History Podcasts

The Small Boats at Dunkirk

The Small Boats at Dunkirk



We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

The War at Sea, 1939-1945, Volume I: The Defensive, S. W. Roskill. This first volume in the British official history of the war at sea covers the period from the outbreak of the war through to the first British disasters in the Pacific in December 1941. Amongst other topics it covers the Norwegian campaign, the evacuation from Dunkirk and the first two years of the Battle of the Atlantic. The text is meticulously researched, and is rooted in a detailed study of wartime records, both British and German. [see more]


As the Allies were losing the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation to Britain of British and other Allied forces in Europe from 26 May to 4 June 1940. In one of the most debated decisions of the war, the Germans halted their advance on Dunkirk.

After Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939, the British sent in troops to defend France. They marched around the back of the Allies in France and forced them over into Belgium, where they were faced with more Germans to the north. The only option left was to retreat to Dunkirk, where they could be taken back to England.


The flotilla of “little boats,” Dunkirk, 1940

The evacuation of Dunkirk in which 338,000 British troops were rescued from the Nazi onslaught in June 1940 by the “little boats,” captained by civilians. From the website http://www.rania.co.uk/dunkirk/html/history.htm

I am delighted to see that a movie has been made about Dunkirk, a crucial event in the Allied Victory over the Nazis, which is well-known in Britain, but nowhere else.

One of my great-uncles, Reg Durward, an ambulance corpsman with the British Expeditionary Force, was one of the last British soldiers to be rescued from the beach at Dunkirk . Three hundred thirty-eight thousand British soldiers and 30,000 French soldiers were rescued by a flotilla of “little boats,” that set sail from England to save them from certain death by the Nazi strafing. The two uncles of one of my uncles were among the civilians who sailed their own boats to rescue these men, including my great-uncle Reg.

Late May, 1940, was a desperate time for the Allies. France, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Norway had been invaded by the Germans, and Holland and Belgium had formally surrendered.

Neither the Soviets nor the Americans were in the war yet the Soviet Union had a non-aggression pact with the Nazis, and America maintained its neutrality for another year-and-a-half until December 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. By late May, 1940, Britain was standing alone against the Nazis.

Strafed by the Luftwaffe, hopelessly outgunned by the German Army, the 338,000 troops of the British Expeditionary Forces and the 30,000 French soldiers retreated to the beaches of Dunkirk, France. There was little hope of rescue because the water was too shallow for British destroyers to navigate.

A call went out from the British Admiralty for small boats to be used to rescue the trapped British and French soldiers.

Over 900 boats–pleasure boats, fishing smacks, trawlers, lifeboats, paddle steamers and many other types of craft, captained by sailors of the Royal Navy and by ordinary civilians like my uncle’s uncles–set sail to save these men by transporting them back to England or getting them onto British destroyers.

Standing in shoulder-high water for hours, the men waited to be rescued by the little boats.

This was a defining moment of World War II, which Winston Churchill called “a miracle of deliverance,” in which the lives of those who were “the whole root and core and brain of the British Army” were saved.

Recently I was talking about the “little boats” with one of my aunts and uncles, when my uncle left the room and returned with a photograph of a man in a small boat. It was his uncle, a man named Brightman who, with his own brother, sailed their boat to Dunkirk to help rescue British troops.

Brightman, one of the civilians who rescued British soldiers at Dunkirk using his own “little boat.” Courtesy of Ian Wellby.

Can you imagine what it was like for the Brightman brothers to set sail on a tiny boat into a war zone, and to carry back wounded soldiers? It must have taken extraordinary courage to have done this, especially for the civilians who volunteered, and yet there were many of them willing to risk their lives to save the lives of others.

Imagine yourself in the English Channel is a tiny boat, the Nazis strafing the waters around you, bombs landing nearby, exhausted, bloody men climbing into your boat desperately hoping you can get them to safety. And then imagine that instead of the 30,000 men estimated to be saved without the boats, you and the others sailing the little boats managed to get 338,000 British and 80,000 French soldiers off the beach and back home to Britain. What a cost–and what a triumph of the human spirit in this, their “finest hour.”

Here are several videos and an article that might give a sense of what it was like:


Glala

Already an RN boat, requisitioned before Dunkirk.

