Halcyon Class Minesweepers Report of SBNO (extracts) - April 1942
 
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Source: ADM 199/1104

OPERATIONS

No further sweeping operations in the White Sea off Cape Kachkovski have been possible. All minesweepers have been employed in local escort duties an A/S patrols in the approaches. Several demonstrations of LL sweeping, for the benefit of Soviet officers and ratings have also been arranged.

AIRCRAFT  Of the original twenty PE-3 long range fighters sent to Vaenga for covering convoys, only 14 now remain. They have not been successful in providing cover; firstly because the pilots are inexperienced and accustomed to targets on land, secondly because they are not accustomed to flying through cloud or fog and their compasses are not reliable, thirdly, because the thaw has made the conditions on the ground too soft for taking off, and fourthly lack of guidance and encouragement. Yesterday, 29th April, six PE-3's provided cover in two relays for convoy QP11, leaving Vaenga at 0400 when the convoy was some 110 miles distant.  

PROVISIONS

The food shortage in the district is reflected by the failure to supply anything to H M ships, with the exception of bread and occasionally fish. However, if cruisers continue to arrive well stocked and the minesweepers are relieved in turn, the needs of all Naval personnel should be adequately met by the present arrangements whereby about 14 days supply of fresh and dry provisions are shipped in a Merchant ship in each convoy and surplus meat may be taken over from Merchant ships under the Ministry of War Transport.

WEATHER

Thaw started on 11th April. There has been a good deal of wet show since then and an average day temperature of 30F. The snow is disappearing slowly and the roads are extremely bad for every form of traffic.

CONDUCT AND HEALTH

The conduct of 'Naval Party 100' continues to be satisfactory and their health remains very good. Every precaution has been taken to provide against the summer mosquito menace and all beds are supplied with spreaders and nets.

I hope that the gradual relief of all the ratings may take place as they become due, after 9 - 12 months service in North Russia. None complain, but it must be owned that none wish to stay. 

R H L Bevan 
Rear Admiral, SBNO North Russia
 

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