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Motor Launch Advance, Dunkirk

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mgunnill View Drop Down
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    Posted: 23 March 2017 at 9:32pm
Sorry if I have posted this in the wrong area of your forum, but I would be grateful for your help.

I am writing a feature for Bygone Kent Magazine which will mention a motor launch Advance. I know very little about the 10 ton vessel built in 1931. She was a fund raising boat for the British Union of Fascists, but purchased around 1938 by Colin Pomeroy Dick and based in Teddington. 

I have the Ministry of War Transport List which lists Advance as: ARP: 3/9/1939 - 19/2/1940, AP: 20/2/1940 - 27/5/1940. Advance made two crossings to Dunkirk 28/5/1940-31/5/1940 & 2/6/1940 - 2/6/1940.  Afterwards she was commandeered by the RAF for  "Misc.Duties"  28/5/1940 - 3/6/1941.

On the last date she was listed as a total right off.  I have tried to find out what happened on that last day, without success.  I have researched the National Archives, RAF Hendon Museum and various other groups.

I wondered if any of the forum members had any ideas or even heard of this boat.  I understand the RAF usually provide an RAF ID for the boat. I am not sure this happened, on the War List she is listed as Advance through out.  I would just like to end my feature with, what happened to Advance?  I would be very grateful if any members could help.

Thank you


Mike Gunnill




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johnk View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote johnk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 March 2017 at 1:05pm
Hi Mike,

Just spotted your last and most interesting, sorry have nothing myself but hope colleagues here might be able to help or point in the right direction...albeit not a coastal forces craft in strict sense, I work with the Paddle Steamer Medway Queen www.medwayqueen.co.uk the largest ship that was at Dunkirk left in the UK now....sure we may well have featured in Bygone Kent before, recall seeing copies I think, of the magazine in our visitor centre...but by the by, as per hope something comes up, all the best,

JohnK
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mgunnill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 March 2017 at 1:13pm
Thank you John, very grateful for your comments.

I now have extra detail from the son's owner: " The launch was very powerful.  The engine, I recall Dad saying, was a Napier version of a Junkers liquid cooled 2-stroke, which was based on an aircraft engine and had a few hundred horsepower.” 

“ It was fast, very fast.”

I just want to find out what happened to Advance on 23/6/1941.  Grateful for any assistance.



Mike

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Steve View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Steve Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 April 2017 at 12:41pm
Hi Mike,

What records have you looked at in The National Archives? Sometimes vessel losses might be in other places to where you might expect them. She may appear in Admiralty reports for instance.

Regards,
Steve
www.spitfiresofthesea.com
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mgunnill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 April 2017 at 2:34pm
Hello Steve:

At the National Archives, I checked Admiralty Reports, RAF Marine Branch reports, RAF reports in general. At RAF Hendon I checked operational reports around the day she was tagged " a write off ".  I understand it was normal to rename a vessel but I don't think this was done.  I now have a photograph of Advance so I am very happy.


regards

Mike


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mgunnill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 May 2017 at 10:21am
I now have completed my feature.  Would it be helpful to post about the motor launch, Advance here?

Thx

Mike
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote johnk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 May 2017 at 5:10pm
Hi Mike,

Many thanks, whilst not the forum manager....would hope a good place to post but if not...perhaps "the management" could advise, be most interested to see the article,

Johnk

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mgunnill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 May 2017 at 2:21pm
I have been researching for a feature on Eric Piercy-Hamilton a one time member of the BUF and the second husband of Mrs William Joyce ( Lord Haw-Haw ).  This is an edited version of the story which will appear in Bygone Kent Magazine July-August edition. 

This, as I have said is a cut-down version of the story which will be published later with a picture of the Advance and the three man Dunkirk crew.

On hearing a British Government request for small boats, Eric Hamilton-Piercy with businessman and financial supporter of the BUF, Colin Pomeroy Dick travelled to Teddington Lock.  The third member of the crew was Kenneth Cunningham McGuffie.

