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HMS Bluebell, British corvette, WW2

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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2001

HMS BLUEBELL (K.80) - Flower-class Corvette
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

sister-ship HMCS Snowberry
NP, click photographs for enlargements)
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H. M. S.  B L U E B E L L  


FLOWER-Class corvette ordered from Fleming & Ferguson at Paisley on 27th July 1939. She was laid down on 25th October that year and was launched on 24 April 1940 as the second RN warship to bear this name. It had been introduced in 1915 for a Sloop which was sold in 1930. Build of this ship was completed on 19th July 1940. In February 1942 she was “adopted” by the civil community of Tiverton, Devon after a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings Campaign.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


ATLANTIC 1940-44                     SICILY 1943

NORMANDY 1944                       MEDITERRANEAN 1943



H e r a l d i c   D a t a

Badge: On a Field White, a Bell, Blue, banded and clappered Gold.


D e t a i l s   o f   W a r   S e r v i c e

(Note * = Further research is required into these periods)


1 9 4 0


July                Contractors trials and commissioning.

        19th        Build completion and commenced Acceptance Trials

                       On completion took passage to commence working-up for operational service.

                       (Note: Work-up may not have taken place at Tobermory since HMS WESTERN ISLES

                                    did not commission until this month. Location of area for work-up to be confirmed.)


*August         On completion of storing and work-up deployed for Atlantic convoy escort.

to December   (Note: Identity of Escort Group and base to be investigated)


1 9 4 1


January           Deployed with 5th Escort Group, Western Approaches Command based at Liverpool for

to                     escort of Atlantic convoys.

February         (Note: Other Ships deployed with this Group during the period included HM Destroyers

                                    WALKER, VANOC, VOLUNTEER, SARDONYX, SCIMITAR and HM Corvette


                                     For details of Atlantic convoy defence see THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC by

                                     D Macintyre and U-BOAT WAR IN THE ATLANTIC (HMSO). )


March             Took part in escort of Convoy HX112 with HMS WALKER, HMS VANOC, HMS


         16th        Carried out ant-submarine operations with escort against attacks by U110, U37, U99, U100

                        and U74.

         17th        Anti-submarine operations in defence of HX112 in continuation.

                         (Note: During defence of HX112,  U100, commanded by Kapitanleutnant Joachim Schepke

                                   and U99, commanded by Kapitanleutnant Otto Kretschemer were sunk, These two

                                   officers had outstanding records for sinking of merchant ships. For details see

                                    above references, U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp and HITLER’S U-BOAT

                                    WAR by C Blair.)


*April             Atlantic convoy defence with Group in continuation

to August


September       Transferred to 37th Escort Group for defence of Convoys to and from Gibraltar and ports

                          in West Africa.

                         (Note: Other ships deployed with this Group during this period included HM Sloops

                                     BLACK SWAN and FOWEY, HM Corvettes CAMANULA, CARNATION,

                                     HELIOTROPE, MALLOW, STONECROP, MYSOTIS and Free French LA

                                     LA MALOUINE.


October           Group deployment in continuation at Gibraltar.

         18th         Took part with HM Sloop ROCHESTER, HM Corvettes MALLOW, CARNATION and

                         in anti-submarine search operation on Atlantic side of  Strait

                         of Gibraltar based evidence that a significant number of German submarines were

                         concentrating attacks on shipping entering and leaving the Mediterranean.

                          (Note: HM Corvette FLEUR DE LYS was torpedoed by U208 west of Gibraltar on 14th.)

         19th         Deployed with HMS CARNATION in support of HMS ROCHESTER and HMS

                          MALLOW after the attacks made by these ships on U204, and located oil slick and other

                         evidence as being promising indication of a sinking.

                          (Note: This sinking was later confirmed. See U-BOATS DESTROYED and HITLER'S

                                       U-BOAT WAR.


November       Deployment with Group in continuation.

to December


1 9 4 2


*January          Atlantic convoy defence in continuation

to July              Returned to UK for refit


August             Resumed convoy defence in Home waters and nominated for escort of Russian Convoy.

