The tragedy that befell MTB 262 is fully described in “Mediterranean MTB’s at War” by L.C. Reynolds and H.H. Cooper Basically; she was on an independent Mine laying operation off the Coast of Galita Island. This was a ‘working up’ exercise after major repairs when, to the CO’s horror (Lt R. C. Coles RNVR), there was a complete failure of her electrical system. Unable to start her engines and drifting perilously close to the enemy held Island a decision was made to scuttle her. After placing demolition charges, to prevent her falling into enemy hands, the crew launched Assault boats, the idea being to row or paddle the boats to the African coast, about 30 miles away.
However, a very heavy sea was running and the Assault boats quickly became swamped. A decision was made to return to the MTB; Sub Lt Piper, a very strong swimmer, was detailed to try and reach the boat and remove the detonators from the scuttling charges, he succeeded, throwing the detonators overboard.
Those still struggling in the water tried to scramble aboard, however, three members were unable to make it and drowned.
A Luftwaffe patrol aircraft spotted the plight of 262; Lt Coles reasoned that this would probably lead to the capture of the boat, so roping the men together they tried to swim to the island after first making sure that the boat would sink more quickly.
Two more men died at this time – the rest being picked up by an enemy rescue boat - to be interned as POW’s.
The Cox'n, Petty Officer Percy Ward, managed to escape (and was awarded the BEM) but the full story would not be told until after the War had ended with the release of the CO, Lt Coles RNVR.
A very sad story indeed.