Kathy Gyngell: Today’s cosseted Britain would struggle to repeat Dunkirk

It is not news that since Dunkirk the spirits of duty and ‘derring-do’ have been replaced by an oppressive culture of virtue-signalling and risk aversion. Watching the new movie and then reading its reviews underlined how stark is the change.

Parents need to know that Dunkirk is director Christopher Nolan's World War II movie about the real-life incident in which Allied forces were surrounded and trapped on Dunkirk beach - and everyday heroes helped rescue them, despite the risk of danger and death’.

So read a review by common sense media, showing this site to be rather more in touch with the closure of the contemporary British mind than David Aaronovitch of The Times. It’s not just youngsters to whom the movie Dunkirk may come as a shock, but their parents too. Both it seems need alerting to that curious anachronism of risking yourself for another (altruism was too difficult a word I suspect).

The paltry three star rating this ‘safe space’ reviewer gave the movie notwithstanding, it would be worth slicing through the national history curriculum and making school showings of it compulsory, since everything else is. How else are these gaps in the modern national psyche to be filled? Surely Christopher Nolan would oblige.

It could be one of the few chances to open our kids' eyes up to their regressively changed narcissistic culture.

This ‘apocalyptic war epic’, this ‘utterly immersive account of the allied retreat’ is far from the greatest account of the weeks Britain veered on the edge of annihilation in the war against the Nazis.

Personally, I could have done without the virtue-signalling Labour luvvie actor Mark Rylance acting pretty much himself in the cameo role of brave small boat skipper. The director’s fancy time-twisting technique also was hard to follow and gave too narrow a cast to this historic event. But while I might have privately been praying for a comeback of Leslie Norman’s 1958 (more authentic?) account with its John Mills and Richard Attenborough heroics – Nolan’s version is still a timely reminder of how lightly we now regard past values.

It still brings back a truly terrible time in recent history that today’s generation needs to appreciate - to begin to understand what their great grandparents' generation sacrificed and their values  - on which their (and our) survival depended.

At the very least, as the common sense for parents review mundanely understates it, the film is to be recommended for its ‘messages of bravery, teamwork, and sacrifice’. These, it says, will reward ‘persistent teens and adults with a powerful, visceral experience’.


Modern filming certainly makes for uncomfortable viewing. It shows the terrifying reality of drowning, trapped in the hold of a torpedoed ship; the frightening realism of life-jacketed survivors burning alive in a sea of igniting oil slicks from their capsizing ships. It renders into a virtual reality the fearful struggle these men endured before their death.

But as to the sheer numbers of men at peril, this the film did not sufficiently emphasise.

It needed to. Not least because of  the shockingly cold disparagement of  male sacrifice that came to light in an appalling Marie Claire tweet that the film 'feels like an excuse for men to celebrate their maleness – don’t they get to do that enough already?’.

This, unbelievably, is how a woman’s magazine chose to mark the Dunkirk evacuation, (code-named Operation Dynamo) of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, in the north of France, between 26 May and 4 June 1940, during World War II.  This was their comment on the male sacrifice and  testament to  male strength and courage on a scale not witnessed before or since.

The country, Marie Claire please note, faced an unprecedented and “colossal military disaster” with "the whole root and core and brain of the British Army" stranded at Dunkirk and about to perish or be captured.

On the first day, 7,669 men were evacuated, but by the end of the eighth day, the extraordinary number of 338,226 soldiers had been successfully brought back across the English Channel while under attack on all sides in a hastily assembled fleet of over 800 boats.

Imagine us achieving that level of organisation and cooperation now in our individualistic, comfort zone and entitled world.

In the week between, thousands of men, terrifyingly exposed to Luftwaffe strafing of them on the beaches, or waiting for hours shoulder deep in cold sea, laden with gear, or rescued only later to drown trapped in the hold of their torpedoed ship, were not so lucky.

Of the 933 ships took part in Operation Dynamo, 236 were lost and 61 put out of action. Six British and three French destroyers were sunk, along with nine other major vessels. In addition, 19 destroyers were damaged.

Yet there was no national collapse. No candlelit vigils. The country got on with regrouping.

They knew that without the bravery of men crafting the little ships of Dunkirk, the exact number of which will never be known, a flotilla of hundreds of merchant marine boats, fishing boatspleasure craftyachts, and lifeboats which were called into service for the emergency, even more than a horrifying 68,000 lives would have been lost.

This sadly is what Nolan’s film fails to capture - either the full scale of the loss and chaos, the level of risk of the rescue endeavour and the extent of the bravery.

Could we do the same now? Would we pull together? Would have the physical or the moral courage to step up to the plate of another such ‘emergency’? These were the questions the film left me with.

An end credit of a black screen silent 'in memoriam' scroll of the men, ships and small craft lost would have given time to reflect on our dangerously changing mores.

Today we have a collective nervous breakdown at the prospect of any change, let alone action. The very word Brexit has risk averse Remainers running for cover. Students demanding respect for their safe space and preoccupied with virtue-signalling, questions of cultural appropriation or hate crimes no longer contemplate the virtues of fortitude, courage, altruism and duty.

Why would most men today be prepared to sacrifice themselves when their very maleness is continually and consistently undermined or undervalued if not made a matter of shame; when the only male pride permissible is gay pride?

Yet it is still men’s unique maleness that for all our modern technology and so-called gender equality we still depend on when the chips are down. If the film Dunkirk does nothing else it should remind us that dismissing and dissing it is a risky strategy for survival.

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Kathy Gyngell

  • Bik Byro

    On the positive side – that one utterly risible Marie Claire tweet immediately generated hundreds of angry replies from both men and women, young and old.

    I’m coming to the conclusion that tweets and journalists’ blogs these days show a very loud, but also completely unrepresentative view of the rest of the population.

    Screeching minorities have been around since the dawn of time; the only difference is that these days they now have the internet which allows them to screech to the entire world. If the internet had been around in the 50s and 60s, the 50s and 60s would have been just as bad (think of all the protests and riots that happened in those decades and then imagine adding the internet to all of that)

    Sp what you get to see is a tiny visible screeching minority on the internet and it would be a mistake to extrapolate that and think that this is how the silent majority are behaving.

    • a misplaced modifier

      Well said, BB. Thank you.

    • Woman at home

      I agree. However, the problem is that a large number, particularly the young, hear those screeching voices and follow them.
      The issue is touched on by Dan Hannan in a piece about `Brexit n the New York Times:
      “I’ve learned in politics that almost no one listens to the other side. Rather than going to the source, people read allies’ reports of what the other side is supposed to have said. If a British person tells you that the vote was “all about immigration,” I can almost guarantee that you are talking to a Remainer. Those among my friends who voted to stay in the European Union didn’t weigh and then dismiss the economic and democratic cases against membership; they never heard them.”

      • Mojo

        This was a very good piece and actually very observant. After reading it yesterday I dipped into the Independent and it was laughable at how many people were still calling Leavers uneducated and how many leavers were still calling Remainers traitors. I must say I agreed with the Leavers so maybe I also am not listening. ???

      • It is a very good piece.

      • hereward

        Hannan is wrong . The Leavers were voting against mass immigration without doubt . Matthew Goodwin pollster analyst and political guru has proved that overwhelmingly Leavers wanted immigration stopped in its tracks . The Remainers were more concerned about the economy and business . Taking back control was not a concern for them . Amazingly !

    • Naviro

      The problem with the “silent majority” is that they are silent.

      Being silent has allowed this country’s culture, history and natural traditions and inclinations to be overturned in favour of the bogus concepts of diversity, multiculturalism and “social constructs”.

      Wish we, the majority would be silent no longer, time is running out fast.

      • gunnerbear

        “Being silent has allowed this country’s culture, history and natural traditions and inclinations to be overturned in favour of the bogus concepts of diversity, multiculturalism and “social constructs”.” Then stop voting Blue or Red….

        • Bik Byro

          No real alternatives. UKIP, once a promising alternative, is now a busted flush.

    • Yep, it did. We learned long ago that suffering in silence may be noble, but fighting back, especially with humor and facts is far more effective. I do it, most of the Brits here do it, and it’s why we still have standing, and ultimately we will win, because we stand for something and it’s something good.

  • Colkitto03

    Good article Kathy
    There are two types of people left in this country now. People who have confidence and belief in the Uk and people who don’t.
    Many of the lead voices of Remain, Campbell, Grayling, Lammy, etc, would give Lord Haw Haw a run for his money.

    • The Sage

      Hold on a minute, Chris Grayling was key part of the Leave campaign!

