Halcyon Class Minesweepers HMS Halcyon 1941
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HMS Halcyon - Halcyon Class Minesweeper
HMS Halcyon

Date of Arrival


Date of Departure

Remarks, Orders etc

27.9.40 Middlesbrough 8.7.41

15.5.41 Completes ex trials 3/6

5/6 Delayed – machinery defect

7/6 HALCYON should be sailed for Stornoway on completion landing LL tails and reels at Aberdeen.

30/6 Completed 30/6 – anticipate her sailing for Stornoway 0900 6.7.41 if trials satisfactory.

3/7 Ship will be delayed 48 hours – degaussing trouble

5/7 Intend to sail TLC105 & 108 8/7 escorted by HALCYON to Stornoway for onward sailing escort to Belfast.












As HALCYON’s gear is at Middlesborough intend sailing her there a.m. 15/7 to embark gear and complete fitting of R/T




17/7 HALCYON taken in hand Smithsons Dock South Bank Middlesborough, completes 21/7




From C in C Home Fleet – request R.A. (D) Home Fleet will sail HALCYON from Seidisfiord when ready.

28/7 from R.A.(D): Salamander with HALCYON to proceed passing Switha 2000 28/7 to Seidisfiord Iceland

, NIGER, HARRIER and HALCYON spent most of August providing A/S protection for the port of Seidisfjord in Iceland. In the middle of the month Salamander and HALCYON escorted the RFA tanker BLACK RANGER to Hvalfjord.




For Hvalfiord






At sea


HALCYON, Harrier and Salamander provided part of the ocean escort for Operation Dervish, the first convoy to North Russia, arriving Archangel 31/8 without being attacked.

They sailed to the White Sea to conduct mine searching operations at its entrance in preparation for future Arctic convoys.

  Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2/A2021446

[...David Moore wrote this account of his visiting North Russia in 1941 with convoys. He was flotilla navigating officer in HMS HALCYON aged about twenty four.]
I was in or based on Archangel in North Russia between August and October 1941 and the abiding impression is of a pleasant and stimulating period, no doubt due to the surprisingly warm climate in Archangel at the time, the lack of enemy activity and the excitement of penetrating the Communist USSR and having to deal with its people.
On the voyage out in the first convoy to Russia we were issued with lots of intelligence material, but it was straight from the experiences of the Allied and British forces that had been in Archangel in about 1918-1920 trying to keep the port from falling into Bolshevik hands. They failed; but the intelligence stuff was quaint and old-fashioned in 1941 and had little to relevance to what we would find.

After a few days in the timber yards some of us took a boat into the city for a 'run ashore'. There was Fred Bradley our big RNVR First Lieut., who in civilian life was a wealthy Lloyds underwriter. Also I think Lt. Mason, the 'Guns', and myself. Fred was always good for a laugh and could make any party go. On reaching the landing-stage we were met by a good-looking Russian girl and our first impression was that we were being picked up by one of the locals. However, it did not take us long to realise that she was a KGB (or whatever it was then) agent and that she had been detailed off to escort us to a café where she stood us some insipid lager. Our questions about the USSR, the Stalin-Hitler pact of 1939 and so on, were neatly parried.
Archangel was really a rather dilapidated place with old buildings which appeared to date from prosperous times before WW1. It was obviously a somewhat neglected outpost of the empire. The afternoon did not develop into any jolly night-life, because there wasn't any, and we returned to the ship without having met any genuine Russians.

Report of the proceedings of HM Ships Harrier, Salamander and HALCYON is submitted herewith. 


Preparatory to the arrival of HMS LONDON 

The three sweepers sailed p.m. 24th; on 25th searched QZF38 and then north to Cape Gorodetski with Oropesa and SA. Sweeping was abandoned p.m. owing to strong northerly winds. Ships anchored south of Veshnyak for the night. As stated in the sailing directions, this is an uncomfortable anchorage owing to strong tides.

On Sept 26th a high percentage search of QZF 38 was carried out with LL and SA. On completion ships returned to the North Dvina Lightship, arriving a.m. Sept 27th.

Source ADM 199/264 Report of Proceedings


At sea


Local eastern escort from Archangel for QP1 (14 ships) with HALCYON and Salamander until 30/9. No enemy activity.

