Daily Post

Tuesday Dec 21st 1940


The heroic part played by the Manx steamers will have an honourable share when the history of the war comes to be written.

In the evacuation of the Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk eight of the Manx steamer fleet brought to England 30,000 British and some French soldiers.

They were under constant bombardment and machine gun fire from the air, while floating mines and submarines added to the perils of each trip. Their only protection was one machine gun each.

5,000 INSTEAD OF 1,200

The TYNWALD made 5 trips from Dunkirk, licensed to carry 1,200 passengers, she had on one trip 5,000 troops.

The LADY OF MANN made 4 trips, her last with over 5,000 troops. On two trips she carried stretcher and other less serious cases and on two others French troops.

The MANX MAN made 3 trips, the BEN-MY-CHREE 2, the soldiers “packed like herrings.”

Three of the companies steamers were sunk at Dunkirk, the MONA’S QUEEN and the FENELLA which since the outbreak of war had been acting as troop ships, and the KING ORRY, which, except for the engine room staff was manned by the Royal Navy.

The MONA’S QUEEN was sunk on May 29th while entering Dunkirk, 24 crew were killed when half a mile from their berth they were attacked by two German bombers.

Mr R. CLUCAS of Douglas, 1st officer says, “ Our gunners were splendid and drove the Germans off, we were returning from the attack when from nowhere a Hurricane appeared and shot both the Germans down. In the next moment there was a terrific explosion, we had struck a mine, the ship lifted out of the water and broke in two, her funnel was lifted clear out of her.” Her crew were mostly Manx.

Roy GALLAGER her paymaster, a native of Liverpool in civil life an insurance agent, he had lived in Douglas some years, G. GREGSON a steward lived at 1 Talton Rd, Liverpool.


On May 30th the FENELLA was sunk by a bomb when taking troops on board alongside the jetty at Dunkirk.

Capt W. CUBBON stated, there were 800 troops on board when the bombers came over in wave after wave between 5.30 and 6am. A bomb fell between the FENELLA and the quay wall. The masonry smashed into the side wrecking the engine room. The troops were taken off safely, some got on board the CRESTED EAGLE, a Thames steamer, but she in turn was bombed, and 16 of the FENELLA’S crew were lost.

Among them:-

J. CORRIN, Chief steward, 16 Hereford Rd, Liverpool

T. E. GIBSON, Steward, 16 Marsden Rd, Wallasey, Liverpool

T. HELSBY Steward, 18 Roderick St, Liverpool

A. E. CORKISH, Paymaster, 2 Craig Ave, West Derby Rd, Liverpool


Previous to the Dunkirk evacuation the MONA’S QUEEN had, had a very rough time at Boulogne and Calais, she was the last ship of the Merchant Navy to leave Boulogne. She brought into the port, though under bombardment from the air, 300tons of high explosive chiefly TNT and guncotton to blow up the docks. After she had unloaded, troops were rushed on board until she could hold no more, these were safely landed in England.

At Calais she was under heavy bombardment while evacuating troops. She took part in the evacuation of Rotterdam and Ostend. After her exploit at Boulogne a grateful message was sent to Capt DUGGAN, her Master, by the Port Admiral, who referred to the most excellent work she was doing, “under the most hazardous conditions.”

The MANX MAID was another vessel which “did her bit” most nobly.

After Dunkirk a number of Manx boats were at the evacuation of Le Havre, in some ways more adventurous than Dunkirk - Cherbourg, St Malo, Brest and La Pallice, during all of which service they were attacked again and again.


Kindly forwarded by Bernard de Neumann

List owner

Rootsweb Gallantry Awards List

Awards made in respect of the actions performed by these ships:


MASON, Charles Powell, Radio Officer, DSC

WATTERSON, Allan, Second Officer, DSC

WHITEWAY, John Henry, Captain, DSC

GRIBBEN, Thomas, Seaman, DSM

ALLEN, Arthur James, Donkeyman, MID

GAWNE, John, Carpenter, MID

LISTER, William Edward, Purser, MID


PATTERSON, William, Gunner, DSM

WOODS, Thomas, Captain, MID


COWLEY, Philip Basil, Captain, MID

FERGUSON, John, Third Engineer, MID

QUIRK, Sidney Manning, Second Engineer, MID


DUGGAN, Radcliffe, Captain, DSC

AMBLER, Ernest Harry, Radio Officer, DSC

WATTERSON, Eggerton, Boatswain, DSM

Link to Tony Holkham's pages which contain many names, jobs and addresses of crew, and technical details of several Isle of Man ships, and a few other historical references

IOM Steam Packet Company and Dunkirk

Copyright 2002 / To date