HM Minesweeper Drifter
Wildfire III, Queenborough.
Any hope that mining offensives in the Thames Estuary and on the East Coast would soon slacken when Germany invaded Russia on the 22 June 1941 were quickly dashed when the Minesweeper HMT Devon County detonated a mine and sunk on the 1st July 1941, HMT Receptive and the barge Rosme on the 3rd July 1941, the HMT Lord St Vincent on the 7th July 1941 and the Destroyer Whiteshed severely damaged with the loss of 13 crew on the 30 July.
Just as the Germans were about to launched their attack on Russia the Luftwaffe heavily attacked the East Coast and Thames Estuary. In one week alone (21 to 28 June 1941) ten vessels were badly bombed of which eight sunk.
On the 1 July 1941 the Luftwaffe dropped a large number of acustic mines in the Thames Estuary. One mine landed on land at Leysdown and as Lieutenant Cliff defused it, it hissed and crackled giving him electric shocks.
Type of Vessel: Ex fishing Drifter converted to Minesweeper.
Admiralty Number: 1066.
Fishing Number: Lowestoft-reg LT.526
Other Names: One source states Scadaun but no evidence of this.
Year Constructed: 1910
Gross Tons: 86 gross tons.
Armament: 1 X 6 pounder
Fate: Detonated a mine and sunk in the Thames Estuary with the loss of three of her crew.
Thank you to Mrs Chris Stow (née Denny) for the picture of the Devon County, of which she has the original painted by G. Race.
Chris tells us that her Great Grand Father William Walter Denny served on the Devon County during WW1. Her family history relates that during WW1 the Devon County was involved with ' Tin Fishing ' in the Dover Straits and there is also a family story that the Devon County was at the Dardanelles.
To find out more of the Devon County’s movements go to DRIFTERS AND TRAWLERS.
OFFICER ON NAVY LIST Dec, 39
Not on List. But both S. S. Wilson and W. N. Hurn joined her on the 26 November 39.
OFFICER ON NAVY LIST July 40
Skipper, R.N.R., S. S. Wilson 26 Nov .
Skipper, R.N.R., W. N. Hurn, 26 Nov 3
OFFICER ON NAVY LIST June 41
Skipper, R.N.R.,G. H. Barnard, (Act) 22 Oct 40.
Skipper, R.N.R., W. N. Hurn, 26 Nov 3
If you, your father or your grandfather have any additional information about this ship, crew lists, stories, photographs, please send copies of them to be added to our records and this website.
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The fishing Drifter Devon County LT526, by George Race, 1921.
1914 to 1918. The Devon County served as a Net Vessel during World War One.
15 July 1939. The Devon County broke a crankshaft and was towed to Aberdeen by the Acceptable LT1291 from Stronsay off the Orkneys.
November 1939. The Drifter Devon County was requisitioned by the Admiralty, converted to a Minesweeper and based at Wildfire III, Queenborough.
June 1940. ROYAL NAVY SHIPS, Nore Command, Sheerness, Wildfire III, Queenborough.
Minesweeping drifters - BOY ALLEN (Sk E H Crowe RNR), DEVON COUNTY (Sk S S Wilson RNR), FORERUNNER (Sk S F Wilson RNR), GO AHEAD (Sk W N Hurn RNR), PLUMER (Sk L George RNR) repairing, WELCOME HOME (Sk W F Wilson RNR), all at Sheerness.
22 June 1941. Naval Vessels in the Nore Command, Battle of the East Coast, Queenborough, (Wildfire III)
Minesweeper Drifters: Arcady, Boy Phillip, Devon County, Egeria, Forerunner, Gilt Edge, Girl Nancy, Monarda, Renascent. Solstice, Tilly Duff, Vernal, Welcome Home.
1 July 1941. The Devon County detonated a mine and sunk with the loss of three of her crew. Her Skipper was G. H. Barnard, R.N.R. Sank at position 51,28,51 North 00,59,14 East in the Thames Estuary four and a half miles north of Leysdown, Isle of Sheppey.
DEVON COUNTY, ship loss 1 July 1941. (MPK = Missing Presumed Killed)
COOPER, Douglas C, Cook, RNPS, LT/JX 164687, MPK
MORRIS, Albert W, Engineman, RNPS, LT/KX 101800, MPK
OSBORNE, Henry, Stoker, RNPS, LT/KX 115438, MPK
Watch these short minesweeping videos.
A Bad Day in December 1940: https://youtu.be/Lw2pW31qH4s