I was sent this photograph by Vince Cunningham with a request to help identify her. All he knew was that his father, Hugh Cunningham, had served on her at some time. After checking various references I determined that it was the Halcyon Class minesweeper HMS Salamander and that she was one of three ships attacked by RAF Typhoons on 27 August 1944. HMSs Britomart and Hussar were sunk, while Salamander was a constructive loss.
Clifford Franklin later sent the following to the Corvette Mailing List
For a complete story of the attack on the minesweepers off Le Havre, read the relevant chapter in "Friend or Foe: Friendly Fire at Sea, 1939-45," written by Paul Kemp and published by Leo Cooper, 1995. Essentially, the minesweepers were spotted on radar, and an RAF strike organised. The naval authorities knew the vessels were there, but the liaison officer had not bothered to pass the information on to his RAF counterpart, so the RAF assumed they were enemy vessels. When the Typhoon strike leader saw the minesweepers, he was unsure as to their identity, and thought they were British. He queried the order to attack a couple of times, but was eventually over-ruled by his controller, and attack they did, with tragic consequences. All because one officer had not bothered to pass on a piece of paper to another officer.
Vince replied with
Many thanks for the information. It fits a family story, I didn't know the ship was the same one. My father died in 1963, when I was 12, so the details are a bit vague. The events have been passed on in the family. The story we have heard was that the ship was cut in two, the forward section eventually making it to port. There was an officer on HMS Salamander who wasn't very popular with the crew. Immediately atter the incident they saw him closing watertight doors, which kept the aft section afloat. This was the last they ever saw of him - he saved many of the crew at the cost of his own life.