HMS LEDA (J93) was laid down
at Devonport on 16th November 1936, launched on 8th June 1937 and
commissioned on 19th May 1938. She was initially employed as a
Fisheries Protection vessel. LEDA then joined the 1st Minesweeping
Flotilla and was based on the East Coast until March 1939. She then
spent several weeks in May and June 1939 on patrol in and around
Iceland. At the outbreak of War LEDA was in Gibraltar, returning to UK
on 22nd October 1939 where she joined the 5th MSF. She was employed on
minesweeping duties on the East Coast until May 1940 when she was
required for the evacuation of Dunkirk. She made eight crossings
(including one from Dunkirk early on 3rd June with no troops) and
evacuated 2,848 personnel. She was damaged in two collisions with
other ships but not seriously.
A number of
ratings had to be treated for complete exhaustion.
returned to her East Coast duties
before sailing up to Scotland for the
end of the year. Here she remained until 29th September 1941 when she
sailed with Britomart, Hussar and Gossamer as part of the escort for
PQ1 to Archangel. She remained in North Russia carrying out
escort, minesweeping and various other duties until 29th December 1941
when she returned with QP4. She stayed in Scotland to be fitted
out (somewhat belatedly) for arctic service. With the work completed
she again sailed for North Russia with PQ15 on 26th April 1942.
She again remained there carrying out local duties, including going
out to help bring in the surviving ships from PQ17. LEDA left
Russia on the 13th September 1942 as part of the ocean escort for the
returning QP14. LEDA was positioned on the starboard bow of the
convoy. She reported that her sonar had broken down.
Officer ordered her to swap her station on the starboard bow with the
La Malouine stationed on the convoy’s port quarter.
At 0530 on the morning of the 20th, two torpedoes from U435 (Strelow)
hit LEDA, which was at the rear of the convoy. The tough little
warship took an hour and a half to sink in 76º31'N, 05º32'E. Commander Wynne-Edwards, 86 of his
crew and two merchant navy officers were picked up and accommodated
aboard Seagull, Rathlin and Zamalek. Forty three members of the crew