The mystery of a Navy vehicle that “doesn’t exist” - just like the Manea owner’s father in law who served in the Navy in the Second World War

The dockyard matey at Manea

The dockyard matey at Manea - Credit: Archant

A quirky vehicle used by the Royal Navy to load supplies on and off boats is being restored to its former glory by its new owner who says its history is mysteriously lost - just like his father in law was in the second world war.

The dockyard matey at Manea

The dockyard matey at Manea - Credit: Archant

Paul Finney bought the dockyard matey last month from a neighbour who had it as a project.

Previously it was in a Norfolk barn for years where a farmer planned to restore it but had never got round to the job.

Paul, of Manea, said: “It’s a really quirky vehicle, I can’t wait until it is road legal.

“My only problem is tracing its history. I know it was made in 1986 and is a series six but for some reason, despite all the relevant paperwork and numbers matching up, nobody can track its background, it’s as if it doesn’t exist.”

The dockyard matey at Manea

The dockyard matey at Manea - Credit: Archant


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The plot takes a fresh twist of history disappearing when you learn about Paul’s father in law Charles Martin who was in the Royal Navy in the Second World War.

In 1943 he managed to mysteriously “disappear”.

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Paul said: “Charlie was wounded in action and hospitalised on Malta. But the Navy forgot about him.

“When he got out of hospital he went to report for duty and they said, what are you doing here. For some reason they had no paperwork and couldn’t trace him - just like we can’t now trace this Navy vehicle - it is intriguing!”

The Government’s Disposal Services Authority, that deal with decommissioned military vehicles, is currently trying to find out the Dockyard matey’s past.

The vehicle was made by the now defunct FMW Engineering in Dorset and has both a V5 and NATO service number - but no certificate of origin.

“It will be great to know it’s background,” said Paul, who also owns five classic Capris.

“For now I’m working on getting it on the road and taking it out for trips to the village shops or offering it to the local sea scouts to use for things like parades.”

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