July 19, 2013

Mutin returns to Helford

Before taking part in the recent Channel Regatta, Mutin - formerly HMS Mutin, part of SOE's Cornish flotilla - returned to its wartime home at Helford: http://bit.ly/1avRz3V.

A 60-foot yawl built in 1926, Mutin had been used as a training vessel by the French Navy before the war. In 1940 it was loaned to the British, and after refitting Gerry Holdsworth added Mutin to SOE's nascent flotilla based on the Helford River, which soon began ferrying agents and supplies across the Channel. Despite concerns that it was too slow and heavy to be mistaken for a Breton fishing vessel, Mutin took part in Operation Carpenter, which helped deliver half a ton of stores to the coast near Roscoff in November 1942.

When Holdsworth left to set up at SOE's Massingham base at Algiers he took Mutin with him, and it later saw more leisurely service in Italy and Corsica through 1943-44. Mindful that it was French property, SOE kept it out of harm's way and carefully returned it in February 1945 (this care was justified - during the handover a zealous inspector at Caen examined every modification Holdsworth had made since 1940, and even queried the whereabouts of a missing ball of string, listed on the original inventory). Amazingly, Mutin is still training pilots with the Naval Academy at Brest, and remains the oldest vessel in the fleet.