Coastal Forces Museum

Exciting progress is now being made with the establishment of a permanent Coastal Forces Museum. The Museum will be situated in a former mining shed (P Building) located within the old Priddy’s Hard Naval Armament Depot.

Under current plans the Museum will open to the public in the late summer of 2020 and will be administered by the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN).

More information about the Museum can be found in the last two editions of the CFHT Newsletter which are available on this site.

A History of the Royal Navy's Coastal Forces DVD

This DVD is presented as a record of the Coastal Forces of the Royal Navy during the 20th Century. First brought to prominence in World War 1, then discarded for cost reasons until the very late 1930s, these ‘little ships’ proved their worth many times over during World War 2. After the war, history sadly repeated itself, and since their final de-commissioning in the late 1970s the Royal Navy has been without fast strike craft.

From their early days with Coastal Motor Boats (CMBs) and WW1 Motor Launches (MLs), the men of this specialist branch of the sea-going navy have fought many fierce battles, suffered many casualties, and won an amazing number of awards and decorations. Their activities reached a peak in WW2 when some 750 Motor Gun Boats and Motor Torpedo Boats, plus 1,000 MLs, were involved in over a thousand actions.

During this period 25,000 men and women served in Coastal Forces, operating from over 50 bases in areas which stretched from Iceland to the Far East.

The essence of service in these boats was one of a highly trained, and highly tuned, team of men who took the fight right to the enemy’s doorstep. Indeed, it included the nearest thing to hand-to-hand fighting experienced within the Royal Navy. It also spawned an exceptionally high ‘esprit de corps’ within individual crews and flotillas. Discipline was based on complete trust in the man next to you, and the worst thing that could happen to you was to be ‘returned to general duties’. This level of morale also led to a very high standard of support from those, which included many members of the Womens’ Royal Naval Service (WRNS), who managed and worked in the shore bases from which the boats operated.

Operationally, the tasks entrusted to Coastal Forces were many and varied. At one time or another boats could be found hunting enemy warships, attacking enemy convoys and defending our own, acting as ant-submarine patrols, laying mines, sweeping mines, landing secret agents on enemy shores, delivering arms to resistance fighters, rescuing shot down air-crew, picking up escaped air-crew from enemy territory, carrying reconnaissance teams to and from potential landing areas, guiding landing forces to their objectives, guarding the flanks of amphibious landings from both sea and air attack, harrying the retreating Japanese Army in the creeks of Arakan, and even, with Merchant Navy crews, carrying cargo to break the blockade of neutral Sweden! In all of these activities the Royal Navy was supported by the countries of the Commonwealth and from the USA, France, Holland, Norway, Poland and Yugoslavia.

By their very nature many of these tasks had to take place by night and often in very brief, hectic bursts which usually required instant decision taking. It follows that film and photographic records cannot be anywhere near comprehensive. However, this DVD film attempts to tell this inspiring story in such a way that viewers will be able to appreciate at least some of the debt which the United Kingdom owes to those, almost all of whom were volunteer reservists or ‘hostilities only’ sailors, who served in all these ‘little ships’. It is also hoped it will serve as a fitting tribute to those who designed, developed, and built these wonderful craft.

Orders for the DVD should be sent to Coastal Forces Heritage Trust, c/o The National Museum of the Royal Navy, HM Naval Base (PP66), Portsmouth, Hampshire PO1 3NH


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Bringing the story of the Royal Navy's Coastal Forces to present and future generations through a permanent exhibition