Allied Warships

HMS Van Oost (FY 330)

ASW Trawler

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeASW Trawler
Class[No specific class] 
PennantFY 330 
Built byCook, Welton & Gemmill (Beverley, U.K.) 
Laid down 
Launched4 Mar 1926 
CommissionedMar 1941 
End service 

Completed on 28 April 1926.
Taken over by the Admiralty in July 1940.
Displacement: 352 tons.

Returned to her owner in November 1945.
Renamed Merkury in 1948.
Scrapped at Gdansk, Poland in April 1962.


Commands listed for HMS Van Oost (FY 330)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1Skr. Alexander Bruce, RNR16 Mar 1941Oct 1942
2Skr. Albert Edward Walckner, RNROct 1942early 1943
3Skr. John Hay Forman, RNRearly 19435 Jul 1943
4Skr. Albert Edward Wood, RNR5 Jul 1943late 1944

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Notable events involving Van Oost include:

25 Nov 1940
HMS H 34 (Lt. L.W. Napier, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Tobermory with HMS Freesia (Lt.Cdr. T.G. Hill, RNR) and HMS Van Oost. (1)

27 Nov 1940
HMS H 34 (Lt. L.W. Napier, RN) conducted A/S exercises off Tobermory with HMS La Capricieuse (Lt.Cdr. S.A. Jones, RNR) and HMS Van Oost. (1)

19 Aug 1941

Operation Gauntlet.

Evacuation of Spitsbergen and destruction of mining facilities.

Around 1530A/19, the light cruisers HMS Nigeria (Capt. J.G.L. Dundas, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral P.L. Vian, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Aurora (Capt. W.G. Agnew, RN) and the destroyers HMS Tartar (Cdr. L.P. Skipwith, RN), HMS Icarus (Lt.Cdr. C.D. Maud, DSO, RN) and HMS Eclipse (Lt.Cdr. I.T. Clark, RN) left Scapa Flow to make rendezvous off the Butt of Lewis with the aircraft carrier HMS Argus (Capt. T.O. Bulteel, RN), destroyers HMS Anthony (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Hodges, RN), HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. E.N. Sinclair, RN) and HMS Intrepid (Cdr. R.C. Gordon, DSO, RN) and the troopship Empress of Canada (21517 GRT, built 1922) which had departed the Clyde around 0200A/19.

They made rendezvous around 2100A/19, when HMS Argus with HMS Tartar, HMS Intrepid and HMS Escapade proceeded to Scapa Flow where they arrived at 0230A/20. These ships took no part in the upcoming operation 'Gauntlet'.

The Empress of Canada, escorted by HMS Nigeria, HMS Aurora, HMS Anthony, HMS Antelope and HMS Icarus (also known as 'Force A' set course for Hvalfiord, Iceland where they arrived at 0730A/21.

After fuelling they sailed for Spitsbergen at 2200A/21.

The RFA tanker Oligargh (6897 GRT, built 1918) escorted by the trawlers HMS Elm (T/Lt. E.W.C. Dempster, RNVR), HMS Hazel (T/Lt. R. Thorne, RNVR), HMS Van Oost (Skr. A. Bruce, RNR) and the whaler HMS Sealyham (T/Lt. C.E. Jefferson, RNR) had already departed for the upcoming operation around 2330A/18.

They arrived off Barentsburg, Spitsbergen around 0800A/24. On board the Empress of Canada were Canadian troops, engeneers, sappers, etc., etc. These were landed to demolish the mining equipment and to burn stocks of coal already mined. The soviet workforce was embarked on the Empress of Canada as was some of the equipment they want to take with them. The Oligargh and her escorts also arrived on the 24th.

Around 1800A/26, HMS Aurora joined the captured Norwegian merchant vessels (colliers, which had been in German service) Ingerto (3089 GRT, 1920), Munin (1285 GRT, built 1899), Nandi (1999 GRT, built 1920) and their escort the whaler HMS Sealyham which were bound for Reykjavik, Iceland. HMS Aurora left the convoy at 0400A/27 and returned to Spitsbergen around 0845A/27. HMS Sealyham and the colliers arrived in Iceland on 1 September 1941.

Around 2330A/26, the Empress of Canada departed Barentsburg for Archangelsk escorted by HMS Nigeria, HMS Anthony, HMS Antelope and HMS Icarus. They arrived at Archangelsk around 1200A/29. HMS Aurora remained behind at Spitsbergen.

The force departed Archangelsk to return to Spitsbergen around 1100A/30. They arrived in the Isfiord around 2230A/1. The Norwegians from Longyearbyen were then embarked on board the Empress of Canada as were the Canadian soldiers.

Empress of Canada, HMS Nigeria, HMS Aurora, HMS Anthony, HMS Antelope and HMS Icarus departed for the UK around 2200A/3.

At 0001A/5, HMS Nigeria and HMS Aurora parted company with the Empress of Canada and the destroyers. The cruisers were to conduct an anti-shipping raid of the coast of Northern Norway. But before proceeding on this anti-shipping raid both cruisers fuelled from the Oligarch during the 5th.

Between 0128A/7 and 0154A/7 the cruisers were in action against an enemy convoy they had intercepted off the Pordanger / Laksefjorden in approximate position 71°10'N, 26°56'E. During the action, at 0137A/7, HMS Nigeria had damaged her bow when most likely colliding with the wreck of one of the German ships. The cruisers then cleared the area but speed of HMS Nigeria was limited due to the damage sustained but both cruiser managed to clear the area without further contact with the emeny and course was set for Scapa Flow. Around 2030A/9, they were joined by the destroyers HMS Bedouin (Cdr. B.G. Scurfield, OBE, RN) and HMS Eskimo (Cdr. E.G. Le Geyt, RN). HMS Nigeria, HMS Aurora, HMS Bedouin and HMS Eskimo arrived at Scapa Flow around 2000A/10. The Germans got off worse though, they lost the gunnery training ship / minelayer Bremse.

The RFA tanker Oligargh and the caputured icebreaker Isbjørn and the seal catchers Agnes, Polaris and Strømsnes Also departed Spitsbergen for Iceland [time of depature not known to us]. They were escorted by the trawlers HMS Elk, HMS Hazel and HMS Van Oost. On 10 September 1941 the Isbjørn, Agnes, Polaris and Strømsnes, escorted by HMS Elk arrived at Akureyi, Iceland. Later they went on to Reykjavik, arriving there on 14 September 1941. On the same day the Oligargh also arrived at Reykjavik escorted by HMS Hazel and HMS Van Oost.

Around 0001A/5, HMS Kenya and HMS Aurora parted company to proceed on further operations but not before oiling from the Oligargh late in the morning / early in the afternoon of the same day.

Around 0715A/6, the light cruiser HMS Penelope (Capt. A.D. Nicholl, RN) departed Scapa Flow to join the Empress of Canada and her three escorting destroyers. HMS Penelope joined them around 1800A/6.

Around 0615A/7, HMS Lightning (Cdr. R.G. Stewart, RN) joined company, having departed Scapa Flow around 2200A/6, and HMS Antelope and HMS Anthony parted company and set course to proceed to Scapa Flow where they arrived around 1000A/7.

Around 0630A/7, HMS Penelope also parted company and set course to return to Scapa Flow arriving there around 1030A/7.

Empress of Canada now continued on to the Clyde escorted by HMS Icarus and HMS Lightning. They arrived in the Clyde around 2300A/7. (2)


  1. ADM 173/16308
  2. ADM 53/113677 + ADM 53/113678 + ADM 53/114799 + ADM 53/114800 + ADM 53/114850 + ADM 199/396

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.

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