                          (Note: For details of all Russian Convoy operations giving details of escorts and merchant

                                      ships taking part see CONVOYS TO RUSSIA by RA Ruegg, CONVOY ! by Paul

                                      Kemp, THE RUSSIAN CONVOYS by B Schoefield and ARCTIC CONVOYS by

                                      R Woodman.)


September        Passage to Iceland to join Russian Convoy PQ18

                          (Note: This was the first convoy to go to North Russia after the disastrous passage of.

                                      PQ17. For details of changes made to escort strength see above references and

                                      ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Barnett.)

           7th         Deployed with HM Auxiliary AA Ships ALYNBANK and ULSTER QUEEN, HM

                         Destroyers ACHATES and MALCOLM, HM Corvettes BERGAMOT, BRYONY and

                         CAMELLIA, HM Minesweepers GLEANER and SHARPSHOOTER as Ocean Escort for

                         PQ18 during passage from Iceland to Archangel..

                         (Note: HM Escort Aircraft Carrier AVENGER, HM Cruiser  SCYLLA with screen of

                                     16 Home Fleet destroyers provided Fighting Escort and air cover, with overall

                                     protection from surface attacks by ships of Home Fleet,)

         12th         Under submarine attacks during which two mercantiles were sunk and one U-Boat


         13th         Under air attacks during which six mercantiles were sunk.

         18th         Local Eastern escort joined PQ18.

         19th         Detached from PQ18 on arrival at Archangel.


*October              Deployed for convoy defence

                             (Note: Ship may have been deployed in North Russia. To be confirmed.


November            Nominated for escort of Russian Convoy QP15

                             (Note: This was last convoy in QP/PQ series.)

         17th             Deployed as part of Ocean Escort for returning QP15 with HMS ULSTER QUEEN,

                             HM Destroyers FAULKNOR, ICARUS, IMPULSIVE and INTREPID, HM

                             Minesweeper SALAMANDER, HM Corvettes BERGAMOT, BRYONY and


                             (Note: HM Destroyers ECHO, MUSKETEER and ORWELL joined Ocean Escort

                                         during passage. Ships of Home Fleet provided cover for transit.

         24th             Detached from QP15 with HMS ULSTER QUEEN to refuel after enduring extreme

                             weather conditions.

                             (Note: It is not known whether this ship rejoined or made independent passage to

                                          Scapa Flow after refuelling.)


*December          Resumed Atlantic convoy escort.


1 9 4 3


*January               Atlantic convoy defence in continuation


February               Nominated for escort of Russian Convoy JW53 and took passage with HMS

                              CAMELLIA to join during its transit from Loch Ewe to North Russia.

         20th             Joined HM Escort Destroyers MEYNELL+, MIDDLETON+, PYTCHLEY+, HM

                             Fleet Destroyers FAULKNOR, INGLEFIELD, MARNE, OBDURATE, OBEDIENT,

                             OPPORTUNE and ORWELL, HM Minesweepers HALCYON+ and JASON, HM

                             Corvettes BERGAMOT, POPPY and HM Trawler LORD AUSTIN in Ocean Escort

                             for JW53.

                             (Note: Ships marked “+” detached subsequently.)

         21st             Home Fleet ships including HM Cruiser SCYLLA and screen of 5 Fleet destroyers

                             joined JW53 to reinforce Ocean Escort

                             (Note: Home Fleet cover for transit was provided by HM Battleships KING

                                         GEORGE V and HOWE, HM Cruisers CUMBERLAND, BERWICK,

                                         BELFAST and NORFOLK with screen of seven Fleet Destroyers and two

                                         battleships. HM Escort Aircraft Carrier also deployed had to return after

                                         sustaining damage, as did HM Cruiser SHEFFIELD. See above references)

         28th             Detached from JW53 with ships of Home Fleet after arrival in North Russia.

                             (Note: This convoy experienced particularly atrocious weather conditions and had

                                          been subjected to air attacks and submarine threats. Both were affected by

                                          weather conditions and vigilance of the escort.)


*March                Return passage to UK to resume duties in Western Approaches.


