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'.
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!