ML 207

Motor Launches (ML), Harbour Defence Motor Launches (HDML) & Rescue Motor Launches (RML)
Gray207
Leading Seaman
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2016 5:09 pm

Re: ML 207

Postby Gray207 » Thu Feb 11, 2016 6:25 pm

Firstly, my thanks for the information regarding ML 207 provided by Brian Holmes. Some of it precedes my father's time with the vessel but I found it fascinating anyway!

With regard to Hugh McCusker, I must admit that I would be surprised if he wasn’t on ML 207 during operation Neptune and also during the subsequent minesweeping work in the ports of Northern France. The description of the sailors in my first post comes from my father’s writings and also from conversations I had with him. On more than one occasion, I remember talking to him about trying to contact his old shipmates - he would have loved meeting up with them again! I know he did make enquires about them via the British legion at one time but it came to nothing – although I do have a vague recollection of him saying that he did meet of his old crewmates many years back.

One thing I do remember from these conversations is that he told me Hugh McCusker came from Durham. If Hugh had left the ship before D-day, my father would only have known him for a few months, it seems strange that he would have remembered Hugh, and where he came from, rather than tell me about Hugh’s replacement who he would have served longer with. So far, whenever I’ve had the chance to confirm the details of things my farther has written or said, he’s been amazingly accurate.

There could, of course, be other explanations. ML 571 was part of the same flotilla as my father’s ship. So, if Hugh had joined ML 571 before the D-day landings, or soon after, I imagine that he would have had the chance to socialise with his old shipmates on ML 207. This would have been especially true at the end of the war, when the flotilla was in Denmark. During this period, I’m sure there would have been many opportunities to get together. Being at the end of the war, these occasions would also have provided the most recent memories, which could explain my father’s recollection.

I came across a document at The National Archives a few weeks back that my resolve the matter. It’s entitled:

‘Awards to 21 officers and men of HM MLs 222, 450, 206, 224, 220, 207, 185 and 571 for clearance of ports of Dieppe, Le Havre, Rouen, Boulogne and Calais Sept 12-Dec 12 1944 ‘.


The document appears to correspond with The Gazette entry for Hugh McCusker; the relating section also contains 21 names and is titled:

‘Awards for outstanding skill, courage and devotion to duty in hazardous mine-sweeping operations in the ports of Northern France after the invasion’.

All the names appear to correspond to men serving with the ships mentioned.

I have already asked for a price for copying the document at the National Archives but am still waiting for a reply. It does seem to take an age for the National Archive to respond to such requests!

I’m a little confused over the MID for John Gwilym Francis - ML 207’s Sub-lieutenant. The Gazette reference in this site's awards database details his MID as being in the same issue and section as Hicks-Beach’s DSC. However, I cannot find the Sub-lieutenant’s name within it. My own researches show that his MID actually appears in a different issue of the gazette. Page 49 of The New Years Honours List for 1945, https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/iss ... plement/60). Unfortunately, I cannot find an explanation as to why he received the MID.

The award of DSC to Hicks-Beach also throws up some interesting points. The Gazette reference for this award is:

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/iss ... ement/5455

The relevant section relating to the award starts on the preceding page and is entitled:

‘For gallantry, skill, determination and undaunted devotion to duty during the landing of Allied Forces on the coast of Normandy.

Harry Leslie, the commanding officer of ML 206 and also the commanding officer of the 1st ML flotilla, receives a MID in the same section a few pages further on (page 5467). My father always maintained that ML 207 was placed at the very front of the minesweeping operation when the ship was attached the 6th Minesweeping Flotilla during operation Neptune. He said that ML 206 followed and the larger fleet sweepers came after that. The fact that Harry Leslie received a MID, whilst Hicks-Beach was award a DSC for the same operation tends to support this. Though, in reality, both ML’s would have been a few hundred feet apart so which was actually in the front hardly seems to matter – both ships were full of very brave men from a very special generation! The thing that annoyed my father, was the fact that the fleet sweepers were credited with leading the invasion force, when, in reality, it was actually the MLs attached to each of the minesweeping flotillas!

