Boat Type: Motor Yacht
Boat Length: 70ft
Boat Beam: 14ft 5ins
Boat Draft: 7ft 2ins
Boat Displacement: Not known
Boat Engine: 2 x 4cyl Gleniffer
Boat Construction: Steel
Boat Builder: G de Vries Lentsch, Amsterdam
Boat Year: 1931
Most of the pre-war skippers had their Little Ships taken over by naval personnel to take part in Operation Dynamo. E.H. Batt and his motor yacht Eila II were boarded by the Navy and both ship and crew were enlisted for patrol duties at the outset of World War II. They had just returned from a cruise to Holland and, by the time they were ordered to Dunkirk on 29th May 1940, Eila II was flying the Royal Navy's White Ensign. Like many of the Little Ships they had orders to embark as many soldiers as possible from La Panne beach and ferry them to the destroyer HMS Keith and the sloop HMS Hebe. But Eila II had a 7ft draft and was in constant danger of going aground. So, they used their tender to go to the beaches and also rescued all who could wade and then swim out to them. Under a constant shower of German bombs, they succeeded in towing off the Dover Patrol Vessel and another yacht, both of which had run aground.
Their tally of soldiers rescued stood at 200 when their motor launch was sunk by a bomb while they were alongside HMS Keith in heavy seas and they were ordered to return to Dover. Lt. Batt recalled: "The passage back was no pleasure trip as our fluorescent wake attracted German night fighters, whose tracers could be seen hitting the water all around us. But we only found two bullet holes in our deck after our return. We were approaching the Goodwin Sands (unlit by then) when we saw a huge V-shape ahead in the water. It was a destroyer at full speed, without lights. I waved our lantern and he managed to miss us by a few feet, with his wash throwing us onto our beam ends. Our port deck was under water and I felt I could have touched him. But the incident never woke the exhausted soldiers we carried. At Dover we transferred our soldiers to our depot ship HMS Maidstone and all slept like logs through a severe bomber raid on Dover harbour.
The next day we set out for our base, HMS Melisande on the Hamble. On the way we picked up two French soldiers’ paddling a wreck of a fishing boat towards England. We dropped them at Newhaven and returned to base without further trouble."
Lt. Batt and his crew: P/O Charles S. Sydney Smith, AB Kenneth Freer Marriott and Mr. Thomas McDermott Weir, a civilian and a yacht engineer, were all Mentioned in Despatches.
My father was AB Kenneth Freer Marriott, when I was a child he didn’t talk about the evacuation much, I now see why ! It must have been very much like hell on earth.
If any one reads this and knew my father, or their relatives were on Eila II please get in touch , Thank you, Ken A Marriott email@example.com
Great to hear that your father was on Eila II. She was owned by Stafford Bourne (my father) and skippered by Edward Batt. I look forward to showing you various bits of memorabilia we have, including her white ensign.
Capt. E.H. Batt was my grandfather. He spoke often of Stafford Bourne and his time on Eila I & II. I too have loads of memorabilia! Do contact me for further information. firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your reply, we were so surprised and grateful to see that someone is still out there with memorabilia.
My new email address is email@example.com please contact us so that we can make contact.
Having visited Dover Castle last week and saw the Operation Dynamo exhibition I am even more interested to catch up with events