On Tuesday I attended a Funeral and at the reception after I overheard a lady talking about her Father who was lost in 1942 on HMS NIGER. I asked her about it and she knew nothing of any details, such as how he was lost or where or why the ship went down. She had been to the Admiralty and to Chatham to find details, she said, no one was interested and she still knew nothing of her father`s death, she was five years old when he was killed.
So I told her I would try.
They were on the Russian Convoys, to and from Murmansk and Archangel in Arctic Russia. these were the toughest convoys in the whole war as old Bob, a member here who died 19 months ago would have testified.
Somehow the Admiralty and Chatham was not interested in.
How soon are Brave men forgotten!!!
here is the story of what I found.................
HMS NIGER had sailed from Mumansk carrying survivors of HMS EDINBURGH that had been sunk with a great loss of life, these survivors thought the were lucky. ?



HMS Niger
Summary of History
NIGER (J73) (sixth ship of the name) was one of the two triple-expansion engined 'Halcyons', being similar to SALAMANDER, in dimensions and machinery. She commissioned at Devonport on 4 June 1936. She took part in exercises in the Firth of Clyde in June 1937 then she sailed to the western Mediterranean for patrol duties in Spanish waters in July/August. She then docked and refitted at Devonport for the rest of the year. In Jan1938 NIGER reduced to 2/5 complement and was taken in hand for refit and re-arming (HA replaced the LA 4" guns). She spent June/July visiting south coast ports, and in August she sailed to Copenhagen. With the 1st Flotilla she spent Sept/October off the eastern Scottish coast. NIGER refitted at Devonport in April 1939 and she spent June visiting south coast ports after taking part in the search for the submarine THETIS (sunk in Liverpool Bay) early in the month. She was at her war station on the East Coast when the war started on 3 September 1939. On 7 Oct 1939 while minesweeping off the Swarte Bank, North Sea, the ship was slightly damaged when she was attacked by enemy flying boats. She was attacked again by enemy aircraft on 30 Jan 1940 off Invergordon; 20 bombs were dropped causing negligible damage to the ship but wounding three men.
At the end of May 1940 NIGER took part in the evacuation of the BEF from Dunkirk. Just prior to this (20 May) she had been dive bombed and set on fire off Gravelines. After her exertions off the French coast evacuating some 1,500 men, NIGER sailed to Grimsby in mid June for repairs which lasted until 8 July. On 30 July she collided with the M/S trawler LAUREL off the Humber, being holed on the port quarter, and her degaussing gear being damaged; she returned to Grimsby for repairs.
In March 1941 NIGER was minesweeping in the Channel with the 1st Flotilla. In April she was reallocated to convoy escort duties in the Western Approaches (and later on with the Home Fleet), a tribute to the versatility of the Class. With SPEEDWELL she was sent up to Iceland for escort duties. On 12 July NIGER was 'required for special service with SALAMANDER & HALCYON'. She proceeded to Stornoway and Aberdeen (15 - 23 July 1941) to collect her minesweeping gear, and on to Scapa Flow. In late July she departed Scapa for Iceland where she spent part of August providing antisubmarine protection for the port of Seidisfjord.
In late September 1941 she and BRAMBLE were detailed as escorts for the Arctic Convoy PQ2, but her trials were not satisfactory. It was 21 December before she was pronounced fit to sail, but three days later she was '....out of action for five months .... requested for Royal Dockyard for thorough investigation and repair.' In fact she was ready for sea by early February 1942.
On 14 Feb 1942 NIGER met the 13 merchant ships who constituted Convoy PQ11; they sailed a day late from Kirkwall. The return Convoy QP11 (13 ships) sailed on 28 April with a local escort which included NIGER; the cruiser EDINBURGH lent close support. Following the sinking of Edinburgh the 'Halcyons' took her survivors into Polyarnoe.
NIGER sailed for the UK with Convoy QP13 (35 ships), leaving Murmansk on 27 June as S.O. escort, which by an error of navigation caused by the bad weather, strayed into an allied minefield off Iceland and at 2240 on 5 July 1942 NIGER blew up and sank in position 66.55N, 22.20W. Fog had reduced visibility to 500 yards but HUSSAR eventually obtained a shore fix and led the remaining ships of the convoy (four had been sunk by mines) out of the minefield and reached Reykjavik on 7 July. The Commanding Officer, 8 officers and 140 ratings perished when NIGER sank; the large casualty list is probably explained by the fact that the ship was carrying naval passengers home from North Russia.
Source: Article from the World Ship Society’s publication ‘Warship’ THE WAR OF THE HALCYONS 1939-1945 R A Ruegg (supplemented with additional information)
See also www.naval-history.net


The Advance Sailing Telegram also lists Ilmen (Methil d.g. / Leith) - station number not known (not mentioned in "Convoys to Russia").
The AST has a handwritten note in connection with Empire Stevenson saying "returned Reykjavik".

