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Daily Archives: May 21, 2015

The little ships of Dunkirk, 1940


“The little boats of England
The little motor boats
The little penny steamers
From Lands End to John O’Groats
The Brighton Belle, the Margate Queen
The Vigilant, The Lark.
The Saucy Jane, The Gracie Fields
(Even a Noarh’s Arc)
Picked up their country’s message
That it’s back was to the Wall.
There is danger, there is danger,
Will you answer to the call?
Francis Drake, and Collinwood
And Nelson of the Nile
Were on their quarterdecks again
-You should have seen them smile
When all the little boats pushed out
From Dover to Dunkirk
To heed their country’s message
That was their job of work.”




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Poem about the Dunkirk Evacuation

The “Evacuation of Dunquecue) Dunkirk” was written by a member of the Enniskillen Fusillers, an Irish infantry regiment of the British Army, who participated in the evacuation. The author of the poem wrote it during his recuperation from the war.  It given to Iris Fewkes who it turn submitted it to Joyce Mills of Age Concern Library in Leicester, English.

Evacuation of Dunquecue (Dunkirk)

Withdrawal orders had just come through,
Where we were bound for no one knew,
As time past by we heard the talk,
Of our destination being the beach at Dunquecue.

For days and nights on the country wide,
The troops on foot fought side by side,
While on roads in one unending line,
The convoys race against father time.

Hedges and roadside we know its true,
Were strewn with guns and vehicles too,
But no one seemed to think of the loss or gain,
Their thoughts were one, to live and fight again.

The weary trek was oh! so long,
But the allied troops were still in song,
The thought of loved ones there at home,
Gave British tommies no want to roam.

A ruined mass was what we saw,
When at last we reached the Dunquecue Shore,
The blazing docks with their reddish light,
Give guide to see us thought the night,

But what a sight there was in store,
The boys in blue and ships galore,
The Air Force too did play their part
In the Epic of Dunquecue right from the start.

Herbert Read – ‘Ode: Written during the Battle of Dunkirk, May 1940′

“Sixteen years ago I built this house

By an oak on an acre of wild land…”

Herbert Read (1893-1968), anarchist poet, veteran of the 1st World War (he got a DSO and a MC), living in Norfolk during the Second World War, published a short collection of poems in 1944 under the title ‘A World Within a War’, the above lines taken from the title-poem. It is a time when every thought and action is “within a war” – even here in his idyllic countryside retreat. Read, born in Yorkshire, orphaned as a child, was, my research tells me, committed to the ‘people’s war’, the aim of which Evelyn Waugh said was to “direct the struggle for national survival into proletarian revolution”. He wrote theory on anarchism; was an art critic, championing Henry Moore and other modern artists; and co-founded the Institute of Contemporary Art as “an adult play-centre” and “a source of vitality and daring experiment”. Later in his life he accepted a very un-anarchist knighthood from the very un-anarchist Queen of England.


Written during the Battle of Dunkirk, May 1940

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