Motor Launches (ML), Harbour Defence Motor Launches (HDML) & Rescue Motor Launches (RML)
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2024 7:02 am


Postby mlQ488 » Sun Feb 04, 2024 6:22 am

As a new member I’m looking for information on the motor launch my father served on during the war. Unfortunately he didn’t tell me much about his service before he was deceased other than a lot of his work was clearing shipping lanes after the war. My sister has given me some photos of his boat and some of the (unidentified) places he visited. I know from a photo I found on the internet that he went to Denmark.
I have listed below information that I have found on the net but would like to find out more.
Later in the year I want to build a radio controlled model of his boat so any additional information would be great.
I live in Victoria, Australia and came over from England with my parents and sister in 1964.

ML 488
Fairmile 112' B-Type Motor Launch
Builder's Yard: Lady Bee, Isleworth, London
Completion: 28th March 1942 Loss or Disposal: June 1946
Notes: ML 488 survived the war, being lent to the Hounslow Sea Cadets in June 1946.

French Coast.
NEPTUNE Assault area from 4/44
MAPLE Phases I, II and IV.

51ML 13MTB 14MTB KN Fecamp, Le Havre (SCALLOPS PLUS),
21MTB, 22MTB, 64MTB Barfleur, Cherbourg (GREENGAGE PLUS)
Last lay KN25 - Cherbourg (3/6/44)

. MONASTIC NEPTUNE Diversion and Minelay (5/6/44).

14MTB, 64MTB BRAZIER Cap d'Antifer (Operation TAXABLE) (5/6/44).
64MTB - Deep A/S Fields in Channel
(See Text) (5/1/45 to 3/2/45)

10ML, 50ML. 52ML BUTTERMILK Deep A/S Fields in Channel
(See Text) (20/3/45 - 6/4/45)

French Coast between Cherbourg and Brest

First Lay HOSTILE 3 (4/4/43).
Lannion, Channel Islands, Brittany Coast
Last lays HOSTILE 41 (25/7/45)

30 NAVY NEWS. OCTOBER 1990 At Your Service Reunions

Q488 (100ft. ML) D-Day: Mr. C. A. Senior, 39 Chestnut Ave.. Slockbndge. Sheffield. S30 SAT. wants to hear from old shipmates, especially AB Pntchard and Tel Burrows, also from members of Class 24. HMS Cressy. Dundee, Sept.. 1943 HMS Indefatigable (1944-46):

19 Mar 07 - RN Minewarfare Heritage - WWII Minelaying by Coastal Forces' Motor Launches
Don Cranefield is listed in the website's WWII Awards for RN Minelaying and has sent this correction to the entry for his senior officer's award:
"I served as a Sub Lt RNVR from 1942 to 1945 on MLs 181 and 488, part of the 8th ML Flotilla, and received a MID [Mention in Despatches] for service in operation Hostile [series of minelaying operations off the coast of NW Europe]. My CO was Lt Cdr Kemsley DSO who is, may I say, wrongly described as being with the 10th and not the 8th Flotilla. I would dearly love to know if any of my old shipmates are still alive!
Don Cranefield"
This is puzzling because the Official History of British Mining Operations 1939-1945 only mentions the 8th ML Flotilla, based at Milford Haven for the earlier part of the war, laying mines in the Mediterranean in June 1944. The Official History does state that ML 181 and ML 488 were in the 10th ML Flotilla and describes each mining operation in detail, including date, time, place, types and numbers of mines laid, forces (MLs) involved and any incidents that occurred during the operation. Most of these MLs were converted 110 ft Fairmile A or 112 ft Fairmile B motor launches. Vol I of the Official History (799 pages altogether) yields the following information about the origin and composition of the minelaying ML Flotillas, which I have compressed enormously:
10th ML Flotilla formed in early 1943 and placed under the orders of CinC Plymouth. This comprised the Fairmile 'B' MLs 157, 159, 179, 180, 181, 183, 184, 185, 186, 259 and 488. The flotilla conducted its first minelaying operation (Hostile 3 off Lannion) on 3rd/4th April 1943. On 27 November 1943, ML 488 collided with ML 179 while on passage to the minelaying area and both boats had to return to harbour, the latter in tow of ML 259. ML 183 sank after colliding with East Pier, Dieppe on 11 February 1945.

Operation Buttermilk
'Buttermilk' was a British naval undertaking to lay a deep anti-submarine minefield in the English Channel off Portsmouth (20 March/6 April 1945).
The largest ship involved was the coastal minelayer Plover, which was supported by the motor launches of the 10th, 50th and 52nd Motor Launch Flotillas.

Operation Maple (ii)
'Maple' (ii) was an Allied naval and air operation to clear German minefields and lay Allied minefields in support of the 'Neptune' (iii) and 'Overlord' invasion of north-western France (6 June 1944).
The operation’s objectives were to impede the movement of German light warships stationed inside the Channel; to impede the entry into the Channel by German naval forces situated in the Atlantic and North Sea; to force German naval forces moving toward the 'Neptune' (iii) area to follow a course to seaward of the extreme range of their own shore batteries and shore-based fighter cover in order that Allied surfaces forces would be free to intercept their progress; and to disrupt German shipping generally during the critical period, in order to reduce seaborne movement of reinforcements and supplies toward the battle area.
The mines were laid by ships and aircraft, including the cruiser minelayer Apollo, coastal minelayer Plover, the vessels of the 10th, 50th, 51st and 52nd Mine-Laying Flotillas, and the motor torpedo boats of the 9th, 13th, 14th, 21st, 22nd and 64th Motor Torpedo Boat Flotillas. In addition, mines were laid from the air by Avro Lancaster, Handley Page Halifax and Short Stirling heavy bombers of Nos 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 Groups of Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris’s RAF Bomber Command.


Ship Commanding Officer Allocation
Assault Phase Post Assault

10th M .L , FLotilla **
M.L.157 Ty. Lt. T, B. Givenlan, R.N.V.R..
M.L.159 Ty. Lt. B. D. Gerrans, R.N.V.R.
M.L.179 Ty. Lt. F. T. Haryey, R.N.V.R.
M.L.180 Ty. Lt. R. J. McCullagh, R.N.V.R.
M.L.181 Ty. Act. Lt.Com. H. T. Kemsley, R.N.V.R. (Senior Officer) Plymouth Plymouth
M.L.183 Ty. Lt. A. J. 'Wright, R.N.V.R.
M.L.184 Ty. Lt. R. W. A. Winter, R.N.V.R.
M.L.186 Lt. F. 0. S. Man, R.N.V.R.
M.L.259 Ty. Lt. H. W. E, Johnson, R.N.V.R.
M.L.488 Ty. Lt. I. H. L. King, R.N.V.R,
** Fitted as Minelayers.

Site Admin
Posts: 505
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm


Postby Admin » Mon Feb 05, 2024 10:04 am

Hello mlQ488

Thank you for your enquiry concerning your late father and ML 488, and welcome to the forum.

I don't have a copy of the minelaying operations referenced in the piece on Minewarfare Heritage web site, but I have copies of the Admiralty Diaries downloaded from the American Archives from which it's possible to glean basic details of the Operation Hostile missions, however they do not provide details of the actual complement of these different operations beyond a reference to the 10th ML Flotilla. I will email you if you don't mind with details of where you might download them from once I have them sorted. Added to this would be the need to know when your father joined ML 488. Do you have his service record by any chance, and could you supply us with his full name please?

Just to clear up a certain amount of confusion around Donald Cranefield. MLs 181 and 488 were definitely part of the 10th ML Flotilla and not the 8th, and whereas Donald Louis Cranefield is listed in Seedies Awards to Coastal Forces as having earned a Mention in Despatches for minelaying operations under ML 181, he does not appear from the Navy List to have been with any boat other than ML 488. Whether he was on a temporary secondment to ML 181 when he earned his award is uncertain.

Don Cranefield is listed in the Navy List as Temporary Acting Sub-Lieutenant at HMS Defiance III (Miscellaneous Services), Torpedo School Ship, Devonport as of 1.9.43, and then is Tempy Sub-Lieutenant for ML 488 as of 29 April, 1944, with Tempy Lieutenant I H L King as the Senior Officer. ML 181 was under the command of Tempy Lieutenant-Commander H T Kemsley, who is also given in the June 1944 Navy List as Senior Officer in command of the 10th ML Flotilla. Harold Thomas Kemsley was awarded the DSC and Bar to the DSC, not the DSO, and is listed under 10th ML Flotilla in Seedies. So all in all, there seems a fair amount of confusion around Don Cranefield's later recollections.

Beyond the reference to the minelaying flotillas on the aforementioned web site, which I already had on file, I don't have any other resources at this time being for any of the boats of the 10th ML Flotilla.


Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2024 7:02 am


Postby mlQ488 » Wed Feb 07, 2024 3:15 am

Hi Admin,
Thank you for your reply and information.
Unfortunately I don't have any records or dates for Dads service other than he served on Q488 as the front gunner.
His full name is Ronald James Driscoll, born on the 12th July 1924.
I have quite a few photos that I can scan and share with you, but I'm not sure how to post them.
I'm happy for you to contact me via email if you wish.
Regards Alan

Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2024 7:02 am


Postby mlQ488 » Fri Feb 23, 2024 5:34 am

Have found additional reference to ML488 and Opertation Hostile ... ying_B.htm

Joseph Cecil Back - D/JX129363
rank/rate - A/PO unit ML 488 date gazetted - 29 Aug 44 award - DSM

Minelaying - DSM awarded for bravery and undaunted devotion to duty in important and hazardous minelaying operations. Operation HOSTILE - NW coast of Europe.

Return to “Motor Launches”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests