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Eddie Dibley
  Eddie Dibley onboard HMS Belfast
Eddie Dibley
Above: Elements of the 66th MTB Flotilla moored outside of the former German U-Boat pens at Le Havre. The depth charges which replaced their normal armament of torpedoes are clearly visible on deck. Photo: Courtesy of National Museum of USN
Below: Boats of the 66th MTB Flotilla passing over the minefield at speed while releasing depth charges. Photo: Courtesy of National Museum of USN

Eddie Dibley (CFVA: 2217)

1925 — 2024

London Branch Coastal Forces Veterans have sadly learned of the death of long-standing member, and last ever London Branch Chairman, Eddie Dibley. Eddie ‛crossed the bar’ peacefully, at home, on 20 April, 2024, aged 98. He had originally retired from the post of Secretary of London Branch in 2014, but took on the role of Branch Chairman, ably assisted by his daughter Julie, on the retirement of Ken Gadsdon. Eddie was awarded the Légion d’Honneur by the French Government in July 2022, having represented Coastal Forces during the 75th Anniversary of D-Day in 2019.

Able Seaman (Radar) Eddie Dibley served on MTB 757, part of the 66th MTB Flotilla which comprised MTBs 731, 733, 737, 747, 750, 752, 757 and 760. These boats had their torpedo tubes removed in the late summer of 1944 and their decks fitted with racks of depth charges, to function in an anti-submarine role. At Le Havre they had been called upon to destroy sea mines laid by the Germans in the approaches to the port.

Len Reynolds in Dog Boats at War describes the situation: “...the Germans had sown the approaches liberally with a new type of pressure mines — named oyster mines — which took on the character of either an acoustic or a magnetic mine according to the pressure of water displaced by a ship passing over them at more than 10 knots...the 66th were asked to attempt a method of steaming fast over the minefield and dropping a pattern of depth charges.”

Eddie recalled how ahead of the planned operation, the boat disembarked several of its crew at Portsmouth, so as to only carry a skeleton crew over the minefields. His own account of those events may be read by following the link provided.

Lest we forget

Eddie Dibley (right) with Reg Ellis at a London Branch meeting in 2014
An MTB of the 66th MTB Flotilla sets off a depth charge at Le Havre in an attempt at detonating German acoustic sea mines

Norway Liberation Day

Dutch Remembrance Day
Two members of the KGL Norske Marine (the Royal Norwegian Navy) on a goodwill visit to the Norwegian town of Molde on 16 May, 1945 (© Romsdalsmuseet: R.Fot.89210)

Frigjøringsdagen 8 Mai

May 8th is the National Day of Liberation Norway. This day marks the end of Norway’s occupation during the Second World War, and also serves as Veterans' Day. The images below detail a visit made by two Norwegian MTBs, and one British, from their base in Lerwick, Shetland, to the Norwegian town of Molde in May 1945.

Young Norwegian women line the quayside at Molde to welcome home the Norwegian sailors from Lerwick (© Romsdalsmuseet: R.Fot.89207)
Members of the Norske Marine meet and greet the crowd quayside at Molde on their visit there after VE Day in May 1945. The boats and their crews had earlier visited Florø, and Ålesund (© Romsdalsmuseet: R.Fot.89199)
Crew members of one of the Norwegian 'Dogboats' relax after their long journey from Lerwick to Molde. Just days earlier, another Coastal Forces craft, MGB 2002, had been lost in the Skagerrak with all hands—bar two survivors—after striking a mine, illustrating the dangerous nature of such journeys still (© Romsdalsmuseet: R.Fot.89200)

Kongelig Norske Marine

The German invasion and occupation of Norway commenced in April 1940, and by June of that year the Norwegian forces had been forced to surrender. Thirteen naval ships with around 500 officers, petty officers, and men, left for Britain with the King and his government, to form the nucleus of the Royal Norwegian Navy in exile.

Two Norwegian MTBs 5 & 6 were the first ships commissioned for the Norske Marine in Britain. They operated in the Channel from early summer 1940 as part of the British 11th MTB Flotilla. On the introduction of the Fairmile 'D' class, eight boats formed the 30th MTB Flotilla, deployed in November 1942 to Lerwick in Shetland. From there offensive operations started against German shipping along the western coast of Norway. With the allocation of several more 'Dog Boats' the 30th MTB Flotilla became the 54th MTB Flotilla, and carried numerous clandestine missions amongst the Norwegian Leads up until V.E. Day

