Halcyon Class Minesweepers HMS Leda 1940
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HMS Leda - Halcyon Class Minesweeper
HMS Leda


Date of Arrival


Date of Departure

Orders, Remarks etc




28/12 LEDA is to proceed to Humber

5/1 Taken in hand for fitting for minesweeping, completes 10/1

13/1 In view of the evidence that LEDA possesses strong permanent magnetisation it is highly desirable that trials should be carried out in her to investigate whether such permanent magnetisation can be easily removed. Trials would last about 3 weeks. Request approval for ship to remain at Portsmouth to carry out these trials

14/1 regret LEDA cannot be made available. She should rejoin her flotilla as soon as possible

17/1 From C in C Portsmouth: Intend to sail LEDA for Invergordon 20/1 


Stoker 1st Class Frederick Stevens P/KX65044 died




26/1 LEDA can be taken in hand by Smith’s Dock, Middlesbrough on completion of Hussar but Admiralty have no objection to her refit being undertaken on Tyne if preferred.

27/1 From F O i/c Tyne: LEDA will be sent to Smiths Dock Middlesbrough to refit as soon as possible




30/1 Taken in hand Smiths Dock, completes 18/2

19/2 From N O i/c Middlesbrough: LEDA defect completed midnight 18-19/2, ready to sail 21/2










Source: ADM 199/184 Report on clearing sweep 5th MSF

From: The Senior Officer 5th M/S Flotilla, HMS GOSSAMER

Date: 26th March 1940

To:  Vice Admiral Commanding, Dover 

Report of Clearance Operation on Easter Sunday 24.3.40 and Monday 25.3.40.


Submitted: This clearance was delayed by thick fog until 1600 on Sunday when sweeping was commenced and continued until 1900, vessels anchoring in the vicinity for the night. 

Sweep recommenced at 0900 on Monday which was the earliest that tidal conditions permitted, and was continued until 1745. No further mines were discovered, the area having been thoroughly searched the previous day. 

Danlaying yacht Sargasso was of great assistance, but Grey Mist who was also detailed apparently proceeded to expend his ammunition on floating mines and returned to Ramsgate to replenish it. He did not appear at all. One sweeper had to be used for danlaying. 

Sweepers: Gossamer, Niger
Danlayers: Salamander, Sargasso 

Points of interest:- 

Possible Anti-Sweeping Device


On Monday 25th LEDA’s sweep was parted by an underwater explosion. The explosion was slight but definite, and was followed by a ring of bubbles on the surface, some 15 feet in diameter.


Two alternative suggestions are:

a) A mine whose main charge failed to fire.

b) An explosive cutting device.


Against a) no other mines in this field have exploded on being swept.

Against b) the position was immediately danned by Salamander who was following astern. It was re-swept at the end of the day and nothing found.


Another peculiar occurrence for which no explanation is suggested, was a parted sweep on the previous day. In this case the sweep was found, on recovery, to have 80 fathoms missing, ie it had parted in two places.


Asdic Contact


While at anchor during the night Niger obtained a doubtful contact. One depth charge was dropped, after which it was considered the contact was definitely non-sub. I consider Niger’s constant anti-sub vigilance, especially after a hard day’s sweeping, is most creditable. She is the only asdic vessel in the flotilla.


R Ross


SO 5th M/S Flotilla


Source: ADM 199 184 Report on clearing sweep 5th MSF.


From: The Senior Officer 5th M/S Flotilla, HMS GOSSAMER

Date: 28th March 1940

To:   Vice Admiral Commanding, Dover


Report of Clearance Operation on 26 March 1940 

Sweepers: Gossamer, Niger, LEDA
Danlayers: Salamander, Sargasso 

Six mines cut. One detonated, five destroyed by gunfire. 

Owing to very strong cross tide and lack of sufficient experienced danlayers, this clearance cannot be considered 100%. During the first lap no less than six mines were encountered and before completing the lap the flotilla ran into thick fog. It was decided to abandon sweeping for the day. 

Of these six mines, only one detonated (close to Gossamer’s stern). Another mine surfaced just clear of the disturbed water of the first, some 10 or 20 seconds later. It appears probable that the enemy’s intention was to part the sweep, thus causing the second mine to be missed. 

Pending further details of dip, it is observed that these 6 mines were swept in a depth (by echo recorder) of 20-22 fathoms, with a tide of at least 2 knots. Sweeps were running with 16 fathoms kite, 8 fathoms float wire. It was the top of high water. 

R Ross
SO 5th M/S Flotilla  


From:   Senior Officer, 5th M/S Flotilla, HMS Gossamer

Date:    1st April 1940

To:       Vice Admiral Commanding, Dover


Minesweeping Report, Sunday 31st March 1940 

Sweepers:         Gossamer, Speedwell, LEDA, Harrier
Danlayers:        Sargasso, Grey Mist
Later assisted by Emperor of India as mine clearer. 

