Veterans on Board - Finlay Marshall

In May, ahead of sailing to Ramsgate, we were delighted to welcome on board, for a short sail, two Dunkirk veterans; David Wightman, who we featured in our April newsletter, and 97 year-old Alfred Smith from Shoeburyness. Alfred served with the Royal Army Service Corps. He was evacuated from Dunkirk after surviving two days on the beach without food or water and under constant shelling and bombing.

He was one of only a handful of men from his unit to be evacuated. He remembers wading into the water, reaching a paddle steamer and clambering on to the ropes that hung from the deck. On board, and safe at last, he collapsed from hunger and when he eventually awoke he found he was in Harwich.

On Bell Wharf and ready to sail Alfred Smith, centre,
is flanked by Bill Brewster, left, and David Wightman.
Alfred went on to serve on D-day, and his gallantry was recognised last year when he was awarded the Legion d'honneur by the French Government.

The Legion d'honneur, shown here, is France's top accolade for an elite group of people who distinguish themselves through civilian or military valour. It was initiated by the then First Consul of the French Republic, Napoleon Bonaparte, in 1802.

Alfred and David were joined on board by Bill Brewster from South Benfleet. Bill’s father was rescued on Endeavour in 1940 and Bill’s memory of his father’s experience is recounted above.

Veterans, safely on board  with skipper, Paul Gilson and
crew members Finlay Marshall and Colin Sains.

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