The Royal Norwegian Navy encampment at Lerwick in Shetland, home to the 54th MTB Flotilla. The houses visible behind the camp are in Brown's Road, which is still the same today, though the area occupied by the camp in the Second World War is now the car park for the Mareel Arts & Entertainment Centre. The quay area is variously known as Hay's Wharf or the Anglo Scotttish quay, and was the scene of a disaster in November 1943, when a fire and explosion precipitated by accidental gun fire destroyed MTBs 686 and 626 preparing for sea, with the loss of eight lives—seven British, and one Norwegian
Elements of the Norwegian 54th MTB Flotilla are seen here alongside the quay in central Lerwick. The distinctive building in the background with the octagonal tower was the fish market, located on the Esplanade in Lerwick. Long since demolished, it has now been replaced for a second time, by a state-of-the-art facility opened in 2020 on the outskirts of Lerwick, and which is Britain's second largest fish market
Royal Norwegian Navy Officers of MTBs.(© Romsdalsmuseet: R.Fot.89205)
Dutch Remembrance Day
The three Fairmile 'D' Dogboats that made the visit comprised two Norwegian, and one Royal Navy boat. The two Norwegian boats nearest camera, were MTBs 713 and 709 of the 54th MTB Flotilla based at Lerwick in Shetland (© Romsdalsmuseet: R.Fot.40531)
  • U/kvm Knut Johan Åkra, MTB 5
  • U/mm Tore Andersen, MTB 5
  • U/dm Kåre Andreassen, MTB 620
  • U/dm Ole Joakim Andreassen, MTB 623
  • Løytnant Alv Haldor Andresen, MTB 345, Age 28
  • U/dm Haakon Olav Austrheim, ML 125
  • F, Georg Berntsen, MTB 5
  • Maskinist Agnar Ingolf Bigset, MTB 345, Age 28
  • U/f Alfred Julius Blomberg, ML 210
  • Kom II Per Thore Erwolder Elholm, MTB 5
  • U/dm Adelsten Gangsø, MTB 625
  • U/lt Asbjørn Harr Grøneng, ML 210
  • Matros II Oskar Bastian Grunnvold, MTB 626
  • Maskinmann Kjell Øystein Hals, MTB 345, Age 22
  • Kvartermester Hans Thorvald Bærevahr Hansen, MTB 345, Age 22
  • U/dm Jan Kristian Hetland, MTB 5
  • U/f Harald August Johannessen, ML 125
  • Kvartermester Bernhard Kleppe, MTB 345
  • Matros Jens Klipper, MTB 345, Age 24
  • U/kvm Alf August Litle-Kalsøy, ML 210
  • U/mm Ivar Martinsen, ML 210
  • U/dm Johannes Mongstad, MTB 620
  • U/dm Magne Sigvart Mortensen, ML 1252
  • Kvm Gustav Nærland, MTB 688
  • Matros I Arve Aleksander Paulsen, MTB 717
  • Matros II Johannes Olaus Siglen, MT 625
  • U/mm Jon Riis Sigurdsson, MTB 7116
  • U/mm Einar Smith, ML 210
poppy wreath

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
we will remember them

Dutch National Remembrance Day / Liberation Day — 4/5 Mei

Dutch Remembrance Day
  MTB 240 of the Dutch 9th MTB Flotilla painted by Harold Garland (Image courtesy Jacques Bartels)

Mei 4 Dodenherdenking

May 4th is the National Day of Remembrance in the Netherlands, on which day the victims of the Second World War are commemorated with a nationwide two minute silence held at 20.00hrs. Each year the commemorations have a theme, and the theme for 2024 is Freedom tells: prelude to 80 years of freedom.

Freedom in Connection logo
Freedom Logo

Coastal Forces Veterans recalls the contribution of the Royal Netherlands Navy, the Koninklijke Marine, during the Second World War, in particular those members who served in Light Coastal Forces. The Dutch initially helped man boats of the 3rd MGB Flotilla, then two flotillas of MTBs, the 2nd and 9th MTB Flotilla, operating from Dartmouth, but primarily HMS Wasp at Dover

Sub-Lieutenant Hubert Pontier RNN of MTB 240 (© Jacques Bartels)
2nd MTB Flotilla crews at Dover in 1944
Members of the Dutch 2nd MTB Flotilla at Dover in 1944

Mei 5 Bevrijdingsdag

On the 5th May each year, the Netherlands celebrates the liberation of the country in 1945, and that its people have lived in freedom ever since. On this day the country also reflects on the value of freedom, democracy and human rights.

