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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2000

HMS BRITOMART (N 22) - Halcyon-class Minesweeper

HMS Britomart (Navy Photos, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

HALCYON-Class Minesweeper ordered from HM Dockyard Devonport on 11 August 1937 and laid down on 1st January 1938 and launched on 23rd August that year. She was the 7th RN warship to carry this name which had been introduced for a Brig Sloop captured at Copenhagen in September 1807. The last to carry the name was a Gunboat built in 1899 and sold in 1920 for mercantile use. Build was completed on 24th August 1939 and during WW2 this ship was adopted by the civil community of Clowne, Derbyshire after a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in February 1942.


 B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

On a field barry wavy of six white and blue a

a decresant Gold overall a net Black


D e t a i l s   o f   W a r   S e r v i c e


(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search



1 9 3 9


August                  Contractors trials.

                                War Station nominated as North Sea.

                                Commissioned for service in 1st Minesweeping Flotilla and prepared for

                                war operations.

                24th        Build completion and commenced Acceptance trials at Devonport.


September             On completion of trials and storing joined HM Minesweepers

                                BRAMBLE, HAZARD, HEBE, SHARPSHOOTER, SPEEDY and

                                SEAGULL in 1st Minesweeping Flotilla at Scapa Flow.

                                Deployed for minesweeping operations to ensure clear passage for Home

                                Fleet ships in and out of Fleet anchorage.


October                  Scapa Flow deployment in continuation.


November              Transferred with Flotilla to Clyde for continuation of minesweeping duties.

                                (Note: This transfer was made after sinking of HM Battleship ROYAL OAK

                                at Scapa Flow when Home Fleet major ships were also moved to west

                                coast of Scotland pending the improvement of ant-submarine defences

                                at the main Fleet anchorages. See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE

                                CLOSELY by C Barnett and the Naval Staff History.)

                                Deployed at Greenock.


December              Resumed North Sea Service to ensure passages through East Coast Mine

                                Barrier were kept clear of mines.

                                (Note: Extensive enemy minelaying using magnetic mines was being carried

                                out in North Sea. See above references.)


1 9 4 0


January                  Transferred with Flotilla for Atlantic convoy defence based at Stornoway.

                                Deployed for escort of convoys during passage to Canada.


February                Atlantic convoy defence in continuation.


March                    Passage to Leith for refit

                                (Note: Sister ship HMS BRAMBLE was also refitted at Leith in this period,)


April                       Under refit

to                            (Note: NOT deployed for support of evacuation of allied troops from Dunkirk

May                        (Operation DYNAMO.)


June                        On completion of post refit trials rejoined Flotilla at Scapa Flow.

                                Deployed for mine clearance operations with Flotilla to ensure safe passage

                                of Home Fleet ships.


July                         Scapa Flow deployment in continuation.




1 9 4 1


January                  Scapa Flow duties with Flotilla in continuation.

to                            Nominated for transfer to Harwich.



March                    Passage to Harwich and deployed with HMS BRAMBLE, HMS HEBE

                                and HMS SHARPSHOOTER for minesweeping of convoy routes in Nore

                                Command to ensure safe passage of east coast and Channel convoys.

                15th        Under air attack during minesweeping operations off Rye, Sussex and hit by

                                bomb which exploded near Wardroom killing all personnel therein.

                                Damage sustained did not prevent passage under own steam to Portsmouth

                                escorted by HMS SHARPSHOOTER.


April                       Under repair at Portsmouth




June                        On completion resumed operational detached service with HMS HAZARD

to                            and HMS BRAMBLE as part of 3rd Escort Group.

August                  Deployed for Local Escort of Atlantic convoys based at Stornoway.

                                (Note: When not required for escort and anti-submarine patrol carried out

                                minesweeping as required by Local Command.

                                Nominated for detached service in North Russia for minesweeping operations

                                to ensure safe passage of Russian convoys to and from Iceland.

                                (Note: HM Minesweepers GOSSAMER, LEDA and HUSSAR were also

                                nominated and the four HALYCONs were to join HM Minesweepers

                                HALCYON, HARRIER and SALAMANDER already at Archangel.)


September             Prepared for arctic service and took passage to Iceland.

                29th        Joined escort for Russian convoy PQ1 with HM Cruiser SUFFOLK, HMS

                                GOSSAMER, LEDA and SALAMANDER.



