My thanks to Brian Knights, Steve Admin and Peploe for their posts relating to ML207 and my sincere apologies for taking so long to reply. It must be some sort of record! I have not posted on the site for a quite a long time. We had a serious house fire around the time of knights6lb's post that, as you can imagine, took my attention for quite some time. Thankfully, no one was hurt but there was extensive damage that took a lot of time to sort out. I won’t bore you with all the details, but the cause turned out to be a faulty MK mains switch on a brand new electrical distribution board and, unbeknown to us, the switch was subject to a manufacture’s recall. My insurance company is still in the process of suing MK!
Anyway, I have replied to your posts, in the order they appeared, in the text that follows.
RE: ARTHUR KNIGHT
posted by knights6lb
My father served on ML207 as the petty officer mechanic - Arthur Knights (note actual spelling one additional letter) - and several of Mr Handley's comments are familiar. The following might serve to enhance his notes...
Brian, I hope you see this reply and, if you do, please get in touch. I am sure that you would be able to help clarify many issues relating to ML07. I was delighted to learn a little more about your father Arthur Knights My father always referred to your father as Mac. I assumed the nickname had something to do with his role as Motor Mechanic but, given that you say he was he was known as Mike, it was probably just a slip of my father’s memory. I must admit, having always known him as Mac, it will seem odd referring to him as anything else!
My own father’s real name was John Handley but everyone called him Jack. Whilst he was aboard ML207 he was given the nickname Tommy because of the association with the Tommy Handley, the star of the then popular comedy show ITMA (It’s That Man Again). Tommy would have been the name your father knew him by. They worked very closely together, your father as the Motor Mechanic and my father, who was 18 when they first met, as a trainee mechanic or stoker. From conversations I had with my dad, and from his writings, it is clear that he had a great deal of respect for your father and they got on really well together. Dad was always more than happy to cover for ‘Mac’ whenever he was suffering from the many terrible and debilitating bouts of sea sickness he experienced.
As I explained in my initial posts, my father had almost completed a book about his time aboard ML207 and I am attempting to finish it using the information gained during the numerous conversations I had with him regarding his wartime exploits. At first, I thought completing the book would be a fairly easy task because I felt so familiar with the events. However, having actually put ‘pen to paper’ I have found many instances where I really could do with additional details to help the story flow. If my dad was still here he would be able to sort matters out in an instant but, as it is, I have had to put far more effort into research than expected, which is very time consuming.
I would be very grateful for any help that you could provide from your knowledge of your father’s time with ML207. Your post has already proven extremely valuable in this respect. The book was never intended as an exhaustive, detailed and definitive account of ML207’s deployment during the war. It is simply a tale of real events seen through the eyes of one young crew member. However, it is surprising how a few details and facts, even obscure ones, really help the story come to life.
Here’s a couple of quick questions that may be able to help with:
The first relates directly to your father. Could you tell me if he received any form of gallantry award for his wartime service, especially whist with ML207 and do you know of any other crew members who did?
I would also be particularly interested to know if your father ever mentioned my father ‘Tommy the Stoker’? Any information you have would be very useful indeed. If you do have the time to get in touch, I would really appreciate the chance to glean a bit more information from you.
In the meantime, you may be interested in a photograph I have, which I think shows your father. I can’t be absolutely sure that it is him because most of my father’s photographs have become detached from their original album mounts and no longer correspond to the notes and names that accompanied them. If, as I believe, the photograph does show your father, could you let me know. Perhaps you can also identify the sailors on either side of him. He is wearing what appear to be a medal ribbons, could you tell me what they are? If anyone else who reads this post can identify the ribbons that would be very helpful too.
My thanks again for taking the time to provide the information in your post and I really look forward to hearing from you.
RE: CITATION RELATING TO HUGH McCUSKER
posted by Stephen
with additional comments posted by Admin
Within the collection of 21 citations in the Kew document above, there is only one for ML 207...