** Hegira and Kuzbass had originally been in Convoy QP 12.



Commodore was in Empire Selwyn.
Off northeast Iceland the convoy split into 2 portions on July 4, with 16 ships for Loch Ewe and 19 for Reykjavik (in 5 columns, escorted by Niger, Hussar, Roselys, Lady Madeleine and St. Elstan).

"Convoys to Russia" states that during the final passage of the Iceland portion, "visibility reduced to one mile and the NE wind increased to force 8; no sights had been obtained for 48 hours. At 1910 the convoy formation was reduced to two columns to pass through the gap inshore of the British minefield off Straumness, and course for this was altered on a DR basis supported by soundings. At about 2200 Niger, who had gone ahead to make a landfall with Hussar as a visual link to the convoy astern, sighted what appeared to be North Cape and ordered a course alteration. In fact Niger had sighted a large iceberg, and at 2240 she blew up and sank just after she had realised her mistake and signalled the Commodore in American Robin. In the reduced visibility six merchantmen struck mines, Exterminator*, Heffron, Hybert, Massmar and Rodina sinking and John Randolph being damaged. The remaining escorts entered the minefield to rescue survivors; the rest of the convoy spent the night imagining U boat or a surface attack. Roselys remained in the field for over six hours while picking up 179 survivors. Hussar eventually obtained an accurate fix on the shore line and led the convoy to safety, arriving at Reykjavik on 7 July".


ADVERTISING




The above incident took place on July 5-1942. All the ships that were sunk had U.S.A. as their final destination.

*According to "Loyd's War Losses" Vol. I, Exterminator (no casualties) did not sink. She was temporarily repaired and proceeded to St. John's. (Later arrived Hampton Roads on Sept. 5-1943 and subsequently broken up at Philadelphia).



Escorts:
June 26-June 28 (Eastern local): Russian destroyers Grozni, Gremyaschi and Kuibyshev, and minesweepers Bramble, Hazard, Leda and Seagull.
June 26-July 1: Submarine Trident
June 26-July 3: Destroyers Inglefield and Intrepid.
June 26-July 5: Minesweeper Niger
June 26-July 7: Minesweeper Hussar, corvettes Honeysuckle, Hyderabad, Roselys, Starwort, AA ship Alynbank, destroyers Achates, Volunteer, Polish Garland. Also, trawlers Lady Madeleine and St. Elstan.
Distant Cover (same as for Convoy PQ 17): Battleships Duke of York, USS Washington, aircraft carrier Victorious, cruisers Cumberland and Nigeria, destroyer screen Ashanti, Blankney, Escapade, Faulknor, Marne, Martin, Middleton, Onslaught, Onslow, Wheatland. Also, USS Mayrant and Rhind.

Destroyer Douglas and escort oiler Gray Ranger joined from PQ 17.
Related external link:
HMS Niger - Note that some of the other escorts for this convoy are also discussed on this site

the convoy...................
Off northeast Iceland the convoy split into 2 portions on July 4, with 16 ships for Loch Ewe and 19 for Reykjavik (in 5 columns, escorted by Niger, Hussar, Roselys, Lady Madeleine and St. Elstan).
"Convoys to Russia" states that during the final passage of the Iceland portion, "visibility reduced to one mile and the NE wind increased to force 8; no sights had been obtained for 48 hours. At 1910 the convoy formation was reduced to two columns to pass through the gap inshore of the British minefield off Straumness, and course for this was altered on a DR basis supported by soundings. At about 2200 Niger, who had gone ahead to make a landfall with Hussar as a visual link to the convoy astern, sighted what appeared to be North Cape and ordered a course alteration. In fact Niger had sighted a large iceberg, and at 2240 she blew up and sank just after she had realised her mistake and signalled the Commodore in American Robin. In the reduced visibility six merchantmen struck mines, Exterminator*, Heffron, Hybert, Massmar and Rodina sinking and John Randolph being damaged. The remaining escorts entered the minefield to rescue survivors; the rest of the convoy spent the night imagining U boat or a surface attack. Roselys remained in the field for over six hours while picking up 179 survivors. Hussar eventually obtained an accurate fix on the shore line and led the convoy to safety, arriving at Reykjavik on 7 July".
The above incident took place on July 5-1942. All the ships that were sunk had U.S.A. as their final destination.
*According to "Loyd's War Losses" Vol. I, Exterminator (no casualties) did not sink. She was temporarily repaired and proceeded to St. John's. (Later arrived Hampton Roads on Sept. 5-1943 and subsequently broken up at Philadelphia).

