Halcyon Class Minesweepers HMS Speedwell Pre-War
Speedwell Pre-War
Speedwell 1939
Speedwell 1940
Speedwell 1941
Speedwell 1942
Speedwell 1943
Speedwell 1944
Speedwell 1945
Speedwell Post-War
Speedwell - Crew


HMS Speedwell - Halcyon Class Minesweeper
HMS Speedwell

Source:  ADM 199/2571


Laid down at Hamilton & Co Ltd (Port Glasgow)




HMS SPEEDWELL commissioned on 30 Sept 1935 with a navigating party for acceptance trials.

  Ship adopted by Otley, Yorks

SPEEDWELL was a ship of 815 tons standard displacement and measured 230 ft (245 ft?) between perpendiculars, with a beam of 33½ft and a max. draught of 9 ft at standard displacement. 

Her machinery was of the compound reciprocating type with two shafts. On trials, 1747 ihp gave her a maximum speed of 16.4 knots. She had two 3-drum boilers and bunker capacity was 243 tons of oil fuel. 

SPEEDWELL's original gun armament comprised one 4" LA, one 4" HA and one 2pounder. In 1938 she was rearmed with two 4" HA guns and one quadruple 0.5" MG mounting. A second quad. 0.5" was added later, and still later two 20mm guns were fitted. The two MG mountings were removed when the 20mm guns were increased to four. Finally the single 20mm were removed and replaced by four twin 20mm.

In her minesweeping role she had two depth charge chutes each with two charges. When acting as an escort the two chutes were augmented by two depth charge throwers with 8 depth charges for each thrower. By 1943 the 'Halcyons' fitted as escorts each carried two double d/c chutes with two depth charges each, two single chutes with one d/c each and two throwers plus 40 charges (i.e. 50 depth charges were carried). Her Asdic was probably Type 123. She was fitted with RDF when it became available (probably Type 271). Her peace time complement was about 80 officers and ratings. 

Source: THE WAR OF THE HALCYONS 1939-1945 R A Ruegg World Ship Society



On her way south she called at Ramsay, Isle of Man on 1 October and she had to put in to Tremadoc Bay on the 2nd because of heavy weather.(Ruegg)


She arrived at Plymouth on 3 October and completed to full complement the next day for service in the 1st M/S Flotilla.(Ruegg)


After adjustments lasting until 12 October she Sailed for the Eastern Mediterranean, reaching Alexandria on 30 October, and she stayed in the area over the turn of the year, returning in May 1936.(Ruegg)


On 13.10.35 Dad (Harold Pickard) joined the Minesweeper HMS Speedwell arriving Gibraltar on 17.10.35, then to Malta arriving 22.10.35. Here Dad took the opportunity to visit Mum's brother, Cyril, and his family. The ship left Malta on 27.10.35 for Alexandria arriving 31.10.35 where it stayed for 6 months apart from exercises and a visit to Famagusta On 20.1.36 there was a special memorial service on the Quarter Deck for the interment of King George V. On 8.2.36, two of Dad's former ships arrived at Alexandria ‑ Queen Elizabeth and Berwick. The Minesweeping Exercise "Oropesa" took place on 6.4.36 after which Speedwell left Alexandria on 28.4.36 arriving in Malta on 1.5.36, leaving again on 3.5.36 via Gibraltar arriving at Devonport on 26.6.36.

The ship later spent some time at Portland which included cleaning and painting work. From 6.7 to 31.7.36 a series of Minesweeping exercises took place off the coast of Portland, Seaton and Teignmouth, eventually returning to Devonport on 31.7.36 for a welcome period of leave. On 7.9.36 the ship sailed back to Portland for more Minesweeping exercises but on 13.11.36 King George VI visited the ship. Two further exercises were cancelled due to adverse weather conditions. On 10.12.36 the ship sailed for Torbay, then on to Devonport arriving 12,12.36 for Christmas and New Year, More exercises between Portland and Weymouth from 15.1.37 to 1.4.37 and the whole crew was discharged to Royal Naval Barracks, HMS Drake, on 14.4.37.

Source: http://www.navynews.co.uk/letters/2006/0605/060524_01.asp


Source: ADM 1/9085

CLICK HERE to read the Annual Report on the Progress of Minesweeping 1936 which includes an account of SPEEDWELL's activities.

June 36

Refit at Devonport

June – Dec 1936

Between June and December 1936 she remained off the south coast with an interlude at Devonport in August/September for gun adjustments and As & As.(Ruegg)




SPEEDWELL lay at Plymouth under repair, and this was followed by a refit in March/April


Source: ADM1/9566 (selective extracts)

CLICK HERE to read the Annual Report on the Progress of Minesweeping 1st November 1936 - 31st October 1937 which includes an account of SPEEDWELL's activities.

HMS Speedwell June 1938

HMS Speedwell June 1938

May 1937

After work‑up at Portland she proceeded to the Firth of Clyde in May for exercises. She returned to Portland after a visit to Belfast, and she then sailed to patrol in the western Mediterranean (the Spanish Civil War was in progress).(Ruegg)

Dec 37 – Apr 38

By the end of the year she was at Plymouth where she entered a refit which lasted until mid April 1938, having reduced to 2/5 complement on 17 January. During this refit she had armament changes. SPEEDWELL's original gun armament comprised one 4" LA, one 4" HA and one 2pdr. In 1938 she was rearmed with two 4" HA guns and one quadruple 0.5" MG mounting. (Ruegg)


She completed to full complement on 19 April and then worked in the Channel until she paid off into the Reserve Fleet at the Nore in July.(Ruegg)

Sept – Oct 1938

The 'Czech Crisis' caused SPEEDWELL to hastily recommission for service for the period 12 Sept.‑29 Oct. while the situation was tense and Britain played for time.(Ruegg)




From 18 Oct.1938 to 14 March 1939 the Senior Officer Reserve Fleet and his staff were accommodated in SPEEDWELL.(Ruegg)

HMS Speedwell

HMS Speedwell.jpg  


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This site was last updated 17 Januar 2012