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


HMS Harrier 23.7.42 - Halcyon Class Minesweeper
HMS Harrier (IWM A20899)

Date of Arrival


Date of Departure

Orders, Remarks etc






PQ8 (8 ships) sailed from Hvalfjord escorted by HARRIER (Lt Commander E P Hinton) and Speedwell (Lt Commander J J Youngs), arriving Murmansk 17/1. The convoy sailed in the arctic darkness with just a pale daylight at noon. HARRIER zigzagged ahead while Speedwell brought up the rear.).


17/1 Convoy PQ8 was joined by eastern local escort of Hazard and Sharpshooter despite the thick fog that kept Britomart and Salamander in Kola.

At 1945 on 17/1 Harmatris was hit by a torpedo from U454 which passed underneath HARRIER. Speedwell was ordered to drop back and stand by the stationary Harmatris. An hour later a second torpedo hit Harmatris but failed to explode, the captain thought he had hit a mine. Speedwell was ordered alongside to evacuate some of Harmatris’s crew. After much effort a towing wire was passed but Speedwell was unable to move her as the starboard anchor had let go when the torpedo struck and stuck fast.

At 2200, as Sharpshooter had joined the screen, the destroyer Matabele was sent back to Harmatris. U454 fired another salvo of torpedoes which missed their target, a tanker, but hit Matabele. Although about 60 of the 200 crew escaped alive many were killed by the destroyer’s own depth charges and the cold.  


On the afternoon of 16th January 1942, all was well with Convoy PQ9, some bad weather and the occasional 'Ping'. We were not far from the Kola Inlet and safety. It was my first voyage to North Russia. With only two Tribal Class destroyers and two fleet sweepers we were not much protection for the convoy.

My oppo pointed to a strange cloud formation, "Looks like a destroyer" he said, "that means one of them will cop it". We all immediately dismissed this as "Rubbish". In the evening a merchant ship was damaged by a torpedo and Matabele was soon there to ascertain the damage. She signalled "Should be able to make harbour".

In the early hours of the 17th my warm cocoon of a hammock was shattered by a large explosion, together with the ship's alarm bells sounding "Action Stations". When I reached the upper deck Matabele was broken in two and the bows and stern were pointing skywards. A few desperate cries were heard as we stopped to lower our whaler and scrambling nets.

The first man the whaler approached called out in a calm parade voice, "Don't stop for me - some of my men are in real trouble over there, pick me up on your way back". This was a brave act of self-sacrifice, we all knew you lasted only a couple of minutes in that sea. The unknown hero was never to be seen again, and we managed to pick up only three from the sea. The rest would have gone straight down with the ship.

The men that we saved were smothered in oil fuel and although it was terrible to have it in your lungs, no doubt it gave them a precious few moments to survive the savage cold.

It was said that Matabele had towed the merchant ship for a while, and then kept a close eye on her and so, when expecting further trouble, switched on her searchlight to investigate, making a perfect target for the U-boat.

Source: John Eldred, Ordinary Seaman, HMS Harrier - Chris Tye, The Real Cold War


HARRIER raced in to try and pick up survivors. Her task was difficult and harrowing, for the icy wind bringing the temperature to 30 degrees below freezing produced a thin swirl of fog which froze like hoar frost. The decks were by now a mass of ice and lowering the rescue boat with the ropes and pulleys frozen solid was a tough and exhausting task. When eventually the boat was lowered the crew rowed towards the disaster area in the darkness. Here they found the sea covered with a thick layer of oil fuel spilled out from the destroyer’s tanks. Steering through the debris, they were just able to distinguish numbers of men in their life jackets, floating upright but quite dead. As the crew rowed on they found the surface littered with men in this gruesome state, victims of the explosions and the freezing water. Approaching they found the oil so thick they could hardly move the boat. The oars were dipping into a mass of thick sludge and getting them nowhere.

Not far away they heard men calling for help but it was impossible to go further. From somewhere behind them they heard a chorus of feint shouts. Spurred on by the cries they went astern and within minutes found three men together and still alive. They were enveloped in thick oil and the task of hauling them aboard was formidable for they were much too weak to help themselves and in their slippery condition it was difficult to find a handhold.

Eventually the crew pulled back to the HARRIER and there the survivors were embarked, which was only accomplished after scrambling nets had been lowered and heaving lines passed round the chests of the three men who were by now almost unconscious. By the time they had been carried into the wardroom for medical attention all three had passed out. An hour later one was found to be dead but the other two recovered.  (Bill Burras and Ernie Higgins).

Source: Last Call for HMS Edinburgh – Frank Pearce


The volunteer crew withdrew from Harmatris to Speedwell and she circled the freighter all night. At 0600 with both ships alone in the ocean the crew went back to Harmatris and slipped the anchor chain, reconnected the tow wire and at 0800 got under way again. They were now joined by Sharpshooter and Hazard. At noon, a Heinkel He111 made a half hearted low level attack but was driven off by the AA armaments of the minesweepers and the DEMS gunners on Harmatris. A second plane dropped her bombs a mile away.

At about 14.30 a high pressure steam pipe on Speedwell burst, badly scalding three men and Youngs signalled for a Soviet tug, which arrived within the hour. Speedwell left at speed to seek medical assistance for her injured crew members. Two further tugs arrived and Harmatris got to Murmansk early on 20/1.

Source: Extracts from Arctic Convoys by Richard Woodman




was brought into the inlet in thick fog without incident, but it is not intended that this shall be the normal practice. The Senior Officer 1st MSF led PQ8 to safe anchorage, making use of RDF, in a most able manner.

Report of SBNO North Russia


At sea


HARRIER and Speedwell form part of eastern local escort for QP6 (6 ships) from 24/1 until 25/1. Bramble and Hebe joined on 25/1 and remained until 28/1 when the convoy dispersed.


At sea


HMS HARRIER, Speedwell and Hazard carried out sweeping operations between Svyatol Nos and Cape Gorodetski. No mines swept.




