Halcyon Class Minesweepers

HMS Sharpshooter 1939

S'shooter Pre-War
Sharpshooter 1939
Sharpshooter 1940
Sharpshooter 1941
Sharpshooter 1942
Sharpshooter 1943
Sharpshooter 1944
Sharpshooter 1945
S'shooter Post War
Sharpshooter Crew


HMS Sharpshooter - Halcyon Class Minesweeper
HMS Sharpshooter (Wright & Logan 10647)

Sharpshooter spent the first half of 1939 on routine exercises with the rest of the 1st Minesweeping Flotilla. This was followed by visits to Brixham, Dartmouth, Bristol and Falmouth where the ships were opened for visits from the public. After the crew had spent July on their summer leave the pace changed.  

Following the Reserve Fleet review by the King at Portland on 9th August, Sharpshooter went on exercises and live firing practice. She then sailed to Scapa where she was kept busy transferring stores and new crew members to the other ships of the fleet. After war was declared on 3rd September she carried out minesweeping duties and anti-submarine patrols around Scapa. Sharpshooter spent the last two weeks of September minesweeping at Loch Ewe before returning to Scapa, experiencing several air raids and claiming one aircraft shot down on 17th October. Following the torpedoing of HMS Royal Oak within Scapa, Sharpshooter carried the Investigation Committee on its tour of inspection of the defences. 

She then spent the rest of October and November around Scapa, Loch Ewe and the Firth of Clyde sweeping for mines. At the end of November she went to the Clyde. It was necessary to remove British minefields to provide a safe anchorage for the Fleet while Scapa’s defences were strengthened.

The Ship's logs for Sharpshooter (and the other Halcyon Class ships) have only survived up to January 1940, the rest have presumably been destroyed. Extracts are shown below, click on the button to open.

January 1939 February 1939 March 1939
April 1939 May 1939 June 1939
July 1939 August 1939 September 1939
October 1939 November 1939 December 1939

HMS Sharpshooter - Halcyon Class Minesweeper
HMS Sharpshooter  

Interview with Thomas Phillip Edward King of HMS Sharpshooter
 Imperial War Museum, Accession No. 006973/02

IWM    When Chamberlain made that declaration that Britain was at war with Germany. Can you remember how you and the people that were around you reacted to that? 

TK      Yes. We were at Scapa Flow on the Sunday and it was lunchtime when the speech was made. Of course, being at a young age these things never register so much as they do when you get older. I suppose, if it would be now, it would be a different kettle of fish. But I can truthfully say that myself and the men around me, we just thought "Well, it'll be another day". We didn't realise what we’d got to come. But you was always sort of prepared in the Navy, this is true, even though the Navy wasn't ‑ well it was brought up to its full strength. But you was always taught in the Navy that you was always ready and ready we were. But myself, there was never any fear as such. 

IWM    Was there any enthusiasm for the declaration of war were people enthusiastic about it? 

TK      I wouldn't say enthusiastic about it because again, you were always taught never to underestimate your opponent and we said “"Well, this is it". 

IWM   What did people think about Germany at that time ‑ did they think that Germany was a. powerful opponent or not? 

TK      Yes ‑ you're going on to public opinion as a whole. We didn't have a lot of time to see the public did we? Because we [were] tucked up in Scapa Flow with the main fleet, and it was only us leaving Scapa Flow for boiler cleaning at Aberdeen that we managed to get ashore. They did build a sort of canteen in Scapa but in the first part of the War at Scapa it was very hard and we never had a lot to do with the public so you couldn't honestly and truthfully say what their opinion was. 

IWM    Did you ever come across anybody who was opposed to the War? 

TK      No, honestly and truthful.

IWM    They all thought that we should fight Germany? 

TK      Certainly. 

IWM    What did you personally at that time think about Germany and Hitler? 

TK      Right from even a small boy the Germans were always dominant in the world, even after the First World War. but say from the end of the First War to the beginning of the next one there was always that at the back of your mind ‑ the Germans, it was just one of those things ‑ they were sort of feared shall we put it. 

IWM    When war was declared how did that affect you personally? Did it affect your duties at all? 

TK      Not really, because the ship that I was serving on was a minesweeper and you could only sweep mines during the daytime. You couldn't sweep mines at night, so at night we always came back to Scapa Flow in the evening. We went out in the morning to sweep the main channels for them at the Fleet going in and out of Scapa Flow, but the routine remained more or less the same.

IWM    What was the name of the minesweeper? 

TK      The name of the minesweeper was HMS SHARPSHOOTER 

IWM    What kind of ship was she to serve in? 

TK      It wasn't a bad ship. It was quite comfortable for a sloop because they were only 750 tons. 

IWM   I n what ways was it quite good to serve in? 

TK      Well, we'll say, a small ship in the Navy was always preferable to serve in to the big ship. There was more comrade­ship in a small ship, but on these minesweepers everybody done their job, and of course, there was a certain intake of the chappies that were called up for the War, hostilities only. And they were good. 

IWM    Did they fit in with the regular seamen? 

TK      They fitted in very very well. I was an active service rating as you know but all ‑ in all the time I served during the War I always found that the hostility ratings worked into the Navy very well ‑ how shall we put it ‑ came into the groove.

IWM    Was H.M.S. SHARPSHOOTER a very seaworthy ship? 

TK      Yes. It had to be because the north of' Scotland – when we first went to Scapa Flow they told us that the enemy up in Scapa Flow would be the weather.


HM Shaips Hazard, Sharpshooter and Speedy visit Bristol 1939


Sharphooter, Hazard & Speedy at Bristol Docks

HM Ships Sharpshooter (in front), Hazard (behind - alongside dock) and Speedy visited Bristol in June 1939

Cmd J Peterson, Ly Cmdr J C Richards & Lt Cmdr W T W Curtis at Bristol

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