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SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2

HMS MONTCLARE  - Depot Ship

by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 1998 - further editing and formatting is required


HMS Montclare (Photo Ships, click to enlarge)

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Canadian Pacific Passenger Liner requisitioned on 28th August 1939 and hired for use as an Armed Merchant Cruiser. The ship was to have been named METAPEDIA but was later renamed MONTCLARE. She was ordered from John Brown at Clydebank and launched on 18th December 1921. Her machinery was provided by Harland and Wolff and on completion she was deployed for cross-Atlantic passenger trade. Details of her tonnage and machinery as well as her armament during naval service are given in the General Description information for Armed Merchant Cruisers, This ship was converted for deployment as an Armed Merchant Cruiser and retained her mercantile name which had not previously been borne by an RN ship. She carried out trade protection duties until 1943 when she was purchased outright by the Admiralty and selected for further use as a Depot Ship for destroyers. The ship then underwent an extensive conversion for her new role and was allocated for service in the Pacific.. On return to UK after the end of hostilities she was again converted to suit the support of submarines and served in the Clyde until 1955 when she was placed in Reserve until being sold in 1957 for demolition.

 

B a t t l e     H o n o u r s

None are recorded in the Official List

 

H e r a l d i c    D a t a

Badge:  On a Field White a rose red, seeded gold.

 

M o t t o 

Mare Ditat Rosa Decorate:   'The sea enriches the rose decorates'

 

 

S u m m a r y    o f    W a r   S e r v i c e

 

(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search

 

 

1 9 3 9

 

August

         28th            Requisitioned by the Admiralty at Liverpool and hired for naval use.

                             (Note:  Retained her mercantile name and renamed HMS MONTCLARE in accordance

                                        with international convention.

 

September          Taken in hand at Barrow in Furness for conversion to suit use as an Armed Merchant Cruiser.

                             (Note:  As an interim measure ship was fitted with WW1 vintage 6in guns and two 3in AA guns.

                                        All fittings of a flammable nature were removed and in order to improve buoyancy some

                                        Hold space and compartments not required were filled with empty steel drums wooden

                                        barrels and timber

 

October               Conversion in continuation.

         15th            Formally Commissioned for war service with naval personnel.

                             (Note:  Allocated for service based at Freetown for defence of convoys to and from West Africa.

                                         A proportion of the ships company were merchant navy personnel under a T124

                                         Agreement with the Admiralty.

                                         Guns crews and communications personnel were RN ratings.

                                         T124 personnel were given naval rank.)

                            Worked up and took passage to Scapa Flow

                            Sailed to Freetown to join South Atlantic Command.

         30th           After arrival deployment at Freetown cancelled due to lack of fresh water facilities adequate

                            for the escort of convoy to UK and immediate return to Freetown.

 

November           Joined escort for Convoy SL7 to UK.

 

December            On arrival reallocated for Northern Patrol duties.

                             (Note: For details see ARMED MERCHANT CRUISERS by K Poolman and ENGAGE THE

                                        ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by C Bamett.

                                        Deployed for patrol in North Atlantic.

 

1 9 4 0

 

January                Deployed in Denmark Strait for interception of blockade runners and commerce raiders.

                             Weather conditions deteriorated significantly after first week.

                             Returned to Clyde on relief.

 

February              Withdrawn for completion of conversion.

to                          (Note:  6in guns were replaced by newer 5.5in mountings and both 3in AA replaced

April                                 by three 4in guns.

                                         Rudimentary fire control equipment was fitted for main armament

                                         Carried out post conversion trials and shakedown

                                         Embarked ammunition  and worked up for operational service

 

May                     Deployed for trade defence and escort of convoys.

to

December

 

1 9 4 1

 

                             Atlantic trade defence and convoy escort in continuation.

                             Deployed in West Indies and Atlantic.

 

 

1 9 4 2

                               Atlantic trade defence and convoy escort in continuation.

 

1 9 4 3

 

January                  Trade defence and convoy escort in continuation

to                            (Note:  Despite the incessant U-Boat Group attacks on Atlantic

April                                   traffic over 90% of convoys arrived at its destination without

                                           loss. See HITLER'S U-BOAT WAR by C Blair).

 

May                        Future deployment of Armed Merchant Cruisers under review.

to                            The need for this type of auxiliary warship was diminishing and more

July                         new construction was becoming available for convoy defence.

                                 See above references.

 

August                   Withdrawn from service as an Armed Merchant Cruiser. Paid Off.

to                             (Note:  U-Boat operations had been severely restricted in order to

December                           improve their defensive armament and to introduce SCHNORKEL

                                            Breathing equipment

                                            See U-BOAT WAR IN THE ATLANTIC (HMSO),  SEEK AND

                                            STRIKE by W Hackmann.and HITLERíS U-BOAT WAR by C Blair.

