This reference indicates that the MGB 19th flotilla only arrived in Alexandria to go to the Aegean Sea on October 24. So when they arrived at the MGB Kastellorizo and what they did before departing from Samos 21/11/1943?MGB 646
22/10/43 MGB 645, MGB 646 and MGB 647 render assistance to the Greek destroyer Adrias, mined in the Aegean
MGB 647 Final Action
Coastal Forces Mediterranean 1943-1945
Scanning through my copy of the log recordings of HM MGB 647, kindly presented to me some years ago by our 1st Lieut. Teddy Lonsdale, also mentioned in my story Pirates of Dalmatia, I am reminded if I can ever forget the night MGB 647 and her crew came close to disaster. Could this be the last recorded action of Coastal Forces Med?
It was on April 5th 1945 we made our final passage from Ancona to Zara across the Adriatic to the then Yugoslavia port of Zara ( now Zadar) in support of Marshall Tito's Partisans, a voyage that had been done by many MTB s & MGBs during the previous 16 months, a journey we all knew well and with the wheel house chart now covered in mug rings and cocoa stains our course was in the hands of our Navigator and the experienced A/Bs at the helm.
The following 4 nights were spent patrolling around the area of the Planinski Channel searching for any enemy movement between the Islands, much of the time closed up for action, with binoculars at the ready for any movement.
On one of these nights, the patrol had to be curtailed because of very bad weather, when we struck a storm known as the Bora with gale force winds, where the sea is whipped up in huge waves and the boat seemed to be lifted out of the sea and dropped down with a mighty bang a frightening experience which may have prepared us for what was to come
April 10th after clearing up below deck after making our way slowly to Zada with the protection and support of MGB 643. It was later learned that the enemy force consisted 2 F-lighters and 2 E-boats
Our return to Zada and to HMS Columbo was a great relief, a time to shed the trauma of the last few hours and to acknowledge the welcome of the crews from the other boats on operational stand-by, and look up putting my hands together and give thanks we made it back.
It was then a make do and mend for MGB 647 and with the expertise of the shipwrights of HMS Columbo the hole in the side was made waterproof and the boat was then declared seaworthy for the return to Ancona. A voyage when the speed through the water was critical in order not to damage the repair to prevent the intake of water. After our arrival in Ancona serious discussions took place assess the extent of the damage, which thankfully the decision was made to repair.
After much searching, a boat yard was identified with the facilities to carry out the extensive work required.The yard commissioned to carry out the work was on the Island of Ischia in the bay of Naples some mls from Ancona. a journey that took 5 Days with stop offs for re fuelling, ( because of draught (weight ) problems in keeping the damage above the water line ), at Manfredonia — Brindisi where we were able to catch up with Coastal Force Base ship Miraglia ex-Italian sea plane tender that replaced HMS Vienna damaged during the Bari air raid. We then continued our travels down the east coast of Italy through the Messina Straights well known to Coastal Forces Med, who were involved in the Sicily campaign and then on to Ischia arriving on April 20th.
On arrival in Ischia were greeted with the most welcome news that we were to be billeted ashore in a small Hotel for the next 5 weeks, with 24hr watch keeping on board MGB 647 in shifts of 12hrs while the boat was out of the water under repair. We vacated our bunks for beds, a luxury that had not been ours for nearly 2 years and with the regular meals by a most friendly Italian lady it helped us all to come to terms with the trauma of the last few weeks.
It was during this time in Ischia that the news of the end of the war was announced. Another story for another time.
Peter Bickmore BEM
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