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DUNKIRK TUG LOGS

(The following logs very kindly supplied by David Brown.)
 
Vessel names in blue are footnoted. Many of the vessel details were found in the book 'The ships that saved an army' by Russell Plummer. [Recommended.]
 
 

SUN IV

 
Extract from the Logbook and Report of the tug SUN IV submitted to the War Department on the 18th June 1940.
Tug Master: Mr C. G. Alexander
Naval Officer: Lt J. E. L. Martin RN
 
31st May 1940
0200 Slipped from Tilbury Docks with 12 lifeboats in tow
The Tug Master was Mr CG Alexander Managing Director of the company
A Trinity House Pilot Mr Glasboro was embarked and remained with the tug throughout the operation
0410 Anchored off Southend.
0430 Hove up and proceeded.
1145 Arrived in Ramsgate.
1330 Embarked Cdr Tyler RN and Lt J. V. Wilkinson RN and a Naval Party.
1430 Sailed for Dunkirk towing 9 boats, guns fitted on the bridge of the tug
1915 Air Attack. Two sailors overboard by wash from destroyer. Cast off Tow and picked up one man but one seaman lost.Picked up tow and proceeded to Dunkirk.
2230 Anchored off beach above the harbour.The boats were sent in with Lt Wilkinson RN and a Lt Fletcher RNR in charge. 82 B.E.F. embarked during the night
 
1st June 1940
0315 Left Dunkirk with three boats in tow and anchored.
0330 Hove up anchor and shifted to clear shells (we hope).
0445 One boat swamped by a destroyer manoeuvring in an Air Attack and was cut adrift and abandoned.
0800 Another boat was swamped and abandoned.
0945 Arrived Ramsgate.
1100 82 troops landed by tender.
1515 Departed for Dunkirk with two boats in tow. (One of the boats being manned by a Sea Cadet Sidmouth-Willing).
1645 South of the North Goodwin Lightship a small trawler was seen to strike a mine.
1730 Air Attack, 3 bombers 10 bombs no hits.
1800 Spoke to R.N.L.I - E.D.M.E and Piloted her to Dunkirk.
2100 Cdr Tyler proceeded in to Dunkirk on board E.D.M.E.
2130 Sun IV arrived in Dunkirk. Shifted billet from time to time during the night. Lt R. H. Mead R.N.V.R. commanding E.D.M.E. was killed at about 2200 whilst alongside the M.S. Niger.
 
2nd June 1940
0340 Left Dunkirk at low water with 112 B.E.F on board towing E.D.M.E. with 39 troops and a lifeboat in tow. The tug grounded on the way out of the harbour but refloated after 10 to 15 minutes. Thick pall of smoke and fumes of shells etc.
0930 142 troops landed by tender at Ramsgate. Cdr Tyler disembarked.
2045 Proceeded to search for H/C Paris
 
3rd June 1940
0100 Located Paris, she was abandoned. Air Attack decided with Sun XV that Paris being heavily down by the stern and would require an escort, Proceeded homeward with Sun XV towing.
0515 Arrived off Ramsgate.
0700 Towed Sun XV off the Quern Bank.
1600 At Ramsgate. Embarked Cdr E. M. Le Mesurier MVO RN. And took in tow 4 motor launches.
1700 Sun IV, Tanga (Lt Cdr R.E. Sherwood) Sun XV (two RN Officers) and Racia (Lt Cdr J.I. Miller DSO RNR) towing between them 14 motorboats sailed for Dunkirk. Commodore A.H. Taylor OBE took passage in the leading motorboat Mermaiden halfway across he transferred to the W.D. ML Marlborough. The following boats were abandoned on passage to Dunkirk; M.B. Thark abandoned half way (fouled propeller). MB Santosy was abandoned near the W Buoy (fuel in petrol). MB Diana Mary (2) was abandoned at Dunkirk (engine trouble). Admirals Superintendents Barge Portsmouth (piled up on some submerged masonry in Dunkirk harbour and abandoned).
2320 Convoy arrived at Dunkirk most of the towed boats having been slipped in the vicinity of the SW Ruytingen Buoy.
2330 Sun IV picked up 12 French troops from an open boat at the entrance to the Harbour and anchored east of the entrance.
 
4th June 1940
0115 One of the MB Mermaiden returned and reported no more troops at "Quai Felix Faure" and that Commodore Taylor had left the Quai..
0200 Followed the Destroyer "Malcolm" in to the Harbour with the Racia and assisted her to keep vessel alongside the mole . Sun IV proceeded, picked up the waiting MB Mermaiden, which was slightly damaged and sailed for Ramsgate; Sun XV picked up another vessel halfway across and towed it home.
0230 Attacked by Plane driven off by gunfire.
0340 Took Mermaiden in tow, of the 14 MBs which started 8 or 9 had to be abandoned. The remainder found their way back to Ramsgate.
0730 Arrived Ramsgate and disembarked 12 troops by launch.
1300 Left for London towing MV Rian.
2100 Arrived and berthed ship on Tilbury stage, moored alongside ship.
NOW FOR SOME SLEEP!
 
Sea Cadet Lt. H. Sidmouth-Willing of Twickenham Sea Cadet Corp (Gazetted for DSC 27-8-1940) was in command of Rummy II, a 30'x8'2" motor cruiser powered by Hyland  petrol engines, built 1930 in Bangor, Co. Down, and owned by A. G. Smith. Sill in existence 1990.
 
E.M.E.D. was the Walton-on-Naze lifeboat. Withdrawn 1956 the vessel was sold to the Chilean Government.
 
NIGER. Minesweeper, RN.
 
PARIS. Hospital Carrier req from Southern Railway co. Wm. Denny, Dumbarton 1913 for LBSCR. 1774grt. 301'x35'6". 4 x Parsons geared turbines speed 24 knots.  Paris actually sank 10 miles off Dover.
 
MERMAIDEN. 69'x13'7"  diesel launch, built Kieken, Warmound 1939. Owner Lt-Cdr P. Filleul. Renamed Amazone, owned 1990 in Holland.
 
MARLBOROUGH. War Department motor launch. Grounded on concrete rubble in Dunkirk harbour, losing props and rudder. Towed back to Dover by motor yacht Gulzar.
 
THARK. 32'2"x8'7" twin screw motor cruiser, built 1930 by H. Gibbs, Teddington. Gray and Morris engines, owned by G Thompson, Sydenham.
 
SANTOSY. Motor boat, owned by L O'Dell. Lost.
 
DIANA MARY (2). This is presumably either Diana II or Diana Mary, both motor cruisers, no details known.
 
RIAN. Dutch schuit. Commanded by Lt-Cdr J H Miller RN, previously lying Poole, transported 257 men in total, completed last trip with engine running on only two cylinders. 
 
APPENDIX
 
This is the notebook log of Desmond Hill,  employed by the General Steam Navigation Company as a Second Mate [with Yachtmasters certificate], who travelled to Dunkirk in one of the ships lifeboats towed by SUN IV. The log has kindly been made available by Camilla Disley, granddaughter of Desmond Hill.
 
Thursday May 29th 1940

2.15 pm Capt. Watts phoned and asked if free and to go there at once.
3.05 pm Arrived Albermarle St told be at Admiralty (PLA Bldg) by 4.00 met a large crowd of Yachtmaster chaps
3.20 pm Took a taxi (4/6) to PLA next of kin etc taken.  Admiral explains yachts at Ramsgate and will we take off BEF only for 2 days at most.  Split into Deckhands, Navigators & Engineers!
5.20 pm Leave in a hurry and get Capt. Hudson’s permission to go: he says join Petrel on Monday.  Phone Mother meet me Hammersmith with gear.  Pater also and take fond farewell of Margaret, quite convinced shan’t see her again.
5.40 pm In train: mixed feelings as to whether I’m a dammed fool or not; eventually decide its necessary to go and won’t back out, feel rather heroic.
6.05 pm Get out at Walham Green or somewhere, in wrong train!
6.15 pm Meet parents and trot off to Gents Only.  Return in more suitable clothing but no oilskin or boots because we’ll have a nice comfortable power yacht.
6.25 pm Back in train.
7.05 pm PLA.  7o’cl bus just gone, so go and have a pint in Crooked Billet with Robert.
7.30 pm Quite a crowd gathered now and we get a Nelson speech from a very charming Rear Admiral.  Departed.
8.45 pm Stopped for beer.
9.20 pm Tilbury. Go on to stage and find lots of volunteers.  Also lightermen and bargees.  More requests for engineers.  Some go off in lifeboats, of which apparently unending supply.
10.00 pm (?) Go over and sign on at BOT. MM Office.  Won’t take me as chargehand so sign as deckhand.
11.00 pm (?) Back on landing stage got friendly now with several decent chaps who I think want someone who knows the way to Dunkirk.  All issued with tinhats.

