A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Motor Launches (ML), Harbour Defence Motor Launches (HDML) & Rescue Motor Launches (RML)
Mark_E
Able Seaman
Posts: 24
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:05 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Mark_E » Fri Oct 28, 2016 2:57 pm

Thanks Admin. I think I knew the Albert was based around Hamburg. I'm pretty sure I have seen photos marked as Buxtehude and I remember dad spoke about the devastation he witnessed in Hamburg from the bombing.

It looks as though he was in Newcastle for around four months or so doesn't it. I appreciate this stuff is 'off topic' for this board, but I'll try and find out what was going on there

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 338
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Admin » Fri Oct 28, 2016 5:15 pm

If your father received the head injury that led to his loss of memory sometime in Autumn 1944, then it must have been while his pay was being handled by Victory at Portsmouth, on his return from what may have been a training course. The MLs involved in minesweeping in the Scheldt came out of Queensborough/Sheerness I understand, which would have placed them under HMS Wildfire, so he was either in the barracks the whole time or else could have been attached to some Portsmouth based vessel, but that is unlikely to have been a minesweeping ML. The other possibility is that he was some last minute replacement for someone on one of the boats, and the paperwork failed to catch up prior to his being wounded. Newcastle or Newcastle-under-Lyme may hold the clue.

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

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stephen » Sat Oct 29, 2016 1:57 pm

Hi again,

I don't have a huge amount to add over what Admin has already told you, but I may be able to help with Newcastle.

HMS Shrapnel, as I understand it, was an umbrella name for various sites around the country, administered from the main station at South Western House in Southampton (next door to the office I've sadly just moved out of!). One satellite appears to have been a radio training school at Rutherford College in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. A few people mention this in service records, but I can't find a huge amount about the place. See:
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/ ... 1030043317
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peoples ... 9270.shtml

Claude Broomfield recalls a radar course at Rutherford. You can listen to his oral archive in reel 3 at about 8 mins 15 seconds. http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80023863

The radio training seems to fit with the later service at HMS Royal Albert, which may have been a SIGNIT wireless station at Cuxhaven, Germany. This is according to a Wikipedia entry though... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_R ... blishments

Also worth remembering that one of the two survivors of 916 was apparently the 'bunting tosser', i.e. the signaller.

As Admin suggests, a completion of training and the acting promotion only a few days before Walcheren may have led to a hasty departure from Portsmouth to a new posting. If he was soon back in Portsmouth at Haslar, there may not have been time to update his records with the previous posting. Just a possibility.

Regards,
Steve

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 338
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Admin » Sun Oct 30, 2016 1:52 pm

Claude Broomfield recalls a radar course at Rutherford.
It looks as though he was in Newcastle for around four months or so doesn't it. I appreciate this stuff is 'off topic' for this board, but I'll try and find out what was going on there
That's a good find and I feel helps clarify the situation, as Sharpnel (Newcastle) would appear to have been about radar maintenance. Initially the boats had Radio Direction Finding equipment (RDF), which was a cruder precursor to the revolutionary technology that was Radar. Having made enquiries from a London Branch veteran who in fact served as a radar operator on one of the Mediterranean Dog Boats, I have learned that as an operator he was not trained in its maintenance, which was a shore-based activity carried out by a radio engineer, and that his radar operator training took place at Valkyrie on the Isle of Wight.

The technical nature of the training fits with Charles Elkins' recorded occupation as a clerk, since the Royal Navy were adapt at picking up on existing skills and areas of interest or strength, and orientating individuals down certain paths early on, and you tend to see this pattern of basic training via known establishments, followed by more specialist training in a field that has been identified earlier, inline with requirements, which in the case of Coastal Forces, was a rounded compliment of crew ready to take on a new boat coming off the slips. Anyone with a factory machinery background, or who worked in a garage could be sent to train as a motor mechanic, and if they didn't come in the top ten per cent or so on tests, would drop down to being a stoker and assisting in the engine room. Alternatively they might be trained up in ordnance (armaments), and sent to Excellent, which was on Whale Island at Portsmouth, before finding themselves at Shrapnel (Hounslow) later. A man who played an instrument, had an ear for music and manual dexterity, could learn morse and be earmarked as a telegraphist etc, which would have been HMS Mercury.

