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


Painting of HMS Jason
Painting of HMS Jason
Source: Mark Bacchus

Date of Arrival


Date of Departure

Orders, Remarks etc


Port Edgar


Finished working up.







JASON part of Ocean Escort for JW53 (26 ships) from Loch Ewe to Murmansk. With the rapidly increasing hours of daylight meant the convoy had a strong escort. Local western escort included Hazard (on 15/2) and Halcyon (until 22/2).

The convoy met storm force winds and heavy seas from the start, said to be the worst weather ever encountered on Russian convoys. In the early stages, Commander Lewis in JASON was in charge of the escort and earned Tovey’s praise for his achievement in keeping even a semblance of order in the confusion. For two days conditions were extremely bad and several of the ships suffered damage. Most were hove to, the merchant ships to preserve their deck cargoes, the destroyers to preserve themselves. The cruiser Sheffield had the armour plate torn off her A-turret by the heavy sea. The escort carrier Dasher put back to the Clyde for repairs. 

1500       Sailed from Loch Ewe as Senior Officer in Charge of Local Escort. Escorts in company HM Ships DIANELLA, BERGAMOT, POPPY, LORD AUSTIN, and LORD MIDDLETON. HMS PYTCHLEY, MEYNELL, MIDDLETON, HAZARD, SHARPSHOOTER and VIVACIOUS, were originally expected to join off the Loch Ewe buoy, but all failed to make the rendezvous owing to weather and other causes.

Source: ADM 199/73 JW53 Report of JASON  

Able Seaman A J Clarke on board JASON noted: ‘Mess decks flooded, clothing, crockery, vegetables all floating about. Can’t sleep even if you wanted to – merely hang on and hope for the best.

He also noted that on 20/2 the temperature in the engine room was -10°F.



0820       Air A/S Escort arrived. 

0930       HMS PYTCHLEY, MIDDLETON and MEYNELL joined. Convoy mustered 25 ships, organised in nine columns, remainder had been unable to sail. 

1530       HMS HALCYON joined. 

1800       Air escort left.

Source: ADM 199 73 JW53 Report of JASON



0800       Air escort arrived. 

0930       LORD MIDDLETON’s signal timed 0902 received, stating for’ard store room flooded and heaving to. Ordered MIDDLETON to stand by and report on situation. On receipt of further details from LORD MIDDLETON, ordered him to return to Scapa if inadvisable to continue and as he and MIDDLETON were now out of V/S range sent DIANELLA back to pass message. MIDDLETON’s 1215 was received at 1230 and DIANELLA’s 1459 at 1606, stating he was escorting LORD MIDDLETON to Scapa. (Visibility during this period about 1 mile). 

1120       Received HALCYON’s 1115 stating trawler KOMILES reported lashings on deck cargo broken, necessary to proceed Faeroe Islands to re-lash.

           Passed signal to Commodore who made signal ordering KOMILES to make good defects at Faeroe Islands and return to Loch Ewe. As KOMILES had speed of 11 knots asked Commodore if he did not think KOMILES could catch up with convoy after re-stowing cargo. Commodore agreed and I drafted signal accordingly but signal could not be passed as KOMILES was out of V/S touch.

1243       Received LORD AUSTIN’s 1228 stating KOMILES had left convoy and was out of sight. 

1328       Received LORD AUSTIN’s 1235 to Commodore stating that KOMILES had re-joined convoy.

1451       Signal received from Commodore stating KOMILES had left convoy for Faeroe Islands.

Source: ADM 199/73 JW53 Report of JASON  


A.M.       Heavy sea and swell from NW, V/S communication with escorts difficult due to low visibility and height of waves; convoy somewhat scattered and escorts out of position.

           Hove to to carry out temporary repairs to ventilation trunking aft which had carried away on Quarter Deck, thus causing leak into LL and M/S compartments. Housed A/S dome to prevent damage by sea and as A/Sconditions were very bad. 

1500       Air escort arrived, reported 22 ships present. Told him speed 4 knots.

Source: ADM 199 73 JW53 Report of JASON  



Gale continuing from SW, heavy seas and swell, visibility poor. 

1100       Received signal from Commodore stating KOMILES had reported by W/T that hull was split and she was filling up, followed by SOS but giving no position.

           Set watch on MF/DF and Commercial Wave. 

