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15 October 2014
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Aftermath of Dunkirkicon for Recommended story

by KathyKay

Contributed by 
KathyKay
People in story: 
KathyKay
Location of story: 
Ramsey, Huntingdon
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A2017531
Contributed on: 
11 November 2003

My friend and I joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) in March 1939 with some bravado. Surprise, surprise, when war was declared on 3 September 1939, and we were both posted to our military destinations within a fortnight.

This is my account of my subsequent experience after the fall of Dunkirk. The capitulation of France had left the British troops to fight it out alone and entrapped on the beaches of Dunkirk.

Caring for the returning troops

The ATS company of which I was part had been housed initially in a requisitioned country house in Narborough. Just prior to the fall of Dunkirk, we were transferred to a newly built militia camp in Ramsey, Huntingdonshire.

Following the débâcle at Dunkirk, troops, about 100 at a time, those who were able to walk, were marched into the camps as they arrived back on British soil. They were exhausted and in tatters, some wearing legless trousers and armless jackets and even less. They all had to be fed and provided for.

This is where I come into the story. I and my ATS platoon, whatever our routine jobs, had to help in the kitchens preparing food, that is peeling potatoes, cleaning other vegetables and washing up (army style). Camp beds and blankets had to be provided, and the quartermaster had to re-equip the soldiers with suitable clothing.

Back to the war zone

After several days, the troops were dispatched to an army base elsewhere. There they were presumably issued with the necessary documentation dealing with their safe return, and, possibly after a period of well-earned leave, they returned to the war zone.

The batches of troops continued to come and go for several weeks, and although it was hard and tedious work we all felt we had given valuable service. We know too that the troops were more than grateful to have been rescued from Dunkirk and cared for so well back home.

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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 aftermath

Posted on: 09 May 2005 by queenjopVICKERS

I was 14 yrs old at the time of Dunkirk and working in Brixton,S.London......In my lunch hour I was walking back to my office when I heard trains coming on the overhead rail line......I stopped, looked up and stood in awe as the trains passed slowly along enroute for Victoria or Waterloo? carrying wounded soldiers fresh from Dunkirk. You could see they were heavily bandaged - heads, legs, arms some weakly waving to the crowd which had gathered down below. I was transfixed! and knew I was watching history, so the scene was embedded in my memory forever . . . . . . . . .

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Auxiliary Territorial Service Category
Dunkirk Evacuation 1940 Category
Cambridgeshire Category
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