The RNLI at Dunkirk 1940

As many of you will know, an armada of “little ships” took part in Operation Dynamo in 1940. This involved the rescue of Allied troops from the beaches at Dunkirk, France. What is not so commonly known is that a number of lifeboats were involved in this operation. At least three of these boats were crewed by the Royal Navy. As far as our branch historical guru Les Bridgwater has been able to ascertain nineteen RNLI lifeboats were deployed. Only one was sunk, the Viscountess Wakefield from Hythe. This was manned by the Royal Navy when the Coxwain refused to take the lifeboat and took his own fishing boat instead. I have listed below the lifeboats that Les has identified as being involved.


Station Name Type Official Number On Station
Margate The Lord Southborough Watson Motor Lifeboat ON688 1925-1951 RNLI crewed
Ramsgate Prudential CS1 Rother ON697 1926-1953 RNLI crewed
Aldeburgh No1 Adby Beacclerk Watson Motor Lifeboat ON751 1931-1958 Royal Navy crewed
Aldeburgh No2 Lucy Lavers Liverpool ON832 1940-1959 Royal Navy crewed
Walmer Charles Dibdin CS2 Beach ON762 1933-1959 Royal Navy crewed
Southend Greater London CS3 Rother ON704 1928-1941 Royal Navy crewed
Hastings Cyril & Lillian Bishop Self Righting ON740 1931-1950 Royal Navy crewed
Newhaven Cecil & Lillian Philpott Watson Motor Lifeboat ON730 1930-1959 Royal Navy crewed
Poole Thomas Kirk Wright 32 ft Surf ON811 1939-1962 Royal Navy Crewed
Southwold Mary Scott Norfolk & Suffolk ON691 1925-1940 Royal Navy crewed
Hythe The Viscountess Wakefield 42ft Beach ON783 1936-1940 Royal Navy Crewed – Sunk
Dungeness Charles Cooper Henderson 42 ft Beach ON761 1933-1957 Royal Navy crewed
Gorleston Louise Stephens Watson Motor Lifeboat ON820 1939-1967 Royal Navy crewed
Lowestoft Michael Stephens Watson Motor Lifeboat ON838 1939-1963 Royal Navy crewed
Walton E.M.E.D. Rother ON705 1928-1953 Royal Navy crewed
Clacton Edward Dresden Watson Motor Lifeboat ON707 1929-1952 Royal Navy crewed
Eastbourne Jane Holland Self Righting ON673 1929-1949 Royal Navy crewed
Shoreham Rosawood & Phyliss Lunn Watson Motor Lifeboat ON758 1933-1963 Royal Navy crewed
Cadgwick Herbert Sturmey Self Righting ON664 1932-1941 also served at Swanage 1918-1928 and Falmouth 1928-1931 Royal Navy crewed