Tom Tit

Boat Specification
Boat Name: 
Tom Tit
Boat Type: 
Motor Yacht
Boat Length: 
40ft / 12.19 metres
Boat Beam: 
11ft 3in / 3.44 metres
Boat Draft: 
3ft 8ins
Boat Displacement: 
10.9 tons
Boat Engine: 
2 x Nanni 2.5 litre diesel
Boat Construction: 
Teak on rock elm
Boat Builder: 
K R Skentelbery, Plymouth
Boat Year: 
1938
0

The part played by Tom Tit at Dunkirk is not on record because Ron Tomlinson and his brother Alan took her on impulse and without authority on 1st June 1940 from the end of Ramsgate Pier. Ron had been to Dunkirk the previous day as engineer of the trawler Tankerton Towers which was towed back full of French and British soldiers when her propeller had been fouled. When they disembarked their load at Ramsgate, Ron went home for a meal and a wash, but what he had seen over there did not let him rest.

With his brother Alan he went down to the Admiralty office in the harbour and volunteered to go again. They sent them off in a tiny boat with a young Sub-Lieut. who made them turn back when he found that they were taking him, safely they protested, the shortest route, straight across the Goodwin Sands. As they re-entered Ramsgate harbour, Ron saw Tom Tit tied up at the end of the breakwater and urged his brother to join him when he jumped across and took possession of her.

Their elder brother Fred, standing on the pier, saw what they were doing and warned them that one of the ship's engines had been on fire, but before anyone could stop them, they had got under way and were again heading straight for the Goodwins. This was when they noticed a petrol leak - the cause of the previous fire. They quickly stopped the engine and repaired the leak, but lost precious time with the tide running out. They touched bottom a few times before they cleared the shallows, but reached Dunkirk safely.

They filled up with soldiers and took them out to the big ships, sixteen times, until a Sgt.-Major on the jetty told them not to come back because the Germans were on the pier. They told him they'd keep coming while he was there. On the last trip they persuaded him to join them. When they arrived in Ramsgate next morning, they expected to be arrested for stealing Tom Tit, but the Senior Naval Officer congratulated them and said he wished he could have had more like them.

Forty-five years later, Ron was having a drink at the Mill House, Frogholt, with the owner who showed him the picture of a boat his brother had just bought. Though her name was now Melinda Margot, Ron knew it was the ship he had taken to Dunkirk and proved it when they found signs of a fire in the starboard engine.

Tom Tit is now a much loved family boat based on the lower Thames. Her present owners are keen supporters of the Association and Tom Tit can be seen at most of the scheduled events.

Source: 21

Updated Nov 2010