Papillon

Boat Specification
Boat Name: 
Papillon
Boat Type: 
Motor Yacht
Boat Length: 
33ft 5ins
Boat Beam: 
8ft 7ins
Boat Draft: 
3ft 8ins
Boat Displacement: 
10.5 tons
Boat Engine: 
2 x 4cyl 42HP Isuzu Diesels
Boat Construction: 
Carvel
Boat Builder: 
Leslie W Harris, Burnham
Boat Year: 
1930
0

Whilst Cdr. V.A.L. Bradyll--Johnson was in charge of the Eastern arm of Dover break-water during 'Operation Dynamo' many handwritten messages and instructions were sent to him and the naval officers under his command. One of these was the order to 'keep a list of the men in each boat by name, initials and official number . If civilian, next of kin and address are required'. His staff were also told: 'On arrival (of requisitioned boats) make a full list of requirements and defects. Immediate necessities are fuel, water and two days' provisions for the crew'. The various Naval officers scribbled brief notes in compliance. Without these notes, which Bradyll-Johnson collected together and kept for many years, the Dunkirk involvement of many vessels such as Papillon would have remained unrecorded. These scraps of paper, written in several hands over three or four days, are evocative re-minders of the time. They tell us that she arrived for service at Dover on 30th May, 1940 and that her two 4 cylinder Morris petrol engines were 'defective'. Her skipper was E. Somers Holmwood of Kingston by the Sea, Sussex, and his crew S.J. Downes of Shoreham, B. Hawood of Brighton and Mr. Griffiths of Peacehaven (who was lent to an RNLI lifeboat). She was probably a local boat, since her owner, C.P. Mackenrot, lived at Westcliffe-on-Sea, Essex and she had been built in 1930 by Leslie W. Harris at Burnham-on-Crouch.

No extra fuel was required; another note states that she had 30 gallons of petrol, a full crew, and a minor electrical fault. Another that she had two casks of water, was OK for oil and fuel and that the fault in her condenser had been repaired. Then we know she was loaded with six spare tins of petrol and water, and that there was a minor hiccup: her civilian crew were 'uncertain of conditions of service'. She sailed on 2nd June and, when she came back next day, gave up her route order and had her fuel and oil tanks replenished. It is also likely that the men who took her across were volunteers otherwise unconnected with Papillon, for instead of being sailed home she was left for collection at Burnham-on-Crouch.
Papillon's movements as a private yacht after Dunkirk are unknown. She was purchased by Ian and Karina Gilbert in 1997 and kept on the Thames at Weybridge.
In May 2015 Papillon led the 75th Anniversary Return to Dunkirk flying the Commodore's Flag.
Following the Return Papillon found new ownership and is now based at Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

Source: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11, 19 & 20

Updated: Sept 2015