Personal Account Major D G P Graham MBE, 23rd Field Company, Royal Engineers

Major D G P Graham MBE, 23rd Field Company, Royal Engineers

I was with what remained of the company on the beach at Bray Dunes, having moved back from the River Dyle – through Brussels – Lille Poperinghe – Bergues in the general withdrawal. We passed our time road cratering, demolishing bridges, barge demolition and the odd factory until our arrival on the beach on the morning of the 26th May 1940. We set about building lorry jetties and found time to use our folding boat equipment to ferry out the troops to the waiting destroyers. This work was carried out without panic and without the help of the Navy.

We remained at Bray Dunes until mid-day Saturday 1st June1940, when the OC, Major C E A Browning MC formed us up on the promenade and informed us that General Alexander had instructed him to move out as there was nothing more we could accomplish in that area. The roll was called, 200 rounds per man issued plus a packet of biscuits and a tin of corned beef between two, we were also to ensure that our water bottles were filled.

The beach was deserted except for the odd Poilu watching us move off by platoons. We marched along the beach occasionally having to hide in the dunes because of the interest shown by enemy aircraft, otherwise the move was uneventful.

It was dark when we left the beach to make our way into Dunkirk, having to break column of route to slide down the largest road crater I have ever seen, and to crawl out the other side on our hands and knees, to reform before marching down to the Mole.

The crater was near to the Admiral Jean Bart statue. We virtually marched through the French gathered on the Mole, to form single file on the wooden jetty, where the OC instructed us to show the Navy that being Sappers we were as much at home on the water as we were on land. We boarded HMS Venomous and we landed at Dover about mid-day 2nd June 1940.


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