RNLI Aldeburgh remember Operation Dynamo
On 30 May 1940, RNLI Aldeburgh lifeboats Lucy Lavers and Abdy Beauclerk were taken to Dunkirk by a naval crew and helped in the evacuation of 300,000 Allied troops as part of Operation Dynamo – also known as the Dunkirk “Little Ships” evacuation.
The Lucy Lavers is a ‘single screw’ Liverpool class lifeboat, which was much loved by crew around the coast in the 1930s and 1940s.
She was built in 1939 by Groves and Gutteridge on the Isle of Wight. With a light hull and draft of only 70cm, The Lucy Lavers was designed for carriage launch and was well suited for working in shallow waters, close to beaches.
Arriving on service at Aldeburgh, Suffolk in 1940, she was about to have a first shout to remember.
Between 27 May and 4 June 1940, a flotilla of 700 private vessels helped the British Royal Navy to carry out one of the most daring and dangerous missions of the War - the evacuation of more than 300,000 British and Allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk.
Among these little ships was Aldeburgh lifeboat Lucy Lavers, who made her way to Ramsgate where she was taken over by Royal Navy crews for the crossing to Dunkirk. For Lucy Lavers, this was her first action after coming on station earlier in May that year. Lucy Lavers was one of 19 RNLI lifeboats involved in Operation Dynamo.
Lucy Lavers served as the RNLI's lifeboat No 2 at Aldeburgh for 19 years, being called out 30 times and saving seven lives. After leaving Aldeburgh, she served as a relief lifeboat at Wells-next-the-Sea and elsewhere on the East Coast. She was called out 52 times as a relief vessel saving a further 37 lives. In 1968 Lucy Lavers retired from the RNLI.
After years of neglect, Lucy Lavers was in the care of the Dunkirk Little Ship Restoration Trust who donated her to the charity Rescue Wooden Boats, with the intention she be restored and used.
Lucy Lavers was restored in time to take part in the 75th anniversary of Operation Dynamo. In early May 2015, with help from the Aldeburgh lifeboat crew, Lucy Lavers left Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, calling at Lowestoft, Southwold, Aldeburgh, Levington, Harwich and Ramsgate. Here she joined the flotilla of other 'Dunkirk Little Ships’ and crossed the Channel in convoy.
Returning to Dunkirk was an emotional journey. The aim of the voyage was to tell Lucy Lavers' story in each port and to encourage people, especially young people, to learn about the Dunkirk evacuation, and maritime history. At each port of call, visitors boarded Lucy Lavers, experienced being on a 1940 lifeboat and feeling the enormity of the events in which she took part. More than 200 school children visited Lucy Lavers along her route, many of whom had never before been on boat.
Lucy Lavers is currently a pleasure boat in Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk.
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For more information, please contact Jo Litt, RNLI volunteer Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer: [email protected]
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The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.
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