Welcome to our Spring Newsletter

This edition contains news of a number of high profile trips for Endeavour, a request for your email addresses, a report on our annual dinner, sad news of the death of supporter Alfred Smith and some memories of fishing in Southend in the 1940s.
Please drop us a line if you have any comments, or visit us on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/EndeavourTrustLeigh/

Historic Voyages Home and Abroad

"This could be Endeavour's busiest year and the most ambitious," Paul Gilson told members of the management committee at their January meeting as he outlined plans to take the boat where she has never been before.

In June of this year it will be the 75th anniversary of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of France which led to the end of World War II. The Dunkirk Little Ships have been invited to be escort two ships in the Solent as they leave Portsmouth for Normandy.

Later this year the boats have been asked to be part of the Belgian port of Antwerp's events to remember the town's liberation. Antwerp had been by-passed by the Allies as they pushed the German army back to the Rhine. It took until September 1944 to liberate the citizens.

Endeavour hopes to take part in both events which will be exciting first voyages for boat and crew. Paul explained: "These trips will take some organisation. They are long voyages involving sailing in waters we are not familiar with. We may have to split crews in order for everyone who wants to take part to be part of historic events."

Provisionally, the plan is for Endeavour to rendezvous with the ADLS boats at Ramsgate on May 27th. The fleet would then sail in convoy to either Eastbourne or Brighton and thence to Portsmouth with the chance to visit Itchenor, Beaulieu River and historic Buckler's Hard.

The boats will moor in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in Navy facilities with the chance to visit HMS Victory and the Mary Rose Museum. Crews and skippers will attend a reception aboard Victory on Saturday 2nd June. On June 2nd the boats will escort a commercial ferry with D-Day veterans heading to France leaving them at Nab Tower. The ADLS boats will then head to Cowes where they will sail past the Royal Yacht Squadron before mooring in their harbour. Ships will host RYS members aboard their boats.

The following day they will be guests of the RYS at a lunch and the next day will depart for home.

The Antwerp trip departs from Ramsgate on September 1 for Nieuport, Belgium and the next day will head through the canals to the beautiful city of Bruges. Boats will then proceed to Ghent and by September 5th or 6th will moor in Antwerp's Willemdock. On September 7th the boats will join a parade on the River Scheldt. It is possible the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will take part.

Thames Trips

Slightly less arduous are the now regular trips up the Thames for the Knights of Windsor picnic (see photo right, taken at last year's event) held in the Queen's backyard and the annual Veterans' Cruise to Thames Motor Yacht Club on Sept 14-15th.

The dates for the Windsor trip are yet to be confirmed but last year Endeavour's voyage was eventful in the searing heat. But, it is a real privilege to meet the knights and their families and the sight of a cockle boat that far upriver occasions ribald comments from walkers on shore.

Skipper Gilson sometimes likes to leave for this trip in the middle of the night in order to make Staines and our hotel! The return trip also involves lack of sleep but seeing London at dawn is an experience.

The voyage to Hampton Court is equally fun. On the 14th the little ships embark veterans of modern conflicts from Malaya to Cyprus, Korea, the Falklands and Northern Ireland. On the Sunday, surviving World War II servicemen and women come aboard.

Our treasurer, Chris Bailey is arranging for Bank of England Sailing Club members to take the boat under sail to Whitstable and back during the summer. These former colleagues of Chris are younger and fitter than Endeavour's crew and more used to handling sails. This trip will be on a Ray Day with the boat departing in the morning and returning in the evening.

There will be room for a few members to join them. If you would be interested in joining any of the cruises, be advised, we can only let two people sleep aboard. This means we either book into B 'n' Bs or hotels. Sometimes there is room on the posh boats to put up crew. This usually involves buying lots of wine, beer or dinner...

If you think you can stand it, call Membership Secretary Chris Burls on 01702 553274 or email him.

A Cry for Help

Please help us contact you more easily! Membership Secretary Chris Burls is keen to record members' emails and phone numbers in the Trust's secure database.

This will allow communication with members to be made more immediately and economically. Newsletters will still be sent out by surface mail, unless electronic receipt is specifically requested. Members with email are therefore requested to send their contact details, if not already held. Members without email will be contacted as before.

Our Friend Alfred

Dunkirk veteran Alfred Smith who had been an honoured guest at Endeavour functions died aged 99 last November. The Shoebury-based old soldier's face could be seen on billboards and buses throughout the town as part of a Remembrance campaign. He also appeared on Countryfile standing
alongside Endeavour.

