Minesweeper 139 D-Day Operation Neptune

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Emanuel1940, May 6, 2014.

  1. Emanuel1940

    Emanuel1940 Member

    Hi everyone,

    I am looking for some help with regards to a specific Minesweeper which I believe was numbered 139 and commanded by Lt. William Bevis on D-Day. It may be the case that William was on another minesweeper but in 1943 he was CO of 139 so I am guessing that he was on 139 on D-Day but this may not be correct.

    I've looked in my books and on the net and can't find anything specific and was wondering if anyone has specialised knowledge about the minesweepers which took part in Operation Neptune? Is there a list of Commanding Officers for the minesweepers? or general list of crews for the minesweepers?

    I have William's memoir but it lacks specific details about his D-Day activities other than that he thinks his minesweeper nearly ran into HMS Warspite.

    Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks,

  2. Rattler

    Rattler Junior Member

    Hi Daniel,

    I know a little bit about minesweepers and will endeavour to answer your query as best as I can.

    The vessel that you refer to was Motor Minesweeper (MMS) 139 and I confirm that the Commanding Officer during the period of Operation Neptune was indeed Lt (Ty) Bill Bevis RNVR. (Ref. 1). He was the CO until October 1944.

    Including a reserve flotilla there were seven Motor Minesweeping Flotillas assigned to coastal inshore duties in the first days of Op. Neptune, each flotilla having 9-10 ships (Ref. 2). There were 3 flotillas assigned to cover the Omaha/Utah areas in the American sector, and 3 covering the Gold/Juno/Sword areas in the British/Canadian sector. The flotillas were:

    Motor Mine Sweeping (MMS) Flotillas – 101st, 102nd, 104th, 115th, 132nd, 143rd, and 205th; (Ref 3).

    Without more detailed research at this moment I cannot allocate the above flotillas to each sector - but can confirm that MMS139 was present (Ref. 4). If she almost ran into HMS Warspite, then it is most likely she was one of the two flotillas covering the approaches to Sword Beach in the Brit/Can. eastern sector where this famous battleship was one of the main bombarding warships.

    There is no general lists of crews for minesweepers. Minesweeper logs/flotilla records were, in the main, lost/chucked/destroyed/not retained by the Admiralty or Public Records Office after the period of the 1960s.


    1. U-boat.net
    2. Allied Minesweeping in World War 2: Peter Elliot; publ. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1979
    3. The Role of the Minesweepers in Operation Neptune 1944: David Verghese; MCDOA website, Dit box section.
    4. The D-Day Ships: John de S. Winser: Publ. World Ship Society, 1994

    I note that the author in Ref. 3 is giving a presentation on June 5th at the 'Gosport Discovery Centre, Hampshire D-Day commemoration event, entitled "Forgotten but Fundamental - the Role of the Minesweepers in Operation Neptune - June 1944".

  3. Emanuel1940

    Emanuel1940 Member

    Thank you so much Rattler that confirms the vital piece of info I needed, very much appreciated.

    All the best,

  4. Tempy. Lieut William Benjamin BEVIS, RNVR was indeed commanding MMS 139, and was Second Senior Officer in 115th M/S. Flotilla, which was part of Force 'S' and assigned as escort to ROBERTS, and was to remain with Bombarding Force 'D':
    (Short Title: ONEAST/S)


    (Note: + denotes qualified Officer).
    Name and Rank
    Embarked in Seniority

    + Tempy. Acting Lieut. S.O. 115th M/S.F. M.M/S. 29 1.11.41.
    Commander J.T. RIDD, (as Lt.)
    D.S.C., R.N.V.R.

    Tempy. Lieut. W.B. BEVIS, 2nd S.O. " M.M/S. 139 22.7.41.
    (Short Title : ON)
    ON 6.
    Instructions for Minesweeping
    Minesweeping Forces
    1. The following is the allocation of the minesweeping forces available. (For details of

    the composition of flotillas and groups see ON6, Appendix III.)

    Eastern Task Force

    115th M.S.F. (M.M.S.) .. .. .. .. .. Force S.
    143rd M.S.F. (M.M.S.) .. .. .. .. ..
    Force S.
    Western Task Force
    104th M.S.F. (M.M.S.) .. .. .. .. .. Force O.
    132nd M.S.F. (M.M.S.).. .. .. .. .. Force U.
    Allied Naval Commander-in-Chief's Reserve
    2. In addition to the above the following will be immediately available :–
    101st M.S.F. (M.M.S.) For special duty with MULBERRIES.
    102nd M.S.F. (M.M.S.) ) Will escort on D Day and will then be available to relieve
    205th M.S.F. (M.M.S.) ) flotillas under Task Force Commanders

    Instructions for Minesweeping
    (Short Title : ONEAST 6)
    Sailing of Minesweeping Flotillas
    [1.] The Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth, is requested to sail–

    (d) 115th M.M.S. Flotilla so as to enter Channel 10 in Latitude 50° 00' 00'' N., as escort
    to H.M.S. ROBERTS (see ONEAST 8).
    Orders for M.M.S Flotillas

    28. The 115th M.M.S. Flotilla is to act directly under the orders of the Flag Officer
    Commanding, 2nd Cruiser Squadron, and will escort H.M.S. " ROBERTS " on passage through
    the Swept channel.
    ON 6.Instructions for Minesweepingcontinued
    Appendix III.–Composition of Flotillas and Groupscontinued
    115th M.S.F. will be composed of eight plus two spare ships, to be selected from the 115th M.S.F. and

    the 119th M.S.F.

