BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

BBC Homepage
BBC History
WW2 People's War Homepage Archive List Timeline About This Site

Contact Us

Dunkirk / St Nazaire

by kenneth h taylor

Contributed by 
kenneth h taylor
People in story: 
stanley HM Taylor
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
24 February 2004

My Father - Stanley H.M. Taylor volunteered on the Monday after war was declared on the Sunday at St Pauls Recruitment Centre, Preston and left to join the RAOC on the Tuesday. I beleive he went to the Depot at Didcot,from where I beleive he went over to Belguim - just wherabouts I do not know.
The Germans made their advance and he found himself on the way to Dunkirk, when he arrived there they asked for volunteers to drive new trucks to St Nazaire, where they apparently were to be driven over the cliffs to be destroyed.
He was then ordered to board the Lancastria which was apparently moored off-shore, due to the numbers of personnel on board they were ordered off.As was the fate of this boat, a German bomber released his bombs down the funnel of this ship.
My Father eventually was taken onto a vessel, the name of which I think was Empire or Empress of Something or other, and I beleive they sailed into Liverpool
Shortly after this time he was posted to the RAOC Depot at Donnington, Wellington.Shropshire which apparentl had to be set up as a subsidary of the Depot at Didcot.
He finished his service there as a Warrnt Officer 11

© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.

Forum Archive

This forum is now closed

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 / St Nazaire

Posted on: 10 March 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Kenneth

There is some confusion here. Dunkirk is east of Calais, near the Belgian border, on the North Sea at the end of the English Channel. St Nazaire is in the Loire-Atlantique department, at the mouth of the Loire River on the Bay of Biscay. The distance between Dunkirk and St Nazaire is about 740 miles.

Moreover, Dunkirk was surrounded and cut off by German troops and to get to St Nazaire the trucks would have had to be driven through German lines, then across the Somme, to the BEF in Normandy, and then on to Brittany in retreat with the remainder of the BEF. And just to destroy some trucks?

The Lancastria lay at anchor in the Charpentier Roads, about 9 miles from the port of St Nazaire and just over 5 miles from land. I am not aware that anyone was ordered off once on the ship. It may well be that your father was on the 'Highlander' which on its last trip to the Lancastria had about 600 men on board, these had to be refused permission to embark by the Lancastria.

You will find details of the sinking of the Lancastria here F1749532?thread=385740

Kind regards,


Archive List

This story has been placed in the following categories.

British Army Category
France Category
icon for Story with photoStory with photo

Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. For any other comments, please Contact Us.

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy