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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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Kent and Sussex Dunkirk veterans star in a new BBC documentary with Brenda Blethyn

Four World War Two veterans saved from the beaches of Dunkirk have retraced their journey for a new BBC South East documentary Dunkirk: A Miracle Of Deliverance, on Sunday 23 May on BBC One South East, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the dramatic rescue.

Kent resident Brenda Blethyn joins Richard Samson from Sandwich, Jon Port of Maidstone and lifelong best friends Joe Clark from Ticehurst (East Sussex) and Lewis Earl of Rusington (West Sussex) as they relive one of the most extraordinary events of the war in Dunkirk: A Miracle Of Deliverance.

Operation Dynamo, as the Dunkirk mission was known, saw more than 300, 000 allied troops rescued as the 'phoney' war ended and the Allied Armies experienced the full might of the German invasion force driving them back to the beaches of northern France.

With tragedy looming on a vast scale, a huge fleet of vessels left the shores of the South East to save the trapped soldiers. Among them were tiny tugs, barges and lifeboats – little ships that helped change the course of the war and all taking part in what Sir Winston Churchill called a "miracle of deliverance".

In this moving half-hour documentary, to be broadcast on BBC One in the South East on Sunday 23 May at 2pm, the Kent and Sussex veterans share their stories against a backdrop of archive and little-seen footage of the mission.

Accompanied by Brenda, who was born in Ramsgate from where the little ships sailed, they make the trip back across the channel to remember those who were not so fortunate.

Paying tribute to the veterans, the oldest of whom is 93, and explaining her decision to get involved Brenda said: "These four gentlemen are absolutely inspiring. With Joe and Lewis the camaraderie between them is heartening, they were in the boy scouts together, went to war together and are still lifelong friends.

"But they are also very aware of how fortunate they were to be rescued at the time. And they carry guilt that they survived and others didn't.

"Growing up in Ramsgate I was aware of the Dunkirk mission but I did not understand the full implications of it. It has been incredibly stirring, hearing stories of the generosity and bravery of those involved in the flotilla of small boats. These were people coming together with no vested interest at all, just to help others in peril. The whole endeavour showed great human spirit. The experience has been incredibly moving."

Dunkirk: A Miracle of Deliverance marks the start of BBC South East Today's coverage commemorating the mission and the contributions made by people from across the South East in the week up to the 70th Anniversary.

Combining specially created films by South East Today's Robin Gibson, Polly Evans and Sara Smith and outside broadcasts from Ramsgate, Dover and Dunkirk, the team will tell the stories of the 'little ships', explain the central role of Dover Castle and look at how the mission has been celebrated on film, across the week from Monday 24 May, at 6.30pm on BBC One.

They will also bring viewers coverage of the 70th Anniversary Memorial Service from Dunkirk on Saturday 29 May.

Notes to Editors

Joe Clark (93) and Lewis Earl (90) were both gunners with the 91st field regiment, (Royal Artillery). Jon Port worked in logistics with the 44th Home Counties Territorial Army division. Richard Samson was a signaller with the 23rd field regiment of the 51st Highland Division.

HB

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