Halcyon Class Minesweepers HMS Halcyon 1942
Halcyon Pre-War
Halcyon 1939
Halcyon 1940
Halcyon 1941
Halcyon 1942
Halcyon 1943
Halcyon 1944
Halcyon 1945
Halcyon Post-War
Halcyon Crew


HMS Halcyon 12th Oct 1942 IWM9841-  Halcyon Class Minesweeper
HMS Halcyon (IWM FL9841)

Date of Arrival


Date of Departure

Remarks, Orders etc








8/1 HALCYON starboard shaft considerably distorted. Consider unwise to sail her with PQ8. Propose she should return to Scapa sailing with RU5 9/1

Delayed owing to storm damage ?? by ship dragging on to Reykjavik ??

16/1: Sustained serious structural damage requiring dockyard repairs. HALCYON cannot proceed with PQ9. Temporary repairs will be undertaken by Hecla in about one week.












HALCYON has been taken in hand at Aberdeen for repairs. Estimated time required 5 weeks. Anticipated date of completion 19/3

Completes 30/3
Completes 14/4
Completes 25/4
Completes 9/5






On 23 June SALAMANDER, HALCYON and BRITOMART departed Scapa Flow escorting the RFA GREY RANGER to Hvalfjord.


HALCYON left Reykjavik with Britomart and Salamander as part of the escort for PQ17. The minesweepers (with some other escorts) ringed the convoy at 3,000 yards range, closing to 1,000 yards when air attack was imminent. They were also in a position to investigate U boat activity.


This Diary has kindly been contributed to the site by Pauline Maslen, wife of LSBA William Maslen and remains her copyright. Please do not reproduce any part of this Diary without prior permission

The WWII diary of William Fred Maslen.
D/MX 71123 LSBA. (Leading sick berth attendant)

Russian Convoy. PQ 17   HMS Halcyon.1942. 

Arrived Scapa Flow to join ship Saturday 20th June 1942. Arrived on board 1700. Saw the captain at Divisions on Sunday. He wished to see me in his cabin. He apologised for me being here; discussion on medical stores. 

Monday 22nd. Went to HMS Tyne for medical stores, but had to get them at Dunbar Castle very few obtained. 

Tuesday 23rd. Prepared for sea 1700. Took a tanker to Iceland, Reykjavik, arrived Friday 1400. Saw a SBA (sick berth attendant) with marines. 

Saturday 27th. 0700. Proceeded to sea. Convoy to Russia / Archangel.  

Ice scraping along ship Sunday night. Very cold. 

Monday 29th. Very quiet day. One merchant ship turned back. 

Tuesday 30th. Two MPs (merchant packets) lost. One on rocks, one turned back - Hole in bows. Joined up with big boys. Weather rough and very cold. 

Wednesday 1st July. Very quiet until evening except for jerry reconnaissance and in the evening contacted subs only a little way away. Charges dropped couldn't see anything. 

Thursday 2nd. Quiet night ‑ but destroyer chasing surfaced subs all night. Enemy flying boat circling convoy about 10 o'clock ‑ reconnaissance planes shadowed us all day‑ torpedo attack by 6 planes PM, but unsuccessful. Mist came in 2000‑ light all night, no darkness. Expecting big attack tomorrow. "Grey Ranger" and "Douglas" retired to Iceland. 

Friday 3rd. Quiet throughout the day. Walrus plane came over about 1700 ‑ then jerry reconnaissance plane and there was a scrap between them, Walrus came towards convoy but jerry wouldn't come in. Towed the Walrus all night. Lost merchant packet through torpedo attack during night, most of the crew saved‑ our sub finished off M P.

 Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


0452 a merchantman was torpedoed by a single Heinkel

2020 25+ He111’s and Ju88’s attacked the convoy badly damaging two ships such that HALCYON and Britomart were ordered to sink them.

2136 Convoy ordered to scatter. Britomart and HALCYON were ordered to sail with Palomares. 

At 11 pm the anti-aircraft ship Palomares (Captain J H Jauncey) as senior escort vessel after Keppel’s departure, merely signalled all the escorts, ‘Scatter and proceed independently’; but some time later she realised that in scattering the escort she had left herself as denuded of anti-submarine protection as the merchant ships: she signalled the minesweeper Britomart, seven miles to the north of her, the one word ‘Close’ and then, ten minutes later, the instructions, ‘Take station on my port beam, one mile. Course 077°, 11 1/2 knots.’ Soon after the Palomares ordered the minesweeper HALCYON to take station on her other beam. Britomart’s Lieutenant Commander Stamwitz afterwards observed, ‘It seemed wrong that my anti-submarine minesweeper was being used only to escort a heavily armed anti-aircraft ship. But Palomares seemed more concerned with the safe passage of his ship than the merchant ships. The anti-submarine vessels were of course afforded excellent AA protection in this way.

Source: The Destruction of Convoy PQ17 – David Irving 


Saturday 4th
. Day started very well, all quiet‑ apparently the peace before the storm. Hell on Earth in the afternoon and evening. Six torpedo seaplanes came over first but the barrage was too much for them and they made off. But later 38 torpedo bombers came in and there was no stopping them. Two dive bombers helped in the attack. Considering the force that came over we did remarkably well, losing 2 merchant packets and 1 oiler damaged. News came that the von Tirpitz was drawing near so the convoy had to scatter ‑ all destroyers and cruisers made off, making an impressive battle fleet, to intercept. All ships in convoy had to find their individual way to Archangel. Weather much brighter during night and day. Very calm.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


Following the order to scatter,
Britomart and HALCYON joined by Zamalek and Pozarica headed towards Novaya Zemlya.

Salamander (Lt Mottram) steamed east with Zaafaran, Ocean Freedom and Aldersdale. Later that afternoon this group was attacked by four Ju88’s. Aldersdale, whose cargo included aviation spirit, was hit by a stick of bombs and Salamander went close to evacuate the crew.  Zaafaran was then hit by bombs. On seeing this from miles astern her sister ship, Zamalek, headed towards her to pick up survivors, taking Britomart as anti-submarine protection. All but one of Zaarafan’s crew and passengers were picked up. Zamalek, Ocean Freedom and Britomart now proceeded after Palomares and HALCYON while astern of them, Salamander, having abandoned her attempts to finish off Aldersdale, strove to catch up.