HARRIER, Hazard and Salamander local eastern escort to PQ11 (13 ships)


At sea


HARRIER and Sharpshooter provide eastern local escort for QP8 from 1st until dawn on 3rd March as far west as 30°E. The ocean escort included Hazard (Senior Officer, Escort) and Salamander.




HMS HARRIER (SO M/F 6), HMS SPEEDWELL, HMS HUSSAR, HMS SHARPSHOOTER sail pm 10th March to rendezvous convoy during daylight 11th March.


At sea


HARRIER, Hussar and Speedwell joined PQ12 (17 ships) as eastern local escort arriving Murmansk 12/3. Although Tirpitz searched for the convoy, PQ12 arrived unmolested.


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 the the U-boat was destroyed.

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 0745the 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 ????? 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


Source: ADM 1/14713 Request for payment of climate pay to minesweepers serving in North Russian waters.


From:     The Senior Officer, Sixth Minesweeping Flotilla


Date:      3rd May 1942


To:        The Rear Admiral (Destroyers), Home Fleet

Copy to: The Senior Officer, First Minesweeping Flotilla


Hard Lying Money


1.                         It is submitted that in view of the uncomfortable and unhealthy living conditions which are experienced in HM Ships of the Sixth Minesweeping Flotilla, consideration may be given to the granting, as a permanent measure, of Hard Lying Money at the full rate for these ships.


2.                         The increase in complement beyond the numbers for which these ships were originally designed, by the addition of specialist ratings for Asdic operation and in some cases for RDF, has led to a condition in the messes of extreme overcrowding. It is now impossible in HMS HARRIER for instance, for all the members of the same messes to sit down to a meal together, and a system of feeding in relays is the only alternative to a proportion of the ratings eating their meals standing up or in corners, owing to lack of table space. In addition, there is room only for 75% of the ship’s company to sling their hammocks; for the remainder the only spaces available are benches and tables, and this is a serious disadvantage at sea in a ship which is naturally ‘lively’.


3.                         The discomfort of this congestion are not mitigated by the considerable ‘sweating’ on the mess decks when ships are at sea. Upper deck ratings have regularly come off watch during the winter with extremely cold hands, faces and feet into a tepid and humid atmosphere and the water drips steadily onto their hammocks, bedding and gear and on to the mess decks.


4.                         These conditions are aggravated while the Flotilla is employed in North Russia, in the case of some ships for over three months at a stretch. Although ships have first been fitted out for Arctic service and the warm clothing supplied has been excellent, conditions in North Russia have been very severe; apart from an occasional visit to a cinema and a little skiing, the amenities ashore have been virtually non-existent with the result that ship’s companies have been thrown almost entirely upon their own resources to amuse themselves on board.


5.                         In spite of this, the general standard of behaviour has been very high and the normal atmosphere of cheerfulness has not deteriorated; this it is submitted is all the more reason why favourable consideration should be given to the matter.


6.                         It is understood that similar conditions obtain in HM Ships of the First Minesweeping Flotilla.


                                 (Signed) E P HINTON


                     Senior Officer, Sixth Minesweeping Flotilla


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.




Intend to sail HARRIER from Scapa with QP12. HARRIER due for refit.

23/5 Arrangements have been made for refit of HARRIER to be carried out by Humber Shipwright Co, Hull


On the evening of 30/4 HARRIER had just completed re-fuelling from a tanker in the Kola Inlet, when a signal was received informing HARRIER that Edinburgh had been torpedoed by a U-boat. 

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2/A2076518

HMS EDINBURGH By Brodnax Moore - As published in Warship World Vol 3 No8 Autumn 1990 (This story was written by  Brodnax Moore’s father David Moore, Navigating Officer on board HMS HARRIER)

In the minesweepers our expectation of a warm night in harbour rapidly disappeared as we were ordered to proceed to sea again at full speed to find and assist the stricken cruiser. Our captain in the HARRIER, Commander Eric Hinton, took all this in his stride. He was a fine seaman, expert in ship handling. Beneath his unassuming and humorous manner, there was an irreducible core of courage. The minesweepers were never intended to engage enemy surface ships, but we ail knew that our Captain would never entertain the thought of running away, even from a German battleship. My job as Flotilla Navigating Officer was not only to navigate HARRIER and the sweepers under our command, but to act generally as the Captain's staff officer in organising any operations on which our flotilla was engaged.

At 2018 on 30 April, four hours after the Edinburgh had been struck, we passed outwards from Kola Inlet and began to retrace our course along the convoy’s track towards Edinburgh's reported position, which we naturally assumed might in the circumstances be considerably in error.


By midday on 1 May we were near this position, still searching to the northward with Gossamer and Niger spread out to the westward to obtain the maximum width of radar coverage. Hussar was following somewhere astern escorting a Russian tug to the scene. That evening we ran into the edge of the ice pack and were forced to turn back to the south. In doing so we spread our search line to the eastward and by great good luck we sighted Hussar soon after midnight (it was twilight all night) and she told us that she had just found Edinburgh. Visibility was now varying from about one to five miles because of continual snowstorms. [Moore]

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 screens as 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 the two British destroyers.  

Immediately HARRIER and the two destroyers swung round and headed towards the gun flashes. 


I was half asleep in the charthouse when I heard a shout from Lieutenant Holgate, who was our Officer-of-the-Watch, to come up to the Bridge immediately. Going up the ladder I was thinking 'My god, this is it'- expecting to see the German battleship Tirpitz, which was stationed in Northern Norway and might well have been sent to finish off the damaged British cruiser. In fact it was a German Z-class destroyer, and her initial salvoes were straddling Hussar, who, like HARRIER, was between Edinburgh and the German attackers. The time was 0627. 

