Halcyon Class Minesweepers

HMS Sharpshooter 1940

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  



HMS SHARPSHOOTER Ship's Log - Source: Original records held at Public Records Office ADM 53 / 113206


Loch Ewe



Loch Ewe



Loch Ewe



Loch Ewe



Loch Ewe

Sweeping. Anchored East Loch Roag


Loch Ewe



Loch Ewe



Loch Ewe



Loch Ewe

Clean ship. Whaler lowered and collected sand from beach


Loch Ewe

Clean and paint ship


Loch Ewe

Clean and paint ship.
Exercised concentration control parties.


Loch Ewe

Hands employed cleaning ship, painting and manning MB.
Whaler to shore for sand


Loch Ewe

Hands employed cleaning ship, painting and manning MB.
Whaler to shore for sand


Loch Ewe



Loch Ewe

Cleaning. Exercised concentration control parties.
Moved berth owing to weather


Loch Ewe

Clean and paint ship


Loch Ewe

Clean ship.
10.09 Weighed and proceeded to sea


At sea

11.03 passed minefield buoys and in through Clyde gate.
14.25 Made fast alongside HMS Bramble, Eastern Arm. Albert Pier, Greenock



Sweeping Clyde.
16.03 Alongside HMS Seagull to recover sweep wire



Sweeping in Clyde.
Secured Greenock



Clean ship



Clean ship. Gun drills. Load stores



Clean ship. Painting. Gun drills



Sweeping in Clyde.
Secured Campbeltown.
17.30 Searchlight and one gun crew closed up.
Ship in third degree of readiness



01.00 Searchlight and one gun crew closed up.
Ship in third degree of readiness.
07.42 Weighed. Sweeping Clyde.
13.00 Secure alongside RFA Prescol.
16.14Secure alongside RFA Bacchus.



Cleaning, gun drills, training classes.
Boiler Cleaning



Cleaning, gun drills, training classes.
Boiler Cleaning



Cleaning, gun drills, training classes.
Boiler Cleaning



Cleaning, gun drills, training classes.
Boiler Cleaning



Cleaning, gun drills, training classes.
Boiler Cleaning



Cleaning, gun drills, training classes.
Boiler Cleaning


Date of Arrival Location Date of Departure Orders, Remarks etc (Main Source: ADM 199/2570)




For Rosyth




For Grangemouth




D of D 12/2 Taken in hand 10/2 for refit D U











8. 5.40

D of D 4/3 Completed 7/3
15/3 Operation PA3 - CLICK HERE for details

? Aberdeen 14.5.40  
15.5.40 Scapa ?  
26.5.40 Scapa ?  

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

IWM    Can you recollect how you first got to know that you were going to help with the evacuation from Dunkirk? 

TK      We didn't know that we were going to help at all. 

IWM    Can you tell me what happened in as much detail as you can recollect? 

TK      Yes, as I've already mentioned, we were based at Scapa and then we didn't know anything until we'd actually left Scapa. We were told that we were sailing to Dover. Dover, being my home town, I thought probably there was some mines to be swept. We did not know that we were going to Dover for the evacuation of troops. We did not know until we actually got into Dover harbour. Because usually when a ship goes to a buoy there's usually a bridle of cable put on. And my job on the SHARPSHOOTER was coxswain of the first whaler ‑ that's the first whaler is kept ready for a seaboat on all occasions and I was a leading hand at the time. 

And we went to the buoy to tie up, what we called to tie up, to the buoy, and our first lieutenant called over and he said "We are only going to leave the sliprope on, we are going to slip it midnight”. And we still didn't know that we were going to evacuate ‑ that's as tight as the information and it was marvellous how they must have kept it from us because that's the truth ‑ we didn't know. 

It wasn't until we left Dover, during the darkened hours that we got to know that we were going to take an isolated bunch of soldiers from the beach alongside Dunkirk. 

IWM    How did you get to know that? 

