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Mystery of Dogboat MTB/MGB V696

Posted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 3:21 am
by john r. peake
Hi All ,
I have recently found this excellent Forum and this my first post.I hope to make further contributions as I am deeply interested in the subject. Loved all the stories of the incredibly brave and resourceful heroes that served. My father served on Fairmile Bs in the Solomons in WW2.

Attached is a photo of V696 a Fairmile D.
It is very interesting as it shows 4 single Oerlikons plus the usual twin mounted on the coachhouse. With it's two semi auto 57 mm Molins guns and twin Vickers 12.7mm m/gs plus torpedoes it was a formidable and powerful ship.

Can any one enlighten me on this fitout or ship's history. I am aware many RCN Coastal Forces ship had the V prefix, although Q with their locally built Fairmile Bs.Is this a clue?
Perhaps this is a postwar fit out. However, to make it more intriguing the photo appeared in Dogboats at War on page 102.

John Peake
Sydney, Aust.

Re: Mystery of Dogboat MTB/MGB V696

Posted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:25 am
by Admin
Hello John and welcome to the forum. Could you have another go at attaching your image please as it doesn’t appear to have been saved by the system.

The ‘V’ you refer to was the flag superior allotted to MTBs but never used that often seemingly. It’s possible that D-Day and the need for standard recognition prompted the adoption of it more on some boats around that time, as seen in photos. ‘Q’ was always intended as the designation for an ML, but as you correctly note, the Royal Canadian Navy Fairmile seem the only ones to have carried it from new. ‘S’ was intended for MGBs but the only ones I’m aware of who used it were the handful of Polish boats. The Fairmile ‘C’ gunboats had the ‘Q’ letter from new, perhaps because they were thought of as launches primarily, but otherwise Coastal Forces craft just say MTB, MGB or ML most of the time in photos I have seen.

Re: Mystery of Dogboat MTB/MGB V696

Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2019 10:07 am
by john r. peake
Here's the photo of the the Dogboat in question...I hope it comes through this time.

BTW the RNZN also prefixed their Fairmile Bs and HDMLs with the letter Q. Also the RAN with the HDMLs but the Fairmiles were prefixed ML.

Re: Mystery of Dogboat MTB/MGB V696

Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:50 am
by Admin
MTB 696
Crew of MTB 696.jpg
Crew of MTB 696
John, your photo still didn't load but I managed to find this one instead. Geoffrey Hudson, the former Coastal Forces Veterans Association (CFVA) historian wrote on the subject of 696's unusual armament in a volume of the CFVA's newsletter, and got a reply in the next edition. did MTB 696 manage to acquire an extra twin and two single 20mm Oerlikon in 1945? These were fitted respectively between the existing twin Oerlikon and after 6pdr and sided deck edge, near the aft of the bridge, and gave 696 an armament of 2-18" Torpedo Tubes, 2-6 pdr Mark 7, 1 twin Oerlikon, 2 x 2-0.5" Vickers, x 2-0.303" Vickers (all standard) plus the extra twin and single Oerlikons. A total of 16 gun barrels.

G Hudson CFVA Newsletter June 1989 Volume 58 p15
You ask how MTB 696 acquired her extra armaments. The answer is, the same way at MTB 721 got hers. By going alongside a sunken American freighter and unbolting their mountings before going back to Portland (where the Gunnery Officer kindly agreed to fit them) after our first stint on the beach head.

Incidentally, the 3rd Flotilla of which these two boats were part, were the first ones over at the beach head at about H hour -3 as we were escorting the minesweepers laying the pencil buoys in the swept channel.

See photograph on another page of MTB 696 passing under Albert Bridge after a refit at Teddington and you can see the twin Oerlikons midship and the portside single, below the bridge.

Richard C Green Ex Pilot MTB 721 & subsequently Pilot of MTB 696
CFVA Newsletter September 1989 Volume 59 p125

Re: Mystery of Dogboat MTB/MGB V696

Posted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 4:19 am
by john r. peake
Thank you ..most interesting.V696 sure would have packed a huge punch!
The improvisation on V696 reminds me of the stories of many RAN Fairmiles operating with the USN in New Guinea where they traded bottles of whisky for US guns to give them much needed increased hitting power. However, they usually removed these extra guns at wars end so they returned to Australia with the approved fit and thus avoided recriminations.