The Admiralty requisitioned Glala in October 1939 and she became a Harbour Defence Patrol Yacht stationed at Sheerness on the Thames estuary. A photograph taken in 1940 shows a machine gun on the foredeck and depth charges on the stern. She appears in the naval records of Saturday, 13 January 1940, "Sloop BITTERN found a German mine which she towed towards Sheerness. It was secured to the Nord Buoy and harbour defence patrol yacht GLALA (51grt) beached the mine from there."

Like so many other vessels her moment came during Operation Dynamo. Commanded by Sub-Lieutenant John Alexander Dow, RNVR, she set out for Dunkirk at 0800 on 31st May 1940 in company with the yachts Amulree and Caleta.


Immediately after the Dunkirk evacuation was completed, Lt. Col. G P Orde compiled a list of all the vessels involved, using all available sources (remember that some of the 'Little Ships' were privately owned vessels that were not officially requisitioned, but which had had just "followed the fleet" to help out with the rescue). Even so, he acknowledged that there may still have been omissions.

Many of the original sources that Lt. Col. Orde consulted were subsequently lost or destroyed, so that list is generally considered to be the most authoritative, and is the primary source on which subsequent lists have been based.

The list is often referred to as The Dunkirk List or The Orde List (officially: Dunkirk Withdrawal: Operation Dynamo May 26–June 4, 1940: Alphabetical List of Vessels Taking Part, With Their Services. 940.542.1'1940). I don't think it has ever been published online, but the original copies are available to consult at the Caird Library at the National Maritime Museum.

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London has published a research guide to the Dunkirk List which you might find helpful.

Subsequent research has added to the Orde list. Notably, Richard Collier identified some further examples which were included in the list in his 1961 book The Sands of Dunkirk, as did Walter Lord for the list in his 1981 book The Miracle of Dunkirk. Most recently, Russell Plummer has been able to add yet more names to the list included in his 1991 book The Little Ships that Saved An Army.


&lsquoWith shells bursting and fires raging it was like hell&rsquo

Margate Coxswain Edward Parker with his sons James (left) and Edward. All three took part in the evacuation of Dunkirk in May 1940

The calm and mayhem the Margate crew witnessed on each side of the Channel couldn&rsquot have been in starker contrast. Coxswain Parker said: &lsquoMargate was a pretty dead town then, more than half the residents had evacuated. But when we got to Dunkirk it was a bit different. With shells bursting and fires raging it was like hell.&rsquo

As they approached the shore the crew found themselves in the middle of a war zone. German submarines slipped silently by in the shadows, occasionally illuminated by flames on the shore.

The sound of shell fire and the smell of burning was everywhere. In the darkness and the chaos, the crew had to feel their way towards the shore. Once there they quickly got to work, moving people from the shore to the larger ships anchored in deeper water.

Coxswains Howard Knight and Edward Parker were awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for their gallantry and determination. And all crew members received the RNLI&rsquos Thanks on Vellum for their &lsquoDunkirk spirit&rsquo.


The Little Ships of Dunkirk

The Little Ships of Dunkirk were about 850 private boats that sailed from Ramsgate, England, to Dunkirk, France, between May 26 and June 4, 1940 as part of Operation Dynamo, helping to rescue more than 336,000 British and French soldiers who were trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk during the Second World War.

The Edward and Mary (RX74) was one of the little boats that sailed out to the evacuation operations. The boat is part of the Fishery Museum of Hasting.

The situation of the troops, who had been cut off from their advance into France by a pincer movement from the German army, was regarded by the British prime minister Winston Churchill as the greatest military defeat for centuries. It appeared likely to cost Britain the war, as the majority of the British Expeditionary Force was trapped, leaving the country vulnerable to invasion by Germany.

Because of the shallow waters, British destroyers were unable to approach the beaches, and soldiers were having to wade out to the boats, many of them waiting hours shoulder deep in water.

On May 27, the small-craft section of the British Ministry of Shipping telephoned boat builders around the coast asking them to collect all boats with "shallow draft" that could navigate the shallow waters. Attention was directed to pleasure boats, private yachts and launches moored on the River Thames and along the south and east coasts.

Some of them were taken with the owners' permission &ndash and with the owners insisting they would sail them &ndash while others were requisitioned by the government with no time for the owners to be contacted. The boats were checked to make sure they were seaworthy, fuelled, and taken to Ramsgate to set sail for Dunkirk. They were manned by Naval Officers, Ratings and experienced volunteers.