Escorts:
June 26-June 28 (Eastern local): Russian destroyers Grozni, Gremyaschi and Kuibyshev, and minesweepers Bramble, Hazard, Leda and Seagull.
June 26-July 1: Submarine Trident
June 26-July 3: Destroyers Inglefield and Intrepid.
June 26-July 5: Minesweeper Niger
June 26-July 7: Minesweeper Hussar, corvettes Honeysuckle, Hyderabad, Roselys, Starwort, AA ship Alynbank, destroyers Achates, Volunteer, Polish Garland. Also, trawlers Lady Madeleine and St. Elstan.
Distant Cover (same as for Convoy PQ 17): Battleships Duke of York, USS Washington, aircraft carrier Victorious, cruisers Cumberland and Nigeria, destroyer screen Ashanti, Blankney, Escapade, Faulknor, Marne, Martin, Middleton, Onslaught, Onslow, Wheatland. Also, USS Mayrant and Rhind.
Destroyer Douglas and escort oiler Gray Ranger joined from PQ 17.
HMS NIGER (July 5, 1942)
British minesweeper returning to the UK from Murmansk, sank after sailing into a British laid minefield off the coast of Iceland. The Niger was transporting 39 survivors from the 10,000 ton cruiser HMS Edinburgh which was sunk by the U-456 on May 2nd, 1942, taking with her 57 members of her crew. The captain of the Niger, along with 80 crewmembers and 38 survivors from the Edinburgh went down with the ship. Only 8 men survived, one of whom was from the HMS Edinburgh.
HMS Edinburgh was transporting 5 TONS of gold bullion

On the 5th of July 1942, HMS Niger a British minsweeper confused by darkness and bad weather accidently sailed her convoy the QP-13 into a British minefield off Iceland.

She sank with heavy casualties, in addition five of the ships of QP-13 hit mines and four were lost. They were...
Richard Henry Lee damaged
Massmar sunk
Hybert sunk
John Randolf sunk
Heffrom sunk

It was a shame because HMS Niger was carrying survivors from the cruiser HMS Edinburgh that had been sunk earlier.

HMS Niger
Summary of History
NIGER (J73) (sixth ship of the name) was one of the two triple-expansion engined 'Halcyons', being similar to SALAMANDER, in dimensions and machinery. She commissioned at Devonport on 4 June 1936. She took part in exercises in the Firth of Clyde in June 1937 then she sailed to the western Mediterranean for patrol duties in Spanish waters in July/August. She then docked and refitted at Devonport for the rest of the year. In Jan1938 NIGER reduced to 2/5 complement and was taken in hand for refit and re-arming (HA replaced the LA 4" guns). She spent June/July visiting south coast ports, and in August she sailed to Copenhagen. With the 1st Flotilla she spent Sept/October off the eastern Scottish coast. NIGER refitted at Devonport in April 1939 and she spent June visiting south coast ports after taking part in the search for the submarine THETIS (sunk in Liverpool Bay) early in the month. She was at her war station on the East Coast when the war started on 3 September 1939. On 7 Oct 1939 while minesweeping off the Swarte Bank, North Sea, the ship was slightly damaged when she was attacked by enemy flying boats. She was attacked again by enemy aircraft on 30 Jan 1940 off Invergordon; 20 bombs were dropped causing negligible damage to the ship but wounding three men.
At the end of May 1940 NIGER took part in the evacuation of the BEF from Dunkirk. Just prior to this (20 May) she had been dive bombed and set on fire off Gravelines. After her exertions off the French coast evacuating some 1,500 men, NIGER sailed to Grimsby in mid June for repairs which lasted until 8 July. On 30 July she collided with the M/S trawler LAUREL off the Humber, being holed on the port quarter, and her degaussing gear being damaged; she returned to Grimsby for repairs.
In March 1941 NIGER was minesweeping in the Channel with the 1st Flotilla. In April she was reallocated to convoy escort duties in the Western Approaches (and later on with the Home Fleet), a tribute to the versatility of the Class. With SPEEDWELL she was sent up to Iceland for escort duties. On 12 July NIGER was 'required for special service with SALAMANDER & HALCYON'. She proceeded to Stornoway and Aberdeen (15 - 23 July 1941) to collect her minesweeping gear, and on to Scapa Flow. In late July she departed Scapa for Iceland where she spent part of August providing antisubmarine protection for the port of Seidisfjord.
In late September 1941 she and BRAMBLE were detailed as escorts for the Arctic Convoy PQ2, but her trials were not satisfactory. It was 21 December before she was pronounced fit to sail, but three days later she was '....out of action for five months .... requested for Royal Dockyard for thorough investigation and repair.' In fact she was ready for sea by early February 1942.
On 14 Feb 1942 NIGER met the 13 merchant ships who constituted Convoy PQ11; they sailed a day late from Kirkwall. The return Convoy QP11 (13 ships) sailed on 28 April with a local escort which included NIGER; the cruiser EDINBURGH lent close support. Following the sinking of Edinburgh the 'Halcyons' took her survivors into Polyarnoe.
NIGER sailed for the UK with Convoy QP13 (35 ships), leaving Murmansk on 27 June as S.O. escort, which by an error of navigation caused by the bad weather, strayed into an allied minefield off Iceland and at 2240 on 5 July 1942 NIGER blew up and sank in position 66.55N, 22.20W. Fog had reduced visibility to 500 yards but HUSSAR eventually obtained a shore fix and led the remaining ships of the convoy (four had been sunk by mines) out of the minefield and reached Reykjavik on 7 July. The Commanding Officer, 8 officers and 140 ratings perished when NIGER sank; the large casualty list is probably explained by the fact that the ship was carrying naval passengers home from North Russia.
Source: Article from the World Ship Society’s publication ‘Warship’ THE WAR OF THE HALCYONS 1939-1945 R A Ruegg (supplemented with additional information)
See also www.naval-history.net



