This week I have mostly been watching.... Dunkirk!

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Von Archie
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Re: This week I have mostly been watching.... Dunkirk!

Postby Von Archie » Tue Aug 08, 2017 6:37 pm

Just seen it.I enjoyed it, but yeah, a bit of cgi of the 400,000 on the beach wouldn't have gone amiss. It was also a bit disjointed, with the air action taking place over an hour, and the other stuff over a day/week, which was a bit confusing for some people I think.
When those Stuka's dove I thought 'Fuuuuuu' and can see why they would have been terrifying. The ships sinking...
The Spit gliding at F16 speeds was a bit silly, and shooting down a lone diving Stuka. Why the fuck was there a lone Stuka?
Overall though, pretty good, and I'm happy I saw it at the cinema rather than on TV
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Steph
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Re: This week I have mostly been watching.... Dunkirk!

Postby Steph » Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:06 pm

Hi chaps!

Just to share this letter from my Grand-dad I found in one of the cartons that I had yet to open...

He wrote this one when I was twelve as I asked him to talk about his war experience. He started with Dunkirk and the end of his first campaign (1939-1940). This testimony is not as thorough as I expected it to be at the time but I had a few talks with him about it which did a lot to complement that story. My father also has all his personnal logs where I can dig out some more if you'd like!
For you to understand it all, he was in the French Army Reserve, an "Aspirant" or Officer Cadet and acted as an Infantery Liaison Officer. He therefore was embedded with the Infantery to report any enemy activity on the frontline to guide artillery fire.

Here's the original letter (in plain English, mind you!, because I had to practice... :D ) and the transcription, because hand-writing can be difficult to read sometimes. I took the liberty to change some sentences, re-arrange some verbs or idioms as some might be unintelligible by English standards (strangely, French people can understand... :) ). My remarks or additions are in italics.

Enjoy gentlemen!

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Transcription:

June 1940,

I was in position with the 89th Artillery Regiment (68th Infantry Division) just North-East of Dunkirk, near Zuydcoote (the week-end of Belmondo!) about three miles from Belgium.

On May 10th 1940, day of the German attack, we were starting for Holland with our twelve guns and about a hundred horses from the 1st Group. After two weeks of combat on the Escaut River, facing the German Panzers, French HQ had understood the German maneuver to go for the sea (South-West of Dunkirk territory) and cut off all allied forces in the place.
We arrived in the South-Western sector, still with our twelve guns and their hundred horses, very tired by crossing through Holland and Belgium by day and night!
During about ten days of combat, French troops and a few British had let (I believe "covered" is more appropriate) the departure of the British troop first, and a few French troops in the end. With the help of the Royal Air Force, very effective... all along the British Forces presence (all aircraft shall be necessary for the next battle in the sky of England).

I had been with Infantry for a few days (shooting Artillery support fire at targets). But during the night from June 3rd to 4th, my Battery had used up all its ammunition, and the guns were probably out of use as well, so what remained to be done but go to the beach?
It was about 3 or 4 a.m. What a piece of luck: a boat was ready to start near the "Fort Mardyck", West of Dunkirk. We were able to go aboard, one by one, with help from the Navy (French or British, I can't remember...) over the water then crossing the Channel.
As for me, because of the weariness I fell asleep on my helmet somewhere between Dunkirk and Margate on the English coast. We made it by night, it was better for us, because it was more difficult for the Stukas to attack by straffing (as say Allied pilots). We escaped "by the skin of our teeth", as the British put it.

When we arrived, after a good breakfast (tea and chocolate, the first since a long time), we were boarded on some old train to go from Margate to Bornemouth, near the Isle of Wight. What a surprise it was to see many youngs boys on the beach, playing tennis with some pretty girls. Peace, at less than 200mi from the war. Unfortunately, it was not for us. We again took the train to Plymouth where a boat was waiting, ready to depart for Cherbourg, France.
At the last moment, news reached us that Germans were already there, so off to Brest we went. Upon our arrival, we took yet another train bound for Nîmes' 10th RAC (Régiment d'Artillerie Coloniale - Colonial Artillery Regiment). There, we were equipped with some "90 de Bange" new guns, dating back to 1870's war...

Finally, it was the French/German armistice.

End of the First campaign (1939-1940)
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On the "De Bange" gun: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Bange_90_mm_cannon

Unbeknownst to me, he earned a citation on 3rd June 1940 for giving accurate coordinates to his battery which enabled to jam (temporarily though...) a German attack in the vicinity of Spycker (a town just South-West of Dunkirk).

Cheers all!
Last edited by Steph on Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: This week I have mostly been watching.... Dunkirk!

Postby Dange » Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:24 pm

very interesting reading ....
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Re: This week I have mostly been watching.... Dunkirk!

Postby Paddy » Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:56 pm

Steph wrote:Hi chaps!

Just to share this letter from my Grand-dad I found in one of the cartons that I had yet to open.

Cheers fella great to read it, hats off to your Grandfather.
Cheers,

Paddy

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Steph
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Re: This week I have mostly been watching.... Dunkirk!

Postby Steph » Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:18 pm

Paddy wrote:
Steph wrote:Cheers fella great to read it, hats off to your Grandfather.

Cheers Paddy! I'm sure he heard you from where he is! :salute:
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Re: This week I have mostly been watching.... Dunkirk!

Postby Bunny » Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:13 am

Wow Steph - that's a fantastic insight, you're so lucky to have even that written down! All I have is verbal stories and things we've pieced together from those, so many didn't talk about it all.

Thanks for sharing! :nice:
"A good landing is one you can walk away from. A great landing is one you can walk away from with your pint intact."


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