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Mystery Raid in Northern Denmark

Posted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 12:42 am
by 53Marine
While conducting research on an 8th AF B-17 crew, that was forced to ditch on 25 Aug 1944, I came across an account related to the rescued crewmen by members of RML 514 that rescued them.

They happened to be in the area after escaping from a raid gone bad that had occurred during the previous few days. It is possible that RML 514 was the only survivor of the raid, which was supposed to have been a submarine pen in Northern Denmark.

Does anyone have information regarding this raid? What the actual target may have been? What other boats may have been involved?

Re: Mystery Raid in Northern Denmark

Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:31 am
by Stephen
I'm afraid I can't offer much assistance. As far as I'm aware, there were no commando raids on Denmark during the war, nor were there any submarine pens there. The only commando raids I know of in August 1944 were in France, largely to support Normandy operations. If there were a raid on a significant target in Denmark that inflicted such casualties that only one vessel returned, I'd expect to see more about it in published sources. But a look through a few of my books reveals noting I'm afraid.

Is it possible that RML 514 was on station in the North Sea during an air raid on Denmark?


Re: Mystery Raid in Northern Denmark

Posted: Sun Dec 24, 2017 8:42 am
by 53Marine
Hi Steve, thank you for your response.

The source that I am working from a written account from one of the crewman. The only thing that I can verify so far was the actual date of loss and subsequent rescue of the ditched B-17.

According to account it was RML 514 that was alerted to the ditched crew by Army Air Corps Air Sea Rescue fighters. It is possible that some of the details in re-telling of the account have been forgotten, misunderstood or caused by some other issue.

Are there documents that can researched for RML 514, that might list crews rescued? Where could I find these sources? (Not familiar with British RN records)

Re: Mystery Raid in Northern Denmark

Posted: Mon Feb 25, 2019 8:16 pm
by RML514
Hi 53Marine,

Only just joined the forum so I hope you're still active more than a year after your post, and will see this reply. I can't help with information about a raid on Denmark; air or commando. But my father was first lieutenant on RML 514 at that time (1943 until at least the end of the war), operating with 60th Rescue Motor Launch Flotilla, from HMS Midge in Great Yarmouth.

Frankly, I have very little information. My father was the sort of man who didn't talk much about his wartime experiences. But I do have a handful of photos he and others took including one showing the boat approaching a dinghy full of downed airmen somewhere in the North Sea. Who knows..... it might just be the crew of the B-17 crew you mention.

I'm certainly fascinated by the account you mention written by members of the crew of RML 514. Please let me know if you're still active. I'd love to find out more especially as my father passed away recently and I'll have no more opportunities to talk to him about his wartime service.


Re: Mystery Raid in Northern Denmark

Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2019 10:26 am
by Admin
Hello Jeremy, and welcome to the forum. The former Coastal Forces Veterans Association (CFVA) newsletters contain articles on RMLs, RML 512 for one, and I seem to recall an article about a rescued American aircrew, which I will endeavour to find, although there were, unsurprisingly, a number of such rescues performed in the North Sea, given the large number of airfields in East Anglia from which USAAF bombers flew on missions over northern Germany, taking a flight path over Holland. Crews sometimes ditched on their way out after developing problems, as well as on the way home, having sustained damage from flak or night-fighters. I'll try and get them all scanned over the next week and post them online with a link here. Even if I don't find anything specifically related to 514, they should provide you with an insight into the work your father did.

I'll contact you by email later if I may about the photos in your possession.

Regards Admin

Re: Mystery Raid in Northern Denmark

Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2019 12:24 pm
by RML514
That's great. Thanks.

Re: Mystery Raid in Northern Denmark

Posted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 5:08 pm
by Admin

I have managed to scan some entries from the CFVA newsletters on the subject of the Rescue Motor Launches (RMLs) which provide an insight into the valuable work your father and others performed in the oftentimes very trying conditions of the North Sea.

The Exploits and Service of Rescue Motor Launch Number 550
Rescuers Rescued
Things Might Have Been Done Better
RML 517
More about the RMLs
RML Mini Reunion


Re: Mystery Raid in Northern Denmark

Posted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 7:47 pm
by RML514
This is great. Fascinating reading! Thanks again Admin.
But rather sad to think these gentlemen may well have passed away since they wrote their accounts.

Most, if not all seem to relate to 60th RML Flotilla and I'm trying to work out which numbers were included: 511, 512, 513, 514, 498..... My father said there were eight boats in the flotilla. Do you know if there's some way of working out exactly which, and when (I assume some boats were transferred into and out of different flotillas)?


Re: Mystery Raid in Northern Denmark

Posted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 10:51 am
by Admin
Jeremy, the short answer is I don't have that many details of the makeup of ML flotillas, as despite being the most numerous of the type operated by Coastal Forces there isn't hasn't been the same level of attention paid to them in publications to date as the MTBs & MGBs have received. I don't even know how many of the Fairmile 'B's were equipped as RMLs, and whereas eight tended to be the usual compliment for an ML Flotilla, it's possible that RML Flotillas had fewer. I'm sure there must have been more than one RML Flotilla on the East Coast as well.

I have just found a few more pieces in the newsletters, including a copy of the report from Donald Cole, C.O. of RML 515, detailing the names of the American airmen saved from a downed Flying Fortress of the 23 March, 1944, which I will hopefully get scanned by the weekend.

There are still a handful of the veterans on the go, but sadly their numbers have dwindled since the time of the CFVA's decommissioning in 2007.

Re: Mystery Raid in Northern Denmark

Posted: Sun Mar 10, 2019 1:45 pm
by Admin
Archive footage from the East Anglia Film Archive managed by the University of east Anglia

Air-sea rescue trials at Great Yarmouth in 1944

This second piece of footage which is in colour shows the RAF air-sea rescue units stationed at Great Yarmouth or Lowestoft, taken by USAFF air crew who go to sea on some of the RAF British Power Boat 'whalebacks'. These are the same type of boat used by Coastal Forces earlier in the war as Motor Anti-Submarine Boats (MASBs) which were later converted to the early gunboats. Footage for the docks is from 10:00 onwards and the first boat shown is Fairmile 'D' MTB 751

1944 Raydon, Suffolk

Re: Mystery Raid in Northern Denmark

Posted: Sun Mar 10, 2019 3:53 pm
by Pioneer
The "D" 751 comes into shot at 06:55 in the above clip .

Re: Mystery Raid in Northern Denmark

Posted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:29 pm
by RML514
Great to see this video. Real, genuine "archive" material. Thank you.