ML 119

Motor Launches (ML), Harbour Defence Motor Launches (HDML) & Rescue Motor Launches (RML)
IanSyl
Seaman
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2021 7:28 pm

ML 119

Postby IanSyl » Tue Feb 23, 2021 7:47 pm

Hi,I am doing some research on my late father's WW2 experiences on behalf of the rest of the family. Harold Sylvester was from Grimsby and died in 1984. He was trained in signalling during his initial RN training at HMS Royal Arthur. From his Class No216,I believe this to be 1941/42.

I can only find reference to ML119 from his photos showing HMML119 on his goalkeeping jersey although I suspect that this was used for both military and leisure ware. Was it usual for service personnel to just stay on one vessel or where they moved around as required?

When alive he was a keen supporter of Coastal Forces Association although rarely spoke about his war experiences.

Can anyone please point me in the right direction for finding out more details of how he spent his war years. Thanks.

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 433
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: ML 119

Postby Admin » Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:52 pm

Hello Ian

Thank you for your enquiry concerning your father Harold Sylvester. The December 1981 edition of the former Coastal Forces Veterans Association newsletter shows him as a new member, with the membership number of 799. The brief details of his service supplied show him as having served with ML 147 and 152, which were both members of the 6th ML Flotilla known at various times to have been based at Lowestoft and later Harwich. In addition he shown as having served with ML 119 which was part of the 2nd ML Flotilla known to have been based at HMS Hornet at Gosport. Hornet was the principal Coastal Forces base. He is also shown for ML 919 which was part of the 19th ML Flotilla which was comprised of minesweeping motor launches known to have been involved in operations in the Scheldt during which ML 916 was lost (article). It's possible 919 had been a replacement for this boat. There are no timeframes given for his service with these boats. I will look later to see if they are any related sources for other boats in the flotillas since I have nothing specific on the four boats mentioned.

Regards
Admin

IanSyl
Seaman
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2021 7:28 pm

Re: ML 119

Postby IanSyl » Wed Feb 24, 2021 12:56 pm

Hi Admin
I'm amazed and grateful for your prompt reply and detail. Its like opening a box of chocolates and finding I have 3 more flavours to explore. We used to joke as children that whilst my father had plenty to say about hardships during WW2 he would never discuss his service experience. It was only after my Mum died that we found his signal card book (dated 1937) which he must have been given at HMS Royal Arthur and used every day during his service with Coastal Forces.
One thing I did find about ML119 was it was adopted by Chasetown during a Warship Week in 1942 and supposedly there is a plaque still in the local church.
I do appreciate that details are becoming more difficult to find but if anything else pops up then it will fill out the picture. Thanks Again.
Ian

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 433
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: ML 119

Postby Admin » Wed Feb 24, 2021 2:12 pm

Hello again Ian

If your father joined in 1937 then he would have been Regular Navy as opposed to Hostilities Only personnel, and may have joined up for twelve years?? A lot will depend on precise timeframes for his various postings, so if you do not have his copy of service record which would have been handed him on leaving the navy, you may be able to find out particulars of his service by applying to the Royal Naval Disclosure Cell.

That said MLs 147 and 152 were part of the 6th ML Flotilla which comprised 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151 and 152 with ML 146 as the Senior Officer of the flotilla's boat. There are some details here for ML 150 and also an account of events in the North Sea when ML150 rammed the German E-boat S 96.

There are also awards granted to certain personnel for all the boats your father served on which can be found using the Unit feature within the Awards to Coastal Forces Database. I do have some photographs and details relating to some of the personnel from other boats in the flotilla, but as previously mentioned, a clearer sense of the timeframe for your father with each of these flotillas would help.

Admin

IanSyl
Seaman
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2021 7:28 pm

Re: ML 119

Postby IanSyl » Wed Feb 24, 2021 5:24 pm

Hi Admin
Thank you. Hope I'm not misleading. His signals board book was printed in 1937. He could only have joined up in 1941 when he was 18. And I think he was out by 1945 or as soon as possible as his job was being kept open for him I will apply for his service records to see if that helps my research and will get back to you, if you dont mind.

It was a question about medals from family that started this research. As a schoolboy I can remember seeing medals but they've disappeared along the way. I will look in the Coastal forces database and also saw a link to MOD where, if you wait long enough, you can track his service.

I am humbled when I read some of the archive records about the bravery and sacrifice of these boys. I have a photograph of him doing some clothes washing in a bucket on board a boat and joking on the back of the photo that no matter what the colour they all go in the same bucket. What is humbling is he doesn't mention that he is washing beneath what looks like some sort of anti aircraft gun. Probably nothing at the time but pretty amazing all the same.

Sorry if I'm the umpteenth person wanting to track their Mother of Fathers service history but thank you for your help in filling in the gaps.

Best Wishes Ian

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 433
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: ML 119

Postby Admin » Thu Feb 25, 2021 4:10 pm

IanSyl wrote: Wed Feb 24, 2021 5:24 pm His signals board book was printed in 1937. He could only have joined up in 1941 when he was 18

Thanks for the clarification.

IanSyl wrote: Wed Feb 24, 2021 5:24 pmIt was a question about medals from family that started this research.

Depending on whether he saw any overseas service, they would likely be the standard war medals awarded to all, and the Atlantic Star for service in Home Waters. If while attached to the 19th ML Flotilla he was based at any point on the Continent between late 1944 and 1945, he could have been eligible for the France & Germany Star. His records from the Disclosure Service should reveal what he was given at the time, though eligibility for the France & Germany Star was not always picked up on by the authorities as the small number in Coastal Forces involved for a brief period has tended to be overlooked.

IanSyl wrote: Wed Feb 24, 2021 5:24 pmI have a photograph of him doing some clothes washing in a bucket on board a boat and joking on the back of the photo that no matter what the colour they all go in the same bucket. What is humbling is he doesn't mention that he is washing beneath what looks like some sort of anti aircraft gun. Probably nothing at the time but pretty amazing all the same.

May I email about acquiring scanned copies of these and also pass across any related stuff I have?

IanSyl wrote: Wed Feb 24, 2021 5:24 pm Sorry if I'm the umpteenth person wanting to track their Mother of Fathers service history but thank you for your help in filling in the gaps.

We’re always happy to help out relatives of those who served if we can.

Admin

IanSyl
Seaman
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2021 7:28 pm

Re: ML 119

Postby IanSyl » Fri Feb 26, 2021 9:23 am

Hi Admin

Thanks for your help with this. As I'm the next living next of kin, I've dug out a copy of his death certificate and will apply for my fathers service record from HMG. This will fill in the gaps.

I'm more than happy to share his photos with you and the forum, if it of interest or help to someone else. Shall I post them on this forum?

Thanks again.
Ian


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