Given that he was radar/radio maintenance, and was at Portsmouth thereafter, all the dates on the P&V ledgers being contiguous, I would assume, in the absence of anything else, that he may have been working at Portsmouth carrying out repairs, although there's no specific mention of a qualification as such. The later work with naval parties would seem to confirm this theme of shore based work.

How and when he obtained his serious injuries, requiring him to be hospitalised for a considerable period is therefore something of a mystery. The survivors from ML 916 were the CO and the Telegraphist, rather than a Signaller, either of which disciplines would have been noted on his records.

Addendum: Just to add, as far as I'm aware radar wasn't installed on MLs other than the ones equipped as navigational leaders around the time of D-Day, as in Coastal Forces it was essentially an offensive weapon employed by MTBs.

David Carter
Sub Lieutenant
Posts: 76
Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:06 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby David Carter » Sun Oct 30, 2016 4:30 pm

Thanks Admin for that explanation. ML's were not only used as direction guides at D-Day. Some were fitted with radar in the Mediterranean a year earlier and were so used in Operation Husky and Salerno. The operator who told me this - the late Dennis Blow - said that the equipment was similar to that used in Lancaster bombers.

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 338
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Admin » Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:32 am

ML's were not only used as direction guides at D-Day. Some were fitted with radar in the Mediterranean a year earlier and were so used in Operation Husky and Salerno.
Thanks for the heads up David. The Mediterranean theatre does tend to get overlooked somewhat as there aren't as many photographs of the events there it seems.

Mark_E
Able Seaman
Posts: 24
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:05 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Mark_E » Mon Oct 31, 2016 12:53 pm

Thanks everyone for contributions. There's quite a lot of info appearing these past few days for a layman such as me to digest! The comment about radar not (often) being a part of MLs but was in use in MTBs is interesting as my mother was visiting this weekend (I promise that's not an irrelevant comment!) and she swears dad told her he was on an MTB!

I really do appreciate the trouble you all have gone to in helping me so far and I do know it seems like a wild goose chase when the details - such as they are - are so vague and nebulous.

On looking at the pay and victuals info, it seems the first record of him being admitted to hospital was 2nd January 1945. That seems to imply to me that my dad's recollection that he was injured in or around Walcheren/Scheldt in early November might be incorrect. He did state that he had been flown in from Brussels to Park Prewitt (presumably via Haslar) but there is the unaccounted for 2 months or so from early November to early January. In his article on the BBC WW2PW website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peoples ... 3014.shtml)he mentions being in hospital before and after Christmas. But that doesn't tie up with his P&V.

Every thread just makes me more unsure!

I wonder if the comment above is on the money, that the promotion led to a posting at sea. *If* dad was at sea with coastal forces, as far as I can tell from the database, the only possibility really is ML 916. Or if we assume that dad's injuries also disrupted his memory, there's an outside chance it was MTB 782 which was also mined around the scheldt, on the 29th December. But that's after Christmas :-/

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

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stephen » Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:37 pm

Hi again,

Just a quick note, but thought I'd mention that I've just finished reading A Passage to Sword Beach by Brendan Haher. There's more detail on the ML 207 forum page, but thought you might be interested to know that Maher was at Park Prewitt for a while. It only gets five pages in his memoir, but tells you a little bit about the place and what went on there.

Of course if your father was on ML 916 and involved in minesweeping, you may find it an interesting book anyway.