*April                  Western Approaches deployment in continuation.

to May                           


*June                   Nominated for support of planned allied landings in Sicily (Operation HUSKY).

                             Passage to Mediterranean as part of escort for military convoy.


*July                     Deployed in Mediterranean for escort of military convoys for HUSKY.

           7th              Part of escort for Assault convoys during initial landings

                              For details of HUSKY See Naval Staff History and ENGAGE THE ENEMY

                              MORE CLOSELY.)

                              (Note: Corvettes deployed for this duty included:

                                          HM Corvettes BRYONY, CAMELLIA, CONVOLVULUS, 

                                          DELPHINIUM, DIANELLA, HONEYSUCKLE, HYACINTH,

                                          HYDERABAD (RIN), LOTUS, OXLIP, PENSTEMON, POPPY,

                                          PRIMULA, RHODODENDRON, STARWORT, VETCH and

                                          Greek SAKHTOURIS (Ex HMS PEONY)

         10th              Remained in Mediterranean for escort of Follow-Up convoys.


*August                On release from HUSKY took passage to resume service in Western Approaches.


*September           Western Approaches convoy defence in continuation.

to December


1 9 4 4


*January                Deployment for convoy defence in continuation.


February                Nominated for escort of Russian Convoys JW57 and RA57.

         20th               Joined HM Destroyers BEAGLE, BOADICEA, KEPPEL and WALKER with

                              HM Corvettes CAMELLIA, LOTUS and RHODODENDRON as Close Escort

                               or ships of JW57 during passage to Kola Inlet from Loch Ewe.

         22nd              Fighting Escort joined convoy and comprised HM Cruiser BLACK PRINCE with

                               screen of 13 Home Fleet destroyers and HM Escort Aircraft Carrier CHASER

                               escorted by two destroyers and two frigates.

                               (Note: HM Cruisers BERWICK and JAMAICA provided Cruiser Cover during

                                            Arctic passage. See above references for details.)

         25th               HM Destroyer MAHRATTA of Fighting Escort sunk by U990.

                               (Note:U713 and 601 were sunk in defence of JW57)

         28th               Detached from JW57 with Close Escort on arrival at Kola Inlet without loss of any

                               ships in convoy.



          2nd               Joined Close Escort for return Convoy RA57 with same ships from Kola Inlet.

                               (Note HM Minesweepers GLEANER and SEAGULL also joined Close Escort until

                                         10th, and Fighting Escort was provided as well as Home Fleet cover. and air

                                         defence by HMS CHASER.)

        10th                Detached with Close Escort on arrival at Loch Ewe.

                               (Note:  U472, U761 and U601 were sunk in defence of RA57 from which two

                                            merchant ships were sunk in U-Boat attacks.)

        27th                Joined HM Destroyers WESTCOTT, WHITEHALL and WRESTLER with HM

                               Corvettes HONEYSUCKLE and LOTUS as Close Escort for Russian Convoy JW58

        29th                Main Body of escort joined JW58 including HM Cruiser DIADEM, HM Escort

                               Aircraft Carriers ACTIVITY and TRACKER with screen of ten Fleet Destroyers.

                               (Note: Frigates of 2nd Escort Group were also deployed and Home Fleet ships

                                           engaged in Operation TUNGSTEN for air attacks on German battleship

                                           TIRPITZ in Altenfjord, Norway.)



          4th                Detached from JW58 with ships of escort on arrival at Kola Inlet.

                               (Note: During anti-submarine operations U961.U355, U360 and U288 were sunk

                                           between 29th March and 3rd April. See references.)

          7th                Deployed with HM Destroyer BEAGLE, BOADICEA, INCONSTANT, KEPPEL,

                               VENUS, WALKER, WESTCOTT, WHITEHALL and WRESTLER for Ocean

                               Escort of return Convoy RA58.

                               (Note: Cover was provided by HMS DIADEM, HMS ACTIVITY and later HM

                                           Escort Carrier TRACKER with Fleet destroyer screen. No Distant Cover was

                                           needed after threat from TIRPITZ had been temporarily removed after


         14th               Detached from RA58 with escort on arrival at Loch Ewe.

