I thought she could be gone forever.'Mrs Culverwell said she was telephoned last night by a man who had picked up a puppy on the road outside the Dog and Duck pub and put it in his van.
Her husband, Marcus, then raced to the pub and confirmed to the family's delight that it was Mika.
Operational command fell to Bertram Ramsay, a retired vice-admiral who was recalled to service in 1939.
From a room deep in the cliffs at Dover, Ramsay and his staff pieced together Operation Dynamo, a daring rescue mission by the Royal Navy to get troops off the beaches around Dunkirk and back to Britain. The BBC made the announcement: 'The Admiralty have made an order requesting all owners of self-propelled pleasure craft between 30ft and 100ft in length to send all particulars to the Admiralty within 14 days from today if they have not already been offered or requisitioned.'Boats of all sorts were requisitioned - from those for hire on the Thames to pleasure yachts - and manned by naval personnel, though in some cases boats were taken over to Dunkirk by the owners themselves. Soldiers were hiding in sand dunes from aerial attack, much of the town of Dunkirk had been reduced to ruins by the bombardment and the German forces were closing in.
The devastated family launched a Facebook appeal and celebrated by popping up the champagne when Mika was returned yesterday evening.
Mrs Culverwell, a mother-of-three, said: 'I must admit I almost gave up hope, it was friends and family keeping me going.
It could not be more different today.' He recalled how he had trekked for days as a 20-year-old sergeant to the French town, where he offered his help as a stretcher bearer.
They reached the coast towards the end of May 1940, pinning back the Allied forces, including several hundred thousand troops of the British Expeditionary Force.
Military leaders quickly realised there was no way they would be able to stay on mainland Europe.
Many did not have radios, so the only methods of communication were by shouting to those on the beaches or by semaphore.
Space was so tight, with decks crammed full, that soldiers could only carry their rifles.