A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Motor Launches (ML), Harbour Defence Motor Launches (HDML) & Rescue Motor Launches (RML)
Stuart
Able Seaman
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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:13 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stuart » Sun Jan 22, 2017 3:53 pm

Kevin - Can I recommend to you, Patrick Dalziel Job's book "From Artic Snows to Dust of Normandy" for another amazing account of someone's war. A great read and, you realise at the end, a moving, real life love story. You can find it, used, on Amazon very reasonably. Stuart

Admin
Site Admin
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Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Admin » Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:28 am

To Admin: Thanks for the information. That's great. Also I will gladly email a copy of my father's memoirs to you if you tell me how & where to send.
Thank you – I've sent you a pm earlier with the details, if you see top right of page when logged in.

Kevin
Seaman
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Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:48 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Kevin » Tue Jan 24, 2017 5:37 pm

Stuart: Thanks for the book recommendation. I have a few on order now, looking forward to reading them! I wonder if anyone has done a TV documentary on this subject? I know Jeremy Clarkson has done a few on war topics. Does anyone know of any focusing on the 'small boats'?

Kevin

Stephen
Chief Petty Officer
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Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stephen » Tue Jan 24, 2017 6:02 pm

Much as Clarkson can be quite irritating, his three war documentaries have been quite good. The one most relevant to this thread is The Greatest Raid of all Time, which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXusKM5uX0s.

I'm currently putting together a page on various film depictions of Coastal Forces, which you can find here: https://spitfiresofthesea.com/coastal-forces-in-film/. At the moment I'm afraid only the bottom one of those films is a link to another page, but if you search for the other titles on Youtube, you'll find them (except The Ship that Died of Shame and For Those in Peril).

There is also a good documentary DVD put together by the Coastal Forces Heritage Trust, which you can buy here: http://www.coastal-forces.org.uk/shop.html

Regards,
Steve

Stuart
Able Seaman
Posts: 21
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Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stuart » Tue Jan 24, 2017 6:46 pm

Thanks Steve - There goes this months broadband! Stu.

Admin
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Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Admin » Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:01 pm

My Dad (Derek Gwyther Jones) was navigator on the ML250:
The Coastal Forces Heritage Trust carries a letter from your father on the subject of minesweeping on page 11 of its Issue 15 November 2014 newsletter, available for download, along with others, from their web site. There's also an insightful piece on the subject, entitled, Memories of a Minesweeping War, written by the late Adrian Martin MBE, VRD.

Kevin
Seaman
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Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:48 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Kevin » Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:45 pm

Admin: Thanks for the information. Well spotted! I knew my father had written a letter, but it was nice to see it in print - so to speak! I also found the article alongside it interesting. The account (by Adrian Martin?) mentions that he was a CW candidate, as was my father, amazing to think that they entered service as an ordinary seaman and finished as Captain's - both at 21, such a young age. The account is very detailed, he had some close shaves in his little ML!

Stephen - thanks for the links to the videos. I know exactly what you mean, Clarkson can be a bit like marmite. But I agree, he does a good job with these documentaries. I have watched the 'greatest raid' with amazement. Such bravery! The ML's paid a very heavy price - did only 4 return out of 16? I haven't seen the others but I will certainly give them a look - and the DVD from coastal forces. Clarkson's documentary on PQ17 is quite inspiring, the story of Leo Gradwell is wonderful. Have you seen it? It is available on Vimeo.

Stuart - Off to use up my broadband too! It's worth it though!

Kevin

Mark_E
Able Seaman
Posts: 24
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:05 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Mark_E » Fri Jan 27, 2017 7:53 am

I think my Dad's war experience can be summed up by 'one close shave after another'. He was unharmed, yet went on one of the roughest the arctic convoys (JW53), D-Day, Scheldt, and then island of Bangka.
Interestingly enough my dad served in an Arctic Convoy aboard HMS Venus (JW58 - I think) before transferring into coastal forces too.

Still following this thread even though I am certain the info I have about my dad doesn't tie up with ML916 after all. It's fascinating stuff!

Kevin
Seaman
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Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:48 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Kevin » Sat Jan 28, 2017 9:47 am

Mark - I agree, it is fascinating to share what we know, and see the stories overlap here and there. I would be happy to send you a copy of my father's war memoirs if you like. I can send as an attachment on an email? Drop me a line and I will send it on reply.

I have been reading the book recommended in an earlier entry - A passage to Sword Beach by Brendan Maher. I am amazed that his experience at times was so similar to my father's. He was around the same age, entered as a CW candidate, was navigator on an ML on D-Day heading up the 9th channel, my father headed the 10th. Following that they carried out operations to clear ports of mines, my father - in the Scheldt, and Maher went to Cherbourg. Their paths may have crossed several times.

I would encourage you to keep up your search, you never know what you may find, or who you may contact with unexpected information.

Kevin.

Mark_E
Able Seaman
Posts: 24
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:05 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Mark_E » Mon Feb 20, 2017 1:33 pm

Thanks Kevin, yes I'll keep up the search. I feel that somewhere there must be a breakthrough. My father's sister passed away a few years ago, and being the last of my father's blood relatives of that generation means we have little to go on. I think we'll revisit her papers though and see if there are any more clues to be found.

