Operation Spellbinder

This was a British naval undertaking, using ships and carrierborne air elements of Admiral Sir Henry Moore’s Home Fleet, to lay mines and attack German shipping off the west coast of German-occupied Norway (10/12 January 1945).

Supported by the aerial minelaying of ‘Gratis’, ‘Spellbinder’ was based on attacks on German shipping and the laying of a minefield off Utsira island by Rear Admiral R. R. McGrigor’s force comprising the escort carriers Premier and Trumpeter, cruiser minelayer Apollo, heavy cruiser Norfolk, light anti-aircraft cruisers Bellona and Dido, and destroyers Carron, Cavendish, Onslaught, Onslow, Opportune, Orwell, Zealous, Zest and Zodiac of the 17th Destroyer Flotilla.

This force attacked a German convoy off Egersund, scoring gunfire hits on some of the freighters including the 8,551-ton Bahia Camarones and 4,404-ton Charlotte, both of which were so badly damaged that they had to be abandoned. In this engagement the British ships also sank the minesweeper M 273 of the German escort force. U-427 made an unsuccessful attempt to attack the British ships, which eventually withdrew under cover of fighters launched by Premier and Trumpeter, and also defeated an attack by Junkers Ju 88 medium-range torpedo bombers of the II/Kampfgeschwader 26.