Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Rosemaries secret wartime history.

John Drinkwater remembers the Schleswig-Holstein, a German warship moored up at St Mawes on a 'friendly' visit in the years 1938 and 1939. This picture is from the German Federal Archive.

Having nearly completed the 40yrs of Houseboat history for the Falmouth built Rosemarie; 10 short extracts of which are available to view online at, I am now researching the boats early story to make up the entire film which will be titled; ‘The many Romances with Rosemarie’, it will be the whole life story of the boat, as told by those who remember her fondly.

During this fascinating research it has come to light that the Rosemarie worked for the admiralty during and after the war up until 1948. Her duties were described by John Andrews and Douglas Sawle of St Mawes, who remembered the Rosemarie as an ‘Examination ship’ with a gun mounted on the deck, working around the Lizard peninsula while the boat herself was stationed at Penzance during the war. They also described how, on the troops return from Dunkirk; Rosemarie was the boat which checked over each vessel and took the names of all retuning soldiers for the official listings, as the troops disembarked at Falmouth harbour.

I have also found a record of the Rosemarie going over to Dunkirk on Friday the 31st of May; this would have been at the climax of the beach evacuations. It seems that Rosemarie, ‘Rose Marie’ as she is officially listed, was towed over, by the Dutch skoot ‘Hilda’ along with five other motorboats; Moss Rose, Lady Haig, Britannic, Gispy King , Golden Spray II, and two life-boats. The skoot Hilda from London, was captained by Lieutenant A. Gray of the Royal Navy, and her operations would have taken place on the Bray Beach at Dunkirk. I am still awaiting verification of my research from the Association of Dunkirk Little ships as I would ideally like to have the Rosemaries status as a Dunkirk Little Ship officially recognized.

Rosemarie is also remembered by John Drinkwater of St Mawes in the film ‘The many Romances with Rosemarie’, John verifies her duties as described by John Andrews and Douglas Sawle, but also describes her as working for ‘River Patrol’. In 1938, John Drinkwater was serving his apprenticeship working at Freshwater Boat-yard under the locally renowned boat-builder Frankie Peters. John recalls that Frankie ‘Skippered’ the Rosemarie on her River Patrol duties with the additional support of crew members; Fred Hamblin and Walter Hitchins. I would like to put out an appeal to any family members who may have photographs of; Frankie Peters, Walter Hitchins and Fred Hamblin, which they would be glad for me to include in the film. Please contact;

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