Gordon Beckett

Enquiries relating to individual men and women who served with HM Light Coastal Forces; help with interpreting service records, or with tracing former comrades
Shipwright
Seaman
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Oct 24, 2021 7:16 pm

Gordon Beckett

Postby Shipwright » Sun Oct 24, 2021 7:41 pm

Hello everyone! I am hoping to find any information about Gordon Beckett who I knew as a young man. Gordon I believe was a leading mechanic on MTBs or MGBs during WWII and was based during the early part of the war at a base on the Suffolk coast. I would be keen to find any information about where Gordon was based during the war, particularly the early part, and what craft he served on. The reason for my enquiry is I am carrying out research for a book about the UK's coastal defences during WWII and particularly the role that MTBs and MGBs played and the experiences that someone like Gordon would have had (I have a copy of Dog Boats At War and British Motor Torpedo Boat 1939-45).

I knew Gordon when he ran a garage at the same time that I was training to be a shipwright at Chatham Dockyard. Sadly Gordon passed away in 1988 but he told me about some of his experiences. Gordon was a highly skilled 'old school' mechanic and he told me how he was able to obtain an extra knot or two from his boat by filing a leading edge on the propellers. I know he also took part in the Normandy landings because his boat was given all new equipment beforehand which he had not had enough time to 'fettle' before the invasion.

Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 471
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: Gordon Beckett

Postby Admin » Tue Oct 26, 2021 3:25 pm

Hello Shipwright and welcome to the forum.

I'm afraid I haven't been able to turn up much so far. He does not appear in our awards database which could have provided a boat number, nor have I found any reference to his having joined the former Coastal Forces Veterans Association (CFVA), which are the two main sources of information available to us in the case of ratings. In the case of Suffolk, that would have meant HMS Beehive (Felixstowe) or HMS Mantis (Lowestoft). If by new equipment is meant a boat that was re-engined that might provide a possible clue, but I don't have any specifics at the time being.

Regards
Admin

Shipwright
Seaman
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Oct 24, 2021 7:16 pm

Re: Gordon Beckett

Postby Shipwright » Tue Nov 02, 2021 12:35 pm

Thank you Admin,

Information regarding Gordon's wartime experiences are proving elusive, he does not appear in the forces war records either. I know his boat was re-engined in preparation for the Normandy landings but I think many were. He also told me that in order to make the engines run in reverse, you had to take the camshafts out and put them in backwards so that the engine and propellers would run in reverse - not something you would want to do in the middle of an action. I think but cannot be certain that his boat ran Rolls Royce Merlin engines.

One particularly curious thing he did tell me was when his boat (either an MTB or MGB?) was on patrol up along the Suffolk coast early one morning when they 'stumbled' upon a mass (several hundred) of badly burned German bodies floating in the water stretching far out to sea towards Holland. His words to me were "I think they had attempted an invasion". I'm surmising that this may have been the aftermath of the much doubted 'Shingle Street Incident' around August September 1940.

Regards,
Shipwright


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