The Loftsman
Leith Shipyards

A history of the Ships built at the Henry Robb Shipyard in Leith, Scotland. Also a testimony to the men who built the Ships and to all who sailed in them.
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Home Ships Built in Leith 1939 to 1945 HMS STORNOWAY - Yard No 311 - Bangor Class Minesweeper - Royal Navy - Built 1941

Leith Shipyards

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HMS STORNOWAY - Yard No 311 - Bangor Class Minesweeper - Royal Navy - Built 1941


Bangor Class outline drawing.

 HMS STORNOWAY a "Bangor Class" Minesweeper.  
Owners   Royal Navy
Registered     Keel Laid    17/07/1940
Type of Ship    Bangor Class Minesweeper Launched    10/06/1941
      Commissioned    17/11/1941
Ship Details          
Length Overall    174' 0" Launch Details    
Length B.P.    171' 6" Weather    
Beam    28' 6" Time to Water    
Depth Mld     15' 6"      
Draught    8' 3"      
G.R.T.    697 tons      
Complement     60 Officers and Men      
Engines    Two Admiralty 3-drum water tube boilers
two shafts coupled to steam turbines
2,000 shp (1,500 kW)
Props    2      
Speed    16 knots      
Armament     One x QF 12-pdr 3 in (76.2 mm) gun.

One x quadruple 0.5 in (12.7 mm) Vickers machine gun / single QF 2 pdr Mark VIII

Other known names   Sold by the navy in 1946 to the Egyptian navy and re-named  Matruh    
Current Status   Believed scrapped.    
Content on HMS STORNOWAY will be added as and when available. 



HMS STORNOWAY (J-31) seen here on the right entering Harwich.

(Photo credit unknown) 


Ships History

Once a ship had been built and launched she then had to be out-fitted, and then complete sea trials
before being handed over to her new owners, in the case of a ship for the Royal Navy this meant she also had to be commissioned as fit for purpose, once commissioned she was then considered ready for action and would take her place in the fleet.

 HMS STORNOWAY was a Bangor Class minesweeper, her pennant number being J-31, doing great work during World War II dispite the fact that these small ships were very overcroweded, and had pretty poor sea keeping qualities, rolling and pitching worse even than the "Flower Class Corvettes".

Their shallow draft made them unstable and their short hulls tended to bury the bow when operating in a head sea. They were named after coastal towns of the British Isles, with STORNOWAY being main town on the Scottish Western Isles of the Outer Hebrides.

She was a sister ship of HMS SIDMOUTH also built in the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb.

HMS STORNOWAY became one of the famous 13th Minesweeping Flotilla and steamed over 60,000 miles and swept up over 2,000 mines; did duty off the Irish coast, English Channel, and attended at Dieppe raid, and survived countless air and E-boat attacks; transferred operations to North African coast and took part in Pantellaria and Sicilian landings; swept channel in front of King's visit to Malta in July 1943; present at all operations on Italian coast and survived attacks from R-boats, bombers, and coastal batteries; visited Capri where inhabitants organised and held the first dance since Italy entered the war. 
H.M.S. STORNOWAY was also involved in the Allied invasion of Southern France in 1944.

 We try here to give as full an account of her history as time and research permits, if you know of missing info
or you have any photographs of her, then please get in touch and we shall update her story as we go along.


Tales from the Ship

Here you will find the stories from the men and women who sailed on the ships, what was it really like to be working on a ship in a raging sea and in the pitch dark of night, the real stories some funny some sad, some good and some bad.

During World War II, the people of Lewis and Harris not only made donations to help buy the 'Presentation' Spitfire 'Lewis & Harris Fighter' , but also to help buy a ship for the Royal Navy. This ship was named HMS Stornoway, and served from 1941 through to the end of the war.

HMS Stornoway was a Bangor class minesweeper (pennant No. J31), and was built by Henry Robb Ltd., Leith, Edinburgh in 1940/41. She was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 17th November 1941, under the command of Lt. Cdr. Charles Robertson Fraser  (who would go on to command her for a second time between Novmber 1942 and November 1943, and be awarded the DSC for; 'His steadfast courage and skill in a dangerous and important minesweeping operation - Operation Antidote - in Tunisian waters in May 1943').

    The ship was initially attached to the Harwich minesweeping flotilla between 1941 and 1942, and was then sent to the Mediterranean. Her operational record went throughout the second world war, until beign deemed as surplus to requirments , she was sold to Egypt on 11th September 1946, becoming the 'Matruh'.

    So, not only did the good people of Lewis and Harris raise money for the RAF, but also for the Royal Navy, a quite remarkable achievement for such a small community.

Dedicated to all the brave men and women who sailed the vessels from the Leith Shipyards.

Should you know of anyone who may have sailed on her, then please feel free to get in touch so that we can add the story here.



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+2 #2 Arthur Mapstone 2014-08-25 11:37
My father was mentioned in dispatches on HMS Stornoway. Can anyone tell me how to find out why? He was Chief Stoker Henry Charles Mapstone, C/K.65695


Arthur Mapstone
+2 #1 Phil Austin 2014-07-23 09:22
My father was transferred to HMS STORNAWAY on the 17/10/1941 and remainder with her, more or less, until th end of the WW2.

He was Maurice Percy Austin and was an ASDIC Operator. The only service number I have for him is SSX19162 which is the number attached to the Official Navy Record. Sadly he passed away when I was 20 years old and he never spoke of the war to me at all. I have pieced together his wartime service from a single piece of paper which I have created into a .pdf document but I cannot attach this via this iPad at the moment.

Best regards

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