A boat that was used post-war to patrol and clear military ranges, convey and re-supply military stores and repatriate fallen soldiers from the battlefields has been wrecked by fire.
The African Queen was also use to provide training for both seamen and engineers and even operate with Special Forces and Commandos.
But firefighters raced to the Dart Estuary at Dartmouth in Devon, late on Monday night after reports the 50ft charter vessel was ablaze.
The wooden boat was laden with fuel and by the time the fire was under control it was left a smouldering wreck.
Owners Alan and Hilary Hemsley were not on board at the time and nobody was hurt.
Dartmouth harbour master Rob Giles said: "The African Queen is an historic vessel. It was one of the Dunkirk little ships that rescued our armed forces in World War II.
"The fire was pretty nasty and after about an hour-and-a-half of fighting the fire, it kept re-igniting. It had 700 litres of diesel of board and it's a wooden vessel.
"Hilary and Alan were so fortunate not to be on board should the fire have took hold swiftly and trapped them in the vessel.
"We are very thankful that nobody was hurt during the fire itself, or during the attempts to extinguish it and guard the safety of the vessel."
We apologise for an earlier version of this story that incorrectly stated African Queen helped save thousands of soldiers during the Dunkirk evacuations.