USN Mine Division 21 Activities and Ships

Raven  AM-55
Osprey  AM-56     (a unit of MinRon 7. Hit a mine and sank, early on 4 June 1944.)
Auk  AM-57
Broadbill  AM-58    (a unit of Mine Squadron 7, in company with 10 other AM's, in Mine Division 21)
Chickadee  AM-59 (with Nuthatch at Nice)
Nuthatch  AM-60   (with MinDiv 21, with her squadron, MinRon 7, and duty with 8th Fleet)
Pheasant  AM-61  (with Nuthatch at Nice)

And Others ??

Many questions still remain: What was the full complement of MinDiv 21, What was MinRon 7, Is there any history of their operations. I haven't been able to get much more then what you see here from family information and web searches.

If you can help with corrections or more information please contact me./p>

AM 58-61 at Nice, France

Picture of AM-58, AM-59, AM-60, and AM-61, tied up at Nice, France, date unknown

Note: the following information was obtained mostly from:

Raven (AM-55)

April 1944 Raven departed Norfolk, Va., and proceeded with other U.S. warships and a convoy to England to prepare for the invasion of France.

On 5 June Raven proceeded to her assigned area off Normandy and participated in the sweep of the fire control area for Utah Beach. From this time until August she was active in clearing approach channels to the Normandy beachheads.

In August 1944 she sailed to Oran, thence to Naples, Italy. From then until June 1945 she performed sweeping and patrol duty in the Straits of Bonifacio, clearing the way for ships en route to the invasion of southern France, and sweeping off the French and Italian Riviera and off Corsica. During the entire European operation, including D-day, Raven swept 21 German and Italian mines.

In June 1945, Raven returned to Norfolk


Osprey (AM-56)

The United States entrance into World War II extended Osprey's coastal patrol and escort duties first to the Caribbean area and by 8 November to North Africa. On D-Day she helped direct and protect the waves of landing craft moving shoreward at Port Lyautey, Morocco. Anti-submarine patrol off Casablanca preceded her return to another year of coastal escort assignments out of Norfolk.

On 3 April 1944 the mine sweeper departed for England to take part in operation 'Overlord'. With other units of MinRon 7 she had successfully conducted sweeping operations off off Tor Bay, England but 5 June, enroute to the Normandy invasion beaches, Osprey struck an enemy mine. The crew put out the resultant fires but could not save their valiant vessel. She sank that evening and was struck from the Navy List 22 August 1944.

Osprey (AM–56) received two battle stars for World War II service.


Auk (AM-57) 

On 19 April 1944, the Auk headed eastward to prepare for Operation "Overlord," the invasion of Europe. Proceeding via the Azores and Milford Haven, Wales, she reached Plymouth, England, on the 29th. While in British waters, Auk joined other units of Mine Squadron (MinRon) 21 in practice sweeping operations.

Early on 4 June, she got underway to sweep mines in the Baie de la Seine, France, to prepare the way for the assault on Utah Beach, Normandy, scheduled for the 5th. Weather forced the postponement of the landings until the following day but one of Auk's sister ships, Osprey (AM-56), hit a mine and sank. The invasion began on 6 June, and Auk remained off the beaches until the 19th, sweeping nearby waters. She then returned to Plymouth for supplies. 

On 25 June, Auk returned to sweeping duties off Cherbourg France, where she cleared a lane ahead of a major bombardment force including battleships Arkansas (BB-33), Texas (BB 35) and Nevada (BB 36). Shortly after midday, enemy shore batteries opened fire on the sweepers. By 1230, every minesweeper, including Auk - had been straddled by enemy salvos. Hampered by their five-knot top speed when streaming sweep gear, the minesweepers were ordered to retire out of range until the task force concluded its gunfire.

Between 29 June and 24 July, with the exception of brief runs to England for supplies, Auk continued sweeping operations in the Baie de la Seine. The sweeper sailed with MinRon 21 for Gibraltar on 1 August, transited the strait on the 5th, and briefly stopped at Oran, Algeria, on the 6th. From there, Auk proceeded to Naples, one of the staging points for the invasion of southern France.

When Operation "Dragoon" commenced on 15 August, Auk was off the designated beaches of Provence with Vice Admiral Hewitt's Control Force. She remained along the coast of southern France until 26 September, intermittently coming under fire by enemy coastal batteries while sweeping Baie de Cavalaire, Baie de Briande, Baie de Bon Porte, Marseille harbor, and waters off Toulon. Therefore, Auk continued minesweeping and patrol missions in the Mediterranean until 31 May 1945, when she headed for the United States


Broadbill (AM-58)

On 11 April 1944 Broadbill got underway for England where she conducted numerous practice sweeps in preparation for the Normandy invasion.

