Nautical Ship's Fittings
HMS Minotaur Vice Admiral's Pinnace Badge from a 'Dunkirk Little Ship'
HMS Minotaur was a 14,600-ton armoured cruiser, built in Devonport Dockyard and launched in 1906. On Completion she joined the Royal Navy's 5th Cruiser Squadron in May 1908 but transferred in April the following year to the 1st cruiser Squadron, serving on the China Station until 1914. After the outbreak of World War One, HMS Minotaur escorted Australian troop ships during November 1914 serving at the Cape of Good Hope, as flagship under the command of Vice Admiral Herbert King-Hall. In December she was ordered home and on arrival, Minotaur became flagship of the 7th Cruiser Squadron, under the command of Rear Admiral Arthur Waymouth. In 1916 she then became flagship to the 2nd Cruiser squadron and took part in the Battle of Jutland; she survived the war but was then placed on reserve and was sold for scrap in 1920.
Our plaque features a solid brass (or bronze) Vice Admirals ensign, applied to a later oak shield, with lettering below naming it to HMS Minotaur and dated 1912-1916. This Vice Admiral's badges would originally have been mounted on the bow of the ships Admiral's Pinnace and another would have been fitted on the oposite side. See the attached imaged of a similar set up on HMS Nelson's Admirals Pinnace. The story does not end in 1920 as Minotaur's Pinnace survived and in 1929, she was located at Chatham Dockyard and purchased by the Sea Scouts association. Restored over 2 years she served with the Scouts until WWII, when she was again requisitioned for military service. In May 1940 'Minotaur' took part in the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (B. E. F) from the Dunkirk beaches, as part of 'Operation Dynamo' and thus became one of the "Dunkirk Little Ships". She survived WWII and was returned to the Scouts in 1945 but was sold by them in 1948 to a private owner and was based at Heybridge Basin, near Maldon, Essex. Her story thereafter is a little hazy but in 1978, the 'Little Ship' was hauled out of the water for repair, which unfortunately led to breaking her 'back' and her keel was fractured. It was decided the historic vessel was beyond economic repair and she was burnt.
It can be seen our plaque is of great historic interest with a story that extends through service in WWI, to a significant contribution as a Dunkirk Little Ship in WWII and direct associations with the Sea Scout movement. It is unclear when the plaque was removed from the pinnace but pictures of her in WWII (see final image attached) do not show it in situ so is likely to have been removed when Minotaur ceased to be a flagship or possibly when she was broken up. The shield measures 12" x 8" (31 cm x 20 cm) and the flying ensign is finished in its original paint, with sections of the brass showing through. The oak shield remains sound, with some age wear to the varnish. This represents a one of opportunity to purchase and own a unique piece of Royal Naval /Scouting history with 'Operation Dynamo' associations thrown in for good measure!