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SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2

by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2006

HMS HEBE (N 24) - Halcyon-class Minesweeper

HMS Hebe (Navy Photos/Mark Teadham, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 
 

HALCYON-Class Minesweeper ordered from HM Dockyard Devonport on 2nd March 1936 with propulsion machinery to be supplied by JS White, Cowes.. The ship was laid down on 27th April 1936 and launched on 28th October 1936. She was the 8th RN warship to carry this name which had been introduced for a 40 Gun ship taken as Prize in 1794 and renamed BLONDE in 1804 The last to carry the name was a  5th Rate in 1873 . Build was completed on 23rd October 1937  and this ship was adopted by the civil community of Hemsworth Urban District in the West Riding of Yorkshire after a WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in March 1942.

 

B a t t l e   H o n o u r s

 

ST LUCIA 1796 - EGYPT 1801 - DUNKIRK 1940 - ARCTIC  1941-42 - MALTA CONVOYS 1942 - SICILY 1943

 

H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field Red a two handled Drinking Cup.

 

M o t t o

'En  Attendante'

 

M a n n i n g   D i v i s i o n

Devonport

 

 

 

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

 

July                         Deployed with HM Fleet Minesweepers BRAMBLE, BRITOMART, HAZARD, SEAGULL

                                SHARPSHOOTER and SPEEDY in 1st Minesweeping Flotilla.

 

August                  Carried out minesweeping trial in Lyme Bay with ships of Flotilla..

                                (Note: This field had been specially laid to establish minesweeping capabilities.

                                50 mines were swept.)

                                Took passage to War Station with Flotilla at Scapa Flow.

 

September             Deployed with Flotilla for minesweeping operations to ensure clear passage for

                                Home Fleet ships in and out of Fleet anchorage.

 

October                  Scapa Flow deployment in continuation.

                14th        Transferred to Clyde and cleared British deep anti-submarine mine field off

                                Gourock.

                                (Note: Home Fleet units were moved to Clyde area after the sinking of HM

                                Battleship ROYAL OAK at anchor in Scapa Flow by a torpedo from U47

                                which penetrated the anchorage.)

 

November              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 ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY

                                by C Barnett.)

 

December              Transferred to Stornoway for Atlantic convoy escort duties with Flotilla

 

1 9 4 0

 

January                  Returned to Scapa Flow for Fleet duties.

 

February                Home Fleet mine clearance duties in continuation.

 

March                    Nominated for transfer on loan to the newly 6th Minesweeping Flotilla and took passage

                                to Dover to join Flotilla as Senior Officerís ship.

 

April                       Deployed at Dover for minesweeping Dover Command and duty as Flagship for Flag

                                Officer Dover and Senior Officer of Flotilla.

                                (Note: Other sister ships in the Flotilla were HALCYON, HUSSAR and SPEEDWELL.

 

May                        Deployment at Dover in continuation.

                28th        Nominated for support of evacuation of allied troops from Dunkirk.

                                (Operation DYNAMO)

                                Sailed for La Panne.

                29th        On arrival during dive bombing attacks on beaches embarked 66 troops including stretcher cases.

                                Took passage back to Dover.

                                Ordered to Dunkirk harbour to embark Captain Bush for duty off the beaches as Senior Officer

                                (Afloat).

                                Sailed from Dover

                                After arrival came under attacks by three He111 aircraft without damage.

                                Embarked survivors from ss CRESTED EAGLE which had been sunk in an earlier air raid.

                30th        Embarked Rear Admiral WF Wake-Walker from HM Destroyer ESK who was relieving

                                Captain Bush as SO Afloat at Dunkirk.

                                Returned to beaches and embarked more troops.

                                (Note: SNO (Afloat) later transferred to HM Destroyer KEITH.)

                                Took return passage to Dover with 633 troops.

                31st         Sailed from Dover for further support of evacuation

                                Under fire from shore batteries at La Panne and move further to the West.

                                Came under direct dive bombing by four aircraft which caused significant damage by near

                                misses and some minor casualties.

                                One aircraft was shot down by AA fire from ship.

                                Lord Gort, CinC BEF embarked from yacht and more troops embarked from beaches.

                                (Note: Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes changed to J24 as part of total

                                revision for all RN ships of these identities.)

                                Pennant Number for visual signalling purposes changed to J82 as part of changes

                                in all RN warships.

 

June

                1st           Lord Gort disembarked for transfer.

                                Took passage from Dunkirk to return to Dover with 365 troops.

                                On arrival 28 of ships company were taken to hospital and troops landed

                                Ship withdrawn from DYNAMO and repair arranged at Portsmouth.

                                Took passage to Portsmouth

                5th          Taken in hand for repair by HM Dockyard.

                10th        On completion resumed service with 1st Flotilla and took passage to Scapa Flow

 

July                         Deployed with Flotilla for Home Fleet minesweeping duties based at Scapa Flow

to                            Nominate for refit at Leith

October

 

November              Passage from Scapa Flow to Leith

                15th        Taken hand at commercial shipyard in Leith.

 

December              Under refit

 

1 9 4 1

 

January                  Under refit

 

February                Carried out harbour trials

                3rd          Shipyard work completed

                8th          Sustained structural damage to stem in collision.

                9th          Under repair by HM Dockyard Rosyth.

                22nd       Resumed Flotilla duties on completion.

