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

HMS NIGER (N 73) - Halcyon-class Minesweeper

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

Halcyon-class, name not known (NP/Mark Teadham, click to enlarge)

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HALCYON-Class Minesweeper ordered from JS White at Cowes on 5 February 1935 with  sister ship to be named HMS SALAMANDER.. Her Propulsion machinery was to be supplied this shipbuilder. The ship was laid down on 1st April 1935 and launched on 29 January 1936 as the 6th RN warship to carry this name which had been introduced for a 5th Rate in 1759. The last warship to carry the name was a Torpedo Gunboat built in 1892, converted for use as a minesweeper in 1909 and sunk by a U-Boat off Deal in November 1914. Her build was completed on 4th June 1936.  During WW2 after a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in February 1942 this ship was adopted by the civil community of Swadlingcote, Derbyshire .


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


ATLANTIC 1941-2 - ARCTIC 1942


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

On a field Red a double triangle Green within it a

Royal crown Gold.

(Note: The double triangle represents the Seal of David.)



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                  Deployed with HM Minesweepers HALCYON, HARRIER, HUSSAR, LEDA SALAMANDER,

                                GOSSAMER, SPEEDWELL and SPHINX in the 5th Minesweeping Flotilla.

                                Allocated War Station at Dover.


September             Passage to Dover for minesweeping duties.

                                (Note: Extensive British minelaying operation were planned for establishment of the Channel

                                Mine Barrier.)

                                Deployed at Dover.


October                  Dover deployment in continuation.


November              Transferred with Flotilla to Grimsby for minesweeping and convoy defence duties in North Sea.

                                Deployed at Grimsby.


December              Note: Extensive enemy minelaying using magnetic mines was being carried out in the North Sea

.                               See ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett and the Naval Staff


                                Under repair at Chatham


1 9 4 0


January                  On completion took passage to Rosyth to resume minesweeping in northern North Sea.

                                (Note: Flotilla had been transferred to Rosyth in continuation of North Sea duties

                                HMS HALCYON and HMS HUSSAR remained at Grimsby as part of 4th Minesweeping



February                Deployed in Moray Firth with Flotilla.

                3rd          Under air attacks in snow storm 15 miles north of Kinnairds Head.

                                (Note: HMS SPHINX was sunk during these attacks.

                                Convoy escort was also carried out during this period.)

                21st         Investigated report of submarine in position SE of Duncansby Head from aircraft.

                                Depth charge attack carried out in vicinity of oil slick.

                                (Note: This was later classified as having probably been damaged.)


March                    North Sea deployment in continuation.

                                (Note: Anti-submarine operations were carried out in this period.)


April                       Transferred to 4th Minesweeping Flotilla with HMS SALAMANDER in place

                                of HM Minesweepers HALCYON and HUSSAR.

                                North Sea duties in continuation with new Flotilla


May                        Deployed in North Sea with 4th Flotilla

                20th        Under dive-bombing attack of Gravelines and sustained some fire damage.

                                Detached with HMS SALAMANDER and took passage to Dover for the

                                evacuation of allied troops from Dunkirk (Operation DYNAMO).

                28th        Deployed at Dunkirk with HM Minesweepers SHARPSHOOTER, LEDA,

                                GOSSAMER, SKIPJACK, HALCYON, HEBE and SPEEDWELL from

                                1st, 5th and 6th Flotillas and HMS SALAMANDER.



                1st           After several trips with rescued troops made final trip to beaches and rescued party of sailors

                                who were adrift in a lifeboat.

                                Returned to beaches and embarked soldiers from Guards Regiments and Kings Own Scottish

                                Border Regiment.

                2nd         Released from DYNAMO and took passage to Grimsby for repair of defects.

                14th        Under repair..



                8th          On completion resumed minesweeping and escort duties in North Sea with Flotilla.

                30th        Sustained damage in collision with HM Trawler LAUREL in North Sea

                                Taken in hand for repair in commercial shipyard in Grimsby.


August                  On completion resumed Flotilla duties in North Sea.


September             Nominated for special duties in connection with anti-invasion measures.

                                Took passage to Thames area to take part in Operation LUCID which was intended to place

                                fireships in French harbours.

                25th        Deployed with HM Minesweeper ELGIN as escort for tanker WAR NAWAB during passage

                                to Boulogne.

                                Recalled from LUCID during passage due to weather conditions.

                26th        Resumed Flotilla duties based at Harwich for escort and mine clearance.


October                  North Sea duties in continuation.



                8th          Assisted damaged minesweeper ELGIN which had been damaged by an acoustic mine during

                                minesweep ahead of coastal convoy off Suffolk.


December              Flotilla duties in North Sea in continuation.

                                Nominated for refit

                30th        Taken in hand at commercial shipyard in Grimsby.


1 9 4 1


January                  Under refit



                21st         On completion of post refit trials resumed Flotilla duties in North Sea.


March                    North Sea deployment in continuation.

