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The crew of MTB 718, a Fairmile 'D-Type' vessel which was involved in clandestine work as part of the 15th MGB Floilla
  The crew of MTB 718, which formed part of the Special Services Flotilla (© John Townend)

national poetry day 2020

As part of National Poetry Day 2020 we feature a work by WRNS Third Officer Moyra Charlton written as a tribute to the 23rd Free Flotilla of the Free French Navy. The Free French were based at Dartmouth and shared facilities there with members of the 15th MGB Flotilla. Both units were involved in clandestine work of the coast of France and the Channel Islands, landing agents and rescuing downed airmen or escaped prisoners passed down escape lines

And Never Know Who Will Come Home

This is the gold enchanted hour
The evening when syringas flower
The castle dark against the sea
Is woven from a fantasy

The hills close round us cool and green
The quiet river flows between
More quiet than breathing, wise as tears
A haven loved of mariners

In this strange hour of moon and sun
The boats are passing one by one
One by one they go to sea
Crews fallen ceremonially

With the brisk prim grace of another age
Of a sea tradition's heritage
But beyond the boom with a jubilant roar
They open out for the Bretagne shore

And we who watch from casements wide
See them leaping to meet the tide
Follow the swirl of gleaming foam
And never know who will come home

Hear the engines' fading swoon
And smell syringa beneath the moon
With morning's splendour we will hear
The throb of engines faint but clear

And see the threads of foam advance
The MTBs come back from France
And we will search the mist to trace
If each is in her wonted place

Knowing the boys red-eyed and worn,
Have braced their courage with the dawn
To bring them in with throttles loud
And pendants streaming game and proud

In other gold enchanted hours
At evening, when syringa flowers
In the unremembering years to be, one by one
And silently, the little ghosts will go to sea

mtb 502

MGB 502 was a Camper & Nicholson boat, built on the Clyde, which formed part of the 15th MGB Flotilla, based principally at Dartmouth

mtb 502

Crew members from one of the Special Flotilla boats embarking on a dingy as part of a goodwill visit to one of the Channel Islands after the cessation of hostilities


poppy wreath

On this day: 28th October

Seaman Daniel Haughton (H.M.M.L. 1239)
Able Seaman Augustus William Smith (H.M.M.L. 579)

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