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Crested Eagle shipwreck

Thames paddle steamer which took part in 'Miracle of Dunkirk'

Location and info

Zuydcoote Plage, Dunkirk

Located on the beach at Zuydcoote to the east of Dunkirk. Only visible at low tides.

This rusted shipwreck on the beach near Zuydcoote is one of the most famous of the ‘little ships’ used to evacuate Allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk in May/June 1940.
HMS Crested Eagle started life in June 1925 and was the first River Thames paddle steamer built with oil-fired boilers and from its berth at the Old Swan Pier would transport passengers from London to Ramsgate.
At 300ft long and 34ft wide she was capable of carrying hundreds of passengers, and operated along the route until the outbreak of war where she was used to evacuate children out of London.
On May 29, 1940, she sailed from Sheerness in Kent across the channel to Dunkirk’s east Mole as part of Operation Dynamo – the evacuation of British Expeditionary Force and French troops from Dunkirk – arriving at 2:30pm.
She set sail on her return journey at 6pm with around 600 soldiers aboard (after collecting survivors from two other bombed ships) but less than a mile from shore, near Malo-les-Bains, she was attacked by German Stuka dive bombers who scored direct hits on the aft of the ship.
With the ship deemed to be in a critical state, its captain Lt Commander Bernard Booth decided to beach the ship at Zuydcoote. Around 300 soldiers were lost to the bombing and subsequent fire on board the ship.
She was later stripped of its valuable metal resources by the occupying Germans.
Today, at low tides, you can see the remains of the Crested Eagle and she is a lasting reminder of the courage, bravery, and sacrifice of the Allied forces, Royal Navy, and the civilian sailors who were part of the ‘Miracle of Dunkirk’.


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