                                Nominated for service based in Iceland with 6th Minesweeping Flotilla.



                5th          Passage to Iceland with HM Minesweeper SPEEDWELL to join Iceland Escort Force

                                On arrival deployed for convoy escort and anti-submarine patrol based in Iceland.


May                        Atlantic duties in continuation.

                                (Note: Duties included support of convoys under threat during Atlantic passage and


June                        Atlantic deployment based in Iceland in continuation

                29th        Deployed with HM Catapult Armed Ship MAPLIN, HM Minesweeper SPEEDWELL, two

                                destroyers, two corvettes and three trawlers in support of passage of inward Convoy HX133

                                under sustained attack by U-Boats.


July                         Iceland duty including detached service for special operation.

                12th        Detached for special duties with HM Minesweepers SALAMANDER. HALCYON and


                                (Note: This may have been a preparatory investigation of route to be used for convoys to

                                and from North Russia which began the journey from Iceland. or an anti-submarine


                15th        Deployed at Aberdeen for installation of equipment.



                3rd          Under repair in Dundee



                28th        Resumed minesweeping duties after post repair trials



                6th          Taken in hand for repair in Dundee


November              Under repair



                15th        Nominated for detached service in North Russia for local escort and minesweeping duties in

                                Barents Sea area.


1 9 4 2


January                  Under refit

                                (Note: This included “Arcticisation” during which bow structure was strengthened and

                                additional insulation provided for deckheads and internal bulkheads.

                                Radar Type 271 may have been fitted prior to this detached service. For details of

                                development and use of radar by RN see RADAR AT SEA by D Howse.)


February                On completion of Post Refit Trials resumed operational service.

                14th        Joined Ocean Escort as Senior Officer for passage of Russian Convoy PQ11 to Murmansk

                                with HMS HUSSAR, HM Corvette OXLIP, three

                                Trawlers, HM Destroyers AIREDALE and MIDDLETON.

                17th        Trawlers detached and HM Corvette SWEETBRIAR joined PQ11.

                22nd       HM Cruiser NIGERIA joined PQ11 escort with two Soviet destroyers for Local Escort into


                23rd        Commenced duties in North Russia.



                21st         Deployed with HM Minesweepers GOSSAMER, HARRIER, HUSSAR, SPEEDWELL

                                and a Soviet destroyer as Local Escort for return Convoy QP9

                23rd        Detached from QP9 and returned to Murmansk to resume minesweeping and anti-submarine


                                (Note: For full details of all Russian convoy passages with names of the escorts and

                                mercantiles see CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by RA Ruegg, THE RUSSIAN CONVOYS

                                by B Schoefield, CONVOY ! by P Kemp and ARCTIC CONVOYS by R Woodman.)



                18th        Deployed with HM Minesweepers GOSSAMER, HARRIER and HUSSAR to join two

                                Soviet destroyers for Local Escort of Russian Convoy PQ14 into Murmansk from Reykjavik.

                19th        Detached from PQ14 on arrival and resumed local duties.

                28th        Joined return Convoy QP11 as Local Escort for passage from Murmansk with two Soviet

                                destroyers, HM Minesweepers GOSSAMER, HARRIER and HUSSAR.

                29th        Detached from QP11 with Local Escort on relief by Ocean Escort for passage to Reykjavik.

                                (Note: The Ocean Escort for Home Fleet destroyers and Corvettes was joined later by HM

                                Cruiser EDINBURGH which was sunk on 2nd May with a large cargo of bullion

                                after being badly damaged by submarine torpedo on 28th April. See above



May                        Local minesweeping and patrol duties in Barents Sea continued.



June                        Nominated for duty with Ocean Escort of return Convoy QP13

                26th        Joined HM Minesweeper HUSSAR, HM Destroyers INGLEFIELD, INTREPID,

                                ACHATES, VOLUNTEER and Polish destroyer ORP GARLAND, four corvettes,

                                HM Auxiliary AA Ship ALYNBANK and two trawlers Ocean Escort for QP13.



                4th          Detached from QP13 with HMS HUSSAR, Free French Corvette ROSELYS, HM Trawlers

                                LADY MADELAINE and ST ELSTAN as escort for 19 ships of PQ13 for passage to


                5th          Detached from Iceland section of QP13 with HMS HUSSAR to make landfall prior to

                                convoy passage through gap in British minefield off Iceland.

                                (Note: This detachment was made due to appalling weather conditions including fog which

                                restricted visibility to less than one mile.

                                Detonated mine in British field and sank very quickly. 80 of the ship’s company including

                                the captain, as well as 39 survivors from the cruiser EDINBURGH lost their lives. Ships of

                                the Iceland section of PQ13 then ran into this minefield and five were sunk after striking

                                mines. Only 183 survivors from these ships were rescued out of the 600 personnel carried.

                                Rescue was carried out by the corvette ROSELYS and the two trawlers from the escort which

                                entered the dangerous mined area at great risk.

                                (Casualty List - note on casualties)





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