This website is dedicated to BREDA (previously Dab II) a 52′ express cruiser which, in May 1940, took part in Operation Dynamo. Between 28th May and 4th June 1940 approximately 338,000 British, French and Dutch troops were evacuated from Dunkirk. Approximately one third of these were taken off the beaches by small boats.
Claud Hardie DSO was incensed when the Royal Navy simply informed him by telephone that they had taken his motor yacht Dab II from the canal basin at Heybridge, on the river Blackwater in Essex, to take part in Operation Dynamo. His anger did not stem from a lack of patriotic fervour, but from the understandable feeling that he should have been given a chance to go with her. In fact, few of the owners went with the Little Ships.
Most vessels were commanded and manned by the Royal Navy. Dab II was taken to Dunkirk by Lieut. R. W. Thompson, RNVR, who crossed the Channel no less than three times in six days.
On his last return journey he brought back a load of Dutch soldiers who came from Breda, in Holland. They had fought a gallant rearguard action westward to Dunkirk, driven by the weight of the German advance.
Painted battleship grey, Dab II served as a patrol boat based in Marchwood, Southampton ferrying the Army working on the Mulberry harbours in preperation for D-Day.
In 1947 she was returned to Claud Hardie, who then decided that her name was unsuitable for a ship of her size and distinguished war record. But he thought it might be unlucky to change a ship’s name altogether. So he called her Breda, which ingeniously retained all the letters in her original name and commemorated the Dutch soldiers she had rescued.
BREDA was also ‘MS Polotska’ and the ‘Gunrunners Boat’ in the 1960s TV series “The Prisoner”, starring Patrick McGoohan.