Sunday 5th
. Going NE all the time, almost up to the N Pole. Shadowing plane still around. 700 miles from NP. Dive bombers attacked at noon but were driven off by Britomart and AA ship, rescue ship and M Packet. Dive bomber attacked ship on horizon, it sank in about 15 minutes. We went to help and pick up survivors but R (rescue) ship was coming up so we did asdic sweep. Planes around all day. Salamander came up from astern about 2100. Panic on board, we thought it was a raider. No wireless all trip but just heard that M ship got finished.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


W/T reports were received warning that a German destroyer was in the area. Shortly after midnight on the 5th/6th a mast head was seen on the horizon closing rapidly. HALCYON prepared for action, spliced the mainbrace and opened fire at 0100. Shortly afterwards signals were seen coming from the mast indicating that the ship was in fact Salamander. She too had received the same report and was returning at top speed (17 knots, faster than her design speed of 15 knots, which may have led HALCYON to believing her to be the destroyer) from rescuing survivors of Aldersdale.

Later that day Britomart was sent around Cape Stolbovoi to make contact with the Russians at Lagerni, explaining (with some diffculty) that the ships wanted the haven of an anchorage. That afternoon, Palomares (towing the out of fuel walrus aircraft from HMS Norfolk), Britomart, HALCYON and Salamander, the crowded rescue ship Zamalek and the single merchant ship Ocean Freedom dropped anchor. HALCYON at this stage had used half of her four inch shells and was very low on fuel. At a conference of the commanding officers, the Arctic expertise of the minesweepers’ officers was accepted that they should not attempt to break out east into the Kara Sea on account of ice. (The aircraft was refuelled and confirmed the impossibility of this idea).

Shortly afterwards they were joined by Pozarica, Poppy and La Malouine. Although it was not known if the surface threat had receded, La Malouine was sent to render assistance to any merchantmen she could find. She returned that evening with four ships, Hoosier, Samuel Chase, El Capitan and Benjamin Harrison, that struggled through the deteriorating weather to the anchorage. Shortly before midnight, Lotus, her decks crowded with survivors steamed into the anchorage to a chorus of cheers. 


Monday 6th.
Very quiet night, good weather this AM. A little swell. We have to sweep going into channel between islands 1100. Sweep not done, anchored and awaiting further instructions. Reported White Sea, closed up. Jerry destroyer‑ we may make a dash for it. Tonight Jimmy gave a speech. Excellent weather.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


At dawn on 7th July three trawlers, Lord Austin, Lord Middleton and Northern Gem arrived, desperately short of steam coal. They replenished from Ocean Freedom.

At a conference aboard Palomares concerns were expressed that the anchorage could quickly turn from haven to trap if they were discovered. The merchant Masters wanted to wait for more naval support and rely on their massive AA firepower to protect them until it arrived.  It was decided to sail and a message was passed to the SBNO Archangel via the Russians radio station.

At 1900, Lotus led the 14 ships out, running into fog which sent one of the merchantmen back.


Tuesday 7th
. Weather fine ‑ wind very strong. Novaya Zembla ‑ awaiting decision to carry on. Skipper of HM ship refuses to go on further without an air escort. Visibility moderate. 50‑50 chance getting through with it. Left N Z at 1700, seems to be taking a chance ‑ same way as we came in. 16 ships in all. 14 survivors taken aboard from Salamander.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


At 1630 the ships encountered an extensive ice field which broke up the convoy’s cohesion as for several hours they blundered about. Zamalek became stuck on an ice ridge for some hours. El Capitan found a boat with 19 survivors from the John Witherspoon.


Wednesday 8th. July
. Very quiet night. some wind, fog thick. Clearer at noon. Possibility of submarines loafing convoy. OK so far‑ Catalina and 2 destroyers meeting us. More pack ice than that ‑ miles of it ‑ still going through ice all day. Lost most of ships in fog.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


In the early hours, Britomart, HALCYON and Lotus broke out of the fog and ice, sighting Samuel Chase, Ocean Freedom, Lord Middleton and Northern Gem.

Some 40 miles ahead, Salamander, El Capitan, Hoosier, Lord Austin, Poppy, La Malouine, Zamalek, Palomares and Pozarica also regained clear weather and, yet again miraculously, sighted the remaining 29 survivors from John Witherspoon who had been adrift in two boats for three days.

At 1100 a ‘small convoy’ (the ‘Palomares group’) was reported by the Germans and three U boats homed in on it. Aware it was being trailed, no attempt could be made to detach ships to put the sub down because of an acute shortage of fuel. This convoy was forced west by the ice and was now steaming south-west (towards the enemy airfields in Norway) in sunshine with 20 miles visibility and light winds. Forty Ju88’s appeared and moved in from different directions while U255 observed from astern. Three bombs damaged Hoosier and she was abandoned, the crew being rescued by La Malouine. With ammunition stocks becoming very low, Russian air cover was requested but no fighters appeared.


Thursday 9th
. Six ships with us altogether this AM. 2 trawlers, 2 merchants, 2 sweepers. Still dodging some ice. Weather good ‑ sunny ‑ visibility good. Sub scare at 10 o'clock ‑ washout. Weather became misty ‑ clearing again at night. Jerry plane sighted during night. Bombs seen to drop around merchant ship ‑ nothing seen after.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


0200 El Capitan damaged by near misses from bombs but continued her journey.

0400 Near misses stopped Zamalek’s engines but no ships were sent back to her. She made good repairs and chased after the convoy.

0600 A lone Ju88 stopped El Capitan with a near miss, her crew being rescued by Lord Austin.

1230 Two Russian destroyers joined and led the remaining ships of the ‘Palomares group’ into Gourlo where they headed for the River Dvina, securing alongside at Archangel at 1600.


Friday 10th
. Weather fine ‑ visibility moderate becoming excellent later. The worst day of all as far as I was concerned, everyone began to get very nervy and it just about wound me up. We thought everything was OK when we saw a Russian single engine flying boat come around but it wasn't long before we had jerry dive bombers at us. It was "hell". Gun crews closed up from 0700 until 2000. First attack by dive bombers at 0915 and throughout the day at intervals. One merchant ship of the two we were escorting got damaged by a near miss and we took her in tow. She repaired damage in about 3 hours and we cast off, only just in time as the dive bombers came soon after. The Halcyon shot down one plane during an early attack. When most of the attack was over, two of the sweepers came out from Archangel to escort us in, plus 1 destroyer. We got our two M P's in safely but the ack ack ship lost their M P's. Night passed fairly quiet.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


1100 Sixteen Ju88’s attacked the second group of Samuel Chase, Ocean freedom, Lotus, HALCYON, Britomart, Lord Middleton and Northern Gem. The attack lasted 90 minutes, brining the Samuel Chase to a standstill. The group now split into two. Britomart and Northern Gem escorted Ocean Freedom while HALCYON took the Samuel Chase in tow and Lord Middleton provided anti-submarine cover.

