Halcyon Class Minesweepers

HMS Halcyon

Halcyon Pre-War
Halcyon 1939
Halcyon 1940
Halcyon 1941
Halcyon 1942
Halcyon 1943
Halcyon 1944
Halcyon 1945
Halcyon Post-War
Halcyon Crew


HMS Halcyon - Halcyon Class Minesweeper
HMS Halcyon (Wright & Logan 10323)

Summary of History

Badge HMS Halcyon - Halcyon Class MinesweeperHMS HALCYON (J42) was the first of the 21 HALCYON Class ships constructed. She was laid down on 27th March 1933 at J. Brown, Clydebank and was commissioned 18th March 1934. She spent much of the next few years at Portland and Alexandria in the Med carrying out trials with later HALCYON Class ships (see Specifications for details). She started her war at Harwich, clearing mines in the Channel. At the evacuation of Dunkirk she transported 2,271 troops until she had to be withdrawn due to damage following air attack. It was at Dunkirk that two crew members were killed, HALCYON's  only casualties of the war. After repairs she reverted to mine clearance off the east coast where she was subjected to almost daily air attack. She was badly damaged by a mine explosion in September 1940, her stem was under water by the time she dry docked. Repairs took until July 1941. HALCYON then sailed for Iceland where she provided A/S protection. Building on this experience she then sailed for North Russia with the first convoy to sail to Archangel. She remained in North Russia to keep the ports clear of mines and to escort the incoming and departing convoys. Returning to UK in October 1941 she was fitted out for arctic service in London. In December 1941 she sailed with three other HALCYONS as part of Operation Anklet, the landing of commandos on the Lofoten Islands. Although due to sail with PQ8, damage to her starboard shaft and serious structural damage in a storm meant she had to return to Aberdeen for repairs.

Upon completion of the repairs in June 1942 she sailed with PQ17 for Russia. When the convoy was ordered to scatter she was ordered to sail with HMS Palomares and headed for the shelter of the island of Novaya Zemlya. On 6th July she mistook a rapidly closing HMS Salamander for a German destroyer that had been reported in the area and opened fire. Frantic signalling from the mast of Salamander soon corrected the error. Meeting up with other ships of the convoy they fought their way to Archangel but then immediately went out again to search for survivors. 

HALCYON remained in North Russia carrying out a range of duties until returning to the UK in November 1942 with QP15. She encountered hurricane force winds which she faced with a grim determination that drew the admiration of Rear Admiral Hamilton who later wrote…

Even from the interchange of the few signals I had had first with Salamander and now with HALCYON I could not but be impressed by the cheerful way in which these very small ships were coping with their difficulties. With so little reserve of speed, conditions in these vessels must have been even worse than in a destroyer. HALCYON must have wondered more than once what happened when his fuel gave out in a position of which he was very  unsure; and I would like to express my admiration for the manner in which these small ships carry out their vital, arduous and unglamorous work. 

HALCYON sailed straight to Milford Haven in December 1942 for a much needed refit. She then spent most of 1943 escorting ships in Iceland, UK, Londonderry and Gibraltar. In November she returned once more to North Russia with JW54B, returning to Scapa in February 1944.

In March 1944 she joined her sister ships in the 1st MSF and started exercises in readiness for D Day. On D Day they swept the assault ships in to
Sword Beach along Channel 9, later turning to broaden the swept areas and provide protection from attack during the night. By the 20th August HALCYON had returned to London for refit, completing on the 23rd November. She then cleared mines in Antwerp and the North Sea based in Harwich. After a long series of repairs, HALCYON finally was allowed to go into the Reserve in May 1946. She was sold on 19th April 1950 to BISCo and left on the 28th to be scrapped by Ward, Milford Haven.

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This site was last updated 17 Januar 2012