ML 214

Motor Launches (ML), Harbour Defence Motor Launches (HDML) & Rescue Motor Launches (RML)
p baker
Seaman
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:20 pm

ML 214

Postby p baker » Wed Jul 15, 2020 6:38 pm

This is my first post and here goes...
I am tying to put together a book for my mum which describes my dad's service in the Royal Navy during WW2. I have his service record, an old photo album and some recollections of what he told my mum, but like most service personnel from that era, there isn't a lot.
His name is George Buchanan and he joined up on the 25th August 1941 and did his training at Gravesend. On the 29th November 1941 he went from Pembroke to the Calpe and was part of the Dieppe raid, where on 19th August 1942, he was badly wounded and spent 3 months in hospital. In October 42 he is at the Coastal Forces Base Wildfire and finds himself on board the paddle steamer Golden Eagle.In January 43 he goes to officer training at King Alfred but doesn't make the grade(which I have never been able to understand, but I did love him a lot). He then spends 5/6 months at Victory and Pembroke and there is no clue to what he was doing. In Feb 43 he is sent to St Christopher in Fort William which is the coastal forces training base. On 19 May 43 he finally gets ML 214 and spends until September 44 presumably on the south coast. At some point he becomes coxswain. The only thing he told my mum about this time was that he once had to go into the coastal waters of France to pick up documents from the resistance. He never mentioned D Day but I assume he must have been there. In October 44 he and ML 214 are in Ceylon. I have a map which he drew of his journey and several photos of him on the little ship. He told my mum he was going round islands picking up POWs but I have a photo of him and some others of the crew guarding Japanese soldiers. He also picked up some Australian nurses who had been held prisoner and badly abused. My dad never really got over that exerience. Amongst his photos there is one of a French hospital ship moored in a harbour. In October 45 he transferred to ML 193 and on 23 Dec he was back at Pembroke. He was demobbed in May 46.
I have searched dozens of websites but can find no specific mention of ML 214 or how it ended up in Ceylon doing the job it was doing.
I would be extremely grateful if anybody could fill in the gaps and suggest what he might have been doing, both in Ceylon and in the channel. I am surprised that information about the little ships isn't more widely available.
I apologise if I have gone on a bit and hope that somebody can help. Thank you.

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 422
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: ML 214

Postby Admin » Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:25 pm

Hello and welcome to the forum

ML 214 was part of the 11th ML Flotilla attached to the Western Task Force on D-Day, and Force 'O' which was the American sector and Omaha Beach. The other boats in the flotilla were: 118, 153, 163, 187, 189, 194, 230, 304, 448 and 907. ML 214 was under the command of Temp Lt H E Riddle RNVR. HDMLs 1383 and 1387 were also attached to the flotilla during D-Day. There are two informative articles on the 11th ML Flotilla in the former Coastal Forces Veterans Association newsletters which I have scanned and have yet to proofread before placing them online for you to see later. Your father's boat was eventually sold at Singapore in 1947, which is where it obviously ended up, and where it no doubt sailed to at an earlier point, which is where I suspect the Japanese come into the picture, rather than Ceylon, which held a large Joint Services base as part of the build up of forces for the invasion of Japan, prior to the deployment of the atom bomb.

I will provide you as more details later

Regards
Admin

p baker
Seaman
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:20 pm

Re: ML 214

Postby p baker » Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:13 pm

Just had another look at my dads map and I think he was heading for Singapore. Lines are a bit faint and I missed it. Also his service record shows HMS Lanka and that threw me a bit in the direction of Sri Lanka. Thanks for your help.

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 422
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: ML 214

Postby Admin » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:55 am

Here are some items from the former CFVA newsletters which reference the boats of the 11th ML Flotilla. I have not read, nor indeed seen a copy of Searle’s book At Sea Level, which sounds like a useful volume to get hold of. There is obviously some discrepancy with the account Searle gives as Senior Officer of the 11th ML Flotilla with the boat numbers I provided above, which are drawn from Operation Neptune: The D-Day Landings! 6 June 1944 edited by Tim Benbow as part of a Naval Staff Histories of the Second World War.

The records shown in this book derive from Admiralty documents on the subject held at the Public Record Office (PRO) at Kew. The Admiralty records are often plans drawn up by the Admiralty in advance of proceedings and as such can form more of a statement of intent than a precise record of what actually happened on the day, as amongst other things, damage to, or even loss of a boat in days prior to an event, can lead to a change in arrangements. So I would tend to go with G W Searle’s account here, whose boat 490, along with 190, are shown by Benbow as for the 14th ML Flotilla, but which must have been added to the 11th at some point, with Searle in overall command of the flotilla. Just to add to the complication, 347 and 297 as given by Searle are not shown by Benbow for the 11th or the 14th ML Flotillas. 297 is shown as the 20th, and 347 as the 7th ML Flotilla.

One of the articles details the later splitting of the flotilla with 214 joining the 34th ML for Far Eastern Service after being equipped with heavier armament to make it into what is sometimes called a ML Gunboat. The Admiralty took a decision to only deploy Motor Launches and Harbour Defence Motor Launches in the Far Eastern campaign because of the maintenance demands of the larger Fairmile 'D' MGBs and MTBs, hence the reason for up-gunning the MLs.