Regards,
Steve

Mark_E
Able Seaman
Posts: 24
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:05 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Mark_E » Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:27 pm

Sorry for the late reply but thanks - I'll have a look at that :)

Stuart
Leading Seaman
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:13 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stuart » Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:40 pm

Hello Mark, Steve and Admin. I have just found this site and forum after searching for my father's war record. My father was Lt. George Gordon MacPherson - CO of ML 916 blown up in the Scheldt in Nov 1944. He told my older brother and myself that he was the first Navy ship to reach Antwerp and was given a tremendous reception by the Mayor and citizens. On the way back out of the Scheldt they were aware the Germans had mined the channel during the night so he had all members of the crew, not needed to run the ship, to stand on deck - they were possibly sweeping. When the mine went off he was on the bridge scratching the back of his left leg with his right shoe so the shock went up his left leg and spine. He was thrown into the water and picked up 'dead' and laid out on the deck of another ship with the corpses of his crew. He came round some time later and taken to various hospitals where his leg was amputated, eventually, above the knee. After a long recovery period he was able to continue his career as a sculptor tutor in Liverpool College of Art becoming Head of Dept there. As well as shattering his leg the shock compressed several of his vertebrae causing him great pain in his back for the rest of his life but he survived brilliantly until 1984.

My Mother kept a letter in her scrapbook from Lt Cdr Heardly (? difficult signature) ML 250 19th Flotilla who picked him up and reassured my Mother that my Father was still alive. Lt Heardly says the only other survivor was my Father's steward. He was in a Canadian Hospital in Bruges to start with then CW Branch Casualty Section, St James's Park.We have a bit more information but with my Mother and Father now both dead we have to rely on what we can remember - not too reliable. My Father told us the other survivor was under an open hatch and was blown clear, completely unhurt and I think he said this man was working in a bank in Scotland before the war. Doesn't sound like Mark's Dad? I can't go with the idea that they climbed through a hole in the ship's side as the whole thing was blown completely out of the water and disintegrated as described in another post. My family has my Father's pennant presumably picked up by ML250.

I have read most of your posts with some amazement as I up till now I had found nothing in detail of my Father's exploits really thinking it had mostly gone unremarked, just another casualty of war. So - many thanks for information so far and I hope you don't mind me asking more questions later when I have followed up your leads.

Many thanks, Stuart MacPherson

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 338
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Admin » Sat Jan 07, 2017 12:03 am

Hello Stuart

Welcome to the forum and thank you for your contribution which has well and truly squared the circle! I have some photos of the burial parties from 916 and other related documents, which you may be interested to see, which I'll email to you later.

Regards
Admin

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 338
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Admin » Sat Jan 07, 2017 2:03 am

My Mother kept a letter in her scrapbook from Lt Cdr Heardly (? difficult signature) ML 250 19th Flotilla who picked him up and reassured my Mother that my Father was still alive.
The Navy List for October 1944 shows this gentleman to have been Temporary Lieutenant-Commander J D S Hearder RNVR as CO of ML 250, and SO of the 19th ML Flotilla, with his first officer being Temporary Sub-Lieutenant R L Roberts RNVR.

Stuart
Leading Seaman
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:13 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stuart » Sat Jan 07, 2017 12:56 pm

Thanks Admin - Is there a data base which matches names of crew to ML ship Nos? I have my Father's service history from Personnel Support Admiralty which mentions ML 1082, 1288, 1306 and 1098 on which my Father served in Ceylon but I found nothing in the records. I wondered if you can help here? My son gave me Peter Scott's - Battle of the Narrow Seas so realise the COs wrote up accounts of every patrol. Were these records kept, must be an enormous file if they were? I can imagine someone opening up a long locked storeroom somewhere in Portsmouth and finding floor to ceiling mouldering paperwork!

We have some photos and letters relating to my Father's service which we can copy and send for your files if we can find them!

Thanks again, Stuart

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

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stephen » Sat Jan 07, 2017 2:01 pm

Hi all,

That's some fascinating information Stuart, thanks for adding to the overall picture. In reply to your query, there are some lists that match officers to boats (but not entire crews). The Navy List gives the appointments of officers on all HM ships and were issued quarterly (I think). They're huge, but aren't foolproof. As I've remarked on this thread or elsewhere, whilst researching MGB 81, I found entries for it in 1944 both under that name and its correct designation at that time (MTB 416), and both listed the wrong CO (as confirmed through other reports).

