Halcyon Class Minesweepers

Halcyon Class Ships
Convoy JW53




This is not a comprehensive account of the convoy but records the important roles played by the Halcyon Class ships.

For more details of the ships that sailed in these convoys visit www.convoyweb.org.uk

Source: ADM 199 73 Convoy JW53


From: The Commanding Officer, HMS JASON 

Date:23rd February 1943 

To: The Captain ‘D’, 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, HMS MILNE 

Subject:  Escort of Convoy JW53


The following Report of Proceedings as Senior Officer of escort to Convoy JW53 is submitted . 

15th February 

1500     Sailed from Loch Ewe as Senior Officer in Charge of Local Escort. Escorts in company HM Ships DIANELLA, BERGAMOT, POPPY, LORD AUSTIN, and LORD MIDDLETON. HMS PYTCHLEY, MEYNELL, MIDDLETON, HAZARD, SHARPSHOOTER and VIVACIOUS, were originally expected to join off the Loch Ewe buoy, but all failed to make the rendezvous owing to weather and other causes. 

16th February 

0820     Air A/S Escort arrived. 

0930     HMS PYTCHLEY, MIDDLETON and MEYNELL joined. Convoy mustered 25 ships, organised in nine columns, remainder had been unable to sail. 

1530     HMS HALCYON joined. 

1800     Air escort left. 

17th February 

0800     Air escort arrived. 

0930     LORD MIDDLETON’s signal timed 0902 received, stating for’ard store room flooded and heaving to. Ordered MIDDLETON to stand by and report on situation. On receipt of further details from LORD MIDDLETON, ordered him to return to Scapa if inadvisable to continue and as he and MIDDLETON were now out of V/S range sent DIANELLA back to pass message. MIDDLETON’s 1215 was received at 1230 and DIANELLA’s 1459 at 1606, stating he was escorting LORD MIDDLETON to Scapa. (Visibility during this period about 1 mile). 

1120     Received HALCYON’s 1115 stating trawler KOMILES reported lashings on deck cargo broken, necessary to proceed Faeroe Islands to re-lash.

         Passed signal to Commodore who made signal ordering KOMILES to make good defects at Faeroe Islands and return to Loch Ewe. As KOMILES had speed of 11 knots asked Commodore if he did not think KOMILES could catch up with convoy after re-stowing cargo. Commodore agreed and I drafted signal accordingly but signal could not be passed as KOMILES was out of V/S touch. 

1243     Received LORD AUSTIN’s 1228 stating KOMILES had left convoy and was out of sight.

1328     Received LORD AUSTIN’s 1235 to Commodore stating that KOMILES had re-joined convoy. 

1451     Signal received from Commodore stating KOMILES had left convoy for Faeroe Islands. 

18th February

 A.M.    Heavy sea and swell from NW, V/S communication with escorts difficult due to low visibility and height of waves; convoy somewhat scattered and escorts out of position.

         Hove to to carry out temporary repairs to ventilation trunking aft which had carried away on Quarter Deck, thus causing leak into LL and M/S compartments. Housed A/S dome to prevent damage by sea and as A/s conditions were very bad. 

1500     Air escort arrived, reported 22 ships present. Told him speed 4 knots.

19th February 

         Gale continuing from SW, heavy seas and swell, visibility poor. 

1100     Received signal from Commodore stating KOMILES had reported by W/T that hull was split and she was filling up, followed by SOS but giving no position.

         Set watch on MF/DF and Commercial Wave. 

1121    Commodore reported that at 0900 there were 19 ships in sight and one had hove to to secure cargo. 

1230     Passed signal to PYTCHLEY ordering HALCYON to proceed back along convoy route until 1800 to look for KOMILES. I estimated KOMILES had re-stored cargo at Faeroe Islands and had split his hull in endeavouring to catch up and might be about 50 miles astern, but on asking Commodore if any estimation of distance could be obtained from strength of KOMILES’ SOS, received reply ‘Within radius of 30 miles’. I therefore ordered HALCYON back in the vain hope of finding him and if unsuccessful by dark, hoped he might be seen by Convoy JW53B coming up astern. I presumed that his SOS would have been received by Shore Stations and other ships.  

1435     Received signal from PYTCHLEY that he had been unable to find HALCYON and that my signal had not been passed. Decided it was now too late to take any further action. 

20th February   

         Weather moderated. 

0845     MIDDLETON reported 4 stragglers about 15 miles astern. 

0925     Commodore proposed wheeling 90° to port for about 10 miles, then steering to Position C, in order to allow stragglers to catch up, and requested an escort be sent back to bring them up.

         Agreed at first, but as I estimated convoy was already 5 miles to port of its track, considered a diversion of a further 10 miles inadvisable, especially as convoy JW53B was expected to be overtaking and that at this time smoke was sighted on the horizon on the starboard quarter of the convoy.

         Suggested that it would be preferable to reduce speed, to which the Commodore agreed, reducing accordingly to 5 knots. 

1003     Ordered MIDDLETON to investigate smoke and inform stragglers of convoy’s position, course and speed.

1100     BLUEBELL and CAMELLIA joined escort. Aircraft patrol arrived but departed before exchange of signals could be effected, having been ordered to return home. 

11.50    Received signal from LORD AUSTIN reporting damage by weather (port lifeboat, bridge-rails and stanchions stove in, voice pipe depth charge thrower missing, RDF wires carried away, Lewis gun mounting bent), and one rating suffering from concussion. Was able to confirm by 1712 that he was able to continue voyage. 

2200     Convoy increased to 7½ knots. Unknown whether stragglers and rejoined owing to poor visibility and intermittent snow showers.  

2359     Detached PYTHCHLEY and MIDDLETON to Seidisfiord to fuel, PYTCHLEY having previously reported they would have reached prudent limit of endurance by that time.  

21st February 

0800     Captain D 3 rendezvoused and took over command of the convoy which was 36 hours behind schedule due to the adverse weather conditions experienced.


HGA Lewis

Commander in Command


From The Commanding Officer HMS Scylla 

It is considered that the Commanding Officer, HMS JASON, handled the difficult situation of weather, escorts and stragglers in a very able manner.



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