PO Clarence Cuthbert KEEM C/JX607977 DSM

Enquiries relating to individual men and women who served with HM Light Coastal Forces; help with interpreting service records, or with tracing former comrades
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PO Clarence Cuthbert KEEM C/JX607977 DSM

Postby P0ndPers0n » Thu Jan 07, 2021 1:13 pm

I am wondering whether anyone can provide me with any information (including any contemporary photographs), about my Grandfather who was killed in action on 1st October 1944 while aboard MTB 360 during an engagement with enemy forces near Ijmuiden off the Dutch coast? He was awarded a posthumous Mention in Dispatches on that occasion.

My Grandfather's nickname was 'kipper' and my understanding is that he was Lt Ian Trelawney's coxswain in 11 Flotilla based at Felixstowe (HMS Beehive). On the night in question, Ian Trelawney was to go on patrol with six other vessels. My Grandfather was off duty but one of the duty cox'ns received a telegram advising that his little son was very ill. The cox'n was given immediate compassionate leave but his son died later that night. My Grandfather stood in for his colleague and joined the patrol. The subsequent action in which my Grandfather lost his life is described in great detail in Peter Scott's book 'The Battle of the Narrow Seas.

However I am struggling to obtain any details of the circumstances in which my Grandfather was awarded his DSM, other than it involved an action which also included Ian Trelawney, who was awarded a DSC for the same action.

The late Sandy Powell (MTB Telegraphist), who knew my Grandfather, mentioned another incident which took place on a patrol one night. One of the MTB's of the flotilla had struck a mine and my Grandfather, from his vessel, heard cries coming from across the water. He tied a rope around himself and dived into the water, pulling three survivors to safety. I know no other details about this incident.

It's a big ask I know but if anyone has any information about my Grandfather's wartime service at HMS Beehive or indeed, at any other Unit, I would be most grateful.

Hope you are all keeping safe out there. Kind regards,

David Court

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Re: PO Clarence Cuthbert KEEM C/JX607977 DSM

Postby Admin » Fri Jan 08, 2021 12:46 am

Hello David

Thank you for your enquiry concerning your grandfather Clarence Cuthbert Keem. I believe I have managed to track down some information which may be of interest, including a strong candidate for the action for which he may have been awarded his earlier DSM.

The October 1943 Navy List lists an earlier boat for Tempy Lieut RNVR Ian Clarence Trelawney in MTB 356 which he is shown as being in command of since 21 June 43. At that time he already had an award of the DSC earned with MTB 34. His second in command on 356 was Tempy Sub-Lieut RNVR J Quine. Our boat database shows this boat as completed on this date so this would have been an all new boat he commanded as SO of the 11th MTB Flotilla. It is to be assumed your grandfather was also posted to this boat.

MTB 356 only had a brief life, being scuttled following damage from gunfire sustained in action with German surface craft off the Netherlands on 16 October 1943, and so in the February 1944 Navy List, Trelawney and Quine are shown for MTB 355 with a date of November 1943 for assuming command. This boat had been completed slightly earlier than 356, so the two officers presumably replaced those already with it.

Night Action by Peter Dickens covers some of the work of the 11th MTB Flotilla and two actions in particular involving MTB 356.

The award of DSM to your grandfather is given in the February 1944 edition of the London Gazette and Seedies Awards to Coastal Forces shows him as being with MTB 355, which was Trelawney's replacement boat.

The Public Record Office at Kew has a series of Coastal Forces Log Books, which are handwritten notes documenting patrol details and any actions, on a daily basis. ADM 199/2416 contains a report of an action for the 9th December 1943 involving MTB 355 which could be the action for which Trelawney received the bar to his DSC, and your grandfather his DSM, as the timing is quite good for the notification of the award two months later in February 1944. I am including the relevant pages below. In addition I am also posting two pages from ADM 199/2417 covering the night of 30th September / 1st October 1944 which is the action your grandfather was killed in, which is noted on the page.

I don't have any boat or crew photos that I am aware of but will keep an eye out for anything else I may be able to find.


Action Report 9th December 1943 ADM 199/2416
ADM 199/2416 9th December 1943 1
ADM 199/2416 9th December 1943 2
ADM 199/2416 9th December 1943 3

Action Report 30th September / 1st October 1944 ADM 199/2417
ADM 199/2417 30th September 1944 1
ADM 199/2417 30th September 1944 2

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Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2020 5:22 pm

Re: PO Clarence Cuthbert KEEM C/JX607977 DSM

Postby P0ndPers0n » Mon Jan 11, 2021 11:24 am

Dear Admin,

Thank you so much for the wealth of information which you have provided, which has been of great assistance to me and the family. I continue to search for other pieces of the 'jigsaw' and I am very grateful for your help.

Best wishes,

David Court

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