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Teddington War Veteran Stowed Away in Operation Dynamo when only eight years old

Lifeboats News Release

Starting on 15 January 2024, Teddington war veteran, Stanley Holtom relates his childhood adventure when, aged only eight, he took part in the Dunkirk Little Ships rescue mission in 1940 in a RNLI 200 Voices podcast.

Gentleman seated at table wit D Day Landings badge

RNLI/Grace Palmieri

Stanley Holtom, Operation Dynamo Accidental Stowaway

The podcast is one of 200 being broadcast to celebrate the charity’s bicentenary on 4 March 2024. An episode is being released every day for 200 days, exploring captivating stories from the charity’s history, through to the current day.

Stanley tells how he and childhood friend Peter, also aged only eight, visited Tough’s boatyard in Teddington, the current site of the RNLI Lifeboat station. There they found themselves on one of the Dunkirk Little Ships flotilla sailing out of Teddington, then on Ramsgate and across to Normandy. His fascinating experience included nearing the beaches, avoiding enemy bombardment and bringing ten soldiers home to England. The stuff of true boys’ adventures.

The RNLI has been saving lives at sea since it was founded in 1824 and in that time, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 144,000 lives. Funded by voluntary donations, and with lifeboats crewed by specially-trained volunteers, the RNLI is a unique rescue organisation with a remarkable 200-year story to tell – many highlights of which are shared through the podcast series.

Available across all podcast platforms and the RNLI’s website, listeners can hear from survivors, supporters, volunteers, lifeguards, celebrity ambassadors, historians and many more from across the UK and Ireland – and beyond.

The 200 Voices series also includes celebrity ambassadors such as The Sixth Commandment actor Timothy Spall, Gavin and Stacey actor, Ruth Jones, Irish musician Phil Coulter, gold medal Olympian Sir Ben Ainslie and BAFTA-winning actor, Joanna Scanlan.

Stanley said, ‘I am pleased to share this story of my accidental boyhood adventure, especially as it started just down the road in Teddington where today’s lifeboat station stands I am grateful to the RNLI for all that it does to saves lives at sea and on our river.’

Listen to Stanley’s story and the other RNLI’s 200 Voices wherever you get your podcasts or at

A total of 19 RNLI lifeboats were among the armada of little ships that travelled to Dunkirk as part of Operation Dynamo, including volunteer crews from Margate and Ramsgate who helped save 3,400 lives.

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Notes to Editor:

· Find out more about the RNLI’s bicentenary at

· Teddington RNLI lifeboat station is one of four on the River Thames and is crewed and run by over 30 volunteers.

· The RNLI is a national charity solely funded by donations and legacies

RNLI media contacts:

For more information please telephone Gianna Saccomani, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07798905515 or [email protected] or Grace Palmieri, RNLI Deputy Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07855487508 or [email protected] , or Hatti Mellor, Regional Media Officer on 01273 818012 or [email protected]; or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

Key facts about the RNLI

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.