TK      It was hearsay on the ship and being the coxswain of the first whaler, they told me that we would be going into the side of Dunkirk to La Panne which is sand. Our first lieutenant said we will get there because we didn't know what we was going to find when we got there. 

IWM    Had you known much about what was happening to the British Army in France before you went to La Panne? 

TK      No.

IWM    Were you totally in the dark about the defeats which were occurring? 

TK      In a way you might say yes, because there wasn't always the radio available. When you come to think back, in 1940 there wasn't a lot of media and we say we were kept in the dark but didn't know that we were going to evacuate the troops.



                                                                        Source: Orde.

 SHARPSHOOTER at Dunkirk  1940



Arrived Dover in company with the HMS Hebe



Ordered by Vice Admiral Dover to proceed to La Panne



Proceeded via route Y


IWM    When you were making the crossing to La Panne what was the weather like? 

TK      On the first occasion the weather wasn't very pleasant. It wasn't rough but it wasn't very pleasant. It was what we would call "crinkly" in the navy. 

IWM    Was it raining? 

TK      No 

IWM    Were you attacked on the way across? 

TK      No 

IWM    About what time of day did you get to La Panne? 

T K     We must have got to La Panne, I think it was round about midnight that we left Dover. We would do fifteen knots so about two and a half to three hours it would be, wouldn't it? 

IWM    Had you taken any special provisions or equipment across? 

TK      No, nothing, we went as a fighting ship which we always were, and we were given the – going in, we did not know what to expect. We didn't know whether we was going to anchor off or just steam around. But eventually we did anchor, but I shall always remember this ‑ on the way in to the beaches, our captain hailed a ship that was coming out with troops and he said   "How many are there there?"  This will prove we didn't know the amount or the number ‑ for a captain of a ship to say "How many are there there?" The reply that he got back was "There's bloody thousands" and I shall always remember that. 

IWM    How did the crew react when they heard that? 

TK      They didn't, they just went about their ordinary jobs because we were preparing then to anchor and drop our whalers to go to the beaches.

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



Arrived off the beaches. Lowered boats and embarked troops.


IWM    When you got there can you describe the scene which presented itself? 

TK      They dropped us first and I suppose there could have only been three, four hundred yards, it might have been a bit more than four hundred yards because we only drew five feet of water a minesweeper, as you know a minesweeper can't draw any more water because a mine is sown at six feet below the surface of the water. 

And I had a crew of five in the whaler and I did not know what to expect. And what I thought on the beaches, on the sand, was the groynes that stops the seashore from moving, when we got in closer, it wasn't ‑ they were human beings waiting to come off. And there was no order on the first occasion at all. It was more or less what you could say was a free‑for‑all. Soldiers don't know the life saving capacity of boats. We could only take ten to twelve in a twenty two foot whaler. And so we kept our distance from the water's edge because it was no good us going right up on the beach because we'd got to get seaborne again. 

Any how, we got the first load of soldiers on, I think it must have been ten to twelve, and put them back to our ship. But in the meantime there was other boats ‑ this is what I can recollect ‑ were taking soldiers from the beaches to our ship. And I think I made about four trips all told, and then the captain decided that there was enough, that he'd got enough and we steamed back to Dover

IWM    You say that there was no order ‑ but were they fighting for places? 

TK      Not so much actually fighting but they were scrambling on the first occasion we went there. 

IWM    What do you mean by 'scrambling'? 

TK      First come first serve thing ‑ not to the actual violence of fighting, but it was a free‑for‑all shall we say. 

IWM    Were they pushing each other out of the way? 

TK      Yes. This was dark, and anything to grab a boat, and some of them were up to their necks in water. 

IWM    Were any of the boats capsized? 

TK      No, I didn't see any of the small ships, small whalers or boats, whatever, capsized.

IWM    Were you under German attack whilst you were making the trip in the whaler? 

TK      No, because it was dark. 

IWM    What condition were the troops in who you embarked? 

