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Commemorate some of the bravest Little Ships to cross the Channel

Spring 2019

You may have read about the Little Dunkirk Ships on our blog before. Perhaps you know them from history lessons at school or even recent films.

But nothing can rival seeing them for real.

So we’re very proud to be welcoming 17 Dunkirk Little Ships to our Docks from the 25th to 27th May. They’re coming to mark the 79th anniversary of the evacuation of our troops from the French coast.

Ahead of their arrival, we chatted to the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships Commodore, Simon Palmer.

"Well, our Association aims to preserve 'The Spirit of Dunkirk’. And we organise an annual cruise around the time of the crossings – 26th May to 3rd June. Every five years, we go to Dunkirk. And on the other years, we go to various locations – around London, or to Ipswich, Ramsgate and Chatham.

“The boats will be coming from across the country. The Papillon, for example, is berthed in the Isle of Wight. But all the skippers are excited to be back at St. Kats."

Simon continues: “It’s a wonderful way to pay tribute to the brave souls of the Navy, the Merchant Navy, and the British Army – the British Expeditionary Force – who were involved in Dunkirk.”

The numbers are still astonishing. Over just nine days, 700 Little Ships ferried 338,000 soldiers back to English soil, including around 100,000 French troops.

Churchill tempered emotions by saying, “Wars are not won by evacuations.” But after losing 235 vessels and just 5,000 soldiers, he couldn’t help but hail Operation Dynamo as a “miracle of deliverance”.

And a miracle it was. These were our professional soldiers – the experts. Without them, we would only have had inexperienced conscripts to call on. D-Day probably wouldn’t have happened. We may well have lost the war.

For his part, Simon can’t wait. “There’ll be 17 vessels on this year’s cruise, including a newcomer – Peggotty. She’s a 37ft harbour vessel that sank on her mooring in Twickenham in 2016. William Moore and Paul Levack heard about it and bought her for just £1.”

“It took them 15 months and £80,000 to restore her. And I think she’s the only surviving clinker-built Little Ship left.”

 

 

You can see the Dunkirk Little Ships in the Centre Basin of St. Katharine Docks from 25th May.