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Whitstable at War - World War II

The War Effort


Whitstable Contributions….


Whitstable's work places and skilled workforce were called upon to help the war effort. In particular, the boatyards played an important role....


A number of MFVs (Motor Fishing Vessels were commissioned by the Admiralty for shore work - mostly in the Far East.  They were shipped abroad on the decks of larger vessels. 

John Harman 


These vessels could be seen on the slipways of the Anderson Rigden and Perkins boatyard....



The year is 1943 and the location of the photo is the Anderson Rigden and Perkins boatyard...


Photo kindly supplied by John Harman


It shows two MFVs being built.  The furthest one away, is at the head of the slipway and almost ready for launching.  After launch, the nearest one would be moved over to take its place and a new keel laid for another new boat to be built in the vacant spot.

In the background, you can see the cabin and mast of the old Vigilant barge.... along with the masts of the smacks (Gamecock, Rosa & Ada and Wild Rose). 

The gantry/gallows (top right of the photo) were used to lower the engines into a new vessels.

The two men onboard are. . . Stan Waters and Harold Wilson.   These names appear on the back of the snap. There is no name for the shipwright standing in the foreground but I could hazard a guess that it is Charlie Humphrey.

John Harman


Secret Work?....


Some work was a little less public.....


In wartime, Les Wood's yard was 'off limits' - reputedly doing some sort of 'secret' war work. Being 'off limits' I naturally investigated. Tucked into the back 'town' side corner were 2 hydroplane style race boats plus another 'normal' type racer. I think the latter appeared at a post war regatta. 

Brian Smith


The Troc at Tankerton ceased to be a cinema at the start of the war. It was then used by Fitts to do secret war work. The front area became a fire station. 

John Harman 


Maritime Contributions...


At present, we do not know the extent to which Whitstable's active vessels were involved in wartime service or if any took part in the evacuation at Dunkerque. However, it seems that at least one of the oyster fleet assisted in early wartime operations before being beached near the Vigilant....


We do not know much about the Rosa & Ada war years but I was approached in Bangor ( Northern Ireland) some years ago by a retired bomb disposal officer who recognised the boat as the vessel which supplied them aboard a trawler anchored in the Thames early in the War while watching for magnetic mines. That’s all he could tell me. 

Duncan Baillie 


The Rosa and Ada survived the war and is now owned and operated in Scottish waters by Duncan. More details can be obtained by visiting... .


School Contributions....


The war effort involved everyone and schools were determined to play their part and reward achievement..... 


How many ex Oxford Street Boys School readers remember the wartime "paper saving" drive. We were given a card denoting the military rank we had achieved according to the amount of waste paper collected.  

As we collected more paper, we could progress through the army ranks from Private to Field Marshall. I made Captain but think perhaps it was Brian Bishop (now in NZ) who did better. 

One of ‘my group’ of playmates made Field Marshall although I can’t recall if that was Brian, Tony Campbell, the late Alan ‘Titch’ Weller or Dave Carpenter. 

It was probably Dave who lived in Suffolk Street which I recall as a tight, close supportive community.... and  much more convenient for such things than the few scattered neighbours of my Stanley Rd.

Brian Smith
Hoppers Crossing


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