For Posterity's Sake         

A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project

 


 

29th MTB Flotilla

 


 

29th Motor Torpedo Boat Flotilla

RCN photo

 

 

Click on the above images to view a larger photo and the full press release

 


 

The 29th MTB Flotillia was formed in March 1944 under the command of Lt Anthony Law, RCNVR and equipped with eight British Type 'G' MTBs. The flotilla initally worked up at HMS Bee (Coastal Forces Base at Holyhead) in April 1944 before moving to HMS Fervent (Coastal Forces Base at Ramsgate) in May 1944.

 

The first mission assigned to the 29th MTB Flotilla was given to MTBs 460,462,464 and 465. Tasked with escorting a clandestine mine gathering expedition to the German controlled Normandy coast, on 16 May 1944 the Canadian MTBs proceeded to the French Coast along with two British MTBs, protecting them as volunteers were landed ashore by outboards to lift sample mines from the German beach defence. Managing to accomplish their mission undetected, the captured mines provided much needed intelligence prior to the Allied D-Day landings.

 

Between 20 and 22 May 1944, the 29th MTB Flotilla joined RCN Tribal-class destroyers and the 65th MTB Flotilla in intercepting enemy coastal convoys in the English Channel. Targeting German schnellboote (E-boats), escort ships, merchant vessels; the MTBs lured German destroyers within the gun range of accompanying heavier warships. Following this success, on 27 May 1944 the 29th MTB Flotilla moved to HMS Hornet Coastal Forces Base at Gosport (Portsmouth), in preparation for Operation Neptune in June 1944.

 

During the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944, the 29th Flotilla was tasked with guarding the east flank of the invasion fleets, while the 65th Flotilla was assigned to protect the western flank. Following the invasion, the MTBs of the 29th Flotilla patrolled the 15 km distance between the eastern edge of the assault area and the German naval base at Le Havre. Each night three or four Canadian MTBs waited until larger Allied ships tracked the German surface ships attempting either to attack the allied assault area or transport supplies into Le Havre. Typically, short, sharp engagements followed, with the Germans turning back to safety once they realized Allied forces were in place. 

 

Based at HMS Beehive, Felixstowe in October 1944, the 29th Flotilla was later transferred to Coastal Forces Mobile Unit (CFMU) No. 1, Ostend, Belgium. 

 

The destruction of the 29th MTB Flotilla at Ostend

 

On the afternoon of February 14, 1945, disaster struck the Canadian 29th Motor Torpedo Boat flotilla docked in Ostend (Oostende), Belgium. Fuel that had been spilled in the harbour suddenly ignited and, before an alarm could be raised, a fire quickly spread amongst the closely-moored vessels. Fuel and ammunition supplies exploded as boat after boat caught fire. Many of the men were trapped on board and had no escape as even the water was aflame. By the time it was over, 26 Canadian sailors and MTBs 459, 461, 462, 465 & 466 were lost in the accident.  The 29th Flotilla was subsequently disbanded with the remaining vessels attached to other RN flotillas.

 

Thirty-five British sailors and seven Royal Navy vessels had also been lost.

 

Sailors of the 29th MTB Flottilla killed that day...

 

Buried in Adegem Canadian War Cemetery:

Stoker 1st Class Gordon Purdy, age 28 of St Catharines, ON

Able Seaman Benson Dick, age 25 of Hensall, ON

Able Seaman Joe Gauthier, age 20 of Winnipeg, MB

 

Buried in Oostende New Communal cemetery:

Ordinary Telegraphist John Brush, age 18 of Windsor, ON

Able Seaman Albert Cross, age 19 of Yorkton, SK

Leading Seaman Ralph MacRae, age 21 of Campbellton, NB

 

Commemorated on the Halifax Memorial (bodies not recovered)

Motor Mechanic John Watt, age 23 of Deep Cove, BC

Motor Mechanic John Routh, age 28 of Canoe, BC

Able Seaman David Motley, age 23 of Bonnington Falls, BC

Ordinary Telegraphist Melvin Harper, age 21 of Edmonton, AB

Motor Mechanic Ian Hunter, age 30 of Calgary, AB

Able Seaman William Crang, age 21 of Outlook, SK

Lieutenant William Hale, age 21 of Winnipeg, MB

Able Seaman Wilfred Brown, age 21 of Guelph, ON

Able Seaman James Kenny, age 20 of Woodstock, ON

Ordinary Seaman Gordon Long, age 18 of Woodstock, ON

Able Seaman Norman Cathcart, age 19 of Toronto, ON

Able Seaman John Byrne, age 20 of Toronto, ON

Able Seaman William Newbigging, age 19 of Toronto, ON

Able Seaman William Park, age 20 of Hamilton, ON

Stoker Charles Long, age 27 of Hamilton, ON

Able Seaman Michael Naydo, age 25 of Fort William, ON

Telegraphist Stephen Bahleda, age 22 of Montreal, PQ

Able Seaman Neil Bond, age 20 of Glace Bay, NS

Able Seaman James Wright, age 23 of New Glasgow, NS

Motor Mechanic William Wellington , age 39 of Cardiff, Wales

Photo source/ credit - facemepls flickr photo collection

 

Members of the 29th MTB injured in the fire and explosion on 14 Feb 1945

 

Name

Given names / Initials

Rate

Next of Kin

Allsop

C.L.

