Halcyon Class Minesweepers Halcyon Class Ships
Friendly Fire Attack on HMS Hussar
 
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HMS Hussar - Halcyon Class Minesweeper

Seconds after the attack on BRITOMART the Typhoons descended on HUSSAR. Her commander was Lieutenant‑Commander John Nash, MBE, RNR. 

'The first thing we saw was BRITOMART being attacked and badly hit, then it was our turn. On seeing they were RAF planes we tried to fire the recognition signal but the Very pistol jammed. Rockets hit us just forward of the wardroom and after end of the engine‑room and we lost communication with the engine‑room.' 

Then more Typhoons swept in, cannon fire raking the bridge and the main deck. The navigating officer was killed instantly by a shell through the chest as he stood alongside the bridge compass. Commander Nash was wounded in both legs and severely in the right arm, the elbow joint being blown off. 

'We could not stop the engines and we could not steer. There was an emergency engine stop lever in the cross alleyway forward of the wardroom and a torpedo rating, wounded in one foot, left the bridge to try to pull it over. He must have succeeded as we lost way and came to a stop. The ship immediately started to list and men jumped into the water.' 

Leading‑Stoker Hal Booth and his shipmate 'Nobby' Clarke had been up on deck sunbathing when the attack came: 

'We were stretched out under the four‑inch gun forward, Port side. I had dozed off but woke up suddenly at a strange noise and saw the sweeper ahead of us (BRITOMART) surrounded by a mass of little waterspouts with a plane diving on her. We jumped up and ran ‑ there were men running on all sides. As we dashed down the ladder to the messdeck the action bells sounded and I ran to my action station in the engine room, but before I could get there the whole engine room area was aflame after being hit by rockets and in the passage outside a lot of washing hung up to dry was burning fiercely. Grabbing an extinguisher I sprayed the washing and put out the flames, then tried to get into the engine room. Inside all was utter chaos with men lying dead and others terribly injured, one man with both legs smashed. In the acrid fumes and a horrible stench I helped to carry casualties to the messdeck.'

Coder Stan Timothy had also been sunbathing when the planes swooped. 

'There was a roar and a loud crash. I jumped up and saw the after deck smoking, then with a terrific roar one Typhoon after another attacked from aft almost mast high. My telegraphist was hit in the foot and I tried to bandage up the wound with my vest. I saw Leading Seaman Tommy Merrigan run up to the bridge deck to try to open up with an Oerlikon, but he was killed along with others. I got down to the wireless cabin to report. The PO telegraphist made a rapid signal that we were being attacked by friendly aircraft. Just afterwards HUSSAR gave a tremendous shudder and started to heel over to port. The degaussing and electrical systems were damaged and I  think we had now been hit by a magnetic mine. We ‑ the wireless staff ‑ managed to get up to the upper deck which was now at an angle of forty five degrees and as some of the upper superstructure was breaking away I made for the starboard rail. Climbing up the sloping deck I noticed that a hatch cover was moving and was able to help those inside by loosening a spring wire which was fouling it. A head appeared and a voice said, "About time too!" I slid down the starboard side and swam away with others of the crew.' 

After the explosion from the mine Stoker Booth left the carnage of the engine‑room.

'Nobby and I climbed the ladder on the port side and with difficulty went up a swinging ladder to the four inch gun deck, from where Nobby wanted to jump into the sea, but it was the side nearest the water and I told him not to as the ship would capsize on top of him. We ran up the sloping deck to the other side. The ship was listing so far over that I was afraid we would hit the side instead of the sea, but we had to do it and just made the water. I went down, down, then swam back to the surface with lungs bursting, to find Nobby close to me. Remembering all we had heard about the suction of sinking ships we swam desperately away.' 

Commander Nash was one of the last, if not the last, to leave the doomed ship.

