- Contributed by
- People in story:
- john larner
- Background to story:
- Royal Navy
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 07 March 2004
I was in a small party sent down to Dover to unload the wounded off the boats on to the Hospital trains. After spending the night in Dover Castle we went down to the docks, where we were told we were going across to Dunkirk to load the wounded on to the boats. We went across on the destroyer “HMS Verity”.
We could see the oil tanks and the destroyer HMS Grenade on fire to the South and we were advised by the crew to keep under cover in the forward mess.
After about an hour the ship left Dunkirk and we were told we were going to be landing on the beach to the North to open a Dressing Station on the beach station.
We were put into a landing craft and put on the beach and as the tide was going out we had to wade ashore carrying our supplies. As soon as we were off the landing craft it filled up with soldiers being evacuated. We set up a Dressing Station in an ambulance that had been abandoned just off the beach near Breydunes and those who were badly injured we took along the beach to a big house that was being used as a hospital.
Those that were not too bad we carried to the front of the queue and put on one of the boats ferrying the troops out to the ships.
We were joined by an army padre who took his place as stretcher-bearer and helped us out.
The badly wounded were taken up to a big house that was being used as a hospital. I do not know what the name of the house or the district was but it was called Rosendale and as we took a stretcher in we brought an empty one out.
Every so often two of us would go with a medical officer and check the wounded who were waiting outside the hospital and those that died were lifted off and the stretcher could be used again.
The third day the padre told me he had orders to get out and that we were going to a Dressing Station inland.
I had found some field cards. I asked him if he could post one for me.
We were put on two ambulances driven by a Royal engineer and sent to a little place inland where the “Green Howard” Regiment had set up a Dressing Station in an Estaminia (a french pub).
Their stretcher-bearers were bringing wounded in from the front while we were picking wounded up from around the dressing station.
There was a French dressing station down the road and we got some medical supplies from them. Our food was getting short so an officer and I went scrounging in the lorries that had been abandoned along the road, in one we found a case of tinned potatoes, some hard biscuits, some tins of meat extract and two gallons of Rum so we dined on that.
There was a bridge over the canal by the village and the Regiment Engineers were ready to blow it up as soon as we were out. Every time we crossed it with a casualty they asked us how much longer they had got to wait for us.
On the second night the burial squad came down for those who had died and we helped load their lorries.
The next night we had orders to get out, about ten of us got in an ambulance and went down to Dunkirk, and got on the “Mole”. We were getting towards the end when we were told “No more boats tonight — get back to land and try the beaches”.
The “Mole” was a preying target for aircraft in daylight. The Green Howard medical officer had taken charge and he said, “right we’ll get a boat of our own.” So we got a rowing boat and rowed out to sea.
A French cargo boat was coming towards us and rammed us. As it bumped us we all jumped on it. Helped by the French it took us back to Dunkirk.
As it was now daylight we got off the deck and went in the hold. The boat anchored off shore and we were informed it was not going to dock till nighttime so we went down in the hold and caught up on our sleep.
When it got dark the ship docked, loaded up with German prisoners of war on one side of the ship and french refugees on the other.
We got back to Dover okay and I sent a telegram from the telegram office that I was okay.
The padre who helped us must have got back okay because my wife got the card I had sent via him, which I have to this day.
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