In his book, my father explains that before the Invasion of Normandy, ML 207 and ML 206 were in the Solent, tethered to lead fleet sweeper, HMS Vestal, with the crews waiting to hear their detailed orders. At the time, the officers had already gathered for a meeting aboard the fleet sweeper. When they finally reappeared, the commanding officer of ML 207 was accompanied by the commanding officer of the 6th Minesweeping flotilla and he subsequently addressed the gathered crew to explain that they were to have the honour of leading the ‘G’ invasion force across the Channel. The commander subsequently added the following:

‘… we also believe that there are some new types of mines that are unsweepable. But your ship, being a small vessel with a shallow draft and wooden hull, has a better chance of surviving them than the fleet sweeper and, in any case, there are only sixteen of you on the ML whereas there are more than eighty on the fleet sweeper - the 'honour' of leading the fleet suddenly lost its gloss!’

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 336
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: ML 207

Postby Admin » Fri Feb 12, 2016 1:16 am

It’s quite heartening to see so many ‘new’ entries posted on the PRO site for records of award recommendations, as having carried out frequent searches in the past when there was very little to be seen, I had assumed, somewhat pessimistically, that what was listed was all there was. However it appears as though the PRO have been steadily working through the indexing of many more records in their possession, which is good news, if anyone can ever get to see them!

The PRO at least provides a date range for the minesweeping awards, which as I expected, runs all the way up until December of 1944, and 571 would not be recorded on the award index card unless he had transferred at some point, but that could of course have been as late as June 1945, or whenever the index card was made out. So this may be one of those instances where the award index card may lead to an apparent discrepancy, if it is not understood that the boat numbers are primarily intended for administrative purposes.

Our database does have some errors in the entries too inevitably. I found a similar problem in that I couldn’t find Harry Leslie for 206 in the London Gazette (LG), as he had undergone a demotion by us, being entered in as Temporary Lieutenant, rather than Acting Temporary Lieutenant-Commander! and so was to be found higher up the page. However, Seedie does group John Gwilym Francis under the 28th November awards along with Michael Hicks-Beach from 206, so this looks like a slight error on his part.

Seedie was a pseudonym and play on the initials ‘CD’ of Captain William Chatterton-Dickson RN, and he had quite a bit of help in compiling his volume on Awards to Coastal Forces from the likes of veterans Christopher Dreyer, Len Reynolds and Douglas Hunt, as well as the Honorary Historian of the Coastal Forces Veterans Association, Geoffrey Hudson. In the case of the awards to MTBs and MGBs, they were often sufficiently knowledgable of the personalities and actions involved to compile alternative snippets of information to those of the LG at times—although we have stuck with the Gazette entries—but probably didn’t have as firm a grasp of the situation with MLs, and would have been more reliant on the information provided by the index cards.

I do have it on good authority for example, that the Mention in Despatches for Ernest George Bell on ML 206 was for:
prompt action in signalling for aid after a ship was hit when ML 206 was under heavy fire from Le Havre on 29th June 1944
Many Coastal Forces Veterans feel aggrieved at the way their role in major events such as D-Day have been largely overlooked by those compiling the history of the Second World War, and there are several stories of MLs and MGBs leading out the invasion fleet, and standing witness to the whole day unfolding off the landing grounds, with salvoes from the giant battleships out at sea roaring over their heads on to the beachheads, and many surreal sights unfolding in front of them!

knights6lb
Seaman
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Sep 18, 2016 11:01 am

Re: ML 207

Postby knights6lb » Sun Sep 18, 2016 11:26 am

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.

I believe dad was known as 'Mick' rather than as 'Mac' and the sparks was always known to dad as 'Jock' . He came from Hawick and I met him in 1995 along with his wife Maisie when my wife and I then living in Scotland, took dad to Hawick for a visit. Later by chance I met one of Jock's nephews in Carlisle who confirmed that Jock (as he was also known in the family) was dead (about 2005). Earlier Jock had worked for the local newspaper and he was also uncle to the Scottish rugby internationalist Jim Renwick.

