Mona’s Isle on ferry service between Douglas and Belfast.


Mona’s Isle (Originally named Onward. Changed to Mona’s Isle in 1920)

Type:                     Packet Steamer
Route:                   1905–1918: Folkestone to Boulogne.
                               1920–1948: Douglas to Dublin/Belfast. (Summer)
Builder:                  William Denny and Brothers, Dumbarton.
Built:                      1905
I.D. Number:         125122
Fate:                        Survived the war and scrapped in1948, Milfort Haven
Weight:                   1,691 tons.
Length:                   311 feet 2 in (94.8 m)
Width:                    40 feet 1 in (12.2 m)
Depth:                    16 feet 6 in (5.0 m)
Speed:                    22 knots (41 km/h)
Compliment:         70 Crew
                                1,479 passengers.

While on service between Folkestone to Boulogne in 1918,  she caught fire and was scuttled to put out the fire. She lay on her side in Folkestone Harbour and in 1920 was righted and sold to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

5th September 1940. ADM208/3-The Red List (Minor War Vessels in Home Waters as of 4pm 15/09/1940).
NORE COMMAND.
​Sheerness
Harbour Defence Patrol Craft.
Mona’s Isle, Aisha, Amalfi, Caleta, Caterina, Chrystobel II, Clorinde, Glala, Majesta, Ma Joie II, and Janetha IV.

27 August 1939 the Mona’s Isle was requisitioned as an Armed Board Vessel and based at Wildfire, Sheerness.

9 pm 27 May 1940. When the Admiralty signalled “Operation Dynamo is to commence” HMS Mona’s Isle had the honour of being the first rescue ship to leave for Dunkirk sailing from the Downs at 2116. (The destroyer HMS Wolsey which left at 1930 to act as a Wireless Telephone link ship was the first vessel to leave.)

HMS Mona’s Isle was the first ship to complete a round trip during the evacuation of Dunkirk (Operation Dynamo), rescuing a total of 2,634 troops in two trips.

The Mona's Isle departed Dover at sixteen minutes past nine P.M. on the 27 May 1940 heading for Dunkirk. She was the first rescue ship to leave for Dunkirk and arrived off Dunkirk harbour at around 04.00 on the 28 May 1940.

The orders received by her captain had been "Proceed to Dunkirk and Naval Officer in Charge there will give you instructions as to what will be required of you".   

On arrival at Dunkirk the Mona’s Isle was unable to make contact with the shore and on seeing a French Destroyer leaving the harbour she entered the harbour and tied up at the quayside.  As she entered the harbour, the ships there came under air attack. Every ship opened up with their anti-aircraft guns but the German planes were difficult to see because of the smoke from the burning oil tanks.

The Mona’s Isle tied up at the Quayside in front of a V and W class Destroyer. (this was probably HMS Vivacious, another Sheerness ship which was there at that time) but when no officers arrived to give them orders it was decided to turn the Mona’s Isle around to make it easier and quicker to leave. During this manoeuvre a French ship tried to berth in the same place.

Dunkirk harbour had sustained a great deal of bomb damage with debris everywhere and the British Destroyer looked battle stained.

The morning of 28th May 40. At 0530 exhausted British troops from many different units began to arrive at the quayside. They boarded the Mona’s Isle in an orderly manner and when their commanding Officer arrived she cleared the harbour at 7 o’clock with 1,420 troops on board sailed for Dover on the morning of the 28 May 1940.

The Mona’s Queen was in Dunkirk Harbour as they left. The following day the Mona's Isle's sister ship, the Mona's Queen, detonated a mine at Dunkirk and sunk at 05.30 on 29 May 1940. There was some confusion with the similar names and Mona’s Isle was reported as sunk, no doubt giving those waiting at home some very anxious moments until this mistake was rectified.

MONA'S ISLE

Armed Boarding Vessel. ​

HMS Mona’s Isle was requisitioned by the Admiralty on the 28th August 1939 and was based at HMS Wildfire, Sheerness as a Harbour Defence Patrol Craft. She played a major role in rescuing troops from Dunkirk. In October 1940 she was transferred to the Rosyth command as an Anti-Aircraft Ship.  