Very few owners manned their own vessels, apart from fishermen and one or two others. When they reached France, some of the boats acted as shuttles between the beaches and the destroyers, ferrying soldiers to the warships. Others carried hundreds of soldiers each back to Ramsgate, protected by the Royal Air Force from the attacks of the Luftwaffe.

According to the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, the term "Little Ship" applies to all craft that were originally privately owned and includes commercial vessels such as barges, fishing vessels and pleasure steamers. The Association does include some ex-Service vessels, which are now privately owned and ex-lifeboats.

The Museum opened in 1956 in the former Fishermen&rsquos Church of St Nicholas. This was a mission chapel which served the fishing community from 1854 until the building was requisitioned by the military authorities to become a wartime store. The building is listed Grade II by English Heritage for its architectural and historical importance.

The Museum is managed by the Old Hastings Preservation Society who rescued the building and lease it from Hastings Borough Council. In 2001 funding was raised to build an extension which provides visitors with extra exhibition space and an audio visual presentation.

Inside the Museum you can see and visit the deck of the last Hastings&rsquo sailing lugger Enterprise built in 1912, enjoy a large display of photographs and pictures, model boats and many other interesting objects. There is an external display with a variety of boats. You can look inside one of the towns iconic listed Net Shops and see how Hastings folk used boats cut in half when they had been caught engaged in smuggling.

(Source: Wikipedia Photo: Towingline)

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.


World War Two - Dunkirk Evacuation

At the end of May 1940, at the government's request, thousands of boats set sail to rescue almost a quarter of a million Allied troops who had retreated from Hitler's forces onto the shores of Dunkirk. It was a time when Britain faced the possibility of defeat.

This collection includes personal accounts from some of those who took part in the mass evacuation, codenamed Operation Dynamo, that exemplify the ɽunkirk spirit'.


The real Little Ships seen in Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, and the stories behind them

Dunkirk

Follow the author of this article

Follow the topics within this article

I n the first nine days of June, 1940, 700 working and leisure boats were gathered from all over the British Isles by the navy. They were stripped of unnecessary items and filled with fuel and life jackets. Volunteer civilian crews and members of the navy joined those men who had skippered their boats for years across the Channel, to Dunkirk, where many would face scenes they had never witnessed before – and would hope to never again.

When Christopher Nolan started making his film about Operation Dynamo, the official name given for the effort to sail hundreds of boats across to France to rescue stranded soldiers from the German army, he wanted to use those boats that had actually been there. The youngest remaining “Little Ship”, as they became known, is 75 years old, and there are 100 of them in the Association of Little Ships.

Those who own them consider themselves guardians of a vital piece of living history, and 11 of the Little Ships were skippered to Dunkirk to appear in Nolan’s film. As in history, their crews took responsibility for sailing them over to France.

O nly, unlike the commemorative journeys the Little Ships make every five years, this time the crews were met with the gunfire and smoke of Nolan’s creation, giving the French port a chilling atmosphere of what the 400,000 soldiers who stood on the beaches actually faced.

T he Little Ships were responsible for the success of Operation Dynamo. They rescued 192,226 British and 139,000 French soldiers – 331,226 in total - with the assistance of 220 warships. Some of those who sailed them had never left their local waters before. These are the stories of the boats which survived Dunkirk, and went on to lend authenticity to Nolan’s film.

Caronia

L ittle is known of Caronia’s exact input in the evacuation, except that she was among the hundreds of little ships commandeered by the navy to help those stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk. According to her record on the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, Caronia stayed with the navy for the rest of the war.

Afterwards, Caronia was used as a pleasure yacht in Cornwall, taking tourists on “shark fishing trips” and other adventures until the mid-1960s, when she was returned to her original use: fishing.

There was a brief foray into a life of crime when she and her then owner, Walter Arthur Ord, took supplies out to Mi Amigo, from which pirate radio station Radio Caroline was broadcast. This was technically smuggling, and the authorities were less than impressed, although the repercussions are not fully known.

I n 2002, Caronia begun the lengthy reconstruction that has seen her restored to her original glory by her current owner, Peter Draper. “Every inch of her 40 feet of pine planking holds true history, every ounce of her 40 tons adds weight to her heritage,” Draper wrote. “You really can feel the years both traumatic and gentle by walking her decks, just being aboard her is an experience. Setting to sea on her writes her ongoing history.”

