Leslie J. Sprigg (1920 - 2016) ex: Leading Telegraphist. Royal Navy.
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What were Coastal Forces?
They were small craft, mainly of wood construction up to 115 feet in length. The “Little Ships” consisted mainly of Motor Torpedo Boats, Motor Gunboats and Motor Launches. They served with distinction throughout the Second World War. Fast, fearless and tenacious they would tackle the enemy wherever they found him on sea, air and shore, size was no deterrent – the larger they came etc!
The Coastal Forces Veterans’ Association published the following which I am pleased to include verbatim:
" “Affectionately known as the Navies’ “Little Ships”, the Motor Torpedo Boats, Motor Gunboats and Motor Launches of the Coastal Forces served with distinction throughout the Second World War.
From Dunkirk to VE Day they fought over780 actions, sinking 800 enemy vessels, including 48 E-Boats. Of 81 enemy midget submarines destroyed, 32 were claimed by Coastal Forces. Having fired 1169 torpedoes, their percentage of hits and probable hits bettered that of the submarine service. In addition 32 enemy aircraft were shot down and twice as many mine laying operations were carried out than were credited to other mine laying forces.
By 1944 Coastal Forces numbering some 3000 officers and 22,000 ratings, were operating from Norway to the Aegean.”
In an open message to Coastal Forces, Winston Churchill said: ‘I have noted with admiration the work of the Light Coastal Forces in the North Sea, in the Channel, and more recently in the Mediterranean. Both in offence and defence, the fighting zeal and the professional skill of officers and men have maintained the great tradition built up by many generations of British seamen.’ (Churchill’s full letter can be found on the Coastal Forces Website or by clicking here)
“By the close of hostilities 170 of the “Little Ships” were sunk or destroyed.”
Over 3000 decorations, including two V.C.’s were won by the men of these Little Ships, often faced by the comparatively gigantic vessels of their protagonists in over 780 battles."
Other Coastal Forces’ craft included Harbour Defence Motor Launches, Motor Anti-submarine boats and Steam Gunboats (steel construction and only 7 were built).
In addition there were Rescue Motor Launches, High Speed Launches (RAF) and Long Range Rescue Craft (RAF).
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This page was last updated Tuesday February 09, 2016