Halcyon Class Minesweepers HMS Speedwell 1941
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HMS Speedwell - Halcyon Class Minesweeper
HMS Speedwell
Source: www.navyphotos.co.uk

Date of Arrival


Date of Departure

Orders, Remarks etc




















15/2 Taken in hand for boiler cleaning and repairs by Consolidated Fisheries Ltd, Grimsby.
22/2 Completed.
22/2 From C in C Home Fleet: Request F O i/c Humber will sail SPEEDWELL for Scapa.
2/2 From F O Humber: SPEEDWELL sailing delayed through sickness of C.O.


 Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2/A1124317

Some five hours after the attack on the ATHELTEMPLAR (Convoy EN79), the minesweeper HMS SPEEDWELL, travelling up the east coast from Hull, spotted a massive fire over the horizon. She went to investigate, and with much caution placed men on board to extinguish the fire and then took the vessel in tow. On the morning of 3rd March, with her flag at half mast, the ATHELTEMPLAR arrived at anchorage off Methil. 

With the destroyer ERIDGE, SPEEDWELL towed the damaged merchant ship ATHELTEMPLAR into the Firth of Forth on 2 March, having been ordered north, and three days later she had to proceed to Rosyth after a collision.

CLICK HERE for more details of the salvage of Atheltemplar and Awards to crew members.




Escorting Incomoor(?) with Hevaylone(?)

4/3 SPEEDWELL sailed from Methil to Rosyth to make good damage caused when towing Atheltemplar (ADM199/401)

5/3 Damage to SPEEDWELL has been taken in hand, completes 15/3

After repairs she spent the rest of March off the Scottish east coast before heading for Iceland with NIGER. The new duties turned out to be escort tasks on the 'North Atlantic Run'.




Whilst on patrol on 25 March 1941, HMS SPEEDWELL met ss KAIMATA, and escorted her to Liverpool. While on this escort a submarine contact was obtained and later attacked, but without result.


From Commanding Officer HMS SPEEDWELL 

Subject: Account of  D Group's movements after leaving OBS11

  1. On receipt of C in Cs signal to leave OBS11 and rendezvous with HK121 at 1600/24 in lat 01.50N, long 25.47W it was decided both ships must refuel to have a safe margin at the end of the Eastward passage, and also to arrive in a stable condition
  2. At 0600/23 when in position Lat 02.13N, Long 27.8W both ships had expended 85 tons of oil out of a total of 220 tons, and the daily consumption had been 15 tons. With the probability of at least a further six days at school, fuel remaining would have been less than 50 tons. Actually HMS SPEEDWELL consumed 110 tons from Iceland to arrival Greenock. Further, the ships are always inclined to be under, and after the expenditure of 90 tons of fuel there was a marked change in her righting movement in a seaway. A request was therefore made to the SO Escort for SPEEDWELL and Niger to proceed forthwith to Iceland, and on receipt of his approval we left the convoy.
  3. We arrived off Reykjavik at 2330/23 and received orders to proceed to Hvalfjord for fuel. There was an easterly gale blowing at the time and squalls of Force 9 were experienced in the fjord. In ships of this class making a lot of leeway, the navigation of this fjord requires the utmost caution, as the wind comes down the ravine and takes the ship without any warning, particularly at night as in our case. Both ships were secured alongside the oiler at 0300/24 and refuelling commenced.


  1. The Engineer Officer had previously reported defective brickwork in the forward boiler, and I decided to have this examined before proceeding to the rendezvous position. Two other defects had also developed in the engines due to the strong easterly weather experienced on the way to Iceland. On arrival there, Niger also reported her gyro compass out of order, and the fact that she was unable to transmit on her asdic.
  2. At 0700/24 the Engineer Officer reported that it was essential to renew the brickwork in the forward boiler to avoid serious damage to the spectacle plate due to it being uncovered before we could proceed. It was estimated that this work would take six hours and a signal was sent to HMS Bulldog that SPEEDWELL and Niger would join the convoy at 1200/25.
  3. Repairs being completed SPEEDWELL left Hvalfjord at 1400/24 and proceeded on one boiler until 1700 to allow the brickwork to gradually dry, by raising steam slowly in the forward boiler. HMS Niger in company.
  4. At 1500/24 when it Lat 60.40N, Long 20.42W a signal was received from C in C W A instructing us to meet SS Kaimata in Lat 60.30N, 22.26W at 0600/25 and escort her to Liverpool. In view of the possibility of meeting her before dark that night, I altered the course and met her at Lat 60.52N Long 24.18W at 2330.


