Halcyon Class Minesweepers

Halcyon Class Ships
Convoy QP15

QP15 Halcyon Report
QP15 Britomart Report
QP15 Hazard Report
QP15 Escort Orders



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

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

QP15 ran into severe weather. 

‘QP15 taught me that there is nothing like the sea for cultivating humility.’ 

‘…all zigzagging was abandoned as we met the fury of a full gale hurled at us with hurricane force. Monstrous waves nearly mast high. Gradually we lost touch with the convoy realizing that in these extreme conditions it was to be every man for himself. Below decks was chaos as the ship rolled up to 45˚. Then a mooring wire was carried away and wrapped itself around the port screw, stopping the engine. Then a miracle occurred and the wire untangled itself. Then the steering linkage broke and we had to use the engines to steer. The situation was critical. We were close to breaking point. Drifting towards the Norwegian coast and the German airfields. Repairs were made and we set course slowly for Scapa to husband our fuel reserves.  

Then sea water started leaking into the boilers. We had to stop the engines and repair the leaks (three holes were plugged using matchsticks), We were sitting ducks while we waited. When the repairs were completed, we proceeded to Scapa and met some destroyers. An earlier search for us by destroyers had returned to Scapa with negative news and it was assumed that we had been sunk.  

Our survival was miraculous, we realized it, looking at the missing guard rails, the bent stanchions and widespread damage above deck, and remembering the chaos on the messdecks, the sickening rolls and the shuddering of the hull. Never was Scapa so welcome.’ 

Extracts from the Diary of Leading Signalman V Shackleton, HMS SALAMANDER  IWM Ref 5148 96/22/1
See also
press cutting from Daily Herald 2.1.43 – One Ship Against the Arctic by A J McWhinnie. 


Source ADM237/166


Report on Convoy QP15 (Extracts) - Commodore Wm C Meeks’ 

17th November 1942

The Convoy consisting of 28 Merchant Ships, HMS Ulster Queen and rescue ship Copeland sailed from Archangel. The escort consisting of the following H.M. Ships Halcyon, Britomart, Sharpshooter, Salamander, Hazard, Bryony, Camellia, Bluebell & Bergamot.

18th November 1942

1330 Two Russian Destroyers joined. 1420 Convoy cleared entrance to the White Sea and formed up in nine columns. Light wind, slight sea.

19th November 1942

0935 Ocean Faith dropped astern owing to engine defect but rejoined Convoy at 1015. 1200 Lat 70.59N Long 45.02E. Wind S. force 6, equally, rough sea.

20th November 1942

0145 Convoy reached position  Lat 75.06N Long 45.02E. Weather deteriorating, wind shifted to SSE force 7, wind and snow squalls. Visibility poor. Between squalls alteration of course at position CC was made to all ships.

1600 Convoy at position CC (Lat 75.06N, Long 40.36E). Necessary alteration of course was made for position DD. On this course the wind and sea were two points abaft the beam on the port side and ships were labouring considerably. Wind SSE force 7, frequent heavy wind and snow squalls of force 8/9, very high sea, visibility very poor and reduced to zero during squalls. Fog signal sounded at 15 minute intervals and leaders of columns to windward were heard but none from columns to leeward. By 1830 no fog signals from other ships were heard. 2200 Wind decreasing in violence, squalls less frequent but heavy confused seas running.

21st November 1942

0010 Weather moderating rapidly, snow stopped falling, no ships in sight. 0800 Weather clear but very heavily overcast and dark, no ships in sight.

1035 Called by flashing from ship on port quarter. This proved to be corvette Bergamot who informed me that there was one ship bearing red 130º and several ships bearing green 115º, altered course 15º  to starboard to close latter.

1150 Salamander with several ships in company and steering on south-easterly course passed close astern from starboard to port. Salamander signalled new route (via south of Bear Island) and gave her course as 225º. Visibility was low at the time and it was not certain that the whole signal was received. Course was immediately altered to 225º in an endeavour to keep contact with this party. 1200 Lat 75.06N, Long 28.58E.

1300 Several merchant ships were dimly sighted on port beam and taken to be the Salamander party. When called by Aldis Lamp a reply was received from Bryony stating that Sharpshooter with ten ships was there. Bryony took station on port bow. Ships on port side were lost sight of in darkness and haze.

1445 Course altered to 248º to make new position South of Bear Island. Requested Bryony to inform ships of new course. Wind shifted to NNE and increased rapidly to force 8/9 with wind and snow squalls of force 10/11, sea rough and increasing. In view of the fact that there appeared to be a certainty that a number of ships were to the southward of me, I continued 10 miles to the Southward of position off Bear Island in an endeavour to contact them.

