HM Minesweeper Tilly Duff
Wildfire III
Queenborough


In November 1939 British ships began blowing up in the Thames Estuary near the Tongue Light Vessel. The Minelaying Cruiser Adventure with 62 of her crew injured and 3 killed and the Destroyer Blanch with 12 injured and one killed mysteriously blew up. A search was made for submarines and mines but nothing could be found. Over the next month 14 more ships blew up in the same area.

A new type of mine was suspected and Britain desperately needed find one intact to devise counter measures to it.

These new mines were dropped by parachute from planes with mines being dropped in the Thames Estuary on the 12/13 November 1939, 20-22 November 1939, off of Harwich on the 17/18 November 1939 and the 21 November 1939 and off of Aldeburgh 24 November 1939.

On the 22 November a mine dangling from a parachute was seen falling and later found in the mud at Shoeburyness. This was defused by Lieutenant Commander J. D. G. Ouvry. From this LL (double L) minesweeping was developed where a pair of electric cables were towed parallel to each other on floats behind a minesweeper which emit a strong electric pulse generating a magnetic field which detonates magnetic mines.

The Tilly Duff was one of the first vessel to be equipped with the means to sweep for magnetic mines.

Only two months later while many of the vessels from Wildfire III, Queenborough and Wildfire at Sheerness took men off the Dunkirk beaches the Tilly Duff with its magnetic minesweeping gear was too valuable for this and was busily clearing the sea-lanes back to England and the assembly area at Dunkirk where the Luftwaffe repeatedly dropped magnetic mines.

HMT Tilly Duff, one of the first LL (Magnetic Mine) sweepers.


November 1939. The Drifter Tilly Duff was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to a Minesweeper.

28 March 1940.  The first operational LL Trawlers, equipped for magnetic minesweeping arrived at HMS Wildfire, Queenborough. They were Lichen, Monarda, Tilly Duff, and Vernal.

22 June 1941, Naval Vessel in the Nore Command (Battle of the East Coast) Queenborough, (Wildfire III)
M/S Drifters, Arcady, Boy Philip, Devon County, Egeria, Forerunner, Gilt Edge, Girl Nancy, Monarda, Renascent, Solstice, Tilly Duff, Vernal, Welcome Home.

January 1942, ROYAL NAVY SHIPS, Nore Command, Sheerness, Wildfire III, Queenborough.
LL Drifters - BOY PHILLIP, EGERIA, EUNICE & NELLIE, FORERUNNER under repair, INTERNOS, JACK EVE, SOLSTICE, TILLY DUFF, VERNAL, WELCOME HOME, all at Sheerness.


MENTIONED IN DESPATCHES. Although not on the Tilly Duff at the time, James Lyall McLaren (or possibly James McLyall) went on to be awarded two MID’s.

MID, 1 Jan 43, New Year’s Honours when Commanding Officer of HMS Silver Seas.

MID, 1944, For Operation Neptune, (D-day, Normandy landings) Commanding Officer, HM MMS 214 (motor minesweeper)

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS. A DSC was awarded to Lieutenant Pearce Trewhella Lovelock DSC, RNVR on the 3 Sep 1940 for Minesweeping - DSC awarded for bravery, skill and enterprise in Minesweeping operations off the Coasts of Holland, Belgium and France.

Lieutenant Pearce Trewhella Lovelock  was based at Wildfire III, Queenborough from 26 November 1939  where he took part in minesweeping operations in the North Sea in the drifter TILLY DUFF. During the Dunkirk evacuation he was temporarily in command of the drifter Monarda which made two trips to Dunkirk  and rescued 190 troops.

To find out more of the Tilly Duff’s movements go to DRIFTERS AND TRAWLERS.


OFFICER ON NAVY LIST Dec 39
Not on List.

OFFICER ON NAVY LIST July 40
Temp. Skipper, R.N.R., J. McLyall, 21 Jan 40

OFFICER ON NAVY LIST June 41
Skipper R.N.R., R. Stephenson, March 41.

OFFICER ON NAVY LIST June 42
Skipper R.N.R., R. Stephenson, March 41.

OFFICER ON NAVY LIST June 43
Skipper R.N.R., T. F. Bunce, 3 Nov 42.

OFFICER ON NAVY LIST June, 44
On list but no Officers.

OFFICER ON NAVY LIST June 45
Not on list

 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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