  1. When in Lat 56.55N Long 10.18W at 1723/27 a signal reporting an enemy submarine was received from C in C W A and as the position given was nearly on our course of 127˚ distance 36 miles I altered course to 100˚ to avoid the position, and changed to an A/S screen. At 20.35 a contact was made in Lat 56.44N Long 9.29W and SPEEDWELL investigated for 1 hours without result, one depth charge being dropped in the position. In the meantime Niger and Kaimata had been instructed to alter course to 140˚ at 1900.
  2. On approaching North Channel Niger reported that in addition to her Gyro compass being out of order, she was having condenser trouble. In view of both ships requiring to be fitted with R/T, and having a number of minor repairs to be done, I decided to request permission to proceed to Greenock on completion of our escort duties before going to Stornoway. I assumed the R/T stores would be awaiting our arrival there, as the work of fitting was commenced before we sailed. A signal with this request was sent at 0659/28.


  1. At 0800 HMS Hussar was met with the S O of D Group on board taking passage to Stornoway to rejoin Niger on her arrival there. Niger was despatched to close Hussar to enable her Captain to transfer if he wished in view of the probability of the ship returning to Greenock before going to Stornoway. At 0902 a signal was received from Niger that the SO of the group had transferred and was proceeding to Stornoway in company with Hussar.
  2. In accordance with C in C W As instructions the SS Kaimata was left in North Channel at 1015 and the course set for Stornoway. At 1115 approval of my 0659 signal was received and the course altered to make the Clyde.
  3. At 1400 when in Lat55.24N, Long 5.00W, HMS Petunia signalled she had developed serious engine trouble and requested a tow. I went alongside and took her in tow by means of my sweep wires, and arrived off the boom at 1810. As there was no tug waiting I shortened the tow and brought her through the boom, turning over to a tug at 1925. HMS SPEEDWELL secured alongside at Greenock at 2015/28.

Signed JJ Youngs
Lieutenant Commander in Command        















With NIGER and others, she escorted Convoys OB311 and HX120 between 18 and 29 April.

Rejoined NIGER to escort HX130, OB338 and HX133






CONVOY HX 130 Local escorts (at Rendezvous - 05:00 on June 15, in 60 36N 25 58W): included HMS Niger and HMS SPEEDWELL,

Moderate gale sprang up on 16th June, necessitating some ships to heave to to secure deck cargo. As regards enemy activity, voyage was uneventful






During June 1941, a ship in an Atlantic convoy HX133 that the SPEEDWELL was escorting was torpedoed; SPEEDWELL searched for the submarine responsible, gained a contact, and released 5 depth charges. The contact was lost twice, re‑obtained and further depth charges dropped, but without any visible result. As the escorts were about to conduct a second sweep, an enemy submarine was sighted surfacing. Owing to the SPEEDWELL's limited speed, she did not arrive on the scene until after the enemy had been sunk by the remainder of the searching party. The submarine concerned was U‑651, and the entire crew, including the Commanding Office were rescued and taken prisoner on board HMS Malcolm.

Local Escort
- No. 8 Escort Group joined in 60 22N 26 50W at 17:00 on June 27.
and included HMS Niger, and  HMS SPEEDWELL.

29/6 From S O 8th Escort Group: Grayburn torpedoed at 0230 29/6 [by U651 in Convoy HX133, 35 dead, 10,000 tons steel]. Ship sunk. Probable 17 survivors. SPEEDWELL searching the area of wreck for U boats. 