11.21      Commodore reported that at 0900 there were 19 ships in sight and one had hove to to secure cargo. 

1230       Passed signal to PYTCHLEY ordering HALCYON to proceed back along convoy route until 1800 to look for KOMILES. I estimated KOMILES had re-stored cargo at Faeroe Islands and had split his hull in endeavouring to catch up and might be about 50 miles astern, but on asking Commodore if any estimation of distance could be obtained from strength of KOMILES’ SOS, received reply ‘Within radius of 30 miles’. I therefore ordered HALCYON back in the vain hope of finding him and if unsuccessful by dark, hoped he might be seen by Convoy JW53B coming up astern. I presumed that his SOS would have been received by Shore Stations and other ships.  

1435       Received signal from PYTCHLEY that he had been unable to find HALCYON and that my signal had not been passed. Decided it was now too late to take any further action.



Weather moderated. 

0845       MIDDLETON reported 4 stragglers about 15 miles astern. 

0925       Commodore proposed wheeling 90° to port for about 10 miles, then steering to Position C, in order to allow stragglers to catch up, and requested an escort be sent back to bring them up.

           Agreed at first, but as I estimated convoy was already 5 miles to port of its track, considered a diversion of a further 10 miles inadvisable, especially as convoy JW53B was expected to be overtaking and that at this time smoke was sighted on the horizon on the starboard quarter of the convoy.

           Suggested that it would be preferable to reduce speed, to which the Commodore agreed, reducing accordingly to 5 knots. 

1003       Ordered MIDDLETON to investigate smoke and inform stragglers of convoy’s position, course and speed.

1100       BLUEBELL and CAMELLIA joined escort. Aircraft patrol arrived but departed before exchange of signals could be effected, having been ordered to return home. 

11.50      Received signal from LORD AUSTIN reporting damage by weather (port lifeboat, bridge-rails and stanchions stove in, voice pipe depth charge thrower missing, RDF wires carried away, Lewis gun mounting bent), and one rating suffering from concussion. Was able to confirm by 1712 that he was able to continue voyage. 

2200       Convoy increased to 7½ knots. Unknown whether stragglers and rejoined owing to poor visibility and intermittent snow showers.  

2359       Detached PYTHCHLEY and MIDDLETON to Seidisfiord to fuel, PYTCHLEY having previously reported they would have reached prudent limit of endurance by that time.

Source: ADM 199 73 JW53 Report of JASON 


0800       Captain D 3 rendezvoused and took over command of the convoy which was 36 hours behind schedule due to the adverse weather conditions experienced. 

H G A Lewis
Commander in Command 

From The Commanding Officer HMS Scylla 

It is considered that the Commanding Officer, HMS JASON, handled the difficult situation of weather, escorts and stragglers in a very able manner.

Source: ADM 199 73 JW53 Report of JASON  


Finally the weather moderated but the convoy was sighted by German aircraft.


U255 and U622 were homed in but were prevented by the escort from pressing any attack.


Convoy bombed by 21 Ju88’s, no hits thanks to the fury of the barrage.


Convoy again bombed by 21 Ju88’s, again no hits. Local eastern escort including Britomart met the convoy on 26 -27/2.


Main part of the convoy (15 ships) arrived Kola Inlet where it was dive bombed by Stukas damaging three ships.


Able Seaman A J Clarke (IWM 1314 87/15/1) noted:

 ‘I think the main worry is going to be boredom as the Russians don’t seem to be very sociable’.

Leading Wireman L F Leonard on JASON described their existence in North Russia as follows:

‘JASON operated between Polyarnoe, Murmansk and Archangel and we were allowed ashore in those ports. We visited the Intourist Club in Archangel, and traded in the black market when we got roubles from boys so that we could buy toothpaste, soap and nutty (chocolate). Apart from a small allowance for necessities, our pay was frozen whilst we were in Russia. I bought a pair of skis emblazoned with the hammer and sickle for a bar of nutty, but I later sold them to a Scottish dockyard matey for £5, which I then regretted. We ran short of supplies, except rice, and the Russians supplied black meat, which we called ‘yak’ – it was terrible, and the black bread even worse. We had special clothing – sealskin hats, leather sea-boots, heavy coat and what we called ‘flying suits’, and as well as a lifebelt we had a rope with a loop front and back in case we went overboard. When ashore we had to be careful with the Russian sentries, some of whom were very large women and very trigger happy.’


Went from Polyarnoe up river to Mishukov, commonly called ‘bomb ally’ as there are raids every minute of the day and night. Relieved HMS Britomart our sister ship as AA guard ship. Just astern of us can be seen the masts of HMS Gossamer sunk by dive bombers whilst acting as guard ship.



Polyarnoe for boiler clean


The merchant ships City of Omaha, Israel Putnam and one Russian ship left Molotovsk at 2030C/23, and took some time through the ice, which they cleared by about 0630C/26, where they were met by HM ships JASON and Camellia, who were later joined by two Russian escort vehicles. The convoy arrived at Kola Inlet at 0645C/27. 

