Sword Beach Navigational Leader - ML197

Motor Launches (ML), Harbour Defence Motor Launches (HDML) & Rescue Motor Launches (RML)
PPARKER
Seaman
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Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:36 am

Sword Beach Navigational Leader - ML197

Postby PPARKER » Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:13 pm

I am doing some research into ML197, Commanded by Lt. G Rouse RNVR during the Normandy landings. I’ve found, on a BBC WW2 Peoples War website the recollections of Lt Rouse although it is slightly confusing as he refers to both ML197 in the main body of the document, but ML23 in the final paragraph!

ML197 was a Navigational Leader for the force landing on Sword Beach on 6th June and my Father Petty Officer Motor Mechanic William S Parker was part of the crew. Recently I have discovered the Engine Room Logs for 5th and 6th June which my Father had kept.

I would like to know a little more about these Navigational Leaders i.e what was the “High tech” equipment on board? What exactly was their purpose? Etc.,etc.

My Father was also Mentioned in Despatches twice, and reported in London Gazette. Once in November 1944 and again in March 1945. However, both refer to these mentions as being in respect of actions during the Normandy Landings. This, to me appears strange, as one could understand the time lapse between June 1944 and November 1944 but not between June 1944 and March 1945!

I am keen to see these “mentions” but am uncertain as to where they might be located. Are you able to you suggest sources I might try please?

I have copies of the service record of my Father, so it is not these records that I require.

Admin
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Re: Sword Beach Navigational Leader - ML197

Postby Admin » Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:02 am

Hello PParker and thank you for your enquiry to the forum. I'll try and post more details later if I can find any but just to answer your questions quickly. Navigational Leaders were MLs fitted with a special latticed mast abaft the bridge, after their funnels had been removed for the purpose. The masts housed Type QH2 radar, in addition to other technology the boats had such as echo sounder and asdic recorders, as well as a direction finding loop, and wire measuring sets, all aimed at giving them comprehensive and pin point accuracy in navigation to lead in landing craft to their designated beaches on D-Day, 6 June 1944.
ml-131-navigational-leader.jpg
D-Day: British Forces during the invasion of Normandy 6 June 1944. ML 131 Navigational Leader © IWM (A 23884)
ml-131-navigational-leader.jpg (64.87 KiB) Viewed 27198 times
It sounds like your father was awarded an MiD in 1944, and then later in 1945 when the Admiralty reviewed earlier recommendations and citations for awards previously passed over, as they often did, decided to award him a second. The actual citations and any group they belong to might be contained in the National Archives, as we have seen examples from there of the names of personnel from boats or flotillas put forward for awards, and the reason(s) for doing so.

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Admin
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Re: Sword Beach Navigational Leader - ML197

Postby Admin » Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:09 am

I’ve found, on a BBC WW2 Peoples War website the recollections of Lt Rouse although it is slightly confusing as he refers to both ML197 in the main body of the document, but ML23 in the final paragraph!

I'm fairly certain in talking in that piece about X23, the midget submarine that lay off the 'S' Force beach head to signal the invasion fleet, that he got that number mixed up in talking about his own ML 197, since there was no ML 23.

David Carter
Sub Lieutenant
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Re: Sword Beach Navigational Leader - ML197

Postby David Carter » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:20 am

Re the enquiry about navigational leaders, you might like to look at Medusa's website: www.hmsmedusa.org.uk as this launch was a navigational leader for Omaha Beach. It is still fitted with asdic etc. and operates from Gosport.

PPARKER
Seaman
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Re: Sword Beach Navigational Leader - ML197

Postby PPARKER » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:53 am

Many thanks for the replies to my recent post - very interesting. The point about Lt. Rouse being a little confused between numbers for ML197 and the X23 midget Sub, is something which did not occur to me and explains the confusion.

I've looked at the Medusa website and this refers to HDML's all of which are 4 digit numbered. It further refers to ML1415 and ML1416 being "Channel Markers" for Sword Beach. I assume channel markers performed a different role to Navigational Leaders? Is this correct, please?

Admin
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Re: Sword Beach Navigational Leader - ML197

Postby Admin » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:20 pm

MTBs led out the minesweepers to protect them, with a shallower draft ML minesweeper clearing a path initially for the larger minesweepers. Dan Layers then laid buoys to mark out the ten channels that would lead directly to the landing beaches for each of the invasion forces, while HDMLs stood watch throughout at the head of each swept channel as gatekeepers, to mark the entrances and communicate to any lost vessels which channel they were about to enter. There were five sectors spread out along the Normandy coastline, Utah, Omaha, Gold, Sword & Juno, and then within them, there were a number of different sections, each with their own code name, which would presumably have had its own Navigational Leader assigned to it, to lead in its contingent.