This proved an interesting day. As the area to be swept included a bank with 5 fathom patches running down the centre, ‘A’ sweep was chosen. As the flotilla approached the 1st lap in ‘J’ formation a sudden fog descended and the visibility fell to ½ cable. It lifted just in time to show R buoy in correct position for the 1st lap. This shows the advantage of having a qualified navigator (who had joined the previous evening)

Five mines were cut. One exploded, the rest were destroyed by gunfire. 

Anti-Sweeping Devices

As was to be expected partings were frequent due to shallow patches. One was also an undoubted explosive cutter, the mine belonging to which was swept. Another slight explosion failed to part the sweeps or bring up a mine.

Two hours of the afternoon were spent in reeling on new wires etc., while waiting for the tide to rise. One more lap was then completed and a re-sweep made over a small piece missed owing to partings. 


A great improvement has been made now that Sargasso and Grey Mist have got accustomed to working with the flotilla, but even these vessels were unable to maintain sweeping speed in the existing weather conditions. (Wind SW force 4) 

R Ross
S.O. 5th M/S Flotilla





6/4 From V A Dover:  Taken in hand for boiler cleaning






















Source: Orde

HMS Leda at Dunkirk



Proceeded to Dunkirk beaches, in Company with the 5th MSF. On receiving the order to act independently, anchored off Brayes-Dunes.



4 whalers, a skiff and a motor boat were lowered and sent in i/c of S/Lt Jamieson RN 



Hoisted all boats and proceeded via Dyck buoy.



Arrived Margate. Disembarked 301 troops.



Sailed for Dunkirk



Anchored off Brayes-Dunes. Lowered boats and embarked troops, assisted by a large number of Army self propelled boats (i.e. A.L.C.'s).  



Engaged enemy bombers; one probably damaged. Proceeded to Margate with 525 troops. The 3 whalers and the M/B were left inshore i/c of S/Lt Jamieson, with orders to assist other ships.



After passing Middelkerke buoy enemy bombers were seen attacking a hospital ship (the St Julien) and the M/S's Kellet and Pangbourne all outward bound.



Arrived Margate. Disembarked 500 troops.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2/A2302219


Let battle commence part 2  By rmsbooth   People in story: M.E.Booth


My little group joined a party who had found some bridging lorries with folding pontoons, our job was to unload the pontoons, take them to the sea, erect them and then ferry parties of soldiers out to larger craft off shore, unload and then return for another party. If we came too far into the beach we found that the pontoon filled up very rapidly and we were aground, nobody wanted to get off to enable us to refloat and things got a bit hairy at times. Eventually common-sense prevailed and several of the lads got off and we were refloated, they pushed us out into deeper water and then climbed on again. After that we always stopped out to sea and they had to wade out to us. On one trip we h ad a young officer with us, he was waving his revolver and behaving like Captain Bligh of the Bounty, I shouted at him and told him if he used his energy rowing instead of blowing we would get along a lot better. To my surprise he put his revolver away and started rowing!


Later in the afternoon an RSM came on my pontoon, when we got to the ship he said, ‘right lads, you’ve done your bit for today, go on board, somebody else can take her back’. My lads and I made our way to the side of the pontoon, grabbed the net hanging down the ship’s side and were up and over in a flash. When I landed on the deck one of the ships officer saw my revolver and said, ‘just what I want, a revolver’, just to keep him happy I passed it over to him, telling him to clean it before he used it as it was full of French soil!

We were then told to go below decks out of the way, I found myself sitting on a seat with my back to the side of the ship up forrad underneath the ack-ack gun. The sailors were grand, they gave us hot tea and sandwiches out of their own lockers and we settled down for a rest whilst the ship loaded up. Eventually we were full up and off we started for England. I fell asleep when suddenly there was a series of loud bangs and the door of the locker above me fell on my head. Eventually the banging stopped and a sailor came down and told us that we had been attacked by a Stuka but they had shot it down and we would soon be in England. Once the excitement was over I soon fell fast asleep, eventually a sailor came along shouting ‘wakey wakey, get yourselves ashore, unless you want to go back again’. Everybody declined his offer and we all made our way ashore to find that we were in Margate.


Incidentally, the name of the ship that brought us home was the H.M.S. LEDA. I believe that she was a minesweeper in the Halcyon class and that she was torpedoed on one of the Russian convoys with the loss of fourteen lives. (Note: 43 died)

Story written by Ex. 2067466 Cpl. Booth M.E.
Section 2. 248th Field Coy.
Royal Engineers. B.E.F.
D.O.B. 30th May 1915.
D.O.D. Not yet available!




Proceeded towards the French coast by the Dyck buoy. No ships were sighted during this passage so when off the Dyck buoy decided to return to the North Goodwin L.V. and proceed by X route.



Arrived off Brayes-Dunes, anchored and embarked troops. A search was made for S/Lt Jamieson's party, but without success.



Proceeded towards Margate with 650 troops



Arrived Margate. Disembarked 537 troops. S/Lt Jamieson returned on board and reported that he had embarked troops in the P.M/S Gracie Fields and the G/B Locust until 0200/30, when only the M/B was left, the whalers having been sunk during the air raid the previous afternoon. The M/B was later abandoned because of engine trouble and lack of fuel. 