However, I've had a quick look through the April and July 1944 editions that I have digital copies of, and your father is listed as CO of HDML 1082 in both and imply he'd been on that boat since 1941:
HDML 1082.JPG
HDML 1082.JPG (14.66 KiB) Viewed 9286 times
An HDML is a Harbour Defence Motor Launch, shorter than an ML (ML 916 was a Fairmile B Motor Launch). The other vessels you list in your last post will also be HDMLs, as their number sequencing commenced at 1001.

There are some lengthy action reports in Admiralty volumes at The National Archives in Kew, London. I go there quite often and was only looking through them last week (which, now New Year is out of the way, I need to add to a few other threads with). The Admiralty were fastidious with record keeping but, although there are millions of records, it can't be guaranteed that everything made it to Kew. I think (and I empathise think), that I may have now found the series of volumes that the loss of 916 may fall within. I didn't inspect it last time I was there, but next time, I'll try and find it.

Regards,
Steve

Stuart
Leading Seaman
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:13 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stuart » Sat Jan 07, 2017 8:18 pm

Steve you're a real gent - thanks from my brother and I. He has read the forum so far and can add some more information as he is five years older than me, and age 2 or 3 can just remember being taken on board ML916 and being shown the gun and dropping his bar of chocolate into the water as he was being carried over the gangplank by our mum!. He says my father's ship was blown up by an acoustic mine triggered by an American boat passing them at high speed and that the other survivor was the cook though I suppose most of the crews of these small ships could turn their hands to other jobs.
A book was written about 10 years ago by Dalziel Job called 'From Arctic Snows to Dust of Normandy' another misfit who did amazing things in WW2. You probably know it, a great book and a moving love story. He knew lots about sailing around Norway and reckoned small boats like MTBs could hide in the Norwegian Islands and strike German shipping traveling in the sheltered waters behind. To get experience of these types of ship he was put aboard an ML commanded, as he says, by an educated man who had been a sculptor in civilian life. I always wondered if this was my father, there can't have been many sculptors commanding MLs, but he never mentioned a name. Being an artist my father sent us letters with wonderful drawings from Ceylon which we still have - will put some up.
Now I have to try and find the photos my father left, I know they are in this house somewhere!
Kind regards, Stuart.

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

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stephen » Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:30 pm

Hi Stuart,

No problem at all. I have heard of Job, largely through the Ian Flemming connection, although I confess not to have read his book (I think it's more like 25 years old now!). He was on board a Fairmile ML in May and June 1942 in Orkney. As your father appears to have been on an HDML since 1941 (and HDMLs were not built by Fairmile), on the face of it I have to say that I suspect their paths may not have crossed. However, as I said, the Navy Lists aren't always right and it would be easy enough to assume HDMLs were small Fairmiles. The answer will be in the Red Lists (lists of small boat movements) which will state what boats were in Orkney and where 1082 was in late spring 1942.

Most Coastal Forces boats, even the larger Dog boats, didn't have a designated cook - usually any old crewman was assigned the role, sometimes on a shift pattern. The cook on 916 most likely would have had another lead role and been a cook as necessary. You may have seen earlier in this thread that one account lists the survivor as the signlaman. He may well have been the cook as well!

Do you know roughly when your father was in Ceylon?

Regards,
Steve

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 338
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Admin » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:25 pm

Is there a data base which matches names of crew to ML ship Nos? I have my Father's service history from Personnel Support Admiralty which mentions ML 1082, 1288, 1306 and 1098 on which my Father served in Ceylon but I found nothing in the records.
Hello again Stuart

Unfortunately, apart from the Navy Lists, which lists the postings of officers, casualty records, or records of awards, there are no records of the rank and file for boats. The Royal Navy kept a remarkably good track of its men for the purposes of pay, noting their every movement via ship or base, but it strikes me that lists of crew, that would have been kept by boat's officers, and presumably by clerical staff at the bases too, were more akin to a factory shift rota, and were not deemed important enough to save, as the Admiralty already kept the pay records for each individual. Likewise with Log Books, unless an officer saved his, there doesn't seem to have been any interest in collecting them up at the end of the war. The boats were all mothballed in a remarkably short period of time once the war in Europe ended, and since the Admiralty had the action reports, recording notable events, and had issued the orders to boats in the first place, they had no interest it seems in the nitty, gritty of each and every patrol, as recorded in the ship's log.

