When she was built and named Xebec in 1898, she was an ocean-going sailing clipper designed to carry casks of wine from Portugal to England. Only 58ft long, she was unusually small for sailing regularly across the notorious Bay of Biscay.
In 1935 she was converted into a private motor yacht, renamed Falcon II and given a 4 cylinder engine. At Dunkirk, she did 5 trips and took on 90 men on each occasion, bringing them back to Ramsgate. Her total score was 450 rescued and she survived unscathed.
Wing Commander Leonard Lambert DFC, AFC found her in 1975 moored on the river bank at Thames Ditton. He had himself been rescued from Dunkirk by a Little Ship after 5 sleepless nights when he lay wounded on the beach. After his rescue, he spent many months in hospital. It was therefore especially significant for him to be the owner of a Dunkirk Little Ship. At this point, Falcon II was re-named Alabama.
In 1988 the gallant old vessel nearly met her end when at Cadogan Pier, Chelsea, in the heart of London, she was struck by a hit-and-run ship and sank at her moorings. The culprit was never identified. The insurance company pronounced her a write-off and gave instructions for her to be broken up. However, Michael Hamby who has a special interest in Dunkirk Little Ships and who also owns Count Dracula, heard about it and offered ?1 for her, undertaking to have her re-floated and taken to Toughs Boat yard at Teddington for repairs. He made a video film of the raising of the Alabama, completed with great skill and care by Tough's boatmen.
Now a new owner has taken on the onerous task of bringing Alabama back to life, but this is the kind of dedication that the Little Ships inspire.
Source: 3, 4, 5, 11 & 19
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