Halcyon Class Minesweepers HMS Seagull 1942
Seagull Pre-War
Seagull 1939
Seagull 1940
Seagull 1941
Seagull 1942
Seagull 1943
Seagull 1944
Seagull 1945
Seagull Post-War
Seagull - Crew


HMS Seagull - Halcyon Class Minesweeper
HMS Seagull

Date of Arrival


Date of Departure

Orders, Remarks etc








21/1 Taken in hand by Consolidated Fisheries Grimsby for extensive refit and preparation for Arctic Service, completes 6/4














PQ15 sailed from Reykjavik on 26/4 with Bramble, Leda and SEAGULL as part escort.


Heavy escort left the convoy and Capt J Crombie of HMS Bramble became senior officer of the escort.
CLICK HERE for Bramble's Report on Convoy PQ15

At 2009 SEAGULL (Lt Commander Pollock) with the destroyer St Albans attacked and brought to the surface a submarine later identified as the out of position Polish submarine Jastrzab. She was sunk by gunfire.

Source: ADM 237/166 Convoy PQ15, QP15  


Sinking of Polish Submarine P551


Report of Commander S F Storeheill  H.Nor.M.S. St Albans 


Whilst screening on port bow of convoy PQ15 at 2007 2nd May in position 73degs 01mins N. 17degs 32mins E, I obtained A/S contact bearing 040 degs. range 2000yds. Ship was turned towards contact and depth charges were set to 100 ft. Contact was doubtful, double echoes being heard, and I decided to drop only one depth charge then investigate further. At a range of four to five hundred yards the target was classified as a submarine but communication with depth charge position broke down at this point and I was unable to order the full pattern to be fired. There is no method of firing from the bridge.


Information as to the submarine movements was passed to HMS SEAGULL who had joined me. At 2012 one depth charge. was dropped. Contact was regained astern at 500 yards range, echo low with marked H.F. Range was opened to 1500 yards and at 2017 I went in for another attack on a course of 237 degrees. Echo was very low at 2021 target was drawing slowly right: ship's head was put on again and bearing remained steady with echo still low. At 2022 a six charge pattern was dropped charges set to 100 and 150 feet. Prior to the attack the bearing began moving left and my A/S Officer reported that he could follow the target down the port side of the ship; I ordered 'Hard Starboard' and delayed firing, in order to bring the pattern closer to the target. When the disturbed water had died down I saw a yellow smoke where the pattern had been dropped; this I believed was the smoke from my new calcium flare, one of which I always use to mark the position of an attack.


HMS SEAGULL attacked with a full pattern and I found myself in a bad tactical position, having her almost dead ahead. I therefore sheared out to port to station myself on her port beam and ready to make another attack 90 degs to her present course.


A few minutes after SEAGULL's attack the submarine surfaced about 700 - 800 yards away between 45 and 55 degrees on my starboard bow, on a course roughly at right angles to mine and her bow pointing left. She was turning rapidly to port, which I feared was an attempt to torpedo me. I accordingly put both engines full ahead and ordered 'Hard Starboard'; I could not open fire because SEAGULL was directly in line, but I opened up with 0.5 and 12 pdr. as soon as she was clear. My reasons for opening fire were; firstly, to prevent another attack. Knowing the Germans as I do, from the war in Norway, I consider them quite capable of torpedoing one ship whilst crying "Kamerad" to the other. Secondly, I wanted to create panic and so prevent them using the forward gun; I also wanted to force the crew to remain on board and thus stop any idea they might have of scuttling their ship. In the meantime I intended sending my boarding party away, knowing the importance of capturing an enemy submarine and her secret documents. Just as I opened fire a flash was seen from the conning tower. The range was now between three or four hundred yards. Just after fire was opened my Liaison Officer pointed out that the submarine was British. I ceased fire at once and then made the terrible discovery that I had been firing on an allied submarine.   


The dead and wounded were transferred to St Albans and I then proceeded at full speed to rejoin the convoy, where I hoped to transfer the wounded to HMS Ulster Queen as I knew that she had a good sick bay. Unfortunately the constant threat of air attack and U. Boat attack prohibited this and two more men died during the night. I then had four dead on board and these men were buried at sea at 1915 on 3rd May in position 73.01N, 28.06E, the usual ceremony being observed.  


On arrival at Vaenga Bay the five wounded were transferred to hospital shore.


The names of the dead aboard St Albans were:

Petty Officer Czestav Kedziore, Polish Navy

Petty Officer Czub, Polish Navy

Leading Signalman J (Tom) Beard, Official Number not known

Leading Telegraphist Martin Dowd, Official Number not known.


