British Imperturbability: Grenadiers Guards Under Fire At Dunkirk

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The Grenadier Guards rehearse for Trooping the Colour to celebrate the Queen’s birthday on June 12. Captain Alex Rawlins inspecting the men of *Nijmegen Company, 1 Grenadier Guards at Wellington Barracks before moving onto Horseguards for the Trooping the Colour rehearsals.


caption from London Daily Telegraph with photo by Heathcliff O’Malley 

 

At Dunkirk  end May 1940

“…We went straight into the Mole (a long wooden pier) at Dunkirk, which was under shell fire from the Germans. We took off what was left of the Guards. They marched down the Mole in threes and in step. The NCO said, ‘Guards, halt,  Guards, left turn, Guards will embark.’ I think there were about 1000 of them and they embarked under fire in about 20 minutes…when the ship began to leave the Guards began to clean their weapons and get ready for action…The Guards paraded on the quay side at Dover and marched to the trains. Unshaven, tired out, very strained indeed with rifles spotless. In my opinion the finest soldiers in the world….”

from the diary of Lt-Col. P.B. Longdon, MD. RAMC (Royal Army Medical Corp). as cited in Dunkirk: the Great Escape by A.J. Barker

 

* “Nijmegen Company… is an independent company which was created when the 2nd Battalion was placed into suspended animation as a result of the 1993 round of defence cuts. Nijmegen Company carries the Colours of the 2nd Battalion and maintains its customs and traditions.”

from the website of the Grenadier Guards. www.grengds.com/

 

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Ceremonial Guard by Nijmegan Company of the Grenadier Guards await the arrival of Prime Minister of Malaysia Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib, 14 July 2011. (UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

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Grenadier Guards manning an emplacement at Modder River after the Battle of Magersfontein

(photo courtesy www.britishbattles.com/battle-of-magersfontein/)

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/