CORDELIA

Type:  Motor Yacht
Length:  34ft 6ins
Beam:  9ft 6ins
Draft:  3ft 6ins
Displacement:  10.93 tons
Engine:  2 x BMC 2.5L Commodore Diesels
Construction:  Pitch pine on oak
Builder:  Staniland, Hull
Year: 1934

Built by Staniland in Hull to a design by Hyland, for James Ebenezer Lambe, Cordelia belonged to R.J.F. Julian when she left for Dunkirk on 29th May 1940. She was commanded by Sub-Lieut. C.A. Thompson, RNVR, and followed three formerly Belgian ships: the Yser, Sambre and Ambleve, - all four towed by a drifter described in the records as G.R.1740, together with a whaler.


By 0530 on 30th May they arrived off the beach west of La Panne and, for a time, had a Commodore on board. During the next five hours, together with the whaler, they ferried 300 troops from the beach to off-lying ships. Their port engine had already seized up when, to their dismay, their starboard propeller was fouled by some of the mass of flotsam which made navigation so hazardous at that time. The G.R.1740 came to the rescue and took the Cordelia in tow, back to Dover, where they arrived at 2030 that night.


The account, from the Naval Historical Branch of the Ministry of Defence, is brief, matter-of-fact and laconic. But, clearly, Sub-Lieut. Thompson and his crew passed an anxious, dangerous and sleepless 26 hours feverishly working to save three hundred lives while under fire, on a little pleasure boat, and took it all in their stride.

After the war, Cordelia was bought by a Mr. Slack, whose son David remembers how she arrived by road at Staniland’s painted in battleship grey, to be refurbished. Her original Ford Hyland 24 hp 4-cyl. petrol engines were replaced by two BMC Commodores.


Cordelia was part of the fleet that made the first return to Dunkirk in 1965. Now after many years in and around Glasgow and later Manchester, Cordelia has returned to the Thames at Winterhill. Her present owners, Keith and Marion Mosley plan to ensure that she is seen more regularly at ADLS gatherings.

 

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