Admiral Bonham-Carter had signalled the Senior Officer 6th Minesweeping Flotilla previously that, in the event of meeting enemy surface forces, the sweepers were to retire under a smoke screen. Either we never received this signal or Cdr Hinton kept it to himself and chose to ignore it. At any rate, he immediately turned HARRIER straight towards the German destroyer, increased to our full speed of 14 knots and opened fire with our single 4 in gun, We obtained one range of the destroyer of four miles, but our radar then went out of action with the vibration of the gunfire. Soon three German destroyers came in sight intermittently, dodging in and out of the snowstorms, and making smoke that increased the haze. Edinburgh opened fire with the three 6 inch guns in her "B" turret, which was practically the only one of her four turrets still able to fire. Foresight and Forester came dashing over from the other side of the flagship and began to engage the Germans, who kept their distance at four or five miles and refrained from approaching any closer.
Seeing gun-flashes coming from five separate directions, the Germans probably imagined that they were confronting a superior force. Each of these heavy destroyers was armed (we subsequently discovered) with five 5.9 in guns in addition to torpedoes, so had they pressed in they might easily have sunk every ship in our force. However, HARRIER and the other 'fleet' minesweepers looked not unlike destroyers when seen end-on, so probably the Captain's action in heading straight for the enemy had saved our lives.

Minutes later a 4-gun salvo of shells fell 500 yards from us, another straddled our forecastle and then another fell at the correct range just astern, but fortunately we were not hit. Hussar was also engaging the enemy. The action continued, with the Germans disappearing from view from time to time, until 0652 when we sighted ahead a torpedo, apparently running on or near the surface in the direction of Edinburgh. 

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. 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. 

HMS Harrier alongside HMS Edinburgh. Halcyon Class Minesweeper  HMS Harrier along farside HMS Edinburgh. Halcyon Class Minesweeper
Photos of HMS HARRIER alongside HMS Edinburgh

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.  

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.


HARRIER had now become the Admiral's flagship, and it was necessary to hoist the appropriate flag designating a Rear-Admiral. The nearest we had was a white flag with a red cross, but two red balls needed to be added to complete it correctly. I instructed my Yeoman to improvise these with the red ink from the charthouse, and the flag was duly hoisted.

Admiral Bonham-Carter was a jovial character, but with exceptionally sound tactical judgment and shrewd common-sense. He was imperturbable in this misfortune, but was now faced with the embarrassing fact that the Edinburgh, despite the colossal damage caused by the three torpedoes, obstinately refused to sink. HARRIER was ordered to encourage the process and fired twenty 4 in shells into the ship at point-blank range, but these had little effect. We then steamed close alongside firing depth charges set to explode at the shallowest possible depth. One of these actually rolled down the side of the ship and went off immediately underneath her, but still without result. Bonham-Carter began to think of going back on board with a skeleton crew when the Foresight re-appeared form the murk, having finally driven off the Germans. She was asked: 'Have you any torpedoes left?' - to which she replied: 'One'. It so happened that this torpedo had misfired when Foresight had fired her entire outfit at the enemy.

The Admiral now ordered the destroyer to sink the Edinburgh with her remaining torpedo, and we watched her position herself at point-blank range (1500 yards) abeam of the cruiser and saw the torpedo dive into the sea. There followed the longest two minutes that I can remember, towards the end of which the Admiral was saying: 'She's missed': but just at this moment the torpedo struck and exploded, and we witnessed the sad end of this fine cruiser as she rolled over and sank.

The laden sweepers, with the Rubin and the damaged destroyers Foresight and Forester, set course for Kola Inlet.

On the way back Cdr Hinton pointed out with some pride to the Admiral how we had correctly improvised his flag with the red balls and hoisted it, to which Stuart Bonham Carter's reply was: 'Two balls! That's more than I expected to have this afternoon!’


At 1020 Niger, which had been detached in the night to locate and bring in the two refuelled Russian destroyers, rejoined. 


We made our way back to Murmansk, and as we got further from the scene of action without any more interference from the enemy, our spirits rose. The sun actually appeared through the clouds, and I was able to make observations with the sextant. Cdr Honnywill, the admiral's Staff Navigating Officer, worked out the sights for me, and I still have his calculations written on the back of the Admiralty signal informing convoy QP11 that it was being shadowed by a U-boat. These sun sights enabled us to fix the position of HARRIER fairly accurately during the afternoon of 2 May, and we made a good landfall and safely entered the Kola Inlet at 2040 on that day, some 12 hours after the Edinburgh had sunk. Our 'chicks' - the Niger, Hussar and Gossamer - were with us. Foresight and Forester also got back unmolested, but they had both sustained damage and casualties. Between them and Edinburgh there was a total of 74 killed and 43 wounded in this action, but all the minesweepers had escaped unscathed. It transpired later that one of the German destroyers had been scuttled after sustaining heavy damage, and that the other two had retired at high speed after rescuing the crew. 

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 from the Russians. There was no interpreter and one of Harrier's officers Lt Christopher McLean was brought a paper to sign as receipt for the oil. This he did but the Russian official was dissatisfied and by signs made it clear that he must have a rubber stamp. Very tired and with somewhat frayed nerves from the last three days' ordeal, McLean took the only rubber stamp then available bearing the word 'Cancelled' and stamped the receipt. The Russian went away happy.


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: 

From Commander of Divisions, U S S R Gunboat Rubin 4th Day of May 1942 

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


Commander Eric Perceval Hinton DSO MVO RN Senior Officer 6th MSF HMS HARRIER.

During the action in which HMS Edinburgh was sunk, Commander Hinton without the slightest hesitation led his small ships into action against the more heavily armed attacking force and engaged the enemy wherever possible. When ordered to bring his ship alongside HMS Edinburgh, then heavily listing, while the action was still in progress, he handled his ship with great skill and coolness despite the possibility of the Edinburgh rolling on the HARRIER at any time. 

For outstanding courage, cheerfulness and devotion to duty while engaging superior enemy forces.

DSC - Lt Frederic Bradley RNVR 

DSM - LSBA (Ty) Henry John Woodward C/MX 52344

'This man, the only sick berth attendant on board carried out his arduous duties with skill and determination during and after the action. Throughout he was of the greatest assistance to his medical officer, being entirely dependable, and doing much on his own initiative.'

