Whilst enjoying the sunshine in Greenwich, I came across the Return of the little ships: an installation in Greenwich in front of the Royal Maritime Museum. The installation celebrates the anniversary of the 1940 Dunkirk evacuation of troops from the beaches by a large number of small ships.
In mid May 1940, the British and Allied Forces were desperately fighting to stop the German advance through Europe, but the decision was made to evacuate the Allied Forces in the North from a small area around Dunkirk.
On the May 27th, the Ministry of Shipping requested that all small craft that were capable of taking troops off the beaches should be made available, the small craft were particularly important to reach parts of the beaches where the larger ships could not penetrate. A large number of boats with shallow draughts were assembled to make the dangerous trip across the channel.
The Little Ships and a fleet of Naval and Merchant Marine vessels operated off the Dunkirk beaches and the harbour between the 28th May and the 4th June 1940 and over 338,000 British and French troops were evacuated.
The installation is an attractive and poignant reminder of the bravery of the people involved in the Little Ships rescue who saved a large number of lives.