No images of Glala have been found from before 1920 but there is an intriguing photograph of a Sopwith Bat-Boat undergoing trials over Cowes harbour in 1913. The big boat on the right is almost certainly the sister vessel Mayfair. Pictures of Mayfair give us a good idea of Glala's earliest appearance - a flush deck, no wheelhouse and no funnel.
A Sopwith Bat Boat over Cowes harbour, 1913 [Westland Aerospace Ltd]
Mayfair was similar to Glala but somewhat shorter, possibly around 55 or 60 feet. She was built earlier, in 1913, and appears to have been owned by the Olympic sportsman Hannibal Fegth from the outset. She was requisitioned by the Royal Navy and is mentioned in the Admiralty records;
Monday 19 April 1915
MAYFAIR, naval motor boat No.1, hired 1914, Lt Edward Martin RNVR. Darkened and on patrol in Firth of Forth, W of Inchkeith in approaches to Rosyth, spotted at 2033 by also darkened and patrolling torpedo boat TB.32 which put engines full astern and helm hard a starboard, but hit Mayfair the starboard side, sinking her; no lives lost, all crew picked up by TB.32's boat(s).
Mayfair continued to be listed until 1919, either a clerical error or she was possibly salvaged.
[Admiralty records ADM.137/107, ADM.53/64641]
Mayfair certainly was salvaged and survived the war. Two letters from Norway describe the vessel.
HARALD LORENTZEN'S LETTER
The Mayfair was, during World War One, in use as a junior officer vessel in Scapa Flow in Scotland. Just after the war she was sailed across the North Sea to Oslo by some Norwegians. The owner in Oslo during 1930-40 was Mr Hannibal Fekt, the founder of the Christiania (Oslo) Rowing Club. In all these years the vessel was slip/docked at Holm's Slipp at the island Lindoya just outside Oslo city where she also stayed during the wintertime. In the Second World War the nazi occupants in Oslo requisitioned M.Y. Mayfair as a cruise vessel for the German representatives and officers in Oslo.
During the winter docking 1946-47 a new maindeck was built. In those days the owner got married and one day in spring 1947 his wife popped up at the slipway instructing the employers to stop clearing the slip before summer season 1947. M.Y Mayfair was then laid up and gradually damaged during the following years. The owner then called Holm Slipp and offered Mr Lief Holm the Mayfair free of charge, but on one condition; that Mr Holm never should sell the vessel to anyone, because he would not like to see the ship on the fjord again with new owners.
- July 1989, Nesoddtangen, Norway.
ROBERT FEGTH'S LETTER
I am son of Hannibal Fegth and born in 1935, so I can only just remember having been onboard, This must have been summer 1939. During the war the boat was maltreated and in 1945 onwards, we simply did not have the money to set her afloat. It was sold, but so badly looked after that it is no longer. I was told that it sank and was never recovered. Sad, and it could have ended better, had it been today.
Just a few photos have been found and I enclose copies of these.
- July 1989, Olso, Norway.