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- People in story:
- Eric Paine
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- 20 February 2004
Dunkirk Little Ships
My father Eric Paine was at the cinema when war broke out in 1939. A message flashed across the screen "would all territorial army personnel report for duty". My dad reported and after basic training was sent to France with the REME East Surreys.
When the troops were retreating to Dunkirk my dad and a friend got cut off from the regiment. With the help of a local girl named Annette, whom my elder sister was named after,
they arrived at the beach at Dunkirk.
As they waited under heavy bombardment hoping help would soon be with them, dad was injured by shrapnel. When his time came to be lifted off the beach he was stretchered on to the deck of a pleasure steamer from Southend more used to taking day trippers the steamer took the long journey across the channel to Blighty.
When they docked on the South coast the captain watched as the soldiers disembarked and wished them good luck.
As the last one left the captain stepped on to the dockside turned saluted and said "well done old girl, good bye" at which time the steamer then sank.
My father couldn’t believe what he saw he said "it was almost as if the steamer knew it had to get the young men home safely, and once it's job was done it gave up gracefully.
Thanks to those owners who braved numerous hazardous crossings to rescue troops stranded on the beaches of France my father and many more men went on to live long and fulfilling lives.
My dad never forgot those brave people, when my son asked his granddad what did you do in the war this was the first memory he described.
So if you were one of those who took part in the rescue's and read this thanks for the many happy years we had with dad, up until his death.
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