North Sea and Channel areas.
P o s t W a r N o t e s
HARRIER remained in commission after VE Day and was deployed for mine clearance
in the North Sea until October when re-deployed for the same duties in the
Channel area. Nominated for paying-off in 1946 she returned to Chatham in May
to de-store and for removal of armament. The ship transferred to Harwich in
July and was laid-up there until being placed on the Disposal List in 1950.
Sold to BISCO on 6th August that year she was later towed to the Tyne for
demolition by Messrs J King. This name was carried forward when used for a
at Kete in Pembrokeshire which was closed down in 1962.
by Bill Burn