BBC Documentary: "Little Ships of Dunkirk"

Discussion in 'History' started by sgtpepperband, Oct 5, 2009.

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  1. sgtpepperband

    sgtpepperband War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

  2. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    Wandering around Woodbridge one afternoon I spotted a plaque screwed to the front of the cabin on a trim little wooden launch proclaiming that it had been a 'little ship' in its day. Wonder how many are still afloat.

    For the story generally, and how the evacuation was pulled together and made to happen, try 'Full Cycle', the biography of Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, by Rear Admiral WS Chalmers.
  3. Several of the boats are shown here (click on each one for details) on the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships website but I don't think the list is exhaustive.
  4. (granny)

    (granny) Book Reviewer

    At the same time as 'Dunkirk' there was another evacuation taking place in France. Operation 'Ariel' got underway. At St Nazaire members of the BEF who had struggled down through France were picked up by a Fleet of ships. On the 17th June 1940 one of them, the SS Lancastria, was bombed and sunk with the loss of thousands of lives. It is the biggest disaster at sea. My Father managed to get off the beach and was succesfully evacuated. I am still trying to find out on which ship he was brought home. The details of the sinking of the 'Lancastria' are not allowed to be divulged until 2040.

  5. Every day is a school day.
  6. There may well be a few of the boats left, but realistically how many of the 87+ year old crews would still be alive for interview?
  7. Here you go Stirling
  8. Thanks Wreck.

    My signiture seems even more poignant.
  9. This programme is available to watch on iPlayer until 12 June via this link: BBC2: Little Ships

    So sad that James 'Lofty' Christmas died before the programme was broadcast.
  10. With the exception of the Lancastria disaster, Operation Aerial is a success story almost forgotten; perhaps it's because it wasn't as dramatic as Dunkirk, it just hasn't entered the national consciousness.

    On the other hand, Operation Cycle, the evacuation from Pays-en-Caux (Le Havre/Dieppe/St Valery) was one big balls up thanks to the French, Churchill, Rommel and the weather.

    You'll be able to read about both in the July edition Navy News. Shameless plug. :lol:

    Just the small matter of finishing the supplement left now...
  11. Dad always said that his father was on a 'little ship' as crew. But his papers show pensioned in 1933, then nothing until Pembroke II in July 1940. Dad said that as he was an 'old Navy' man (Joined up 1911 & Leading Stoker), he was put on an old fashioned steamer (with a brass funnel!), and fired to her, to use railway nomenclature. I don't doubt that it's true, but whether this was a romanticised memory I don't know. He didn't know what little ship, so I guess I never will know. He was a Dover man, so maybe a vessel from there ?
  12. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    He didn't need to be in the RN to be aboard on of the Little Ships, a lot of the crews were volunteers from all walks of life, if he turned up and said "I'm a Stoker." He would have no doubt been found employment.

    Have you seen these pics, they might help narrow down your search for the actual boat

    Yahoo! Image Search Results for dunkirk little ship
  13. Yes, a good point that I hadn't thought of. Thanks for the gallery, I shall take a look !
  14. Ok, I know that this is an older thread but having re-joined Rum Ration...ooops, Navy Net, this one caught my eye.

    Coming into port in small craft late last year we passed an old tub flying the St Georges Cross, as we were now only making 8kts I got chatting to the skipper, mentioning his flag and was this a small ship, turned out no, he was just a proud Englishman and did not know that as well as the flag of an Admiral this was also an honour granted to the Little Ships. CrossofStGeorge.gif
  15. (granny)

    (granny) Book Reviewer

    Does anyone know if there is a list of the ships that brought home the survivors of Operation Ariel, and a list of the men they brought home? Or any idea where to start searching?
  16. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

  17. (granny)

    (granny) Book Reviewer

    Thanks Janner.
  18. Bit late to this thread, but I've only just joined. I have just completed a Paper about the specific contribution made to the "armada " of little ships by the Watermen and Fishermen of Southend on Sea. 30 small craft were requisitioned from Southend; 12 of the largest excursion beach motor vessels on 27th May, 6 cocklers f from leigh on Sea on the morning of May 29th, sailing from leigh creek at 0030 on 30th, under leadership of Solomon; and over the next ftwo days another 12 boats, more beach excursion boats, 5 yachts, and the Southend Lifeboat "Greater london: Civil service No3" - volunteered and were taken across by their Owners and crews My father's Company contributed 7 of the "pleasure boats, and at the end of the war we got only 1 returned to us. I have all dad's papers relating to Operation Dynamo and it's aftermath for him and his partner personally, as they tried to the compemsation the Navy had promised them when requisitioning their boats under Form T691, etc.; - and the Ministry Of Shipping [which was tasked with handling the compensation claims, used every bureaucratic way the clerks could devise to delay and then reduce the amount of the Compensation. However that's not why I joined.
  19. @ Repulse. Hi there. The most complete List of Dunkirk Little Ships - 1300 of them - was authored by Russell Plummer in 1990, title "Little Ships that saved an Army, and published by patrick Stephens. I have a copy for my own family research. Your Dad's description of the little ship he crewed aboard should make her easy to identify. The steamer and brass funnel suggests one of the older Navy Steam Pinnaces to me - I read somewhere that several of them went to Dunkirk. As a "veteran ex-Navy Man, I'm sure the Small Vessels Pool Drafting Office would have welcomed your dad's volunteering with metaphorical "open arms" - they were desperately short of coxswains and engineroom staff by May 28th and on the morning of may 29th the BBC was asked to put out a request for anyone with small-boat handling skills, and engine-room experience especially with internal combustion units - to report at once to the nearest RNR Shore Establishment, or the the nearest Fishery Office. Your Dad would have been asked to sign-on again using a Crew Agreement T.124X, which would have been valid for 30 days, giving him £3-0-0 'all found' for that period, and placing him under Naval Discipline for that time too. Some little ship volunteers were signed on using T.124X Forms, some volunteered and took their own boats over without signing anything. The pity of the history is that all the professional watermen from the seaside Resorts who volunteered their craft and themselves and crews on May 27th and 28th in response to the Small Craft Control Order of may 10th - had their boats requisitioned and sent downriver with untrained Navy crews, while their services were refused, because an Admiralty Standing Order based on the Geneva Covention revisions of 1931, prohibited civilian help to the Services in a combat zone. So the rule-bound Capt Champion and R.Adm Taylor sent seaworthy little ships away towards Dunkirk in the charge of RN personnel untrained in small craft handling in shallow waters, and with enginemen who knew nothing at all, about engines running on TVO - which most of those craft had. Not until the evening of may 28th in the BBC's 6.00pm News Bulletin did the Admiralty beg for civilian watermen and yachtsmen to take boats over, thus signalling that the Adm. S.O was being placed in abeyance during the Emergency. Of course, that was far too late for the boats already dispatched in the charge of untrained RN personnel. The RN of the late 1930's didn't USE engines that ran on TVO in any of their hundreds of Ship's motor-boats, Those either had the older reciprocating steam engines, or they had the newer HS i.c.engines fueled by Petrol; - so HMS Sultan didn't train motormen to handle them. And worse yet, Fuelling Berth Staff are known to have fuelled-up these little ships unsupervised with the wrong fuel - so that a large number of the reqisitioned small craft suffered engine failures which their RN crews didn't know how to put right; and the little ships were abandoned and left to drift. Compiling my History I identified a list of nearly 40 little ships which are noted as having suffered engine failure; and 33 other those are noted as being fitted with engines that ran on TVO.

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