Greater London now Ades 1

Boat Specification
Boat Name: 
Greater London now Ades 1
Boat Type: 
R.N.L.I. Lifeboat
Boat Length: 
48ft 6ins
Boat Beam: 
Boat Draft: 
Boat Displacement: 
Boat Engine: 
Boat Construction: 
Boat Builder: 
J S White, Cowes IoW
Boat Year: 

Greater London, the Southend-on-Sea lifeboat was large for its type: 48ft 6ins long with a 13ft beam. Built by J. Samuel White in 1928, she was sold out of service in 1957, re-named Adesi and went to Montevideo in Uruguay.

At Dunkirk, with just an hour to go before the final order to leave became effective, and with the block-ships about to be sunk at the harbour entrance, the Greater London, already fully loaded, went to the aid of a trapped minesweeper full of French soldiers. HMS Kellet, embarking 200 men from the mole had one of her screws caught on an under-water obstacle, could not move, and was in danger of being left behind. Greater London hauled her stern away from the wall and both got away in the nick of time.

Featured in the set of (2015) Palau postage stamps 'The Little Ships of Dunkirk'.
In June 2018 a letter was received by the ADLS. detailing how Mr Duddy - HM. Ambassador to Uraguay, had been invited (in 2017) to a reception by the Mayor of Carmelo, a town alongside the River Plate in Uruguay. Whilst there he was shown 'Greater London- Ades 1' which was preserved by local enthusiasts but in some need of restoration (See latest picture above).
'The Ships that saved an Army' (Plummer 1990) also has her as:-
"Official Number 704, stationed at Southend-on-Sea:In command Sub-lieut W Clayton RNR."
See also ADLS vessel 'EMED', her identical (albeit Chilean) sister ship still in existence - but even further away!

Updated 26/06/2018


Filling in the details

Have sent the missing details to the Archivist for inclusion in the entry, including the all-important [ from the PoV of working at the beaches] Draft of 3ft 10ins. The sea only had a recorded rise and fall of 14 ft 4ins on the Dunkirk beaches during the 9 days of the evacuation; - and from HW-mark to LW edge, the beaches shelved so shallowly, that the waters retreated over half a mile. This was why experience of working small craft in shallow waters was vital; and why the lack of training of the RN Ratings, P/O's, CPO's, and JNO assigned to the FIRST batch of requisitioned boats, led to so many of them being stranded and abandoned. The Naval Signals from Dunkirk [See the Naval Staff History, 1949, reprinted by NHBL, MoD in 2000] repeatedly mention small craft broaching-to or being swamped because of untrained crews, and then being abandoned as those crews scuttled for the nearest ship that would offer them a chance of getting back to England. The NSH "skates-over" the shameful beginning to the story of the RNLI lifeboats, where the decision-making SNO at Dover Harbour [i.e. NOT V/Adm. Ramsay] abused his Authority under Article 53 of the 1939 Defense Regulations, giving an ignorance-based order to the RNLI's Coxswains [who - be it noted - were not under his authority, since the RNLI had volunteered the boats on the basis of a telephone c all; no Requisitioning Forms T691 has been completed; and none of the lifeboat crews had even been offered Form T.124X Crew Agreements to sign] - an ignorance-based order to beach the Hythe, Dungeness, and Walmer lifeboats and load troops - which proved he was not the "competent naval Authority" required by Article 53! Think about it if you, Reader, have seamanship experience of working small craft off beaches! Beaching a boat weighing over 20 Tons on a falling tide and drawing nearly 4ft with a 2ft6ins freeboard, - to load her with over 7 tons of rescued troops, - and expect to get her afloat again WITHOUT very powerful mechanical assistance from the shore - or from a ship's winches afloat! It is a very great pity that the affair was whitewashed, and that the SNO's name has never become public! The Hythe Coxswain and Engineer, -and the Walmer and Dungeness crews - were shamefully treated, afterwards.