The 51st Highland Division had orders to slow the German advance after Dunkirk
The operation was seen as a heroic last stand involving 20,000 British troops
Don Smith and Eric Taylor survived and shared their stories of what happened
They were outgunned and around a thousand troops died to the German army
Published: 17:31 EDT, 6 July 2018 | Updated: 17:31 EDT, 6 July 2018
Winston Churchill’s vow in June 1940, as the last boats sailed from Dunkirk in the evacuation, still rings through the ages: ‘We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.’
But no one in Britain knew then that 20,000 of our troops had been left in France and were fighting for their lives. The 51st Highland Division had orders to slow the German advance and support their French allies – to make a heroic last stand when all seemed lost.
They were massively outgunned. With just a few rounds of ammunition per man, the Highlanders’ chances of survival seemed almost nil. This was the forgotten army.
The 51st Highlanders (pictured) were 20,000 British troops who were left behind after Dunkirk to slow down the German advance
Even today, the few left who saw that desperate battle have no medal to commemorate it.
But they will be forgotten no longer, thanks to a documentary drawing on the memories of some of those who defied Hitler’s blitzkrieg and lived to tell the tale, like Private Don ‘Smudger’ Smith and Private Eric Taylor, both proud veterans of the 51st.
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