TK      All they had was their uniforms and they seemed tired and hungry, but their spirits were still there. I suppose – I don't know whether it's the Englishman's spirit or not, but they weren't sort of really beaten ‑ to get back, and then get back again at the Germans. 

IWM    Did you have any conversation with them?                  

TK      No because we were too busy getting them on and getting them back to our ship.

IWM    Would they say anything to you at all? 

TK      Not in the boat no. We just got them on and I said "We can only take twelve" and when they knew that. We kept away so they had to come out so that we could get them on board.

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



Only 30 troops had been embarked, owing to the lack of boats and inshore surf.



About 100 troops had been embarked. Proceeded to Dover by Route Y.



Arrived Dover. Disembarked 100 troops.



Sailed via Route X for the beaches.



Anchored close inshore (presumably off La Panne). Embarked 260 troops, assisted by 2 boats manned by the Royal Engineers.


IWM   ..you said that the second time, you started to embark wounded. What kind of wounds did you see? 

TK      We got one chappie on board who had been shot in the back or shrapnel wounds, that I don't know. But on the second night we went in there was order. There was an officer at the head and he called out "Coxswain, how many do you want?" and I would tell him and he would cut them off. As uniform ‑ and any wounded they would pass over their beads and you'd take the wounded first. I think we took two or three and then the remainder of the lads. 

IWM   So the first time you went were there no officers in charge? 

TK      We didn't see any. 

IWM   When people were being embarked what did you tell then about their weapons ‑ did you allow then on board or tell them to discard them? 

TK      We didn't tell them anything what to do with their weapon. If they had them ‑ we didn't notice any ‑ I didn't see any that had their weapon, all they was was just what they stood up in. 

IWM   Was the German Air Force over you on the occasion? 

TK      No. Funnily enough there was no air attacks on us direct at all.

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



Proceeded to Dover via Route X


TK    And we did stop on the time previous to being rammed. We stopped and we heard a calling, a shout, and there was a chappie on a laundry basket, starkers, no clothes, and our captain, our skipper, said "Away, seaboat" and I went and picked him up off this laundry basket and our captain took a very, very big chance there. But we didn't know what was in the offing. But we picked this chappie up and got him onboard. 

IWM   So he'd floated off from the beach ...? 

TK      Yes, I suppose it was that way or whether held come off another ship or being sunk ‑ but he was sitting on this laundry basket. And we got him onboard and he hadn't got a stitch on. We covered him up and he wasn't too bad for his ordeal. 

IWM   Was he a soldier? 

TK      Yes. 

IWM   Did he say how held come to be in this predicament? 

TK      No, he was just lucky, he was just pleased that we got him. 

IWM   How far out was he? 

TK      He must have been a couple of miles, two miles out. I always remember the weather, it was perfect and the sea was like a sheet of glass.

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



Arrived Dover. Disembarked 273 troops.



Sailed via Route X



From SHARPSHOOTER:- Have been in collision necessitating dockyard repairs duration of which not known. No casualties. 

While steaming down the southern side of Dunkirk channel, SHARPSHOOTER was in collision with the P/V St. Helier (which was carrying 200 French troops). (The St Helier reports that she kept going slow ahead for about an hour until the tug Foremost 22 had taken SHARPSHOOTER in tow. St Helier then withdrew from the SHARPSHOOTER and escorted her to Dover.)


IWM   Can you describe how this ramming took place? 

TK      They were coming out at quite a speed ‑ they might have been doing fifteen to eighteen knots, and we were going in. And suddenly up loomed this packet, this mailboat. Of course, it was full of soldiers and of course that came into our bows and took a slice of the bows off. 

IWM   Was it bad damage? 

TK      I suppose it was really because we couldn't use the forecastle at all. And I don't know how this happened but there was a tug there and the captain ‑ they wanted to tow us into Dunkirk, and the captain said "No, under no circumstances do you tow me to Dunkirk, tow me back to Dover". So we got busy on the quarterdeck and we got the towing line over and we made it to the ‑ put it to the slip on the quarterdeck, where we used to put the minesweeping gear and we put the wire hawser onto that and then they towed us back to [Dover]. But the weather was perfect. 

