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Sunderland Maritime Heritage
Letter from Nick Simpson


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.

Kind regards,

Nick Simpson
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 1989

Willdora youngster grant training scheme

Willdora

Veronica (Willdora) Lossiemouth 1937


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