                                Passage to Harwich

 

March                    Deployed with HM Fleet Minesweepers BRAMBLE, BRITOMART and SHARPSHOOTER

                                at Harwich for mine clearance operations between the Thames Estuary and Portsmouth

                                (Note: HMS BRAMBLE was hit by bomb during air raid at Harwich.)

 

April                       Under repair.

 

May                        On completion rejoined Flotilla which had been transferred to Western Approaches Command

                                for convoy escort and based at Stornoway.

                                (Note: This change was made in view of the shortage of escorts caused by the losses and

                                damage during 1940 during evacuation operations and the increase in threat of U-Boat

                                attacks on convoys after bases in French ports became available. See HITLERíS U-BOAT

                                WAR by C Blair and U-BOAT WAR IN THE ATLANTIC (HMSO).)

 

June                        Atlantic convoy defence with 3rd Escort Group and Irish Sea Escort Force

to                            in continuation.

August                  (Note: During periods when not required for escort these minesweeper were deployed for

                                minesweeping in Western Approaches.)

 

September             Nominated for detached service in North Russia.

                                (Note: Three HALCYON Class Fleet Minesweepers had been transferred to North Russia

                                in August for minesweeping and convoy escort in the White Sea based at Archangel.).

                16th        Under repair in Belfast commercial shipyard..

                                (Note: Ship may have not have been ĎArticisedí. To be confirmed

 

October                  Under repair

 

November

                9th          On completion took passage to Iceland to join Russian Convoy as part of escort for passage

                                to Murmansk

                27th        Sailed from Hvalfjord, Iceland with HM Fleet Minesweepers SHARPSHOOTER and HAZARD

                                as escort for PQ 5.

 

December

                1st           HM Cruiser SHEFFIELD joined escort

                7th          Detached from PQ5 with HMS SHEFFIELD and HMS HAZARD.

                                Passage to Archangel.

                29th        Deployed with HM Fleet Minesweepers BRAMBLE, LEDA, SPEEDY and two trawlers for

                                escort of outward Convoy QP4 during passage from Archangel.

 

1 9 4 2

 

January

                5th          Detached from QP4 with HMS BRAMBLE and took independent passage to UK

                                (Note: QP4 dispersed on 9th and took independent passage to ICELAND.)

                                Resumed Flotilla duties in NW Approaches

 

February                Nominated for refit and took passage to Humber.

                9th          Taken in hand for refit at Immingham in commercial shipyard.

                                (Note: ĎArticisationí to be confirmed.)

 

March                    Nominated for further detached service in North Russia.

                11th        On completion of shipyard work carried out post refit trials.

                                Took passage to Iceland to join escort of Convoy PQ14 during passage from Iceland to

                                Murmansk.

 

April

                5th          Sailed from Iceland with HMS SPEEDY as part of escort for PQ14.

                12th        Sustained significant damage during passage in ice.

                                Withdrawn from service for repair and took passage to Humber

                                (Note: 18 mercantiles in convoy were also forced to return due to ice damage.)

 

May                        Under repair

                25th        Carried out post repair trials and resumed Flotilla duties.

                                Nominated for foreign service

                                Passage to Clyde to join military convoy

 

June

                6th          Joined Convoy WS19S in NW Approaches as part of Ocean Escort for passage to

                                Gibraltar.

                                (Note: Home Fleet ships deployed with WS19S included HM Cruisers LIVERPOOL,

                                KENYA, HM Destroyers ONSLOW, ICARUS, BEDOUIN, HM Escort

                                Destroyer BADSWORTH and Polish destroyer ORP KUJAWIAK).

                12th        Joined HM Cruiser CAIRO, HM Destroyers BEDOUIN, MARNE, MATCHLESS,

                                PARTRIDGE, ITHURIEL, BLANKNEY, MIDDLETON , HM Escort Destroyer

                                BADSWORTH and ORP KUJAWIAK, HM Minesweepers SPEEDY, HYTHE

                                and RYE as Force X at Gibraltar for escort of convoy for passage to Malta

.                               through Sicilian Narrows.

                14th        Under heavy and sustained air attacks during which HMS LIVERPOOL was damaged

                                and had to return to Gibraltar.

                15th        In action with Italian warships attempting to intercept and attack convoy.

                                (For details see THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D MacIntyre,

                                ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY and MALTA CONVOYS by R

                                Woodman.)

                                Sustained slight damage during engagement with Italian cruiser.

                16th        Sustained major structural damage forward after detonating a mine whilst entering

                                Grand Harbour, Malta with the two mercantiles which survived passage of HARPOON,

                17th        Under repair by HM Dockyard, Malta

 

July                         On completion of repair commenced minesweeping duties with Flotilla based

                                in Malta.

 

August                  Deployed with HM Fleet Minesweepers SPEEDY, HYTHE and RYE in support

                                of passage of PEDESTAL Convoy during passage into Malta from Gibraltar.

                13th        Assisted damaged tanker OHIO into Malta.

 

September             Malta deployment with Flotilla in continuation.

to

October

 

1 9 4 3

 

November

                22nd       Sunk off Bari, Italy after detonating mine laid by U453 earlier in the month.

                                Bulkhead in Boiler Room demolished by two explosions.

                                Ship capsized and sank very quickly. 35 of shipís company were killed and of the

                                72 survivors, 36 were injured.

 


 

Addendum

 

Link to www.halcyon-class.co.uk

by Bill Burn

 

 

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revised 25/4/11
further editing and formatting is required