Lieut E H Larive, DSC, RNN Senior Officer of the Flotilla, who was in command (© IWM A 19512)
Lieut H C Jorrison, RNN, Commander (centre) is seen with his First Lieut, Sub Lieut H Van Mastrigt, RNN, and members of his crew (© IWM A 19510)
Lieut J L Bommezyn, RNN, C/O of one of the MTB'S with his First Lieut, Sub Lieut GPM Bodowls, RNN (© IWM A 19513)
Sub Lieut H Van Mastrigt, RNN (First Lieut) with his C/O Lieut H C Jorrisen, RNN (right) (© IWM A 19514)
National flag of the Netherlands

Able Seaman Korpl Macht Lucas Willem Fernhout MGB 46 Age: 28
Korpl Telgr Petrus Theodorus Kint MGB 114 Age: 24
Matr I Ment Pronk MTB 418 Age: 24
Matroos 1e KL Adriaan Cornelis Van Vegten TMB 51 Age: 27
Stoker O/M Antonius Franciscus Verbeek MTB 203 Age: 28

poppy wreath

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
we will remember them

padstow harbour
Vosper MTBs in the basin at Felixstowe, home to Coastal Forces base HMS Beehive

IN MEMORIAM

poppy wreath

On this day: 30th May

Sub-Lieutenant Jonathan George Thomerson (H.M.M.G.B. 674)
Chief Motor Mechanic Ebenezer Hay (H.M.M.T.B. 76)
Able Seaman Reginald Victor Miles (H.M.S. Hasdrubal)
Stoker 1st Class John Potts (H.M.S. Hasdrubal)

At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them


ANNIVERSARY

The Loss of MTB 732

La Combattante, a Hunt Class destroyer manned by the Free French Navy, which was involved in the friendly-fire incident with MTB 732. La Combattante was herself sunk in February 1945 when she hit a mine, and 117 of her crew were lost

The English Channel: 28th May 1944

The night of the 28th–29th May 1944 saw the largest single loss of life suffered by Coastal Forces through friendly fire, when MTB 732 was sunk by gunfire from the Free French destroyer La Combattante in the English Channel, after being mistaken for an E-boat.

MTB 732 acccompanied by MTB 739 had been ordered to search for two E-boats, sighted in an area of the Channel where La Combattante was also conducting a sweep. Despite both MTBs sending up recognition flares, the destroyer opened fire on MTB 732, sinking the boat, and killing 15 crew.

The Palestinians of the Gaza Strip

According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza as of 23 May, 2024, at least 35,303 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since 7 October, 2023, and the attack by Hamas in which 1,162 Israeli civilians, members of the security forces, and foreigners have been identified as killed, including at least 33 children. Around 70% of Palestinians killed are reported to be women and children, with children accounting for some 14,500+ deaths to date. A further 79,261 Palestinians have been reported injured, including 1000+ children who have had one or both legs amputated. 17,000 children are classed as unaccompanied or separated from their parents.

In addition, nearly 1.7 million displaced people are now sheltering across emergency shelters (UNRWA and public shelters), informal sites or in close vicinity to UNRWA shelters and distribution sites and within host communities, whilst some 70,000+ housing units have been destroyed, and a further 290,000+ damaged.

2,200,000 are now at risk of famine, with 1,100,000 at Phase 5 which aid agencies consider to be catastrophic risk, and a further 854,000 at Phase 4, which is considered an emergency.

Amid growing concerns for the safety of Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, South Africa has successsfully brought a case against the state of Israel in the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

In the light of concerns raised by South Africa, regarding possible breaches by the Israeli state of their obligations under international law, including potential genocidal comments made by Israeli state officials, some of which are reproduced below, and by an Order dated 26 January 2024, the International Court of Justice has indicated provisional measures in the case concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel)

Nakba? Expel them all…If the Egyptians care so much for them - they are welcome to have them wrapped in cellophane tied with a green ribbon

Nissim Vaturi – deputy speaker for Israel’s parliament

There should be two goals for this victory: One, there is no more Muslim land in the land of Israel… After we make it the land of Israel, Gaza should be left as a monument, like Sodom

Amit Halevi – Likud member in parliament,

There is one and only (one) solution, which is to completely destroy Gaza before invading it. I mean destruction like what happened in Dresden and Hiroshima, without nuclear weapons…Gaza should be razed and Israel’s rule should be restored to the place. This is our country

Moshe Feiglin, the founder of Israel's Zehut Party

We are fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly…We will eliminate everything - they will regret it

Yoav Gallant – Defence Minister

It’s an entire nation out there that is responsible. It’s not true this rhetoric about civilians not aware not involved. It’s absolutely not true…and we will fight until we break their backbone

Isaac Herzog – President of Israel

…imposing a complete siege on Gaza. No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything is closed.

Yoav Gallant – Israeli Minister of Defence

There will be no Arabs in the Gaza strip. They will go to Turkey, to Scotland, to Britain…we'll use different methods. One of them is not to give them any humanitarian aid.