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GENTLE LADYE

(1940 Jong)

Type:  Motor Yacht

Length:  40ft

Beam:  9ft

Draft:  3ft 6ins

Displacement:  13 tons

Engine:  2 x Fiat

Construction:  Carvel, mahogany on oak

Builder:  Thornycroft

Year:  1931

Friday, 31st May 1940, was the sixth day of Operation Dynamo' and by first light that morning, an estimated 150,000 British soldiers had already been evacuated. This was good news, but left less troops to defend the perimeter of Dunkirk and La Panne beach could no longer be held. Evacuation from Bray-Dunes and Malo-les-Bains continued under severe artillery fire. A further hazard was a fresh northerly on-shore breeze which created a dangerous surf and broke up the improvised lorry-piers.


The Thornycroft cabin cruiser Jong, commanded by Sub-Lt. I.F. Smith, RNVR was there, in company with Marsayru, loading SS Foam Queen and SS Jaba with French and British troops from the beaches. She had been collected by Tough's from her owner, Donald Aldington, a motor engineer, while she was lying on the Thames. A crew of three, entered in Douglas Tough's notebook as G. Allendale, G. Thomas and H. Morte, took her down to Sheerness, where the Royal Navy took over. Douglas Tough received her back with only minor damage to her stanchions and guardrail a week later.


After the war, in 1951, she was re-named Gentle Ladye. In 1965, then owned by Wing Cdr. Tom Jefferson, DSO, AFC, AE, she was one of the founder members of the ADLS. She attended the first Return and cruised extensively along the south coast as far as Dartmouth.


She was always looked after with great care. Imagine then the horror, when one day a guest rushed on deck asking "should there be water coming out of the wardrobe?" Apparently, when she had recently been lifted out of the water, the hoist's chains had squeezed her too tightly and had cracked her ribs. By the time they arrived in A.E. Rogers' boat yard, the water was up to the top of her batteries and she was almost beyond repair. Although four ADLS members offered to have her lashed to their boats to keep her afloat, the Port of London Authority was not keen to have her left in the water.


She was rescued and changed owners several times, being seen along the Kent coast and at Allington Lock, on the Medway, stripped and unused. Now Paul Rainbow has restored her and was last at Platt's Eyot at Hampton, near the very place where she was built by Thornycroft’s nearly seventy years ago