WHILE stationed in Gorleston in 1939, the Louise Stephens was originally designed to be a shallow draft Watson – a special vessel used on the sandbanks off the east coast – and was one of only three lifeboats which could be launched from a beach.

On May 30 1940, she was called to serve her country and joined 18 other lifeboats in a mission to aid the second world war evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk.

No record exists of how many men she managed to evacuate.

However, details have emerged that she saved another crew off the east coast of Dunkirk when the Southwold lifeboat, the Mary Scott, broke down and could not be restarted.

The Royal Navy commander of the Mary Scott decided the best course of action was to abandon her and return to Dover on the Louise Stephens.

A Royal Naval Reserve officer praised the performance of the Louise Stephens during her Dunkirk mission.

He stated: “I took the Gorleston and Great Yarmouth lifeboat across to Dunkirk on two nights.

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“Her performance was a revelation and a delight. She came back with a hole in her after endbox.”

As well as this wartime feat, the Louise Stephens also played a part in one of the greatest lifeboat rescues off the coast of Norfolk.

She helped the Cromer lifeboat, the HF Bailey, save 119 lives on August 6, 1941 when several ships ran aground on Happisburgh Sands.

It is believed the Louise Stephens was sold out of service in 1974 to become a fishing boat off the North East coast and renamed the Tyne Star.

In 1984, she was re-engined with two four cylinder 72hp tractor engines and was fitted with a large trawler wheelhouse.

Two years later, she found herself in the hands of Howard Fawsitt who kept her in South Devon and used her as a family pleasure boat to cruise the coastal waters off south west England and the Isle of Wight.

She has resided in Western Scotland since the late 1980s, where she has been used as a fishing boat.

Her new home will be at the Hoylake Lifeboat Museum in Cheshire.