'Because of my wounds I was not feeling too good. When the planes attacked I was not wearing a lifebelt, so now I took a self‑inflatable one from a dead officer and when the bridge rail was level with the sea, stepped into it, but at that very moment HUSSAR decided to turn turtle and part of the rigging caught me across the back and took me down with it. Luckily, somehow or other I got free and kicked my way to the surface. My lifebelt failed to inflate itself but I managed to keep afloat.' 

Petty Officer Dennis (Red) Morriss...

... was one of the survivors of the Hussar after the friendly fire incident. He had previously served on HMS Onslow and was on board during the 'Hipper' attack. He didn't speak about the horror of the war much - and my mother is adamant he had been sunk once before being on Hussar (which he never told me about) though I have not been able to check out the details of which ship.  He served mainly on the Atlantic and Russian convoys after joining up in 1941 aged 18. 

After the Hussar was sunk I do know that he held up his best friend in the water for a long time only to find out that he had been killed by the shrapnel when the rescue boat arrived.  He himself suffered all the rest of his life from cramps caused by shrapnel in his legs. Like the other survivors he was told to shut up and was quickly transferred to Australia travelling there on HMS Ranee, one of the MAC carriers.  He spend the rest of the war there, was offered a commission in the RAN but turned it down and returned home.
(
Source: Richard K Morriss - son)

 

Don Rogers

I was on watch in the wireless office when we were attacked. Without any warning we heard gunfire, and shells (rockets) hitting the ship. We could not communicate with the bridge, which was a shambles and the Skipper badly wounded. Within minutes we began listing and our Chief E.R.A. burst into the office telling us to get out, "the bastard's going down. 

I scrambled up to boat deck, saw I was on the wrong side (the side she was listing to) and jumped over the side and swam like hell to get clear of the mast and rigging. We had no orders to abandon ship. 

I saw the trawler Colsay, stationary, about half a mileaway. Being a reasonably strong swimmer I was able to reach her. I then discovered why she was not under way. In taking evasive action, she had wrapped her sweeps around her rudder. The crew were cutting away the sweeps, but had enough sense to broach a cask of rum. 

During this operation, the German shore batteries opened up. They had left us alone during the previous days sweeping. Fortunately, they scored no hits. We were landed on Mulberry harbour at Arromanches and taken to a Royal Marine camp in an army truck. While passing through the village we had abuse shouted at us by the locals. They thought we were German survivors. (Source: Letter from Don Rogers April 1993).
 

HUSSAR sank by the stern with her bows remaining above water. It had all happened in twelve minutes.

 

Wreck of HMS Hussar - Halcyon Class Minesweeper

Sketch made by divers of HUSSAR on the sea bed in 2002

Position 4940 857 N, 0005'960 W  www.grieme.org 

 

HMS HUSSAR
56 Officers and men killed on 27th August 1944 (39 wounded)
 

LAST NAME

FIRST NAMES

RANK

SERVICE NUMBER

AGE

FAMILY DETAILS

ANTHONY

 Raymond Joseph

 Stoker 1st Class DSM

 D/KX 133001

32

 

BUTCHER

 Roland

 Stoker 1st Class

 D/KX 527071

18

Son of Harry Butcher, and of Ada Butcher, of Highcliffe, Christchurch, Hampshire

CAWKER

 Robert Richard

 Stoker 1st Class

 D/KX 524390

 

 

CHALMERS

 William Wilson

 Ordinary Seaman

 D/JX 559243

 

 

CLARKE

 James Frederick

 Able Seaman

 D/SSX 27247

23

Son of Frederick and Elsie Clarke, of Manchester; nephew of Miss A Maguire, of Manchester

COATES

 Robert

 Stoker 1st Class

 D/KX 607673

37

Son of Robert and Norah Coates; husband of Evelyn Coates, of Marton, Blackpool, Lancashire

CONEY

 William Harold

 Stoker 1st Class

 D/KX 179080

19

Son of Albert and Betsy Ann Coney, of Southport, Lancashire

CONWAY

 Cornelius

 Stoker 2nd Class

 D/KX 663962

19 

Son of Michael and Sarah Conway of Liverpool

COUNSELL

 Stanley Seward

 Able Seaman

 D/JX 421782

18

Son of Seward Stanley Counsell and Alice M Counsell, of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset

CROSS

 Hedley

 Ordinary Seaman

 D/JX 707881

18

Son of Edward Cross, and of Olive A E Cross, of Withernsea, Yorkshire

CULLETON

 William Charles

 Ordinary Signalman

 D/JX 612079

19

Son of Elizabeth Culleton, of Liverpool

CUSHION

 Patrick

 Steward

 D/LX 576162

18

Son of Patrick and Mary Ann Cushion, of Liverpool

DARE

 Kenneth Stanley

 Leading Supply Assistant

 D/MX 64714

27

Son of Robert John and Mabel Dare; husband of Doris Vera Dare, of Brucefield Dunfermline, Fife

DAVIES

 Trevor James

 Stoker 1st Class

 D/KX 107333

 

 

DENHAM

 Douglas James

 Steward

 D/LX 24988

27

 

DIXON

 Arthur Edward

 Stoker 2nd Class

 D/KX 598449

33

 

DIXON

 Geoffrey Francis

 Able Seaman

 D/JX 419894

19

Son of Harold and Renee Nancy Dixon, of Sheffield

DODWELL

 Thomas

 Ordinary Seaman

 D/JX 649965

29

Son of William John and Jane Dodwell; husband of Margaret Elizabeth Dodwell (nee Pollard), of Bomere Heath, Shropshire

EATON

 Leslie

 Ordinary Seaman

 D/JX 649587

18

Son of Lillian Eaton, of Harpurhey, Lancashire

EDWARDS

 Arthur

 Petty Officer Stoker

 D/KX 77218

36

Son of Robert and Elizabeth Edwards; husband of Ann Allan Edwards, of Rosyth, Fife

EDWARDS

 George

 Leading Stoker

 D/KX 96319

29

 

GREY

 Oliver

 Stoker 1st Class

 D/KX 165535

38

Son of George and Olive Grey

GRIFFITHS

 Daniel

 Assistant Steward

 D/LX 614673

 

 

HAGGER

 Howard Brian

 Ordinary Seaman

 D/JX 649583

17

Son of Arthur Frederick and May Beatrice Hagger, of Broughton, Salford, Lancashire

HAND

 Frederick Leonard

 Petty Officer  Mentioned in Despatches

 D/JX 187648

23

Son of Mr and Mrs Herbert Leonard Hand; husband of B Anne Hand, of Acomb, Yorkshire

HIBBERT

 Roy

 Able Seaman

 D/JX 553951

19

Son of Herbert Hibbert, and of Martha Hibbert, of Harpurhey, Lancashire

HILLS

 Charles

 Stoker 2nd Class

 D/KX 598469

19

Son of Alfred and Ada Hills, of Brasted, Kent

HOWARD

 Joseph Leslie

 Able Seaman  Mentioned in Despatches

 D/JX 256404

33

Son of Joseph Howard, and of Olive Gertrude Howard, of Grimsby, Lincolnshire

JOLLIFFE

 George Henry

 Leading Stoker

 D/KX 93520

29

Son of Thomas Henry and Annie Jolliffe; husband of Winifred Jolliffe, of Heavitree, Exeter

KENNEDY

 John

 Ordinary Seaman

 D/JX 649525

19

Son of George and Robina Kennedy, of Troqueer, Kirkcudbrightshire

LATHAM

 Stanley Herbert Charles

 Able Seaman

 D/JX 182621

26

Son of Henry George and Rebecca Florence Latham, of Stratford, Essex

LIND

 William Fenny Hird

 Shipwright 2nd Class

 D/MX 54511

31

Son of John and Jane Lind; husband of Irene Hilda Gertrude Lind, of Hull

LOWDEN

 Alfred Reginald

 Petty Officer Stoker

 D/KX 85165

28

Husband of Dorothy May Lowden, of Ivybridge, Devon

MADDEN

 Dominic

 Stoker 1st Class

 D/KX 525986

41

Son of John and Kate Madden; husband of Jessie Madden, of Sowerby Bridge, Yorkshire