      • Colkitto03

        Sorry should have made that clearer!
        A C Grayling, look him up, apparently one of Britains cleverest men? Massive Remoaner.

  • c50

    ‘A million women fought in the Red Army. Alexievich’s project began when she read an article in a Minsk paper about a farewell party given for a senior female accountant who, as a sniper during the war, had killed 75 people and received 11 decorations. War, she realised, is seldom told from the woman’s point of view, and what interested her were not tales of heroism, but of “small great human beings”. What was more, there was nothing heroic about war, which needed to be shown as sickening, repulsive and insane’.

    You could have made cakes for the boys on the front Ms Gyngell, as you wouldn’t have approved of female sacrifice surely? Only in the bedroom.

    • JabbaPapa

      Of course you’d rant on about some indoctrination-devised Soviet “hero” of Socialism …

      But not a word about the hundreds of British nurses simply doing their Christian moral duty towards the wounded men on the beaches at Dunkirk

      • c50

        Thank Christ for that.
        If any of you had any intellect you would understand that I was not criticising the women of the war effort just Ms Gyngell’s use of Dunkirk to prate on about the benefits of patriarchy. If she wasn’t so wilfully myopic she would accept patriarchy has been hollowed out by the ‘financialisation of everything’. No, I’m not a communist; I don’t want a Venezuealan socialist autocracy but I do understand that we are moving towards authoritarian capitalism because the loss of values due to this monetarising of all accepts of human life. Why can’t you see that and have an honest debate about it instead of blaming the BBC and socialism for all the world s ills-Hayek was a fascist, he believed in the abuse of power to keep markets free, not the liberal demagogue you worship.And Christ was a socialist.

        • JabbaPapa

          If any of you had any intellect you would understand that I was not criticising the women of the war effort

          oh deary me — you liberally accuse others of failures of intellect, but where exactly has anybody “accused” you of “criticising” those brave women, hmmmm ?

          Just making up this bollox to try and divert attention away from your cultural marxist SJW nonsense, as you try and propose and support socialist/Marxist ideologies whilst claiming somehow (magically ?) not to be a communist, when it’s rather self-evident that your ideology is exactly that.

          And no, of course the Christ wasn’t a “socialist” …

          Socialist/Marxist/Communist/Soviet political manipulations, whereby these people try and appropriate into their ideology the notion that the traditional teachings of Charity are so-called “socialist” are just so much stuff and nonsense. The Lord Christ was NOT a collectivist ideologue.

    • Mojo

      There were hundreds of nurses doing their duty. Some of the most heroic acts were from humble nurses doing their best in terrible circumstances. There have been a number of books written about them. Vera Brittens famous account of her life at the front is a must read for anyone interested in women during wartime. I am afraid I cannot remember the title but I read it 50 years ago and then read the sequel of returning home and building a life.

      Helena May a British diplomats wife also wrote a harrowing account of taking in the Chinese women during the Chinese/Japanese war and how she arranged for them to be taught and run businesses and rebuild their lives. Their husbands had been killed by the Japanese and they were running away from rape. Their children were being slaughtered and they had no one to turn to. Another very good read of history from a woman’s place in the action.

      But through all this it is the bravery of the men to stand up for their country, their freedom and democracy so their wives and children can be safe that should never be belittled

  • c50

    Also, we are actually still suffering from the nostalgia for disasters like Dunkirk. I think Attenborough voted Labour too-was he just a luvvie as well. This is utter dross.

  • Ravenscar

    I’m awkward about commemorating what was a disaster from the very start.

    Commenced when, by sending those BEF boys out there set against German armoured divisions, out gunned and outnumbered by countless thousands, to the awful but very predictable retreat.

    Doubtless is, the adamantine sacrifice and courage of the rescuers and rescued it was a marvel of unimaginable fortitude, but I can’t help but think that, the Germans had gone soft or such an inertia of military strategy, and furthermore: they were never going follow us across the channel.

    They looked east and that was their downfall, we mopped up during 1944-5 though it was still fierce fighting the spirit had fortunately gone out ot them as they were being pounded and slaughtered in the east and not before time I might add.

    We did the right thing but by God it is still costing us, the Germans rebuilt and we never got around to it, they surrendered on VE day 08 May but we surrendered far more in Jan 1973 – a capitulation it was more like – Heath such was his enthusiasm for selling Britain into servitude.

    Where did the Dunkirk spirit go, I greatly fear it left us when that second greatest generation gave up its last and the greatest>? Well, we lost them commencing on the banks of the Marne and up to 1918.

    If they knew then what it would be now – none of them would have fought.

    • MikePage

      Of course the Nazis wanted to follow us over the channel. At the height of the Battle of Britain, that’s exactly what they were planning.

      • Ravenscar

        Not sure the Army generals/high command – OKW thought that way, nor do I think that, the Kriegsmarine had the wherewithal. Adolf maybe.

        • MikePage

          They sure wasted a lot of planes on it. But that might have been down to Göring’s hubris.

      • “at the height of the battle of Britain”

        Exactly, only once Britain entered the war did Germany have plans to attack. Prior to that there was very little evidence that Germany had any interest in conquering the UK.

        • MikePage

          Well half the upper class were NSDAP sympathizers. Thank goodness they weren’t in charge!

    • Mojo

      Don’t forget that all during the 1930s Germany was building tanks, planes and training a whole generation of youngsters. Our government thought we could diffuse the situation with dialogue so didn’t bother to build anything much. It was the forthrightness of Churchills personality and the loyalties he had from his Admiralty days that enabled us to rally.

      When Germany walked into Poland we knew we were in trouble. We were rabbits in headlights and it was our armed forces that proudly stood up for us. Hitler was convinced he could wipe out the British at Dunkirk and we would surrender. He was mistaken, as indeed the EU is mistaken today. The British were determined to get their men back, they came together and that resolve to turn a disaster into subsequent victory is one of our strengths. The government of the day were floundering. It was the British people themselves who rallied behind Churchill. And still Hitler thought he could beat us with the Battle of Britain. How disgraceful that John Major apologised to Germany for Dresden when we had London and Coventry destroyed. no apology from Germany.

      No thank you from Germany when UK, USA, gave them money to rebuild their country. Our country had to suffer the consequences of no money for years because we helped Germany. When you read the full history of WWII you understand why so many of our veterans and pensioners do not wish to ruled by a German dominated EU. I know we are supposed to forgive and forget. But how can you trust a country that has tried to destroy a continent not just once but twice. It is like Russia has such a terrible history with the Crimea, they just cannot trust them anymore.

      • Dare I say that while I don’t disagree with you guys, there is another side. Nobody wanted the Germans and maybe the French as well, to all end up under the Soviets and feeding and helping them was the price, and when push came to shove we needed their cannon fodder as well. Our people weren’t a whole lot fonder of aiding Germany (and Japan) than you were, but it had to be done, or a whole lot of Brit and Yank boys just might have gotten killed.

        • Mojo

          Yes, I agree, there is always other sides to a story. It helped to strengthen the relationship between UK and USA too. History plays such a large part in a country’s psyche.

    • wiggiatlarge .

      ” the Germans rebuilt and we never got around to it,”, not quite the Germans were helped financially to rebuild, whilst we, bankrupted and in huge debt to the Americans were left to get on with it, reparations for us, don’t be silly, and now the EU have the cheek no downright affront to demand money from us, sadly there is no Churchillian figure to tell them what they can do.

      • Ravenscar

        We won the war, throughout the Fifties and into the Seventies, Germany won many if not all the economic battles, Britain laboured under Socialism and governmental interference gone mental and called ‘Nationalization’ or – economic stagnation as it should be known.

        • wiggiatlarge .

          Whatever happened in the sixties and seventies, they had an economically financeal advantage as described, whatever we laboured undered was doubled or more by the financial debt, we had lost our Empire we had no resources, and despite the Socialism and nationalisation we amazingly survived, we even paid of the debt, eventually.
          That in no way changes the state we were left in at the end of the war.

          • Ravenscar

            “the state we were left in at the end of the war” – was triumphally knackered.

            Rest assured, I certainly do not decry your thoughts – at all, and I thank you for your considerations.

      • gunnerbear
  • PiqueABoo

    Grandparent without the ‘great’ in some cases i.e. I’m not that ancient yet my dad was in the BEF and I have a 14yo daughter. I think daughter definitely benefited from seeing the movie i.e. it gave her some imagery to patch to her not especially distant family history. Dare I say it… gave her more reason to be *proud* of a grandparent who, because ther lives didn’t overlap, was essentially just a 1937 (hand-painted/coloured at that time) photo of a new Grendadier on the wall.

    I also missed the sense of scale and the ‘little ships’ are a small and distorted part of the much bigger story e.g. how the ‘corridor’ for the BEF retreat to Dunkirk was kept open and at what expense in the various delaying actions, lines, strongpoints etc. IIRC ‘decimated’ is the correct word for some of the battalions involved.

    I do feel very offended by imbeciles leveraging this for identity politics. Army lives affect army families and all the siblings in my generation grew up with some significant consequences of my dad’s career. If these people were genuinely as caring and empathic as they think they are, as opposed to ignorant and narcisistic, they might have figured out that they’re treading on some serious sensitivites that are likely to be around for a few decades yet.

  • John Birch

    Our position is pathetic, no wonder Islam is on the rise against an infantalised Europe.
    You can only see the awful situation this country is in when you keep returning to it from countries that still have spirit and self respect.
    Men of 19 were flying spitfires to protect this country from invasion, and now 19 year old snowflake children need safe spaces.
    And like the fools we are we accommodate this nonsense instead of telling them to grow up.

    • Mojo

      I do still think there are many young men and women who are patriotic and would stand up to the plate. However, I do think the more we shunt in to useless university degrees, the fewer will be able to understand the importance of Queen and Country.

      Where I do completely agree with you is the state of this country becomes an horrific reality when you return from further afield. I do not mean Europe. I mean returning from Australia, New Zealand or indeed parts of Asia. We have family in all these areas so our holidays are taken outside Europe. We also have family in Russia and the biggest shock was our return from a six week holiday around parts of Russia with our family. We found the Russian people to be intelligent, self sufficient, engaging and actually far wealthier than we are told. Many drove expensive new cars, dressed beautifully in fashionable clothes and wore make up. It sounds silly but when you come home everyone looks grey, worn down, depressed and angry. There is little laughter but much frustration.

      England is still the most beautiful country and we are always pleased to return to our home in the West Country. But without seeming rascist we found our own country so full of the rest of the world we wondered if we had arrived in the correct place. I know Gatwick is a melting pot of travellers but it hit home how many languages, cultures and head to toe black was being worn. It wasn’t something to be proud of because we sensed anger and fear instead of welcome and openness. It definitely shocked us

      • Rob

        i had a similar experience. I spent 7 years overseas visiting once or twice a year to see family. Every time I would remark to my family ( especially in London) that I could see it was deteriorating more every year.

        My wife herself a non westerner made the unfortunate comment that one borough in london had turned into little India and was especially upset to see the heavy use of Islamic( or cultural) dress at heathrow immigration( including some staff) remarking that her religion was not all about this cultural clothing and oppressive ideas and that even muslims( at least the smart ones) were fearing this regressive attitude that she saw infesting her own country with the rise of Islamic nationalism..

        I have been to Russia myself nearly a decade ago and I found similar things, that the Russians could be as arrogant or as intelligent as anyone else in the world, they were just frustrated with the politicians like anyone else( this was when Russia went into south Ossetia)

  • Phil R

    What is the big unknown is the drop in operational effectiveness that women now serving at the front in combat roles will bring.

    Every other nation that has tried it and has gone to war has subsequently abandoned the experiment.

    • James Chilton

      I’ve just made a similar point in reply to another poster before scrolling down to see yours.

    • Naviro

      With women on the front line we are simply a weaker fighting force.

      Can you imagine 300k women stranded on a beach being attacked from all angles? They would surrender and join our enemies very quickly. They would also be sexually assaulted, humiliated and r*ped.

      Women in the armed forces belong in support roles, they should be nowhere near the front line.

      I’m so sick of this “equality” lie.

  • Stormlord

    Sadly, given the way our great nation is going, any modern day Dunkirk rescue would probably see the returning boats come under intense fire from our own cliffs and beaches.

    • GUBU

      I wouldn’t go so far.

      By the time the crews of the little ships performed a risk assessment, completed their manual handling training and submitted an equality impact assessment, the Germans would have been somewhere just outside Canterbury.

      • Dominic Stockford

        That would be the Canterbury in New Zealand, obviously. The UK would have gone under in less than a week.

    • geo

      I would expect there would be hate mail to the returning soldiers for being murderers, a call to take the small boats away from their owners as they obviously dont deserve to own things that other people would take better care of, a call for the sacking of General Viscount Gort (officer commanding Dunkirk) because he left expensive taxpayer paid for equipment behind AND a demand that germany’s demands be simply handed over and fines paid because the UK used hate speech towards them.

  • Nockian

    It wasn’t ‘sacrifice’, it was people carrying out actions that honoured their own lives, it was pride in the individual self and not altruism. This pride was in defence of their British culture-to rescue the army that was defending that culture and hence defending their individual way of life against an alien aggressor.

    As, to people acting in a similar way today, of course many would, but then many would also wonder what exactly they were protecting and why ?

    • Reborn

      “many would also wonder what exactly they were protecting and why ?”
      Certainly if they had the misfortune to study a non science subject at one of
      our “unis” or take seriously BBC news & current affairs.

      • Nockian

        It runs deeper. It’s the reason capitalism is so poorly defended by the Conservatives because they are incapable of making the moral case for it against those who would destroy it.

        • Naviro

          However, the tories are purveyors of corporatism, not capitalism. I appreciate the general public don’t make the distinction. Corporatism means the government picks who wins and who loses so the outcome is skewed economic results, with a few large organisations and individuals being enriched, and everyone else impoverished.

          The tories present this as capitalism and thus people view it negatively.

          And who can blame them.

          • Another name that the Left favour is ‘Crony Capitalism’ which embodies the corporatism you mention. What annoys me is the Left completely (and deliberately with the more intellectually dishonest ones) ignore is for crony capitalism to thrive it requires a crony state to support it.

          • Nockian

            Absolutely. So, we must make the moral case for laissez faire capitalism because no one else will.

    • Kathy Gyngell

      You have made me think. You are right – it was not sacrifice rather pride and belief in yourself and what you stood for. Thank you

  • Landphil

    The boats would be diverted to pick up the Calais assylum seekers first.

    • paul parmenter

      After they had all had to wait for three weeks to be tested for health and safety, which would no doubt have ruled out half of the flotilla anyway on technical grounds.

  • Dr Evil

    Fortunately there are still some real MEN left who would have a go.

  • Mojo

    We saw this film a few nights ago. Apparently it is cult viewing in Hong Kong. Our son urged us to watch it. My husband was seven when this happened. He remembers the little boats leaving Brixham. He remembers the very few spitfires flying overhead. We were so ill prepared for this war because our government said they could stop it by dialogue!!!! Have heard that one recently…… We had just invented the spitfire which was fast, nimble and the pride of the airforce. The young men were barely trained when they had to protect the men and ships from the air. My husband said every house was flying the Union flag, every house was crowded round the wireless for Churchill to speak at 6pm. Everyone was cheering when the men were brought back and they had bread and jam and Victoria sponge cake as a treat for them. It brought back a lot of emotion for him. He also remembered the 1958 film and said that one was probably more emotional because it was so close to the real event.

    The film made us cry at the patriotism of the small ships skippers. At the team work of the army on the beaches. The sadness at the torpedoed ships and those young men fighting so bravely to keep our freedom and democracy.

    Imagine our shock when we followed a young couple out of the cinema and the girl said she was fed up with British propaganda!!!! That no one would allow men to sit on the beach and wait to die, because surely the French would have come to help.!!! That is our misguided youth. I wish I had found the courage to tell her that in Hong Kong the audience, apparently stood up and cheered and clapped at the end of the film. Our son said he had never felt so proud of his country as when he walked out of the cinema at Central and everyone was talking about the Brits and their resolve.

    • Britain was ill prepared because it entered the war too early in my opinion. Dunkirk evacuation was evidence of this.

      • Groan

        It was indeed, as was France. Hitler was a great gambler and launched the war not because Germany was ready, just a bit more ready than the allies. All the major powers were rearming and appeared to be planning to be re-armed by the mid 1940s. I suppose this is the point that in real life an Arms race and War isn’t a planned game nor will our attackers be logical. After all clearly the Argentine Junta were taking a big punt attacking a Nuclear power on the UN security Council.!

        • Bik Byro

          And, as in the second world war, the USA didn’t exactly break their necks falling over themselves in the rush to help us with the Falklands either.

      • Dominic Stockford

        We entered the war when we had to. Or do promises to allies mean so little?

        • If getting involved means entering a war that will result in loses then yes. Turned out that the UK was little help and nearly lost*, I recall that another ally sat on the fence until it was to join.