Dad was born at Kelvedon in Essex but raised in Ipswich. By the start of the war he was running a small business in Hertford offering a dry cleaning service and my mother kept it going after he volunteered in 1942 in order that he could fulfill an ambition to serve time as a seaman. Handley's comment about seasickness were accurate and the skipper once told dad that he should never have been on such small craft to which dad replied " I've known that for a long time"

The story dad liked best was when in Denmark the skipper asked him to organise some supplies of food - meat, potatoes and fresh vegetables - knowing that dad had contacts ashore. The Dane he approached produced all he asked for such as 30lb of meat and about 1 cwt of vegetable and asked for 6 packets of cigarettes in payment. Dad asked the skipper for 7 packets in order to give one to the agent for his personal use and the skipper, somewhat flummoxed, wondered how to enter this in the log but decided to record 3s 6d for purchase of sundries.

Brian Knights

Stephen
Sub Lieutenant
Posts: 86
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:58 pm

Re: ML 207

Postby Stephen » Fri Sep 23, 2016 11:49 pm

Although I can't add anything to the personal stories here, I thought it worth mentioning that if you don't know of it already, A Passage to Sword Beach by Brendon Maher offers an account of minesweeping on ML137 in the 5th ML Flotilla at D-Day, then at Cherbourg, Brest and off the Netherlands up until VE Day. There are descriptions of life aboard, the ML's roles and oyster mines. I confess to not have got around to reading the book yet, but it looks very detailed.

Another book that may be of interest is Geoffrey Searle's At Sea Level, which contains the author's memories of serving on board Fairmile Bs at Normandy and Denmark after the war (although not in the minesweeping role). It's a very good read.

Finally, I can confirm that the Navy 'Pink' Lists cannot always be taken for granted. It is noticeable for instance that in the lists published on either side of D-Day, both MGB 81 and MTB 416 (the same vessel) are listed separately. The 1st Lieutenant in one is recorded as the CO in the other, and neither are correct! To be fair, the amount of paper involved means there are bound to be some mistakes.

Gray207, presumably this is the TNA record you refer to? http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.u ... r/C4851439. If so, I'll have a look next time I'm there (possibly not next month, but November at the latest) and send you some copies of the document if you like?

Regards,
Steve

Stephen
Sub Lieutenant
Posts: 86
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:58 pm

Re: ML 207

Postby Stephen » Sun Oct 16, 2016 8:56 pm

Within the collection of 21 citations in the Kew document above, there is only one for ML 207 (I don't know why the preview is on its side, but if you click on it it's the right way up):
DSCF5327.JPG
As you'll see it is for McCusker. The remaining ones are listed here:
DSCF5313.JPG
Please let me know if you want any more of the individual citation pages posted here, or if anyone wants a copy of the whole file (35 pages) drop me a message and an email address.

Regards,
Steve

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 336
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: ML 207

Postby Admin » Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:13 am

Thanks for the documents Steve. I notice Seedie (Coastal Forces Awards) lists McCusker's boat as ML 571, rather than 207 as here, which is another of those differences that occurs from time to time with awards. Do you know whether this document likely reflects the boat McCusker was on at the time of the operation, or the one he was serving on when the document was made out? I believe Seedie concurs with most of the others listed.

Stephen
Sub Lieutenant
Posts: 86
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:58 pm

Re: ML 207

Postby Stephen » Sat Oct 22, 2016 5:28 pm

Apologies for the delayed reply - I've been moving office and haven't been able to access my photos!

Having looked through them again, I'm afraid I just can't tell. I do notice though, that whilst the majority of documents date from May and June '45, the first list was compiled in January '45.

Steve

Stephen
Sub Lieutenant
Posts: 86
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:58 pm

Re: ML 207

Postby Stephen » Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:31 pm

Just a note to say that I've now read A Passage to Sword Beach by Brendan Maher, and I thoroughly recommend it as an account of minesweeping on MLs.

The author takes us through his entire experience of the war years, from school to training and then service on MMS 84 and HMS Jason before transferring to ML 137 on 1st May 1944 (just under half way through the book). From there he describes his role on D-Day and subsequent work clearing the sea lanes and Channel ports. After the war he helps clear Dutch waterways before he is injured - the book then follows him through a number of hospital up until he leaves the navy in 1947.

There are some very good explanations of minesweeping and the role of minesweeper MLs in particular.