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 338
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Admin » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:51 pm

On the way back out of the Scheldt they were aware the Germans had mined the channel during the night so he had all members of the crew, not needed to run the ship, to stand on deck - they were possibly sweeping. When the mine went off he was on the bridge scratching the back of his left leg with his right shoe so the shock went up his left leg and spine. He was thrown into the water and picked up 'dead' and laid out on the deck of another ship with the corpses of his crew.
I'm very glad you managed to find your way to this particular thread, since we happen to have an unusual amount of information about this event. The 'chummy' boat of ML 916, was ML 906, under the command of Lieutenant Don H Claydon RNVR, with his junior officer, Sub-Lieutenant S Daly RNVR. It was Don Claydon and his crew that rescued your father, and the other survivor, from the water, and we have a photograph of him on the bridge of his ML. Don Claydon also saved copies of original signals from around the time, one of which is reproduced below. I have some further news for you and your family, which I am conveying in a pm to you.
lieutenant-don-claydon-rnvr-ml-906.jpg
Coxwain Jack Gillings, with Skipper Don Claydon of ML 906
lieutenant-don-claydon-rnvr-ml-906.jpg (199.36 KiB) Viewed 9514 times
naval-order-for-ml-906.jpg
A copy of the original order to ML 906 to prepare for minesweeping operations in the Scheldt. This identical signal would also have been received by ML 916
naval-order-for-ml-906.jpg (153.67 KiB) Viewed 9514 times
Transcript of signal:
Following vessels required shortly for extended sweeping operations are to complete to maximum storage of stores provisions and water.
16 105ft MMS
4 BYMS
4 Oropesa MLs
1 LL ML
4 Trawlers with spare gear
1 Survey trawler

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

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stephen » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:02 am

Wow, that's some fascinating stuff Admin, I'm afraid I've nothing to rival it! But I thought you might find this interesting Stuart. If you scroll down to 1082 you'll find your father's name again, along with a small bit of information about the boat's movement, plus the apparent date he moved to 916.

I've no idea where the Medusa Trust drew all this information from, but it looks like the sort of information found in the Navy lists and Red Lists. HDML Medusa is one of the few surviving HDMLs still afloat and in original condition (possibly the only one...) and is moored in Gosport.

Unfortunately there's no further mention of your father on the other boats you list (which can be accessed by selecting HDML Archive then HDML Boats from the top menus).

http://www.hmsmedusa.org.uk/HDML_Boats_1051-1099.html

Regards,
Steve

Stuart
Leading Seaman
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:13 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stuart » Tue Jan 10, 2017 12:42 pm

Thanks Steve I have looked that up. We have one letter from my father from Ceylon, though he's not allowed to say where and no date but talks about the jungle and getting fresh water from a well on the island they were harboured in. We can't publish this letter as it is very personal to my mother and full of a young man's emotions far away from his wife and family. It says nothing about what he was doing in Ceylon.
As well as the above information Admin has sent us a copy of a letter my father wrote to Lt Claydon thanking him for the rescue and giving details of the loss of his leg. We never knew this letter existed or had been saved all this time, quite astounding and moving. Have sent for books on Walsheren Landings and the Battle for the Scheldt but the picture of events in that area in Nov 1944 are becoming clearer.
Will try and attach the few photos we have.
Training Group  photographed in Brighton.jpg
No idea who these guys are. Don't think they are officer training as there seem to be a lot of ratings present. Any ideas? My father is second row third from right, not looking at the camera.
Thanks again Stuart

Stuart
Leading Seaman
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:13 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stuart » Tue Jan 10, 2017 12:57 pm

Don't know if you are still watching these posts Mark. I read through it all again last night and it looks like your father was on an MTB. I can imagine them stripping off the tubes to lighten ship and going full out to the Normandy beach and clearing off as fast as possible. Have you read Peter Scotts book 'Battle of the Narrow Seas'?
Gives accounts of Coastal Forces actions all through the war - MTBs and MGBs especially. We also have a DVD called 'For those in Peril' about RAF rescue in the war but some wonderful footage of the Coastal ships and high speed action, very hairy stuff! Have you got any further in your search?
Kind regards Stuart.

