Halcyon Class Minesweepers HMS Gossamer 1942
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Gossamer 1942
Gossamer Crew



Date of Arrival


Date of Departure

Orders, Remarks etc








From FO 2nd I/C Home Fleet: Proceed to pass Switha 2030 today Monday to rendezvous PQ12 at 0800 24th in position 059 degs 10’ north, 007 degs 16’ west




From ACOS: PQ12 HM Ships OFFA, ORIBI, GOSSAMER, STELLA, CAPELLA, NOTTS COUNTY ANGLE 060 degrees 15’ north 010 degrees 02’ west to Reykjavik.


At sea


27/2 GOSSAMER: Estimate 36 hours alongside repair ship to make good damage done. 

From C in C Home Fleet: HMS GOSSAMER’S 2252/27th. Convoy should not be delayed on this account. Request you will sail HMS GOSSAMER to overtake.




From ACIC: Intend sailing PQ12 at 1200 1st March. Speed 7 knots. HMS GOSSAMER to overtake when repaired. 

From NOIC Iceland: HMS GOSSAMER sailed Reykjavik 2000 to overtake PQ12. M/S whalers Shusa, Stefa, Svega and Shera sailed Seidisfjord 1400 to join PQ12 in position K, 1734/3 

PQ12 sailed from Reykjavik on 1st March 1942. HMS GOSSAMER and five minesweeping whalers were to have joined the convoy on the 4th, but, in the event, only two of the whalers - one of which, Shera, later capsized in the Barents Sea owing to the weight of ice on the upper deck - made the rendezvous. They passed the convoy without sighting it. GOSSAMER and one whaler proceeded independently to Murmansk, two of the whalers put back to Iceland. 




From Admiralty: Tirpitz sighted …off Frehavet at 1800/6 steering north. Attempt to attack convoy PQ12 anticipated.




GOSSAMER encountered ice 070degs 53’ north 006degs 00’ east. 

From HAZARD (in QP8) to Admiralty: PQ12 met at 1200/7th course 57 escorted by HM Ships Kenya, Oribi and OFFA. HMS GOSSAMER not seen.


Kola Inlet


10/3 2131 GOSSAMER arrived Kola Inlet


Convoys have been discharged without serious interference from air attacks. The only raids of any importance were on the night of 15th-16th March and on 24th March. In the former, the bombs dropped are said to have been 100 kilos. The jetty to which HMS Niger, GOSSAMER and Hussar were hit and a shed blown to pieces, covering the minesweepers with splinters and debris.  

Source: ADM 199/1104 Report of SBNO North Russia


At sea


GOSSAMER, Hussar, Harrier, Niger and Speedwell provided Eastern local escort for QP9 until 23/3. Ocean escort included Britomart and Sharpshooter.


PQ13 endured the full Arctic repertory of foul weather, and attacks by enemy ships, submarines and aircraft... The Eastern Local Escort consisting of the minesweepers GOSSAMER, Harrier, Hussar, Speedwell had left Kola on 28th March to bring the convoy in and look for survivors and stragglers.

That evening Trinidad had to stop with salt in the boiler feed water. The wind died, a full moon and a brilliant aurora lit up Trinidad as a perfect target. She was only 70 miles from the Kola Inlet. She managed to get going again and arrived at Kola on 30/3.


Source: ADM 199/347- Report of the Local Escort

From    The Senior Officer, Sixth Minesweeping Flotilla

Date    9th April 1942                              No. F.02/26

To       The Commander in Chief, Home Fleet

Convoy PQ13

The following narrative of local escort while meeting PQ13 is submitted. All times are zone minus three:- 

1.    Before leaving harbour, it was known that Convoy PQ13 was widely scattered owing to gales and that S.S. "HARPALION" had been bombed.

2.    H.M.Ships "HARRIER", "GOSSAMER", "SPEEDWELL" and "HUSSAR" sailed at 1900 through position MU to 37ºE, carrying out an A/S patrol en route.

3.    At 2118 H.M.S."HUSSAR", who was keeping guard on 500 k/cs, reported that the S.S."EMPIRE RANGER" was sinking in position 72º 13'N 32º 10ºE. As "EMPIRE RANGER" was apparently just ahead of the convoy and, apart from other escorts in the vicinity of the convoy, H.M.S."ORIBI" and two Russian destroyers from the Kola Inlet were already on their way to join the convoy, it was decided that no useful purpose could be served by detaching one of the Minesweepers (who at the time were 180 miles away from the position in which "EMPIRE RANGER" had been torpedoed).


