[PDF] ↠ Dunkirk - The Men They Left Behind Author Sean Longden – Thomashillier.co.uk

Dunkirk - The Men They Left Behind At AM On The Morning Of The Rd Of June , General Harold Alexander Searched Along The Quayside, Holding Onto His Megaphone And Called Is Anyone There Is Anyone There Before Turning His Boat Back Towards England Tradition Tells Us That The Dramatic Events Of The Evacuation Of Dunkirk, In Which , BEF Servicemen Escaped The Nazis, Was A Victory Gained From The Jaws Of Defeat For The First Time, Rather Than Telling The Tale Of The , Who Escaped, Sean Longden Reveals The Story Of The , Men Sacrificed In The Rearguard Battles On The Beaches And Sand Dunes, Besides The Roads And Amidst The Ruins Lay The Corpses Of Hundreds Who Had Not Reached The Boats Elsewhere, Hospitals Full Of The Sick And Wounded Who Had Been Left Behind To Receive Treatment From The Enemy S Doctors And Further Afield Still Fighting Hard Alongside Their French Allies Was The Entire St Highland Division, Whose War Had Not Finished As The Last Boats Slipped Away Also Scattered Across The Countryside Were Hundreds Of Lost And Lonely Soldiers These Evaders Had Also Missed The Boats And Were Now Desperately Trying To Make Their Own Way Home, Either By Walking Across France Or Rowing Across The Channel The Majority, However, Were Now Prisoners Of War Who Were Forced To Walk On The Death Marches All The Way To The Camps In Germany And Poland, Where They Were Forgotten Until


10 thoughts on “Dunkirk - The Men They Left Behind

  1. says:

    With this book, Mr Longden relates one of the important untold stories of World War II what happened to the 40,000 or so members of the BEF who didn t make it off the beaches of Dunkirk The author makes the charge that their experiences have been deliberately underplayed, both at the time by the British Government and later by historians who could not see past the triumph of Dunkirk.In telling their tale, the author has organized the narrative around the various types of experience the men With this book, Mr Longden relates one of the important untold stories of World War II what happened to the 40,000 or so members of the BEF who didn t make it off the beaches of Dunkirk The author makes the charge that their experiences have been deliberately underplayed, both at the time by the British Government and later by historians who could not see past the triumph of Dunkirk.In telling their tale, the author has organized the narrative around the various types of experience the men had Roughly the first fifth of the narrative is recapping the fight for France and the retreat to Dunkirk following the German invasion In this section, Mr Longden highlights the shortcomings of the British Army, both in leadership and equipment Following Dunkirk, the author relates the various types of experiences of the troops left in France The first story is the one of the seriously wounded and the men left to care for them The Geneva Conventions called these men the Protected class of POWs They were supposed to be released as soon as possible after capture, with the caveat that they would not actively participate in combat against the capturing country The Germans appearently slow rolled the release and the first didn t take place until 1943 The author also gives some insight to the treatment the wounded were given by the Germans The next section concerns the fate of the 51st Highland Division Interestingly, to me, this division was not under the control of the BEF, but assigned to the French Army and was garrisoning part of the Maginot line when the fighting broke out As it was part of the French Army it never reached Dunkirk and eventually retreated to the coast at Velery en Caux where it eventually surrendered The author makes a point that the Royal Navy attempted to evacuate the division, but were unsuccessful due to the Germans occupying the heights leading into the harbor The Germans sunk several of the rescue ships and the rescue attempts had to be abandoned Many of the members of the Division didn t realize this and felt they were deliberatly left behind Another section of the narrative is devoted to the men who made it out of France on their own Many did this by getting to the Unoccupied zone Vichy and then following one of two routes, the first being getting to Marseille and then by sea either North Africa or Spain The other route many used to escape was over the Pyrenees Mountains In telling this part of the story, Mr Longden brings to light the assistance the US Consulate gave the escaping British Soldiers.The bulk of the narrative is the story of those men who fell into German hands While they were treated better than the prisoners the Germans took the next year in Russia, that really isn t saying a whole lot The Germans deliberately attempted to humiliate the British POWs They made sure French and Belgian POWs were fed before them often leaving them with out food, marched them in circles through every village and town In fact, according to Mr Longden the vast majority of them walked from where they were captured to at least the Rhine River before being put on trains or barges for transportation to their final destinations in Poland and Eastern Germany Mr Longden also makes it clear that the SS didn t start their atrocities in Russia, and cites several instances of mass killings of prisoners by the SS in France In telling the story of their captivity, the main theme is of boredom and hunger Many POWs actually volunteered for work details just to have something to do and the extra food given to those who worked The author finishes the book with the POWs being marched from their camps in Poland and Eastern Germany in winter of 44 45 to prevent them from being liberated by Russian forces These marches are some of the most unpleasant stories of the book In some cases POWs were not allowed to return to their barracks to gather what belonging they had, but were forced to march in the clothes they had on their backs and whatever they had on their feet.In summary I found this a very good telling of the experiences of those men who were left behind If GR would allow, this is a 4.25 star read


  2. says:

    A well written and well researched book about the British troops that was left behind after the evacuation of the B.E.F British expedition force at Dunkirk.This book includes many first hand accounts about how the 40,000 that were left behind found ways to get back home and the ones who were captured and marched all the way into Germany and Poland to see out the rest of the war in the many POW camps dotted around these two countries.This book most certaintly opened my eyes as to what it was li A well written and well researched book about the British troops that was left behind after the evacuation of the B.E.F British expedition force at Dunkirk.This book includes many first hand accounts about how the 40,000 that were left behind found ways to get back home and the ones who were captured and marched all the way into Germany and Poland to see out the rest of the war in the many POW camps dotted around these two countries.This book most certaintly opened my eyes as to what it was like to be Captured by the Germans and marched into captivity to become a P.O.W for nearly five years,which was not a very pleasant experience for all those British soldiers involved.For anybody who has ever wondered what happened to all those troops that were left behind and forgotten after the evacuation of British and French soldiers at Dunkirk in June 1940 then this book is for you.A one of a kind book.We will never forget you.


  3. says:

    Last July I found myself looking out from the white cliffs of Dover peering across the English Channel at France After touring the tunnel caves carved out during Napoleon s time and put to use by the British during World War II I began to wonder what it was like for the soldiers who were not rescued by the mythical British flotilla that saved so many at Dunkirk While browsing in the main bookstore for the historical replication of the tunnel caves I came across Sean Longden s DUNKIRK THE ME Last July I found myself looking out from the white cliffs of Dover peering across the English Channel at France After touring the tunnel caves carved out during Napoleon s time and put to use by the British during World War II I began to wonder what it was like for the soldiers who were not rescued by the mythical British flotilla that saved so many at Dunkirk While browsing in the main bookstore for the historical replication of the tunnel caves I came across Sean Longden s DUNKIRK THE MEN THEY LEFT BEHIND What unfolds in Longden s narrative is the horrific experience of the 40,000 British soldiers who were not rescued as the Germans marched through France and threatened the channel coast These were the men who performed a rearguard action that allowed the hundreds of thousands of British soldiers to escape The story of the rearguard soldiers who would spend five years as prisoners of war was not publicized by the British government as they sought to translate the Dunkirk evacuation not as a defeat, but as a victory Therefore, the plight of the POWs was kept hidden from the British public for years According to the author it took until the publication of Richard Collier s THE SANDS OF DUNKIRK for the true story of the evacuation to be told Longden has resurrected the story of these men through numerous personal interviews and mining the vast historical documentation What emerges is the application of the survivor s descriptions and emotions from their experiences interspersed through a well written and extremely thoughtful narrative.Longden begins the book with a history of the Dunkirk evacuation and explores how the British found themselves in such dire straits in May, 1940 The author describes the lack of training given to recruits and the equipment that was World War I vintage The German advance through Belgium and France that fostered thousands of refugees is described as is allied military incompetence The resulting carnage of the British retreat is described with stunning images Once the order to fall back was given a rearguard action was instituted to allow as many British soldiers as possible to escape across the channel The British government highlighted the evacuation and purposely forgot about the men who were left behind Many of these men felt abandoned, though there were other rescue attempts that did not come to light until sixty years later.The author takes the reader along on the odyssey that befell the remaining British Expeditionary Force who were not fortunate enough to reach Dunkirk The reader witnesses all aspects of what the soldiers experienced The poignant and difficult stories abound as some soldiers tried to escape through other venues while others were captured by the Germans and turned into POWs who were marched across Western Europe to their destination in camps in eastern Germany The detailed descriptions of the horrors the POWs experienced as they marched including daily humiliations, malnutrition, shootings, and exhaustion by their German captors leaves nothing to the imagination The Germans did their best to foster hatred between British and French captives, and singled out the English soldiers for systematic inhumanity as reported by a later government investigation 369 Longden description on p 373 summarizes the plight of these men well, For so many of the marchers it was a lonely existence They were surrounded by thousands of men All were sharing the same hideous experiences, all had known the horrors of battle and seen their friends slaughtered, yet they had no emotions to share Instead each man became wrapped up in his own small world a world that revolved around the desperate desire for food and rest The plight of the POWs continued over the next five years of captivity The narrative employs the words of the survivors to recreate their experiences The Germans were totally unprepared to house the massive influx of POWs, particularly as it related to their medical condition What resulted were years of depravity, continued malnutrition, dysentery, gastro intestinal issues, lice and a host of other problems Emotions were shattered as they witnessed the shootings of their comrades and the total disregard for humanity exhibited by their German guards The lives of the prisoners revolved around forced labor, inadequate food, disease, violence and death 456 Not only does the author describe daily life but he accurately explores the physical, and especially the mental state of the prisoners during captivity.After five years in POW camps the prisoners were finally liberated in April, 1945 The liberation created a confusing situation as to whom to surrender, which direction they should follow, how to gain enough sustenance to make their way west, and how to deal with their own physical condition The earlier march east was endured by heat however the march west was so cold that frostbite was a regular occurrence As they left the camps they continued to witness the horrors of war Soviet vengeance against the Germans was ever present, contact with Holocaust survivors, performing what seemed to be barbaric medical procedures on their mates to save them, starvation leading to eating and drinking the foulest things just to survive, are all difficult to imagine.The stories of liberation are heartwarming, but repatriation and homecoming could not possibly go smoothly based on the condition of the men and what they had experienced Post traumatic stress disorder was very common, but in 1945 it was not a diagnostic category with recommended treatment Longden correctly points out that the mindset of the returning soldiers centered on the failures of the British army in France in 1940 as they felt they were trained as a 1918 force to go up against a mechanized German machine They had witnessed the superiority, in both numbers and quality, of German tanks and aircraft.and seen allied armies outmaneuvered by advancing Germans..they had been let down by a government that had sent them to France in 1940 ill prepared for modern warfare 525 526 As the prisoners returned home there was a general lack of understanding of what they had endured..Whether it was the soldiers surrounded at St Valery, the men who received disabling wounds during battles, or the men who had been plucked from the sea following the sinking of the Lancastria, the plight of those left behind at Dunkirk seemed like a footnote to history 528 The story of the miracle of Dunkirk seems to have passed these men by and they felt it upon their return home and for many years to follow What separates Longden s book from others is the use of the words of the captives describing their emotions and what had they had experienced It leads to a powerful narrative for anyone interested in reading a work of history that sets the records straight


