43ft. DUNKIRK LITTLE SHIP – 1937 Dutch Steel Motor-Yacht – Fully Restored 2015 – Lying: Worcestershire


Join the most exclusive motor yacht club in the world and take part in the 81st Anniversary return to Dunkirk in May 2021 (postponed from May 2020). Fully restored authenticated Little Ship, amazing history as a participant in Operation Dynamo skippered by Sir Laurence Olivier’s brother.

Boat Details

Overall Length: 43ft.
Waterline: 41ft 6ins
Beam: 10ft 3ins
Draught: 4ft
Displacement: 17 Tons T M
Engine: Pair 60hp Gardner 4 LK Diesels (re-built)
Berths: Six Berths in Three Cabins
Sail: n/a
Designer: Dutch
Builder: Timmer & Zoon, Delft
Year Built: 1937
Location: Worcestershire


MARSAYRU was built in 1937 by Timmer & Zoon, Delft for Charles Wyatt as a family pleasure yacht to be moored in Rochester. The boat is named after his wife Ruby and three daughters Sadie, Yvonne and Marjorie. In 1939 MARSAYRU was requisitioned by the Royal Navy as a personnel carrier and subsequently took part in Operation Dynamo in May/June 1940. She was skippered by no less than Sir Laurence Olivier’s brother and Cyril Coggins a marine engineer. They were both mentioned in dispatches and received a DSM and MBE. A full account of MARSAYRU’s involvement was documented at the time and altogether she rescued some 400 soldiers, a remarkable achievement.

After Dunkirk MARSAYRU continued in service recovering airmen in the Channel fitted with two 600hp Rolls Royce engines. After the war MARSAYRU was returned to Charles Wyatt together with a cheque for £1,500 He sold her soon afterwards due to the engine installation. In new ownership in 1947 MARSAYRU was re-engined, later BMC diesels installed in 1962 and the boat re-named BILLOWIN. In the 1980s her then owner Gareth Roe restored the original name. The Roe family enjoyed twenty years sailing from Ramsgate and the French Canals. In 2012 after being laid up in Brittany MARSAYRU was brought back to Margate and purchased by the current owners. A full restoration began to prepare the boat for the 75th anniversary 2015 return to Dunkirk. With two re-built Gardner 4LK engines installed and the hull re-plated and interior re-fitted MARSAYRYU participated with the other Little Ships in the historic return.
Although every one of the Little Ships of Dunkirk has a story, not all these are preserved in written records. The skippers and crews were too busy to keep a log and not all of them survived. The simple story of the Marsayru appears in Battle Summary 41 compiled by the historical section of the Admiralty and she is also mentioned in Walter Lord’s book ‘The Miracle of Dunkirk’ and in A.D. Devine’s book ‘Dunkirk’.

‘MARSAYRU went over to Dunkirk on 31st May commanded by her civilian skipper, G.D. Olivier, brother of Sir Laurence Olivier, who received a DSM and her engineer C. Coggins who was Mentioned in Despatches. They sailed in company with three lighters: X217, X213 and X149, arriving off Malo beach at about 1600. During an air attack, X213 and X419 were sunk. The X217 was beached and with the help of a cutter towed by Marsayru, embarked about 200 British and French troops, some in the motor yacht Llanthony and some in the Marsayru which was then towed towards England. Shortly after sailing, the Marsayru broke adrift and in the darkness could not be found. Her skipper had been taken home aboard the towing vessel. Next day, Sub-Lieut. T.E. Godman RNVR, in a Naval steam pinnace off La Panne, sighted the Marsayru drifting with the tide and unoccupied but in working order. He left a petty officer in charge of the pinnace and, with the dinghy in tow, took the yacht to the Western end of the beach where he anchored. The dinghy ferried 19 troops to her and at 2330 he made fast to a conical flashing buoy and waited for daylight. At 0430 on 2nd June a trawler took the Marsayru in tow to Ramsgate where, at 0800, she disembarked her 19 troops. Later, on 2nd June, the original crew took charge of the Marsayru and A.D. Devine reports that she was again working the beaches on that day. At one time, the nearest ship being about 21/2 miles away, she was attacked by four Messerschmitts who ineffectually machine-gunned her for half an hour from a height of more than 2,000 feet until three Hurricanes saw them off. Marsayru was credited in her various crossings with saving some 400 French soldiers. Built far more strongly than her size demands, Marsayru was constructed of Swedish steel on steel frames by Timmer & Zoon in Holland’

Plated 4mm riveted steel constructed hull and riveted steel frames. Bottom plating doubled in 2012/14 with 4mm steel plating to the turn of the bilge as signed off by specialist marine surveyors Anglo European Marine Ltd. New steel bilge keels. Steel-plated decks, mahogany wheelhouse, aft cabin coamings and brightwork. Round bilge design, long keel, raked stem and flared bows. Transom stern. Traditional three-quarter break deck design.

Pair fully re-conditioned 60hp GARDNER 4LK DIESEL ENGINES fitted in 2014 with PRM GEARBOXES, new propeller shafts. New VETUS 12-volt BOW THRUSTER.

Characterful, period style, spacious interior incorporating some original mahogany joinery, panelled doors and fittings. Fully foam insulated throughout behind hull ceiling.


FORWARD DOUBLE BERTH CABIN with upholstered berth, portlights.

SALOON with dinette/chart table to starboard, generous settee berths to port providing two berths if required, drawers beneath and tankage below the aft settee. Skylight, opening portlights, access to open plan –

GALLEY having built-in gas cooker, fridge, sink unit, pantry and crockery lockers with work surfaces above.

WHEELHOUSE, helm position to port with instrumentation and controls. Port and starboard side deck doors, crew seating and helm seat. Access down to –

AFT LOBBY, panelled door to starboard –

HEADS COMPARTMENT with flushing marine WC to holding tank. Submarine fold-down washbasin, stainless steel. Portside walk-in locker with ample space for the provision of a shower if required.

AFT STATEROOM, generous berths to port and starboard. Central locker/drawers.


A rare opportunity to purchase one of the larger sized Dunkirk Ships of steel construction, having been renovated/rebuilt from the keel up over a three year period by skilled and knowledgable craftsmen. 90% completed with just a few finishing touches to make this a very practical and desirable motor-yacht. Proven to be a good sea boat and suitable for coastal, estuary or inland waterways cruising. Seriously for sale due to the owner’s ill health.

GUIDE: £60,000

LYING: Ashore – Shropshire