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This page last updated 14th July 2009

The 8th MSF
(Minesweeping Flotilla)

Only one British built vessel featured in the 8th MSF which otherwise comprised the Canadian built Algerines REGULUS (SO), COQUETTE, THISBE, MARY ROSE, MOON, PROVIDENCE and SEABEAR. The lone British built ship was ROWENA. SEABEAR in particular had had a most hazardous passage over from Canada, having been put in charge of six Russian PT boats none of which ever did what they were told, causiong all sorts of problems for SEABEAR.

Except for SEABEAR the flotilla was together at Malta by November 1944, carrying out the now routine chore for all minesweepers; that of clearing the many minefields surrounding the island. It was not until the flotilla had moved to Taranto to clear that port that the first mine was cut, but from that time there was to be many more. On completion of this task, the 8th was ordered to Corfu to sweep a channel between southern Corfu and Siveta Island.

On 12th January 1945, after a number of mines had been cut, for some unexplained reason REGULUS, which was leading and therefore should have been in clear water, hit a mine with her propellers. The resultant explosion killed one stoker and opened up an enormous hole in the ship, and after a short time she sank, fortunately with no further loss of life. Later, COQUETTE took over as SO and the flotilla moved on to Genoa and Leghorn for more sweeping. Another short spell at Malta was followed by the departure of the 8th on 25th August, bound, like so many others, for the Far East, reaching Singapore just as the British prisoners were being released by their Japanese captors. Sweeping off Formosa and Hong Kong followed and in early 1946, having been relieved by the 10th MSF the flotilla packed up and returned to the Mediterranean where it was engaged in clearing an extensive minefield to the north of Bizerta in North Africa, assisted by FIERCE (from the 11th) and ESPIEGLE (from the 12th). During this time FIERCE had the misfortune to go aground in Bizerta, fortunately without damage other than to her pride. In September the flotilla dispersed, SEABEAR to join the 5th MSF and a number of other vessels in the “Palestine Patrol”.

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