Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Motor Gunboats (MGB) & Steam Gunboats (SGB)
Norm
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Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Norm » Sun Nov 13, 2016 8:34 pm

Dear All,
As the title states I am desperately seeking information re MGB 17. My wife's uncle Midshipman David Robert Stenhouse a crew member was killed in action 11th June 1944 aged 19 years when the boat hit a mine. My wife's grandmother never talked about her uncle's service and her father was too young at the time to remember any details. If anybody can give any info re her uncle David's service and the history of the boat I would be extremely grateful. Many thanks for your kind attention in this matter.
My Regards,
Norm.

Admin
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Admin » Mon Nov 14, 2016 12:22 am

Hello Norm

Welcome to the forum. There is a photo of MGB 17, a British Power Boat, which was formerly a Motor Anti-Submarine Boat or MASB, in the Imperial War Museum Collections online. Our records show this boat as having been sunk by an E-Boat (the German equivalent of an MTB) off Normandy in the days after D-Day. I will look up details of the action referred to in the photo caption later, and also see if I can find out any information on the event which led to his death. Do you have any details of when he joined the navy? as some of the actions this boat was involved in may have happened prior to his joining the boat.

Image
Motor gunboats MGB 17, MGB 20 and MGB 21, docked after their victory in the early hours of 8 March 1943 in which British MGBs based at Lowestoft engaged a group of German E Boats in the North Sea. One of the E Boats was destroyed and the others fled. Among officers who took part in the action were men from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. © IWM (A 14911)IWM Non Commercial Licence

Image
Commanding Officers of Motor Gunboats. Left to right: Lieut C A Burk (MGB 17), RCNVR, from Toronto, Lieut J S Price (MGB 20), RNVR, from Blackpool, Lieut C V Dale (MGB 21), RNVR, from Sydney © IWM (A 14907)IWM Non Commercial Licence

Image
Lieut J S Price (MGB 20), RNVR, Senior Officer of the MGB's, with his First Lieutenant, Sub Lieut H W Keenan, RNVR, and the crew of his boat. © IWM (A 14910)IWM Non Commercial Licence

Image
An Empire "Party": British MGB's rout E-boats. Lowestoft, in the early hours of 8 March 1943, motor gunboats of the Royal Navy engaged a group of E-boats in the North Sea. One of the E-boats was destroyed, the others fled. Among officers who took part in the action were men from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada © IWM (A 14909)IWM Non Commercial Licence

Brian Holmes
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Brian Holmes » Mon Nov 14, 2016 4:58 pm

MGB_17 British Power Boat Co, Hythe Hampshire

For an action with E Boats off the Sunk Light Vessel 7/3/43
MID TLt Charles Arthur Burk RCNVR
MID ALSea Philip Ratcliffe C/SSX17536

For a series of actions in the Channel over a period of two years (Gazette Date - 21/11/44)
DSM APOMtrMch Christopher Dobson P/MX634853

