Type: Motor Yacht
Length: 33ft 5ins
Beam: 8ft 7ins
Draft: 3ft 8ins
Displacement: 10.5 tons
Engine: 2 x 4cyl 42HP Isuzu Diesels
Builder: Leslie W Harris, Burnham
Whilst Cdr. V.A.L. Bradyll--Johnson was in charge of the Eastern arm of Dover break-water during 'Operation Dynamo' many handwritten messages and instructions were sent to him and the naval officers under his command. One of these was the order to 'keep a list of the men in each boat by name, initials and official number. If civilian, next of kin and address are required'. His staff were also told: 'On arrival (of requisitioned boats) make a full list of requirements and defects. Immediate necessities are fuel, water and two days' provisions for the crew'. The various Naval officers scribbled brief notes in compliance. Without these notes, which Bradyll-Johnson collected together and kept for many years, the Dunkirk involvement of many vessels such as Papillon would have remained unrecorded. These scraps of paper, written in several hands over three or four days, are evocative re-minders of the time. They tell us that she arrived for service at Dover on 30th May 1940 and that her two 4 cylinder Morris petrol engines were 'defective'. Her skipper was E. Somers Holmwood of Kingston by the Sea, Sussex, and his crew S.J. Downes of Shoreham, B. Hawood of Brighton and Mr. Griffiths of Peacehaven (who was lent to an RNLI lifeboat). She was probably a local boat, since her owner, C.P. Mackenrot, lived at Westcliffe-on-Sea, Essex and she had been built in 1930 by Leslie W. Harris at Burnham-on-Crouch.
No extra fuel was required; another note states that she had 30 gallons of petrol, a full crew, and a minor electrical fault. Another that she had two casks of water, was OK for oil and fuel and that the fault in her condenser had been repaired. Then we know she was loaded with six spare tins of petrol and water, and that there was a minor hiccup: her civilian crew were 'uncertain of conditions of service'. She sailed on 2nd June and, when she came back next day, gave up her route order and had her fuel and oil tanks replenished. It is also likely that the men who took her across were volunteers otherwise unconnected with Papillon, for instead of being sailed home she was left for collection at Burnham-on-Crouch.
1940 – 1941. Remained in Service with The Admiralty and provided local coastal and river patrols.
1941 – 1943. She was laid up.
1943 – 1945. Used for Fire Service duties until the end of the War
1951. Owned by Mr Stanley Howard of Ipswich and kept at Foxes Marina Ipswich.
1988. Purchased by Mr Richard Huggett of Erith Kent. Papillon was in a poor state of repair. Mr and Mrs Huggett carried out an extensive refurbishment to make her seaworthy again.
1990. Sailed to Dunkirk for the 50th Anniversary with the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships (ADLS).
1997. Ian and Karina Gilbert bought Papillon and kept her on the Thames at Weybridge.
1997 – 2015. Attended the Traditional Boat Festival at Henley-on-Thames each year.
2000, 2005, 2010. Attended the 60th, 65th and 70th Anniversary Returns to Dunkirk.
2012. Took part in the Queen's Golden Jubilee Pageant on the Thames.
2015. In May 2015 Papillon led the 75th Anniversary Return to Dunkirk flying the Commodore's Flag under the command of Commodore Ian Gilbert. Geoff Turner and Jodi Smith purchased Papillon in Aug 2015 and took her to a new home in Cowes on the Isle of Wight.
2016. Commemorative Cruise in Ramsgate in May. Then sailed to Dunkirk to take part in the Christopher Nolan film, “Dunkirk”, released in July 2017.
2017. Attended Dartmouth Royal Regatta in August.
2018. Commemorative Cruise at Ipswich Marina. Returned to Burnham-On-Crouch, where Papillon was built.
In July she attended the Military Knights of Windsor Picnic moored alongside Windsor Castle on the Thames and attended the Traditional Boat Festival at Henley-on-Thames in July.
2019. In May Papillon attended the Commemorative Cruise weekend at St Katharine Docks on the Thames in London. Participated in the ADLS escort fleet for the 75th D-Day celebrations out of Portsmouth and visited the Royal Yacht Squadron with ADLS fleet in June.
Updated: March 2020.