Our wee yacht saved hundreds at Dunkirk
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.