OS

Mrs. Leah Irene Allsopo (mother) R.R. 2, Lambeth ON

Bell

H.T.

AB

Mrs. C. Bell (mother) Grandview, MB

Bergeron

L.P.

Sto 1c (M)

Mr. Mer Bergeron (father) 711A Montreal Rd, Cornwall ON

Carr

John

Sto (M)

Mrs. J. Margaret Carr (Wife), Tracadie, NS

Chadderton

H.

AB

Mrs. Mary Chadderton (mother) 5728 Coalbrook Ave., Snowdon, Montreal, QC

Currie

John A.

L/Sto (M)

Mrs. Marcel Currie (wife) 547 William David Street, Maissoneuve, Montreal

Doucette

C.E.

AB

Mrs. Lillian Doucette (wife), Kapuskasing, ON

Fulcher

D.D.

AB

Mrs. D. Fulcher (mother) 28 Brunswick St, Halifax, NS

Gagnon

J.W.N.

AB

Mrs. J. Gagnon (mother) 579 Des Meurons St., St. Bonifiace, MB

Gosling

Garfield

AB

Mrs. Mary Gosling (mother) 237 Clifton St., Halifax NS

Howe

P.J.

Sto (M)

Mrs. A. Howe (mother) 26 Russell Ave., St. Catharines, ON

Hutchinson

L.G.

PO

Mrs. I. Hutchinson (Wife) 9 Inglis St., Sydney, Cape Breton, NS

MacInnes

W.

Sig

Mrs. Elizabeth MacInnes (mother) 506 Ontario St., London, ON

MacLennan

N.

Sto 1c

Mr. R.D. MacLennan (father) Pont Road, Sydney Mines, Cape Breton, NS

Olafson

L.

AB

Mr. O. Olafson (father) 403 MacLean Ave., Selkirk, MB

Ozga

Walter

Tel

Mr. Peter Ozga (father) Mortlach, SK

Porter 

J.A.

AB

Mr. John Hardy Porter (Father), 506 Third St North, Kenora, ON

Rowland

Edward

Sto 1c (M)

Mrs. W. Rowland (mother), Dublin, ON

Verrin

Henry Murray

M.M.

Mr. Henry M. Varrin (father) Box 243, Schreiber, ON

 


 

     In memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice    

     Lest We Forget     

 

BOND, Neil A.

AB Radar III, RCNVR

MPK - 14 Feb 1945

BROWN, Wilfred L.

AB, RCNVR

MPK - 14 Feb 1945

BRUSH, John C.

O/Tel, RCNVR

killed - 14 Feb 1945

BYRNE, John E.

AB AA3, RCNVR

MPK - 14 Feb 1945

CATHCART, Norman

AB, RCNVR

MPK - 14 Feb 1945

CRANG, William R.N.

AB LR III, RCNVR

MPK - 14 Feb 1945

HARPER, Melvin R.

Ord. Tel, RCNVR

MPK - 14 Feb 1945

HUNTER, Ian W.

M.M., V12919, RCNVR

MPK - 14 Feb 1945

LONG, Charles W.

Sto 1c, RCNVR

MPK - 14 Feb 1945

KENNY, James A

AB, RCNVR

MPK - 14 Feb 1945

LONG, Gordon P.

OS, RCNVR

MPK - 14 Feb 1945

NAYDO, Michael J.

AB, RCNVR

MPK - 14 Feb 1945

NEWBIGGING, William

AB, RCNVR

killed - 14 Feb 1945

PARK, William R.

AB, RCNVR

MPK - 14 Feb 1945

PURDY, Gordon F.

Sto 1c, RCNVR

killed - 14 Feb 1945

ROUTH, John M.

MPK - 14 Feb 1945

WRIGHT, James B.

AB, RCNVR

killed - 14 Feb 1945

 

 

 

 

 

 

CROSS, Albert J.

AB, RCNVR

killed - 14 Feb 1945

HMS NEMO

 

 

 


 

Press release on the destruction of 5 MTBs of the 29th MTB Flotilla and Casualty List

 


 

Bystander looking at the burning remnants of the MTB is Ostend Harbour

Source: RCN facebook page.  Photographer unknown

 


 

Remains of the 29th Flotilla at Ostend

From the collection of Emery Savage

Courtesy of Jessica Santos

Click on the above photo to view large images

 


 

29th MTB Flotilla Christmas card - 1944 - designed by Cdr (then Lt) Tony Law

 

From the collection of Murray Varrin

Courtesy of Larry Varrin

 


 

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