DSM - AB Edward Swan C/J 109583

DSM - ERA1 Philip Edward Robinson C/M 8008

Mention in Despatches:

Lt John Douglas David Moore RN 

Surgeon Lt Ian Miskelly LRCP 

Lt Donald Wilcock Holgate MA RNVR 

Signalman John William Ferguson C/JX 211219

A/CPO Alfred Edward Roberts C/JX 136574

Leading Steward (Ty) Frank Colman C/LX 26185

Stoker 1 Raymond George Newman C/KX 144418

AB Christopher Douglas Giles C/SS 11813



Eastern Local Escort for QP12 (17 ships) until 23/5 comprised Bramble, Gossamer, Leda, Seagull and two Russian Destroyers. HARRIER was part of the Ocean escort arriving Reykjavik 29/5. Although relatively unmolested, one attack by Ju88’s was deflected by a Hurricane launched from the CAM ship Empire Morn. One was shot down but the pilot of the Hurricane, Flying Officer John Kendal, was killed when his parachute failed to open properly when he abandoned his spent aircraft. Thick fog prevented any U boats making contact with the convoy.












8/6 Taken in hand for refit. Completes 21/7

20/7 Anticipate HARRIER ready to sail 24/7














HMS HARRIER (with Gleaner and Sharpshooter) weighed and proceeded out of Hvalfjord as part of the ocean escort for local portion of PQ18 sailing from Iceland, and was in station on the port side of the combined convoy by 1900. (
Twelve U-boats were sailed to intercept the convoy and at that time there were 91 torpedo bombers and 133 high level and dive bombers in Northern Norway.) During the night it was appreciated that the three trawlers detailed were experiencing difficulty in towing the three Motor Minesweepers although weather conditions were favourable. 

During the night the weather deteriorated and by daylight four of the convoy was found to have straggled considerably. 


At 1100 on 8th September 4 merchant ships, 3 trawlers and 3 motor minesweepers were sighted well astern of the convoy and about 4 miles to the west of the route. The merchant ships had to be repeatedly chased closer to the North Cape, as they appeared to be in danger of running into the minefield, the existence of which they seemed unaware.

The Motor Minesweepers were now proceeding independently and were clearly much happier than when in tow. They remained with the convoy throughout, having ample fuel for the voyage. They withstood some severe weather but no ice was encountered, which would undoubtedly have hampered them severely.

Source:ADM 199/758


HARRIER and Sharpshooter depth charged a contact astern of the convoy at midday.


First air attacks - PQ18 attacked by Ju88 bombers to no effect. Two ships sunk by submarine torpedoes. Then 44 torpedo bombers pressed home their attack, sinking 8 ships for the loss of 5 aircraft.

 Source: Report of MS6

At 0358 on Sunday 13th September SS Stalingrad (Russian) and SS Oliver Ellsworthy (USA) were torpedoed by a U-boat. Survivors were picked up by HM Ships HARRIER, Sharpshooter and St. Kenan and the three motor minesweepers. At 0945 HMS HARRIER set on fire SS Oliver Ellsworthy by gunfire, after which 15 survivors (Russian) were transferred from MMS 203 to HMS HARRIER. All the rescue ships rejoined the convoy by about 1100 and survivors from HMS St Kenan and MMS’s 90 and 212 were transferred to HMRS Copeland. 

At 1515 eight ships were torpedoed by aircraft. All rescue ships and at least one destroyer proceeded to pick up survivors. While this work was in progress six HE115 torpedo planes attempted unsuccessfully to save us the trouble of sinking the disabled ships. HMS Sharpshooter was ordered to rejoin the convoy at about 1600 in case of further attack. By 1645, no more survivors could be found and the trawlers and motor minesweepers were ordered to rejoin. Three ships, SS John Penn, SS Macbeth and SS Empire Beaumont were still afloat and a fourth, SS Sukhona, had been lost to sight in snow storms without being seen to sink. Fire was opened by HMS HARRIER upon SS John Penn and SS Macbeth but was apparently ineffective. I did not consider it advisable to use depth charges – of which ships were already getting short – for sinking ships. The convoy was by now nine miles ahead, out of sight in snowstorms, and I decided to abandon the attempt to ensure that all ships sunk in order to escort the trawlers and Motor Minesweepers back to the convoy. At about 1815 SS John Penn could be seen settling by the stern but no other ships were visible. 

1515 (approx) One He111 torpedo bomber which had passed through the convoy crashed into sea about 3/4 mile on HMS Harrier's starboard beam.

At 1845 HMRS Copeland was ordered to stop and 107 survivors were transferred to her from the Motor Minesweepers. This was completed by 1935 and all ships rejoined the convoy just in time for a further attack at 2035. On this occasion there were no calls on the services of the rescue team.

2038 Aircraft, probably He115 torpedo bomber seen to crash in flames about three miles on starboard quarter.



Extract from The Royal Naval Medical Service Vol II, JLS Coulter

This experienced organisation of H.M.S. Harrier was particularly tested in September 1942, when in company with Convoy P.Q.18 to Archangel. Her Medical Officer recorded: 

'Although the convoy had been spotted and shadowed for three days, all was well until the morning of September 13. Then, at about 0900 the S.Ss. Stalingrad and Oliver Ellsworthy were hit by torpedoes during a torpedo attack. Although the Stalingrad sank in about four minutes, 72 survivors were picked up. 

'At 1500 eight ships were sunk during a heavy torpedo bomber attack. We picked up about 100 survivors, most of whom were transferred to the Rescue Ship Copeland. 

'A quiet few hours followed until the S.S. Athel Templar was torpedoed at 0400 on September 14; 35 survivors were rescued, including two badly injured cases from the ship's engine room, who were transferred by Neil‑Robertson stretchers. 

'During the afternoon the S.S. Mary Luchenbach blew up during another torpedo bomber attack. 