                               (Note: Some Home Fleet ships detached on 13th. See references.)

         15th               Resumed deployment in Western Approaches.


May                        Nominated for escort of Assault and Follow-up convoys during planned allied

                               landings in Normandy (Operation NEPTUNE). For details see LANDINGS IN

                               NORMANDY, June 1944 (HMSO) and OPERATION NEPTUNE by K Edwards.

                               Transferred to Escort Group 143 and joined HM Destroyer BOADICEA, HM

                               Trawlers CORNELIAN and PEARL.

                               Took part in preparatory exercises for NEPTUNE.

                                Passage to Milford Haven to join Group.

                                (Note: 62 corvettes from Western Approaches were deployed for NEPTUNE.

                                             See LANDINGS IN NORMANDY, June 1944.)


June                         Deployed in support of  NEPTUNE based at Plymouth

          4th                 Operation delayed 24 hours.

          5th                 Part of escort for Convoy ECL1 comprising Landing Ships (Tank) during passage

                                from Bristol Channel to landing beaches.

                                (Note: HM Trawler ELLESMERE was also part of escort by 143 Group for this


          6th                 On arrival detached from ECL1 and returned to Milford Haven

          8th                 Deployed with Group for escort of Follow-up convoys from Milford Haven.

        25th                 On release from NEPTUNE resumed convoy defence in Western Approaches.


*July                        Western Approaches deployment in continuation.


August                      Transferred to 8th Escort Group and joined HM Destroyers BEAGLE, WALKER,

                                  WESTCOTT, WHITEHALL, HM Sloop LARK. HM Corvettes OXLIP and


        15th                   Joined HM Sloop CYGNET, HM Frigate LOCH DUNVEGAN, HM Corvettes

                                  CAMELLIA, CHARLOCK, HONEYSUCKLE and OXLIP as Close Escort for

                                  Russian Convoy JW59 during passage from Loch Ewe to Kola Inlet.

                                  (Note: HM Destroyers KEPPEL and WHITEHALL of Group were also deployed

                                               with HM Sloops KITE, MERMAID and PEACOCK as apart of screen.)

        17th                   Home Fleet reinforcement by HM Cruiser JAMAICA, HM Escort Aircraft

                                  Carriers STRIKER and VINDEX with screen of five destroyers joined JW59.

        21st                   HMS KITE sunk by U344.

        24th                   Detached with escort on arrival at Kola Inlet,

                                  (Note:U354 and U344 were sunk in defence of this convoy.)

        28th                    Sailed from Kola Inlet as part of escort for return Convoy RA59.

                                   (Note: Escort and cover provided by same ships as JW59, less HMS LARK.)



          5th                    Detached from RA59 with remaining ships of escort on arrival at Loch Ewe

                                   without loss due to extent of air cover and efficient anti-submarine defence.

                                   (Note: U394 was sunk by ships of escort after air sighting. See above

                                                references and U-BOATS DESTROYED by P Kemp.)


          8th                    Resumed Atlantic convoy defence and interception duties with Group.


October                      8th Escort Group deployment in continuation.

to December               (Note: During this period U-Boats, fitted with SCHNORKEL equipment to

                                                enable battery charge whilst submerged, were being extensively being

                                                deployed to attack convoys in Channel approaches and coastal waters

                                                of UK. Ships belonging to Escort Groups were deployed in these

                                                areas to increase anti-submarine defence.)


1 9 4 5


January                       Deployed for convoy defence in UK coastal waters with Group.


February                     Nominated with ships of Group for detached service in Home Fleet for anti-

                                   submarine operations and convoy defence

          2nd                   Deployed with HM SLOOPS CYGNET and LARK, HM Destroyer WHITEHALL,

                                   HM Corvettes ALNWICK CASTLE, BAMBOROUGH CASTLE and

                                   RHODODENDRON as Close Escort for Russian Convoy  JW64 during passage

                                   from Loch Ewe to Kola Inlet.

          6th                    HM Cruiser BELLONA, HM Escort Aircraft Carriers CAMPANIA and

                                   NAIRANA, HM Sloop LAPWING and HM Corvette DENBIGH CASTLE joined

                                   JW64 with screen of 9 destroyers from Scapa Flow.

