Personal Account of Private J W Coatsworth, C Coy, 4th Battalion Green Howards

Personal Account of Private J W Coatsworth, C Coy, 4th Battalion Green Howards

Most of the men in the Battalion were Territorials from Guisborough, Brotton, Skelton, Lingdale, Middlesbrough and Boosbeck. The Battalion suffered very heavy casualties and took part in the rearguard action.

When we reached Dunkirk the evacuation was almost over, that was I think 2nd June. I myself was wounded by shell fire on the beach along with a Smith from Middlesbrough, we lay on the beach most of Sunday and a Pte Graham from Hartlepool bandaged me. We were moved to shelter on what was left of the pier with the other wounded, a total of 18.
The next thing I was aware of was being awoken by a French officer with a torch, during the early hours of the 3rd June. He left and returned with a Naval Officer who told me he had a corvette I think. All was then quiet except for fires in Dunkirk. He had been along the beach looking for survivors and said I was the only one left and I would be the last wounded soldier to leave Dunkirk. He was at a loss as to how the other wounded removed without me as I was unable to move, this also baffled me as Smith had gone as well.

I don't know where we landed in England for sure, but I was sent to Park Prewett Hospital Basingstoke, where I remained until September 14th under a kind and considerate Sister Miles. I continually came across Pte Smith in hospital with a foot amputated. He was really shocked at seeing me as when he and the rest of the wounded had been evacuated, he said they thought I had died hence my being found alone.

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