Dunkirk, the aftermath, from where the Mona’s Isle rescued British Troops.

The Mona’s Isle returned by Route “Z” which passed the French coast and by this time the German army had reached the coast. Ahead of the Mona’s Isle a hospital ship, carrying wounded troops came under fire from the shore.  This was probably the Hospital Ship Dinard with 271 stretcher cases on board which was attacked in that area on that date.

The Captain ordered the chief engineer (Lieutenant H Kelly R.N.R) to give all possible speed. Just then and Mona’s Isle came under heavy fire from shore batteries. Shells straddled the Mona’s Isle and several hit her but appeared to cause little damage. The Mona’s Isle altered course to starboard taking her further away from the guns.

While the damage was being assessed eight German aircraft, Me109’s armed with machine guns and cannon, were observed circling overhead. One by one they peeled off the make strafing runs.

Thirty troops and crew were killed and sixty wounded on board the Mona’s Isle. Lieutenant Neave was wounded by shell fragments and one rating A/B Bushnell was killed and five others wounded.

The Mona’s Isle didn’t carry a doctor or sick bay attendants but the wounded received help from their friends. Later, the Surgeon and Sick Bay Attendants from HMS Windsor boarded with medical supplied to attend the wounded.

One of the shells had hit the Mona’s Isle’s tele-motor pipes and rendering the rudder inoperable. The life boats had all been damaged and were unusable. Steam pipes and wiring including the W/T set wireless aerial were damaged.

By using her port and starboard engines to steer by adjusting the speed of the screws the Mona’s Isle was able to reach Dover. Congestion in Dover Harbour caused a delay. She was towed into Dover by tugs LADY BRASSEY and SIMLA.

After a trip of 15 hours the Mona’s Isle was the first ship to complete a round trip during the evacuation.

Despite her ordeal, after repairs, the Mona’s Isle departed again for Dunkirk.

Sunday, 2 June 1940

Mona's Isle made a second round trip to Dunkirk, bringing home a further 1,200 troops, and bringing her total to 2,634 troops rescued from Dunkirk.  On this trip she was again damaged by the near miss from German bombing.

AWARDS:

DSO, Distinguished Service Order.

The Mona’s Isle 12 pound gun crew suffered casualties but despite this and although sustaining several wounds Petty Officer L. B. Kearley-Pope R.N.R remained at his post returning fire at the enemy. Although wounded he remained at his post until the Mona’s Isle arrived at Dover six hours later.  He also took great risk by leaving cover to close cordite (high explosives) “ready use” lockers in the 12 pounder gun enclosure after the crew were knocked out.  He received the Distinguished Service Medal.

DSC, Distinguished Service Cross.

The Mona’s Isle’s Commanding Officer, Commander J. C. K. Dowding R.N.R, received the Distinguished Service Cross.

October 1940. The Mona’s Isle was transferred to the Rosyth command after a refit and conversion to an AA ship. She was reported to have been in several collisions and spent some time under repair which probably explains her absence from the Navy List in 1944 and 1945.

Albert Burrow relates how he was separated from his unit in Belgium and eventually made it back to Dunkirk. With fires blazing all around and German planes attacking from the skies they disabled their Lorry and picking their way through the rubble and found a cellar to shelter in. At night they were told to get down to the Mole where a ship would be waiting. With 400 Golden Flake cigarettes from a soon to be abandoned NAFFI he boarded the Mona’s Isle. The ship was crowded with standing room only and no life jackets.

The Mona's Isle travelled down the coast shells fired from the shore began to hit the ship. Then the planes came and strafed the ship with cannon shells. Thirty were killed and dozens wounded. There was nowhere to dodge  as it was so crowded. It took ten hours to reach Dover as shells had damaged the steering. As we left we saw the funnels were riddled with cannon shell holes. Luckily for us the German planes didn’t have bombs. It was hard to believe we were home when just a few miles away our friends were striving to get off the Dunkirk beaches.