          7th                    Under concentrated air attacks. See references.

        10th                    Further air attacks during which no ship was sunk although fire discipline in

                                   ships of convoy and escort was particularly poor.

        16th                    Detached after arrival with JW64 at Kola Inlet and despatched to take HMS

                                   DENBIGH CASTLE in tow to Kola Inlet with Russian Tug after the former had

                                   been torpedoed by U992. (Note: HMS DENBIGH CASTLE ground during tow

                                   and later capsized and sank on arrival.)

                                   Rejoined ships of Close Escort for JW64 to take part in ant-submarine operations

                                   against group of U-Boats know to be assembling off Kola Inlet to carry out

                                   attacks on the return Convoy RA64.

         17th                   Anti-submarine deployment in continuation during which HMS LARK was hit

                                   by homing torpedo from U968 and had to be abandoned..

                                   Five and half hours later during re-assembly of return Convoy RA64 by ships of

                                   Close Escort, ship was hit by a homing torpedo fired by U711.

                                   Sank in less than 30 seconds after explosion of depth charges detonated when

                                   torpedo hit stern in position 8 miles NE of Kola Inlet (69.36N 25.29E).

                                   Only 12 of ship’s company were rescued. See WARSHIP LOSSES OF WW2

                                   by D Brown. (All the recent histories list Acting/P.O. Albert E. H. Holmes as the only

                                   survivor on board the ship when lost.)

                                   (Casualty List - note on casualties)







by Don Kindell


These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above


Date convoy         Joined convoy         Convoy No.          Left convoy           Date convoy

sailed                    as escort                                                                              arrived


13/08/40                 14/08/40                       OA 198                  unknown               unknown

02/08/40                 18/08/40                       SL 042                    21/08/40                 21/08/40

20/08/40                 31/08/40                       HX 067                  04/09/40                 04/09/40

12/09/40                 12/09/40                       OA 213                  16/09/40                 unknown

05/09/40                 16/09/40                       HX 071                  20/09/40                 20/09/40

26/09/40                 26/09/40                       OA 220                  28/09/40                 28/09/40

19/09/40                 01/10/40                       SC 005                   02/10/40                 04/10/40

12/10/40                 12/10/40                       OA 228                  16/10/40                 unknown

