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Old 25-05-2010, 00:43   #1
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Dunkirk - 1940

The Seventieth Anniversary of the Dunkirk Evacuation is on the 27th May at Ramsgate. Some 50 of the 'little boats' that assisted in rescuing the British Army from the beaches of Dunkirk will assemble in Remembrance of those days. It is believed that the very last surviving skipper dies in the last month. The efforts of 'Lofty' and all his fellow skippers and crews were much appreciated by the troops on the beaches under constant dive bomber and fighter attack with the threat of surrender getting closer by the day.
These were the beginning of the desperate days, before America's intentions were decided by Japan. The RAF was under equipped and under trained but desperately fought the Luftwaffe in the skies around the beaches trying to intercept the incoming aircraft, leaving the Navy to defend the beaches themselves. The Battle of Britain followed. The few American pilots who'd joined the RAF fought hard at a time when losses outstripped training. Pilots with as little as six hours on the type they were to take into combat were easy targets for the Me109's. The more experienced were thinned out by the random chance that leaves some, takes others, regardless of skill.
Many of the men that were returned by the little ships owed their lives to the flotilla of hundreds of 'river' cruisers and ferry boats that put themselves in harms way. Many of them were used to ferry the troops from the beaches to the bigger naval vessels and spent a good few days in the area. Many were lost too, to enemy action.
The order, as they left Ramsgate, was to: 'Head for the smoke, see what you can do.' That successful withdrawal was the first 'Victory' of many that followed.
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Old 25-05-2010, 01:34   #2
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Thanks for that reminder Eleven.
My hat is off to those who risked and sacrificed so much.

On a lighter note.
I sure enjoy seeing pictures of those wonderful old boats...hope we get some posted here.
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Old 25-05-2010, 01:46   #3
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I'm amazed that 50 boats have survived all those years. It would be a wonderful spectacle.
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Old 25-05-2010, 04:23   #4
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Another amazing example of why Britain is prefixed by 'Great'

Over the years several people have asked my why this tiny little island has such a pedigree and so few now remember our once proud standing in the world.

This morning, Americans, im not critisising your belated contribution to both wars, but certainly in WW2, Great Britain was the first country to stand up and be counted and as more and more countries sucombed and fell to the Nastis, we were alone in standing up to them. Other commonwealth nations joined in and swelled our ranks but it was a lonely and tough time.

As for the many other reasons why Britain was/is Great, I could talk for England.

Sadly, there wont be many more rememberance memorials for the brave vetrans, but we will always owe a huge debt of gratitude for their sacrifice.
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Old 25-05-2010, 06:58   #5
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Why Anjou- you feisty Brit! There will always be remembrances as long as people such as you do not forget. You have much in your country to be proud of!
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Old 25-05-2010, 07:17   #6
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I am reading "The Hinge of Fate", a 1950 book by Winston Churchill, which details blow by blow many of the battles, defeats and victories alike, of WW2. It prints cables and letters to and from the military commanders from the prime minister. The book makes clear that the British are some tough cookies.

The book was among the effects of my late father, who served in the Allied Counterintelligence in England during the war. He was with the US 8th Air Force but worked day to day with British, Canadians, Australians, Kiwis in London and Colchester. He had the greatest respect for his colleagues and the British people.
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Old 25-05-2010, 07:31   #7
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There were indeed many 'colonial' troops, even in those early days. They too suffered cruelly, sometimes disproportionately.
We attended the first VJ Day celebration in London a few years ago. It was the humility, almost embarrassment, of these old men that truly struck home. They were lead by Prince Phillip, a destroyer man in those times, and accompanied by all branches of the Services and all the Nationalities that served, including some from the Germany Axis. United now in Remembrance for the things that happened then to all sides.
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Old 25-05-2010, 16:13   #8
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I remember those who fought the rearguard actions around Dunkirk, to buy time for the evacuation. They knew that they couldn't escape but they fought anyway.

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Old 25-05-2010, 17:06   #9
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Quote:
I'm amazed that 50 boats have survived all those years. It would be a wonderful spectacle.
One of the boats which has survived is the Sundowner, owned and skippered at the time by Charles H Lightoller. Lightoller managed to rescue 130 souls during the evacuation. Lightoller is best remembered though, as the senior surviving officer of the ill-fated Titanic. Sundowner has been preserved in pristine condition by the Ramsgate Maritime Museum:

Sundowner (yacht) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 25-05-2010, 17:08   #10
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When they were little I made sure that my kids knew about Dunkirk, the little boats, and the Battle of Britain - they don't teach these things in Florida schools. In the darkest days, the life expectancy of an R.A.F. fighter pilot was 17 days. The little boats, out of fuel, but their job well done, inspired a nation - or maybe they just symbolized the resolve of a nation which was already inspired:
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Old 26-05-2010, 12:29   #11
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Originally Posted by Astrid View Post
One of the boats which has survived is the Sundowner, owned and skippered at the time by Charles H Lightoller. Lightoller managed to rescue 130 souls during the evacuation. Lightoller is best remembered though, as the senior surviving officer of the ill-fated Titanic. Sundowner has been preserved in pristine condition by the Ramsgate Maritime Museum:

