Trauma relived as veterans mark Dunkirk anniversary

TADCASTER war veteran Peter Shaw was among those who travelled back to Dunkirk this weekend for ceremonies to mark the 70th anniversary of the famous troop evacuation.

Several days of commemorations are taking place in the northern French port to celebrate the famous mission that rescued more than 300,000 Allied soldiers between May 26 and June 4, 1940.

Yesterday more than 40 veterans, along with 50 of the original "little ships" that took part in the operation, gathered for a ceremony at the Allied Memorial on Dunkirk seafront.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The flags of Britain, France, Czechoslovakia and Germany flew over the large stone memorial as a minute's silence was held and national anthems were played.

John Davis, who was at yesterday's ceremony, said the "sweet smell of death" was overwhelming. He said: "Seventy years ago these sands were running with blood.

"I was rearguard. I was kept busy but I was all the while aware of this smell and the smoke from the tanks that was drifting over. It was very, very traumatic."

Prince Michael of Kent joined soldiers past and present for the service, which saw wreaths laid and a flame of remembrance lit.

A special series of four stamps has also been issued to commemorate Dunkirk, Royal Mail announced yesterday.

The first class stamp shows the evacuation of British soldiers from the beach, while the little ships appear on the 60p stamp.

Relief on the faces of British soldiers on board a Royal Navy destroyer is on the 88p stamp, and the 97p stamp shows two boats packed with

evacuees.

Philip Parker, head of stamp strategy at Royal Mail, said: "Few events in British history sum up the nation's resilience more than the miracle of Dunkirk and it retains a place as one of the most momentous events in World War Two history."