A Royal Celebration

There will be a great nautical pageant to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, and Endeavour will be part of it!

This event, planned for Sunday 3rd June, 2012 will feature a great armada of vessels sailing down the Thames and Endeavour will be part of the Historic Squadron, sailing immediately behind the Royal Squadron - what an honour!

We will be able to take a limited number of members on board for this historic event, and full details will be available in the next newsletters.

Meanwhile let us just be a bit proud!!!

Finlay the Archivist

Finlay Marshall has, for a long time, been in charge of boat maintenance and he has done more than his fair share of sanding and sloshing paint about as well as going to Dunkirk as crew.

His professional life was spent as a journalist, which will stand him in good stead; we are delighted he has accepted the important job of getting together all the paperwork, photos and stories relating to the Endeavour - hopefully to be put together in a book.

Finlay's maintenance role has passed to Paul Lawrence, who has worked and sailed on Endeavour and has also become a new Committee member.

Tucked Up Cosy and Warm

When she was used almost every day Endeavour was a work-horse, but then she was looked after each day too. Now she is not used in the winter months and she could get damp and miserable - but no more!

We are very pleased to let you know that a fitted cover has been made by local sail maker Windward Sails which means that she will have dry decks even in the snow and rain.

We are all aware that it is important that the hull does not dry out, because the wood would shrink, which makes her mooring in the mud ideal - even if it does make access a muddy business.

The Endeavour Bites Back - Dave Spurgeon

Working a boat in the Thames isn't always easy. Sometimes the seasonal fisheries don't arrive on time. Sometimes they don't arrive at all. The decline in the shrimping fishery in the early 70s was due to the large amount of cod that started coming up the Thames (cod eat large amounts of shrimps). This prompted Peter Wexham and me to look for something else to do so we teamed up with another boat, the Eileen, and decided to go and work out of Ramsgate for a few weeks.

We set sail one Monday morning and met the Eileen at Southend pier. The weather was fine when we left Leigh-on-Sea but by the time we got to the Red Sand towers, the wind had increased a lot from the north east and we were side on to the sea and rolling about a lot. Peter was at the wheel and spoke to the other boat on the radio. They decided to turn back. To try and get a bit of shelter Peter headed for the south Shoebury buoy. About half way across the river Peter asked me to take the wheel so he could go and have a rest. This I did.

We had been taking a few seas over the boat so I decided to have a pump out. The pump was driven by 3 link belts on the front of the engine and you had to go down in the fish hold to engage it. I jumped down the hold and went to engage the pump just as the boat rolled. I slipped and my hand went into the belts. They picked up the back of my hand and round the engine pulley it went (being a nice slim person, I wish). I heard a crack and as I didn't get thrown over, my elbow had taken all the twist. When I looked at my hand all the skin was missing from the back and my thumb was lying across the back of my hand broken in two places. Blood started dripping from the cuts; I shouted at Peter and he came and helped me get out of the hold and down into the cabin.

I heard him call the coastguard on the radio and they sent out the inshore lifeboat. It was decided not to transfer me but escort the Endeavour to Southend pier where the lifeboat doctor and an ambulance were waiting for me. I was put onto a stretcher and into a waiting train, a morphine injection from the doctor and off to hospital with one broken thumb and a shattered elbow. Perhaps the Endeavour doesn't like Ramsgate after Dunkirk?

(The Endeavour bites back!)

ED: Dave repaired well, but does suffer with pain in his hand during the winter.

Educational Programme

Peter Dolby recently showed our PowerPoint presentation to teachers and pupils from the CSS Centre Fairview, Basildon. Thanks to Carole Mulroney and the Leigh Society for opening the Heritage Centre and Plumbs Cottage and allowing us to use their facilities.

Indeed, Carole included a splendid tour of the centre and cottage and afterwards a plate of cockles was eaten on the seawall with Endeavour as a backdrop.

Tony Cole, teacher in charge, commented "All the youngsters enjoyed themselves and all stated that the visit was very interesting. They were overwhelmingly surprised at how small Endeavour is!!"

But She's A Freighter

Yes, with quite a history involving the Dunkirk rescue. Owned by Dutchman Gruno Zoutman, Hilda escaped when the Germans invaded, skippered by his brother Hemmo. Gruno refused to say where she was and was consequently imprisoned.

Hilda was '˜loaned' to Britain, and went to Dunkirk on May 28th and is recorded to have shuttled 1500 soldiers to destroyers as well as 100 service casualties. She also picked up survivors from the destroyer Keith and motor vessel Skipjack. She returned 530 survivors and troops to Ramsgate on June 1st. The rest of the war was spent doing barrage balloon duty, before being returned to the Zoutman family.

Then - in an extraordinary twist - she was unloaded in London docks by George Cocks, now an Endeavour Trust member, volunteer painter of the boat and husband of Reta. Finally, Hilda was scuttled off Anguilla in the West Indies to form an artificial reef, and is very popular with the diving fraternity.

