Page 281 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
P. 281

 snatching glory out of defeat. The whole country would breathe a sigh of relief and give thanks.
“Coronia” (“Watchful”) had worked from the beaches taking
out troops to the waiting ferries
and destroyers which would be anchored about a mile from the shore for the first days of the evacu- ation then towards the end of the operation she made three more trips across the channel to bring home
a further 900 soldiers ready to fight again. The crew of “Watchful” saying to the men when the ship was loaded to capacity (“We will be back”) and she did return time after time. Lt A.H. Turner received the DSC during the operation.
To commemorate her gallant service as part of this fleet which braved the enemy in those fateful days of the summer of 1940 when the fate of France was sealed, and the battle for Britain was about to begin “Coronia” / ” Watchful” proudly flies the flag of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships at her masthead.
After the evacuation “HM Tender Watchful”/” Coronia” returned home to her base at Great Yarmouth where she would see out the rest of the war working out of the town’s naval base supporting the home fleet. On December 12th 1945 she was returned to her owners the Longfield Bros and restored to her original name “MV Brit” where she continued to serve as a pleasure cruiser. In 1950 she was modified with a lower funnel and bridge to operate on the Thames by the Thames Launch Co, and carried out excursions for the festival of Britain. In 1951 she was bought by Scarborough pleasure cruisers taking the new name of “Yorkshire Lady.”
1961 She was refitted in Eyemouth Scotland with twin Gardner 6lx engines and a new wheelhouse was fitted at that time, In 1968 she was sold and Renamed “Coronia” she was refitted in Scotland in 1975 and again in 1985 she was sold and sailed for Gibraltar where she was to provide trips round Gib Bay showing visitors the Rock and marine life around the Colony; during this time she acted as host to HRH Duke of Gloucester on his official visit.
At the end of 1991 “Coronia” was sold to North Sea leisure and on the 5th, of June of that year she sailed for Scarborough and resumed service alongside MV Reagal Lady.
Sold to Tom Marchen in 1990 of North Sea leisure now known as Scarborough Steamers.
Down the years “Coronia” had a great history in peace time and the war years, she holds a special place in many people’s hearts she served us well in this country’s darkest days, without her and the other little ships of Dunkirk many generations would not be here today.
Many fond memories have been created on this little ship, couples have met and gone on to marry, mothers and father’s grandparents alike all went for a trip to sea on Caronia making it a British family tradition when on holiday in the Yorkshire town of Scarborough.
Please help us to restore this little ship and let her sail on into the future years and let’s never forget what the little ships of Dunkirk achieved against all odds.
      To restore “Coronia” (“M.V Tender Watchful”) back to MCA standard also as a venue serving morning coffees afternoon teas as it was in the forties, there would be a person on hand to tell her history.
She is our heritage. She is iconic. We owe it to all our brave men she brought back and those who perished in the dark days of Dunkirk and also the men that manned these little ships. As the saying goes:
John Rolfe, Secretary Bishop Auckland Branch of the DLI Association.
700 little ships like MV Coronia took part in Operation Dynamo, but 250 never returned home
 Members of Bishop Auckland branch stand proudly in the wheelhouse of “MV Coronia”

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