After our first trip to Dunkirk the sea was as calm and as flat as anything. And the smoke from Dunkirk just laid over the beaches, formed a cloud over the beaches.

IWM   Coming back to the damage to the ship, to what extent was the ship put out of action by the damage ‑ was it able to continue with its evacuation? 

TK      No, after we got rammed they towed us back to Dover and whether they put a plate on the side of the ship until we got round to Sheerness ‑ now this I'm a little bit vague about. I think at Dover they put a plate on the side over the gash so that nobody could see it, and the ship made its way round to Sheerness...

...IWM   Coming back to the ramming again, you described the damage to SHARPSHOOTER but could you see what damage was done to the ST HELIER 

TK      As far as I can gather, not very much. It might have just dented the bows but that was all. It proceeded on its way. 

IWM   ST. HELIER was a bigger ship was she? 

TK      Yes, it was a mailboat. 

IWM   Who was at fault, do you think, in the ramming? 

TK      I would have said the mailboat, the ST HELIER 

IWM   Why do you say that? 

TK      It was coming out at a fair speed. It was coming out at a good speed and we was hardly moving, actually, finding our way into the beaches.

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



IWM   Do I understand then that you were never actually under attack from the German Air Force? 

TK      All the time that we were over for the evacuation of Dunkirk we weren't under attack from the air. 

IWM   Was that just sheer coincidence or what? 

TK      It could have been, that I don't know. But we were never directly attacked. There were ships being sunk out there but not directed at us. We did see one ship that did get hit by a bomb and then it just exploded and that was it. But the name of that one I do not know. 

IWM   Was it a Royal Navy ship or a civilian ship? 

TK.     I think it was a civilian boat as far as I can remember it was coming out from Dunkirk harbour. 

IWM   From Dunkirk harbour. 

TK      Yes, it would have come from Dunkirk because it couldn't have got in so near as what we were to the beaches. 

IWM   Did anybody actually swim out to the minesweeper itself? 

TK      No, not as far as I know. 

IWM   Do you know which particular dates you went to Dunkirk to the beaches? 

TK      No. The first date of the evacuation ‑ it was in its infancy, it must have been one of the first or second days that we went. 

IWM   How long would you spend in Dover before you turned round to go back? 

TK      I would say approximately six to eight hours because we used to clean the ship thoroughly right the way through, because there wasn't a lot of ship to be searched but a search was always made because on some of the ships that the soldiers were dying and nobody found then until after. So all ships were searched and all army clothing was all put in a pile and put on the jetty at Dover ‑ such things as overcoats, but Jolly Jack made use of some soldiers overcoats because after the evacuation of Dunkirk there was still some sailors walking around in soldiers' overcoats. 

IWM   And did you have to take on fresh supplies and so on during the turn around? 

TK      No, we turned around. The most that we gave the soldiers was cocoa, and I've always remembered one of the soldiers saying in the galley ‑ we got them in the galley and giving them their cocoa because they were all over the ship ‑ and one of the soldiers mentioned this. "Well prior to this" he said "I never ever had any time for the Navy but my opinion now has changed. I shall always think you lads have done a grand job". 

IWM   Were the ships absolutely packed out? 

TK      Yes, especially the merchant boats and of course the destroyers were packed. We lost a couple of destroyers over there. 

IWM   Why particularly the merchant boats? 

TK      Well, I suppose really, there seemed to be more room on those. On a man o'war there's the gun mountings etcetera and there's not a lot of room for passengers such as on a merchant vessel or paddle steamer or pleasure, and I would   like to add where the lifeboat service came into its own. 

They used to go over as one flotilla and I suppose it would be a sight that would never ever be seen again. When you saw the Dover, the Ramsgate, the Margate, the Broadstairs lifeboats all going over in convoy together. 

IWM   Do you know if the lifeboats were manned by the actual lifeboat crews or not? 

