Dunkirk and France 1940 Campaign Books

Discussion in '1940' started by Drew5233, Dec 26, 2009.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Latest three purchases:

    Return to St. Valery by Derek Lang

    Return from Dunkirk - Railways to the Rescue by Peter Tatlow

    Invasion Scare 1940 by Michael Glover
     
  2. Suffolk Boy

    Suffolk Boy Member

    Hi All

    Outrageous Fortune - The Tragedy of Leopold III of the Belgians 1901-1941 - Roger Keyes (ISBN 0-436-23320-7)

    A lengthy book which seeks to put the record straight on the conduct of King Leopold and his army. To date I've read UK and US written books on 1940 and was forming a rather negative view of the King and his Army's efforts. This has changed my view and I'd recommend it to all as there's lots of evidence to back up the author's arguments.

    I don't claim vast knowledge of the debate on the 'gap in the North' leading up to the Belgian capitulation on 28 May for example but this account (of the politics rather than the fighting) gives a different perspective.

    Enjoy!

    PS. Will post this on the separate thread about the Belgians.


    Stuart
     
  3. cameronlad

    cameronlad Member

    Several books have recorded the following memoirs about a mystery Scots unit at Dunkirk that decided not to embark when their chance came, and instead went back to continue the fight. Does anyone know more about this incident, who this unit was, and what happened to them?

    The following extract is quoted from page 212, "Forgotten Voices: Dunkirk" by Joshua Levine in association with the Imperial War Museum, first published 2010;
    Ordinary Seaman Stanley Allen
    Royal Navy - aboard HMS Windsor
    "When we got alongside [the Mole] at Dunkirk, a file of Scottish soldiers, who were wearing khaki aprons over their kilts, came along, led by an officer who'd got his arm in a sling. He called to the bridge, 'What part of France are you taking us to?' One of our officers called back, 'We're taking you back to Dover.' And he [the Scots officer] said, 'Well, we're not bloody well coming!' They turned around and went back to continue their war with the Germans on their own. It was something remarkable.."

    As far as I'm aware, officially the Cameron's were the only remaining Scots regiment still wearing the kilt at that time. The official records show that the remnants of HQ and A Coy.1st Btn got away from the Mole on the night of 29th/30th May - but my recent research shows that not all of these men got away from Violaines or arrived at Dunkirk together.
    In addition, a makeshift battalion of 2nd Div 'Leave Details', led by Mjr C.M.Barber, including men from the Camerons, had also fought their own private war before arriving and leaving from Bray Dunes on 30th May aboard the SS Tilly.
    Meanwhile the last separated remnants of 1st Btn's B Coy escaped from La Bassee, led by Capt Mainwaring (attached from Liverpool Scottish) are also believed to have left from Bray on the 30th except for those detailed to remain in the rearguard.
    The QOCH's 4th Btn were known to be still wearing the apron over their kilts, but since they were cut off and battling for survival further south at St Valery, it couldn't have been them.
    So, can anyone shed more light on the mystery of the fighting Jocks who stayed behind?
     
  4. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    There were no 2nd Camerons in France 1939/40, only 1st and 4th. If they were Camerons on the mole they must have been 1st battalion. I have a letter somewhere from Eric Mainwaring, he was evacuated as part of Ark Force.
     
  5. cameronlad

    cameronlad Member

    Thanks for spotting the silly error I made. More haste less accuracy, I guess!!! I've now corrected the post.
    NB. The 2nd were in the Middle East when war broke out, as a result several 2nd Btn lads (in Britain when mobilisation began) ended up going out to France with the 1st. 2928056 H.Balderson was one of them. I know his history thanks to his daughter and posted info and pics of him on another thread. He was captured at La Bassee and was a POW for the rest of the war.
     
  6. brispencer

    brispencer Member

    If you are interested in the air battles fought over Belgium there is a chapter in Flames in the sky by Pierre Closterman describing the attempts by Fairey Battles to destroy bridges over the canals during the campaign. The Battles were comprehensively destroyed by the Luftwaffe. The book contains chapters of episodes throughout the war e.g Malta, the shooting down of Yamamoto, ME 262's etc. A very entertaining read.
     
  7. cameronlad

    cameronlad Member

    I have a letter somewhere from Eric Mainwaring, he was evacuated as part of Ark Force.

