A Dunkirk Survivor

Meet my in-laws, George and Nancy.

George had been in the Territorial Army when war broke out in 1939, so he was one of the very first ones to be called up into the army.

As we have had the 70th commemorations of the Dunkirk beach evacuations all over the television at the week-end, I thought it would be appropriate to write a wee bit about George.

In 1940 he was in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, one of the Scottish regiments, and as he was the company clerk he was given the task of staying behind to burn all of the paperwork, orders and such to stop any information falling in to the hands of the Germans who at one point were in tanks only one field away from him.

After completing the job he legged it as fast as possible to join the rest of the British army waiting patiently on the beach at Dunkirk, despite the fact that they were being bombed and strafed by the Luftwaffe.

Luckily, he was one of the thousands who did manage to get on to a ship and get back to Blighty. Which is just as well really because if he hadn’t, there would most likely have been no husband for me and no Duncan or Gordon either.

The photographs were taken in the family garden after George and Nancy’s wedding which wasn’t until May 1944. Everything was done in a hurry as the whole battalion had been given leave prior to them taking part in the D-Day landings. They thought that it was very likely that he wouldn’t survive it so decided to get married. (As it happened his battalion didn’t land in France until two or three weeks after D-Day.)

The ceremony took place in the bride’s home which happened to be the Episcopalian Rectory as her father was the minister, although it was a colleague of his who officiated.

Nancy always said that she knew as soon as she saw the new choirboy (George) walking down the aisle that she would marry him. They were 9 years old then. They were 24 when they married. I suppose they might have married earlier if he hadn’t been away in the army for nearly five years.

2 thoughts on “A Dunkirk Survivor

  1. Oh, this is a lovely post! For all of my life, I’ve been fascinated by the history of World War II, including the heroics at Dunkirk–I read a wonderful novel about two children who became somehow involved in the Dunkirk rescue, and I’ve been *extremely* interested ever since.

    Of course, there was the American film Mrs. Miniver which added to the mystique, but it is a piece of glorious British heroism, and I love it.

    Thank you so much for sharing this family history!!!

    Judith

    • I must admit that I’m sometimes too interested in both world wars, but really mainly in the social history. World War 2 has a strange sense of comfort for me as although I was born in 1959 my mother didn’t tell me fairy tales, I got war-time stories. I am the youngest of the family which meant that my parents were old enough to have been involved in the war. As were Jack’s parents, obviously. Mrs. Miniver is often on T.V. – along with countless British propaganda films – all very stiff upper lip! Sadly, the parents are all long dead now, but they did live through interesting times.

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