4.    Altered course at 0400 to North up longitude 37ºE. At 0500 "SPEEDWELL" was detached with orders to patrol between positions B and Q and to escort the ships into Kola Inlet. If she met either "RIVER AFTON" or "EMPIRE COWPER", she was to embark two officers and one rating, to avoid their being incarcerated by the Russians, as had been the experience a little before of three officers. It transpired later, however, that one officer and the rating had sailed in the "EMPIRE RANGER" and were, presumably, taken prisoner. The officer from "EMPIRE COWPER" was collected by H.M.S."GOSSAMER" on return to Murmansk.  

5.    At 0645 a report was received of three German Destroyers in position 71º 10'N, 31º 30'E at 2200 on 28th.

6.    At 0600 and again at 0625, a Junkers 88 was sighted by "SPEEDWELL" in the vicinity of position B and at 0730 a Junkers 88 circled "HARRIER", "GOSSAMER" and "HUSSAR".

7.    "HARRIER", "GOSSAMER" and "HUSSAR" were to patrol latitude of 37º E between positions E and U; one of them was to be detached to escort any unescorted stragglers met, returning to their patrol after reaching Kola Inlet.

8.    At 0632 orders were received from The Senior British Naval Officer, North Russia that a minesweeper was to be detached to look for boats from "EMPIRE RANGER" who had reported by W/T before abandoning ship that they were making for the coast. As this (Immediate) signal took nearly 12 hours to reach me and as by that time there were three enemy Destroyers between the position of sinking and the coast and it was known the H.M.S."ORIBI" and the two Russian destroyers were near the position, I replied that it was not proposed to detach a Minesweeper (the Minesweepers being some 120 miles away). At 0825 orders were received from The Senior British Naval Officer, North Russia to comply with his original signal, and accordingly "HARRIER" was detailed and in latitude 71º 25' N at 0945 she increased to full speed and steered up the convoy route in the hope of getting news of "EMPIRE RANGER's" boats from any of the convoy or escorts met.

9.    At 1054 signals were received which indicated a fight between H.M.Ships "TRINIDAD", "FURY" and "ECLIPSE" and the enemy Destroyers. Later one enemy Destroyer was reported stopped near the position where "EMPIRE RANGER" was sunk.

10.    At 1045 "HARRIER" encountered ice in latitude 71º 39'N. This proved to be thick brash and "HARRIER" worked round to the Westward and later to the South-Westward with some difficulty. The extent of the ice was reported by W/T to The Senior British Naval Officer, North Russia and to all escorts: also my intention of proceeding to escort H.M.S."TRINIDAD" (who had reported that she had been torpedoed and was about 50 miles to the North West of "HARRIER's" estimated position) and the position, course and speed of S.S."HARPALION" who was met about that time.

11.    H.M.S."HUSSAR", who with H.M.S."GOSSAMER" had been left to patrol the 37º meridian, sighted a submarine on the surface at 1046, which was lost sight of shortly afterwards in a snow squall. At 11.48 "GOSSAMER" obtained an Asdic contact on what was quite probably the same U-boat. Both ships carried out deliberate attacks and it appears highly probable that the U-boat was destroyed.
Click Here for detailed report

12.    At 1335 "GOSSAMER" detached "HUSSAR" to join "TRINIDAD" and remained in the vicinity of the submarine till dark, when she resumed patrol south of the ice.

13.    H.M.S."SPEEDWELL", patrolling between positions B and U, had attempted to intercept S.S."HARPALION" at position B but did not see her. The next morning she left her patrol line in an endeavour to escort "TRINIDAD", but in the very bad visibility failed to make contact.

14.    At 1625/29th "HARRIER" detected a ship by R.D.F. at a range of 11,000yards in a heavy snowstorm and shortly afterwards caught a glimpse of H.M.S."FURY" who was escorting "TRINIDAD". "HARRIER" was at first stationed on the beam of "TRINIDAD" to check her speed (estimated then as 11 knots) and her compass. "TRINIDAD" was then steering from aft and by magnetic compass. As "TRINIDAD''s" steering appeared a little erratic, "HARRIER" took station ahead of her to make good her course without zigzagging, while "ORIBI" and "FURY" screened her on either bow.

15.    At 1750 course was altered to 190º to make Kilbin North Bight. It was arranged that W/T silence should not be broken to ask for D/F Beacons and that the "HARRIER" should lead "TRINIDAD" into Kola Inlet by using R.D.F. if necessary.


16.    From about 0500 of 30th March the wind increased to Force 8 and visibility was frequently nil owing to snowstorms. "TRINIDAD's" speed varied from a maximum of 14 knots to a minimum of 4 during the night. "FURY", whose R.D.F. was out of action, lost touch at about midnight and "HARRIER" was unable to detect her by R.D.F. and therefore unable to lead "TRINIDAD" over to "FURY" as had been ordered by "TRINIDAD".

        At about 0500, "TRINIDAD's" speed was 4-5 knots and for half an hour or so "ORIBI" and "HARRIER" carried out an endless chain patrol around her. 

