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Dunkirk Diary

by len86dea

Contributed by 
len86dea
People in story: 
Leonard Deacon
Location of story: 
Dunkirk
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A2301922
Contributed on: 
16 February 2004

This is a transcript of my diary written while serving in France prior, during and after Dunkirk.

I enlisted on 25 January 1937 with the Royal Engineers and transferred to the Coldstream Guards on 20 July 1939.

Sun 31 Dec 1939
Café Coniac, Roubaix (Franco/Belgian frontier). Dance Permission finishes 10 o’clock (back at Chateau Boutemie, Lannoy, by 10pm).
Mon 01 Jan 1940
Digging and wiring (barbed wire in front of trenches) as usual.

Mon-05-Feb-1940
My first leave from France in the war

Tue-06-Feb-1940
Delayed at Boulogne for today, owing to the fog.

Wed-07-Feb-1940
Arrived in England, met Marj, had a lovely time at Writtle. Marj very happy.

Thu-08-Feb-1940
Went to Chelmsford to see Marj's mother and again in the evening to see Uncle and Grandad. Had a drink with Uncle.

Fri-09-Feb-1940
Marj and I came home to Maidwell to see all at home. Very tiring journey.

Sat-10-Feb-1940
Had days’ rest at home. A memorable week for me.

Sun-11-Feb-1940
Went with Marj to Draughton Church. Very good service.

Mon-12-Feb-1940
Went to Northampton with Marj. Bought rings, got engaged, lovely time.

Tue-13-Feb-1940
Went to see Aunt Polly. Stayed at home in the morning.

Wed-14-Feb-1940
Went to Wellingboro’ with Marj and Mother to see Allen and May, had photo taken.

Thu-15-Feb-1940
Stayed at home. Went to see Boccer and Gladys’ house. At night Dad and I had a drink or two.

Fri-16-Feb-1940
Left home for London with Marj to visit Kath, Marg. and Jack. Dad came a little way with us (Dreadful winter, roads frozen over, Father took rifle and kitbag on toboggan). Arrived in London ok. Had a lovely day.

Sat-17-Feb-1940
Kath, Marj and Margaret came to Victoria to say Goodbye on my return to France. Marj was very upset. l was too. Arrived in France at 11.30pm. Very good leave but I'm very disappointed and fed up. Hoping for next leave.

Sun-18-Feb-1940
Went to church. Wrote to Marj and Mother. Cinema evening.

Mon-19-Feb-1940
Visit Marguirite and Madam Beghien and Mme Brackement, very good to see them again.

Tue-20-Feb-1940
Digging as usual. Wrote to Marj and Kath. Cinema in the evening.

Wed-21-Feb-1940
Wrote to Margaret and Jack, Allen and May and Mrs Warner. R.E. Fatigue

Thu-22-Feb-1940
R.E. Fatigue. Visit Madam Beghien with David.

Fri-23-Feb-1940
Digging in the morning, exercise in the afternoon. Pay at night and cleaning up for CO’s parade tomorrow, not for it (not required for CO’s parade).

Sat-24-Feb-1940
R.E. Fatigue. Bath in the morning (at Lannoy). Had a lovely long letter from Marjorie, very pleased. Also had a nice letter from Sis and paper from Mother.

Sun-25-Feb-1940
Church in the morning. Wrote to Marjorie. Went to Roubaix.

Mon-26-Feb-1940
Digging as usual. Visit Ms and Mme Beghien.

Tue-27-Feb-1940
Wiring in the morning. German planes drop pamphlets over us. Guard at night Billet. Sergeant’s Mess Waiter. (Pillboxes had some slits sabotaged — firing to side instead of front).

Wed-28-Feb-1940
Visit Roubaix. Wrote to Marj. Also had letter from Marj.

Thu-29-Feb-1940
Visit Mme Beghien with David.

Fri-01-Mar-1940
Cinema Carioca, Lannoy. Wrote to Sis and Aunt Emma.

Sat-02-Mar-1940
Guard tonight, Billet.

Sun-03-Mar-1940
Went to Roubaix. Heard from Mother and Kath.

Mon-04-Mar-1940
Visit Mme Mauguirite, Mme Brackement, Ms and Mme Beghien. Wrote to Marj and Mother.

