Summer Programme - Club Speaker - Bill McCallum

Thu 24th August 2017 at 18.30 - 20.30

P.P. Bill McCallum will Address the Club H&R: John Robson & Roy Simpson VoT: Katrina Gibbons

At tonight’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Motherwell and Wishaw, Past President Bill McCallum was the speaker for the club's summer session and he choose for his subject Clyde Paddle Steamers in World War Two.

Twelve Clyde based paddle steamers were requisitioned in 1939 and were originally integrated into six minesweeping flotillas, the 7th to the 12th. Two, Duchess of Rothesay and Kylemore, worked with English Channel paddle steamers in the 10th Flotilla, Jeannie Deans, Caledonia, Mercury, Juno and Jupiter formed the 11th, based in Ardrossan.

The remaining five, Queen-Empress, Duchess of Fife, Eagle III, Marmion and Waverley, were together in the 12th Flotilla, based at Harwich. With Queen-Empress under repairs, the remaining four actively participated in Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Dunkirk.

Of the four ships, Eagle III has the biggest influence on the evacuation being run ashore by her commander to provide a jetty for departing troops. The iconic Dunkirk photograph of troops wading out to a ship and, hopefully, safety was taken from the bridge of Eagle III. She made five round trips, beaching once more, and is credited with evacuating 2,587 troops, not counting the estimated 3/4,000 who crossed her decks to reach other vessels.

Marmion made three trips to the beaches bringing back 745 troops. Duchess of Fife crossed four times, taking off 1,801 troops.

Waverley, after assisting off shore until about 15.30, on 29th May, on the rising tide she approached the stern of Eagle III, leaving with approximately 600 troops. She began her return passage when twelve Heinkels swooped down on her in a concentrated attack. Unfortunately, a bomb struck her on the port quarter and crashed right through the bottom of the ship, leaving a gaping hole. She began to sink rapidly by the stern, taking nearly 400 troops down with her. Ironically, she sank 41 years, to the day, after her launch.

Bill advised that, in summer 1940 there was another call up from the Clyde, the L.N.E.R. paddle steamer Talisman. However, that was a story for another day!!

Katrina Gibbons thanked Bill for his presentation and talk.

The Pigeon Derby winners were Jim Robertson, Andrew Murray and Peter Cleland with Gordon Megahy picking up the weekly bonus ball.

(ALL fields required)