22nd November 1942

0800 Being about 10 miles south of position off Bear Island course was altered to 278º to regain track. Bryony reported that he had located ships on portside by R.D.F. and later reported they were drawing ahead. Speed increased to 10 knots. About 1030 Bryony made a sweep to the south and south-east and later the south-west but could not contact any ships. Speed was now reduced to 9.5 knots. 

1200 Lat 73.38N, Long 17.36E. 12.15 Ship observed on starboard quarter which proved to be Empire Morn. 15.15 Empire Morn joined. 1600 Britomart with Charles McCormack in company joined. 2100 Lat 73.32N, Long 15.08E. Wind and sea moderating quickly, heavily overcast, dark. From now on weather improved but owing to darkness and occasional light snow showers visibility was poor.

23rd November 1942

0600 Regained track altered course 270º    0725 Received Admiralty Signal addressed GMS. 1045 Hazard joined. 1200 Lat 73.42N Long 8.14E. 1800 Lat 73.11N, Long 05.00E, altered course to 266º for position NH. The following ships are now in company: Temple Arch, Empire Morn, Charles McCormack with escort vessels Britomart and Bryony.

24th November 1942

1010 Informed by Britomart that route altered east of Iceland. 1200 Lat 72.19N, Long 0035E. 1345 Three vessels sighted ahead which proved to be destroyers Landsbury, and Intrepid with Dan-y-Bryn in company.

25th November 1942

1100 received signal from Britomart stating Goolistan, a straggler in the convoy, had been torpedoed in Lat 75.30 Long 8.00E. 1200 at Lat 70.05N Long 6.03W.

26th November 1942

0600 Intrepid and Landsbury left convoy to proceed ahead to Seidisfiord. 0800 Rescue ship Copeland joined. 1200 Lat 67.52N, Long 12.58W. 1608 Sighted H.A. gunfire bearing 220º. No ships or planes sighted but gunfire could be heard and area dense with smoke. 1622 Altered course 40º to port to avoid this area. 1800 Resumed course for position OO.

27th November 1942

0245 Sighted Langanes light. 0330 Altered course at position PP. 1000 At position QQ. 1100 off Seidisfiord. Escort relieved by destroyers Intrepid (S.O.), Icarus, Landsbury, Middleton, Camelia and Bluebell. 11.30 Following ships joined convoy from Seydesfjord: Empire Snow, Exford, Esek Hopkins, Belomorcanal, William Moultrie and Ulster Queen.

1200 Lat 64.14N, Long 12.25E 1415 At position RR - reformed convoy in four columns.

28th November 1942 

1200 Lat 62.19N, Long 12.32W. Nothing of importance to report this day.

29th November 1942

1200 Lat 62.19N, Long 12.32W. Nothing of importance to report this day.

30th November 1942

0010 Crossed line Butt of Lewis to Cape Wrath. 0515 arrived off Loch Ewe, cruised until daylight. 0915 Entered Loch Ewe.


The scattering of QP15 is attributed to the following:

The strong wind and high seas combined with darkness and low visibility probably caused some opening out of the formation when nearing position CC (Lat 75.06N, Long 40.36E). On altering course at CC to westward the wind and sea were brought almost abeam and probably caused some further opening of the formation.

Subsequent to passing position CC certain of the escort vessels apparently received an Admiralty signal changing the route. This change cut out positions DD, EE, FF and GG and substituted two positions, the new route being south of Bear Island. It is apparent the escort did not manage to contact all vessels of the convoy chiefly due to the very low visibility. A number of ships almost certainly followed the original route and passed north of Bear Island and so became hopelessly separated from the convoy.


APPRECIATION OF Q.P.15 as at 28.11.42

COMMODORE'S PARTY - due Loch Ewe midnight 29th-30th

Temple Arch (Commodore), Dan-Y-Bryn (Vice Comdre),  Empire Snow,  Empire Morn,  Copeland,  Charles R McCormick (US),  Esek Hopkins (US),  William Moultrie (US), Exford (US), Belomorcanal (Russ.)

Escort:  HMS Intrepid (S.O.),  HMS Icarus, HMS Ledbury, HMS Sharpshooter,  HMS Bluebell,  HMS Camelia.

AKUREYRI PARTY -expected to sail 28/11 due Loch Ewe 2/12

Empire Tristram, Ocean Faith, Virginia Dare (US), Sahale (US), Patrick Henry (US), St Olaf (US), Nathaniel Greene (US), Hollywood (US)* (to sail to Reykjavik, shortage of water), Schoharie (US), Andre Marti (Russ.), Tblisi (Russ.), Komiles (Russ.), Friedrich Engels (Russ.), Petrovski (Russ.), Empire Baffin

SEIDISFJORD PARTY - due Loch Ewe 2/12

Lafayette, San Ambrosio, White Clover - to be escorted by HMS Forester, Bergamot, Bryony to UK pm 28/11



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This site was last updated 17 Januar 2012