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The Western Dunkirk Corridor 1940

...Battleground Dunkirk, from Pen & Sword

Title: The Western Dunkirk Corridor 1940
Author: Jerry Murland
Publisher: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 978-1-52674-318-3

This follows the retreat of the BEF along the line of Ledringhem, Wormhout, Bembecque and West Cappel, and is the 7th book in the series by the author covering in detail the story of the retreat of the BEF to the beaches of Dunkirk. A 112-page soft-cover book in the usual style for the Battleground series.
After a couple of Introductions, by both the author and the series editor, the first chapter outlines the area to be covered by this book. Then 2 more chapters, one setting out the German Order of Battle and the other the British. These tell us the various units involved on both sides, and the key senior commanders. That leaves 5 more chapters telling the stories of the units and many individuals as the BEF pulled back towards Dunkirk. It links the events to the places they happened and how those actions did not stop the German advances, but it did delay their advance, allowing valuable time for the evacuations to be carried out from the port and beaches around Dunkirk. Among the events it tells us of how Sepp Dietrich, along with Max Wunche just managed to escape after their car was caught in a barrage of fire from 8 Cheshires, with the car destroyed and their driver killed. Then at the farm of La Plaine au Bois, near Wormhout, a large group of captured British troops were massacred by SS troops of the Leibstandarte. Some survived however and did manage to escape. There are more stories of course but this is one of the headlines. Finally, in chapter 9, there are 3 detailed tours for visitors to this section of the Dunkirk corridor. Two short, one just a little longer, they can be walked or cycled, while the third one may warrant using your car. These cover Ledringhem: Les Cinqs Chemins, Quaedypre: and the Massacre of the Innocents.
Throughout the books there are archive images, mixed with modern day pictures of places to look out for, and maps. For me, I am a huge fan of these Battleground books as the area they cover is very close to the Ferry Ports and the Channel Tunnel so really easy to visit from here in the UK for a weekend or so. There are plenty of hints and tips on visiting the battlefields and driving in France. Add the detailed tours, these allow you to control how much time you spend at any particular point. The final point to make is that apparently there is one more book yet to come, looking beyond the end of the actual Dunkirk evacuation, and covering the remaining evacuations that allowed more of the remaining members of the BEF to escape back to the UK. Another excellent guide.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for the review copy.


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