Information on Melampus sought

Discussions relating to the day-to-day running of Light Coastal Forces; shore establishments and mobile bases; command structure; strategy and tactics; training and logistics etc
vict.salt
Seaman
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:50 pm

Information on Melampus sought

Postby vict.salt » Sun Jan 05, 2014 4:13 pm

I have been trying to find information on HMS Melampus anywhere on the internet but it is sparse.

I have found mention of the base and Bathurst on this site but again virtually no real information (not a complaint!) As this has been written....
Though a Royal Navy base at Bathurst, HMS Melampus, was commissioned in March 1942, it is not known whether Coastal Forces enjoyed any specific connection to this base, since they were known to have used Bathurst as a port of call earlier than this date. Bathurst is today known as Banjul.
... I wondered whether it may add just a VERY small bit of the story as follows.

My father Robert Hiscock, was with the Coastal Forces based at Hornet until May 1942 when he was drafted to Melampus as an ERA and remained there until March 1944. If anyone is able to add information to that I would be SO pleased. His service record is displayed on the World Naval Ships site here
http://www.worldnavalships.com/forums/s ... hp?t=16138
which may be of interest.
Colin

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 279
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: Information on Melampus sought

Postby Admin » Mon Jan 06, 2014 2:50 am

Hello Colin

Thank you for your enquiry about HMS Melampus in The Gambia. I was slightly confused at first by the reference in the service record you mentioned to Wireless Reserve as I understand ERA to mean Engine Room Artificer, so whether he retrained as this or there is some kind of connection in terms of maintaining the equipment, I can't say.

The details about Melampus are derived from Shore Establishments of the Royal Navy by Ben Warlow and are not very detailed. I have no idea whether the base was on shore or a ship. I rather suspect that any Coastal Forces contingent in The Gambia would have been rather small in number and that they would have been unlikely to merit a base of their own, and that they were probably just attached to Melampus as part of a general naval base. The largest concentration of Coastal Forces in West Africa was to be found at Freetown, but even there, there does not appear to have been any identifiable base that was specific to Coastal Forces, a number of general facilities being used for pay and administration, boat maintenance, and rest and recreation, with crews reportedly living on the boats most of the time.

Coastal Forces in West Africa were known to travel as far north as Senegal and Mauritania from their central location at Freetown, whilst escorting coastal convoys or engaging in anti-submarine sweeps, and motor launches could sometimes develop engine trouble which would force them to limp home on one engine or put into the nearest port and await a tow back to Freetown, so your father was presumably stationed at Bathurst to help service any motor launch that might require mechanical assistance.

Regards
Admin

vict.salt
Seaman
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:50 pm

Re: Information on Melampus sought

Postby vict.salt » Mon May 12, 2014 3:27 pm

Admin,
Thanks for your information.
I have since found and read some letters from my father to my mother whilst he was stationed at Melampus. Obviously there was very little operational information contained in the letters but it I can say that it was definitely shore based at Bathurst (now Banjul). It seems there were a small number of men servicing one/some (?) Motor Launches - unknown type though and there were some ocean based duties for him, although not of any great duration.
Accommodation was VERY basic - at one time a few of them sleeping in old oil tanks just to escape the roaming rats!
When President Roosevelt passed through on his way to Casablanca to meet with Churchill, he referred to Banjul as 'that hellhole of yours'. On his return trip to the US he stopped again and after making a further visit around the area it confirmed in his mind that an organisation to oversee the worldwide decolonisation of colonial power was needed and through his perseverance the United Nations Charter was drawn up. An interesting article on that phase can be found here:-
http://mansata.wikifoundry.com/page/%E2 ... s%E2%80%9D

My father was there for 2 years and to clarify the Telegraphist/ERA situation, he re-trained as an engineer prior to going to West Africa.
That is the only useful information I can gather from the letters and I am happy to stand corrected on any of it.


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