Type: Motor Sailor
Length: 30 ft
Beam: 10 ft 6 ins
Draft: 5 ft
Displacement: 7.09 tons
Engine: Ford 4D Diesel
Construction: Carvel, utile on oak
Builder: Johnson & Johnson
Letitia's rudder was damaged while she was close inshore at Dunkirk and she took a tow from the drifter Ben and Lucy. The Renown's engine had also broken down and she made fast to Letitia's tow. Half-an-hour later Renown struck a mine and a shower of splintered wood came down on Letitia's deck. The Renown was lost with skipper Noakes and her crew - Frank and Leslie Osborne and Harry Noakes - all cousins - and Harold Porter, a naval rating from Birmingham. A.J. Dench, the Letitia's skipper said: "In the pitch dark we could see nothing and could do nothing - except pull in the tow rope, which was just as we had passed it to Renown three quarters of an hour before." Today Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, has its own memorial to those brave men.
The Resolute and Letitia made it back to Ramsgate, as did the Defender. There they were told by the Navy that they now wanted only ships that could do 10 knots or more, so they returned to Leigh-on-Sea. "On the lighter side," Eric recalled, " we went to Naval Head-quarters to collect our pay - I think mine was just under £4 and the deckhands' just over £3 each. Waiting for the train at Southend Central Harold King, the deckhand on Reliance suggested a game of cards. Ten minutes later, on arrival at Leigh-on-Sea, he had one shilling left. As Eric put it with his characteristic humour: ". . . . easy come, easy go, they say! "
Letitia retired from full-time fishing in 1990 and has now been repaired and restored with a sailing rig for cruising and occasional fishing.
In the poem, poet Bob Rawlings describes the expedition, and the fateful destruction of the Renown by a mine, as follows.
Letitia LO 220 at Dunkirk.
The Letitia was put out to sea
From the little old fishing town of Leigh
On an errand of mercy, she didn’t shirk
To the hell loosed beaches of Dunkirk
To a place they’d never been before,
The fisherman left their homely shore
Five boats did sail with them that day
On the fateful remembered end of May
When the shores of Dunkirk were in sight
The ferries came bombing with all their spite
Into the harbour they found their way
To save our Army for a better day
Man upon man they saved that night
From the jaws of death and sorrowful plight
With shells and bombs almighty near
They stayed at work without a fear
With rescue finished, back home did go
The boat Renown they took in tow
Their course was on a Nor-West Line
When Renown was struck down by a mine
To Ramsgate they did wend their way
In the early morning of Saturday
Into that harbour it was thought
Was best to make their sad report
Back home at Leigh they safely reach
To their loved ones waiting on the beach
Maybe again they’ll sail their way
But for a cruise I hope to say