'On September 15 we transferred all our survivors to H.M.S. Scylla, with the exception of a number of Russians from the Stalingrad. 

'Although bombing and U‑boat attacks continued, there were no further casualties until September 18, when the S.S. Kentucky was torpedoed and bombed; 33 of her survivors were picked up.' 

The report of this Medical Officer gives an interesting insight into the state and care of some of these survivors. In the case of the Russian ship Stalingrad, some 25 survivors had been in the sea for as long as forty‑five minutes. They were received in the Harrier in two batches. The first batch were in fairly good condition and recovered rapidly. 

The second batch were in poor condition and comprised six women and eleven men. Among the latter was the ship's third mate who was unconscious and shocked and had been in the sea wearing only a thin set of underclothing. Although artificial respiration and oxygen were administered for 11 hours, the patient died suddenly and his death was presumed to be due to cardiac failure. 

All the women responded well to treatment. One woman had given birth to a child two days before. She had been crushed when her ship sank and had suffered four fractured ribs. Her chest was strapped and she was made comfortable. During the subsequent seven days the lochia appeared normal and there was no sign of uterine infection. This woman's child had been lost with the ship, and this, coupled with the fractured ribs, resulted in some difficulty with lactation. But she was relieved by drawing off the excess milk from time to time. 

Another Russian woman was eight months' pregnant, but reached Archangel without any mishap. This woman gave birth to a living male child 24 hours after landing at Archangel. 

Survivors from the S.S. Oliver Ellsworthy were in good physical and mental condition, having taken to lifeboats and rafts. One man had some fractured ribs and another injuries to ankle and spine as a result of the explosion.

Of the survivors rescued from the S.S. Athel Templar, two were men who had been trapped in the ship's engine room, which was flooded with sea water and oil. Both were very shocked and one was badly injured. The latter had to be rescued by a rope passed over his oily body. Unfortunately, in the speed of the moment, this rope slipped so that the man fell and struck his head. He already had multiple lacerations, a fractured humerus and a deep gash over the left eye. Within two hours he had exhibited typical signs of an intra‑cranial haemorrhage from which he died. The other man was transferred to H.M.S. Scylla by Neil‑Robertson stretcher. 

H.M.S. Harrier also picked up survivors from S.Ss. Waicosta and John Penn. These numbered about 50, and were all in good condition with the exception of one man suffering from a fractured pelvis involving the right sacro‑iliac joint. A local injection of 6 c.c. of novocaine relieved his pain and he was later transferred to H.M.S. Scylla by NeilRobertson stretcher. The Captain of the Waicosta had dived from his ship into the sea as she sank. He was picked up after ten minutes and, although an oldish man, his condition was fairly good. But he deteriorated as time passed, and was in an unfit state when later transferred to H.M.S. Scylla.


Report of MS6

At 0325 on Monday 14th September, SS Atheltemplar was torpedoed in the engine room. Two boatloads of her crew were picked up by HMS Sharpshooter while HMS HARRIER went alongside and embarked the remainder, including two seriously injured. It was evident that this ship was not sinking. The Rear Admiral (Destroyers) ordered that if she could steam HMS Sharpshooter was to tow her to Low Sound. I considered the possibility of doing this even though she could not steam, but decided that if this were attempted without an adequate escort (which would not be available) there was little chance of success since a further attack was almost certain and there would be an unjustified risk of losing the towing ship and also both ship’s companies. I therefore very reluctantly signalled my intention to sink her and was ordered to do so. At this point HMS Tartar arrived from a hunt and at my request undertook the destruction of HMS Atheltemplar. 

At 1100 on 14th September HMS HARRIER was ordered alongside HMS Scylla to transfer survivors. HMS Scylla reduced speed to 8 knots with sea 25 astern and HMS HARRIER was secured with a spring and a breast as for oiling at sea. Unfortunately HMS HARRIER’s starboard .5 inch gun came exactly abreast HMS Scylla’s Oerlikon platform which caused some damage to former. (This might have been avoided if the spring could have been veered quickly. It is suggested that it is advisable to load the spring to the cruiser’s capstan rather than a bollard.)

1416 He111 torpedo bomber which had passed through the convoy crashed into the sea 1/2 mile on starboard beam. Motor Minesweeper No. 212 states definitely that this was the aircraft that torpedoed SS Mary Luckenback.



By this time the Sharpshooter had come alongside, and was lying on the starboard side. The port amidship boat from the Atheltemplar pulled alongside with the Confidential Books in a tin box, and these were handed over to the Commander of HMS Harrier. The Commander was in touch with the RAD, who gave instructions that the Atheltemplar was to be sunk if she could not steam.


HMS Harrier remained alongside the Atheltemplar to take off the rescue party with the two injured men. By this time the after boat of the Atheltemplar was level with the forecastle head of HMS Harrier, and the crew were transferred. HMS Harrier had previously passed a towing wire to the Atheltemplar, but this parted owing to the swell. Eventually a second towing wire was secured to the stern, which was now only about one foot above the water. The men in the starboard boat were sent on board HMS Sharpshooter, as the Harrier was full. I could see that the Atheltemplar would remain afloat, and I expressed that opinion to the Commander of HMS Harrier, who discussed the best way to sink her. Another destroyer came along eventually to sink the ship, and we left the scene.


HMS Harrier then left to catch up the convoy, which was about twelve miles ahead, at 0500. The survivors were instructed to keep below in order to keep the weight low, and when I came up on deck our ship was on fire. I understand the destroyer put a depth charge under her, and also must have put one or two shots into the tanks, as heavy columns of smoke were rising. At noon we could still see the smoke from her, and this was the last I saw of my ship. There were about two hundred survivors on board HMS Harrier, and at 1300 on the same day a number, including myself, were transferred to the cruiser Scylla, with the rest of our men from the Sharpshooter. Just after being transferred another high level bombing attack developed, but we were kept below decks and saw nothing of this attack.


We remained on the Scylla for ten days, and eventually landed at Scapa on 24th September.


