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Late Arrival At Dunkirk

by BrianB

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Sapper H Broadbent 1985232
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14 February 2004

When Churchill announced that the evacuation of Dunkirk was complete I was three years old. Later I discovered that this was not an entirely happy announcement for my mother because my father was still missing somewhere in France. He did eventually reach these shores and took part in the invasions of Africa and Normandy.

After the war, I asked him about this experience and he said that he, and a number of others, reached Dunkirk after the rescue vessels had gone. They sheltered for a number of days under the stand at the St. Malo football ground, before being taken off by a destroyer. He had to be mistaken because even I, a cocky young grammar schoolboy, new that St. Malo was at the other side of the Cherbourg Peninsula and miles away from where he was supposed to be. So he wasn't only late but was also hopelessly lost.

A few years ago I visited Dunkirk, strolled along the beach and climbed a dune from which I saw a football ground with a small stand over which was the name St. Malo.

Can any credence be lent to this story which stems from the answers of a shy man to a relatively disinterested brat?

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Message 1 - Late Arrival At Dunkirk

Posted on: 14 February 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Brian

I have read this story with interest, but there are several problems with it.

Operation Dynamo did not end when the last British Troops were taken off on 3 June 1940, when after inspecting to ensure all British troops were embarked, General Alexander left for England. Operation Dynamo officially ended a day later at 2.23 pm on 4 June after three blockships were towed into position, by the destroyer Shikari, and sunk in the harbour entrance; all rescue ships were then ordered to disperse.

It is difficult to see how, some days after this, a British destroyer could have docked in German occupied Dunkirk, quite apart from the port entrance being blocked. Unless it docked, it would have had to stand a mile or so out to sea, placing itself in danger.

Your first assumption of their evacuation being from the port of St Malo seems more likely.

Best wishes,



Message 2 - Late Arrival At Dunkirk

Posted on: 14 February 2004 by BrianB

Dear Peter
Many thanks for your interest. I can only reiterate the reply that my father gave to me - "I was at Dunkirk". The fact, witnessed by me, that there is a football ground there, named St Malo, is ,to my mind, fairly convincing proof. He was totally unaware of the other, larger and now well known, St Malo.

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