TK      As far as I know they were manned by the lifeboat crews. 

IWM   Of the people you embarked were they all soldiers or did you ever have any civilians you embarked? 

TK      There was no civilians as far as I know. There was a few French but we found the French very very panicky, the French soldiers were very very panicky. They wanted to get away. They weren't so orderly, as our own troops. 

IWM   What about Belgian troops? Did you embark those? 

TK      We could have done but it seemed to be that you were so busy doing your own job to take interest, as long as you got them onboard and got then safe and got them off, you was ready for another trip. 

IWM   Were they hungry and thirsty when they got onboard? 

TK      They were mostly thirsty, but what we can gather, the soldiers, as they were coming through Dunkirk, must have, well, I suppose, whether they called into the wine bars and that, but the beaches really smelled of drinks. They really smelled of drink. 

IWM   Were any of the troops drunk? 

TK      No. I think they filled their bottles on their way through Dunkirk. 

IWM   Did you have any food to give them? 

TK      Yes, we gave them bread and butter and cheese, because we didn't have a large amount of extra food because of our rations. We’d only had our rations for each mess, so you couldn't supply hundreds, but bread, and cocoa and bread and butter and all that and cheese. 

IWM   Was sanitation on the ship a problem? 

TK      No. There was the heads. All they really wanted to do ‑ they were tired. They must have been tired. They just came in and flopped down and that was it, you never heard any more from them. 

IWM   Did your ship ever have the opportunity to return fire to the German aircraft? 

TK      No, we didn't we never opened fire at all. 

IWM   Did you ever see any German surface vessels? 

TK      No. I know that there were E boats there but we never saw any. 

IWM   Did you ever see any firing from the shore by German troops? 

TK      No 

IWM   Did you see any of the piers of vehicles which were said to have been constructed into the sea by the troops, lines of vehicles which had deliberately been made into a pier? 

TK      No. I don't recall that, because I believe that was done later in the evacuation, so our trips must have been on the first ‑ we didn't see any. All the troops that we the beaches came straight from the water. 

IWM   Was there any problem with any of the troops not knowing how to swim? 

TK      No, nobody drowned. They walked out as far up to their shoulders ‑ well apart from that, if they couldn't swim they just didn't go any further. In a whaler, on the last occasions, we could, more or less, go practically up onto the beach because there was always enough personnel to push the whaler to sea again, which was a good thing because, as I've mentioned before, there was an officer present. It was more orderly. He would give the order, say "Right, round the boat lads, and er…" push it away. 

I would like to add that people talk about miracles. But after being at Dunkirk and seeing the evacuation at Dunkirk, miracles do happen. It was an act of God that all those soldiers got away from those beaches.

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

..The previously mentioned collision between the
St Helier and HMS SHARPSHOOTER was an opportunity that gave the tug Foremost 22 the chance of passing a tow rope to SHARPSHOOTER. This consisted of 60 fathoms 16 inch manila shackled to 50 fathoms of 5 inch wire, the end of the latter being made fast to the SHARPSHOOTER's stern whilst the manila end was on the tug's towing hook. 

All this had to be done with care because of the warship's depth charges at the stern, and she had been hit just forward of her bridge, yet despite the crumpled bows the tug was able to bring that minesweeper all the way to Dover, about 50 miles in 13 hours. But for this assistance, it is humanly certain that the partly disabled SHARPSHOOTER would have fallen an easy target alike to the enemy aircraft and shore batteries. 

                                                                Source: Extracts from ‘The Epic of Dunkirk’ by B Keble Chatterton  

When ‘Dynamo’ was declared over in early June SHARPSHOOTER proceeded
in company with SALAMANDER to Sheerness for repairs.


Date of Arrival Location Date of Departure Orders, Remarks etc




For Sheerness for repairs


TK    Now this is the part of the story ‑ I was postman of the SHARPSHOOTER. So I said to our first lieutenant when we got in after we made the last trip from Dunkirk and they were sorting out the damage and whatnot. I said "Do you think I should go ashore to see if there's any post at the Post Office". So the sub‑lieutenant in charge of the mail section said "Yes, all right" and of course during my visit for the mail the ship sailed. And all I saw ‑ I comes back to join the ship and all I see is the stern of the ship going out of the Dover harbour. 

