MTB 243

Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB)
MBiggs
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Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:52 am

MTB 243

Postby MBiggs » Sat Sep 14, 2013 2:08 am

How did MTB 243 end her service, did she just wear out and is sunk as a target in 1943/44 or was she damaged on operations & then sunk as a target in 1944.

MTB 243 like many vessels from the Coastal Forces fleet has a distinguished service history which is well documented from clandestine operations, for example transporting operatives while operating from Komiza or her role at Bari and more.

The last recorded commander is John Collins 25th March 1943 to 6th September 1944. MTB 243 however remains in the records but with no officers listed. There appear to be however some service records with personnel attached to MTB 243 until 1945.

Two stories have emerged. First, after 6th September MTB 243 is just worn out and is sunk as a target most likely in 1944.

Second, she continued operating and is damaged (late 1944 or early 1945) most likely after hitting a mine is salvaged and towed back to the UK and then sunk as a target in 1945.

Does anybody know how she finished her service?

Pioneer
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Re: MTB 243

Postby Pioneer » Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:03 am

Hello 'MBiggs', welcome aboard.
The fate of MTB 243 is precisely documented in our Boats database as having been sunk as a target on 22nd August 1944. Her immediate history can be read in Mediterranean MTBs at War by L.C. Reynolds and H.F. Cooper.
…For these reasons the role of the 24th Flotilla was changed. It became a Special Service Flotilla, used to escort commando raids, or to land other small units of LRDG and SBS personnel on occupied coasts. Five of the remaining boats (85, 86, 89, 97 and 243) had to have their torpedo tubes removed and were each fitted with an additional 20-mm Breda gun to increase their fire-power. The other three boats (81, 84 and 242) retained their torpedoes in order to be able to operate as MTBs when required to do so. They were, of course, available to carry out the Special Service missions which were planned while the five boats being stripped of their torpedo tubes were all out of action…

…All five boats returned for operational use during the last two weeks of July 1944 but, shortly after, there was another change of plan. 81, 86, 89 and 243 were sent to pay off so that their crews could stand by to man the first four new USA-built Vospers of the 28th Flotilla. This left 84, 85, 97 and 242, all now dedicated to the Special Service role, led by Lt Roger Keyes RN….
It should also be recognised that 243 was directly involved with the rescue operations following the Bari raid of 2nd December 1943 with two of her crew being decorated–Sub Lt J.E.Collins being awarded the MBE and A/B Peter Bickmore the BEM. but as you say, 243 was by this time in a sorry state having seen action in Home Waters as well as in the Mediterranean. Her role with 'Special Services' in the Med finished at the end of July 1944.

MBiggs
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Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:52 am

Re: MTB 243

Postby MBiggs » Sun Sep 15, 2013 12:45 pm

Thank you for such a quick reply, you are right the history of MTB 243 is well documented.

I have attached the extract from a Certificate of Service which has MTB 243 at HMS Wildfire in September 1944, which would be difficult if she had already been sunk. Perhaps the service record confuses MTB 243 with ML 243 as this person also served, according to the Certificate of Service, on ML 243 from March 1945 to August 1945.

What is known of ML 243 movements from September 1944 to March 1945 as this may shed some more light on the mystery.
Attachments
243.jpg
Certificate of Service

Brian Holmes
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Joined: Wed May 06, 2009 3:26 pm
Location: Portsmouth

Re: MTB 243

Postby Brian Holmes » Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:59 pm

MTB_243 Vosper, Portsmouth and Porchester 18/11/42

For good service during the air attack on Bari 2/12/43
MBE TSLt John Ernest Harley Collins RNVR
BEM Ord Peter Thomas Frank Bickmore P/JX389145

Known Crew
Lt C W S Dreyer MTB 243 and Senior Officer 24th MTB Flotilla 11/1/43
TLt Hubert Charles Houssemayne DuBoulay RNVR HMS Midge 17/10/41 First Lieutenant MTB 71 10/07/42 First Lieutenant and Commanding Officer MTB 243 10/7/42 Commanding Officer MTB 407 31/10/44 DSC 1945 Born 1920 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
TSLt John Ernest Harley Collins RNVR MTB 243 6/9/43 Commanding Officer MTB 406
Charles Dennis Scutt Coxswain 1943
Ord Peter Thomas Frank Bickmore P/JX389145

