On 17th June we commemorate Lieutenant Frank Leslie 'Nick' Carter, killed onboard his command ML 1301 during Operation Brassard, the Allied assault on Elba
ML 1301 was a Fairmile designed Harbour Defence Motor Launch (HDML). Despite their designation, these versatile craft were rarely confined to harbour, seeing service in all manner of operations at sea, both at home and abroad. ML 1301 was laid down at Blackmore's yard in Bideford, Devon in September 1942. She was launched in January 1943, completed in Appledore, and commissioned on 6th April 1943. Lieutenant Carter oversaw her construction and was able to stipulate minor variations to the basic design, such as armour cladding to the bridge.
Initially, her armament consisted of a 2 pounder gun on the foredeck, a 20mm Orlikon on the stern cabin, a .303' Vickers machine on each side of the bridge, and eight depth charges on racks at the stern. After 'working-up' in the Bristol Channel, ML 1301 was grouped into a convoy in Milford Haven, and sailed for Malta, via Gibraltar. In Malta, the 2 pounder gun was removed and replaced by another 20mm Orlikon. She was also fitted with Radar at this stage.
From Malta, ML 1301 took part in Operation Husky – the invasion of Sicily. She was one of the first to reach the beaches and acted as a lead boat to show lights to the landing craft. She then performed a similar role in the invasion of Italy at Salerno, after which she was based in Naples.
Lieutenant 'Nick' Carter was killed during the boat's third major operation, the invasion of Elba, when the boat came under fire from a heavily armed German F-Lighter
After the action in Elba, the boat was adapted for survey work, surveying harbours in Italy, the Adriatic and Aegean, and reaching as far east as Cyprus. The boat was then shipped back to the UK, where she was attached to the Hydrographic Office surveying the South Coast, and renamed HMS Meda. The boat was eventually decommissioned in 1966 and sold, ending up with Hector Sheppard-Capurro, the owner of Sheppard's Marina in Gibraltar. The boat was renamed again as Gibel Tarik and modified for use as a yacht.
Eventually the boat was put up for sale in 2007 and bought by a Dutch businessman. In a remarkable turn of events, 'Nick' Carter's son, David, formed part of the crew who sailed his father's old command back to Holland from Gibraltar. For the full story see The Return of HDML 1301 in the September 2015 edition of the London Branch newsletter.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them