As part of Operation Dynamo during WW2, 850 private boats sailed from England to France to rescue thousands of British and French soldiers stranded on the beaches at Dunkirk.

The Vanguard sailed from Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex in 1940, saving more than 600 men in the largest military evacuation in history.

Now, this life-saving boat needs rescuing.

The Vanguard 1940

Designed solely for river work, she was part of a flotilla that braved the 90 nautical-mile mission to rescue nearly 340,000 Allied troops fleeing from advancing German forces.

The Vanguard 1940

More than 70 years later, after playing such a vital role in the Second World War, the boat is now in major disrepair. 

Damaged Vanguard

Abandoned on a boatyard in Canvey Island, the boat was plundered for firewood. Some even set her on fire. 

Vangaurd

When the news reached Burnham-on-Crouch, local residents David and Glynis personally funded for it to be brought home.

Hopkins Vanguard

"It saved our men from the beaches of Dunkirk, and it deserves to be preserved. It's a piece of history, and worth every penny."

Vanguard

Nick Skeens is part of a team to restore The Vanguard back to its former glory. 

Nick Skeens

"The boat was close to being damaged beyond repair. The owner told us to recuse her, as they couldn't stop the vandals. She nearly broke in two when we moved her, but thankfully the boat is back home where she belongs"

A team of volunteers are now working to get the boat back in the water, preserving a piece of military history. It is being stored in Mangapps Railway Museum, home to many other famous artefacts, including the London Tube Carriage used in Darkest Hour as Winston Churchill, played by Gary Oldman, rides the underground for the first time.

Darkest Hour Tube

Churchill asks the people how they feel he should handle the growing fascist threat, and he receives a uniform response: the Nazis must be defeated at all costs.

Darkest Hour Tube

For more, follow @DaveCreaseyBFBS

Photo Credit EAST NEWS PRESS AGENCY/VANGUARD

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