Wartime Activities
24th MTB Flotilla Based at Malta
Mediterranean
Operation Husky - Invasion of Sicily
Based at Augusta
16-7/8/43 MTB 81, MTB242 and MTB 243 are stopped a half mile off Messina when two German R Boats appear. MTB 81, MTB242 and MTB 243 engage with gunfire. MTB 81 is struck by return fire. MTB 243 is stopped with one engine out of action. A fire breaks out on MTB 81’s bridge and her starboard engine is put out of action. Her engine room hatch is blown off. MTB 81, MTB242 and MTB 243 break off the action and return to Augusta.
2/12/43 MTB 81, MTB 86, MTB 242, MTB 243, MTB 296 and MTB 297 are alongside and MTB 85 is on a slipway in Bari. As dusk nears, a strong force of Luftwaffe bombers flying low over the sea to avoid Radar beams, appears over Bari harbour to release their bombs on merchant ships unloading on to the well illuminated quays, and along the line of freighters anchored side by side, stern onto the east wall. The air defences are caught completely unawares, the German aircraft causing great damage and loss, leaving behind chaos and confusion. It was a well executed attack, all over in a few minutes. MTB 296 is so badly damaged that she is written off and out of the war. MTB 297 is ordered to torpedo a blazing ship just outside the harbour which is drifting shorewards
Seventeen merchant vessels are sunk in the harbour, and several others are badly damaged, including HMS VIENNA the Coastal Force depot ship, whose damage is caused by a near miss bomb blast. One of the vessels sunk SS PUCK, has, amid its cargo, engines and spare parts for the 24th and 20th flotillas. The major factor however, in the disaster that followed, was the blowing up of USS JOHN HARVEY, which in addition to its cargo of arms and ammunition, carried a large quantity of liquid mustard gas contained in carboys stacked on the upper deck. It was not intended to use it, and was held in a stock pile, in case it was needed as retaliation should the Germans decide to resort to its use.
The JOHN HARVEY is repeatedly hit and set on fire burning fiercely until the ammunition went off with a great explosion. When the dust settled, the liquid mustard gas lay on the surface of the sea, mixing with oil and other fuels used by the sunken vessels.
MTB 81, MTB 242 and MTB 243, although only partly crewed, start up and crept around the harbour, picking up seamen from the acrid fumes coming from the surface of the water, and getting as near to burning hulks as they could to pluck off stranded crew members. Several merchant sailors have managed to get to the east wall walk way, and these too are rescued.
It became apparent that some of those in the water were so badly injured that they were unable to clamber aboard the MTBs. Several of the officers and crews strip off their trousers and upper clothes to assist those in the water to get aboard.
TSLt Leo Vincent Cruise RANVR boards a new Liberty ship that has been abandoned by her crew as she lay between two blazing ships, one of which was a tanker. A line is passed and MTB 81 tows the ship to safety.
From the diary of TLt Claude Raymond Holloway RNVR
“Air raid on Bari Harbour by Luftwaffe. Crew of MTB 242 up all night rescuing merchant seamen from burning ships and in the water. Seventeen merchant ships sank over 1000 people killed.”
Quote from Lt E Young RNVR (MTB 86)
“ We were alongside HMS VIENNA’s port bow all night awaiting new engines and some spare parts which were part of SS PUCK’s cargo. She was one of the merchant vessels that sank in Bari Harbour. Some of my crew assisted in the saving of merchant seamen’s lives”.
Although VIENNA is badly damaged by the effects of bomb blast, MTB 86 is shielded by her, and comes out of the inferno comparatively unscathed. Lt Young takes MTB 86 out of Bari the following morning and sails down to the Coastal Forces base at Brindisi on two engines. Upon arrival the Commanding Officer and most of his crew are taken to hospital and detained for treatment to their mustard gas blisters and burns”.
Quote from Lt H du Boulay RNVR
“ I was driving 243 all the time in the Bari air raid, and we picked up 40 to 50 survivors of every nationality under the sun.
MTB 243 went alongside a blazing tanker and successfully took off survivors.

Quote from Lt H du Boulay RNVR
“ I was driving 243 all the time in the Bari air raid, and we picked up 40 to 50 survivors of every nationality under the sun.

Post War Fate
Sunk as target, Mediterranean 22/8/44 (7/45?)

Brian Holmes
Commander
Posts: 245
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Location: Portsmouth

Re: MTB 243

Postby Brian Holmes » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:01 pm

ML_243 William Weatherhead, Cockenzie 26/5/41

Wind up of the war in Europe (Gazette Date - 11/12/45)
MID TLt Harry Philip Ford RNVR
MID TLSea John Edwin Oakley D/MD/X2958

New Year Honours 1946
MID Tel William Lunn C/JX262933

Known Crew
TLt Harry Philip Ford RNVR Commanding Officer ML 243 23/11/43
TSLt G Poskitt RNVR ML 243 22/10/44
TLSea John Edwin Oakley D/MD/X2958
Tel William Lunn C/JX262933
George Garey

Wartime Activities
18th ML Flotilla – Based on Stornoway
ML 215, ML 219, ML 225, ML 227, ML 235, ML 239, ML 243 and ML 249
7/41 At Stornoway
19th ML Flotilla Based at Holyhead
ML 203, ML 217, ML 236, ML 243, ML 250, ML 255, ML 257 and ML 275
1/42 At Holyhead
Operation Neptune Invasion of Normandy
19th ML Flotilla (Based on Dover)
ML 217, ML 236, ML 243 and ML 250
Attached to the 15th Minesweeping Flotilla for assault
9-10/6/44 ML 243 is lying anchored to the east of the Assault Area and is investigated by six boats of the 55th MTB Flotilla as a potential S Boat. At the last moment ML 243 switches on navigation lights and is recognised.

