Petty Officer Laurence Laurenson taken towards the end of the war.

OFFICERS from Navy List August 1942.
Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., R. M. Johnston, 22 May 42.
Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., E. H. Jeffery. 28 Mar 42.

OFFICERS from Navy List June 1943.
Temp. Lieut. RNVR, T. Watson. (In Command) 10 Feb 43.
Temp. Lieut. RNVR,  S. R. Channon. 3 Dec 42.

OFFICERS from Navy List Dec. 1943.
Temp. Lieut. RNVR, T. Watson. (In Command) 10 Feb 43.
Temp. Lieut. RNVR,  S. R. Channon. 3 Dec 42.

OFFICERS from Navy List June. 1944.
Temp. Lieut. RNVR, T. Watson. (In Command) 10 Feb 43.
Temp. Lieut. RNVR,  S. R. Channon. 3 Dec 42.

OFFICERS from Navy List January 1945.
Temp. Lieut. RNVR, T. Watson. (In Command) 10 Feb 43.
Temp. Lieut. RNVR,  S. R. Channon. 3 Dec 42.

OFFICERS from Navy List July 1945.
Temp. Lieut. RNVR, H. Shadlock. 12 March 45.
Temp. Lieut. RNVR, K. W. Driver. 12 March 45.

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.
Contact: Johntenthousand@yahoo.co.uk


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Watch these short videos about the Wildfire III Minesweepers.
Minesweepers:
https://youtu.be/aTsYiZFzv5M
D-day minesweepers:
https://youtu.be/ZjlA5LxCAsg
Clearing the Scheldt:
https://youtu.be/8ELsc9T3Lbw
The Relief of Holland:
https://youtu.be/GghYEFHmOfY

MMS 16, Built by Wivenhoe Shipyard, Essex. Completed April 1941. Survived the war and sold in 1948.

12th June, 1941. MMS 16 detonated a mine and was damaged. She was out of action for one month while being repaired.

Like many of the Wildfire III, Queenborough MMS 16 took part in “Operation Calendar Two”. Clearing the vital water way of the Scheldt Estuary of mines and opening up the port of Antwerp to resupply Allied troops with over stretched supply lines.

Officers and crew aboard the MMS 16 received high praise for their bravery and endurance in clearing mines and received the following awards.

MID. (Mentioned in Despatches)
William Henry John CARLIN, LT/KX113211, Engineman, 3 Apr 45. MID. Minesweeping - MID awarded for great gallantry and endurance in clearing the estuary of the Scheldt of mines during the period of October to November 1944.

MID. (Mentioned in Despatches)
Edward FOREMAN, LT/KX99836, A/Chief Engineman, 3 Apr 45, MID. Minesweeping - MID awarded for great gallantry and endurance in clearing the estuary of the Scheldt of mines during the period of October to November 1944.

DSM (Distinguished Service Medal)
Francis William John GIBSON, C/MX65323, Leading Wireman, 3 Apr 45, DSM. Minesweeping - DSM awarded for great gallantry and endurance in clearing the estuary of the Scheldt of mines during the period of October to November 1944.

MMS 16 was transferred to the 101st Minesweeping flotilla at Plymouth. The date is unknown.

Motor Minesweeper's were purpose built, wooden, shallow draft, minesweepers with both SA and LL sweeping capabilities. SA is Sweep Acoustic, a device similar to a Kanga Hammer which makes a loud thumping noise which exploded the acoustic mine. LL (double L) is a pair of electric cables which are towed parallel to each other on floats and emit a strong electric pulse which generates a magnetic field which detonated the magnetic mine.

Four Hundred and two Motor Minesweeper were built for the Royal Navy between 1940 and 1945.

Admiralty type; 1 to 118 and 123 to 313
Displacement      165 Tons
Length:                 105 Feet (32 metres)
Beam:                   23 Feet (7 metres)
Draft:                    9 feet 6 inches. (2.9 Metres)
Engine:                 Diesel. 500 BHP.
Speed:                  12.65 Miles per hour. (11 knots)
Complement:      20 Officers and men.
Armament:          Two 20 mm Anti-aircraft guns
                              Two machine guns.

Laurence as a young man on the drifters, herring fishing.

MMS 16

FROM THE SHETLAND TO THE SCHELDT.

LAURENCE POTTINGER LAURENSON.

Information and photographs from John Laurenson the son of Laurence Pottinger Laurenson of Shetland.

Laurence was exactly the kind on man for which the Royal Navy was looking, experienced seamen who had worked on fishing vessels. At that time the navy were converting fishing vessels, Drifters and Trawlers into urgently needed minesweepers.

Laurence found himself posted to HMS St Tudno, headquarter ship to the Royal Navy shore base for minesweepers on the Isle of Sheppey in the Thames Estuary.  Laurence served on Motor Mine Sweeper MMS 16.

As the D-day landing were taking place, Force “L” the immediate follow up taskforce led by twenty Wildfire MMS’s (we believe including MMS16) were approaching the landing beach. It was expected that once the landings had taken place Hitler would throw everything, he had at the follow up convoys. 

Force “L” comprised Sailing Group 1 and 2 from Harwich consisted of sixty-five landing craft and ships. Sailing Group 3, 4 and 5 from the Thames Estuary comprised of sixty-five Landing Craft, sixty-six Merchant Navy ships loaded with vehicles, and three cable ships.

Many of the MMS’s stayed on clearing the Normandy beaches and French coast. It wasn’t a case of just clearing them once. The enemy continually dropped new mines from aircraft and vessels. Additionally, many of the mines were fitted with delay switches and counters, so sea lanes had to be swept many times.

A few months later Laurence Laurenson and MMS 16 took part in the biggest and most complex minesweeping operation of WW2, clearing the Scheldt. Approaching the Scheldt, the minesweepers came under attack from enemy shore-based artillery. The minesweeper cleared the mines and opened up the port of Antwerp ahead of schedule. For this they are credited with shortening the war.   War materials and men came flooding into Antwerp without the need to transport them over hundreds of miles of road, just in the nick of time as the Germans launched a massive counter-attack which would come to be know as "The Battle of the Bulge".

Eisenhower’s said to Montgomery, “Antwerp must be opened before we can advance on Germany. The battle of the Scheldt is the most important battle of the war.”

Laurence as a rating at the start of the war.

John tells us, “My father was a Shetlander who like many there at that time, lived on a small croft and worked as a carpenter. He also held a skipper’s ticket and worked in the herring drift-net and the haddock- line, fishing industry.

His name was Laurence Pottinger Laurenson and he joined the Royal Naval Patrol Service at the start of the war. I remember him telling me that they left Lerwick in a converted trawler with one gun on the deck and a pile of ammunition down below but no gun to fire it out of.”

I remember asking him if he had ever actually shot anyone during the war. He replied that he didn't really know but told me about a Messerschmitt that came in attacking the boat, firing as it came. "I saw there was nobody on the gun so I ran down and opened up with it as he made another pass. He was that bloody close I could see the line of bullet holes appearing along the fuselage. The rear gunner fired no more after that. The plane banked over and flew back from where it came, I don't know what damage was done." 

He told me another story about being up in Icelandic waters with a convoy and there was suspicion of a submarine about. "We dropped a depth charge and there was a huge quantity of big cod that came up. We were trying to get some of them in a pock net, but got an order to leave the area immediately. It broke my bloody heart to leave all that cod behind."  Always the fisherman eh?

Motor Minesweeper MMS 16 would have looked the same as her sister ship, MMS 192. Note, the Acoustic “hammer” on the bow in the up position used to sweep for acoustic mines and the drum on the stern for the LL cables used to detonate magnetic mines.