OFFICERS ON THE NAVY LIST Dec 1939

Commander, R.N.R., J. C. K. Dowding, RD. 5 Sept 39
Lieut.-Com., R.N.R., T. W. Stevens, 9 Sept 39
Lieutenant, R.N.R., E. H. Lynes, 9 Sep 39
Temp. Lieut. (E), R.N.R., H. Kelly, Nov 39
Sub-Lieutenant, R.N.R., A. R. Y. Neave, 9 Sept 39
Temp. Sub-Lieut. (E), C. J. S. Curphy, Sept 39
Temp. Sub-Lieut. (E), A. J. Corkhill, Sept 39.

OFFICERS ON THE NAVY LIST Aug 1940

Commander, R.N.R., J. C. K. Dowding, RD. 5 Sept 39
Lieut.-Com., R.N.R., T. W. Stevens, 9 Sept 39
Lieutenant, R.N.R., A. R. Y. Neave, 9 Sept 39
Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., D. Thorp, 15 Mar 40
Temp. Lieut. (E), R.N.R., H. Kelly, Nov 39
Sub-Lieut., R.N.R., A. D. Hayes, 30 May 40
Temp. Sub-Lieut. (E), C. J. S. Curphy, Sept 39
Temp. Sub-Lieut. (E), A. J. Corkhill, Sept 39.

OFFICERS ON THE NAVY LIST June 1941

Commander, R.N.R., A. I. Robertson, RD 9 Jan 41
Lieutenant, R.N.R., A. R. Y. Neave, 9 Sept 39
Lieutenant, R.N.R., C. F. Mason 2 Apr 41
Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., D. Thorp, 15 Mar 40
Temp. Lieut. (E), R.N.R., H. Kelly, Nov 39
Temp. Sub-Lieut. (E), R.N.R., C. J. S. Curphy, Sept 39
Temp. Sub-Lieut. (E), R.N.R., E. L. Richardson, 24 Mar 41
Temp. Sub-Lieut. (E), R.N.V.R., L. A. Elliott (act) 24 Sept 40
Temp. Sub-Lieut. (E), R.N.V.R., J. A. Wilkinson (act) 29 Sept
Temp. Sub-Lieut. (E), R.N.V.R., V. P. McKieran 28 Sept 40
Temp. Sub-Lieut. (E), R.N.V.R., D. Thomas 6 Oct 40
Temp. Act.  Sub-Lieut. (E), R.N.V.R., V. P. McKernan, 4 May 41.

OFFICERS ON THE NAVY LIST June 1942

Commander R.N.R. J. H. Blair, DSO. RD (ret). 5 May 42
Lieutenant, R.N.R. D. F. Clarke, 2 Feb 42
Temp. Lieut., R.N.R., J. R. Shingleton-Smith. 4 Nov 41
Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., D. Thorp, 15 Mar 40
Temp. Sub-Lieut., R.N.V.R., A. E. Dunk 12 Jan 42
Temp. Sub-Lieut., R.N.V.R., S. H. Brown 20 Jan 42
Temp. Sub-Lieut. (E), R.N.V.R., V. P. McKieran 28 Sept 40
Temp. Sub-Lieut. (E), R.N.V.R., D. Thomas 6 Oct 40
Temp. Sub-Lieut. (E), R.N.V.R. F. G. Leslie (act) 29 Sept 41
Temp Act. Sub-Lieut.(E) R.N.V.R., W. O. Williams, 14 Mar 42

OFFICERS ON THE NAVY LIST June 1943

Commander R.N.R. J. H. Blair, DSO. RD (ret). 5 May 42
Temp. Lieut., R.N.R., J. R. Shingleton-Smith. 4 Nov 41
Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., D. Thorp, 15 Mar 40
Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., L. C. Head, 26 Nov 42.
Temp. Sub-Lieut. (E), R.N.V.R., I. McCartney, 17 Aug 42.
Temp Act. Sub-Lieut.(E) R.N.V.R., W. O. Williams, 14 Mar 42

OFFICERS ON THE NAVY LIST June 1944

NOT ON LIST.

OFFICERS ON THE NAVY LIST August 1945

NOT ON LIST.


If you, your father or your grandfather have any additional information about this ship, crew lists, stories, photographs, please send copies of them to be added to our records and this website.

Thank you.

Contact: Johntenthousand@yahoo.co.uk

RETURN TO SHIP DATABASE.
Click here


RETURN TO FRONT PAGE.
Click here