MTB Propaganda FilmMade in 1945, THE BROAD FOURTEENS is one of the excellent, dramatized accounts of WWII made by the Ministry of Information for morale purposes. The film shows the first posting, and eventual first action, of a newly-trained motor torpedo boat (MTB) crew. ('The Broad Fourteens' is the name given to a patrol area of the North Sea off the Dutch coast.) The film joins the boat and crew at the end of their training (probably HMS Bee, the Coastal Force working up base at Weymouth). The boats featured include 70’ Vosper 1942 class boats, 70’ British Power Boat motor gunboats and MTB 210 — a J Samuel White-built 70’ Vosper which later joined the 13th MTB Flotilla at Dover. The fictional MTB 181 is probably MTB 352, commanded by Lieutenant John M Moore RNVR which joined the 11th MTB Flotilla at Felixstowe after completing her work up. Also featured is MTB 354, commanded by Lieutenant Roland Plugge RN which was the SO's boat, 5th MTB Flotilla, at Dover. The German flak trawler is in fact an RN Isles Class trawler standing in.To view the film “Broad Fourteens” - click here
Cosens of Weymouth was founded in 1848 by Captain Joseph Cosens, who was born in Weymouth in 1816. Cosens chartered a steamer to provide a regular Portland ferry service and occasional coastal excursions, the income from which persuaded him to buy a steamer of his own. From 1848 until 1967, operating from their home port and seasonal bases at Swanage and Bournemouth, their paddle steamers offered an extensive range of summer excursions: westwards to Torquay and Dartmouth, calling at the open beaches of Lyme Bay en route; eastwards to the Solent, Isle of Wight and beyond; and even across the English Channel to Cherbourg and Alderney.They also transported convicts from Southampton to Portland to work on the building of Portland Harbour in the mid-19th centuryDuring the First and Second World Wars steamers were requisitioned to serve as minesweepers. The Emperor of India took part in the evacuation of Dunkirk and Cosens’ ships and workers were also involved with D-Day.Leading employers in Weymouth, they also ran a ship repair and engineering business, as well as salvage and speedboat operations, and even an ice- making plant. Changing economics and holiday habits after the second world war brought a gradual decline and the last paddle steamer, Embassy, was withdrawn in 1966. The Harbour Masters Office still bears the ‘Cosens Engineers’ mark on the steel supports.In the years before the First World War, the company was locked in spirited competition with rival steamer operators, its tugs involved in numerous dramatic rescues and salvage jobs, and the smaller vessels kept busy day and night ferrying liberty men ashore from the naval Fleet in Portland Harbour or carrying supplies to the breakwater forts. In addition, Cosens operated a major engineering and ship repairing business and were involved in the diving, coal and block-ice trades. HistoryJoseph Cosens, about 1870The company was founded in 1848 by Joseph Cosens and incorporated in 1876. It operated a fleet of paddle steamers on excursions along the south coast of England and on cross channel trips to Cherbourg and Alderney. It also operated a number of launches offering "trips round the bay" as well as tugs serving ships using Weymouth harbour. Up to the end of World War I the company held the Admiralty contract to operate liberty boats for naval ships at Portland. The engineering side of the company was a major ship repair and marine engineering facility. The company also had a cold storage and ice-making facility adjacent to the port.In 1851 Joseph Cosens was operating the steamer Princess between Weymouth and Portland, when he found that a rival organisation, the Weymouth & Portland Steam Packet Company, owned by Philip Dodson, intended placing its own steamer Contractor on the same route. Cosens' response to this was to expand the company by going into partnership with wealthy local newspaper proprietor, Joseph Drew, in order to obtain a new ship. The new ship, named Prince, was designed and built by John Scott Russell, famous later as the builder of the ill-fated Great EasternJoseph Cosens died at the end of 1873 and Joseph Drew became chairman. In 1946 Cosens was taken over by its Southampton based rival Red Funnel which continued to operate the pleasure steamers, in conjunction with its own, until 1966 when the last surviving paddle steamer was withdrawn from service. The engineering division continued however, finally being sold in a management buy-out in 1990. Renamed Cosens Engineering Ltd it had a brief independent career that ended in receivership.The FleetPS EMBASSYBuilt in 1911 by D & W Henderson at Glasgow (yard no 475)Length: 190 ft - Breadth 26.1 ft (57.9 x 7.95 metres)Engines: Compound Diagonal 27 and 51 x 54 in by builders)Built in 1911 for the railway connection service from Portsmouth to Ryde as PS Duchess of NorfolkLaunched 25/7/1911Served as a minesweeper in the Mediterranean Sea in World War I (1916-1920) as HMS Duchess of NorfolkSold to Cosens & Co.’s Weymouth-based South Coast cruising operation in 1937 and renamed PS EmbassyBecame a minesweeper once again for the Second World War as HMS AmbassadorSubstantially altered when restored to civil service with enclosed wheelhouse and expanded deck sheltersConverted to oil burning in winter of 1946/7The 1966 season was punctuated by mechanical problems and surveys indicated that she would need considerable