Jack Hill in 1943
Jack Hill with his Legion d'Honneur.
In 2014, on t he 70th anniversary of the D-day landings, Jack Hill was awarded the Legion d'Honneur, for the part he played at D-day. Established in 1802 by Napoleon, the Legion of Honour is the highest French order of merit.
Jack Hill joined the Royal Navy in 1943, before then he had been working in a reserved occupation. Following his training Jack was posted to minesweepers.
Jack tells us about D-day. "We left from the Isle of Wight and there were thousands of vessels. It was quite a sight.”
"I was with the inshore mine-sweepers, but I never actually landed on the beaches,”
Jack arrived at the Normandy beaches of June 6th 1944 ahead of the Allied invasion force on British Yard Mine Sweeper, BYMS 2206. When the rest of the invasion fleet stopped, the minesweeper continued, sweeping right up to the beaches, clearing the way for the landing craft.
Under the guns of the enemy, BYMS 2206 swept right up to Sword Beach They swept so close that BYMS 2206 run aground. It was 3am on D-day and the vessels was quickly shut down and kept completely silent. The crew waited for the tide to rise, hoping the enemy would not see them.
Following D-day, in November 1944, the 2206 was based at Ostend where it helped in clearing the Scheldt of mines, the most crucial minesweeping event of WW2. For this the minesweeper crews are credited in shortening the war.
Jack tells us “We blew up 23 mines in one day.”
Following this Jack was based at Malta where his younger brother Frank joined him.
16 Oct 43, Completed.
21 Nov 43, New York.
24 to 27 Nov 43, Bermuda. Crossed Atlantic Ocean by the more southerly route from Bermuda to Horta in the Azores (Island group) and on to Southern England.
5 to 7 Dec 43, Horta.
13 to 18 Dec 43, Falmouth.
19 Dec 43 Dartmouth.
19 to 23 Dec 43, Portland.
23 and 24 Dec 43 Portsmouth.
25 Dec 43 Southend.
8 Feb 44, Falmouth.
6, May 44, Portsmouth.
7 May to 23 May 44 Harwich.
June 6th, D-Day BYMS 20 was sweeping off Sword 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.
23 June 44 Portland.
25 June 44, Captain of Minesweepers France.
26 June to 8 July 44, Harwich.
9 July 44, Harwich.
25 July 44, Portsmouth.
27 Aug to 5 Sep 44, Harwich.
25 Sep 44, Southend.
11 Nov 44, Harwich.
11 Nov 44, Ostend. In November 1944, helped in clearing the Scheldt of mines, the most crucial minesweeping event of WW2.
30 Nov to 12 Dec 44 Harwich.
17 Jan to 26 March 45 Harwich.
27 March to 28 March 45 Humber.
29 March to 9 June 45, Cromarty
27 June 45, Tobermory.
28 June 3 Sep 45 Swansea. For S.E. Asia.
1946 at Malta.
23 May 47 returned to United States Navy and sold to Italy.
OFFICERS ON THE NAVY LIST, June 1944
Temp. Lieut, R. N. R., J. R. Jensen, 27 Aug 43 (In Command)
Temp. Sub-Lieut, R. N. V. R., J. Stott, 26 Oct 43.
OFFICERS ON THE NAVY LIST, July 1945.
Temp. Sub-Lieut, R. N. V. R., W. H. Hogg, June 45
Temp. Sub-Lieut, R. N. V. R., J. Stott, 26 Oct 43
British Yard Mine Sweeper 2206.
Nore Command, World War Two 1939 to 1945
Jack Hill receiving the Legion of Honour.
JACK HILL, BYMS 2206.
By kind permission of his granddaughter Samantha Hill.
Landing Craft Tank, off Sword Beach on D-Day, 6 June 1945 the area already having been cleared of mines by BYMS (British Yard Mine Sweepers) and MMS's (Motor Mine Sweepers) from Minesweeping Base Wildfire III, Queenborough.
Jack and Frank Hill at Malta.
BYMS 2206 on which Jack Hill served.
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 2206, Flotilla 165 in 43 and 44, Flotilla 181 in 45.
Built by: Hiltebrant Dock Co., Kingston, New York, USA.
Laid down: 18 December 1942.
Launched: 29 April 1943.
Completed and transferred to Royal Navy: 16 October 1943.
Reclassified: HMS J-1006 later HMS BYMS-2206.
Assigned to the Nore Command, Flotilla 165.
Took part in the D-day landings.
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