Halcyon Class Minesweepers

HMS Gleaner 1942

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HMS Gleaner 1942 - Halcyon Class Minesweeper
HMS Gleaner 1942 (IWM FL4927)




















23/1 It has been decided that GLEANER is to convert to Fleet Minesweeper on the next occasion she is taken in hand for refit. She can be taken in hand by Messrs Robbs of Leith for conversion

23/1 From C in C Rosyth: GLEANER cannot be spared to commence refit until about 3/2
















10/2 Taken in hand 10/2 for refit and conversion to fleet minesweeper at Robbs of Leith completing mid-May (provisional)

7/4 Docked in Prince of Wales dry dock Leith 6/4

1/5 GLEANER undocked from Prince of Wales Dry Dock Leith 10/4

Date of completion is 4/6


Port Edgar


When she was ready for sea she was attached to the 1st M/S Flotilla based at Scapa, and she sailed up there in July when her trials were completed.
















Boiler clean






GLEANER and HARRIER departed Scapa on 30 August and arrived Hvalfjord, Iceland on 4 September.


Following a convoy conference on 5/9 GLEANER sailed to overtake Convoy PQ18 (40 ships)


Harrier, GLEANER and Sharpshooter form part of the ocean escort for PQ18, meeting the convoy off Iceland on the 7th. Twelve U-boats were sailed to intercept the convoy and at that time there were 91 torpedo bombers and 133 high level and dive bombers in Northern Norway. During the passage of PQ18 enemy aircraft sank ten merchant ships but lost about 40 of their number. U‑boats sank three more merchant ships, but of the dozen or so boats involved three were sunk.


HMS GLEANER weighed and proceeded from Hvalfjord at 0830 on Monday 7th September 1942, in company with Malcolm, Amazon, Achates, and Harrier. When clear of the fjord, ships formed a screen for Alynbank and the local portion of Convoy PQ18 until the main convoy was joined in the evening. GLEANER then took up screening station on the port side.


Strong winds and poor visibility with rain giving way to fog.


Three depth charges were expended when investigating doubtful A/S contacts


2100 U88 sunk.


First air attacks - PQ18 attacked by Ju88 bombers to no effect. Two ships sunk by submarine torpedoes. Then 44 torpedo bombers pressed home their attack, sinking 8 ships for the loss of 5 aircraft. One Ju88 attacked GLEANER out of the clouds from the stern but his bombs fell wide to starboard and it is thought that hits were obtained on him with Oerlikons.


On the 14th, high-level bombers appeared to be concentrating to a certain extent on the port wing of the screen and this may have been part of a pre-arranged plan because torpedo-bombing attacks developed from this direction shortly afterwards. One Ju88 dive-bombed out of the clouds and one large and one small bomb fell fifty yards on the starboard beam of GLEANER. Hits on this and on three torpedo bombers are claimed be the close-range weapons. Barrage fire from the 4-inch gun have inflicted damage among the closely packed torpedo bombers.

One ship sunk during several torpedo attacks and another lost to air attack. 20 aircraft destroyed. U589 sunk.


At 0200 on the 15th, a good echo with hydrophone effect was obtained and was attacked at 0213. Stern echoes which were obtained just after the attack disappeared and a search produced no further results. GLEANER rejoined the screen after one hour.

More air attacks but no losses.


While in the low visibility of the 16th, GLEANER obtained RDF contacts outside the port wing of the screen, which indicated that the convoy was being shadowed and Ashanti was sent by RAD to investigate on each occasion.

U457 sunk.


Air attacks at entrance to White Sea damaging one ship. Britomart, Halcyon, Hazard and Salamander joined as part of local eastern escort. Click here to see RAF Report.




From Archangel HARRIER and GLEANER sailed to Kola Inlet to refuel, returning to Archangel on 23/9.  At that time they were part of the 6th M/S Flotilla, of which HARRIER was the Leader.

