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'What a defeated army looks like': A child's memories of Dunkirk

Paul Jones was 10 years old when he saw the train carrying soldiers just evacuated from Dunkirk through his hometown of Bromley, England, in 1940.

'As we walked home we were very quiet'

The release of the movie Dunkirk prompted Paul Jones to share his memories of the evacuation. (Warner Bros.)

Paul Jones was 10 years old when he saw the train carrying soldiers just evacuated from Dunkirk through his hometown of Bromley, England, in 1940.

During the evacuation of Dunkirk in the spring of that year, hundreds of thousands of British, French and Belgian troops, trapped on the coast by Nazi forces, were rescued and carried to England, many of them by civilian boats.

Jones still has vivid memories of the passing train.

Jones was particularly shocked that all the men had their jackets off. (Mitch Cormier/CBC)

"The train came through very fast but I always remember it because it was full of sleeping men," Jones told CBC's Island Morning.

"The other thing that shocked my 10-year-old self was that they all had their jackets off."

There were one or two men on the train who waved wearily back at the family as they passed.

"As we walked home we were very quiet," said Jones.

"Ever since then I have known what a defeated army looks like."

We will fight them on the beaches

Jones also remembers listening to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's speeches on the radio.

His father, he said, did not always respond as Churchill might have wished.

"After he finished the speech where he said, 'We shall fight on the beaches, we shall never give in,' my father said, 'That doesn't sound too good,'" said Jones.

A desire to share these memories came to Jones with the release of the new movie, Dunkirk, which chronicles the evacuation.

Jones went on to teach history, and said the release of the movie made him think that at his age, it was about time to have his memories recorded before they were lost.

With files from Island Morning

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