For most students of World War II, when Dunkirk is mentioned, the image that comes to mind is the heroic rescue of the beleaguered British Expeditionary Force. Missing from most narratives is the story of the harrowing two months when the BEF, inadequately-equipped and outmanned by the German forces, bore the brunt of the first Wermacht attack against Allied forces.
In Dunkirk: Retreat from the Brink of Destruction, originally published in 1950 as Keep the Memory Green, Ewan Butler and J. Selby Bradford, junior British army officers in France from late 1939 to May 1940, tell the story of the men caught up in the middle of the action. The ground troops, facing German panzer tanks with inadequate weapons, RAF pilots and crews, vastly outnumbered by the Luftwaffe, and navy forces who evacuated troops from Dunkirk under withering German fire. The authors bring the voices of the dead to life, with humor, honor, and a bit of pathos, showing the reader what war is like up close and personal.
This book was meant as a tribute to the forgotten men of the BEF, but it is also a good reminder of the horrors of war. If you like history, this one’s for you.
I give this one five stars.