One of the legendary 'little ships' of Dunkirk motored back into Poole Harbour at the weekend, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Second World War Allied evacuation.
Aquabelle, launched in Sussex in 1939, was moored at Poole at the start of World War II.
When hundreds of thousands of Allied servicemen found themselves trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk, Aquabelle was one of the 700 'little ships' which answered the call.
Operation Dynamo, also known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, saw the rescue of more than 338,000 British and French soldiers from the coast of France during the early stages of the war.
On Saturday, civic dignitaries and onlookers gathered to watch the RNLI escort Aquabelle into Poole Harbour.
The recently-restored boat is visiting the town until June 11, after taking part in the official commemorative Channel crossing from Ramsgate to Dunkirk and back again with 50 other little ships.
Poole Harbour Master Captain Brian Murphy said: "I think this is a superb way for Poole to commemorate the events of Operation Dynamo and the war efforts surrounding this - not just by military vessels, but by little ships, which played a pivotal role in the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from the beaches of Dunkirk.
"The mayor of Poole will be visiting Aquabelle, and I would invite others to come and see for themselves how an ordinary vessel became extraordinary."
The lifesaving boat, part of what Winston Churchill called a "miracle of deliverance", was greeted by Poole Mayor Ann Stribley and members of the Royal British Legion and Royal Marines Association. She is currently moored at Poole Quay.
During the wartime evacuation the Aquabelle towed five vessels back to the UK, and was later fitted with a gun to defend lighthouses from air attack.
In recent years she has been based in the south of France for restoration work, aided by the grandson of her original owner.
David Tofts, one of the organisers of the Poole visit, said: "We thought it would be great to have this historic ship return to where she was moored at the outbreak of hostilities."
- DAILY ECHO.
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