SOURCES and FURTHER READING

'SECRET FLOTILLAS Volume I: Clandestine Sea Operations to Brittany 1940–1944' Brooks Richards: foreword by M.R.D.FOOT

'ALLIED COASTAL FORCES of WW11', by John Lambert and Al Ross, (Conway Maritime Press): Vol 1 - Fairmile Designs and US Submarine Chasers, 1990: Vol 2 - Vosper MTBs and US ELCOs, 1993.

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MGB 314

Builder: A.M. Dickie & Sons, Bangor, North Wales. Commissioned June 1941 into the 14th MGB Flotilla

IN ACTION: as the most powerfully-armed of the Coastal Forces vessels taking part in the raid, the gunboat was chosen as the Headquarters Ship, and would enter the estuary with both Force Commanders on board, along with their particular Headquarters Parties and a small Intelligence element. Having recently operated as part of Commander Ted Davis' 'Special Operations' flotilla, based on Dartmouth, her captain and crew were also much more experienced than was the general case with the Fairmile launches.

Crew

Lieutenant Dunstan Michael Carr Curtis, RNVR (DSC., CdeG) (later SOE and

30 Commando Assault Unit)

Sub Lieutenant William George Leslie ‘Bill’ Brooker, RNVR (‘Number1’)

Sub Lieutenant Robert Thomas Christopher Worsley, RNVR (DSC)

 

Petty Officer Motor Mechanic Francis Stuart Hemming, RN (DSM)

Ordinary Telegraphist E.J. Hughes

Ordinary Telegraphist W. Reynolds

Acting Leading Seaman Fred McKee, RN (DSM) - Coxswain

Able Seaman Peter Charles Ellingham –cook, and trainer, after gun

Able Seaman A. ‘Lofty’ Sadler – layer, after gun

Able Seaman William Alfred Savage, (VC), RN – layer, forward gun (KIA)

Able Seaman Francis Albert Smith, RN (DSM) – trainer, forward gun

Able Seaman Albert Richard Carver Stephens, RN (DSM MiD) (KIA)

Able Seaman C.A. Young

Ordinary Seaman H.A. Boswell

Ordinary Seaman J.E. Cutts

Ordinary Seaman Arthur Vallance – port .5” turret

Ordinary Seaman C.E. ‘Bill’ Whittle – starboard .5” turret

Acting Leading Stoker Ronald William ‘Bill’ Bannister

Stoker (1) W. Clark

Stoker (1) G.A. Lang

 

Naval Headquarters Party

Commander Robert Edward Dudley Ryder, RN, (VC) – (Naval Force Commander).

Lieutenant Alick Reginald Green, RN – Navigator (DSC and bar)

Sub Lieutenant John Edward O’Rourke, RCNVR - Signals

Acting Leading Signalman Seymour Charles Pike, RNVR (DSM)

 

Commando Headquarters Party

Lieutenant Colonel Augustus Charles Newman, (VC) - (Military Force Commander)

Captain Stanley Ambrose Day (MC) Adjutant

Sergeant David Ronald Steele – radio operator

Lance Corporal Jack Lonsdale Harrington (MM)

Private Francis Kelly (KIA)

Private S. Murdoch

 

Intelligence

Captain Antony Frederic Aimé Imbert Terry, (MC) Intelligence – M.I.19 (POW Debriefing Unit)

Peter Nagle – German national travelling as ‘Private Peter Walker’ – poss also M.I.19: He took

part in the earlier Bruneval raid as Private Newman.

 

Press

Mr. John Northcote Gordon Holman – ‘Exchange Telegraph’ (MiD CdeG)

Service history

Commissioned June 1941, Bangor, North Wales. Served initially with the 14th MGB Flotilla before being transferred to Combined Operations and loaned out to Commander Ted Davis’ special ops flotilla operating out of Dartmouth, under the control of Naval Intelligence. Later established as the 15th MGB Flotilla, these boats ran a clandestine service between Brittany and the south coast, carrying agents for the SIS, as well as British and French Sections of SOE.

