Do you know of any Bexhill boats that were in the Dunkirk evactuation and became part of British WW2 history?
Hastings based artist Jaye Ho has been researching the Little Ships of Dunkirk for her art work in this year’s art festival Coastal Currents.
The Little Ships of Dunkirk were 700 private vessels from all over the country tasked by the Admiralty to sail from Ramsgate to Dunkirk to rescue stranded soldiers in Operation Dynamo.
Jaye said: “The flotilla of Little Ships must have been an incredible sight for the soldiers on the Dunkirk beaches - vessels of all shapes and sizes appearing on the horizon to bring them back to safety. I see this as a great example of the resourcefulness of the British. I was fascinated to find out that some of the Hastings fishing fleet and RNLI life boat were commandeered for the Operation, and I wanted to find out whether boats from neighboring Bexhill were also requisitioned.”
Jaye has looked into this further but hasn’t found anything yet.
“In the June 8 1940 edition of the Bexhill Observer there is mention of some paddle steamers that were used in the evacuation but unfortunately destroyed during the operation. But having spoken to Hastings History House, I understand that these were requisitioned by the Navy during both world wars as mine-sweepers, so would not be classified as Little Ships. I understand that at that time, like Hastings, Bexhill had a fishing fleet but I am unsure of whether any of these boats were used.
“In addition there were pleasure craft around Cooden Beach.
“I’ve spoken to the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships (ADLS) who have told me that they don’t have any records of boats from Bexhill in their books, but can help should people approach them with specific details of vessels. I would be grateful for anyone to get in touch with me if they have any information.”
The little ships has formed the basis of Jaye’s art work, which is the ADLS flag made out of bedsheets.
“I wanted to make an art work based around the local ships that were used during Operation Dynamo. I bought the bedsheets from local charity shops to symbolize the charitable nature of the people allowing their boats to be taken for the greater good of evacuating their brothers, fathers and sons stranded on the beaches just across the channel. And the materials also represent the resourceful nature of the Navy - as I use non standard flag material to make the flag, the Navy called upon non standard vessels for this operation. I am grateful to ADLS for allowing me to use their house flag for my work. This flag was designed 25 years after Operation Dynamo, and member Little Ships now fly this flag.’
The work is entitled ‘In Dedication to the Unknown Little Ships of Dunkirk’ and will be flown on the Metropole Lawns/Jubilee Walk flagpole on the seafront from Sep 20 to Oct 6. Jaye’s work will be part of NAVIGATE, an art trail in Bexhill by members of the De La Warr art critique group. There will be a launch event for NAVIGATE at 3pm on September 21 in the DLWP auditorium foyer.
Jaye Ho is a British artist with Singaporean and Malaysian parents. She commented: “The World Wars fascinate me, in particular WW2, as my parents lived through this war. I listened horrified, to stories of their countries under occupation by the Japanese, and how lucky I am not to have experienced conflict of this scale.”
If you have any information on Bexhill boats that might have been a Little Ship of Dunkirk, you can contact Jaye by sending her an email at email@example.com