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

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stephen » Tue Jan 10, 2017 1:42 pm

No idea who these guys are. Don't think they are officer training as there seem to be a lot of ratings present. Any ideas? My father is second row third from right, not looking at the camera.
Thanks again Stuart
Hi Stuart,

The white cap bands suggest that these are candidates for training for an officer's commission. As this was usually at HMS King Alfred, the photo is probably in one of the station's buildings at Hove. Your father appears to be undergoing the course and isn't already an officer in this picture (hence the white band) and is in a class with numerous other ratings an non-commissioned ranks. His jacket looks like that of a warrant or petty officer. The cap is quite small as well, compared to the three officers in front (probably the class instructors).The presence of ratings is perfectly normal - many officers were promoted from the enlisted ranks.

I've found both Battle for Antwerp by J Moulton and The Battle of the Scheldt by Denis Whitaker to be good books on the Walcheren campaign, although they're more focused on the land campaign.

Regards,
Steve

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 338
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Admin » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:05 am

We have one letter from my father from Ceylon, though he's not allowed to say where and no date but talks about the jungle and getting fresh water from a well on the island they were harboured in.
Coastal Forces in Ceylon was HMS Barracuda which was operated by the Royal Indian Navy, and was a mobile base & repair ship, which later moved to Bombay in September 1942, then Chittagong, Bengal and Trinco. I'm pretty sure while in Ceylon it would have been at Trincomalee.

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 338
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Admin » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:35 am

I recall him telling a tale of zipping over to France overnight, pre D-Day with scientists aboard to collect samples of sand (I believe to help us understand how tanks would fare on landing on the beaches).
There were small survey vessels used by the Royal Navy of the kind shown below, though to the best of my knowledge these were not operated by Coastal Forces, and it's unclear what role exactly they played in the preparations for D-Day or when. The main covert operations of this kind were carried out by a dedicated, specialist unit, the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties (COPP) who were highly trained. Also from what I have gleaned, no one went near the D-Day beaches for some months beforehand, in order not to tip off the Germans by having any kind of incident or accident. The MGB referenced in the linked article would likely have been one of the boats such as MGB 318, and the dates for missions recorded in the book Secret Flotillas.
survey-vessel.jpg
survey-vessel.jpg (275.68 KiB) Viewed 9506 times

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

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stephen » Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:24 am

There's a good deal of information about this in Charts and Surveys in Peace and War: The History of the RN Hydrographic Service by Rear Admiral R O Morris. The service was separate to Coastal Forces, but did employ some HDMLs which were re-designated SML (Survey Motor Launch). There's a list of these boats in the book.

The image shows a converted Landing Craft Personnel (Large) used by the Hydrographic Service: they were employed in the year before D-Day charting the Bay of Seine, tides and so forth. These boats were too small to cross the Channel themselves, so were apparently towed close to the enemy shore by MTBs and MGBs for their survey work. The service itself was also responsible for other seemingly innocuous tasks, such as overseeing the issue of charts to Admiralty departments and ensuring that as well as Normandy, charts of other areas of the French coast were issued (in order to maintain security and hide the fact that everyone was requesting charts of the Normandy coastline). During the operation itself, the service carried out necessary hydrographic duties - laying navigation buoys, charting the Mulberry harbour and the various ports as they were captured. The photo shows Lieutenant Glen and his crew at the Arromanche Mulberry.

