Allied Warships

HMS Elm (T 105)

MS Trawler of the Tree class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeMS Trawler
PennantT 105 
Built byA & J Inglis Ltd. (Glasgow, Scotland) : Aitchison Blair 
Ordered5 Jun 1939 
Laid down13 Jul 1939 
Launched12 Dec 1939 
Commissioned10 Mar 1940 
End service 
HistorySold in 1946.


Commands listed for HMS Elm (T 105)

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.

1T/Lt. John Hutchinson, RNR5 Mar 1940mid 1940
2T/Lt. Edward William Charles Dempster, RNVRmid 194013 Mar 1942
3T/Lt. Cecil William Hancock, RNR13 Mar 1942early 1943

4T/Lt. Kenneth Alexander Grant, RNVR6 May 194317 Jan 1945
5T/Lt. Bernard Wallace Webb, RNVR17 Jan 194511 Oct 1945

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Notable events involving Elm include:

1 Jun 1940

Sinking of the transport Astronomer.

The transport Astronomer (8401 GRT, built 1917) was en-route from Rosyth to Scapa Flow with naval stores escorted by the auxiliary A/S trawlers HMS Leicester City (T/Lt. A.R. Cornish, RNR) and HMS Stoke City (Lt.Cdr. N.C.H. Scallan, RNR).

Late in the evening of June, 1st, the Astronomer was hit by one torpedo from the German submarine U-58 but she did not sink.

Early the next day two more torpedoes single torpedoes were fired by the German submarine and one hour after the last hit. The trawlers then picked up the survivors.

A report of the damage to the transport was received at 0100/2 and in response the destroyer HMS Kelvin (Lt.Cdr. J.L. Machin, RN) was sent out from Scapa Flow.

At 0215/2 the destroyer HMS Mashona (Cdr. W.H. Selby, RN) departed Scapa Flow to assist HMS Kelvin in the A/S hunt.

The auxiliary A/S trawlers HMS Paul Rykens (Skr. G.C. Lawrence, RNR) HMS Peter Hendricks (Skr. G. Bryan, RNR), which were on patrol, were ordered to proceed to the area to assist.

The rescue tug St. Mellons departed Scapa Flow but returned after it became apparent that the transport had sunk.

A/S trawler HMS Leicester City obtained an A/S contact in the vicinity at about the time the transport was hit for the last time but she was also busy picking up survivors with together with HMS Stoke City. A total of 104 were picked up by the trawlers which then took them to Aberdeen. HMS Stoke City made a depth charge on a contact she obtained but without result. Apparently this was indeed an attack on U-58

At 0640/2, an aircraft attacked a submarine in position 57°25'N, 00°56'W, twenty five miles south of of the attack position. Destroyers HMS Mashona and HMS Kelvin were ordered to search the area of the aircraft attack but no contact was obtained.

At 1100/2, the destroyer HMS Encounter (Lt.Cdr. E.V.St J. Morgan, RN) and escort destoyer HMS Atherstone (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, RN) departed Rosyth. HMS Atherstone arrived at Scapa Flow at 2200/2. HMS Encounter was was to join the search for the submarine.

At 1800/2, HMS Atherstone. while en-route to Scapa Flow, reported a line of mines near the sinking position of the Astronomer.

The boom defense vessel HMS Barbican (T/Boom Skr. J.F. Rendall, RNR), escorted by M/S trawler HMS Elm (T/Lt. J. Hutchinson, RNR), was ordered to the area. Barbican recovered the mooring buoys, covered by HMS Encounter and HMS Mashona.

HMS Kelvin returned to Scapa Flow at 0315/3.

HMS Encounter and HMS Mashona arrived at Scapa Flow at 1130/3. (1)

15 Nov 1940
The light cruiser HMS Naiad (Capt. M.H.A. Kelsey, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.L.S. King, CB, MVO, RN) destroyed the existing W/T station in Jameson Bay on Jan Mayen Island. A German expedition was to have landed between 0600/15 and 0600/17 and the British were aware of this.

The next day, at 0430 on the 16th, two M/S trawlers arrived from Iceland to assist HMS Naiad, these were; HMS Elm (T/Lt. E.W.C. Dempster, RNVR) and HMS Wistaria (Skr. A.S.H. Robb, RD, RNR).

At daylight on the 16th, HMS Naiad sighted a trawler, the Hinrich Freese (384 GRT, built 1930), to the northward of Jameson Bay. Unable to escape the Germans grounded their trawler but the members of the expedition were captured non the less except for two who had drowned. The enemy trawler was then destroyed with gunfire.

HMS Naiad returned to Scapa Flow on 18 November. HMS Naiad sustained some weather damage during this operation. The two British trawlers returned to Iceland. (2)

19 Aug 1941

Operation Gauntlet.

Evacuation of Spitsbergen and destruction of mining facilities.

Around 1530A/19, the light cruisers HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN) and the destroyers HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSO, RN) and HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN) left Scapa Flow to make rendezvous off the Butt of Lewis with the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), destroyers HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN) and HMS Intrepid (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN) and the troopship Empress of Canada (21517 GRT, built 1922) which had departed the Clyde around 0200A/19.

They made rendezvous around 2100A/19, when HMS Argus with HMS Tartar, HMS Intrepid and HMS Escapade proceeded to Scapa Flow where they arrived at 0230A/20. These ships took no part in the upcoming operation 'Gauntlet'.

The Empress of Canada, escorted by HMS Nigeria, HMS Aurora, HMS Anthony, HMS Antelope and HMS Icarus (also known as 'Force A' set course for Hvalfiord, Iceland where they arrived at 0730A/21.

After fuelling they sailed for Spitsbergen at 2200A/21.