                11th        Arrived at Archangel with PQ1 and commenced deployed in North Russia.

                                (Note: For details of all Russian Convoy operations with names of the

                                mercantiles and the escorts see CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by RA

                                Ruegg, THE RUSSIAN CONVOYS by B Schoefield, CONVOY !

                                by P Kemp and ARCTIC CONVOYS by R Woodman.)


November              Deployed in North Russia for minesweeping operations in Barents Sea to

to                            ensure safe passage of traffic in and out of Archangel and Murmansk.



1 9 4 2


January                  North Russian deployment in continuation.



                7th          Joined inward joint Russian convoy PQ9/10 as Local Escort with HMS


                10th        Detached from PQ9/10 on arrival at Murmansk.

                13th        Joined return convoy QP7 for Local Escort during passage in Barents Sea

                                with HMS SHARPSHOOTER.

                15th        Detached from QP7 and returned to Murmansk with HMS SHARPSHOOTER.


March                    North Russian deployment in continuation.

                                Nominated for return to UK

                21st         Joined Ocean Escort for return convoy QP9 at Kola Inlet with HMS




                3rd          Detached from QP9 on arrival at Rekjavik and took passage for return to UK.

                                Taken in hand for refit and for leave after arrival.


May                        Under refit during which Radar Type 271 was fitted.

                                (Note: For details of development and use of radar by RN see RADAR AT

                                SEA by D Howse.)


June                        On completion of post refit trials took passage to Iceland to resume duties in

                                North Russia.

                27th        Joined escort for Russian Convoy PQ17 at Reykjavik with HMS HALCYON

                                and HMS SALAMANDER.

                                (Note: Ocean Escort for PQ17 included HM Auxiliary AA Ships POZARICA

                                and PALOMARES, HM Destroyers FURY, KEPPEL, LEAMINGTON

                                LEDBURY, OFFA and WILTON, four Corvettes and four Trawlers.

                                Cover was provided by ships of Home Fleet )



                4th          Convoy ordered to scatter by Admiralty in view of presumed threat of attack

                                by German battleships TIRPITZ, SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU.

                                (Note: For details of this ill-judged and disastrous decision see the above

                                references and THE CONVOY IS TO SCATTER by J Broome.)


                5th          Deployed with other smaller escorts in search for scattered ships.

                                Passage to Novaya Zembla with six mercantiles from PQ17

                                Under air attacks.

                11th        Arrived at Archangel escorting some of ships from PQ17 formed into convoy

                                and survivors rescued from sea or small boats.

                                Resumed minesweeping duties in Barents Sea.


August                  North Russian deployment in continuation.



                13th        Part of Local Escort for return convoy QP14 with HM Minesweepers

                                HALCYON, HAZARD and SALAMANDER.

                                (Note: This convoy was taking some of the survivors from PQ17 to UK

                                and had a particularly strong Ocean Escort provided by Home Fleet.

                                See references for details including loss of HM Destroyer SOMALI

                                and HM Minesweeper LEDA.)

                18th        Joined two Soviet destroyers in escort of inward Russian convoy PQ18 in

                                Barents see with Local Escort of QP14.

                                Under air attacks.

                20th        Detached from PQ18 on arrival and resumed local minesweeping and patrol



October                  North Russian deployment in continuation.



                17th        Deployed with HM Minesweepers HALCYON, HAZARD, SALAMANDER

                                and SHARPSHOOTER as Local Escort from Archangel during passage in

                                Barents of Convoy QP15 to Loch Ewe.

                20th        Detached from QP15 and returned to Archangel with Local Escort.


December              North Russia deployment in continuation.


1 9 4 3


January                  Nominated for escort of Russian Convoy JW52 and took passage to join

                                this inward convoy at Loch Ewe.

                17th        Deployed with HM Corvettes LOTUS and STARWORT and three trawlers

                                as part of Ocean Escort for JW52 from Loch Ewe.

                                (Note: Fighting Escort of seven Home Fleet destroyers joined on 21st and

                                Distant Cover was provided by Home Fleet. See references.)

                24th        Under air attacks which were ineffective.

                27th        Detached from JW52 on arrival at Kola Inlet and resumed Local Duties in

                                North Russia.


February                Deployed in North Russia for minesweeping and patrol duties.

