THE CONTENT OF THIS PAGE WILL BE UPDATED AS DETAILS EVOLVE
In May 2020 the Dunkirk Little Ships will assemble in Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Operation Dynamo; the Evacuation of the BEF from Dunkirk. Medway Queen was there in 1940 and again in 2015 for the 75th anniversary. Now we plan to be there once more for the 80th anniversary commemorations.
The ship is overdue for hull painting and this will be undertaken on the slipway at Ramsgate in the same movement sequence from Gillingham Pier. Early in May Medway Queen will be towed to Ramsgate and placed on the slip for hull maintenance and painting. When that is complete she will be moored at the Commercial Quay for the Little Ships’ events. The whole schedule depends on tides, weather and, no doubt, a few unknowns that we haven’t discovered yet! The plan is to complete the very necessary work and then move on to the events. The Medway Queen Preservation Society has funds allocated for the work on the hull but sponsorship would be very helpful towards the costs of the movement and for ongoing restoration. Private or commercial sponsorship would be very welcome and, in the latter case, the society will do all it can to offer promotional opportunities in return.
In May/June 1940 HMS Medway Queen made seven return trips across the channel to rescue the troops from the beaches and the East Mole of Dunkirk under the command of Lt. A. T. Cook RNR. Her crew estimated that they had picked up 7000 men and shot down 3 enemy aircraft. It was exhausting and it was dangerous with about one third of the ships and boats employed being lost. Medway Queen’s own unit, the10th Mine-sweeping flotilla, lost HMS Brighton Belle and HMS Gracie Fields. It brought out the very best from the men of the Royal Navy and the civilians who helped out. Medway Queen was small for a naval ship with a crew for the operation of just 48; but 7 of those 48 men were given awards for their actions. In eight consecutive nights Medway Queen and her crew made 7 trips, the days between being spent preparing for the next trip. The men worked until they dropped – literally.
Top: HMS Medway Queen in 1940 - PSPS Collection
Above Left: Rescued troops on board - PSPS Collection
Above Right: Medway Queen in Ramsgate for the 75th anniversary of Dunkirk - Brian Simmons
Below: HMS Medway Queen in Ramsgate in 1940 - PSPS Collection
Can you Help? To be open to the public for seven days we are going to need maximum effort from all departments, with additional support from any members who live locally or who can get to Ramsgate for the event. If you can help this expedition in any way please phone Pam Bathurst (Membership Secretary) on 01843 227941.
Ramsgate schedule: Medway Queen's schedule for the event is still being finalised. The ship will be moved to Ramsgate in the first week of May to go on the slipway for cleaning and painting. When their work is finished she will move to the Commercial Quay where she will be open to the public during the commemoration. At this stage we must stress that the dates should be regarded as provisional. Any delay or change in the hull works will impact our availability for the Dunkirk events.
PS Medway Queen is planned to be open to the public on Ramsgate’s Commercial Quay from 19th to 25th May:
19/20th May (Little Ships assemble in Ramsgate Harbour)
21st May (Little Ships sail for Dunkirk)
22nd to 25th May (Commemorative events in Ramsgate)
25th May (Bank Holiday, Little Ships return)
Medway Queen will return to Gillingham early in June and will re-open there on 20th June with the planned Fun Food and Craft event.