IWM   Where was it sailing to? 

TK      I didn't know, but I saw it going out of Dover harbour and it turned to port. The only port that we'd got round there was Sheerness. 

On seeing the stern of my ship disappearing between the breakwater and the eastern arm of Dover harbour, I thought my next thing would be to report to H.M.S. LYNX. Now H M S Lynx was the port on the seafront, was the depot, and this is the more or less bit of comedy that is attached to all parts of tragedy really ‑ I went in to see the master‑at‑arms of LYNX and said "Could you tell me where HMS Sharpshooter is going?" He said "Well, what do you want to know for?" So I said "Well I've just missed it" so he said "Well I don't know where the bloody thing's going". I said "I think it could be going to Sheerness". "In that case" he said, "You'd better get your body round to the Lord Warden Hotel" ‑ that's were the survivors were being sent from. 

And during the meantime, I'd met up with another one of my shipmates that was supposed to have met the ship at Dover, Leading Seaman Rowbottom, and he'd just come from hospital with a hernia. But we makes our way round to the Lord Warden hotel. And the first thing that happens is they put a cup of tea and a plate of cakes in my hand and they said "What ship?” so I said "I'm afraid I've just missed my ship" so they took away the cup of tea and took away the cakes. And they said "Well you'd better get on the bus outside the hotel supplied by the East Kent Roadcar Company and go to Sittingbourne because that's where you'd change for ,Sheerness”. We managed to get to Sittingbourne and from Sittingbourne we gets a train to Sheerness. 

And of course the time is getting on, and it's late in the evening, and we report to HMS WILDFIRE at Sheerness. And the master‑at‑arms greets us and says "I don't want you two here tonight" and says "What am I going tonight" and it so happened that this leading seaman lived at Sheerness. So I stayed the night with him at Sheerness and in the morning we went down to the jetty to wait for our motorboat to come in. 

Our motorboat came in and it crossed my mind "It doesn't look very good me missing my ship". We gets back to the ship and the sub‑lieutenant said to me "I'm very sorry Leading Seaman we had to leave you behind but there was no way of contacting you in Dover so we had to leave without you".

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




Estimated that 3 or 4 months would be required for repairs at Sheerness under present conditions. SHARPSHOOTER will be taken in hand for permanent repairs and fitting LL sweep.

SHARPSHOOTER will be undocked p.m. 13/6 on completion of temporary patching






HMS Sharpshooter in dry dock - Halcyon Class minesweeper
HMS Sharpshooter in dry dock (K Venn) 

Date of Arrival Location Date of Departure Orders, Remarks etc




SHARPSHOOTER docked in Alexandra Dry Dock.
D of D 19/6. Taken in hand 19/6. Removing gun mountings preparatory to repairs at Robbs, Leith. Completed 17/8.
D of D 26/8 Taken in hand. 23/8 Replacement of gun mountings.
Request SHARPSHOOTER be sailed to Humber to operate temporarily under ? Humber as the pair ship to ?








In late September she sailed down to the Humber for minesweeping with her sister GOSSAMER and she effected repairs to her generator. (Ruegg)
26/9 To be sailed as convenient to repair at Rosyth
29/9 Unable to sail due to defects to turbo-generator
1/10 Repairs completed.












7/11 SHARPSHOOTER has been put in hand for boiler cleaning at Aberdeen














The following crew members are recorded as dying on 7th December 1940 and are buried in Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery, Orkney:

Ordinary Seaman George Stanley Denny C/SSX 32793
Able Seaman Benjamin Newton C/SSX 14902
Able Seaman Hamlet Tough C/JX 135108

( Causes of death - Drowning.    Source www.naval-history.net)





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

This site was last updated 17 Januar 2012