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ML 356, 549 and 256

Posted: Mon May 17, 2021 5:43 pm
by Lee
Hi, I have been writing up my father's war time record and experiences and wanted to share some info and also provide some photos. I would also like to ask a few questions about where to get any further information.
His posting to Coastal Forces came in October 1941 having passed a Board. (His first year in the RNVR was on HMS Hood and he was one of the "Lucky 13" taken off 5 days before she was sunk).
He joined ML 346, as 1st Lt under Alec Fear and they were involved in the Dieppe Raid, about which he has written quite a detailed account. They took commandos into Yellow 1 Beach at Berneval and were surprised by a German convoy. Both he and Alec Fear were mentioned in Despatches for this. I believe they were part of the 23rd Flotilla and would like to know how the flotillas worked. I have the original coast line photos used to identify all the beaches. Would they be of interest?
ML549 crew 1944 at Greenock.jpg
ML548&549 at Thorshavn in Sept 1943 - ships birthday.jpg
After Dieppe he was given command of ML 549 and for at least part of this time his crew were
Brooks -his Sparks
Beech - his coxswain
Mark Wanklin - his1st Lt
I know that they were off Omaha Beach on D Day but not sure what their role was.
I have several messages, one of which says that "RML 549 will take RML 548, HMS "Elfin", Sedulous, Reflect, Doonie Braes and Tweenways under his orders and be in position etc etc....." This was for a sleeve target test. Do these names refer to other MLs?
He went to Freetown in Sierra Leone on ML256 in 1945, I think to decommission her.
I have attached the following photos and would love to hear from anyone else who is connected to these MLs
A photo of the crew of 549(taken at Greenock - "ammunitioning prior to going to Plymouth for the invasion" taken in March 1944
A photo of ML 548 and 549 taken at Thorshavn in the Faroes in Sep 1943 - the ships first birthday - hence the flags

Re: ML 356, 549 and 256

Posted: Tue May 18, 2021 10:37 am
by Admin
Hello 'Lee'

Welcome to the forum and thank you for the photos.

The Navy List for June 1944 lists Sedulous with Chief Skipper D Main RNR, and also lists Doonie Brae with Skipper H A Hodds RNR. Reflect and Tweenways are also listed but have no officers shown. One reference on the web states Doonie Brae was a Minesweeping Trawler, so it’s possible the others were too. Elfin was a shore base for submarines at Blyth, and Elfin II the Coastal Forces base.

ML 256 is shown in the July 1945 Navy List as having Temp Sub Lieutenant V. H. Ambler along with your father. This boat was part of the 17th ML Flotilla and had been on station with the rest of the flotilla at Takoradi by March 1942, so it's likely your father would have booked passage on another ship and joined the boat at Freetown.

The situation with regards to ML 356 [Edit: Boat details now ammended above] is a little bit confused. That boat appears to have been built by the Anglo American Nile Tourist Company, Cairo, and was presumably based in the Mediterranean theatre. The 23rd ML Flotilla is known to have comprised MLs 291, 309, 343, 344, 346 and 464, and one source I have states Lt Alex D Fear was Commanding Officer of ML 346 which was at Dieppe. Other MLs recorded for Dieppe were 291, 292, 309, 343 and 344, all of the 23rd, along with elements of the 2nd, 4th, 11th and 20th ML Flotillas.

I'll drop you an email if you don't mind as I would be very interested in the materials you have collated about the Dieppe Raid.


Re: ML 346, 549 and 256

Posted: Tue Jun 01, 2021 1:53 pm
by Lee
Thank you for your reply. My apologies, he was on ML 346 with Alec Fear - my mistake. Are you able to alter my post?
Please feel free to email me. I am happy to share any info I have which might be of interest. Do I need to message you with my email or do you have it?
Best wishes

Re: ML 356, 549 and 256

Posted: Tue Jun 01, 2021 4:29 pm
by Admin

Yes I have the email you used to sign up, so I will write to you at that and make the correction for you.


Re: ML 356, 549 and 256

Posted: Mon Jun 21, 2021 1:49 pm
by LucasFS
Hi both,
I am Alec Fear's grandson - I have quite a few photos of ML346/crew, etc. Would very much like to swap them and old stories!
Best wishes,

Re: ML 356, 549 and 256

Posted: Mon Jun 21, 2021 2:01 pm
by Admin
Hello Lucas

Welcome to the forum. I'll look forward to learning what materials you have in your possession, which I'm sure will help add to the story here.