Dunkirk: The Men They Left Behind is a new and controversial study of one of the most enduring tales in modern British history – the evacuation of the British army from Dunkirk in 1940. However, whilst previous books have focussed on the miraculous escape of over 300,000 men across the English channel, this book switches the attention to the 40,000 British soldiers who did not escape.
For these men the story of the Dunkirk evacuation was not about ‘victory’ but about defeat. The book follows the fortunes of these men through their training, the phoney war and their experiences in the battles leading up to the evacuation from France. It then focuses on the fate of three groups of men left behind.
The first group are the evaders who make their way through the French countryside, attempting to steal boats to row across the channel or to reach home via neutral countries. The second are the wounded men. The book follows their experiences of the varying standards of treatment given by the Germans. It also reveals the fate of the doctors and medics who remained behind to look after them. The third, and most numerous group, are the prisoners of war.
For the first time ever the complete details of the horrors of the march by POWs into Germany is revealed. The book reveals the beatings, starvation and murder endured by the marching prisoners. After their arrival in the POW camps of Germany, the book follows their experiences through five years of imprisonment. It also details the repatriation of wounded ‘Dunkirk’ POWs who were returned to the UK in 1943. The book creates a vivid picture of how the myth of the ‘victory’ at Dunkirk means so little to those soldiers who did not escape – men who continue to feel embittered that their sacrifices went unnoticed and unrewarded.
Born in Bedford in 1965, Sean Longden first became interested in history as a child listening to his grandfather’s tales of Gallipoli. He went on to study history at the School of Slavonic and East European studies, University of London. After graduation he worked in a number of photographic archives and press agencies. During this period he worked as a picture editor, indexer and caption writer.It was working with archives of World War Two photographs that sparked his interest in the period and inspired him to write books that look beyond basic military history and into the lives of ...
More about Sean Longden