Source: ADM 199/1104
arrivals and departures from the Kola Inlet have taken place:
sailed to sweep between 29º and 26ºE. Subsequently cancelled by Berwick
sailed for patrol off Tana Fjord.
sailed for patrol Kongsfiord.
arrived from patrol.
and Speedy engaged by unknown enemy force*
vicinity 68º 12' N, 41º 00' E. Kent with Sokrusmitelni
& Grosni carried out sweep to intercept
arrived from patrol.
for patrol ordered by Admiral (Submarines) and for U.K.
Only one successful action (by Sealion
on 5th Dec) has been achieved against the enemy during the month.
* In the action on the 17th December
in which Hazard and Speedy
were engaged by an enemy force estimated as two or more destroyers, Speedy
suffered some superficial damage, lost her topmast and had both 4" guns put
out of action, with two casualties, one of whom died of wounds in hospital on
The 1st Minesweeping
Flotilla is now based and operated from the Kola Inlet. Sharpshooter,
Hazard and Hebe
arrived with convoy PQ5 from United Kingdom.
are returning to UK with convoy QP4...
meeting and berthing of H.M. ships has been satisfactory. Thick local fogs are
now prevalent in the Kola Inlet and may last 4 or 5 days, with visibility less
than a cable. Under these conditions arrangements are made to meet incoming
ships at a point outside the inlet where the visibility is better and where a
pilot with a special portable D/F set is sent on board and H.M. Ship conducted
to the anchorage following the pilot vessel and using local D/F
The Russian Dekabrist
arrived with Edinburgh on 20th December, and has been discharged. The Dekabrist
may be considered as one of the lucky ships. She carried 35,000 drums of octane
aviation spirit and two American bombers. She was hit by two bombs when approaching
the Kola Inlet. Neither exploded. One of them nicked the edge of three drums and
then holed the bulkhead before coming to rest. The bombs were later thrown
overboard by the Russians, who when offered assistance by HMS Edinburgh,
said, with thanks, that none was required. The bombers were not damaged.
The very short hours
of daylight and bad weather have made any outdoor recreation almost impossible.
Short walks during the middle of the day are still possible and skiing parties
have been out fro time to time. Parties from HM Ships anchored in the Inlet have
been landed at Vaenga and at Murmansk but the lack of anything to do when ashore
have not encouraged a repetition of these visits. The English films at Polyarnoe
are much enjoyed by officers and ratings from visiting minesweepers as well as
by the submarine crews. Several concerts have been given. 150 officers and
were given a concert by the Russians at Polyarnoe and
entertained a number of Russian sailors to their concert party onboard.
A cold spell at the
beginning of the month during which a minimum temperature
of minus 18°F was reached, was followed by a short mild spell. On 10th December,
as the result of South West winds and a fall in temperature (minus 8° to minus
14°F), a thick fog enveloped the Inlet and lasted for 3 days. This was followed
by cold, stormy weather, accompanied by much snow, and except for an occasional
'bright' day the weather alternated between fog and gales, each spell of 3 or 4
days duration. The long dark hours (on clear days there is a maximum of 4 1/2
days daylight) prove rather trying and everyone will welcome the appearance of
the sun which is due to reappear on 17th January.
Convoys PQ and QP
As anticipated the handling of
convoys at Archangel has become very difficult and slow. Apart from the delay to
ships and risk of damage, the delay to cruisers and destroyers of ocean escorts
is a serious matter. It is difficult to estimate when a convoy will be ready to
sail as the date depends entirely on the ice conditions and the availability of
ice-breakers, and the former vary considerably with wind and temperature. Once
clear of the ice, however, convoys cannot wait.
A plan is, therefore, being proposed
whereby PQ convoys are normally routed to a rendezvous off the Kola Inlet and
ships diverted to the White Sea only if ice conditions are favourable and
ice-breakers ready to meet them in clear water; the remainder of the ships
proceeding to Murmansk. QP convoys will assemble in the Kola Inlet and be sailed
by the SBNO, North Russia when sufficient ships are collected to form a convoy
and ocean escorts are available.
Ships will be escorted from the White
Sea to the Kola Inlet by local escort. The local fog in the Kola Inlet will
undoubtedly cause delays but these should not be comparable to those caused by
ice. The risk of air-attack in the Kola Inlet is always present but the
anti-aircraft defences are good and the weather for the most part unsuitable for
For the present, therefore, the plan
has many advantages. The Russian authorities may see in it a way out of their
present difficulties and be glad to agree to a plan which they can say is only
accepted to oblige us. Otherwise I fear that convoys will cease to function
during January, February and March.
N Bevan, Rear Admiral,