Tony (nobby) Clarke(-Ceely)

Enquiries relating to individual men and women who served with HM Light Coastal Forces; help with interpreting service records, or with tracing former comrades
MichaelClarke
Seaman
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2016 9:25 am

Tony (nobby) Clarke(-Ceely)

Postby MichaelClarke » Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:32 am

Hello Veterans,
I wonder if any of you might remember serving with my late father Anthony Clarke-Ceely 15/5/1923 to 07/07/2007. Last night I saw a piece on the BBC 10 O clock news about the centenary of the MTB/Light coastal forces. When I saw that there are thankfully veterans surviving to this day I wondered if I could find anyone who remembered my dad.

He was quite reticent about most of his War service . From a few letters that he sent me and things that he did tell me I know that he was called up in 1941 or 1942 started his training around Dartmouth and then later went up to Fort William for training on MTB's or light coastal forces. I think he was given cooking duties on one boat and may have been a gunner on another.

He was born in Stratford London but moved with his family at a young age to the west midlands where his father kept a pub " The White Lion" at mere green. He had begun a printing apprenticeship in Birmingham which delayed his call up until the factory was bombed after which he was relocated to another Printworks, when this was also bombed he was called up and sent down to Devon.

He mentioned being stationed in Cornwall and Devon and having to billet in Dartmoor prison on one occasion (not due to an offence) He told me that mostly he didn't see much action but on leave in London he witnessed a very upsetting aftermath to a large bomb explosion that had demolished a street that he and his cousin had just walked down a few moments earlier.

In the week before D-Day he did night missions laying fused mines that were timed to become active creating a safe corridor for the landings if I understood him correctly.

At the end of the War he had already been transferred to HMS Belfast's missions in Asia including a stop in Shanghai and then later an attempt to encourage him to Demob in Australia and become a citizen there. After the War he worked as a salesman for his Father's Advertising products Business (Keyfobs, Pens, Headed Stationery etc) Later he worked as a Printer(He had completed the apprenticeship) for GKN until Technology overtook Lithographic and Typeset printing).

After retirement he and my mother emigrated to the North of Tenerife (Where she had family connections). He had many enjoyable years of gentle exercise and socialising until in 2005 a Series of Stokes followed by partial disablement culminated in his passing in the summer of 2007 He is buried in the anglo/german cemetery in Puerto De La Cruz.

If anyone has any knowledge of him or a general comment please post a reply to this message. I am his son Michael and I live in Westmeath in Ireland.

Stephen
Chief Petty Officer
Posts: 63
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:58 pm

Re: Tony (nobby) Clarke(-Ceely)

Postby Stephen » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:24 am

Hi Michael,

I can't offer much I'm afraid, except to say that if your father was laying mines in advance of D-Day, he may have been involved in Operation Monastic. As I understand it, this involved the 13th, 14th and 64th Flotillas. Both the 13th and 14th operated Vosper MTBs and laid ground mines, whilst the 64th, operating Fairmile D boats, laid moored mines.

There's some brief information about it in Dog Boats at War and MTBs and MGBs in Home Waters, both by Leonard Reynolds. There's probably a lot more in this source at The National Archives: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.u ... 03&catln=6. However, although flotillas and individual boats may be named in this report, it's unlikely that any individuals (except commanding officers) are named.

Hope this is of some use.
Steve

MichaelClarke
Seaman
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2016 9:25 am

Re: Tony (nobby) Clarke(-Ceely)

Postby MichaelClarke » Tue Aug 30, 2016 8:52 am

Thank you very much Steve for your quick and informative reply. Yes the 64th sounds more likely as he described how the mines deployed earlier in that week before D-Day had longer fuses which became progressively shorter as the weeks mission went on, I think the theory being that if all went as planned they would all pop up and become active at the same appointed time.

Since yesterday I unearthed another old letter in which my dad gives a few more bits of detail. He got his travel warrant to HMS Raleigh at Torpoint Devon in December 1941, he received 16 weeks initial training before being zoned to a Depot at Chatham.

In late march 1942 he was sent to Fort William for Five months training on Light Coastal Forces. He mentions one doleful lecturer in his sixties saying " As I look at you today I wonder how many of you will be around this time next month" which was taken as a hint to pay attention as the war may have seemed a long way away up there by the Loch.

After three weeks of lectures the trainees were taken out on a different boat every day to learn the ropes. With Saturdays and sundays off. His first posting must have been around late August 1942 to Weymouth. Later he was at Poole followed by Great Yarmouth, Brightlingsea and Appledore.

He was on a MTB with a crew of 27 as one of the upper deck ratings I think he was the cook for a boat at one time although I never saw any evidence of a great flair for cuisine in him. Although he was a dab hand at bacon sandwiches.

He descibes a routine of sailing off in pairs at sunset to fixed points shutting off engines and lowering long metal rods with earphones attached to listen out for propellor noises. after the boats had drifted for a while the engines would be restarted and they would return to the fixed point and repeat the process.

The only other detail I have is that after returning from some home leave he joined a brand new larger MTB which sailed out of either Appledore or Newlyn on 21st August 1943 for six weeks of working up trials near Milford Haven and Anglesea before heading to more aggressive areas.
Unfortunately he never mentions any numbers of boats.

Thanks again for your reply Steve, I realise there were probably a lot of nobby Clarkes and that the recorded history mostly concerns the Officers and people who took part in the more dangerous missions.

Regards Michael Clarke

Stephen
Chief Petty Officer
Posts: 63
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:58 pm

Re: Tony (nobby) Clarke(-Ceely)

Postby Stephen » Tue Aug 30, 2016 8:30 pm

Hi Michael,

No problem at all. Looking through Allied Coastal Forces at War, Volume 1, apparently MTB 687 was completed in Appledore on 31 July 1943. This is the closest vessel I can find that might have sailed out of Appledore or Newlyn on the 21st August. This was a Fairmile D and probably wouldn't have been any bigger than his previous boat - a crew of 27 would mean that he was most likely on an earlier Dog Boat or even a slightly larger Steam Gun Boat.

Regards,
Steve


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