In a moving ceremony, those lost on Steam Packet ships during the evacuation of allied troops from Dunkirk, in 1940, were remembered at the Mona’s Queen anchor memorial service.
The ceremony at Kallow Point in Port St Mary on Thursday (May 29) marked 74 years since the ship and the lives of 24 crew members, 17 of them from the island, were lost.
Mona’s Queen was one of eight Steam Packet vessels involved in the evacuation, two others – King Orry and Fenella – were also lost at Dunkirk.
The anchor was lifted off the seabed at Dunkirk in 2010 and, after restoration at Cammell Laird in Merseyside, was returned to the island in 2012.
Thursday’s ceremony attracted around 150 people including relatives of those lost and some of the many individuals involved in bringing the anchor back to the island.
They included former Steam Packet captain Jack Ronan who said: ‘It was certainly the blackest day ever in the Steam Packet’s history.’
Mona’s Queen was struck by a magnetic mine during one of several trips to and from Dunkirk, where troops and ships suffered from ‘that hell of continuous bombardment by land and air’, he said.
A total of 338,226 troops – 24,669 of them on Steam Packet ships – were rescued off the beaches.
Returning the anchor to the island was ‘a considerable challenge’. Captain Jack Ronan and Terry Kelly (whose father Paul died on Mona’s Queen) campaigned to get it sited in Port St Mary, as it is a suitable place for reflection, and he is pleased it has become a site of pilgrimage.
‘That this is now an annual tribute gives me much satisfaction that all the work put into it getting here is being justified,’ he said.
‘There is no doubt the efforts to bring the anchor to its home here, are being worthily fulfilled.’