17.    At 0752 "TRINIDAD" broached to and told "HARRIER" to try to get a wire in to her. By the time "HARRIER" had turned and got back to her, however, "TRINIDAD" was able to resume her course. Tugs, all available A/S escorts and fighter cover were asked for by W/T, as "TRINIDAD" had great difficulty in keeping steam.

18.    0800. Made Kildin Island. Entrance to Kola Inlet was obscured by snowstorms and "HARRIER" passed in positions obtained by R.D.F.

19.    At 12.00 when inside Kola Inlet "HARRIER" and "ORIBI" resumed patrol, making for position Q. They were joined at 1500 by "SPEEDWELL".

         "ORIBI" informed me by signal that he had found "EMPIRE RANGER's" boats at 0840/29th in position 72º 00' N 31º 11'E,  showing every sign that the occupants had abandoned them. There were food, drink and blankets in the boats, so it appears that the men were picked up by some other ship. As no ship in the convoy or escort has since reported having picked them up, as German Destroyers were in the vicinity and as the German wireless has claimed prisoners from a merchant ship, their fate appears obvious.

20.    At 0550 "GOSSAMER" had intercepted the signal giving "TRINIDAD's" position, course and speed and, having no merchant ships in sight, altered to the Westward to join her.  

21.    At 0745 the visibility in her vicinity had cleared to 7 miles and "GOSSAMER" sighted a submarine on the surface almost 5 miles ahead and three merchant ships at extreme visibility on her starboard quarter. "GOSSAMER" chased the submarine at full speed but the submarine drew away and, after half an hour's chase, "GOSSAMER" shaped a course to join the merchantmen. These ships were "SCOTTISH AMERICAN", "EFFINGHAM" and "DUNBOYNE". 

22.    At 1020 "GOSSAMER" received instruction from The Senior British Naval Officer, North Russia to proceed immediately to the assistance of "INDUNA", torpedoed in position 70º 55'N 37º 18'E. Search by daylight and during the night proved ineffective, and patrol was resumed the next morning.

23.    ?045 "HUSSAR", not having succeeded in making contact with "TRINIDAD", came up with 9 ships of PQ13 and the Whaler ????? [???? = indistinct text in original document] escorted by two Russian destroyers (without Asdics) ??????? A/S trawler (whose A/S was out of action). She escorted ?????? Kola Inlet and, as the Acting Commodore in "SCOTTISH ??????" had no charts of the Inlet, led them to Bolshoi Oleni ?????? where they arrived at 2130. When off Toros Island an ?????? aircraft dropped bombs; there were no hits. At 2200 ?????? resumed patrol.

24.    1900 "ORIBI" sighted a Whaler ahead, roughly in Position  ?????? "HARRIER" and "SPEEDWELL" closed the Whaler who proved to be Silja and was wallowing, without fuel in a sea 54. "ORIBI" ????? to the assistance of "RIVER AFTON" who had reported ??????? by a U-boat.

25.    While "HARRIER" was getting "SILJA" in tow, "SPEEDWELL" patrolled round the two ships to provide an A/S screen and then ?????? ahead when "HARRIER" with "SILJA" in tow made good ?????? and speed of 5 knots. The wind was then North- ??????, Force 7, almost astern.


26.    "HUSSAR" joined at 0230 and screened astern. Kola Inlet ???? at 08.30 again in very bad visibility owing to snow. "SPEEDWELL" had by then lost touch, and "HUSSAR" was ordered ???? patrol through positions Q and B.

27.    10.10 "HARRIER" anchored off the South-East entrance to ?????? Harbour and got "SILJA" alongside to give her 5 tons ????? "HARRIER" making good an engine defect and repairing ?????.

28.    The Captain of the "SILJA" told me that when the "BALLOT" ?????, her Master told him to take off half the crew. ?????? wisely said he would do so, provided they came by boat, ???? were an odd collection and the situation had the makings ????? stampede. "SILJA" later transferred these 40 or so med ????? "INDUNA" who was herself sunk. Survivors from "INDUNA" ????? (who reached harbour safely) have since been picked ????? inshore, by Russian patrols.

29.    1230 "SPEEDWELL", who had been patrolling in the vicinity of the entrance to the Inlet, hove to in sight, and at 1245, tugs ????? taken over "SILJA", "HARRIER" and "SPEEDWELL" set a course ???? intending to proceed on the reciprocal course to that on ???? the main body of the convoy had approached the evening ????? it being known that "GOSSAMER" and "HUSSAR" were ???? between positions Q and B and the ice limit south of U.

30.    1650 an object was sighted by "SPEEDWELL" (who was on ????? port bow 7 cables) bearing North. The investigation ?????? to be a red sail. The Master, Chief Officer, two ???? Officers and thirteen men from the American S.S. "EFFINGHAM" ?????? picked up by "HARRIER". From them it was learnt that their ????? had been torpedoed in Position 70º 28'N 35º 44'E at 1100.

