Monday, 10 May 2010


The boats that played a key role in one of World War II 's most important operations will be making a rare return to Ramsgate later this month (May), as part of the 70th anniversary commemorations of the Dunkirk evacuations.

Around 50 Little Ships, all of which helped to evacuate a total of 338,000 British and Allied troops from the beaches around Dunkirk during Operation Dynamo in 1940, will be back at Ramsgate's Royal Harbour Marina. The small armada will be sailing back to Dunkirk on Thursday 27 May, a journey they only undertake once every five years. They will be accompanied by a Royal Navy frigate, HMS Monmouth, the Ramsgate RNLI lifeboat and the Maritime Volunteer Service ship, MV Appleby. The ships will sail out at 7.00 am on Thursday 27 May, bound for Dunkirk, and will return back to Kent between 3.00 pm and 4.00 pm on Bank Holiday Monday (31 May). All times are weather dependent.

The harbour was the marshalling point for the Little Ships during the operation, which started after the Admiralty appealed for owners of small pleasure craft to contact them. This led to around 700 - 800 ships being offered for the evacuation, which took place between 28 May and 4 June, 1840. Ramsgate was also one of the main reception centres for the returning Allied troops.

The ships will begin arriving at the harbour from the previous Saturday (22 May), with 27 expected to arrive in Ramsgate that day. Their numbers will gradually increase each day after that, until they set sail for Dunkirk. A day of commemorations will be held on Wednesday 26 May, as part of a new event, Ramsgate's Dynamo Day. The events on that day include an Inspection of the Little Ships and a Blessing by the Secretary General and Senior Chaplain of the Mission to Seafarers, along with a reception, hosted by the Mayor of Ramsgate.

Robert Brown, Interim Assistant Harbour Master, said: "The Dunkirk Little Ships only return to Ramsgate once every five years and they are a wonderful sight to see. It's a rare opportunity to see first hand some of the boats that played such a vital role during one of the most important operations of World War II. They always attract huge interest, both nationally and internationally, and we're delighted to be welcoming them back in 2010."

If bad weather prevents the Little Ships from leaving Ramsgate on Thursday 27 May, they will instead sail out the following day on Friday 28 May. To find out more about the event, visit or call 01843 572100. For more information about the Dunkirk Little Ships, visit

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