COPP parties were interested in the beaches. As Admin says their activities were highly secret at the time and most were taken over in small individual missions. As well as motor boats, small midget submarines (X-Craft) were used for landing men on the beaches. On the over hand, in White Plumes Astern, Anthony Law relates how his 29th MTB Flotilla was tasked with escorting a number of British MTBs for a shore landing in May 1944. The British MTBs carried soldiers (possibly COPP) who would go ashore and recover mines from the French coast for analysis. Four landings were due to take place between Dunkirk and Bolougne on one night, with the 29th Flotilla providing escort. Although the flotillas sailed, rough weather prevented the landings taking place. It is possible that this was an elaborate ruse of course.

Steve

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 338
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Admin » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:28 am

Thanks for the additional info Steve and for the useful id of the photograph. Coastal Forces was very much its own thing, but it seems to have intersected at times with any number of other services from Minesweeping to Combined Operations, the SOE, the SIS, the Commandoes, and as we are now learning, the Hydrographic Service.

Mark_E
Able Seaman
Posts: 24
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:05 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Mark_E » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:51 pm

Hello all
Wow what a fascinating thread this has become! Stuart I'm very pleased you have found some new information on your father, even after all these years. I read with interest the COPP mission to Gold beach. Maybe that is a part of my family history, and maybe not. Either way it is extremely fascinating and what bravery from the Engineers.

Stuart - I shall look out for that book and possibly pick up a copy.

Wonderful stuff, thanks all for sharing the benefits of your knowledge with us

Stuart
Leading Seaman
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:13 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stuart » Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:38 pm

Some more photos.
I am guessing that all the Tropical/Ceylon pics were taken by A.N.Other not my father. I remember him saying he had sent a lot of things back to Britain in a crate - which never arrived. He thought the carrying ship might have been torpedoed. Maybe there were photos or film in there es well. The letter from him to my mother, that I mentioned before, is all charred round one end and has been put in a new envelope saying -"Found open or damaged and officially Secured". We always wondered what had happened to that.
My mother carefully saved items such as his call up letter, next of kin cards, Telegram telling her he was seriously injured, citations for his DSC etc which she managed to stick down completely to the scrap book pages making them difficult to scan but we will do that over the weekend. If they are ant use for your records please let me know, I'll be copying them anyway for the family.
Lt G G MacPherson  photographer West Kirkby.jpg
Lt G G MacPherson photographer West Kirkby.jpg (62.1 KiB) Viewed 9494 times
Training Group  photographed in Brighton.jpg
Training Group photographed in Brighton.jpg (136.17 KiB) Viewed 9494 times
HDML Ceylon possibly.jpg
HDML Ceylon possibly.jpg (75.03 KiB) Viewed 9494 times
Written on back;- Back row l to r McNally, Wright, Coull,Bunn, Buckley,Marriot. Pigs (?) MacPherson, Gregory. Sitting front Kirby, Poulter(with Pooch), Davis, Green
Ink drawing of ML250 perhaps. By Lt G G MacPherson.jpg
Ink drawing of ML250 perhaps. By Lt G G MacPherson.jpg (190.58 KiB) Viewed 9494 times
ML250 top 2 pictures others unknown.jpg
ML250 top 2 pictures others unknown.jpg (57.83 KiB) Viewed 9494 times
110th Flotilla Christmas Card from Ceylon drawn by Lt GG MacPherson.jpg
110th Flotilla Christmas Card from Ceylon drawn by Lt GG MacPherson.jpg (157.7 KiB) Viewed 9494 times

Stuart
Leading Seaman
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:13 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stuart » Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:46 pm

Continued;-
Attachments
Image.jpg
Carol Choir Haslar? watercolour by Lt G.G.MacPherson from his bed
Image.jpg (193.11 KiB) Viewed 9494 times
Grave of Unknown Sailor ML916 unidentified graveyard.jpg
From D Claydon?
Grave of Unknown Sailor ML916 unidentified graveyard.jpg (79.56 KiB) Viewed 9494 times
Various miscellaneous pictures.jpg
No notes on any of these

Stuart
Leading Seaman
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:13 pm

Re: A Long shot - ML 916 and ...?

Postby Stuart » Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:52 pm

Correction:- Photo of crew in Ceylon back row should be Dunn not Bunn!


Return to “Motor Launches”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron