(Wright & Logan 10328)
Summary of History
HMS HARRIER (J71) was built by Messrs Thornycroft at Woolston, Southampton and
was completed on 9 November 1934. (
for a detailed description of her
and Cross Section.) Commissioned at Chatham she served 1st MSF from Nov 1934; Nore Reserve Jan
1938; 5th MSF Sept 1939, 6th MSF April 1940, 1st MSF July 1941, 6th MSF
Jan 1942 and 1st MSF Jan 1943 to June 1946.
At the outbreak of the Second World War she was based on Dover, and on
20 September 1939, towed the Corvette KITTIWAKE to Dover after she had
been mined two miles east of the Goodwin Sands. On 2 February 1940, HARRIER also endeavoured to tow the Minesweeper SPHINX after she was,
bombed 15 miles 000° from Kinnaird Head, but owing to rough weather, the
tow parted three times and the SPHINX eventually turned turtle and sank.
At the beginning of April 1940, HARRIER was allocated to 6th
Minesweeping Flotilla in the Dover Command and on 13 May, she towed SS BUSSUM (bombed near West Hinder Bank), to N Goodwin. On 25 May,
HARRIER was sweeping ahead of a convoy off Zeebrugge when she was
attacked by Junkers Ju88s. One 550lb bomb scored a direct hit on bridge
structure passed through the forecastle and went out through the ship's
side, causing minor structural damage on the way. A second bomb missed
but caused more serious damage, the mining effect fracturing machinery
castings and reducing the speed to 10 knots. HARRIER shot down one of
the Ju88s with her 0.5in machine guns. She spent seven weeks under
repair in Sheerness Dockyard before returning to Harwich to resume East
Coast minesweeping duties. Towards the end of February 1941, HARRIER was
re‑deployed to Scapa Flow, but in the following month she was again
transferred, this time to the Western Approaches Command, for ocean
On 26 July 1941, HARRIER was one of the ships which rendered
assistance to the ATLANTIC CITY in convoy OS1, which was torpedoed in
55° 42'N, 9° 58' W. HARRIER was subsequently ordered to join the
destroyer WALKER hunting a U‑boat in 55° 35' N, 9° 36' W.
At the beginning of August 1941, HARRIER arrived at Seidisfiord
Iceland, and later that month took part in operations covering the first
convoys to North Russia, remaining in those waters until October. On the
way back to Scapa from Archangel with BRITOMART, HARRIER
examined the harbours at Spitzbergen for any evidence of renewed German
activity there. They entered Isfjord on 19th, and found an enemy
meteorological party which had just arrived by air to establish a
station. The party got away by air, but HARRIER captured some of
At the beginning of November 1941, HARRIER proceeded to the Humber
for a short refit and to be prepared for cold weather operations with
the Home Fleet. She returned to service in the middle of December and on
22nd left Scapa with the cruiser ARETHUSA and other ships for Operation
'Anklet’, the raid on the Lofoten Islands, Norway, returning to Scapa on
1 January 1942.
Later in January, HARRIER proceeded to Hvalfjord, Iceland, whence
she continued her escort duties with the N Russian convoys. On 17th
January 1942, while acting as local escort to QP8,
Harmatris was hit by a
torpedo from U454 which passed underneath HARRIER.
On 2 May
1942, she took part in the action with enemy destroyers which attacked
the cruiser EDINBURGH which was trying to make Murmansk in tow of a
Russian tug after having been torpedoed on 30 April, while
escorting convoy QP11. EDINBURGH was again torpedoed despite the
efforts of her escorts and subsequently sank. HARRIER, with NIGER and HUSSAR conveyed survivors to Polyarnoe.
She continued her escort duties with North Russian convoys throughout 1942
and 1943 and at the beginning of January 1944, was once more at the
Humber for repairs. She returned to service with 1st Minesweeping
Flotilla during the first week in March, the Flotilla being, at that
time, based on Loch Ewe. Later she was transferred for operations off
the north‑east and east coasts of the United Kingdom.
In May 1944, HARRIER, with the 1st Minesweeping Flotilla, was
transferred to Portsmouth and in June took part in Operation 'Neptune',
the landings in Normandy acting as SO of 1st Minesweeping Flotilla, as
part of Force ‘S' which made the assault at Ouistreham under the command
of Rear Admiral A G Talbot.
Towards the end of September 1944, HARRIER, still with the 1st
Flotilla, was transferred to the Nore Command, based on Harwich, later
coming under the Rosyth Command. During the third week in November, she
proceeded to Leith for refit and repairs, completing in February 1945.
Meanwhile, the 1st Minesweeping Flotilla had been returned to the Nore
Command, and continued operations from Harwich until the end of the War
in Europe. Later, it was transferred once more to Portsmouth.
On 20th June 1946 to 25th July her armament was removed at Chatham and
she was reduced to Category 'C'. In August
1946, HARRIER was reduced to Reserve at Harwich. She was scrapped in
June 1950 at J J king, Gateshead.
Source: Naval Historical
Branch Ship’s Histories, / National Maritime Museum.