The small boat Diana is part of the Jersey Heritage Historic Fleet and has been fully restored by Jersey Heritage's boat shop crew and the Friends of the Jersey Maritime Museum. She has now been retired from life at sea and is the centrepiece of an exhibition dedicated to this small boat with a big story.
Amongst her rich and varied experiences the one that stands out is the part she played in Operation Ariel - the evacuation of Allied troops from Western France in June 1940. Less well known than than the Dunkirk evacuation three weeks earlier, Diana was one of the twenty 'little boats' from Jersey that were sailed down to assist in the evacuation of some 20,000 allied troops from St Malo. Altogether Ariel successfully evacuated just under 200,000 troops back to England.
Diana was brought to Jersey in 1919 by Harold Benest, the Lloyd's Shipping agent and she became a familiar sight around St Helier harbour. Following Harold's death in 1949, her new owner Philip Le Clerq moved her to La Rocque and Gorey on the east coast. In the 1990s Jack Le Gresley bought her and it was his widow, Helen, who donated Diana to the newly opened Maritime Museum.
At the end of the 2014 boating season, after well over a century in the water, it was decided to bring Diana ashore and display her as a tribute to all those little boats and the people who enjoy messing about in them that are and have been such an integral part of Jersey's heritage.
Above: June 2000 - Diana in St Malo to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the evacuation.
Left: Summer 1931 Diana leaving St Aubin harbour.