SPO Charlie Vincent

Enquiries relating to individual men and women who served with HM Light Coastal Forces; help with interpreting service records, or with tracing former comrades
Graham101
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SPO Charlie Vincent

Postby Graham101 » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:23 am

Hi,

New to the forum and looking for info on my Grandad Charlie Vincent. Coastal forces wise I think he served on MTB's so I have posted on the MTB thread.
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=581

Any extra info I can glean about his service would be fantastic. I have worked out and have info on most of the ships he served on, although info on HMS Harrow is thin on the ground.

Many thanks.

Graham101
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Re: SPO Charlie Vincent

Postby Graham101 » Wed Mar 09, 2016 7:34 pm

Update here is the info I have to date. I'm guessing the bold ones would be Coastal Forces?

Service record

1.Pembroke 2 - 20 Feb 36 -Shore Est Chatham - Presume initial training
2. HMS Orion - 10 July 36 - 20 July 37- Light Cruiser
3. Pembroke 2 - 20 July 37 - 20 Nov 37 - Shore Est
4. HMS Shoreham - 20 Nov 37 - 1 Jan 40 - Shoreham Class Sloop
5. Pembroke 2 - 1 Jan 40 - 11 Dec 40
6. HMS Legion - 11 Dec 40 - 15 July 41 L Class Destroyer
7. Pembroke 2 - 15 July 41 - 12 Sep 41 Shore Est
8. Attack 152/503 - 12 Sep 41 - 16 Nov 41 Shore Est Portland - Possibly on MTBs?
9. Hornet 152/307?? - 16 Nov 41 - 3 Dec 41 Shore Est Gosport - Possibly on MTBs?

10. Nile (Mosquito) - 3 Dec 41 - 22 Sep 42 Shore Est Alex Egypt - Possibly on MTBs?
11 HMS Harrow - 22 Sep 42 to 20 May 44 - Minesweeper
12. Pembroke - 20 May 44 - 6 Aug 44 - Shore Est
13. HMS Cyclops - 6 Aug 44 to 18 Dec 46 - Submarine Repair/Depot Ship
14. Pembroke - 18 Dec 46 - 1 Oct 47 - Shore Est
15. 121/7 Pembroke (2?) (ML250) - 1 Oct 47 - 28 Nov 47 - Motor Launch Fairmile B Class?
16. 151a/5844 Pembroke2 (5a) 28 Nov 47 - 1 April 48 - Shore Est What do the numbers mean?
17.Pembroke (2?) - 26 April 48 - Shore Est - Released Class A

Admin
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Re: SPO Charlie Vincent

Postby Admin » Fri Mar 11, 2016 11:00 am

Hello Graham

I've managed to draw up the following which will hopefully prove useful:

Pembroke II was the accounting base for Chatham, which was his Port Division.

Orion: three different versions served as shore establishments, but none during the period in question or during the Second World War, so this will be the vessel you have managed to research.

Legion was brand new in December 1940 and seems to have had an eventful career in Home Waters being involved in the landings on the Lofoten Islands, and was in the Mediterranean before returning to the UK in July of 1941 when presumably he was either drafted to Coastal Forces or put in a request to join them?

Hecla was a depot ships for destroyers on the Clyde, but was allocated to Hvalfjord in June 1941.

Orlando was an accounts base at Greenock, so he presumably stayed on the Clyde when Hecla departed for Iceland.

Attack was the Coastal Forces base at Portland. If 152 refers to a boat, then there was an ML 152 that was operational at this time, but 503 was either a Camper & Nicholson MGB (1943), or a British Power Boat MTB (1945), both of which were much later than the period in question. There seem to be a couple of other numbers under Attack — 94? and 538? — neither of which make sense as boat numbers, given the dates.

Hornet was the principal Coastal Forces base at Gosport, and MTB 307, along with 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315 & 316 were all American-built Elco MTBs and part of the 15th Flotilla under Lt D Jermain, before merging with the 10th MTB Flotilla in September 1942 after losses to the 10th had depleted its numbers. This would account for his transfer at that point to HMS Harrow. Operation Agreement, a disastrous raid involving combined land and sea forces on the port of Tobruk, had taken place on the 14th September 1942, during which 308, 310, 312, & 314 were lost. So he may have been with one of those boats, or if he was with 307 and remained with that boat—which survived the war—then he may have been displaced by another stoker(s) who was a survivor from one of the boats that was lost. There is an interview available on the IWM site with William Henry Robinson who served on Harrow and describes the ship.

Mosquito was the Coastal Forces base variously at Haifa, Beirut, Benghazi and Port Said, but was at Alexandria at the time in question.

