Little Ships Festival to mark 75 years since Dunkirk

London’s Royal Docks to host Dunkirk Little Ships Festival in May to mark the 75th anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuation

The Dunkirk Little Ships that bravely rescued British and French forces trapped on the beaches.
To mark 75 years since the Dunkirk evacuation, over 20 Dunkirk Little Ships will gather in London’s Royal Docks in May.

As part of the nationwide Museums at Night festival of arts, heritage and culture, the ships will gather over the weekend of 16 and 17 May, with twilight trips on board “Silver Queen” during the evening of Saturday 16 May, as well as the chance to step on board some of the other ships taking part.

Then on 21 May, over 60 of these ships will leave Ramsgate in Kent and make their way to Dunkirk to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Operation Dynamo.

‘‘Silver Queen’’, the ship that will be offering trips around the Docks.

In 1940 700 small civilian boats sailed from Ramsgate in Kent to Dunkirk in Northern France under extraordinarily dangerous conditions, braving mine fields, E-boat attacks and Stuka bombs to rescue British and French forces trapped on the beaches, by the advancing German army. These little ships, mostly privately owned pleasure boats, private yachts and fishing boats, contributed to the rescue of over 338,000 British and French soldiers. Although the Evacuation of Dunkirk was no victory for the British Army it saved the troops to carry on the fight against Hitler – indeed many went on to return to liberate Europe through Normandy and Italy.

Ian Gilbert, Commodore, Association of Dunkirk Little Ships said: “As I write this 60 individual owners of vessels with an average age of over 80 years are preparing to take their precious Little Ships across the English Channel to Dunkirk at the end of May. For 60 vessels of that age to make their way across one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world would be remarkable enough – but what makes this event particularly note worthy is that each of these Little Ships took part in Operation Dynamo in May 1940. The fortitude and bravery of the Little Ships and their crews has entered in to the English language with the phrase ‘Dunkirk Spirit’ being widely used in times of adversity.

The Dunkirk Little Ships.

The crossing to Dunkirk by the remaining Little Ships is taking place to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Operation Dynamo and the bravery of all those who took part and particularly those 20,000 men who were either taken prisoner or now lie forever in the war cemeteries around Dunkirk. The Little Ships will commemorate their bravery and sacrifice as long as they still sail.”


Boat trips around the Royal Docks will cost £10 per person with children half price & each trip will last about 45 minutes. For more information visit the London Royal Docks website.

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