ML 207

Motor Launches (ML), Harbour Defence Motor Launches (HDML) & Rescue Motor Launches (RML)
Pennyworth
Seaman
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2019 7:32 pm

Re: ML 207

Postby Pennyworth » Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:53 am

Hello, (sorry I don't know your name!) sorry for the delay in replying. I moved house 2 weeks ago and have been without the internet which has been frustrating!
I didn't even know that you had replied - I thought maybe a notification would come into my inbox but I will just have to check this site all the time I guess.
I am really pushed for time at the moment having moved house. I have the photos already scanned as jpegs and could send them on a CD? I could post them here, and there are a lot to post but then everyone else would be able to see them if I did. How would I get my dad's recording to you? Are you allowed to post email addresses on here? I realise that even this post will be read by others, not just you!! (sorry everyone.) Lots of questions I know.
Re your photo of the officers, my Dad isn't in it but it is definitely him in the other one.
Thanks for posting it.
Penny

Gray207
Leading Seaman
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2016 5:09 pm

Re: ML 207

Postby Gray207 » Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:35 pm

Penny

Thank you for your swift reply, especially as you are in the middle of moving home!

I have sent you a private message with my contact details. Hopefully, you receive it without problem.

Gray207
Leading Seaman
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2016 5:09 pm

Re: ML 207

Postby Gray207 » Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:04 pm

DonCrouch1

Thank you so much for your private message and my sincere apologies for not replying when you first sent it - I have only just come across the file and could go mad that I missed it until now! I really hope you see this post and that you get in touch again. I have also sent you a private message with my personal contact details so that, if you prefer, you can get in touch directly. I posted this reply on the forum in case, like me, you miss the private message.

I was delighted to hear that you have enjoyed the brief accounts relating to ML207, which I have posted on this forum, and that they brought back such great memories. It was also good to learn that your recollections closely match those of my father’s - I find it tremendously exciting to hear that you can recall the very same events my father told me about, including, escorting convoys, leading the minesweeping to Gold Beach on 'D' day, and then clearing mines from the channel ports, river Seine, Scheldt Estuary and Antwerp.

I was also fascinated to learn about the Coxswain’s miraculous ‘onion gruel’, so much so, that I decided to include a short extract from your message describing how it cured my father, I hope you don't mind – I thought other forum members would enjoy reading it. It’s these little details that really bring things to life:
I remember one incident while we were at sea and Tommy had a very bad cold or flu and could not do his essential watch on the engines. The old Coxswain he refers to made Tommy get in his bunk, wrapped him in blankets and then made him some of his special brew 'onion gruel' to sweat the cold out. Tommy was back on duty the next day.

It would be fabulous to hear more memories of your time on ML207 and I am sure you could clear-up so many key details that would enable me to complete my father’s book. It’s amazing to have been contacted by the real ‘Bunts’ of ML207! I can hardly believe it!

My very best wishes and thank you so much for contacting me. I really look forward to hearing from you again.

Gray207
Leading Seaman
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2016 5:09 pm

Re: ML 207

Postby Gray207 » Sat May 11, 2019 3:01 pm

Pennyworth very kindly sent me a CD containing lots of photographs of ML207 together with a recording of her father recounting some of his memories of the ship. As it turned out, my own father has many of the identical photographs in his album. Penny explained that her father recalls that a professional photographer came aboard around the time that ML207 was in Denmark in 1945. Looking again at some of the photographs, the framing and quality of the many of the images does suggest that they have been taken by a professional. It would also explain why both Pennyworth’s father and my father have copies of the same images.

One of the photographs that penny sent to me, and which I didn’t have, has enabled me to identify Able Seaman Dai Jones. My father described him as follows:

It turned out that he was Able Seaman Dai Jones, a friendly sort of bloke, who, as I discovered later, practiced his clarinet whenever he had chance - a task he would undertake with never ending enthusiasm but always to the crew’s mock dismay and the words, ‘not again!’ In truth he was actually quite a good player, though no one would ever dream of saying so.