Friday May 30th 1940

12.00 am (?) Get into boat with Basle, Liddell and Walsh - choose a dry one and get a lovely tarpaulin.  Put in charge of boat by Nav. Off. on quay.
12.15 am (?) Removed to another boat to be charge hand of that; no cover but a dry boat.  Now with Robert, John and Guss.  Take on 40 gal. fresh water and large case of bully beef.  Eventually push off and proceed down river 12 boats on “Sun IV”.  Divide up into 1hr watches afraid John did most of work that night.
4.00 am (?) Southend:  stemmed tide and took on food:-
  5 large loaves
  1½ lbs butter and marg
  20 tins of sardines, soups, veal and ham roll, jam etc
  Tea, sugar, milk etc
 All hands long since frozen to the marrow but quite cheerful.  Nice to be afloat again and glad I came.
7.00 am (?) Rounded NE Shingles - little convoys all over channel.  Ropes are all doubled but keep breaking.  Guss is well away in after locker.  Still frozen.  Other tugs stop now and then to pick up boats adrift.
10.30 am (?) N. Foreland: dull and very cold: all curse weather.  Have been eating breakfast on and off since 4 am: have some more.  Cold salt water tea arrives in a dirty bucket, very welcome.
11.30 am  Anchored off Ramsgate - bearded Lt goes ashore and returns with charts and orders.  We’re to stay in the boats!  Suddenly sun comes out and it’s beautifully warm.  All hands delighted.  Have lunch again and some more tea comes round.
2.00 pm Left Ramsgate
7.15 pm Sighted fierce aerial battle.
7.30 pm Plane in sea bombs dropped destroyer pompom.
7.48 pm 3½ miles off: temporary quiet.
8.02 pm 2 planes in sea astern and on fire.
8.12 pm Bomb just astern of dest.
8.16 pm Our tugs machine gunned.
8.18 pm 2 Men overboard - one lost …
8.40 pm Proceeded.
8.58 pm Rounded No 5W Dunkirk Roads.
9.00 pm Coming up Dunkirk Roads have some bread, butter and cheese.  Tremendous fires raging ashore, explosions all the time and pall of smoke over everything hundreds of feet high.  2 paddlers just come out full of troops who gave us a cheer as they passed; all kinds drifters and odd craft about even the Portsmouth Isle of Wight car Ferry!  Arial bombing getting less as light falls.  Piers Hd Lt still intact.
9.30 pm Tug anchored about 1m off shore. ¾ E of Pier Hds.  Start sorting out boats.  come alongside tug and lash up to a motor lifeboat with no rudder, we’re to try steering both!
10.15 pm RNVR Lt comes aboard and we cast off.  I find she steers quite well and makes about 3 knots.  Strong ebb tide running.  Very dark except for flashes from explosions.
 Sound with an oar and anchor motorboat in about 8ft.  Cast off and pull in.  Hold her off just bumping: very slight swell and only small waves coming in, but quite enough - could do without any on this flat beach.  Lieutenant goes ashore and in a few minutes we see a black mass show up dimly: so silent think they’re Jerries and get all ready to pull like blazes.  Hear Lt’s voice and out comes first Tommy, they arrive in single file and very orderly, an amazing effort in the circumstances since shells are landing all the time (from 15 miles away we afterwards learnt).  One came just ahead when we left tug and another right between us and tug when ½ way to beach.