Shoreham seems to have been active in the Gulf but is also given as an accounting base for all Gulf personnel between 1939–41, so he could conceivably have been on some other smaller vessel, but he was more than likely a stoker on the vessel itself.

Cyclops is given as Repair Ship to the 7th Submarine Flotilla at Rothesay for the period in question, the ship being Paid Off (retired from its role) in December 1945.

Graham101
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Re: SPO Charlie Vincent

Postby Graham101 » Fri Mar 11, 2016 1:53 pm

Thanks, that very helpful. On the numbers next to the Attack and Hornet someone on 'worldnavyships' suggested the following

"The numbers next to Attack and Hornet are, I suspect, to do with his pay list. Each man was, on reporting for duty assigned to a list. The list depended on his rank/specialisation/role. He appears to have been on list 15 which covered a number of possibilities including supernumeraries awaiting disposal, men on training or men taking passage etc. When he reported he would also be given a number on his list on a first come first served basis. The superscript 2 following the 15 indicates a subdivision of list 15 for men below the rate of PO."

No idea if this is correct or not?

They also said
"If a ship’s name appears in brackets after another name, the brackets indicate the vessel on which he was actually serving while the unbracketed name shows the depot ship or base which dealt with his pay."

Which would suggest he wasn't on Hecla or Orlando but rather still with Legion. This might make sense as he would have spent 1 month and less than 1 month respectively on those ships/establishments. So I think this might be right??

MTB wise I note it says in his service record Mosquito from 3 Dec 1941 and the 10th Flotilla was posted to Alex in Jan 42 so presume that was when he joined them. His pictures list the following boats; MTB 265, 266, 268, 309. There are 3 pictures (2 missing sadly) of 268 which makes me think that maybe this was his boat. Given the picture of 309 that picture at least if not all of them must have been from Sep 1942 as it looks like that was when the 15th joined the 10th and 309 was part of the 15th (taken from here http://www.unithistories.com/units_brit ... B_Flotilla)
The pictures he has of the MTB's are in Cyprus by the looks of things except one entitled "268 on then slips Hiafa" this picture is one of the missing ones.

What you say about Operation Agreement sounds very likely given his transfer to HMS Harrow on the 22 Sep. So I think we can place him on MTB's for at least Jan - Sep 42, very likely on MTB 268 under S.Lt. D.C. Souter, RNVR. Looks like 268 survived the war.

In his photos is a double page with 10 pictures entitled "The following photo's I took from an Italian Submarine which we captured and bought into Beirut (Syria) on the 8th of July 1942" There is no name of the Sub given and only 3 partial pictures of it. The main focus is the crew photo's. I will scan these and post up if anyone is interested? There was also a diary of one of the crewman which my Granddad had translated, I'll need to ask my folks if they still have this. From the date this must have been when he was on MTB's so might be mentioned somewhere?

HMS Attack it looks like he was only there about 2 months and HMS Hornet wise he was only there about 3 weeks so guess may not have had a boat? This might be born out by the comment from the other forum about the numbers referring to lists and men "awaiting disposal, men on training or men taking passage etc"? Looking at the dates the following flotilla's were at HMS Hornet at the time
5th MTB Flotilla with MTBs 24, 28, 41, 42, 100, 102, 216

On the unit histories website I can't find any MTB's at Attack although I might have missed something. From my Dad I hear that Granddad preferred small boats/ships as less 'Bull**** and Brasso" I think were the words so possibly why he might have volunteered for MTB's.

I shall take a look at the HMS Harrow interview I have struggled thus far to find much about it except it looks like an old WW1 ship. I have a photo I found online and a few brief lines and that's it.

I think he may well have been on HMS Shoreham as there is a picture of it in his album in Basra 1938

Thanks so much again. As I find out more I'll keep posting up.

Graham101
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Re: SPO Charlie Vincent

Postby Graham101 » Fri Mar 11, 2016 3:16 pm

Looking online I think the Italian sub was the 'Perla'. Says captured by the Corvette Hyacinth on the 9th July 42. This part explains the MTB involvement

"MTB 261 who had with HMS Gloxinia and MTB 265 had come out from Beirut had been sent back to harbour to bring out two officers with submarine experience and returned just after the tow parted." So this is probably how my Granddad came by the pictures/diary. Either he was on one of those boats or got it from someone who was.

