The Defence of Calais (1940)

Discussion in '1940' started by CROONAERT, Mar 22, 2004.


    CROONAERT Ipsissimus

    Got this booklet by Eric Linklater, part of the "Army at War" series 1941.

    Basically it's a "day by day" account of the units and events involved in this action from 22nd to the 27th May 1940. If anyone needs to know anything from this "history", let me know.

  2. Tom Buck

    Tom Buck Junior Member


    As a former Green Jacket officer I started a project to investigate the battle of Calais on behalf of the regiments involved. That was ten years ago and I have only just finished the first draft. So far the account has brought together over 130 personal accounts of those who fought in Calais or where involved.

    I am keen to track down any that I have missed, so if you stumble across any more information then I would love to see it.


  3. stuartgrace

    stuartgrace Junior Member

    Hello Tom

    My grandad was a Royal Marine (Corporal) and was sent to calais at the end of May 1940.

    This is what he told me ..

    He was sent over on a mission to blow up harbour installations at Calais. He was dropped of by a destroyer.

    When they got there the hardbour installations had already been blown up by the germans.

    He got back on a red cross boat (which the germans attempted to bomb).

    On the way back, the captain of the ship was standing up and then suddenly he wasn't there. My grandad noticed he was lying on the deck. A piece of shrapnel had sliced the top of his head of revealing the contents. At this point he was still alive. He was given pain killers but was dead by the time they got back to england.

    After furthur investigation, I found out he was one of 86 royal marines and only 21 came back alive. He had never seen so many dead soldiers (mainly French and British) in one place.

    My grandand was Harry grace born 13th October 1917 and died christmas day 1994.

    He was based at chatham and was a military training instructor. He was also on HMS Norfolk (battle cruiser and involved dircetly with the sinking of the Bismarch in May 1941).
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Stuart,

    Another forum member has posted the memoirs of a Royal Marine who was at Calais in 1940. A quick forum search should find the account.

  5. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    There are many threads on the defence of Calais and today YouTube shows a 45 minute documentary (added 12/7/2020) under the title 'URBAN WARFARE WW2 - Fighting In Built Up Areas Documentary - Part 1' and sub-titled:

    This is a one of previously unseen series of British Army documentaries and in fact is a 1990 documentary; enlivened by several officers speaking very honestly, some graphics and newsreel.

    There is no indication when Part 2 will follow.

    There are other documentaries in the series on various topics: Gulf War (One), Mulberry Harbours, Eastern Front (WW2) and from 1967 peacekeeping in Aden, South Yemen and Oman. Via:
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2020
  6. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Airey Neave in his The Flames of Calais gives a good account of the defence of Calais.Although not a member of the force sent to Calais,he was part on the BEF withdrawal and was involved in its defence.

    Captured at Calais,Neave was a persistent escapee and was the first man to make a home run from Colditz.On return from captivity,Neave joined MI 9,the escape and evasion section in MI.
  7. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    Photos from my collection of Calais. not 100% on the last one.
    morris and car calais 1940.jpg 1940 bef C.jpg ww2 bedfords on street 1940 bef.jpg
    Drew5233 likes this.
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    What's the marking to the left of the German in the last picture? Is it a AOS Number?
  9. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    Could it be french ? Camel on the door.
    ww2 bedfords on street 1940 bef calais.jpg
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    One for Rich, may be?
  11. rolfi

    rolfi Member

    18 22 group.jpg
    The camel's the emblem of 18eme Groupe de Transport de Materiel (GTM 18/22). They were at Dunkirk.
    morrisc8, Harry Ree and Owen like this.
  12. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

  13. rolfi

    rolfi Member

    In April it may have been at Tilques but on 10 May it crossed into Belgium and later withdrew to Dunkirk, working within the pocket from 29 May to 3 June*. The photo was taken in Dunkirk.
    The French transport companies in Calais were from 9eme Groupe de Transport de Materiel (GTM 18/22)*, they used a butterfly as their emblem:
    * "Insignes de Tradition des Formations du Train", Huyon and Mourot, 1988
  14. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    It would seem entirely possible that it left a vehicle behind at Tilque when it moved to Belgium - if one was in need of maintenance etc so one should not be too dogmatic about whether the photo was taken at Calais or Dunkirk and seek further evidence.
  15. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    Photos from my collection of Calais Dock area.
    1940 BEF docks. Austin car jpg (2018_02_01 08_58_05 UTC).jpg 1940 BEF docks. Austin car close up (2019_01_15 16_17_59 UTC).jpg 1940 BEF docks (2019_01_15 16_17_59 UTC).jpg amb 1940 docks.jpg
  16. morrisc8

    morrisc8 Under the Bed

    Found one more photo of the dock area, from my collection and close up of the car on the bridge area.
    burnt out humber 1940 ww2.jpg car 2120 or 2170   reserve.jpg

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