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In Spring 1964 Raymond Baxter purchased one of the Little Ships and that Summer was flying to France by British Air Ferries for a family holiday. The plane flew over Dunkirk and he pointed the Beaches out to his son, Graham, who was then 13 years old. Graham asked his father if he realised that the next year (1965) it would be 25 years since 'L'ORAGE' had been "doing her thing down there so why don't we take her back?"

To cut a long story short, Raymond approached the Sunday Times (whose then Editor, Dennis Hamilton, was rescued from the Beaches). A letter from Raymond was published in the Sunday Times in October 1964 saying that he planned to take his Little Ship back the following June, and if any other owners wished to join him would they please write to the newspaper. The Sunday Times had agreed to help with the organisation if they got 12 replies. 43 boats made the crossing from Ramsgate with Royal Naval assistance and support from the RNLI. The BBC provided Radio and Television coverage.

At a cocktail party given by the Sunday Times in December 1965 to show off their Press coverage, both Commander Charles Lamb and John Knight (who had participated in the Return) separately suggested to Raymond Baxter (who already had similar thoughts) that an Association should be formed.

We are a not for profit association and are not a Charity or a Trust. Although many of the individual ships may be part of trusts, they are not run or organised by the ADLS, whilst we encourage all members, private, trust and charitable alike we do not raise or ask for funds.

ADLS: Our History


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ADLS: Meet the Team
ADLS: Our History

The object of the Association is to keep alive and preserve for posterity the memory and identity of those ‘Little Ships’ that went to the aid of the British Expeditionary Force in 1940 and took part in Operations Dynamo, Cycle and Aerial and to preserve the “Spirit of Dunkirk” by forming a registered Association of their present day owners and of those closely associated. Vessels from all three Operations are included within the ADLS and are collectively known as 'Dunkirk Little Ships'. 

Qualification for full membership is simple; the current ownership of a proven Dunkirk Little Ship. Membership wins the right for that vessel to wear the Association's warranted House Flag, the Cross of St George (the flag of the Admiralty) defaced with the Arms of Dunkirk.

Little Ships are also entitled to display a plaque marked 'DUNKIRK 1940'.

The Association organises several meetings 'on the water' each year where the Little Ships may be seen and appreciated by the public. Every 5 years the Little Ships, supported by the Royal Navy, return under their own power to Dunkirk. Considering the youngest Little Ship is now over 80 years old, this is no small undertaking. 

In 2008 the Association was privileged to have HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO accept the invitation to become the Association's Honorary Admiral.

ADLS: Our Mission
ADLS: Image
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