Naval History Homepage and Site Search




by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2001

HMS SEAGULL  (N 85) - Halcyon-class Minesweeper

HMS Harrier, sister ship (Navy Photos/Mark Teadham, click to enlarge)

return to Contents List 


HALCYON-Class Minesweeper ordered from HM Dockyard Devonport on 1st July 1936 with sister ship to be named HMS LEDA. Propulsion machinery was to be supplied by Richardson Westgarth of West Hartlepool. This ship was laid down on 15th February 1937 and launched on 28th October that year. She was the 9th RN warship to carry this name which had been introduced for a 16 gun Brig Sloop, built at Rotherhithe. The last was a Torpedo Gunboat built by HM Dockyard, Chatham in 1889 and sunk in Collision on 30th September 1918 whilst being used as a minesweeper. Build was completed on 30th May 1938 and she commissioned for service in the 1st Minesweeping Flotilla based at Portland. During WW2 this ship was adopted by the civil community of Christchurch, Hampshire 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 seagull flying proper.



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                  Carried out minesweeping trial in Lyme Bay for Flotilla.

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

                                Took up War Station with Flotilla at Scapa Flow.

                                Other ships in Flotilla were HM Minesweepers BRAMBLE, BRITOMART, HAZARD,

                                HEBE, SHARPSHOOTER and SPEEDY


September             Deployed at Scapa Flow with Flotilla

                                (Note: Ships were engaged in ensuring clear passages from Scapa Flow for Fleet units and

                                the gaps in East Coast Mine Barrier.)



                14th        Transferred to Clyde and cleared British mine field off Gourock

                                (Note: Home Fleet units were moved to Clyde area after 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

to December          clear of mines.

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

                                out in North Sea. See above references.)

                                Transferred to Stornoway for Atlantic convoy escort duties with Flotilla.


1 9 4 0


January                  Atlantic convoy defence in continuation based at Stornoway

                                Deployed for escort of convoys during passage to and from Canada.

                                Returned to Scapa Flow after anchorage made safe


February                Deployed at Scapa Flow with Flotilla for mine clearance in entrances and in North Sea.

to April


May                        Remained at Scapa Flow in continuation of Fleet minesweeping duties

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

                                DYNAMO. Pendant Number for visual signalling purposes changed to J85.)


1 9 4 1


January                  Scapa Flow deployment in continuation

to February


March                    Transferred with Flotilla to Harwich for clearance of convoy routes between southern North

                                Sea and Solent to ensure safe passage.


April                       Transferred to Western Approaches Command with Flotilla and deployed for Local Escort

                                of Atlantic convoys in NW Approaches.

                                (Note: This redeployment was made in view of the acute shortage of escorts due to losses

                                and extensive repair of suitable ships in the evacuations of allied troops during 1940

                                and early 1941)

                                Ships of the Flotilla not deployed for escort duty carried out minesweeping in

                                coastal waters. No record has been traced of this ship being deployed as an Escort.)


May                        Home waters minesweeping deployment in continuation.

to August


September             Nominated for service in North Russia to provide Local Escort of convoys and for

                                minesweeping to ensure clear passage for convoys on entry and departure.

                                Prepared for service in the Arctic but not “Arcticised”


October                  Passage to Scapa Flow to join HM Cruiser NORFOLK, HM Destroyers ICARUS and ECLIPSE,

                                HM Minesweepers BRAMBLE and SPEEDY of Flotilla for escort of Russian Convoy PQ2

                                during passage to Archangel.

                                (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.)

                18th        Sailed from Scapa Flow with PQ2 and escort.

                29th        HM Minesweepers GOSSAMER, HUSSAR and LEDA joined QP2 as Local Escort.

                                (Note: These sister ships were on detached service from the 5th Minesweeping Flotilla and

                                had arrived with Russian Convoy PQ1 on 11th October for similar duties.)

                30th        Arrived at Archangel with PQ2 and escort. This convoy had an uneventful passage.

                                Commenced detached service in North Russia.



                3rd          Deployed with HMS BRAMBLE and HMS LEDA for Local Escort of return Convoy QP2

                                during first stage of passage to Scapa Flow.

                                (Note: Ocean escort was provided by same ships as for PQ2)

                5th          Detached from QP2 with Local Escort and returned to Archangel.

                20th        Deployed as Local Escort for Russian Convoy PQ3 with HMS BRAMBLE and HMS SPEEDY

                                during final stage of passage into Archangel.

