Dunkirk Little Ships coming to Royal Victoria Dock

Dunkirk Little Ships get into formation in Dover ahead of a previous crossing to France (picture: PA

Dunkirk Little Ships get into formation in Dover ahead of a previous crossing to France (picture: PA/John Stillwell) - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Seventy five years ago, hundreds of boats sailed from Ramsgate to Dunkirk in a bid to rescue more than 338,000 British soldiers trapped on the beaches in northern France.

Tomorrow will see 19 of them gather in the Royal Victoria Dock for the first time, allowing visitors to climb on board a piece of history.

The visit is a stopover as they travel to Ramsgate, Kent, before meeting up with other Dunkirk Little Ships and crossing the Channel next week.

“It’s good to have the Little Ships here because people of a certain age will remember their use during the Second World War,” said Mike Luddy, the managing director of the Royal Docks.

“Something like 25,000 bombs hit the docks during the war, so there’s a connection.”

The ships will arrive in the dock from 5pm tomorrow, and at 7pm a sail past will take place.

The Silver Queen, one of the Dunkirk Little Ships that is resident in the Royal Victoria Dock, will be offering trips around the area.

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However, the predicted adverse weather means the boats will have to leave by 11am on Sunday morning, two days ahead of schedule, in order to ensure both the crews and the vessels are safe.

That decision was taken by Ian Gilbert, commodore of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships.

The association makes the journey with the historic boats every five years, with this year’s trip being Ian’s fourth.

“It takes about eight hours, and the first feeling is of relief that we’ve managed to get all the boats across,” he said.

“We’re taking 60 boats across a busy shipping lane.”

“We’re escorted by the Royal Navy and the RNLI as well, and there’s a fly-past from a Spitfire and a Hurricane.”

The ships will be moored overnight at end of the dock closest to the Emirates Air Line.

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