05/10/40                 18/10/40                       SC 007                   20/10/40                 21/10/40

18/11/40                 20/11/40                       OG 046                   24/11/40                 05/12/40

16/12/40                 16/12/40                       OB 260                   19/12/40                 19/12/40

09/12/40                 20/12/40                       HG 048                   23/12/40                 23/12/40

28/12/40                 30/12/40                       OG 048                   02/01/41                 09/01/41

15/12/40                 03/01/41                       SL 059S                 04/01/41                 07/01/41

26/01/41                 26/01/41                       OG 051                   28/01/41                 08/02/41

17/01/41                 30/01/41                       HG 051                   03/02/41                 03/02/41

01/03/41                 15/03/41                       HX 112                  18/03/41                 20/03/41

27/03/41                 27/03/41                       OG 057                   01/04/41                 11/04/41

12/05/41                 13/05/41                       OB 322                   18/05/41                 20/05/41

06/05/41                 18/05/41                       HX 125A               22/05/41                 22/05/41

12/07/41                 12/07/41                       OG 068                   26/07/41                 26/07/41

13/07/41                 03/08/41                       SL 081                    08/08/41                 08/08/41

13/08/41                 13/08/41                       OS 003                   15/08/41                 01/09/41

13/08/41                 15/08/41                       OG 071                   23/08/41                 23/08/41

02/09/41                 02/09/41                       HG 072                   17/09/41                 17/09/41

25/08/41                 11/09/41                       SL 085                    17/09/41                 17/09/41

27/09/41                 27/09/41                       OG 075                   13/10/41                 13/10/41

22/10/41                 22/10/41                       HG 075                   27/10/41                 03/11/41

25/11/41                 28/11/41                       OG 077                   13/12/41                 13/12/41

31/12/41                 31/12/41                       HG 077                   12/01/42                 12/01/42

26/01/42                 28/01/42                       OG 079                   07/02/42                 07/02/42

22/02/42                 22/02/42                       HG 079                   06/03/42                 06/03/42

17/03/42                 17/03/42                       OG 081                   29/03/42                 29/03/42

05/04/42                 05/04/42                       HG 081                   15/04/42                 15/04/42

02/09/42                 07/09/42                       PQ 018                   21/09/42                 21/09/42

17/11/42                 17/11/42                       QP 015                   30/11/42                 30/11/42

04/01/43                 25/01/43                       SC 116                   29/01/43                 29/01/43

15/02/43                 20/02/43                       JW 053                  27/02/43                 27/02/43

25/06/43                 25/06/43                       KMS 019G            06/07/43                 06/07/43

06/07/43                 06/07/43                       KMS 019               09/07/43                 16/07/43

14/07/43                 14/07/43                       KMS 019Y            16/07/43                 unknown

17/07/43                 17/07/43                       MKS 018               22/07/43                 22/07/43

27/06/43                 22/07/43                       UGS 011                23/07/43                 unknown

22/07/43                 23/07/43                       GUS 010X             25/07/43                 13/08/43

12/07/43                 29/07/43                       UGS 012                07/08/43                 10/08/43

29/07/43                 29/07/43                       KMS 021               07/08/43                 10/08/43

15/08/43                 16/08/43                       MKS 022               25/08/43                 25/08/43

30/08/43                 30/08/43                       KMS 024               10/09/43                 10/09/43

14/09/43                 16/09/43                       MKS 025               25/09/43                 25/09/43

29/09/43                 29/09/43                       KMS 027               11/10/43                 11/10/43

14/10/43                 14/10/43                       MKS 028               23/10/43                 23/10/43

23/10/43                 23/10/43                       MKS 028G            24/10/43                 24/10/43

24/10/43                 24/10/43                       SL 138MK             05/11/43                 05/11/43

20/02/44                 20/02/44                       JW 057                  28/02/44                 28/02/44

02/03/44                 02/03/44                       RA 057                  10/03/44                 10/03/44

27/03/44                 27/03/44                       JW 058                  04/04/44                 04/04/44

07/04/44                 07/04/44                       RA 058                  14/04/44                 14/04/44

14/06/44                 14/06/44                       FCM 005               15/06/44                 15/06/44

19/06/44                 19/06/44                       EBC 016                 23/06/44                 23/06/44

29/06/44                 29/06/44                       EBC 026                 01/07/44                 01/07/44

14/07/44                 14/07/44                       EBC 041                 16/07/44                 16/07/44

21/07/44                 21/07/44                       EBC 048                 23/07/44                 23/07/44

28/07/44                 28/07/44                       EBC 055                 30/07/44                 30/07/44

15/08/44                 15/08/44                       JW 059                  25/08/44                 25/08/44

28/08/44                 28/08/44                       RA 059A               05/09/44                 05/09/44

15/09/44                 15/09/44                       OS 089KM            15/09/44                 22/09/44

24/09/44                 24/09/44                       OS 090KM            01/10/44                 01/10/44

01/10/44                 01/10/44                       KMS 064G            02/10/44                 02/10/44

08/10/44                 08/10/44                       MKS 063G            09/10/44                 09/10/44

09/10/44                 09/10/44                       SL 172MK             16/10/44                 16/10/44

13/11/44                 13/11/44                       OS 095KM            22/11/44                 22/11/44

25/11/44                 25/11/44                       MKS 068G            26/11/44                 26/11/44

26/11/44                 26/11/44                       SL 177MK             05/12/44                 05/12/44

18/12/44                 18/12/44                       OS 099KM            21/12/44                 21/12/44

16/12/44                 21/12/44                       MKS 071G            24/12/44                 24/12/44

03/02/45                 03/02/45                       JW 064                  15/02/45                 15/02/45

17/02/45                 17/02/45                       RA 064                  28/02/45                 28/02/45


(Note on Convoys)



further editing and formatting is required


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