HMS Helvig

Discussion in 'Royal Naval Reserve (RNR)' started by Mandy, Dec 20, 2008.

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  1. My grandfather served on HMS Helvig from September 1943 to June 1944. Is anyone able to tell me anything about this ship?

    Any coments will be appreciated.

  2. From

    From Rootsweb:

    HMS Helvig 1945[/align]

    During her wartime service, HMS Helvig could hold 258 mines and was armed with four 20mm cannon. According to, she was at Oban in 1941 (link) and at Scapa Flow in 1942 (link) as a Base Mine Depot Ship under the Command of Cdr F M Simon Rtd. Other sources of naval historical information listed on the RN website here. See also National Archives here - er, the dates don't match but your grandfather wasn't an Engineer Officer, was he?
  3. Hi there Naval-Gazer,

    Thank you for the info on the Helvig. I had surfed the ney without succes.

    You asked if my grandfather was an Engineer Officer? No, he was PO CR Manderson, joined as a Boy in 1919, was invalided out in 1926, and joined up again in 1940 for the duration.

    He was a Signalman during his first stint, and a Wireman during his second. I'm not clear what his work was, but I believe he was involved with disarming mines or torpedoes. At some point he must have done something meritorious as he was awarded the BEM by King George.

    His service record describes him as P.O. C/M, but I jdon't know what the C/M stands for after his rank?

    His service record shows that he served on the Helvig from 8 Sept 1943 to 22 June 1944. This seems to conflict with her being under the management of Prince Line until 1945?

    Thnks again for your input, as I have many more questions! I hope to hear from you again.

    Best wishes,

  4. Hello Mandy,

    This extract is from an article in the online National Archives (link):

    There is nothing abnormal about Helvig being managed by Prince Line on behalf of the Ministry of War Transport during the years your grandfather served on board (link):

    Having a commissioned RN officer (albeit retired from the Active List) appointed in command, Helvig would have been entitled to wear the white ensign. I would have to check the relevant Navy Lists of the time to confirm she remained commissioned in the RN and was thus entitled to be called HMS Helvig throughout this period but it is quite possible.

    Your grandfather was probably among the naval personnel embarked for special duties not performed by the merchant seamen. A wireman was an electrician. Electrics came under the RN Torpedo Branch at this time, as did mines, so I would guess that he was responsible for the safe-keeping, maintenance and preparation of the mines carried on board. PO means Petty Officer. I suspect the C/M is part of his service number. Is it followed by five figures?
  5. Hi Naval_Gazer,

    Thank you for sharing - your knowledge is inavluable to me.

    I had not heard of the MOWT or its role in WW2, but now understand how my grandfather might have been posted to such a vessel as the Helvig for special duties. I am curious to know if she was commissioned at the time of his postin - 8 sept '43 to 22 June '44.

    I picked up the C/M reference from page 3 of his service record under the heading 'Rating' - P.O. C/M. I don't think it relates to his service number, as that is 'J' followed by five figures.

    I am also curious as why he was awarded the BEM. My recently deceased aunt mentioned that he has spent some time in Ireland gathering information, and had also written manuals on disarming German mines ('torpedoes?). Is there a way I can establish the facts?

    I have a photo taken in WW2 of him working with a team of men to load/unload an object whilst at sea - a mine? I'm hoping you will have some ideas. Unfortnately I haven't figured out how to attach it to this email, but will try again later.

    I appreciate your input and hope you will be able to help me through a few other questions I have, at a later time.

    Best wishes

  6. Mandy,

    I can't establish the meaning of C/M as an SQ (Specialist Qualification) without paying a visit to Naval Historical Branch or the RN Museum Library but I would guess at something like 'Counter Mine' or 'Controlled Mines'.

    According to 'Seedies Roll of Naval Honour and Awards, 1939-1959', Petty Officer Charles Richard MANDERSON P/JX181641 was awarded the British Empire Medal in the 1946 New Year Honours (London Gazette 13 June 1946) while serving at HMS Vernon. No citation is provided but New Year and Birthday honours and decorations tended to be awarded for exemplary service overall rather than for a specific deed.

    Your photo appears to show the recovery at sea of a German ground mine using some sort of cradle but I'd need to see a higher resolution version to be sure. Please check PMs.
  7. FlagWagger

    FlagWagger Book Reviewer

    A quick look at the June 1942 navy List Appendix on shows that there was a specialisation called Controlled Mining which had CM as a designation on its badge.
  8. You star! What a useful reference too.
  9. Mandy,
    Just joined and seen about H.M.S Helvig. My Father was in command of her sometime 1944 at about the time the Germans started using their V Weapons. He was at Chatham with her at the time and as we lived in Surrey he got home quite a bit. Some members of the crew made me a model of her which was very good, alas this is no longer about. Exact timing is a bit vague as any documentation disapeared with another side of the family. Dad was a Lieutenant Commander at the time and went on to command one of the large LST's leading up to the D-day landings.
    I have a couple of photos of Helvig, one is very atmospheric. against a backdrop of Scapa Flow I think.
    Let me know if these are of interest and I will mail them to you.
  10. Hi there Alexandria,

    Thanks for your response.

