The return of Count Dracula - appeal to restore ship which helped save soldiers from Dunkirk

  • Report by ITV News Meridian's Derek Johnson

A boatyard owner from Hayling Island hopes that somebody will be able to restore a ship which was used to rescue soldiers from Dunkirk.

Named Count Dracula, the 50 foot wooden vessel is being kept at Wilson's Boatyard but it is in poor shape and the yard can't afford what is likely to be a costly restoration.

The ship has an illustrious history and was involved in Operation Dynamo which saw more than 338,000 British and French soldiers rescued from the French port of Dunkirk in 1940.

Count Dracula is thought to have rescued about 702 British men from Dunkirk.

The joint owner of the boatyard David Wilson says he is hoping somebody will be able to restore the ship.

Mr Wilson said: "It's going to cost a great deal of money to restore her fully all we need is enough money to keep her stored here just til she can be stabilised and then hopefully sooner or later somebody is going to be able to come along and do the work on her."

The ship is in need of major restoration works.

It's a ship which he has a special connection to.

"It is the ship that brought my father back from Dunkirk.

"The story is that my father remained behind Dunkirk to blow up a bridge to stop the enemy at the last moment.

"Then the main force had already left and he and his group of engineers carried along the coast to try and find a way to get back to the country and in doing so they come across the Count which had broken down and was washed up on the mudflats.

"They managed with the help of one of the engineers to jury rig the gear box and get her off the mudflats out to sea to be picked up by a destroyer and towed back by a destroyer."

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