La Panne - is there anything there?

Discussion in 'War Cemeteries & War Memorial Research' started by Shiny, Sep 9, 2018.

  1. Shiny

    Shiny Well-Known Member

    Morning All,

    My wife and I are heading off on a WW1 battlefield tour in a couple of weeks but have just had the idea of going to Dunkirk to see where her grandfather, who was with 712 General Construction Company, Royal Engineers, was evacuated from in WW2.

    When we have spoken to her father we have found out he wasn't evacuated from Dunkirk but from La Panne so can anyone tell me, are there any memorials or markers etc that we could visit there or is everything at Dunkirk?

    This will be the first time we have looked at anything WW2 orientated out there so any help or advice we can get would be great.

    Thanks a lot,

    CL1 likes this.
  2. CL1

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

  3. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    There are 180 lads from 1940 buried in the De Panne CWGC cemetery.

    CL1 likes this.
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  5. Shiny

    Shiny Well-Known Member

    That's great, thanks a lot everyone.

  6. CL1

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

    Michael make sure you take plenty of photos to post on the forum
    have a good time

    Shiny likes this.
  7. Shiny

    Shiny Well-Known Member

    Thanks Clive,

    I'm busy going through his record, pay book and brief notes he wrote trying to work out what happened to him.

    He mentions being in a brick yard just outside Dunkirk then marching to La Panne during the night. He says they knew they were being evacuated from there but "were still unaware of the situation". I'm assuming he meant the scale of it all.

    It doesn't mention a date he left but his service record says he arrived back in the UK on the 1st of June, I have no idea where he landed.

    His notes say he was given 72 hours leave then his company was put to work on a series of airfields in Shropshire and Cheshire.

  8. CL1

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

    Hello Michael

    I think you are correct about "were still unaware of the situation"

    I assume you already have the War Diary
    712 General Construction Company Royal Engineers WO 167/1070
    BEF War Diaries - WO 167 Series

    Andy (Drew5233) as you know is our expert on this phase of WW2.
    I have dropped him a line to see if he can add anything further for your visit.

    MongoUK likes this.
  9. Shiny

    Shiny Well-Known Member

    Thanks a lot for the help Clive, I don't have the war diary, it's on my list for a trip to Kew.

  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    712 Company left Southampton on the 29th March 1940 arriving at Le Havre on the 30th March. The Company marched to De Panne (as it is known today) at 0245hrs on the 28th May and were evacuated on various small craft at 0700hrs with the CO and 35 ORs arriving at Ramsgate the same day. They Company re-organised at Devizes between the 28th and 31st May 1940.

    There's some nice restaurants in De Panne so I'd plan lunch there. There is a war memorial close to the beach, but I can't remember exactly where. I think it's close to where King Leopold's beach house used to be. Google will tell you. There's also a plaque and bench close to where Gort's HQ was at De Panne. Outside the townhall I think, again I'd google that. If you walk along the beach at low tide towards Zudycoote Maritime Hospital you will come across the two paddle steamer wrecks of Devonia and Crested Eagle destroyed during Op Dynamo.
    CL1, Harry Ree, SDP and 2 others like this.
  11. Shiny

    Shiny Well-Known Member

    Andy that is brilliant, thank you so much.

    Sorry for the delayed reply, I've been at a Battle of Britain memorial service so couldn't reply any earlier.

    That all matches his notes perfectly, he says they marched to a marshalling yard about a mile away from the landing at Le Harve and that during the march they passed a young chap and girl who were walking towards them. They suddenly stopped and he started to relieve himself in the gutter whilst she nonchalantly held on to his arm. You can imagine the cheers and remarks from about 250 soldiers.

    At the marshalling yard they had to get into closed trucks that has 8 horses or 20 men painted on the side. He found out later that they travelled about 80 miles in the train and disembarked to an area in rural France that had WW1 barbed wire scattered around.

    We will definitely have a look around for the memorials and a walk on the beach, excellent tips.

    Thank you again,

    Drew5233 likes this.
  12. Shiny

    Shiny Well-Known Member

    Hi All,

    We went to the beach and after a bit of a hunt around managed to find the memorial. There wasn't any signs there that we could see guiding you to it and we couldn't find any trace of the sunken paddle steamers but at least we found this.

    If anyone else goes looking to find it you walk through the town and when you hit the beach turn left. It's next to a tall monument to Leopold.

    If you go the wrong direction you find 3 large columns with heads carved at the top which is something to do with Beauford (we wasted about 40 minutes hunting in the wrong direction because of this then looking in among the dunes and were cold and ready to give up).

    B - La Panne 05 (Large).jpeg B - La Panne 06 (Large).jpeg B - La Panne 07 (Large).jpeg

    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
    Recce_Mitch and CL1 like this.

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