|MFV armed with anti-aircraft lewis guns
|A typical example of a Motor Minesweeper (MMS)
I reported to HMS Glendower and did 3 months training before being drafted to a DEMS (Defensively Equipped Merchant Ship) based at Liverpool where it was cancelled and I was to report to HMS Europa at Lowestoft. My first draft was to MFV. from Hull to Greenock when we had a close encounter with the"Queen Mary" while steaming at night, when we found that our engine had been sabotaged. Re-choked inlet pipes to main engine and developed a cracked cylinder. The manufacturer’s men had to refit it at Hartlepool. We then continued to sail up the East Coast to Inverness and went through the Caledonian Canal, via Loch Ness and Loch Lochie, eventually arriving on the West Coast of Scotland passing Fort William. We then sailed south to Greenock where the Shipyard mateys came on board and stripped the mast and monkey-bridge, to use the M.F.V. as a liberty boat for the aircraft carriers.
I was then discharged back to Lowestoft for General duties until being drafted to the Far East and didn’t get any ‘leave’ on the run up to ‘D-Day.
"Sweeping, sweeping and all the time, sweeping!"
On arrival in Colombo, I was (a raw recruit placed on guard in the Jungle). From here I was then drafted to MMS 199 where I met two ‘Scousers’. After a few days we then joined the Flotilla and I found 2 townies, (whom today I see every week at the meeting in the RNA Wallasey Branch).
My stay on board MMS 199 was sweeping into Akyab, then down to Ramree Island, Andamun Island, and Port Sweetham and on to Singapore, Sweeping, sweeping and all the time, sweeping. We then went ‘Cha-ung Hopping’ and could only moor up by tying to trees each side of the ship. One day while we were tied up, an Indian sloop flashed to suggest that we move as hostile guns were ranging on us. For some considerable time after that we were sweeping to Port Sweetham, then into Singapore, then away to South India and then back to Singapore to ‘pay off’..
Whilst in Singapore at HMS Sultan, I met my father and spent a week on leave with him on his ship, a Naval Supply ship. I then left HMS Sultan for England and sailed through the Suez Canal on an L.S.T. where I met my sister at the Bitter lakes. She was serving with the A.T.S. and spent the day with her at her camp. After leaving her camp, I was told to get a lift from the Military Police, so I waited at the roadside and was picked up by an army truck and to my horror, I found that it was going the wrong way, it was going to a POW camp. I got out and made further enquiries from the MP and was given a lift to the station and was told by the driver that it was the last train to Port Said. I ran across the station, over the railway lines and jumped in, on the off side of the carriage as the train pulled out. I got back to the ship on time and sailed next day for home. When we eventually arrived in Portsmouth, I was posted to Lowestoft for two days before being drafted to HMS Sanderling and was demobed from there.
The RNPSA at Wallasey
I joined the Royal Naval Association in Wallasey and I am a founder member of the Royal Naval Patrol Service Association, ‘Merseyside Branch’.Here I met Sid Pugh, a shipmate from our flotilla, also Eric Ross who was on board MMS 199 and Wally Wilkie who was the engineer on board MMS 199, who is now deceased. The few of us go together and advertised in the local paper for ex-RNPS personnel from our local area to get in touch with us. From then on, the RNPSA Merseyside branch was formed. Then John Shea, a cook on MMS 199, got in contact with me and we met up. Following this we received contact with more shipmates at the reunion held in Lowestoft each year, which a few of us attend. This year (2000) is now our 25th anniversary reunion.
At the first reunion I attended, I did not recognise some shipmates until the old photograph album was shown and from this, we picked each other out. Alex Woods, Ron Whittaker, Ivor Williams and myself as we had all changed in appearance over the years. We were also in touch with Bill Dunphy, a New-Foundland rating from MMS 199 until he passed the bar. Then we got in touch with Norman Reeves from MMS 199 and made arrangements to take Eric Ross, who was a friend of Norman Reeves, to spend a day in Blackpool. A very enjoyable time was had by all and brought back many memories of our time in the Patrol Service. Soon after this, Alf Forshaw joined us who was on another flotilla and one of our 'townies' and became our Secretary.
So far, I have met up with six shipmates and three flotilla shipmates, but alas, we are not all here now to tell a tale or two.
Don Gilchrist 2000