Capt C Ray, SS Atheltemplar

Source: ADM199/2142 and http://freepages.family.rootsweb.com/~treevecwll/sinking.htm



'The Minesweeper HARRIER will be coming alongside shortly to transfer survivors. Starboard Watch of Seamen to muster on the forecastle!’ Up to the forecastle we pounded, while up the lane on the port side steamed the HARRIER. Heaving lines and hawsers were flaked on deck ready, and HARRIER began to close the Scylla. With beautiful judgment and superb seamanship the gap between the two ships began to close, though our speed had not been slackened. HARRIER looked absurdly small beside us, and her Captain, bent over the voice pipe at the compass platform, was on a level with ‘B’ gun. Her decks were crowded with survivors, and her crew had difficulty in moving around. Closer came the two ships, and the heaving lines shot across followed by the hawsers. Closer came the ships ‑ yards, feet, and then inches.


'Over you go!' came the sharp command from the minesweeper, and the first wave jumped for our guard rails. We reached out and grabbed them, pulling them over willy‑nilly to clear the rails for the next wave. The next batch scrambled over, followed by another, then stopped as the ships parted for a moment. Slowly they came together again, and the transfer continued. I grabbed a seaman who was holding on to the guard rail with one hand, the other hand held Puppy survivor HMS Harrier - Halcyon Class Minesweeperprotectively over his coat. 'All right, chum, go easy,' he complained good‑naturedly. 'Wound?' I enquired, ‘Nah! Look!’ He opened his jacket and pointed. 'Brought me li'l pup!' There, snuggled against his rough jersey was a little puppy, innocent, unknowing, but not forgotten and dearly loved.

The last survivor scrambled aboard, the hawsers were let go, and hauled inboard, the HARRIER's bows began to pay off to port, and with a last wave and a shouted witticism, we parted company and resumed our stations. The survivors were taken away to be cared for and there were a hundred extra mouths to be fed by the Paymaster, extra blankets and clothing to be found for them, and some needed medical attention.


Source: Flagship to Murmansk, Robert Hughes 


HMS Harrier survivor transfer PQ18 - Halcyon Class Minesweeper    HMS Harrier survivor transfer PQ18 - Halcyon Class Minesweeper

Photos of HMS Harrier transferring survivors to HMS Scylla 14.9.42

(CLICK HERE to see video extract - Windows Media Player required)

HMS Harrier survivor transfer PQ18 - Halcyon Class Minesweeper    HMS Harrier survivor transfer PQ18 - Halcyon Class Minesweeper


Source: Naval Video Time Capsules – The Hazards of Russian Convoys


'Major Casualties‑received from H.M.S. Harrier: 

(1) A Gunner, US. ‑Navy aged 21, ex S.S. Oliver Ellsworthy.
One hour in water.
Injury to Ankle.
Severe pains in loins, with frequency of micturition and slight pyuria for 24 hours.
Progress satisfactory.
Finally discharged to H.M.H.S. Amarapoora on return to Scapa Flow. 

(2) U. S. Merchant Seaman, aged 31, ex S.S. John Penn.
Exposure and shock.
Fractured pelvis.
Contused right kidney.
Acute retention with strangury for 48 hours.
Catheterisation showed marked pyuria. After 48 hours condition clear.
This patient's condition caused some anxiety for a few days, and progress was somewhat retarded by outbursts of acute hysteria during the course of subsequent enemy attacks.
Eventual progress was satisfactory.
Discharged to H.M.H.S. Amarapoora on arrival at Scapa Flow. 

(3) U.S. Engineer, aged 44, ex S.S. Oliver Ellsworthy.
Exposure and shock.
Fractured ribs.
Burns of chest.
Progress satisfactory.
Discharged to H.M.H.S. Amarapoora on arrival at Scapa Flow. 

(4) British Merchant Navy Engineer, aged 20, ex S.S. Athel Templar.
Severe exposure.
Severe oil fuel poisoning with haematemesis for 24 hours.
Condition caused anxiety for some days.
Subsequent progress satisfactory.
Discharged to H.M.H.S. Amarapoora on arrival at Scapa Flow.'

Extract from Report of Senior Medical Officer HMS Scylla
as recorded in The Royal Naval Medical Service Vol II, JLS Coulter


At 0035 on 15th September
, Motor Minesweeper No. 90 who had reported that she was very short of coal for cooking and of drinking water, came alongside and 5 cwt of coal was transferred and 3 tons of drinking water were then pumped across comfortably with both ships under way steaming at 9 knots: sea, calm.

A force of about fifty bombers attacked the convoy in twos and threes between 1235 and 1535, three were shot down without loss to the convoy.

1515 approximately, one He111 torpedo bomber which had passed through the convoy crashed into the sea about ¾ mile on HMS HARRIER’s starboard beam.

2038 Aircraft, probably He115 torpedo bomber seen to crash in flames about three miles on starboard quarter.


Source: Report of MS6

One Ju88 torpedo bomber which had passed through the convoy crashed into the sea and blew up about 1/4 mile on port beam. No survivors were rescued from any of the aircraft which had crashed (on 13th, 14th and 18th). In all cases but that on the 14th HMS Harriers Oerlikons were hitting, but as these aircraft had already passed through a hail of fire from the convoy and the other escorts, it is considered that they represent victories shared by a large number of ships.

At 1530 on Wednesday 16th, on the departure of the Rear Admiral Destroyers and the covering force, HMS HARRIER was ordered by the senior officer of the Escort to take up position M and act as guide of the screen. The duties of Senior Officer, Rescue Force were turned over to the Commanding Officer, HMS Sharpshooter with instructions that damaged ships should, if possible, be brought into Iokana. 

It is snowing hard this morning. We have been spotted by a Dornier and unless the weather favours us, I guess we will all be standing by.

Source: Diary of Jack Bowman who served on La Malouine.


