The restored anchor from Mona’s Queen will be sited at Kallow Point in Port St Mary as a permanent memorial to all the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company crew who took part in World War Two.
The anchor was raised last year as part of the 70th anniversary commemoration of Operation Dynamo at Dunkirk. In May 1940, eight Steam Packet Company ships took part in the historic rescue of the British Expeditionary Force and brought 24,669 of them to safety. Of a total of 338,226 troops rescued, one in fourteen was brought out on a Steam Packet Company vessel.
In the space of 24 hours around the 29 May 1940, three Steam Packet Company ships - Mona’s Queen, King Orry and Fenella - were lost to enemy action.
The initiative to raise the anchor of Mona’s Queen was spearheaded by the late Captain Andrew Douglas and taken up after his untimely death by Captain Hamish Ross of Sea Breezes magazine. It could not have been achieved without the help of Isle of Man, UK and French naval and government representatives, whose combined efforts ensured that the initiative became a reality.
Since the raising of the anchor, the Steam Packet Company has, on a number of occasions, sought public opinion on where a memorial should be sited. From the responses received, it was apparent that both the Port St Mary public and Port St Mary Commissioners had a strong desire that Kallow Point would be a fitting and tranquil place for reflection on, and remembrance of, all the Steam Packet Company crew who took part in Operation Dynamo, especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Both Kallow Point and Douglas Promenade, in the sunken garden near the War Memorial, were put forward as possible locations. While Douglas may have perceived advantages in terms of footfall and it being the home port of the Steam Packet Company, it became apparent from the responses received that a key consideration is the ability to hold a suitable memorial service on 29 May each year, something which would perhaps be inconsistent in Douglas when the promenade will be entering the full swing of TT fortnight.
Companies who have a long association with the Steam Packet Company have been integral in reaching the point where the anchor can be sited as a permanent memorial. The anchor has been proudly restored by Cammell Laird in Birkenhead, where Mona’s Queen was built and launched in April 1934, having been transported back from Dunkirk to Cammell Laird with the assistance of Manx Independent Carriers.
Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘It was apparent from the responses received that there is a strong community desire within Port St Mary to take the anchor into its care and to ensure that the bravery of the Steam Packet Company crews will be remembered on an annual basis. While there are a number of points in favour of siting the anchor in Douglas, it was felt appropriate to place the anchor in a tranquil, but accessible location where the enormity of the mission undertaken by the eight Steam Packet Company vessels and crews can be fully embraced and appreciated.’
Chairman of Port St Mary Commissioners Christopher Kinley added: ‘We are delighted that Port St Mary has been selected as the location to receive the anchor from Mona’s Queen. There is a strong commitment within the community to ensure that the anchor is presented in a fitting memorial and that the events of 29 May 1940 will be remembered annually in a public service, including local schoolchildren. The Isle of Man played a significant role in this historic and critical chapter of the Second World War and it is essential that this is remembered by future generations as we seek to develop Port St Mary as a marine heritage centre.’
Captain Hamish Ross said: ‘I am pleased that a decision on the site for the Mona's Queen's anchor memorial has been made. To me, the most important fact is the anchor will have come home and the memorial will serve as a lasting reminder of a proud story in the Isle of Man's maritime history. It will tell of a sacrifice made by the men and ships of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and of the incredible success against all the odds of "Operation Dynamo".
‘The successful recovery of the anchor owes so much to the help of our French friends in Dunkirk and I hope they will come to the Isle of Man when the official dedication of the memorial takes place. At this time, I also remember the late Captain Andrew Douglas who did so much to make this project happen.’
The Steam Packet Company will now liaise with Port St Mary Commissioners regarding the return of the anchor to the Island and its siting in the village.