Wednesday, 28 April 2010


Local people are being asked for their help in remembering one of the Second World War's most famous operations, which will be celebrated in Ramsgate in May.

Dynamo Day in Ramsgate, on Wednesday 26 May, will celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the civilian contribution to "Operation Dynamo", the famous wartime evacuation of more than a quarter of a million men from the beaches of Dunkirk to the South East coast of England. The operation, in which Ramsgate played a pivotal role, began in May 1940.

Professor David Welch, Professor of the Modern History Department at the University of Kent, an international authority on British Society and World War Two, has agreed to be the Historical Adviser to the organising group, the Ramsgate Heritage Partnership.

On the evening of Tuesday 25 May, the eve of Ramsgate's Dynamo Day, Professor Welch will be giving a public talk at the Tiffany Suite of the Oak Hotel in Ramsgate, telling the story of Operation Dynamo and the importance of the event to British history.

An appeal has also been launched for any memories, memorabilia and artefacts the public may have in reference to this important moment in Britain's history. This material will be looked after by the Ramsgate Heritage Partnership, with the help of the University of Kent.

Professor David Welch said: "This will be a major oral history project for the University of Kent. Many details of the civilian side of Operation Dynamo were never written down, and memories might be fading. The timing of this could not be better."

Alexander Thomson, Chairman of the Ramsgate Heritage Partnership said: "We are honoured and delighted to have such a distinguished historian on board. It means the contribution of civilians to Operation Dynamo in Ramsgate and all along the Kent coast, will be well recorded, with personal artefacts and letters well looked after."

Eight hundred civilian boats took part in Operation Dynamo - they became known as "The Little Ships". Fifty of those which survive will be returning to Ramsgate's Royal Harbour this May. In 1940, thousands of civilians along the Kent Coast helped the returning troops; all volunteer organisations were involved.

The Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Allan Willet, C.M.G. will inspect the Little Ships in Ramsgate's Royal Harbour. The Revd. Tom Heffer, Secretary General of the Mission to Seafarers, will bless the Little Ships in Ramsgate on Wednesday 26 May, before they set sail for Dunkirk the next morning, escorted by the Royal Navy and the RNLI.

Proceeds from Professor Welch's talk at Ramsgate's Oak Hotel will go to the Mission to Seafarers to help its work in 230 ports around the world.

The Dunkirk Little Ships will be departing from Ramsgate on Thursday 27 May at 7.00am and will be returning between 3.00pm and 4.00pm on Monday 31 May.

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