Elvin

E lvin’s master Archie Buchanan may have had the title of Lieutenant Commander RN, but, as his son John wrote in 1972, he was originally a fruit grower who had signed on as an engineer. Before Dunkirk, he’d been invalidated out of the navy.

Buchanan was among the men who reported to the Fisheries Research Service in Lowestoft the morning after hearing the call for men experienced in marine services on the 9pm news. He was called that evening, and told to go to Oulton Broad, in Suffolk, with a mere 10 minutes of handover about Elvin, the estuary cruiser he was to sail to Dunkirk.

B uchanan was joined by a retired Aberdonian fisherman, Skipper Noble, and Dick Haworth, a longshoreman from Lowestoft. Much like George in Dunkirk, the trio was joined unexpectedly by a Mr Hackforth-Jones, who had turned up after a tip-off. It transpired that he was a yachting correspondent, and was after a story.

T he quartet nearly didn’t leave Ramsgate: a commander argued that, as a civilian crew, they shouldn’t be allowed to go. But the crew insisted, much to the commander’s disgust. “This was followed,” his report reads, “by a shower of First Aid Kit into the cockpit and our lines were let go. We had no idea what the operation was or what we were supposed to do. With our boat darkened we just followed the general flow of traffic across and then steered straight for the fires of Dunkirk.”

T he boat drew up to the mole at first light, and Buchanan recalled that “we could hear the gunfire to the eastward and saw a great pall of smoke over the town and flashes of explosions in the inner harbour.” Elvin had capacity for 25 men, but Buchanan, forgetting his French, could only reply “trente” when an office called out, “Combien de soldat?”

They planned to follow the mission being undertaken by a neighbouring motor boat: to take their passengers to a ship outside the harbour, and then return to pick up more evacuees. But by the time they reached the harbour the destroyer had gone. Then, Buchanan recalls, they “chased after some French minesweepers to westward, hoping to put our soldiers on board and go back for more but they were unwilling to take them so we decided to set course back to Ramsgate.” Elvin carried 25 French soldiers and eight British troops back to Ramsgate.

Endeavour

A t 8am, on Friday, May 31, the fishermen of Leigh were told that they were needed, with their boats, to go to Dunkirk. By half-past noon, Endeavour, along with five other cockle bawley boats, set out for France. She was manned by skipper PO Halls and her crew, as did the others in her little fleet – the Leigh boats were unusual for all going out with their civilian men, few of whom had ever left the Thames estuary.

As Admiral Ramsey commented while singling the Leigh boats out for congratulation: “They were all volunteers who were rushed over to Dunkirk in one day. Probably none of them had been under gunfire before and certainly none of them under Naval discipline. These were Thames estuary fishing boats which never left the estuary and only one of their crews had been further afield than Ramsgate.”

At 6.20pm, the flotilla witnessed an attack from German aircraft, before RAF Spitfires flew to the rescue, downing five Dorniers. All six boats reached Dunkirk within the hour, but the tide was going out. If they weren’t careful, they could be grounded, leaving them as sitting ducks for the German bombers overhead.

B y 9.30pm, reluctant soldiers started to board the Leigh ships they found it difficult to trust such small boats. The little ships picked up troops from outside the jetty and moved them to larger boats, but had to navigate through a swell in the harbour and debris from a sunken destroyer around the walls.

E ndeavour, along with other Leigh boats Letitia and Renown, was damaged in the rescue, and suffered a smashed rudder. All three were safely towed back to Ramsgate, but one of the six, Renown, hit a mine during the return journey. She, along with her four-man crew, never made it back.

E ndeavour continued to be used as a fishing boat, but was sunk during the storms of 1987. She was raised in a mission that began at midnight and lasted for two days, and many years of work continued to restore her to her current glory. Endeavour is now owned and maintained by the Leigh-on-Sea Endeavour Trust.

Hilfranor

H ilfranor was built in 1935 and named after the owner’s three children, Hillary, Frances and Norah. Five years later, she was among the 100 little ships amassed by Douglas Tough from the “muddy estuaries, creeks and deserted moorings along the coasts of Kent and Sussex and the quiet reaches of the Thames”, under instructions from the Admiralty.

