Bid to bring Second World War motor boat back to Gosport

A MUSEUM wants to raise thousands of pounds to bring the last Second World War coastal motor boat back to Gosport and '˜save it for the nation'.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 8th May 2017, 5:50 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:40 pm
CMB 331
CMB 331

The National Museum of the Royal Navy has just 11 days left to get the £6,000 needed for the 55ft coastal motor boat CMB 331.

It has launched a campaign to bring the vessel from Oxfordshire to Gosport, where she would be housed next to Explosion! The Museum of Naval Fire Power and conserved by experts.

CMB 331 is the last-surviving Thornycroft coastal motor boat. They were built during the First World War, following a suggestion that small, fast torpedo-carrying craft might be able to pass over German minefields and attack the High Seas Fleet.

The crafts were designed by pioneering boatbuilder John Thorneycroft and built all over the country, including at Camper and Nicholson’s Yard in Gosport.

Nick Hewitt, museum head of heritage development, said: ‘Number 331 is the grandfather of the generations of light attack craft which followed.

‘Through the motor torpedo boats and gunboats of the Second World War, right up to the missile boats in service all over the world today.

‘She will be an exciting and vivid reminder of the very young men who fought their ‘mosquito war’ in small boats, in the dark, at incredibly high speeds, during both world wars.

‘We are thrilled at the possibility of acquiring her and saving her for the nation.’

The first 40ft boats could only carry one small torpedo so, in 1916, Thornycroft designed a much larger 55ft model which could carry two torpedoes, while still capable of high speeds. The larger boats saw action in the Baltic and Caspian Seas in 1919.

CMB 331 was one of the last to be built in 1941 at Thornycroft’s yard at Woolston. She was based at HMS Hornet in Gosport, but was decommissioned for disposal in 1945.

To donate before the closing date of May 19, visit