The 1st July was Canada Day, the annual anniversary of the Constitution Act that united three colonies into a single country called Canada within the British Empire. At this time we also recall to mind the many Canadians who served in Coastal Forces during the Second World War, and in particular the crew of MTB 460 (pictured above), some of whom were killed on 2nd July 1944, when their boat struck a mine while safeguarding the D-Day anchorages off Normandy.
Canadian volunteers had served with Coastal Forces from as early as 1940, most notable of whom were a trio of volunteer reserve officers, Cornelius Burke, Tommy Ladner and Douglas Maitland, who served on 'short' MGBs in the North Sea. The three were later to command 'Dog Boats' in the Mediterranean, where they earned the name 'The Three Musketeers' on account of their many exploits among the islands of the Adriatic.
In 1944 in Home Waters, two flotillas of boats were formed entirely crewed by Canadian sailors. The 29th MTB Flotilla consisted of 'short' British Power Boat MTBs, and the 65th MTB Flotilla, comprising the longer and more heavily-armed Fairmile 'D' types, under the overall command of Lieutenant Commander J R H Kirkpatrick RCNVR. Both Canadian flotillas were to suffer tragedy late on in the war at Ostend in February 1945, when the boats were caught up in a disastrous fire and explosion in harbour, in what proved to be the worst day for Coastal Forces in the whole of the war.
Representatives from London Branch Coastal Forces Veterans were invited to this year's Thames Traditional Boat Festival at Henley-on-Thames. Featuring the largest display of traditional boats in Europe, MTB 102 made an appearance, while members of the branch also attended with an information display.
Location Map: Fawley Meadows Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
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
Stoker 2nd Class Arthur Joseph Pothecary (H.M.M.G.B. 601)
Able Seaman James Christopher Riddell (H.M.M.T.B. 81)
Able Seaman William Collings McCluskey (H.M.S. Attack)
Able Seaman Eric King Rigby (H.M.S. Attack)
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