Comments Charles McCain: while regular army and elite regiments such as the those comprising the Brigage of Guards, held together, support units and formations of untrained reservists sent over from the UK tended to break under the intense stress of conducting a fighting retreat. Officers sometimes abandoned their men and men sometimes abandoned their officers.
Many people take a certain pleasure in condeming the French for collapsing in World War Two. It bears pointing out that the French rearguards at Dunkirk fought off the Germans until all British and French troops waiting to evacuate could be withdrawn. Only then did they surrender to the Germans.
Comments Charles McCain: the sand tended to absorb a portion of the explosion of German bombs. Second, while sharpnel from bombs could be deadly, it blows out and up and not down. If you were in a trench, you were usually safe from bombs and sharpnel unless they landed on top of you.
Soldiers from the British Expeditionary Force fire at low flying German aircraft during the Dunkirk evacuation. (PHOTO COURTESY OF AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL) This photo is in the public domain and getty images cannot claim as one of their pictures.
Dunkirk, France. 1940-05-28. Troops of the British Expeditionary Force lined up on the beach awaiting the arrival of the British Evacuation fleet.
Featured Image: As oil storage tanks burn in the distance, a trawler crowded with troops heads from Dunkirk back to England, June 1940. Imperial War Museum
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.”