On 5 June Broadbill, as a unit of Mine Squadron 7, in company with 10 other AM's cleared the approach channel to Utah Beach for fire support ships and on 6 June commenced sweeping the actual support area. On 25 June she helped clear fire support areas off Cherbourg. Operations were continued off England and France until August. She then proceeded to Naples, via Oran, Algeria, and conducted sweeping operations in the Ligurian Sea, Bonifacio Straits, and around Sardinia and Corsica. Completing this assignment, Mine Squadron 7 arrived at Cavalaire Bay in southern France 23 August 1944 to clear French harbors and approaches during the invasion of southern France. On 28 May 1945 Broadbill, in company with Mine Division 21, departed for Norfolk where she underwent repairs until 30 August 1945.


Chickadee (AM-59)

Chickadee cleared Charleston, S.C., 7 April, for Milford Haven, Wales, arriving 12 May. For the remainder of the month the minesweeper engaged in training exercises for the coming invasion of Europe. Arriving off Normandy 5 June 1944 Chickadee swept fire support channels into Baie de la Seine and throughout the various assault areas along the French coast. She performed her hazardous duties under enemy shore fire on several occasions, but escaped with only minor damage from shrapnel and no casualties. The ship assisted in the rescue of survivors from Osprey (AM-56) and LST-133, and towed damaged LST-133 to safety.

Chickadee continued to operate off the coast of France, with frequent visits to British ports, until 1 August 1944 when she departed Plymouth for Naples. After arriving in Italian waters 12 August, she swept in Bonifacio Straits until 23 August when she sailed to Baie de la Cavalaire, France, for sweeping operations during the invasion of southern France. Between 29 August and 2 October she swept the harbor of Marseilles and conducted antisubmarine patrol off that port.

During October and November 1944 Chickadee carried out a visual search for mines south of San Remo, Italy, and, after a brief overhaul at Palermo, Sicily, returned to sweeping duty throughout the Mediterranean, operating out of Cannes, Nice, Leghorn, Palermo, Malta, and Corsica. On 31 May 1945 she cleared Oran, Algeria, for Norfolk, arriving 15 June.


Nuthatch (AM-60)

Nuthatch departed the United States with her division MinDiv 21, 7 April 1944 and headed east to Falmouth England. There she staged for the much awaited invasion of France, scheduled for early June.

The division sailed from Torquay, 5 June, and, before it began sweeping operations lost one of its units, Osprey. Early on the 6th, the division started sweeping the coast of France in assault and check sweeps to assure safe passage channels for the landing craft. Sweeping continued after D. Day and on the 15th, in the Bay of the Seine, a mine exploded close aboard Nuthatch on the port side forward. While no personnel injuries were incurred, the force of the explosion damaged the hull, stopped the engines, and made all electric gear inoperative. However, within two hours, she was underway again and soon pulled out of range of German shore batteries.

Repairs completed in England, Nuthatch was soon back on the French side of the Channel. On the 25th as a unit of TF 129, she participated in sweeping operations for the bombardment of Cherbourg. Sweep operations in the area continued until 1 August when, with her entire squadron, MinRon 7, she headed for Gibraltar and duty with the 8th Fleet. Until 31 May 1945, Nuthatch, with MinDiv 21, swept mines and escorted ships in the western Mediterranean; Marseilles, Oran, Naples, Bizerte, Valletta, Palermo, and Maddalena being only a few of her stops. On 31 May, Nuthatch hoisted her homeward bound pennant and got underway for the United States.


Pheasant (AM-61)

Immediately preceding the Normandy invasion of 6 June 1944, the Pheasant swept dangerous mines from fire support areas used by Texas and Arkansas. From 29 June until her departure for Oran, Algeria 15 July 1944 she cleared areas to be used for the invasion of Cherbourg, France. Later, in the Mediterranean, she made exploratory sweeps prior to the invasion of southern France. She swept successfully in the Mediterranean until May 1945 when she received orders to return to the United States.



MinDiv 21 Officers

In front of USS Pheasant AM-61 (I think) - Lt. Commander R.A.L. Ellis, Lt. D.T. Ayers Jr., Lt. E/C.V. Sevich (the Doc), Lt.(jg) Bruce Taylor, Lt. Charles Dyer, Lt.(jg) Carl Henrichson, Lt.(jg) George Beauchamp, Boson Rae Parrot, Machinist O.B. Eagle (or Cagle ?)