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Thread: 80 Years ago Today

  1. #1

    Default 80 Years ago Today

    On this day in 1940, we saw the surrender of the 51st Highland Division to the victorious German Wehrmacht. They formed the rearguard along with several French Divisions around the encircled Dunkirk beaches. Without their sacrifice we would not have seen 300,000 troops rescued from the beaches. Under incredible fire from overwhelming odds they held firm at St. Valery-en-Caux, waiting for their extraction orders, which never came due to heavy fog and bad weather preventing the sailing of small ships. In order to save his men from slaughter Major General Victor Fortune took the difficult decision to surrender.

    More than 10,000 of the Highlanders were taken prisoner. Of the 290 British soldiers that escaped captivity and managed to return home by the end of 1941, 134 were from the 51st Highland Division.
    Last edited by Hedeby; 06-12-2020 at 12:11.

    Never Knowingly Undergunned !!

  2. #2

  3. #3

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    Very brave men. I had an uncle who died in the rear guard action. He was in the guards though. He was the eldest. His four brothers including my father all served in the Navy.

  4. #4

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    My grandfather was in the Navy at Dunkirk, he helped pull troops out of the water onto his destroyer.

    Never Knowingly Undergunned !!

  5. #5

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    All were true heroes.

  6. #6

    Thumbs up

    Acknowledging the Bravery of those men!

    "Its a fine line indeed between going out in a Blaze of Glory or having Crashed & Burnt!"
    Member Australian Society of WW1 Aero Historians

  7. #7

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    We salute their courage and sacrifice.

  8. #8

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    The 51st Highland Division was not a part of the force involved in Belgium, and was thus not involved in the Dunkirk evacuation. They were with French forces near the Maginot line then defensive positions near the Somme where they saw heavy fighting trying to prevent the German advance. They were making for the next evac point at Le Havre, Normandy when they were cut off and had to pull back into Saint Valery-en-Caux.
    They hoped to be evacuated from their position but that proved to be not possible and they were forced to surrender.
    Saint Valery-en-Caux was liberated by the reformed 51st Highland Division in September 1944.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arkforce_(1940) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/51st_(Highland)_Division

    "He is wise who watches"

  9. #9

    Northern Command Squadron Leader.
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    A few of the battalions that left the 51st Division were attached, or posted to other divisions, including the 5th Division, which did take part in the Dunkirk evacuation. This may have led to some confusion in any statements including the 51st units at Dunkirk.

    The surrender of the 51st Division is deemed to mark the end of the BEF engagements in France. De Gaul stated that he had the honour of commanding the 51st division and they fought with great conviction and bravery.

    Neil
    See you on the Dark Side......

  10. #10

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    A fine fighting Division. Both of my grandfathers were in 50 Division and thankfully got off the beaches. Brave men all.

  11. #11

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    :Salute:


    I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings
    Coming down is the hardest thing

  12. #12

    Northern Command Squadron Leader.
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    I just found out my godfather is still alive, Jim Charters, Northumberland Fusiliers, captured at Dunkirk. POW for the remainder of the war, still going at 102.

    Neilk
    See you on the Dark Side......

  13. #13

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    That is good news , Neil! I hope that he lives somewhere that is convenient for you to visit.

  14. #14

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    I seem to recall having watched a documentary about the 51st Highland Division, but the little gray cells will no longer permit me to recall any of the detail. They were amazing guys.

  15. #15

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    Blimey Neil, that is some find. Hope you get to see him at some point.

    Never Knowingly Undergunned !!



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