She is a little boat with a lot of history and a big story to tell.

And this week Rummy 3 will be embarking on a new chapter as she heads across the Channel to Normandy to take part in the 80th D-Day anniversary.

The 42ft vessel, which served a variety of military roles in the Second World War mostly in Norfolk, is owned by Andy Smerdon, 56, and Susan Lansdell, 36.

Eastern Daily Press: Andy Smerdon and Susan Lansdell will sail to NormandyAndy Smerdon and Susan Lansdell will sail to Normandy (Image: Supplied)

The couple, who live aboard, hope to use her to tell the forgotten story of the Royal Navy's fleet of requisitioned small boats which were pressed into military service during the war.

The couple are currently in Southwold making final preparations for their voyage and are due to set off on Tuesday on a three-week trip to Normandy, via Ostend.

They plan to arrive in Normandy by June 6, the 80th anniversary of the landings, and to lay wreaths on behalf of the Royal Navy Patrol Service Association.

Eastern Daily Press: Rummy 3 in 1936 on her maiden voyage from the boat yard Rummy 3 in 1936 on her maiden voyage from the boat yard (Image: Supplied)


The association represents veterans, relatives and enthusiasts of the Royal Navy Patrol Service, which operated small vessels carrying out anti-submarine, minesweeping, coastal protection and other roles during both world wars, often in waters off the east coast.

The sometimes overlooked service - which had its headquarters in what is now the Lowestoft Maritime Museum - often relied on outdated, ill-suited and poorly armed vessels which were requisitioned from civilian or fishing use.

These were often crewed by ex-fishermen and this decidely unglamorous fleet earned a number of nicknames, including 'Churchill's Pirates' and 'Harry Tate's Navy' - a reference to a clumsy, music hall entertainer who struggled with various contraptions.

Eastern Daily Press: Requisitioned boats during The Second World WarRequisitioned boats during The Second World War (Image: Supplied)

Mr Smerdon, a truck driver, said: "We wanted to help commemorate the people that served in the war. 

"There was a battle going on off the East Coast that doesn’t get that much attention - some of the earliest sinkings of the Second World War were just off the coast.

"There are hundreds of wrecks off places like Southwold and Lowestoft, and most of them are requisitioned vessels like Rummy.

"The people that manned these boats were Royal Navy Patrol Service people, mostly fishermen that had volunteered and been co-opted into the war."

Eastern Daily Press: Rummy 3 at Reedham Ferry Rummy 3 at Reedham Ferry (Image: Andy Smerdon)


Rummy 3 was built in 1935 at Thorne, near Doncaster, and requisitioned in 1940.

She was first used as a senior naval officer's boat in Boston, Lincolnshire.

In 1942, she was transferred to Great Yarmouth where she was used as a fire boat - she still has a working fire pump.

She was later renamed HMS Flycatcher and attached to the Royal Naval station of the same name at Ludham after the Admiralty took over the airfield there from the RAF.

At the time, she was nominally a depot ship but was mostly used by the unit to make trips to places like Yarmouth.

At the end of the war, she was laid up at Sandersons yard, in Reedham, before being sold out of service.

She was then rebuilt by Herbert Woods at Potter Heigham and entered private ownership.