GUERNSEY HISTORY 

3rd May 1947
“Twink” goes missing on its way to Guernsey

When Twink, a 30ft yacht captained by Peter Hellyer of Beverley, Yorkshire, went missing on its way to the Channel Islands, it sparked a full-scale air and sea search.

Hellyer, a 24-year-old pilot of the Air Fleet Arm, left Lulworth Cove on 3 May. He’d given the impression he was heading for Brixham harbour.

Whether his plans changed, or he’d never intended to do as he said it unclear. However, his actual target was Guernsey. At the time, only he was aware of that fact. As far as the rest of the world was concerned, Hellyer and Twink had disappeared as soon as they’d left Dorset.

Major sea search

The RAF sent out rescue planes, and the navy dispatched a frigate, the Burgh Head Bay. Over two days, the aircraft flew more than 5000 miles, and the frigate covered 500 miles. Neither of their crews saw a thing and the search was called off on the assumption – or hope – that Hellyer had reached a French port or was heading north to Yorkshire.

There had been a brief moment of hope when a burnt-out boat was found drifting close to Twink’s intended route. Although its state was far from encouraging, it might at least have given Hellyer’s family some closure.

But the boat wasn’t Twink. At 50ft, it was almost twice as long, and the family was kept waiting a full week longer.

All shipping in the Channel was given Twink’s description (mahogany underneath, white on top) and asked to keep an eye out in case they should spot it.

Twink reappears

Nobody did see Twink she arrived in St Peter Port. By then, it was Friday, 10 May, and Hellyer had been missing for a week.

Upon tying he up, he was bemused to discover that his trip had caused such a fuss. He believed, rightly, that with the war over the previous year, all restrictions had been lifted. Hellyer hadn’t thought it necessary to tell anyone that he intended to sail to Guernsey.

He spent the weekend on the island, then turned back and headed for home.

Category: Guernsey History | Other events tagged ,

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