Source: ADM 199/1104
Be pleased to lay
before Their Lordships the following report of proceedings for the period 1st to
31st October 1942.
The chief event of
importance was the visit of HM Ships Argonaut,
on the night of 22nd/23rd October for Operation EZ. The object of the visit was
the evacuation of about 38 officers and 207 other ranks of the Royal Air Force
who formed the crews and ground staff of the two Squadrons of Hampdens and three
P.R.U. Spitfire aircraft which had been sent out for Operation EV. Opportunity
was also taken for these ships to bring out personnel and stores for North
Russia, and to take personnel to the United Kingdom. The personnel going home,
apart from RAF, were mainly from Archangel and included Rear Admiral
Boddham-Whetham (Commodore of PQ18 convoy), survivors ex PQ17 and PQ18, and
various odds and ends from Moscow and North Russia, making a total of 75
officers and 341 men.
The personnel coming
out were Commodore Meek (relief for Rear Admiral Boddham-Whetham), Medical
Officers and ratings for the hospital unit at Vaenga, and a few reliefs for
time-expired officers and men out here. Stores and provision brought out include
18 tons of corned beef and biscuit, and apparatus for W/T Station and Masking
Beacon. About 350 tons of fuel was taken in by each ship during the night.
To bring the 165
0fficers and ratings round from Archangel and to take back stores, 2
minesweepers and 2 corvettes were used. These arrived a.m. Wednesday 21st
October - the Minesweepers left on 23rd and the Corvettes (which were detained
while sorting the stores) left on 24th October, all for Archangel.
As in Operation EU,
the Russians co-operated well, and the transfer of men and stores and the
fuelling were carried out fairly quickly, allowing Argonaut
and destroyers to leave Vaenga 8 hours after their arrival.
OPERATIONS IN EAST
BARENTS SEA - MINESWEEPING IN YOGORSKI AND MATOCHKIN STRAITS
On 11th September the
Soviet patrol-vessel Musson
was mined and sunk at the entrance to the Matochkin Strait, and on the 13th the
Commander in Chief, Northern Fleet, asked if British Minesweepers from Archangel
could be sent to clear the area of mines, observing that there was a good deal
of shipping in the Matochkin Strait awaiting release.
ascertained that the three new motor-minesweepers recently handed over by us to
the Soviet at Archangel, were not available, I ordered HM Ships Halcyon,
to be sailed from Archangel for this purpose. They passed the Dvina Bar at 0800
local time on the 16th and off Cape Gorodetski picked up two Russian Merchant
vessels to be escorted to Novaya Zemlya.