Naval History Homepage and Site Search

  World War 1 at Sea - In Memory of

Canadian Lieutenant RNVR, in Motor Launches 1916-19, Part 1 of 2

with thanks to Andy Hunter

Lt John R Hunter RNVR, from a newspaper cutting

 on to Part 2


Dedicated to the 6,000 men who served in Motor Launches

mostly British, but also from the then Empire, including Canadians Lt Rowland Bourke VC, Lt Russell Keith Odell of Ottawa, Lt John Dresser of Montreal, Lt George Cassady of Vancouver, Lt McCrimmon of Toronto


Click images for large version

Extract from Contemporary Canadian Account  (above) - "Lieut.-Commander Rowland Bourke, V.C., D.S.O., R.N.V.R., was residing in Nelson, B.C.. when he enlisted in the R.N.V.R. in 1916. He was present at the blocking of Ostend Harbour, where he received his decoration for his heroic work in helping to rescue the crew of H.M.S. "Vindictive" prior to her being sunk in the fairway of the harbour. After having once left the "Vindictive" word was received by him that there remained still on board some of the crew who failed to make their get-away, and he called for a volunteer crew, returned, shot the searchlight on the head of the Mole and went in again in confusion and darkness. He ran along the sunken "Vindictive" and picked up the survivors and brought them out successfully. When his boat came out from Ostend she had 57 shell-holes.

"Lieut. John R. Hunter (also pictured right), only son of Mrs. F. E. Hunter and the late J. D. Hunter, of Toronto, was a salesman on the staff of the Harris Abattoir Company prior to receiving his commission in the R.N.V.R. He went to England in 1916 and after further training was attached to the Motor Patrol Service. He served some months in the North Sea and was later commander of a motor launch on the Channel. He took an active interest in athletics.

"Lieut. Maurice P. Shea, a resident of Montreal, was the first man to enlist in Canada in the R.N.V.R. He spent two years in mine-sweeping and patrol work, and had many trying experiences while afloat."




If you can identify any of the ports or coastline, please email Naval-History.Net

No.1 - "An ML on the St Lawrence downstream from Montreal"



No.2 - "Alongside Hermione".

Photograph presumably taken from deck of HMS Hermione, Astraea-class 2nd-class cruiser, 4,360t, launched 1893. From August 1914 - Southampton guardship; from December 1916-1919 - HQ-ship for ML's and CMB's (coastal motor boats - MTB's) still based at Southampton


No.3 - "Duncan R Boyd, Glasgow", Lieutenant RNVR.

Andy Hunter - "I would assume that Duncan R. Boyd was an officer in the same flotilla as my father". Appears to be armed with the original ex-Army 3-inch calibre, 13-pounder gun


No.4 - "M.L.81 and the only two skippers she had during the war".

Andy Hunter - last skipper was Lt Hugh Hunter RNVR (no relation), John Hunter was his second-in-command. ML81 served mainly in the North Sea


ML.81's commanding officer was Lt Hugh Hunter RNVR believed to be English or Scottish; Canadian Lt John R Hunter RNVR - no relation - was his second-in-command.

In early 1917, ML.81 was damaged by a petrol fire probably at Aberdeen, Scotland but possibly at Peterhead. John Hunter narrowly escaped with his life in the fire and was ever afterward terrified of fires.


No.5 - Andy Hunter - "But look at the gun mounting."




No.7 - ML83, "Hardy sinks a mine with a rifle"


No.8 - "83 sights another mine"


No.9 - "The bunk"


No.10 - "Forward to the galley"


No.11 - "Norwegian patrol 240 miles to the other side"


No.12 - ML81. "Pompey here we come. Reporting at the outer Fort Portsmouth. The commander must have liked our looks. He sent for the skipper after and gave him this snapshot"


No.13 - ML191?


No.14 - "Broken prop. We get a tow"


No.15 - "Auxiliary engine"


No.16 - "482 Jack Dresser's ship".

Andy Hunter - "Jack Dresser married my Aunt Georgie. They had no children. He had a Cadillac agency in Montreal in the 30's."


 on to Part 2
return to Naval-History.Net

revised  18/1/15