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Saturday 30 July 2011

The Perils of Research

One of the perils – or attractions of research – is being led off into something I did not know that has its own intrinsic interest.

Recently, purely for background, that may end up as a sentence in a finished book, I was looking into those who were not evacuated at Dunkirk but left ‘in the bag’ as the phrase was. This refers to the many thousands in the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) who spent the rest of the war in prisoner of war camps.

There is a youtube clip of the 51st Highland Division’s victory march in Bremerhaven in May 1945, (click here) all drums and skirling bagpipes as they parade past Lieutenant General Sir Brian Horrocks. Many of these men had been prisoners of war only a short time before.

They have been overshadowed by what was made of Dunkirk, of course. What has been made of them – the forced winter march in early 1945 – has always stressed the heroic side of war.

These men deserved and deserve more.

Part of the reason I say this because I have only just learnt – perhaps I should have known before – that, according to my source, about 2,000 of the BEF ‘went over’ to the Germans in 1940. Naturally, this is not widely advertised.

I wonder however if any readers of this blog can point me towards more information on these men. What happened to them? Did any leave any accounts or diaries? I’d be grateful for any information on this.

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