Halcyon Class Minesweepers Report of SBNO (extracts) - August 1942
Nov 1941
Dec 1941
Jan 1942
Feb 1942
Mar 1942
Apr 1942
Jun 1942
Aug 1942
Sep 1942
Oct 1942
Nov 1942
Dec 1942
Jan-Feb 1943
Feb-Apr 1943
May 1943
June 1943
July 1943
Aug 1943
Sep 1943
Oct 1943
Nov-Dec 1943
Dec 43-Jan 44
Feb 44
Mar 1944



Source: ADM 199/1104


HMS Bramble (MS1), Seagull, Hazard, Salamander, Blankney, and Middleton arrived from Archangel at 2300 on 23rd August bringing about 402 survivors with them including 30 hospital cases. 

On account of the increasing air activity in the Kola Inlet, the prospect of having these ships here was not one that I enjoyed. Their arrival was timed for the darkest part of the night ( it is still light enough to read a newspaper between 2300 and 0100 in clear weather) when German air activity was at its lowest, allowing the safe transfer of survivors and stores. After completing their transfers the four Halcyon minesweepers moved out to 'hide' under Kildin Island before daylight.

On 29th August a Russian convoy including three minesweepers from MS1 proceeded to assist in the westerly passage from the Far East of a small flotilla of Russian destroyers. The British escort proceeded as far as Yugorski Strait and returned without incident.

Minesweeping has been regularly carried out in the Kola Inlet approaches but with negative results; the first definitive magnetic mine to have been swept in Northern waters being the one exploded by HMS Hazard in the White Sea on 29th August, though some were thought to have been laid by aircraft off Mishukov in mid-June.


Owing to the suspension of convoys after PQ17, there are more HM ships than usual at Archangel and all will have been there nearly two months by the time QP14 (of which they are the escort) sails. Altogether there have been 4 destroyers, 2 A/A ships, 7 Fleet minesweepers, 4 corvettes and 4 trawlers in the port for most of the time. Few of them were stored for such a period and as the Russians have  been unable to supply in any great quantity, they have been on short rations since the middle of August.

The number of survivors has been as many as 1261 (RN 276, Merchant Navy 399, US Navy 117, US Merchant Navy 469). These have been supplied by the Russians but it has been necessary to provide for the return passage to UK, as neither HM Ships nor merchant ships could cater for any extra numbers embarked. Some of the latter have also been short of food for their own crews.

To meet this situation about 70 tons of provisions were brought out by Tuscaloosa and destroyers in Operation EU. The whole of this amount was allocated to Archangel, but it is estimated that by the time QP14 sails on 11th September all stocks will have been issued or consumed. Arrangements have been made by Admiralty for maximum quantities to be sent out in PQ18. The prompt action taken removes any immediate anxiety.

It is essential, however, that good stocks are built up in Archangel before the winter, both for ships frozen in and for the shore staff. It is unlikely that supplies will be available from Russian sources as they themselves may suffer an acute shortage and even famine. It will, therefore, be necessary for considerable quantities to be sent in each convoy up till December. It is estimated that by the time the White Sea closes a stock of not less than six months requirements for 600 men must be achieved.  


The situation here has been satisfactory and there remains at the present date sufficient standard ration items of provisions for 100 men for about four months. In addition the Russians are for the moment able to provide reindeer meat about once a week, also adequate supplies of bread, tinned milk, tea, coffee and sugar, but there have been no fresh vegetables or fruit since June. The possibility of Russian supplies diminishing or ceasing has to be considered, however, together with the possibility of a further large influx of survivors, demands from HM Ships and losses through incendiaries and bombs and a reserve of one month's supplies for 1,000 men will, therefore, be built up if possible. Two storehouses are available in which to disperse stocks.


Stocks of clothing in Archangel and Polyarnoe have largely been absorbed by survivors. A certain amount of Naval clothing and survivors clothing (Merchant Navy) was brought out in EU and sufficient warm and Arctic clothing for 500 men is expected in PQ18.


A large quantity of ammunition was brought out in EU but the balance which will remain after distribution to ships in QP14 has not been determined. A reserve of about 450 depth charges and a small amount of ammunition is maintained at Polyarnoe, spread over several Russian magazines. As none of my staff are allowed access to the magazines, and as the Russians do not understand our descriptions of the various components, the monthly return of stocks signalled to the Admiralty is not necessarily  accurate.

Rear Admiral Douglas Fisher

Senior British Naval Officer, North Russia.

Home | Nov 1941 | Dec 1941 | Jan 1942 | Feb 1942 | Mar 1942 | Apr 1942 | Jun 1942 | Aug 1942 | Sep 1942 | Oct 1942 | Nov 1942 | Dec 1942 | Jan-Feb 1943 | Feb-Apr 1943 | May 1943 | June 1943 | July 1943 | Aug 1943 | Sep 1943 | Oct 1943 | Nov-Dec 1943 | Dec 43-Jan 44 | Feb 44 | Mar 1944

This site was last updated 17 Januar 2012