Picked up three English merchantmen who have been frozen in at Archangel. Miniature icebergs can be seen floating by, the ice is just beginning to break up. Temperature is 2˚ (F) below zero. The ship looks like an iceberg itself. 



Escorted the three merchantmen back to Murmansk and then took over AA guard ship in bomb ally.



Extra special attack by jerry. Many bombs narrowly missed the ship and the merchantmen close by. Big fires ashore. Raid only lasted from 10.30 to 11.00 pm.



Kola Inlet subjected to a high level bombing attack by Ju88’s. The Dover Hill was hit by a bomb that failed to explode. There were no bomb disposal experts available but JASON was ordered to lay off the merchantman’s quarter and render assistance if the bomb exploded. For two full days the bomb was excavated from the coal in which it had come to rest and was dragged to the deck. Further bombing attacks shook the ship during this work. Finally a Russian defused the bomb with a hammer and punch and the bomb was dumped overboard.
See also: http://www.fettes.com/scotsatwar/veteransreminiscences/doverhill.htm


Jerry tries low level bombing and machine gunning. I get my first crack at him.



Minesweeping at Iokanka (Russian Naval base) 200 miles up coast from Polyarnoe.



Went alongside at Iokanka to repair minesweeping gear, the first British ship ever to go alongside here.



Continued sweeping with Britomart.



Dvina Bar


13/5 Today we played our first game of football since joining the ship. We played our sister ship HMS Britomart, and although we lost 7 – 1 that 90 minutes was the happiest I’ve spent in a long time.


For Kola Inlet




Wearing flag of SBNO N Russia






Kola Inlet



HMS Jason - Halcyon  Class  Minesweeper
HMS Jason


Today we shoved off from Polyarnoe with about 20 passengers each (that’s Britomart and ourselves) 20 lads from the base who have been here for 18 months and 20 survivors from a merchantman. Maybe this means mail at last ??!!



We arrived at Polyarnoe today after a very rough trip… There in the bay was a lovely sight – two British destroyers – Mahratta and Musketeer. We went alongside Mahratta and the Britomart alongside the other one… Yes there was mail, bags and bags of it, and stores too.

13/6 Britomart shoved off for Archangel, we remain here for some unknown reason.



On 17th – 22nd June, Britomart was lent for Russian escort duty to take icebreakers to the Kara Sea. JASON was to have been lent also for this duty, but was retained at Polyarnoe to accommodate the mail. This was not a popular move with the local Russian Naval Staff, but they were warned that JASON would not be available if the mail were not released. Reluctantly they did what they could to have the mail released but they seem to have little or no influence with any civil authority.

Source: SBNO North Russia 22nd Report


Still alongside at Polyarnoe. It seems that the Russian’s won’t allow the Base’s mail to land. We remain here with the mail aboard until they do. 



In accordance with the Admiralty’s 1624 25th June the mail was handed over to the Russians on the 26th June. JASON arrived at Murmansk at 1000 after a long, tedious and often farcical meeting, negotiations were completed by 1445. The first batch of officials arrived on board at 1100 but refused to use the British lorry and working party provided by JASON; the Russian lorry and post office working party consisting of three young girls arrived at 1255. The mail was then removed from the ship and loaded into the lorry which was quite inadequate so the British lorry was loaded with the major portion. This did not take long but the Postal official discovered that two mail bags had been at one time torn and sewn up, and the seals had come off two others, and he could not accept them until the contents had been checked over. This was completed by 1400. The Post Office then gave a receipt for the mail but the Customs Officer could not be associated in that transaction and insisted on a separate ‘act’. He disappeared for 45 minutes returning with his statement which was almost word for word for the one he was asked to sign originally. It is interesting to note that during the muster of the contents of the sewn and unsealed bags one of the officials remarked that none of them were there any Anti-Soviet leaflets; any such of course would be quite redundant. 

The urgency for this mail to be released was stressed but my representative was informed that the earliest a decision or any of the mail could be expected was noon on 28th June

Source: SBNO North Russia 22nd Report


Timoshenko’s intervention speeded up the release of mail slightly; 12 bags were received on 30th June as against 6 and 5 on 28th and 29th June 1943. I am sure that it is realised how much all ranks and ratings dislike the possibility that their mail may be censored by the Russian authorities, and welcome the prospect of the mail coming by air under visa…

Source: SBNO North Russia 22nd Report


We have had no spuds for a month and we have to take pills and lime juice to prevent skin diseases etc through lack of vitamins.











