You have 2 more free articles remaining

Our research shows that HMS Medway Queen was a commissioned warship in the Second World War flying the white ensign.

She was converted for minesweeping and commissioned in late 1939. At the time of Dunkirk she was assigned to the 10th minesweeping flotilla at Dover and, as is well documented, made seven return trips to the beaches and East Mole rescuing thousands of British and French soldiers.

A few minutes’ research online shows the blue ensign concerned as being that of the Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service which was active from 1976-2008. This service operated support and supply ships, not warships, and certainly not in the 1940s.

Sadly, Medway Queen is not as ‘active’ as was suggested. As the article correctly states, after a post-war stint in the excursion trade she spent eight years on the Isle of Wight as a marina club house and restaurant, later a disco venue.

The ship fell out of use at the end of 1974.

Restoration under way

She was returned to the river Medway in 1984 and her current owners, the Medway Queen Preservation Society, purchased her in 1985. Ships out of use deteriorate very quickly so Medway Queen’s hull had to be completely rebuilt in 2009- 13 with Heritage Lottery funding and she is now moored at Gillingham Pier where a dedicated team of volunteers are fitting her out internally. Once the pandemic restrictions are lifted the ship will be open to visitors once again on Saturdays.

Even though the work is carried out by volunteers, historic ships are expensive! The current programme of work, and an opportunity to contribute to the costs, will be found on www.medwayqueen.co.uk along with details of opening hours and a projected outing to Ramsgate in July for hull painting.

The project is entirely volunteer staffed and besides funds we urgently need more volunteers; especially in management and administrative roles. Can you help? Contact info@medwayqueen.co.uk or phone 01634 575717.

Richard Halton

Medway Queen Preservation Society