The three sweepers formed part of the escort of convoy QP1, parting company at 1300 on Sept 30th. I had intended to carry out a further search of Gorodetski – QZF 38 area before the return of HMS London but, owing to the bad visibility, only an acoustic search was possible. Ships returned to Archangel a.m. Oct 2nd.

Source ADM 199/264 Report of Proceedings



HMS London arrived p.m. October 3rd. SALAMANDER and HALCYON were sent to the North Dvina Lightship to provide A/S protection, while HARRIER remained at Archangel as W/T link and to take the mission down river on Oct 4th.

Source ADM 199/264 Report of Proceedings


HARRIER and HALCYON sailed on October 8th to buoy the newly established QZF 39 and to search QZF 38 before the arrival of convoy PQ1. This was done at dusk on Oct 9th and HALCYON was sent back to Archangel, while HARRIER proceeded to position Z to meet the convoy. 

The convoy was picked up by RDF at a range of 10,000 yards at 0400 Oct 10th. HARRIER joined up and formed part of the escort until arrival off Dvina at dawn on Oct 11th

The weather was too bad to embark pilots outside the bar, so HARRIER led the minesweepers across the bar where they embarked pilots, and in turn led the ships of the convoy across the bar.

Source ADM 199/264 Report of Proceedings 


One of the first minesweeping operations given to Harrier, HALCYON and Salamander was to investigate ‘objects’ dropped by enemy aircraft in the Kara Strait. Lt Bill Mellalieu RNVR on HALCYON recalls:

‘As we sailed east from the White Sea the sea began to freeze appearing like a thick viscous sugar/water mixture. When we reached the Strait we found the sides frozen solid with ice but with pack ice in the centre. We made several passes with LL streamed and SA hammering away with no result and were about to call ‘false alarm’ when there was a heavy explosion ahead which flung huge chunks of ice skyward. Men on the upper deck sought shelter as the ice fell inboard. The next pass produced an explosion in the LL tail. I believe we triggered about seven mines altogether.’

Source: Fleet Sweepers at War, Jack Williams


HM Ships HARRIER, SALAMANDER, BRITOMART and HALCYON sailed from Archangel p.m. Oct 14th, with orders to return to Scapa via Seidisfiord. SALAMANDER had only temporary repairs to her forepeak and was compelled to reduce speed in any head sea; HALCYON could only steam 11 knots owing to a distorted tail shaft: BRITOMART has no A/S: HARRIER’s Type 271 was out of action owing to lack of spares. 

Soon after sailing, orders were received from the Commander in Chief, Home Fleet to search Brentsburg and Longyearby for possible enemy occupation. It was obvious that SALAMANDER and HALCYON would be unable to make the extra distance so at noon on October 18th HARRIER and BRITOMART parted company and increased to 13 knots to make landfall at Spitzbergen before (?) on October 18th.

Source ADM 199/264 Report of Proceedings








24/10 From C in C Home Fleet: Request sail HALCYON on to Aberdeen for repairs.

31/10 From Flag Officer In Charge Aberdeen: If repairs to HMS HALCYON are undertaken by Messrs John Lewis and Sons (the only firm available) the work will take seven weeks. An immediate decision on this matter is requested.




1/11 HALCYON can be taken in hand at Messrs Green Silley & Weir London for repairs and fitting out for Arctic service. Should be sailed for London forthwith.




For Royal Albert Dock




From F O I/C London: Vessel completes on 16/12 and should sail on 18/12.

23/11 HALCYON is required to sail 14/12




HALCYON reports that intermediate starboard propeller shaft is out of line and bearings are running hot. Ship is being retained at Sheerness.

16/12 HALCYON reports intermediate shaft slightly bent but full power trial carried out today as otherwise satisfactory. Ship is considered fit for service.




22/12 Left Scapa with Arethusa, 6 destroyers, 2 corvettes, Harrier, Scott and Speedwell and two LSIs for the raid on Vaagso (Operation Anklet, the landing of commandos on the Lofoten Islands); entered Vestfjord on 26/12 and the Commando raid began. Force left 28/12 and arrived Scapa 1.1.42


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This site was last updated 17 Januar 2012