Halcyon Class Minesweepers HMS Speedy 1942
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HMS Speedy Oct 1942
HMS Speedy October 1942

Date of Arrival


Date of Departure

Orders, Remarks etc




15/1 From R A D: Vessel has A/S completely out of action and suffers from bad propeller vibration at certain speeds. Requests repair fast.








23/1 SPEEDY taken in hand Green & Silley Royal Albert Dock for refit, fitting out for Arctic Service, provisionally completes 14/3








For Hvalfiord

We were scheduled to join a Russian Convoy and were issued with heavy cold weather outfits and  took  onboard lots of EXTRA minesweeping equipment.  We joined  the convoy  and proceeded north from Scapa Flow.
Source: Duncan Christison, HMS Speedy


On the night of 10/4 the convoy (PQ14) met heavy ice which was further south than usual, consisting of growlers from which it was impossible to extricate itself due to dense fog. The convoy was delayed and scattered and 16 merchant ships together with SPEEDY and Hebe, which were damaged by the ice, put back to Iceland.




Owing to meeting ice SPEEDY has sustained damage and A/S out of action. Ordered to transfer mail for North Russia to Amazon and return to Iceland.




16/4 From N O i/c Iceland: SPEEDY is seaworthy but requires docking for underwater damage to oil fuel tanks etc. Intend sailing her for Scapa 16/4




20/4 From R A D: SPEEDY has damaged Asdic gear and has a considerable number of small leaks




24/4 SPEEDY taken in hand at Humber Graving Dock, Immingham, completes 17/5 approx

23/5 Completed




Left Scapa with Hebe for Greenock








On 12/6 Hebe and SPEEDY joined the convoy (Operation Harpoon) for Malta.

Operation 'Harpoon' was the passage of a convoy to the beleaguered island of Malta. Simultaneously a convoy left for the island from the Eastern Med. Four Fleet minesweepers, RYE, HYTHE, HEBE and SPEEDY, joined the escort of the western Harpoon convoy which left the Clyde on 5 June 1942. From the vicinity of Gibraltar the escort comprised the battleship MALAYA, the carriers ARGUS and EAGLE, the cruisers KENYA (Flag), LIVERPOOL and CHARYBDIS and eight destroyers. This force sailed as far as the Sicilian Narrows. There was also a close (through) escort consisting of the AA cruiser CAIRO, nine destroyers and four fleet minesweepers; six motor launches fitted for minesweeping sailed with the convoy. The fleet sweepers and MLs were needed to sweep the convoy through enemy minefields around Malta, and to stay there to keep the harbour free of mines.

HMS Speedy making smoke in Malta Convoy Malta convoy under attack
HMS Speedy making smoke, two photo's of the convoy under attack and HMS Eagle (sunk 11.8.42)
(Photo Source: David West, son of Roy West, ERA)

Malta Convoy under attack HMS Eagle, Malta Convoy


CLICK HERE for Report on Attack on U-Boat

Kentucky (left) and other ships under attack
(Source: Keith Wood, Grandson of Duncan Christison, HMS Speedy)

On the 15 June when the convoy was 30 miles south of Pantellaria two Italian 6" cruisers and several destroyers appeared. The destroyer BEDOUIN led out the fleet destroyers to meet the enemy while CAIRO four 'Hunt' Class destroyers and the minesweepers made off.  BEDOUIN and PARTRIDGE were disabled; the other destroyers hit one of the enemy ships. CAIRO and the 'Hunts' joined in the surface action when the convoy had been protected by smoke, but then more dive bombers arrived overhead and sank the CHANT; KENTUCKY was hit and taken in tow by HEBE. 

Extracts from diary of Lt J A Pearson on Rye

0230 Enemy coastal forces attack convoy – repulsed.

0622 Convoy attacked by Italian navy (two 8 inch cruisers and two destroyers)

0623 Cairo returns fire and smoke screen laid.

0709 Attack by Ju88 dive bombers

0720 Second attack by Ju88’s

0735 Merchantman sunk

0845 Italian navy again opens fire on convoy.

0924 Three Italian cruisers and two destroyers opened fire.

1038 Dive bombing resumes

1218 Rye and Hebe try to sink the damaged Kentucky with depth charges and gunfire.

1325 Italian cruisers open fire on Hebe and Rye. 8-inch shell passes through CO of Hebe’s cabin. Hebe dumps confidential books. 

(On hearing of the attack, Hardy, taking his three fleet destroyers with him, steered the AA cruiser Cairo to the minesweeper’s assistance. The Italian cruisers came into sight at around 1400 but turned away to the west.) 

(The British cruisers and destroyers passed us en route to engage the Italian Navy with full battle ensigns flying and with their guns firing – taking on the heavy cruiser of the Italian Navy. However, as they approached the Italian forces, they down tailed and ran over the horizon.)
(Source: Keith Wood, Grandson of Duncan Christison, HMS Speedy)

1910 Convoy being dive bombed.

1945 Hurricanes from Malta drive off enemy.

2339 SPEEDY, Hebe, Rye and Hythe (17th MSF) stream sweeps to lead convoy into Malta. Sometime about midnight there had been E-boats buzzing around – everybody taking pot-shots at them…very dark… port 0.5 inch gunner shouts out – “Sir, an E-boat alongside port side, can’t depress my guns enough to open fire” ….. then a voice from the ‘E-boat’ alongside … “Please, it’s only us, your ML (one of the six minesweeping motor launches) – everybody takes us for an E-boat and this is the only safe place”.

