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“We must go back again. Every one of those men in the water is somebody's son”

The Dunkirk Letters of Master Captain Tom C "Daddy" Woods OBE - Podcast 10

The personal diary and letters home from Capt Woods of the Lady of Mann offer a unique glimpse into the happenings of the Dunkirk evacuation during WW2 in 1940.


Bill Cheall was plucked off the Dunkirk beaches by the ship Lady of Mann, which had an heroic part to play at Dunkirk.


The ship was captained by civilian seaman, Tom Woods, who would later be honoured with an OBE for his gallant efforts.


Hear about the murderous threat of the German forces. Learn about a mutiny on the big ships!


A dramatic blow by blow account of five deadly days in Dunkirk!

"German planes were coming over, their bombs dropping the other side of the pier about 40 yards from us and we had seven holes made in the starboard bow close to the water line,  also three lifeboats holed by flying shrapnel from the shells."

Page from copy of Capt Woods' report to his boss. No photocopiers in those days so the draft with typos was kept as a record.

The East Mole at Dunkirk where the troops boarded the Lady of Mann. Some troops were killed boarding.

The Lady of Mann moored up at Brest where she carried out further evacuations following Dunkirk

Soldiers sheltering in the sand dunes, WWII

"It was a ship's graveyard", Bill Cheall, 30 May 1940. Pic from Manchester Univ archives

Map of Dunkirk Harbour and the Moles (Protective piers) WW2

Captain Woods, C 1940

Captain Woods with wife,


Isle of Man Google Map

Map showing the allies surrounded

Opens in a new window. Best viewed on a desktop machine

Isle of Man and Barrow, Google Map

Orders to shipping to leave Dunkirk, WWII

Orders to return for one more rescue mission to help save 26,000 French allies who had been guarding the rear:




I hoped and believed that last night would see us through but the French who were covering the retirement of the British rear guard had to repel a strong German attack and so were unable to send their troops to the pier in time to be embarked.


We cannot leave our allies in the lurch and I call upon all officers and men detained for further evacuation tonight to let the world see that we never let down our Ally. The approach will be made later and the retirement earlier. The night protection of our fighters which stopped all bombing of the harbour last night will be repeated.  

The thank you letter sent from the Government to Tom on 17 June after the evacuations had been completed

Soldiers sheltering in the sand dunes. Dunkirk podcast Map showing the allies surrounded ww2 Dunkirk podcast Dunkirk harbour map ww2 podcast Capt Tom Woods of Lady of Mann - WW2 history podcast Captain Woods and wife  - WW2 diary podcast British troops on Lady of Mann. WW2 history podcast Isle of Man and Barrow, Google Map WW2 podcast East Mole at Dunkirk where troops boarded Lady of Mann Dunkirk Ship - Funnels above the water Capt Woods' Dunkirk report, WW2 podcast Orders to Dunkirk ship Lady of Mann ww2 Thank you letter from the Government for Dunkirk services, podcast Lady of Mann just after war service -  WW2 diary podcast  Isle of Man shown on Google map, WW2 history podcast

Bill Cheall's published memoirs, which depict his rescue by Capt Woods and many other episodes from WW2. Click for more information.

Telegram Orders to Dunkirk ship Lady of Mann ww2 podcast Capt Tom Woods OBE WW2 history podcast Capt Tom Woods aboard the Lady of Mann WW2 podcast Civic reception 1946, being welcomed by the mayor of Douglas and the manager of the Steam Packet Co. WW2 history podcast

Captain Woods, C 1940

Tom at the civic reception in 1946, being welcomed by the mayor of Douglas and the manager of the Steam Packet Co

Lady of Mann just after WWII service, looking a sorry sight.

Show transcript Fighting Through war book WW2 podcast. Link to Apple Podcasts