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DUNKIRK CEREMONY. 27TH MAY 2015

DUNKIRK EVACUATION 1940

On the 4th September 1939,the day after war was declared on Germany, advance units of the

British Expeditionary Force (BEF) left for France.The RAF dropped propaganda leaflets on

Germany and the first Canadian troops stepped ashore in England while Western Europe was in

a strange calm for some seven months. This early period of the war was known as ‘The

Phoney War’ as there were very few military operations in Continental Europe. The 7th and

8th Territorial Battalions of the Worcestershire Regiment were part of the BEF. Both Battalions

were in 144 Brigade of 48th (South Midlands) Division. They left England for France landing at

Le Havre on 16th January 1940. They were patrolling and digging defences during this

‘Phoney War’.

The battle of France began in earnest on the 10th May 1940 with the German Army bursting

through the Ardennes Region of Belgium. A second thrust by the Germans invaded and

subdued the Netherlands and advanced through Belgium. As the situation worsened General Lord

Gort, Commander BEF, decided to evacuate British Forces from France. From 25th May till

28th May British troops retreated 30 miles into a pocket along the French-Belgian border from

Dunkirk on the coast to the Belgian town of Poperinge. The Belgian Army surrendered on

28th May followed the next day by elements of the French Army trapped outside the Dunkirk

pocket. On 27th May ‘Operation Dynamo’ began the evacuation of Allied troops from the area

Dunkirk with the Allies compressed into a 5km wide coastal strip from De Panne through the

Bray-Dunes to Dunkirk by 31st May. The Naval Beach Commander was Captain William

Tennant, son of an Upton-on-Severn family, who organised the fleet of small boats that lifted over

300,000 Allied men and women from the beaches to larger vessels off shore. After a

distinguished career, Admiral Sir William Tennant KCB, CBE, MVO, on retiring from the

Navy, later became Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire until his death in 1963. The 7th

and 8th Battalions of the Worcestershire Regiment suffered heavy casualties in killed,

wounded or taken prisoner. On return to the safety of the English countryside both Battalions

were brought back to operational strength and were deployed near the South coast in

preparation for the expected invasion of this country by the Germans.

The Wormhoudt Massacre 28th May 1940

Not until after the war was it known that at least six men of ‘D’ Company, the 8th Battalion

Worcestershire Regiment had been taken prisoners of war, stripped to the waist and their

identity discs removed – they and remnants of the Warwickshire Regiment a number of

Cheshire Regiment and Gunners of the Royal Artillery, making a total of some ninety men.

They were marched to a point near Wormhoudt to a place known as ‘La Plaine au Bois’. This was

a meadow with trees and a Barn. The men were forced into the Barn and hand grenades were

tossed in, bullets were also fired into the Barn. Later those who survived were taken out of the

Barn and shot (most in the back) in groups of five to ensure no survivors.

A memorial was erected near the site but did not name the Worcestershire Regiment and on

Sunday the 24th May 1987, Mr A Hall (late HQ Company 8th Battalion) attended the church

service and parade and laid a wreath on behalf of the Worcestershire Regiment for the first time

to the men that were massacred at Wormhoudt.

Visit the Worcestershire Soldier Gallery of the Regimental Museum in the City of Worcester Museum,

Foregate Street, Worcester.

 

Next Commemorative Ceremony is at 10:45hrs on Monday 1st June 2015 in Remembrance of the Glorious 1st June 1794

 

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L>, Brian 'Turk' Turvey Secretary Kiddminster MVRA, Alan 'Kipper' Fish Worcester Branch WFRA, Graham Bird Chairman Kidd`tr MVRA, Brian Hewlett Worc Branch MVRA
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L>, Val Easterlow, Tony Grubb, Des Price and Roger Maskell all Worcester Branch WFRA
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L> Des Price, Peter Dun (Lt. Retd.) Secretary Kidderminster Branch WFRA
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L>, Brian Turvey Kidd.MVRA, Mick Salter Kidd.WFRA, Neville Fairbairn and Alan Fish Worcester Branch WFRA
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Maurice Smith Secretary Worceseter Branch gets Ceremony under way.
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The Last Post is Played
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Peter Dunn Kidderminster Branch WFRA lays the wreath
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Graham Bird, Chairman Kidderminster Branch,MVRA Lays Poppy Bouquet
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Maurice Smith addresses the parade
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nearest Cyril Davis Worcester Branch WFRA
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nearest, Chalky White Chairman Kidderminster Branch WFRA
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