Cheers,
Steve

Peploe
Able Seaman
Posts: 15
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2014 9:55 am

Re: ML 207

Postby Peploe » Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:36 am

I have some photos of "Bunts" from my dads album when they were in Copenhagen. Also one of someone called Sparks.
Attachments
Sparks.jpg
Sparks.jpg (144.06 KiB) Viewed 10095 times
bunts2.jpg
Bunts3.jpg
Bunts3.jpg (138.34 KiB) Viewed 10095 times

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

Re: ML 207

Postby Gray207 » Thu May 24, 2018 7:52 pm

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.

Sailor Trio ML207.jpg


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!

Peploe
Able Seaman
Posts: 15
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2014 9:55 am

Re: ML 207

Postby Peploe » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:38 pm

Thanks for the reply.
My father did not mention very much about his time during this period I'm afraid. Most of what you have told me is new information. In my fathers photo album he mentions Copenhagen, Flensberg, Bremer Haven, Bornholm, Kiel.
You might have cleared up one little mystery though as there is one photo of my dad in a football team? I always thought it was a strange addition to this album. The team have a large "R" on their shirts which I assume is for Royal Navy and my father is 5th from the left. I Can't say for certain that this is the team, but the man next to him looks like Todd and the man 2nd from right in the front row looks like Buttolph. I have attached the photo and one of the crew of ML206
Attachments
crew2.jpg
Football team..JPG
Football team..JPG (59.89 KiB) Viewed 9141 times

Peploe
Able Seaman
Posts: 15
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2014 9:55 am

Re: ML 207

Postby Peploe » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:49 pm

I am not sure what ship Bunts and Sparks are from. they do not appear in the photo of the crew of Ml206 in the photo above. "Sparks" might be the nickname of every electrician? I don't know if this is the case for "Bunts" though?

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

Re: ML 207

Postby Gray207 » Sun Jul 29, 2018 3:04 pm

Peploe, thank you for posting the photograph of the football team. It was great to see it! Though, as you say, it may have nothing to do with the match in Denmark. However, I think I recognise a few of the crew of ML207, which, combined with the letter ‘R’ insignia, suggest that it does. The person standing to the extreme left looks like one of ML 207’s gunners.

I’m fairly certain that ‘Sparks’ and ‘Bunts’ are common nicknames and are still in use in the Royal Navy to this day. ‘Sparks’ is an obvious name for anyone in involved with electrical/electronic equipment. I think ‘Bunts’ is short for ‘bunting tosser’, i.e. a signal man or someone involved in communications - the nickname refers to the use of flags as a way of communicating between ships in the Navy. My dad’s crew also referred to the ASDIC operator as ’Ping’, for obvious reasons.

I was contacted by Arthur Knights' son who, although extremely helpful, explained that he couldn’t really add a great deal to the information I have about ML207. Like yourself, his father didn’t speak a great deal about his wartime experiences. If you do happen to recall anything, please do get in touch. Any information would be very gratefully received! The simple fact that you have explained that your father recalls the ship being at Copenhagen, Flensburg, Bremer Haven, Bornholm and Kiel, has provided valuable confirmation that the flotilla was at these locations. Bornholm was under soviet occupation at the end of the war and was the assembly and departure point from which the soviet reparations convoy set out across the Baltic. Did your father ever mention any dates associated with locations you mention, or did he say anything about escorting the German ships that were sent to Russia as part of its wartime reparations. Perhaps he mentioned the soviet port the convoy was headed for - I would really like confirmation of this. My father said the when the Baltic storm hit, and the convoy scattered, ML206 ended up in Sweden!

Anyway, thanks again for the post. If you do recall anything your dad mentioned or have more photographs that you think may be of interest, it would be great to hear from you.

Pennyworth
Seaman
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2019 7:32 pm

Re: ML 207

Postby Pennyworth » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:34 pm

Hello, I am brand new to this forum and this subject so please bear with me!
I found this site because I was searching for information on ML207 in which my father served. He was Patrick Vincent Wood, shown as Midshipman on your list but I think he became a Sub Lt? I was astonished to read all of your posts about it and would love to read Jack's account of time on ML207. I recorded my late father talking about D Day and the part he played on board ML207 as a young man of 18 and a half. I did the recording in 2010 I think. In it he talks in general terms about the build up and then during the night that the invasion began. He then talks briefly after that about mine clearing on the Seine and about going to Denmark. I wish I had pushed him to give more details and especially asked him who else he served with. What i do have is a set of photos that were taken by a professional photographer who for some reason spent time on the ship I think when in Denmark. He didn't know why they were done but they show the ship out at sea and then also the crew on 'down time', sunbathing, catching a fish etc. Hopefully some of the crew could be named by you?
What I would like to know is if anyone knows anything more of my father?
I have offered a copy of my recording of Dad to the D Day Story Museum in Portsmouth and am waiting to hear back from them. Would this organisation be interested in a copy? Thanks in advance...
Attachments
DNP35.JPG
DNP24.JPG
DNP13.JPG
DNP7.JPG
Dad2.JPG

