A lifeboat used in Dunkirk evacuation returns to original home

A lifeboat that was one of the “small ships” involved in the Dunkirk evacuation has returned to its original home for the first time in nearly 100 years.

The Jane Hannah MacDonald III served as a lifeboat for 12 years, from 1910 to 1922, saving 22 lives during that time.

Based in Appledore, Devon, the lifeboat was then used in the Dunkirk bailout in 1940 and was part of the historic British makeshift armada.

The boat began to sink on its way back and was cut loose, eventually salvaged and returned to the UK – but was bought by a French owner in 1997.

Now a British team, including Rob Raddick, 48, a business owner from Westward Ho !, Devon, has bought the boat and returned it to the UK.

Rob said, “Myself and two school friends Simon, 48, and Jamie Morrie, 50, were approached about eight months ago by a man named John Vistuer.

“He asked me if I would interfere with the repurchase of the boat, it was a lifeboat in Appledore in 1910 and was used in Operation Dunkirk.

“It ended up in the UK after the evacuation, but was returned to France in 1997 to be restored.

“John found it and wanted to raise some money to get the boat back.”

Between Rob, Simon and Jamie, they managed to raise enough money to buy the boat, £ 4,500, and another £ 3,200 to send it home.

The Jane Hannah MacDonald III was sold by the RNLI after its decommissioning and was later ordered on the order of Winston Churchill.

A lifeboat used in Dunkirk evacuation returns to original home

It was taken to Dunkirk to aid in the heroic evacuation, but the boat was so heavily loaded that it began to sink and had to be cut loose.

However, being a lifeboat, it did not sink completely and drifted away on June 7, 1940, before being found and towed back to Norfolk.

She was then bought and ended up in France before being rediscovered by John Vistuer in August 2014.

Rob added, “She saved 22 lives in Devon, we don’t know how many in Dunkirk.

“It feels great to get it back, there is a nice maritime history here, so it’s good to add another piece to the puzzle.”


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