Another Little Ship

Hidden away alongside the Sea Scout building in Old Leigh for some time, Caresana is now in the ownership of the Dunkirk Little Ships Restoration Trust and her future looks assured.

She was built as a lifeboat in 1933 by Groves and Gutteridge and based at Dungeness. She is said to have been our longest service lifeboat - called Charles Hooper Henderson during her RNLI days.

Endeavour on TV Again

Since the last issue the television programme, filmed by a camera crew on board Endeavour for the Yesterday TV channel series Find my Past, has been broadcast. Three people were featured in the programme including LuLu Alexandra from Leigh. LuLu's great-uncle, Leslie Osborne lost his life aboard Renown on the return from Dunkirk. LuLu's father, Trevor Osborne a life member of the Endeavour Trust, owns one of today's modern cockle boats - Renown IV.

In some ways this episode was a bit disappointing, particularly because there were major factual errors in the history of the event recalled, and how it involved the Leigh boats. Perhaps next time we should ask for some editorial input to ensure historical accuracy!

(Our thanks to the Leigh Times for allowing us to reproduce this picture)

REMINDER - Is Your Card Valid To Sept 2012 Like This?

We have sent out the membership cards to those members who have paid their 2011-12 subscription. Subscriptions were due on September 1st.

If you haven't got yours, it is probably because we have not received your subscription.

We do need you, so please, send your remittance to:

[Contact details removed as no longer current - please refer to Shop and Membership tab above.]

This will help to ensure that we keep you up-to-date with future copies of the newsletter.

Endeavour Annual General Meeting

The Endeavour Annual General Meeting (AGM) has been scheduled for Friday 21st October 2011 at 19:30. Please reserve and put this date in your diary. As usual, the AGM will be held at the Wesley Methodist Church in New Road.

The Agenda and associated papers are below. This is your chance to let the Committee know what you would like us to prioritise for the coming year and to catch up on the events of the past year. 

AGM Agenda 2011(MS Word)
AGM Minutes 2010 (MS Word)

A Training Day

We need to increase the number of people who can sail Endeavour – either as skipper or as crew.

The dates can be arranged to suit, so please think about possible ‘trainees’ – young or old, male or female.

Mike King has been volunteered to organise this important undertaking.

Ramsgate Rally - Paul Gilson

Every time we go somewhere we learn new stories and meet some very special people. Our latest trip to Ramsgate was no different.

Royal Navy Cadets on board Endeavour during this year’s trip to Ramsgate
After what I feel was the best church service I have attended with the ‘Dunkirk Little Ships’ (DLS) (if all members of the clergy could enlighten the congregation as this man did churches across the land would be full) we returned to Endeavour to meet guests.

Sounds easy enough! People would walk along the long pontoons and down to the boats to talk to us: what could be simpler than that you may ask?

Bad weather was again playing a hand; the wind was straight in the harbour carrying with it a big swell that was making the pontoon dance about like a fair ground ride. It was not for the faint hearted and the selection of people that made the trip were made of sterner stuff. Not quite the case with several navy cadets who came aboard our neighbour to have a cup of tea, only for them to rush outside after turning green, to be violently sick.

Lion TV aboard Endeavour filming for the Yesterday Channel.
Time and again I was told other boats may look prettier, but Endeavour was their favourite because she was still as she was at the time of the evacuation. One old soldier, who claimed to be one of the last from the Mole, had us in fits of laughter as he recounted his story, but I’m afraid that most of it would not be fit for a mixed audience.

Another guest started to talk about hits and that and what he had learned; he asked about us and the story of the Leigh boats. We related the stories of six boats to sea and only five coming back. How the lives of the families of the Renown and my wife’s would have been so different if the crews had not changed at the last minute before  leaving. He then asked for contact details and said he would be in touch as he was making a programme about special stories. We have made that programme and it will be on later this year, probably on the Yesterday Channel.

What was fascinating was what he had learned since our meeting. He had met some incredible people and, as he put it "the legend of Dunkirk gets bigger".

He related that he had met a soldier who had survived the massacre of Woumhout, been marched across half of occupied Europe to finish up working in a salt mine in Poland for four years.

He then had to run away to avoid the Russian army and had made his way to Switzerland. He was hoping to get back and get his full story told as it was just out of a boy’s own story book.

In the making of the programme, he had visited Dover Castle and been shown around the control centre for Operation ‘Dynamo’. He was taken aback that the whole operation had been done with one telephone.

I will not give away the plot or who is in it, but if it is edited well, it will be quite good.

While making this programme, a few words stuck in my head and I wrote this poem:

SIX BOATS - Paul Gilson
Six boats left the old town
Not knowing where they were bound
Cockle boats one and all
They had answered the nation’s call

The British army was trapped in France
Trying to stop the German advance
They had been beaten back to the beach
Leaving the navy out of reach

After several days of evacuation
More was needed, some drastic action
From river and creek around the coast
It was little ships they needed most

Ferries, fishers and pleasure craft
Anything with little draft
Our cockle boats met this criteria
In shallow water they were superior

To the beaches they did go
Ferrying soldiers to and fro
They were manned by all and sundry
Possibly back in the office on Monday

Organised chaos we are told
Many stories would leave us cold
But one we will tell again and again
Despite the loss and the pain

One of ours, the little Renown
Did not come back to the old town
A mine was her demise
She was only small, vaporised

We must never forget what they gave
For them there is no grave
Remember them and the others too
They saved our army for me and you.

