Good detailed eye-witness account of St. Nazaire Evacuation, 1940

Discussion in '1940' started by JohnnyB, Jul 23, 2017.

  1. JohnnyB

    JohnnyB Member

    Among his effects, my late father, Tony Bonner, left me an riveting account of his participation in the BEF, whch has some literary merit, I think. Does anyone have any ideas of what I should do with this? I have it as a pdf.
    Osborne2 and Drew5233 like this.
  2. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    You should be able to upload it as a .pdf to this thread using the 'upload a file' button beneath the reply box.
    If it's detailed or crackingly good, I expect that a moderator will move or duplicate it to 'Resources'.
  3. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I am sure that your father's account would be welcome.

    There are also 37 comprehensive personal accounts of survivors published in John West's The Loss of the Lancastria....pity it could not be included when first printed in April 1988.

    Survivors recount the experience of waiting in the St Nazaire "Roads" for an escort and in a position what would be regarded as a sitting duck for an aerial attack.
  4. JohnnyB

    JohnnyB Member

    Roy Martin likes this.
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Hi - What unit was he serving with? I'd love to see the account.
  6. JohnnyB

    JohnnyB Member

    Hi Everyone,

    Herewith Tony Bonner’s account of his time in the BEF. I have to say that he LOVED the war. He was adventurous, and only too keen to get out of, as he saw it, a stultifying life working on his father's farm. Instead of bedtime stories, when my sister and I were young, he used to read to us from his war diaries!
    Anyway, enjoy. He had a good eye for character and detail, and a great turn of phrase. You can sense his 21 year-old wonder and amazement at being a part of history in the detail he recalls.

    Attached Files:

  7. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Johnny, I've obviously not read this yet, but 50+ pages of what looks to be well-written narrative: many thanks--I look forward to taking a proper look after work.
  8. Osborne2

    Osborne2 Active Member

    Brilliant read. His welcome home (and the care shown) by the RAF was in marked contrast to some who returned into army care. Our local park had 3800 soldiers from St Nazaire arrive on 20 June in Cheshire and many had to sleep under the trees, in tents erected by local scouts and hastily requisitioned local houses.
  9. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    A good read, so far I have only read civilians accounts of the evacuation. The ship was the Floristan. Having been a merchant seaman my thoughts were with the crew who had to clean ship after disembarkation. Why is it that no one outside of we few shows any interest in this evacuation?
    Orwell1984 likes this.
  10. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    Floristan was reported later as having saved up to 3,500 troops. The ship had bomb damage in the engine room, so it was a near squeak. Her convoy was: Convoy OLIVE sailed Loire (0630)



    FLORISTAN 2000


    CLAN MACPHERSON Ferguson? 2000



    FABIAN 2000


    GLEN AFFARIC Glenaffric? 4000

    Escorted by VANOC & BEAGLE. Destination Plymouth & Falmouth.
  11. CommanderChuff

    CommanderChuff Senior Member


    This was a great story and well written, it was a far cry from the normal stories of Dunkirk and much more like my own time in the services, many hours of nothing with a few minutes of action, thank you posting,

  12. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I had a quick look at AC2 Bonner's account.I must say a very good account of the withdrawal to Western and South Western France....the communal graveyards on these escape routes bear testimony to those who were unlucky.

    Very similar to a RAF Lancastria survivor,I Macpherson,whose account,"The Nazis at our Clean Heels" is also worth reading.His group of up to 20 lorries took a similar route and headlong dash south of the Loire from leaving the south of Orleans,the BAAF HQ France.It would appear that the details had instructions to head for centres such as chateaux, then on to the unfinished airfield near to St Nazaire was part of the overall evacuation plan.It seems that there was vast stocks of liquor and stores at this assembly area and that there was no compulsion for anyone to consume it.I would think it was regarded that it was better to enjoy it rather than it become German booty.

    Macpherson was based at Olivet as a member of the Personnel Staff Officer's Section and relates the enjoyable off duty recreational activities but without the sexual dimension recorded.

    Have begun to ascertain the airfields mentioned by AC2 Bonner....his reference to Champagne airfield outside Reims is now the regional airport,titled Reims Champagne....very interesting to follow the geography of the route and the diversions that AC2 Bonner was detailed to undertake as a MT driver.
    alieneyes likes this.
  13. My father kept a diary about his time in France during the early months of 1940. I have published a version of it as a website, which you are all welcome to view. I have included I Macpherson's account which my father obtained while he was still alive. I'm not sure who holds the copyright for the Macpherson account: if you know please tell me so that I can make the necessary arrangements to credit the holder.
    You may view the website here: Intro
  14. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    welcome Ashley
  15. Thank you CL1. I'm in the process of updating the website and it should be done in about 1/2 an hour.
  16. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    well done mate just had a good read


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