Nicolle Associates act for Vendors in complex sale of D-Day and Dunkirk boats

TWO boats that saw action at the heart of Britain’s struggle in the second world war — one at Dunkirk and one during the D-Day landings — have been saved from the scrapyard or sale abroad in a last-minute bailout by the taxpayer.

Nicolle Associates act for vendor in complex negotiations

Nicolle Associates act for vendor in complex negotiations

The vessels, an RAF rescue boat, high-speed launch 102, and a Royal Navy motor gunboat, MGB 81, lay neglected for decades before being discovered and restored.

They will now be berthed at Portsmouth alongside famous warships such as HMS Victory and HMS Warrior.

We were near to having to consider breaking them up,” said Phil Clabburn, who restored the wrecks with his father, Robin, using their own money. “I also really did not want to sell them abroad as they are a crucial part of British world war two naval history — almost the last reminders of vital episodes.

On Friday the two boats will be handed over to the Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust after their purchase from the Clabburns with £580,000 of public money from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and a further £150,000 from other donors.

High-speed launch 102 was among the 1,500 boats that rescued British troops at Dunkirk. It went on to save airmen who went down in the English Channel during and after the Battle of Britain. It once survived an attack by a German fighter that killed a crewman.

It was serving as a houseboat when Phil Clabburn found it in Dartmouth in 1992. He later bought and restored it.

The Queen Mother, who had visited the boat during the war, relaunched it in 1996 after the restoration. It was later used in the film Enigma, starring Kate Winslet.

MGB 81 was also used as a houseboat before the Clabburns acquired it. It was used on D-Day to support American troops during the bloody battle of Omaha beach.

Gotor Gun Boat "MGB 81" at speed

Adrian Nicolle, broker for the vendors said:

It’s not everyday a vendor asks us to act for them with the sale of two boats which form part of the countries national treasures (Both boats are listed on the Register of Historic Vessels alongside boats like Nelson’s HMS Victory and Queen Mary’s Shallop), this was a complex conveyance which included both Lottery Funding and matched private funding. Our promotion included working with the 2009 Round Briatin Powerboat Race where MGB 81 was the official start and finish line mark boat.

The Clabburn’s have been great custodians of these boats for the Nation and undertook a complete restoration of both boats. We were proud that they entrusted us with the secure transfer of title.

The Clabburns own one other vessel, a Sea Plane Tender which helped to rescue pilots during the Battle of Britain; we have a sale pending on her and some exciting news on her new home will follow shortly.



Click here for – BBC NEWS ARTICLE AND iPLAYER VIDEO – “Restored WWII motorboats on display at Portsmouth”