The Samuel Chase was in serious difficulty. Just after passing Cape Kanin, HALCYON came upon her drifting helplessly. Her master signalled: 'Two direct hits, three near misses, main steam line broken. Shall we abandon ship?' He replied 'Do not abandon ship - we will take you in tow.' There then followed a very fine piece of seamanship. The minesweeper had reciprocating engines, which enabled her to pull a considerable weight. Very efficiently a strong tow was shot over to Samuel Chase and HALCYON gradually increased engine revolutions and both screws began to thrust; the merchantman began to move. The two vessels made a steady five knots south to the White Sea, ready to cut clear if they should be attacked, until after some hours, the Americans, fired no doubt by the example of the little 1,000 ton sweeper, managed to get their engines going again and finish the journey under their own steam. In recognition of HALCYON's assistance the master of the Samuel Chase asked that the minesweeper be allowed to escort him into harbour, which she did.  

Source: PQ17 Convoy to Hell by Paul Lund and Harry Ludlum

Both groups continued to fight off attacks with Ocean Freedom being damaged by a near miss but not stopped. In the late afternoon, Russian hurricanes at last provided air cover, Hazard and Leda hove into view and two Russian minesweepers joined, taking the weary convoy in to Archangel.

The survivors from the Honomu were rescued by HALCYON, Salamander and Hazard in remarkable circumstances:

‘One of the most dramatic rescues was made high up in the Barents Sea by Salamander and HALCYON, along with a third minesweeper, Hazard. A Russian Catalina out on patrol had spotted three rafts and radioed back their position with an estimate of the direction on which they would drift. The three sweepers were sent out from Archangel to find them. They were given nine days for the search as they were needed for minesweeping work. This gave them three days to reach the area, three days to look for the rafts, and three days to return. 

On reaching the area of search the three ships found perfect weather but the first twenty-four hours of vigilance slipped fruitlessly by and everyone was beginning to feel disheartened. 'What sort of fools errand is this?' was the question asked on HALCYON. Every man was badly strained and tired after the activities of the past two weeks; no one had had more than four hours sleep for what seemed years. However, they were fortunate in having absolute quiet for their search on the sunlit sea, for no U-boat echoed on the asdics, no bomber marred the blue sky. As they got back into regular routine men's spirits rose and they began to take an interest.

In the afternoon that began the third day of the box search the atmosphere was tense. The night hours passed quietly, the sun just on the horizon shedding on the ripples of the sea a path of crinkling gold liquid. It was an eerie scene and there was a sudden inexplicable feeling that they might find the lost seamen after all. This despite the fact that the survivors had been afloat for thirteen days, and the minesweepers were only going on calculations made a week before by the Russian pilot. Though they were tackling the impossible, excitement mounted and hopes rose as the short time grew shorter.  

But at 7.30 a.m. the black Arctic fog descended. This seemed the end. Their time was up at noon and they were helpless in the fog. All they could do now was to feel their way and hope. At 8.15 a.m. on HALCYON there was the usual anti-freeze routine on the guns, a few test rounds being fired by each. Now, all those not on watch below came and stood shivering on the upper deck, either cursing the fog or silently praying for it to rise. Sometimes it would lift just enough to let them see Salamander, but not Hazard which lay 200 yards farther off. At 11 a.m. the coxswain served the rum and all went below for their tot, then returned. There was no argument or lively banter as usual, just a strained silence.

HALCYON's captain had ordered the Very pistols fired. He now sent the signal for the last lap. For this last half hour everyone lined the rails, watching waiting, praying; and at a quarter to twelve, just fifteen minutes to go, a miracle happened. The fog lifted. First they saw Salamander, and then Hazard's ghostly shape appeared. A faint cheer sounded - or was it their overstretched imagination? No, it was not, for right between each ship was a raft crammed with men waving weakly. They began to shout 'God Save the King! We knew you would save us'. They had heard the gunfire and paddled wearily towards it.

The sweepers dropped their scrambling nets. On Salamander a seaman missed with his first attempt to throw a line to one of the rafts. 'Limey', said a cracked and dry voice, 'I have been on this raft for thirteen days and could do better than that!' After taking thirteen men from one raft - there were more than thirty survivors in all from S.S. Honomu - Salamander moved off to drop depth charges in case a U-boat was near. Aboard HALCYON the survivors were too weak, and their feet too swollen, to stand, but otherwise they were in surprisingly good shape; from the first day they had taken turns at four hours on the paddles and four off, and during the off period had washed their deadening feet with salt water. Only a coloured man who would not do this later lost part of his foot with frostbite. The U-boat which sank Honomu had surfaced on the third and sixth days of their ordeal, giving them more water.’  

Source: PQ17 Convoy to Hell by Paul Lund and Harry Ludlum


Saturday 11th
. Fairly good weather, a few showers during the morning, the first for the whole trip. Arrived at base here almost 14 days to the hour to the time we left Iceland (1700). 5 ships are all that are definitely safe. Oiled right away. A buzz that we are leaving for Murmansk tomorrow. 

Sunday 12th. Prepared to go to sea with one rescue ship to pick up survivors from Trinidad and Edinburgh at Murmansk ‑ 1600 but leaks developed in our sides. Shore leave granted in the evening ‑ we went to dance in football ground. I met a Russian lady doctor and 2 men ‑ quite interesting conversation. Wanted me to dance but music was too slow for us ‑ no one could dance to it. Was awakened at 0630 and told that all survivors were coming aboard to go to Archangel ‑ 3 serious cases. Ship was packed ‑ no mishaps. 

Monday 13th. Weather good ‑ tied up at jetty ‑ expected to go to sea at 1600 but postponed until further orders. Took "Sabu" to RANC H.Q. for dental trouble ‑ given pot permanganate. Ashore in the evening. Went to opera and dance ‑ variety show ‑ very good but dancing too slow steps ‑ quite good looking girls. Didn't get off.

Tuesday 14th. Weather good ‑ tied up at jetty ‑ preparing for sea at noon ‑ Murmansk for survivors ‑ rescue ship ‑ only do 6 knots?? about turning back ‑ bad coal. Met the Bramble just coming in. Turned back about 2300 ‑ just getting alongside quay with rescue ship when orders came for us H and S to proceed to sea to pick up survivors 360 miles N of Murmansk. 

Wednesday 15th. Proceeding on rescue work ‑ fairly quiet throughout the day ‑weather good ‑ calm. No scares, all quiet. 

Thursday 16th. Quiet night ‑ passed Corvette going in with survivors ‑ weather fine ‑swell on ‑ expecting to see Cantilena ‑ should sight survivors during morning watch. 

