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BRNC cadet remembers his Great Uncle who served in WW2

6 November 2017
A Royal Navy Young Officer, under training at Britannia Royal Navy College, will be honouring his great-uncle when he attends the Remembrance Service in Kingswear on Sunday 12 November.

Midshipman (Mid) Chris Ivill ancestor, Leslie Ivor McLanaghan, served as an Able Seaman assigned to the Motor Gun Boat (MGB) Flotilla that operated from Kingswear during the Second World War.

The flotilla’s role was to carry out special duties, delivering and collecting secret agents, rescuing downed airman and evaders, and support operations conducted by Special Operations Executive (SOE), Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), MI9, escape networks and underground resistance movements. 

Much of their work couldn’t be discussed at the time, but the Flotilla has since been commended by many for their actions and work, some of which bought back valuable information on the German V1 and V2 rockets. 

The Flotilla also delivered two agents into France who would assist the resistance in minimising the part played by two German Panzer divisions; an action which in General Eisenhower’s view helped to shorten the war by six months.

with Leslie serving out of Kingswear in the war, bringing so much personal history and ties with Dartmouth, I felt that it would be a privilege if I could take part in the Kingswear ceremony this year

Midshipman Chris Ivill, Young Officer BRNC Dartmouth

Mid Ivill said, “My great-uncle was killed at 0345 on 12 May 1945, four days after VE day, when MGB 502 (2002) struck a floating mine in the Skagerrak, close to the Norwegian coast. She sank with only two survivors. She was bound for Gothenburg, Norway, to arrange for the transportation of metal ball-bearings, and the transfer of two merchant vessels which had been used in Sweden as storage ships for their wartime operations.”

After his death Leslie’s mother was given his medals and 10 shillings in compensation, which equates to about £37.28 in today’s money. 

Mid Ivill said, “Leslie was one of nine children. My grandmother, his sister, passed his medals down to me because of my interest in military history. The missions he was involved in were incredibly dangerous, and there were numerous times when his vessel came under enemy fire, whilst operating at the dead of night, in shallow waters and rough sea and weather conditions.” 

Mid Ivill began his Royal Naval career earlier this year following in the footsteps of his father, who joined the Royal Navy in 1983 and transferred to the Officer Corps in 2003. 

The 19-year-old, from Helston, completed his initial naval training in August and has remained at BRNC for the first phase of his specialist training. Mid Ivill wasn’t aware of the role his great-uncle played during the war until his arrival at BRNC.

He said, “My dad found a book that detailed the Flotilla’s life and operations throughout the war when he attended my pass-out-parade in August. Having my father pass through BRNC, and with Leslie serving out of Kingswear in the war, bringing so much personal history and ties with Dartmouth, I felt that it would be a privilege if I could take part in the Kingswear ceremony this year.

“To represent a relative 73 years on from when he served is a huge honour, and one that I am immensely proud of. Leslie was 18 years old when he joined the Royal Navy, the same age at which I joined, and he was killed at the age of 20. He joined during a war and served on fast patrol boats, performing dangerous missions which at times lasted in excess of 24-hours, and the fact that he was younger than me when doing it all is a powerful thought today.”

BRNC will be represented at a number of Remembrance Services across the local area on Sunday 12 November. 

Three divisions of Officer Cadets will join with the community in Dartmouth, after the College chapel service, to take part in the Remembrance Parade. 

Staff from BRNC will also be in attendance with Captain Jol Woodard, the Commanding Officer, among the wreath layers at the town’s war memorial.

In addition to Kingwear, representatives from the college will also attend Remembrance Day parades in Kingsbridge, Brixham, Townstal, Totnes and Dittisham.

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