The 75th Anniversary of Operation Dynamo.
The Kent town of Ramsgate commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo, recently with a weekend of war time themed events. Over the weekend thousands of people descended onto the town's harbour and travelled back in time to the 1940s. Bands played and 1940s music filled the air as visitors mixed with historical re-enactors dressed as WW2 soldiers along the quayside. A Spitfire gave a fly past and the Ramsgate Tunnels, a subterranean tunnel system used to shelter 60,000 people during WWII air raids, was opened free of charge. Click here for more info. However the highlight of the weekend for me and the reason I was attending with my cameras was to photograph the returning Dunkirk Little Ships. Around 50 of the original little ships, some dating back to before the 1930s, were sailing across the English Channel after visiting Dunkirk for the 75th Anniversary.
In May 1940 the British and Allied forces had been pushed back through Europe and now thousands of troops were stranded on the beaches in Dunkirk, France. Day after day, as more troops arrived on the beaches, often already exhausted after walking miles, the Germans attacked. The Royal Navy was doing it's best but with so many troops to be evacuated and the continual German bombardment things were not looking good. And so the cry went out back in England for any small ships between 30' and 100' in length to assist in rescuing the troops.
Between the 27th May and 4th June 1940 Operation Dynamo, also known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, rescued thousands of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France. This collection of small merchant marine boats, fishing boats, pleasure craft and lifeboats helped to evacuate over 330,000 troops and they became fondly known as the Dunkirk Little Ships. Please visit the The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships website to read more.
Photographs of the Dunkirk Little Ships Returning to Ramsgate, Kent during the 75th Anniversary of Operation Dynamo.
THE STORY BEHIND THE PHOTOGRAPHS
As I waited on the harbour wall in Ramsgate, Kent a real sense of pride was in the air. The weather had caused several of the Little Ships not to make the return journey that day and so as the wind picked up and storm clouds arrived over head, I unpacked my coat and hoped that it wouldn't rain. I had arrived early to claim my spot against the rusty railings overlooking the entrance to the harbour. Upon my arrival I had spotted several people holding flags, one in a sailors uniform, as always I soon started to chat. Sometimes when I plan a photography assignment I already have a photo in mind and this was one of those occasions. For a photographer to create informal, storytelling photographs he or she needs to have the knack of reading people and the situation. This will hopefully enable a photographer to be in the right place at the right time. It doesn't always work but having the ability to foresee a situation happening has often allowed me to create or capture a photograph other photographers miss. This is why upon my arrival I had quickly spotted the flags, a sailor, a good vantage point to see the arriving ships and
space to work in. This is why I tried to start a conversation with a very British topic about the weather. 'Looks like it might rain soon' was my opening phrase that I cast out into the crowd hoping for a return comment. This resulted in a fun hour chatting about the ships, Dunkirk and how we could have all done with a nice cup of tea whilst we waited! All this effort because of a photograph I had only imagined taking. A photograph that I felt would do this event justice and capture that Dunkirk Spirit. Planning is everything and so with my speedlight held up high on an extension lead (to make the lighting in the photograph more interesting) everything came together for a brief moment. The crowd cheered and the flags parted for a split second, I could clearly see one of the little ships. Click! Did it work, well I think so! However I guess I'm biased so please judge for yourself. My photo, the photograph I imaged taking, is at the top of this page. I have included many other photos, probably too many for a blog article, however I wanted to document the efforts everyone went to on the day.
So till next, let me know what you think about my photo and if you have any questions feel free to ask, Scott the photographer.