On 17th June we commemorated Lieutenant Frank Leslie 'Nick' Carter, killed onboard his command ML 1301 during Operation Brassard, the Allied assault on Elba
ML 1301 was a Fairmile designed Harbour Defence Motor Launch (HDML). Despite their designation, these versatile craft were rarely confined to harbour, seeing service in all manner of operations at sea, both at home and abroad. ML 1301 was laid down at Blackmore's yard in Bideford, Devon in September 1942. She was launched in January 1943, completed in Appledore, and commissioned on 6th April 1943. Lieutenant Carter oversaw her construction and was able to stipulate minor variations to the basic design, such as armour cladding to the bridge.
Initially, her armament consisted of a 2 pounder gun on the foredeck, a 20mm Orlikon on the stern cabin, a .303' Vickers machine on each side of the bridge, and eight depth charges on racks at the stern. After 'working-up' in the Bristol Channel, ML 1301 was grouped into a convoy in Milford Haven, and sailed for Malta, via Gibraltar. In Malta, the 2 pounder gun was removed and replaced by another 20mm Orlikon. She was also fitted with Radar at this stage.
From Malta, ML 1301 took part in Operation Husky – the invasion of Sicily. She was one of the first to reach the beaches and acted as a lead boat to show lights to the landing craft. She then performed a similar role in the invasion of Italy at Salerno, after which she was based in Naples.
Lieutenant 'Nick' Carter was killed during the boat's third major operation, the invasion of Elba, when the boat came under fire from a heavily armed German F-Lighter
After the action in Elba, the boat was adapted for survey work, surveying harbours in Italy, the Adriatic and Aegean, and reaching as far east as Cyprus. The boat was then shipped back to the UK, where she was attached to the Hydrographic Office surveying the South Coast, and renamed HMS Meda. The boat was eventually decommissioned in 1966 and sold, ending up with Hector Sheppard-Capurro, the owner of Sheppard's Marina in Gibraltar. The boat was renamed again as Gibel Tarik and modified for use as a yacht.
Eventually the boat was put up for sale in 2007 and bought by a Dutch businessman. In a remarkable turn of events, 'Nick' Carter's son, David, formed part of the crew who sailed his father's old command back to Holland from Gibraltar. For the full story see The Return of HDML 1301 in the September 2015 edition of the London Branch newsletter.
The veteran's section contains latest branch news and announcements, as well as up-to-date information on boats that have been preserved. You can also learn something of the history of the Coastal Forces Veterans Association, and of the London Branch
Hastings Bullock, a native of New Zealand, and current resident of Nelson, Waimea, has recently celebrated his 101st birthday! The oldest of three, Hastings was born and raised in Christchurch, and trained as an accountant after leaving school. His war service began in 1940 when he joined the Navy and travelled to England, where after basic training he joined the North Atlantic convoys. After succesfully completing officer training, he was was posted to East Africa on motor launches, before returning to New Zealand in 1943, where he spent the remainder of the war operating motor launches out of Wellington.
Recalling his experiences in London during the Blitz, Hastings spoke of how in 1941 he would go underground with mothers and children and how they used to impress him with the way they behaved while under bombing. "They had really positive attitudes, they made us (the New Zealand Navy) feel very welcome.”
He met his eventual wife, Patricia, in 1958 and went on to raise two daughters and a son. He has been involved with the The Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association for many years, and enjoys meeting his friends at the gatherings. “You feel very involved with them because they have been through exactly what you have been through. I don't think any of the people I joined the navy with are alive today, but I think I’m just lucky.” He has just one complaint about getting older: “My knees are a lot slower now, it makes it harder to catch the blondes!!”
Rigger Finlay John Fraser (H.M.S. Beehive)
At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them
The Book of Remembrance honours the memory of those who died in service on this day. The book also lists all casualties for each month of the year. A full search of casualties by name, or unit is available from within the casualty database
The Coastal Forces Veterans Association (CFVA) was founded in 1974 and ran until the official laying up of colours in 2007. Former CFVA Chairman and London Branch veteran Peter Bickmore recounts the early days of the association
News articles and announcements from the London Branch based on HMS Belfast on the Thames near Tower Bridge in London.
Sunday 17th July, 2016
Over 2000 vessels of various types were constructed for use by Coastal Forces during the Second World War, including motor torpedo boats, motor gunboats and motor launches. On the cessation of hostilities nearly all boats were sold or otherwise disposed of. Some were donated to sea scout groups, while many more were converted for use as leisure craft, houseboats, or in some cases ferries. Over the decades the number to remain seaworthy has inevitably dwindled, leaving a precious few to be saved for the nation, or preserved for posterity by private individuals or trusts.
Known for a time as Meda, this former Harbour Defence Launch is currently undergoing restoration in Holland. It originally served in the Mediterranean taking part in the invasions of Sicily and Elba, as well as the Salerno Landings
Known as Harbour Defence Motor Launches, these boats were actually used in all forms of operations at sea in areas as diverse as Home Waters, the Mediterranean, and West Africa. HDML 1387 (Medusa) performed the role of navigation beacon during D-Day
This boat was completed as a Motor Gun Boat (MGB) but converted along with others for use as a Motor Torpedo Boat (MTB 416) in September 1943. It has since been restored to its original gunboat specification and secured for preservation by Portsmouth Naval Base Property
MTB 71 was built for the Royal Norwegian Navy as No 7 but requisitioned for the Royal Navy in July 1943. MTB 71 survived the war and was sold in 1945. It was acquired for restoration in 1993, and is now preserved as part of the Imperial War Museum collection at Duxford
An important craft in the development of the motor torpedo boat, MTB 102 was originally constructed by Vosper in 1937 as a demonstration model, before being sold to the Admiralty in 1938. It is now maintained by the MTB 102 Trust based at Lowestoft
MTB 219 was originally built for the Greek Navy as T4 before being requisitioned by the Royal Navy. MTB 219 survived the war and was transferred to Staines Sea Scouts in 1945, before being sold in 1948. It is currently being restored after use as a houseboat for over sixty years
One of only twelve Gay Class boats designed by Vosper and built in the early 1950s for use by the Royal Navy as fast attack craft. Gay Archer (P1042) was the last of the motor boats to be powered using petrol engines
As a Rescue Motor Launch, RML 497 carried out air sea rescue work in conjunction with the RAF in their high-speed Air Sea Rescue (ASR) launches, often putting to sea when weather conditions were too rough for the RAF boats. It has now been secured for preservation by the National Museum of the Royal Navy
A Rescue Motor Launch, RML 526 is a version of the multi-use Fairmile B Class of motor launch, the largest numerically of the boat types crewed by Coastal Forces
The Steam Gun Boat Grey Goose, one of only seven to have entered service with the Royal Navy, and famously commanded by Sir Peter Scott, Senior Officer of the SGB Flotilla based in the English Channel. It is currently a houseboat