As we were nearing the Kola Inlet action stations was sounded and before we could get up there, bombs were dropping all around and our guns were opening up. Four Ju88’s had made the attack, setting a merchantman on fire. Britomart stood by the merchantman while we saw the other two home. Then dashed back and helped to put out fire.



10th Anniversary of North Russian fleet. A combined team from JASON, Britomart and the Base played the Russians in front of a crowd of 2 3,000. I was captain. We lost 3-2.





20/9 Soviet Naval Staff wish to know whether the Admiralty would consider an offer to purchase JASON and Britomart


Feeling bored stiff with this inactivity. As far as I can make out, we’re now waiting for the dark nights and then maybe, I said maybe – we shall take the merchant packets home. Here’s hoping this is true.



Left Polyarnoe at 6.00 a.m. to relieve Britomart who is patrolling the mouth of the Kola Inlet – we’re out here for four days. Nobody seems to know the reason for this patrol but there’s a buzz that we’re looking out for a British sub.



Still patrolling up and down, damned monotonous job this. Just on midnight we narrowly averted a collision with a Russian sub who surfaced just under our bows.



Today, Sunday, the skipper gave us our first bit of news about going home. We, ourselves and Britomart … should be home before Christmas. All this came about because the lads had started to kick up a fuss about not being given any news. We all thought we were going to be left up there to rot. I agree we’ve only been up here 8 months, but 8 months in this joint is enough to send anyone screwy.   



Kola Inlet


JASON can be taken in hand at Portsmouth 18th Nov. Request you will sail JASON and Britomart together independently of convoys by West Coast Route to arrive 17/11


Britomart and ourselves topped right up with oil today. At 10pm tonight I heard the best bit of news I’ve heard for 8 months, our two reliefs are due tomorrow.



Time 05.45 and I have just come off the Quarterdecks after seeing our two reliefs, Seagull and Harrier, secure astern.



At this moment, 12.30 pm, we are slowly making our way up the River Dvina, our first stage on the journey home. Two signals received this morning by us and Britomart: 

To JASON and Britomart  From SBNO Archangel (Captain Maund)


Good Bye. A safe landfall, and a pleasant leave. Thank you very much for all your splendid work in the White Sea. We shall miss both ships very much. 



To JASON and Britomart  From SBNO North Russia (Rear Admiral Archer)


In wishing you good bye and God speed I would like to add my sincere thanks for the excellent work you have both put in whilst in these waters. I have always felt every confidence that with either or both ships on a job it would be well done, and it has been. May you have a well deserved leave. You leave an excellent name behind you.



JASON and Britomart form part of the Ocean escort for RA54A (13 ships), with Harrier and Seagull providing part of the local eastern escort from 1/11 to 3/11. Halcyon joined as part of the local western escort from 10/11 to 13/11. Thick fog delayed the convoy but also hid it from the enemy and it arrived unmolested at Loch Ewe on 15/11.

With this convoy went HMS JASON (Commander H G A Lewis RN) and HMS Britomart (Lt Commander S S Stamwitz DSC) who had also made a lengthy stay in North Russia. I cannot speak too highly of the service they have given during this period or the manner in which both Commanding Officers have maintained the morale of their ships’ companies. They leave a very good name behind them with the Russians who even offered to buy the ships, so impressed were they

E R Archer
Rear Admiral, SBNO North Russia

26th MONTHLY REPORT – 1st October to 21st November


Entered the boom at Scapa 2.00 a.m. Have done just over 3,000 miles and not even a sign of jerry all the way, pity all convoys can’t be like that. Secured along with Britomart to a buoy. 11.30a.m. cleared lower deck and Vice Admiral Burnett thanked us for the good job of work we had done under such trying conditions.

6.30 p.m. We are headed for refit at Portsmouth.



Last night was the worst night I’ve had in the Navy. We came round Pentland Firth and round Cape Wrath with a full gale blowing. I don’t mind admitting I was scared stiff, we all but turned over three or four times.



9pm Well here we are, safely anchored alongside Pompey harbour. We’ve had some rotten times in the last 10 months but I’m not complaining, we got back without a scratch and that’s all that matters, now I’m looking forward to a few good times. 


To JASON and Britomart            From C in C Home Fleet


Welcome back on completion of ten months very good work under trying conditions. As the only British Naval Units working constantly in North Russian ports the minesweepers and trawlers are always under observation and it is by their conduct, both in operations and ashore, that the British Navy is largely judged. You have set a very high standard for others to follow and I hope you will have a very good leave.  



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