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on 19 October 2010
This account covers not only the Dunkirk evacuation but also the Phoney War period of 1939-1940 in northern France; British army units serving in the Maginot Line and Gort Line; British soldiers' relations with the French civilians, including love affairs and brothel experiences; the advance into Belgium after May 10th 1940; fighting with the Germans on the River Dyle; German air attacks on refugees on the roads, May 1940; the failed Arras counter-stroke against German armour by British tanks and infantry; Churchill's futile gesture at sending army units to defend Calais and its awful outcome; the defence of the Dunkirk perimeter, etc.

It is absolutely gripping. One can hardly put the book down.
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on 6 September 2011
This is one of the most enjoyable and informative books on the 2WW I have read for sometime.

It retells the story and the individual stories of the many soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force who were NOT evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940 and who stayed to fight a rearguard action to allow their comrades to escape. The book draws heavily on, and quotes from, the individual accounts of those who remained. It tells of the lot of the wounded, the indescribable hardships on the long march east to captivity, the abject misery of the 5 long years under Nazi incarceration, and the bestial behaviour of some of the captors; as well as the eventual return home for those who survived the camps.

Its central premise, which is a compelling one, is that the 'heroes' of this rearguard action went largely unrecognised after the war. They had great difficulty in resuming civilian life, suffering physical and mental torments; those who remained in the services were largely overlooked for promotion; no medal was struck for their undoubted achievements; and contemporary accounts of Dunkirk emphasise mainly the achievement of the evacuation - not the cost of those whose efforts contributed massively to that achievement. This central claim prompted me to check Churchill's 'History of the Second WW' and it is certainly true there that the great man devoted just one short sentence, albeit a fulsome one, to the contribution of those who remained in France.

One small problem faced by the reader is that the author uses so many individual testimonies, that it is difficult to always follow the ongoing threads of individual soldier's stories as events impact upon them, but this is a minor issue, given the overall strength of the central theme.

This is a must read for those who value the truth, even though most of those who gave so much of their lives for those of us who have benefitted from their sacrifice, are no longer with us.
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on 23 July 2010
I really enjoyed this book, being interested in world war two and having a relative who was evacuated from the beaches,and a friend who was captured and became a pow, the book deals with veterans recollections,both Army,Airforce,and Navy,and also civillians who manned the little boats evacuating troops from the beaches,the book is a tribute to the men who fought and died in france.there is tragedy,sadness ,andhumour in the book.i highly recommend it
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 November 2013
And yet, I suspect, a little known battle. Whilst Dunkirk is firmly embedded in the British psyche, for most people I reckon it could be summed up thusly: "WWII started, nothing happened until the Germans blitzkrieged us, France surrendered, and the Little Ships rescued everyone from the beaches at Dunkirk." More or less true, but rather lacking in detail! I confess that, although I'm well read in WWII history, my own knowledge is little better.

In the Forgotten Voices 8-pack, that I have this as part of, there are 5 books dedicated to WWII, 2 to WWI, and one mixed (the VC book). This is the first of the WWII ones that I have read. As is normal with those books dedicated to a single battle or campaign, it doesn't simply focus on the title, but starts well before the actual event & explores the lead up. Dunkirk begins with the Phoney War & works its way through to the return to Blighty & the reception of the returning soldiers. Whilst the pictures suffer in quality, as usual with the series, from being printed on ordinary paper, it is a thoroughly absorbing read. One of the most evocative things about the book is simply the name of the units of those quoted - Artisan Works Company, 2nd Bulk Petrol Transport Company, Field Park Company. It really brings home the fact that everyone & everything was caught up in this battle; that it wasn't just about the infantry, the tanks, the gunners...

Testimony from all of the services is used, although the RAF are perhaps a little under-represented until Dunkirk is reached. Everyone from Lt-Colonels to rankers; civilians & Red Cross nurses; are quoted. No subject is skirted; even the two notorious SS massacres are covered. It really is an excellent book, well worth the investment of your time & money.
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on 7 April 2013
I have read several of the Forgotten Voices series but this was the best one yet. Some of the more general ones are hard to follow as they cover such a wide range of different people over several years in different theatres of war. This book however seems much more focused, describing the start of the war from the initial "Phoney War" to the German Invasion of France and the evacuation at Dunkirk.

Each chapter begins with an introduction describing events, before giving the personal accounts of those involved. You get a very good impression of the shock of the ordinary soldiers as the German army completely outflanked the British defences. Accounts are given by soldiers of varying ranks from several different regiments, and it builds up a full picture of the chaos that ensued and the bravery of the individuals. Very notably it does not forget those soldiers who fought in the rear guard or those who were left in France after Dunkirk.

It's worth noting that the book focuses almost entirely on the British army, and there are only a couple of quotes from French and German soldiers. In comparison to the French army the British Expeditionary Force was tiny, so this book does not give the full story of the Battle for France. However if you are interested in the role of the BEF in France in 1940 this is the best account I have read.

Dunkirk was a defeat but it has become part of the British psyche due to the spirit and determination of those involved. This book is an excellent tribute to all those who took part and saw that Britain had the strength to resist and eventually defeat Hitler in the years that followed.
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on 18 March 2016
Useful material for anyone wanting to gain some understanding of the personal memories of those "ordinary Service people" [as distinct from semi-Official senior Officers' memoirs] - caught up in the disaster. Lots of stuff from ordinary soldiers and Junior Officers after Command & Control broke down, and senior Officers started deserting their Posts, - but very little from the sailors both Navy and civilian, and almost nothing from RAF personnel. If you want to know more about the work of the little ships of the "inshore flotilla", you are going to be as disappointed as I have been. Is it worth the money? That will be a subjective judgement which depends on the focus of your research. If you find memories from one of your ancestors, you'll be very pleased.
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on 1 April 2016
A very interesting book, that is easy to read. The personal accounts make it easy to pick up, and put down the book.
I was specifically interested in the 10th Infantry Brigade, and there are reminisces by both 2nd Beds and Herts and 1/6th East Surreys. I am researching the part they played in defending the Dunkirk perimeter.
It gives a good insight into the experiences of the men on the ground.

Highly recommended for both the historian and general interest reader.
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on 7 June 2011
I have read a few of the books in the Forgotten Voices series from the IWM.
It was a brilliant idea to use the accounts they have in their sound archives and turn them into book form.
The Forgotten Voices of Dunkirk does not disappoint!
Not only does it cover the evacuation but the Phoney War, the massacre of captured retreating soldiers by the SS,the brothels, civilian refugees being machine gunned by German fighter pilots as they tried to escape to a safer refuge plus a whole host of other events that took place during this time of trying to save as many as possible of the BEF.
This book give you a better insight into actual events from a personal point of view by those that were there!
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on 4 August 2010
Another outstanding book in the Lost Voices series. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in real eyewitness accounts from WWII.
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on 6 April 2016
Poignant, informative and engaging. As with other books in this series, many readers will know the 'facts' about the event but not what the participants were feeling. This comes as close to filling that gap as I perceive it to be possible.
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