The History of Leith

December 17, 2010

First Blood

H.M.S. ” Basset “—an armed trawler, the pioneer of all subsequent
trawlers—was the second ship to be built at Leith for the Royal
Navy. Completed before the war, her service was uneventful until
April 1942, when she was attacked by four Messerschmitt no’s.
” Basset” returned such spirited fire that one of the aircraft exploded
in mid air. The second was so badly damaged that the machine turned
half a loop before the pilot could recover control. Pieces fell off and the
aeroplane began to lose height. The pilot tried to make the English
coast, but crashed into the sea. There were no casualties among the
crew and the ship sustained no damage. Her Commander reported that
she stood up very well to the bombing attacks.

H.M.S. ” Mastiff “—also built before the outbreak of war—was
an improved ” Basset,” but before having an opportunity of seeing
much service, was mined and sunk.

H.M.S. “Ringdove,” a ship specially designed for laying controlled
minefields, steamed about 60,000 miles, laying such minefields
round British harbours and later at the mouth of the Scheldt. She
figured in many air raids, and her company, by gallant exertions, saved
Lowestoft railway station and other important buildings during one
raid. She had a narrow squeak from a ” V ” bomb in the Scheldt.
H.M.S. ” Redstart,” a sister to, and worked in conjunction with,
” Ringdove,” was sunk during operations in December 1941.
H.M.S. -“Hazel”

The strength and endurance of the Tree Class Anti-Submarine
Trawlers were exemplified by H.M.S. “Hazel” during her eleven months’
service in northern waters. She was unlucky during this commission—
unlucky in two ways. Whatever convoy she escorted on any route, she
ran into no enemy, but plenty of bad weather. Even on her way home
she ran into gales and one of her boats was stove in. But she withstood everything and always returned safely to her base.

Once the ship was kept pinned to a quay by a gale for three days,
and on another occasion, when a big merchant ship alongside was
blown out of harbour, the crew of the ” Hazel ” stayed up all night in
a successful effort to hold the ship to her buoy. The gale blew a house
down and broke windows all over the town. The ship’s Commanding
Officer was then Lieut.-Commander R. Dwyer, R.N.R., and he frequently drove the ship through 30 feet seas. ” It was like being on
a gigantic scenic railway,” he said.

source-Leith Built Ships on War Service

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