17 September 2004
A Second World War M.B.E. group of four awarded to Acting Temporary Lieutenant-Commander (E.) C. F. I. Coggins, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve: as a civilian engineer aboard the motor yacht “Marsayru”, he was “mentioned” for his services off Dunkirk in 1940
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, M.B.E. (Military) Member’s 2nd type breast badge, in its Royal Mint case of issue; 1939-45 Star; Defence and War Medals, M.I.D. oak leaf, with Admiralty forwarding certificate for the campaign issues, good very fine or better (4) £250-300
M.B.E. London Gazette 13 June 1946.
Mention in despatches London Gazette 16 August 1940. The original recommendation states:
‘This civilian kept the engines of this motor yacht [the Marsayru] running the whole time, in spite of the propeller being fouled frequently and the continuous running required. He also put the engines of several other boats to rights when they broke down. He ably assisted the Skipper throughout the operations.’
Further information and an illustration of the dutch-built motor yacht Marsayru may be found in Russell Plummer’s definitive record, The Ships That Saved an Army, A Comprehensive Record of the 1300 “Little Ships” of Dunkirk, which states:
‘Served as an Army Personnel Yacht prior to crossing from Sheerness on 31 May under the command of her civilian skipper G. D. Oliver, together with the Chatham Dockyard lighters X 213 and X 217, and Sheerness lighter X 149. Two of the lighters were lost and the other ran aground as the vessels came under air attack off Malo-les-Bains, but the Marsayru was able to transfer 200 French troops to larger ships, Mr. Olivier later being awarded the D.S.M. Whilst being taken back to Britain empty, Marsayru’s tow broke and, in darkness, the yacht drifted away. She was found near La Panne next day and boarded by Sub-Lieutenant T. E. Goodwin, R.N.V.R., and after taking on 19 troops waited until nightfall to be towed to Ramsgate by a trawler. Marsayru appears to have crossed again on 2 June and was machine-gunned for almost half an hour until the attacking German aircraft were chased off by R.A.F. Hurricanes. First registered in Gloucester and capable of 11 knots, new machinery was fitted in 1947 and the present B.M.C. oil engines were installed in 1962. She was renamed Billowin in 1955 but the present owner, Gareth Roe, restored the original name in December 1987. A.D.L.S. member.’
Of the incident with enemy aircraft on 2 June 1940, A. D. Divine states in his history Dunkirk:
‘Marsayru also was again working the beaches today, and at one time, the nearest ship being about two and a half miles away, she was attacked by four Messerschmitts who machine-gunned her ineffectually for half and hour from a height of more than 2000 feet. At the end of the half-hour three Hurricanes came in sight and the Messerschmitts left at speed. Marsayru took off altogether in her various crossings some 400 French soldiers.’
Sold with the recipient’s original Buckingham Palace forwarding letter for the M.B.E.