          (* The UK did lose but was lucky to be occupied by her ally)

          • James Chilton

            All wars will cause loss of lives. It’s thought that defence of the country justifies them.

          • It is not just the loss of life – that is inevitable – its the loss of economic standing.

            Britain did not go to war so early to defend itself. It was never under attack.

          • Bik Byro

            Er, another “ally” were ready all along but sat back and did nothing until they got attacked themselves at Pearl Harbour and had their hand forced.

            The USA didn’t exactly come rushing in a flood of assistance over Argentina and the Falkland Islands either.

            Tony Blair should have remembered this before he rushed our forces into the Gulf to help the Bush family build their pipeline.

          • Yeah, I’m quite sure you’d break all your treaties to support us. But then it’s easy to forget refueling facilities, intelligence, and the offer to replace your bloody aircraft carrier free of charge, if you lost one. Did the best we could, and where were you in Vietnam? Although I do know a few RM who were there.

          • Bik Byro

            Alexander Haig actually wanted Reagan to side with the Argentines over the Falklands and Reagan himself pleaded with Margaret Thatcher not to re-take the Falklands by force because he was “keen to avoid complete Argentine humiliation”
            In response, Margaret Thatcher asked Reagan if he would agree to some watery “peace plan” overseen by a third country if Alaska had just been invaded.

          • Haig was simply wrong on this, although he was right on many other things. I suspect he was Europecentric, most of us were. Reagan realized, as apparently you do not, that we had treaty committments to South America and Argentina. They are our neighbors, just as Europe is yours. He did take a bit of persuading, which Maggie did with alacrity, nor did it appear to be very hard for her, and when he figured it out, there was no wavering. It’s true, BTW, USS Iwo Jima, one of our assault ships, then in refit, was being prepared for transfer to the RN, if you lost a carrier. The country (and Reagan, I suspect) always was on your side. But great office involves more than sentiment. Alliances are like that, and that is also why there are a lot of RN people assigned right now to Nimitz class carriers, training up to run HMS Queen Ellizabeth. Not many people we’d do that for.

          • KT Thornton

            Labour quite rightly kept us out of the Vietnam fiasco. A rare case of British independence from the US.

          • I do use the term loosely. I’m well aware of how the USA behaved, but they were still an ally. Just a very sly one and have been since 1914.

      • Mojo

        I don’t really think we had a choice once Poland was invaded. The Germans had armoured themselves with all the latest weaponry and we’re moving into countries on a daily basis. We could not have held off any longer. I think @D.A. Christianson was probably nearer the mark when Chamberlain came back with his bit of paper full of empty promises. We are scathing today of his naivety but I think he did buy us time as we were so unprepared.

        • I picked up a good bit of that thesis from Professor John Charmley who has written extensively on the period. BTW his history of the Tory party “A History of Conservative Politics since 1830” is also quite good.

        • JabbaPapa

          Chamberlain : We are scathing today of his naivety but I think he did buy us time as we were so unprepared.

          I think many of his harshest critics do acknowledge that, and it’s even alluded to in the 1958 film …

    • Most reports I have heard in America is that audiences sat in stunned silence through the credits, and then stood and cheered and applauded widely. And yes, without Dunkirk, well Britain would not have survived, nor would our support have been forthcoming.

      As for waiting, yes, even longer would have been better, but this is the real reason, I and some historians think, for Munich, it was to buy time, and it did, just barely enough. Chamberlain deserves far more credit than he gets.

      • Mojo

        Yes I think you are probably right.

  • PierrePendre

    I can’t imagine my 25-year-old son at Dunkirk or in the WW1 trenches because the likelihood has never been on our horizon. But I’d hesitate to write off his or any other generation in an existential crisis. If the homeland were in peril, there’s no reason to think today’s youth would fail to step up – if they were wanted. The caveat is important. Tomorrow’s war will be fought at long range by specialist professionals armed with high technology and the objective wouldn’t necessarily be to occupy territory but quite simply to destroy it, making the infantry squaddie redundant. Assuming that a potential adversary would not be another EU country, our enemy would be Iran or Russia and there would be a missile exchange. This threat is why it is essential to replace Trident despite the cost. Gyngell questions the moral fibre of today’s youth. The same might have been said of the 1914 generation but no one can question their willngness to fight, nor that of the 1939 intake. Voting not to fight for king and country in an Oxford Union debate was typical of the frivolity of young people but meaningless when war broke out. If I’m right about the nature of the next war, civilian commitment to it will be academic. Anyone who wants to sign up on the eve of a nuclear holocaust will simply get in the way of the trained career soldiery.

    • James Chilton

      “Tomorrow’s war will be fought at long range by specialist professionals armed with high technology….”

      This is probably how the top brass in the military have weighed up the options in wars of the future. It means they can tolerate or even encourage the presence of women in combat units – because the need for front line soldiers fighting an implacable adversary (of the Dunkirk days) is gone and won’t be coming back.

      • Groan

        I think you’re quite right about this. And of course this is the danger because in fact recent conflicts have been low tech. and nasty indeed.
        Even the Falklands at a more high tech. level only in the Belgrano saw the top nuclear tech. being used. For many nations don’t have nuclear weapons or forces but do fight with those that do (think of the many “small” wars Russia has fought with its non nuclear neighbours post USSR). It strikes me as entirely foolish to presume the end of “slugging it out” conflicts.

      • Phil R

        The one thing that the military consistently find is that their predictions about the next war and how it will be fought are completely wrong.

        • I cannot up vote this comment enough. The next major conflict this country gets involved with will likely be beyond anyone’s imagination.

        • James Chilton

          Because the military have been wrong in the past, It doesn’t logically follow that a future world war would not be fought with every weapon that modern technology can provide.

          • Phil R

            Except ISIS nearly took the whole of Iraq and Syria, overcame much larger forces, armed only with basic equipment and determination.

          • James Chilton

            I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing.

          • Phil R

            Even if you have the best kit in the world. Utter determination and ruthlessness is very difficult to oppose.

            Especially if your army has a set of rules to abide by while the enemy doesn’t have any. Rules for every situation, drafted and enforced by people who’s only concept of danger is a drive though Tower Hamlets at 11pm with their windows and doors locked.

          • James Chilton

            You’re talking about the military and political mistakes made when fighting a guerrilla
            army like ISIS.

            I’m talking about the use of full technological might in the event of an all out war against a foe equipped with the same might, and in which the survival of country is at stake.

            The fact that mistakes have been made in the first case doesn’t mean it’s inevitable that the same mistakes would be made in the event I had in mind.

          • Phil R

            The survival of Iraq and Syria at stake under ISIS

            The risk of full scale war between countries with nuclear weapons is low.

            However, what we have seen is wars within countries, usually sponsored externally, but with a sizeable 5th column in the country under attack.

            We have seen it with aggressive atheism (communism of the 20C or frankfurt school today) or Islam

            it does not take a majority of Atheists or Moslems to

          • gunnerbear

            “Except ISIS nearly took the whole of Iraq and Syria.” Not even close….

    • “Tomorrow’s war will be fought at long range by specialist professionals armed with high technology….”
      They said the same about war planes. A country could be dominated and controlled from the skies. Unfortunately, it just didn’t turn out that way.

      • James Chilton

        There’s been a “phase change” with the advent of nuclear weapons. Countries without them could be dominated by only one country which had them. So everyone who can, develops them. That’s the theory of deterrence which, since 1945, has prevented another world war – so far.

        • Exactly. They could destroy their enemy, but couldn’t take control of the country.
          And it wouldn’t work in Islamic countries as they don’t mind getting killed and going to paradise.

      • Indeed, Giulio Douhet “The Command of the Air” published in 1921 which led to both Bomber Command and through General Mitchell US strategic air forces. It had and has some points to make, but rational people don’t fight wars to make cities into sheets of glass, one fights to change the will of the people, and Infantry is still the “Queen of Battle”. That said, it is important to maintain the strategic/nuclear forces simply because their credibility almost ensures that they won’t have to be used. We tend to forget, the Soviet Union is no more because they couldn’t win, either the peace or the war.

        • Exactly. Our nuclear weapons haven’t helped in Afghanistan or the Middle East, and whilst drones can do their bit, in the end the infantry is still needed if one wants to try to take control rather than wiping out everyone.

          • And they never will, in what we call ‘Indian Country’, for obvious reasons. Their contribution is to hold the ring, there’s a reason why Russia wasn’t in Vietnam (officially) or the US in Afghanistan in the 80s (also officially).

            That’s the danger of the Norks and the Iranians, they might actually think they are usable. And I’m not quite ready for Armageddon, if I can help it. Interesting that we have test fired four Minutemen IIIs this year. Suppose there might be a reason, targets are usually around the Marshall islands.