        This information, and the "HARRIER" and "SPEEDWELL" were searching for a second boat from the "EFFINGHAM", was passed by W/T to The Senior British Naval Officer, North Russia. This signal crossed one from the Senior British Naval Officer, North Russia ordering all minesweepers to return to harbour and fuel unless in company with a merchant ship. The search was continued until 0740 of 1st April in generally good conditions of visibility. It was then abandoned, as I considered that the missing boat, if still afloat, must be inshore. It was subsequently learned that the second boat was picked up in the Kola Inlet p.m. 31st and that the 14 occupants are doing well.

        When picked up after 32 hours, the survivors from the "EFFINGHAM" were, with one exception, in remarkably good fettle. I was particularly impressed by the bearing of the Chief Officer and have forwarded a recommendation for him through the Senior British Naval Officer, North Russia. They had buried five men (having previously removed their clothes for their own use) not long before we sighted them, and one of their company, in spite of the unremitting efforts of Surgeon Lieutenant Ian Mankelly, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and of Henry J Woodward, L.S.B.A. C/MX52544, died two hours after being brought onboard and was buried at sea that night, a funeral service having been conducted in the Sick Bay. Most of the survivors were suffering from frostbite and were a bit restless, and the Doctor and the L.S.B.A. tended them throughout the night. This is by no means the first occasion on which this officer and this rating have worked tirelessly, cheerfully and with undoubted skill under trying conditions.   


31.    "GOSSAMER" and "HUSSAR" returned to harbour a.m. and "HARRIER" and "SPEEDWELL" p.m. 1st April, "NIGER", who had been boiler-cleaning and repairing Gyro Compass sailed a.m. to search for the Whaler "SULLA". At 1045 she saw three torpedoes approaching an the surface from the port quarter. Two were going to pass ahead, but the third which was expected to pass astern was zigzagging, and the necessary avoiding action was taken. "NIGER" proceeded at full speed down the torpedo tracks. a good contact was obtained on the Starboard bow and a counter attack was made. By a great misfortune, "NIGER'S" Asdic Dome was leaking slightly, with the result that echoes went woolly within 20º on either bow. Nevertheless the attacks carried out were good and may have damaged the submarine, since they were made in broad daylight and the submarine's original firing position was definitely established at the end of the torpedo tracks which were very plain in a calm flat sea. A search was carried out for several hours afterwards and no further contact was obtained. 

32.    Having failed to find "SULLA", "NIGER" returned to harbour p.m. 3rd April.

33.    Convoy PQ13, the Ocean Escort and the Covering Force had a strenuous time indeed, competing as they did with gales, surface, submarine, and air attack, ice and frequent snowstorms (although the last mentioned were probably an advantage at times), and the way in which they won through is worthy of admiration.

34.    At the same time I submit that, to a much lesser degree and for a much shorter period, the Local Escort had a non-stop performance and I would like to pay tribute to the way in which Officers and men of H.M.Ships "HARRIER", "NIGER", "GOSSAMER", "SPEEDWELL" AND "HUSSAR" carried out their duties on this occasion. The receipt of the following signal kindly sent by The Senior British Naval Officer, North Russia on return to harbour was greatly appreciated by all ships:- 

M.S.6                                                                                             From S.B.N.O., N.R.

I should like Commanding Officers of all Minesweepers to know that I fully appreciate the good work in the difficult conditions in the past few days searching, escorting, and hunting under the nose of the enemy sea and air forces. It does everyone, but especially the Engine room department, great credit that all ships have been ready for service whenever called upon and I am sure that valuable lives and ships have been saved by the good work performed.                                                                    

Senior Officer, Sixth Minesweeping Flotilla


Extract from ADM 199/1104 Report of SBNO North Russia March 1942

I wish to pay tribute to the recent work of the Minesweeping Flotilla, consisting of HMS Harrier (Senior Officer), Niger, GOSSAMER, Speedwell and Hussar, under the command of Commander E P Hinton, DSO, MVC, Senior Officer, 6th Minesweeping Flotilla. These ships have been escorting QP and PQ Convoys in most severe weather conditions and expected every form of attack be the enemy at distances up to 300 miles from the base. They have little rest except when cleaning boilers, and can seldom berth alongside or obtain relaxation. Their work, especially when meeting convoy PQ13, has been extremely well done and reflects credit on all concerned. 

Signed N Bevan
Rear Admiral, Senior British Naval Officer, North Russia 
Polyarnoe, 1942



Harrier, Hussar and GOSSAMER formed part of the Eastern local escort for QP10 (16 ships) as far as 30°E on 12/4. Speedwell was part of the Ocean escort. The convoy was heavily attacked by aircraft and submarines during the first few days.


