Guide of Dunkirk

Guide of Dunkirk

The Guide of Dunkirk was a lifeboat whose construction was funded by the Girl Guides in 1940. She was self-righting and designed for launch from a beach. As one of the "Little Ships" of Dunkirk she was used in the evacuation of Allied soldiers from Dunkirk in World War II. Between 1941 and 1963 she was stationed as a lifeboat in Cornwall, UK. In 1963 she passed into private ownership.

Before Dunkirk

The £5000 needed to buy a lifeboat was one of the targets of the Guide Gift Week appeal of 1940. Money was donated by Guides throughout the British Empire from their salaries or, for those too young to work, by earning money doing odd jobs.

The Guide of Dunkirk was built by Rowhedge Iron Works in Colchester, UK, and was unnamed when she was called into service straight from the builder's yard for the Dunkirk evacuation on June 1, 1940. She had the designation ON826.


At the evacuation of Dunkirk, she made two crossings. Her crew was made up of men from Walton-on-the-Naze and Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, under British Naval command.

On her first trip, she was used to ferry soldiers off the beaches to larger boats waiting offshore. She was badly damaged by machine gun fire and a rope got wrapped around her propeller. She was towed back to England stern first.

On her second trip, she was hit by shellfire and was extensively damaged.

After Dunkirk

In May 1941 she was stationed at Cadgwith in Cornwall as an RNLI lifeboat. In 1947 she was named Guide of Dunkirk in honour of her history so far.

In 1963, the Cadgwith lifeboat station was closed and the Guide of Dunkirk was sold into private ownership and renamed Girl Guide.


The boat is now ashore in Mevagissey, Cornwall and has remained in its original condition as when it left service.

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