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RN Coastal Forces

A selection of books by members of and/or about some of the exploits of the Royal Navy's Coastal Forces during WW2. Titles where the author name is in red are 'must read' accounts.

Note: these lists are of suggested reading and/or reference and are not lists of books we necessarily have for sale. For the the titles we currently have in stock see here.

Armstrong, Warren
HM Small Ships
Frederick Muller, 1958, the exploits of the Coastal Forces, a 'freely dramatized' history of the mainly RNVR manned craft during WW2, illustrated

Bott, Lloyd
The Secret War from the Rover Dart
Dartmouth History Research Group, 1997

Cooper, Bryan
The Battle of the Torpedo Boats
Macdonald, London, 1970, Pan pb 1972, the first complete survey of the history of the MTB's of WW2, illustrated

Cooper, Bryan
The Buccanneers
Macdonald, London, 1970, pb, Purnell's 'History of the Second World War, Weapons book 13', account of MTB's and PT boats worldwide during WW2, illustrated

Dickens, Captain Peter, DSO, MBE, DSC, RN
Night Action - MTB Flotilla at War
Peter Davies, London, 1974, reprinted by Purnell Book Services and pb edn. by Corgi Books, 1976,     a comprehensive account of the RN Coastal Forces MTB/MGB/ML war in the 'Narrow Seas' between the East coast of Britain and Holland, illustrated

Foynes, J. P.
Battle of the East Coast 1939-1945
Privately published 1994, laminated paper wrappers,  a comprehensive study and account of WW2 on the coast and in the North Sea between Flamborough Head, Yorkshire and North Foreland, Kent and the enemy held coastline, roughly the limits of the Royal Navy's Nore Command. It covers the coastal defences, the air raids, invasion preparations, naval bases and lesser ports, mines and minelaying, the convoys and minesweeping, air-sea rescue, mtb's, mgb's and e-boats, and some major incidents, Dunkirk and the escape of Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen, in fact all aspects of the war in the area, illustrated,

Granville, William and Kelly, Robin A.
Inshore Heroes
W. H. Allen, 1961, the story of HM Motor Launches in two World Wars

Hampshire, A. Cecil
The Secret Navies
William Kimber, 1978, account of the British naval and marine units that were set up for clandestine operations in WW2, illustrated

Hazelhoff, Erik
Soldier of Orange
Hodder and Stoughton, 1972, account of the experiences of a Dutchman who escaped to England then returned to The Netherlands 17 times setting up a chain of agents, illustrated

Hichens, Lt. Cdr. Robert, DSO*, DSC**
We Fought them in Gunboats
Michael Joseph, 1943, a record of the actions of Coastal Forces by the first RNVR officer to be given flotilla command. Hichens was at HMS Beehive (Felixstowe) and was instrumental in developing the tactics for use of the Motor Gun Boat, illustrated
Note: By far the best edition of this title is the Badger Books paperback published in 1957 in which the manuscript had been re-edited by one of Hichens MBG commanders, David James, restoring many of censor's deletions which had been omitted from the Michael Joseph editions. Uncommon in this edition but worth looking out for (not illustrated)

Combined Operations 1940-42
HMSO, 1943, 1st, paper wrappers, the official reports on operations including St. Nazaire and Dieppe, illustrated

Holman, Gordon
The Little Ships
Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1943,  early account of the work of our light Coastal Forces, the ML's, MTB's and MGB's based working from channel and east coast bases

Lambert, John
The Fairmile 'D' Motor Torpedo Boat
Conway Maritime Press, London, 1985, 1st, description and diagrams of the variants of the Fairmile types, including sectional drawings, armaments, etc. A comprehensive record

Lambert, John and Ross, Al
Allied Coastal Forces of World War II - Vol 1 - Fairmile designs and US submarine chasers
Conway Maritime Press, London, 1990, a comprehensive account of all the Fairmile Marine Co's designs from the Types through 'A', 'B' (incl. Canadian), 'C', 'D', 'F', 'H' and the Harbour Defence Launch, and the US Navy's 110ft Subchaser

Lambert, John and Ross, Al
Allied Coastal Forces of World War II - Vol 2 - Vosper MTBs and US ELCOs
Conway Maritime Press, London, 1993, Vosper MTB designs, and the US 70-foot, 77-foot and 80-foot ELCO designs, with Vosper designs built in the USA

Larive, E. H.
The Man who came in from Colditz
Robert Hale, 1975, English translation of the experiences of a Dutch naval officer who escaped from Colditz and then served in Coastal Forces   

