|29th Canadian |
Motor Torpedo Boat Flotilla
The 29th (Canadian) Motor Torpedo Boat Flotilla consisted of MTBs 459, 460, 461, 462, 463, 464, 465 & 466. Later the MTBs 485, 486 & 491 were added as replacement boats.
Lieutenant Commander C. Anthony Law, D.S.C. 2 MID, RCNVR, of Quebec City was the Senior Officer (SO).
The 29th Flotilla was formed in late March with the commissioning of the first boat, MTB 459, the SO’s first command before she was put out of action by enemy gunfire on 16 July 1944, and replaced by MTB 486.
Bridge, left to right: Lt John Shand, RCNVR, of Montserrat, B. W. I.; SLt Jack Foote, RCNVR, of Fergus, Ontario; LtCdr Anthony "Tony" Law, RCNVR, of Quebec City, Commanding Officer, L/S Cyril French, RCNVR, of Saskatoon, Sask.
Second row: Tel. T. 0. Donald McCallum, RCNVR, of Nelville, Sask.; Tel. T.O. Patrick McAuley, RCNVR, of Verdun Que.; A/B James Beyea, RCNVR, of St. John, N. B.; Sig. Robert Lovelock, RCNVR, of Montreal; A/B William Dublock, RCNVR, of St. Catherines, Ont.
Front row: A/B Harold Seaton, RCNVR, of Chatham, Ont.; A/B William Bushfield, RCNVR, of Stratford, Ont.; A/B Roland Stevens, RCN, of Windsor, Ont.; Sto. M. Jack McMahon, RCNVR, of Melfort, Sask.; L/S William Reid, RCNVR, of Calgary, Alta.; A/B Herbert Simpson, RCNVR of Wallaceburg, Ont.; Sto.M. James Roberts, RCNVR, of London, Ont.; P.0.M.M. Edward Dawson, RCNVR, of Calgary, Alta
Petty 0fficer Edward Dawson and Stoker Jack McMahon were both killed when MTB 459 was hit by the enemy gunfire that disabled and almost sank her.
The majority of the crew transferred over to MTB 486 when LtCdr Law commissioned her, but Lt John Shand and SLt Jack Foote stayed with 459, Lt Shand becoming her CO.
The 29th Flotilla operated in the English Channel and was involved in numerous actions with German Schnellboots (MTBs), Räumboots (Motor Launches), Vorpostenboot (flak trawlers) and even Minensuchboots (minesweepers) for almost a year, including D-Day, up and down the English Channel.
Their first operation involved landing army personnel on the beaches of occupied France to retrieve examples of the types of mines deployed by the Germans to counter a landing, and they had the longest recorded Coastal Forces action with German forces including seventeen S-boats, two minesweepers and two R-boats.
Two of the 29th's MTBs were sunk by mines, MTB 460 with ten killed, including her captain, Lt D. Killam, and MTB 463, fortunately with no casualties.
On 14 February 1945 in Ostend Harbour, Belgium, several flotillas of motor torpedo boats were berthed in in a passage called The Cirque. Many of the crew were resting during a “make and mend” (rest period). However, earlier, highly volatile petrol had been discharged into the harbour during de-fuelling and this petrol somehow caught fire, setting many boats and their munitions ablaze. The fire and explosions continued in the harbour for two hours.
When it was all over, seven Royal Navy boats and five boats of the 29th Flotilla were destroyed. Thirty-five British sailors and twenty-eight Canadians were killed. MTBs 459, 461, 462, 465 & 466 were lost in the accident and the 29th Flotilla was subsequently disbanded.