It’s not known how many crossings Hilfranor made to Dunkirk, but during one of them she was attacked by Junkers, the terror bombers used in Blitzkreig, and bombed on either side. The assault cracked the wooden ribs of her frame, and she was left to sink in the shallow waters off the coast of France.

S he was rescued by desperate French soldiers who boarded her and bailed her out enough to power her engines across the Channel, where she landed on the Goodwin sandbanks, an area traditionally avoided by sailors. After this, Hilfranor sank again, but was towed to Ramsgate by a British minesweeper.

Over the next 50 years, Hilfranor's history is patchy. She had a variety of registered owners, but by 1990 was in such a bad way grass was growing on her decks. She was rescued by a company who wanted to use her to sail to Dunkirk for PR purposes, and underwent a £190,000 transformation. In 2002, she was sold by her subsequent owner to Simon Palmer, the retiree who took part in Nolan's film. "I thought it was the most fascinating thing to be a part of," Palmer told The Telegraph. "I'd have done it for free".

Mimosa

M imosa’s Dunkirk history was nearly never told. The motor yacht, which was originally used as a pleasure boat, underwent a name change when she was chartered for use as an Auxiliary Patrol Vessel during the war and became known as Ocelot. Her contribution to Dunkirk, which she made as Mimosa, was sunk along with her name. When she was registered in 1951, 16 years after she was built, it was under the name of Ocelot.

I t took 57 years for Mimosa’s Operation Dynamo duties to be revealed, at the hands of her previous owners, Colin Messer and Jane Percival. She was renamed Mimosa after they became the boat’s 14th owners, in 1996. They established that she was one of four identical hulls made at her shipyard that served at Dunkirk. Mimosa was among the two that returned, after completing three trips to Dunkirk.

Nyula

M otor yacht Nyula also went through several identities between her construction in 1933 and her filming in Nolan’s Dunkirk. Originally called Betty, the boat was somewhat of a lusted-after item, appearing at the Motor Boat Exhibition months after she was built and receiving a write-up in The Yachting Monthly that praised her “black enamelled topsides, a graceful bow, counter stern having a well-rounded transom and a most pleasing and bold sheer”.

She added a touch of glamour to the Dunkirk evacuation after being based at the Thames. Little is known about her action there, but she returned safely and was kept on by the navy and made to undertake river patrol duties, complete with a newly attached gun, until VE Day.

New Britannic

I f some soldiers were skeptical about being transported to safety in a fishing boat, few who embarked the New Britannic would have had such concerns. The former passenger boat could accommodate 117 passengers and is credited with carrying 3,000 soldiers to safety from the beaches.

A lthough Coxwain William “Bill” Matthews skippered New Britannic from Ramsgate to Dunkirk, there are also reports of a mariner named Wally Read sailing to Dunkirk on New Britannic with his 15-year-old son, Joe.

The stories of New Britannic’s Dunkirk evacuees continue to be told after being discovered by veterans’ relatives. One anonymous commenter on the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships forum that he learned that his father was a Dunkirk veteran only after his parents’ death, when he found a photograph of the ship among their belongings.

Another was the great-grandchild of New Britannic’s boat hand. They write: “I was told by my father that he returned after saving those soldiers’ lives and never mentioned anything to his wife she learnt of his actions in the paper. For him, it was something he had to do and he never thought of the actions of him and the crew being anything but help, but to us they are heroes.”

Papillon

P apillon is a 1930 motor yacht that was manned by a civilian crew from Sussex during the Dunkirk evacuation. Her story is told thanks to notes kept by naval officers involved in the operation, which detailed which men she carried and what state she was in when she left for service.

I t is, however, brief: she arrived at Dover on May 30 with two defective engines, and was skippered by E Somers Holmwood, from Kingston by the Sea, and his three-man crew, to Dunkirk on June 2. Little is known about the soldiers she carried, but the civilian crew were “uncertain of conditions of service” and ignored orders about what route to take to have her fuel and oil tanks replenished. Her volunteer crew then took her to Burnham-on-Crouch on June 3, where she was collected and returned to her home mooring in Essex.

P apillon was then used by the navy was a river patrol boat and a fire boat until peacetime, when she returned to civilian ownership. She was bought by Jodi Smith and Geoff Turner in 2015 and both sailed her to Dunkirk as part of the filming of Dunkirk. For Smith, the mission had personal resonance: her grandfather, William Henry Smith sailed from Newport to assist in the evacuation in 1940.

