The British Pacific and East Indies Fleets

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



S-Class Submarine

Motto: Me timere
"Fear Me"

Pennant No. P244


Battle Honours






Builder: Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Greenock, Scotland, United Kingdom

Displacement: 814 tons

Length: 217 ft

Beam: 23 ft  8 in

Draught: 11 ft

Propulsion: 2 × 950 bhp (708 kW) diesel engines, 2 × 650 hp (485 kW) electric motors driving two propellers

Speed: 14.75 knots (16.97 mph; 27.32 km/h) surfaced. 9 knots (10 mph; 17 km/h) submerged

Range: 7,500 Nautical miles surfaced (8,600 mi; 13,900 km) at 10 knots (12 mph; 19 km/h) 120 Nautical miles submerged ( 140 mi; 220 km) at 3 knots (3.5 mph; 5.6 km/h)

Armament: 6 × bow & 1 stern 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes – carried 13 torpedoes or 12 mines; 1 × three-inch (76 mm) gun (QF 4-inch deck gun; 1 × 20 mm Oerlikon AA gun; 3 × .303 calibre machine guns

 Crew complement: 48


Commanding Officers

Lt. Denis Woolnough Mills, DSC, RN Dec 1944
 Lt. Peter Dove Courtenay Bennett, RN 25 Sep 1945

Lt. J.R. Pardoe 05 Apr 1951

Lt. Cdr B.L.M. Moss 11 Aug 1953

Lt. Cdr M.J. O'Connor`6 Jul 1954

Lt. Cdr J.A. Wiles 19 May 1957

Lt. R.G. Heaslip 01 Jul 1961






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Image copyright IWM (FL 2256)


She was ordered from Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering Co., Greenock, Scotland, on December 20th 1941, one of the batch three boats ordered as part of the third group of S class submarines for the Royal Navy. Her keel was laid down on May 5th 1943. She was launched on January 30th 1945. Beginning on Apr 28th 1945 SEA DEVIL conducted her builder’s trials off Helensburgh followed by further trials in the Clyde area concluding on May 2nd. She returned to the Scotts yard on competition of each set of trials. She commissioned as H.M. Submarine SEA DEVIL on May 12th 1945 under the command of Lieutenant D.W. Mills, DSC, RN. She was the only RN vessel to bear this name.

She departed her builders’ yard for Holy Loch on May 14th to begin a period of trials and training. Here she joined the 3rd Submarine Flotilla, attached to the depot ship HMS FORTH, which was responsible for submarines operating in the North Sea and Bay of Biscay and also the supervising of the trials and working up of all new construction submarines. Commencing on May 16th she conducted Torpedo, Gunnery, Bombardment, D/F and RDF exercises and performed simulated day and night attacks, both submerged and surface actions. She also performed trials at the torpedo firing range at Arrochar. Local vessels acted as targets; the Destroyers HMS SARDONYX on May 31st and HMS SHIKARI on June 1st/2nd.

On completion of her final training exercise at Holy Loch SEA DEVIL sailed for Scapa Flow on June 4th, arriving on the 5th. Commencing on the 8th she conducted A/S exercises with the destroyer HMS WIZARD and again on the 13th/14th with HMS CAESAR.; later on the 14th she carried out an RDF tracking exercises with the cruiser HMS BELFAST. On the 18th she joined the new destroyer HMS CHEVRON, also working up at Scapa, for A/S exercises. The destroyers MYNGS and COMET worked with her on June 20th. MYNGS continued to exercise with her on the 21st. Her final training at Scapa was a radar exercise on the 22nd on securing from this she proceeded to Holy Loch arriving the next day.

&On June 25th she was docked in Admiralty Floating Dock No 17 on the 25th to inspect the Starboard propeller; on being undocked the following day she sailed for a simulated war patrol. She conducted attack exercises with the Sloop HMS ICARUS on the 27th before operating with sister boat SANGUINE to conduct day and night attack exercises with ICARUS and destroyer HMS HASTINGS acting as targets. HASTINGS served as the target for further night attack exercises on the 29th; SEA DEVIL returned to Joly Loch on completion.

Note: no log is available for July 1945 but it is assumed that she undertook her first War patrol in the North Sea during the month. On arrival back at Holy Loch she began preparations for passage to join the British Pacific Fleet.

Allocated to the British Pacific Fleet

H.M. S/M SEA DEVIL sailed from Holy Loch for passage to Gibraltar on August 6th on the first leg of voyage to the Far East. She called at Gibraltar on the 10th sailing for Malta the following day. She arrived at Malta on August 15th the day that the surrender of Japan was announced.

She remained at Malta while a decision was made about her future; with the war over there was no need for her to be deployed and she was ordered to return to the UK, she arrived at Rothesay in mid-September 1945.

Post War history

After the war the surviving S Class boats were refitted to install a folding snorkel mast aft of the control tower; to accommodate this the stern torpedo tube and the 'Bandstand' Anti-Aircraft platform and 20mm Oerlikon were removed. Some had their main deck gun removed as well. The snorkel allowed a submarine to cruise on diesel engines while submerged allowing the batteries to be recharged without the need to surface and risk detection by an enemy. When raised the ‘snort’ was the only part of the boat above the surface drawing in clean air while discharging the toxic diesel exhaust. Later modernisation work included installation of an improved sonar mounted in a dome on the casing above the forward dive plane and improved radar.

On emerging from her modification refit SEA DEVIL began her second commission under the command of Lieutenant J.R. Pardoe RN in April 1951. She was allocated to 2nd Submarine Flotilla attached to the depot ship HMS MAIDSTONE at Portland. In June 1953 SEA DEVIL was one of 26 submarines that took part in the Fleet Review to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

SEA DEVIL deployed to the Mediterranean in 1955, and remained there for the rest of her active career. in 1955/56 she operated in the waters off Malta during tests of the Yellow Duckling infrared linescan camera system, which was under development for detecting the wake of submerged submarines during the Cold War.

H.M. Submarine SEA DEVIL finally paid off at Portsmouth on June 4th 1962, she was the last of the S class in service with the Royal Navy. She was sold to the ship breaker Metal Recoveries, and arrived at Newhaven on December 15th 1965.

Last modified: 23 February 2023


Primary information sources

Additional sources: entry for H.M. Submarine SEA DEVIL



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joe mclean
Jul 2020
First Poster
joe mclean (Manchester, Greater Manchester, UK) says...

My dad served on the s class subs not sure which one but he has an ashtray off one of them made from a torpedo he told me

Page 1 of 1


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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