Marching, Marching, Then Sleeping As My Friends Were Blown Up.

Image from Pixabay
By Jabo
@jaboUK (55201)
United Kingdom
August 26, 2016 3:43pm CST
This is my father's personal account of how he was part of the mass evacuation of soldiers from France during WW2 in 1940. "After so many days of solid marching my boots had disintegrating so much that they could only be described as spats - they only covered my ankles and insteps. Everybody else was in much the same state, but with the enemy hot on our heels we had to keep going. As we neared the coast we received intelligence that our destination (Dunkirk) had been overrun, and it was no good trying there. We marched and marched and eventually found the port of St. Malo, and we went in hoping to find a boat, but there were a few planes about, (none of ours of course) so we marched out again. So we marched back again and we managed to get into Dunkirk under cover of darkness. It had taken us 10 days to get there. We were lucky enough to get to the dock and managed to get straight on to a ferry-type ship 'The Princess Marie Jose', and we sailed in the company of the now famous assortment of 'little ships'. Once on the ship's deck I collapsed exhausted, and was so inured to the noise and chaos that I didn't wake when the ship next to us was blown up and sank. She was called 'The Lancastrian', and some of my friends were on board. I didn't know anything about it until later. If I'd got on that ship instead of the 'Marie Jose' I'd have been a goner too." ____________ Brief explanation from Jabo - Dunkirk is the French coastal town from whence thousands of British troops were rescued in 1940. As there were not nearly enough troopships to cope, the call went out in England for any sea-worthy vessels to help in the rescue of the huge number of our boys stranded on the beaches. The response was amazing, and a veritable flotilla of all kinds of craft set off to rescue the troops, - fishing boats, pleasure boats, motorboats,- anything that could make the 22 mile trip across the English Channel. Dad said that the noise was horrendous, with the enemy bombarding the ships with shells, and dive-bombers attacking from every quarter, all against the backdrop of Dunkirk in flames. In all, about 340,000 men were rescued over a period of 9 days, but there were about 40,000 that didn't make it, either to be killed or captured. About 800 seacraft took part in the rescue, many of them making multiple trips. They were very brave men manning them, and they earned the gratitude of the whole country. ----------------------------------- If you'd like to read any of the other three excerpts from Dad's memoirs that I've posted on here, please click on the tag 'My Father's Memoirs' above my title.
54 people like this
47 responses
@MALUSE (44541)
• Uzbekistan
26 Aug 16
There must be zillions of films on wars the world over, but they're all too clean. There is noise, of course, but no dust, no dirt and no stink. I think your father and the other soldiers were so exhausted that they marched on auto-pilot.
10 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
26 Aug 16
@MALUSE Yes - imagine marching for 10 days until they were so exhausted they could go no further.
2 people like this
@JudyEv (136523)
• Bunbury, Australia
28 Aug 16
And when the fighting was so intense in the Pozieres region the incessant horrific noise drove some insane.
1 person likes this
@Hatley (164471)
• Garden Grove, California
26 Aug 16
I was just out of high school and remember the boats well love reading your dad's account he wrote so well thanks for sharing this
7 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
26 Aug 16
@Hatley You remember reading about this Patsie? I know that it was before the Americans had entered the war, so didn't know if you would know about it. Thanks for saying Dad wrote well - I agree.
3 people like this
@nannacroc (4049)
26 Aug 16
I've missed reading your stuff. Although I know a little about the war, it becomes more real when the memories are from real people. My Dad couldn't serve in the forces as he had a heart problem but, reading this reminded m of his stories of the Home Guard. Maybe that will be a discussion for another day.
4 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
26 Aug 16
@nannacroc Lovely to get a comment from you - I've missed you. Your dad's Home Guard experiences would make fascinating reading.
1 person likes this
@nannacroc (4049)
27 Aug 16
@jaboUK I've missed you too. I'm glad I came back here and found you.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
27 Aug 16
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
27 Aug 16
the evacuation was one of the most amazing events of the whole war - your dad's account is terrific
3 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
27 Aug 16
@arthurchappell It really was amazing how all those 'little ships' set off to rescue our men, truly awe-inspiring. I'm so pleased to have Dad's description of it.
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
27 Aug 16
@jaboUK There is a very good movie about it, just called Dunkirk
1 person likes this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
27 Aug 16
@arthurchappell I'll look out for it.
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@LadyDuck (181841)
• Switzerland
27 Aug 16
All my uncles and my father told me how horrible the noise of the war is. The bombs, the dust, nothing to eat or to drink and no shoes to protect your feet. If at least the world would live in peace from now on.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
27 Aug 16
@LadyDuck If only the world would live in peace Anna. It never seems to happen, does it?
1 person likes this
@LadyDuck (181841)
• Switzerland
27 Aug 16
@jaboUK I fear that it's against the human nature. It seems that since the beginning of the world the humans have been unable to live in peace.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
27 Aug 16
@LadyDuck That is so true.
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@SIMPLYD (84449)
• Philippines
27 Aug 16
Oh , how lucky your dad is that he wasn't in that unfateful ship. And it is wonderful that their call for help comes from lost of people from all walks of life willing to risk their lives just to rescue them.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
27 Aug 16
@SIMPLYD Yes, he was luckier than some of his friends. It certainly was wonderful how all those people were willing to help, even though they were putting themselves in a lot of danger.
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@SIMPLYD (84449)
• Philippines
29 Aug 16
1 person likes this
• United States
27 Aug 16
mercy, what a chillin' tale 'n one that so many endured. thanks fer the addition's well. i don't reckon i realized that so many 'locals' jumped to help those soldiers out. true bravery there.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
27 Aug 16
@crazyhorseladycx Yes, that was a time when ordinary people risked their own lives to bring our soldiers home - true heroes all of them.
