The Day I Met A Dunkirk Veteran - Alex Brice

Frank with his Dunkirk Medal
Before meeting Frank Grove, I knew little of Dunkirk and the "little ships", however when I spoke to this remarkable man I soon learnt to forget what I thought I knew about war. Less about honour, duty and glory and more about real men with little training doing their best to stay alive, wading through mud and occasionally getting caught with their trousers down.

From a young age I read books about historic events and wars but they never prepared me for the heart swelling tale Frank had to tell. The nightmares, the losses, the friendships won and lost. You would have thought after this entire ordeal in Dunkirk that men would stop and settle down for a short time but what I never realised was how short of time they really were. After being interrogated due to accidentally leaving some uniform behind, this wounded hero had 24 hours leave. That's less than a weekend before carrying on in other places across the globe.

Frank and Alex reflect after the account of
graphic experiences in France and Belgium in 1940.

What needs to be taken from Frank's chilling story is that although men were lost on the fields and sea, the rescue on the beach was a success. Every day people from small towns came together to rescue their countrymen and they did better than ever expected, even with all the obstacles, which is worth more than a medal that the soldiers had to pay for*, that is living proof of the country supporting their heroes no matter what. As a teenager I am always looking for inspiration to believe in the good side of bad situations and this is a prime example of something I will definitely take with me.

* Frank is pictured with the medal referred to above. This is the 1940 Dunkirk Medal awarded, with document, to the French defenders of the Dunkirk pocket but expanded in 1970 to include most of the British who served in the Dunkirk sector. Frank was one of the last to be evacuated and cannot recall the name of the boat but it was similar to a Thames barge and took him all the way back to Ramsgate.

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