Watch this short video about Dunkirk.
Improvised jetty being inspected by German soldiers after the fall of Dunkirk.
Without rest, the crew of the Christobel II worked tirelessly retrieving men from the beaches and taking them to larger ships. Sometimes they would tow smaller boats to speed up the transfer process. Other times they would stop to pick up men in the water, survivors from sunken ships or desperate men swimming out from the shore.
1 June 40. The losses of ships and men by shelling from the shore and bombs was unsustainable and the ships were ordered to retrieve troops from Dunkirk only during the hours of darkness.
2 June 40. Between 3,000 and 4,000 of the British Expeditionary Force remained and an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 French troops. (The estimate given by the French had only been 25,000 on the previous evening.)
That night’s operation was based on lifting 25,000 men. This required 13 personnel vessels,2 store carriers, 11 destroyers, five paddle steamers, 9 fleet minesweepers, 1 special service vessel, nine drifters (Fishing vessels converted to minesweepers) 6 skoots, (Dutch barges) 2 armed yachts, 1 gunboat, a number of tugs towing small craft and freelance motorboats. These two armed yachts were almost certainly from Sheerness and probably the Amulree and Christobel II.
Of the four Sheerness Armed Yachts at Dunkirk, the Caleta had returned to Sheerness on the 1st June towing another vessel. The Glala had been slightly damaged and was under repair.
Troops under fire on the Dunkirk beaches.
One of the famous “Little Ships” of Dunkirk.
The Christobel II was a private motor yacht requisitioned by the Royal Navy as a Harbour Defence Patrol Craft based with the Extended Defence Flotilla at Sheerness. The most notable part she played in World War Two was when she rescued thousands of troops from the beaches of Dunkirk in May 1940.
28 May 40. The Extended Defenses Flotilla at Sheerness sent four of its armed yachts, Amulree. Caleta, Christobel II and Glala to Dunkirk.
Although Britain had the biggest Navy in the World at the outbreak of World War Two it was not big enough. While the British Navy had to protect every convoy and every port, the German Navy could attack in force anywhere at any time. Ships and vessels of every kind were pressed into service. Their type and design dictating their role. Amulree was chosen to work with the Extended Defense Flotilla.
The Extended Defense Flotilla operated in the Thames Estuary maintaining a marine mine field which could be detonated from the EDO Post (Extended Defence Officers Post) when ships were seen or submarines detected on “Indicator Loops”. These Indicator Loops detected the magnetic field of a ship or submarine. Extended Defence mine fields were across the Swale and Medway.
In company with other armed yachts in her flotilla, Amulree, Caleta and Glala, the Christobel II loaded additional supplies of food and ammunition and sailed through the channels swept of mines to the Dunkirk beaches.
Her main task was not to take men back to England, but like many other “small ships” to pick men up from the beaches and take them out to larger vessels standing by in deeper water off shore. This was often interrupted when enemy aircraft appeared overhead. As the bombers dived at the British ships which maneuvered violently, they were met with a hail of gunfire.
The job of picking men up off the beaches became easier when resourceful soldiers drove vehicles into the sea at low tide to make an improvised jetty.
Troops, both British and French, relieved to be arriving back in England thanks to small ships such as the Armed Yacht Christobel II
OFFICERS from Navy List August 1940
(Rank. Name, Date joined ship.)
OFFICERS from Navy List Feb 1941
Temp. Lieut, R.N.V.R. G. P. Probert. July 40
OFFICERS from Navy List June 42.
Not Listed in 42.
OFFICERS from Navy List June 43
Listed but no Officer.
OFFICERS from Navy List June 44
Listed but no Officers.
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