Law, Anthony C.
White Plumes Astern
Nimbus, 1989, an account of the Canadian MTB flotilla   

Lenton, H. T. and Colledge, J. J.
Warships of World War II - Part 7 Coastal Forces
Ian Allan, 1964, paperback original

Pope, Dudley
Flag 4
Wm. Kimber, 1954, reprinted in paperback 1998, account of the Light Coastal Forces in the Mediterranean 1939-45, illustrated

Pawle, Gerald
The Secret War 1939-45
George Harrap, London, 1956, (later re-issued by Seaforth in 2009 as 'The Wheezers and Dodgers'), an account of the work of the Royal Navy's 'Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapon Development' whose major achievements included the anti-submarine weapon Hedgehog and the Mulberry Harbour, but who were also responsible for the Harvey and Holman Projectors and the rocket propelled PAC, all early anti-aircraft devices, but particularly the Holman Projector as Lt. Cdr. Hichens became involved with the its further development for use in MGBs shortly before he was killed, illustrated,

Reynolds, Lt. L. C., DSC
Gunboat 658
William Kimber, London, 1955, pb NEL 1974, story of the operations of a motor gunboat in the Mediterranean from the fall of Tunisa until the German surrender

Reynolds, L. C. and Cooper, H. F.
Mediterrnean MTBs at War - Short MTB Flotilla Operations 1939-1945
Sutton and Imp. War Museum, Stroud, 1999

Reynolds, Leonard C.
Home Waters - MTBs and MGBs at War 1939-1945
Sutton and Imp. War Museum, Stroud, 1999

Reynolds, Leonard C.
Dog Boats at War - RN 'D' Class MTBs and MGBs 1939-1945
Sutton and Imp. War Museum, Stroud, 1998

Richards, Brooks
Secret Flotillas - Vol 1 Clandestine Sea Opeations to Brittany 1940-1944Frank Cass, 2004

Richards, Brooks
Secret Flotillas - Vol 2 Clandestine Sea Opertaions in the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Adriatic 1940-1944

Rohwer, Jurgen
Chronology of the War at Sea 1939-1945
Chatham Publishing, London, 2005 (3rd edn)., a massive tome chronologically recording all naval actions, both Allied and Axis, all over the world but in relatively small areas such as: English Channel, North Sea, Mediterranean, etc., and based on records from both sides.

Scott, Peter
The Eye of the Wind 
Hodder and Stoughton, 1961, pb also Hodder and Stoughton 1966 revised edn., autobiography of artist and naturalist but contains 9 (of 42) chapters on ww2 including details of his time in Coastal Forces, paperback has additional materia

Scott, Peter  Lt. Cmdr. MBE, DSC, RNVR
The Battle of the Narrow Seas
Country Life, London, 1945, the 'Narrow Seas' were the English Channel and the North Sea, where the Light Coastal Forces of ML's, MTB's and MGB's, the Spitfires of the Royal Navy of WW2, sought the enemy in his own waters, illustrated

Warlow, Lt. Cdr Ben, RN
RN Minor War Vessels in Focus
Maritime Books, Liskeard, 2001

Whitley, M. J.
German Coastal Forces of WW2
Arms and Armour Press, 1992, comprehensive account of the scourge of the North Sea, the E-Boats (Schnellboote), illustrated


Some Operations in which Coastal Forces vessels and/or personnel featured prominently:

Mason, David
Raid of St. Nazaire
Macdonald, 1970, paperback, in the series Purnell's History of the Second World War, Battle Book 14, a detailed account of the raid

Phillips, C. E. Lucas
The Greatest Raid of All
Heinemann, London, 1958, 1st, and pb by Pan, 1961, Operation Chariot, the 1942 raid on the Normandie Dock at St. Nazaire by HMS Cambeltown and a force of MTB, MGBs and MLs

Ross, Al
The Destroyer Campbeltown
Conway Maritime Press, London, 1990, 1st, description and diagrams of the ex-USN flush decked destroyer Buchanan (renamed HMS Campbeltown and used on Operation Chariot, the raid on St. Nazaire), including photo ills. of various others of the type, with sectional drawings, armaments, etc., a comprehensive record.

Ryder, Commander R. E. D., VC, RN
The Attack on St. Nazaire
John Murray, London, 1947, 1st, account by the OIC Naval Forces during the successful raid on St. Nazaire, 28th March 1942


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