It is thought that his boat, now known as the Gainsborough Trader, was the last civilian vessel to leave the harbour when it returned to England with 140 troops on board.

MTB 102

M TB 102 is one of the few surviving motor torpedo boats that served with the navy in the Second World War. She was built as a prototype Vosper Private Venture Boat, but was bought by the Admiralty. MTB 102 became the smallest vessel to serve as a flagship for the Royal Navy when she carried Rear Admiral Wake-Walker for the last two nights of the operation after destroyer Keith was bombed. Instead of a Rear Admirals flag, one of the crew fashioned one from a navy dishcloth.

M TB 102 ran into Dunkirk on eight or nine times during the evacuation, mostly to offer communication between Admiral Ramsey in Dover and Captain Tennant in Dunkirk. She could make the trip in little over an hour, and stayed until the bitter end, as the third to last warship to leave France during the operation.

She remained in service until the end of the War, even carrying Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower on their review of the ships that had assembled on the south coast for the D-Day landings. But by the mid-Sixties MTB 102 had been converted into a houseboat. After being discovered by a Norfolk Scout Group in 1973, she was refurbished as a seagoing vessel to appear in The Eagle Has Landed in 1976.

Riis 1

R iis 1, after the Finnish word for journey, was originally known as White Heather. She was built in 1920, as an extravagant 21st birthday present for the daughter of a Scottish shipping company. She was often used to tow the family’s racing yacht between regattas.

By wartime, White Heather was under new ownership and moved from North Wales to the South Coast by the navy, who subsequently hired her, to participate in Operation Dynamo. She went to Dunkirk on June 1, carrying troops from the beaches to larger ships off shore before doing three trips taking soldiers all the way to England.

Mary Jane

M ary Jane was as elegant and feminine as her name suggested, according to yachtsman Uffa Fox’s declaration that she was “one of the cosiest yachts I’ve ever slept aboard” after spending the night as the guest of Colonel Richardson and his wife, who had helped convert her into a cruising ship. Mrs Richardson and her daughter insisted upon installing central heating and Canadian birch panelling, leading Fox to state: “A yacht where the owner's wife shares the joys of cruising has a restfulness and peace which is lacking in vessels used entirely by men”.

She was, however, to become used entirely by men within a couple of years, when she participated in Operation Dynamo. Mary Jane went back into private ownership after the war, and was restored by David Murr after he found her in a yard in 1994 with his late friend, former merchant seaman William Worley. Worley’s ashes travel everywhere with Mary Jane.

In 2010, Mary Jane was part of the flotilla of little ships that celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuation. Mick Freeman was on board, to carry his father Alfred’s ashes to scatter on the French beach. Alfred was 19 when he became one of the last soldiers to be rescued from the beaches, and he died four months before the anniversary. One of his final wishes was to make one last journey to Dunkirk.

K en Blake was part of Alfred’s regiment, and, aged 90, joined in on the trip. A report from The Independent at the time read: “Standing proudly next to the mast as Mr Freeman held up an original standard from the battle, Mr Blake stared solemnly ahead as the crowd cheered and waved.”


RELATED ARTICLES

Firefighters remain at the scene of the fire in Hampton this morning. The charred remains of the building is seen

The London Fire Brigade (pictured at the scene today) confirmed a number of gas cylinders were involved in the blaze but were cooled and removed by firefighters 'as some cylinders can explode'

Fifteen fire engines and about 100 firefighters rushed to the scene to tackle the flames on Monday - as one man was treated at the scene by paramedics for smoke inhalation. Some firefighters remained at the scene today (pictured)

The exact cause of the incident remains unclear. The London Fire Brigade confirmed 'some cylinders' were involved in the blaze (the aftermath pictured today)

More videos

Goldendoodle rescues baby fawn and herds it back to shore

Motorcycle stuntman Alex Harvill dies after crash in Washington

Policing Minister: Gov is in constant discussion with UEFA on final

NHS boss fails to deny Hancock is 'hopeless' after WhatsApp allegations

Easy does it! Tortoise slowly rides down small slope on her belly

Terrifying moment Luton teen on M1 flies past police at 165mph

Rescued Shih Tzu transformed with haircut after extreme matting

Moment nasty brawl breaks out between parents at Little League game

Wally the walrus spotted trying to get on a boat

New Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Green gives acceptance speech

Dublin shopkeeper knocks out maskless customer with just one punch

Ballot boxes arrive at Chesham and Amersham by-election count

'Some of the nearby boats have been moved from the area as a precaution.

