Dame Vera Lynn celebrated her 100th birthday on 20th March. Born Vera Margaret Welch in the East End of London in 1917, she adopted her grandmother's maiden name for her stage name, achieving early success singing on the radio in 1930s with the Joe Loss Orchestra
Rising to national prominence during the Second World War, she was originally voted the "forces' sweetheart" through a newspaper competition held in 1939. The voice behind many iconic wartime songs, she helped boost the morale of the armed forces, particularly those serving overseas, some of whom she visited in 1944, in a tour which took in Egypt, India and the 'forgotten war' in Burma.
Awarded an OBE in 1969, a DBE in 1975, in 2000 she was was named the Briton who best exemplified the spirit of the 20th century. She was most recently made a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, for being “the voice of hope” during the Second World War. Coastal Forces Veterans would like to wish her a very Happy Birthday!
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
Sunday 9th April, 2017
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.
The Committee have agreed Autumn meetings on HMS Belfast should now be held in October to correct the existing gap between meetings, and address the anomaly of holding two meetings in November.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them
MGB 314, and MTB 74, accompanied by sixteen motor launches, took part in Operation Chariot, the successful attempt by HMS Campbeltown, with a party of commandos, to destroy the dry-dock facilities at Saint-Nazaire, and deny their possible use to the German surface raider Tirpitz.
Casualties amongst Coastal Forces were high, and the action earned a posthumous award of the Victoria Cross to Able Seaman William Alfred Savage, the forward gunner onboard MGB 314.
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