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MTB 460 of the 29th MTB Flotilla off of Normandy
  MTB 460 of the 29th MTB Flotilla at sea in the Spring of 1944. (© Libraries & Archives Canada)


poppy wreath

On this day: 8th August

Ordinary Seaman John Hayes (H.M.M.G.B. 324)

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


The Loss of ML 301

Ordinary Seaman Jack Costello (left), and Ordinary Seaman Jimmy Grimshaw (right) who was killed during the explosion onboard ML 301 at Freetown, Sierra Leone, on 9th August 1942 © Costello

Freetown, Sierra Leone: 9th August 1942

ML 301 was one of four motor launches destroyed by fire and explosion on separate occasions at Freetown Harbour, West Africa, and one of many Coastal Forces craft destroyed in this way during the Second World War.

The incident highlighted the ever present danger that high-octane fuel used to power motor launches, motor gun, and motor torpedo boats, posed for the boats and their crews.

Fuel could often leak and start to build up in a boat's bilge, giving rise to dangerous levels of fumes, which might suddenly ignite on contact with a naked flame or spark, and cause a catastrophic explosion.

Jack Costello and Jimmy Grimshaw, who both came from the Rossendale valley in Lancashire, volunteered for the navy together, and had only recently arrived on station in Freetown, when the tragedy occurred.

Jimmy Grimshaw, along with two more crew members of ML 301, Albert Kenyon and William Mathias, killed in the same incident, are buried in Freetown cemetery.

Casualties for ML 301

  • Ordinary Seaman Jim Grimshaw Age: 22
  • Stoker 1st Class Albert Kenyon Age: 29
  • Stoker 1st Class William Kenneth Mathias