MASSEY-MOBBERLEY

 Jack

 Petty Officer Motor Mechanic

 P/M 99019

21

Son of George and Hannah Massey-Mobberley, of Brereton, Staffordshire

MERRIGAN

 William Joseph

 Leading Seaman

 D/JX 285658

 

 

MOORE

 Horace

 Stoker 1st Class

 D/KX 525369

19

Son of Alfred and Elizabeth Moore, of Great Wyrley, Staffordshire

MORRIS

 Frank

 Petty Officer Stoker

 D/KX 89560

36

Son of William and Margaret Ann Morris; husband of Rose Irene Morris, of Ernesettle, Plymouth

MURPHY

 Thomas Patrick

 Stoker 1st Class

 D/KX 161119

 

 

O'BRIEN

 Jeremiah

 Chief Stoker DSM

 D/K 65710

37

Son of James and Mary O'Brien; husband of Anne O'Brien, of Heston, Middlesex

OLIVER

 Robert Nutter

 Stoker 2nd Class

 D/KX 564600

20

Son of John George and Jane Oliver, of Meadowfield, Co.Durham

PALMER

 Andrew

 Able Seaman

 D/JX 284770

 

 

PATEY

 Sydney Tuckerman

 Petty Officer Stoker

 D/KX 88010

27

Son of John and Rosetta Patey; husband of Lillian Violet Patey, of Enfield, Middlesex

PLUMBLEY

 Ronald

 Leading Cook (S)

 D/MX 94262

 

 

RAMSEY

 James Carrie

 Leading Wireman

 C/KX 97991

 

Son of James Carrie and Margaret Ramsey; husband of Irene Dorothy Ramsey

RENTELL

 Donald Alec James

 Leading Steward

 D/LX 24228

24

Son of Frederick Charles and Bertha Rentell, of Walworth, London

ROBERTS

 Harold

 Lieutenant

 

41

Son of J B Roberts, and of Elizabeth Roberts, of Withington, Manchester.  B.Sc.

SANDELL

 William George Frederick

 Able Seaman

 D/JX 207129

42

Son of William George and Agnes Melita Sandell; husband of Helen Lydia Sandell, of Dagenham, Essex

SPEIGHT

 William

 Able Seaman

 D/JX 565496

26

Son of William and Florence Speight, of Swinton, Yorkshire

TALBOT

 Jack

 Ordinary Seaman

 D/JX 671790

18

Son of Edith Talbot, of Radcliffe, Lancashire

VOWDEN

 Gerald Bertram

 Ordinary Signalman

 D/JX 424271

19

Son of Joseph William and Alice May Vowden, of Shirley, Southampton

WALKER

 Frank
(Mick)

 Ordinary Seaman

 D/JX 570763

19

Son of Arnold and Edith Walker, of Rotherham, Yorkshire

WOOD

 Albert John Edward

 Petty Officer Stoker  Mentioned in Despatches

 D/KX 79665

35

Son of Albert and Frances Alice Wood; husband of Dorothy Freda Wood, of Ipplepen, Devon

WYND

 David Lornie

 Able Seaman

 D/JX 395374

20

Son of John and Agnes Lornie Wynd, of Auchenblae, Kincardineshire

BEECHING

 Norman Matthew

 Lieutenant (E)

 

40

Son of Capt. John William Beeching and Jane Isabella Beeching; husband of Catherine Alderdice Beeching of Woolton, Liverpool. 

COX

 Robert Arthur Neville

 Lieutenant DSC

 

27

Son of Dr. Arthur Neville Cox M.D. and Winifred Alice Neville Cox of Brighton, Sussex. Awarded the King's Gold Medal, H.M.S. Worcester 1935.

 

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This site was last updated 17 Januar 2012