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Saturday, 29 May 2010

image for Ceremony marks 70th anniversary of Dunkirk rout
Fair Game for Heroes: anything that floats

A ceremony has taken place to mark the 70th anniversary of the panicked flight of troops from Dunkirk.

Veterans attended the event at the Allied Memorial on Dunkirk seafront, with 50 of the originally commandeered "little ships" offshore. Portsmouth laid wreaths at a memorial.

Thousands of fleeing Allied troops escaped from Dunkirk in the mass stampede into any available dingy, rowboat or bit of floating wood in the early stages of World War II.

As British and French national anthems were played on the beach, off-shore a crane ship lifted from the seabed the anchor of one of the overloaded ships that sank during the race to safety 70 years ago.

At low-tide along the French seashore, the wreckage of other ships lost in the hot-footed rush can still be seen on the seabed.

The man who made the decision to cut and run was British General John Gort, despite pressure to carry on fighting by Winston Churchill.

General Gort's grandson Philip De Lisle made his first trip to Dunkirk.

"I'm immensely proud of the decision that my grandfather made which was to 'withdraw' from Dunkirk at the critical time, leaving most of his troops behind," gushed Philip De Lisle.

"To hell with Winnie."

He told BBC News: "I've always wanted to sail in a little commandeered ship from Dunkirk just like Grandpa, so now that I'm an old age pensioner, finally I've managed to achieve it.

"Sadly that meant some soldiers were left behind and were taken prisoner for the remainder of the war, and he always felt incredibly bad about that, about being on the first floatable object in sight, though he later told the prime minister that he wanted to stay until every last soldier had been evacuated.

"But you know, hindsight is 20-20, and besides, it was probably a load of shite."

338,000 British, French, Canadian and Belgian soldiers scarpered off from Dunkirk's shores between 26 May and 4 June, 1940.

For some reason, those left behind were not represented at the ceremony.

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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