Niger, Hussar, GOSSAMER and Harrier joined PQ14 as eastern local escort and a strong gale from the north-west sprang up. The convoy arrived Murmansk 19/4 where there were persistent air attacks.


Niger, Hussar, GOSSAMER and Harrier joined QP11 (13 ships) from Murmansk as eastern local escort until 29/4. They escorted the convoy for the first 300 miles and then returned to Murmansk.


Following the torpedoing of HMS Edinburgh by U456, Niger, Hussar, GOSSAMER and Harrier were sent to reinforce the protective screen of destroyers while the Russian tug Rubin took her in tow. Just before midnight with the sun touching the horizon and immediately rising again, the minesweepers hove into sight. It was found that the tug could not tow the big ship on her own, so two tows were secured. Rubin on the port and GOSSAMER on the port quarter. Even so, they could only make 2 knots. Edinburgh signalled to the minesweepers that ...’ in the event of attack by German destroyers...(they)...are to act independently, retiring under smoke if necessary’.


By 0530 with the destroyers Forester and Foresight on either beam and Harrier, Niger and Hussar astern, Edinburgh proceeded steadily. Intermittent snow showers varied the visibility from two to eight miles. 

At 0627 Hussar, on Edinburgh’s starboard quarter, came under fire from three German destroyers trying to close through the fog on Edinburgh. Hussar took up the challenge with a spirited and gallant resistance to the enemy. She immediately opened fire with her 4 inch gun. Fire was returned immediately, straddling the tiny sweeper which, outgunned and outmanoeuvred, fell back towards Edinburgh.  

Immediately Harrier and the two destroyers swung round and headed towards the gun flashes.  These aggressive tactics by the destroyers and 3 minesweepers kept them at bay. Edinburgh ordered GOSSAMER to cast off and, steaming in circles out of control, opened fire, hitting one of the German ships. GOSSAMER and Harrier closed in on Hussar and Edinburgh, their Asdics searching for submarines. Unfortunately at 0730 a German torpedo attack on one of the British destroyers missed but went on to hit Edinburgh.

Able Seaman Colin Kennedy Page was an ASDIC operator on GOSSAMER and his son, Mark Page, reports that 'He was on the ship when she assisted the Edinburgh, and told tales of helping my uncle (who was an officer on the Edinburgh) onto the Gossamer. He also said that the heard the final torpedo through the earphones, as it missed the Gossamer by a fraction before hitting the Edinburgh. He told me that there was a print out of the sound of the torpedo, and he intended to keep it (to assist him as a raconteur) but lost it in the sinking.'

With both of the destroyers badly damaged, time and again the minesweepers darted forward firing their guns. Admiral Bonham Carter described the minesweepers actions as ‘like three young terriers, going in and firing when they could’. Almost unbelievably the minesweepers’ valiant action in the cloud and flame of battle led the enemy to suppose they were destroyers arriving to supplement the British force and probably restrained them from mounting further attacks. In reality there was nothing but the small group of minesweepers to stop the Germans from annihilating every British ship opposing them.   

Edinburgh was listing at 17 degrees and starting to settle. With Hussar making a smoke screen, GOSSAMER was ordered along the starboard side to take off the wounded and merchant navy personnel being taken home. The transfer of the wounded from a sloping deck onto the minesweeper’s deck 12 feet below was a difficult task. The passengers included many Poles released from Russian prisoner of war camps, army and RAF instructors, and Czechs who had been interned in Russia. She embarked 440 officers and men while Edinburgh continued firing at the German ships. At 0800 the order to abandon ship was given and the remaining 350 crew were transferred to Harrier on the port side. Captain Hinton and the crew of Harrier showed remarkable calmness for the minesweeper was in danger of being crushed as Edinburgh increased her list. He signalled to Edinburgh ‘You are leaning on me rather heavily’. Meanwhile the tug Rubin came rushing in and unfortunately collided with Harrier with a resounding crack, causing little damage.

 HMS Harrier alongside HMS Edinburgh

Aboard both minesweepers the decks were becoming so overcrowded there was imminent danger of the vessels capsizing. Although the men were asked to go below to stabilise the vessel a large number were reluctant to do so. It was understandable in the circumstances, especially for those who had recently been trapped below decks. Edinburgh’s First Lieutenant called on the men to follow him and led the way as far down as it was possible to go. Finally, Rear Admiral Bonham Carter hoisted his flag on Harrier. As they laid off Edinburgh, Harrier fired 20 rounds of semi-armour piercing shells into her with little obvious effect except that two fires were started. Two patterns of depth charges were then dropped close alongside but this was also unsuccessful. At this stage the survivors nearly panicked because they had not been warned what was going on and thought they were under attack again. Finally a torpedo from Foresight sank her. 

