Sunk in a Scottish river, the boat is being restored for the 2020 anniversary sail.
A boat that rescued 600 British soldiers from foreign shores in the early days of the second World War is getting a new life.
The boat, called Skylark IX, was part of a naval rescue, code-named ‘Operation Dynamo,’ to evacuate soldiers from Dunkirk in France.
Forgotten in the decades since the operation, Skylark IX had fallen into disrepair and foundered in the River Leven near Dumbarton, west of Glasgow in Scotland just over three years ago, when a group of locals decided to save the historic boat and restore it.
The 50ft boat is now on its way to the Scottish Maritime Museum’s engineering shop in Irvine to finish restoration work in hopes that it can take part in the 80th anniversary commemoration of Operation Dynamo.
Mary Burch, Trust secretary, told Scotland’s Daily Record: “We’re really confident we’ll be sailing her to Dunkirk for the 80th anniversary in 2020.”
The Skylark IX Recovery Trust registered charity has worked with a substance abuse charity called Alternatives, whose head office is in Dumbarton, to provide those recovering from addiction with an opportunity to build professional skills while working on the restoration project.
Built in 1927, Skylark IX has had a number of owners in the years following her service to Britain’s armed forces, and it wasn’t until 1987 that she was recognized as one of the boats that took part in the war effort.
According to the Skylark IX website: “Her precise part in ‘Operation Dynamo’ went unrecorded until, one day in 1987, Charles Fairman, touring in Scotland saw a notice advertising cruises on Loch Lomond in a boat called Skylark IX. He became interested and recognised her as the ship he commanded in Poole when he was a Petty Officer, RNVR, in 1941.
“At Poole, Skylark IX served as a shallow water minesweeper and was engaged in placing anti-invasion obstacles around the harbour. At one time she erected decoys on Brownsea Island, consisting of wooden sheds filled with coal and sprayed with oil. They were set alight when German bombers flew over, looking for the Admiralty Armaments depot at Holton Heath.”
After the war, Skylark IX was used as a tour boat on Scotland’s Loch Lomond.
Operation Dynamo, the code name for the evacuation of Allied soldiers from France in 1940 known popularly as the ‘Miracle of Dunkirk,’ saw nearly 340,000 soldiers rescued over the course of eight days. In the face of an advancing German army, a fleet of over 800 boats including Skylark IX ferried soldiers from France’s Norman beaches to England’s southern coast.
See more images of Skylark IX below.
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