    My grandfather was a Petty Officer/Controlled Mining aboard the Helvig between 8 September 1943 and 22 June 1944, and so may very well have served under your Petty Officer. What a small world it is!

    Since the Helvig was leased by MOT for the war only, I have been trying to establish whether she carried the designation HMS. As I understand, having a commissioned RN officer appointed in command, Helvig would have been entitled to wear the white ensign. I wonder if you can confirm she was also entitled to be called HMS Helvig?

    I have 2 photos posted to this site, one of my granfather at the time of his service with the Helvig, the other of him supervising the recovery of a German mine (I beleive) from the deck of the Helvig. I hope you are able to see these as they may be of interest. If you can't, let me know and I will send you a copy.

    I would very much like to see your photos of the ship. The easiest way to send them is by attaching them to an email. If you don't have a digitla camera, I would appreciate your posting them to me: David Carr, 7008 Oak Brook Dr, Urbandale, IA 50322, USA.

    Your father sounds to have been an interesting man with an excellent service record. I'm sorry you no longer have access to his documents.

    Again, thank you for your interest.

    Kind regards,

  11. I believe that the C/M means that your grandfathers home port was Chatham (Nore Command). I was a Chatham rating consequently my service number was C/M------. Sadly Nore Command was finished around about 1958.
  12. Hello Yorkie. Thanks for your input but we have already established that C/M was Mandy/David's grandfather's SQ as a PO (i.e. Controlled Mining), not his Port Division service number prefix which was P/JX. I had two "'Attem Chatham" ships: Jaguar and Minerva, both 'targets'. :)

    Alexandria, what was your father's name, please? I'm sure I wouldn't be alone in my gratitude if you would upload your photos to this site for us all to enjoy.
  13. Mandy
    I like the attached photo, where HMS Helvig (and she was HMS)is in shadow, the V shaped device on the bow, for mine sweeping??Seems a bit strange. But not so the two silhouetted anti aircraft guns on their mountings situated behind.
    The other is her in her peacetime colours. I was five or six I suppose when my dad took me on board at Chatham Dockyard. Hence the model the crew made for me. Wish I had it now! Just to clarify a point forgot to mention before, my dad was RNR. Not long after the navy siezed Helvig, the government propaganda dept (Ministry of whatever...) made a very cheap and implausable movie that was called 'Contraband'. The first few minutes of which shows Helvig being siezed. I have this movie on VHS tape. I shall have to get it copied to Disc.
    Nearly Forgot Dads name was R.A.Eldridge
    Best wishes
  14. Alexandria, if the V-shaped device on the bow looks like the one in the picture below, it pivoted to deploy the conical drum-shaped object under the bow. This was a 'Kango' SA acoustic hammer, a noisemaker intended to detonate acoustic sea mines ahead of the ship.

    Ex-Norwegian whaler minesweeper with 'Kango'
    SA acoustic hammer in raised position over bow
  15. Mandy
    Looks as if the two images I was supposed to send did not make it so I shall try again. Keep your fingers crossed!
  16. Hi Mandy
    Thanks for your address. I will send the two photos in the mail, ASAP.
  17. Alexandria, Mandy

    My father died earlier this year and amongst his things was his Naval record. He served as a signalman on HMS Helvig from 23 Mar '43 to 21 Jun '44. He was 21 at the time.

    I remember him saying that one of the ships he'd served on was a mine carrier and. when he first went below decks and saw the racks of mines, he thought to himself "I'm on a floating bomb". Now he's gone I realise how much I never got around to asking him.

  18. Dear all,

    I hope a post to this very old thread, which I recently discovered, might obtain me a reply or two. My grandfather served on HMS Helvig (as it definitely was) between August 1941 and November 1942. He was Lt. Arthur Smith, a career naval officer and mining specialist. I speculate that he was the head of the CM department on the ship. I have been trying to get information on the ship's movements during this period. I know that it was a part of the Rosyth Escort Force during this time. I know also that it escorted a couple of convoys to Freetown (Sierra Leone) during 1940, that it was also involved in coastal escort work (up the east cost of the UK) and that from late November 1942 it escorted several convoys to Algiers in support of Operation Torch. However, I have no information on the specific 15 months during which my grandfather served. I would be very grateful for any pointers.


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