Navy in Malta during the war

The National Library of Scotland (I didn't know anyone up there could read) have a comprehensive series of Navy Lists available with free access. They're a ba***rd to use but will give rank, seniority, postings and awards if you're patient.
 
Found the Naval officers list, this chap is the only Captain and he did set foot in Malta. Although most naval officers did at some stage. Have a look.
If this is your man he is indeed a very brave submariner.
Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945 - M

Mills,
Ronald George
"Ronnie"
R.G. Mills (© Imperial War Museum (A 28189)) R.G. Mills (© Imperial War Museum A 32326)
Son of Charles Mills Jr. (1872?-1959), and Kate Mills (1874?-1959), of Croylands, Wimbledon Common, later of Folkestone.
Married 1st ((03?).1928, Weymouth district, Dorset) Sylvia Gurney ((03?).1901 - 19.01.1960), younger daughter of the late Dr. H. Gurney, of Dovercourt, Essex, and Mrs Gurney, of Brentry, Weymouth; ... children (one son, one daughter?).
Married 2nd ((12?).1960, Westminster district, London) Mary Frances Gerardine "Pooch" Campbell (née Howell) (25.10.1908 - 21.01.1975), widow of Lt.Cdr. Andrew Neil Gillespie Campbell, RN (1909-1944), of Seymour Place, London W1.
He was a talented cartoonist and did a rather fine joint portrait of submarine commanders on the china station entitled ‘Such Men as These’. When in Malta he decorated his flat with a frieze on the theme of ‘Careless Lives Cost Talk’.

27.12.1903
Putney, Wandsworth district, London
-
30.10.1987
Henley district, Berkshire
Midsh. 15.01.1922
A/S.Lt. 15.05.1924
S.Lt. 1925?, seniority 30.11.1924
Lt. 30.04.1926
Lt.Cdr. 30.04.1934
Cdr. 31.12.1940
Capt. 31.12.1948 (retd 07.01.1958)
Distinguished Service Order DSO 17.06.1941 successful submarine patrols [investiture 03.02.42]
Distinguished Service Cross DSC 28.06.1940 submarine actions against the enemy [investiture 03.02.42]
Distinguished Service Cross DSC 06.09.1940 successful submarine patrols [investiture 03.02.42]
Distinguished Service Cross DSC 24.07.1945 anti-U-boat operations Plymouth area 26.03.45 [investiture 13.11.45]
Mention in Despatches MID 16.01.1945 probable destruction U-boat Plymouth area 15.08.44
Mention in Despatches MID 03.07.1945 destruction U-boat Plymouth area 24.02.45
02.10.1922 - (08.1923) HMS Diomede (light cruiser)
25.09.1924 - (01.1925) promotion course, RN College, Greenwich [HMS President]
09.04.1926 - (05.)1926 HMS Conquest (cruiser) (1st Submarine Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet) (additional; for submarines)
08.08.1926 - (06.)1928 First Lieutenant, HMS H 44 (submarine) (6th Submarine Flotilla) [tender to HMS Vulcan]
08.08.1928 - (08.1929) HMS Salmon (destroyer) (Anti-Submarine Flotilla, Portland)
14.01.1930 - 27.04.1930 First Lieutenant, HMS Proteus (submarine) (while under construction at Barrow-in-Furness) (for duty with submarines & for duty with Captain Superintendent Contract-Built Ships)
28.04.1930 - (01.)1932 First Lieutenant, HMS Proteus (submarine) (China) [tender to HMS Medway]
(09.1932) no appointment listed
09.01.1933 - (01.)1934 Commanding Officer, HMS H 50 (submarine) [tender to HMS Titania]
03.05.1934 - (08.)1936 HMS Renown (battlecruiser) (Home Fleet)
02.09.1936 - 09.1936 HMS Dolphin (submarine depot, Gosport) (for course)
18.09.1936 - (02.)1939 Commanding Officer, HMS Regent (submarine) (China) [tender to HMS Medway]
(04.1939) no appointment listed
(08.1939) no appointment listed [intended appointment as Commanding Officer of HMS Otway (submarine) was cancelled]
02.08.1939 - (09.)1939 HMS Dolphin (submarine depot, Gosport) (for submarines)
30.11.1939 - 15.11.1940 Commanding Officer, HMS Tetrarch (submarine) (DSO, DSC & Bar)
15.11.1940 - (02.)1941 HMS St Angelo (RN base, Malta)
04.03.1941 - (12.1941) HMS Stag (RN base, Port Said)
01.01.1942 - (08.1942) HMS Forth (submarine depot ship) (and for duty with submarines)
(02.1943) - (08.1943) HMS Stag (RN base, Port Said) *
05.09.1943 - (10.)1943 Commanding Officer, HMS Inconstant (destroyer)
19.11.1943 - 02.1945 Commanding Officer, HMS Duckworth (frigate) & as Senior Officer, 3rd Escort Group (2nd Bar to DSC, despatches twice)
(07.1945) HMS Duckworth (frigate) *
03.1946 - (04.1946) Commanding Officer, HMS Siskin (RN Air Station, Gosport)
(07.1948) Admiralty [HMS President] *
(05.1949) no appointment listed
08.08.1949 - (05.1950) Naval Attaché, Warsaw, Poland [HMS President] (accredited to Bucharest, Sofia & Budapest as well)
29.10.1951 - (05.1953) Senior British Naval Officer, Ceylon & Captain Superintendent Ceylon [HMS Highflyer]
24.11.1953 - ? tactical course
05.04.1954 - (07.1954) Commanding Officer, HMS Agincourt & as Captain (D) 4th Destroyer Squadron
02.12.1954 - ? senior officers' technical course
(04.1955) no appointment listed
19.05.1955 - (01.1957) Captain-in-Charge, Portland & Captain Superintendent, HM Dockyard, Portland [HMS Osprey]
08.07.1957 - 07.01.1958 also: Naval ADC to the Queen
He got about , didn't he ?
 

