MTB 463 Sunk!
A month after D-Day, the Germans remained persistent in their attempts to foil Allied reinforcements from across the channel. Although their surface fleet has been more or less neutralized by this point, the German military continued to deploy pressure-activated mines in the waters. Triggered simply by changes in water pressure due to a passing ship, these mines could not be swept by conventional means.
On the night of July 7, Glen Creba’s motor torpedo boat 463 and Barney Marshall’s 466 were on patrol off the Normandy coast. They were hunting for a new German weapon – the manned “Neger” torpedo, which was essentially two torpedoes attached together, the top one with the warhead removed and a cockpit for a pilot put in its place. On the evening of July 5, a large force of 24 Negers attacked the British fleet off Normandy, sinking two minesweepers. Alerted to the danger these posed, Creba and Marshall’s MTBs were deployed to keep an eye out for them – and sink them with depth charges if spotted.
As the two MTBs patrolled at a leisurely 15 knots, they also realized they’d been assigned to a minefield – apparently, as many as 25 pressure mines were set off as they sailed through!
At 0500 of July 8, Creba’s MTB 463 finally ran out of luck, and a mine exploded close enough to rip a hole in its stern. The geyser of water from the explosion was almost enough to hide it from the other MTB’s view.
Thankfully, despite the force of the explosion, the crew of MTB 463 were only mildly injured – a few bruises and sprains, but nothing major. Marshall’s 466 pulled alongside and got everyone on board, though Creba did his best to keep his old boat afloat. Eventually, however, the water was too much, and 463 slipped beneath the waves, and Creba could only look on with “two tears” in his eyes.
Main photo: The crew of MTB 463 – Creba is the officer on the top left (Credit: Naval Museum of Manitoba).