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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2006

HMS SALAMANDER (N 86) - Halcyon-class Minesweeper

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMS Salamander (Navy Photos/Mark Teadham, click to enlarge)

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HALCYON-Class Minesweeper ordered from JS White at Cowes, IoW  on 5th February 1935 with sister ship to be named HMS NIGER (i) as part of the 1st Group of this Class. Her reciprocating propulsion machinery was supplied by the shipbuilder. The ship was laid down on 14th August 1935 and launched on 24th March 1936 as the 11th RN warship to carry this name which had been introduced for a Scots 48 Gun Ship taken as Prize in 1544. Build was completed on 18th July 1936. After a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in February 1942 this ship was adopted by the civil community of Bilston, Staffordshire.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


ARMADA 1588 - LAGOS 1759  - BURMA 1852 - DUNKIRK 1940 - ARCTIC 1941-42 - NORMANDY 1944


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Red, a Salamander rampant, Gold


M o t t o

Per ignes et undas:  'Through fire and water'


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


September             Deployed with HM Minesweepers HALCYON, HARRIER, LEDA, NIGER, HUSSAR,

                                GOSSAMER, SKIPJACK, SPEEDWELL and SPHINX based at Dover. as 5th Minesweeping

                                Flotilla mine clearance in Nore Command..


October                  Minesweeping based at Dover in continuation..


November              Transferred to Grimsby with ships of Flotilla to ensure clear passage of East Coast convoy routes.

                4th          Sustained slight structural damage in collision with HMS SPEEDWELL

                10th        During operation near Humber LV detonated mine in sweep which exploded causing damage, but

                                no casualties.


December              Resumed Flotilla duties in North Sea on completion of repair.


1 9 4 0


January                  Transferred with ships of Flotilla to Rosyth for minesweeping off Scottish east coast.


February                Deployed with Flotilla in northern North Sea.




April                       Transferred with HMS HALCYON to 4th Minesweeping Flotilla with HMS NIGER.

                                Deployed at Great Yarmouth for mine clearance of convoy routes in North Sea.


May                        North Sea deployment with Flotilla in continuation.

                17th        Diverted from mine sweeping in North Sea and took passage to Dunkirk with HMS NIGER for

                                support of the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk (Operation DYNAMO).

                18th        Joined HM Fleet Minesweepers SHARPSHOOTER, GOSSAMER, SKIPJACK and LEDA off


                19th        Embarked 324 troops and took passage to Dover

                30th        Disembarked troops in Dover and returned to Dunkirk.

                31st         Embarked 390 troops for passage and landed passengers in Dover.



                1st           Return passage to Dunkirk and embarked 479 troops.

                                Came under air attacks whilst on return passage and sustained damage to propulsion machinery.

                                Arrived at Dover after assistance from tugs and disembarked troops.

                2nd         Passage to Sheerness for repair.

                4th          Under repair by HM Dockyard Sheerness.


July                         Under repair


August                  On completion of repair and trials resumed minesweeping duties with 4th Flotilla based at



September             Harwich deployed for mine clearance in North Sea in continuation





                6th          Sustained weather damage during North Sea deployment.


1 9 4 1


January                  Nominated for completion of repair and refit.

                                Passage to Humber

                10th        Taken in hand for repair and refit by commercial shipyard in Grimsby.


February                Under repair.



                10th        On completion of shipyard work resumed duties with Flotilla.


April                       North Sea Flotilla duties in continuation





                12th        Nominated for special duties with HM Fleet Minesweepers NIGER, HALCYON and


                18th        Deployed for Atlantic convoy defence during passage to Seidisfjord, Iceland.

                16th        Deployed with HMS HALCYON and HALCYON to assist in saving

                                ss ATLANTIC CITY which had been hit by torpedo in NW Approaches during

                                passage to Freetown with Convoy OS1.

                                Carried out anti-submarine operations.

                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 German invasion.

                10th        Sailed from Hvalfjord to provide anti-submarine protection with HMS HALCYON

                                and HMS HARRIER for ships of first convoy to North Russia.

                                (Operation DERVISH)

                                (Note: 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 Archangel.


September             Deployed for minesweeping, convoy defence and patrol in North Russia,




1 9 4 2


January                  North Russia deployment in continuation.