The decks are covered with ice and snow, and it is blowing a gale. We took on oil from one of the tankers, this was done while under way. Some of the seamen were brought in with their jaws frozen up. It is icy-cold in the engine room. I have been so long without a good meal I don't think I shall be able to eat one now. We passed the island of Good Hope tonight.

Source: Diary of Jack Bowman who served on La Malouine

The weather continued poor with low visibility. Twelve four engined Heinkel 111’s, lead by Werner Klumper, deployed in line abreast across the rear of the convoy and were met by the combined fire of the Ulster Queen, Granyaschi and Sharpshooter as well as the rear merchant ships in each column. Most of the Heinkels released at 3 – 4,000 yards. Only one cargo ship, the American vessel Kentucky, was hit. The 55 crew and 14 armed guards abandoned ship but the vessel remained afloat.

HARRIER proceeded to the van of the screen ordering Sharpshooter to organise rescue work with Trawlers and the Motor Minesweeping Vessels. The crew of Kentucky had abandoned the ship and were picked up by the M/M vessels. 

When two miles astern the Convoy a further torpedo bomber attack developed by 12 aircraft. There was no loss to the convoy. The air escort arrived pm and were present during daylight hours until arrival at Archangel. 

At 1830 on 18th September, HM Ships Halcyon, Britomart, Salamander and Hazard (local eastern escort) were sighted off Cape Gorodetski and the following signals were exchanged:-


Do you consider it necessary for convoy to be swept through channel?


Do not consider it necessary as we have been sweeping for past seven days. Propose going ahead now or early morning to sweep Dvina approaches for ground mines. Enemy air minelaying active recently.


Halcyon reports channel clear. In view of this and unsuitable weather propose cancelling tonight’s sweep. 1844


Concur.  1848


Halcyon reports ground minelaying in Dvina approach channel. If you can spare us from AA duties propose parting company at Pori and proceeding with all available sweepers to search approach channel before arrival of convoy. Alternatively detach local sweepers now for this purpose.


When detached proceed as you propose. Have the sweeper marking edge of swept channel for convoy.

After heading the convoy into the searched channel off Cape Gorodetski, the four local minesweepers were detached at 1740 in accordance with HARRIER’s previous message.

On being asked whether the Group 1A lights had been requested, HMS Halcyon replied that the SBNO Archangel had arranged for the lights to conform with the convoys NTA signal. Out of respect to Russian wishes, however, these lights were not shown. ( It is submitted that it is impossible to keep the convoy within the searched channel without shore lights under the conditions which were found to prevail, namely, unfamiliarity with the coast, a dark night, low visibility and strong tides. Radio beacons alone are not considered sufficient for such accurate navigation. In this connection it may be useful to recall that Group 1A lights were instituted for use by heavy ships and convoys at the suggestion of Rear Admiral Wake –Walker after he had had personal experience with QP2 in October 1941. – Commander A D H Jay)

Four minesweepers were anchored at three mile intervals to mark the swept channel and to act as V/S links. HMS HARRIER anchored close to Fairway Buoy as a leading mark for the convoy.


At 1850 on 19th September, HMS HARRIER was forced by a strong westerly gale to weigh and steam to seaward.

The convoy arrived off Archangel at 1700 on Saturday 19th  but weather conditions prevented ships proceeding into harbour until Monday 21st September. 


At 0205 on 20th the steering engine failed and HARRIER was hove to in hand steering. The after ballast tank (32 tons) was already full to reduce racing. The forepeak (7 tons) and the double bottom compartments (15 tons) between 57 and 65 stations port and starboard were now flooded and this made steering appreciably easier. Repairs to the steering engine were effected by 1250 on 20th and HMS HARRIER returned to the convoy in time to organise A/S patrol of Minesweepers.

Three merchant ships ran aground on the Dvina Bar at the entrance to the White Sea during an attack by twelve Ju88’s while seeking shelter during the gale.


At 0845 on 21st HMS HARRIER proceeded up river piloted by the Master of SS Stalingrad and landed 24 Russian survivors at Krasny quay.

During the passage of PQ18 the enemy lost three U-boats and about 40 aircraft but managed to sink 13 merchant ships.


Source: ADM 1/ 12427 Convoy PQ18 to North Russia 


T/Surg Lt Geoffrey Holker MURRAY RNVR - This officer who had only been at sea for two  months supervised most efficiently the care of 152 survivors including wounded and a large number who required first aid. Mention in Dispatches

A/CPO Torpedo Coxn Alfred Edward ROBERTS C/JX 136574 - Largely owing to CPO Roberts' skill and good seamanship at the wheel of HMS HARRIER, 126 survivors, including two stretcher cases, were successfully transferred to HMS Scylla while both ships maintained the speed of the convoy. He showed commendable resource and untiring energy in organising accommodation, clothing and victualling of 152 survivors. Mention in Despatches. 

Ldg Seaman William Charles STONELL 17832C - For resolute conduct and good seamanship as coxswain of rescue boat crew which picked up survivors while enemy air attack was actually in progress. Mention in Despatches. 

A/Ldg Seaman Robert Desmond HOUGHTON LD/X7832C - For resolute conduct and good seamanship as coxswain of rescue boat crew which picked up survivors while enemy air attack was actually in progress. Mention in Despatches. 

Able Seaman Frank William HAYWARD C/JX 158849 - Able Seaman Hayward set an outstanding example of good shooting during prolonged air attack. A hit from his Oerlikon guns caused a fire in an HE111 torpedo carrying aircraft which was seen to fall into the sea. Mention in Despatches. 

Commander A D H JAY DSC. HMS HARRIER was stationed in the rear of the screen until the entrance to the White Sea was reached, when, due to the Commanding Officer's knowledge of local conditions, she was stationed ahead of the convoy so that she could lead it in. HARRIER did invaluable service in passing information, made a number of most valuable suggestions, and, when the Local Minesweeping Flotilla joined the convoy on September 18th, handled it most efficiently.

