Letter: Boats of war

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Sir: Leonard Reynolds' account of the wartime activities of Motor Torpedo Boats and Motor Gun Boats in Historical Notes ("Dog boats in the battle of the narrow seas", 7 December) took me back to my treasured copy of The Battle of the Narrow Seas (Country Life, 1945) written by Lt-Cdr Peter Scott (artist son of Scott of the Antarctic and later to become famous for his prowess in sailing and gliding and as the founder of the Slimbridge bird sanctuary) as a history of the Light Coastal Forces in the Channel and North Sea, 1939-1945.

Scott was himself a Coastal Forces "ace" and commanded a flotilla of steam gunboats (SGBs) which were just long enough to have names (appropriately, Scott's own boat was Grey Goose) and which saw action for the first time as part of the naval force for the Dieppe raid in August 1942. The book is graced by his own pen and ink drawings and portraits of fellow officers as well as colour reproductions of some of his wartime watercolour paintings.

Scott makes the point, however, that by March 1944 "the concept of a dual-purpose boat had become universal in Coastal Forces. The distinction between MTB and MGB had been almost entirely removed, all newly constructed boats [being] fitted with torpedoes and guns, and a torpedo armament was added to all but a very few of the oldest MGBs". With only a few exceptions, the official title "MGB" was replaced by "MTB" although "a small number of the oldest D-class boats changed their title but were not converted and found themselves in an anomalous position as MTBs without torpedoes".