                                (Note: Ocean Escort for PQ3 comprised HM cruiser KENYA, HM Destroyers BEDOUIN and

                                INTREPID, HM Trawlers MACBETH and HAMLET.)

                22nd       Detached from PQ3 with escorting ships on arrival at Archangel .

                27th        Joined Russian Convoy PQ4 with HM Minesweepers GOSSAMER, a and SPEEDY as Local

                                Escort for final stage of passage into Archangel.

                                (Note: Ocean Escort from Hvalfjord comprised HM Cruiser BERWICK, HM Destroyers

                                OFFA and ONSLOW, HM Trawlers BUTE and STELLA CAPELLA, which detached

                                on arrival of Local Escort.)

                28th        Detached from PQ4 with Local Escort on arrival at Archangel.


December              North Russia deployment in continuation for minesweeping and convoy defence locally.

                7th          Joined Russian Convoy PQ5 with HMS BRAMBLE as Local Escort for final stage of passage into

                                Archangel and relieved HM Cruiser SHEFFIELD, HM Minesweepers HAZARD and HEBE as

                                escort from Hvalfjord.)

                                (Note: HM Minesweeper SHARPSHOOTER with PQ5 on passage for duty in North Russia

                                remained with convoy as part of Local Escort.)

                13th        Detached from PQ5 with Local Escort on arrival at Archangel.

                29th        Deployed with HMS LEDA, HMS SPEEDY, HMS BUTE and HMS STELLA CAPELLA

                                as Local Escort for return Convoy QP4 during first stage of return passage.

                                (Note: HMS SPEEDY had been damaged in action with German destroyers on 17th December

                                and was returning to UK for repair escorted by HMS SEAGULL and HMS LEDA

                                which were to be “Articised” prior to resuming service in North Russia.)


                1 9 4 2



                5th          Detached from Locals Escort of QP4 after arrival of HM Cruiser EDINBURGH, HM Destroyers

                                ECHO and ESCAPADE as Ocean Escort.

                12th        After independent passage to UK with HMS SPEEDY and HMS LEDA took passage for refit

                                and “Articisation”.


February                Under refit

to March


April                       On completion of post refit trials took passage to Clyde to join Russian Convoy PQ15.

                10th        Sailed with HMS BRAMBLE, HMS LEDA, HM Trawlers CAPE PALLISER, CHILTERN,

                                NORTHERN PRIDE and VIZALMA as part of escort for Russian Convoy PQ15 during

                                passage to Reykjavik.

                                (Note: HM Destroyer LEDBURY was part of escort with Fleet Tanker GRAY RANGER

                                but returned to Lerwick during passage, presumably after refuelling.)

                26th        Sailed from Iceland with same escort.

                28th        HM Auxiliary AA Ship ULSTER QUEEN, HM Destroyers BADSWORTH, BOADICEA,

                                MATCHLESS, SOMALI, VENOMOUS and Norwegian destroyer ST. ALBANS joined

                                PQ15 to reinforce escort.


May                        Passage with PQ 15 in continuation

                                (Note: During Home Fleet operation to cover the passage of PQ15, HM Battleship KING

                                GEORGE V was involved in collision with HM Destroyer PUNJABI in which the

                                destroyer was sunk and the battleship sustained serious damage.

                2nd         Under submarine attacks and heavy and sustained air attacks.

                                Carried out successful attack on submarine with HMS ST ALBANS.

                                (Note: This was later identified as the Polish ORP JASTRZAB which was outside her

                                allocated patrol area and therefore considered hostile.)

                3rd          Under further air attacks.

                5th          Detached from PQ15 on arrival at Murmansk and resumed detached service in North Russia.

                30th        Deployed with HMS BRAMBLE, HMS GOSSAMER and HMS LEDA , HM Destroyer

                                MARNE, HM Auxiliary AA Ship ALYNBANK and  three Russian destroyers including

                                GROZNI and SOKRUSHITELNY as Local Escort for Russian Convoy PQ16 during

                                passage into Archangel. Under heavy and sustained air attacks

                                (Note: This was the largest convoy sent to North Russia to this date and comprised 36 ships,

                                seven of which were lost on passage.)



                1st           Detached from PQ15 with Local Escort on arrival at Archangel.

                3rd          Deployed for local minesweeping operations.

                21st         Joined HMS BRAMBLE, GOSSAMER and LEDA, Russian destroyers GROZNI and

                                SOKRUSHITELNY for Local Escort of return Convoy QP12 during initial part of passage

                                from Kola Inlet to Iceland.