          • I have reasonable confidence that the US Military Top Brass knows what they are doing and has good reasons for what they do. Probably a warning for Kim the Mad that they can fire long range missiles which land where expected.

          • I do as well, now. Last year I wasn’t too sure. I’m fairly certain it is, Minuteman is very mature, the last deployed in 1975 if I recall. It’s warhead were designed to take out Soviet silos, the CEP (circular error probable) as I recall was on the order of <50 meters. That what was open press, anyway. Targeting is the problem, of course with old technology.

          • gunnerbear

            “I have reasonable confidence that the US Military Top Brass knows what they are doing and has good reasons for what they do.” I admire your optimism…..

          • By and large I have more confidence in them than in most politicians. I don’t think the military are nearly as impetuous as politicians, I doubt if they would have considered Afghanistan to be a cause worth fighting for.

          • gunnerbear

            ” I don’t think the military are nearly as impetuous as politicians, I doubt if they would have considered Afghanistan to be a cause worth fighting for.” Pity no VSB said so at the time….

          • The military try to prepare for what they consider to be the most likely scenario of the day. But in the limit they do what the politicians decide.

          • gunnerbear

            If you get the chance, this might be worth a read…. https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Ministry-Defeat-British-Iraq-2003-2009/1441169970

          • gunnerbear

            So then all you’ve got to do is convince the young chap who’s watching the football that it is in his best interests to join up, risk getting killed for a nebulous objective and then come home (if he’s lucky) to watch, shortly after his arrival back in the UK, all the UK forces pulling out of the very war he was told recently before he went, was so important….. …all the while telling him it’s his duty to get his head shot off in a sandy part of the planet that had f**k all to with the biggest terrorist attack in the world…. …whilst HMG fêtes and kowtows to the very country that has been exporting a murderous terrorist philosophy all over the world….

          • I never suggested that we should take control of these countries, I merely pointed out that it couldn’t be achieved by remote technology alone and that ‘boots on the ground’ would be needed. Personally, I would never have gone near the place. particularly when you look at its history.

    • gunnerbear

      “But I’d hesitate to write off his or any other generation in an existential crisis. If the homeland were in peril, there’s no reason to think today’s youth would fail to step up – if they were wanted.” And that is the bit that all the comments about, “Well, the youth of today would never do ‘X’ forget….”. As you point out, even the University types that very shortly before WWII had, in essence, shouted to the PtB “B****ks to fighting Hitler for you….” soon all joined up.

  • therealguyfaux ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    If we are to recall the days of Dunkirk, let us also consider a WWII chin-up-stiff-upper-lip-old-boy film Colonel Blimp, the story of a Boer War/WW1 officer now promoted to the level of his end-of-career irrelevancy as a Home Guard commander.

    Long/short, there is a scene in which the roughly-70-year-old General Wynne-Candy is taken prisoner in a war games exercise by a young officer reminiscent of himself at that age. Now, the exercise hadn’t been due to start for a few hours, and the General reminds the young pup of this fact– the officer tells him to the effect of, “Are you kidding? Does Jerry ‘play by the rules’? Why should WE?” It was the mindset of “All that which is not expressly forbidden is permitted,” and the creativity and initiative shown by the young officer, which was being recognised, if not lauded (the youngster was an arrogant piece of work, it must be said).

    The point being, there WERE no “rules” at Dunkirk– whatever needed to be done to evacuate the troops was done, even to the level of practically press-ganging (willingly, I’m sure) every available boat, skipper and crew to accomplish this. The recognition that not to do so was as much a practical as moral mistake (who would there be to fight Jerry, if he DID try to cross the Channel?) impelled many to join the makeshift flotilla at great peril to their own lives. One did what one needed to at the time, because the cost of inaction was unthinkable.

    • PiqueABoo

      Sorry. They may have press-ganged boats, but…


      “Here they were fuelled and taken to Ramsgate where Naval Officers,
      Ratings and experienced volunteers were put aboard and directed to
      Dunkirk. … The Mrs. Miniver story of owners jumping into their Little Ships and
      rushing off to Dunkirk is a myth. Very few owners took their own
      vessels, apart from fishermen and one or two others.”

      • therealguyfaux ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        I was referring to commercial boats where the skippers and crew were experienced men of the sea. Hardly a time for Amateur Night In Dixie. It may conceivably have happened that the Mr. Minivers of the time may have sought to lend whatever logistical support, closer to home, that they could. This is the sort of detail lost to history, as one does not tend to record moment-by-moment everything that is happening as the world is going to hell on a greased slide.

      • Mike

        Many of the people owning small boats would have been ex or serving RN, RNR, RNVR, RM or MN. Most yacht clubs had people who were RNVR and had various RYA qualifications and had gone to naval schools. There was a large inshore fishing fleet as well. Many people used to sail across the Channel. Britain had a very large merchant fleet, many who would have been RNR. Many people used to go to sea for a few years to sea the World and would have earned navigation and steering qualifications. Those working within marine insurance, law or anything to do with the sea were often RNVR and weekend sailors .

    • Dominic Stockford

      Duty. People simply did their duty. Today most deny any such thing as duty.

      • Twice you’ve mentioned that word in this comment stream. It is most appropriate for those men and boys, both the rescued and the rescuers. I probably have mentioned it before but my all time favorite quote is from arguably the greatest of American generals, Robert E. Lee, it goes as follows…

        “Duty then is the sublimest word in the English language. You should do your duty in all things. You can never do more, you should never wish to do less.”

        A very good thought, for the day, in fact, for every day.

  • DisqusUser01

    Is this the same Marie Claire which has a 100% female, almost 100% white editorial team?

    • Uusikaupunki

      “Diversity for the many, not for the few”.

      Old left-wing proverb.

  • Jenni Wren

    Ah yes, Brexit. Another great loss which the young will pay the price for.

    • Mojo

      You have just proved @bugle point. Women do not want any risks. They want safety at the expense of character, nerve, pride and aspiration.

      I want us out of the EU so we can instil these virtues in our grandchildren again. As a woman I am appalled at feminists who dumb down women, who denegrate men, who genderbend children.

      We need national pride and loyalty brought back to this country. And we need to stop the propoganda spouted in our schools by mediocre teachers.

      • Jenni Wren

        It’s a risk to walk blindfold against the traffic to prove a point, but only a dumbass would do it; only a selfish dumbass would make someone else do it.

        It proves no point whatsoever.

        • Tricia

          There is a point in history where you step out or you bow down. This country is not known for its bowing down. Twice in one century we have saved the Europeans from themselves. We are not a part of Europe – we are island people geographically within the European area. It is 100 years since my maternal grandfather was killed near Ypres with no body to bury and 67 years since my father was sent to Egypt to fight Rommel in the desert for five long years. The sacrifice of my family and many other has fought for the freedoms we are now destroying. We are a sovereign nation, with ancient laws – we do not need a corrupt bunch of bureaucrats in Brussels to tell us what to do.

          • Jenni Wren

            A nothing answer

          • Tricia

            Why has the EU not audited their accounts for 20 years? Such a wonderful organisation we should remain shackled to must have been doing an amazing job and want us all to know!

          • Mojo

            What a pity you are so hateful of your country.

          • Jenni Wren

            What a pity that you are too proud to admit a catastrophic blunder

          • Mojo

            We know it was a blunder. It wasn’t catastrophic because we managed to turn it around. We succeeded in returning most of the men. We went on to defy Hitler and win the war. He thought we would surrender after Dunkirk. So our determination, strength and patriotism won the day. That is patriotism. You do not seem to understand that. I think it is a shame.

          • Jenni Wren

            LOL…I guess you know I mean that Brexit is the catastrophic blunder, and that like many Brixiteers you resorts to the ‘patwiot’ card.

          • Eh. Nothing like a ‘little European’ trying to hold the UK down to their level. The catastrophe was ever joining that ship of fools.

        • wiggiatlarge .

          I find it quite extraordinary that anyone having seen the total shambles and incompetence of the EU especially in the last couple of years would want to remain, if we were not members would we vote to join now, I very much doubt it.

        • Mike

          If that traffic is going to an extermination camp? Surely the reason why Churchill is so respected was that he was going against the traffic from 1929 to 1939?

    • noix

      Strangely I would imagine that many of those in the remainer camp would be amongst the appeasers if now was then. Not necessarily yourself, I hasten to add.

      • Jenni Wren

        Do you imagine lots of things? I think Brexiteers (not yourself, I hasten to add) still imagine they did the right thing.

