20th October 2021
Dear Mr McIntyre,
Greetings from the UK, I am writing on behalf of Sunderland Maritime
Heritage based in the North East of England and I came across your website,
or more specifically, this article: https://electricscotland.com/thomson/reflections1.htm
detailing a fisherman’s recollections of Lossiemouth and the fishing fleet
there. I am conducting research into a vessel we own called Willdora and
with the great help of a few locals and local maritime experts from the
Inverness/Banffshire area (Douglas Patterson, Donnie Stewart and John
McPherson) that my research finally, after many decades of mystery, our boat
was originally named INS24 Veronica b. 1934 John Stephens yard of Banff/MacDuff
and owned by William McKay and others then renamed Planet owned by Jimmy
‘Porridge’ Stewart and others also of Lossiemouth.
The main focus of my research is to find evidence/proof that our boat was
used for the Dunkirk evacuations in 1940, a lot of circumstantial evidence
and newspaper/book articles around the 50th anniversary of the battle, as
well as memories of individuals with fleeting knowledge but no proper
documentation has even been put to paper to record this. Mr Patterson and Mr
Stewart inform me the boat left her native Scotland and never returned
sadly, but they believe she had been requisitioned by the Royal Navy Reserve
and it would explain her post-war history being exclusively on the South
Coast of England before coming up here to the North East. A Buckie fishing
vessel Jeannie McIntosh also made the journey down south and sailed to
Dunkirk with HMS WATCHFUL then operated in an auxiliary role off Kent before
she was scrapped by the navy in 1947 in Bathside Bay.
Mr Stewart also informs me his cousin Will saw Planet in Portland harbour as
a NAFFI boat when doing his National Service, Douglas Patterson also told me
this and the Navy sold her to the NAFFI in 1944. The other interesting parts
of her history include being present in Lossiemouth for Ramsey MacDonald’s
funeral, operated as a camera boat for the BBC’s The Onedin Line in the
1970s in Devon and taking part in the Tall Ships Parade of Sail 1993 and
2018 in Newcastle and Sunderland respectively.
I am writing to you in the hopes you know anyone from Lossiemouth, MacDuff,
Banff etc who may remember the Veronica/Planet and if they can confirm where
she went to in England in 1940, as I believe if I can place her in Kent or
the South East around the time of Dunkirk in May 1940 then this may
strengthen her claim.
I hope this message piques your interest and hope to hear back.
Researcher & Archivist
Sunderland Maritime Heritage
P.S. Some of the attached documentation I’ve provided may say the boat was
built 1901 with two sister vessels Willanne, Willmarie, and was left
stranded at Dunkirk due to shell damage, I believe this to now be outdated
information and will update this on the necessary websites and documentation
in the near future when I prepare my final report.
Lossiemouth Fishing Fleet
Willdora lifted out of Tyne
Willdora youngster grant
Veronica (Willdora) Lossiemouth