Bunhill: Forgotten veteran deserves better

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The Independent Online
SPARE a thought this weekend for poor Cordelia, the gallant little war veteran left to rot in a shipyard on the River Weaver in Cheshire while her owner fights fraud charges.

Fifty-four years ago today this 'gentleman's motor yacht', like hosts of other little ships, helped lift British soldiers off the Dunkirk beaches. According to the official records Cordelia 'ferried 300 troops from the beach to off-lying ships. The port engine had already seized up when the starboard propeller was fouled by the mass of flotsam that made navigation so hazardous'.

Happily, the gallant Cordelia was rescued and towed back to England.

Twelve years later she had recovered sufficiently to return to Dunkirk to play herself alongside the late Jack Hawkins in the film Operation Dynamo.

Cordelia's owner, Liverpudlian James Keith Fuller, had hoped to get the boat overhauled for the 50th anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuation four years ago. Unfortunately, the law intervened in the shape of the Serious Fraud Office.

Fuller is one of the two men accused of obtaining pounds 2.3m from the crashed Belling electrical firm by falsely representing that the money was an advance payment of interest on a pounds 50m loan. The two are also accused of acquiring money from Danish and Russian firms through 'false representations'.

Although Fuller is now out on bail awaiting trial, he obviously has more on his mind than the fate of his boat and has not been seen at the Weaver shipyard for several years. 'Unless something gets done soon,' said one of the yachtsmen working in the boatyard, 'she'll be a goner. She's dried out and opened up at all her seams.' Shouldn't there be a fund for such neglected veterans?

(Photographs omitted)

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