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Coastal forces remembered

20 June 2019
The Coastal Forces Memorial has been re-dedicated in a ceremony held at Hornet Services Sailing Club (HMS Hornet) by the Chaplain of the Fleet.

During the second world war the Coastal Forces operated small fast boats that were mostly tasked with protecting the shipping around the UK coast and conducting clandestine operations against the enemy. The work was wrought with danger; operating in small wooden craft, heavily loaded with ammunition and high-octane fuel, brave young men went out night after night to conduct operations against the enemy.

George Chandler, Coastal Forces veteran speaking about the memorial said: “It means respect for those that died. I lost nineteen good shipmates during the war so when I come here I see them all, and it can be very emotional let me assure you, you know when you’ve lived and fought with people, you never forget them.”

It was during Coastal Forces operations in WWII that the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve’s most highly decorated officer, Lieutenant Commander Robert Peverell Hichens was sadly killed in April 1943.

This is a chance to remember that Coastal Forces were a vital part of British defence, especially along the south coast and up the Eastern Seaboard. People who were often volunteers gave an awful lot to try and keep us safe. The chance to come back and reflect after 75 years on the service they gave in wartime and afterwards is still important.

Martyn Gough QHC, Chaplain of the Fleet

Hichens widow, Catherine unveiled the memorial to honour her husband and all the men of Coastal Forces in September 1954. Now in 2019, days after the D-Day 75 Commemorations it has been re-dedicated by Robert and Catherine Hichens granddaughter, Tamsin Clive.

Speaking at the re-dedication Tamsin said: “It really is a great honour to be standing here 65 years after my grandmother Catherine, widow of Robert Hichens, unveiled this Coastal Forces memorial here at HMS Hornet in September 1954 – this ceremony of re-dedication is a moment when we can all once more honour both those who died and those who survived.”

The ceremony held at the Coastal Forces Memorial at HMS Hornet was carried out by Martyn Gough QHC, Chaplain of the Fleet, with music being provided by a brass quintet from the Band of HM Royal Marines Collingwood.

The Coastal Forces were disbanded 1957 with the closure of HMS Hornet but the use of fast small boats lives on in the Royal Navy’s P2000 Archer Patrol Vessels. HMS Biter and HMS Trumpeter were present on the day along with a naval party of newly qualified University Royal Naval Unit (URNU) Midshipmen to provide a fitting backdrop for the ceremony. Also, in attendance was the WWII fast patrol boat Medusa, an original Coastal Forces vessel which served at Omaha Beach on D-Day.

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