Written by: Joseph Whelan
With reference to recent queries involving the 11th ML Flotilla, may I offer my two-pennies worth?, writes Joseph Whelan, member 2704.
Together with the rest of the crew of our paid-off M.G.B., I had boarded the train at Weymouth en route to Hornet and had no sooner settled when I was hauled off by two N.P.'s and taken, apprehensively, to the N.O.I.C., Portland.
"Sorry about this Whelan", he said, "but I want you for a boat out there, ML 448." The following day, Friday, 2nd June, we arrived in Poole and tied up alongside the rest of the 11th Flotilla. From Poole we sailed as one of the navigation leaders for D-Day Omaha beach.
We had various duties including running despatches to Whale Island and escort duties back to the beaches. There was, as yet, a few untold stories during this period including the great four-day storm. Later, in August, we sailed for Great Yarmouth where we were given special training for police duties up the Rhine. However, with the failure of Arnhem, the Flotilla after Walcheren was based at Ostend and berthed alongside the Ferry terminal.
A winter of hard work in the Scheldt Estuary followed consisting of six days patrols, one day off, one day stand-by.
In February, 448 was badly damaged and we returned eventually to England for repairs and leave (Ha, ha). We had no sooner arrived and tied up by Dolphin when the drafting P.O. from Hornet came aboard and said “I’m sorry about this Whelan, but..!!!” That was my farewell to 448 and the 11th Flotilla, a relationship I will always remember. I have only related the ‘bare bones’ for information, but there were so many incidents of a fantastic period of my service. Notes in answer to queries:
(Anybody got a photograph?), side exhausts were ﬁtted occasioning near fatal results for our navigational officer!
It was with sadness that I heard of the death of Commander Don Bradford, The last time I saw him was early 1945 when he had just been made Commander and on his arrival at Ostend, I assisted with some of his gear and we walked chatting to his hotel.
J Whelan, member 2704.
CFVA News: Edition: December 1995 Volume: 84 Page: 39