Will PM you separately

All best, Mark

Mark_E
Able Seaman
Posts: 24
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:05 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Mark_E » Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:09 pm

Hi all. A brief update from me. The one benefit of moving house and packing and unpacking all your stuff is that you get to have a look through all your stuff! I recently moved home and rediscovered some photocopies of dad's papers. There are maybe ten or so short stories recounting tales from his early life, in the 1930s and 40s and beyond, written up for my brother and I in the early 1990s. So I need to treat the specific details and dates with some caution! Sadly no mention of the actual craft he served on, but here are a few extras I have gleaned, and tried to cross-match with the service pay record I have:
  • He tells a story of when his ship was tied up in Rosyth, of singing in French with some Free French sailors off the Richelieu, also in Rosyth at the time. He mentioned the commander of the Richelieu cabled his own Captain to say how much they appreciated the moment. He said this was in 1943. Dad recounted he was concerned he'd get into trouble for drinking with the French sailors, as he was underage at the time. This means it was before late April 1924
  • Dad's record says he was at Collingwood between late October 1943 and early January '44. Then he was at Diomede until March 1944, which *was* in Rosyth. Might this include a period aboard an actual ship? Possibly even the Venus? Must be more likely that this incident took place in early 1944. Anyway, appreciate that this episode is 'off topic'.
  • In another paper he describes being based in Gosport in April 1944, including the "Special Duties Flotilla" and "Operations Division (Irregular)". He also recounts a tale of getting into some trouble. He was promoted to 'leading seaman' by the commander of the operation division (I need to double check my terminology here), but then had a run-in with a drunk Lieutenant, and immediately lost the 'fouled anchor' after only two days! Think he was remanded for a week, too.
  • He also describes taking part in 'Carter Patterson runs', heading down to Devon (Helford I think), then heading out into the sea with a training flotilla, then when out of sight of land, separating and off to France to conduct some of the missions (eg sand samples) previously mentioned. He says he served on a 'high speed motor launch' with 'three huge Packard engines'
There is some other content about his post-war service in Germany around Hamburg which I feel more confident about, but the above details give me something more to work on, I think.

Thanks for reading!

Sarah J
Seaman
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Aug 21, 2017 11:13 am

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Sarah J » Mon Aug 21, 2017 11:54 am

Hi. I realise the last post from this thread was April but I felt I must add to it and thank you for such fantastic research. I have just spend a few very emotional hours reading through it as my Uncle was one of the crew who died on ML 916 on the 8th November. This had a profound effect on my family and, sadly, was never spoken of, I'm guessing because it was too painful an event and catalyst for my father. However, I have recently been researching my family's ancestry and have discovered more and more about the uncle I never knew. Sub Lt Dan Basil Curtis was only 20 when he died, but to know he was part of something so important makes me incredibly proud. We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit the war graves in Bergen-Op-Zoom and from there I was able to find out the vessel he was on and his rank at the time. Sadly though, I haven't been able to find any photographs of him and his crew.

Would anyone know how I can research his movements from completing his training at HMS King Alfred to the demise of the 916? Also, I found this photo at this link
http://nebula.wsimg.com/38bbaf3d1aa6eb8 ... oworigin=1 Does anyone know what this may have been and could it be the 6 retrieved bodies (one of which was my uncle)? Who are the mourners likely to be? And would his body be here and then moved to the war grave, or never moved?

Thank you so much again. I'm sorry I can't bring much information to the post but there is some great information here... http://www.wildfire3.com/sweeping-the-scheldt.html

Stuart
Able Seaman
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:13 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stuart » Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:05 pm

Hi Sarah - Read your post with interest. Pam and I and our families can understand your amazement and emotion at reading these accounts. I feel there is a good story here that should be told.
There seem to have been six bodies recovered and identified from ML 916 your uncle being one. I suppose they would have been buried quickly in the nearest cemetery, as in the photo with local mourners, and later on moved to an official War Cemetery.
I've been wondering these last few months, who the other survivor was and hope that there may be some other families out there like yourself, who may be reading these posts and who can supply more information. It's interesting that, like my father, these guys mostly kept quiet about their parts in WW2 but I think their stories are amazing and should be told.
When you look through the list of the casualties from 916 - they are all so young and the drama of war happened so quickly, no wonder it had such an effect on your and their families. Even though my father survived, his life was dramatically changed from being a highly active outdoors type to having to get used to the loss of a leg and when I was born in 1946 he must have been just starting to adjust to this. He never talked about the loss of his crew but it must have hurt so much. I know he tried to contact all their families but have no further information about that.

I can Email you the two eyewitness accounts we have of the sinking of ML916 and amazingly I have just been given the phone no. of one of the crew of ML906 who picked up the casualties. His name is Ron Metcalfe is still surviving, still playing snooker.

Thanks Sarah and good to hear from you, Stuart MacPherson.

Mark_E
Able Seaman
Posts: 24
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:05 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Mark_E » Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:36 am

Hi Sarah

I'm very glad that this thread has been helpful (is that the right word?) for you. It can be so difficult to really find out about the experiences of our family (I am accepting now that I never will with regard to my own father) so it's good that this thread has been able to shed some light on your uncle. Personally I am very very grateful for their service.


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