Note: 2 Officers and 28 Ratings were saved and taken on board HMS SEAGULL, arriving at Polyarnoe on 5th May.



Source: ADM 199/721

Extract from the Report of the Senior Officer of the Escort, Captain Harvey Crombie HMS Bramble


I consider that they were in no way to blame for the action which was taken. They were escorting a convoy through waters in which it was a certainty that many enemy submarines were operating and they could afford no hesitation in their attack. P551 appears to have been 100 miles out of position. I have not had the opportunity of meeting either of the surviving officers one of whom was badly wounded but information has reached me that he stated he had had no sights for six days.


At 0127 convoy PQ15 was attacked by six He111’s at low level, sinking three merchant ships with their torpedoes. Three aircraft were shot down. 137 survivors were picked up.

At 2230 the convoy was bombed by Ju88’s scoring one near miss for the loss of one aircraft.


In the evening a south-easterly gale blew up off the Russian mainland, filling the air with snow clouds and concealing the convoy.


The convoy arrived Kola Inlet at 2100.

MESSAGE 2300/B  5th May 1942 From SO 1st M S Flotilla

PQ15 arrived Murmansk. Regret to report loss of Botavon, Jutland, Cape Corso as a result of attack by six torpedo aircraft at 2327 May 2nd in position 73N, 19.40E.Attack carried out in good conditions and aircraft appeared to be led in well by leader who may not have carried torpedo. Indications that shadowing submarine may have surfaced and fired torpedoes at same time. One aircraft destroyed and possibly one other. 136 survivors including Commodore. Convoy bombed at 2230 May 3rd in position 73N, 31.51E. Minor damage from near miss to Cape Palliser only. One Junkers 88 shot down. Attack badly carried out and hampered by low cloud. Convoy continuously shadowed by one or more aircraft and or one or more submarines to 36E. Submarines driven off successfully by screening force forcing them to dive and firing depth charges in vicinity. 


At sea


Eastern Local Escort for QP12 (17 ships) comprised Bramble, Gossamer, Leda, SEAGULL and two Russian Destroyers. Harrier was part of the ocean escort arriving Reykjavik 29/5 without incident.


On the evening of the 29th, 140 miles NE of the Kola Inlet,  Captain Crombie commanding the 1st MSF based at Kola joined PQ16 in HMS Bramble, together with Leda, SEAGULL, Niger, Hussar and Gossamer. The convoy divided and at 2330 Crombie’s section, escorting six of the merchant ships to Archangel, was attacked by 15 Ju88’s while 18 attacked the Murmansk-bound ships.


Crombie’s division, proceeding in line ahead and led by the Empire Elgar, arrived at the estuary of the Dvina on 30/5 where it met the ice breaker Stalin. They began a passage through the ice lasting 40 hours. Confined to the narrow lead cut by the Stalin, they were attacked by Ju87 Stukas in a noisy but useless attack.  This section of PQ16 passed Archangel and secured alongside at Bakarista, a new wharf two miles upstream.

Commander Onslow, Senior Officer close escort reported that four fifths of the convoy had got through....  ‘ due to the gallantry, efficiency and tireless zeal of the officers and men of the escorts and to the remarkable courage and determination of those of the merchant vessels. No praise can be too high for either’.


Kola Inlet




The soviet icebreakers Krassin and Montcalm were escorted to Archangel by HMS Bramble, Leda, Hazard and SEAGULL. HMS Intrepid and Garland were sailed later to act as cover against possible surface attack. The whole force arrived at Archangel on 21st June.






At sea


Bramble, Hazard, Leda and SEAGULL formed part of the ocean escort for QP13 (36 ships)  from 26/6 to 28/6. Ocean escort included Niger (to 5/7 when she sank) and Hussar (to 7/7). Thick weather meant the convoy was not attacked.






CLICK HERE for Report on Attack on U boat by SEAGULL and Bramble






The tanker Hopemount sailed for Port Dickson with a heavy escort of two icebreakers and 9 other escorts including Bramble, Hazard, and SEAGULL. At the edge of the icepack the escorts turned back leaving Hopemount and the icebreakers to continue towards the Pacific by the northern route, fuelling soviet escorts and merchant ships, turning back on 18/9.



