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Granddaughter finds family's 'lost' Dunkirk boat

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image copyrightAnnie Gabb
image captionIt took Annie Gabb 18 months to oversee the restoration of her family's boat

A woman has rediscovered her grandfather's boat that she believed was sunk when it was used in the 1940 Dunkirk rescue.

Annie Gabb, from Bridgnorth, Shropshire, had always assumed the "little ship" - named The Anne - was lost in the World War Two evacuation.

However, a relative tracked it down on eBay and Mrs Gabb bought the boat and restored it.

She plans to return to Dunkirk with it in 2020.

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'A terrible mess'

Mrs Gabb said she thought the boat sunk, "after her big adventure in 1940".

image copyrightAnnie Gabb
image captionMrs Gabb, pictured here with her son, always assumed the boat was lost in the war

"I was born not long after Dunkirk and I gather I was named after the boat," she said.

"I think what actually happened was that she was in quite a bad state and my grandfather thought it wasn't feasible to put her right."

image copyrightAnnie Gabb
image captionMrs Gabb's family owned the boat during the 1930s

Her grandparents moored the boat at Tenby, in Wales. After visiting the area in 2015, Mrs Gabb was inspired to find out what had happened.

"A cousin's husband Googled it. He said, 'You won't believe it. She's on eBay,'" Mrs Gabb said.

"I clicked in and found this little ship had been in the Queen's Jubilee. None of us knew."

image copyrightAnnie Gabb
image captionMrs Gabb now believes her grandfather sold the boat after the war

Mrs Gabb contacted the owner.

"I was warned she was in a bad state," she said. "I thought, 'If I don't rescue her, who will?'"

image copyrightAnnie Gabb
image captionThe boat was in a "terrible mess" when Mrs Gabb tracked her down

Mrs Gabb purchased the 30ft (nine metre) wooden boat in December 2015 and spent 18 months restoring her.

"We found a very good shipwright. She's looking beautiful again," she said.

She plans to join the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships on a return trip to mark the 80th anniversary of the evacuation in 2020.

image copyrightAnnie Gabb
image captionMany of the boats were sold after the war

"I believe she's the only little ship owned by a descendant of somebody who sent her to Dunkirk."

Jason Carley, the association's public relations officer, said many Dunkirk boats were requisitioned by the navy and were not returned to their original owners.

image copyrightAssociation of Dunkirk Little Ships
image captionThe boat took part in the Queen's Jubilee and will join other "little ships" on a trip to Dunkirk in 2020

"It wasn't until a few decades later they became to be treasured for their historical value."

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