From The Times, Wednesday, May 29, 1940: EVACUATION OF BOULOGNE BRILLIANT WORK BY DESTROYERS COURAGE AND DISCIPLINE A description of the evacuation by sea of British troops in BOULOGNE when that port was seized by greatly superior forces of the enemy, by an eye-witness who was present there on independent duty, was issued in LONDON yesterday. It is a heartening story of courage, steadiness, endurance, and skill in the face of danger and overwhelming strength of the enemy, by the officers and men of all three forces engaged. The Navy finally effected the evacuation in conditions of great difficulty and danger. But they also had a part in the operations on land, for the day before, when the probable necessity for evacuation became evident, a demolition party was detailed to be ready to move at two hours' notice. It consisted of seamen, ROYAL MARINES, and a small detachment of the ROYAL ENGINEERS, with the necessary explosives and other demolition gear. The combined party was taken by road to another port, where they embarked in a destroyer and were rushed across the Channel, reaching the main jetty at BOULOGNE in the forenoon. On the way into the harbour they had seen some French and British destroyers shelling the high land to the south, over which enemy tanks and mechanised troops were advancing on the town. The naval party was landed to hold the railway station, to fit the demolition charges, and to earmark, at the request of the French authorities, all bridges, cranes, lock-gates etc., which should be destroyed when the time came. Some troops were already in the railway station when it came under high explosive fire from enemy fieldguns. The seamen were there too, fitting the detonators to their explosive charges. "Some of them were quite young men who'd never been under fire" the eye-witness said. "They just carried calmly on with their jobs with bits of the roof flying around and casualties occurring. They never turned a hair." ENEMY CLOSING IN The Germans were gradually closing in on the town with light mechanised vehicles followed by tanks and motorised field-guns. German aircraft attacks lasted intermittently throughout the day, and at one time there were 60 machines overhead. Once a greatly superior number made off on being attacked by R.A.F. fighers. Owing to the position of the Germans all round the town it had been impossible to send field-guns or other assistance, consequently the troops could not hold out indefinitely agains the enemy armoured vehicles. The naval and military officers conferred, and soon came to the conclusion that the town could not be held. The Germans already held the higher ground commanding the town and harbour, and were massing more troops and guns. Small parties of Germans were already coming down the streets on the outskirts of the town. Demolition of all the bridges and important points was ordered, and small parties of seamen went out with their parcels of explosives. Already the swing bridges giving access to the inner part of the harbour were under fire of machine-guns at a range of a few hundred yards. Meanwhile, in another part of the harbour was a large crane, with a wet dock beside it containing a naval trawler. Both might be captured by the enemy, so the officer in charge - a naval officer - decided to destroy them, with the power-house and pumping station for the dock, without waiting for further orders. He did so, though the crane did not collapse as was expected. It was eventually brought crashing down by a few rounds from the destroyer. FLOATING DOCK SUNK Another small naval party were searching the docks for any ships which might assist in the evacuation. They found one small vessel of the drifter type in which some stokers raised steam in record time by using bits of packing cases and anything combustible they could lay their hands on. Then came the long expected orders - "Complete demolition." The floating dock was sunk, and the machinery, power-houses, and the like blown up. The hinges of some dock-gates were demolished, another trawler, another crane - anything and everything that might be of use to the enemy was wrecked. In the midst of this work the demolition parties were harassed by dive-bombing and machine-gun attack by 15 enemy aircraft. These were the machines put to flight by the R.A.F. fighters. As a considerable number of our troops were sheltering in the sheds around the railway station, and more were arriving every minute, two destroyers came into harbour and alongside, and then steamed stern first out of the narrow entrance with all the troops they could cram on board. The three more destroyers came in and alongside, to be fired upon furiously by enemy field guns concealed on a wooded hill to the north of the harbour and over-looking it, and by pom-poms and machine-guns in the second-storey windows of a hotel. The range was nor more than 800 yards. Then several enemy heavy tanks came down the hill and on to the foreshore. The troops, meanwhile, were on the jetty and embarking in the destroyer. Their courage and bearing were magnificent, even under a tornado of fire with casualties occurring every second. They were as steady as though on parade. POINT-BLANK RANGE But the destroyers had not been idle. Their 4.7's, 4in., pom-poms, and machine-guns were in hot action, plastering the hillsides and the German field-guns in them at point-blank range: blasting the hotel opposite until the pom-poms and machine guns were silenced. The first shot fired at the tanks missed. The second was a direct hit which caused one of them to capsize and "go spinning over and over like a child doing a cart-wheel," according to an onlooker. A third was knocked out with a direct hit. THe others retired with some celerity. If it had not been for the rapid and accurate fire of those destroyers and the bravery of the men manning their guns in the open the retiring troops must have received far heavier casualties and the evacuation might never have been possible. "By God!" said one of the more senior military officers, "they were absolutely magnificent." What the Army though to the Navy the sailors also thought of the soldiers. "They stood there like rocks and without giving a damn for anything," said one naval officer. The three destroyers cast off and went stern first out to sea through the narrow entrance. One was slightly on fire, and all were listing heavily with the number of men on board. Getting them safely away and out to sea involved a fine display of seamanship, particularly as the tide had fallen and there was a danger of grounding. In the evening there were still many troops ashore, and still more coming over the bridges under heavy fire. Most of the naval demolition party had gone in the destroyers, leaving the officer in charge, a sub-lieutenant, a petty officer, and one rating. They blew up the bridge when the last soldier had passed over it. Darkness came, and at 10 o'clock the railway station was still crammed with men, with the Germans very close and advancing. Three destroyers in succession nosed into the harbour and out to sea again with full quotas. One had a list of about 15 degrees. It was a miracle that all these destroyers were not sunk. If the withdrawal was a misfortune, it is a story of truly magnificent discipline and of courage, determination, and devotion to duty on the part of comparatively small forces of the Army, the Navy, and the Royal Marines.