HMT Celia

Hostilities Only Signalman Brooks would see out the remaining months of the war on the minesweeping trawler HMT Celia (T134). Aside from brief spells attached to the trawler depot ship HMS Marshall Salt and five days back at Sparrow’s Nest, HMT Celia was home from June 28th 1944 until February 11th 1946.

Celia was one of 12 ships of the Shakespeare Class trawler. She was laid down by Cochrane & Sons Shipbuilders Ltd. of Selby on 23 May 1940 and commissioned into the Royal Navy in January 1941. When my father joined Celia she was Commanded by T/Lt. Leslie Bertram Merrick, RNR. Merrick left Celia in November 1944 to train and command a Tank Landing Ship in preparation for D-Day seven months later. T/Lt. Haakon Wivested RNR replaced Merrick as HMT Celia’s commanding officer until the end of hostilities.

HMT Celia’s log begins 22 November 1944 at Scapa Flow, departing 25th November to Aultbea, the Loch Ewe anchorage. The year ended with regular sailings between Scapa, Loch Ewe, Kirkwall and The Faroes before Celia was taken in hand in Aberdeen for a Christmas refit.

1945 | Scapa – Loch Ewe

2 January 1945Scapa Flow4 January 1945
6 January 1945Aultbea6 January 1945
7 January 1945Scapa Flow10 January 1945
10 January 1945Aultbea11 January 1945

Aultbea – Loch Ewe

Loch Ewe

Due to its rugged and inaccessible terrain, Loch Ewe has always been a safe assembly point for maritime trade. In 1610 the iron furnaces that burnt charcoal from local woods shipped their ore from Loch Ewe to Poolewe for smelting. Over Two hundred years later the Loch still provided a safe anchorage for the hundreds of ships about to make, according to Churchill, ‘the worst journey in the world’ – the Arctic Convoy to Murmansk. Loch Ewe would become indelibly marked in the minds of sailors as a refuge before and after the storm.

Locals would say you could fit the whole of the Royal Navy into Loch Ewe. At 12 km long and 5 km wide, the Loch’s northerly aspect opens into The Minch, a broad stretch of North Atlantic sheltered between mainland Scotland and the Isle of Lewis. Being further west than Scapa Flow, Loch Ewe was safer from Norwegian based German aircraft flying at the limit of their range.

Merchant ships arrived in Loch Ewe from all over the world to be assembled into convoys and escorted first to Iceland and then onto the Russian ports of Arkhangelsk or Murmansk.

Loch Ewe is now home to the Russian Arctic Convoy Project, which aims to create a multi-site museum around the shores of Loch Ewe dedicated to the Arctic Convoys. They have an Exhibition in Aultbea that is open every May to October with an extensive collection of convoy artefacts, pictures, photos. Visit the Russian Arctic Convoy Project for details. There are no details unfortunately for the whereabouts of HMT Celia and Signalman Brooks on 7th May 1945, the day hostilities ended.

By April 1945, the Aberdeen to Lerwick run had become the norm.

My father (centre) with shipmates. HMT Celia behind, alongside in Lerwick, Shetland Isles.

My father (front-left) with HMT Celia alongside in Lerwick

HMT Celia was another veteran of the northern convoy routes. She had sailed in the very first Arctic Convoy to Russia, Operation ‘Dervish‘ from Iceland on 21 August 1941.

The movements of HMT Celia are recorded throughout 1941 and 1942, but in later years, records became scarce for the smaller vessels. Before February 1940, logbooks for all types of ships were archived but in later years, only major surface vessel and submarine logbooks were kept.

The following 2 photos were kindly supplied by Chris White who as an eight-year-old, visited HMT Celia in Portsmouth on the 8th May 1945, VE day. His father William (Bill) Harold White was appointed to HMT Celia, as Acting Sub Lieutenant RNVR in June 1943. In November 1945, he was promoted to Lieutenant and overall command of HMT Celia in March 1946

'HMT Celia' have 10 comments

  1. 25th April 2019 @ 3:12 am Jan Totten

    My father served on HMT Celia for two months from3 April 1941 to 6 June 1941. Does anyone know where Celia was located for this period?


    • 2nd May 2019 @ 11:21 am Dave Brooks

      Hi Jan, my records of CELIA only cover 1944 onwards when my father served on her. CELIA famously took part in the first Russian Convoy (Operation Dervish) from Aug 12th to 31st 1941 & QP.2 from Archangel to Kirkwall in Nov 41, but nothing earlier. The Captain at the time your father served was Frederick George Dawson DSC, RNR. who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 1944. I would bet that in summer 41, CELIA would have been based out of Wallasey Dock, Birkenhead for minesweeping & escort duties in the Western Approaches.


      • 3rd May 2019 @ 11:39 am Jan Totten

        Hi Dave, thanks very much for your help. My problem is that I’m working from a poor copy of my Dad’s service record. The first few letters are missing, so I can’t decipher the home base. Looks like Caslte (Castle?) I’m thinking perhaps Dunluce Castle, accommodation ship at Scapa Flow. What do you think?


        • 7th May 2019 @ 12:21 pm Dave Brooks

          Almost certainly though Dunluce would have been used as accommodation for sailors awaiting drafts to their next ship – as well as survivors from the Arctic Convoy crossings. Lovely photo of her here:


          • 8th May 2019 @ 5:50 am Jan Totten

            Hi Dave, thanks very much, great photo. I’m also seeking info on HMT Siesta if you have any.

  2. 30th May 2019 @ 12:50 pm Dave Brooks

    Info on Dunluce Castle: Just posted today


  3. 11th July 2019 @ 3:14 pm Chris White

    My father, William (Bill) Harold White was appointed to HMT Celia, as Acting Sub Lieutenant RNVR 25-07-1943. On 28-11-1943 he was promoted to Sub Lieutenant. On 11-06-1945 he was appointed to HMS Bacchante and then on to HMS Marshall Soult. On 28-11-1945 he was promoted to Lieutenant and on 23-11-1945 was appointed as First Lieutenant aboard HMT Celia. In 03-1946 he was appointed In Command HMT Celia. He was released from the Navy on 13-06-1946. The officer who took command of HMT Celia after Haakon Wivested was Davi Miller Wight RNVR.


    • 23rd July 2019 @ 12:41 pm Dave Brooks

      Thanks, Chris, I spoke to Haakon’s son in Norway but his father rarely spoke about the war. Thanks for the info. Dave


  4. 12th July 2019 @ 7:43 am Chris White

    Dave, I remember that as an eight year old, I visited HMT Celia in Portsmouth, with my mother and five year old sister, on the 8th May 1945, VE day.
    I have pictures of my father on the sweep deck of Celia with an Oropesa float and with Lt. Frank Turner and Sub Lt. Alan Davidson on Celia. Are you interested?


    • 23rd July 2019 @ 12:28 pm Dave Brooks

      Yes please, Chris, would you be OK if I posted them to this page as well? Have emailed you. Dave


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