Clandestine mission from Malta in 1941 (Clive or XMAS?)

Discussions relating to actions or operations, including combined operations, involving Coastal Forces boats or flotillas
Platon Alexiades
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Clandestine mission from Malta in 1941 (Clive or XMAS?)

Postby Platon Alexiades » Thu Feb 27, 2020 3:25 pm

I am looking for the identity of the motorboat used in a clandestine operation on the night of 29/30 November 1941. Two SIS agents left Malta and were landed near Nabeul (Tunisia). There were discussions that either the fast RAF motorboat Clive could be used or the ex-Italian MAS 452 (captured in July 1941 during the raid on Malta and renamed XMAS).

Many thanks.

Platon Alexiades

Admin
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Re: Clandestine mission from Malta in 1941 (Clive or XMAS?)

Postby Admin » Sat Feb 29, 2020 12:43 pm

Hello

I've not been able to find any specific information on this mission in any of the books I have. Do you have a copy of Secret Flotillas Vol II: Clandestine Sea Operations in the Western Mediterranean, North African & the Adriatic 1940-1944 by Brook Richards? I have the first volume covering Western Europe which contains a list of operations with dates and boats, so the second volume might hold the information you are seeking.

There was an entry in one of the former Coastal Forces Veterans Association newsletters on the subject of HMS Xmas by member Ernest Scott which mentioned the following bit of detail:
Later in 1941, a crew from the original 10th MTB Flotilla (55ft MTB's) in Alexandria was assembled and sent to Malta to man the captured MAS craft — their operational area was mainly around the South East coast of Sicily. C.O. was Lt. R.M. Rickards, RNVR., and the engine room crew was Ch.M/M. G. Pulleyblak and Leading Stoker L.R. Waldron.

Cite: Volume No.85 March 1996 p38-39


Regards
Admin

Platon Alexiades
Seaman
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Jan 31, 2020 2:07 pm

Re: Clandestine mission from Malta in 1941 (Clive or XMAS?)

Postby Platon Alexiades » Sat Feb 29, 2020 3:42 pm

Hello "Admin",

Many thanks for the info on XMAS, it can be quite useful. Do you know if XMAS was ever used in a special operation?

I have both Brooks Richards volumes. The operation is not mentioned but his list of operations in Tunisia (pp 376-377, 2nd Edition) misses quite a few operations and relies sometime on secondary sources, some in error. For example, he mentions the pick-up of Cdt Breuillac by HMS Utmost on 15 April 1942, the actual date was 19 April 1941.

Best regards,

Platon

Admin
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Re: Clandestine mission from Malta in 1941 (Clive or XMAS?)

Postby Admin » Sat Feb 29, 2020 6:51 pm

Platon, I couldn't tell if XMAS it was used for special ops or not, beyond the basic knowledge of it being used for air-sea rescue. I corresponded with a gentleman some years ago who was researching a planned book of remembrance for former pupils of Hordle House, which included Richard Millett Rickard. I looked for and passed on to him at that time everything I managed to find, and he in turn sent me a copy of his completed research, but it did not mention any more details on Rickard's command of the boat than can be found in Mediterranean MTBs at War by Len Reynolds. Even those books I have on subjects such as the Commandoes or the SBS which intersect with the subject of Coastal Forces do not go back to 1941 or cover SIS. Are you principally referencing records from the Public Record Office, and have you trawled everything in the ADM series and any covering SOE, MI6 etc?

Admin

Platon Alexiades
Seaman
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Jan 31, 2020 2:07 pm

Re: Clandestine mission from Malta in 1941 (Clive or XMAS?)

Postby Platon Alexiades » Sat Feb 29, 2020 9:45 pm

I have checked the files at TNA (at least the most obvious ones in thE ADM series) including SOE files.
In "The Unknown Fleet", Reg Cooley mentions that, toward the end of October 1942, Clive was used to land French agents in Tunisia. Extensive research in the French Resistance archives has so far not revealed any such operation. SIS operations are not yet available to the public and some SOE files on Tunisia are still closed.

Many thanks for your input.

Platon

Admin
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Re: Clandestine mission from Malta in 1941 (Clive or XMAS?)

Postby Admin » Sun Mar 01, 2020 12:22 pm

Platon

That seems to be an interesting book which I have not heard of before. I take it Reg Cooley does not provide a specific reference for mention of the operation. Just a couple of other possible pointers:

1.Pink Lists, which are the Royal Navy's record of foreign ship movements might provide an insight into what was at Malta and during which timeframe, though they may not cover anything related to those aspects of Air-Sea Rescue conducted by the RAF, whose own records might provide a lead on Clive.
2. The Royal Navy's Historical Branch at Portsmouth might have some more information on Xmas.

Admin

Platon Alexiades
Seaman
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Jan 31, 2020 2:07 pm

Re: Clandestine mission from Malta in 1941 (Clive or XMAS?)

Postby Platon Alexiades » Sun Mar 01, 2020 3:32 pm

Many thanks for the suggestions. These leads could be very useful indeed.

Best regards,

Platon


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