BYMS (British Yard Mine Sweepers) and MMS's (Motor Mine Sweepers) in harbour at Terneuzen, Holland, when sweeping the Scheldt Estuary.
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.
BYMS 2202, Flotilla 165.
Built by: Hiltebrant Dock Co., Kingston, New York, USA.
Laid down: 14 September 1942.
Launched: 9 December 1942.
Completed and transferred to Royal Navy: 11 August 1943.
Reclassified: HMS J-1002 later HMS BYMS-2202.
Assigned to the Nore Command, Flotilla 165.
Took part in the D-day landings.
If you, your father or your grandfather have any additional information about this ship, crew lists, stories, photographs, please send copies of them to be added to our records and this website.
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Oliver is the 2nd from right, crouching
Crew member of BYMS 2202 Oliver Coulthard, JX 374550/. Now aged 93 (2017)
British Yard Mine Sweeper 2202.
Nore Command, World War Two 1939 to 1945
BYMS 2202 football team. Oliver is front row, 2nd right.
Crew of BYMS 2202. Oliver's holding the ships Dog called "Shits".
Oliver Coulthard in his uniform, WW2
11 Aug 43, Completed.
Oct 43, New York.
11 Oct 43, Boston.
18 Oct to 9 Dec 43, St John’s. Crossed Atlantic Ocean from Canada to the U.K.
22 Dec43, Falmouth.
26 Dec 43, Portland.
27 Dec 43, Portsmouth.
29 Dec 43 Harwich.
31 March 44, Portsmouth.
1 May to 6 May 44, Harwich.
June 6th, D-Day BYMS 2202 was sweeping off Gold Beach.
During the period from the 4 June 1944 (the day before D-day) to the end of July 1944 BYMS would have cleared pathways through the minefields to the Normandy Beachheads, cleared mines ahead of the Invasion Convoys, cleared mines from the ship assembly and disembarkation areas almost right up to the beaches, widened the cleared pathways and continuously swept for newly laid mines.
29 June 44, Portsmouth.
12 July 44, Portsmouth. D-day minesweeping operations continue.
24 July 44 to 25 July 44, Southend.
21 Aug to 10 Sep 44, Harwich.
27 Sep 44, Southend.
27 Sep to 5 Oct 44, Harwich.
5 Oct to 27 Nov 44, Great Yarmouth.
27 Nov to 10 Dec 44, Harwich.
6 Jan 45, Ostend. As the army advance overland taking the ports, the minesweepers cleared the mines from them.
7 Jan to 9 May 45, Harwich.
10 May Ostend. The winter of 1944–1945 was very harsh for the people of Holland. Food was cut off by the Germans and 18,000 people starved to death. Relief came at the beginning of May 1945 when minesweepers cleared Dutch ports of mines and ships carrying humanitarian aid arrived. Minesweepers, the first vessels to arrive in Dutch ports gave their food to Dutch children.
2 to 19 June Harwich.
19 June to 3 Sep 45, Ostend.
3 Sep 45 Harwich.
1946, at Sheerness. Laid up at Queenborough Pier, Wildfire III, Queenborough after WW2 waiting to be returned to the United States Navy or sold.
1947, at Sheerness.
Feb 1948, returned to United States Navy. Sold to Greece.
OFFICERS ON THE NAVY LIST, June 1944
Temp. Lieut, R. N. V. R., F. Darton, 21 Apr 44 (In Command)
Temp. Lieut, R. N. V. R., J. T. Wardle (act), Dec 43
OFFICERS ON THE NAVY LIST, July 1945
Temp. Lieut, R. N. V. R., K. Hauxwell 17 Oct 44 (In Command)
Temp. Sub-Lieut, R. N. V. R., E. Pinhey 14 Oct 44
Crew of British Minesweeper, BYMS 2202
Oliver Coulthard, JX 374550, remembers sweeping at the Normandy D-day landings, at Gold beach off Arromanches. His minesweeper BYMS 2202 came under attack by a Heinkel 111 and he had to dive for cover behind a winch. He witnessed the Frigate, HMS Lawford, HQ ship for the Normandy landings, exploding with the loss of 37 of her crew. Oliver had first thought HMS Lawford had detonated a mine, as he did not see an aircraft. In recent years it has been discovered that HMS Lawford had been hit by a Henschel Hs 293, a radio controlled German anti-ship guided missile.
THANK YOU to Trevor Atkinson who supplied these photographs of his father-in-law Oliver Coulthard and the men of the minesweepers.
Oliver at HMS Gangies, Royal Naval Training Establishment at Shotley, Suffolk. Oliver is 3rd row up, 5th from Left,
I would like to say, on behalf of the Wildfire III website ( www.wildfire3.com) for my generation and generations to come,we are proud of you and the men of the WW2 minesweepers.
When Britain “stood alone” it was the men of the Minesweepers who, at great personal sacrifice, kept the sea lanes open, despite every possible effort of the enemy to close them, allowing Great Britain to recover after Dunkirk.
It was the men of the Minesweepers who kept the sea lanes open allowing the build-up of war materials for the successful invasion of German occupied Europe.
It was the Minesweepers who lead the Allied invasion fleet to the D-day Normandy landing beaches. And it was the minesweepers who went closer to the beaches, other than the landing craft, than any other vessel.
It was the Minesweepers who cleared the Scheldt and opened up Antwerp and by so doing shortened the war. In doing so they significantly influenced the outcome of the Battle of the Bulge in the Allies favour.
It was the minesweepers who opened up the Dutch ports allowing “the swift relief of Holland”. By so doing saving the lives of tens of thousands of Dutch people who were starving to death.
Watch these short videos about the Wildfire III Minesweepers.
D-day minesweepers: https://youtu.be/ZjlA5LxCAsg
Clearing the Scheldt: https://youtu.be/8ELsc9T3Lbw
The Relief of Holland: https://youtu.be/GghYEFHmOfY