Operation Dymano – Thursday 2nd June

New use for a catamaran work boat

When Mike put in to Dunkirk last week on his way to Ostend he was greeted by gunfire and smoke. His first thought was that the port was under attack by terrorists but a Spitfire being closely shadowed by a helicopter didn't quite match that interpretation and he soon learnt that in fact they are making a film here about the evacuation in 1940.
On our arrival yesterday there were WW2 troops lined up on the breakwater and a hospital ship painted white with large red crosses lying alongside – no doubt the film, whenever we catch up with it, will shed some light on what was supposed to be happening.

The wide grey yonder marina is bustling (or bristling) with WW2 gunboats and state-of-the-art catamaran work boats rigged with complex camera equipment. Long-haired Americans with bandanas huddle in groups discussing camera angles and cursing the lighting (or so we imagine). Well, they might in fact be English, but there was definitely one long-haired American with a bandana.

HDML 1387 (HMS Medusa) moored in the town. The continuity people have done what they can to camouflage her radar scanner

There's even a shipwreck. Not a real one as we first thought but a floating mock-up complete with wrecked ship's lifeboat. The clue was that it is carefully moored to the marina wave baffle and accompanied by some strange looking rafts of gas cylinders which we assume are the handiwork of the “special effects” team.

"Shipwreck" in the marina

Someone told us we might even find a couple of streets “dressed up” in 1940s style but despite braving the sandstorm on the promenade all we found in the direction we'd been sent were a few parked Army trucks and some of the modern restaurant signs obscured by camouflage netting.

WW2 Army trucks on Dunkirk beach

Our friends Roland and Rex arrived here a few hours after us yesterday on Roland's 1937 ketch "Cleve Cloud". Roland went to the marina office to pay and kicked himself afterwards as it was clear the staff hadn't been going charge him as they thought he and his boat were in fact part of the filming.

Roland, Rex and "Cleve Cloud" say they have been carrying out repairs but we know they are angling for bit parts

A quick search online reveals that the film "Dunkirk" is scheduled by Warner Bros for release in 2017 and mentions tentatively such names as Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance for supporting roles. Not seen anyone we recognise to ask for an autograph yet – but who knows? Our stay here is not over yet.


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