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ML 253

Posted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 9:55 pm
by CharlyArry
Please can anyone help me with ML 253?

My late father served on her towards the end of WWII, which included an operation 'the night before' D-Day, and I have a picture of the crew being inspected by Monty, in Hamburg I think, but that is about the sum of my knowledge of her wartime exploits.

I am led to believe that after the war the vessel had a long commercial career as the Lepanto, Cambrian Prince and latterly Kiloran II before being sold to a Tunisian buyer/company in 2000/2001.

Any information at all would be most gratefully received.

Many thanks.

Re: ML 253

Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 12:40 pm
by Brian Holmes
ML_253 John Sadd, Maldon, Essex 5/5/41

Known Crew
TLt E E Lever RNVR TSLt HMS St Christopher for MLs 8/9/41 TLt 17/10/41 Commanding Officer ML 253 14/11/43
TSLt L C Harmer RNVR TSLt 27/5/43 ML 253 27/5/43
Sea Charles Philip Christie LT/JX 280682 ML 253 Died 7/2/45 Age 29 Son of Robert and Christina Christie, of Lerwick, Zetland Buried in Schoonselhof Cemetery, Antwerp, Belgium Grave IV. A. 35.

Wartime Activities
1/42 Motor Launch for Cdr Minesweeping and Patrol Lowestoft

Post War Fate
10/45 For disposal
1975 Yacht = Medyna

Re: ML 253

Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 2:59 pm
by CharlyArry
Thank you Brian, this information is most appreciated.

I actually only came across the 'Cdr Minesweeping and Patrol' role late last night, and have been wondering about that role. I learned that she was actually based at Yarmouth, despite the Lowestoft command.

It would seem that most of the Nore Command regions had an ML designated for this kind of role. On what basis were these MLs selected for this rather than a Motor Launch Flotilla role, I wonder?

Please can anyone recommend a definitive text that can help me with Nore ML organisation and operations?

Great to have yet another name (Medyna) to research in her long and varied post-War life. I wonder if this was her name while part of the Captain Morgan Cruises fleet in Malta?

I am in touch with Captain Morgan Cruises, who simply tell me that 'she sank about 18 years ago'. I await further clarification.

Re: ML 253

Posted: Fri Aug 12, 2016 12:05 pm
by Admin
One of our veterans, Peter Bickmore, has pointed out that Medyna was actually the name used for the former J Samuel White built MTB 253. Has there been a mix up here between MTB 253 and ML 253?
MV Medyna (MTB 253) at London in 1983
Peter Bickmore onboard MV Medyna
Owners Peter Leggat & David Frost onboard MV Medyna (MTB 253)

Re: ML 253

Posted: Thu Aug 18, 2016 10:58 am
by cdsc123
Built 1941
Builder J. SADD

1951 Converted to yacht "Lepanto".
For the 1956 season she was bought by Cambrian Marine Line Ltd of Liverpool and made cruises from Conway, Menai and Llandudno as Cambrian Prince.
In 1957 Kiloran II ran for the Devon Cruising Co from Torquay, where she remained for seven seasons.
Kiloran II was sold in November 1963 to Cornish Sea Cruising Co of St Mawes, where she specialised in a five-hour cruise viewing some sixty miles of the Cornish Coast and the Rivers Fal and Helford.

(Fairmile Small World I ex ML921 was the Malta ferry damaged at Comino 1996 and later scuttled)

Details from Lloyds registers and Phil Simons historian.
Fairmile kiloran copy.jpg
Kiloran II off Torquay 18.6.61.jpg

Re: ML 253 and CFV magazine

Posted: Thu Aug 18, 2016 11:15 am
by johnk
Hi there,

Ah, now there is a shot...I remember a few years ago some chaps trying to save one of these for preservation....did not work out of course, gave a few pennies to try and help, at least an effort but..had the latest London branch newsletter yesterday, great edition and great to see in colour thanks to the editor and team...I was at Henley on the Saturday but not Sunday so missed the CFV stand which was a pity, but great articles showing the great contribution of CF...end by saying seeing on Facebook on the 25th August at Portsmouth Boat House 4 Jetty, gathering of 5 coastal craft, one modern P2000 training vessel but including MGB81, MTB 102 and HDML Medusa to commemorate founding of CF one hundred years ago, sail past at 1230 hours....many thanks,


