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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 13º and 30º F., ice formed to a thickness of 2
feet on her decks abreast the engine room casing.
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
Coxswain S J Vingoe, Up Spirits. 6.8.43 (IWM
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
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.'
Admiral Douglas Fisher.