soleil

War Hero
William Henry Mills.
He was based in Portsmouth before the war.
Verwaltung

I don't know whether this is an odd coincidence, but the 1939 Register of England and Wales shows a William J H Mills, a Warrant Shipwright Royal Navy. He has a daughter called Patricia, born in 1936.

The family is in Plymouth, rather than Portsmouth, though.
 

Verwaltung

Clanker
Given that the old boy is wearing a Captain RN uniform -and with what looks suspiciously like a Fleet Air Arm Observer brevet-you could do no better than Google his full name with 'Captain' as the first word.
I've tried that, and really haven't found any leads unfortunately.
 

Verwaltung

Clanker
Verwaltung

I don't know whether this is an odd coincidence, but the 1939 Register of England and Wales shows a William J H Mills, a Warrant Shipwright Royal Navy. He has a daughter called Patricia, born in 1936.

The family is in Plymouth, rather than Portsmouth, though.
Fantastic! Thanks, Yes, Plymouth! That must be him. (The other side of the family is from the Southampton area hence the confusion).
 

4(T)

LE
Hi folks. I'm trying to discover if there is any way I can find out anything about my grandfather and what he did during the war.

I deeply regret not having been more inquisitive when there were still family members alive that I could have asked, but have just come across a photo that might help to narrow things down a bit.

So far Googling his name hasn't helped at all.

He served in Malta during the war, and was something to do with minesweepers. I've also found material relating to HMS Victory but that may be a red herring.

I get a strong boat driver vibe off the uniform but believe he might have been shore based, perhaps doing something strategic. In either case he was presumably a moderately big cheese, hence being surprised about the lack of help from Google.

I'd be very grateful if anyone could suggest anything that might help me investigate further.

Many thanks! View attachment 456868

Is that actually your grandfather in the photo, or is it a family heirloom because of the child or girl? Is one of those your mother?

I ask, because the "William J H Mills, a Warrant Shipwright" found by @soleil would seem unlikely to have achieved full Captain RN rank in the years 1939-1945 (/ date of photo?).
 
Found it, she was the successor to the Submarine and laid down in 1943.
Triumph was laid down during World War II on 27 January 1943 at Hawthorn Leslie and Company on the Tyne. Her construction was relatively rapid and she was launched on 2 October 1944 only a few months from the end of the war. She was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 6 May 1946.[2] In February 1947 she was assigned to the 2nd Aircraft Carrier Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet until August 1948.
 
Is that actually your grandfather in the photo, or is it a family heirloom because of the child or girl? Is one of those your mother?

I ask, because the "William J H Mills, a Warrant Shipwright" found by @soleil would seem unlikely to have achieved full Captain RN rank in the years 1939-1945 (/ date of photo?).
I do agree, that would have been motoring in not the most meritocracy focused service - of it's time!
 

soleil

War Hero
Just reading about HMS Triumph:

*************************************************************************


"COLOSSUS Class Light Fleet Aircraft Carrier ordered from R & W Hawthorn, Leslie and Co. Ltd in 1942. The ship was laid down on 27th January 1943 and launched on 2nd October 1944 as the 11th RN ship to carry this name. Owing to the fit of additional equipment she was not completed until 9th April 1946 and therefore never deployed on war service."

"
1 9 4 6 to 1 9 4 8


On completion of storing embarked Squadrons and carried out exercises in Home waters

in preparation for deployment.

Joined Mediterranean Fleet as Flagship of Flag Officer (Air)."

****************************************************************************

I'm wondering whether the photo is a photo of Flag Officer (Air) cutting a cake.
 