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

Re: ML 207

Postby Gray207 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 6:53 pm

Pennyworth, thank you for the fascinating information regarding your father and my apologies for not replying sooner - It’s been a while since I checked the forum.

It was very interesting to read your post and look through your photographs and I was also intrigued to learn of your father’s recollection that a professional photographer came aboard the ship whilst it was in Denmark. I had wondered how some of my father’s photographs appeared to have been taken professionally. I know ML207 was one of the first Allied vessels to arrive in Denmark and the Danish authorities sent food parcels to each of the crew’s families in recognition. Perhaps the photographer had been assigned to mark the ship’s arrival in some way.

From my father’s writings, I am familiar with names of the crew of ML207 but have trouble identifying who is who in his photographs. However, I can help you with a with a couple of people in your second image. The man who is furthest left, as you look at the photo, and who sitting higher up than the others, is Arthur Knights, the Chief Motor Mechanic. I’m fairly sure that the man second from the right, without a shirt, is ‘Sparky’ Renwick, the wireless operator. He was also known as Jock and, as you can guess, was Scottish. According to my father, he hailed from Hawick, loved to play rugby, didn’t drink or smoke but still drew his rum ration and swapped it for chocolate. Both Jock and his wife were in the Salvation Army. I can also confirm that the second photograph was also taken in Copenhagen, Denmark. My father provided descriptions for each of the photographs in his album but, unfortunately, many have become detached from their original mounts, so matching the descriptions with the correct photographs involves quite a bit of guess work. However, one that is still in its original position is entitled ‘Copenhagen’ and has the same building in the background as your photograph. I have included a copy of this photo below. The man standing on the wooden Jetty and sporting a side-arm is my father. I remember him telling me that when the ML moored in Copenhagen it was not far from the statue of the little mermaid.

ML207 Copenhagen.jpg
ML207 Copenhagen.jpg (79.16 KiB) Viewed 3459 times

There are several photographs that I have previously posted in the thread relating to the 1st ML flotilla and which may include your father. I have included two of these below. The first shows the officers of the flotilla. I may be mistaken but your father looks to be one of two men in the image; the one standing to the extreme right as you look at the photograph, or, possibly, second from the left. The second photograph shows T Lt. John Veal, the commanding officer of ML207 from late 1944 to 1946. He is sitting with another younger officer. Is he your father?

Officers of the 1st ML Flotilla.jpg
Officers of the 1st ML Flotilla.jpg (87.97 KiB) Viewed 3459 times

Officers ML 207.jpg
Officers ML 207.jpg (84.91 KiB) Viewed 3459 times

I have an amusing story about the food parcels I mentioned earlier; my grandmother often spoke of the excitement when the parcel arrived and the fact that it contained an unbelievably smelly cheese! So much so that, even with rationing in force, she decided to give the cheese away to anyone who would take it! It ended up being claimed by her daughter’s fiancé, a man who subsequently became my Uncle Bill. Bill took it home to his father who was apparently a lover of strong cheese. Uncle Bill said the cheese was so smelly that the rest of the family wouldn’t touch it and ended up sitting around the dining table with clothes pegs on their noses whenever his father decided to tuck-in! A while back, Some Danish friends of mine told me that the cheese was almost certainly ‘Gamle Ole’ or the even smellier ‘Gamle Ole Far’ (a rough equivalent of the cheese’s names in English would be ‘Old Tom’ and ‘Old Tom’s Father’). Having heard the story of the smelly cheese in the food parcel, my friends used to take great delight in bring portions of it over from Denmark to give to my father when they visited and, my word, did it smell! They told me that many people in Denmark keep the cheese outside in the shed to save it reeking the house out!

