‘Home Again’ – Operation Dynamo Manx Tribute
On Friday 29th May 2015 at 18.30, a memorial service was held around the restored anchor from ‘Mona’s Queen’, at Kallow Point, Port St Mary on the Isle of Man. The service was held 75 years to the day that three Isle of Man Steam Packet Ships were lost within the space of 24 hours at Dunkirk. ‘Mona’s Queen’ was mined, ‘Fenella’ was struck by air attack whilst ‘King Orry’ sustained heavy damage following several air attacks.
The ‘Mona’s Queen’ anchor, which was raised in 2010 thanks to the combined efforts of Isle of Man, UK and French naval and government representatives, is a permanent memorial to all the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company crew who took part in World War Two. Eight Steam Packet Company ships took part in Operation Dynamo – the historic rescue of the British Expeditionary Force – and brought 24,669 of them to safety. Of a total of 338,226 troops rescued, one in fourteen was brought out on a Steam Packet Company vessel.
During the service Pam Evans, the daughter of a Dunkirk serviceman, read her poem entitled ‘Home Again’.
The Ben-my-Chree came in as usual one early misty morn,
But this day was rather special for history was born.
She’d carried a priceless cargo across the sea that night
And a guard of honour greeted her in the early morning light.
She was bringing back the anchor from the valiant ‘Mona’s Queen’,
Lost at Dunkirk in 1940 in that hellish dreadful scene.
In the 70th anniversary year of Dunkirk’s historic days,
The ‘Mona’s Queen’s’ great anchor at last they hoped to raise.
Nearly all our boats were commandeered in Operation Dynamo,
Along with all their crews of course, they had no choice but go.
Yet they helped rescue British soldiers from the enemy’s desperate hand
And played their part in no small way in the saving of our land.
Almost 25,000 men its said were saved by our Manx boats alone
With the bravery of their seamen, who helped get them safely home.
My Dad he was a soldier just one of thousands on that shore,
Hoping desperately for rescue which looked less likely more and more.
Along with all those others he waded out up to his neck,
Till pulled aboard a destroyer he he landed on its deck.
He never said a thing about the awful sights he must have seen.
But I always will remember these things he said he’d seen.
As a Scouser born and bred of course the Isle of Man boats he knew.
He recognised them right away, King Orry, Mona’s Queen, Fenella too.
And he saw the Mona’s Queen herself come under fierce attack,
Enemy plans were bombing her, no way could she fight them back.
She sank it seems quite quickly, half a mile away from shore,
Killing twenty four of her civilian crew and who knows how many more.
Her sister ship Fenella, suffered likewise and was caught.
Dad witnessed her sinking – I really can’t hep but wonder just what he must have thought.
Happily he got home safe or I would not be here.
And its solely thanks to him of course I was brought up to revere,
The memory of all those service men and civilians who were not able to return,
But gave their lives bringing triumph from disaster and the enemy overturn.
So now we have the anchor back. A symbol of the war,
And the loss sustained by millions which time cannot restore.
Tell your children, tell your grandchildren, if you remember don’t forget,
How much was owed by so many to our Manx boats and how very great the debt.
And let us all give thanks that now the day has come along
When in some small way the ‘Mona’s Queen’s’ – back home – where she belongs.
If you are ever diving the Isle of Man, it is worth taking a walk up to see this memorial. It is approximately 10 – 15 minutes walk from Discover Diving in Port St Mary.