Tomorrow, joined by veterans who served in the Second World War, Prince Michael of Kent will visit the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Dunkirk Memorial to mark the 75th anniversary of the Allied evacuation of Dunkirk.
In 1940, Allied forces in France who were fighting against the Germans were surrounded and forced to retire to the beaches of Dunkirk, France. When they were there, they were rescued by a fleet of civilian ships and taken across the Channel to England. Operation Dynamo, as it was known, resulted in the safe evacuation of over 338,000 members of the British Expeditionary Force.
Sadly, 4,500 members of the Expeditionary Force perished during the Battle of Dunkirk. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) Memorial commemorates those heroes who didn’t receive a proper burial or have no known grave.
The CWGC is an organisation that maintains the graves of 1.7 million servicemen and women who died during the First and Second World War. It operates in over 150 countries across the world and holds an extensive records archive.
His Royal Highness, who is The Queen’s first cousin, is Honorary Admiral for The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, which played a significant role in what is sometimes known as the Miracle of Dunkirk. Along with the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy, The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships contributed largely to the evacuation of the British, French and Belgian soldiers.
“It is an honour for the CWGC to support the commemorations of this historic event and to welcome His Royal Highness, veterans and their families to the Dunkirk Memorial and Town Cemetery,” said Carl Liversage, The CWGC’s Head of External Engagement in Western Europe.
“For many, their visit will be a highly emotional experience, a chance to pay their respects at the graves of comrades and loved ones. For younger visitors, it is a chance to gain a better understanding of those historic events of 75 years ago. For all of us, it is an opportunity to give thanks and remember.”
Prince Michael’s visit to the Dunkirk Memorial is just one of many commemorative events that will take place in Dunkirk Town over the weekend, including an exhibtion on board the Princess Elizabeth – a paddle steamer that was used during the evacuation of Dunkirk.