Our wee yacht saved hun­dreds at Dunkirk

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - EXCLUSIVE -

Be­low, Gus and Sue at the wheel. Top from left, sol­diers at Dunkirk, the Chico in 1932, and as she is today. Pic­tures: Oban Times Mal­colm Camp­bell. She was the third of four yachts he was to own, each named Blue Bird af­ter his fa­mous record-break­ing boats.

Three years later she was bought by the Count­ess of Onslow as an el­e­gant cruis­ing yacht.

But the Royal Navy ac­quired her at the out­break of the Sec­ond World War, en­rolling Chico into the fleet that would ul­ti­mately be sent to Dunkirk.

Chico was fit­ted with Lewis ma­chine- guns and echo- sound­ing equip­ment and ini­tially de­ployed as a minesweeper.

She fer­ried men to a wait­ing de­stroyer as well as pick­ing up men from the beach to re­turn to Bri­tain.

Dunkirk was not her only war ac­tion.

She also saw off an en­emy bomber, shoot­ing off its tail with ma­chine gun fire.

Chico’s wartime com­mand­ing of­fi­cer, Jack Ma­son, was awarded the Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Cross in recog­ni­tion of his gal­lantry dur­ing ac­tive op­er­a­tions.

Today she sits proudly moored at Oban Bay’s new £2.5 mil­lion ma­rina along­side the craft of vis­it­ing mil­lion­aires.

Gus added: “We’ve been do­ing com­mer­cial char­ters since 2011.

“It took a year for us to equip the boat to the re­quired stan­dard and get all the nec­es­sary qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

“I am de­lighted to say that Chico’s war link con­tin­ues.

“We had Jack Ma­son’s daugh­ters on board ear­lier this year. They were de­lighted to sail on their fa­ther’s old yacht.”

Dunkirk, di­rected by Christo­pher Nolan, and star­ring Harry Styles, 23, and Tom Hardy, 39, has at­tracted rave re­views and is con­tin­u­ing to pack Scot­tish cine­mas.

The 1940 evac­u­a­tion saw more than 330,000 Bri­tish, French, Bel­gian and Dutch sol­diers safely evac­u­ated de­spite in­tense mil­i­tary fire.

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