Tue-05-Mar-1940
Wrote to Kath and Rube. Went to Cinema ‘Rosalee’, Very good film indeed.

Wed-06-Mar-1940
Went on stunt at 11pm. Glad when it’s over.

Thu-07-Mar-1940
Slept in the morning. In trenches at night, very cold.

Fri-08-Mar-1940
Finished stunt at 2 o’clock in afternoon, marched 5 miles to trucks, arrived back at 9.30. Letter from Marj.

Sat-09-Mar-1940
Quiet day. Baths. Paper from home. Roubaix at night.

Sun-10-Mar-1940
Quiet day. Guard at night Billet. Air raid twice.

Mon-11-Mar-1940
Quiet day.

Tue-12-Mar-1940
Coal fatigue Seclin. Letter from Marj

Wed-13-Mar-1940
Digging. Letter from Rube.

Thu-14-Mar-1940
Digging got wet through. Stunt at night. Marched 13 miles. More snow. Letter from Allen and May.

Fri-15-Mar-1940
Finished stunt 4.30am. Pay. Digging in the afternoon. Guard at night.

Sat-16-Mar-1940
Quiet day. Baths. Letter from Mrs Warner. Wrote to Marj [green envelope]. Busy week.

Sun-17-Mar-1940
Had a lovely letter from Marj. Church in the morning, Roubaix at night. Rube came to see me. Leave cancelled T.F.O.(till further orders).

Mon-18-Mar-1940
Digging as usual. Letter from Jess and paper.

Tue-19-Mar-1940
Pioneer fatigue. T.F.O. Leave commences

Wed-20-Mar-1940
Pioneer fatigue. Roubaix at night. Wrote to Marjorie.

Thu-21-Mar-1940
Route march at Cart, 15 miles. Drill before Kit (inspection), Guns Rifle and Platoon Kit Inspections, finished at 7 o’clock at night. Very tired. No letters.

Fri-22-Mar-1940
Work as usual, half day today, finish at 2.30. Very poor opinion of half day. Went to company orders about transfer to C.M.P (Corps of Military Police).

Sat-23-Mar-1940
Work morning. Baths. Football match afternoon. Roubaix at night with Jim. Billet guard.

Sun-24-Mar-1940
Letter from Sis and Maureen. Parcel from Margaret and Jack. Wrote to Marjorie. Roubaix at night.

Mon-25-Mar-1940
Work as usual. Letter from Marjorie. Paper from Mother, parcel to follow. Tobacco from Miss Raines. Wrote to Mother.

Tue-26-Mar-1940
Started again in Sgts Mess, easy day. Wrote to Sis and Maureen. Parcel from Mother.

Wed-27-Mar-1940
Wrote to Marjorie. Stunt at night.

Thu-28-Mar-1940
Work as usual

Fri-29-Mar-1940
Work as usual.

Sat-30-Mar-1940
Letter from Marj

Sun-31-Mar-1940
Work as usual. Wrote to Marj.

Mon-01-Apr-1940
Stunt.

Tue-02-Apr-1940
Stunt.

Wed-03-Apr-1940
Stunt. Letter from Marj.

Thu-04-Apr-1940
Stunt and guard.

Fri-05-Apr-1940
Work as usual. Letter from Marj and her little cousin.

Sat-06-Apr-1940
Work as usual. Letter from Mother and Kath.

Sun-07-Apr-1940
Work. Roubaix at night. Dance at Frenoy.

Mon-08-Apr-1940
Work as usual. Guard at night. Letter from Marj. Wrote to Marj.

Tue-09-Apr-1940
Wrote to Mother at home.

Wed-10-Apr-1940
Work. Heard from Marj, Mrs BarIow, Boccer. C.O. orders (had to attend). Wrote to Marj.

Thu-11-Apr-1940
Work. Roubaix at night. Missed last train ran back from Roubaix.

Fri-12-Apr-1940
New job. Officers’ Mess servant. Guard Frontier.

Sat-13-Apr-1940
Crisis. Standing by to move off at 4 hours’ notice

Sun-14-Apr-1940
Standing by 12 hours’ notice.

Mon-15-Apr-1940
Still standing by.

