HM Minesweeper Drifter/Dan Layer
Wildfire III, Queenborough

The Drifter, Guilt Edge saw service in the first and second World Wars. Requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1917 she was fitted out as a minesweeper with a 6 pounder gun. 

She was again requisitioned as a Minesweeper in WW2 and was at first based at Portsmouth.

With the number of the new magnetic mines being dropped by the enemy in the Thames Estuary and on the East Coast threatening to overwhelm the Nore Command, the Gilt Edge was fitted with Magnetic sweep gear and sent the Wildfire III at Queenborough.

Later her main rolls became that of a Dan Layer. Dan Layers were usually former Trawlers or Drifters (fishing vessel) equipped for laying Dan buoys.  Dan buoys are marker buoys consisting of a long pole designed to float vertically, with a flag and sometimes a light on top which are moored to the sea bed.

Accompanying a group of minesweepers, Dan Layers laid Dan buoys to mark the swept area marking the cleared sea lanes assuring there were no overlaps or missed areas.

Watch these short minesweeping videos.
A Bad Day in December 1940:

HMT Gilt Edge.  Armed Mine Sweeper and Dan Layer
Pennant: FY963                   
Year Constructed: 1916      
Built by: W & G Stephen, Banff, Scotland.              
Owner: John Wood, Portknockie, Banffshire, Scotland.
Other Names: Clara Wood BF284.         
Engine: 16-inch compound built by Cooper and Grieg of Dundee
Gross Tons: 88 tons.               
Length: 85 feet 7 inches.              
Beam: 19 feet 2 inches
Draft:  8 feet 8 inches  
Armament:  WW1, 1 x 6 pounder. WW2, 20 mm Oerlikon aft. 2 x single Vickers Machine Guns on the Bridge wings.

1917-1919, Requisitioned and served in WW1 as a minesweeper. Fitted with a 6-pound gun.

1932, Sold to J. R. Logie and renamed Gilt Edge. Registered in Buckie as BCK121.

1939. Owner is J. Barrie, Buckpool, Buckie.

1939, Requisitioned by the Admiralty firstly as a Minesweeper and later a Dan Layer.

June 1940, ROYAL NAVY SHIPS, Portsmouth Command

Minesweeping drifters - ARCADY (Ty Sk E W B Norton RNR) under repair, CHARDE (Sk M Slater RNR), CONSOLATION (Ty Sk J Tipple RNR) at Cowes, GILT EDGE  (Ty Sk R S Mills RNR), JEANNIE LEASK (Ty Sk J C Boyd RNR), REFRACTION (Sk J W Howard RNR), ROSEBUD (Ty Sk J R Buchan RNR) under repair, SOLSTICE (Ch Sk J W Christian RNR), all but one at Portsmouth.

January 1941, ROYAL NAVY SHIPS, Portsmouth Command.

Minesweeping drifters - ARCADY (Ty Sk E W B Norton RNR) at Cowes repairing, BOY PAT (Ty Lt Cdr J Polehampton RNR) at Portsmouth repairing, GILT EDGE  (Ty Sk R S Mills RNR) at Portsmouth.

22 March 1941, Gilt Edge, WESTERN, Frederick J, Engineman, RNPS, LT/KX 107518, died.

January 1942, ROYAL NAVY SHIPS, Nore Command (Sheerness) Wildfire III, Queenborough.

Minesweeping Drifters - ARCADY, GIRL NANCY on general service duties, GILT EDGE, RENASCENT, all at Sheerness.

August 1945. Returned to owner.

1945. Sold to William. G. Falconer at MacDuff in Scotland and re-registered in Banff as BF61.

1950. Sold for scrap, The last steam drifter from MacDuff (Scotland).

To find out more of the Gilt Edge movements go to

OFFICERS ON NAVY LIST June 1940, June 1941, June 1942,  

Temp. Skipper, R.N.R., S.R. Mills, 9 Feb 40 also 25 Mar 41

OFFICERS ON NAVY LIST June 1942, June 1943, June 1944, 1945. (Now Chief Skipper)

Temp. Chief Skipper, R.N.R., S. R. Mills, 25 Mar 41.

Unusually, S. R. Mills was the Skipper for the Gilt Edge throughout her WW2 service.

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.

Thank you.


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HM Drifter Gilt Edge Minesweeper and Dan Layer flying the White Ensign with possibly the Sheerness Garrison in the background.