        • Dominic Stockford

          We don’t bother hanging around at ‘thinking’, we know.

          • From what I’ve seen of Brexiteers, I’d add “and do”.

          • Jenni Wren

            You know what you like and ignore reality

      • Labour_is_bunk

        “A troll a day keeps Brexit away”.

    • Bugle

      I think “the young” in Spain and Italy are paying the price of staying in.

      • Cassandra

        And Greece.

    • Cassandra

      Those who saved this country in WW2 didn’t fight and die so that people could eat out every night, have umpteen gizmos to give the kids, holidays abroad every year, cars parked by the house etc etc.

      They bled and had their guts strewn over foreign fields for the sake of the country they loved, so that it would be free and sovereign and not just one part of a Greater `European Reich,

      • Jenni Wren

        says you

        • Cassandra

          Your reply speaks for itself.

  • Bugle

    I could comment that it is women that have created our risk averse world, because women are naturally and rightly protective of their families and, by extension, society more generally. Since women have effectively taken charge, it is their values that get applied. Also, many men nowadays are of the ‘low testosterone’ variety: tame, risk averse, submissive; in fact unlikely to take a stand about anything.

    It is no surprise that one of our fastest growing sectors (I decline to call it an ‘industry’) is Health and Safety. It’s existence is entirely parasitic upon those who take risks and produce things. Just about anything you want to do nowadays in construction, public service or education (to name a few examples) is subject to extensive risk assessments. The danger of every activity is relentlessly rubbed in, undermining the experience and judgement of people who have perhaps worked in their fields for years.

    I believe this culture is the result of deliberate psychological manipulation by government and by Europe. The volumes of complex and detailed regulations are intended to tame us. People who are reluctant to take risks are more manageable and less likely to resist the impertinent intrusion of government, the takeover of our affairs, our families and our privacy by the State. They are more likely to look to the State to protect them, thus increasing their dependence.

    A graphic illustration of this is our society’s relationship with the armed forces. Big government has not yet worked out how to do without the qualities required in the services – patriotism, nerve, guts, loyalty – with the result that the military is the final enclave of the virtues which used to distinguish the whole nation. Hence the tension between the services and their supporters (Wootton Bassett, anyone?), and the rest of the population. The army, navy and air force simply do not fit with the majority because they exemplify qualities society has largely discarded.

    One can hope that Dunkirk will do for Britain what Braveheart did for Scotland: a revival of national pride and spirit. But it will only persist if women and men review their roles and conduct in society, and the example they set their children. (Please do not write any comments about Braveheart – I know).

    • James Chilton

      There’s reason to believe that a 1940 “Dunkirk spirit” of defiance and a sense of deliverance, in which both men and women shared, would not arise in a feminised culture.

    • Lamia

      Hence the tension between the services and their supporters (Wootton
      Bassett, anyone?), and the rest of the population. The army, navy and
      air force simply do not fit with the majority because they exemplify
      qualities society has largely discarded.

      I think that’s unfair. The general public are overwhelmingly proud of our forces. The tension is between the majority of the population and a small but loud and well-placed metropolitan minority who sneer at patriotism.

      • Bugle

        I hope you’re right.

      • Mike

        Even there is considerable support for the armed forces there is not the toughness and fighting spirit. Up to WW2, men of all classes were expected to be able to fight to defend a lady’s honour and defend the country. In fact many working class women who were washer women, milk maids, stall holders and factory workers and farmers were very strong enough and quite capable of slapping a man so had he saw stars in front of his eyes.

        Prior to to WW2, every boy whether from a wealthy or poor background had boxing lessons. Every school, youth club or factory had boxing clubs. Many of the officers had boxed, played rugby, rowed or cricket for their schools, taken part in cross country runs and endured cold showers and swims- no heated pools which produced extremely tough men by the age of 18.

        From the 18 century to WW2, a gentleman was expected to be able to box, fence and shoot in order to be able to protect a ladies honour and defend against tyranny- A Bryant writes about this in his history books. The old bare knuckle boxers had academies to teach the “Manly art of Self Defense “. Boxing was taught so that boys and men would not be bullied and so stand up to tyranny.

        Orwell points out a typical upper class hero, Alfred Hardies, was an Etonian and classical scholar of Oxford, boxed with prize fighters and won the Diamond Sculls at Henley.

        It should be remembered before rugby /football took off in the 1840s, the national sport was bare knuckle boxing. In Regency Britain and third of the House of Lords and Commons took lessons from bare knuckle boxers because Britain was concerned that it was becoming effete. Lord Byron was proud of his bare knuckle boxing skills and fighting Italians and R Graves, the poet also boxed. Most fairs had boxing booths and boxing was part of a boys physical training until the mid 1960s. It was considered cowardly to use a knife. A British man was expected to be able to fight several foreigners and win. What the British people had were tough bodies and minds combined with a fighting spirit: even women took part in bare knuckle boxing in the 18 century.


        A question for the ladies. If you were to be attacked by 3 men what percentage of the men do you know have the ability to fight to defend your honour? Why do you associate with a man who is incapable of defending your honour? Do you think the percentage of men capable of fighting to defend a lady’s honour is greater in 2017 or 1939?

  • Wally-Jumblatt

    It is a very good question with no answer.
    I have no doubt that there are enough people in this country who would stand up when their country needed them -of all ages.
    The point, however, is whether we would do so if the cause was not worthy. We have justifiably so little faith in our political figures, that I suggest we would be far more likely to head to Westminster and lynch those that might wish to sacrifice our youth.(I would likely head for Washington).
    We might also want to have a word with the mainstream media who are too scared to report anything honestly any more.

    We are currently entering a sabre-rattling period when the fading US Empire wants to pick a fight with Russia, North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, Mexico. All for the worst possible motives. Some clown will no doubt escalate this until a tragic mistake occurs and we can’t reverse it.
    Were that to happen, I would be surprised if Mrs May could press-gang anyone into her Army of Freedom.

    • gunnerbear

      “The point, however, is whether we would do so if the cause was not worthy.” …because there is so much more information around for people to read and think about, it makes it much tougher – especially post Iraq – for HMG to b*****t about going to war…. ….the amount of information sloshing around really annoys the politicians…..

  • Liberanos

    Among the contributing factors to the neglect of this heroic retreat are that so few were non-white, even fewer muslim and almost none transgender.

    • HampshireVoter

      Indeed, and those women who were depicted, with one exception that I noted, were all in “traditional” female roles.

  • Cassandra

    The question arises: What is there about Britain today which is worth fighting for?

    The troops at Dunkirk were fighting for King and Country; to defend the land of their ancestors; their homeland, from invasion and as Churchill told the nation, for Christian Civilisation.

    Who though would wish to fight for a country which actually invites invasion by those who make no bones about hating its institutions, culture and traditional religion?

    A country which belongs to anyone who steps ashore; whose political class goes out of its way to denigrate it and which is ‘multicultural’ i.e. Anti Christian?

    Its not as if this is the land of the free. Years ago, people used to say, ‘Well, its a free country’ when something was said or done which was offensive. That was the attitude. Not any more. It is many years since I heard anyone say that. People sense we are no longer free, as we once were.

    So what is there to defend? There are actually people nowadays who would welcome the takeover of Britain by Vladimir Putin ! That does I think, show just what people are now beginning to think of this country.

    • Harley Quin

      A goodly proportion of those who fought in WW2 wouldn’t have bothered, or say they wouldn’t, if they had known what the country had become. And that was the generation which had the old virtues.

      Would the present day generation of native British, who have been encouraged to think only of themselves, be willing to risk life and limb in defence of – what exactly? A standard of living? A home, fit not for heros, but for a multiethnic, multicultural population?

      I suggest a good many of them would rather leave the country first, just as many American youth left the USA rather than fight in Vietnam. The same goes for the ethnic minorities.

    • alecto

      The question arises: What is there about Britain today which is worth fighting for?

      answer – there isnt anything!

  • Mike

    A major aspect is the decline of heavy industry producing less tough people. Also boys often boxed from the age of 5, played rugby, rowed( all those living near water in order to get from land to the moored boat) , swam in cold water and people lived in homes without central heating. One of the duties of a Father was to teach their sons how to box.

    Stoicism and discipline were considered part of the British character and people were expected to have a high pain threshold. If the soldiers had panicked it would have bee disaster. A friend of My Father was gunnery officer at Dunkirk. On his first ship he was blown onto a lower deck and the ship sunk, so swum to the next which was also sunk underneath him so swam to another. By the time he left Dunkirk his gun crew only had two ears, eyes, legs and arms were working. Consequently loading the gun was difficult. This sailor had already been sunk in 1939.