Re: ML 253

Posted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 9:53 am
by RoyK
I was deckhand on Kiloran II in 1970 and 1971. During her winter refit, I was given the task of removing all the layers of paint from her wheelhouse roof. It was a fairly long job with a blow torch and scraper, and warm too because she still had the steel splinter protection plates installed. The last layer of paint was dark Admiralty Grey, and when I finally got rid of that, I found the plates in generally very good condition. I also found the numbers 294 stamped with a die punch in the corners of a few of the plates. That same year, we had to have repairs done to the hatch on the foredeck by the windlass, and this meant the entire assembly was removed to a workshop for welding and fabricating a new hatch lid. We found 294 in the metalwork on that part of the hatch coaming that would be hidden once installed.Having learned that the Fairmile B's were all assembled from a kit of parts sent out to each yard from central stores, I thought it feasible that Kiloran II had been built as ML 294, which was also built by John Sadd. Following a recent request for information, I made further enquiries, and it appears that both ML 253 and ML 294 were sold off at auction at the same time, namely October 1946.
After a meeting and discussion about Fairmiles in general, and Torbay based boats in particular, with Sandie Armstrong (who has a large archive of the Western Lady fleet), I am left with the impression that ML 253 was possibly named on the official paperwork by accident in the bustle of selling off the boats. They would have been rafted together, they all looked pretty much identical, and after all, the purchaser would have been happy just to get his nice new shiny ex ML. Sandie has documentary evidence that one of the Western Lady fleet had exactly this scenario happen when she was sold. River Lady was built in J W Uphams in Brixham as RML 511, but her official paperwork from the time of her disposal identified her as ML 309.

Re: ML 253

Posted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 5:31 pm
by Admin
Hello Roy

Thank you for your interesting insight into the selling off process of these boats. I dare say there must have been one or two mixups between pendants and sales receipts, since there were so many boats mothballed in such a short space of time and disposed of. Does the official paperwork give any indication of the amount a boat was sold for? I recall a newspaper article about objections raised in the Canadian Parliament to the relatively small sums being asked for the Canadian Fairmiles that were disposed of there compared to what each boat had cost, which in today's money was a fair bit! My father was on Fairmiles out in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and at the end of the war they had their lend-lease Packards removed for return to the USA, and since there was no local market amongst the impoverished local fishermen, and not many sailors who wanted to splash out on getting a boat with no engines back to Blighty, many of them, some only a few years old, were taken out to sea and sunk for target practice.


Re: ML 253

Posted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 7:05 pm
by RoyK
Thank you admin for your response and enquiry. The official documents I saw recently only had information about the number of each boat when in service, its date and place of build, and its measurements. I don't remember seeing information about the sale price. I was told by those that remembered the disposal of vessels, that because their machinery had been removed, it was more profitable to burn some of the hulls and recover the copper and brass fixings for scrap value, than to convert them for civilian use.This certainly happened in the River Dart in Old Mill Creek and Galmpton Creek. It seems an awful waste now of some very serviceable craft. If only some appropriate engines could have been found for them. A common installation was twin GM Detroit diesel motors of around 165HP each. The marinised versions by Gray Marine, removed from a landing craft, were still in place in the Pride of Paignton into the late 1970's. Some of the Western Lady conversions used Thornycroft RL6 engines, which may have come from the 72 ft HDML's. Kiloran II had twin GM Detroit motors when I knew her. Western Lady, ex RML 535 was converted with twin Gardner 6L2 engines of 60HP each! She has twin Gardner 6LX's in 1972 when I was mate engineer. (My Dad, Ken Kennedy was skipper. He had been Skipper of Kiloran II for the 1970 and 1971 seasons in Torquay.) Western Lady III, ex RML 497 (Now at Portsmouth) had Thornycroft RL6's, and I believe she also had a pair of Davey Paxmans for a short time, too.

Re: ML 253

Posted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 9:26 am
by Admin
Thanks Roy, it was interesting to learn of engines other than Gardiners in HDMLs which I hadn't known about. Today it does seems like an incredibly wasteful period in history with the number of boats used to acquire overwhelming numerical superiority being dispensed with so casually. It seems on the whole that the Vospers and other 'shorts' faired better, being seen as more desirable boats that could be converted by their former officers to have as homes, even though they have mostly disappeared from the scene now as well.

