"I cannot see who you are. Are you a naval party?"
"No Sir, we are men of the crew of the Ramsgate life-boat".
"Thank you and thank God for such good men as you have on this night proved to be. There is a party of fifty Highlanders coming next."
An extract from the coxswain's report as attached to the RNLI report of service relating to the 31st May and 1st June 1940. The Prudential, as she was then named, having been paid for by The Prudential Assurance Company Limited, was the 1925 built prototype Ramsgate class life-boat and was one of the few boats which was taken to Dunkirk by her own crew. Howard Knight, the coxswain, with gas masks and steel helmets set out on Thursday 30th May 1940 towing seven wherries filled with supplies of water for the waiting troops. He also took in tow the punt Carama which belonged to the lifeboat's second coxswain. All the boats discharged their water and other supplies as soon as they arrived on the beaches. The lifeboat had to lie off because of her deeper draft and the naval ratings who manned the wherries had some difficulty handling them through the breaking seas. Members of the lifeboat crew therefore took their places and managed to establish communications with the officers in charge of the troops ashore.
The soldiers were ferried out in batches of eight, which was all the small boats could take, as far as the lifeboat which then took them out to transport ships. Two thousand eight hundred men were rescued by The Prudential in this way, packing in up to 160 soldiers at a time. On the way home, The Prudential helped by putting her engineer aboard a 500-ton ship, the SS Rian whose engines were failing and thus got her back to Ramsgate. The Prudential towed a string of small craft full of troops on the return journey, including the punt Carama. They had been under constant enemy attack for forty hours and on their return found not only major damage from shrapnel, but a hole in their bottom. Coxswain Howard Knight was awarded the DSM for his service to the cause.
The Prudential's 28 year service career at Ramsgate continued until 1953 and she was responsible for saving 330 lives in addition to those at Dunkirk. She was the flagship of the Commodore, Lifeboat Division, at the QEII Spithead Naval Review in June 1953 and later that same year was sold out of service.
Re-named Trimilia, in recognition of her rescue of over 3000 persons in total, she has been kept in Suffolk since the early sixties
Source: 1, 5, 13 & 19
Updated July 09