SMHS Meeting - Dunkirk evacuation

19 Sep 2012

SMHS Reporter has never gone a month without washing, the reporter has never gone a month with just a few hours sleep - but Major Freddie Hunn MBE has and frankly, the reporter is humbled.

The 12th Royal Lancers is over 300 years old and Major Freddie Hunn is the last surviving member of that Regiment who served in France in 1940, he joined us to speak of his role in the evacuation from Dunkirk in May/June 1940.

The Major advised that for him the Phoney War passed quietly, he spent the cold, cold winter of 1939/40 sleeping in a small room on straw with 11 other men - no winter clothing was supplied.

Then in May 1940 he was sent to the Belgian border, tasked to shadow the enemy and report back. As the enemy advanced the Lancers retreated river by river, holding a bridge then blowing it as they moved on. The Major recalls the terrifying sound of the Stukas, the appearance of the dead; who looked to him like wax dummies. He recounted the horror of seeing lines of retreating refugees being machine-gunned by German planes. He described having to sit in the lap of the dead driver of an armoured car having received orders to attempt to recover it.

There were light-hearted moments too along with heroics, but eventually vehicles had to be abandoned and destroyed before he and his men joined the line on the beach awaiting their little boat” - they were some of the last out. At midnight Major Hunn was on board a mud dredger that would bring his Squadron home and remembers looking back towards burning Dunkirk - a mass of flame and smoke, describing it as a circle of hell, then he slept. By 7.00am the Germans had the beach.

Back on mainland England, Major Hunn found himself in Margate, Kent being hailed a hero, however he felt ashamed - men and equipment had been left behind.

SMHS Reporter has never gone a month without washing, cannot imagine that month of hell without sleep - the reporter is humbled.

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7.30pm for 8.00pm start
Function Room of the
Royal Oak Public House,
Station Street, Lewes,
East Sussex.

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