British Yard Mine Sweeper 2221.
Nore Command, World War Two 1939 to 1945.
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BRITISH YARD MINE SWEEPERS
BYMS’s were built in the United States and transferred the Royal Navy under the Lend-lease Programme. “British Yard Mine Sweepers” are so called because they were built to the same design as the US Navy’s “Yard Mine Sweepers”.
Crews for the BYMS’s would sail to the United States, often on the Queen Mary, which could sail unescorted because of her greater speed, to collect their vessel. They would then have the formidable task of sailing their small vessel back across the Atlantic Ocean, often in winter.
BYMS 2221, Flotilla 157 in 44, 150 in 45.
Built by: J. N. Martinac Shipbuilding Co., Tacoma, Washington State. USA. (West Coast.)
Laid down: 31 December 1942.
Launched: 22 April 1943.
Completed and transferred to Royal Navy: 16 September 1943.
Reclassified: HMS J-1021 later HMS BYMS-2221.
Assigned to the Nore Command, Flotilla 157
16 Sep. 43, Completed.
19 Jan 44, Balboa. Panama Canal. (After travelling down the West Coast of the United States.)
1 to 4 Feb 44, Cristobal, Panama Canal.
12 to 19 Feb 44, Trinidad.
26 and 22 Feb 44, Belem.
4 and 5 March 44, Recife. Brazil. Crossed Atlantic Ocean from South America to West Africa.
1 Nov to 12 April, 44, Freetown. Sierra Leone
26 April to 15 May 44, Gibraltar.
26 May to 29 May 44 Clyde.
30 and 31May 44, Ew….
4 June to 3 Aug, Great Yarmouth.
30 Aug 44 France.
2 November 1944. Helped in clearing the Scheldt Estuary of mines, the most crucial minesweeping event of WW2.157th Flotilla of which BYMS 2221 was part was shelled from shore when it reached Cadzand (Holland) close to the Scheldt estuary mouth.
7 Sep 44, Portsmouth.
20 Sep 44 Southend.
20 Sep to 9 Oct 44, Great Yarmouth.
17 Oct to 2 Jan 45, Portsmouth/Sheerness.
26 December 1944. Three British Yard Minesweepers, BYMS 2213, 2141 and 2221, from Flotilla 157th (Force “A” from Wildfire III, Queenborough) were carrying out a night sweep when BYMS 2221 reported sighting a periscope on her port side. At the same time BYMS 2213 reported a periscope on her starboard.
U-boats were rare in the shallow waters off the Dutch coast and it was expected the periscopes were from midget, one man, “Biber” (German for Beaver) submarines. Biber’s were armed with two torpedoes, while the BYMS’s did not carry depth charger. BYMS 2141 and 2221 gave chase to the target on their port side with BYMS 2213 going to starboard.
As the Biber attempted to avoid the minesweepers, BYMS 2141 rammed it but only managed a glancing blow. BYMS 2221 also managed to ram the Biber but with little effect. Both minesweepers then fired on the Biber with their Oerlikon guns and small arms.
The Biber having been hit a number of times came to a halt on the surface. To be sure of its catch, BYMS 2141 ensnared the Biber in its “LL” cable. Using their cable winch, they pulled the Biber in to its stern. An attempt was made to tow the Biber, but the tow wire snapped and the Biber sank.
To starboard, BYMS 2213 chased her Biber. As BYMS 2213 made her ramming run, the hatch opened and its only crew member got out and began waving his arms.
BYMS 2213 hit the Biber and it rolled under her bow to reappear at her stern and sink. The survivors were rescued and taken prisoner.
German records show that these two Biber’s were amongst other which had left Dutch ports at 0200 in the early morning of 26 December 1944 with orders to attack shipping off Flushing in the Scheldt.
20 Jan 45, Great Yarmouth.
15 May 45, Great Yarmouth.
15 to 17 May 45 Sheerness.
17 and 18 May 45, Ostend. The winter of 1944–1945 was very harsh for the people of Holland. Food was cut off by the Germans and 18,000 people starved to death. Relief came at the beginning of May 1945 when minesweepers cleared Dutch ports of mines and ships carrying humanitarian aid arrived. Minesweepers, the first vessels to arrive in Dutch ports gave their food to Dutch children.
20 June 45 Southend.
20 June 45, Humber.
29 June 45. Kiel. Although the War in Europe is over, mines still need clearing from German harbours and ports.
1946 at Sheerness. Laid up at Queenborough Pier, Wildfire III, Queenborough after WW2 waiting to be returned to the United States Navy or sold.
22 Oct 47, sold to Greece.
Scrapped in 1968.
The German Biber (Beaver) one-man submarine carried two torpedoes.
OFFICERS ON THE NAVY LIST, June 1944
Temp. Lieut, R. N. R., J. B. Blake 23 Sept 43 (In Command)
Temp. Lieut, R. N. V. R., W. C. G. Napper 23 Sept 43.
Temp. Sub-Lieut, R. N. V. R., H. J. Gordon 23 Sept 43.
OFFICERS ON THE NAVY LIST, July 1945
Temp. Lieut, R. N. V. R., W. C. G. Napper, (In Command) 23 Sept 43
Temp. Sub-Lieut, R. N. V. R., H. J. Gordon 23 Sept 43
Temp. Sub-Lieut, R. N. V. R., A. J. Sheffield 30 July 44
Watch a short video about the Biber Submarine https://youtu.be/gk_zyNChtCk