February                Nominated for return to UK

                12th        Deployed with HM Cruiser NIGERIA, HM Fleet Minesweepers HARRIER, HAZARD

                                and two Soviet destroyers to provided Eastern Local Escort for inward Convoy PQ11 from

                                Loch Ewe during final stage of passage to Murmansk.

                                Detached from QP11 on arrival.



                1st           Deployed with HMS HAZARD, HM Corvettes OXLIP and SWEETBRIAR as Ocean

                                Escort for outward Convoy QP8 during passage from Murmansk to Iceland.

                11th        Detached from QP8on arrival at Akureyri.

                                (Note: The passage was subject to extreme weather and was temporarily dispersed

                                but able to reform. HM Cruiser NIGERIA deployed to provide Distant Cover

                                did not find convoy which was not located by enemy ships or aircraft.

                                See references.)

                                Passage from Iceland to Humber

                17th        Taken in hand for repair at Grimsby


April                       Under repair



                16th        Shipyard work completed

                                Passage to Rosyth

                                (Note: Possibility of brief return to local operational service in North Sea is to be confirmed.)


June                        Nominated for further service in North Russia. See above Note.

                                Awaiting further repair at Rosyth

                                (Note: It is possible this included “Articisation”.)

                6th          Taken in hand by HM Dockyard.

                11th        On completion deployed for Work-up prior to foreign service.

                                Passage to Iceland to join escort for Convoy PQ17 to Archangel

                17th        Joined escort for Russian Convoy PQ17 at Reykjavik with HMS HALCYON, HMS BRITOMART.

                                (Note: Ocean Escort for PQ17 included HM Auxiliary AA Ships POZARICA

                                and PALOMARES, HM Destroyers FURY, KEPPEL, LEAMINGTON

                                LEDBURY, OFFA and WILTON, four Corvettes and four Trawlers.

                                Cover was provided by ships of Home Fleet )



                4th          Convoy ordered to scatter by Admiralty in view of presumed threat of attack

                                by German battleships TIRPITZ, SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU.

                                (Note: For details of this ill-judged and disastrous decision see the above

                                references and THE CONVOY IS TO SCATTER by J Broome.)

                5th          Deployed with HMS PALOMARES, HMS POZARICA, HMS BRITOMART,

                                HMS HALCYON, HM Corvette LOTUS and three trawlers in search for dispersed

                                ships and survivors from ships lost after dispersal.

                7th          Rescued survivors from tanker ss ALDERSDALE.

                                Arrived at Matochkin Strait, Novaya Zemla with convoy of re-assembled mercantiles.

                10th        Took passage from Matochkin Strait and came under air attacks during which

                                two mercantiles were sunk.

                                For details see FLEET MINESWEEPERS AT WAR by J Williams and above


                11th        Arrived at Archangel escorting some of ships from PQ17 formed into convoy

                                and survivors rescued from sea or small boats.

                                Resumed minesweeping duties in Barents Sea.

                                (Note: HMS BRAMBLE, HMS LEDA and HMS HAZARD met these ships

                                during passage to Archangel.).


July                         North Russia deployment in continuation

to                            (Note: Ships carried out night patrols to prevent enemy air minelaying activities and

August                  deal with mines dropped.)



                13th        Deployed with HMS BRITOMART, HMS HALCYON and HMS HAZARD as Eastern

                                Local Escort for outward Convoy QP14 during initial stage of passage from Archangel

                                Returned to Kola Inlet on release from QP14.

                18th        Deployed with HMS BRITOMART, HMS HALCYON and HMS HAZARD to provide

                                Eastern Local Escort for inward Convoy PQ18 during final stage of passage from


                                (Note: This convoy was the last of the PQ Series and had a much larger escort

                                including an escort aircraft carrier to provide air cover. See references.)

                21st         Detached from PQ18 on arrival at Kola Inlet and resumed local duties.


October                  Deployment in North Russia in continuation.


November              Nominated for return to UK

                17th        Deployed with Ocean Escort for outward Convoy QP15 during passage from

                                Archangel to Loch Ewe.

                                (Note: Other ships in Ocean Escort included HM AA Ship ULSTER QUEEN, four

                                corvettes and four Home Fleet destroyers. See references.)

                30th        Detached from QP15 after passage with no loss of mercantiles.

