I have received permission from my cousin Peter H Mackie to re-publish his father’s naval letters and they are attached here (pdf, 1283kb).
The best introduction to them is from Peter himself:
The letters in this collection were written by Lawrence Mackie, George’s brother, during the Second World War. Lawrence enlisted with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, and after basic training and gaining his Commission he saw active service on a Motor Launch and Destroyer and took part in the D Day operations in Normandy.
The letters were passed from Lawrence’s parents to my mother Elizabeth, and I have tried to sort and transcribe them in chronological order. This has not always been easy because some of the letters are undated and the writing has become illegible in places. Nevertheless they give a detailed account of naval life during those years, with full and sometimes very frank descriptions of their activities.
After the war Lawrence returned to his medical training at St John’s College, Oxford, and then entered general practice in Warwickshire.
Peter H Mackie
From reading these letters, it is clear that they provide more information on the activities of some of the vessels involved than is otherwise readily-obtainable on the web. However, there is additional information about the various ships and their careers which complements the narratives from Lawrence. I have extracted a brief list of the ships he served on from the letters and approximate dates he joined them as follows:
- January 1941 – HMS Eclipse
- April 1941 – Ashore (HMS Eclipse under refit)
- July 1941 – HMS ML 305
- March 1944 – HMS ML 246
- September 1944 – HMS Mendip
I’ll add some separate posts about each of these ships and their recorded careers during the time that Lawrence served on them.
I remember my Uncle Lawrence as a tall, generous man living in a pleasant house in the village of Wellesbourne in Warwickshire where we would occasionally visit him. He was always interested in the natural world around him and, if my memory serves me correctly, kept bees. His interest in and love of campanology is continued by his daughter. When I read these letters, I get a insight into a young man, with all a young man’s ambitions, desires and uncertainties in a time of extraordinary existential crisis. They also provide insights into the grandfather I never knew and the grandmother I only knew when I was a young boy. I am very grateful to Peter for sharing these letters and adding to the family archives.