Operation Dynamo also known as the “Miracle of Dunkirk” saw a flotilla of 700 little ships cross the Channel to rescue over eight days 192,000 British and 139,000 French troops trapped on the beaches there in 1940. The film “Dunkirk” with Sir John Mills has always been one of my favourite movies that never fails to make me shed a tear or two of pride over that wartime achievement.
So today, 77 long years afterwards, in respectful homage to those brave seaman and rescued troops, Debbie & I decided to hire a small day boat from Brecon canal basin for 2 hours along the Monmouthshire & Brecon canal. Not exactly as arduous an expedition as for the folks in 1940, but given our track record of “Nutbrown” together, still quite a brave undertaking…
We left Llanfoist at 11am and despite going as slowly as possible down the Brecon Road savouring the views of the Brecon Beacons we arrived way too early.
Parking up outside the Brecon Theatre we spoke to Dave at Dragonfly boat hire & luckily he allowed us an extra 30 minutes before the original noon start I’d booked the day before.
After a rather brief safety briefing (we declined lifejackets as the depth of the canal is apparently only 2-3 feet) & signing my life away we headed off at a steady 2 knots with the 8 horsepower outboard barely at tick-over!
After we emerged into the sunlight again I spotted a heron and Debbie managed to take this photo before it disappeared for fresh fishing grounds!
Fortified with some bubbles and the odd quaff we finally approach the turnaround point in front of the lock, this is where the fun and games started as I tried to turn the boat around before mooring for our picnic. Fortunately there was no-one around to watch my increasingly desperate attempt to avoid ramming another boat moored on the bank but “all’s well that ends well” and we finally by some miracle made it without a single (hard) knock…
After finishing our picnic we made our way back to the basin, with Debbie taking over for just enough time for me to take the following picture of Pen y Fan in the distance. Shortly afterwards a low flying Apache helicopter buzzed us overhead on it’s way to some special forces exercise no doubt.
After another half hour or so we arrived back to Dave at the starting position about 15 minutes late but somewhat miraculously I executed a perfect left turn and gently moored alongside the wharf from where we’d departed just short of 3 hours previously. Great value for money for just £30 and highly recommended, especially on a warm sunny day.
Going back to the Dunkirk theme as our adventure finally came to an end I was put in mind of a speech made on the 4th June 1940 by Churchill made in the House of Commons. “We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender …”
Hopefully history won’t repeat itself with Brexit…