Tues 16th June

0800 Hebe mined off St Elmo


 Source: http://www.cronab.demon.co.uk/malta3.htm

SPEEDY (Lieutenant Commander Peter Doran RN Senior Officer), Hythe and Rye commence minesweeping work (Hebe had been damaged by mine and was to remain out of action for some time). By the end of June the approach channel had been cleared to a point 3 miles from the shore and had accounted for 60 mines. AB Stan Jaques of RYE has described how the numerous anti-sweeping devices blew up their sweep wire and left them stopped in unswept waters. On one occasion the 1st Lieutenant was injured when a fouled mine exploded near the stern of RYE. Stan Jaques again...."one of the most hair-raising duties we all did was to sit right forward in the bows, and you could see the silhouettes of the mines under water; half an hour at a time was the limit". 

Life for the men of the minesweepers at Malta was, like that for all at Malta, service or civilian, hard and dangerous. Food was severely rationed. Stan Jaques has recalled life at that time...

...."rations were so low that when we were sweeping we were allowed to draw a couple of tins of steak extra for the ship’s company, and this was a real luxury. There were no crockery replacements and so we had to toss up for the empty jam-jar which became available now and again. Another facet of life was that the crews of the minesweepers were to be formed into Defence Platoons, in case Malta was invaded. They even tried Pongoes (soldiers) giving us drill, but they had to give this up as a bad job as their drill was different to ours and it always ended up as a shambles. There were always runs ashore, but it was usually the case of Jack (the sailors) and the troops organising themselves with football and water polo etc. And always the noise of aircraft and bombs".....


Grand Harbour
(Photo Source: David West, son of Roy West, ERA)

July 1942

All of the minesweepers were berthed at Silema Creek off Manoel Island where we operated for 18 months keeping the channel open enabling submarines to operate and occasionally the fast mine layers HMS Manxman and HMS Welshman to bring in munitions and supplies.  The sweep area was about 10 miles long by about 3 miles wide and the Germans would lay their mines under the cover of darkness, so as a result we would continually sweep the channel from dawn to dusk.

(Source: Keith Wood, Grandson of Duncan Christison, HMS Speedy)

By July the submarines were able to return from Alexandria, the sweepers having done their initial job, disposing of 200 mines. The sweepers escorted them in and out of harbour:

…there was a great bond of friendship grown up between the sweepers and the boats. They were the last to see us go and wish us well, and the first to welcome us back. We got enormous pleasure, as well as relief, when we met the friendly sweepers at the entrance to our home in Malta.

Source: John Wingate, First Lieutenant on submarine United 

August 1942

In the first eight days of August, 27 moored mines were cut by the flotillas.


On 13/8 the 17th MSF of SPEEDY (Lt Cdr J G Brookes DSC), Hebe (Lt Cdr G Mowatt RD), Hythe and Rye were at Malta under the overall command of Commander M/S Malta, Commander H S (Jake) Jerome also in SPEEDY.

Early that morning the fleet minesweepers and ML’s left Malta to sweep into Malta the three remaining ships of the original convoy of fourteen that had taken part in ‘Operation Pedestal’. The fourth, Ohio, lay immobile some way behind. Commander Jerome in SPEEDY sent Rye and two ML’s to help Ohio while the rest escorted the three merchant ships the last few miles into Malta.

Brisbane Star in Grand Harbour (damaged by aerial torpedo) and Halfar Aerodrome, Malta
(Photo Source: David West, son of Roy West, ERA)

14.8.42 During the morning, SPEEDY, Hebe and Hythe joined Rye who was towing Ohio, and the three sweepers set up a protective screen around Ohio and her helpers. Shortly afterwards a tug arrived to take over the tow. SPEEDY attacked by German aircraft, damaged a Heinkel He111 torpedo bomber.

From the log of Lt Pearson, Commanding Officer HMS Rye:

0855  SPEEDY sighted to eastwards. (SPEEDY with 3 ML's, Hebe and Hythe were to join up with Rye and Ohio).
0900 Ohio taken in tow by destroyer Ledbury; tow commenced and proceeded well.
0940  Penn secured alongside Ohio's starboard side to help with steering.
1040  Heavy dive-bombing lasting ten minutes.
1059  Ohio out of control after bombing. Branham proceeds alongside Ohio; helps Rye re-rig tow wire which had parted during the bombing.
1245  Bramham's wires part. Rye ordered to slip tow and screen ahead. Tug from Malta on way to help. (SPEEDY, Hebe and Hythe meanwhile set up a protective screen round the ships). Penn and Bramham alongside Ohio; Malta tug towing from ahead and Rye sweeping ahead.

Source: http://www.cronab.demon.co.uk/malta3.htm

15.8.42 Early the following morning the 17th Flotilla entered harbour to be followed at midday by the Ohio.
15.9.42 On the day the 17th MSF cleared five mines and in this month their total bag topped 300. But finally things began to get easier. With great support from the air the sweepers no longer faced the prospect of being bombed or machine gunned as they worked, and the minelaying aircraft became much less. Although the worst was over, there were still plenty of moored mines to deal with.

HMS Speedy, minesweeping off Filfa, Malta
HMS Speedy off the island of Filfa, Malta
Source: Keith Wood, Grandson of Duncan Christison, HMS Speedy

Nov 42 Minesweeping continued at Malta, mainly off Filfa, during November and December and in a minefield laid early in November by E-boats. Thirty three mines were swept in this time.
3.11.42 While sweeping off the entrance to Grand Harbour, SPEEDY shot down an Italian Macchi fighter-bomber.
5.12.42 Based at Malta until 8.8.43

"Hythe Dance Oct 42"


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