Post War Fate
1/46 For disposal

MBiggs
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Re: MTB 243

Postby MBiggs » Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:57 am

Thank you for the information - with the exception of ML 243 of which I only knew only of the commander, your history of MTB 243 is as I have been able to discover but in much better detail, for which I am grateful.

My fascination with MTB 243 is that along with my fathers service records, (part copy already posted) I have his hand written notes which refer to MTB 243 (note made much later). We know however by the time the notes are being made it is likely he is confusing some ship numbers. A photo which I will post taken taken by him (according to notes from MTB 243 ) is according to his notes of ML 917 at the landing of Walcheron, before hitting a mine. I believe however that the ship must be ML 916 & not ML 917.

I also have a picture of the vessel he was serving on in the North Sea, late 1944, which according to his service record & his notes is MTB 243 (but as we know this was sunk in the Mediterranean). I will also post this if people are interested - perhaps we can identify it.

However what I know is he was on HMS Scylla on Russian Convoys. Would you be able to tell me the name of the document I have posted & the name of his duties at Night Action. (I believe this is from the Scylla).

Thank you for your interest and assistance.
Attachments
HMS Scylla Pass.jpg

Brian Holmes
Commander
Posts: 245
Joined: Wed May 06, 2009 3:26 pm
Location: Portsmouth

Re: MTB 243

Postby Brian Holmes » Wed Sep 18, 2013 9:43 pm

What you have here is a Station Card issued to individuals to show where they mess and what there duties are.

This is the inside of a document that was pocket sized and folded and had to be carried around. The outside would be red in colour as he was in the port watch.

This was handed in when going ashore and recovered when the man came back again and controlled who was going on leave (One night or longer).

The card could be confiscated by a senior rate or officer for minor infractions thus identifying people and prevent people going ashore before the matter was sorted out.

I remember the days as they were still used into the seventies.

Peter
Sub Lieutenant
Posts: 75
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 7:41 pm

Re: MTB 243

Postby Peter » Sun Sep 22, 2013 10:15 am

It has been fascinating these last few days to read of the exploits of MTB 243 on our forum.

I was drafted to her from HMS Gregale (Malta) in August 1943 as Radar operator and served on her until her torpedo tubes were removed and she operated within Special Services. Of all the fondest memories I recall was the camaraderie of the crew headed by our P/O Coxn Jan Squires, a Dorset man through and through with his form of discipline that was much needed to shape us 18 year olds into a unit and crew to be proud of.
mtb-243.jpg
MTB 243 at sea
Jan Squires was drafted to Coastal Forces base ship Miraglia, ex Italian sea plane tender as CPO Drafting Officer at about the same time I was drafted to MGB 647. Having recently completed my memoirs of my RN service after some 70 years, I have searched my ditty box, and I have attached some photographs of that time.
mtb-243-crew-1.jpg
Some of the crew of MTB 243. From top left: Jan Squires (Coxn), Braisher (Torps), Brown (Sparks), Reg Sykes (Leading Motor Mechanic), Harry Lindfield (Stoker), Ron Coxen (Gunner)
mtb-243-crew-2.jpg
Crew members on washing day: Leading Motor Mechanic Reg Sykes and Stoker Harry Lindfield
mtb-243-crew-2.jpg (57 KiB) Viewed 6798 times
mtb-243-crew-3.jpg
Peter Bickmore and Ron Coxen wearing army battle dress
mtb-243-lira-bank-note.jpg
Lira bank note issued to British Forces in Italy with some of the places Peter Bickmore visited during the campaign
mtb-243-lira-bank-note.jpg (157.8 KiB) Viewed 6655 times
N.B. An additional photo of MTB 243 at Bari may be seen within the forum post titled Mystery Vosper

Peter
Sub Lieutenant
Posts: 75
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 7:41 pm

Re: MTB 243

Postby Peter » Fri Nov 22, 2013 5:26 pm

I have written some more about day-to-day life onboard the Vosper and Fairmile 'D' boats in an article entitled Mediterranean Coastal Forces 1943–1945 posted on the main web site.

MAX178
Seaman
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Dec 08, 2016 5:19 pm

Re: MTB 243

Postby MAX178 » Sun Dec 11, 2016 2:58 pm

Hello everyone,
New on this forum. I read with great interest the second part of the MTB 243 carreer from 1943 to her sad end. Anyway.

I'd like to know if someone knows more about her action during operation KI on the night of 12 Dec 1942 in the English Channel.During this battle, a Task Force was composed of Forces A, B and C. Force A was made of Division 1 (HMS Vesper, Whitshed, Worcester) and Division 2 (HMS Albrighton, Brocklesby, HNorMS Eskdale). Force B was composed of Fairmile D MGB 613, 615, 616 and Vosper MTB 85, 86 and 243. Force C was composed of moored destroyers all unknown to me. The target was a German convoy and the priority was given to sink both Sperrbrecher Sp178-Gauss and Sp144-Beijerland. The operation was a success.

Thanks for help,
Best regards from France,
MAX


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