This is a sponsored blog with the aim of raising £7000 for the Medway Queen. The ship's crew estimated they had saved 7000 men so that is just £1 for each soldier. Over the coming days this account will be updated on a daily basis to record events in the evacuation from the perspective of HMS Medway Queen’s crew until 5th June. If you find this account interesting please support us. Covid-19 has wiped out our regular visitor income and Ramsgate would have generated considerably more than that if it had taken place. A £10 donation is less than £1 per post! We are all volunteers so any purchase or donation directly benefits the ship.
Memories of Dunkirk – Sunday 26th May 1940
HMS Medway Queen and her crew remained on AA duty on the 26th. The night had been busy with air raids although the ship had not been in action. The 26th itself is reported as “a quiet day”.
Elsewhere things were less quiet! The official order to begin Operation Dynamo was issued at 18:57 on Sunday 26th May. Before that, however, a number of troops had been evacuated by destroyers and other ships and the despatch of personnel vessels (mainly cross channel ferries) had started at 15:00 on the 26th with the intention of providing 2 ships every 4 hours. The first of these returned at 22:30 and landed 1,312 men. Preparations for the full scale evacuation intensified. Orders were given and stores issued. Hundreds of ships and boats were allocated to the task.
Doreen's diary for Sunday 26th May
“National Day of Prayer”
Saturday 25th May 1940
80 years ago HMS Medway Queen was a minesweeper in the 10th Flotilla, based in Dover. Her Captain, Lt. Alfred Cook had been in command for just a few days, from May 20th. Over in France and Belgium the British Expeditionary Force, sent in 1939 to bolster French defences was falling back towards the coast as the German Army advanced.
Boulogne fell to the Germans and the remaining defenders were evacuated to Dover by Royal Navy destroyers after exchanging fire with the Panzers in Boulogne Harbour. HMS Medway Queen had refuelled and taken on stores a couple of days previously and was on Anti-Aircraft duty near Dover.
Doreen's diary for Sunday 19th May to 23rd
"The Germans have swept through Holland and part of Belgium and going on into France. Trains coming in with refugees and wounded. The Germans hold Arras and Amiens and sweeping on to Calais. Some reports same they have reached the coast – but we have now reclaimed Arras. If it hadn’t been for our RAF all would have been lost. The BEF are involved in heavy fighting and the RAF have been on bombing raids into Germany."
Accounts of Dunkirk can be confusing as most trips were made overnight. Thus Medway Queen’s first trip commenced on 27th May and she returned on the 28th. In the following days we will publish details of the trip starting on each day. Many accounts are out of synchronisation by a day or two and this can be the reason. A man picked up late on the 27th was on the same voyage as one picked up early on 28th and they both arrived back on the same day.
Richard Halton 25 May 2020
At least we don’t (usually) have to worry about hurricanes on top of Covid-19.