Coastal Forces

Memorial Page

Robert Hichens was a solicitor in Falmouth, England, when war broke out, married and with two sons.  Three years later, with the D.S.O. and Bar, D.S.C. and two Bars, he was known as “the Nelson of the Navy’s little ships.”  He had become the leader of a little band who took the war into the enemy’s waters, and fought and burned his E-boats in sight of their own harbours1.

Hichens, known as “Hich” in Coastal Forces, was to become the most renowned of all Coastal Forces leaders.  Not only for his gallantry and determination to attack the enemy, but also for his tactical wisdom and influence, which developed the concepts of MTB and MGB operations from their amateur beginnings to a refined sophistication and led to great successes against the enemy2.

LtCdr Hichens was in 148 operations and he was involved in fourteen actions with enemy forces.  On the night of 12 April 1943 the life of the 34 year old Senior Officer of the 8th MGB Flotilla, LtCdr Robert Peverell Hichens, D.S.O. and bar, D.S.C. and two bars, 3 M.I.D., came to an abrupt end.  Attacking flack trawlers near the Hook of Holland, he was breaking off the action and was hit by a stray explosive shell in the chest and died instantly3.

It was primarily due to LtCdr Hitchens’ foresight and determination that the British Power Boat Co. 71.5 footers were fitted with torpedo tubes to become Motor Torpedo Boats, but retaining the firepower of Motor Gun Boats.

This memorial page is dedicated to LtCdr Hichens and all the Canadian, British and Allied members of Coastal Forces who lost their lives fighting the Nazis and Axis forces, and what the latter stood for.

MGB 81 (later MTB 416)

The last survivor of Hichens’ 8th MGB Flotilla

(from The National Historic Ships Register)



1 from: We Fought Them in Gunboats

2 from: Home Waters MTBs & MGBs at War 1939-1945


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