Parts of this page are copied from: The page was in French, so I have taken the liberty of translating it using software - apologies for the low standard of the translation...

HMS Narcissus / Grive

The Narcissus travelling in front of Cowes, England.

Narcissus was one of the first yachts to use turbines with vapour. It was equipped with two during its construction in 1905. They were replaced by two diesel engines Sulzer in 1928. Here is an image of Narcissus travelling in front of Cowes. Built by the building site 'Fairfield Ship & Engineering Co Ltd.' from Glasgow in 1905. Tonnage: 687 to 816 barrels according to the sources, Length: 67.9m, Width: 8.4m, Draught: 4.7m.

Narcissus was conceived by the same building site as the Spanish royal yacht  'Giralda', of 1664 tons built in 1894. The 'Giralda' had a particularly broad chimney which gave the impression of being not very powerful, contrary to the 'Narcissus', in spite of its speed of 22.5 knots.

The building site 'Farfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Company' goes down from the building site 'J.Elder & Co.' from Glasgow which is at the origin of the 'Torfrida', a yacht with vapour of 168 tons, built in 1881 for R.G.Duff. The building site ' Fairfield' also built the three 'Torfridas' Lady for 'Sir William Pearce', one of the directors of the building site.

Narcissus was built for 'E Miller Mundy' of Shipley Hall, Derby' who was the owner until 1919. He was member of the 'Royal Yacht Squadron'. This yacht was one of the first to be equipped with turbines with vapour which gave him a significant sphere of activity.

The ship was used as an auxiliary patrol craft during the First World War (13/01/1915 to 27/02/1919). It was commanded by the famous Captain 'J.P.Rolleston' and named 'HMS Narcissus II'. It was equipped with two guns of 12.
September 7, 1917, the yacht escorted 'SS Mandalay' when the crew saw a German U-Boat passing in a field of moon light. Narcissus opened fire although to 700 and hit the base of the tower. U-Boat dived and the first load of depth of the yacht does not succeed in leaving. Rolleston desired to rearm but he received orders from the admiralty not to. The submarine was the U.B. 49, under the command of the captain 'Hans von Mellenthin', who limped to Cadiz for repairs before returning to Germany.

After the war, the yacht was sold with the company 'Embricos Brothers' and was recorded in Athens.

In 1927, it was bought by Captain Charles Oswald Liddell who had it refitted in a splendid style by the building site 'Camper & Nicholson' of Southampton. The following photographs show the quality of accomplished work.

Narcissus2.jpg (57731 bytes) The main cabin on the Narcissus. The Narcissus dining room laid for ten, with furnishings from Shirenewton Hall. Narcissuss3.jpg (65469 bytes) The saloon on the Narcissus. Note the sofa bathed in sunlight from the glass skylight above. (click thumbnails to enlarge)

The building site 'Camper & Nicholson' of  Northam, Southampton, started in 1912 and closed in 1979. The company at the origin of this building site had begun in 1780 in Gosport. Francis Amos had taken William Camper on as apprentice in 1809, Camper in turn had engaged Benjamin Nicholson in 1842. Here the origin of this name of well-known building site renowned throughout the world for the smoothness and quality of its work.

Captain Liddell was elected to the 'Royal Yacht Squadron'  in 1924. He was also the owner of the yacht 'Osprey' built on the building site 'Ailsa Shipbuilding Co.' of 'Troon' in 1902 according to the drawing of G.L. Watson. Liddell lived in 'Shirenewton Hall, Chepstow' and sailed much on this yacht. He is also known to have spent time after WWII living on another yacht, the 'Migrant', in the South of France, mainly due to his failing health - he lost a lung due to gas in World War One. 

In 1940 it was requisitioned for the evacuation of the English Task force. Narcissus, renamed 'Grive' by admiralty, was one of the largest yachts to attend in the rescue at Dunkirk. It was equipped for underwater anti hunting and had a crew of 43. It was also equipped with two guns of 12. It evacuated 1100 to 2000 men (according to the sources) on 3 journeys. On May 31, 1940 it was moored beside the quay with the destroyers Venemous, Whitehall and Winchelsea and at 19:10 about sixty German planes attacked them. The ships weighed anchor and Grive and Whitehall collided. Grive hit a mine whilst making a run for the harbour mouth. The Captain in retirement "Lionel Lambert" had taken to sea with his personal cook, and it sank with all crew.

Current Description:
In the southern limit of the channel, very near to the coast and buoy DW27, just to the west of Dunkirk harbour mouth. The visibility is often reduced there, with the result that this wreck is not visited very often, which is a shame because I think that much remains to be discovered. The name of this wreck is almost confirmed by the parts of crockery seen on the wreck and engraved in the original name of "Narcissus". However, the name of "Sailing ship" was often allotted to her considering the shape of her hull.
The following sketch is very brief, I acknowledge. It shows the points which I could note at the time of my dive on this wreck: 2 propellers and a rudder in a very dark impression, a gun on the back bridge, a break in the middle, and an anchor lying on the sand at the bow.

Diver's sketch of the Narcissus wreck.   Location of wreck:  51.03.72 N/2.18.55 E