Penny is up to her eyes with a house move at the moment, so I asked her if she wouldn’t mind posting the image in the forum, I thought forum members would enjoy seeing it and, most importantly, that it may act as a memory jogger:

DNP27.JPG

I’ve also set included a couple of images that I think were taken at roughly the same time. They are of a German seaplane that ML207 encountered. I understand that it had been involved in laying mines or in anti-mine warfare. It is a Blohm & Voss BV 138. Again, in my act as a memory jogger. In the photograph of the two sailors standing on the float of the sea plane, I believe the man on the left is Ernie Pye, from Liverpool and the man on the right is Bunts.

DNP3.JPG
DNP49.JPG
DNP20.JPG
DNP51.JPG

reinaart
Chief Petty Officer
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2014 9:49 am

Re: ML 207

Postby reinaart » Fri Jun 07, 2019 12:01 pm

This pic posted by Pennyworth was not taken in Denmark but in Terneuzen. I knew this immediately when I saw it but it took me some time to find pictorial evidence (Terneuzen has changed a lot during the past few decades) :

Image

The bridge was destroyed in 1940 and there was a temporary bridge during the war years. In the late 40's or early 50's a new bridge was built. The prewar bridge :

Image

The first postwar one :

Image


In a book by a local historian a boy is mentioned who laid a wreath at the burial of the crewmembers of the minesweeper that sank. His name was J. van der Peijl and it is also mentioned that his father had also died at sea during the war. I wonder if this boy could be the Jan mentioned on page 1. I also wonder if it could possibly be the boy in this IWM pic:

Image

I think some of the pics of ML 207 may well have been made by the same war photographer.


Arjan

Peter
Able Seaman Radar
Posts: 86
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 7:41 pm

Re: ML 207

Postby Peter » Sat Jun 08, 2019 9:46 am

What a great story relating to the Service of ML 207, it has the makings of a very interesting book. Having served on MTB's and MGB's in Mediterranean I can visualise the drama, yes and the comradeship that was ours serving on these Little Ships.
Cheers
Peter

Gray207
Leading Seaman
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2016 5:09 pm

Re: ML 207

Postby Gray207 » Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:59 pm

Arjan

Thank you so much for you post. It is truly fascinating. I have puzzled over the location shown ML207 by the bridge for some time. There were several possibilities but I just could determine which was correct. As it happens Terneuzen wasn’t top my list so, I am really grateful to you for having solved the puzzle. The possible connection to the little Dutch boy my father and the other crew of ML207 became so fond of and the boy you describe in your post is very exciting. It would be wonderful to discover that they are indeed one and the same!

One of the things I am struggling with at the moment is trying to establish where ML207 was at different times. I have a rough timeline, which in places is made quite accurate because I am able to tie things down to major events. For example, D-Day, the liberation of Le Havre, mine sweeping on the river Seine. It is, however, proving quite difficult to establish exactly when the ML started its duty on the Scheldt. There are some details from my father’s writing that help, but it still leaves quite a wide margin. My father explains that they swept from Ostend to Terneuzen and from Terneuzen down Antwerp. He also recalls the terrible disaster at Ostend involving Coastal forces. I’ve always understood that he and some crewmates were on shore leave in the port when the disaster took place based on his vivid descriptions. I also have a recollection that he said as much and told me that they the crew thought that Ostend was under attack and ran back to the Port to discover the terrible truth. Unfortunately, he doesn’t actually state he was there in his writings. It’s one of the parts of his book that he hadn’t finished. Though he had got as far as writing down details of the event. In my attempt to complete the book, I am going off my own recollection of what he said and adding this to what he has written. My father also says that ML207 was in Antwerp when it was being bombed by V1 and V2 rockets. Though he doesn’t say exactly when. Again, he has written down a detailed account of being there, including the fact that most of the crew were taken off the ship to the safety of an air raid shelter whilst at the port, leaving only him and a couple of others on watch to look after the ship. He also describes the sound of the terror bombs exploding, and the sight of one V2 coming down not far away. In addition, he mentions the fact that there were a number of ships stuck in one of the docks and unable to leave, because the lock gate/control building had been hit. I also have some photographs that are dated by month in his photograph album, including two of tankers that were on fire off Ostend. One dated March 1945, the other April 1945. The second of which, they were close to when it exploded. I have managed to obtain an extract of from The Admiralty War Diary that refers to ML207 and gives the date of the second event as 19 April 1945. This has enabled me to confirm the tanker’s name as the Gold Shell. I have included the extract from the diary below for interest. Together with some photographs.The first is one of ostend taken from the stern of ml207. The others are of the tankers on fire.

