Paradise After Hell

Rhiannon Looseley uncovers the forgotten history of the evacuation of over 100,000 French soldiers from Dunkirk to Britain in May 1940, and describes what happened to them on their brief sojourn across the Channel and return to France soon after.

'If we are saved, it is thanks to our English brothers, and we will keep a good souvenir in our hearts of the memory that cannot be effaced, above all, of the very warm welcome [sic].’ This heartfelt message, left by a French soldier on a school blackboard in south-west England, expresses the feelings of many of the 110,000 French soldiers of the First Army who were forced to leave their homeland, evacuated from Dunkirk to Britain alongside the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) between May 26th and June 5th, 1940. Exhausted, hungry and demoralized, the majority of these men were fed, clothed, lodged and returned to France in only a few days, in the hope they could continue the fight against the fast-advancing German army.

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