Just reading about HMS Triumph:

*************************************************************************


"COLOSSUS Class Light Fleet Aircraft Carrier ordered from R & W Hawthorn, Leslie and Co. Ltd in 1942. The ship was laid down on 27th January 1943 and launched on 2nd October 1944 as the 11th RN ship to carry this name. Owing to the fit of additional equipment she was not completed until 9th April 1946 and therefore never deployed on war service."

"
1 9 4 6 to 1 9 4 8


On completion of storing embarked Squadrons and carried out exercises in Home waters

in preparation for deployment.

Joined Mediterranean Fleet as Flagship of Flag Officer (Air)."

****************************************************************************

I'm wondering whether the photo is a photo of Flag Officer (Air) cutting a cake.
You're a star, it's a kiddies cake getting the chop. If it is Flag Officer Air then a google for post war Malta should ping the man.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
You're a star, it's a kiddies cake getting the chop. If it is Flag Officer Air then a google for post war Malta should ping the man.
The alternative, if his mother was born in 1936, is that it's an early/mid 1939 kids' party on board a RN ship in Malta's Valletta harbour. The RN were rather keen on that sort of thing pre-WW2. If that's the case, it might be the OP's mother partially in shot - she'd have been three at the time. Plus the writing on the back of the photos looks a bit like a child's handwriting.

Wordsmith
 
The alternative, if his mother was born in 1936, is that it's an early/mid 1939 kids' party on board a RN ship in Malta's Valletta harbour. The RN were rather keen on that sort of thing pre-WW2. If that's the case, it might be the OP's mother partially in shot - she'd have been three at the time. Plus the writing on the back of the photos looks a bit like a child's handwriting.

Wordsmith
Alternatives are good. In fact IT'S very plausible, we have photos of us as pad brats being presented certificates by visiting red tabs, so why not having a cake cut for them!
 
You're a star, it's a kiddies cake getting the chop. If it is Flag Officer Air then a google for post war Malta should ping the man.
If it is Flag Officer (Air) then that would likely be a kiddie’s party at RNAS Hal Far.
There are people on the RNS Verdala FB pages who will almost certainly know.
If it’s not Flag Officer (Air) then it could be one of the kiddie’s parties held at other locations such as Manoel Island, Corradino or, even, HMS Forth as Depot Ship Submarines in Msida Creek.
It has also dawned on me the photo has the appearance of being 50s/early 60s rather than pre-war.
Edited for not noticing bloody autocorrect had changed HMS Forth to Firth.
 
Last edited:

Verwaltung

Clanker
Is that actually your grandfather in the photo, or is it a family heirloom because of the child or girl? Is one of those your mother?

I ask, because the "William J H Mills, a Warrant Shipwright" found by @soleil would seem unlikely to have achieved full Captain RN rank in the years 1939-1945 (/ date of photo?).
It is definitely my Grandfather in the photo. He definitely qualified as a shipwright and definitely became an officer. There was another photo of him in a uniform frock coat and sword but that one appears to be lost. I also have an earlier photo of him younger wearing a plainer uniform but that will have to wait until I'm back home in Finland.
It was a thing in the family (who were very well to do) to have a basic trade as a backup to anything grander.
 

Verwaltung

Clanker
If it is Flag Officer (Air) then that would likely be a kiddie’s party at RNAS Hal Far.
There are people on the RNS Verdala FB pages who will almost certainly know.
If it’s not Flag Officer (Air) then it could be one of the kiddie’s parties held at other locations such as Manoel Island, Corradino or, even, HMS Firth as Depot Ship Submarines in Msida Creek.
It has also dawned on me the photo has the appearance of being 50s/early 60s rather than pre-war.
Yes, my mum and Aunt are in the photo too, I cropped them out in the version uploaded
 
The alternative, if his mother was born in 1936, is that it's an early/mid 1939 kids' party on board a RN ship in Malta's Valletta harbour. The RN were rather keen on that sort of thing pre-WW2. If that's the case, it might be the OP's mother partially in shot - she'd have been three at the time. Plus the writing on the back of the photos looks a bit like a child's handwriting.

Wordsmith
Good point. As you say, mid to late 39, because IIRC service families were evacuated from the Island when things got warm.
The quality of the photo still bugs me, though, in terms of date.
I have several school photos, taken by Fleet Photographers, from Malta of, eg Mrs CinC Med Fleet presenting prizes, which have a very similar appearance.
 

4(T)

LE
Yes, I'd say it looks like a VSO doing the honours at a pads' kids' party - very common in cantonments and garrisons overseas.

I'd also guess that this is post war - early 1950s. I imagine VSOs found little time to attend kids' parties 1939-45.

The obvious connection would be that Mills our Warrant Shipwright had a close working relationship with Flag Officer (Air) during the commissioning and beat up of Triumph, and hence the pads' social events.
 

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