16th June 1940
A flotilla of Jersey boats sets sail for Dunkirk
The Dunkirk evacuation of May and June 1940 was a triumph, rescuing more than a quarter of a million Allied troops from France as German forces approached.
However, it by no means brought home everyone who needed to be rescued and, on 16 June, the Admiralty requested that the Lieutenant Governor of Jersey dispatch as many boats as the island could manage, so as to rescue another batch of troops from mainland Europe.
St Helier Yacht Club in action
Volunteers were assembled from the St Helier Yacht Club, and they set sail for France that night. As detailed on the club’s website, the boats sailed in two convoys, with the first bringing troops and stores from St Malo to a series of transporters anchored offshore, and the second taking what was left, and picking up a team of demolition experts that had been dropped off earlier with a mission to put the port out of action so it couldn’t be used by the Germans once they reached it. As part of a larger operation, they helped rescue more than 190,000 troops and 35,000 civilians.
They only just completed their mission in time, as German forces were advancing so rapidly to the west that they had invaded and occupied the Channel Islands by the end of the month in which the flotilla had set sail.
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