                                (Note: Ocean Escort also sailed and comprised HMS ULSTER QUEEN, HM Destroyers


                                Norwegian destroyer ST ALBANS, HM Minesweeper HARRIER, HM Trawlers

                                CAPE PALLISER, NORTHERN PRIDE, NORTHERN WAVE and VIZALMA.)

                23rd        Detached from QP12 with ships of Local Escort and returned to Kola Inlet.

                26th        Joined HM Minesweepers BRAMBLE, HAZARD and LEDA, Russian destroyers

                                GROZNI, GREMYASCHI and KUIBYSHEV as Local Escort for return Convoy QP13

                                during first stage of passage from Archangel to Iceland.

                                (Note: Ocean Escort comprising HMS ALYNBANK, HM Destroyers INGLEFIELD,

                                INTREPID, ACHATES, VOLUNTEER, Polish destroyer ORP GARLAND,

                                HM Minesweepers HUSSAR, NIGER, HM Corvettes HONEYSUCKLE,

                                HYDERABAD (RIN), STARWORT, Free French ROSELYS, HM Trawlers

                                MADELEINE and ST ELSTAN with HM Submarine TRIDENT also sailed

                                with QP13 which also included HMS ALYNBANK to provided additional

                                defence again air attacks.)

                28th        Detached from QP13 with Local Escort and returned to Archangel.

                                (Note: This convoy entered a British minefield off Iceland in poor visibility on 4th July

                                and as a result HMS NIGER and five mercantiles from the convoy were sunk)


July                         Deployed for minesweeping operations in North Russia

to August              (Note: Russian Convoy operations were suspended following a reappraisal of the

                                defence requirements and political repercussions after the tragic passage of

                                PQ17. See above references.)

                                Nominated with HMS BRAMBLE and HMS LEDA for return to UK



                13th        Joined HMS BRAMBLE and HMS LEDA for return passage to Loch Ewe as part of

                                Ocean Escort for return Convoy QP14.

                                (Note: This convoy also included ships carrying survivors from PQ17 and ships

                                which had survived the grievous attacks resulting from the decision to

                                scatter that convoy.)

                                Other ships in the Ocean escort were:

                                HM Auxiliary AA Ships ALYNBANK, PALOMARES and POZARICA,

                                HM Destroyers BLANKNEY, MIDDLETON, HM Corvettes DIANELLA,

                                LOTUS, POPPY, LA MALOUINE, HM Trawlers AYRSHIRE,

                                LORD AUSTIN, LORD MIDDLETON and NORTHERN GEM.

                17th        Home Fleet major warships joined QP14 to reinforce Ocean Escort.

                20th        Under attack by U-Boats during which HMS LEDA was sunk by U435 with many

                                casualties. HM Destroyer SOMALI was also hit by a torpedo from U703 and was

                                disabled. Taken in tow by HM Destroyer ASHANTI the stricken ship sank in gale

                                conditions on 24th.

                26th        Detached from escort on arrival at Loch Ewe and made independent passage for refit.


October                  Under refit during which Radar Type 271 was fitted.

to November


December              On completion of post refit trials prepared to resume duties in North Russia and took

                                passage to join escort for Russian Convoy JW51A during passage to Kola Inlet.

                15th        Deployed with HM Destroyers, BLANKNEY, CHIDDINGFOLD and LEDBURY,

                                HM Corvettes HONEYSUCKLE, OXLIP, HM Trawlers LADY MADELEINE and

                                NORTHERN WAVE as escort for Russian Convoy JW51A during passage from Loch

                                Ewe to Kola Inlet.

                18th        Home Fleet destroyers joined JW51A to provide Fighting Escort.

                19th        Addition Home Fleet ships including HM Cruisers SHEFFIELD and JAMAICA with

                                destroyer screen joined JW51 escort.

                25th        Detached from JW51A with escort on arrival at Kola Inlet without enemy attacks and

                                resumed detached service in North Russia.


1 9 4 3



                3rd          Deployed with HMS HARRIER for Local Escort of Russian Convoy JW51B for final stage of

                                passage to Kola Inlet.

                4th          Detached from JW51B with HMS HARRIER on arrival at Kola Inlet.

                5th          Deployed for local mine clearance.

                29th        Joined HMS HARRIER for passage to UK as part of escort for return Convoy RA52.