January 1998
My log stopped there and I never bothered to complete it.
We were very busy most of the night doing 6 trips in all between tug and beach taking about 40 troops each trip.
I never saw any of the other lifeboats - mine was the only one towed all the way back to England.
Fantastic scenes at Ramsgate - all we wanted was to get home and go to sleep.

 
 
 
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SUN III  

 
Master: F W Russell
 
31st May 1940
1200 Left Southend with 4 S/Bs, "Haste Away", "Ada Mary", "Burton" and "Shannon" in tow.
Off Broadstairs the "Haste Away" and "Ada Mary" broke adrift but were picked up
1715 Arrived Ramsgate
 
1st June 1940
0915 Left Ramsgate with 4 barges in tow and proceeded astern of a car ferry (the "Fishbourne" which was en route to Dunkirk
1030 The 2 stern most barges broke adrift but were picked up and abreast of the South Falls the stern most barge "Haste Away" broke adrift and was taken in tow by the tug "Duke" which was in company. The "Fishbourne" was now out of sight.
1200 The aftermost barge "Ada Mary" broke adrift and was taken in tow by the tug "Duke"
1230 The tow broke but was reconnected. Approaching the Outer Ruytingen Buoy
Embarked 20 solders from a lifeboat
1700 Directed by a plane to 2 boats full of soldiers near the whistle buoy on the le Dyke off Gravelines.
One load taken by the "Sun III", the other by the "Duke"
Sun III then had about 148 men on board
2130 Decided to return, off Broadstairs the "Shannon" broke adrift but was picked up
 
2nd June 1940
0600 Arrived Ramsgate 148 troops landed in launches
 
3rd June 1940
1200 Ordered to Southend
1940 Arrived Southend
 
 
HASTE AWAY. Thames sailing barge, owned Peters and Co. Scrapped 1972 following fire damage.
 
ADA MARY. Thames sailing barge, owners Leigh Building Co. 1990 used as Sea Cadet HQ, Newhaven.
 
BURTON. Thames sailing barge, Owners Leigh Building Co.
 
SHANNON. Thames sailing barge, owned by W. McCormack. Returned damaged.
 
FISHBOURNE. Car Ferry, owners Southern Railway. Wm. Denny, Dumbarton 1927. 131'x26'. 136grt. 2x Gardner diesels. 2x screw.  Scrapped 1962?
 
 
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CRESTED COCK

 
 
Tug Master: Capt T Hills
Naval Officer: None recorded
 
29th May 1940
1715 Left Gravesend for Tilbury, towing the sailing barges "Glenway" "Spurgeon" and "Lark"
2215 Anchored Southend
 
30th May 1940
0445 Proceeded to Ramsgate and thence to Dover with the barges
1500 Dover
 
31st May 1940
0400 Left Dover towing a lighter loaded with fresh water etc and troops
1230 Arrived Dunkirk Roads, anchored with the lighter about 60 feet off the beach
The Lighter made her way to the beach
1315 Went to the assistance of the Dr "Impulsive" which had grounded on an uncharted rock and took her in tow
1410 Cast off the tow and escorted "Impulsive" to Dunkirk pier heads whence she proceeded to Dover on one engine, Crested Cock proceeded in company
2000 Arrived Dover
 
1st June 1940
2000 Went to assistance of Dr 96 "Worcester" which had been in collision with the P/V "Maid of Orleans" in Dover harbour. After assisting to rescueing troops in the sea took "Worcester" in tow and assisted by the tugs "Ocean Cock", "Challenge", "Sun XII", Sun XI and "Sun VII" berthed her
2130 Then proceeded towards Dunkirk with orders to pick up or rescue anything
 
2nd June 1940
0345 Unable to locate anything and proceeded Dover
0800 Dover
 
 
GLENWAY. Skipper W H Easter.Thames sailing barge, Beached but refloated and sailed halfway to Dover by 160 troops. Still existing 1990.
 