Attacks on Halifax/UK convoy HX133 - A total of 10 U-boats attack Halifax/UK convoy HX133 south of Iceland. Five ships are lost but the convoy escort sinks two U-boats. Corvettes "Celandine", "Gladiolus" and "Nasturtium" account for "U-556" on the 27th, and destroyers "Scimitar" and "Malcolm", corvettes "Arabis" and "Violet" and minesweeper "SPEEDWELL" sink "U-651" on the 29th.
The escort had been reinforced to a total of 13 ships as a result of 'Ultra' intercepts of Enigma codes. This, the first of the big convoy battles, leads to the development of additional convoy support groups.


From: Commanding Officer HMS Speedwell 

Date: 1st July 1941 

To: S.O. 1st Minesweeping Flotilla 

Search for enemy submarines 0456 0650 29th June 1941 

(1) At 0230 29th June when HMS Speedwell was occupying position C in SCSs screening diagram covering HX133 No. 03 of convoy was torpedoed from the port side. At 0240 SCS instructed HMS Niger and Speedwell to remain with convoy and at 0256 a further signal was received from HMS Niger to cover port side of convoy. 

(2) At 0323 a signal was received by R/T for Speedwell to [proceed to position of wreck and assist in search. Course was altered to take up a position astern of the convoy line of advance and to sweep in direction of wreck. At 0406 a contact was obtained and attacked, a five charge pattern being used, depths 350 ft, 250 ft (2) and 150 ft (2). Contact was then lost and a signal received from SCS giving position of wreck, and Speedwell proceeded to close Malcolm. 

(3) At 0426 SCS instructed Speedwell to take station on a line of bearing 160 degrees, distance 1 mile, course 270 degrees, speed 12 knots, to carry out search. Remaining ships of search not in contact at the time were also instructed to form on this bearing. HMS Arabis was at this time attending at about 1 mile 180 degrees from HMS Malcolm and signalled so to keep clear. HMS Malcolm then dropped a smoke float to mark position to commence search. 

(4) At 0456 I was instructed by SCS to take charge and commence search with Scimitar, Arabis, Celandine and Nasturtium in company. Ships were signalled to take station on Speedwell as ordered previously by SCS and the search commenced at 0510. 

(5) At 0513 a firm contact was obtained on a bearing 315 degrees, range 1100 yards from Speedwell and the ship turned to attack. The target remained steady throughout and a four charge pattern was dropped at 0515 with the following settings 350 ft (1), 250 ft (2) and 150 ft (1). The ship was then swung onto her original course of 270 degrees and a sweep astern carried out but contact was reported lost. As the target remained steady throughout and the contact was lost I did not renew the attack as I considered if the contact was a submarine it would have been so badly damaged that it would be unable to escape before the return sweep was made, and I did not wish to interrupt the search and lose valuable time on a non-sub. Soon after this attack was carried out, Celandine on my port side also carried out an attack with one pattern. At 0521 Arabis reported interference on the port side from celandine and that she was taking station on our starboard side. On the way across Arabis obtained a contact and attacked. The situation at 0540 was as per diagram with all ships advancing on a 270 degree course. At 0541SCS was asked how far to continue search and replied 7 miles. 

(6) At 0631 Celandine reported firm contact passing her port side and that she had only heavy charges available. As I considered this the contact Speedwell attacked previously I instructed Scimitar to close Celandine and assist. HMS Speedwell then altered curse to starboard to increase sweep to 5,000 yards in the absence of the two ships on the starboard side. Nasturtium had in the meantime sunk the mine and was taking up station again. 

(7) At 0656 the search was reported complete with no positive results except the contact which was being investigated by Celandine and Scimitar. Instructions were then received to close SCS for loud hailer. Instructions were received by loud hailer to carry out second sweep, and as HMS Malcolm was leaving rendezvous enemy submarine was sighted surfacing on a bearing 100 degrees 5 miles approx. HMS Malcolm immediately engaged the submarine with great accuracy and the searching force proceeded to close at full speed. Owing o HMS Speedwells limited speed we did not arrive at the scene of the kill until some minutes after the remainder of the searching force, but the submarine was observed to sink at 0758. 

(8) At 0801 we were instructed by SCS to rejoin convoy. 