Steve, thank you, for your post showing the citation for Hugh McCusker and others. The fact that McCusker is listed in the citation as a crew member of ML 207 does tend to support my father’s writings, which indicate that McCusker was a member of ML 207’s crew during operation Neptune and during the mine clearing operations of the Channel Ports that took place following D-Day. As I explained in a previous post, Had Hugh transferred from ML207 to ML 571 prior to D-Day, it seems strange that my father would have remembered him so well. It is interesting to note the date of the citation, 15th of December 1945. I take it that this indicates that Hugh McCusker was still aboard ML207 at that date.
I have had quite a few problems tying down certain details to dates. One particular issue that I am trying to sort out relates to the actual dates during which particular offices were actually in command of ML 207. According to my father’s account, the officer commanding the ship during Operation Neptune was subsequently transferred whilst ML207 was involved in mine clearing operations in the French Channel Ports. The part of my father’s account relating to the officer’s departure is quite detailed and I recall him telling me about it on many occasions because it happened during quite a significant incident. Looking at the sequence of events, I estimate the officer’s departure to have been either late September 1944 or sometime in October 1944. By checking the Navy Lists published for the period, I have determined that TLt. Hicks-Beach was in command during operation Neptune and was still recorded as the commanding officer of ML207 in the quarterly Navy List of October ’44. The January 1945 list records TLt. J. Veal as being the commanding officer of the ML from 28 December 1944 and makes no mention of Hicks-Beach in the listing for the ship.
At first sight, it could be assumed that Hicks-Beach was in command up until J. Veal took over from him on December 28. However, this does not tally with my father’s account and the lists do not detail the date an officer relinquished a particular command or include any information about his previous posting, just the date on which they took up a new position. The fact that the lists were published quarterly doesn’t help either. If Hicks-beach had left ML207 in, say, early October ’44 and another officer had been placed in command, or temporary command, until Veal took up his post at the end of December ’44, the quarterly published Navy Lists would not record this information.
RE: PHOTOS OF BUNTS AND SPARKS
posted by Peploe
I have some photos of "Bunts" from my dads album when they were in Copenhagen. Also one of someone called Sparks.
Thank you for posting the photographs of your father and his crew mates and my apologies for taking so long to reply. I take it that the Bunts and Sparks in the pictures are from ML206, not ML207’s Bunts and Sparks. is this correct?
You clearly have lots of information regarding ML206 and, since ML206 and ML207 worked closely together, you may be able to clarify many issues relating to the exploits of both vessels particularly information relating to their operations during and following D-Day. I am trying to form an accurate timeline of the ship’s locations and exploits to help me complete my father’s book.
In addition, the are many detailed questions that you may just happen to have answers to. Here are just a couple of examples:
Whilst in Denmark, the Crews of ML206 and ML207 were challenged to a football match by some of the locals. Although, to say the least, this was a very minor sporting event, it was billed by the locals as ‘Denmark v The Royal Navy’ and drew large crowds to what ended being quite a needle match. Did your father ever mention this? If so, do have any details. I have some but not the actual final score! Any information would be of help, for example the names of any crewmen who took part, perhaps your father did.
One of the most dramatic events described in my father’s book took place after the war ended. I don’t have an accurate date but it must have been during the winter months of 1945/46. It concerns the escorting of vessels in the Baltic. The vessels were German and formed part of war reparations claimed by the USSR. Skeleton German crews were ordered to sail the ships to the USSR but initially, though under severe pressure, they steadfastly refused to sail for fear of never returning to Germany. They only agreed when they were provided with Royal Navy ships to escort the ships as they travelled to the Soviet port and, most importantly, bring the crews home again afterwards. The escorting vessels included ML206 and ML207. As it happened the ‘reparations convoy’ was hit a by ferocious Baltic storm. Several of the smaller German ships were lost and the remnants of the convoy were forced to scatter and seek refuge. My father wrote a particularly detailed account of the experience. Did your father ever mention it?
Some days later, having had time to undertake repairs, the Soviet bound convoy set out again and this time managed to reach it destination. My father doesn’t cover this second journey in as much detail, any information you have would be very useful. For example, do you know the name of the Soviet port the convoy headed for? My father does not name it but does mention receiving a volley of warning shots from Russian soldiers when ML207’s crew attempted to disembark and enter a port still occupied by withdrawing soviet forces. Does this ring any bells? Again, any information that you have would be very gratefully received!