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BYMS's 2053 with 2068, 2031 2209 and 2175, were clearing a channel one mile wide and nine miles long leading to Port Corsini, on the coast of Italy, Adriatic Sea. BYMS 2028 and 2025 were acting as Danlayers marking the cleared channel. One mine was cut and sunk with rifle fire.

At 13.23 at position 44, 41, N. 12, 37, E. twenty miles off the coast, there was a deafening explosion. BYMS 2053 had detonated a mine and was seriously damaged in the explosion.

BYMS 2028, which had been danlaying was close by and come to her assistance. A line was passed to the stricken vessel. With worsening weather conditions and the sea becoming rougher, the tow broke. As the 2028 struggled to tow the 2053 to safety the tow broke a further four times.

At 14.40 the 2053 began to sink rapidly and her crew were taken onboard by the 2028. Two of BYMS 2053, crew were unaccounted for, Wilf Reynolds aged 33 and Wireman Ronnie Genge who was only 19 years of age.

Watch these short videos about the Wildfire III Minesweepers.
Minesweepers:
https://youtu.be/aTsYiZFzv5M
D-day minesweepers:
https://youtu.be/ZjlA5LxCAsg


BYMS 2053 behind BYMS 2032. Both vessels are to the same design.

Crew Lost:

Saturday, 28 April 1945

Ronald W A GENGE, Wireman, C/MX 693257, MPK (Missing Presumed Killed)
​Wilfred J, REYNOLDS, Stoker, RNPS, LT/KX 666507, killed

Awards:

DSC: Distinguished Service Cross.

Lt RNVR Peter Errington DAVIES on the 15 May 45 received a DSC for gallantry, perseverance and devotion to duty in minesweeping operations under enemy fire in the Adriatic August to October 1944.

DSM: Distinguished Service Medal,

William John MELHUISH,  LT/X4087T, Chief Engineman, on the 15 May 1945 received a DSM for for gallantry, perseverance and devotion to duty in minesweeping operations under enemy fire in the Adriatic August to October 1944. 

HMS Birmingham, 1939, when attached to 5th Cruiser Squadron based at Singapore.

OFFICERS ON THE NAVY LIST, December 1943

Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., P. E. Davies J (In Command) 11 Jan 43
Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., R. A. Murry, 11 June 43
Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., L. W. Prior (act) 11 June 43

OFFICERS ON THE NAVY LIST, June 1944

Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., P. E. Davies J (In Command) 11 Jan 43
Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R.,  L. W. Prior (act) 11 June 43

OFFICERS ON THE NAVY LIST, January 1945

Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., P. E. Davies J (In Command) 11 Jan 43
​Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R.,  L. W. Prior (act) 11 June 43

William John Melhuish
Thank you to Carlo Hastings for the photographs and information.

William John Melhuish, known to his friends as Jerry, was Chief Engineman on the BYMS 2053 and received a DSM (Distinguished Service Medal) for minesweeping operation under enemy fire while in the Adriatic.

Jerry was on HMS Birmingham which saw action in the Narvik Campaign. He was on the very first war timer purpose-built Motor Mine Sweeper, MMS1, which went to Wildfire III.

Jerry sailed to the USA, where at Jacksonville, Florida, BYMS 2053 was transferred to Great Britain under the Lend-Lease Programme and sailed her back across the Atlantic Ocean to Gibraltar. 

BYMS 2053 sinking. The photograph shows the location as Ancona, Italy 1945. 

Thanks to Robert Carrier for these photograph.

BYMS 2053 sinking of the Italian coast.  Thanks to Robert Carrier for these photograph.

BYMS 2053

162nd MSF (Mine Sweeper Flotilla), 2033, 2053, 2075, 2174, 2175, 2212, 2240.

BRITISH YARD MINE SWEEPERS

BYMS’s were built in the United States and transferred the Royal Navy under the Lend-lease Programme. “British Yard Mine Sweepers” are so called because they were built to the same design as the US Navy’s “Yard Mine Sweepers”.

Crews for the BYMS’s would sail to the United States, often on the Queen Mary, which could sail unescorted because of her greater speed, to collect their vessel. They would then have the formidable task of sailing their small vessel back across the Atlantic Ocean, often in winter. 

Builder: Gibbs Gas Engine Co. (Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.A.) 
Launched: 28 December 1942
Completed: 9 June 1943.
Flotillas: MSF 162 in 1942 and MSF 156 in 1944 and 1945

Specifications

Displacement:    215 tons
Length:                130 feet
Beam:                   24 feet
Depth:                  12 feet 1inch
Draft:                    8 feet 1 inch
Fuel:                      Diesel.
Horsepower:       1200 Bhp. (2 shafts)
Speed:                  12 to 14.6 knots
Speed when sweeping, 10 knots. (Double Oropesa, 8 knots)
Range at 10 knots:     2500 miles
Complement:       3 Officers, 27 men.
Armament:           3 inch HA/LA, Gun.
                               2 x Oerlikons.

It is not known if BYMS 2053 was at D-day, but she was in the right area at the right time to be there.

On the 28th April 1945, while sweeping of the coast of Italy (Porto Corsini, Ravenna) the 2053 detonated a mine and sank with the loss of two of her crew.


Movements.

22 June 1943, Charlston, USA.

19 July 1943, Boston, USA.

10 September 1943, BYMS 2053 in company with 2175 and 2174 set off from St John's to cross the Atlantic Ocean. All arrived safely at Gibralta.

​2 May to 6 May 1944, Falmouth, England.

1 November 1944, BYMS 2053 with others began another important sweep to open up the ports of Zara, Sibenik and Split, which was then Yugoslavia. In all 22 mines were cut and sunk by rifle fire. 

28 April 1945, BYMS 2053 was MINED and sunk off Porto Corsini, Ravenna, Italy.

 

BYMS 2053 minesweeping off the Italian coast .
Thanks to Robert Carrier for these photographs.