Friday 17th. Survivors not seen. Weather ‑ cloudy , misty. Proceeded to search area all day, but couldn't see anything. 

Saturday 18th. Intend to search until 1600 for survivors and then return ‑ we have very little hope of picking them up as fog is so thick. About 1245 floats were sighted (4 altogether) survivors went mad with excitement ‑ had been out 13 days on rafts ‑ one said "I knew they would come, God save the King." They were in excellent condition (15 in all), 5 officers, 10 ratings, 6 were black. Some were frost bitten.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


Kola Inlet


With 21 survivors from Honomu



….including the other guests seated round the table, especially the commanders of such of the First and Sixth Flotillas of fleet minesweepers which happened to be alongside at that moment. All those who found themselves chance neighbours so far from home had come in a body to pay their respects and sign their names in the visitors' book of the Pozarica's Captain, and I was looking through the book the other day to make sure who had been there that evening ‑ Lt. H. J. Hall, Lotus ... Lt. Boyd,Poppy . . . Lt. Rankin, Dianella . . . Lt. Bidwell, La... Lt. Wathen, Lord Austin ... Banning, Rathlin, Master and one of them had added “PQ17, Novaya Zemlya, and Ekonomia, and quite enough!" ‑ but, in the end, after much reminiscent search, I could only be certain that the three signatures which came to mean most to me personally during our incarceration in North Russia were those of the commanders of the Leda, HALCYON, and Hazard.


Three very different types of men: Seymour of Hazard, who had just been awarded his brass hat, possessing an aquiline profile and a passion for the R.N. that made his ship a model of efficiency and his manner at first slightly intimidating till one came to appreciate that if you are compelled by Service obligations to spend years of your life, first in China, then in North Russia, it is as well to adopt a creed of self‑sufficiency: Wynne‑Edwards, ruddy cheeked, hospitable, warm‑hearted, whose ship, Leda, became such a second home to me out there that I cannot even now think of her and her crew without my heart contracting: and finally Corbett‑Singleton of HALCYON, like a huge sheep‑dog with a shy, sleepy manner, that did not prevent him from winning a double D.S.C. in the course of the war, or from sending ‑ a lightning flash of relieving humour - my favourite signal of the whole voyage. Just as the news had been passed from ship to ship that our convoy had to scatter, he hoisted, "Now I know what the Itie fleet feel like!"


Now I know myself, because I have made it my concern to sort it all out, something of the exploits of these two flotillas that first became discs on the operational maps when they commenced their shuttle service, accompanying the second convoy to make the trip through the Barents Sea. That was in October, 1941, the flotilla leader, Bramble, was there, and from that time on no convoy made the journey either way without at least two or three of this small group as part of their escort the whole voyage. I, think it was only when I found myself, later, a member of the crew of the Cumberland serving in those same waters, in winter, that I became in the least degree cognizant of what it must have been like for ships, by comparison so tiny, facing exactly the same hazards, with an inevitably minute proportion of the same resources to combat not only the ravages of the weather but all the other dangers that surrounded them.


Extracts from ‘PQ17’ by Godfrey Winn who travelled to North Russia aboard HMS Pozarica 


Sunday 19th
. Kept awake all night ‑ not too much trouble ‑ all feet redressed ‑ one collapsed when on way to heads. All eating better going into Murmansk. Polyarnoe arr. 1600. 

Monday 20th. All patients were unloaded and taken to hospital last night. We were told that we were going to take survivors and 6 stretcher cases back to Archangel on Tuesday. Shore leave granted at Polyarnoe from 1650 ‑ 2300. Pictures and football matches, Arthur Askey. Very nice place, like Seaton. Russian destroyer in. 

Tuesday 21st. Patients taken on board at 1400 ‑ 6 in number, pretty good lot, some amputations. 20 survivors taken aboard at O Veinga ‑ no scares. 

Wednesday 22nd. Halcyon, Salamander, 4 sub chasers and 3 merchant ships on way to Archangel ‑ no scares. Weather very misty ‑ mist came on thicker at night and we had to drop anchor for the night. 

Thursday 23rd. Still at anchor waiting for fog to clear. Fog cleared about 1030 ‑weighed anchor and on way. One merchantman broke down. Salamander stopped with her and we went on with the others. 

Friday 24th. 0700 at entrance to river arrived and oiled ‑ tender came along side and took all survivors ‑ we tied up at wood piles ‑ leave allowed along jetty.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV






Saturday 25th
. At the wood piles all quiet ‑ leave granted to go to Archangel 1400‑2315. Had big eats at International club. Sturgeons roe ‑ raw salmon ‑ smocked fish ‑black bread. 

Sunday 26th. Stand up prayer on Q deck. Captain cleared lower deck ‑ congratulated all on their work ‑ predicted that we wouldn't do much sea time. Went in village in the evening ‑ played snooker against Russian officers. 

Monday 27th. All quiet ‑ rain at noon ‑ mosquitoes biting ‑ very close.

Tied up alongside wood piles for approximately 2 weeks. Boiler cleaned etc. Plenty of sport organised. I was 2nd in marathon race and 3rd out of 5 in boat race between tiffy's of each ship. Leave granted to Archangel very often but no use going as there was nothing to buy and no eats.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


A great morale booster for us while we lay alongside, came after a get-together of the officers from the fleet sweepers, and the three trawlers to help to try and get rid of the boredom that was creeping gradually over us all, both officers and men alike. They came up with the idea of holding inter-ship sports of various kinds; in some of the sports the trawlers were classed as one ship, the men from all three who wished to take part putting their names down for any type of sport which took their fancy, and were then chosen for a team to represent us all. This made for great rivalry, and despite the weather, we enjoyed some good sport and fun, either by taking part, or by just watching and cheering the teams on to do their best aided by some ribald comments.

The Northern Gem's own newspaper, the Sunday Buzz, Vol 1. No 1, for Sunday 2nd August 1942, gives this story and the following list of results:-

Sports. . . Despite inclement weather, we have enjoyed some good sport during the past week, in which the trawlers have by no means disgraced themselves. For the benefit of future historians the results are summarised below. We hope that these events are only the forerunners of a series of contests, thoughtfully provided to relieve the monotony of our sojourn.

Whaler Pulling


Whaler-cum- Canoe Race


(1) Halycon

(1) Halycon

(1) Halycon

(1) Britomart

(2) Trawlers

(2) Britomart

(2) Leda

(2) Leda

(3) Britomart

(3) Leda

(3) Trawlers

(3) Trawlers

(4) Leda

(4) Northem Gem

(4) Salamander


(5) LordMiddleton

(5) Britomart


(5) Salamander

Tug of War At the time of going to press this event had not been held.

