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Page last updated at 07:25 GMT, Thursday, 27 May 2010 08:25 UK
WWII 'Little ship' The Medway Queen restored in Bristol
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Signalman recalls Dunkirk effort

The Medway Queen, one of the most famous "little ships" of WWII, is being restored at Bristol's Albion Dockyard.

A paddle steamer, built in 1924 to take holidaymakers on trips around the seaside resorts of Kent, she was commissioned into the Navy in 1939.

She became known as the "Heroine of Dunkirk" after helping to evacuate British troops from Normandy in 1940.

Making seven crossings of the English Channel in seven days, she rescued 7,000 British servicemen.

But after her service as a pleasure boat ended she was left to rot.

A campaign to save her, supported by veterans, was fought for more than 30 years.

Now, with a £1.8m Heritage Lottery Fund grant, she is being restored by specialist shipbuilders at the Albion Dockyard in Bristol's Floating Harbour.

The hull is being constructed in the traditional way - with rivets and it is the first ship of its size to be built this way in the UK in more than 50 years. The project is expected to take about two years.

The Medway Queen's signalman Eric Woodroffe, who lives near Canterbury, is now 91 years old.

He was on duty aboard the ship for the entire Normandy operation and his memories of that extraordinary episode of the war are undimmed.




SEE ALSO
Dunkirk rescue boat to get revamp
17 Apr 09 |  History
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22 Feb 10 |  History

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