The laden sweepers (GOSSAMER was carrying 440 extra officers and men but in 1940 on one trip from Dunkirk she had somehow managed to carry 845), with the Rubin and the damaged destroyers Foresight and Forester, set course for Kola Inlet. At 1020 Niger, which had been detached in the night to locate and bring in the two refuelled Russian destroyers, rejoined.


Harrier, GOSSAMER, Hussar, Niger and the other ships arrived at Kola. Edinburgh’s survivors were disembarked at Polyarnoe where they were split into two groups with one group being re-embarked on GOSSAMER for Vaenga. The minesweepers stopped at Vaenga to refuel.

Soon after arriving at Murmansk Harrier’s Commanding Officer received the following letter from the captain of the Russian tug Rubin, which was greatly appreciated by everyone: 

Dear Sir,

Soviet seaman has witness of heroic battle English seaman with predominants powers of enemy. English seamen did observe their sacred duty before Fatherland. We are prouding to staunchness and courage of British seamens – our Allies. I am very sorry what injured your ship by approach to board for what I must beg pardon.

Commander of Division

Disembarking at Murmansk, Admiral Bonham Carter sent the following message to the captain and crew of Harrier:

...it was inspiring to see the minesweepers staying on the scene of action and taking every opportunity of firing at the enemy when visibility permitted. The manner in which Harrier and GOSSAMER were brought alongside the listing Edinburgh during the action showed a fine feat of seamanship and I fully confirm the Commanding Officer of Edinburgh’s report of the way we were treated on board. Never have I seen more kindness and attention than was given to myself, Captain, officers and men than by the Captain, officers and ship’s company of Harrier in which we left. 

A day or two after arriving in the Kola Inlet, Harrier entertained Rear-Admiral Bonham-Carter in the small wardroom. Christopher McLean recalls that at the end of the evening he thanked them very much for their hospitality and for all the help they had given in the Edinburgh action. He had no way of reciprocating but wondered whether they had ever seen an admiral stand on his head. This he proceeded to do much to the delight and astonishment of his audience.

Source: ADM116/4544 Convoys to Russia March to May 1942  Recommendation for Awards

Lieutenant Commander  Thomas Crosbie Crease RN HMS GOSSAMER
During the action in which HMS Edinburgh was sunk, Lt Commander Crease without the slightest hesitation took his ship into action against the more heavily armed attacking force and engaged the enemy wherever possible. When ordered to bring his ship alongside HMS Edinburgh's high side, a manoeuvre which he executed with great skill while the action was still in progress and did not leave until his ship was filled to capacity.

DSM - AB Henry James Woodward J104237
Carried out his duties as gunlayer of the starboard oerlikon with marked coolness and skill. He was one of the only gunlayers in the escort to engage the first aircraft to attack. This aircraft retired with one engine out of action, flying low, and jettisoned the remainder of its bombs. He repeatedly hit a second aircraft and obtained certain hits on two others. His accurate gunfire was largely responsible for the fact that air attacks on the convoy were less well pressed home and heavy casualties thereby avoided.

Mention in Despatches:

Lt Frank Alexander John Andrew This officer's resourcefulness, cheerfulness and cool efficiency throughout was mainly responsible for the embarkation of 440 officers and men.

Sub Lt Gerald Benjamin Kenyon RNVR When alongside HMS Edinburgh the bow wire carried away with the swell, and the fore spring appeared in danger of parting at any moment. Without hesitation and at considerable personal risk this officer and a leading seaman climbed onboard HMS Edinburgh and secured a new wire.  

Leading Seaman Jack Francis Case P/JX 137794 When alongside HMS Edinburgh the bow wire carried away with the swell, and the fore spring appeared in danger of parting at any moment. Without hesitation and at considerable personal risk  an officer and this rating  climbed onboard HMS Edinburgh and secured a new wire.  

Leading Seaman John Baillie P/SSX 200093 Much of the credit for the rapid embarkation of survivors is attributable to the good work of this leading seaman.

YS Ronald Frederick William Winter P/JX136084 Communications were kept at a high degree of efficiency throughout by the leadership and example of this yeoman.

AB Walter Everett, J100186 Carried out his duties as gunlayer of the starboard Oerlikon with marked coolness and skill. He was one of the only gunlayers in the escort to engage the first aircraft to attack. This aircraft retired with one engine out of action, flying low, and jettisoned the remainder of its bombs. Everett  obtained certain hits on two more aircraft. His accurate gunfire was largely responsible for the fact that air attacks on the convoy were less well pressed home and heavy casualties thereby avoided.