Source: http://www.naval-history.net/WW2Memoir-RussianConvoyCoxswain06.htm
COXSWAIN IN THE NORTHERN CONVOYS - S.A. Kerslake published by William Kimber, 1984


6th August
. Under 1 hours sailing orders ‑ taking convoy somewhere but exercising with all sweeps first in mid stream. 

7th August. Left Archangel to test all sweeps and anchored at bar awaiting further orders. 

8th August. Anchored at bar ‑ weather good ‑ very hot ‑ tide too strong for swimming ‑ spent very peaceful day. Captain’s rounds this morning. "Leda" came out about 2100 ‑weighed anchor and went further out to sea. Awaiting convoy to come out. 

9th August. Convoy came out about 4.30, we got underway. Supposed to be going S of Novaya Zembla, convoy carrying on to Vladivostok? Right around N of Siberia. 

10th August. Weather very cold ‑ looks snowy. I was taken bad this AM. Temp 101.1. Russian destroyer with us and 4 sweepers altogether. Maine and Martin joined up as covering force. 

11th August. No incidents ‑ weather fine but cloudy. All ships going fairly well. 9 merchant ships. 

12th August. Left convoy 0400 ‑ 1 Russian trawler joined up with convoy when we left. 0430 passed 2 R trawlers on way to join up with convoy. Weather fine, some cloud. Fog at times. 

13th August. M and M stayed with us until entrance to N sea ‑ no incidents.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV






14th August
. Did a sweep before going in ‑ double oropesa arrived at new berth at 1500. 

15th August. Went ashore ‑ very nice ‑ new place ‑ interesting club and dancing. Still at jetty. 

16th August. Tied up alongside ‑ no incidents. English Spitfires giving us a thrill. Godfrey Winn carne aboard for quiz contest ‑ I went ashore. 

17th August. Monday. Went ashore and had a good time ‑ big eats and plenty of Vodka. I went to a dance ‑ English music ‑ carne off 25 minutes late ‑ 1 rating drunk ‑MO was aboard when arrived ‑ down mining flat with rating. 1st Lieut report. 

18th August At sea sweeping ‑ no incidents.

19th August. At sea sweeping . Oropesa and double L. 

20th August. At sea sweeping. Oropesa. 

21st August. At sea sweeping. 

Saturday 22nd. In harbour. 

Sunday 23rd. In harbour. M.S.I. addressed us all on jetty. 

24th Monday. In harbour. First attack on Archangel by Fires ‑ new type of incendiary leaves. I was caught ashore ‑ had to stop in tram terminus.

25th August. In harbour going ashore except when duty ship ‑ saw "Manya" Russian wren. 

26th August. In harbour. 

27th Thursday. In harbour. 

28th Friday. At sea and we were paid at Archangel ‑ raided again ‑ big fires burning. Mines dropped at the bar (magnetic). 

29th Saturday. At sea sweeping. 30th Sunday. At sea sweeping. 

31st Monday. At sea ‑ double LL arrived in harbour to oil at 1900 ‑ another raid at Anchorage. 

1st September. Left oiler for naval base 0930. 

2nd Wednesday. In harbour. 

3rd September. Thursday. At sea L.L. AA Guard at night at bar. L.L. sweep 0830. 

4th Friday. Packed up L.L. 1700 stopped at bar tonight.

5th Saturday. Arrived in harbour 0900.

Sunday 6th. Divisions on forecastle. Saw "Manya" in evening ‑ brought back some spuds for mess ‑ 1 pkt fags ‑ 2 bars nutty. 

Monday 7th. Went aboard "Leda" to see M.O. ‑ was coming aboard to see other patients ‑ didn't turn up. 

Tuesday 8th. Went to sea at 0645. Sweeping with "Sally" [Salamander]. AM guard and minewatching at night. 

Wednesday 9th . Dropped a draw buoy to mark swept channel awaiting at bar for rest of day until morning ‑ went in at night. 

Thursday 10th. To sea 1200 ‑ had a farewell cheer for all the other ships that were going home with convoy ‑ double L sweep ‑ AM watch at night, weather OK. We didn't do AM watch as "Seagull" came out and we proceeded to sea. 

11th September. Double Oropesa in narrows at the bar and up the bottle neck. Asdic sweep to Cape Cannon at night. Weather OK. but much colder. 

12th Saturday. Same as Friday sweeps out 0430. 

13th Sept. Sunday. Same routine. Weather rough and misty. 

14th Sept. Same routine ‑ weather lousy ‑ much colder. 

15th Sept. At sea Oropesa. Anchored 0800 at Sosnovets Islands. Convoy passed yesterday 18 ships. Bramble, Seagull, Leda Britomart and Hazard joined up and went so far.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV




QP14; PQ18


11th September
. Double Oropesa in narrows at the bar and up the bottle neck. Asdic sweep to Cape Cannon at night. Weather OK. but much colder. 

12th Saturday. Same as Friday sweeps out 0430. 

13th Sept. Sunday. Same routine. Weather rough and misty. 

14th Sept. Same routine ‑ weather lousy ‑ much colder. 

15th Sept. At sea Oropesa. Anchored 0800 at Sosnovets Islands. Convoy passed yesterday 18 ships. Bramble, Seagull, Leda Britomart and Hazard joined up and went so far.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


Britomart, HALCYON, Hazard and Salamander joined QP14 (20 ships) from Archangel as local eastern escort. The ocean escort included Bramble, Seagull (until 26/9) and Leda (sunk on 20/9).


On 11th September the Soviet patrol-vessel Musson was mined and sunk at the entrance to the Matochkin Strait, and on the 13th the Commander in Chief, Northern Fleet, asked if British Minesweepers from Archangel could be sent to clear the area of mines, observing that there was a good deal of shipping in the Matochkin Strait awaiting release. 

HM Ships HALCYON, Hazard and Sharpshooter to be sailed from Archangel for this purpose. They passed the Dvina Bar at 0800 local time on the 16th and off Cape Gorodetski picked up two Russian Merchant vessels to be escorted to Novaya Zemlya. 


Britomart, HALCYON, Hazard and Salamander joined PQ18 as local eastern escort.


16th Sept. At anchor Sosnovets Islands. Gunfire at sea during night. 

17th Thursday. To sea 10 o'clock. Depth charge attack at 1035 but no results ‑ joined with Britomart and Hazard again ‑ we are senior ship. 

