Funnel Uplighter from the Count Dracula – World War 1 and also World War 2!!!
At 1700 hrs on the 21st June 2019, 100 years ago, the SS Hindenburg sank beneath the waves at Scapa Flow after being scuttled by her crew. Her Admiral’s Pinnace – The Count Dracula managed to free itself from her davits and break free from the sinking capital ship of the German Imperial Navy. This is the funnel from that Little Ship of Dunkirk converted to a stunning uplighter.
The solid brass funnel from the Admiral’s pinnace Count Dracula from the German Imperial Navy, salvaged by the Royal Navy at Scapa Flow during the scuttling of the German Imperial Fleet. The very same vessel would later be used to help rescue the British Expiditionary Force from the beaches of Dunkirk in May 1940.
”Make: Paragraph eleven. Confirm”
The signal they had been expecting and waiting for came at 11:20 hrs.
It had been a bitter war and negotiations for the Armistice were complicated and increasingly convoluted. The Grand German Imperial fleet lay at anchor at Scapa Flow languishing in defeat.
Although this proud fleet had inflicted far greater casualties and losses upon the British Fleet the seventy plus ships awaited an ignominious fate.
The battleship SMS Hindenburg, the third and last of her class opened her hull valves complying with the signal.
Having survived the Battle of Jutland and the last capital ship of German Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy) she began to sink. Sacrificed by Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter to ensure they did not get divided amongst the Allies.
A witness to this period of history would have been lost had she not broken free of her davits and remained afloat.
A gift from Kaiser Wilhelm II to Admiral Von Hipper the Klasse A Motorbeiboot ‘Count’ was his admiral’s barge which he took to every ship he sailed in. He also used her when he left his flag ship SMS Lutzow when she was rendered in-operable during the Battle of Jutland. She followed him to the Grand Battle Cruiser SMS Hindenburg.
The Count was one of first small craft to be fitted with oil combustion engines. Previously, triple expansion steam engines were installed. The German navy first identified the advantages in 1911, resulting in the redesign of the dampfbeiboot (steam launch) to accept diesel units, entering service in 1913/14. The advantages being a significant reduction in weight due to removal of boiler and a higher calorific value fuel, instant usability, reduction in crew and a small smoke/exhaust signature.
She was salvaged by the Royal Navy and sold into private hands. Owned by Carl Greiner and used as a private yacht. He was pleased with her turn of speed and superior build quality. It was not long before she entered into the
next chapter of history.
In May 1940, by order of the War Department, Mr Greiner sent his son Alan to take her to Ramsgate, where she was handed over to the Royal Navy. The Admiralty had put a call out to all those with small boat and mechanical experience to make themselves available at Ramsgate and other coastal ports. ‘Count Dracula’ was assigned to none other than L.P. (Pat) Driscoll, the Brooklands motorcycle ace and Austin Works Team driver/tuner. He was an excellent sailor and had won many races in his gaff-rigged Westmacott designed X-Boat with the Royal Motor Yacht Club at Poole. The Daily Mirror newspaper reporter Ewart Brookes must have twigged the eminent commander of Count Dracula and found his way on board, playing along with the commander and mechanic’s charade.
They set off with three days rations, fuel and two 35ft lifeboats in tow and made their way to Dunkirk. They spent seventeen hours pulling troops from the beaches and ferrying them to larger ships, lifting 702 British as well as 10 Belgian soldiers.
She ended up quite well armed, having collected, with her troops, three Brens and one French Hotchkiss machine gun, which enabled them to have a shot or two at the Stuka dive bombers.
Now the Count Dracula is being restored to her former glory. The years have taken their toll and not everything can be repaired or returned to her. One of these pieces is her funnel,the same short stack that has witnessed some of the most critical points of history in both the First and Second World Wars.
And from the darkness of war comes light. This piece centres around a solid brass funnel from the World War One
admiral’s barge Count Dracula. The funnel is painted and retains her original World War Two red and black colour scheme having been mounted on a solid teak base made of salvaged timbers from the transom of the ‘Count’ herself.
The funnel is suspended above the base using a stainless-steel pillar. This has been custom made and designed
to ensure the originality of the funnel is not diminished in any way and preserve it in the same condition as when it was removed from the vessel.
Lighting is provided by an LED downlight strip to provide a curtain wash of light over the base on a separate supply with gold braid cable and foot operated floor switch. Ten dimmable LED lamps and four below provide the stunning and dramatic light from both the top and bottom of the funnel. The power supply for this and control is provided using custom rope cabling and a foot operated floor dimmer.
The funnel is finished with a World War One Imperial Navy Eagle mounted to the top highlighting her origins. The base shows the history of repairs carried out over the decades including both her numerous layers of paint and an old fibreglass repair.
A brass plate bearing her name is mounted onto the transom step in the same style as her bow insignia, while the edge is trimmed with the Dunkirk Medal ribbon to commemorate and thank this Little Ship for the 712 lives she saved from the beaches in May 1940.
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