Sundowner (yacht) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Beautiful


M/Y Sundowner
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Old 27-05-2010, 02:40   #12
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The fleet of some fifty small boats set off today at 07:00 local time. If you can access the 'BBC' site you'll see and read much more.
In the original trip there were diversions around Calais, occupied by the Axis forces, and careful routing through the minefields. At the beach head there were two operations going on, one to ferry men from the beach to the bigger naval (and other) ships, and the direct route back home with whatever passengers they could carry.
There were a good many Thames Barges, the sailing type, which were used to try to recover munitions. Others were used as jetties to allow power craft to load from the beach head. More later.
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Old 27-05-2010, 03:47   #13
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The Churchill book that you mentioned is a series of books that were his memoirs from the war years. The first of the series is Gathering Storm, believe there were a total of 4 but can't remember the other titles. Very readable and interesting books especially if you are into history by someone who was at the front of leading the war effort.
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Old 27-05-2010, 04:39   #14
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From the BBC News Site. I hope the content of this is beyond copyright rules.

A fleet of "little ships" which rescued Allied troops from Dunkirk in 1940 has set sail from the south coast to mark the 70th anniversary of the event.
More than 50 vessels are heading to France to commemorate Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of some 338,000 soldiers from Dunkirk's beaches.
The troops had been driven back to the coast by the German army.
The phrase "Dunkirk spirit" is seen as emblematic of British determination and courage in the face of adversity.
The flotilla in Ramsgate, in Kent, was cheered by rain-soaked crowds as it set sail for Dunkirk, in north-east France, at 0700 BST.
See a map explaining the Dunkirk evacuation
BBC correspondent Jon Kay is on board the Greta, the oldest of the little ships that brought back hundreds of exhausted men 70 years ago.
He was joined by Brian de Mattos whose father Basil was part of the rescue mission.
Mr de Mattos said: "It's a great honour for me to be following in my father's footsteps 70 years later. To see all these little ships is really quite an emotional time.



Dunkirk 'disappointment' recalled
The men who defined the 'Dunkirk spirit'
Audio slideshow: Dunkirk rescue
In pictures: Little ships in Ramsgate
"My father made many trips in and out of Dunkirk harbour often under fire from the enemy."
The original evacuation took place between 26 May and 4 June 1940, and involved 900 naval and civilian craft which were sent across the Channel under RAF protection.
Among them were a number of smaller vessels including fishing boats pleasure crafts, paddle steamers and lifeboats.
During the evacuation - described by Winston Churchill as a "miracle of deliverance" - the Luftwaffe attacked whenever the weather allowed and at least 5,000 soldiers were killed.
English Heritage historian Paul Pattison said the troops who disembarked at the ports of Dover were given a warm and compassionate welcome.
He said: "They were given a cup of tea, a ham sandwich and clothing where they needed it because they were wet and bedraggled and often blood-stained.
"They were then very quickly put onto trains and dispatched all over the country - away from the danger zone - for a bit of rest and recuperation before they were ready to join their units again."
Ramsgate's Royal Harbour Marina was the reception centre for returning troops and after a weekend of commemorative events in France, the little ships are due to return there on Monday.
Edwin Brown, who was among those rescued in 1940, told the BBC: "They made a hell of a difference because they got us out to the bigger boats where we could get some help from the sailors who couldn't get in because of the depth of the water.
"There isn't a better spirit anywhere because everyone was looking after each other.

More than 300,000 Allied troops were rescued from the Dunkirk beaches
"If you were in trouble and you needed help, it was there. That was the Dunkirk spirit."
The ships will be escorted by the Royal Navy frigate HMS Monmouth - the youngest ship in the flotilla - on their eight-hour journey.
Rear Adm Tom Cunningham said it was important for his crew to take part.
He said: "We all have very strong bonds in the maritime community and we recognise... what a sacrifice and what bravery it took for [the small ships] to do it."
A commemorative ceremony is due to be held at the Allied memorial on Dunkirk beach on Saturday. There will be a minute's silence, followed by the national anthems of Britain, the Czech Republic, France and Belgium.
Historians say the evacuation boosted British morale at a crucial point of the war.
World War II expert Nick Hewitt said Dunkirk "bought time" for the Allies, allowing them to regroup and fight another day.
"Without Dunkirk, Britain wouldn't have had an army and it's extremely questionable whether it could have fought the war," he said.
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Old 27-05-2010, 05:08   #15
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Originally Posted by Eleven View Post
From the BBC News Site. I hope the content of this is beyond copyright rules.

... More than 50 vessels are heading to France to commemorate Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of some 338,000 soldiers from Dunkirk's beaches...
It's not (beyond copyright).

BBC News - Ships recreate Dunkirk journey for 70th anniversary
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