                26th        Joined inward Russian convoy JW53 as Local Escort for passage to Kola

                                Inlet with five Soviet destroyers.

                27th        Detached from JW53 and resumed local duties.


March                    North Russian deployment in continuation.

                                (Note: Russian convoys from UK were suspended due to need for escorts

                                to defend Atlantic traffic. See above references.)


April                       Deployed for minesweeping and patrol in North Russia.





                17th        Deployed with HM Fleet Minesweeper JASON as escort during passage of Russian icebreakers

                                during passage from White Sea to Kara Sea..

                22nd       Detached with HMS JASON from icebreakers on arrival in Kara Sea and returned to Kola Inlet


July                         North Russian deployment in continuation.

to                            In this period, whilst minesweeping off Cape Artica came under air attack and hit by two bombs

September             that were deflected off deck without exploding.

                                (Note: Other minesweepers in North Russia were JASON, HAZARD,

                                HALCYON, GOSSAMER and SHARPSHOOTER.)


October                  Nominated for return to UK with HMS JASON.

                                Prepared for return passage.



                1st           Joined return Convoy RA54A at Kola Inlet as part of Ocean Escort with

                                JASON, HM Norwegian Corvette SOROY and nine Home Fleet destroyers

                                which had made independent passage from UK for this duty. Cover was

                                provided by Home Fleet. See references.)

                14th        Detached from RA54 on arrival at Loch Ewe after uninterrupted passage.

                                Taken in hand for refit and leave for ship’s company.


December              Under refit.


1 9 4 4


January                  Nominated for service with newly formed 1st Minesweeping Flotilla.

                                (Note: Other ships in Flotilla were HM Minesweepers HARRIER,

                                GLEANER, HALCYON, HUSSAR, JASON, SALAMANDER,

                                SEAGULL and SPEEDWELL.)

                                On completion of trials carried out work-up exercises.


February                Deployed for exercises, minesweeping and patrol in North Sea with Flotilla.

to                            Nominated for minesweeping support during planned allied landings in

March                    Normandy (Operation NEPTUNE).


April                       Took passage to Portsmouth to join Force S.


May                        Nominated with Flotilla for mine clearance of approach Channels to the

                                beach head anchorage areas.

                                (Note: Three Motor Launches and four Isles-Class Danlayers were

                                attached to Flotilla for this specialised operation

                                Took part in preparatory exercises with ships of Force S (Exercise

                                FABIUS and carried out night sweeping exercises with Flotilla.

                                For details of naval activities before and during landings see LANDINGS

                                IN NORMANDY JUNE 1944 and OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards.


June                        Deployed at Portsmouth for briefing and preparations for minesweeping

                                of Channel 9 in advance of Assault convoys.

                4th          Operation delayed by 24 hours.

                5th          Sailed from Solent to commence Channel clearance.

                                No mines cleared or exploded.

                6th          On completion deployed for mine sweeping of anchorages.

                8th          Deployed for widening approach Channels and defence patrols off

                                Eastern Task Force landing areas.

                                Carried out Channel convoy escort as required.


July                         Channel minesweeping and convoy defence in continuation,

                                (Note: Under threat of attack by E-Boats and midget submarines.)

August                  Channel deployment in continuation off Arromanches with HM

                                Minesweepers HARRIER, JASON, HUSSAR, GLEANER and


                22nd       Transferred to Le Havre area for mine sweeping operation in anchorage

                                selected for bombardment of enemy positions by HM Battleship

                                WARSPITE, HM Monitors EREBUS and ROBERTS.

                23rd        Under shore fire during minesweeping operations.

                26th        Permission to remain in area instead of taking passage back to Arromanches

                                approved in order to complete clearance.

                27th        During final clearance came under rocket attacks by RAF TYPHOON

                                aircraft in which ship was hit and sank after direct hits.

                                (Note: HMS HUSSAR was also hit and sunk, with major damage in

                                HMS SALAMANDER which lost stern structure and later declared a Total

                                Loss. HMS JASON  and two trawlers were also hit.

                                For Details see OUT SWEEPS by Lund and Ludlam, FRIEND OR

                                FOE by P Kemp and Naval Staff History.

                                This disaster was directly due to failure of Flag Officer British

                                Assault Area to ensure that approval of extended minesweeping

                                operation had been advised to all concerned with air operations.)





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