We're Off To Sea...

...No, not the Wizard of Oz, but back to Ramsgate!

Over the period Friday May 27th to Monday May 30th there is a Dunkirk Little Ships event in Ramsgate, and Endeavour will be there. Quite apart from the excellent hospitality and opportunity to see other boats and talk with skippers, there are the voyages there and back: passages available to Trust members.

For availability and full details ring Paul Gilson or Peter Dolby.

When it snows...

...it snows - and Endeavour was inches thick in the white stuff. 

It's A Small World

Mike King keeps his yacht Hypatia in Holland and whilst there he attended a gathering of 27 Dutch yachts in the Walcheren port of Veere. He was wearing his Endeavour T-shirt when a female crew member of one of the Dutch barges said, “Wow – the Endeavour. I’ve heard lots about you. A friend of mine lived in Southend and helped to raise money for the boat’s restoration”.


Very Sad

Those of you at the re-christening on Bell Wharf will remember the Salvation Army lady who led some of the prayers.

National media recently published her murder in Hong Kong - a terrible cessation of life for a lovely lady. Our thoughts and prayers go to all her family, friends and colleagues.


Education plays a large part in our childrens’ lives and it is important that they are aware of not only our rich local but also our national history and heritage.

Peter Dolby spends a lot of time going into local schools telling pupils all about Endeavour and the part she played in the rescue of servicemen from the Dunkirk beaches. “It is always a pleasure to stand in front of a class and to see the thirst for knowledge of these youngsters and to answer the many questions at the end of each presentation” he says.

To Sail or Not?

When Endeavour was launched she was the first Leigh cockle boat with an engine. This enabled her to get back on the tide no matter what the wind direction or force.

This advantage was realised by other owners and so many boats were modified and eventually engines became the norm.

Question: When we show Endeavour at events, should she just be motoring or sailing?

There is no doubt that she looks excellent either way, but Mike King thinks that, whenever possible, the sails should be up, and she should be gliding along just using wind power.

What do you think? Both Peter Dolby and Mike King would be interested, so get in touch with them and let them know.

Endeavour 007

In a rather strange book about Southend during the war years, it is suggested that Endeavour was used as a secret service boat carrying out under-cover work!

Without being too specific, it is said that there is a belief that she was slipped into the shallows of France at night to allow engineers to check out potential landing sites for D-Day. There are well authenticated reports that such checks were made by Royal Engineers, but was Endeavour involved?

We doubt it, but someone out there might know.

The suggestion that LO41 should be painted over and L007 substituted is not being taken too seriously!!!

70th Anniversary - Return of Little Ships to Dunkirk 2010 - Paul Gilson

Part 1 – Voyage from Leigh-on-Sea to Ramsgate

This trip was the big one. The media had been hyping this up for weeks. This was the 70th anniversary of "Operation Dynamo – The Miracle of Dunkirk" when the "Dunkirk Little Ships" return to France to commemorate the troops rescued from the beaches.

We are more used to the Endeavour now. She is a good sea boat but she is very wet. There is nowhere to hide, you are part of the boat and you have to take it on the chin.

For this trip my crew had some changes. I still had Peter Dolby and Finlay Marshall but I also had two of the Osborne family, Graham and Trevor.

Their family had owned the Renown and a relation had been lost when she hit a mine while under tow in 1940. Finally, Cameron McGregor, alias Jimbo, a fine figure of a man, our translator and speaker of many tongues, some of which other people could understand, especially the French and Germans. Jimbo and I had played rugby together for many years. I was loose head prop and he was my second row. We knew each other intimately he would say.

The format was the same as five years earlier. We could leave Leigh on Tuesday or have the fall back day as Wednesday for our outward bound trip to Ramsgate. I had been watching the changing weather forecasts for over a week and it had not changed much.

Fresh to strong easterly for Tuesday, freshening throughout the day and very fresh on Wednesday.

I was not looking forward to this at all. We had put some gear on board on Monday evening so we only had to put on board water to drink, food and the bags of clothes that we had to wear.

 When I put my blazer on board I made every effort to hang it up so it would not be creased at the many of the functions that we would be attending. As others put their gear on board, they followed suit and hung their best clothes in the same place as mine. The other cases were placed in the hold and covered with a large canvas to keep them dry.

The hatches were placed and covered with a canvas cover; she should then be water tight. This was going to be very wet. "Everyone must put on their life jacket and full wet weather gear. It is not quite as windy as last time, but we will be straight into it - it would have been ok but someone forgot to put on a wheelhouse!" I was desperate to get going.

(To Be Continued)