Halcyon Class Minesweeper - Service History

Service History

Halcyons served in Home waters, at Dunkirk, on Arctic convoy duty, and in the Mediterranean.

On 3 February 1940 Sphinx (Cdr. J. R. N. Taylor, RN) was sweeping an area 15 miles (24 km) north of Kinnaird Head when attacked by enemy aircraft. A bomb pierced the fo'c'sle deck and exploding destroying the fore part of the ship. She remained afloat and was taken in tow by Halcyon but steadily flooded and capsized and sank. The wreck was later washed ashore north of Lybster and was sold for scrap. The Commanding Officer and forty of the men were killed in the explosion.

Skipjack (Lt.Cdr. F. B. Proudfoot, RN) was attacked and sunk by a force of German dive-bombers off De Panne, Belgium on 1 June 1940. On board Skipjack were between 250 and 300 soldiers just rescued from the Dunkirk beaches during Operation Dynamo. Eye witness William Stone said "she just disappeared".

Halcyons were pressed into service as anti-submarine escorts; this task slowly decreasing as the ships specifically designed for this task, such as Flower class corvettes, came off the slips. Halcyons accompanied most of the Arctic Convoys, serving both as minesweepers and anti-submarine escorts. Several spent extended periods working out of Soviet naval bases in Northern Russia, such as Murmansk. Four Halcyons were lost during this period.

  • Gossamer (Lt.Cdr. T. C. Crease), having escorted the very first Arctic Convoy, attacked a German U-boat while escorting Convoy PQ 11, and helped rescue the crew of HMS Edinburgh. Gossamer dive-bombed and sunk on 26 June 1942 in the Kola Inlet.
  • Niger (Cdr. A. J. Cubison, DSC and Bar) was lost off Iceland on 5 July 1942 while escorting Convoy PQ-13, when part of the convoy wandered into a British minefield.
  • Leda was torpedoed and sunk in the Greenland Sea on 29 September 1942 while escorting Convoy QP-14.
  • On 31 December 1943 during the Battle of the Barents Sea, Bramble was attacked by the German surface raider Admiral Hipper on while escorting Convoy JW 51B. After sustaining serious damage, Bramble was finished off by the German destroyer Eckholdt.

Hebe and Speedy served in the Mediterranean as part of the 14th/17th Minesweeper Flotilla based in Malta. The minesweepers saw action during the Malta Convoys, Operation Torch, and Operation Corkscrew. Hebe was lost to a mine off Bari, Italy on 22 November 1943.

Britomart (Lt. Cdr. Nash, MBE, RNR) and Hussar (Lt.Cdr. A. J. Galvin, DSC, RNR) were sunk by aerial rockets fired from RAF Typhoons in a "friendly fire" incident on 27 August 1944 off Cap d'Antifer, Le Havre. Salamander was badly damaged astern in the same incident and she was written off as a constructive total loss and eventually scrapped without repair. Jason was attacked during the same incident but escaped major damage.

Read more about this topic:  Halcyon Class Minesweeper

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