                                (Note: Escort included: HM Destroyers BEAGLE, BULLDOG, FORESTER, ICARUS

                                MATCHLESS, MUSKETEER, OFFA, ONSLAUGHT, ONSLOW and Polish

                                ORP PIORUN, HM Corvettes HONEYSUCKLE, HYDERABAD (RIN),

                                RHODODENDRON and OXLIP. HMS ONSLOW was returning to UK after

                                serious damage during Battle of Barents Sea. See references.)



                9th          Detached from RA52 on arrival at Loch Ewe.

                                (Note: Deployed as SO Escorts when Home Fleet destroyers detached for passage

                                to Scapa Flow.


March                    Deployed in Home Waters.

to September         (Note: Ship may have been refitted in this period. To be confirmed)



                20th        Return passage to Kola Inlet.

                                Nominated for escort of mercantiles which had remained in North Russia during

                                the period that Russian Convoys were suspended (Operation FR)

                                Passage to Kola Inlet as part of escort with other Home Fleet ships to collect mercantiles.

                                (Note: Other ships taking part in FR included HM Destroyers MAHRATTA,

                                MATCHLESS, MILNE, MUSKETEER, SAUMAREZ, SCOURGE,

                                SAVAGE, SCORPION, WESTCOTT, HM Corvette EGLANTINE and

                                HM Minesweeper HARRIER.

                28th        Resumed detached service in North Russia.



                1st           Deployed with HMS HARRIER, and two Soviet destroyers including GROMKI

                                as Local Escort for return Convoy RA54A during initial stage of passage to UK

                                from Kola Inlet.

                                (Note: Ocean Escort comprised HM Minesweepers JASON and BRITOMART

                                (returning to UK from detached service in North Russia), HM Corvette

                                EGLANTINE, HM Destroyers MAHRATTA, MATCHLESS, MILNE,

                                MUSKETEER, SAVAGE, SAUMAREZ, SCORPION, SCOURGE and


                3rd          Detached from RA54A and returned to Kola Inlet with Local Escort.

                26th        Deployed with HMS HUSSAR and HM Trawler LORD AUSTIN as Local Escort

                                for return convoy RA54B for initial stage of passage from Archangel to Loch Ewe.

                28th        Detached from RA54B with HMS HUSSAR and returned to Archangel.


December              Deployed for local minesweeping, patrol and convoy escort in Barents Sea.

                22nd       Provided Local Escort for return Convoy RA55A for first stage of passage from Kola

                                Inlet to Loch Ewe.

                                (Note: Other escorts on sailing were HM Destroyers BEAGLE, WESTCOTT,

                                METEOR, MILNE, MATCHLESS, MUSKETEER, OPPORTUNE,

                                VIRAGO, ASHANTI and Canadian ATHABASKAN )

                                HM Corvettes DIANELLA, POPPY and Norwegian ACANTHUS

                31st         Detached from RA55A and returned to Kola Inlet.


1 9 4 4


January                  Passage to Loch Ewe to join escort for Russian Convoy JW56B.

                22nd       Sailed from Loch Ewe with HM Destroyers WRESTLER*, WHITEHALL, WESTCOTT,

                                HM Sloop CYGNET, HM Corvettes HONEYSUCKLE* and RHODODENDRON,

                                HM Minesweepers HYDRA* and ONYX *as escort for JW56B.

                26th        Ships of Local Escort (*) detached when HM Destroyers MAHRATTA, MILNE,

                                MUSKETEER, OPPORTUNE and SCOURGE joined as reliefs.

                29th        Escort reinforced by destroyers from Kola Inlet which had escorted the previous




                1st           Detached from JW56B with destroyers from Kola Inlet, except HMS HARDY which

                                was hit by a torpedo from U278 and had to be sunk.. Took passage to Archangel

                3rd          Joined HMS GLEANER for Local Escort of return Convoy RA56 during

                                initial stage of passage from Kola Inlet to Loch Ewe.

                5th          Detached from RA56 and returned to Kola Inlet.

                                (Note: Other ships in escort on sailing were HM Destroyers WESTCOTT.

                                WHITEHALL, HM Sloop CYGNET, HM Corvettes DIANELLA,

                                OXLIP, POPPY and RHODODENDRON as Close Escort with the

                                Home Fleet destroyers.