Lt Commander J J Youngs

Source: Copy of report in the papers of Captain J J Youngs, Imperial War Museum IWM 92/50/1

Postgram dated 1st July 1941 


TO: Speedwell      FROM: Admiralty         0101B/1 

Their Lordships congratulate you and all ships concerned of the 8th Escort Group on the destruction of a German U Boat on 29th June 1941.

Source: Copy of report in the papers of Captain J J Youngs, Imperial War Museum IWM 92/50/1
















Towards the end of July SPEEDWELL escorted Convoy ON1








11/8 Taken in hand for boiler cleaning and repairs, completes 20/8




23/8 Minor collision with a vessel named ST.JULIAN





By the 28th she was escorting Convoy SC40 which was followed by HX145 and ONM17


Loch Ewe










9/9 Arrangements can be made for SPEEDWELL to be taken in hand for refitting by Messrs Harland & Wolff, Belfast, 22/9


Milford Haven



17/9 Left convoy ONM17 and sailed to Falmouth for a refit. She also made special preparations for 'cold weather operations with the Home Fleet' and was told to arrive Scapa Flow by 17 December.








22/9 From F O i/c Falmouth: Time required for defects will be approx 5 weeks completing 25/10. If all materials are available, DG defects and A & As can be completed by 15/11

22/11 From F O i/c Falmouth: On completion of trials propose sailing SPEEDWELL for Clyde for S A trial 29/11

27/11 SPEEDWELLs sailing will be delayed 4 days

Source: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/ron6a/navy/hms%20cumberland-speedwell-musketeer-ww2-wwII.htm

From the diary of Cyril Green, Telegraphist on SPEEDWELL

On Paying Off 16th September 1941. I returned to Chatham Barracks and was drafted to H.M.S. SPEEDWELL to take charge of its wireless department, November. 17th 1941. What a contrast this was to my only previous sea experience.

I travelled with my Kit bag and Hammock by train to Falmouth, made my way to the jetty and looked for the Ship! The tide was out and I failed to see her - until I looked down and saw this cockleshell down below the see wall. Everything was a complete contrast to the Cumberland (his previous ship).

Very shallow draft - top heavy superstructure, steam reciprocating engines. The sort that tugs have, meant for pulling power (minesweeping). Rather than speed, she waddled like a duck and when going flat out everything vibrated (I once knew her to reach 13 knots but that only when she threw caution to the wind and belched out a dense black smoke screen!) The only medical staff was 'Doc', a sick berth attendant, (Hostilities only) with no facilities. There was one cook (one member of each mess took turns to concoct and prepare the meal for that mess, take it to the Galley where cook cooked it for them. He then took it back to dish out in his own mess, it was a problem in rough weather.

But above all the contrast in ships compliment, as I've said Cumberland was all long serving regular officers and men. SPEEDWELL the opposite RNR, RNVR, HO's with only a small handful of us regulars. Discipline though adequate was of a more relaxed kind, above all, again we were fortunate to have another 'Happy' ship without friction where all pulled together.




Source: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/ron6a/navy/hms%20cumberland-speedwell-musketeer-ww2-wwII.htm

From the diary of Cyril Green, Telegraphist on SPEEDWELL

Motor boat sank while searching for the pilot of crashed plane just before sailing. The crew were all wearing life belts and were rescued OK. 'Doc' Campbell our sick berth attendant also in the boat was not wearing life belt and but for fine work of the other three would have ''batted''. Was unconscious and nearly done for when picked up. Still alive when carted away to hospital.




Halcyon, Harrier, Scott and SPEEDWELL left Scapa with Arethusa, 6 destroyers, 2 corvettes, and two LSIs for the raid on Vaagso (Operation Anklet, the landing of commandos on the Lofoten Islands); entered Vestfjord on 26/12 and the Commando raid began. Force left 28/12 and arrived Scapa 1.1.42


Source: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/ron6a/navy/hms%20cumberland-speedwell-musketeer-ww2-wwII.htm

 From the diary of Cyril Green, Telegraphist on SPEEDWELL:

Christmas Day

We are definitely establishing a base on the Lofoten Islands (Norway) and are making full preparations. Operation to start early morning of Boxing Day. Have been shadowed all day by Nazi Aircraft so they'll be expecting us.