Known Crew
TLt Charles Arthur Burk RCNVR Ordinary Seaman in 1939 after graduating from the University of Toronto and trained in Toronto in 1939 to 1940. HMS Raleigh and HMS New Market (Destroyer) TSLt 30/12/40 Third Officer MGB 101 1941 TLt 17/9/41 5th MGB Flotilla First Lieutenant MGB 14 5/11/41 at HMS St Christopher 1941 Commanding Officer MGB 17 For an action with E Boats off the Sunk Light Vessel 7/3/43 MID Commanding Officer MTB 442 17/4/43 Commanding Officer MTB 439 For an action in which four E Boats were damaged in the Nore area 14/2/44 DSC Commanding Officer MTB 461 28/2/44 For an action in the Normandy assault area 26/7/44 DSC* For Operation Neptune - for gallantry and devotion to duty during the initial landings in Normandy DSC** Commanding Officer MTB 491 4/10/44 – 29/1/45 For an attack on a convoy in the Nore area 1/11/44 MID. President of the Naval Officers Association of Canada and of the Montreal Branch of NOAC. Born 17/9/16 and died 6/97 in Montreal
TLt Cornelius Burke RCNVR HMCS Discovery (Vancouver British Columbia) 9/39 HMS King Alfred TASLt 8/3/40 Le Havre with demolition specialists to blow up docks and harbour installations just before the evacuation from Dunkirk HMS Chitral 1940 First Lieutenant/Navigator MASB 42 26/9/40 First Lieutenant/Navigator 5th MGB Flotilla MGB 17 18/8/41 7h MGB Flotilla Commanding Officer MGB 90 12/41 Commanding Officer MGB (20th MGB Flotilla) 1942 Commanding Officer MGB 658 18/2/43 TLt 17/3/43 For actions in the Adriatic and off the west coast of Italy 1/44 DSC For an action in the Mediterranean in which an E Boat was sunk 6/4/44 MID For actions in the Adriatic 8 - 9/44 DSC* LCH 282 1944 For the bombardment of Lossin Island 3/12/44 DSC** Senior Officer 56th MGB/MTB Flotilla Ran a travel agency in Vancouver post-war. Born 2/9/16 in Vancouver and died there 25/4/99
TSLt L E Thomson RNVR 5th MGB Flotilla MGB 17 10/8/41
TSLt R H Payne RNVR TSLt 7th MGB Flotilla Commanding Officer MGB 17 15/6/43 TLt 12/12/43 15th ML Flotilla Based on Plymouth Commanding Officer ML 300 26/6/44 Operation Neptune - Invasion of Normandy
Mid David Robert Stenhouse RNVR Mid 29/10/43 MGB 17 Killed in action 11/6/44 aged 19 when MGB 17 is lost. Son of David H. and Dora B. Stenhouse, of Glasgow Buried in Bayeux War Cemetery, II. D. 18
APOMtrMch Christopher Dobson P/MX634853 7th MGB Flotilla MGB 17 For a series of actions in the Channel over a period of two years (Gazette Date - 21/11/44) DSM
ALSea Philip Ratcliffe C/SSX17536 ALSea 7th MGB Flotilla MGB 17 For an action with E Boats off the Sunk Light Vessel 7/3/43 MID LSea MTB 442 New Year Honours 1945 MID
Ord William Alexander McIlvride C/JX 559592 MGB 17 Killed in action 11/6/44 Age 18 Son of Alexander McIlvride, of Forres, Morayshire
Sto2 David Noel Bevins C/KX 527974 MGB 17 Killed in action 11/6/44 aged 19 Son of Leonard and Elizabeth Bevins, of Ardwick, Manchester Buried in Bayeaux War Cemetery II. D. 17

War Activities
Built as MASB 17
1/41 Redesignated
5th MGB Flotilla
MGB 16, MGB 17, MGB 18, MGB 19, MGB 20 and MGB 21
7/41 Paid off at Hythe
5th MGB Flotilla
MGB 14, MGB 15, MGB 16, MGB 17, MGB 18, MGB 19, MGB 20 and MGB 21
1/42 5th MGB Flotilla
Based at Lowestoft
MGB 14 and MGB 15 are at Poole
MGB 16 MGB 20 and MGB 21 are at Lowestoft
MGB 17 is at Norwich repairing
MGB 18 and MGB 19 are at Oulton repairing
7/42 7th MGB Flotilla
7-8/3/43 S114 and S119 of the 6th Schnellbootflotille (based on Ijmuiden) collided whilst in action with HMS Mackay escorted by MGB 17, MGB 20 and MGB 21 near the Sunk light vessel in the mouth of the Humber. S119 was sunk by MGB 20 in position 52° 44´N 02° 30´E.
11-2/6/44 S 169, S 187, S 173, S 188, S 171 and S 172 of the Fourth S Boat Flottilla sortie from Boulogne and are in action with a destroyer patrol consisting of HMS Onslow, HMS Onslaught, HMS Offa and HMS Oribi. The second group is in action with MGBs and S 171 sinks MGB 17 by gunfire. Other reports say that MGB 17 sank after striking a mine and also that S 171 sank her with a torpedo.

Norm
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Norm » Mon Nov 14, 2016 5:53 pm

Hi Guys,
Many thanks for your very informative replies. As far as David's service is concerned we know nothing at all. It was a taboo subject for my wife's grandmother, David's mother. David had a sister and a brother, my wife's aunt and father respectively, both younger than David and both with little to no knowledge of that part of family history. The only thing my wife has is a studio photograph of David in uniform taken in March 1944 with notation on the reverse, see attachments. Again many thanks for your interest and we look forward to possibly finding out more about David and his war service.
Attachments
IMG_0728.JPG
IMG_0728.JPG (63.03 KiB) Viewed 1375 times
IMG_0731.JPG
IMG_0731.JPG (78.61 KiB) Viewed 1375 times

Admin
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Admin » Wed Nov 16, 2016 2:01 pm

Hello Norm

The Navy List for June 1944 gives his appointment to Midshipman as 29/10/1943, and lists him "For Small Craft" at HMS Attack as of 03/04/44, so sadly it appears his tenure in Coastal Forces was short-lived. Attack was a Coastal Forces base at Portland on the South Coast.