SPURGEON. Skipper Haisman. Thames sailing barge. Suffered bomb damage whilst under tow.
 
LARK. Skipper J F Filley. Thames sailing barge, owned by A. Fayers. Abandoned 1-6-1940.
 
IMPULSIVE. RN Destroyer.
 
WORCESTER. RN Destroyer.
 
MAID OF ORLEANS. Personnel Vessel, req from Southern Railway. Wm. Denny, Dumbarton 1923 for SECR. 2384grt. 341'3"x45'. Parsons geared turbines 2x screw. 23knots. At D-day landings, mined and sunk 28-6-1944, six crew lost.
 
 
 
 
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 CERVIA

 
Tug Master: Capt W H Simmons
Naval Officer: None recorded
 
31st May 1940
2140 Left Dover, sailing barge "Royalty" in tow and the "Persia" towing two sailing barges "Sark" and "Shetland" in company
 
1st June 1940
0720 1 Mile east of Dunkirk pier, "Royalty" being towed at full speed, slipped tow and beached herself head on, on Malo beach. Air attack. Nine bombs fell in a line along the starboard side of the "Keith" which was outside "Cervia". Got underway to avoid the turning and twisting destroyer. Picked up boat of "Royalty" and also S/B "Duchess"
0800 "Keith" began to list and was again bombed; her guns were going all the time as she steamed round and round. She then stopped and let go her anchor. As the crew began to abandon ship the bombers machine guns gunned them.
The tug "Vincia" began to pick up survivors and the tug "St Abbs" got alongside the "Keith" starboard bow. A sloop also went to her assistance. "Cervia" turned around and picked up soldiers from a L/B
0815 At this time the Dr "Ivanhoe" to the westward was seen to be disabled and a small tanker the M/S "Skipjack" astern of the "Vincia" went up in flames. "Cervia" then took the sailing barge "Tollesbury", which had 200 troops under the hatches in tow. The M.L.B. "Orient IV" was added to the tow and "Cervia" proceeded down Dunkirk roads, when west of the pier heads, "Ivanhoe" was seen to be in tow of the "Persia" and "Vincia" with decks full of survivors passed the "Cervia"
0900 At No 5 W Buoy about 20 planes appeared. "Ivanhoe" put up a smoke screen and 9 bombs fell near a cross channel boat which however kept going 5 bombs fell about 100 feet on "Cervia’s" port bow lifting the tug out of the water. A bomb exploded between a sloop and the disabled destroyer she was towing (M/S "Saltash" towing Dr "Havant")
1500 In the Downs "Cervia" was met by the tug "Java" and ordered to Ramsgate. In all "Cervia" brought about 230 troops out of Dunkirk, the "Tollesbury and crew and crews of the "Duchess" and "Royalty" and the "Orient IV
 
2nd June 1940
0930 Arrived Gravesend with "Tollesbury" and Orient IV
 
 
ROYALTY. Thames sailing barge, 101 tons.
 
SARK. Dumb lighter.
 
SHETLAND. Dumb lighter.
 
KEITH. RN Destroyer.
 
DUCHESS. Skipper H J Wildish. Thames sailing barge. 91 tons. Abandoned 1-6-1940. 
 
IVANHOE. RN Destroyer.
 
TOLLESBURY. Thames sailing barge. Owners Pauls Maltsters , Ipswich built by W. Fellow, Sandwich 1905. 84'2"x20'6". 200 troops brought home. Still existing 1990. 
 
IVANHOE. RN Destroyer.
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 JAVA

 
Tug Master: Capt W Jones
Naval Officer: Cdr J.S.M. Glendinning RNR Retd.
 