He was a guest at the premiere of Christopher Nolan's film, Dunkirk where he met actor Mark
Rylance, and told the star his experiences. He also met Prince Harry at Kensington Palace ahead of the premiere where he was cheered as he marched down the red carpet.

As well as being rescued from Dunkirk in 1940 Alfred also took part in the Normandy landings
in 1944. He served with the Royal Army Service Corps. At Dunkirk he spent two days on the beach without food or water. His unit was constantly shelled and bombed. He was one of only 31 survivors out of 107 men.

Alfred waded into the Channel and managed to reach a paddle steamer. Once aboard he collapsed from hunger and only woke when the ship docked in Harwich. He went on to take part in the Normandy landings in 1944. In 2015 the French government award him the Legion of Honour, the country's top accolade for those who served with valour.

After the war Alfred was a driving instructor and a top ballroom dancer who appeared on TV.

Alfred was an honoured guest at Endeavour functions and with the late David Wightman enjoyed a trip aboard the boat.

A Successful Dinner

Local author Dick Durham proved a hit at our annual dinner held the Chalkwell Park Rooms. His
theme was based around the Forts and creeks of the Thames, all places he has sailed around for over 50 years.

Dick has sailed as mate for the legendary bargee, Bob Roberts, aboard Cambria. Dick was aboard when Cambria delivered her last cargo into Felixstowe. Since those days he has owned a series of boats, and made epic voyages.

He spent more than 20 years as a reporter on the red-tops and recalls a career that was often exciting and sometimes surreal. He covered the Seoul Olympics, the first Gulf War, and the King's Cross fire as well as royal stories. He covered crime including the Rettendon Murders.

When he started in Fleet Street he was earning as much as a judge, after he was made redundant he was offered a job as a care assistant, although only if he was prepared to get some training. Instead, he got a job with Yachting Monthly, of which he is now Editor at Large. He also wrote a series of books and last February published a thriller, A Tide for Drowning.

Currently he owns Betty II, a pretty yacht built in 1921 in Leigh by Cole and Wiggins which is also the firm who built Endeavour. Betty II was one of the boats surveying rivers and estuaries for the
invaluable sailors' guide, East Coast Rivers.

Memories from the 1940s

The Trust's Facebook page produces some interesting reactions from followers.

One, Julian Wilson, sent us the picture above of Valerie, a 48ft bawley alongside No 1 jetty opposite the Hope Hotel in Southend just after World War 11. His family owned four bawleys moored east
of the pier and also had two pleasure boats on the Marine Parade pitches. These were New Prince of Wales 1 and New Princess Maud and Mr Wilson recalls Endeavour in Leigh Creek. I remember her just after the war when Dad had reason to come up to our boats on winter lay-ups in the mud berths beyond Johnson and Jago's yard.” He also remembered weekends afloat with 3rd Chalkwell Bay Sea Scouts.

After the war Valerie was fitted out for spratting. Mr Wilson remembers secondhand gear coming from Maldon to re-rig her sails and take part in the first post war Fishermen's Regatta. LO 180 was the company apprentice’s boat. The Ministry and Agriculture and Fisheries and the Ministry of Transport gave grants to owners who took on apprentices to train as seamen. Mr Wilson was aboard and trained by Sidney Cotgrove who was lured from semi-retirement for the job and the boss's son duly became skipper. At one time Valerie held the record for the highest tonnage of sprats caught in a weekend trip.

Mr Wilson's father and his partner Albert Brand had bought a LCT - a Landing Craft (Tank) vessel - which they used as a mothership for the firm's four bawleys and smacks. Mr Wilson said: “We’d shoot our nets, recover them when the cod-end came to the surface, call up the LCT on the e-army sets Dad had fitted on the boats.

The LCT would come alongside and we'd swing the cod-end across into her tank deck, release the haul there before going back to shoot the trawl again.” When fishing stopped the LCT went up river to Billingsgate Fish Market where Mr Wilson senior had pre-sold the fish. Later the boats went white weeding which was big earner for boats when fish were scarce.

Sadly Valerie became 'nail sick' and needed complete re-caulking. Repairs carried out during the war had been hastily carried out using available material. Local competition was tough and contracts
from canneries were running out and sprats had stopped shoaling off the Estuary. Valerie was sold to Norfolk for conversion to a yacht. It is not known if she survives.

Mr Wilson has also written a downloadable document about the experiences of the Southend fishing boats that went to Dunkirk, including Endeavour.

Contact website@endeavourtrust.co.uk and we’ll pass your request on.