attention to sail in 1967.Last passenger service undertaken on September 22nd, 1966, ending Cosens cruising interests going back to 1848.PS CONSULBuilt in 1896Length: 175 ft - Breadth: 20.6 ftEngines: Compound Diagonal (23 and 46 in x 36 in)257 Gross Registered TonnesBuilt in 1896 for the Devon Steamship Company (Devon Dock, Pier & Steamship Co from 1898) serving on the South Devon coastServed as a minesweeper during World War IReturned to peacetime service in 1920Sold to recent competitors P & A Campbell in 1933 but laid-up at ExmouthSold for service at Cork, Ireland in 1934Returned to South Devon for the 1936 and 1937 seasons for Alexander Taylor, operating out of Torquay.Sold in early 1938 to Cosens & Co for service out of Weymouth and renamed PS ConsulSold after the 1962 season, spending 1963 under ownership of New Belle Steamers on the Thames and Sussex coastBack at Weymouth in 1964Sold to be used as an accommodation ship at Dartmouth, reverting to her original name. Scrapped in 1968PS EMPEROR of INDIABuilt in 1906 by J I Thornycroft at SouthamptonEngines: Compound Diagonal, 30 and 57 x 60 in by buildersDimensions: 195.6 ft (later 217.2 ft) x 25.1 ft428 Gross Registered Tonnes (as built)Built for the Southampton, Isle of Wight & South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet CoUndertook trial on May 28, 1906 and despite a poor speed attained, went into service in the early part of the 1906 summer seasonVessel found to be less than satisfactory and returned to her builders pending negotiations regarding the costs of alterationLengthened by 21 ft 8 in to improve speed and buoyancyBought by Cosens & Co in 1908 for service out of Weymouth as PS Emperor of India.Operated successfully in 1908 but further alterations after that season (including plating to bow) affected her performanceServed as trooper and minesweeper in the Mediterranean in World War I as HMS MahrattaReturned to service for the 1920 season, stationed at Bournemouth.Operated on the Sussex coast under charter to the Cinque Ports Steam Navigation Co in 1922Spent World War II based on the Thames as a minesweeper then anti-aircraft vessel.Returned to service in 1948 after a refit, including oil-fired boiler, larger funnel and wheelhouseDespite sitting even lower in the wtter and achieving ever poorer speed, she remained in service until after the 1956 season.Left Weymouth under tow on January 24th, 1957 for scrapping at Bruges in Belgium.
World War 2Weymouth was host to over half a million troops and nearly 150,000 vehicles that departed the town in less than a year towards the end of the War in Europe. This of course included a major participation in troops leaving to fight in ‘The Longest Day’, the D-day invasion of occupied Normandy. The US 1st Division (‘The Big Red One’) crammed on to vessels in Weymouth and Portland harbours prior to setting sail for France and the assault of Omaha Beach. The infantry were loaded on to small landing craft in Weymouth and ushered out to the larger transporter ships lying at anchor in Weymouth Bay while Portland played host to the larger hardware, tanks, guns, trucks, amphibious vehicles and other equipment. There is a cenotaph on the esplanade commemorating United States soldiers who left Weymouth to fight on the landing beaches in France during D-Day. The Majority of the American assault force left from Weymouth and Portland Harbours. Over 144.000 vehicles and over 517.800 troops left the harbours from the 6th of June to the 7th of July 1944. On the cenotaph are plaques and texts which refer to D-Day, to the Rangers who fought on Point du Hoc and the beaches and spearheaded the assault, to Exercise Tiger and to the sinking of the passenger ship Leopoldville.
World War 1At the outbreak of World War 1 Weymouth was a popular seaside resort made fashionable as a watering-place by King George the Third. It also had military connections with the nearby naval base of Portland and several army camps & forts from the Napoleonic period.Following the landing of Australian & New Zealand troops, the ANZACs, at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915, casualties mounted rapidly. Tens of thousands of wounded were sent to England. where there was no Australian base to which they could report once they had been discharged from hospital. What was needed urgently was a base where troops could be sent to convalesce. So, on 31st May 1915, a command depot was set up at Monte Video House in Chickerell, some two miles from Weymouth.The depot was the joint Australian and New Zealand depot until the NZ depot opened at Hornchurch in Essex in April 1916. Weymouth then became the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) Command Depot No.2 which accommodated those men not expected to be fit for duty within six months. As a result, during the years 1915-1919, over 120,000 Australian and New Zealand troops passed through Weymouth. In spring & summer Weymouth Esplanade would be full of Anzac soldiers in wheelchairs, being wheeled along by their more able mates.The ANZAC Memorial on Weymouth seafront commemorates the Australian and New Zealand troops who were accommodated in three camps in the town during WW1 - Monte Video, Westham and Littlemoor. In Weymouth and Melcombe Regis Cemetery there are about eighty-six graves of those Anzacs who were never to return to their homelands. Also in memory of these troops, there are a number of roads close to the camps named after Australian cities and states.