At Bergen op Zoom, in the Netherlands, there is a large War Cemetery. Here, there is a wonderful organisation called "Foundation Faces to Grave, Bergen op Zoom".
The Foundation Faces to Grave, Bergen op Zoom, research and try to put faces to the British soldiers who are buried at the Bergen op Zoom, war cemetery.
Thanks to Mark Kraak, member of the Faces to Graves research team, for the photographs.
FAIRMILE “B” CLASS MOTOR LAUNCH.
Built by: William Weatherhead, Cockenzi, Scotland.
Commissioned: 16 Sep 1944
Displacement: 73 Tons.
Length: 112 Feet.
Width: 18.25 Feet.
Draught: 3.75 to 4.75 feet.
Engine: 3 shaft, Hall-Scott petrol motors. B.H.P. 1,800.
Speed: 25 Knots. (28.76 miles per hour).
Complement: 16 Officers and men.
Armament: One, 3 pounder gun. Three, 20 mm guns. (1 x 2 and 1 x 1) Fitted to carry 9 moored or 6 ground mines.
Used for Submarine chasing, air-sea rescue and minelaying.
Lieutenant. George Gordon MacPherson the Commanding Officer of ML 916, survived but lost his leg.
Grave of Telegraphist Brian A. Kingham at the Bergen op Zoom War Grave Cemetery
Motor Launches in the Dover Straights
Dutch people laying floral tributes at the graves in Holland of some of the crew of the ML916.
8 November 1944. Fairmile B Motor Launch (HMML 916) was sunk by a mine off Walsoorden, Zeeland, Holland.
ML916 with her sister boat ML906 was laying a smoke screen when she detonated a mine. There were only two survivors. Nineteen of her crew were killed. Six badly burnt bodies were recovered.
Thought to be the officers and crew of ML 916. All but the Captain and one of the crew above were killed when ML 916 detonated a mine. Able Seaman Royce Thomas Homewood is top right. Jack Hatliff, P/MX 77888I, Petty Officer Motor Mechanic is on the far right. If you can name any more, please contact us.
Sub-lieutenant Dan Basil Curtis, lost
ML 916 was part of the 19th ML Flotilla, along with sister boats ML 906, ML 212, ML 300, ML 345, ML 473, ML 914 and ML 915.
ML 916 in company with another Motor Launch, swept with Oropesa sweeps (for moored or contact mines) all the way to Antwerp. They were the first Royal Navy vessels to reach Antwerp and were given an incredible reception by the Mayor and people of Antwerp.
A huge explosion from a magnetic mine caused the catastrophic destruction of the ML 916.
Witnesses state that the whole ship was blown into the air and disintegrated. The only two survivors picked up were Lieutenant George MacPherson, and it was thought, his steward.
Lieutenant. George Gordon MacPherson the Commanding Officer of ML 916 was on the Bridge at the time of the explosion. He was thrown into the water, his leg shattered. ML 250 of the 19th Flotilla picked him up and it was at first thought he was dead. Later, in hospital, his leg was amputated above the knee. The shock from the explosion compressed several of his vertebrae causing him great pain in his back for the rest of his life.
Grave of George L, Holtom, Ordinary Seaman at the Bergen op Zoom War Grave Cemetery
Able Seaman Royce Thomas Homewood, lost.
Grave of Sub Lieutenant Dan Curtis at the Bergen op Zoom War Grave Cemetery
Sub-Lieutenant Peter Maurice Sidebotham, lost
Watch this short video about Clearing the Scheldt, https://youtu.be/8ELsc9T3Lbw
Thank you to the "Foundation Faces to Grave, Bergen op Zoom" whose research discovered the above photographs.
ML.916, ship loss.
(MPK - Missing Presumed Killed)
BUTTERY, John E, Stoker 1c, D/KX 139507, MPK
CURTIS, Dan B, Ty/Act/Sub Lieutenant, RNVR, killed
DOBSON, George, Stoker 1c, C/KX 152552, MPK
FRASER, Donald J, Able Seaman, P/JX 426061, killed
HALLER, Sydney, Able Seaman, D/JX 151027, MPK
HATLIFF, Jack, Petty Officer Motor Mechanic, P/MX 77888, MPK
HOLTOM, George L, Ordinary Seaman, P/JX 522657, killed
HOMEWOOD, Royce T, Able Seaman, P/JX 298631, MPK
KINGHAM, Brian A, Telegraphist, C/JX 614937, MPK
LAY, Ernest, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 557641, MPK
MACKINTOSH, Walter, Able Seaman, D/JX 186952, MPK
NEWSON, Frederick G, Ordinary Telegraphist, P/JX 624883, MPK
OAKTON, Thomas M, Act/Leading Seaman, P/SSX 25460, MPK
SCALES, William F, Able Seaman, P/JX 321222, MPK
SCOTT, Edmund, Ordinary Seaman, C/JX 545582, MPK
SIDEBOTHAM, Peter M, Ty/Act/Sub Lieutenant, RNVR, MPK
THOMAS, Adrian L, Able Seaman, C/JX 220363, MPK
WARD, Alfred G, Able Seaman, C/JKX 375220, MPK
WOOD, Edward, Able Seaman, C/JX 354280, MPK
Grave of Donald J, Fraser, Able Seaman at the Bergen op Zoom War Grave Cemetery
DSC, Distinguished Service Cross.
Lt RNVR George Gordon MacPHERSON, 3 Apr 45. DSC. Minesweeping - DSC awarded for great gallantry and endurance in clearing the estuary of the Scheldt of mines during the period of September to November 1944.
OFFICERS on the Navy List Aug 44.
Temp. Lieutenant RNVR. G.G. MacPherson, (In Command) 28 Aug 44 until its sinking on the 8 Nov 1944.
Temp Act. Sub Lieutenant. RNVR. P. M. Sidebottom. 17 Sep 44. Missing presumed killed when ML 916 sunk.
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.