'One man has been treated at the scene for smoke inhalation by London Ambulance Service crews.'

He added that crews will remain at the scene throughout the evening to dampen down the area.

Surrey Fire & Rescue Service was also in attendance, and said on Twitter: 'Our Joint Fire Control received 20 calls to #Hampton Boat Sheds this evening.

'We are currently assisting @LondonFire at this incident.

'Nearby residents should close windows and doors.'

On Twitter, eyewitness The Hamptonite said: 'Police/fire moving people back. Lots of bangs and pops.

'The fire is a long way from the road, surrounded by river, but IT IS gigantic.'

Witnesses reported hearing explosions after a fire engulfed an industrial unit on Platt's Eyot, an island on the River Thames, near Hampton, London, yesterday

Those living nearby were warned to close their windows after the blaze erupted at the Hampton Boat Sheds at around 5.14pm, with pillars of smoke seen across south west London

Onlookers view the terrifying blaze on Platt's Eyot in Hampton, which destroyed two buildings

One man was treated at the scene by paramedics for smoke inhalation. Pictured: The scene

More videos

Goldendoodle rescues baby fawn and herds it back to shore

Motorcycle stuntman Alex Harvill dies after crash in Washington

Policing Minister: Gov is in constant discussion with UEFA on final

NHS boss fails to deny Hancock is 'hopeless' after WhatsApp allegations

Easy does it! Tortoise slowly rides down small slope on her belly

Terrifying moment Luton teen on M1 flies past police at 165mph

Rescued Shih Tzu transformed with haircut after extreme matting

Moment nasty brawl breaks out between parents at Little League game

Wally the walrus spotted trying to get on a boat

New Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Green gives acceptance speech

Dublin shopkeeper knocks out maskless customer with just one punch

Ballot boxes arrive at Chesham and Amersham by-election count

Locals have suggested the direction of strong winds saved a listed residential building on the island. Pictured: The blaze

The London Fire Brigade confirmed 'some cylinders' were involved in the blaze

More videos

Goldendoodle rescues baby fawn and herds it back to shore

Motorcycle stuntman Alex Harvill dies after crash in Washington

Policing Minister: Gov is in constant discussion with UEFA on final

NHS boss fails to deny Hancock is 'hopeless' after WhatsApp allegations

Easy does it! Tortoise slowly rides down small slope on her belly

Terrifying moment Luton teen on M1 flies past police at 165mph

Rescued Shih Tzu transformed with haircut after extreme matting

Moment nasty brawl breaks out between parents at Little League game

Wally the walrus spotted trying to get on a boat

New Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Green gives acceptance speech

Dublin shopkeeper knocks out maskless customer with just one punch

Ballot boxes arrive at Chesham and Amersham by-election count

They later added the blaze was blowing in the direction of a 'handful of small boats', including a boat used in the 2017 Christopher Nolan film Dunkirk.

Another post said: ' The wind direction has saved the listed residential building on the far left.'

The blog later shared an image of the aftermath of the fire as heavy rain poured on the scene, writing: 'The wind whipped it up. then the rain helped to douse.

'The main work was done by @LondonFire.'

Another witness shared an image from further away from the fire in Hampton, with smoke seen billowing above the blaze.

A third said: 'Hampton fire on Platt's Eyot. Boatyard on the eastern end already gutted.'

One witness shared an image from further away from the fire in Hampton, with smoke seen billowing above the blaze

Another shared an image of the aftermath of the fire as heavy rain poured on the scene, writing: 'The wind whipped it up. then the rain helped to douse'

More videos

Goldendoodle rescues baby fawn and herds it back to shore

Motorcycle stuntman Alex Harvill dies after crash in Washington

Policing Minister: Gov is in constant discussion with UEFA on final

NHS boss fails to deny Hancock is 'hopeless' after WhatsApp allegations

Easy does it! Tortoise slowly rides down small slope on her belly

Terrifying moment Luton teen on M1 flies past police at 165mph

Rescued Shih Tzu transformed with haircut after extreme matting

Moment nasty brawl breaks out between parents at Little League game

Wally the walrus spotted trying to get on a boat

New Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Green gives acceptance speech

Dublin shopkeeper knocks out maskless customer with just one punch

Ballot boxes arrive at Chesham and Amersham by-election count

Evacuation of Dunkirk: How 338,000 Allied troops were saved in 'miracle of deliverance' after the German Blitzkreig saw Nazi forces sweep into France

The evacuation from Dunkirk was one of the biggest operations of the Second World War and was one of the major factors in enabling the Allies to continue fighting.

