PICTURE GALLERY: Grave at sea for Dunkirk veteran?

A LEGENDARY Great Yarmouth lifeboat famed for evacuating soldiers off the beaches of Dunkirk is to be sunk if a buyer does not come to its rescue.

The former RNLI lifeboat, the Louise Stephens, sailed into troubled waters when its seller this week revealed he would send the “Little Ship” to the bottom of the ocean if someone did not claim it.

The ship, which was launched 311 times and rescued 177 lives during a tenure in Yarmouth and Gorleston, is moored in Port Ellen on the Isle of Islay off the west coast of Scotland.

But the seller hopes to see it return to its rightful home in Norfolk – and is willing to negotiate a price in the region of �4,000.

Robert Queen, who is selling the boat on behalf of his father-in-law, said: “The boat is ready to go and everything is working.

“I would love to see it return to the one place where it originally came from, and it would be even better to see it go to a museum. But if we do not get payment soon then there are not many other options we have left.”

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.

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

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 a 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.

Now, she resides in Western Scotland, where she has been used for fishing since the late 1980s.

Speaking about the Louise Stephens, Mr Queen added: “I am not looking for thousands and thousands of pounds. Something close to �4,000 would be enough for me.”

Anyone interested in buying the Louise Stephens, or needs more information, can contact Robert Queen on 07806 592112.

Click on the link in the top right hand corner of the page to see more pictures of the Louise Stephens.

See map below to see where the Louise Stephens is currently docked.

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