Historic boat skippered by MI6 hero goes on display in Portsmouth to mark centenary of James Bond-style mission

The boat was transported into the historic dockyard by on the back of a lorry.
The boat was transported into the historic dockyard by on the back of a lorry.
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A BOAT which was at the centre of one of the most audacious operations of the Russian Revolution – earning its secret service skipper a Victoria Cross – has gone on display in Portsmouth to mark the centenary of the epic James Bond-style mission.

Coastal Motor Boat 4 has been loaned to the Memorial Flotilla of Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust by the Imperial War Museum where it is normally on display and will form part of the Boathouse 4 exhibition.

The boat was hoisted up into its new home inside Boathouse 4

The boat was hoisted up into its new home inside Boathouse 4

Designed and built under great secrecy in 1916 by J Thornycroft, the boat's pioneering hydroplane design enabled it to skim across the water at 35 knots – and above minefields.

In June 1919 Lieutenant Augustus Agar from MI6 skippered the boat on a top secret mission in support of the Czarist White Russian forces running couriers in and out of Petrograd on the Baltic Sea.

The crew also took part in audacious raids against the Russian Bolshevik fleet based in Kronstadt, sinking the Russian cruiser Oleg, and then led a further raid that destroyed several ships and disabled the Bolshevik fleet.

Lt Agar was awarded the VC and the rest of the crew were also decorated. His nephew Rodney Ager, retired Royal Navy Commander, witnessed his uncle’s vessel arriving in Portsmouth.

Coastal Motor Boat 4 is being loaned to the Memorial Flotilla of Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust by the Imperial War Museum where it is normally on display. 'Pictures supplied by retired RN Commander Rodney Agar, nephew of Augustus Agar

Coastal Motor Boat 4 is being loaned to the Memorial Flotilla of Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust by the Imperial War Museum where it is normally on display. 'Pictures supplied by retired RN Commander Rodney Agar, nephew of Augustus Agar

The 89-year-old said: ‘It’s fantastic that my uncle’s boat has come to Portsmouth. She is back in her rightful home.

‘She is now in great hands here where she will be properly looked after.’

Peter Goodship, chief executive of the Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust, was delighted by the new addition.

He said: ‘We see Daniel Craig as 007 James Bond on our cinema screens doing this sort of thing as a work of fiction. Well this was the real thing - Secret Service agents from MI6 in this actual boat on daring operations against an enemy of that time, through minefield and strongly defended harbours.

The boat after its restoration,

The boat after its restoration,

‘We are in the process of building our own replica of CMB 4 which we anticipate will go on display in 2021, so to get the real thing on loan from the Imperial War Museum now on the centenary of the Baltic Mission is fantastic.’

CMB 4 will be on display in Boathouse 4 in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard from June 26 until June 2024.