From: The Commanding Officer HMS
Date: 21st November 1939
To: The Flag Officer, Humber
Copy to: Senior Officer, 5th Minesweeping
Flotilla, HMS SPHINX
Minefield discovered in SCX 60 on 20th November
This channel was searched by HUSSAR and
SALAMANDER in H formation with double Oropesa sweeps, ships 5 cables
apart, 5 fathoms of float wire, 15 fathoms of kite wire, and 250
fathoms of sweep wire. The Northern half of the channel was swept on
the outward lap, and the Southern half on the return lap.
At about 1310, course 260 degs, a mine exploded
in HUSSARís Port sweep. About a cable further on a second mine
exploded in HUSSARís Port sweep. A passing trawler was requested to
drop a dan in a position between the two explosions: which she did.
This position was approximately 116 deg. 2 miles from the Humber
Light Vessel. The dan buoy flag was a blue one.
Two mines were then cut in a position
approximately 260 deg Ĺ mile from the dan buoy, one in the Port and
one in the Starboard sweep. At about the same time SALAMANDER cut
one mine. She was bearing 350 deg Ĺ mile from HUSSAR. The sweep was
continued to the end of the channel and the aforementioned trawler
was requested to keep the mines in sight and shipping clear of the
Sweeps were got in at the end of the channel.
SALAMANDERís sweep was all clear, but there was a mine jambed in the
sixth cutter of HUSSARís sweep, 50 fathoms from the otter. This was
observed as the cutter came to the surface. The winch was stopped
and put to veer, and as sweep started to veer the mine exploded. It
was 5 ft under the surface, and 20 yards from the stern. There was
no damage to the ship apart from broken glass etc., but she was
severely shaken, neither were there any casualties to personnel.
SALAMANDER was detailed to destroy two of the
three cut mines, and to get photographs and a description of the
third, which was left on the surface in case it was desired for
recovery. She was also detailed to keep Westbound shipping clear of
the minefield. HUSSAR proceeded to recover her parted Port sweep
wire, float and otter. The Starboard float was broken in two at the
tail welded joint by the explosion in the Port sweep. HUSSAR then
kept Eastbound shipping clear of the minefield.
In the absence of a reply to a request for
instructions as to mine recovery, and because it was getting dusk,
SALAMANDER was ordered to destroy the remaining cut mine at 1600.
Photographs of the mine were taken. Its description is as follows:
spherical mine with strengthening band round centre. Four horns
round upper half, and one on top about 6 inches long. Mine painted
black, no lettering. Approximately 3 Ĺ feet in diameter.
When SALAMANDER had destroyed the mine, she
discovered another of the same type, about 3 cables away, which she
also destroyed. Therefore although only 6 mines were seen to be cut
it is probable that four were cut, making a total of 7 destroyed, 3
in the sweep and 4 on the surface. The charted depth of water where
the mines were cut was 7 and 8 fathoms.
The necessary signal reporting the discovery of
the minefield was despatched at 1330.
After Dark HUSSAR and SALAMANDER continued to
keep shipping clear of the minefield during the night until HUSSAR
sighted SPHINX at 0645.
Before HUSSAR left the area, the Humber Light
Vessel was informed that a minefield existed in SE 2miles from her
position and that should any shipping appear to be in danger of
entering it she was to hoist an International Code signal directing
them to steer North.
Lieutenant Commander Command.