AB Reginald Patrick Oliver Bell SSX23660
Carried out his duties as gunlayer of the starboard 0.5 gun with marked coolness and skill. He repeatedly hit an aircraft which crashed into the sea 200 yards from GOSSAMER, and obtained certain hits on another. His accurate gunfire was largely responsible for the fact that air attacks on the convoy were less well pressed home and heavy casualties thereby avoided. 


Kola Inlet


From SBNO N Russia: Arrival Kola Inlet HMS GOSSAMER


At sea


Eastern Local Escort for QP12 (17 ships) comprised Bramble, GOSSAMER, Leda, Seagull and two Russian Destroyers. Harrier was part of the ocean escort arriving Reykjavik 29/5 without incident.


On the evening of the 29th, 140 miles NE of the Kola Inlet,  Captain Crombie commanding the 1st MSF based at Kola joined PQ16 in HMS Bramble, together with Leda, Seagull, Niger, Hussar and GOSSAMER. The convoy divided and at 2330 Crombie’s section, escorting six of the merchant ships to Archangel, was attacked by 15 Ju88’s while 18 attacked the Murmansk-bound ships.


Crombie’s division, proceeding in line ahead and led by the Empire Elgar, arrived at the estuary of the Dvina on 30/5 where it met the ice breaker Stalin. They began a passage through the ice lasting 40 hours. Confined to the narrow lead cut by the Stalin, they were attacked by Ju87 Stukas in a noisy but useless attack.  This section of PQ16 passed Archangel and secured alongside at Bakarista, a new wharf two miles upstream.

Commander Onslow, Senior Officer close escort reported that four fifths of the convoy had got through....  ‘due to the gallantry, efficiency and tireless zeal of the officers and men of the escorts and to the remarkable courage and determination of those of the merchant vessels. No praise can be too high for either’.


Kola Inlet


24/6 GOSSAMER sunk by a direct bomb hit during an air attack while at anchor in the Kola Inlet. Three officers were killed and 20 ratings missing, twelve were wounded .

Source: ADM1/12285 Enemy air attack on HMS GOSSAMER while acting as an escort to North Russian Convoy, June 1942 

Polyarnoe Base

26th June 1942

To: The Senior British Naval Officer, North Russia 


1. I have the honour to report the circumstances under which HMS GOSSAMER was sunk on 24th June 1942.

2. The ship was anchored in position 005 degrees Mishukov Light, 5 cables in 13 fathoms of water. The weather was sunny with no wind or cloud. The tide was slack. There was a slight haze at about 5,000 feet. 

3. At about 0900C a RED air raid warning was received, and all guns’ crews were closed up. Watertight doors and scuttles had been closed during a RED warning about 0800C and left closed. About 0908C five Junkers 88 aircraft were seen to the southward flying from west to east through the slight haze. As they reached the sun, four turned towards the merchant ships anchored at Mishkoz and began to dive. The fifth was lost sight of in the sun. 

4. ‘A’ gun and Oerlikons engaged the four aircraft during their attack on the merchant vessels and were in action when GOSSAMER was hit at 0912C. The range was too great for 0.5-inch or Lewis guns. 

5. From the account given by the Commanding Officer, HMS Hussar, it appears that the fifth aircraft parted company with the remainder and made a direct attack on GOSSAMER. Although this fifth aircraft was known to be unaccounted for and lookouts, officers, signalmen and disengaged guns’ crews were trying to pick it up, the only man who saw anything was the starboard Lewis gunner who observed two bombs in the sun when they were a few hundred feet from the ship. There were nine sun glasses and two pairs of sun goggles in use distributed about the ship beside binoculars fitted with shades. 

6. One (or two) bombs struck the ship slightly on the starboard side of the centre line between the minesweeping winch and the wardroom. The whole of the stern portion of the ship abaft the wardroom was practically severed from the remainder of the ship and the ship began to settle by her stern. Hussar was signalled to stand by. The port whaler was lowered to the upper deck and the wounded were put in the boat. Such floats and rafts as remained were got over the side. The order was then passed to abandon ship but, almost immediately, the ship began to turn over slowly to starboard. The order was then passed ‘Every man for himself, get clear of the ship’. The ship turned over at 0921C, or eight minutes after being hit.

7. Of the three officers and twenty ratings who were not recovered, it is estimated that some fifteen were killed as a direct result of the explosion. These included Oerlikon guns’ crews, Wardroom Officers and stewards. Some six are estimated to have died in the water, either becoming trapped when the ship turned over or through being weak swimmers. The only two wounded men it was not possible to get away would undoubtedly have died anyhow, the one with a shattered spine and the other with a very severe chest wound and two broken legs. It is perhaps worthy of note that men who were lying down even quite near the explosion were, generally speaking, unhurt, whereas those standing up were completely flattened against the next bulkhead. 

