WATCH: Elvin, the Lowestoft little ship with Dunkirk role makes triumphant return to port
PUBLISHED: 13:37 09 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:41 09 August 2017
Archant © 2017
A war hero-cum-filmstar has made a triumphant return home to Lowestoft.
Elvin, a motor yacht which played a role in the Dunkirk rescue mission of 1940, this week returned to the very port it was launched from for the mission.
However, not only has it returned a hero, but a filmstar, having recently featured in Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster Dunkirk, which is currently making waves in the box office.
The little ship, which is turning 80 this year, made a fleeting visit to the port as current owner Hywel Bowen-Perkins circumnavigates the country in it.
Dr Bowen-Perkins, a GP from Hampton, said: “It has been a real privilege to bring Elvin back to her first home. The last time she was in Lowestoft was in 1948, before she was requisitioned, so it was nice to bring her back.”
Elvin was built in 1937 in Barton-on-Humber, but her first owner, E.L. Vincent gave the yacht its first home in Lowestoft.
In 1940 it was then called upon for the Dunkirk mission, which saw lieutenant commander Archie Buchanan and his crew of three bring 33 soldiers to safety.
As part of its visit, Dr Bowen-Perkins and crew members Richard Morton and Mick Rowe met ancestors of Lt Commander Buchanan, taking Elvin out onto Oulton Broad for the first time since the mission.
The crew also visited Lowestoft Maritime Museum, before setting sail for the final leg of its voyage.
Dr Bowen-Perkins added: “I bought her in 2008, after seeing an appeal online to rescue her from being scrapped. She was in Portugal and I flew straight there.
“She certainly turned more than a few heads while she was back - we have had lots of people wanting to come and look at her.”
However, those that missed the visit, can still catch Elvin on screen, with Dr Bowen-Perkins having spent time filming on location for the film, which stars Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh and Harry Styles.
He added: “It’s a real credit to Christopher Nolan to want to use the actual boats wherever he could. I’ve not seen the film yet, but my family say you can spot us a few times if you are eagle-eyed.”
Roy Hammond, a volunteer at Lowestoft Martime Museum said: “It has been a pleasure to assist the Elvin and crew with their visit to the port. I hope recent films about the evacuation from the beaches keep the little ship efforts at the forefront of Second World War history.”
Elvin was built in 1937, at Clapson’s boatyard in Barton. It was sold by Hyland’s cruisers to E.L. Vincent, who kept it in Lowestoft.
Its Dunkirk journey began on May 30, 1940, when it launched out of Lowestoft.
With four aboard, it reached Dunkirk on June 4, 1940, where it rescued 33 soldiers - many French.
After returning to Lowestoft, it was requisitioned by the Naval Reserve in 1948 and was put to use across the globe.
In 1955, it was bought by Marquis of Pombal, a Portuguese aristocrat. Under his ownership, Elvin cruised around the Portuguese coast, including trips to Monte Carlo, Gibraltar and Africa.
In June 2008, it was taken in part exchange by a marina in Algarve, from which Dr Bowen-Perkins salvaged it.
Dr Bowen-Perkins is now keen to hear from anybody who knows anything about two particular people involved in the mission - Dick Howorth and ‘Skipper’ Noble.