Ostend.jpg
Ostend.jpg (63.6 KiB) Viewed 968 times

Tanker Ablaze March '44 72dpi.jpg
Tanker Ablaze March '44 72dpi.jpg (75.61 KiB) Viewed 968 times

Tanker Ablaze April '44 72dpi.jpg
Tanker Ablaze April '44 72dpi.jpg (73.57 KiB) Viewed 968 times

War Diary, Tanker Gold Shell ML207.png


From the information I have, some of which I have detailed above. I believe that ML207 was operating on the Scheldt for quite some time, though, there is also some evidence to suggest that it may have been called away to other duties and returned. The ship was certainly there during the period early February 1944 through to Mid-April 1944 but was possibly there from the November or December of the previous year. I have a recollection that it was there over the Christmas of 1944. My father has described spending Christmas at a base on the continent. A process of elimination leads me to conclude that it was most likely Ostend. I wonder if anyone has any information, including the location of other ships in the flotilla, the 1st ML flotilla, that could confirm this or improve the timeline? The flotilla comprised: ML 185, ML 206, ML 207, ML 220, ML 222, ML 224, ML 450 and ML 571.

reinaart
Chief Petty Officer
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2014 9:49 am

Re: ML 207

Postby reinaart » Sat Jun 08, 2019 8:39 pm

Hi, I will try to get some more info to narrow down the date of the Terneuzen photo. The state of repair of the bridge might give some clues. The bridge in question was not destroyed in 1940 as I wrote earlier, the Germans actually tried to destroy it in September 1944 but didn't quite succeed in doing so (it was merely damaged).The book I mentioned earlier has a pic of HMS Ambitious in Terneuzen (decked out in bunting ). The caption says it was the base ship of the minesweeper flotilla and it is dated May 9th 1945. The wildfire site only mentions HMS St Tudno :

http://www.wildfire3.com/st-tudno.html

I take it that ML 207 belonged to force B ?

http://www.wildfire3.com/sweeping-the-scheldt.html

I have lots of WWII pics of Antwerp and Zeeland so I might be able to help locating pics taken in this general area. By the way, some 2500 V-weapons landed in Antwerp and surroundings so it may not be easy to pinpoint one particular strike.

Regards,

Arjan

reinaart
Chief Petty Officer
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2014 9:49 am

Re: ML 207

Postby reinaart » Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:03 pm

In the mean time I've found a pic showing the bridge after demolition by the Germans in September 1944. Contrary to what I assumed it was utterly destroyed .....

Image

Apparently a Bailey bridge was constructed immediately behind the original one, this bridge was finished by October 23rd 1944. This means the ML pic may have been taken somewhere between November 1944 and April 45. There may be some leaves on the trees in the ML pic, if so the pic was taken in the spring of 45.

Regards,

Arjan

Gray207
Leading Seaman
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2016 5:09 pm

Re: ML 207

Postby Gray207 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:42 pm

Peter

Thank you for your post and your kind regards. Yes, you and all the crews of, as you say, ‘those little ships’ had tremendous comradeship but much more than that, you all played such a vital role in events - far more than has been given credit for. I just hope I can complete my father’s book to help emphasise your vital role. It is so near but at some point, I know I may have to settle for ‘based on’ rather than ‘true story’ – we’ll see. Perhaps I could include footnotes indicating possible discrepancies if I’ve got things wrong. The funny thing is, every time I think that something my dad has said, or written, can’t be quite right, it turns out to be spot on.

