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Douglas Elphee - Dunkirk 1940

by A7431347

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Archive List > World > France

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People in story: 
Douglas Elphee
Location of story: 
Le Panne, Bray Dunes and Dunkirk
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Contributed on: 
14 July 2005

At the very start of the war I was in France in La Panne, near Dunkirk. When the Germans attacked we had our own little adventure to get back to England.

We found a truck and came out of Le Panne on June 2nd, 1940, after the Germans had advanced through much of the area. The front line around this time was a small box, with Dunkirk on the western edge and Le Panne on the east. Using the truck we had ‘commandeered’ we travelled to Bray Dunes, about halfway between Le Panne and Dunkirk. There we walked along the sea front and saw allied troops lining up on the beach. They called to us and we went down to meet them, and we all hopped on the HMS Winchester there. The Winchester was on its way to Dunkirk, and there we picked up more troops. I remember seeing the French soldiers coming aboard, they still had frying pans and kettles strapped to their kit! This was very odd, almost absurd considering how much military kit was left behind as everyone scrambled to retreat from the oncoming German army. But no, the French were still ready to cook and boil water should the need arise!

After picking up those troops the Winchester left for Dover. On the way a Stuka bomber did drop a bomb in our direction, but it missed, and fortunately for us it missed. Other than that the whole affair for us was very uneventful, I remember thinking that for us at least it was just like a day at the sea side, we popped in and then back out again with no trouble. We were obviously the lucky ones that day.

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by James Barton and has been added to the website on behalf of Douglas Elphee with his/her permission and they fully understand the site’s terms and conditions.

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