Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Motor Gunboats (MGB) & Steam Gunboats (SGB)
Norm
Seaman
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Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 8:22 pm

Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Norm » Thu Nov 24, 2016 7:03 pm

Hi Admin and Stephen,
Many thanks for the further information. My wife's cousin who lives in Switzerland is coming to visit for a few days. We have asked her to bring any information re David's service with her so we'll see if I can cast any more light on things after the weekend. Thanks again.
Regards,
Norman.

Norm
Seaman
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 8:22 pm

Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Norm » Mon Nov 28, 2016 6:28 pm

Hi Guys,
No further information from my wife's cousin from Switzerland I'm afraid. Thanks again.
Regards,
Norman.

Admin
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Admin » Tue Nov 29, 2016 2:47 am

Thanks for letting us know Norman.

piers143
Seaman
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Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:34 pm

Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby piers143 » Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:41 pm

I think I can answer 3 questions on this.
  • MGB-17 was sunk by a mine.
    One of her tasks that day was to take ashore a young Lieutenant Commander and a case of whisky.
    There were survivors. The young Lieutenant Commander was my father.
I hope this is of some help.

Admin
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Admin » Thu Dec 15, 2016 10:59 am

Hello piers143

Thank you for your post confirming the fate of MGB 17. May I ask, was your father in Coastal Forces, or in the regular navy and being transported as a passenger on the day, and what was his task, and where had he been picked up from? If he was a passenger it might clarify the role the boat was playing at the time, since MGB 17 was one of the original 1940 Motor Anti-Submarine Boats that had been converted for use as an MGB, and whereas the later MGBs had been re-designated as MTBs by this date, with some of the earlier boats disposed of, the fact it was an MGB still may mean it was in use as part of the Emergency Ferry Service.

Admin

piers143
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby piers143 » Thu Dec 15, 2016 1:47 pm

He was a passenger.

On 6th June he was a signals officer on HMS Nith, responsible for landing 231 Brigade on Gold Beach. Some time between then and 23rd June he was attached to the Brigade staff ashore.

Whether the trip on 11th June was his transfer or not, I don't know; I suspect that happened earlier, possibly 9th June when the non-combat elements of the Brigade HQ went ashore.

Stories change in the telling. One version has it that the case of whisky he was escorting was a gift from 231 Brigade to the Forward Officer Bombardment for his accurate and timely application of naval gunfire while another has it that it was a gift from the Wardroom of HMS Nith to 231 Brigade HQ.

He was fished out of the water by a landing craft and deposited on the beach at Arromanches where he set off barefoot towards the church spire, the one landmark he could recognise in his badly concussed state.

The wreck of MGB-17 lies several hundred yards offshore of Arromanches. See http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?2128

Admin
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Admin » Fri Dec 16, 2016 12:04 pm

Thank you for the additional information. It's interesting to learn of such details and I'm glad you came across the post. Did your father relate whether this happened at night, or was it in the daytime presumably?

Norm
Seaman
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Norm » Fri Dec 16, 2016 7:20 pm

Hi piers 143,
Many thanks for the further info re the fate of MGB-17. It's great to have a definitive answer as to the cause of her sinking. Thanks again.
Regards,
Norman.

Norm
Seaman
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 8:22 pm

Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Norm » Fri Dec 16, 2016 7:23 pm

Hi All,
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the participants in this discussion for their time, consideration and expertise in relation to my enquiry.
My Regards,
Norman.

piers143
Seaman
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:34 pm

Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby piers143 » Sat Dec 17, 2016 12:49 am

I assume it was in the day time since my father could see a tower at the back of the beach. It seems unlikely that it was illuminated.

Is it a definitive answer? The boat just blew up with no warning. My father was insistent it wasn't shell fire and you do tend to notice these things. He was also insistent that any E-Boat would have been sunk long before it could have got near them (and one assumes they would have heard the gunfire too). Jan Lettens, a Dutchman who dived to the wreck, described a large hole in the bow, consistent with a mine. So it's probably a definitive answer.