Gray207
Leading Seaman
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2016 5:09 pm

Re: ML 207

Postby Gray207 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:08 pm

Arjan

Thank you for the research and the latest, very dramatic, photograph of the damaged bridge. First, let me correct the obvious silly mistake in the final paragraph of my previous reply to you. The dates should, of course, have been February 1945 through to Mid-April 1945. My father does not mention being attached to either force A or B whist minesweeping on the Scheldt and although his home base was Firefly III at one point, this was not during 1944/45 but after the war in 1946 and whilst he was with ML 221.

Looking again at the photograph of ML 207 with the bridge in the background. It’s hard to tell if there are leaves on the trees in the photograph but I tend to agree with you. The branches do not seem ‘winter’ bare but are possibly coming into leaf. What I do know is that after about mid-April, ML 207 had left the Scheldt and was on its way to Norway and then Denmark, which gives an end date for the photograph. I don’t think the ship returned to the Scheldt after that time. The start date is harder to establish, though your picture of the damaged bridge does give an absolute cut off. I had always assumed that ML 207 had gone from clearing the Channel ports to the Scheldt. I have a clear date for one operation in The Channel, Le Havre. ML 207 was clearing mines in the harbour when the fighting was still taking place to liberate the city. This puts it at that location on September 10/12. The ship continued with mine clearing for two, possibly three weeks before moving on to the River Seine clearing mines up to Rouen. Assuming it was on the river for at least another two more weeks, that would mean the ML was leaving the Seine towards the middle or end of October '44. Though, of course the ships duties on the river may have taken longer. My father has written that, after The Seine, ML 207 was ordered to Dover in preparation for other duties but, having reached Dover, were ordered to Boulogne to clear mines that had drifted into the harbour. This would only have taken a few days at most. I had assumed that after Boulogne the ship had gone to the Scheldt. Interestingly, he also mentions being ordered to join the fleet sweepers off the Belgian coast prior to travelling to Le Havre. Though, I am not sure if the ML 207 ever joined them or if it was diverted to Le Havre whilst they were on the way. I have assumed the latter. Though I may be wrong and he may have been involved in mine clearing off the Belgian coast prior to sailing to Le Havre. I need to do more research to see if my assumption is correct.

My father’s service papers state that his home base changed from HMS Attack at Portland, to HMS Hornet, at Gosport, Portsmouth, when he joined ML207. This remained his home port throughout 1944, even though he spent quite some time physically based at HMS Turtle, at Poole, whist training with the 6th Minesweeping flotilla prior to D-day. His home port changed to HMS Beaver II, at Immingham, near Grimsby at the end of December 1944. Though, after D-Day, I don’t think ML 207 spent much time at any UK port, it always seemed to be on the continent. My father does mention one episode at Immingham, which he has not dated, when the crew had to perform a burial at sea after a sailor had been found dead in the dock. It appeared he had some sort of accident and had fallen off his ship. The sailor's mother attended the burial, together with another family member and a clergyman. The commanding officer and crew looked after the funeral party and received a letter of thanks from the mother for their kindness. I believe the burial took place whist they were at Immingham waiting to be ordered to Norway.

All this information still leaves quite a gap in the timeline, during which I cannot be certain were ML207 was. This is from the end of October, early November 1944, when they were at Boulogne, to February 1945 when I can place them on the Scheldt. There are a couple of other undated events that my father has described, which may have occurred during this ‘gap’. A period of leave could account for part of it, as could repair work. Though my father hasn’t mentioned either. He does explain that he was on leave during August 1944, while the ML was being repaired at Dorset Yacht Company, at Poole. He also explained that the ML was in dry dock whilst at Denmark and Kiel. So, the fact that he has not mentioned the ship being repaired during this ‘gap’ tends me to rule this out too.

After your earlier post showing the IWM photograph of the Dutch family placing the wreath on the sailor’s graves. I did a search on the IWM site myself and found another photograph of what appears to be the same family. You may have already seen this but I have included it below anyway. The description included with the photograph reads, Dutch folk welcome the first minesweeper at Terneuzen'.

Dutch folk welcome the first minesweeper at Terneuzen.jpg
Dutch folk welcome the first minesweeper at Terneuzen.jpg (57.99 KiB) Viewed 916 times

I’ve also included some magnified images of the little boy form both photographs, together with the one in my father’s album for comparison. I could persuade myself that it is the same little boy in the two IMW photographs and in my father’s photograph but, in truth, it is impossible to tell and we shall probably never know. However, the circumstantial evidence of Ternuezen, Mine Sweepers, MLs, the age of the boy and the period of late 1944 to early 1945 presents quite a coincidence!

