A total of 18 preserved vessels of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships took part in the annual Thames veterans' cruise weekend.

On the Saturday they sailed downstream from the Thames Motor Yacht Club, Hampton Court, to Richmond and back.

On the Sunday they sailed up river to the Weybridge Mariners Club at Shepperton Lock Island. 

Aboard each Little Ship were veterans of the World War II Dunkirk evacuation, Normandy landings, the Arctic Convoys, the Destroyer flotillas, Bomber Command and Royal Navy officers and ratings.

The veterans were piped ashore at the Mariners' clubhouse where 120 guests were given lunch and entertained for the afternoon. 

Guests of Honour included Captain Steven Dainton, Officer Commanding HMS Collingwood, and local civic dignatories.

Jim Pothecary, Vice Commodore, Weybridge Mariners Club, said: " We were delighted to welcome once again the veterans of World War II, aboard the Dunkirk Little Ships, as we have done for many years. 

"It is always a pleasure to see the many 'old soldier' reunions as they are welcomed ashore and because they get such a great pleasure in attending the event."

Pictures by Terry Hoyle

The Weybridge Mariners Club has vowed to continue hosting this annual event until the last wartime veteran can no longer make the trip.  This has continued even after the old clubhouse was burned down in 2006, using pleasure boats for the three years until the new clubhouse was finished in 2009.

The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships comprises member vessels which served at the evacuation in 1940 which are owned and maintained privately.

Story updated September 11th 2014


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