    What is not understood that the hard living and exercise, the boxing, cold baths, rugby, rowing, and swimming in cold water in winter produced men who by the age of 18 were incredibly robust in body, mind and spirit. A boy who cannot take a punch in the face in boxing ring, or a hard tackle on a rugby pitch or swim in cold water is not going to be able to cope with being blown onto a steel deck and swimming through cold water wearing clothing. The sailors would have gone to sea at 14 and most officers would have gone HMS to Britannia or HMS Conway or Worcester at the same age where they would have been expected to behave as men. If one looks at physical training classes fro boys in the 1930s, it was boxing, gymnastics and rope climbing.

    The percentage of the male youth of today which has the same physical, mental and spiritual strength of those in 1940 is very small. When we have boxing from the age of 5, no central heating, making all children walk or cycle to school, rowing ( no sliding seats), sailing in winter( no wet suits), cold water swimming, rigorous PT sessions, then perhaps people will toughen up. What people ignore is how hard work, such as hauling on ropes, in cold wet conditions endured in fishing boats produces very tough men.

    • Groan

      Very much take your point. However I suspect we will be able to call upon young men from our working class towns. Lancashire towns still have the traditions and still supply young men to the forces. I think it will still be the case that there will be “grunts” to do the hard stuff for us. That’s the annoying bit, that precisely the people derided as “toxic” and of the past, are the ones who experience do terrible things for our comfort.

  • I am more inclined to think that a modern day “Dunkirk” would not happen because the country as a whole is less likely to get involved in wars that are of no immediate concern to us. For example the people and Parliament voted against sending troops to Syria.

    • Harley Quin

      Yes, they did, didn’t they? But the SAS and no doubt others are there. They are said to be ‘ advisors’. If you believe that, you would believe anything. There are items on YouTube which are said to show SAS troops in action. What’s more, our aircraft are involved also.

      Our rulers don’t take much notice of what the people want, do they?

      • Quite how he got round the Commons vote is beyond me. I could be getting it muddled with Libya too but to be honest I have not paid much attention to the conflict for a few years – there is too much to follow.

        All I know is that there is less support for going to wars since Afghanistan and Iraq. So much so that I wonder if confronted with a justified war, would this country have the stones to fight.

    • jb

      I hope your right

  • Thomas Katz

    Our Homeland is again in peril, where is the “D Day spirit” to fight the enemy that is within!

  • Mel Shaw

    I have thought this for a while now. Of course, the Dunkirk generation were different. Most would have remembered the Great War and many would have fought in it. They quite naturally did not want to give in to the Nazis. Oldies, like me, have fathers who fought in the Second World War and grew up when the memory of it was still fresh and raw. We absorbed some of their spirit. Subsequent generations had none of those connections. Couple that with the cultural Marxism that dominates so much of the media and educational institutions today and is it any wonder that the Dunkirk spirit has withered away?

    • Dave S

      My father told me that it was a real concern that if the Germans had successfully invaded the English would have fought over every inch of their land with whatever they had and the toll would have been impossibly heavy. In that instance only the monarch would have been able to ask them to lay down their arms and that is one of the main reasons the king had to stay in London and not leave under any circumstances.
      We really were a different people then,

      • Andy

        We still are a different people. This is what the EU doesn’t really understand. But I give thanks everyday that my parents generation did resist the Nazis and by doing so they saved civilisation. This is why I am very keen on Remembrance Sunday and keeping that very simple and very moving ceremony unaltered and unchanged.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Duty. Yet another Christian virtue thrown onto the scrapheap by liberalism.

    • Phil Whittington

      Because the substrate of Christianity that has been over-emphasised is mercy and meekness.

      But kudos to Kathy for an excellent piece. (Though I quite enjoyed the film, she is spot on in her central thesis).

  • Andy

    I was recently berated by my ardent feminist ex as she had perceived that ( in her eyes ) I was no longer the tolerant, sensitive soul that she knew.
    Roughly translated what she meant was I am displaying overtly male characteristics and refusing to be intimidated by her politically correct, virtue signalling agenda. In her eyes no self respecting male would fight, on any account, the irony that she would be speaking German now, had they not, is lost on her.
    Yes I agree we have grown soft, long overdue us men wake up to the reasons, the above being but one.

    • Andy

      Thank God she is an ‘ex’.

  • Haven’t seen it yet (although I will, but I need a better excuse to drive 600 miles round trip than just the movie!). I don’t know if it is the character Kathy referenced but, I have read that the boat captain featured with his son was actually the senior surviving officer of the Titanic, rescued unwillingly that cold night. Not many countries produce such men, You should be very proud of them. For a full century now, we have been proud to be on side with you (with a few lapses from us all).

  • Politically__Incorrect

    If this country is ever unfortunate enough to find itself under direct military threat, then I suspect that only a tiny minority would have that sort of courage to defend it. The rest, unable to get their faces out of their smartphones, might manage a moan on Twitter about that courageous few being xenophobic towards the invaders, before raising the rainbow flag in immediate and unconditional surrender. This country is now so morally bankrupt it might take a military invasion to shatter its complacency and help it to grow a backbone.

    • choccycobnobs

      We shall surrender our island, whatever the cost may be to the taxpayer, we shall surrender on the beaches, we shall surrender on the landing grounds, we shall surrender in
      the fields and in the streets, we shall surrender in the hills; we shall
      never survive as an island race.

      • Harley Quin

        We have already surrendered it. Just look around.

  • Guy Family

    It won’t matter after 2040 ; we won’t be able to defend ourselves anyway. I mean, it if takes 8 – 9 hours to charge the batteries of an electric car, how long will it take for a 60 ton tank or troop carrier? I guess they could issue Gtech eBikes to our troops (as long as Comrade Corbyn hasn’t disbanded our armed forces in the meantime).

    • Phil R

      They really have not thought of that.

      Take out the power stations and that effectively will be end game.

      Putting a large diesel generator on my shopping list for the year 2030…..

      • Guy Family

        Yeah. A cyber attack by the Chinese to take out the nuclear power stations that they’re building for us, and then attack overnight when the eChallenger Mk IVs are charging their batteries.

        • Phil R

          I don’t think we are likely to be attacked by another country.

          ISIS have not gone away

    • wisestreligion

      By 2040 Muslims will have grown from 4.5% to 21% of our population, on the trend of the last decade. Whose side will they be on? In WW2 there was much mutual admiration between Islam and the Nazis.

      • Cassandra

        Another estimate is that they will be a majority by 2050. Either way, this country will be unrecognisable and will be getting more so with every year that passes.

        New Labour, the Tory `Party – our children and their children will burn you in effigy like they do Guy Fawkes.

    • Bugle

      If he does it will be following Cameron.

  • Dave S

    The movement of the troops from Dover was another extraordinary work done by ordinary men and women at their best. I have seen the notes kept by an inspector from the GWR who was sent to Redhill ( many if not most of the trains were routed via there) and along with his colleague from the Southern organised locos ,coaches ,crews etc to get the men away to the rest of Britain as fast as possible.
    Now the men involved almost certainly left school and had no further education and were lifelong railwaymen.
    There are two important points here. Firstly they knew their job and could cope with any eventuality because that is the way they were and the way they viewed the world. Secondly the company bosses had confidence in them and their judgement and left them to get on with it..
    It would be embarrassing to make any comparison with the way things would have been done today in similar circumstances.

    • PiqueABoo

      Fair point. From my dad’s battalion’s war diary for 2nd June 1940:

      “We landed at DOVER at 1030 hours and were immediately put into trains and moved off to BORDON, having a very generous meal pushed at us through the windows at TONBRIDGE.”

      Plus: “We were showered with food, drink and cigarettes at every halt, and were greeted at PENGE by the Salvation Army Band.”

      • Cassandra

        The Salvation Army did a tremendous job during the war. I have read how they were the only ones to welcome weary troops arriving in the dead of night with a hot cuppa.

    • gunnerbear

      “It would be embarrassing to make any comparison with the way things would have been done today in similar circumstances.” Really? I doubt things would be done that much differently given the UK would be on a war footing today if German armour was parked just across the Channel…

      • Dave S

        You are kidding I hope. On both counts. We are just not the same people any more .Just try and talk to the whining young . Gimme gimme gimme and then some.
        My main point is that very ordinary men and women were able to rise to the challenge and that the officer class let them get on with it because they trusted them . Can you really imagine our plethora of university trained entitled experts actually doing that?

        • gunnerbear

          In a full on war – yes.

          • John Birch

            Dream on.

