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'Gunboat at Boulogne, May 1940

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Stephen Lally View Drop Down
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    Posted: 03 April 2016 at 5:43pm
On Tuesday 21st May 1940 a gunboat delivered men of the 20th Guards Brigade to Boulogne harbour to reinforce defenders of the town from the German assault that started the following day.  At 14.30 hrs it left carrying 367 men of the RAF and Air Formation Signals, my father among them.  Both my father’s personal diary and the official AFS diary call the vessel a “gunboat”.  Can you help with my 2 questions, please?

1.      Can this gunboat be identified by name or type?

2.      Was a gunboat too small to take on board 367 men, even in the dire circumstances at the time?  What sort of vessel could it have been?

Many thanks for any help.

Stephen Lally
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johnk View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote johnk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 April 2016 at 5:24pm
Hi Stephen,

Many thanks for this post and most interesting, yes a few days before "Dunkirk evacuation" but of course involved more than just port of Dunkirk....um, as I say very interesting, A "gunboat" we tend to thing of motor gunboats, 70' at the time?......367....I would say even at that time......I work with the Paddle Steamer Medway Queen, not the same at all, but indeed "max capacity" was for her, just above the paddle shaft being underwater! .....I had better stop there, a little knowledge etc...I do hope more informed colleagues can help...all the best.

Johnk
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Stephen Lally View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Stephen Lally Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 April 2016 at 7:54pm
John.  Many thanks for your interest.  I've been on the Medway Queen.  A great day!           I know this is a really wild question but in my family history research I've found nearly every question I ask, somebody, somewhere has the answer.  
Stephen Lally
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johnk View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote johnk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 April 2016 at 3:24pm
Hi Stephen,

No problem, sorry not actual direct info, ah that is good to hear! glad you enjoyed it, all the best.

Johnk
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medusa View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote medusa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 April 2016 at 4:35pm
This might help....
 

From BEF Ships before, at an after Dunkirk by John de S Winser

 

Operations at Boulogne and Calais

 

Having reached the French coast near Abbeville, the leading German army units were completing an encircling movement and, by advancing towards Boulogne, Calais and Dunkirk, were poised to sever any seaborne escape route. On May 21, MTB 25 was despatched to Cherbourg to collect a supply of French maps; the hospital carriers ST ANDREW and ST JULIEN transported military patients from Boulogne to Southampton. And the destroyers KEITH, WILD SWAN and VENOMOUS between them brought into Folkestone 468 civilians from Dunkirk, Boulogne and Calais respectively (sic). Two yachts, GREY MIST and GULZAR crossed the Channel to act as wireless links, the former at Boulogne and the latter at Calais, and in the evening the destroyer WHITSHED went alongside Admiralty Pier at Dover to embark anti=tank guns for what could prove to be an opposed landing at Boulogne. She left at 0520 on May 22 in company with the destroyer VIMIERA and the passenger ships BIARRITZ and QUEEN OF THE CHANNEL carrying part of a Guards’ brigade. They were followed at 0948 by another passenger steamer, MONA’S QUEEN, with the remaining troops. The initial arrivals found Boulogne still in French hands and, with the aid of the Thames tug GONDIA, the ships were able to berth alongside a quay described as being in complete chaos.

 

There follows a section about POWs and civilian evacuees, then May 23:

 

WHITSHED and VIMIERA entered and berthed alongside, to witness their ships being rushed by panicky British soldiers of the Pioneer Corps who had to be controlled at bayonet point. In contrast the well disciplined Guardsmen boarded WHITSHED ….. both ships left for Dover at 2025.

Alan
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johnk View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote johnk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 April 2016 at 3:28pm
Hello Alan,

Many thanks for this post, and fascinating to, albeit involved with a Dunkirk ship, Medway Queen, still much to learn about it. Particularly the mention of rescue of civilians...hear story of a soldier tried to smuggle a woman aboard with him, she was I think dressed as a soldier, but found out and he did not leave her and went off up the beach.....ie I thought military personnel ONLY were considered....thanks again,

Johnk
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