Proceeded towards Dunkirk.



The enemy were now shelling Dunkirk harbour. LEDA signalled her arrival to the signal station on Dunkirk East pier, and received a general message to the effect that the boats were urgently required for embarking troops from the beaches. All LEDA's boats having been lost, Lt Cdr Unwin decided to enter Dunkirk harbour.



Secured alongside the east pier. Embarked about 50 stretcher cases and 350 troops



Proceeded out of harbour. After rounding FG buoy, was in collision with unknown skoot which attempted to cross LEDA's bow from port to starboard. Slight damage to the LEDA.

31/5 From LEDA: With about 350 troops on board. Have sustained collision port side damage just above water line, damage is not serious.



Arrived Margate. Disembarked 387 troops. Proceeded to Sheerness for repairs.



Repairs completed. Proceeded.



Rendezvous with MS 5 (i.e. S.O. 5th MSF) off W buoy.



LEDA anchored off La Panne



Few boats available for embarkation. Permission obtained from MS 5 to search for boats, so proceeded towards Dunkirk.



Acquired a M/B and 3 launches, and embarked 630 troops from the beach off Zuydcoote Sanatorium (4 miles east of Dunkirk). Engaged fighter planes which were carrying out machine gun attacks. 



Proceeded towards Sheerness. When in Dunkirk Roads a heavy concentration of bombers attacked ships



The destroyer Keith 4 cables ahead, was seriously damaged and steamed round at high speed out of control. A collision was narrowly averted



While passing Dunkirk breakwater, the destroyer Ivanhoe was seen to be damaged and to be disembarking troop to the Minesweeper Speedwell. Bombers then attacked the destroyer Havant ahead of LEDA. They then attacked LEDA but without success. 



Bombing attacks ceased and LEDA proceeded.



Arrived Sheerness. Disembarked 630 troops. A number of ratings had to be treated for complete exhaustion and most ratings fell asleep where they lay.



Proceeded towards Dunkirk



Arrived off Dunkirk harbour entrance. Secured alongside east pier. No troops were to be seen. The enemy bombarded the harbour entrance with shrapnel. 



Ordered by the berthing officer to ship and proceed.



Left harbour with no troops on board. Proceeded to Margate and thence to Sheerness



Proceeded towards Dunkirk in company with Minesweeper Gossamer and the Albury.



In accordance with the berthing arrangements, secured alongside Dunkirk west pier and commenced embarking French troops.



Sailed with 484 French troops. Lt Cdr Unwin here pays "tribute to the excellent arrangements at West Pier for the embarkation, and also the high standard of discipline of the French troops, they were magnificent".



Fog encountered in which the Belgian trawler Marechal Foch was rammed by LEDA and sunk. LEDA sustained damage to the bows, but the forward bulkhead held. It is not known how many survivors were taken off. The Minesweeper Albury stood by LEDA until relieved by the Minesweeper Kellett, which escorted LEDA to Margate. 



Arrived Margate in fog. Disembarked 500 French troops (484?)



In accordance with the berthing arrangements, secured alongside Dunkirk west pier and commenced embarking French troops.



Received the signal that Operation Dynamo had been completed.



Total transported: 2848


The following awards were made:

DSC    Lt Cdr H Unwin RN

DSM   C.E.R.A. G B Head

DSM   P.O. J Collins

Mention in Despatches    Lieut W McKee RNR

HMS Leda - Halcyon Class Minesweeper

Date of Arrival


Date of Departure

Orders, Remarks etc




5/6 From Cdre i/c Sheerness: Intend to basin 6/6 to progress repairs and dock in No. 2 dock then L26, undocks at end of week. Time required in dock 10 days approx.

10/6 From D of D: Completes 12/6




Sweeping coastal convoys using the East Coast Channel.


Able Seaman Bernard William Lahee P/J94396 died aged 38.


LEDA was ordered to the assistance of the Harwich based destroyers Express, Esk and Ivanhoe, mined while steaming in the North Sea to meet a reported enemy fleet. Esk sank immediately and Ivanhoe after hitting another mine had to be abandoned and was sunk. Express was towed to the Humber.




30/9 C O’s of Gossamer and LEDA are to exchange ships, LEDA becoming S O’s ship of 5th MSF. LEDA’s boiler cleaning completes about 4/10




















30/10 From C in C Rosyth: LEDA is to proceed to Aberdeen as soon as weather moderates sufficiently




Dragged across a merchant ship; bow holed in the tiller flat.

30/10 From C in C Rosyth: LEDA is to proceed to Aberdeen as soon as weather moderates sufficiently

HMS Leda Photo of damage taken 7th Nov 1940 (NMM N14651)
HMS Leda - Photo of damage taken 7th Nov 1940
(Source: NMM N14651)




1/11 From NO i/c Aberdeen: Taken in hand for repairs and boiler cleaning, completes 15/11












26/12 From 5th MSF: Propose LEDA sails for Aberdeen 27/12 to clean boiler on arrival and give 6 days leave.






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