Richard, thank you for this information. It has proven very helpful. The dates generally tally with my own timeline and I’ve been able to tighten up the gap that I had around the Christmas of 1944 – though, as always, more information raises further intriguing questions.
Individual ships from the flotilla would, of course, have been in for repair or refit at different times, so were not always together, which complicates matters. However, the flotilla deployment contained within your time line is particularly useful. I had been under the impression that the flotilla had been based in Ostend not Terneuzen but I suppose it spent considerable time at both ports during mine sweeping operations. Just as it spent roughly equal times at Gosport and Ramsgate, when on convoy escort duty in the Channel, even though the flotilla was actually based in Gosport.
Could you tell me how you obtained the information? I am wondering if similar deployment details exist for ML 207. My own searches have not uncovered anything. However, I have unearthed information that explains why ML 206 was being repaired in the October of 1943, after being damaged by a shell in Ramsgate Harbour. I discovered a document at the National Archives that relates to the incident, which I have included below - ML206 is mentioned top left.
My father also mentioned the incident, although he was not there at the time, the crew told him about it. This is his account:
There was one particularly tragic incident that the crew often spoke of. It happened in the October of 1943, just a few weeks before I joined the ship. ML 207 and its sister, ML206 were moored close together in Ramsgate harbour when the shell warning sounded. Soon after, a shell hit the water of the harbour close to where the ships were berthed, disintegrating as it did so and sending a torrent of shrapnel in their direction. ML 206 took the brunt of the strike with metal bomb fragments tearing though several parts of the hull. The largest hit the rear quarter and ripped straight through the wardroom where the offices, including the flotilla commander Lt. Cdr. Harry Leslie and his second in command, Sub.Lt Peter Harrison, were sleeping. Leslie had the top bunk and Harrison the lower. Tragically, one large fragment severed Sub.Lt. Harrison’s head clean off, killing him instantly, whilst Lt. Cdr. Leslie, just inches above him, was left completely unscathed.
My father told me that the crew regarded the incident as tragic example of fate. Here was a brave man killed in a UK harbour whilst asleep in his bunk, when he had been in the front line in fights with German forces in the channel and else ware. I’ve since also discovered that Sub.Lt Harrison is buried in Ramsgate cemetery.