It was the largest military evacuation in history, taking place between May 27 and June 4, 1940 after Nazi Blitzkreig - 'Lightning War' - saw German forces sweep through Europe.

The evacuation, known as Operation Dynamo, saw an estimated 338,000 Allied troops rescued from northern France. But 11,000 Britons were killed during the operation - and another 40,000 were captured and imprisoned.

Described as a 'miracle of deliverance' by wartime prime minister Winston Churchill, it is seen as one of several events in 1940 that determined the eventual outcome of the war.

The Second World War began after Germany invaded Poland in 1939, but for a number of months there was little further action on land.

But in early 1940, Germany invaded Denmark and Norway and then launched an offensive against Belgium and France in western Europe.

Hitler's troops advanced rapidly, taking Paris - which they never achieved in the First World War - and moved towards the Channel.

It was the largest military evacuation in history, taking place between May 27 and June 4, 1940. The evacuation, known as Operation Dynamo, saw an estimated 338,000 Allied troops rescued from northern France. But 11,000 Britons were killed during the operation - and another 40,000 were captured and imprisoned

They reached the coast towards the end of May 1940, pinning back the Allied forces, including several hundred thousand troops of the British Expeditionary Force. Military leaders quickly realised there was no way they would be able to stay on mainland Europe.

Operational command fell to Bertram Ramsay, a retired vice-admiral who was recalled to service in 1939. From a room deep in the cliffs at Dover, Ramsay and his staff pieced together Operation Dynamo, a daring rescue mission by the Royal Navy to get troops off the beaches around Dunkirk and back to Britain.

On May 14, 1940 the call went out. The BBC made the announcement: 'The Admiralty have made an order requesting all owners of self-propelled pleasure craft between 30ft and 100ft in length to send all particulars to the Admiralty within 14 days from today if they have not already been offered or requisitioned.'

Boats of all sorts were requisitioned - from those for hire on the Thames to pleasure yachts - and manned by naval personnel, though in some cases boats were taken over to Dunkirk by the owners themselves.

They sailed from Dover, the closest point, to allow them the shortest crossing. On May 29, Operation Dynamo was put into action.

When they got to Dunkirk they faced chaos. Soldiers were hiding in sand dunes from aerial attack, much of the town of Dunkirk had been reduced to ruins by the bombardment and the German forces were closing in.

Above them, RAF Spitfire and Hurricane fighters were headed inland to attack the German fighter planes to head them off and protect the men on the beaches.

As the little ships arrived they were directed to different sectors. Many did not have radios, so the only methods of communication were by shouting to those on the beaches or by semaphore.

Space was so tight, with decks crammed full, that soldiers could only carry their rifles. A huge amount of equipment, including aircraft, tanks and heavy guns, had to be left behind.

The little ships were meant to bring soldiers to the larger ships, but some ended up ferrying people all the way back to England. The evacuation lasted for several days.

Prime Minister Churchill and his advisers had expected that it would be possible to rescue only 20,000 to 30,000 men, but by June 4 more than 300,000 had been saved.

The exact number was impossible to gauge - though 338,000 is an accepted estimate - but it is thought that over the week up to 400,000 British, French and Belgian troops were rescued - men who would return to fight in Europe and eventually help win the war.

But there were also heavy losses, with around 90,000 dead, wounded or taken prisoner. A number of ships were also lost, through enemy action, running aground and breaking down. Despite this, the evacuation itself was regarded as a success and a great boost for morale.

In a famous speech to the House of Commons, Churchill praised the 'miracle of Dunkirk' and resolved that Britain would fight on: 'We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender!'


Watch the video: Dunkirk rescue civilian boats arrive to dunkirk beach evacuation (August 2022).