The RFA tanker Oligargh (6897 GRT, built 1918) escorted by the trawlers HMS Elm (T/Lt. E.W.C. Dempster, RNVR), HMS Hazel (T/Lt. R. Thorne, RNVR), HMS Van Oost (Skr. A. Bruce, RNR) and the whaler HMS Sealyham (T/Lt. C.E. Jefferson, RNR) had already departed for the upcoming operation around 2330A/18.

They arrived off Barentsburg, Spitsbergen around 0800A/24. On board the Empress of Canada were Canadian troops, engeneers, sappers, etc., etc. These were landed to demolish the mining equipment and to burn stocks of coal already mined. The soviet workforce was embarked on the Empress of Canada as was some of the equipment they want to take with them. The Oligargh and her escorts also arrived on the 24th.

Around 1800A/26, HMS Aurora joined the captured Norwegian merchant vessels (colliers, which had been in German service) Ingerto (3089 GRT, 1920), Munin (1285 GRT, built 1899), Nandi (1999 GRT, built 1920) and their escort the whaler HMS Sealyham which were bound for Reykjavik, Iceland. HMS Aurora left the convoy at 0400A/27 and returned to Spitsbergen around 0845A/27. HMS Sealyham and the colliers arrived in Iceland on 1 September 1941.

Around 2330A/26, the Empress of Canada departed Barentsburg for Archangelsk escorted by HMS Nigeria, HMS Anthony, HMS Antelope and HMS Icarus. They arrived at Archangelsk around 1200A/29. HMS Aurora remained behind at Spitsbergen.

The force departed Archangelsk to return to Spitsbergen around 1100A/30. They arrived in the Isfiord around 2230A/1. The Norwegians from Longyearbyen were then embarked on board the Empress of Canada as were the Canadian soldiers.

Empress of Canada, HMS Nigeria, HMS Aurora, HMS Anthony, HMS Antelope and HMS Icarus departed for the UK around 2200A/3.

At 0001A/5, HMS Nigeria and HMS Aurora parted company with the Empress of Canada and the destroyers. The cruisers were to conduct an anti-shipping raid of the coast of Northern Norway. But before proceeding on this anti-shipping raid both cruisers fuelled from the Oligarch during the 5th.

Between 0128A/7 and 0154A/7 the cruisers were in action against an enemy convoy they had intercepted off the Pordanger / Laksefjorden in approximate position 71°10'N, 26°56'E. During the action, at 0137A/7, HMS Nigeria had damaged her bow when most likely colliding with the wreck of one of the German ships. The cruisers then cleared the area but speed of HMS Nigeria was limited due to the damage sustained but both cruiser managed to clear the area without further contact with the emeny and course was set for Scapa Flow. Around 2030A/9, they were joined by the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN) and HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN). HMS Nigeria, HMS Aurora, HMS Bedouin and HMS Eskimo arrived at Scapa Flow around 2000A/10. The Germans got off worse though, they lost the gunnery training ship / minelayer Bremse.

The RFA tanker Oligargh and the caputured icebreaker Isbjørn and the seal catchers Agnes, Polaris and Strømsnes Also departed Spitsbergen for Iceland [time of depature not known to us]. They were escorted by the trawlers HMS Elk, HMS Hazel and HMS Van Oost. On 10 September 1941 the Isbjørn, Agnes, Polaris and Strømsnes, escorted by HMS Elk arrived at Akureyi, Iceland. Later they went on to Reykjavik, arriving there on 14 September 1941. On the same day the Oligargh also arrived at Reykjavik escorted by HMS Hazel and HMS Van Oost.

Around 0001A/5, HMS Kenya and HMS Aurora parted company to proceed on further operations but not before oiling from the Oligargh late in the morning / early in the afternoon of the same day.

Around 0715A/6, the light cruiser HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN) departed Scapa Flow to join the Empress of Canada and her three escorting destroyers. HMS Penelope joined them around 1800A/6.

Around 0615A/7, HMS Lightning (Cdr. R.G. Stewart, RN) joined company, having departed Scapa Flow around 2200A/6, and HMS Antelope and HMS Anthony parted company and set course to proceed to Scapa Flow where they arrived around 1000A/7.

Around 0630A/7, HMS Penelope also parted company and set course to return to Scapa Flow arriving there around 1030A/7.

Empress of Canada now continued on to the Clyde escorted by HMS Icarus and HMS Lightning. They arrived in the Clyde around 2300A/7. (3)

5 Jan 1944
HMS Elm (T/Lt. K.A. Grant, RNVR) and HMRT Earner together pick up 45 survivors from the British merchant Empire Housman.

22 Jan 1945
HMS Taciturn (Lt.Cdr. E.T. Stanley, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Trusty (Lt. J.P. Fyfe, DSC, RN), HMS Viking (Lt. R. Bannar-Martin, DSC, RN) and their escort, HMS Shikari (Lt. E.H.U. Cautley, RNVR), all arrived at Scapa Flow. HMS Trusty and HMS Shikari remained at Scapa Flow while HMS Taciturn and HMS Viking departed later this day for Lerwick where they arrived later the same day. These last two submarines were now escorted by HMS Elm (T/Lt. B.W. Webb, RNVR). (4)

23 Jan 1945
HMS Sea Nymph (Lt. M.I. Usher, RN) departed Lerwick for Holy Loch. She was escorted by HMS Elm (T/Lt. B.W. Webb, RNVR).

Early the next morning, off Scapa Flow, she was joined by HMS Unsparing. HMS Shikari (Lt. E.H.U. Cautley, RNVR) then took over the escort. (5)


  1. ADM 199/376
  2. ADM 199/393
  3. ADM 53/113677 + ADM 53/113678 + ADM 53/114799 + ADM 53/114800 + ADM 53/114850 + ADM 199/396
  4. ADM 199/1444
  5. ADM 173/19605

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

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