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This is the story of a very small boat

Endeavour limitied Edition Print, Leigh-on-Sea Endeavour Trust

Endeavour limitied Edition Print, Leigh-on-Sea Endeavour Trust


Vital Statistics

  • Registered Number     LO41

  • Built by Cole and Wiggins in Leigh-on-Sea in 1924

  • With sails and engine

  • 36ft (10.67m) length, 11.5ft (3.45m) breadth & 4.2ft (1.28m) depth

  • 11.78 Tonnage

Unloading Cockles Image.jpg

Cockling in earlier times

  • Endeavour is pictured amid other cockle boats abt. 1934

  • Cockles are unloaded using planks, wooden yokes and wicker baskets

  • This method probably wouldn’t pass today’s Health & Safety rules

The Endeavour Requisition Papers.jpg

World War 2

On 14th May 1940 the Admiralty, on behalf of the Government, made an order requesting all owners of self-propelled craft between 30ft and 100ft in length to send all particulars to the Admiralty within 14 days if they have not already been offered or requisitioned.

6 Boats from Leigh-on-Sea were requisitioned:


  • Defender  LO504

  • Endeavour  LO41

  • Letitia  LO220

  • Reliance  LO64

  • Renown  LO88

  • Resolute  LO57

Renown - Endeavour Story.jpg
Reliance - Endeavoour Story.jpg
The Defender was one of the 'Little Ships' used at the Dunkirk evacuation in1940
Letitia - Endeavour Story.jpg
Resolute - Endeavour Story.jpg

The Little Ships

  • Gathered at Southend Pier Head at 9 am on 31st May 1940

  • Skippers and crew completed forms enrolling into the Royal Navy

  • All crew were signed on by the Navy as Naval Auxillary Personnel

  • Skippers were paid £4 and crew members £3

  • Provided with fuel and corn beef sandwiches

  • No specific orders were given, only informed that the success of the mission was heavily dependent on the weather

Dunkirk troops.jpg


The Leigh Little Ships were gathered into a flotilla under the charge of Sub Lieutenant Solomon. Each boat had a Royal Navy Rating on board, thus being officially under the official command of the Royal Navy - but in reality most of the boats were so unique that their original captain and crew were the only ones capable of sailing them.

The Endeavour and her sisters first in embarked soldiers from the beach and then, as the tide went out and threatened to strand them t
he Leigh boats began rescuing men from the north-eastern side of the Mole (a wooden structure in Dunkirk harbour) and from here they operated a shuttle service, collecting men and ferrying them to the larger ships out at sea. The boats operated throughout the night, until the final ferry at 6 am when they were ordered to return to Ramsgate with a full load of soldiers. 180 men were brought back on the Leigh boats to Ramsgate

Records indicate that 1,000 men were ferried out to the larger ships by the Leigh cockle boats.

Image from the film, Dunkirk Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon  ​© 2017 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Image from the film, Dunkirk Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon

  • 230 Trawlers took part in Operation Dynamo

  • 28,709 Troops are recorded as ‘lifted out’ by this type of little ship - an average of 125 soldiers per vessel

  • 29 were recorded lost by enemy action and other causes

  • The operation lasted for 4 days

  • The initial plan was for 45,000 troops were to be evacuated

  • In the end, 338,226 men and 200 dogs were evacuated

  • Later, in Parliament, Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, called the operation “ a miracle of deliverance”

There were many casualties of Operation Dynamo. 226 British ships were sunk and 3,500 British troops were killed on the beaches. Letitia's rudder was damaged while she was close inshore at Dunkirk and she took a tow from the drifter Ben and Lucy. The Renown's engine had also broken down and she made fast to Letitia's tow. Half-an-hour later Renown struck a mine and a shower of splintered wood came down on Letitia's deck. The Renown was lost with skipper Noakes and her crew - Frank and Leslie Osborne and Harry Noakes - all cousins - and Harold Porter, a naval rating from Birmingham. A.J. Dench, the Letitia's skipper said: "In the pitch dark we could see nothing and could do nothing - except pull in the tow rope, which was just as we had passed it to Renown three quarters of an hour before."Today Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, has its own memorial to those brave men.

Soldiers Scramble Aboard Little Ship At
Disabled Little Ship Under Tow.jpg
Leigh fishermen Memorial 2.jpg

All contents and images courtesy of the
Leigh On Sea Endeavour Trust

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