The restored anchor from Mona’s Queen was welcomed home today (Monday), 18 months after it was raised from the seabed at Dunkirk.
The raising of the anchor last year formed 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. However, the operation came at some cost to the Steam Packet Company; in the space of 24 hours around the 29 May 1940, three ships – Mona’s Queen, King Orry and Fenella – were lost to enemy action.
The anchor from Mona’s Queen was transported back from Dunkirk, with the assistance of Manx Independent Carriers, to Cammell Laird Shipyard in Birkenhead, where Mona’s Queen was built and launched in 1934 and where the restoration of the anchor was carried out.
The anchor 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 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.
Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘This is a proud moment, not just for the Steam Packet Company, but for the Isle of Man. On behalf of the Company, I’d like to express my sincere thanks to everyone who helped bring the anchor home. We’re pleased that Port St Mary Commissioners have agreed to site the anchor as a memorial and we look forward to seeing it in its final resting place.’
Captain Hamish Ross said: ‘It’s wonderful to see the anchor finally welcomed back to the Island. The men and ships of the Steam Packet Company involved in Operation Dynamo form a proud part of Manx history and I know that Captain Douglas, if he were here today, but would be delighted to see the anchor back on Manx soil. He was so instrumental in helping coordinate the return of the anchor.’
Chairman of Port St Mary Commissioners Christopher Kinley added: ‘The people of Port St Mary are committed to ensuring the anchor forms the focal point of a fitting tribute to all Steam Packet Company employees who took part in WorldWar Two. We are considering the options for what form the memorial should take at Kallow Point. Once a decision is made, we will obviously need to apply for planning permission, so there is a little while to wait until the memorial can be erected and unveiled.
‘We will look to stage an annual ceremony to mark the events of 29 May 1940. The Island played a vital role in what proved to be a critical chapter of World War Two and it’s important that the role of those involved from the Island is remembered by future generations.’
Back row, left to right: 1. Terry Kelly, whose father was lost on the Mona’s Queen 2. Captain Jack Ronan 3. Captain Hamish Ross, former Managing Director of IOM Steam Packet Company 4. Mrs Doreen Douglas, widow of Captain Andrew Douglas 5. His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor Adam Wood 6. Chris Kinley, Chairman of Port St Mary Commissioners 7. Robert Quayle, Chairman of IOM Steam Packet Company
Front row, left to right: 1. John Quaye, Chairman Manx Independent Carriers 2. Minister for Infrastructure, the Hon David Cretney MHK 3. Mark Woodward, IOM Steam Packet Company Chief Executive