Halcyon Class Minesweepers Report of SBNO (extracts) - September 1942
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Source: ADM 199/1104


On 13th September a signal from Rear Admiral (D) was intercepted from which it was learned that the convoy had been attacked by 37 torpedo bombers, and 10 more ships had been lost. Previous losses were unknown here at this time. Intercepted signals also indicated that large numbers of U-boats were operating in the vicinity,  and that no renewed attacks by aircraft had caused no further losses. But on 18th September, Malcolm reported that an attack by high level and two waves of torpedo bombers had been made in the vicinity of Cape Kanin, resulting in the loss of SS Kentucky. At least four aircraft had been destroyed. The Russian Naval Staff hope to be able to salve the cargo from the Kentucky.

On 19th September, SBNO Archangel's signal arrived giving news of the arrival at Dvina Bar of the convoy, less 13 ships lost. Heavy weather at the time prevented the convoy from proceeding up river.

On 20th September the convoy was still weather bound in Dvina Roads, but that five ships had passed up harbour, and that it was hoped to berth the remainder on the following day. An attack during the day by 24 Ju88's had caused  no damage and two aircraft were shot down.

The following day, news was received that 24 ships had been berthed and were discharging. Three ships of the convoy and HMS Daneman (whose coal had become exhausted) were aground in the vicinity of the bar. Sporadic and ineffective bombing attacks were made by the enemy on this day.

The arrangements made by the Rear Admiral (D) in having the survivors from the ships sunk in PQ18 transferred at sea to the homegoing HM Ships of the covering force was most welcome, as it disposed of the inevitable difficulties of housing and feeding them ashore at Archangel for an indefinite period, and of their return passage to the United Kingdom in improvised accommodation in merchant ships of QP15.

During 25/26th September the three merchant ships which had grounded were refloated and berthed up harbour. HMS Daneman has not yet been refloated (7th Oct) but salvage work on her is proceeding, and I am informed it is hoped to refloat her undamaged.

There were several air raids an the Archangel area during the last nights of the month, but these were mainly centred on the city, and were so wide of the discharging places at Bakharitsa and Ekonomia as to show either lack of skill or determination on the part of the bombers, especially as each attack was preceded by a reconnaissance aircraft earlier in the day.


The convoy of 18 ships sailed from Archangel  on 13th September, but SS Ironclad returned to harbour   with defective steering gear. The ocean escort consisted of 2 escorts, 3 fleet minesweepers, the A.A. ships Palomares and Pozarica, 3 corvettes and 4 trawlers. Local escort was provided by 4 fleet minesweepers.

SS Tobruk, loaded with apetite, left Murmansk on 8th September for Archangel and joined the convoy. She had been under repair for 6 months after damage sustained in bombing attacks.


On 6th September Group Captain Hopps, accompanied by Wing Commander Crosbie,  arrived in my Headquarters so as to coordinate the direction of British Forces operating in North Russia during the passage of the convoy.

The Hamden aircraft which flew from the United Kingdom to Vaenga aerodrome in readiness to act against enemy surface forces during the passage of the convoys are still at Vaenga. Two of these aircraft, as far as is known, have been destroyed in bombing attacks on the aerodrome, and four have suffered superficial damage. 


As reported in Enemy Intelligence report dated 18th September, a Russian M/S trawler met with an obstruction in 67.27N, 41.20E where HM Ships Bramble and Seagull carried out a successful attack on a U-boat (8th July 1942).


Several hundred tons of provisions have arrived in PQ18 and are being retained in Archangel as the initial reserve for survivors, HM Ships and Merchant Ships. This unexpectedly large consignment together with the measures now in hand should establish fully adequate reserves in North Russia to meet all emergencies.

Clothing: Half of the 500 sets of naval clothing, including warm gear, being sent out in PQ18 was unfortunately lost. Replacement has been requested.

Douglas Fisher Rear Admiral

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