Auction Date: 2/09/2014 at 01pm
Dunkirk WWII – the Battle of Flanders two original typescripts written by Staff Captain (later Major) Graham White, being the transcripts of his field diary together with further personal accounts during the Battle of Flanders in 1940 which ultimately ended in the mass evacuation from the beaches at Dunkirk. Together with a carbon copy of the original orders marked ‘Secret’ for the defence of Bergues in advance of the mass evacuation, a further manuscript account (8pp folio) which was possibly written later, some pencilled notes probably written by Major White during the battle and a few other pieces of ephemera relating to Major White. Typescripts 7pp plus one page in pencil folio, with annotations throughout in pencil (probably the first draft) and 19pp 4to respectively. Bergues orders, 2pp folio. Documents in good condition throughout. We understand that these accounts of one of the most disastrous episodes for Britain in the opening stages of WWII have not been seen before and could provide valuable new information on the Flanders campaign. White describes his experience from leaving home in the UK and arriving in France through to the mass evacuation at Dunkirk. The diary starts on May 10th with that typically British optimism that the British Army would win through no matter what the Germans had to throw at it : ‘...what was Jerry up to ? Now he would get what was coming to him – everybody said so !’ But by May 15th the mood has changed considerably : ‘news came that the Dutch had given in – we expected it but not quite so soon. We wondered what the cause of the sudden collapse was. The BBC told us damn-all!’ He then records the disintegration of the French Army : ‘crumbs ! The News gets worse and worse...DAMN Froggie...how are we going to stop him [the Germans] we’ve got nothing – all the fighting troops are in Belgium – what a mess ! ‘Then by May 24th he records : ‘all personnel of no use i.e. without arms, ordered to evacuate to Dunkerque for return to England. England! So near – yet so far...Dunkerquenost not – cannot fall !’ The original orders for the defence of Bergues, dated May 28th 1940 lists all those personnel required to stay behind (including White). It shows that there was a total force of about 1200 men, half of them from the Green Howards, but everyone else ‘will proceed to UK via Dunkirque’.