Civilians evacuated with the BEF

Discussion in '1940' started by vac, May 10, 2018.

  1. vac

    vac Member

    Does anyone know if there are any published accounts of civilians evacuated out of France with the BEF.
  2. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    There is a slightly similar prior thread here:
    Evacuation of British subjects from Calais in May 1940

    With a link there to: The evacuation of British citizens from Calais in May 1940 by HMS VENOMOUS and its sister V&W Class destroyers

    A while back when I was reading about the 9th Lancers in France, I saw this re. the evacuation of De Gaulle's wife Yvonne (and close family - including his daughter Anne)...

    Saving Anne de Gaulle - South West Secret Agents

    It has (for example)... "In fact, as news of the Germans’ imminent arrival had reached Carantec, two days earlier, on 17th June, de Gaulle’s family had hurriedly travelled to Brest. Madame de Gaulle borrowed money from an aunt, then visited the British Vice-Consulate for news of her husband. The British officials were themselves in a hurry to escape. News of evacuation ships being bombarded by German forces, who then fire-bombed the survivors in the water, must have had everyone terrified. But the British officials advised the family to board one of the last ships sailing to England, like to be the Dover ferry Josephine Charlotte.

    It was a lucky escape for the de Gaulles, who arrived at last safely in Falmouth in Cornwall on 19th June, ironically just before Vann and his MTB 29 had set sail from Plymouth to rescue them.

    P.G.Woodhouse's attempt to leave also springs to mind.

    Looking on the old people's war site at the BBC there are a lot of published accounts from the war, but I don't think that they have a specific topic on "accounts of civilians evacuated out of France with the BEF"

    They list some topics here: BBC - WW2 People's War - Archive List

    So there's perhaps a fairly good chance or something in the accounts: BBC - WW2 People's War - Dunkirk Evacuation 1940 Category

    Or... BBC - WW2 People's War - Childhood and Evacuation Category
    CL1 likes this.
  3. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    Hello vac,
    Official records about civilian operations are in short supply. I have written about the period, Most civilians were evacuated by merchant ships during the three weeks after Dunkirk, together with 140,000 British troops and about 37,000 of their Allies. They escaped through ports in western and southern France. There are a number of personal records, also W Somerset Maugham wrote about his escape. Do you have any specific questions, as I can bore for Britain on the subject!
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  4. vac

    vac Member

    Thank-you Ramiles for possible avenues.
    Roy, reading private papers in the IWM describing the retreat and separation from the unit the soldier in question mentions meeting an English woman amongst the civilian refugees who had been a nurse in WW1, married a Belgian, was now widowed and was trying to get to Britain and eventually her home town of Blackpool.

    I have not yet requested permission to use any of the material from these private papers in my own narrative but in the meantime I had wondered if it was at all possible to identify this woman but if not gain some insight into the experiences of people, especially ordinary women caught up in the retreat.

  5. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    Val, I can't shed any light on the lady, but here are three accounts of women escaping from France in June 1940. Miss Nicolle's account came from one of Major Golding's sons, and is elsewhere on this site; Miss Andrew's account is at the IWM, so you might have seen it; Miss Mann's account was online on a Czech site, I can't find the original at the moment, but I will dig it out, if you wish. Hopefully this will get you started?

    Attached Files:

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  6. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    Val, a bit more background. It may well still be copyright, even though the 'dear boy' has been gone for a few years!

    Attached Files:

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