18th Friday. At sea ‑ very rough and cold ‑ expecting inward convoy ‑ sighted several planes ‑ contacted convoy at 1800 ‑ good escort ‑ we took them through swept channel in bottle neck and then went ahead to sweep at bar tomorrow ‑ all 4 ships. 

19th Saturday. Sweeping at bar awaiting arrival of convoy. Blowing like hell ‑ heavy sea. Convoy anchored at bar for night, too rough to go up river. We patrolled outside convoy.

20th Sunday. Blowing like hell ‑ sea rough. Bombs dropped at us 0700 ‑ action stations until 1615 ‑ 28 planes came over to attack convoy but only 5 got through ‑Rusky F bombers drove them off ‑ P.— 

21st Monday. Came up harbour. Brought in a motor minesweeper that was disabled ‑being handed to Russian government.

22nd. In harbour ‑ Red warning. No incidents. 

23rd Wednesday. In harbour. 

Sept 24th. Thursday. Oiled at tanker 0700. To sea 1200.

25th Friday. At sea. Patrol ‑ HalcyonSally [Salamander] and 2 Corvettes. Merchant ships stuck at bar. A.S. patrol.

26th Saturday. Sally and 2 Corvettes returned to harbour but we stopped minewatching. 

27th Sunday. At sea ‑ bar. 0700 Achates arrived. 

28th Monday. At sea. Raid on Archangel. Laid at anchor and watched raid. 3 big fires going. 4 red warnings during the day ‑ 4 planes down during the night. 

29th Tuesday. At sea. Entered harbour 1500. Raid on Archangel 1900 ‑ 2300. Some fires started ‑ H.E's dropped. 

30th Wednesday. In harbour. One trawler damaged, washed ashore on beach at bar ‑part of convoy.

1st October. In harbour ‑ merchant ship being unloaded. 100 roubles for ,1. 

2nd Oct. In harbour. 

3rd Oct. Saturday. In harbour. 

4th Oct. Sunday. In harbour. Completed boiler cleaning. 

5th _ 6th _ 7th _ 8th _ 9th _ 10th   In harbour Duty‑ ship etc 

11th Oct. At sea. Mine watching. 

12th Oct. At sea. Mine sweeping. 

13th Tuesday. In harbour. Shortage of oil fuel ‑ acute. 

14th Wednesday. In harbour. 

15th Oct. In harbour.

16th Friday. To sea 0900. Novaya Zembla. Reported mines laid by German destroyers. Snowing and blowing half a gale astern. Halcyon. Shooter, Hazard.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


Dvina Bar




On the 17th the Russian Naval Staff reported that the Merchant vessel Shchors had been sunk by a mine off Yugorski Strait and enquired whether the minesweepers could be diverted in order to sweep first the Yugorski area on their way to Matochkin. The ships coming through the Yugorski Strait, which included the Hopemount and Icebreakers from the Northern passage, were felt to be of much greater importance than those at Matochkin. The minesweepers were therefore instructed on the 17th to leave the two Merchant ships which they had been escorting and to proceed at best speed to Yugorski. On completion of operations there, they were to proceed in execution of previous orders. They were further instructed that, after sweeping the Matochkin Strait area, they were to return to Yugorski in order to escort back to Archangel any Russian ships which might be ready to sail.

HALCYON (SO) (Cdr C H Corbet-Singleton DSC RN) with Sharpshooter and Hazard were detailed for special sweeping operations with Russian convoys and sailed from Archangel in a gale. On the 18th they carried out an acoustic sweep – an Oropesa sweep was impossible because of the ice – and this completed they proceeded through thick fog, possibly only because of skill and nerve and the use of the echo-sounder, to the convoy anchorage to await the convoy. The next day, still in thick fog, the three HALCYONs swept LL in negative visibility, with the 24 inch searchlights giving only a faint glimmer at one and a half cables. Two more days of sweeping followed, fortunately in better conditions, before the Russian convoy arrived.

Source: Fleet Sweepers at War, Jack Williams


17th. At sea. Weather moderate but cold. 

18th. At sea ‑ struck first ice of season 0300 ‑ 2 inches thick.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


Three ships of the 6th MSF – HMS Halcyon, Sharpshooter and Hazard – were detailed for special sweeping operations with Russian convoys. A Russian Captain of the third rank and an interpreter embarked in HALCYON for the operation and the three ships sailed from Archangel on the 16th October 1942 in a southerly gale. 

The Flotilla was to rendezvous with two Russian ships South East of Kolguev Island but. as the ships did not put in an appearance at the appointed time, the Flotilla continued in execution of their further orders. 

In the small hours on the 18th the Flotilla ran into brash ice North of Matveey Island; ice strong enough to stop the ships and choke the condenser inlets. Here, the Flotilla had to carry out an Oropesa and Acoustic search. 

The former was out of the question because of the ice but the Acoustic sweep was exercised with vigour in the hope that lots of mines would go up and of course there was always the hope that the ice would go up too! But, there were no mines, and the ice continued to impede progress so the flotilla proceeded to the convoy anchorage and, to add to the difficulties, a thick fog enveloped them. 

They call it 'sea smoke’ in ice waters. Solid stuff, nearly always present under most conditions when ice is about. One just cannot see a yard ahead when it is about. But in view of the urgency ordered for sweeping the Russian convoy out of their assembly anchorage the Senior Officer Minesweepers in HMS HALCYON, Commander C.H. Corbet‑Singleton, D.S.C.,RN (the United Services forward) carried out a noteworthy fine piece of pilotage by forging ahead entirely on time‑and‑distance‑run and echo sounding machine, into the harbour through a narrow channel with two sharp turns. Fortunately, a good fix had been obtained before entering the ‘smoke’, but the operation required nerve and ability. The three ships arrived safely. 

On arrival, Commander Corbet‑Singleton went over to the Russian Flagship LYDKE with his Russian Captain to call upon Commodore Annin. It was learned that the convoy was due to sail at 1230 the next day and, 'sea smoke' or no 'sea smoke’ the Russian Commodore expected the English minesweepers to do their stuff. Commander Corbet‑Singleton quite naturally felt rather dubious about sweeping into the patch of ‘smoke' especially as it would be getting dark when the sweep would be due to commence. However, he realised that the 'English minesweepers' were expected to do something about it so he played up knowing he had two good Commanding Officers in the SHARPSHOOTER and HAZARD. They swept 'LL' round the bends in negative visibility, but fortunately without incident. 24 inch searchlights produced only a faint glimmer at 11 cables. Nevertheless, the channel to the harbour was swept and no mines resulted, and the Minesweepers returned to harbour for the night. 