There's no incident in the Channel for his date of death related in the standard reference work Home Waters MTBs & MGBs by Len Reynolds, nor in any of the other books I've looked in thus far. The publication Warships records the boat was hit by a torpedo, but there is no reference given. There must presumably have been survivors from this boat who may have reported it blowing up, which may account for the confusion around a mine or torpedo, although I would have expected a boat that size to have been blown to bits if it hit a mine, and for many more of the crew to be lost in those circumstances. The boat being raked by gunfire from an E-boat, possibly catching fire, and then exploding after the 'abandon ship' had been given, seems a more likely scenario for the boat to be lost with just three casualties.

I'll try and check some further sources later.

Admin

Stephen
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Stephen » Wed Nov 16, 2016 5:45 pm

Hi Norm,

As it happens, I'm hoping to visit The National Archives before the end of the year and look at just this sort of thing. There are a lot of reports for the D-Day period on Coastal Forces' actions and losses and I'm fairly confident that MGB 17 will be covered in them (although I must hasten to add that I can't be 100% certain). If it is, I'll be happy to photograph the relevant section and send you copies of the files.

I presume you've already seen it, but here is the CWGC record for David Stenhouse: http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casua ... D%20ROBERT

In addition to Admin's images above, there's a good side view of sister vessel MGB 14 here: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File ... L15308.jpg

As an aside, RNCVR officer Cornelius Burke served on MGB 17, although not at the same time as your wife's uncle. His later career in the Mediterranean is well described in Motor Gunboat 658 by Leonard Reynolds (but not his service on MGB 17). Hardly a connection at all(!), but if you ever wanted to read an account of service in Coastal Forces, it's a fine book.

Regards,
Steve

Admin
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Admin » Thu Nov 17, 2016 4:22 am

Hello again Norm
The second group is in action with MGBs and S 171 sinks MGB 17 by gunfire. Other reports say that MGB 17 sank after striking a mine and also that S 171 sank her with a torpedo.
This is proving quite elusive, which may indicate there is no solid source of recorded information. If there was a torpedo involved it would likely be because MGB 17 ran on to it accidentally after it had been fired by an S-boot at a larger target. There's nothing in The War at Sea (Roskill) about it, while S-boot net claims S 171 sank MGB 17 by gunfire, but doesn't provide any reference, and Hans Frank, who's a pretty good authority in this field, in his volume German S-Boats in Action in the Second World War, records on the night in question that:
The 2nd S-boat Flotilla searching to the north sighted nothing and headed for Boulogne, where 4.SFltl joined it after a chase by MGBs and fighter bombers, one boat being mined.
However, it's not clear if he's referring to MGB 17, and again unfortunately there's no source quoted, so it's not clear who was even in a position to know what happened, unless there's an account somewhere from the surviving officer and crew. Over to Steve I think, to see what he may be able to unearth up at the NA.

Admin

P.S. I had a scan through The Glasgow Herald online in Google News, but the wartime editions are not searchable unfortunately, and picking up on any notice it may contain is like looking for a proverbial needle, since a naval death reported in the 22 June 1944 edition, is shown by the CWGC as having taken place in March of that year, some three months prior to the newspaper report.

Norm
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Norm » Thu Nov 17, 2016 3:38 pm

Hi Admin and Steve,
Many thanks once again for your efforts and links on our behalf. It seems the fate of MGB17 is quite elusive. Although a novice regarding this kind of warfare it does appear, to me at least, that if MGB17 had struck a mine potentially there would have been more casualties. Again an MGB seems an awful small target for a torpedo although the possibility it ran into one intended for a bigger target appears plausible. I found a wartime film, 09/06/44, in the I.W.M. that states that it has some short footage of MGB17 passing http://film.iwmcollections.org.uk/record/index/46279 Unfortunately I can't get the film to play on my computer, maybe because it's an Apple. Once again many thanks for your help and your interest.
My Regards,
Norman.

P.S. Steve, it would be wonderful if you could find out more info at the National Archives.