(After being dunked in a tank of stagnant water after a game of football, Winn made his way to HMS SEAGULL)


…I dripped my stinking way to the SEAGULL, lying near to us, whose No. 1, James Philipson, had offered me the hospitality of their wardroom bath, whenever I was passing… bolting the bathroom door, I luxuriated for half an hour, licking my wounds with the last of the soap, and turning on the hot tap with my big toe, the epitome of pleasure. Now I knew some of the sensations of a miner, at the end of a shift, enjoying a pithead bath. The comparison came readily into my head because my bath patron (James) had considerable mining interests in Yorkshire… Coal was in his bloodstream too, and he was longing to get back to his mines that had been in his family for over a century. By the accident of being a peacetime yachtsman, he now found himself in a minesweeper in North Russia, where he was conscious that any competent RNVR lieutenant could hold down his present job. But he hid away his sense of frustration and futility under a bantering drawl and I came to find his company more and more soothing as the days went endlessly, monotonously by.


“What about taking in the Welcome Inn tonight?” James suggested when I returned to the SEAGULL’s wardroom, in a borrowed dressing gown. The In – spelt with one ‘n’ on the signpost outside – was a hundred yards beyond the sentry’s lodge. A wooden hut like any of the others in the straggling line that stretched away into the flat, mud-coloured distance, it stood out from the rest, even without its signpost. Not because it had a garage, but because of its wide veranda. This was reserved for officers from any ship moored alongside Ekonomia, while other ranks crowded into the dining room, set with a dozen tables and served by Russian girls in aprons and pretty blouses…


“Well, what about taking in the Welcome Inn?”


More and more one got into the habit of having to repeat questions which lay flat upon the sultry, impotent atmosphere since less and less easy was it to obtain any sort of positive reply. The native melancholy of the landscape was taking its toll. One lay back in a chair and waited for something to happen that never did. One couldn’t even make up one’s mind even to cross the wood-piles, to reach the gate, to walk the extra hundred yards. “I must go back to the ship,” I said again and didn’t move. “Well, have a glass of gin before you go,” someone else suggested.


Again I shook my head. Actually, I was longing for a drink, but it was no secret how low stocks were, that all the flotilla were rigidly rationed – our own wardroom supplies had given out altogether – and I was not going to be that sort of guest. After all, I had had my bath. So I forced myself to my feet at last. “Thank you very much James. It was superb.”

“Come again, whenever you like, but next time…”


“Well if you could manage a piece of soap,” he said apologetically.

They had no soap: we had no baths and the drinking water tasted to such a degree of chlorinated lime that it was insupportable, except with the addition of the lime juice that was dished out from a special emergency cask, as a measure against scurvy. Many of the men were beginning to break out in sores, and I myself had a disagreeable rash over my hands and wrists which made it difficult to sleep at might. The Captain kept pressing the shore authorities for any sort of fresh supplies, especially green stuff. But so far all that the Russians had been able to spare was a side or two of yak which was so remarkably tough we all decided they must have killed Santa Claus’ reindeer.


Extracts from ‘PQ17’ by Godfrey Winn who travelled to North Russia aboard HMS Pozarica 






Kola Inlet


HMS Bramble (MS1), SEAGULL, Hazard, Salamander, Blankney, and Middleton arrived from Archangel at 2300 on 23rd August bringing about 402 survivors with them including 30 hospital cases. 

On account of the increasing air activity in the Kola Inlet, the prospect of having these ships here was not one that I enjoyed. Their arrival was timed for the darkest part of the night (it is still light enough to read a newspaper between 2300 and 0100 in clear weather) when German air activity was at its lowest, allowing the safe transfer of survivors and stores. After completing their transfers the four Halcyon minesweepers moved out to 'hide' under Kildin Island before daylight.

Report of SBNO North Russia Aug 1942






Britomart, Halcyon, Hazard and Salamander joined QP14 (17 ships) from Archangel as local eastern escort. The ocean escort included Bramble, SEAGULL (until 26/9) and Leda (sunk on 20/9). The weather was poor during the convoy, which finally reached Loch Ewe on 26/9 having lost 4 merchantmen and two escorts. 

Report of Commanding Officer HMS Bramble Senior Officer of the Close Escort (extracts)

The wind moderated in the afternoon and with the assistance of Russian tugs the convoy assembled successfully and weighed and proceeded at 1600 on 13th September. Passage through the White Sea was without incident and in fine weather. 


The first incident of note was at 0730 on 15th September when a Ju 88 commenced shadowing the convoy. The convoy at this time was being escorted by two Russian fighters and it was hoped that they would shoot down, or any way drive off this shadower. They appeared, however, not to see her, in spite of crossing and re-crossing at what looked like very close range to each other. Every endeavour was made to call the attention of these fighters to this shadower by V/S but without effect; eventually the British Naval Liaison Officer in the Russian destroyer Uritsi reported that they were unable to communicate with their fighters. HMS Middleton then fired one round in the direction of the shadower. This, as I feared, had exactly the opposite effect to that intended, and the Russian fighters disappeared home, probably complaining that they had been fired at.

