Source: ADM 199/1104
arrivals and departures from the Kola Inlet have taken place:
Seawolf sailed for patrol in Vestfiord then to UK. HMS
Salamander and Britomart arrive from
Sturgeon arrived Polyarnoe from UK
Convoy PQ8 escorted by HMS
Trinidad, Somali, Matabele,
Harrier and Speedwell
attacked by U-boats off the Kola Inlet. SS
Hamatris torpedoed at 2000/17th in position 69º 16'N, 36º 08'E.
Ship taken in tow by HMS Speedwell and
later by Russian tugs and arrived Murmansk 19th Jan. Attacks by bombers
on passage were unsuccessful. HMS Matabele
torpedoed and blown up at 2333/17th in position 69º 21'N, 35º 24'E.
HMS Harrier picked up only two survivors.
Harrier (MS6) and Speedwell arrived
from UK with PQ8.
Sharpshooter, Britomart and Salamander
carried out searching sweep for mines between Svyatol Nos and Gorodetski.
Ships attacked by enemy aircraft on both days. On 24th
HMS Britomart shot down one Ju 88. HMS
Britomart hit by two bombs which failed to explode, suffering
only slight damage and two casualties; one killed and one wounded. No
Bramble (MS1) and Hebe returned to
UK sailing with QP6
HMS Sturgeon sailed for patrol
HM Minesweepers continued to operate
from Kola inlet, forming local escorts for PQ and QP convoys and carrying out
minesweeping and anti-submarine patrols.
QP4 was originally intended to sail
from Archangel on 9th December but did not do so due to ice and other delays. It
left on 26th December, reaching open water and the ocean escort on 5th January.
PQ7A consisting of two ships was not
met by their ocean escort of HMS Britomart
and Salamander and proceeded independently.
PQ7B consisting 9 ships arrived 11th
QP5 consisting 4 ships sailed 13th
PQ8 consisting 7 ships arrived 18th
QP6 consisting 6 ships sailed 24th
Nine British ships remain at
Archangel, 3 at Bakaritsa, 5 at Molotovsk, and 1 at Ekonomia. It seems possible
that these ships will remain iced-in for the winter, especially as the
ice-breaker Stalin is temporarily out of action due
to enemy bombing attack.
There has been only one air attack on
the district, and that only by a single enemy plane which dropped four bombs
from a great height during the night of 29th/30th January. No damage resulted.
There have been no deliberate attacks on the port or on shipping in the Inlet
although flying conditions have been favourable for approximately 70% of the
days during the month.
Local fog in the Inlet may cause
slight delays to convoys. PQ8 was brought into the inlet in thick fog without
incident, but it is not intended that this shall be the normal practice. The
Senior Officer 1st MSF led PQ8 to safe anchorage, making use of RDF, in a most
Air activity on both sides has been
much greater than anticipated. The Russians have made repeated attacks in the
Murmansk sector and bombed Kirkenes on several occasions. Their fighters have
been increased in number and been active in giving fighter cover. The enemy
activity has been chiefly devoted to bombing military objectives and the
railway, but the ice breaker Stalin and our
minesweepers have been bombed in the White Sea. Aerial combats have been rare...
More interest has been
taken in minesweeping. Classes have been out in British minesweepers to see the
'LL' in use. The arrival Norwegian whalers for transfer to the Soviet Navy is
keenly awaited. A swept channel has been instituted, though not swept, in the
Kola Inlet where the depth of water is less than 50 fathoms...
When the days are
longer, air attacks on shipping in Kola Inlet may be expected, but I believe the
anti-aircraft defences and fighters are capable of beating off any raiders,
unless the scale of air attack is very much increased.
With the lengthening
days more facilities for outdoor recreation are now available. Skiing is proving
very popular with officers of the base staff, submarines and minesweepers, and
also a number of ratings. Difficulty has, however, been experienced in obtaining
sufficient skis from the Russians and a request for skis to be sent from England
has been signalled.
A football ground has
been made on one of the many frozen lakes and goal posts erected. Trial
matches have been played and it is hoped to start a Polyarnoe league.
Negotiations are in progress with the Russians to clear a portion of one lake
and flood it for skating.
The wind has remained in
a south-westerly quarter for most of the month, and no gales and very little
snow has been experienced. Local for in the Inlet has been very prevalent.
The average temperature
at Polyarnoe for the month has been 8 degrees Fahrenheit and the lowest recorded
temperature at noon minus 13 degrees or 45 degrees of frost... The temperature
at Murmansk is approximately 5 degrees lower than at Polyarnoe.
The supply of fresh
meat, bread, butter, sugar and tea remains ample. Potatoes, vegetables, eggs,
milk, cheese, fruit and chocolate are not obtainable. The minesweepers (6) have
been relying largely on cruisers of ocean escorts for their canteen stores,
potatoes and vegetables; the latter having been scarce for some weeks...
There is no prospect of
potatoes or vegetables being sent here from Russian sources until June. Reindeer
meat is plentiful but fish is scarcely provided.
Signed N Bevan
Rear Admiral, Senior
British Naval Officer, North
Polyarnoe, 4th February