8. The prompt action of some three or four Russian power boats and at least one rowing boat was responsible for saving a number of lives. HMS Hussar was very quickly away and on the spot, taking survivors onboard from all Russian boats. 

9. The behaviour of the officers and ship’s company throughout was entirely in accordance with the highest traditions of the service. Attached as an Appendix to this report are the names to which I should like to draw your particular attention. 

I have the honour to be sir, your obedient servant 

Lieutenant Commander Crease 

Recommendations for operational awards to ratings of HMS GOSSAMER: 

PERRY John, Petty Officer, Official Number not known. (Posthumous)
After the explosion this Petty Officer took charge below decks ensuring that there should be no rush for the one remaining after hatch. He then saved the life of a stoker by extricating him from a pile of debris and getting him to the upper deck. He was last seen in the water encouraging the weaker swimmers. He himself was not saved. 

HOLDEN Edward Sydney Farr, MX 64698, Sick Berth Attendant
McLEAN Archibald
, MX 60416, ERA III
These two men at great personal risk extricated a badly wounded able seaman from the debris in the after part of the ship just before this part of the ship became submerged and got him safely into the whaler. 

BIRD Arthur Edward, M30181, Chief ERA
ELKS George Earnest, JX 236417, Able Seaman
FOSTER George Campbell
, JX 153809, Petty Officer
After the engine room had been cleared, these three men returned below with the ship settling and listing rapidly, at great risk to themselves, and worked until just before she capsized to try to get the steam electric generator on the board. 

BEALE Sydney Martin Chichester, JX 296483, Ordinary Seaman
PAGE Colin Kennedy
, SSX 18160, Able Seaman
Having themselves only just got out of very cold water into boats, each of these men dived in again without hesitation to drag a man in difficulties into their respective boats. There is no doubt that both were responsible for saving a man’s life.


The Honours and Awards Committee has carefully considered the services of Officers and Men of HMS GOSSAMER, and submits that the King’s approval be sought for the awards set forth below. 

Great gallantry was shown by members of the ship’s company after she had been hit by bombs while acting as part of the escort to a North Russian convoy. 

In addition to the Awards submitted, it is proposed to refer the gallantry in rescue work of Ordinary Seaman Beale and Able Seaman Page to the Royal Humane Society 

British Empire Medal

SBA Edward Sydney Farr Holden
ERA III Archibald McLean 

Mention in Despatches (Posthumous)

Petty Officer John Perry 

Mention in Despatches

CERA Arthur Edward Bird
B George Earnest Elks
PO George Campbell Foster

[Published in London Gazette No 35815 of 4th December 1942]

Source: Private papers of Lt R M Milligan RCNVR - IWM 500 88/55/1

Between convoys we (HMS Hussar) anchored in a smallish bay which we called Stuka Alley as they came our way quite often. It was standard practice for a Jerry to come over high up at about 0800 each day to photograph all and sundry. Kodak Party he was called. Then around 1400 the stukas, having picked the best pictures, came in and did their stuff. We were selected one sunny afternoon as we lay at anchor.

Our man dropped his too late, our Oerlikon shots too far behind, but they got Gossamer. Bomb went in between the sweep rail and the wardroom, blew her bottom out and the deck off along with my opposite number. She rolled over and gradually sank slowed up somewhat as a Russian barge alongside held her up until she went too. Chiefy had our steam up in ten minutes, a record, and we were there just after she went, picking up survivors. I do not know how many there was but our wardroom was full of wounded. Being our chummy ship it meant a lot to our chaps. When I say chummy it had started long before I joined Hussar as they had worked together a lot.

The survivors from HMS Gossamer had to undergo a further attack as they returned to the UK onboard HMS Marne.

In her action with surface forces on August 25, when returning to the United Kingdom with survivors from H.M.Ss. Edinburgh and Gossamer, H.M.S. Marne suffered 3 men killed and 5 wounded by shell splinters. These wounded had to be kept on board. The report of her Medical Officer recorded that: 

'It was necessary to excise major wounds under local anaesthesia as they were very dirty with clothing, splinters and pieces of skin carried deep into the tissues. Dressings were sterilised by baking them in cigarette tins in the galley oven, and they proved very satisfactory. As the ship was rolling considerably, the deck itself proved to be the best instrument table. Operating was carried on at speed as the ship was still in very dangerous waters.' 

The conditions on board the Marne were even more complicated by the twin guns which were mounted above the sick bay, so that much dust and smoke found its way into the atmosphere during the course of any surgical procedure. This ship had also been short of food for the preceding fortnight, and this fact also made her Medical Officer fear that the resistance to infection of his casualties might be lowered. However, this did not prove to be the case, and all these men were apyrexial with their wounds clean, when transferred to the Hospital Ship Amarapoora at Scapa Flow.

Source: The Royal Naval Medical Services Vol II, JLS Coulter


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