Report of Commanding Officer HMS Bramble


During the following day the convoy was constantly shadowed in daylight hours.The convoy made good speed and with the prevailing current I realised that we were ahead of the estimated position signalled by the SBNO, North Russia. On the other hand we were not ahead of schedule based on the C in C Home Fleet's message of 12th September.

During the afternoon of the 16th September the weather started to deteriorate and the visibility to decrease and I realised that these factors combined with the errors in position would make contact difficult unless I reported the position of QP14. Not wishing to break wireless silence I delayed making my signal by R/T until I felt certain that the two forces were close enough for reception to be certain. The signal reporting my position and speed was made at 1515 on the 16th September. The weather continued to deteriorate during the night and the convoy got a little scattered. I ordered HMS SEAGULL to return along the track of the convoy and round up SS Winston Salem and Silver Sword. SS Troubadour had been a very early straggler and the Commodore had decided not to wait for her.

Report of Commanding Officer HMS Bramble

It is snowing hard this morning. We have been spotted by a Dornier and unless the weather favours us, I guess we will all be standing by.

Source: Diary of Jack Bowman who served on La Malouine


The Rear Admiral (D) Home Fleet was sighted at 0517 17th September and after the other destroyers had joined an A/S screen was formed in which HMS Bramble took one of the positions on the port bow of the convoy. 

Report of Commanding Officer HMS Bramble


The decks are covered with ice and snow, and it is blowing a gale. We took on oil from one of the tankers, this was done while under way. Some of the seamen were brought in with their jaws frozen up. It is icy-cold in the engine room. I have been so long without a good meal I don't think I shall be able to eat one now. We passed the island of Good Hope tonight. 

Source: Diary of Jack Bowman who served on La Malouine


We are running alongside Spitzbergen today. It is all covered in snow and ice. I am glad that I live in the U.K. We are being shadowed by German aircraft all the time.

Source: Diary of Jack Bowman who served on La Malouine


The weather during the passage of the convoy was poor. At 0530 on the morning of the 20th, U435 (Strelow) torpedoed Leda which was at the rear of the convoy. Later that day another escort (Somali) and a merchantmen were torpedoed.


Report of Medical Officer, HMS Somali

'On September 20 H.M.S. Leda was torpedoed and sunk. Her survivors were picked up by H.M.S. Seagull, and included 6 casualties who had been immersed in the sea for thirty minutes. Fortunately the air temperature at the time was as high as 31°F, and sea temperature 40° F.

'As the Seagull had no medical officer on board, Somali was ordered to close her and render medical assistance. A whaler was lowered and I was transferred to Seagull.

'On board her I found that one casualty from the Leda was already dead. I could see no sign of injury on him and concluded that he must have died of exposure. Two other men without obvious injuries were receiving artificial respiration, but they too died shortly afterwards. One other casualty had a fractured femur and burns, and there was a second case of extensive burns which proved fatal.

'I remained on board H.M.S. Seagull, and the following day we picked up a number of survivors from a torpedoed merchant ship.

'There were no further incidents, and we arrived at Scapa Flow on September 26 and transferred the casualties to the Hospital Ship Amarapoora.'

This transfer of the Medical Officer of the Somali to the Seagull was unfortunate in that his absence was soon keenly felt in his own ship. Nevertheless, the transfer may well have saved the medical officer's life because H.M.S. Somali was herself torpedoed later on September 20.

Source: The Royal Naval Medical Service Vol II, JLS Coulter


0530 Three merchant ships were sunk by U435, including one with the previously rescued Commodore Dowding who was picked up by SEAGULL where he remained.


A gale hit the convoy but it abated on the 25th leaving the convoy struggling southwards in a heavy swell.


Bramble and SEAGULL left the convoy for Scapa.








4/10 SEAGULL taken in hand, completes 11/11






SEAGULL was part escort to JW51A (16 ships) which was the first to sail direct from Loch Ewe (not stopping at Iceland), leaving 15/12 and arriving 25/12 without being discovered by the enemy.


Home | Seagull Pre-War | Seagull 1939 | Seagull 1940 | Seagull 1941 | Seagull 1942 | Seagull 1943 | Seagull 1944 | Seagull 1945 | Seagull Post-War | Seagull - Crew

This site was last updated 17 Januar 2012