    115th M.S.F. M.M.S. 6, 7, 22, 29, 30, 55, 139, 165, 205
    119th M.S.F. M.M.S. 49, 66, 91, 202, 204, 213, 220, 221

    (Short Title : ONEAST)
    Instructions to Eastern Naval Task Force before H Hour

    (Short Title : ONEAST 7)
    Appendix I
    Table of Sailing Signals
    3. (...)
    115th M.M.S. Flotilla from Dover will rendezvous with ROBERTS off Porstmouth.

    Instructions to Eastern Task Force Bombarding Forcescontinued
    (Short Title : ONEAST 8)
    Appendix V.Timing of Minesweepers and Bombarding Force D
    ROBERTS and 115th M.M.S.
    Enter Channel, H–
    5h 55m
    10 in. 50° N. 10 kts

    Pass Knuckle, H–3h 12m
    49° 34' N. ; Reduce to 9 kts
    00° 15' W.
    Note 2.–
    Rowley, Holmes and 115th M.M.S. Flotilla will remain with Bombarding Force D.
  5. Emanuel1940

    Emanuel1940 Member

    Thank you so much Michel that is fantastic. Very much appreciated.
  6. Part of my Post #4 above was missing, so I've edited it. It's now complete with all I could find on MMS 139 and the 115th MS Flotilla.

  7. chingoo

    chingoo Active Member


    Sorry to jump onto this thread, but a friend of mine is looking to find out about her father who was on minesweepers. Can you advise me on some good sources to help her find some information, please? Are you able to get War Diaries and Service Histories for them like you can for Army units?

    Many thanks,

    Small 512 likes this.
  8. Does your friend know on board which minesweeper(s) her father was? This would help since there were a few hundreds, if not thousands, of them :)

    Any detail as to his name, rank/position, flotilla and what not, might also help.

    The info in my post above is from the ONEAST orders, a 3562-page document available on fold3, which takes ages to get since one has to download every page one by one, plus you must pay for an all-access yearly subscription.

    As for Ship's Logs or M/S Flotillas Records etc., some might have survived at the National Archives, but again knowing the particular vessel(s) is necessary. Chances are slim though, as Rattler pointed out in his post above.

    If an officer, some of your friend's father's particulars might be found in the Navy Lists.

    Other than that, the references provided by Rattler should also prove valuable.

  9. chingoo

    chingoo Active Member

    Hi Michel,

    Thanks for the reply. This is all the information she has given me:

    Occupation: Joined Royal Navy, Dec 1941, HMS Ganges - Shotly Barracks.
    Occupation: Able Seaman - Anti-Submarine / Air Sea Rescue Patrol, 1941- October 1943.
    Occupation: Joined "Combined Operations" Skipper of a landing craft LBO 58, Abt. October 1943- Abt. September 1944.
    Occupation: LDG/Seaman Coxwain LT. JX. 351334 LBO 58 (Landing Barge Oil) "W" Squadron, "J" Force 37th S+R Flotilla, "D"Day 0745 June 6 1944, Juno (Red) Beach. Occupation: Caught AWOL on way to meet Violet his future wife, at Waterloo Station, London - demoted back to Able Seaman, Abt Sep 1944.
    Occupation: Tour of duty in the Far East ( Ceylon, India, Burma, Thailand, Malaya, Singapore) during which former rank reinstated., Abt Sept 1944 - Abt Nov 1945.
    Occupation: De -Mobbed, 1945, Chatham, Kent, England.
    Military Award: 1939 - 46 Star, Burma Star - Pacific, Pacific & Germany Star, Defence Medal, Victory Medal, 1939 - 45 Minesweeper & Anti Submarine Medal,

    When I first spoke to her about getting the history I did not realise he was Navy. When I had done similar research for my grandfather (Royal Artillery) I had been able to get War Diaries that helped give a bit more specifics about his roles and movements during the war. However, I have no idea how to go about it with Navy. I'll have a look at the sources that Rattler provided and if anyone has anything to add to the above information it will be a great help.

    Many thanks,

  10. Ian,

    I can't see any reference to any service with minesweepers. The "1939-45 Minesweepers & Anti Submarine Medal" looks like a standard award given to anyone who served with either Minesweeper or Anti Submarine craft, in your friend's father's case apparently the latter (Anti Submarine) only.

    Nice bit about the cause of his demotion from skipper of an LBO to simple A/B though :) Your friend can be proud of her father braving the ire of the Senior Service for the love of (presumably) her mother, years before "Make Love not War" became fashionable...

    chingoo likes this.
  11. chingoo

    chingoo Active Member

    Thanks for the help.

    I'll try and concentrate my efforts on LBO 58 and see if I can rustle up some info.

    Kind regards,

  12. Ian,

    Here's a couple of pages about Landing Barges which may be of interest to you:

    A photo of an LBO (Diesel) off the beaches:
    LBO - 65675038232_003128_3.jpg
    from http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675038232_American-ships_Omaha-beach_damaged-piers_floating-supplies also viewable here, starting at 2:08, with a view of the after part from 1:32 (you can adjust the viewing paratmeters to 1080p-HD):

    chingoo likes this.
  13. Sharon middleton

    Sharon middleton New Member

    Hi there this is about my late Dad Tom Pead I had asked Ian how to go about his war diary’s. Dad was on minesweepers sweeping the Solent I believe before Normandy. I think it was from queenborough. He was also at Hamble on the river. Thanks Sharon oh I found this thread by accident but was good to find.
  14. Graham Evans

    Graham Evans New Member

    Hi Daniel and Rattler,
    In respnse to to your information my grandfather Lt.Skipper Cecil Coombe RNR was skipper of MMS 251,MMS 251 was assigned to 143rd Flotila of Operation Neptune and later involved in the mine clearance of the Scheldt Estuary and the approaches to Antwerp,Belgium.Lt.Skipper Cecil Coombe was with MMS 251 until at least July 1945.Hope this is some help.
    Yours sincerely,
    Graham Evans

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