The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) The image is of a note I enclosed with Mum's birthday card about her neighbour's son, R (see yesterday's post). It tells something of three tragic evacutions which cost - among thousands of others - her neighbour's only son's life. 340,000 Allied troops had to be evacuated in Operations Dynamo (Dunkirk May 26-June4) which everyone's heard of, Cycle (Le Havre & other French ports ended 13 June) and Arial (St Nazaire 15-25 June).
When I sent the note to Mum, I'd thought R & his friend had got to St Nazaire by 'every man for himself''. I was wrong: there was RAF fighter cover. But on 17 June after they'd embarked on HMT Lancastria at St Nazaire along with >5000 others - part of an intended convoy - the Luftwaffe bombed it with 3,500 lives lost including R's. Churchill had the the news suppressed in the public interest at the time and the emphasis has been ever since on the evacuations from Dunkirk.
Sources (harrowing reading): Finest Hour (Hodder & Stoughton, 1999) by Phil Craig & Tim Clayton; Dunkirk2: The Untold Story ianhallauthor.blogspot.com/2016/07/dunkirk-2-untold-story-operation-cycle.html
My note to Mum concludes:
'...He must have breathed a sigh of relief when he got aboard the Lancastria only to be hurled into eternity shortly afterwards. Ah, well, that's war for you.'
It's almost two years since I published In Our Fathers' Footsteps (see under BOOKS). My latest book, One Dog and His Cop, about my cousin's police dog,was published 30 November this year (see under BOOKS).