P.P.S. Is there any way to find out what he was doing before before his appointment to Midshipman on 29/10/43

Admin
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Admin » Thu Nov 17, 2016 5:09 pm

Norman, I managed to get it going after downloading the latest Flash plugin and then adjusting Preferences in Safari under the security settings. There is some help from Adobe here. MGB 17 hoves into view very briefly at 03:27 into the film, and I've made a screen capture, though the film is a bit clearer.
mgb-17-normandy.jpg
MGB 17 off the Normandy beachhead
I recall two MTBs 460, and 463 were both mined off Normandy within the space of six days of one another, each suffering a very different fate. Both boats were lost, but while 460 had eleven casualties, 463 managed to get away without any, with the crew taken off by another boat before she settled in the water. So it's possible if MGB 17 was in hot pursuit of E-boats, and managed to stray into one of the minefields, laid either by the Germans or the Allies, that it could have been struck a glancing blow, although an able seaman, midshipman and a stoker as casualties, suggests both ends of the boat being affected, unless some poor soul drowned in the water.
rcn-mtb-460.jpg
MTB 460, a British Power Boat MTB of the Canadian 29th MTB Flotilla mined off Normandy on 1 July 1944
If he was appointed Midshipman in October 1943, then presumably he may just have been training prior to that, and then before that, still at school? Do you know what school he attended at all?

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Norm
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Norm » Thu Nov 17, 2016 8:51 pm

Hi Admin,
Many thanks for the help re the film from the I.W.M., I got it to work and showed it to my wife, David's niece, who was delighted and saddened at the same time. From your post I get the idea that it could have been a mine and that the actual reason MGB 17 sank is lost in the confusion of war. As you will know two of the casualties are buried in the Bayeux War Cemetery, one being David of course, and one was posted as missing presumed dead. We were always under the impression that the boat went down with all hands and that was the reason that there was dubiety as to the cause of her sinking. Would the survivors have been debriefed and the cause of the loss recorded or was there just too much confusion at this time? Once again many thanks for your efforts on our behalf.
My Regards,
Norman.

P.S. David probably attended Hyndland Senior Secondary School, Lauderdale Gardens, Glasgow as did his brother and sister.

Stephen
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Stephen » Thu Nov 17, 2016 11:00 pm

Hi Norm,

I had a quick look in M J Whitley's German Coastal Forces of WWII, but it only says that "The 4th [S-boat] Flotilla, working out of Boulogne, encountered a destroyer patrol (Onslow, Offa, Onslaught and Oribi) and MTBs when S171 sank MGB 17."

Sadly there does not appear to be an action report separately filed with these ship names at TNA, or one for MGB 17 (often the Admiralty would extract particular events or losses as an individual document, rather than file it in one of the larger volumes). However, it would have been normal procedure for the flotilla commander to make a report on the night's activities, and I would expect such a report to be filed in one of the many Coastal Forces action reports or logs for 1944 and, quite likely, the report of Captain, Coastal Forces, into Overlord. They kept records of every torpedo fired, so I'm expecting there to be a fair bit about a lost boat, including statements from survivors. I have a few such examples, but not for this particular event.

But, as before, I must caution that I can't be certain. I know which documents to look in, but not what'll be in them! As you say, there was a fair bit going on at the time and not everyting made it to TNA after the war. Additionally, I understand that at Normandy, equipment was defined as expendable and did not have to be accounted for. Whether that applied to boats or not I'm not sure.

Regards,
Steve

Norm
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Norm » Fri Nov 18, 2016 5:59 pm

Hi Steve,
Many thanks for your continued efforts and interest. I'm hoping that there may be some new information when you look at the documents but as you say maybe yes maybe no. Do you happen to know what campaign medals David would have been entitled to? Thanks again.
My Regards,
Norman.

Stephen
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Stephen » Tue Nov 22, 2016 12:12 pm

Hi Norm,

Hmm. For service in the Second World War, David should have been entitled to the 1939 to 1945 Star and the War Medal 1939 to 1945. It seems unlikely he would have been entitled to he Defence Medal, but it all depends on his postings prior to Coastal Forces. He may have been entitled to the France & Germany Star, although the government are a bit unclear on this. Apparently Navy personnel are entitled if they had "1 day afloat in operational areas of the North Sea in the Royal Navy (provided service was directly in support of land operations)" after 6 June. This seems a bit unfair on those who served in support of Overlord, which wasn't in the North Sea but was in support of operations in France and, quite obviously fits the date criterai!

This website might be of use: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/medals-camp ... ligibility

Regards,
Steve

Stephen
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Stephen » Tue Nov 22, 2016 12:31 pm

According to the NZ government, service in the Channel and Bay of Biscay also counted for the France & Germany Star.

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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Admin » Wed Nov 23, 2016 12:04 am

He may have been entitled to the France & Germany Star, although the government are a bit unclear on this.
I believe from a Coastal Forces perspective you had to have been based on the continent at some stage, so those flotillas that worked out of Cherbourg or Ostend for example qualified.


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