There were fourty-nine Navigational MLs in five flotillas with the 13th Flotilla comprising MLs 196, 197, 200, 201, 202, 204, & 296.

Goldhawk
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Re: Sword Beach Navigational Leader - ML197

Postby Goldhawk » Sun May 19, 2024 5:33 pm

I confirm that, in the -message of 26 Jan 2005 which I posted on the BBC People’s war website ( see https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2people ... 4953.shtml ), I accidentally mis-typed the number of the ML: it was indeed ML197 and NOT the non-existent ML23.

It sounds possible that the person who raised this query (Mr P Parker) may be the son of the “superb P.O. Motor Mechanic” who was praised as follows by my father:

“….In one of the later gales, we developed engine trouble which required replacement of a cylinder head. This was done by our superb P.O. Motor Mechanic and colleagues while we were rolling violently at anchor. A brilliant effort…”

A couple of other clarifications: (1) My father only assumed command of ML197 shortly after D-Day, when Lt. Alistair Ward (sp?) was transferred to replace another officer who had been killed; (2) My father’s actual words were that it was not UNUSUAL for those of his age (22) to assume the responsibilities of command during wartime – but I mis-typed this as “not usual”.

I have sponsored commemorative bricks in the Normandy Memorial Wall in Portsmouth for my father Graham Rouse and for Alistair Ward and Charles Leach, as these were the only other crew names I knew. However, I would be happy now also to sponsor a brick for William Parker if his son is okay with that.

I was informed that it was not possible to sponsor a unit plaque on this wall for an individual vessel like ML197, so the best I could do was to commission a plaque for HMS Mantis, where I think (but am not sure) that ML197 had been previously based. The stonemason did a great job with the logo – see photos attached.
Attachments
Normandy wall brick.jpeg
Mantis plaque.jpeg

Admin
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Re: Sword Beach Navigational Leader - ML197

Postby Admin » Sun May 19, 2024 6:06 pm

Hello Goldhawk and welcome to the forum.

Thank you for your efforts in remembering your father and his colleagues via a commemorative brick in the Normandy Memorial Wall, as well as the one for HMS Mantis. By way of clarification for ML 197's 'superb P.O. Motor Mechanic' the awards for ML 197 record Petty Officer Motor Mechanic William Stanley PARKER P/MX 636063, as mentioned above, earned two Mention in Despatches, the full list of awards for the boat being:

New Year Honours List 1943
Acting Leading Telegraphist William SLOGGETT D/WRX 765: Distinguished Service Medal London Gazette: 1st January 1943
Birthday Honours List 1943
Temporary Acting Lieutenant-Commander Cecil Arthur JEFF RNVR: Mention in Despatches London Gazette: 2nd June 1943
For Operation Neptune - for gallantry and devotion to duty during the landings in Normandy
Able Seaman Herbert John HUTCHINSON P/SSX 32504: Mention in Despatches London Gazette: 14th November 1944
Petty Officer Motor Mechanic William Stanley PARKER P/MX 636063: Mention in Despatches London Gazette: 14th November 1944
For operations in connection with the assault on Normandy from Jun to Sep 1944
Petty Officer Motor Mechanic William Stanley PARKER P/MX 636063: Mention in Despatches London Gazette: 13th March 1945
Temporary Sub-Lieutenant Graham Dobson ROUSE RNVR: Mention in Despatches London Gazette: 13th March 1945
Wind-up of the war in Europe
Petty Officer Joseph Stephen BAIN D/MD/X 2725: Mention in Despatches London Gazette: 11th December 1945
Petty Officer Jack Clifford BEER C/MX 69814: Mention in Despatches London Gazette: 11th December 1945

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Goldhawk
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Re: Sword Beach Navigational Leader - ML197

Postby Goldhawk » Mon May 20, 2024 9:24 am

Many thanks for this additional information. The Times have just expressed interest in publishing something else which I wrote about ML197 - as part of a series of features in the run-up to the 80th Anniversary of D-Day. Doubtless it may get heavily edited, but I will post here if something appears.


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