Dunkirk Operation Dynamo Evacuation Beaches

Discussion in '1940' started by Drew5233, Oct 18, 2010.

  1. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Back in the 1950s one of my grandparents' friends was a French lady who had been married to a British naval officer who had left for the merchant service but recalled as RNR in 1939. She had continued to live in the family home in Normandy but in 1940 received an urgent phone call telling her that she had a berth on a ship to England but only hours to take up the offer. According to her account she only had enough time to pack a small suitcase and drive to Cherbourg. There she had to park the family car alongside a neat line of coaches which looked s if they had discharged their day trippers, abandon it and go on board. There was not the chaos or damage we see in so many photos!
     
  2. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    Can anyone identify the port in the Pathe film post 707 where BEF 2 are embarking from?
     
  3. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    It's supposed to be Cherbourg. There were concrete structures like those shown on the eastern side of the dock where the Portsmouth ferry berths. The port has changed dramatically and all these concrete structures are long gone.
     
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  4. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    I would suggest it was filmed at these berths in Cherbourg 8518423253_789f5c1547_b.jpg
     
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  5. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    Whilst looking for something else I am pretty sure the Pathe port is not Cherbourg but this quay in Brest.
    The Bell tower on left edge can be seen in Pathe film.
    Craig
    ecpad.jpg



    Also another BEF bus from internet -caption' on the road from Lannilis to Gouesnou' so maybe from Brest.
    barrag10.jpg

    Also came across great colourised photo of BEF troops in Brest from Gabriel Birsanu , link-
    WW2 Colourised Photos
    gabrial bisanu.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2020
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  6. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    Craig

    This is the Quai de Commandant Malbert(as it is now called) in the old military port in Brest but it is not the same pier as shown in the BEF film. These images are from Operation Aerial to evacuate the Breton ports. In the BEF film troops are shown boarding the 708GRT troopship SPARTA of which there is no record of it operating in Aerial. I know both the port of Cherbourg and Brest and the pics you show are Brest but the BEF film is at Cherbourg.
     
  7. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    Bill -99% certain it is the Quai de Commandant Malbert in the Port De Commerce Brest 16/17 June 1940 , unfortunately no buildings still existing today, probably due to the destruction of Brest in 1944 fighting.
    Ships are Sparta and Lady of Mann which my book BEF Ships has leaving Brest on those dates.
    Clue to me was the number of RAF men and then looking at google earth/ street view and old pictures , specially the rising ground behind quay and the straight access into more open waters.
    Here is the Bell Tower on the Pathe film and a Jan 1940 picture , the background buildings also match.
    Craig
    download.jpg
    January 1940
    ecpad (2).jpg
     
  8. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    Craig

    This image is definetly Quai du Commandant Malbert in Brest military port. A more significant landmark is the red brick tower in the fortifications of the military port as marked by the red arrow which proves the location. Notice this vessel is bow in. I would expect an evacuation ship to come on berth stern in so that if required she can make a rapid departure.

    ecpad.jpg
    This tower still exists today:

    Screenshot (37).png

    I have been looking at the Pathe film and there are some interesting "cuts" showing different ships - the ship in this image is not the SPARTA:
    8518423253_789f5c1547_b.jpg

    and if you notice the copyright this is Cherbourg Port not Brest. The view towards the breakwater is similar in both sets of image from Brest and Cherbourg and I believe Pathe have mixed images of both ports to help them tell their story of the evacuation The use of the an image showing the SPARTA's nameplate shows she was there but this record Meidterranean, June 1940 makes no mention of Sparta at Brest. Indeed the only mention I can find for the vessel is her being sunk in a minefield in March 1941

    The footage shows a number of different ships loading at different times. Look at the position of the gangways - there are at least three different views of ships at different tide heights - on some the men are climbing up whilst on others they are descending on to the vessels. I am sure that Pathe have mixed images of Brest and Cherbourg and that there were coaches at both. The panorama with the battle ship in the background is Brest with the battleship sitting off the entrance to the Penfeld Gorge.
     
  9. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    The Lady of Mann clearly features in the Pathe video and this image confirms she was in Brest on 15th June - as does her ship's log. (Note the tower on the ramparts again) - In the video she can be clearly seen departing the berth
    4616099501_525x445.jpg
     
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  10. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    It all sounds like typical Pathé. They cut and spliced to make cinema newsreel but those films hardly seem to have survived. Instead, there are odd uncaptioned fragments from their archives. The same problem arises with the 1940 actions in Belgium. It jumps from Herseaux to Leuven, back again and to Tournai...
     
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  11. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Sadly most Pathe archives are unreliable, I can remember doing some WW1 research being misled by clips ascribed as London that turned out to be Toronto!
     
  12. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    They are not the only ones at it - the major photo libraries have some serious mistakes as well. As an example, images of the early riots of "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland are wrongly catalogued and often uploaded reversed which causes no end of confusion.
     
  13. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    Hi all, probably added to the confusion as the picture I posted was just to show the Quai De Commandant Malbert in 1940 to compare with the Pathe film of BEF 2. It is was took from a ship departing to Norway in Jan 1940. Not sure the French provided a full miltary band on the quayside to serenade the BEF 2 'sailaway':)

    Craig
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2020
  14. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    I think it's fair to say there coaches both at Cherbourg and Brest. The number of vehicles left by the BEF was unbelievable.
     
  15. Osborne2

    Osborne2 Well-Known Member

    There are excellent descriptions and dates of shipping movements in 'BEF Ships Before,at and after Dunkirk', by John S. de Winser (World Ship's Society,Gravesend 1999) for those who wish to check vessel movements against dates and locations. If anyone is stuck on this, I will look things up if you give me sufficient details.
     
  16. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    One more photo 1940 Dunkirk . Barge Barbara Jean.
    Keith
    barge BJ Dunkirk 1940 on beach. original photo.jpg
     
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  17. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    Part of the Pier at De Panne, made up of 1500Cwt trucks. aos 47 might be from 2 Corps. 1/7 Bn Middlesex Regt [MG] or 1 Corps. Secs 1 Supply Personnel Coy [RASC]. aos 21 . 4th Inf Div. 59 Field Company RE. The one with 8 should be a 3 aos. 4th Inf Div. 2nd Beds and Herts Rgt. The truck next to the 8? might be 42nd Inf Div ?.
    Photo KB Collection.
    Keith

    truck pier.jpg dunkirk truck pier 21.jpg dunkirk truck pier 8 or 3.jpg dunkirk truck pier 42 inf.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2020
  18. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    Same pier. De Panne.
    Photo KB Collection.
    Keith
    truck pier 1940. kb.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2020
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  19. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    Same pier. De Panne. The lifeboat has moved in front of the trucks, you can see it in the other photos.
    Photo KB Collection.
    Keith
    dunkirk beach trucks pier kb.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2020
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  20. billh35

    billh35 Active Member

    Which British units were operating the coaches seen at Brest/Cherbourg?

    Is there any record of how these captured coaches were then distributed amongst German forces?
     

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