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Monday, 29 May, 2000, 20:29 GMT 21:29 UK
Dunkirk ships dash for port
The Bou Saada
The Bou Saada: Dunkirk evacuation boat built in 1933
Improved weather conditions have enabled dozens of boats to finally make the journey to Dover to mark the 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk.

Atrocious weather conditions over the weekend meant only four out of 80 boats had made it to Dover's Granville docks by Sunday afternoon, with dozens more waiting in harbours all over England.

But a 24-hour gap in the bad weather allowed about 30 more boats to make the 'Dover Dash' on Monday, although almost 20 have already been forced to abandon the trip for fear of not getting there on time.

The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships commemorative cruise, scheduled for Thursday, will mark the massive evacuation of British and Allied forces from the French port of Dunkirk, in May and June 1940.

Allied troops being evacuated
338,000 evacuated

More than 330,000 troops were rescued from the clutches of Hitler's invading German armies during the epic evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo.

The Prince of Wales will take the salute at the final annual parade of Dunkirk veterans during the 60th anniversary commemorations of the war time rescue.

'A miracle of deliverance'

On Thursday the prince will meet some of the veterans, lay a wreath at Dunkirk's War Memorial and have the opportunity see some of the little ships which formed part of the civilian fleet that assisted the evacuation.

But not everyone who remembers Dunkirk is happy with the events lined up.

Wartime singer, Dame Vera Lynn, has criticised the refusal of the Heritage Lottery Fund to give money for a new memorial to the Dunkirk evacuation.

Vera Lynn
Dame Vera Lynn: Wants cash for memorial

A trust had sought £750,000 to build a monument commemorating the so-called 'Little Ships' fleet that took part in the dramatic 1940 rescue.

A total of 338,000 British and allied troops were rescued from the shore by 222 naval vessels and 800 civilian craft of all shapes and size after becoming almost completely surrounded by Hitler's armies.

Winston Churchill described Dunkirk as "a miracle of deliverance".

Modern-day drama

P&O Stena Line staged an evacuation of its own on Saturday to return 40 people involved in a re-enactment in Dunkirk.

Three so-called "little ships" from the original 1940 flotilla were to have collected the English Heritage party - but were hampered by a Force Nine gale over the English Channel.

The ferry firm instead sent a bus to take them to Calais, where they caught a ferry back to Dover.

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