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St Patrick's Day — 17 March, 2019

Remembering those from all counties of Ireland who served with the Royal Navy during the Second World War, particularly those who died serving with Light Coastal Forces

st patricks day
A model of one of the three Thornycroft MTBs operated by the Irish Free State, on display as part of an exhibition held by the Irish Naval College in 1945

During the Second World War the Irish Free State remained officially neutral, though in practice it rendered assistance of all kinds to the British State, not least of which was the number of Irish citizens who volunteered with the British Armed Forces, and the great number that travelled to Britain to perform vital war work. Many direct descendents of Irish who were part of the Irish community in Britain also served.


In Memoriam

  • Stoker 1st Class David Broome Age: 19 (Co Antrim)
  • Leading Stoker Cornelius Joseph Carey Age: 25 (Co Cork)
  • Able Seaman Francis Cassells Age: 19 (Co Armagh)
  • Leading Telegraphist Daniel Gourley Age: 23 (Co Antrim)
  • Able Seaman William Grainger DSM Age: 21 (Co Antrim)
  • Able Seaman William J Humphries Age: 19 (Co Antrim)
  • Able Seaman Andrew Hunter Age: 20 (Co Armagh)
  • Able Seaman William James Kitson Age: 27 (Co Armagh)
  • Chief Motor Mechanic Ernest Benjamin Marsden Age: 34 (Co Cavan)
  • Leading Telegraphist Hugh Ferguson McCutcheon Age: 22 (Co Armagh)
  • Stoker 2nd Class William McIntyre Age: 28 (Co Londonderry)
  • Able Seaman James Ryce McNeill Age: 23 (Co Londonderry)
  • Leading Motor Mechanic Keith Thomas Stratton Meaden Age: 18 (Co Antrim)
  • Motor Mechanic Thomas Rhatigan Age: 21 (Co Dublin)
  • Able Seaman Francis Robinson Age: 24 (Co Down)
  • Leading Seaman Samuel John Robinson (Co Antrim)

Lest we forget

IN MEMORIAM

poppy wreath

On this day: 19th March

Motor Mechanic George Charles Holland (H.M.M.L. 171)
Ordinary Seaman Joseph Clark (H.M.M.L. 649)
Able Seaman Alexander Nicol (H.M.M.T.B. 40)

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


ANNIVERSARY

Bombing of Wren Quarters – HMS Midge

Bomb damage to the accomodation for Womens Royal Naval Service personnel, who were part of Coastal Forces base crew at HMS Midge, Great Yarmouth

Queens Road, Yarmouth: 18th March 1943

The 18th March, 1943 saw a tragedy of a different kind befall Coastal Forces when a bomb from a Messerschmitt 109 destroyed the living accomodation for Wrens serving with Coastal Forces at HMS Midge, Great Yarmouth. Fred Cork, second coxswain on MTB 612, recalled himself and his shipmates being blown clean out of their bunks in their billet just four doors away, while Wren Olive Swift had to be dug from the wreckage along with others in her block. Though many of the Wrens survived the devasting attack, eight of their number were killed – Wren Rita Turner, age nineteen, succumbing to her injuries some two weeks later.

The Loss of MTB 417

A British Power Boat MTB of the same type as MTB 417

Cap Gris-Nez: 16th March 1944

MTB 417 was sunk by gun-fire from a German surface craft off Calais on 15 /16 March 1944. The Loss of MTB 417: On 15/16 March three D boats from Dover were sent out to attack a target, thought to be a small merchant vessel. It was escorted by a force more notable for quantity than for the size of individual ships: two auxiliary trawlers and 10 R-boats. With the Dog Boats was one 'short' MTB of the 5th Flotilla, 353 (Lt J D Dempster), and the combination worked well. While the withering broadsides from the Dogs distracted the escorts, 353 crept in unseen and torpedoed the main target. The next night four boats were vectored to attack a patrol of six armed trawlers of Cap Gris-Nez. Lt R B Rooper RN, SO MGBs at Dover, was embarked in 417 (Sub Lt T G Wilson), supported by three other ex-gunboats of the 2nd Flotilla, two of which became detached, leaving only 417 and 418 (Lt L Thompson) to make the attack. Their approach was detected and they were met by a curtain of gunfire, much of it from 88mm and 37mm guns, from Vps 1802, 1803, 1804, 1810, 1811 and 1815. Several 88mm shells from 1810 and 1811 hit 417 which immediately burst into flames and sank with all hands. 418 very gallantly attempted to approach to see if anyone could be saved, but was beaten off by the continuing barrage. Lt Rooper, who had been awarded a DSC for an action in September 1943, had suffered the same fate as Dicky Richards, the SO he had succeeded. Vice Admiral Dover commended Lt L E Thomson and his crew for their spirited single-handed attack and believed one R-boat was sunk. Source: MTBs and MGBs at War, Chapter 9, p122, Len Reynolds