  4. says:

    This book took me longer to read than almost any other Pride and Prejudice is my personal record holder for an entirely different reason I began in November, at a time of year when I often try to read a war memoir or account while we remember those who gave their lives to preserve the freedoms we all enjoy today The miraculous Dunkirk evacuation story has been familiar to me throughout my life but I d never before understood the level of sacrifice made by so many members of the ill fated This book took me longer to read than almost any other Pride and Prejudice is my personal record holder for an entirely different reason I began in November, at a time of year when I often try to read a war memoir or account while we remember those who gave their lives to preserve the freedoms we all enjoy today The miraculous Dunkirk evacuation story has been familiar to me throughout my life but I d never before understood the level of sacrifice made by so many members of the ill fated British Expeditionary Force who fought to the last man to enable so many of their comrades to escape, knowing that they themselves would not be rescued.Longden s account of the stands made at various places in northern France to delay the German advance is a combination of well researched authorial summation and description of the campaign, heavily interspersed with eye witness accounts, quotes from diaries and subsequent interviews with participants in the events Defeat by a vastly better armed, equipped and directed Wehrmacht was only the beginning of five long years of suffering for those fortunate enough to survive and to be taken prisoner The systematic abuse, torture, murder and mistreatment endured by those men is documented to a heart rending level It s difficult, demanding reading but that is in no way a criticism of what Longden has achieved This is brilliant documentary work but so torrid in its telling that it is probably not for everyone The Epilogue, which features photographs then and now and brief profiles of a number of the men whose stories are told, is very moving This story was withheld from the public during the war for propaganda reasons even significant events such as the sinking of a troop ship with the loss ofthan 4000 lives was never reported As a consequence, the suffering of the men they left behind has largely been ignored It is a story that deserves to be told


  5. says:

    Very well researched piece of work on the soldiers that were all but forgotten in the 1940 evacuation from Dunkirk It took me until half way through the book to get in to the subject the first half is very heavy with army manoeuvres etc, where as my interest was in the stories of the soldiers Well worth a read if you want to knowabout the human element of this WW2 campaign.


  6. says:

    Read this book because my Uncle Robert Connor was captured in Dunkirk actually, I was corrected that he was captured in St Valery, France in May of 1940 Often, Dunkirk is viewed as a success the men who were able to successfully retreat back to England But, for every 7 men who returned, 1 soldier was left behind For the British army fighting the Germans, it was like fighting with WWI weapons against the powerful, up to date German weapons and soldiers Before Dunkirk, many British believ Read this book because my Uncle Robert Connor was captured in Dunkirk actually, I was corrected that he was captured in St Valery, France in May of 1940 Often, Dunkirk is viewed as a success the men who were able to successfully retreat back to England But, for every 7 men who returned, 1 soldier was left behind For the British army fighting the Germans, it was like fighting with WWI weapons against the powerful, up to date German weapons and soldiers Before Dunkirk, many British believed that a phoney war was being fought on the continent And, that the German army was weak In reality, Hitler was conquering countries, like dominoes falling Poland, France, Belgium, etc etc My Uncle was in a German POW camp Lamsdorf, Stalag VIIIB My cousin was very helpful in giving me the Lamsdorf website Recommended books, etc The POW camp is located near Warsaw My Uncle rarely talked about his experience I heard him say that he read Dickens many times over and he ate dog In October, he would have been 100 years old He died in 2012 check His wife, my Aunt Sheila, my mother s youngest sister the only sibling still alive lives in Rothesay, Isle of Bute I m here now Tomorrow, the movie, Dunkirk will open here and the USA I wonder if they will say anything about the soldiers left behind Check out the hymn, Abide with Me Names of some of the soldier s narratives in the book Les Allan, Gordon Barber, Norman Barnett, Fred Coster, Fred Gilbert, Fred Goddard, Bill Holmes, David moat, Jim Pearce, Eric Reeves, Peter Wagstaff


  7. says:

    Forget all the crap you ve seen read about the Miracle of Dunkirk and The Great Escape This book contains the story of the 40,000 British soldiers most of whom fought desperate and bloody rearguard actions to allow the British Expeditionary Force to escape from Dunkirk and elsewhere who were sent to POW camps throughout Germany and Eastern Europe, who were starved and beaten by German Army soldiers as well as the SS Who were punched, kicked and spat at by German civilians It tells how Forget all the crap you ve seen read about the Miracle of Dunkirk and The Great Escape This book contains the story of the 40,000 British soldiers most of whom fought desperate and bloody rearguard actions to allow the British Expeditionary Force to escape from Dunkirk and elsewhere who were sent to POW camps throughout Germany and Eastern Europe, who were starved and beaten by German Army soldiers as well as the SS Who were punched, kicked and spat at by German civilians It tells how they suffered unimaginable horrors as the marched hundreds of miles to POW camps The weakest did not survive Rather than planning daring escapes, most of the British POW s could barely stand, so weak were they from malnutrition and disease Many went mad Others were murdered in cold blood by German soldiers and camp guards These men suffered terribly for 5 years, many labouring in mines, on farms and in German munitions factories And when they returned home to Britain in 1945, they suffered countless indignities from the British Government the British Army They never received any medals Amidst the propaganda and outright lies written about Britain s struggle during World War II, they were completely forgotten and that is a stain on the memories of men who fought and were imprisoned, wounded, or died, so until Britain was finally able to fight back


  8. says:

    Well researched and very readable account of an aspect of the Battle for France that has not entered the popular consciousness to the same degree as the miracle of deliverance that was the evacuation of the BEF from the beaches of Dunkirk A few proof reading errors and occasionally clunky prose are the only reasons I don t rate thishighly.


  9. says:

    A comprehensive account of the fate of those members of the BEF and 2nd BEF who were not evacuated from Dunkirk and the other beaches on northern France in the summer of 1940 The narrative is built around the accounts of about half a dozen men from different parts of the BEF, and their experience in the immediate aftermath and the rest of the war spent in captivity.Shocking accounts of neglect and abuse of prisoners by the German forces, though at times the author brushes over too easily the A comprehensive account of the fate of those members of the BEF and 2nd BEF who were not evacuated from Dunkirk and the other beaches on northern France in the summer of 1940 The narrative is built around the accounts of about half a dozen men from different parts of the BEF, and their experience in the immediate aftermath and the rest of the war spent in captivity.Shocking accounts of neglect and abuse of prisoners by the German forces, though at times the author brushes over too easily the harsh treatment meted out to other nationalities, implying that only the British and then later the Russians had a hard time of it.This book helps to challenge the myth of the PoW experience created by entertaining, but not accurate, films after the war, escape committees, full uniforms, and gentle mocking of the guard force are not seen here It would have been interesting to see greater contrast between the experience of officers, and ORs, the former of whom predominantly did not work, and therefore did spendtime thinking about escape.In covering such a broad timeframe the book is at times of guilty of having breadth but not depth 1940 is covered well, but the years following provide a broad coverage of the experience, leaving the reader wanting to knowdetail about other aspects For example it is hard to gauge the post 1943 decreasing morale of the German army and the impact this had on the guard force, and the PoW experience.Noting others reviews here, for the prospective reader it is worth noting this is not a history in the forgotten voices frame, focusing rather on a historical narrative interspersed with 1st person accounts of their experience Well worth a read


  10. says:

    A depressing but important read The unfairness of the treatment of those left behind by both the German soldiers and the British government is shocking A well written account of some experiences using the first hand testimony of a group of remarkable men Gave me a new perspective on the events of Dunkirk.


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