                                Air attacks were possibly absent because of adverse weather conditions but

                                Some U-boat attacks failed.


December              Passage to Aberdeen for refit in commercial shipyard.

                7th          Taken in hand for refit


1 9 4 3


January                  Under refit




March                    Nominated for service in Home waters with 1st Minesweeping Flotilla.

                1st           Carried out post refit trials on completion of shipyard work.

                                Worked-up for operational service.


April                       Deployed with Flotilla for minesweeping in Home waters

                                (Note: Main priority was for clearance of mines in coastal waters

                                in Irish Sea and SW Approaches.

                                As ships of this Class were fitted with Sonar (ASDIC) equipment

                                they could also be used for convoy escort if needed.)



                7th          Taken in hand for repair at Milford Haven.

                13th        On completion of repair resumed minesweeping duties with Flotilla


June                        Flotillas deployment in Home waters in continuation.




October                  Nominated for refit

                13th        Taken in hand for refit at commercial shipyard in Tyne


November              Under refit




1 9 4 4


January                  Under refit





                13th        Resumed Flotilla service in Home waters on completion of post refit trials

                                (Operation NEPTUNE).

                                Carried out Flotilla minesweeping exercises


April                       Nominated for support of planned allied landings in Normandy with Flotilla.

                                Passage to Rosyth for repair.

                4th          Taken in hand by HM Dockyard Rosyth.

                11th        On completion of dockyard work took passage to rejoin Flotilla.

                                (Note: Other ships in Flotilla were HM Minesweepers HARRIER,

                                GLEANER, HALCYON, HUSSAR, JASON, BRITOMART,

                                SEAGULL and SPEEDWELL.)


May                        Nominated with Flotilla for mine clearance of approach Channels to the

                                beach head anchorage areas.

                                (Note: Three Motor Launches and four Isle- Class Danlayers were

                                attached to Flotilla for this specialised operation

                                Took part in preparatory exercises with ships of Force S (Exercise FABIUS).

                                Carried out night sweeping exercises with Flotilla.

                                For details of naval activities before and during landings see LANDINGS

                                IN NORMANDY JUNE 1944 and OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards.


June                        Deployed at Portsmouth for briefing and preparations for minesweeping

                                of Channel 9 in advance of Assault convoys.

                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 anchorages.

                8th          Deployed for widening approach Channels and defence patrols off

                                Eastern Task Force landing areas.

                                Carried out Channel convoy escort as required.


July                         Channel minesweeping and convoy defence in continuation,

                                (Note: Under threat of attack by E-Boats and midget submarines.)


August                  Channel deployment in continuation off Arromanches with HM

                                Minesweepers HARRIER, JASON, HUSSAR, GLEANER and


                12th        Transferred to Le Havre area for mine sweeping operation in anchorage

                                selected for bombardment of enemy positions by HM Battleship

                                WARSPITE, HM Monitors EREBUS and ROBERTS.

                13th        Under shore fire during minesweeping operations.

                16th        Permission to remain in area instead of taking passage back to Arromanches

                                approved in order to complete clearance.

                17th        During final clearance came under rocket attacks by RAF TYPHOON

                                aircraft in which ship was hit and stern structure demolished.

                18th        Passage to Portsmouth under tow.

                                (Note: HMS HUSSAR and HMS BRITOMART was also hit and sank.

                                HMS JASON and two trawlers were also hit.)

                                (For details see OUT SWEEPS by Lund and Ludlam, FRIEND OR FOE

                                by P Kemp and Naval Staff History.

                                This disaster was directly due to failure of Flag Officer British

                                Assault Area to ensure that approval of extended minesweeping

                                operation had been advised to all concerned with air operations.)


September             Paid off and deployed at Portsmouth for survey.

                                Withdrawn from operational service.


October                  Passage under tow to Hartlepool.

to                             Reduced to Reserve.



1 9 4 5


January                  Laid-up at Hartlepool in continuation


February                Reduced to Reserve Category B


March                    Laid-up at Hartlepool.




P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS SALAMANDER remained in Reserve at Hartlepool and was further reduced to Category C in December 1945. The ship was placed on the Disposal List and sold to BISCO on 15th December 1946 for demolition by Hughes Bolcow. She arrived in tow at the Breaker’s yard in Blyth on 7th May 1947.





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