It would appear 214 was one of those MLs which made its way to Sri Lanka (Ceylon) by sea rather than being shipped, which presumably entailed a voyage to Gibraltar, then down and around the coast of Africa to Simonstown, before rounding the Cape into the Indian Ocean and Sri Lanka. HMS Lanka was the large transit camp there.

Navigational MLs on D-Day
11th ML Flotilla
What Happened to Them?
Your Queries Answered
Coastal Forces' Role at the Invasion
11th ML Flotilla 1944-45
Navigational MLs on D-Day
Last edited by Admin on Thu Jul 16, 2020 7:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Added an additional link

p baker
Seaman
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:20 pm

Re: ML 214

Postby p baker » Thu Jul 16, 2020 3:52 pm

Thank you so much for all this information. My dad's ML obviously left the 11th and joined the 34th flotilla for duties in the Far East which I gather was under US control. My dad travelled via the Suez Canal, according to his map and photographs. What I can't discover is whether 214 was a part of the Normandy landings. In one of the articles you attached there is mention of some of the 11th proceeding to Omaha so I'm assuming not all of the little ships went.
Does anyone know if 214 was part of the landings, or is there any way to find out. Also does anyone have any information on what the 34th flotilla was doing in the far east. If anyone is interested I can attach some of his photographs, there are quite a lot, not all with titles. Thank you again for all help.

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 422
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: ML 214

Postby Admin » Thu Jul 16, 2020 4:19 pm

I would say it was undoubtedly part of the landings as it was always been part of the 11th ML Flotilla historically. HDML 1387 which was attached to Force ‘O’ is in fact the preserved Medusa which functioned as a Channel marker. The channels to each beachhead were set someways out and you had to enter the correct one to arrive at your designated beach, and Utah and Omaha are quite a bit apart, so if the 11th was earmarked for Omaha then I imagine that would be where 214 ended up.

I believe the better documented Fairmiles in the Far East were those of the 13th & 14th ML Flotillas, which were involved in fighting the Japanese in Burma, whilst others may only have been involved in mopping up exercises after the Japanese surrender, so it would be a question of when the 34th arrived at Singapore.

I would appreciate you sending copies of all the photos you have if you wouldn’t mind scanning them in colour mode and at 600 dpi and then saving the resultant files as TIFF rather than JPEG, as TIFF is a better archival format. You may also post them here too but that will require versions saved as jpeg.

I will have a look for anything else I can dig up a out the Fairmiles out east.

Regards
Admin

p baker
Seaman
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:20 pm

Re: ML 214

Postby p baker » Thu Jul 16, 2020 4:45 pm

I have just spoken to my brother who has dad's medals and he says there is a Burma Star as well as an Atlantic Star. He's gone to check in the loft. My dad sailed from Milford Haven and arrived at HMS Lanka on 23 Oct 44 until 22 Dec 45. So he could have been in Singapore from the start, there's no real way to know as there are no dates on his photos. The last two months under Lanka he was on ML193. I will put the photos up but first I,ll have to go to the copy shop. My scanner is temporarily, I hope, not working.

p baker
Seaman
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:20 pm

Re: ML 214

Postby p baker » Thu Jul 16, 2020 5:14 pm

Just spoken to my mum who has for years said that my dad didnt take part in DDay and she has just said to me, "Of course your dad was there, he led the Americans into Omaha!" So my previous question about where 214 was on D Day has been answered. Parents!

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 422
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: ML 214

Postby Admin » Fri Jul 17, 2020 11:01 am

The Red List for Minor War Vessels Abroad, dated 13th December 1944, gives the 34th ML Flotilla, which are all fitted out as Gunboats, as MLs 187, 189, 193, 194, 214, 230, 245, 907 and 923. MLs 187, 189, 193 & 923 at this point are shown as arrived Aden for O/R to Colombo. 194, 214 & 230 are on passage to Aden O/R to Colombo, and 907 is still back at Brightlingsea equipping. All are shown as on Lanka's books for accounting purposes, which is what would appear on a service record for this time.

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 422
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: ML 214

Postby Admin » Sat Jul 18, 2020 12:23 am

Ken Joyce who served on ML 269 as part of the 14th ML Flotilla in Arakan, followed a similar trajectory from D-Day onwards to that of ML 214, and is shown as being on passage to Aden at the same time as elements of the 34th ML Flotilla, who may even have been sailing together. He corresponded with me some years back and sent me materials he had written on the campaign in the Far East, which I had already digitised for a previous correspondent, so I will email those to the address you supplied, if you care to look out for them.

Admin

p baker
Seaman
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:20 pm

Re: ML 214

Postby p baker » Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:29 am

Many thanks for all the effort and care you have given to help me. There is a lot of information to digest and, as you say the journey described from Milford Haven to the far east is almost the same one as mapped by my dad. I have had the photo album pages scanned in both Tiff and Jpeg format and the quality is not very good. How do I get them to you? I managed to get a copy of G W Searle's book from Amazon so thank you for that information. I'm sitting at my laptop surrounded by papers and photos and trying to piece together my days wartime story. I know so much more now than I did a few days ago and can't thank you enough for your help.

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 422
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: ML 214

Postby Admin » Sat Jul 18, 2020 3:21 pm

I'm glad you found the information useful. If you could try sending the files (a few a time is needs be) to the info@cfv.org.uk address I'd be grateful. If you run into issues with files sizes, and you have a Google Drive, iCloud, or Dropbox account, you could use that, and then email me a link.

Admin


Return to “Motor Launches”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests

cron