Allied Warships

HMS Pelorus (J 291)

Minesweeper of the Algerine class

NavyThe Royal Navy
PennantJ 291 
ModReciprocating engined 
Built byLobnitz & Co. Ltd. (Renfrew, Scotland) 
Ordered1 Jan 1942 
Laid down8 Oct 1942 
Launched18 Jun 1943 
Commissioned7 Oct 1943 
End service 

Sold to the South African Navy in 1947 being renamed SAS Pietermaritzburg. Scuttled to become an artificial reef off Simonstown on 12 November 1994.


Commands listed for HMS Pelorus (J 291)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1Lt. Rex Cassey, RNZNVR30 Sep 19436 Dec 1943
2A/Cdr. (emergency) George Nelson, RN6 Dec 194318 Dec 1944
3Lt.Cdr. Felix John Bourgat, RN18 Dec 1944mid 1946

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Notable events involving Pelorus include:

2 Jul 1945

Operation Collie.

The object of this operation was; sweeping mines off Car Nicobar and to bombardment and and conduct air strikes directed against appropriate targets.

Two forces were deployed;
Force 61, made up of the light cruiser HMS Nigeria (Capt. H.A. King, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, RN), escort carriers HMS Ameer (Cdr. P.D.H.R. Pelly, DSO, RN), HMS Emperor (Capt. C. Madden, RN), HMS Eskimo (Lt. Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, DSC, RN) HMS Roebuck (Cdr. C.D. Bonham-Carter, RN) and HMS Vigilant (Lt.Cdr. L.W.L. Argles, DSC, RN).

Force 62: made up of the minesweepers HMS Melita (T/A/Lt.Cdr. G.R. May, RNR, with Cdr. D.L. Johnston, RN, Senior Officer Sixth Minesweeping Flotilla on board), HMS Gozo (Lt.Cdr. T.T. Euman, RN), HMS Lennox (T/A/Lt.Cdr. C.H. Walton, RNR), HMS Lightfoot (T/A/Lt.Cdr. A.S. Drysdale, RNVR), HMS Pelorus (Lt.Cdr. F.J. Bourgat, RN), HMS Persian (Lt.Cdr. J.L. Woollcombe, RN), HMS Postillion (A/Lt.Cdr. W.E. Halbert, DSC, RNR), and the trawlers HMS Imersay (T/A/Lt.Cdr. J.H.A. Winfield, RNR) and HMS Lingay (T/Lt. P.W. Jequier, RNVR) as danlayers.

In the afternoon of 2 July both forces sailed from Trincomalee to proceed direct to Car Nicobar. The destroyers and minesweepers fuelled from the carriers on passage and as necessary during the operation.

The minesweepers operated off Car Nicobar daily from the 5th to 10th July, inclusive. A total of 167 moored mines were swept, all to the eastward of the island.

To cover the activities of the minesweepers, Nigeria and the destroyers bombarded gun positions and targets of opportunity on the island, while Hellcats from the escort carriers carried out a series of strikes, during which radar stations were put out of action and all craft seen in the area rendered unseaworthy.

The only enemy reaction was accurate Anti-Aircraft fire. Four of our aircraft were shot down, but all pilots were rescued inshore, one by a Walrus aircraft flown off from HMS Emperor and the remainder by the destroyers who drew ineffective machine gun fire from shore.

Precautionary measures against a landing, these including the erection of stakes on airfield runways, were observed to be taken by the Japanese.

On 7th July, Nancowry was subjected to bombardments and air strikes by Force 61, operating in heavy rain squalls. Fires and explosions were observed in the area of Naval Point and two coasters were left on fire. Two of our Hellcats were shot down by Anti-Aircraft fire, the pilot of one being rescued.

At first light on 11th July, twenty four Hellcats attacked Kotaraja and Lhonga Airfields in northwest Sumatra. No aircraft were observed on either airfield, nor at Sabang, but runways and buildings were bombed and strafed. After being hit by Anti-Aircraft fire, one Hellcat force landed in the sea, the pilot being picked up by a destroyer. One Japanese aircraft which approached was shot down by fighters.

Force 61 arrived back at Trincomalee on 13 July 1945, Force 62 on the 14th. (1)


  1. ADM 199/1457

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.

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