It's interesting also to note the very different outcome with the 'Dog' boats, of which there isn't a single one left to the best of my knowledge, presumably because they were bigger, and more unwieldy. I know quite a few went to Sea Scout groups and the like, but were there ever any surviving types that you knew of in your locality, and did any of them ever get used by ferry companies?

There was talk some years ago from a consortium trying to have a facsimile 'D' boat built, possibly with funding support from the Norwegian government, but it all came to naught at the time of the last financial crash, though the idea struck me as a bit fatuous, and without any real historical interest.

Re: ML 253

Posted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:08 pm
by RoyK
The last Dogboat I saw was in 1968 or 69 on the River Dart. She was in very poor condition, and had been in use by one of the Sea Scout branches if memory serves.From what I have read about the Dogboats, I think that they were all pretty tired by the end of the War,as due to their design they tended to be driven harder in heavy seas than was ideal.In the book Gunboat 658 by Leonard C. Reynolds, he records how the boat had to be reinforced amidships by steel girders when she was in service in the Mediterranean as she was strained due to the pounding taken from driving on in rough weather. From accounts of the boats they were good sea boats at speed, I imagine like the B Fairmiles. Also the Dogboats appeared to suffer more with problems of dry and wet rot. This was undoubtedly due to poor ventilation, and inherent in their design and construction. I heard stories from people who worked in the yards where some were built, that after the early years of the war, all the best seasoned timber had been used up, and boats were sent to sea with whatever quality of wood was available, bearing in mind that they were only intended to last 5 years or so anyway. The B's were easier and more economical to convert, being twin screw, (whereas the Dogboats were quadruple screw,) and having an easily driven sea kindly hull. HDML's were also used, and because they were equipped with British manufactured diesel engines, some like the Pride of the Dart kept them installed for many years. She had Thornycroft RL6's and the original bridge telegraphs. They were eventually replaced with Perkins 6354's and bridge control in 1971. The Devon Princess, however, had twin Leyland engines that had been marinised after military service!
I never heard of any Dogboats being used as a passenger carrier, although there was a novel published some years ago about a Dogboat that had been converted for use by smugglers and gun runners. There seemed to be a ring of truth in the story.
Regarding the Norwegian proposals, their Navy did crew a few Dogboats, and B Fairmiles based in Lerwick, so maybe there was some link with their veterans at that time.

Re: ML 253

Posted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:11 pm
by RoyK
Further to my last post, HDML's also had Gleniffer engines installed.


Re: ML 253

Posted: Mon Aug 29, 2016 5:09 am
by Admin
Thanks for the additional info Roy. I recall learning the crews lived onboard even at Great Yarmouth, which surprised me as I imagined they would have got ashore to billets, and twenty-eight men with washing etc all created a fair bit of condensation apparently, with water dripping off the ceiling in the cramped living conditions. The Dog boat they had proposed building was MGB 718 which carried out clandestine operations from Dartmouth as well as to Norway from the Shetlands. The item was in the London Branch December 2011 newsletter.

Re: ML 253

Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2016 8:42 pm
by Curlew
During her sojourn in North Wales in 1956, MV Cambrian Price was skippered by a Captain R M Shaw and she was equipped with a fully licensed lounge. Although Conway and Menai (Bridge) are mentioned, she seems to have operated hourly morning, long afternoon afternoon and hourly evening cruises, Monday to Saturday, from Llandudno only. Same on Sunday except the long cruise was in the evening. The published timetable would probably not have allowed time for landing calls at Conway and Menai Bridge although she could well have cruised the Conway Estuary. At the time, the Liverpool & North Wales Steamship Company was very active using Llandudno and Menai Bridge Piers with its three vessels (TSS St Tudno ,TSS St Seiriol and MV St Trillo) so I expect the MV Cambrian Prince operation was not a commercial success hence she moved on after only a year. The Cambrian Marine Line Ltd's office was at Llandudno Pier and the general manager was J R Oliver OBE. As a local historian, I am very grateful to all those who have posted details of the "Cambrian Prince"'s interesting background.