Sword Beach Navigational Leader - ML197

Motor Launches (ML), Harbour Defence Motor Launches (HDML) & Rescue Motor Launches (RML)
PPARKER
Seaman
Posts: 2
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
Site Admin
Posts: 350
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

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 2453 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.

Admin

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 350
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

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
Posts: 80
Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:06 pm

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
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:36 am

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
Site Admin
Posts: 350
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

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.


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