The Secret Navy         uk_royal_navy_clr.gif (8445 bytes)

SOE`s private Navy

Operated from secret bases  In the south of England , The Hamble river , nr Southampton , Dartmouth , The Helford river in Cornwall . for sorties across the English channel to France and the Low countries.


Coast Watching Flotilla

  A number of covert sections/Units used small boats to land Allied agents in the French Mediterranean and the French North African coast.   They also embarked Allied agents and escaping POW's to and from Gibraltar.

77 Allied Agents  .   635  Escaping POWS.

At the start of the war these sections/units ran their own missions and due to the number of secret sailings and the fact that different British covert units were operating on the same enemy beaches at night, It was seen that problems were certain to crop up, Therefore it was decided to form the "Coast Watching Flotilla" This was established in early 1942. and a number of vessels were transferred to this unit.

The trawlers  Tarana, the escort vessel Minna, the feluccas Dogfish, Vega, Seawolf, Calpe, Seagull, Seadog,  and Welcome.

as well as submarines.
    The units that made up the new Coast Watching Flotilla came from SOE (Spanish Section) who had been sent to Gibraltar in April 1941 to stay and disrupt the Germans had they ever invaded Spain. They  used local smugglers boats  and their Spanish contacts and were soon infiltrating SOE agents into Spain for onward passage to occupied Europe.

 SOE held a large number of arms, ammunition and explosives in Gibraltar and were  able to formulate contingency plans to destroy communications and infrastructure in Spain had Germany carried out its intention to occupy Spain .

  Polish Army/Navy personnel that had been from the surrender of France in 1940, trying to get as many as possible of the Polish troops back from France and French North Africa to Gibraltar.
3.  SIS/MI6 who also were trying to get agents into and out of France.
The senior officer of the C.W.F. was Captain C.B. Osborne R.N.R. and the submarine depot ship HMS Maidstone of the Eighth Submarine Flotilla based at Gibraltar provided any help she could to these little ships.

More to Follow . File Courtesy Of  Mr. Andrew  Schembri



The Levant Schooner Squadron , Operated in the Eastern Mediterranean   Aegean and Adriatic seas.

HMS Tewfik

                    The Shetland Bus.                    norwayC.gif (9166 bytes)

MFV1.jpg (11884 bytes)MFV Arthur +agents.jpg (13236 bytes)

Loading MFV.Arthur at pier .                   Three SOE agents on their way.

Operated from the Shetland Islands to Norway and other Scandinavian countries , crewed in the main by SOE trained Norwegian Fisherman

and Norwegian mercantile marine crews.

During the German occupation of Norway ,from 1940 to 1945, Most Norwegians knew that small boats were constantly sailing from the

Shetland Islands to Norway , to land weapons  supplies and agents and to rescue refugees . The Norwegians that stayed in Norway and

struggled there against the invaders were fortified by this knowledge , and gave the boats the familiar name The Shetland Bus.

`To take the Shetland bus`

became a synonym in  Norway for escape, when extreme danger and capture became the only other option.

For the full history of this amazing service read , The Shetland Bus . David Howarth Lt. Cmd.RNVR. (Nelson )


The Submarine Service.  

Due to the enormous value of a submarine and crew  SOE could only make use of a submarine in extraordinary circumstances and then only

as a part of the of the boats main mission , i.e. it was in the required area or was passing close to it .    (More to add )


15th Motor Gunboat Flotilla

R.N.SOE.jpg (22120 bytes) D Class Fairmile 708.jpg (10885 bytes) MGB.718.


Lieutenant Ronnie Seddon R.N.V.R.

LIEUTENANT Ronnie Seddon RNVR., won the DSC as commanding officer of Motor Torpedo Boat 718,

Serving under the Deputy Director Operations Division (Irregular) - DDOD (I) - with the 15th Motor Gunboat Flotilla. Based at Dartmouth, the 15th was a clandestine unit that operated during moonless periods to land and pick up SIS and SOE agents, escaped PoWs and Allied service personnel - mainly downed airmen - from rendezvous beaches known as "pin-points" along the coast of northern France and, in 718's case, Norway.   MTB 718 was a Fairmile "D"Class The boat, with power-operated gun turrets and four Packard engines driving four shafts to give a top speed of 35 knots. Her torpedo tubes had been removed, to make room for extra fuel in cans and specially designed "surfboats" to carry the passengers - known as "Joeys" - to and from the shore.

