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HMS Brixham (J105)

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki

United Kingdom
Name: HMS Brixham
Builder: Blyth Shipbuilding Company, Blyth, Northumberland
Laid down: 6 November 1940
Launched: 21 October 1941
Commissioned: 19 August 1942
Honours and
  • Sold for scrapping in early 1948
  • Arrived at yards at Dunston in August 1948
General characteristics
Class and type: Bangor-class minesweeper
  • 656 long tons (667 t) standard
  • 820 long tons (833 t) full
Length: 174 ft (53 m) o/a
Beam: 28 ft 6 in (8.69 m)
Draught: 10 ft 3 in (3.12 m)
Installed power:
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)
Range: 2,800 nmi (5,200 km; 3,200 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 60

HMS Brixham was a Bangor-class minesweeper built for the Royal Navy during the Second World War. '

Design and description[edit]

The Bangor class was designed as a small minesweeper that could be easily built in large numbers by civilian shipyards; as steam turbines were difficult to manufacture, the ships were designed to accept a wide variety of engines. Brixham displaced 656 long tons (667 t) at standard load and 820 long tons (830 t) at deep load. The ship had an overall length of 174 feet (53.0 m), a beam of 28 feet 6 inches (8.7 m) and a draught of 10 feet 3 inches (3.1 m). The ship's complement consisted of 60 officers and ratings.

She was powered by two Metrovick-Curtis geared steam turbines, each driving one shaft, using steam provided by two Admiralty three-drum boilers. The engines produced a total of 2,000 shaft horsepower (1,500 kW) and gave a maximum speed of 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph). Brixham carried a maximum of 160 long tons (163 t) of fuel oil that gave her a range of 2,800 nautical miles (5,200 km; 3,200 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).

Most turbine-powered Bangors were armed with a 3-inch (76 mm) anti-aircraft gun and a single QF 2-pounder (4 cm) AA gun. Brixham was one of the ships fitted with 20 mm Oerlikon AA guns instead of the 2-pounder before completion. She had a single one on each bridge wing and a third single one aft above the sweep deck.[1] For escort work, her minesweeping gear could be exchanged for around 40 depth charges.

Construction and career[edit]

Brixham was built by Blyth Shipbuilding Company, at Blyth, Northumberland and launched on 22 July 1941. She was named after the small fishing port of Brixham in Devon and was the first ship of the Royal Navy to carry the name.

HMS Brixham was initially commanded by Lt-Commander Leak RNR who had a very laid-back command style, and it was he who took her from Blyth to Port Edgar for working up the minesweeping crews.

She then moved round to HMS Western Isles at Tobermory for more general working up. Here Lt-Commander Leak fell foul of the legendary "Terror of Tobermory"Gilbert Stephenson and was removed from his command and replaced by Lt-Commander Jenkins RNR.

The ship then sailed to Gibraltar (by way of Scapa Flow and Belfast) in company with another (unidentified) member of the class and joined the 13th Minesweeping Flotilla as part of the Oran component of Operation Torch.

It is worth noting that McAra differs from the entry in on the movement to Gibraltar, McAra claiming that the Brixham was one of the replacements for two ships damaged in collision, while claims that the Brixham sailed with the majority of the flotilla.

Once the land forces moved East the flotilla was employed escorting convoys from Gibraltar to Algiers then on to Bougie, Philippeville and Bone. During these operations HMS Brixham rescued 88 survivors from the SS Trentbank which had been hit by an air-launched torpedo.

A few weeks later she rescued the crew of the US liberty ship Nathaniel Greene, torpedoed off Mostaghanem.

The 13 MS Flotilla did not take a direct part in Operation Retribution instead they swept a channel to allow ships to get to Malta safely, then swept the Gulf of Tunis and around Cape Bon. This was a joint operation with the 12th MS Flotilla. It was during this operation that HMS Fantome was damaged by a mine.

After a boiler clean in Malta dockyard (during which Lt Cdr Jenkins was relieved in command by Lt Cdr Charles Walton RNR) the ship joined the rest of the flotilla in Operation Husky. After sweeping a channel for the landing craft they moved offshore to form a screen against U-boat and E-boat attacks.

Further patrolling ensued and during these the ship picked up a Luftwaffe survivor. Capt Walton signaled to Malta 'Have on board one German POW will exchange for one sack potatoes', getting the reply 'Have plenty of POWs very short of potatoes'.

After the completion of the invasion of Sicily and the movement of Allied forces up the leg of Italy past Salerno German forces evacuated Sardinia and Corsica. The 13 MS Flotilla was ordered to sweep the Strait of Bonifacio which separates the two. While the flotilla was on it's way to La Maddalena HMS Brixham struck an uncharted submerged obstacle. Damage was limited to severe damage to the starboard propeller, however this made sweeping operations very difficult and the ship was dispatched to Taranto for repairs leaving the rest of the flotilla to complete the job.

Late in January 1944 the ship left Taranto replete with a new propeller and rejoined the flotilla at La Maddalena to complete the sweeping in the area (it was actually completed around mid-May).

A short return to Malta was followed by involvement in Operation Dragoon. The initial involvement was to sweep an approach channel for the invasion force followed by sweeping between the Iles d'Hyères and the mainland. Later the flotilla swept a channel towards Toulon then clearing a channel through the golfe de Fos for access to Port de Bouc. Involvement finished with sweeping the approaches to Marseilles, an operation they could not complete as the harbour and it's entrance were sown with ground Magnetic mines which they were not equipped to handle.

After a short rest the flotilla then moved to the western coast of Greece, starting with Levkas, then moving on to Preveza. More sweeping close inshore followed around Cephalonia, Zante and the Gulf of Patras, these moves also involving rather confused relations with Greek Partisans.

Recall to the UK followed, the ship arriving at Plymouth just before Christmas 1944. Leave was granted to most of the crew then the whole flotilla moved to Hartlepool where it was reduced to one duty ship and the rest on reduced crews. All ships were transferred to the Reserve Fleet at the beginning of April 1945.


  1. "McAra, Charles, Mainly in Minesweepers, ISBN 1.873 050.070"

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