Next day, they proceeded to sea at dawn and they promptly commenced sweeping mines, the detonation of which, of course, delayed the convoy's sailing until a full clearance sweep had been carried out. Fortunately, high winds had cleared a great deal of ice and after a full day's sweeping the area was considered safe for the convoy to proceed the next day. But, due to local delays, the convoy did not sail the next day and in fact not until two days later. Then, although the convoy was due to sail early in the day, when it did sale it was late in the afternoon, and the delay badly hampered making an important landfall by the next day. Fortunately the weather was good at the start, but not for long. Ice was again met, together with low visibility and snowstorms, but the British minesweepers escorted the convoy safely to the Dvina River, and swept them through the Archangel sea approaches safely. 

Source: The Minesweepers Victory, Hilbert Hardy


Yugorski Shar


HALCYON, Hazard and Sharpshooter arrived to sweep the area ahead of the returning Hopemount..
The sweeping at Yugorski resulted in the detonation of nine acoustic mines and Hazard suffered slight damage, but she was able to continue and the ships left for
Matochkin Strait at 2100 on the 24th.


19th Oct
. Monday. Arrived Yugorski Shar 0900 ‑ thick fog ‑ wind and sea moderate. At anchor 1100. LL sweep 1300‑1730, no results. Very heavy frost ‑ 2 Russian officers with us ‑ came onboard before leaving Archangel. 

20th Oct. Tuesday. At sea LL 0930. Freezing hard. 

21st Oct. At sea sweeping LL and S.A. 8 mines exploded. Acoustic and magnetic. Took Russian convoy 30 miles to sea and then we returned. Keno or pictures on board Admirals yacht. Deanna Durbin in "100 men and a girl".

22nd. In harbour ‑ we sailed with convoy (4) for Ayeluska Bay N.Z. Weather very cold, some ice. 

23rd Friday. Oct. At sea with convoy (Hal. Sharp. Haz.) Sea calm. snow at times. Convoy anchored 2115, lost for a time. Sweeper doing asdic sweep. Snow at night. 

24th Saturday. 0600 underway ‑ arrived Bylugsha Bay 1200 and anchored alongside icebreaker. Temperature 5 degrees (F) ( 27 degrees of frost). Left for Machoskin Strait N Z. 140 miles. Weather and sea calm. 

25th Oct Sunday. Out double oropesa 0930 ‑ swept in to Machuskin Strait 0300 ‑snowing at times, no mines found.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV






On the 26th the Russian Staff asked if the minesweepers could again be re-disposed so as to escort the Merchant ship Dvina from Byelushnya Bay to Svyatol Nos, and they were therefore ordered to include this duty in their return passage to Archangel (where they were required to arrive not later than 1st November) and to omit the further visit to Yugorski Strait. However, during the afternoon of the 28th the Russian plans were once more altered as the Dvina was required to remain at Byelushaya and sail with westbound ships of Operation FB. It was therefore necessary to order the minesweepers to leave her there and then return to Archangel, where they duly arrived on 31st October.  


26th Oct Monday. Sweeping LL 0630. 2 magnetic mines exploded during the day ‑ no damage to sweepers ‑ anchored at 1615. Pictures for Ch and PO. ashore ‑ Russian interpreter went with party. Husky dogs were marvellous. 

27th Tuesday. Double L sweep at 0830 at Novaya Zembla. 1 magnetic mine exploded at end of our sweep. 1700 left for Bylugsha Bay. Weather fair‑calm and some snow during night. 

28th Wednesday. Arrived at Bylugsha Bay 0930. Blowing hard ‑ supposed to be taking merchant ship to Polyarnoe but she wasn't ready so we anchored for night ‑ blowing a gale ‑ both anchors dropped. 

29th Thursday. Left on our own for Archangel ‑ other 2 sweepers supposed to be outside the harbour waiting but couldn't be found so we proceeded on our own ‑ weather very rough ‑ I wasn't sea sick so I think I can call myself a sailor now.

30th Friday Oct. Weather still very rough and blowing a gale ‑ decks awash ‑ no sign of other sweepers. 

31st Oct. Shooter and Hazard reported astern ‑ 50 miles ‑ they were dive bombed by 2 planes ‑ no damage. Arrived Archangel 0030. Shooter and Hazard arrived 1600 ‑ we oiled at Buc and stayed night.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV










1st Sunday Nov. Left oiler for Economia 0800. 

2nd Nov. In harbour. 

3rd Nov. In harbour. Freezing. 

4th 5th 6th Nov In harbour 

7th Saturday. In harbour. Dvina nearly frozen over. We moved to Archangel 1100. Arrived 1400. Ice in river very thick. Air raid when we were proceeding up river. 

8th Sunday. At Archangel river. Dvina practically frozen over‑ very little river traffic. 

9th Monday. At Archangel 12 minutes adrift coming off shore leave ‑ couldn't get served at cloakroom of "International". 

10th Tuesday. At Archangel. 

11th Wednesday. At Archangel. 

12th Nov. Thursday. At Archangel. 

13th Friday. Left Archangel 1100. River frozen 14 inches of ice. 1130 got away from jetty ‑ frozen in for the night in middle of river 1600. 

14th Saturday. Rescue ship came up and she got stuck ‑ tugs freed us ‑ arrived Economia 1230. 

15th Sunday. At Economia. Saw "Dosia" ‑ sick. 

16th Monday. At Economia.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


HALCYON joined QP15 (28 ships) as ocean escort with Britomart, Hazard, Salamander and Sharpshooter. 

Click Here for Escort Orders


Source: Report of Proceedings QP15, HMS Halcyon. ADM 199/721

Convoy weighed and proceeded formed into two columns. 7 ½ knots was maintained through the night to enable stragglers to form up.


17th Tuesday. Left Economia 0900 with convoy . 28 ships ‑ formed up at bar and underway at 1500 ‑ weather good ‑ slight swell ‑ half noon.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


On arrival off C. Gorodetski convoy formed into 9 columns. Shortly afterwards 2 Russian destroyers met and joined escort


18th Wednesday. Nov. At sea (White Sea). Position leading convoy ‑ sub attacked with depth charges 1100 ‑ no results seen.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


A southerly wind which had been increasing steadily during the forenoon reached gale force at about 2300. At this stage the Gyro-Compass (Sperry Commercial) developed a wander of about 30°, and was abandoned as reliable. For the remainder of the passage back to Iceland courses were set by Magnetic Compass.