Her first sortie to Brittany was "Scarf", on April 15 1944, a joint operation with MGB 502 to land six SOE agents - and their nine suitcases - at Beg-an-Fry. They  were also to pick up 10 Joes, including two SOE agents, and two women who had escaped from the infamous Castree prison where the Germans held hostages, from whom they  chose some for execution as reprisal for attacks on their forces. The Joeys were embarked safely, but on the return journey 502 and 718 encountered three German patrol vessels, who briefly opened fire before being misled by signals into thinking that 502 and 718 were friendly.  In May, 718 made the 850-mile journey via Holyhead and the Caledonian canal to Lerwick, in the Shetlands, for "Cygnus", DDOD (I)'s first operation in Norway. On May 28, 718 sailed to Batalden Island to pick up two SIS agents, who had been transmitting to London reports of coastal shipping movements, and the Norwegian family who had sheltered them and who were now in danger of capture by the Gestapo. There was little darkness in those latitudes in May, but as luck would have it thick fog covered the operation. Seddon and his sailors had mixed feelings when they later heard that 718 had not been expected to return.In June, 718 went back to Brittany for "Reflexion", to land three French agents on Bonaparte Beach at Plouha in St Brieuc Bay. The officer in charge of the surfboat was, as usual, 718's 1st Lt, Guy Hamilton (later the director of the earliest James Bond films). Hamilton and two sailors landed the Joes safely, but a faulty radio and a dragging MTB anchor caused them to miss 718 on their return. After a desperate search, with dawn approaching, Seddon had to leave them behind. Luckily, they contacted the local Resistance group and were  returned to Dartmouth four weeks later.After several more operations, 718 carried out "Knockout" in September 1944, to land 25 cases of ammunition, arms and clothing for the Forces Francaises de L'Interieur (FFI) at Benodet, between Brest and Lorient on the French coast. The FFI colonel at Audierne asked for 718's help in overcoming a pocket of German  resistance. Seddon agreed to carry out a bombardment although this was a grave breach of the 15th MGB Flotilla's security. The German defenders replied with unexpected vigour and accuracy; 718 was hit several times and damaged badly enough to have to retire under cover of smoke. Seddon would have been in serious trouble had not the Senior Officer of the Helford River Flotilla, who was a passenger in 718, reported to DDOD (I) "thankfully the spirit of Nelson is not dead". No further action was taken.MTB 718 carried out another five Norwegian operations, the most difficult being "Lola" in February 1945. Sailing from Aberdeen, 718 made the long passage to Sando Island in the Skagerrak to land two agents and 50  cases of stores. The weather was so atrocious that 718 could make no more than six knots for much of the time. All watertight hatches and bulkheads were damaged, all wireless gear drenched and useless, and the boat's interior was a shambles. Seddon pressed on, against the advice of the Norwegian pilot on board. Agents and stores were safely landed. By the time 718 eventually limped back to Aberdeen - with five feet of water in her bilges - Seddon had been on the bridge almost constantly for 58 hours.


Lt. Seddons Sevice History.

He first trained as a wireless telegraphist, then served as an ordinary seaman before being commissioned in 1942. After a period as 1st Lt of a Harbour Defence Motor Launch, he was appointed C.O. of ML 145.Operating from Lowestoft on "Z" patrols, defending East Coast convoys, ML 145 and ML 150, commanded by Lt Jimmy Thomas, rammed and sank the German E-boat S.96 on September 24 1943. ML 145 picked up 13 Germans, including two officers. Seddon was mentioned in despatches.

Early in 1944, 718 was adopted by the Windmill Theatre in London. The management and the girls sent 718's sailors a steady flow of "comforts", including books and  gramophone records. Seddon, a devoted patron of the Windmill, invited the girls down to Dartmouth. With drinks in the wardroom and tots on the messdeck, the visit was a huge success.

Freddie Young .From Obituary. Daily Telegraph. ISSUE 1289Saturday 5 December 1998.

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