Fast Patrol Boats In Action 75 years after D-Day
On 3 June 2019 a flotilla of historic fast craft left Portsmouth UK heading for Northern France as part of the 75th Anniversary commemorations of D-Day on 6 June 1944.
Two of the last remaining fully operational high-speed World War II motor boats, MGB 81 (Motor Gun Boat 81) and HSL 102 (High Speed Launch 102) have been saved for the nation by the work of Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust.
MGB 81 and HSL 102, along with MASB 27 (Motor Anti-Submarine Boat 27) and HMS Medusa (Harbour Defence Motor Launch), were en route for the historic WW2 battle locations in Normandy at Ouistreham and Pegasus Bridge.
When built, they were among the fastest boats of their type in the world. MGB 81 received the battle honour ‘Normandy 1944’. HSL 102 is the only surviving example of the 100 class high speed launch and was stationed at RAF Calshot during the Battle of Britain, retrieving shot down airmen from the sea. Throughout the duration of the war, HSL vessels saved a total of 10,000 airmen of many nationalities.
Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust (PNBPT) received a £580,000 grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Peter Goodship, Chief Executive of the PNBPT, said, ‘These unique craft are a legacy to the heroism of those who crewed them during World War II. Both boats made significant contributions to the War effort and saved the lives of many sailors and airmen. The Trust is grateful to all those who contributed, especially the National Heritage Memorial Fund, without which this would not have been possible.
The boats represented pioneering technology when they were built just down the coast at Hythe near Southampton. They were known as the Spitfires of the Seas and effectively it was like riding on a massive petrol bomb. With 3,000 gallons of fuel on board, if they were hit in the fuel tank they simply exploded. And as they were only made of plywood and had no real armament they were extremely vulnerable.
The young men who crewed these boats, many of whom were just teenagers, were responsible for life-saving work, often in appalling conditions. Some of these heroes paid the ultimate sacrifice and in telling the story of the boats, PNBPT hope people will remember their bravery and their dedication to duty. PNBPT are now keen to bring their story alive by making the vessels available for charter, so that people can experience their breathtaking power and speed.
HUGE THANKS to Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust for their excellent work preparing MGB 81 for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day
June 3rd - Departed Portsmouth Naval Base with HSL 102 and MASB 27.
June 3rd - Escorted a Brittany Ferry with D-Day Veterans aboard out of Portsmouth.
June 3rd - Arrived at Oistreham, Benouville (Pegasus Bridge).
June 4th - Departs Benouville for Caen in the morning. Boat open to the public.
June 5th - MGB 81 departs Caen, returns to Benouville. Boat open to the public.
June 6th - Ceremonies on the bridge and in the town. Boat open to the public.
June 7th - Departs Benouville, sails to Cherbourg, Boat open to the public.
June 8th - Boat open to the public.
June 9th - Departs Cherbourg, sails to St Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands.
June 10th - Boat open to the public.
June 11th - MGB 81 returns to Portsmouth Naval Base.
IMAGE CREDIT: Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust
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