19th Nov. Weather bad ‑ due to meet 5 destroyers tonight ‑ visibility fair ‑ snow ‑frost ‑ lost convoy middle of watch ‑ tuned back to search ‑ no luck. Proceeding Iceland on our own ‑ visibility bad ‑ snow. Sally reported broke down.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


Contact was lost with the convoy at 0300, due to being misled by Type 271 RDF into station keeping on wave echoes. Ship proceeded on course and speed of the convoy hoping to regain contact at daylight, but in the poor visibility and very heavy seas nothing was seen. C in C H F’s 1345/20 was received at 1400/20th. It was thought possible that Captain (D)8 would not, in view of the weather conditions, contact the convoy at position CC, but Halcyon altered course to 270° (true) at 1700. It was estimated that the convoy was astern, so accordingly ship steamed backwards and forwards across the line of advance from 0400 to 0800. Nothing was seen and course was set for position XX.


20th Nov. On our own ‑ no sign of any other ship. Weather bad ‑ cyclone ‑ gale ‑rolling like hell ‑ snowing

21st Nov. Convoy 11 ships reported 60 miles ahead ‑ weather putrid ‑ snow and ice. Lost S whaler ‑ carley float and motor boat has got a big hole in side ‑ no abandon ship stations left ‑ rolling like hell ‑ afraid of turning turtle.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


HMS Salamander was met, hove to on a Northerly course (Wind had now veered to NNE and diminished slightly in force) at 0530 but she lost contact shortly afterwards. Wind again increased to gale force during the afternoon, when starboard whaler and a mess deck scuttle were stove in, and 2 depth charges washed overboard. Again sighted Salamander to SW at noon in position 73 45’N 16 20’E. A merchant ship was also sighted and identified as the Russian Arcos, on a NW course. Salamander again lost touch during the evening


22nd Nov. Sunday. Sea a little easier but by no means calms. Picked up Sally during afternoon ‑ she reported seeing 11 ships, night before, but lost them in the bad weather. Lost Sally again ‑ snow ‑ gale.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


A British floating mine Mk XVII was sighted at 0200. On reaching 3° E in Lat 73 43’N, at 1900 course was set for position OO. Wind moderated during the day and backed to SW. Visibility 3 miles. Swell 35.


23rd Monday. Weather getting worse again ‑ snow ‑ squally ‑ ship covered in ice ‑ we have seen no daylight properly for 5 days. 

24th Tuesday. Heavy weather ‑ side in on starboard beam ‑ my locker drenched with water ‑ stools and all wooden forms propping up leaks and breaks. Port hole broke clean away.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


C S I in London was met at 1230C and an invaluable opportunity was had of checking compasses. C S I parted company at 1340C and course was held for position OO.

Source: Report of Proceedings QP15, HMS Halcyon. ADM 199/721


25th Wednesday. Sea running strong. "Camelba" and merchant ship 30 miles ahead broke W.T. silence. ??? trouble. We passed "London" 60 miles E. of our position ‑ good luck ‑ where is our Halcyon .

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


Source: Convoy Report by Rear Admiral L H K Hamilton Rear Admiral Commanding First Cruiser Squadron (ADM 199/721):

At 10.30 HALCYON was sighted. He reported that his compass was damaged and only three days fuel remained. He had not seen the convoy. He still had 350 miles to steam to Seidisfiord and although the weather map did look more hopeful, wind was still force 6 - 7 against him. London passed close under HALCYON's stern and gave him a compass check which revealed an error of 14 degrees.

If he could stay the course HALCYON was doing well! He asked for a position and seemed in excellent spirits even after what must have been, in a vessel that size, a most unpleasant voyage. To my enquiries concerning his HALCYON he replied that he had swallowed it!

Even from the interchange of the few signals I had had first with Salamander and now with HALCYON I could not but be impressed by the cheerful way in which these very small ships were coping with their difficulties. With so little reserve of speed, conditions in these vessels must have been even worse than in a destroyer. HALCYON must have wondered more than once what happened when his fuel gave out in a position of which he was very  unsure; and I would like to express my admiration for the manner in which these small ships carry out their vital, arduous and unglamorous work. 


Arrived position FF at 1817C and arrived at Seidisfiord at 0300/27.


Owing to the frequent changes of route the various ships of convoy and escort took devious routes, and it is doubtful if, under the prevailing weather conditions, HM Ships Halcyon and Salamander could have made the original route on account of insufficient oil-fuel (HMS Halcyon arriving Seidisfiord with 48 tons of oil-fuel remaining. Type 271 RDF proved extremely useful for station keeping, but there was always a tendency to be misled by wave echoes, which were sometimes received up to ranges of 5,000 yards, and appearing on the scan as sharply defined as ship echoes.

The Gyro (Sperry-Commercial) was abandoned as unreliable after 2 days at sea. Although on this occasion the fault was obviously due to heavy seas, yet for the duration of the ship’s stay in Arctic waters, considerable errors had been experienced, despite the efforts of three Russian Gyro technicians, amongst others, to remedy the defects.

C H Corbet-Singleton

Lieutenant Commander in Command

Source: Report of Proceedings QP15, HMS Halcyon. ADM 199/721


26th Tuesday. Arrived Seidisfiord 0800 ‑ oiled ‑ weather bad ‑ gale warnings ‑ very little snow

27th Wednesday. At Seidisfiord. Squally ‑ snow storm ‑ tied up alongside Yank oiler.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV




HALCYON, Britomart, Salamander and Hazard making good defects.


28th Nov. Left for Scapa With Sally ‑ 1100 ‑ heavy\y swell ‑ snow ??? Salamander keeping up speed, engine trouble.

30th  Nov. At sea ‑ heavy beam sea since midnight -snow, rain sleet. may be gale. Doing 12 and half knots. Scapa here we come. Buzzes about where we are docking. Captain had a talk with me re: ships company.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV




HALCYON reached Scapa with Salamander in company.


1st Dec. Glorious 1st. Arrived Scapa 1230. Half gale. 

2nd Wednesday. At Scapa. 

Thursday. 3rd. At Scapa. 

Friday 4th. Brita and Hazard arrive 1130 ‑ sailed for Milford 1230.

Saturday5th. At sea. Blowing a gale ‑ rain at times ‑ Irish channel. 

Sunday 6th. At sea ‑ arrived Milford 1230.

No doctors were onboard any of the close escort ships.

Diary of LSBA William Maslen    © Pauline Maslen MMIV


Milford Haven


11/12 Taken in hand Milford Haven for refit, estimated time for completion eight weeks

12/12 HMS Halcyon was adopted by West Kesteven Rural District Council following a successful Warship Week. The ship's plaque was presented by Admiral L A B Donaldson CB, CMG, at the Guild Hall in Grantham.



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This site was last updated 17 Januar 2012