WWII Motor Torpedo Boat being restored in Bridgwater by an enthusiast

WWII Motor Torpedo Boat being restored in Bridgwater by an enthusiast

Photo story (Clockwise from left): (1) Warship enthusiast, Paul Childs from Bridgwater in Somerset, his family and his organization are restoring a WWII motor torpedo boat (2) Motor torpedo boats of Royal Navy carrying out anti E-boat patrol off Cherbourg, France on 11th June 1944. (3) MTBs of Royal Navy at speed in the Mediterranean in February 1945. (4) Royal Navy’s HMS Gay Archer in Watchet Harbor on 4th August 2009; it was also bought & restored by Paul Childs.     

To carry torpedoes into the warfare, relatively faster and smaller naval vessels were first designed in the late 19th century. Torpedo boats remained effective through WWII. Royal Navy & the Royal Canadian Navy named the fast torpedo boats as Motor Torpedo Boats or MTBs. MTBs were used for low speed ambush, high speed, maneuverability on water and operating at night. With almost no armor, the motor torpedo boats solely relied upon surprise and their agility at high speed to avert being hit by gunfire shot from larger warships.

Britain and Italy started to develop MTBs for their navies before the beginning of WWI. WWII Motor torpedo boats of the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Navy had similar features as both were manufactured by the British Power Boat Company at Hythe, Hampshire. These MTBs were about 70ft long with speeds of around 40 knots or 74 km/h and each vessel carried around 13 crews during WWII. German motor torpedo boats were called S-boote or Schnellboote or ‘fast boats’ by the German Navy and ‘E-boats’ by the Allied forces. After the cessation of WWII, a number of Royal Navy MTBs were converted and sold as houseboats.

Web edition of Bridgwater Mercury, one of the 300 titles in the portfolio of UK’s third largest regional newspaper publisher Newsquest, reported that a warship enthusiast, Paul Childs from Bridgwater in Somerset, his family and his organization are restoring a WWII motor torpedo boat so that it can go on display.

The Royal Navy’s motor torpedo boat 219 will be the fourth ship restored by restoration expert Paul Childs, his organization Militaryboats.org, his sons Owen & Simon and his wife Rhian. They have raised £ 8,000 and bought the ship. Currently they are working to restore the hull of the MTB 219 in Wylds Road so that it can join the other restored vessels in Watchet, Somerset.

Paul has planned to open a floating vessel museum in Watchet with five of the most treasured maritime assets of Britain.

The MTB 219, launched in July 1941, was 70 ft in length. It rescued a number of aircrew of downed Fairey Swordfish bomber aircrafts of Royal Navy and also sank two German destroyers. The only surviving motor torpedo boat of its class has been used as a houseboat for the past 50 years in Chelsea.

Pual considers restoration of the war vessel as ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’. He also said that the WWII war vessels were so rare that if they didn’t renovate them, they would simply be consigned to history books. He further added that watching the war vessels gave us a better idea about the happenings of the world war and makes us realize their importance to our ancestors’ lives.

Cold war era war ship HMS Gay Archer is already in Watchet. Paul restored it after selling his family home. Hyperion carried King George in 1944 and is now in Watchet, restored by Paul. He also restored anti submarine boat Moonlight 27, the class leader that took the US forces to Omaha and Utah beaches in Normandy on D Day 1944. Paul added that they were also bringing back Hyperion’s sister vessel, Humorist.

Paul received huge public support when he opened Gay Archer for them. Paul said that he believed that a floating war vessel museum would attract a lot of tourists which would benefit the Southwest and Watchet. He has applied for a lottery grant to secure funding to launch the museum. Bridgwater local community members are helping Paul with the restoration but he said that he was always looking for more people to step forward with helping hands. He can be contacted on 01278-429233.

Video story: Motor torpedo boats of the Royal Canadian Navy were also manufactured by the British Power Boat Company at Hythe, Hampshire. It’s a 10 minute long WWII propaganda film about the crews and actions of Canadian motor torpedo boats.