I wish I could tell you more but his funeral was 3 days ago. That's why I was searching Google for MGB-17 and found your post.

Admin
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Admin » Sat Dec 17, 2016 12:53 pm

Thank you once again for all the information you have provided which has proved very helpful. Given the fate of other MTBs at the hands of mines around that time, it's more than likely that MGB 17 struck a mine too. As a small, shallow-drafted, vessel it would not have been the target of a torpedo, especially given the host of larger, and in many cases, static targets on offer off the Normandy coast, and no defensive action against E-boats would have taken place during daylight hours. It also seems likely that given the age of the boat, which made it one of the oldest still in service at the time, it was being used for special duties, rather than in an offensive capacity.

On behalf of the surviving veterans of Coastal Forces (London Branch) I would like to offer condolences to you and your family on the death of your father.

Regards
Admin

piers143
Seaman
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:34 pm

Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby piers143 » Sat Dec 17, 2016 4:00 pm

Thanks, but he was one of the lucky ones. He died in his bed aged 99, unlike Midshipman Stenhouse and so many others.

Stephen
Chief Petty Officer
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Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Stephen » Mon Dec 19, 2016 8:58 am

Sorry to hear about your recent loss Piers.

I'm hoping to visit Kew on the 29th December, so I might be able to find out a bit more then. In the meantime I've had a look through Invasion Europe, a compilation of Admiralty reports from Overlord. MGB 17 is mentioned, but not in the list of Coastal Forces flotillas, which lends weight to Admin's view that it may have been on transport service. MGB 17 is on the list of lost vessels though: in one mention it is described as most likely having hit a mine, although there was an initial suspicion of an internal explosion. The fact that the boat may not have been under Coastal Force's command may mean that the loss report isn't where I'm expecting to find it, but the fact that there was some uncertainty about its loss at least suggests that there is an investigation report somewhere, so I'll see what I can turn up.

Out of interest Piers, is Jan Lettens' mention of diving MGB 17 anywhere else on the internet, as I can't see it on the Wrecksite link? A further bit of information that is on there (but that you probably can't see unless you have membership with wrecksite) are the UKHO reports. Interestingly MGB 17 is listed as being in only 4m of water, although the location isn't deemed certain.

Regards,
Steve

piers143
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Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:34 pm

Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby piers143 » Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:42 pm

He mentioned it in an e-mail correspondence with my brother about 5 or 6 years ago. If he mentions it elsewhere, I don't know.

Stephen
Chief Petty Officer
Posts: 63
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:58 pm

Re: Desperately seeking info on MGB 17

Postby Stephen » Sat Jan 07, 2017 2:31 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm afraid I only had limited success at Kew last week. As I'd already started to suspect, MGB 17 didn't appear in the Coastal Forces reports for D-Day. However, I think I may have identified the set that it may fall within, although I didn't have time to begin going through them (there would appear to be a lot).

However, I did have a look in the Red Lists for May and June 1944. MGB 17's listed from 7 May to 11 June as being one of 4 MGBs operating out of Portland allocated to Force G. 97 refers to the Accounting station, in this case, HMS Attack.
MGB 17.JPG
MGB 17.JPG (18.61 KiB) Viewed 1726 times
She does not appear on the 18th June edition. The remaining 3 boats do, and are still listed as being attached to Force G. Interestingly the 18th June also marks the creation of a despatch boat flotilla at Portland. It consists of MGBs 7, 8, 13 and 21, but they are listed separately to the three surviving MGBs allocated to Force G. They had in fact all been part of an engine room training flotilla previously.

The index gives MGB 17 the following details: a W3, Y1. These detail equipment fittings in the boat translate to:
a = partially fitted with Asdic.
W3 = Fitted with radar (WC) Types 286M, 286P, 286PU, 286PW, 286. (286PU was the standard version of 286 radar in Coastal Forces, so it was probably this type installed).
Y1 = Interrogator, Type 241, fitted to WA set. (I'm not an expert on this stuff, but I think it has to do with Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) equipment).

Next time I'm back there I'll see what else I turn up.
Steve


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