http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/52096-t ... july-1942/

http://www.naval-history.net/WW2Campaig ... nNavy2.htm

http://www.regiamarina.net/detail_text_ ... d=1&cid=35

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Re: SPO Charlie Vincent

Postby Admin » Fri Mar 11, 2016 7:01 pm

I would imagine the information supplied on World Naval Ships to be accurate with regards to general operational detail as there are a lot of ex-servicemen on there it seems.
Which would suggest he wasn't on Hecla or Orlando but rather still with Legion.
Yes, I would agree with that reading looking again at his record. Hecla was handling pay until it was sent to support destroyers in Iceland, and then pay came under Orlando.
MTB wise I note it says in his service record Mosquito from 3 Dec 1941 and the 10th Flotilla was posted to Alex in Jan 42 so presume that was when he joined them.
The boats of the 15th MTB Flotilla were delivered to the UK in early 1941, while the boats of the 10th were transported to the Mediterranean directly from the USA. I would imagine the boats of the 15th would have made their own way there, so he presumably would have taken passage from Hornet on one of them, and could have transferred at a later date to 286.
HMS Attack it looks like he was only there about 2 months and HMS Hornet wise he was only there about 3 weeks so guess may not have had a boat?
His tenure at Attack being brief, he may just have been stand-by crew to cover for illness or injury. As a stoker though, he could have performed duties ashore just as at sea, and could have been in the workshops helping out with repairs to engines or boats. I did once ask a motor mechanic on the boats what the difference between a stoker and a motor mechanic was in terms of the duties performed in the engine room, since stoker is obviously a term that comes from the days of steam and feeding boilers, and he said they helped the motor mechanics out performing the less specialist tasks, and taking their orders from what would often be a Petty, or a Chief Petty Officer MM. Ron Matthews, himself a POMM, in his recollection of training at HMS Shrapnel seemed to suggest the top of each intake selected through tests and practicals received training as motor mechanics, while the rest trained as stokers.

On the unit histories website I can't find any MTB's at Attack although I might have missed something. From my Dad I hear that Granddad preferred small boats/ships as less 'Bull**** and Brasso" I think were the words so possibly why he might have volunteered for MTB's.
The 11th MTB Flotilla, comprising Thornycroft MTBs 49-56 and 105 were there between 1941–42, together with Vosper MTB 102 (now preserved) under Lt K A Cradock-Hartopp, and Lt J A Eardley-Wilmot. In addition there was the 2nd MGB Flotilla (MGBs 6–13), the 4th MGB Flotilla (MGBs 50–57), and the 7th MGB Flotilla (MGBs 82–92), although all of these flotillas were stationed at various other bases on the south coast throughout the period 1941–44, so they wouldn’t necessarily all have been at Portland at the same time. There would likely have been MLs stationed there as well.

Coastal Forces were regarded as quite different to the regular navy, and despite their considerable success and many direct encounters with the enemy, could draw unfavourable comments from 'big ship' officers at times, who disparagingly referred to them as "Costly Farces", irritated perhaps by the attention their exploits received in the press of the day.

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Re: SPO Charlie Vincent

Postby Admin » Fri Mar 11, 2016 11:06 pm

The pictures he has of the MTB's are in Cyprus by the looks of things except one entitled "268 on then slips Hiafa" this picture is one of the missing ones.
That would likely be Mosquito I at Haifa, which would date the photo to October 1943 through to March 1944, or possibly up until May 1945, there being some confusion as to when Mosquito actually 'paid off'.

Graham101
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Re: SPO Charlie Vincent

Postby Graham101 » Thu Feb 16, 2017 2:06 pm

Hi,

Thought I’d post an update. Thanks for everyone’s responses on this forum I’ve managed to glean a fair bit of info re: coastal forces and MTBs in particular. I’ve also managed to read:

Mediterranean MTBs at war
Home waters MTBs
Battle of the narrow seas
Coastal forces at war
Vanguard: British Motor torpedo boat 1939-1945
Flag 4

Of those Flag 4 was probably the most enlightening on the period that my grandad served with MTBs. It seems as this was the early period of MTB operations in the Mediterranean info is a lot more thin on the ground in comparison to later on when the force expanded greatly.

I also managed to have a phone conversation with Ron Matthews who served in the 10th Flotilla at a later period which was absolutely fantastic so thanks very much to Admin for passing those details on for me.

Does anyone know if it’s possible to find any more information on what particular MTB my grandad was on? I’m pretty much definite that he was in the 10th Flotilla and I strongly suspect that he was on MTB 268 due to that boat being the most photographed in his collection but I still can’t say for sure. Is there any further digging I can do with the Navy? I presume that there must have been logs kept by each boat, but equally guess these have gone missing over the years. It’d be great if I could nail down his actual boat at the end of this.

I’ve got some final potential leads in the document lists in the above books which are stored at the public record office but I’ll be saving these for when I have a batch of things to look up relating to the rest of his service.

Thanks again


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