                2nd         Joined return Convoy RA57 with HM Minesweeper GLEANER as part of escort for

                                passage to UK on completion of detached service in North Russia

                                (Note: Other escorts for RA57 Ocean Passage were HM Destroyers BEAGLE, BOADICEA,

                                KEPPEL, WALKER, HM Corvettes BLUEBELL, CAMELLIA, LOTUS

                                and RHODODENDRON. Cover was provided by HM Cruiser BLACK PRINCE

                                and HM Aircraft Carrier CHASER with screen of Home Fleet destroyers.

                9th          Detached from RA57 and took passage to Scapa Flow with HMS BEAGLE

                                (Note: Only one ship of the convoy was lost and three U-Boats were sunk, two by

                                aircraft from HMS CHASER.)

                                Passage to rejoin 1st Minesweeping Flotilla.


April                       Nominated for minesweeping support of allied landings in Normandy

                                (Operation NEPTUNE).

                                Allocated to Force S based at Portsmouth for mine clearance of Approach

                                Channel 9 with ships of Flotilla.

                                Carried night minesweeping exercises with Flotilla prior to deployment with ships

                                of Force S for Final exercises with Forces J, G and U.

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

                                GLEANER, HALCYON, HARRIER (SO), HUSSAR, JASON,

                                SALAMANDER and SPEEDWELL.)


May                        Took part in preparatory exercises including and Exercise FABIUS series with


                                (Note: For details of naval activities before and during NEPTUNE see

                                LANDINGS IN NORMANDY June 1944 (HMSO) and OPERATION

                                NEPTUNE by K. Edwards. For specific information about minesweeping

                                activities see THEY LED THE WAY by J Williams.

                                Three Motor Launches and four Isles-Class Danlayers were attached to

                                the Flotilla for this specialised operation.)

                                On completion of defence exercise deployed in Solent for briefing and



June                        Deployed at Portsmouth for briefing and preparations for minesweeping of Channel

                                9 in advance of Assault convoys taking troops of 3rd Infantry Bde to SWORD


                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 the area between Approach Channels 5 and 6 and

                                carrying out interception patrols defence patrols off Eastern Task Force area.

                                Deployed for escort of Channel convoy as required.


July                         Channel minesweeping and convoy defence in continuation.

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

                                Nominated for refit in commercial shipyard at Lowestoft and took passage.


August                  (Note: This ship was therefore not with the Flotilla, which was subjected to air

                                attacks by RAF TYPHOON aircraft using rockets, whilst carrying out a

                                minesweeping operation off Arromanches on 27th. HMS BRITOMART

                                and HMS HUSSAR were sunk by the rocket attacks, HMS SALAMANDER

                                damaged beyond repair and scrapped, and HMS JASON damaged.


September             On completion of post refit trials resumed service with Flotilla.

                                (Note: Other ships of Flotilla were HM Minesweepers HARRIER, HALCYON,

                                SPEEDWELL, GLEANER, HAZARD, SHARPSHOOTER and JASON.

                                Deployed for Channel minesweeping.


October                  Transferred with Flotilla to carry out minesweeping off north east France and

                                Belgium, and based at Ostend.


November              Minesweeping deployment in southern North Sea in continuation

to December          (Note: HM Danlayer COLSAY was sunk by a human torpedo (NEGER) off

                                Ostend during these operations on 2nd.November. Provision of clear

                                approach Channels to ports in Europe was an essential to passage of

                                military convoys supporting allied advance in the Low countries.)


1 9 4 5


January                  Transferred with Flotilla to Harwich for minesweeping in southern North Sea.

to April                  (Note: During this period extensive enemy minelaying was being carried out by

                                submarines, aircraft and small surface craft


May                        After VE Day deployed with ships of Flotilla for clearance of allied and German

to July                    mines in North Sea and Channel areas.


August                  Nominated for future deployment as a Survey Ship and Paid-off


P o s t   W a r   N o t e s


HMS SEAGULL was taken in hand at Rotterdam for the conversion to her new role in September and two months later went to Chatham for completion of this work, including RN specialist hydrographic equipment in HM Dockyard. On completion in April 1946 the ship recommissioned for surveying duties. From June onwards she carried out surveys in Home Waters until again Paid-off and then reduced to Reserve Status in March 1951. She was laid-up at Devonport and towed to Leith in 1955 for used as the Drill Ship for the RNVR Division. Placed on the Disposal List in 1956 she was sold to BISCO for breaking-up by Demelweek and Redding at Plymouth and taken in tow from Leith on  1st May that year.





Link to

by Bill Burn



back to Contents List
or Naval-History.Net

revised 31/10/10
further editing and formatting is required