The 18th March, 1943 saw a tragedy of a different kind befall Coastal Forces when a bomb from a Messerschmitt 109 destroyed the living accomodation for Wrens serving with Coastal Forces at HMS Midge, Great Yarmouth. Fred Cork, second coxswain on MTB 612, recalled himself and his shipmates being blown clean out of their bunks in their billet just four doors away, while Wren Olive Swift had to be dug from the wreckage along with others in her block. Though many of the Wrens survived the devasting attack, eight of their number were killed – Wren Rita Turner, age nineteen, succumbing to her injuries some two weeks later.
The Loss of MTB 417
Cap Gris-Nez: 16th March 1944
MTB 417 was sunk by gun-fire from a German surface craft off Calais on 15 /16 March 1944. The Loss of MTB 417: On 15/16 March three D boats from Dover were sent out to attack a target, thought to be a small merchant vessel. It was escorted by a force more notable for quantity than for the size of individual ships: two auxiliary trawlers and 10 R-boats. With the Dog Boats was one 'short' MTB of the 5th Flotilla, 353 (Lt J D Dempster), and the combination worked well. While the withering broadsides from the Dogs distracted the escorts, 353 crept in unseen and torpedoed the main target. The next night four boats were vectored to attack a patrol of six armed trawlers of Cap Gris-Nez. Lt R B Rooper RN, SO MGBs at Dover, was embarked in 417 (Sub Lt T G Wilson), supported by three other ex-gunboats of the 2nd Flotilla, two of which became detached, leaving only 417 and 418 (Lt L Thompson) to make the attack. Their approach was detected and they were met by a curtain of gunfire, much of it from 88mm and 37mm guns, from Vps 1802, 1803, 1804, 1810, 1811 and 1815. Several 88mm shells from 1810 and 1811 hit 417 which immediately burst into flames and sank with all hands. 418 very gallantly attempted to approach to see if anyone could be saved, but was beaten off by the continuing barrage. Lt Rooper, who had been awarded a DSC for an action in September 1943, had suffered the same fate as Dicky Richards, the SO he had succeeded. Vice Admiral Dover commended Lt L E Thomson and his crew for their spirited single-handed attack and believed one R-boat was sunk. Source: MTBs and MGBs at War, Chapter 9, p122, Len Reynolds