The fact that you have a recording of your father recounting his wartime experience is fantastic, and from my point of view, very exciting! A little while back, I was directed by another member of this site to a fascinating recording made by a member of the crew of ML207’S sister ship ML206 and which is held at the Imperial War Museum and can be listened to on-line. I am sure that the museum would be very keen to have a copy of your father’s recording and, many people, including myself, would dearly love to hear it. 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. At first, I thought completing the book would be a fairly easy task because I felt so familiar with the events. However, 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 I expected. I am sure your father’s recording would be a great help.

From the records that I have obtained, my understanding is that your father joined ML207 as a Temporary Midshipman on 8 May 1944 just a few weeks before D-day. As with other war time volunteers, the role was ‘temporary’, because his service was intended to last for the duration of emergency. Records also show that on 11 June 1945, whilst still with ML207, your father became a Temporary Acting Sub-Lieutenant. However, he is no longer listed as being with the ship by the time of the next published record in October 1945, so I take it he had moved to a new posting.

When your father joined ML207, the ship was based at Poole in Dorset and, together with other MLs and larger fleet sweepers, was practicing mine sweeping operations in preparation for the Normandy Landings. Not that the crew had been told the location of the landings but they were all well aware that an invasion was imminent! Poole Harbour was also the base for the famous war time flying boats and my father remembered them constantly taking off and landing - perhaps your father mentioned them?

ML207, along with other motor launches, had been converted to its mine-sweeping role during the spring of 1944 having previously been involved in escorting convoys. During Operation Neptune, the naval operation associated with D-Day, ML207 was attached to the 6th minesweeping flotilla and tasked with leading the invasion fleet through channel 5 to Gold Beach.

One key task that the crew practiced time and again in the build-up to D-day, and with which your father would have been very familiar, was a turning manoeuvre designed to slow the vessel’s forward progress.

The MLs were fitted with mechanical sweeps designed to cut the anchoring cables of moored mines. Once free, the mines could then be destroyed, or simply sunk, by gunfire. The sweeps were towed behind and to the sides of the vessels, and comprised a system floats, cutters and paravanes designed to maintain the sweeps at the desired depth so as to catch, then cut, the mooring cables of the mines. For the cutters to work, the ship had to sail above a minimum speed to ensure that the anchor cables were cut cleanly and not dragged passed the cutters and into fatal contact with the vessel. Maintaining this ‘safe’ minimum speed during the invasion would have resulted in the mine-sweepers ending up well ahead of the rest of the fleet and arriving off the Normandy beaches far too early. To prevent this, the turning manoeuvre was developed. This had to be completed with great precision, at frequent intervals and, as it turned out, in terrible sea conditions as the ships cut a safe path through the extensive channel mine fields on their way to the Normandy Beaches.

Timing, and maintaining a precise formation whilst turning, were particularly important features of the manoeuvre. This ensured that, as far as possible, each mine-sweeper sailed back into previously swept water, lost the required amount of time, before turning once again to sail back to the correct point at which to resume sweeping operations. Of course, for the MLs at the front, it didn’t matter if they were turning or sweeping, they were always sailing into un-swept water!

As it happened, the invasion fleet following the mine-sweepers in channel 5, ended up travelling too quickly and too closely to allow the turning manoeuvre to proceed as planned. The mine-sweepers were eventually forced to abandon it and proceed as slowly as they dared – dangerous to say the least! As a consequence, ML 207, which spearheaded the sweeping operations in channel 5, was one of the very first ships to arrive off the invasion beaches.

I would be very interested in other information that you have, such as photographs and anecdotes, and I would love to listen to your father’s recording. I am particularly keen to establish an accurate timeline of events for the book and any information that you have regarding ML207s deployment and location at different times would be very helpful.

My thanks again for taking the time to provide the information in your post and I really look forward to hearing from you again.

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: 60
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 294 times

Tanker Ablaze March '44 72dpi.jpg
Tanker Ablaze March '44 72dpi.jpg (75.61 KiB) Viewed 294 times

Tanker Ablaze April '44 72dpi.jpg
Tanker Ablaze April '44 72dpi.jpg (73.57 KiB) Viewed 294 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: 60
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: 60
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 242 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 242 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: 60
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: 60
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!


Return to “Motor Launches”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron