A Loire dawn


At seven o’clock this morning, I was standing in bare feet in the bedewed grass, listening to the village church clock strike the hour. It was just before dawn and the sky was hinting at the glory of the day to come.

As I listened, the bell struck a further pattern of three bells thrice, and then tolled irregularly and continually for a minute or so, presumably to call the first mass of the weekend.


The mist in the valley hints at a hot one today, and we’re off to Chenonceau this morning before it gets into the 30s, so we can simply laze this afternoon.

After a few minutes, the sun came up.


And all the dogs in the village began to bark.

HMS Mendip (L60)

On which Lawrence Mackie served from September 1944.


This photograph of HMS Mendip moored is by a Royal Navy official photographer – This is photograph FL 15174 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.

From Wikipedia:

HMS Mendip (L60) was a Hunt-class destroyer of the Royal Navy. She was a member of the first subgroup of the class. The ship is notable for seeing service in the navies of three other nations after her use by the Royal Navy. She saw service in the Second World War and later as an Egyptian Navy ship in the Suez Crisis. She was captured in battle on 31 October 1956 by the Israeli Navy and re-commissioned as INS Haifa (K-38).

HMS Mendip was named after the fox-hunt on the Mendip Hills in Somerset, which form the northern skyline seen from the family’s post-war home in the village of Mark.

www.naval-history.net provides the following photograph of, and chronology for HMS Mendip during the period that Lawrence served on her:



July to September  Under refit.

October       Post refit trials.

29th    On completion of sea trials took passage to Clyde are for calibration of D/F equipment and prepare for work-up.

November    Passage to Scapa Flow to work-up with ships of Home Fleet.

15th    Over ran mooring buoy at Scapa Flow during work-up with damage to both screws and underwater detection equipment Dome.

16th    Docking delayed by weather conditions.

18th    Repair in Floating Dock commenced.

24th    On completion of replacement of both screws undocked and took passage to Sheerness to resume Flotilla duties.

26th    Rejoined 21st Destroyer Flotilla at Sheerness. Nominated for escort of military convoys to Antwerp as part of Nore Local Escort Force. (Note: Port was not opened until 28th after the Scheldt Estuary had been cleared of mines (Operation CALENDAR)

28th    Deployed with HMS GARTH for escort of military convoys and patrol in Nore area.

December    Nore Local Escort Force deployment in continuation.Escorted military convoys to and from Antwerp and carried out patrols in Thames Estuary and southern North Sea.



Military convoys to and from Antwerp and commercial North Sea convoy escort in continuation. (Note: Patrols for interception of SCHNORKEL fitted submarines enemy minelaying craft were increased, In addition Atlantic convoys to London were being routed through English Channel after the allied advance in NW Europe.)

21st    Sustained underwater damage when ship ran aground

23rd    Under repair to underwater fittings by HM Dockyard Chatham


13th    Resumed duties in Nore Local Flotilla on completion of repair work.

21st    In action with HMS GARTH and Motor Gunboats of Coastal Forces against E-Boats attacking North Sera convoy near Hearty Knoll LV. (Note: Free French Destroyer LA COMBATTANTE (Ex HM Destroyer HALDON, a Type II HUNT Class) was lost in an adjacent area on 23rd, either by mine or E-Boat attack.)


Nore Local Flotilla duties for escort and patrol in continuation.


Military and commercial convoy escort in continuation.

12th    New Commanding Officer, Lieutenant L E Blackmore joined ship.


Escort deployment continued after VE Day for military convoys and Nore Command to June requirements with Local Flotilla.


Nominated for duty in Clyde for destruction of surrendered U-Boats (Operation DEADLIGHT) Took passage to Greenock for DEADLIGHT duties.


Deployed in Clyde area.*

Post-war Notes

HMS MENDIP was deployed for tow of U-Boats during DEADLIGHT until January 1946 when the ship returned to Sheerness to prepare for Paying off.

* This does not correspond with Lawrence’s letters from the ship at the time, which make reference to lying-up in Harwich on the 4th August and passages to Germany and Rotterdam in the latter part of the month of August and to Antwerp in September 1945.

HMS ML 246

On which Lawrence Mackie served from March to September 1944. He was in action on D Day off Juno Beach in support of British invasion forces.


The photograph is of a sister motor launch, HMS ML 303 during the invasion of Normandy on D Day. Hampton, J A (Lt) Royal Navy official photographer- Imperial War Museum Collections Search A 23877.

From Wikipedia:

The Fairmile B motor launch was a type of motor launch built by British boatbuilder Fairmile Marine during the Second World War for the Royal Navy for coastal operations.

HMS ML 246 was built at Sheerness Dockyard and commissioned in July 1941, when she entered service with the Free French Navy. She returned to the Royal Navy in August 1942. The Coastal Forces Veterans Forum provides the following service history for ML 246:

Wartime Activities

7/41 Free French = St Ives
1/7/41 20th ML Flotilla assembling at Portland
ML 123, ML 192, ML 245, ML 246, ML 247, ML 262, ML 267 and ML 268
2nd Division 20th ML Flotilla (Based on Portsmouth)
Convoy escort in English Channel
4/42 20th ML Flotilla (Based on Weymouth)
Convoy escort, patrols and Air Sea Rescue
8/42 Returned to Royal Navy Crew transferred to 23rd MTB Flotilla (Free French)
19/8/42 Operation Jubilee – Raid on Dieppe
SGB 5 (Grey Owl) ,SGB 9
MGB 50, MGB 51, MGB 312, MGB 315, MGB 316, MGB 317,MGB 320, MGB 321, MGB 323, MGB 326
ML 120, ML 123, ML 189, ML 190, ML 193,ML 194, ML 230, ML 246, ML 292, ML 309, ML 343, ML 344, ML 346, RML 513
6/44 Operation Neptune Invasion of Normandy
20th ML Flotilla Based on Portsmouth
Operation Neptune – Invasion of Normandy
ML 123, ML 146, ML 147, ML 151, ML 198, ML 205, ML 246, ML 247, ML 269, ML 297, ML 902 and ML 903
Navigation Leaders at Juno Beach
14th ML Flotilla

Post War Fate

11/45 Burma RNVR
1/46 For disposal