    51highlander
    This sounds like the man.
    Cited in the QOCH records as 2nd Lt E.L.Mainwaring although I may have referred to him as a Capt.
    If it's the same person, I'd love to see a copy of his letter.
    He led No 11 Platoon [or what was left of it, including my father] in the escape from La Bassee on the night of 27th/28th May and reached La Panne. It was the only one to get out.
    But to quote further from Mainwairing, "At 2100 hrs on 30th May, the platoon less PSM Kerr, who was detailed for duty on the beaches, embarked, and rejoined the Battalion in the United Kingdom."
    I know my father and five others definitely didn't embark with them at that point and obviously neither did Mainwaring now - making your reference to Ark Force very intriguing, since I hadn't thought to check that out more thoroughly and don't know enough detail about it.
    NB. A later seperate reference mentions "a platoon being detailed to aid the innermost defences of Dunkirk" under Lt Lawrie and PSM Kerr. I assume this is one and the same Cameron detachment left behind.
     
  8. Peccavi

    Peccavi Senior Member

    Major General Thompson - Dunkirk retreat to Victory.

    Already mentioned by Drew but I disagree with his verdict - I think this is essential reading along with Blaxenden if you want to understand the overall campaign from a military point of view. There are plenty of soldiers\veteran views, my father's included, but they had (and still have little idea of the overall campaign - at least in father's case).

    I only wish that Thompson had cut out the odd "witness eye view" and had increased the volume by three times together with his senior commander's opinion of the events unfolding.

    Expand it Julian and mugs like me we will understand everything clearly.
     
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Anymore for Anymore?

    I''m now thinking about expanding my collection to Regimental Histories that cover the 39/40 France Flanders Campaign.
     
  10. Blanket Stacker

    Blanket Stacker Junior Member

    May I reccomend 'Say not the struggle' by John Horsfall, the campaign from the point of view of an Infantry company commander (D coy 1 RIF), one of the best written accounts that I have read.
     
  11. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    I quite like reading the ' personal memories ' type of book with the French campaign in , never read much past 1940 usually , but pick the books up cheap 2nd hand.
    I have just started reading 'Seaforth Highlanders a Fighting Soldier Remembers' covers the 6th battalion in Flanders etc.
     
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    While I think of it are there any recommendations for St Valery and the sinking of the Lancastria.

    I have Sacrifice of the 51 Division by Saul

    Cheers Blanket Stacker and JCB-I've just ordered a copy of each.
     
  13. fredleander

    fredleander Senior Member

    Massacre on the Road to Dunkirk - Leslie Aitken. Brilliant Book about the massacre. I couldn't put it down and some great info for my next trip.
    Excuse me for asking but which massacre is this book about, please? Were there any others than the Luftwaffe massacre of the evacuation ships?

    Dunkirk-Fight to the Last Man - Hugh Sebag Montefiore. Not Read but looks like the new bible to all things 1940 France.
    Does this mean that the whole evacuation was just a big hoax?
     
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  15. fredleander

    fredleander Senior Member

  16. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    I quite like reading the ' personal memories ' type of book with the French campaign in , never read much past 1940 usually , but pick the books up cheap 2nd hand.
    I have just started reading 'Seaforth Highlanders a Fighting Soldier Remembers' covers the 6th battalion in Flanders etc.

    Just read the bit where author escapes France , De Panne 1940- they knife two german guards , steal a fishing boat , get attacked by two eboats and are saved by a Spitfires intervention and dissapointing for me he covers all this in two short paragraphs !
    Also brings home the fanatastic resource we have in the internet , published in the 80's the author doesn't know wether a lot of people he fought with survived the battles, now we can find out with a few clicks of a mouse.
     
  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  18. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    Just read ' Dunkirk The Neccesary Myth' by Harman , (pennies 2nd hand) Very thought provoking and goes some way too explaining why some French people think our withdrawal at Dunkirk led to the fall of France. A lot of the 'Brave Brit' events of 1940 look very different from the French side.
     
  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Strange Victory-Hitlers Conquest of France by Ernest May arrived in the post today.

    I have Harmans book and must read it, everytime I go to get a new book off the shelf I always choose something else though.
     
  20. fredleander

    fredleander Senior Member

    Just read ' Dunkirk The Neccesary Myth' by Harman , (pennies 2nd hand) Very thought provoking and goes some way too explaining why some French people think our withdrawal at Dunkirk led to the fall of France. A lot of the 'Brave Brit' events of 1940 look very different from the French side.

    I am sure they do. Not only the French, either. Being Norwegian I have some opinions on that....;)....

    I have discussed quite a lot on an eventual Operation Sea Lion on various forums and as superior as the British are portrayed in most (all) of these I am curious why they at all withdrew from Dunkirk and the other Channel ports. I mean, they were superior in the air and on the sea and their army divisions in France were reasonably unscathed. They even had more to send over to France and much more air assets to draw on.

    Fred
     

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