Fifty years after defeat stared Britain in the face, the "Little Ships of Dunkirk" sailed again today, from the White Cliffs of Dover to the French Channel port where the civilian armada plucked a defeated army to safety and changed the course of World War II.
Seventy-six veteran pleasure boats and cabin cruisers were going back to mark the 50th anniversary of what Winston Churchill called a miracle.
Dover's white cliffs and harbor walls were lined with cheering spectators as the 76 surviving boats set sail.
On Sunday, up to 7,000 Dunkirk veterans are expected to gather on the beaches near the port for a religious service to mark the anniversary. The little ships will form a circle offshore into which a memorial wreath will be dropped from a helicopter.