These would be ship's boats , not the sort of MLs or HDMLs from WW2 , like a big open lifeboat , but slimmer .
At that time the RN still practiced active participation in land fighting , it's strength being in riverine operations and in Artillery support , and actual troops in the form of Royal marines , so the royal navy's big warships were equipped with a range of boats capable of putting a big landing party ashore , with associated guns and gear , efficiently .
The bigger ships boats , such as launches , could carry a mounted machine gun , or perhaps a pom pom or a 47mm 3pounder gun , up in the bows , highly useful for depressing colonial enemies in those pre-kalashnikov days .
Record keeping was fairly universal by then too , so operation papers etc should be extant still .
The British Ministry of Defense maintains a Historical branch -- try emailing a query there and see if they can tell you where to start looking .
" Relax ! No-one else is going to be fool enough to be sailing about in this fog ."