Memories of our miracle evacuation
PUBLISHED: 15:41 27 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:57 25 August 2010
AS Britain commemorates the 70th anniversary of the evacuation of Dunkirk, one veteran shares his memories of what Winston Churchill described as a miracle of deliverance.
AS Britain commemorates the 70th anniversary of the evacuation of Dunkirk, one veteran shares his memories of what Winston Churchill described as a 'miracle of deliverance.'
Operation Dynamo, which ran from May 26 to June 4 1940, saw 338,226 soldiers rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk, northern France, after Allied troops were pushed back by superior German forces.
Now, on its 70th anniversary, thousands of veterans are remembering the unprecedented operation at services across the country.
Eric Edwards, who chairs the Old Bexley Ex-Servicemen's Club, in Bexley High Street, and served in the army for 25 years from 1946 to 1971 reaching the rank of Sergeant Major, said: "I always remember where I was when I heard about Dunkirk - I was at school, walking across the school playground behind two teachers, when I heard them say 'France has fallen'.
"But then, amazingly, we snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and managed to rescue most of our troops.
"They even used the Woolwich Ferry in the rescue mission. It was terrific, how they got the troops out of harm's way like that. It was very good for morale.
"It's important that we remember what happened and learn lessons from it."
Churchill branded the events in France 'a colossal military disaster' before hailing the rescue a miracle.
Only 7,010 of the British, French, Canadian, and Belgian troops were evacuated on the first day, but by the ninth day, 338,226 soldiers had been rescued by the 850-strong armada of naval, fishing and pleasure crafts.
Sam George, 83, of North Cray Road, Bexley, said: "My brother, Gordon, was evacuated.
"He got out alright but then they wanted people who had had some sort of an education to join the RAF and he was killed in a bombing raid on Germany, in 1943.
"He never got round to telling me about [Dunkirk].
"It was of vital importance that we got our troops back - we wouldn't have had much of an army if we didn't.