Lady Sylvia previously Wendy Ken, originally Sylvia

Boat Specification
Boat Name: 
Lady Sylvia previously Wendy Ken; originally Sylvia
Boat Type: 
Motor Yacht
Boat Length: 
45ft
Boat Beam: 
9ft 8ins
Boat Draft: 
4ft
Boat Displacement: 
14 tons
Boat Engine: 
2 x Ford 75hp Diesels
Boat Construction: 
Carvel
Boat Builder: 
Launch & Boat Co., Southampton
Boat Year: 
1930
0

The harbour master at Ramsgate saw the horrors and the heroism of Dunkirk reflected in the ships that came home - in their crew and their passengers.

He never forgot the way the Sylvia returned, loaded with soldiers, many of them wounded. She had been machine-gunned, set on fire and on the port side above the waterline was a hole which the soldiers had plugged with their tunics to keep the water out. Even so, they had to take turns on the pump all the way back.

He congratulated the skipper who promptly announced that he was going back. The harbour master begged him not to, but the sailor looked him straight in the eyes and said "I have seen the sea red with human blood, severed arms and legs, a sight I shall never forget. The Lord is with us, the sea is calm and if she goes down, I shall go down with her." So he went.

The following day, the harbour master recalled, "there was a lot of noise and a hooter blowing as ships from Dunkirk were waiting to unload. The noise came from the Sylvia, full of troops. We rushed her in to get the weight off her, as the water was right up to her engine. Had she gone another mile or had the sea been rough, she would have sunk. When she was moored, the skipper walked out of what was left of her wheelhouse and I never saw him again."

But he did see the Sylvia return, years later, fully restored and rushed out to tell her new owner the story and to thank him for saving her. Then the harbour master's story was proudly entered into the log.

After Dunkirk Sylvia spent the remainder of the War at Lowestoft as an Offshore Patrol/Service vessel until July 1945. She then went to Teddington and was returned to her original owner Mr. Anstey on 13th February 1946.

Sylvia was later named Wendy Ken after the children of Bert Harpur, a previous owner. Subsequently owned by Ian and Doreen Pearson, who lived aboard in Port Medway Marina, Rochester, (which Ian managed) for many yeasrs. She carried out the role of Flagship during the Commemorative Return in 1995 as Ian Pearson was Commodore of The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships at that time. The 70th anniversary return to Dunkirk in 2010 coincided with Wendy Ken's eightieth birthday.

In November 2015 Trisha and John Woods took ownership of Wendy Ken and renamed her Lady Sylvia (her original name at Dunkirk was Sylvia but that name was not available) and registered her with the Maritime and Coast Guard Agency as Lady Sylvia. She is now under restoration at their home on the River Trent at Barton-in-Fabis in Nottinghamshire.

Launched 16th May 1930

Source: 2, 3, 4, 5 & 11

Updated: 12/Apr/2017