HMS Combatant

#1
Going over some family pics and came across a pic of my father on HMS Combatant in 1945. I knew he served on HMS Dido in 1946 but had no idea on the former.
There's not much info on it except they were minesweepers, made in the USA and the RN had a few of them.
Wondering if anyone had served on either of these ships the same as my father.
 
#2
My father also served on HMS COMBATANT in 1945 and if you have photos of the ship or parts thereof I would like a copy of them if I may.
as I only have one myself obtained from the National Maratime Museum.
I would appreciate to hear back from you.
regards
Robert AKA rockie1
 
#3
Many people remain under the impression that the only battles still being fought in Europe by 1945 were those on the Continental mainland as Allied forces closed in on Berlin. Responding to your post allows me to dispel this illusion and demonstrate how the Royal Navy was still engaged in desperate conflict on the UK's doorstep right up to VE-Day:

The Catherine Class BAM (British-American Minesweeper) HMS Combatant (J 341), built by Associated Shipbuilders in Seattle, Washington State, was commissioned on 13 Nov 1943. The Imperial War Museum's catalogue of photogaraphs lists a picture of the starboard side view of HMS Combatant here but doesn't specify a date. Pages 143/4 of 'Allied Minesweeping in World War 2' by Peter Elliott contain these passages in which HMS Combatant is mentioned:

Allied Minesweeping in World War 2 said:
The Final Campaigns 1945

The fighting in the southern part of the North Sea was by far the most intensive in that area of the entire war; the evacuation from Dunkirk much earlier had lasted but a few days, while this final battle ran for six full months, and was only ended by VE-Day. The German E-boats were based only an hour's run away at the Hook of Holland, the German small battle units worked from the islands north of the main river, and German minelaying aircraft worked over the area by night. The defending frigates and destroyers were based at Harwich, while the convoy escorts came from Sheerness, with MTBs based at Ostend and on the East Coast of England.

So the frigates, destroyers, and MTBs fought great battles with the German units by night, while by day a great fleet of minesweepers, based at Harwich and Sheerness, and with forward bases at Ostend and Terneuzen, worked ceaselessly to keep this vital ship channel open. The main NF channel (as it was called) had first been cleared after the capture of Ostend, by the Sixth, Seventh and Fifteenth Flotillas of fleet sweepers. An extension, 20 miles long, was kept clear running north-east from the river mouth, for the fighting patrols to use at night.

Battles with minelaying E-boats took place on the majority of nights during the winter, in spite of the weather. The Germans suffered some casualties during these night fights, but more significantly, losses of Allied ships to mines went on thoughout these months, despite the best efforts of the sweepers.

Towards the end of the year, the coastal forces control frigate Duff and an LST were badly damaged by ground mines, then the destroyer Stevenstone. The Forty-second Flotilla of 'Catherines' went to clear this field; with three ships sweeping LL/SA in line abreast, Steadfast detonated one mine just outside her LL tail, and Combatant two more, near NF 6 buoy. The fleet sweeper Hydra was mined off Ostend, and ten LSTs were sunk in this period, while the funnels and masts of sunken 'Liberty' ships dotted the area around NF 7 buoy. At Christmas time, the frigate Dakins was damaged, and the danlayer Colsay, anchored off Ostend, was sunk by a midget submarine.

Though only one-third of a year passed before the war ended in Europe, that was a continuing period of intensive minesweeping activity. While all the swept channels in the North Sea were kept clear, it was still that same channel over to Antwerp on which the main battle was centred.

The E-boats and midget submarines continued their minelaying sorties, though the fighting patrols were beginning to get the better of the battle by the spring. Until their fuel supplies ran out in mid-April, however, the E-boats continued their sorties on several nights a week. They continued to claim victims, too. By the end of April, 17 large ships had been sunk in this swept channel by mines, and three of the coastal forces control frigates, a third of the total of these vital ships, had been written off by ground mines, together with another destroyer.

In February, the E-boats laid one field containing 14 of their own mines, plus 21 British combination mines which had been recovered ashore. These latter had quite different characteristics from the German mines, and the British sweepers were lucky to escape damage from them.

In March, ML 466 was sunk by a mine while on patrol against midget submarines three miles north of the Westkapelle Light; and Frolic sustained much damage from three near misses soon after. Just as the war was ending, a small force of coastal sweepers, with the 'Algerine' Class fleet sweeper Prompt as headquarters ship, was sent over from England to clear the Dutch canals - but Prompt was mined on the way over, at the infamous NF 7 buoy, and had to be towed home.

The 'Egg Crate' displacement sweeps were brought into operational use at this time against 'oysters' [ground mines with pressure sensors - very difficult to sweep safely] laid by the German E-boats in the river approaches; the Fiftieth Flotilla consisting of 'Egg Crates' and their 'Bangor' Class tugs arrived at Ostend in March, and swept from NF 8 to NF 10 buoys in favourable weather. EC 10 [Egg Crate 10] operated regularly on this work, but EC 7 broke adrift from her tugs off Blankenberghe and was stranded.

The fleet sweepers were operating from Harwich and Sheerness at this time, since the anchorage off Ostend had been made unsafe by the midget submarines, and these were found also off Flushing, in the Downs (English Channel), and off Margate.

A typical clearance operation was that carried out by the Forty-second Flotilla of 'Catherines' in January, after the frigate Torrington had engaged E-boats near NF 5 buoy. With Fairy, (Senior Officer), Combatant, Frolic and Foam, and the 'Isles' Class Hermetray as danlayer, they first carried out a high percentage wire search and cut nine mines, then followed up with an LL/SA search and lifted five more.

Up to five flotillas of fleet sweepers with numerous BYMSs and MMSs were operating in this crowded area in these four months, due to the importance of this one channel. They swept 122 ground mines and 21 moored contact, while the river sweepers based at Terneuzen got a further 90 ground mines and 16 moored.
The Forty-second Minesweeper Flotilla had previously been engaged in clearing the channel around the coast from Le Havre to Dieppe using LL/SA (combined magnetic and acoustic influence sweeps). In 1946, the Flotilla was involved in clearing a field of British moored magnetic mines, laid in 300 fathoms in the Denmark Strait in 1942. Conditions were horrendous with Icelandic gales and drift ice but the aim was achieved.
 
#4
Hi I'm Tom,
chatting with my mother about family ties to the forces. I have just found out that her brother served on HMS Combatant till the end of the war. He was a radio operator Alex Montgomery. Sadly Alex passed in 2010. I was just trying to find any more details. Sorry wasn't Navy myself was a crab hence the name...... I know its a long shot but worth a try.
Thanks
Tom
 
B

Billy Q

Guest
#5
Hi I'm Tom,
chatting with my mother about family ties to the forces. I have just found out that her brother served on HMS Combatant till the end of the war. He was a radio operator Alex Montgomery. Sadly Alex passed in 2010. I was just trying to find any more details. Sorry wasn't Navy myself was a crab hence the name...... I know its a long shot but worth a try.
Thanks
Tom
Going over some family pics and came across a pic of my father on HMS Combatant in 1945. I knew he served on HMS Dido in 1946 but had no idea on the former.
There's not much info on it except they were minesweepers, made in the USA and the RN had a few of them.
Wondering if anyone had served on either of these ships the same as my father.
Hi I'm Tom,
chatting with my mother about family ties to the forces. I have just found out that her brother served on HMS Combatant till the end of the war. He was a radio operator Alex Montgomery. Sadly Alex passed in 2010. I was just trying to find any more details. Sorry wasn't Navy myself was a crab hence the name...... I know its a long shot but worth a try.
Thanks
Tom
Going over some family pics and came across a pic of my father on HMS Combatant in 1945. I knew he served on HMS Dido in 1946 but had no idea on the former.
There's not much info on it except they were minesweepers, made in the USA and the RN had a few of them.
Wondering if anyone had served on either of these ships the same as my father.
 
B

Billy Q

Guest
#7
Going over some family pics and came across a pic of my father on HMS Combatant in 1945. I knew he served on HMS Dido in 1946 but had no idea on the former.
There's not much info on it except they were minesweepers, made in the USA and the RN had a few of them.
Wondering if anyone had served on either of these ships the same as my father.
Warship Commands listed for George Leycester Barwell, RN

Ship Rank Type From To
HMS Fitzroy (i)(J 03) Lt.Cdr. (retired) Minesweeper 14 May 1941 Jun 1941
HMS Elgin(J 39) Lt.Cdr. (retired) Minesweeper 6 Jun 1941 3 Nov 1941
HMS Combatant(J 341) Lt.Cdr. (retired) Minesweeper Oct 1943 25 Jan 1946
Barwell was the only one in command Combatant in her short life.
His Number One was Tempy. Lt Hon .JFA St.Aubyn RNVR
 

TeeCeeCee

Lantern Swinger
#8
We once had a neighbour served on Combatant. IIRC, he said they did some sweeping off Normandy on or around DDay. Does that sound right?

His first name was 'Stan' and think the surname may have been something like 'Robinson' but who knows. Long time ago. If there's a name like that on the crew list ...
 
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