Selected for conversion to suit use as a Destroyer Depot Ship.

Taken in hand for extensive conversion, by Harland and Wolff at Belfast

See General Information.

1 9 4 4

 

January                  Under conversion at Belfast

to                            Nominated for service in British Pacific Fleet.

 

October                  Commissioned for service.

  

November               Post refit trials

to                             Allocated for duty at Forward Base as part of British Pacific Fleet Train

December                Prepared for foreign service and completed to full complement

                                 (Note: British Pacific Fleet was formed in November from ships serving in the East Indies

                                            Fleets and others nominated or suitable ships on passage from UK.)

 

1 9 4 5

 

January                   On completion took passage to Manus in Admiralty Islands to support of destroyers of

to                             British Pacific Fleet in Task Force 57

April                        (Note: British Pacific Fleet Train was identified as Task Force 112 and some of the ships

                                            allocated were already deployed in the Pacific

                                             The Flagship HMS LOTHIAN arrived at Manus on 2nd March and had proved to

                                             be totally unsuited for this task. See THE FORGOTTEN FLEET by J Winton.

                                              and WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO).

 

May                         Arrived at Manus for support of destroyers in BPF.

                29th         Rear Admiral DB Fisher, Flag Officer Fleet Train and staff joined ship from HMS LOTHIAN.

                                Repair staff officers and ratings together with equipment also transferred.

                31st          Took passage from Manus to Brisbane.

                                 (Note: Ships of BPF were returning to Australian ports for maintenance and leave after taking

                                            part in Operation ICEBERG II in Sakishima Gunto islands.

                                            above reference.)

 

June                        Passage to Brisbane.

                                Deployed at Brisbane.

 

                24th         Sailed from Brisbane with Flag Officer Fleet Train embarked for passage to Manus..

                                (Note: In addition to duty as Destroyer Depot Ship the ship wore the Flag of Flag Officer

                                           (Destroyers) BPF Rear Admiral JH Edelsten and provided Base W/T communication

                                           facilities for RA(D)).
                30th         Arrived at Manus for support duties.

                                 (Note:  Ships of BPF now re-designated Task Force 37 and part of us Navy 3rd Fleet sailed

                                            from Sydney on 28th June to return to operations off Japan after Replenishment at

                                            Forward Base.)

 

 

July

                  4th          Provided support for ships of BPF on arrival at Manus.

                  5th          Remained at Manes during BPF operations to provide repair and support to ships

                   to           returning from operations.

                  31st        (For details of BPF involvement in operations off Japan see WAR WITH JAPAN (HMSO),

                                 THE FORGOTTEN FLEET BY J Winton and TASK FORCE 57 by P Smith.)

 

August                     Deployed at Manus.

             12th             British Pacific Fleet ships of Task Force 37 left operational area leaving a Token Force of RN

                                 ships as part of US Task Force 38 and designated Task Group 38.5.

             19th             Provided support to BPF ships on return to Manus from operational area off Japan.

             to

             31st

 

September                Deployed at Manus.

               4th             Fleet Train sailed from Manus for Hong Kong to provide support for ships deployed for the

                                  re-occupation of the Colony and to restore services.

 

October                    Deployed at Hong Kong for support of destroyers of BPF.

 

November                On release from BPF took passage to return to UK

to

December

 

1 9 4 6

 

January                     Paid off at Portsmouth and reduced to Reserve status

 

February                   Nominated for conversion to suit use as a Submarine Depot Ship.

to                               Taken in hand for conversion to suit new role

December

 

1 9 4 7

 

                           Under conversion.

                           Re-commissioned for service as Depot Ship in Clyde to support 3rd Submarine Flotilla.

                           Post refit trials and completed storing for service.

                           Shakedown and passage to Clyde.

                           Deployed in Clyde for repair and support of submarines.

 

1 9 4 8   t o   1 9 5 4

 

                           Clyde deployment with 3rd Submarine Squadron.

                           (Note: Flotillas were redesigned as Squadrons in 1953.)

                           Nominated for reduction to Reserve status and withdrawn from duty in Clyde.

 

1 9 5 5

 

January               Prepared for tow to enter Reserve at Portsmouth

 

February             Passage to Portsmouth in tow of tugs.

               6th        During passage in Force 12 Gale conditions, medical assistance provided by helicopter to deal with

                            injured man on tug.

 

March                  Completed reduction to Reserve and laid up at Portsmouth.

 

F i n a l   S t a g e

 

HMS MONTCLARE was placed on the Disposal List in 1957 and sold to BISCO for breaking up by TW Ward at Inverkeithing. The ship was taken in tow from Portsmouth on 29th January 1958 and arrived at the Breakers yard in the Forth on 3rd February for demolition. 

 

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