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Memories of Dunkirk - Leonard Marks

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posted on 2024-06-05, 19:00 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

At the time of Dunkirk, my father was aged 26, living at Harefield (then a small rural village in west Middlesex, now part of LB Hillingdon) and waiting to be called up. He lived at the pub in the centre of the village, the King's Arms, run by his mother, which was very close to Harefield Hospital. Now the famous heart hospital was originally built in the thirties as a specialist TB hospital and at the beginning of the war the TB patients were moved out and it became available for war casualties.

As the news of Dunkirk began to come through, Len assembled a group of local men at the pub (after hours but as he said, they sold a fair bit of beer at that time) while they waited for the transports to arrive from the Kent coast. The means of transporting the casualties was Green Line coaches with the seats taken out and with stretchers fitted instead. As the coaches arrived the men from the pub were ready to assist with unloading and generally supplementing the hospital staff with the sudden influx of patients. Len described, much later, how one of the casualties appeared to be walking wounded, wrapped in a blanket but with no English. It was only when the blanket was removed it was found he had no arms.

The stoker at the hospital was a regular at the King's arms and he told Len later that they'd had arms and legs and all sorts coming down to be burnt in the furnace. These stories were told over a family lunch many years later, until my mother said firmly she had heard quite enough.


Person the story/items relate to

Leonard Marks

Person who shared the story/items

Jo Livingston

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

He was my father

Type of submission

Shared online via the Their Finest Hour project website.

Record ID