1940 Dab II
Type: Motor Yacht
Beam: 12ft 7ins
Draft: 3ft 4ins
Displacement: 31.94 tons
Engine: 2x 135hp Ford Sabre 6-cyl Diesels
Construction: Carvel, pitch pine on oak
Builder: J W Brooke & Co Ltd, Lowestoft
Colonel Hardy was incensed when the Royal Navy simply informed him by telephone that they had taken his motor yacht Dab II from the canal basin at Heybridge, on the river Blackwater in Essex, to take part in Operation Dynamo. His anger did not stem from a lack of patriotic fervour, but from the understandable feeling that he should have been given a chance to go with her. In fact, few of the owners went with the Little Ships.
Most were commanded and manned by the Royal Navy. Dab II was taken to Dunkirk by Lieut. R. W. Thompson, RNVR, who crossed the Channel no less than three times in six days. On his last return journey, he brought back a load of Dutch soldiers, who came from Breda in Holland and had fought a gallant rearguard action westward to Dunkirk, driven by the weight of the German advance. Painted battleship grey, Dab II served as a patrol boat until she was returned to Col. Hardy, who then decided that her name was unsuitable for a ship of her size and distinguished war record. But he thought it might be unlucky to change a ship's name altogether. So, he called her Breda, which ingeniously retained all the letters in her original name and commemorated the Dutch soldiers she had rescued.
Since then, Breda has had a number of owners in Wales, Norfolk and Surrey and has cruised extensively, through the French canals to the Mediterranean. Peter and Lesley Farrant have used her as their home since 1974 and have taken her to France, Belgium, Holland and the Channel Islands. In 1988 Breda had another major refit with new beams and decks. The saloon and galley have also been entirely renovated by Mr. Bowley, a boatbuilder at Twickenham.
Breda came into new ownership in 2017, Alain Lamens bought her after spending three years restoring a 26ft William Osborne called Little Ann II. However, when he told his father about this 1946 rebuild (the original boat disappeared in the war effort) he concluded "not a real historic ship then! " Alain started to look around for a bigger project and crucially something of historical importance. He decided he would have to find himself a Dunkirk Little Ship! He soon became aware of Breda a 52ft Brooke of Lowestoff and a bonafide Dunkirk Little Ship...perfect.
Unfortunately time had been unkind to Breda and some 30 years after her renovation at Twickenham she was in a very sorry state. Alain took her to ' Dennett Boat Builders' and works started on a restoration of a lifetime in December 2017, Breda was rotting inside out her planks, ribs, stringers and beam shelves were all in a desperate condition and she has lost her entire structural integrity. Over the course of two years she had an entire exterior and structural rebuild, returning her to her original good looks, after which an interior refit inspired by the Art Deco period in which she was built.
Breda made her debut with the Dunkirk Little ships in 2021 attending most the events and she won several awards throughout the year . Proudly carrying the National Historic Flagship of the year 2021 by the National historic Ships Register and at Henley Traditional Boat Festival she won several trophies and took away the prestigious Best in Show 2021 award.