Eyes distant, thoughts given over to old memories, navy veteran Vic Viner saluted his lost brother as he unveiled a plaque for those who died on the MV Crested Eagle during the evacuation of Dunkirk.
Albert Viner was one of 300 men on the Thames paddle steamer when it was bombed by German planes after rescuing troops from the French port town during the Second World War rescue mission in 1940.
His younger brother Vic was on the beach when it was hit, directing the rescue of soldiers from sand dunes, and watched in anguish as flames tore through the stricken vessel, killing all on board. It was only later that he discovered his brother was one of them, having already escaped from another bombed ship.
Seventy five years on, Mr Viner, 98, was the guest of honour at a service to remember those who lost their lives, the commemoration taking place on the sands of Zuydcoote beach, not far from the rusted wreck of the ship.
Encircled by members of the Royal Navy, the French navy and representatives of veterans’ associations, Prince Michael of Kent, the honorary admiral of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, drew back a flag bearing the Zuydcoote village crest to reveal the simple metal plaque.
Mr Viner approached, laid a wreath at its foot and saluted, bowing his head before those gathered paid a respectful silence.
After the ceremony he wandered down the beach to catch a glimpse of the shipwreck, his son and grandson by his side as he gazed at the metal hulk resting in the sand.