Not Many Wise -

Faith and spirituality in a modern world


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23rd November 2011 Storykeepers

Escaping soldiers lined up on the beach at Dunkirk.
Escaping soldiers lined up on the beach at Dunkirk.

1939 Operation Dynamo:

We started our story with each child being asleep at home and the alarm clock goes off.
We need to get up and dressed and get down to our boats because we are fishermen.

But this time our work is more dangerous because we’ve heard the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, say that Britain is at war with Germany.
What do we do? Well, we still need to earn our money and people still need fish to eat, so we had better carry on fishing.

Later we hear that everyone with a boat – however small – needs to report for duty.
We quickly learn that our troops are cornered in France at Dunkirk and they need to be rescued and brought back to England.

One of the actual small boats that went to Dunkirk.
One of the actual small boats that went to Dunkirk.

So hundreds of boats set off – us included in our little fishing boats, like the one you see in this picture.

As we got near to the French coast it was a war zone. The soldiers were lined up on the beach with nowhere to hide and enemy planes were bombing them and also the boats.

We filled our boat up and returned home. Many of the boats did the journey 2 or 3 times.

In 9 days 850 boats rescued 338,226 soldiers.
The smallest of which was the 15 ft (4.6 m) fishing boat Tamzine, now in the Imperial War Museum.

Why did I choose this story? Well, I recently saw a film about Dunkirk and I saw all those men queuing on the beach.
What are you like in a queue?
Fed up?    Angry?

What about these men?   Up to 8 days on an open beach!  No food and nothing to drink, and with constant bombing.
They just had to wait their turn.

I reckon they longed to be walking through a field in England.
We think  –  ‘that’s boring’.
But looking at something like this makes you grateful for these things.

Next time you line up in a queue and start to get angry, think of the soldiers at Dunkirk!

Peter Reason

December 2011

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