 Most weekends Hamilton-Piercy, McGuffie and Dick would use the Advance, a 40 foot motor launch, by sailing along the Thames and when time allowed, on longer trips to Poole, Weymouth and the Isle of Wight. The sturdy launch was made by Vosper and Company of Southampton, designed by Fred Cooper with a Thorneycroft RB/6 140 hp petrol engine.

 On arrival at Teddington Lock, on  May 27th the trio stripped out all the unnecessary weight from the boat, personal items including pots, pans, and Colin Dick’s well stocked cocktail cabinet.  After working on the boat, the crew left the lock area at 0730 on Tuesday, May 28th with a sandwich lunch.  They sailed their freshly painted motor cruiser, the Advance down the Thames to Sheerness, arriving at 1330. 

They left Sheerness at 16.00, May 28th with provisions, water, petrol, steel helmets, oilskins, sea-boots and petrol.  Half and hour later with eight other boats each towing a whaler they sailed and arrived in Dover at 03.00 May 29th, mooring in the outer harbour alongside a destroyer. They moved to the submarine basin, refueled and waited.

With a fine clear morning and no wind, Wednesday May 29th,1940,  the first flotilla arrived off the beach at La Panne, just inside the Belgium border.  The early arrivals included Advance, the first to arrive with a civilian crew and  others in the group, manned by Royal Navy personnel were the, Elizabeth Green, Bobeli, Hanora and Reda led by the lead boat Viewfinder.  Advance, in this first assembly, assisting by taking soldiers off the beach and ferrying them in a whaler, operating to and fro to other vessels, waiting in deeper water.  Soon after arriving in position, the Advance was machine-gunned by two German aircraft, one flying so low it removed the vessels signal mast.

Hamilton-Piercy said later, the aircraft was so low, “ you could throw a brick at them.”  This action continued for the rest of the day while they continued the fetching-and-carrying operation, with Piercy and McGuffie in the whaler.  Hamilton-Piercy’s solicitors,  Humphrey Razzall and Company of Lincoln’s Inn, London would later state, that the boat was, “ under fire for most of the time, they made 20 trips to the beach in total, removing as many soldiers as possible each time.”

Advance under owner Colin Pomeroy Dick was purchased in Poole, Dorset and repainted in 1939.  Her owner had been the Admiralty then W.J.Woodward Fisher Limited of Limehouse, London, and then the boat was leased or rented back to the BUF organisation.  Under Dick’s ownership, Advance was used as a ARP 3/9/1939-19/2/1940 ( Air Raid Precaution ) boat, and then an AP ( Auxiliary Patrol ), boat until Dunkirk.  After evacuation duties, the boat was commandeered by the RAF for miscellaneous work between 28/5/1940 - 23/6/1941.


As far as I can tell after June 1941 she was listed as a right-off. I can't find out what happened that day or afterwards.  Which is annoying!!

If I have made any errors, I would be glad of feedback ahead of magazine publication.  It seems the three men arriving off Dunkirk was very embarrassing for the government of the time as all had links to the BUF.  Although their work at day, and they all volunteered for another crossing on June 2nd.  That didn't happen with the same crew, as they were all arrested. Full details, including comments from Piercy-Hamilton's son, extra detail on the Dunkirk trip and the arrests, in Bygone Kent Magazine.


Thank you very much.



Mike

 http://www.bygonekent.org.uk

 

 

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mgunnill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 May 2017 at 2:25pm
In some of the supplied detail I used the wrong name for Eric Hamilton-Piercy.  Hamilton-Piercy is correct, sorry for the error.

Mike
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mgunnill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 May 2017 at 12:11pm
John:


As a young photographer on the Kent Evening Post, I remember the Medway Queen very well.  In those days she was in a sorry state. When the tide came in, it flooded the ship.  I was looking at the pix yesterday.  I have since seen the fine work done on her, and viewed her at Gillingham Pier.  Well done, a lady worth saving.

Mike
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