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Have a look at the lost quotes below and see if you can help us out! (Please note that comments must be suitable for audiences of all ages and may be removed if not.)

Dunkirk, 1940 | 16-Aug-06

"The little boats of England
The little motor boats
The little penny steamers
From Lands End to John O'Groats
The Brighton Belle, the Margate Queen
The Vigilant, The Lark.
The Saucy Jane, The Gracie Fields
(Even a Noarh's Arc)
Picked up their country's message
That it's back was to the Wall.
There is danger, there is danger,
Will you answer to the call?
Francis Drake, and Collinwood
And Nelson of the Nile
Were on their quarterdecks again
-You should have seen them smile
When all the little boats pushed out
From Dover to Dunkirk
To heed their country's message
That was their job of work."

23 comments have been made on this quote. Click here to read them and then add your own!

Do you know this poem? Do you have any clues to help us find it?


Sounds like a rhyming commentary from a short Ministry of Defence film put out in cinemas in the last war to cheer us on.
Eileen Perrin

Haven't heard of this poem, but I have searched and finally found one of my favourite poems on the subject: "The Little Boats of Britain" by Sara Carsley...we took it all the way back in elementary school...the nice people at West Van Library tracked it down in an old text..if anyone would like the poem and where we found it, get in touch at this email address.
Barbara Burton

I am most anxious to come by the poem that I believe is The Little Boats of Britain. I recently visited Dover and am writing an essay of sorts and would love to use that poem. It was in a 'Reader" that I once had in school.
benson hewitt

I learned this poem ,when I went to elocution lessons--Ihave the full version ,and strangely enough,I recited it to my Aunt today,before I saw this message!
Sheila M. Whitehead

I learnt this poem at Chatsworth Road Girls School,Cheam,Surrey.I am now living in Spain and have been driving my husband mad reciting the first half of the poem and trying to remember the rest of it.Now I have found it and am so,so HAPPY.!!!I am 80 now .anyone else this age that went to that school and remembers learning this ???
Pamela Craven

I learnt this poem when I was at school(I am now coming 67) but the version I learnt ended with 'To bring the British army home that was their job of work'
Noel Watson

For the poem beginning "The little ships, the little ships / Rushed out across the sea / To save the luckless armies / From death and slavery" is 'Dunkirk, 1940' by Idris Davies. It can be found in the anthology Enjoying More Poetry, which was published in 1983 by Macmillan. It?s also in The Complete Poems of Idris Davies, which was published by the University of Wales Press.
Poetry Library

My Mum used to recite this poem to us when we were kids. Sadly she passed away 3 years ago. She learnt this when she was at school (she was 68 when she passed away) and it was her party piece. We have since tried to find out whom the author is....any ideas??
Sharon Mason

We have been trying to trace B.G. Bonallack's poem 'Dunkirk' - do you know where we could find it ?

Philip Allison
Philip Allison

The poem "The Retreat from Dunkirk" by B. G. Bonallack is published on pages 410-11 in the anthology "The Faber Book of English History in Verse" edited by Kenneth Baker
Poetry Library

This poem was learned by me in school many years ago, I remember it was written by John Masefield.
Please will Sheila M. Whitehead let me have a print of the full version - I am really keen to find it.

I remember learning this poem by heart in school (many years ago now!!) and would love to see the entire poem again. I seem to recall a line in the poem that said ".......and the Little Boats of Britain will go sailing by their side". Is it possible to find this poem somewhere? Appreciate any help.

Anne Ireland
Anne Ireland

My mother has been searching for a copy of this poem for years. She was read it back at elementary school too, (she is now 80yrs old). She cannot remember the whole poem, so I would love to be able to get hold of a copy for her. Sheila M Whitehead - please can I have a copy for her?
lynne oakley

The ending is this:

To bring the British Army home
that was their job of work
How they performed that fearful task
the epic of those days
The history books will tell our sons
but let us sing their praise
And as they lie at anchor from Newcastle to Poldue
with their battle scars upon them
and their pennants red and blue
We say to them with grateful hearts
"England is proud of you".
M Archer

A few years ago I contacted you to try and find the title of a Dunkirk repatiation poem. Unfortunately, you could not find it then. I was thinking about it this week being the anniversary of the occasssion and wondered why a poem that was taught in schools could not be traced. I would have thought school children would only be asked to learn a popular or well thought of poem. I only remembered one line:- and out they came, the little ships........ I do wish I could find it. I hoped to get on line and keep finding poems and read them all but apparently it does not work like that.
Jean Winslet

The poem Jean Winslet is looking for is called "The Other Little Boats" and is by Edward Shanks. It refers to boats rather than ships. It begins:
"A pause came in the fighting and England held her breath"
and the line you remember is:
"The out they came, the little boats, from all the channel shores".
This poem is published in Edward Shanks collection "The Night Watch and Other Poems" - we have a copy in the library.
Poetry Library

I have been looking for thus poem for years! It was defo called Dunkirk 1940 and I learned it at school 1968 ish. There were lots more verses and chorus "The little ships, the little ships rushed out across the sea"
Maura Pell

Hi, This comment is regarding Barbara Burton's comment. I have been trying to track down a copy of The Little Boats of Britain by
Sara Carsley. I have had no luck so far. Sara is my great aunt. She is the youngest sister of my grandfather. I would love to get a copy of her poem. Thank you so very much.

Carolyn Richardson

Carolyn Richardson

Words to the other little boats a pause came in the fighting and England held its breath Written by Edward shanks

Barbara Morgan

I learnt this poem when I was at primary school in the 60's
I all ways remember the story othe little boats, as we lived on the Thames estuary.
Carol Scott

Classic movie, "Mrs. Miniver", has a segment about the little ships' rescue.
Penny Burkey

There was a poem about Dunkirk I remember
from elementary school in the 1940's: but it was centred on a specific boat and family that participated in the rescue
dan spurrill

The Sarah B was either the title or a line in it it was based on the Dunkirk Evacuation

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