The Royal Docks will be rich with history and commemoration at the weekend when more than 20 “Little Ships” will gather to mark the 75th anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuations in 1940.
On Saturday evening, (May 16) as part of the nationwide Museums At Night festival, there will be a sail past (7pm) with the Little Ship Silver Queen offering twilight trips around the docks.
The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships will be holding a church service by the quayside at 11am on Sunday and throughout the day, there will be boat trips and the chance to see these Little Ships up close and hear their stories.
The little ships were originally 700 private boats – pleasure boats, yachts and fishing boats – that sailed from Ramsgate to Dunkirk in May and June 1940, braving minefields, bombers and e-boats to rescue more than 338,000 Allied troops on the French coast.
Commodore Ian Gilbert, of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships will be giving talks about Operation Dynamo throughout the day, and there will be a whole host of activities including a Benjafield Classic Car display.
On May 21 more than 60 of the Little Ships will leave Ramsgate in Kent and make their way to Dunkirk to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Operation Dynamo.
Commodore Gilbert said: “Sixty 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’.
“The crossing to Dunkirk by the remaining Little Ships is taking place to commemorate 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.”
The 45 minute boat trips around the Royal Docks will cost £10 per person, children half price.