Orders for us, the SPEEDWELL are:-

On the 1st day HMS Harrier to do an Oropesa sweep in the first harbour we visit, followed by the SPEEDWELL doing a LL magnetic sweep twice round the harbour. So if the Harrier gets out again OK, we'll be OK (we hope). Then the remainder of the force, except Destroyers will anchor in the harbour and oil. Destroyers will be sweeping Fjords for E boats and enemy merchant ships.

2nd day we move to 2nd harbour with entrance only 1 cable wide. Here we, the SPEEDWELL enter first do a LL sweep, then the main force of transports enter and land commandos and Norwegian soldiers. (Before we swept and entered the first harbour on the first day, they landed on the coast and headed inland. We could see them in white camouflage against the snow as they moved along). The 2nd force landed were to prevent re-enforcements being sent to the Nazis.

Now for details of Christmas day 1941

Had middle, forenoon and first watches. Rolling like hell, temperature outside miles below Zero. Christmas dinner was small piece of Pork, roast spuds and peas. Messmates made mince pies during forenoon enough for one each otherwise same as any other day. All my Christmas cards stuck up in my office (12 in all) but do not give Christmas spirit Without additional support. Heard parts of Christmas programme on the wireless during evening and night, but it only made matters worse. All ships company vow to have Christmas celebrations all on our own at the first opportunity on our return to civilisation.


Entered Vestfjord and the Commando raid began.

Cyril Green:

Boxing day

Everything went according to plan, no opposition to us. Little opposition to troops. Commandos and Norwegians landed early morning. Town of Reine occupied before noon. Scenery here is gorgeous, deep Fjords with huge cliffs on both sides coated with snow from top to bottom.

A few Norwegians came alongside us in 2 small boats during the day. They thought the main invasion of Norway had started and were very pleased to see us. Dark at 3 p.m. here but moonlight on snow makes it fairly light and fine scenes. Dawn between 9.30 a.m. and 10.30 a.m. Sunrise 2.30 Sunset 3.00 p.m.

HMS Speedwell in Lofoten Islands - Halcyon class minesweeper




HMS Speedwell in the Lofoten Islands



Photo: Henry Brown, Sickberth Attendant HMS Speedwell


Cyril Green:

All ships oiled during the night. We are settling down in this place. Moved round the coast a little to Reine. SPEEDWELL, Harrier and Halcyon swept harbour first then remainder of force moved in.Our job is to keep a swept channel. Sweeping daily, expect to be here for a long while. Single German Recc. Aircraft flew over during day - keeping out of range.


Force left Lofoten Islands, arriving Scapa 1/1

Cyril Green:

Carried out our routine sweep. Escorted Destroyer just arriving at base through channel to her berth. During the afternoon the whole force formed up and sailed for U.K. Our operations (OPPOS) were announced on 1800 BBC news "Small scale combined operations between Navy, Army & RAF were successfully carried out on shipping and the coast of Norway. Further details will be issued".


Cyril Green:

On the way home. BBC announcement of particulars of 'OPPOS' operations. They sank 8 merchant ships and 2 trawlers totalling 15,560 tons. RAF sank 1 ship and raided Nazi air bases preventing air attacks on our ships. No wonder we didn't have any air raids. BBC also gave details of the commandos part in capturing the towns and silencing the guns. 

The Rear Admiral sent a general message this forenoon congratulating all concerned on the success of the operation, both army and naval and explaining the abrupt ending of the operations before air attacks could begin. It appears that the severe weather had prevented yesterdays mornings RAF operations being carried out but it was a good piece of work. Being able to sail into an enemy port and make it our own base to attack her shipping and, but for our being spotted by a recc. aircraft before our arrival, I think we should have had a bigger bag of shipping. All our ships got away fit for immediate service and the commandos with their Norwegian soldier guides captured l85 German soldiers and killed many others at very little loss to themselves and all our ships came away with Norwegian refugees. I think the operation was very successful and a welcome change from the daily routine and I've seen a part of the world I've never seen before.


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