New WW2 film sheds light on heroics of small boats in Dunkirk evacuation

The new WWII thriller Dunkirk will be released on 21 July, commemorating the daring and valiant actions of all those involved in the evacuation of thousands of troops from the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940, who were under constant attack from German aircraft and guns. 


The evacuation was codenamed ‘Operation Dynamo’ and involved an odd assortment of yachts, motor cruisers, fishing boats and other small craft which were able to sail close enough to Dunkirk’s beaches to pick up troops and ferry them to the waiting freighters, passenger ships and warships, or back to the harbours of Margate and Ramsgate. 


These ships became known as the ‘Little Ships’ and the contribution these small civilian vessels and the people on board made to the evacuation, gave rise to the term ‘Dunkirk spirit’. 


4,200 ships left from Ramsgate Harbour to rescue troops from Dunkirk and 80,000 men were brought back to safety in Ramsgate.  In Margate, 46,722 soldiers were landed from Dunkirk.


On the 60th anniversary of Dunkirk, Dame Vera Lynn unveiled a plaque at Ramsgate Harbour to commemorate Thanet’s role in the Dunkirk evacuation.


As WWII approached the Borough Council embarked on ambitious plans to construct over two miles of bomb-proof deep shelter tunnels to protect the civilian population of the town.  Nobody realised that these tunnels would become the most extensive public underground system in the country and a ‘town within a town’.  


On August 24, 1940 around 300 families took to living in the tunnels on a permanent basis when 500 German bombs were dropped on Ramsgate in just five minutes.


It is now possible to book a tour of these underground tunnels and learn about life underground from recordings of those who took refuge there from the bombardment of a frontline town – a unique opportunity to glimpse Ramsgate’s heritage and ability to survive through the darkest period of WWII.


A museum dedicated to the pilots and aircrew of WW II at the historic Battle of Britain airfield in Manston.  Manston airport was only 10 minutes flying time from the enemy coast and bore the brunt of the early Luftwaffe air attacks in the summer of 1940.


The museum displays two iconic aircraft, the Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVI and the Hawker Hurricane IIC, along with a host of objects and artefacts which help tell the story of life in and around Ramsgate during WWII.

Follow EU Today on Social media:

Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

Related posts