Jersey

Original boat takes part in 75th St Malo evacuation anniversary

Fiona
Image caption The 150-year-old Fiona under sail while returning to Jersey after celebrations in St Malo

The only remaining seaworthy Jersey boat used to evacuate Allied troops from St Malo in World War Two has taken part in 75th anniversary celebrations.

The Fiona was one of 20 civilian boats from Jersey used to rescue Allied forces from advancing German troops.

It sailed back to St Malo with around 100 members of St Helier Yacht Club to mark the event known as Jersey's Dunkirk.

Celebrations included a dinner reception in St Malo and a yacht race.

On 16 June 1940, the Bailiff of Jersey, Sir Alexander Coutanche, received a telegram from the Admiralty asking "Jersey send all available craft to St Malo to help with the evacuation of British troops".

The mission was part of Operation Aerial, which followed the rescue mission in Dunkirk, and evacuated Allied forces from ports in western France, from 15-25 June following the military collapse in the Battle of France against Nazi Germany.

Image caption About 20 boats from Jersey sailed to St Malo to rescue Allied troops
Image caption British forces blew up petrol tank depots and the lock gates of St Malo as they left the port

More than 20,000 men, mostly of the 1st Canadian Division, were evacuated from St Malo on 17 and 18 June. On leaving the port, British forces blew up petrol tank depots and the lock gates.

To commemorate Jersey's involvement in the mission, the St Malo Yacht Club organised a race to the port including the Fiona - the only remaining seaworthy boat.

Image caption Pop Newman believed he was on the last boat to leave St Malo

It is understood that all of the islanders who took part in the operation have now died.

Speaking to the BBC before his death, Jersey man Pop Newman described the dramatic mission in St Malo.

He said: "They were blowing up the locks and all of the oil tanks were on fire and there were a few private ships that were taking soldiers off, and I reckon I was the last one to leave."

Vice commodore of St Helier Yacht Club Steve Pearl said: "It was a very, very prestigious moment in the club's history.

"It was a fantastic achievement of members of the club and we think it is important to remember the ordeal."

Image caption Fiona was a fishing boat and is the flagship of the Jersey's Maritime Museum Fleet

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites