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The Sinking of MTB 710

Written by Kevin Costello: Published 9th April 2017

April 10th marks the anniversary of the loss of MTB 710 in 1945, in the Adriatic. MTB 710, a Fairmile 'D' Dogboat, was one of several Coastal Forces boats to suffer a particularly large loss of life through a sudden and catastrophic sinking event — in this case the striking of an acoustic mine.

motor torpedo boat mtb 710
MTB 710 in an unknown port © IWM FL 25696

The following account of the sinking of MTB 710 by one of her surviving crew members, George Chandler MID, is taken from an interview he gave to BBC Southwest, as part of their filming of the Coastal Forces Veterans Association decommissioning service, held at Portsmouth on 18th April, 2007.

george chandler onboard a croatian fast patrol boat at vis in 2006
George Chandler (left), who survived the sinking of MTB 710, seen here onboard a Croatian Fast Patrol Boat, during a commemorative event on the island of Vis in 2006

Interviewer: George...tell me about your story when you got sunk.

George: This happened in April 1945. What had happened was that, about three weeks before we were sunk, we were in the Adriatic, and we passed over an acoustic mine, and it blew up about thirty yards behind us. That didn’t bother us at all. About a week later we passed over another one. This time it went up about ten yards behind us, and it bent our shafts, so we had to go back to Italy, pick up in dry dock, to have our shafts mended. On the way back, we really caught it this time, because a mine blew us in half, and most of the crew were in the forehead messdeck, so they were in the piece of the boat which was sinking. And I can remember as if it was two minutes ago. I was in the messdeck, and I was just about to dip a biscuit into a cup of tea, and the next thing I was picking myself up out of the bilges. The mine must have gone off twelve feet away, behind a bulkhead, but I never heard a sound, I never heard a sound! And I think the picture which stays with me most of all, is seeing our ‘bunting tosser’, that’s the chap who runs up the flags, standing, holding onto a stanchion, and he’s saying, “don’t panic lads, don’t panic, we’ll all get out!”, and I never saw him again. And in fact I never saw anybody then, because the boat just turned up [over], and there I was in pitch dark, water up to my chin. The amazing thing is, I remember I was not frightened, and I was thinking to myself, what do I do now: I can’t see anything, can’t hear anything. And so anyway I’m quite a good swimmer, so I turned turtle, and I’m swimming around in the mess deck: never saw anybody: and then good thing it was a sunny afternoon, because about thirty feet down I could see a big square of light, which was the sun, with the hole that had been created, and so I swam down there and came up. But the funny thing that happened following that was, the stern of the boat was still going round, and there was a couple of hands were up on the stern, so we’re shouting to them “launch the dinghy! launch the dinghy!!” so we can go round and pick up. So they launched the dinghy, and myself and the First Lieutenant got in it, and we’re padding away, and this dinghy’s sinking beneath us, because they’ve forgot to put the bung in! [Laughs] So it shows you, there’s even laughter in situations like that.