Resolute College



College Leader - Mr Forey


Student wellbeing managers - Mrs Cunningham & Mr Stalham

History of Resolute

During the war the Resolute continued fishing all the year round. At that time there was an honorary 'Commodore' appointed at Leigh, who determined where they could fish on a particular day. Forty-nine years later, the 68-year-old Eric Osborne recalled how he came into harbour on the last day of May 1940 to be told that the Navy at Southend, just down river, wanted their boats with volunteer crews to go to Dunkirk. They were to be at the pierhead, ready for sea, by eight o'clock on Friday morning. Once there, Naval ratings provided drums of fuel, rations and an extra deckhand.

The Resolute sailed line-ahead for Dunkirk, which they easily recognised in a mass of flames and covered with a pall of smoke from the burning oil storage tanks. She was told to go to the beach, but the tide was ebbing fast and the fishermen were too canny to get grounded with a full load of troops, a sitting target for the German bombers. So she went to the outside of the Mole of Dunkirk harbour instead. Although the sea was calm, there was a 4ft swell and she had no ladders.
There was no option but to go inside. She embarked a full load of soldiers which they ferried to a trawler anchored some way off. Then a second load to a coaster and then a third. By then it was dark and she went inside once more. A destroyer lay sunk across the entrance, oil barrels and debris floated on the oily water. On one side of the harbour one of the Eagle steamers lay sinking after a bomb scored a direct hit down her funnel. The debris of vehicles showed here and there above the water. Marked by their phosphorescent wake and after picking their way through this mess, she drew alongside the pier. The fishermen decided to go ashore, partly so that they could say they had been on French soil and partly to persuade the reluctant soldiers to come aboard to head for Ramsgate.


Admiral Ramsey, who as Vice-Admiral Dover, was in command of 'Operation Dynamo' had high praise for the Leigh Cockle Bawley boats - "The conduct of the crews of these cockle boats was exemplary. They were all volunteers who were rushed over to Dunkirk in one day. Probably none of them had been under gunfire before and certainly none of them under Naval discipline. These were Thames estuary fishing boats which never left the estuary and only one of their crews had been further afield than Ramsgate. Yet they maintained perfect formation throughout the day and night and all orders were obeyed with great diligence even under shellfire and aircraft attack."