314’s first operation, ‘OVERCLOUD II’, was carried out on behalf of SOE’s French Section on 31 December 1941. The boat was to land the agent Moureau on the Ile Guénnoc and return with four others. On the night only the one returning agent was ready for pickup: he, Fred Scamaroni, had been Sous-Préfet of Caen, before joining the French Air Force and evacuating to England to join de Gaulle. Later imprisoned in Dakar he managed the first of a number of escapes and was on his way back to the UK.

‘OVERCLOUD III’, again for SOE’s French Section, took place on 6 January, 1942. Departing from Falmouth with the same destination as ‘OVERCLOUD II’, Curtis landed four agents and embarked seven – Forman, Labit, Chenal, Simon, Peulevé and the brothers Joël and Yves Le Tac.

On 10 January, another SOE op, ‘PICKAXE’, saw Curtis sail from Dartmouth to Lannion Bay to land a female Soviet agent. Then, over February 1st and 2nd he undertook the joint operations ‘OVERCLOUD IV’ and ‘TURQUOISE’. Departing from Falmouth Curtis’s tasks were to land the Le Tac brothers on the Ile Guénnoc for the SOE, and then land the agent Peulevé (alias ‘le Neveu’) for the SIS.

Curtis’s last two operations before being recalled to take part in the Saint-Nazaire raid, were unusual in that they were both sanctioned and observed by German Intelligence. The key figure here was Mathilde Carré, also known as ‘La Chatte’, who had been assistant to Garby-Czerniawsky, leader of the Polish ‘Interallié’ resistance network in France. Eventually betrayed to the Germans, the network was broken up and Mathilde arrested, at which point she agreed to work for the Germans as a double agent. She was suspected of a double-cross by Pierre de Vomécourt who, instead of breaking all contact re-recruited her into the resistance, making her a triple agent. To make things even more complicated, Mathilde had begun an affair with Hugo Bleicher, a sergeant in German Military Intelligence (Abwehr). She persuaded Bleicher to sanction both operations ‘WATERWORKS’ and ‘ROWAN’.

‘WATERWORKS’ took place on 12 February, with Curtis and the 314 again heading for Lannion Bay, this time for Maurice Buckmaster’s SOE. The object was to land the agents Abbott and Bedding, then take off de Vomécourt, Mathilde Carré and Ben Cowburn. On this occasion the pickups were prevented by heavy surf (agents were brought out to the 314 by canoe or small boat). De Vomécourt and le Carré were eventually picked up from the Pointe-de-Bihit over 26-27 February during op ‘ROWAN’.

Following ‘ROWAN’ the 314 was recalled by Combined Operations to take part in CHARIOT, during which operation she was badly damaged and eventually scuttled.

 

Specifications

Length – 110’

Beam – 17’ 5”

Draught – 5’ forward: 6’ 3” aft

Freeboard – 6’

Displacement – 72 tons

Engines – Three Hall-Scott supercharged petrol engines, of 900 hp each

Speed – continuous, 23.6 knots @ 1700 rpm: max, 26.6 knots @ 2100 rpm

Range - 500 nautical miles @ 12 knots

Fuel capacity – 1800 gallons early: 2600 gallons in flexible tanks later

Steering – Lockheed hydraulic

Complement – normally 2 officers, 14 ratings: (3 + 17 for the raid)

 

Armament

Vickers 2-pounder (40mm/1.575”) pom pom forward, belt-fed, 200rpm, range 7830yds, muzzle velocity, 2,000fps

2 x twin Vickers .5” machine-guns in Mark V power turrets amidships –700rpm, water-cooled, muzzle velocity 2,540fps.

2 x twin Vickers .303 gas operated machine-guns on bridge, 800-1200rpm from 60 or 100-round drums, muzzle velocity 2,400fps

Rolls Royce 2-pounder (40mm) gun aft – quick-firing, non-automatic

Construction

Prefabricated double diagonal 5/8”mahogany hull on plywood frames, subdivided into 9 watertight compartments. Twin rudders. Hard chine hull (side and bottom meeting at a sharp angle, as opposed to round bottom).

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