          • jb

            I agree human nature has not changed and different circumstances evoke different qualities from us

  • Derek

    Times have changed greatly . Just post WW2 it was what you could do for your country, not what your country could do for you.
    Now there is a massive sense of entitlement with no questions asked as to how this can possibly come about. Entitlement is an unthinking given.

    • Bugle

      The welfare state which came in the wake of the war is what led to that sense of entitlement.

  • Sean Toddington

    Wonderful film, gripping and exciting. But it is only a film. My dad volunteered in 1939 and served with distinction for the duration of the war. He never spoke about it, although I know that he did go to Dunkirk after it had fallen to the Germans, and was lucky to survive the fire from the shore batteries. He thought that war was squalid and futile. His advice to me was never to contemplate a career in the military, and should conscription every be a possibility to exploit my dual nationality to leave the bloody country.

  • John Birch

    With society feminising boys and virtually no hard manual work to produce natural leaders we will be even more in need of the rough end of society if TSHTF.
    Which brings to mind Tommy Atkins by Kipling.
    The men you want then are the ones despised by polite society.
    Sorry for posting half the poem but it’s even more true today than when it was written.
    Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
    Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap.
    An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
    Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
    Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul? ”
    But it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes ” when the drums begin to roll
    The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
    O it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes, ” when the drums begin to roll.

    We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
    But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
    An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
    Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
    While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, fall be’ind,”
    But it’s ” Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind
    There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
    O it’s ” Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind.

    You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
    We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
    Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
    The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Chuck him out, the brute! ”
    But it’s ” Saviour of ‘is country ” when the guns begin to shoot;
    An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
    An ‘Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!

    • gunnerbear

      “With society feminising boys and virtually no hard manual work to produce natural leaders we will be even more in need of the rough end of society if TSHTF.” If the s**t really were to hit the fan, everyone would be needed, just as HM Forces turned raw conscripts into professionals capable of fighting a ‘modern war’. It is impossible to compare peacetime with the realities of the UK at war facing a threat like the Axis powers.

      • John Birch

        If the s**t really were to hit the fan, everyone would be needed, just as HM Forces turned raw conscripts into professionals capable of fighting a ‘modern war’.
        I’m not so sure.
        Unfortunately I don’t believe that could happen,at least quickly enough.
        The HM forces you refer to would be deluged by lawyers representing everyone who thought they had been spoken to in a disrespectful manner , shouted at or hurt their feelings.
        So lawyers would have to be brought under control.
        That would clog every court in the land with legal challenges.
        Society would have to ditch 50 years of left wing, progressive (LOL) anti establishment, anti authoritarian attitudes.
        So that means most universities and schools shut down.
        That leads to legal challenges and demonstrations.
        Human rights, they have to go. More legal challenges that would go on for years.
        Children’s rights ( the left believes the brain is not fully formed until 23 so they should be treated as a child until then)
        Health and safety would have to go. Vested interest says not without a fight.
        Mass demonstrations by everyone who thinks war is bad and want to say not in my name ( and we’re off on our holidays)
        That should tie the police up if they have time to stop investigating historical sex abuse charges.
        And I haven’t mentioned if young people can fit it in with their social lives.
        Society is a very different place now, it’s been deconstructed deliberately to stop wars which is great until the , events dear boy, events situation happens and the SHTF.

  • gunnerbear

    “Imagine us achieving that level of organisation and cooperation now in our individualistic, comfort zone and entitled world.” Yep…quite easily as by the time of the evacuation HMG had massive powers and the entire country plus Empire was on a war footing….not a peacetime footing like today…. …nice of the author not to compare like with like…..still, I suppose if the author had done, that would have wrecked the point the author was trying to make. “Of the 933 ships took part in Operation Dynamo, 236 were lost and 61 put out of action. Six British and three French destroyers were sunk, along with nine other major vessels. In addition, 19 destroyers were damaged.

    Yet there was no national collapse. No candlelit vigils. The country got on with regrouping.” As it had to because the country – the entire nation and Empire and allies were at war just as the Royal Navy got over the shock of a U-Boat getting into Scapa Flow and the merchant navy gritted its collective teeth, and by convoy after convoy, brought the supplies into the UK that the UK so desperately needed.

    • John Birch

      That was the world before we created fantasy land.

  • Grumpy

    I haven’t seen the Nolan film yet, but I watched the 1958 version on TV last weekend. In that film, one of the main characters, a civvie who took his little boat across mentioned several times that there were just “Bloody idiots” in charge (he was referring to the government). Nothing changes.

  • No word from the resident nutjob yet? Expect her to tell us that strong, independent, ‘kickass’ wimmin will save us.

    • choccycobnobs

      Perhaps she has been recalled. Her meds do seem to need increasing.

  • Elizabeth Smith

    For sixty years we have shored up the weak.
    We give legal protection, nay, preferential treatment, to groups of people who should be treated kindly because of their illnesses and no more. We spend nothing on the gifted and talented but millions on those who are so disabled that we cannot even begin to guess at their quality of life -or lack thereof.
    The trans are the obvious example of those who should receive kindness but not be trusted, however the reality is that stigma does have a use in protecting society as a whole. We don’t need the children of the unfit – their unfitness manifested in their inability to support themselves. No SME wants an employee with mental health issues because at best it manifests in absence, at worst in unacceptable behaviour that reflects very badly on the organisation.
    We have failed to discipline our children. A child has to be disciplined in order to learn self discipline. We have a weak, whining generation of feral beasts; we’ve all seen then snarling hate around Corbyn and others. They could only be deployed as brutes.
    We have sown the wind; we are now reaping the whirlwind and that is Generation Snowflake – weak and vicious.

  • Nick Smegg

    IIRC Attenborough played a war spiv called Holden in the 1958 film. Oh well, that’s Tory values for you.

    • Malcolm Marchesi

      Your implication that Tories are “spivs” is the same as my calling all socialists
      ” workshy , lying hypocrites” . Neither statement is the whole truth but could well apply in some cases . The Dunkirk evacuation was when most of the country pulled together . Could it happen now ? Probably not !

  • UmUmUmUmUmUm

    Britain is now a largely decadent society and culture. It seems to be a human cycle that societies, nations that once were disciplined and martial eventually become enfeebled and decadent.
    Of course the inevitable hard core truth is that should the s**t hit the fan again, in some form or other, as it certainly will; then political correctness, safe spaces, LGBT rights, gay marriage will all collapse into nothing, like the tissue paper Tower of Babel that they are. And once again we will need the heroism of strong men and women and their children.

  • Apparently there’s no bandwagon that disagreeing with Brexit can’t be hitched to! Now it’s cowardice in the face of Hitler… I oppose Brexit therefore I wouldn’t be man enough to defend my country? Political incorrectness gone bonkers! Which is quite ironic really because what is Brexit if it’s not a retreat from engaging with Europe.

    • jb

      Brexit is not about retreating from engaging with ” Europe “but leaving the” EU” and maybe saving Europe from itself in the process.

      • Leaving as you put it is not leading. Leadership requires engagement – even with people you consider “the enemy” – which of course since WW2 they are not! Running away is not saving anything. Leadership on Europe and in Europe couragous enough not to appease the Daily Mail et al could have “saved” the EU as you put it, but where has that leader been in the Conservative party?

    • Andy

      Why is it people like you fail to understand that the European Union is NOT Europe. The EU is a political construct which is doing huge damage to many Continental European countries.

      • People like me? Yes Ok the EEA, EU, EC, ESA, EMU etc… Europe covers it no? When the context is clear? It is certainly an agreement between nations to trade goods freely across open borders without customs and tarriffs, agree some standards for important things and invest it’s poorest parts… Is that what you mean by a political construct? Sounds pretty constructive to me…

        • jb

          No its not ultimately about trade its about power and specifically about transferring power from the people to the political class. Nor is it about nations . The full name of the EU is the European Union of the Regions in other words the intention is to abolish nation states and have a regionalised Europe under a centralised government.

    • Dodgy Geezer

      …Which is quite ironic really because what is Brexit if it’s not a retreat from engaging with Europe…

      An advance into engaging with the World? The EU has demonstrated sheer incompetence and protectionism for many years – I want this country to be where the action is, not stuck in a bureaucratic quagmire…

    • Mike

      Mike Tims. The continuous fear stories and denigration of the intelligence and character of those who wanted to Leave the EU by those who wished to remain soured the discourse. People who take the moral and intellectual high road make it difficult for themselves to admit mistakes about the conduct of the debate.

  • KT Thornton

    The Tory establishment didn’t think the British working classes would be able to beat the Germans in WWII, hence their reluctance to go to war. You’ve always underestimated them.