The convoy divided off Iceland with 16 going to Loch Ewe and the other 19, escorted by NIGER, Hussar a corvette and two trawlers, heading around the north coast of Iceland to Reykjavik.

Map source: 'Last Call for HMS Edinburgh' Frank Pearce






Actual location of mine barrage. During Operation SN, 110,000 mines were laid both to the North East and South West of Iceland over three years
Mines and Mine Laying in Iceland WWII

5.7.42 At 1900 the convoy was approaching the north-west coast if Iceland in five columns. The weather was bad; visibility was under one mile, rough seas and a Force 8 wind from the north-east. No sighting had been taken since 2/7 and the convoy's position, calculated by dead reckoning, was in doubt.
At 1910 NIGER's Senior Officer (Commander Antony J Cubison) went on ahead in order to obtain a navigational fix and suggested to the Commodore that the convoy be reduced from five to two columns to pass between the coast at Straumness and a British minefield to the north west of Iceland..
At 2100 NIGER, which had gone ahead looking for land, leaving Hussar in between as a visual link with the convoy, sighted what she believed to be the North Cape and ordered a course alteration for the convoy. Unfortunately, what NIGER had sighted was an iceberg and the alteration took the convoy into the minefield. From soundings he estimated that the North Cape of Iceland had been passed and ordered a south-west course to try to make a landfall. Cautiously making his way through the mist and cloud he suddenly saw what appeared to be a steep cliff looming up in the murk, which he thought must be the North Cape after all. It seemed that the convoy had altered course too soon and if they maintained the direction they would be into the coastline. To correct this, Cubison immediately signalled the convoy back on to a west course. Hardly had the convoy swung back onto the new course when a clearance in the weather showed that what had been taken for a cliff was in fact a large iceberg.
Just before 2240 NIGER realised the mistake and signalled the Commodore to change course but it was too late and at 2240 NIGER hit a mine and blew up in position 66.55N, 22.20W. NIGER sank very quickly. With her bottom torn out and her back broken she lasted but a few minutes. As she settled into the Arctic sea there was a muffled roar as her boilers exploded. And then, maintaining her level with the water, she slowly heeled over onto her side, her mast and funnel dipping despairingly into a surface of burning oil gushing from her tanks. For a moment the keel showed wet black against the turbulent sea and then in a rush of vomiting bubbles she was gone.
She took with her the commanding officer, Commander Cubison, 80 officers and crew, and 39 passengers, survivors from HMS Edinburgh. Fog further reduced visibility to 500 yards, and the Merchant Ships thought a U Boat attack or Surface Raider attack was in progress. Four Merchant Ships were sunk by mines, and two more seriously damaged. The escorts displayed conspicuous gallantry in entering and remaining in the minefield to rescue the survivors. ROSLYS, whose Commanding Officer had appreciated that his ship was in the minefield remained in it for six and a half hours while she rescued 179 survivors.
Miraculously, two of the passengers from Edinburgh survived NIGER's sinking. Finally a definite shore fix was obtained by Hussar and the convoy reached Reykjavik on 7/7.
The Commanding Officer, eight officers and 140 ratings perished when NIGER sank; the large casualty list is probably explained by the fact that the ship was carrying naval passengers home from North Russia including 39 survivors from HMS Edinburgh.
A letter dated September from Tiny Peebles, the Petty Officer Gunners Mate on NIGER at the time reveals that there were actually 8 survivors from NIGER of whom one was a survivor from EDINBURGH. ADM 199/347 reports there were 3 survivors from NIGER
The convoy divided off Iceland with 16 going to Loch Ewe and the other 19, escorted by NIGER, Hussar a corvette and two trawlers, heading around the north coast of Iceland to Reykjavik.

