September 15, 2021

Ramsgate’s role in the evacuation of Dunkirk

Eighty-one years on from 'Operation Dynamo', Ramsgate harbour will celebrate the town's involvement in one of UK’s most historic events next weekend.

Ramsgate’s role in the evacuation of Dunkirk

As part of the 200th anniversary of Ramsgate Royal Harbour festival, a reconstruction of the famous 'little ships' fleet will enter the town’s harbour.

'Operation Dynamo' was the World War II evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk in June 1940; Ramsgate Royal Harbour was chosen as the final assembly point for the evacuation and played an essential role in its success.

Hundreds of fishing boats, lifeboats and pleasure crafts were dispatched from Ramsgate to form part of a line that stretched five miles, sailing across the English Channel to the North of France and helping to evacuate 340,000 British and French soldiers, saving them from meeting the forthcoming German Army. These boats would later become known as the ‘Little ships’.

As well as the evacuation, the Ramsgate tunnels beside Ramsgate Main Sands housed roughly 300 local families after a bombardment of German bombs on 24th August 1940 destroyed approximately 1,200 homes. The tunnels became an underground town with shops, barbers, canteens, concerts, and even an underground hospital during the war.

In celebration of Ramsgate's wartime history, at least six of the original 'Little Ships' will be sailing into Ramsgate Royal Harbour during the festival, taking place from the 24th to 26th September.

2021 marks 200 years since King George IV declared Ramsgate Royal Harbour as 'Royal', and to celebrate this historic occasion, the Thanet coast will enjoy an attraction-packed and action-filled weekend.

Along with the 'Little Ships' fleet demonstration, attractions include a tea party on the sands, water displays, funfair, Navy ships and 'the Royalist', a submarine simulator (TBC) and a drumhead service for the unveiling of a new statue of King George IV, which many hope can be completed next year.

After the former King's statue sculptor Dominic Grant passed away in November 2020, £60,000 is needed to fund the bronze casting, site groundworks, plinth and the statue's many journeys to complete the works, with which the festival and tea party are helping to raise awareness for. You can donate towards the statue raise at the statue raises JustGiving page here.

Ramsgate was recently ranked as the number one seaside town for Londoners to relocate to, according to a recent property market index report, and the Blueberry Homes Royal Sands Ramsgate luxury development just steps from Ramsgate Main Sands still has properties available. Visit to learn more.