Dutch Boy Comparison.jpg
Dutch Boy Comparison.jpg (119.05 KiB) Viewed 916 times

Gray207
Leading Seaman
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2016 5:09 pm

Re: ML 207

Postby Gray207 » Tue Jun 11, 2019 7:51 pm

I though members would be interested in a couple of unusual photographs I have relating to ML207. I pretty sure they were taken in Copenhagen but they may also be at Kiel. The lack of damaged buildings in the background certainly points to the former. The first is ML207 in floating dry dock undergoing repairs. My father mentions that the ML was in dry dock in Kiel too. The second photograph shows two of ML 207’s crew looking at a midget submarine. The man furthest left is one of the ship’s gunners. I have the names of them all but I am not absolutely sure which he is. My guess is either Nick Crawford or George Exley.

ML 297 Dry Dock 72dpi.jpg

ML207 Midget Sub 72 dpi.jpg

reinaart
Chief Petty Officer
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2014 9:49 am

Re: ML 207

Postby reinaart » Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:57 pm

The midget sub was of the "Seehund" type which were manufactured in Kiel so I think this is a more likely location than Copenhagen. If you wish to find the location of pics in Germany you might try the "Historisches Marinearchiv Forum". I have been a member for years and I always post my questions in English (I have no problem reading and understanding German but writing it is another matter ....). I usually get the info I've been looking for, there are some tremendously knowledgeable and helpful members.

Regards,

Arjan

reinaart
Chief Petty Officer
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2014 9:49 am

Re: ML 207

Postby reinaart » Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:20 pm

Today I had a chat with someone from Terneuzen's historical society. Apparently the two IWM pics of the "Dutch folk" in local costume were staged ..... The photographer had asked some random volunteers to dress up in the local costume of the Terneuzen region. My acquaintance even knew all the names of the volunteers, the kneeling girl was a Jewish girl who had been hiding with a family in Terneuzen during the war years (she later emigrated to Israel). The boy and the taller man were brothers, their family name was Sol.

On the Medusa site I found some more pics of MLs taken in Terneuzen and my contact has also provided some. I will post these pics in a new topic.

Regards,

Arjan

Gray207
Leading Seaman
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2016 5:09 pm

Re: ML 207

Postby Gray207 » Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:27 pm

Arjan

Thank you for your posts and research. Well done for solving the mystery of the little boy in the IWM photographs. Actually, when I look at the images again, the fact that the people are in traditional dress does give the game away as regards the photographs being staged. Pity though, it certainly looked a promising connection with the little boy who used to always be waiting for ML207. I suppose there is still the chance that he was the same boy that you mentioned originally, the one who’s name was J. van der Peijl.

I will contact the German site, as you suggest, to see if anyone there can positively identify the location of the photographs of ML 207 in dry dock and crew with the Midget submarine.
Since your last post, I have been contacted by Pennyworth via e-mail, with some quite exciting news. Whilst she was going through some of her father’s papers, she came across a copy of a Danish newspaper from 26 June 1945. In it there is an article about ML207 that includes many of the photographs Penny and I have posted. So, it seems that at least some of the pictures were not taken by a British war photographer but by a photographer attached to the newspaper. Apparently, that the article is called ‘A Day at Sea’ and the paper’s name is ‘Ekstra Bladet. I wonder if anyone knows a Danish site that may help obtain more information. Penny says that her father’s copy of the article is in a very delicate condition but she will try send me a copy when she can. Penny’s discovery has made me wonder if the football match mentioned in earlier postings may have been covered by the same newspaper – I would love to know what the score was!

Peploe
Able Seaman
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2014 9:55 am

Re: ML 207

Postby Peploe » Fri Jun 28, 2019 6:14 pm

The flotilla was berthed at Langeline in Copenhagen. which is still there near to the Little mermaid. I went there a couple of years ago.


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