Captain A N Sacharoff, Master SS Stalingrad. He volunteered to keep watch in HMS HARRIER as Liaison with Russian lookouts. His local knowledge was of great assistance and he piloted HMS HARRIER from Dvina Bar to Archangel.

V G Ermiloff, Chief Officer SS Stalingrad - requested that survivors from his ship's company be allowed to do duty in HMS HARRIER, organised them as extra A/S lookouts and kept watch as Liaison officer with them. Also acted as signalman to Russian ships.

Captain Lieutenant K A Egoroff USSR Navy - after being rescued from SS Stalingrad he voluntarily kept watch as liaison officer with Russian lookouts detailed from survivors.

Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Kelly US Navy/SS Oliver Ellsworthy- while aboard HMS HARRIER this officer volunteered for ship's duties and in cooperation with the ship's officers organised US Navy Gunners to augment the ship's cruising watches.


Mrs E A Pusireva ex Soviet Embassy at London. This lady was rescued by MMS No. 203 after being 45 minutes in very cold water and oil; she was transferred to HMS HARRIER clad only in a blanket. Two hours later she was at work (in borrowed clothes) assisting the medical officer and interpreting for him. She then took charge of three stewardesses rescued from SS Stalingrad and set them to work washing up and scrubbing out messdecks. Her conduct was an example to us all, British and Russian.


Rescue Ship

Date (Sept)


No. Survivors

Ship of origin






Stalingrad (15 transferred from MMS 203)

1 died

24 Archangel





Oliver Ellsworthy






John Penn






Athel Templar

1 died,

remainder Scylla





Oliver Ellsworthy






Empire Beaumont

30 Scylla

5 Archangel for Empire Bard





Athel Templar






Nathaniel Green






Toilisi (from Fury)


MMS 90






MMS 90




Oliver Ellsworthy


MMS 90




Sukhona and Macbeth


MMS 90






MMS 203






MMS 203





46 Copeland

1 Archangel

MMS 203






MMS 212






MMS 212








Source: Extract from The Royal Naval Medical Service Vol II, JLS Coulter

By this stage of the war most men‑of‑war had themselves evolved an organisation on board for the rescue, resuscitation and after‑care of survivors from other ships. 

In January 1942, H.M.S. Harrier rescued 16 survivors from a lifeboat belonging to the S.S. Effingham (U.S.A.). On February 3, the same ship took on board 17 survivors from the torpedoed S.S. Greylock;58 other survivors from this ship were picked up by the S.Ss. Northern Wave, Oxlip and Lady Madeline. The air temperature on these occasions was 15° F., and sea temperature 36° F. 

Between August 13 and 15, H.M.S. Sharpshooter, acting as a rescue ship, picked up 101 survivors, of whom 20 were suffering from immersion.

Before the end of 1942, H.M.S. Harrier had had many such experiences. The organisation on board this ship was based on the principle which aimed at the least movement of injured survivors. The ship's wardroom and the captain's cabin were used for resuscitation because of their easy access. The sick bay was used for walking casualties and for nursing those badly injured. The positions chosen were such that, having been dealt with and resuscitated, survivors could pass to the mess decks where they would be fed and warmed. 

It is of interest to note in the record of this ship's organisation that no attempt was made to arrange sleeping accommodation for uninjured survivors. This was a deliberate policy, it being considered essential that the ship's company, upon whom the lives of these survivors depended, should retain their own customary sleeping billets for such short periods in which they could enjoy rest. Uninjured survivors had to make use of what space they could find elsewhere on board.






Kola Inlet







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

Nine awards to personnel of HMS HARRIER and HMS Gleaner. 

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


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

Report of Proceedings from 4th November to 12th December 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On 5th December attempts were made by HARRIER to meet two Russian ice breakers and sweep them through the White Sea. At 0430 two ships were sighted but when challenged with first red then white Aldis lamp, no reply was received. Because they were 15 miles out of position and enemy destroyers had twice previously been encountered in this vicinity it was decided that to close further was an unjustifiable risk for a single minesweeper and HARRIER was ordered to return to Iokanka.

Three groups of merchant ships including the Hugh Williamson, John Walker, Richard Alvey, Campfire and Empire Galliard were escorted, the merchant ships, owing to their unreliable compasses and lack of local knowledge requested the Senior Officer of the escort to act as a guide. The following signals give a good indication of the methods adopted:

TO: MS6    FROM: Empire Galliard   

Master cannot rely on his compass

TO: Empire Galliard     FROM: HARRIER    

Keep directly astern of me. I will adjust my speed to yours. Reduce a little to let Campfire catch up.

TO: Campfire       FROM: HARRIER    

What is your maximum continuous speed?

TO: HARRIER    FROM: Campfire

10 1/2 knots

TO: Campfire        FROM: HARRIER      

Then I beg you not to be so suicidal as to get astern of station again.

TO: MS6             FROM: HMS Cape Aragona    

Both these merchantmen's compasses are unreliable, course needs to be checked after alteration. I had to lead them up from the Bar.

TO: Cape Aragona     FROM: HARRIER    

Thank you; I am taking guide.

TO: Hugh Williamson    FROM: HARRIER    

Keep in my wake. After dark I will burn dim light which only shows directly astern. Maintain 9 knots.

TO: Richard Alvey    FROM: HARRIER    

Speed 9 knots. Keep closed up.

TO: John Walker     FROM: HARRIER    

Am endeavouring to lead you clear of suspected minefield. Please follow me more closely.

TO: HARRIER     FROM: Hugh Williamson    

Many thanks for splendid assistance.

TO: Hugh Williamson     FROM: HARRIER    

All part of Minesweepers' job. Thanks for following so well.

TO: HARRIER     FROM: Richard Alvey    

Thanks for grand escort.


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

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

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

 Rear Admiral Douglas Fisher 


Home | Harrier Pre-War | Harrier 1939 | Harrier 1940 | Harrier 1941 | Harrier 1942 | Harrier 1943 | Harrier 1944 | Harrier 1945 | Harrier Post-War | Harrier - Crew

This site was last updated 17 Januar 2012