The stories behind the story
In wartime ordinary men and women are asked to do extraordinary things. This is the story of the part some Isle of Wight British merchant sailors played in rescuing allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk – in Operation Dynamo. From a memoir written by ship's engineer, Fred Reynard.
"We drove at full speed on to the shore and grounded; they came towards us, some wading almost to their necks in the water, and we realised that our efforts to assist them aboard with ropes and scrambling nets were futile."
IOWtoDunkirk.com - Loads of fascinating facts and photos - great to explore! Post a comment on the forum.
Isle of Wight memorials - A good website about the IOW at war, more about the little ships
Michael Wills is a writer of historical thrillers. If you’d like to know more please do take a look at MichaelWills.eu
The Bee in Newport Harbour at low tide, after a repaint in 1961, Photo Roger Wills
The Bee at sunset, towing its pinnace astern
Isle of Wight, Google Maps
Fred Reynard proudly showing off his deserved medals
Newport Harbourmaster, Mr Wayne Pritchett, holding the Bee's bell and the brass plaque which all the little ships were awarded.
Bill Cheall's published memoirs, which depict his Dunkirk exploits and much more Click for more information.
Michael Wills, writer of historical thrillers. He has built an excellent, informative web site dedicated to the Isle of Wight wartime exploits at www.IOWtoDunkirk.com. Many thanks to Mike for his kind assistance in providing material for the podcast. Bill Trowbridge, the Skipper of the Bee, was Mike's uncle.
Sergeant Reginald Toogood was a signaller and a professional soldier, then aged 28. Listen to the podcast to learn about his extraordinary rescue!
"The Magnificent Three" of the Dunkirk heroes of the Bee. Fred Reynard, engineer, on the left - he wrote about their adventure. Bill Trowbridge, skipper, in the middle. Harry Downer, mate, on the right. The young lad is Ernest (Muddy) Downer! The crane on the left still stands today on Newport Quay, Isle of Wight. Marc Hocking, aged 18, as fourth hand, not present. You can just to say see a brass plaque awarded to all the little ships, on the wheelhouse, next to Bill's left shoulder, between the lifebelts - also see pic below explaining more.
“The officer told us the British Expeditionary Force was being driven into the sea and that our task was to lift as many off the beaches near Dunkirk as possible. ”
If you’d like to know more about Michael Wills' books please do take a look at www.michaelwills.eu
Bill Trowbridge, Skipper of Dunkirk little ship the Bee, in later years.
Great photo of the Bee - not such a little ship! Can you believe it could carry 375 soldiers including in the hold?
Bill Cheall's published memoirs cover his Dunkirk exploits and much more.
Miracle of Dunkirk – Walter Lord - Great book, full of the action and exploits at sea, on the beaches and inland.
Note: I will receive a small commission from any purchases made which helps with the expenses from producing the show. Items will NOT cost you any more.
Isle of Wight at War - Adrian Searle
Nineteen weeks - America, Britain and the fateful summer of 1940 - Norman Moss