- Contributed by
- Stockport Libraries
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 19 February 2004
This letter by Norman Battersby about Dunkirk was submitted to the People's War site by Chris Comer of Stockport Libraries with the permission of Lee Battersby, his son who fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
"Thanks for the letter received today on our return from the sixth trip to Dunkirk.
We have been through hell these last four days while evacuating British, French and Belgian troops from Dunkirk and bringing them over here.
Three of the ship's company have been killed and several wounded, myself included, with a round in the leg where a bullet or shrapnel grazed me. Nothing much however, I can walk about now alright.
The ship has been bombed and machine-gunned constantly be every type of German aircraft these last four days, but the troops came off worst as we carried over 850 men each trip.
They were unable to get below when Messerschmidts swooped down and machine gunned the decks. Blood was everywhere. I saw one Tommy with his head hanging off but after we brought three down they eased off a bit. We also brought down three Heinkels and a Junkers ET (?).
Our mast and aerial were shot away by shore batteries and the funnel is absolutely riddled. 'Shikari' was also there on the job.
We have had absolutely no sleep for four days and very little to eat. I never realised I could keep going so long, but I feel better now after a five-hour nap.
Dunkirk was a mass of flames and smoke but it was worth risking the bombs to see the relief on the Tommy's faces when they saw rescue coming.
About twety naval craft were sunk in Dunkirk bay. but we were definitely let down by the R.A.F as only about 30 Spitfires were on the job, against wave after wave of Dorniers etc.
The story the B.E.F (British Expeditionary Force) had was that they had been bombed continuously without the least help from the R.A.F.
My action station was on the bridge and believe me it took all the nerve I had to stick it out when the attacks took place. I hung a greatcoat up and the next minute it was absolutely riddled and my mate killed and one injured.
I got my packet while firing at a parachutist but I'm certain I got him.
Anyway we saved the B.E.F and it was worth it, but I thought we were done for on the last trip when an Armada of bombers and fighters dropped magnetic mines and bombs. I saw one troopship blown up.
Well I can't write any more now, our next job i expect is to bombast Dunkirk. So I will close now, excuse scribble, I'm alright, hope everyone in H.M. is.
Cheerio, Yours till the ship sinks,
"PS 'Shikari' arrived Dover 5 a.m. Sunday
Battleship 'Nelson' not sunk, I was aboard it last Tuesday at Portsmouth"
Norman's son later informed me that Norman was permitted to go ashore on one of his trips to Dunkirk and he evacuated a very special person - a stray cat that he found hiding amongst the rubble and wreckage of Dunkirk. He tucked the cat under his coat and smuggled it home to Britain where it lived contentedly, a much loved family pet, for several years to come.
Chris Comer. Stockport Libraries
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