Tag Archives: Dunkirk

Forgotten, but not gone

With the news the Cutty Sark restoration has been completed and the ship is to reopen to the public later this week, I wondered what had happened to another restoration project that has been ongoing since the 1980s. 

I mean the restoration of the Dunkirk “Little Ship” Medway Queen. Earlier this year, the project was in some doubt due to problems with the funding, as I linked and blogged about at the time. Happily, the problems have been resolved and work has resumed on the ship.

April 2012. 

It seems that the EU funding suspension for our project as at long last been lifted by the EU commission, not after causing many money worries re paying apprentices and their training staff. Hopefully all unpaid back payments as well as funds due will now be paid to the society!

In the time being work still carries on at Bristol, albeit rather slow of late, the bow section is basically complete, but the aft end seems to drag on, reluctance to rivet plate maybe because most will have to be done by old method by hand, as their “auto riveters” will possibly not reach most angles it seems!

http://www.medwayqueen.com/

The story of the rescue and restoration of this humble paddle steamer is one of tenacity and heartache. Reading through the captions accompanying the gallery on the Society’s unofficial web site, it really does beggar belief that it has taken so long and so much voluntary hard work to save part of the UK’s maritime heritage. 

Here’s a link to the official Medway Queen Preservation Society web site.

http://www.medwayqueen.co.uk/

BBC News – EU funding threatens Medway Queen restoration

The restoration of a paddle steamer which rescued Allied troops during the Dunkirk evacuations is under threat after European funding was suspended.

The Medway Queen took more than 7,000 men from beaches in Normandy in 1940.

Restoration work began last year with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Regional Development Fund.

The government said administrative errors had led to the suspension of EU funding and it was working to get payments released.

Restoration work on the ship’s hull began in Bristol last April with money from a £1.86m Heritage Lottery Grant.

For this project to founder would be an enormous shame, made worse by not being the fault of the project itself. I only hope some rich benefactor might step in to help if the funding problem isn’t sorted out in time.

The things you learn

I am following a Twitter feed from the UK National Archives. The feed is literally a blow-by-blow account of the British War Cabinet meetings during 1940.

At this point in June 1940, we’ve been through the humiliation of Dunkirk, and we’re about to face the Battle of Britain. However, while the British were licking wounds and making snarling noises in the direction of Germany, France was fighting for her life.

In the Cabinet papers today, I learn that there was a proposal to make “an indissoluble union and unyielding resolution in defence of liberty and freedom”. The Declaration of Union would be put to the French government the next day.

The whole idea was as far-reaching as it was startling. While there would be no single currency, citizens of each country would become citizens of the other, and there would be a so-called Super War Cabinet which would direct the progress of the war for the two countries. The man behind this whole idea is none other than General de Gaulle – the very one who about thirty years later would categorically deny the UK entry to the Common Market!

Be that as it may, if things had worked out, by the end of June 1940, there would have been a Franco-British union. Sadly, no sooner than the British War Cabinet agreed to proceed with the idea, word came through that the French High Council was meeting to decide whether further resistance against the German invaders was possible. History tells us that the French surrendered to occupation shortly after, and Great Britain was left alone to continue the fight.

How different things might have been had the proposed union been considered earlier in the year, or even before the outbreak war in 1939.

BBC News – Audio slideshow: Rescue from Dunkirk

I “discovered” the Battle of Britain as part of a history curriculum subject at school. I became hooked, and over the years I’ve maintained my interest.

I’ve also become fascinated with the whole period leading up to the Battle, and as we’re now into a season of 70th anniversaries, various organisations are looking at Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of 330,000 Allied troops from Dunkerque and Calais. Today marks the first day of the operation itself, and I would like to share this audio slideshow with you.