Fri-10-May-1940
Marched into Belgium. Good welcome. Wrote to Marj and Mother.

Sat-11-May-1940
Took up positions along the canal at Louvain. Enemy 3 miles away.

Sun-12-May-1940
Consolidated our positions, made contact with the enemy at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, enemy in large numbers, terrific shelling on both sides.

Mon-13-May-1940
We continue to hold our positions with the loss of only a few men. Continuation of artillery bombardment on both sides, many Germans killed on the other side of Canal.

Tue-14-May-1940
Still holding our positions after heavy attacks. I received 2 letters from Marj and one from Mother. They cheered me up a lot.

Wed-15-May-1940
In the morning the enemy inflicted losses to our troops with their trench mortar but we replied with grenades and shelling and we drove them back 12 miles (Single men forward. Bren gun from hip, bayonets fixed).

Thu-16-May-1940
The Germans came forward again and with their trench mortars nearly finished us all, we had no reinforcements and our C.O. orders were last round last man. We were forced to withdraw in the end.

Fri-17-May-1940
We passed through Brussels and took up positions the other side and we weren't long before we once more took contact with the enemy.

Sat-18-May-1940
Wrote to Marjorie and Mother but doubt if they received them. Rather quiet day.

Sun-19-May-1940
We had to withdraw once again as the enemy had broken through at Arras and we were in danger of being cut off.

Mon-20-May-1940
We arrived on the banks of another canal, we should have been in reserve but F and B got heavily shelled and we had to hold their position until they got organised.

Tue-21-May-1940
We withdrew to Wattrelos on the French border and again we made contact with the enemy, they had quietened down considerably.

Wed-22-May-1940
We held them for today in fact we took a patrol into the German lines and they didn't do anything about it.

Thu-23-May-1940
We held them again today, more patrols.

Fri-24-May-1940
Still holding them. We did some looting and managed to get a few wireless sets to hear the King’s speech and progress of the war.

Sat-25-May-1940
We were relieved by the Grenadiers at midnight and we marched back to be in reserve at Tourcoing.

Sun-26-May-1940
We arrived at Tourcoing at 4 a.m. they made us blanco our equipment, wash and shave before going to bed

Mon-27-May-1940
We were rushed up into positions again and we had to hold the Germans for a while, we got a terrific shelling but we had no casualties.

Tue-28-May-1940
We withdraw and were told we were coming back to England. We marched 12 miles without a stop to the trucks near Lille, then another terrific shelling.

Wed-29-May-1940
We made for Dunkirk but on arrival within 4 miles of it, all plans were changed.

Thu-30-May-1940
We were told we had to hold the enemy until all the B.E.F. had withdrawn, not too good a position for us, but no more than expected of the Guards.

Fri-31-May-1940
We were only a very small number and we were bombed and shelled until very few of us left. We had to abandon our positions and run for the boats. On arrival we were shelled and bombed. 2 ships were sunk and no Air Force to stop the German raiders. We were very lucky to get out of there. But we landed at Folkestone safe after 4 bombs had dropped each side of our ship.

Sun-02-Jun-1940
We arrived here at Tidworth 6 o’clock in the morning. A wonderful welcome. All the train journey now for a rest and some clean clothes.

Mon-03-Jun-1940
Telegram to Marj and Mother. Went to the Cinema at night at Andover.

Tue-04-Jun-1940
Wrote to Marj and Mother.

Wed-05-Jun-1940
Nothing of importance.

Thu-06-Jun-1940
Wrote to Marj
Fri 07 Jun 1940
Pay 10/-. Went for a walk in the evening.

I was one of the 200 who survived intact of 750 in the battalion. My war service continued until 31 December 1945 during which time I transferred to the Corps of Military Police in 30 May 1941. I married Marjorie on 12 January 1942.

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Dunkirk Diary

Posted on: 16 February 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear len86dea

We don't often see a primary source, this is superb stuff. How you found time to write up your diary, whilst in such danger, I'll never know.

I look forward to hearing a lot more.

Kind regards,

Peter

 

Message 2 - Dunkirk Diary

Posted on: 17 February 2004 by leannejoy

i throught your story was really good and i cant wait to hear the next one. i was in dunkirk. my name is john martin do u remeber me.

from

john martin

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