1 person likes this
• United States
28 Aug 16
@jaboUK i've no doubts that such'd be true to this day if'n folks were called 'pon, 'r knew there 'twas a need. there's lots 'f good folks 'out there', we jest don't hear 'bout 'em oft 'nough. yepperz, true heroes!
1 person likes this
@celticeagle (120398)
• Boise, Idaho
27 Aug 16
That is really some walking/marching. What a story! Thanks for sharing.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
27 Aug 16
@celticeagle I'd llike to know how far they actually marched, but they kept having to take detours to avoid the enemy, so they didn't go in a straight line. I'm glad that you found this interesting, thank you.
2 people like this
@celticeagle (120398)
• Boise, Idaho
28 Aug 16
@jaboUK ......Long ways I will wager. His shoes sort of shoe that I think. LOL
1 person likes this
@Corbin5 (119057)
• United States
26 Aug 16
Wow! The marching must have seemed like it would never end!! So glad your dad was on the ship that was one of the ships that escaped being bombed. I did not know that volunteer seacraft saved so many. Thank goodness they came to the rescue.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
26 Aug 16
@Corbin5 The evacuation of Dunkirk has gone into the annals of our country as being an occasion when ordinary civilians were able to do their bit to help. And though it was technically a rout, Dad said that they were given a heroes' welcome when they eventually got back to England. All the people were out on the streets to welcome them home.
3 people like this
@Corbin5 (119057)
• United States
27 Aug 16
@jaboUK Such a well-deserved welcome it was!
2 people like this
@Inlemay (17140)
• South Africa
27 Aug 16
Have you ever been to Dankirk? - that is on my list of visits when I go back in a few years time - I missed it last time. I love reading your fathers memoirs through your heartfelt memories. Thank you
3 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
27 Aug 16
@Inlemay No, I've not been there Lany. I'm pleased that you found my Dad's memoirs worth reading. Thank you.
1 person likes this
@TRBRocks420 (84228)
• Banks, Oregon
27 Aug 16
Love reading your Dad's memoirs, it's almost like being there and, glad they escaped safely.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
27 Aug 16
TRBRocks420 I'm happy that you enjoy reading these, thank you.
1 person likes this
• Eugene, Oregon
26 Aug 16
This is a wonderful first hand account of that disastrous happening. I am glad that your dad lived to tell the story.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
26 Aug 16
@JamesHxstatic it's great to have this personal view of those events, it makes it so much more 'real'.
2 people like this
@Juliaacv (34109)
• Canada
26 Aug 16
And its stories that this that need to be repeated to our younger generation so that they can fully understand what freedom fought for really means.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
26 Aug 16
@Juliaacv As you say - the youngsters need to know what my father's generation fought for.
3 people like this
@jstory07 (71078)
• Roseburg, Oregon
26 Aug 16
Your father was a very brave and tired man by the time he got home to his family.
3 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
26 Aug 16
@jstory07 All the soldiers went through an awful lot before they got home to England. And of course the war went on for another 4 years after this.
1 person likes this
@amadeo (75512)
• United States
26 Aug 16
thank you for sharing this stories.This is so nice to have this
3 people like this
@koopharper (6900)
• Canada
26 Aug 16
Nice to have a personal account of such an amazing event in history.
2 people like this
• Canada
27 Aug 16
@jaboUK My dad wrote a history of his experiences with WWII of some sort. I remember his banging away at the typewrite with two fingers when I was in my teen I think. I have no idea where they are or what happened to them. Tried to ask him about it and don't get a clear answer. I was told it was in the family archive that I have on flash drive but I can't find it. Granted it is a massive file. My parents spent the war in occupied Holland. My dad is still alive and will turn ninety this fall.
1 person likes this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
28 Aug 16
@koopharper What a treasure that would be if you could find your dad's notes. To read of his experiences in occupied Holland would be really something.
1 person likes this
• Canada
28 Aug 16
@jaboUK I don't know the exact content or even if it still exists in some form.
1 person likes this
@franxav (5804)
27 Aug 16
Only yesterday I taught my students WW2 in a history coaching class. I was not born then but my father went to the war and he too described how difficult it was in the eastern front. I have seen the horrors of the war in pictures and films but getting it from an eye witness is altogether different.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
27 Aug 16
@franxav Did your father tell you any war stories? There is nothing like seeing things through the eyes of someone who took part in that war.
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@franxav (5804)
27 Aug 16
@jaboUK Yes, he told me war stories.
2 people like this
@divalounger (2250)
• United States
26 Aug 16
So interesting--I recall talking to my father and to my father-in-law about being in Europe during WWII --they both experienced horrific losses personally and as part of their fighting units
2 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
26 Aug 16
@divalounger Sorry about your father's and father-in-law's losses - my father was lucky to survive in one piece.
2 people like this
• United States
28 Aug 16
@jaboUK He was lucky then!
1 person likes this
@Daljinder (22198)
• India
1 Sep 16
Wow the legs must have been killing him after walking so long. I get blisters if I walk for longer intervals of time. Can't even imagine the state of his feet.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
2 Sep 16
@Daljinder Their feet must have been in a terrible state as their boots were in tatters. But they had to keep going or risk being killed or captured.
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@JudyEv (136523)
• Bunbury, Australia
27 Aug 16
This was a wonderful example of people coming to the call of those in need. Have you read Paul Gallico's Snow Goose? I feel sure you would have. And another thing your post called to mind is the many seacraft that helped evacuate those affected by the 9/11 bombings. From what I read all manner of private craft ferried people off the island and back to their homes.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (55201)
• United Kingdom
27 Aug 16
@JudyEv It just shows how a crisis brings out the best in people, whether it's Dunkirk or 9/11 etc. Yes I read Snow Goose a long time ago.
1 person likes this