The British Pacific and East Indies Fleets

The forgotten fleets that fought the Japanese in the Pacific and Indian Oceans



Destroyer Depot Ship/Fleet Train Headquarters Ship

No badge issued for this vessel

Pennant No. BB381


Battle Honours

Atlantic 1939-41





Builder: John Brown and Company, Clydebank, Dunbartonshire, Scotland.

Displacement: 16,314 tons

Length: 570 ft

Beam: 70 ft

Draught: 28 ft

Speed: 18 Knots

 Crew complement: Not known


Commanding Officers

Captain. G. W. Hoare-Smith






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Early history

Launched December 1921 for service with the Canadian Pacific Steamship Company the S.S. MONTCLARE made her maiden voyage, on 18 August 1922, operating, initially on the Liverpool-Québec-Montréal service, switching to the Antwerp and Hamburg services in 1929. From 1933 until being requisitioned for war service she operated various cruises and transatlantic services; her final commercial passenger voyage in  July 1939, a Liverpool-Montréal roundtrip.

The S.S. MONTCLARE was taken over as an armed merchant cruiser in August 1939; she was purchased by the Admiralty in 1942 and converted into a destroyer depot ship H.M.S. MONTCLARE.

Allocated to the British Pacific Fleet

She joined the BPF in May 1945 when she arrived on station at Manus. MONTCLARE was unusual in that she was to have dual roles as Fleet Train Headquarters ship carrying the Flag of Rear Admiral Fleet Train (RAFT), Rear Admiral D. Fisher and as a Destroyer Depot Ship she carried the Flag of Rear Admiral Destroyers (RA(D))  Rear Admiral J.H. Edelsten.   MONTCLARE relieved the existing Headquarters Ship, HMS Lothian upon her arrival on station at Manus. MONTCLARE  relocated to Hong Kong harbour in October 1945. .

Post War

MONTCLARE resumed her role as Destroyer Depot Ship after the break up of the BPF before she was decommissioned in 1954.  She was laid up at Gareloch and later at Portsmouth. She was scrapped in 1958.

Last modified: 23 February 2023


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Comments (15)

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Jan 2022
Iain (UK) says...

My Mother was a stenographer on the Montclair for some years in the 1920s

Jackie Johnson
Jul 2021
Jackie Johnson (UK) says...

Looking for a photo of (Stanley) Eric George in a crew photo on and around a gun, probably between April and December 1947 on HMS Montclare. Based

Rosyth Marine Docks. Taken by a local photographer as requisitioned by the Captain. Can anyone help with a copy of this photo please.

Other previous ships he served on were HMS Pytchley July 1945 - May 1946 and HMS Fly July 1946 - April 1947.Thank you for your help.

Alistair Stenton
Dec 2020
Alistair Stenton (Ellon, Aberdeenshire, UK) says...

My late uncle, Alan Stenton was I think a Chief Petty Officer on the HMS Montclare in the latter years of the war, and ended up in the British Pacific Fleet on the Montclare, possibly having also served earlier in the Atlantic theatre. At the end of the war I believe he was involved in engineering work on the Hong Kong tram system before the ship returned to the UK. Any information or photos would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance

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Brian Franklin
Oct 2020
Brian Franklin (UK) says...

My father Raymond Franklin served in the Montclare from late 1944 to early 1946 as a wireless telegraphist. I have several pictures of him and other crew particularly in Hong Kong December 1945. If you would like to see them or have a name I may be able to find your relatives picture or signature.

Marion Horton
May 2020
Marion Horton (York) says...
In Southhampton we were at the berth that the Queen Mary docked fitting out the HMS Montclare. Shipyard men were working and we were scrubbing and polishing the Galley and the Bakery. We where Canteen Messing so each Mess drew his stores and I cooked for them separately. We worked hard and ate all we could get our hands on. As the crew was only five of us we all got an allowance. Then when everyone joined the ship we got a big cash bonus because we had not drawn all our rations. The Montclare, the old liner served us well until we got into the Red Sea. One of our crew had a heart attack and we 'bust our boilers' to get him to Aiden fo for treatment. In the Suez Canal we climbed the bankside and blocked it. Hilter could not do this but we did! On to the Indian Ocean and Hong Kong via Australia. (These are my dads words and I think he was talking about 1945).
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Search RN Research Archive materials on-line


HM Ships COLOSSUS, GLORY, VENERABLE and VENGEANCE. GLORY did not arrive in Sydney until August 16th.


At the end of June 1945, the Admiralty implemented a new system of classification for carrier air wings, adopting the American practice one carrier would embark a single Carrier Air Group (CAG) which would encompass all the ships squadrons.


Sturtivant, R & Balance, T. (1994) 'Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm’ list 899 squadron as conducting DLT on the Escort Carrier ARBITER on August 15th. It is possible that the usual three-day evolution was cancelled due to the announcement of the Japanese surrender on this date and was postponed for a month.


The reminiscences of

Gordon served with the radio section of Mobile Repair UNit No.1 (MR 1) at Nowra, he was a member of the local RN dance band, and possibly the last member of MONAB I to leave Nowra after it paid off. .

Drafted to

Coming home

In March 1946 I joined 812 squadron, aboard HMS Vengeance, spending some time ditching American aircraft north of Australia. Eventually we sailed for Ceylon ( Sri Lanka ) landing at Trincomalee and setting up a radio section at Katakarunda. In the belief that we were exhausted we were sent to a rest camp at Kandy for a few weeks. We moved down to Colombo to pick up Vengeance and returned to Portsmouth via the Suez Canal . I was discharged in November 1946.

Gordon Theaker