Dunkirk Little Ship: Campaign launched to fund Vanguard's restoration

Image source, Nick Wood
Image caption,
Vanguard was involved in the rescue of hundreds of men from the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940

A campaign aimed at restoring a "brave old boat" involved in the 1940 Dunkirk evacuations has been launched.

Vanguard, an oyster dredger, was one of hundreds of Little Ships involved in the rescue of thousands of soldiers from the beaches of northern France.

The campaign hopes to raise £500,000 to return the derelict vessel to its former glory.

The Vanguard Restoration Foundation's Fiona Clegg said the boat "rescued 600 men from certain death or captivity".

About 850 private boats, known as Little Ships, sailed from Ramsgate, Kent, to Dunkirk in May and June 1940 as part of Operation Dynamo during World War Two.

Image source, Vanguard Restoration Foundation
Image caption,
Vanguard in 1937 - the year it was built
Image source, Vanguard Restoration Foundation
Image caption,
After being sold following the war, Vanguard was set on fire twice and eventually left to rot

Vanguard was one of three boats from Burnham-on-Crouch in Essex, where its repairs are now taking place, to go to Dunkirk.

Mrs Clegg said: "The journey must have been scary enough, but Vanguard also had to dodge attacks from the air by German bombers when she reached Dunkirk.

"She rescued 600 men from certain death or captivity and safely returned to England loaded with grateful soldiers."

The campaign includes a fundraising page and an appeal to find the soldiers the Vanguard helped save.

Image source, Tracy Saunders
Image caption,
Artist Tracy Saunders has been painting the restoration of the Vanguard

The boat was skippered by Albert Grimwade, along with a crew of fishermen and boys.

His granddaughter Janet Brasted said what he did was "unbelievable".

"He was one of the oldest to go out there. He was about 66," she said.

Image source, Nick Wood
Image caption,
Vanguard is to be restored to its former glory

After the war, Vanguard was sold, stripped, set on fire twice and left rotting.

It was eventually discovered at Canvey Island, before being returned home to Burnham in 2018.

Students at the International Boatbuilding Training College, in Lowestoft, Suffolk, will use the boat's original plans with the aim of restoring it in time for the 85th anniversary of the Little Ships' endeavours in 2025.

Mrs Clegg said it "would be terrific if school leavers considered a boatbuilding apprenticeship so that they play a part in keeping this brave old boat alive".

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