I've just realised where I probably heard about the minesweeping in the Seine that I referred to in your thread on ML 207, and that is in part four of the sound recording made by the IWM of William Arthur Gostling
as I recognise my own note for ML 206 referenced earlier in this thread, which mentions it.
Thank you for the link to Arthur Goslings voice recording at the Imperial War Museum. I found the recording fascinating and it was fabulous to hear an account of some of the events the flotilla experienced from one of my father’s comrades – I just wish tape had been longer! The recording also confirmed a number of details contained in my father’s writings, including operations at Kristiansand Norway and minesweeping on the River Seine. In addition, it explained the background of how the second officer of ML 206 was killed by shrapnel whilst at a home port. My father told me about this incident but haddn't included it in his writtings. It occured just before he joined the ML207 and the 1st ML flotilla but the crew told him about it.
Like Arthur Gosling, my father also records the danger of the Seine’s tidal bore. On one occasion, he was returning from a short spell of shore leave with other members of ML 207’S starboard watch, when the group heard panicked shouts though the trees in the direction of the Ship. Not knowing what was happening they ran towards noise only to find that the ML had left the jetty and was now mid river and at action stations. At first, the starboard watch thought the ship was under attack but learned later that the emergency had resulted from the river’s tidal bore. The powerful wave hit the tethered ML unexpectedly and came close to wrecking it. Only quick action by the crew averted disaster. They managed to free the moorings, start the engines and get the ship pointing down river.
At one point in the recording, Arthur Gosling says they had to catch up with the rest of the flotilla who were already at Kristiansand in Norway. He explains that ML 206 had been undergoing a refit and so the other ships had departed ahead of them.
In one of my father’s photograph albums, he has written ‘Kristiansand, May 1945’ under some of the photographs, which helps to put a time on the flotilla’s deployment. In his writings, he also says that the ML helped to transport, what he describes as, a small number of ‘combined operations’ personnel to the port. He adds that their passengers complained like hell about the cramped conditions and were also ill during the journey due to and rough seas - I take it that group were involved in helping to co-ordinate the surrender of German forces in some way. My father says they couldn’t wait to get off the ship and vowed never to travel on an ML again!
Whilst at Kristiansand, unlike Arthur Gosling, my father says that the Norwegians were friendly but the crew was a bit wary of them, at least at first – there had been many German collaborators in Norway during the war. My father mentions one man in particular who came to the ship to greet them and claimed to be a member of the resistance. The crew chatted to him but also treated him with more than a bit of suspicion. At one point, whist he was talking to the crew, the man asked if he could buy some cigarettes. My father ended up giving him a carton and refused the man’s repeated offers of payment.
Anyway, as it turned out, the man was a member of the resistance and had been involved in printing and distributing newssheets. He ended showing some of the crew a cleverly hidden printing press on which he had produced the sheets. Later, before the ship left for Denmark, he also presented my father with a German Naval Officer’s Dagger, which he had acquired, saying that it was in return for my father’s kindness in giving him the cigarettes when they first met. I still have the dagger and have attached a photograph of it. I suppose there must have been a lot of these about at the end of the war and I have read that German officers were using them as currency or were discarding them in an attempt to distance themselves from the Nazi regime. Originally, the scabbard of the one given to my father was highly gilded. Sadly, his sister couldn’t stop polishing it and eventually her constant cleaning wore away most of the gold plate. I also think I have a photograph of the man who gave the dagger to my father, though I can’t be sure because it is amongst some lose photographs and isn’t titled. However, I have a recollection that my father told me that the image was of the man who gave him the dagger in Kristiansand.
One thing that Arthur Gosling doesn’t talk about is the little French girl who the crew of an ML used to feed and that you mentioned. Is there another recording or perhaps an article that refers to this? If so, perhaps you can let me have the link or a copy.
Arthur Gosling’s recording also refers to ML 206’s commanding officer Harry Leslie. At one point, he talks about the officer coordinating the retrieval of a new type of mine whilst they were sweeping the Seine. According to the Royal Navy Lists of the time, which I have been looking through recently, It appears that Harry Leslie had left ML 206 and was already commanding a flotilla in the Far East when this happened. In your experience, are the Navy Lists accurate? The reason I ask is that I also have a similar discrepancy regarding when different commanders were actually in charge of ML 207.