Source: ADM 1/ 12427 Convoy PQ18 to North Russia 


Mentions in Dispatches

Commissioned Engineer Albert Henry WHITE - repair of instruments, gun and machinery,

PO Leo GIRGAN D/JX 140531 - coolness and courage during air attacks,

Sto PO Daniel Reginald O'KEEFFE D/KX 81512 - for cheerful and untiring devotion to duty and the encouragement of his subordinates.


On 20th after dark, GLEANER proceeded to stand by Daneman, which was reported aground near the Dvina Bar. It was found that she was hard and fast and that one corvette had been aground and another in difficulties when trying to take her in tow. It was considered that nothing further could be done in the dark and the Senior Officer ordered towing attempts to be postponed until daylight.


Kola Inlet







Source: ADM 1/14347 Sixth MSF. Service in Northern Waters 1942. 

Nine awards to personnel of HMS Harrier and HMS GLEANER. 

Towards the end of 1942, HMS Harrier and HMS GLEANER gained unique experience when they were placed under Russian command operating from Iokanka. The following extracts are summarised from the Report.


From: Commander A D S Jay, Senior Officer, Sixth Minesweeping Flotilla. 31st December 1942


Report of Proceedings from 4th November to 12th December 


On 4th November HM Ships Harrier and GLEANER sailed from Archangel and at 1330 on the 5th arrived at Iokanka to take part in Operation F.B.. HM Ships Cape Aragona, Cape Mariato and St Kenan were already at sea acting as rescue ships along the route of the merchant ships. The two minesweepers were to act under the orders of Rear Admiral Abramov, commanding Iokanka base, as part of the force escorting incoming ships.

HM Ships Harrier and GLEANER  were directed to meet John Walker. They sailed at 1730 on the 5th but did not sight John Walker either on the 6th or 7th. Russian PE 111's and MDR 111's were expected but the only aircraft sighted was an HE 111 at 1315 on the 6th.

HM Ships Harrier and GLEANER entered Iokanka at daylight on 8th and fuelled from the oiler Jeliabov at the rate of 40 tons per hour. Information was exchanged with the Russian staff, among that supplied to them was: (a) a list of casualties contained in signal from the SBNO Archangel timed 1330/6th, (b) distress message from Chulmleigh read on 78 k/cs at 0708/6th, (c) distress message from Hugh Williamson read on 300 k/cs at 1248/7th.

On the 9th the Minesweepers were requested to search for a ship from whom a distress message had been received. Both ships proceeded at 1545 with the rescue tug Skval. Sokrushitelni proceeded later. At 2205 Hugh Williamson was located and escorted to Dvina Bar by HMS GLEANER. HMS Harrier parted company at Terski Orlov and returned to Iokanka. In reply to signals Hugh Williamson stated that she had made no distress message but had 'reported a doubtful aircraft'. She also reported that her compasses were 'in bad shape'. When located she was proceeding at slow speed to wait for daylight before making a landfall.

On the forenoon of 10th November, wind force 10 from SSW was experienced in Iokanka. HMS Harrier's anchors held with 5 and 4 shackles out and the trawlers did not drag seriously. Razumni and Sokrushitelni, after weighing and re-anchoring several times proceeded to sea for safety.

At 0900/13th HM Ships Harrier and GLEANER sailed to meet Empire Scott and Empire Sky whose 'farthest on' position was estimated as position F at 1200/14th. A position 35 miles south of F was reached at 1030/14th. From then until 1800/16th a patrol along the route was maintained steering northward in daylight and good visibility and zigzagging southward in dark or bad visibility, covering a width of 25 miles with a speed of advance of 7 knots. On the afternoon of 16th the wind freshened to a gale from North-East, raising a heavy sea. At 1800 I estimated that we were north of the merchant ships' 'farthest north' position and in view of this and the weather decided to steer for Kharlov and thence along the route to Kola. 

At Kola information was received that two merchant ships had been sighted by shore lookout between Iokanka and Kharlov and the minesweepers proceeded at 1300/17th in search for them. Empire Scott was duly met but as she was already being escorted by Rubin and Sapfir, the search was continued for the second ship. She was also located but proved to be Russian and HM Ships Harrier and GLEANER entered Iokanka at 0900/18th. Fuelling from Jeliabov was accomplished with some difficulty on account of the swell and would probably have been impossible the previous day.

On the night of 19th to 20th November in a final effort to locate Empire Sky, HMS Harrier patrolled the coast between Svyatoi Nos and Kharlov Island, HMS GLEANER (while taking an injured man to hospital at Vaenga) covered the section of the route west of Kharlov. 

At 2000/20th HMS Cape Argona sailed to rendezvous with Meanticut 9 miles north of Svyatoi Nos at 2200. Her instructions from me were that if Meanticut should not be sighted by 0100/21st HMS Cape Argona should proceed along the route. If 'Not met' during daylight of 21st Cape Argona was to enter Kola Inlet, report the general state of trawlers and bring back any available stores and provisions. During the night information was received that Meanticut was more than four hours late and was being brought into Iokanka by the Russian escorting trawler. HMS Cape Argona was recalled but was unable to comply because she was hove to in a north-easterly gale. During this gale, with the temperature between 13 and 30 F., ice formed to a thickness of 2 feet on her decks abreast the engine room casing. 

On 30th November the Minesweepers reached Iokanka after sweeping two Russian ships into the White Sea. By now their boiler hours were 60% above the number allowed and urgent arrangements were made for some boiler cleaning to be carried out. Because of the bad weather at Iokanka it was considered essential for safety to have steam for full speed available at short notice.


Following this period in Northern Waters, Commander Jay,  Lt Commander Hewitt, Captain of HMS GLEANER and seven other members of GLEANER's crew received awards.

The following are recommended for zeal, efficiency and cheerful devotion to duty during the passage of PQ18, during minesweeping and extended escort duties on North Russian waters and while acting as Anti-Aircraft guard to merchant ships in the Kola Inlet: 

Bar to Distinguished Service Cross

Frank Joseph George HEWITT, Lieut-Commander

Distinguished Service Medal    

Sidney Gordon VINGOE, Chief Petty Officer J27092

PO Sidney Vingoe - HMS Gleaner Halcyon Class Minesweeper
Coxswain S J Vingoe, Up Spirits. 6.8.43 (IWM A18563)

Mention in Dispatches

John William SMALL, Yeoman of Signals JX132902

Reginald Henry BRABROOK, Petty Officer J114656

Samuel John Kent WILLIAMS, Chief Engine Room Artificer MX47733

Edward WALTON, Stoker First Class KX98485

Robert William BARTON, Acting Petty Officer Telegraphist JX144902


'I would like to draw your attention to the excellent service carried out by HM Ships Harrier and GLEANER, acting under the Senior Office 6th MSF (now 1st MSF) - Commander ADH Jay (HMS Harrier) during the time they have been in North Russian waters recently'.

'Their work has been strenuous, weather conditions have been bad, and the usual hazards inherent to minesweeping have been encountered. Both ships have been intelligently handled and have earned much praise and respect from the Russian naval staff.'

 Rear Admiral Douglas Fisher.

  There is a section covering 19/20th November that mentions the ship was taking an injured man to hospital. That was my granddad [Walter Law] I have a certificate of wounding dated 19/11/1942. He was (accidentally!) shot when working below decks by another crew member who was cleaning a Lewis gun. He spent some time in a Russian hospital recovering. This was something that came to light initially when my Mum took him for an X-ray some years ago and bullet fragments showed up. He said the man a friend was disciplined over the incident but wasn't sure what happened then. CLICK HERE to see Certificate
Andy Barrett (Grandson) Nov 2008


Having escorted the JOHN WALKER to Kola, GLEANER joined the destroyer FAULKNOR and others as escort for Convoy RA51 (14 ships) from Kola until 10/1. Convoy arrived Loch Ewe 11/1. No enemy attacks.


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This site was last updated 17 Januar 2012