Map source: 'Last Call for HMS Edinburgh' Frank Pearce






Actual location of mine barrage. During Operation SN, 110,000 mines were laid both to the North East and South West of Iceland over three years
Mines and Mine Laying in Iceland WWII

5.7.42 At 1900 the convoy was approaching the north-west coast if Iceland in five columns. The weather was bad; visibility was under one mile, rough seas and a Force 8 wind from the north-east. No sighting had been taken since 2/7 and the convoy's position, calculated by dead reckoning, was in doubt.
At 1910 NIGER's Senior Officer (Commander Antony J Cubison) went on ahead in order to obtain a navigational fix and suggested to the Commodore that the convoy be reduced from five to two columns to pass between the coast at Straumness and a British minefield to the north west of Iceland..
At 2100 NIGER, which had gone ahead looking for land, leaving Hussar in between as a visual link with the convoy, sighted what she believed to be the North Cape and ordered a course alteration for the convoy. Unfortunately, what NIGER had sighted was an iceberg and the alteration took the convoy into the minefield. From soundings he estimated that the North Cape of Iceland had been passed and ordered a south-west course to try to make a landfall. Cautiously making his way through the mist and cloud he suddenly saw what appeared to be a steep cliff looming up in the murk, which he thought must be the North Cape after all. It seemed that the convoy had altered course too soon and if they maintained the direction they would be into the coastline. To correct this, Cubison immediately signalled the convoy back on to a west course. Hardly had the convoy swung back onto the new course when a clearance in the weather showed that what had been taken for a cliff was in fact a large iceberg.
Just before 2240 NIGER realised the mistake and signalled the Commodore to change course but it was too late and at 2240 NIGER hit a mine and blew up in position 66.55N, 22.20W. NIGER sank very quickly. With her bottom torn out and her back broken she lasted but a few minutes. As she settled into the Arctic sea there was a muffled roar as her boilers exploded. And then, maintaining her level with the water, she slowly heeled over onto her side, her mast and funnel dipping despairingly into a surface of burning oil gushing from her tanks. For a moment the keel showed wet black against the turbulent sea and then in a rush of vomiting bubbles she was gone.
She took with her the commanding officer, Commander Cubison, 80 officers and crew, and 39 passengers, survivors from HMS Edinburgh. Fog further reduced visibility to 500 yards, and the Merchant Ships thought a U Boat attack or Surface Raider attack was in progress. Four Merchant Ships were sunk by mines, and two more seriously damaged. The escorts displayed conspicuous gallantry in entering and remaining in the minefield to rescue the survivors. ROSLYS, whose Commanding Officer had appreciated that his ship was in the minefield remained in it for six and a half hours while she rescued 179 survivors.
Miraculously, two of the passengers from Edinburgh survived NIGER's sinking. Finally a definite shore fix was obtained by Hussar and the convoy reached Reykjavik on 7/7.
The Commanding Officer, eight officers and 140 ratings perished when NIGER sank; the large casualty list is probably explained by the fact that the ship was carrying naval passengers home from North Russia including 39 survivors from HMS Edinburgh.
A letter dated September from Tiny Peebles, the Petty Officer Gunners Mate on NIGER at the time reveals that there were actually 8 survivors from NIGER of whom one was a survivor from EDINBURGH. ADM 199/347 reports there were 3 survivors from NIGER


So as every one in authority were not interested in helping an old lady to find her father`s fate I decided to mail this , these men and many thousands more should be remembered.