28th May 1940
1500 Left Ramsgate for Dunkirk
The following ships in company: Drifters "Lord Rodney", "Lord Keith", "Lord Collingwood" and "Lord St Vincent". M/Ls "Walker I" and "Walker II" "New Britannic", "Nayland" and "Angler II"
 
29th May 1940
0100 Anchored off Braye-Dunes in 3 fathoms
Walker I & Walker II went off to the beach, finding no troops they proceeded to Dunkirk Harbour.
0430 Lowered Java’s small boats and sent them with the 4 drifters in to ferry troops from the shore to ships
1000 All drifters taken to Dunkirk pier, where they were filled with troops.
1200 Leaving Walker I and Walker II for the use of N.O.I.C. Pier Dunkirk
Proceeded to La Panne where all troops were transferred to the Cr "Calcutta"
P.M. Shifted to Dunkirk beach and continued ferrying
1700 No ships lying off. filled all ships possible and proceeded to Ramsgate.
When 5 miles out, rescued 2 British Airman from a plane in the sea
One mile further, rescued troops from the sunken P.M.S. "Waverley" continued on course for Ramsgate
 
30th May 1940
0930 Ramsgate. Disembarked 80 British and 40 allied troops
 
1st June 1940
Java took off 150 allied troops from the Trawler "Jacinta" which was stranded on the wreck of the "Merl" near the North Goodwin Light vessel and landed them at Ramsgate
D.S.M. awarded to seaman H Griffiths
Mentioned in dispatches Mr V Smith Mate
 
LORD RODNEY. Drifter req as Minesweeper.
 
LORD KEITH. Drifter ferried 323 men.
 
LORD COLLINGWOOD. Drifter ferried 332 men.
 
LORD ST VINCENT. Drifter 115grt, built 1919. Mined, Thames Estuary 7-7-1941.
 
WALKER I. Motor launch, Owners Walker Motor Boats.
 
WALKER II. Motor boat, Owners Walker Motor Boats.
 
NEW BRITANNIC. Passenger launch. 54'x14'5". Built Chiswick 1930. Returned with 83 men. 1990 Owned in Scilly Isles, renamed Commodore.
 
NAYLAND. Motor launch. Owners Walker Motor Boats. Built Perkins and Sons, Whistable, 1937. Thornycroft engine.
 
ANGLER II. Motor boat. Owner W M Hart.
 
CALCUTTA. RN anti-aircraft cruiser. 
 
WAVERLEY. Paddle steamer, built 1899 by A J Inglis, Pointhouse for North British S. P. Co. 537grt. 235'x26'1". 2cyl compound diagonal engine. speed 19 knots. Bombed and sunk 29-5-1940.
 
JACINTA. Fleetwood trawler, owners J. Marr and Sons. 
 
 
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FOSSA

   
Owners: (Gaselee & Son Ltd)
Tug Master: Capt G Finch
Naval Officer: Sub Lt Solomon RNVR
 
1st June 1940
1400 hrs  Sub Lt Solomon on board at Ramsgate Commandeered the tug Contest but the crew were not ready to sail. He then commandeered the tug “Fossa”
2000 took in tow the MB “Thetis” (1) which was manned by one Petty Officer and two Sea Scouts and sailed for Dunkirk.
The two Sea Scouts were T Towndroy and S Brown of the 1st Mortlake Sea Scout Group.
 
2nd June 1940
0001 Arrived Dunkirk Sun Lt Solomon went ashore as liaison Officer and as a French Interpreter and left orders for the M/B to load at least three hundred troops on to the “Fossa”. The M/B’s steering cable broke on the first trip in to the harbour and the “Fossa” embarked the troops directly from the mole and proceeded seawards taking in tow the disabled M/B and an open naval cutter loaded with French troops
0350 Outside the harbour entrance the “Fossa” grounded. The M/V “Locust” could not get in close enough to tow off the “Fossa”. The “MLC 21” unsuccessfully attempted to tow the tug off and then embarked about one hundred of the “Fossa’s” troops and crew and proceeded to Ramsgate with them arriving at 1415

Note (1) Sub Lt Solomon called the M/B “Therune” but no M/B of this name can be traced.
Messrs Gaselee & Son Ltd reported that Captain Finch towed over only one M/B the name of which he did not know.
 
THETIS. Motor boat, owner H. Eaton.
 
LOCUST. RN Gunboat.
 
MLC21. RN Motor Launch.
 
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