Veteran to honour his fallen war comrades

WATERFRONT: One of the last surviving Dunkirk veterans is today preparing to take to Orwell Quay in honour of his fallen comrades.

Bernard Sharp, who celebrated his 21st birthday on the Dunkirk beach waiting to be rescued, will lead commemorations for the Second World War military operations.

Now among a weekend of remembrance events set to mark the 70th anniversary of Operation Dynamo, the veteran will celebrate his 91st birthday by laying a wreath at a special “Drumhead Service” on the town’s Waterfront.

On May 30, the service, which is set to be based on all aspects of 1940s living, will include a performance from a re-enactment group and a range of entertainment.

The event will also see Dunkirk “little ship” Pudge docked at Orwell Quay for the entire weekend, allowing visitors to climb aboard and experience the role the boat had in the Second World War.

Pudge was one of 30 Spritsail barges to go as part of the operation, only four remain surviving today.

Councillor Robin Vickery, chairman of the Ipswich Branch for the Royal British Legion, told the Evening Star that he believed it was important to celebrate the anniversary of the major operation.

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He said: “With the maritime history that Ipswich has, I think it is fitting to celebrate the anniversary beside the Waterfront in the town. The theme for the commemoration will be nautical and 1940s.

“The numbers of Dunkirk veterans in the town are shrinking, and it will be an honour to have Bernard Sharp there. I think it is a fitting tribute to those who fought for our freedom and our country.”

Operation Dynamo – the evacuation of Dunkirk – lasted from May 26, 1940, to June 4.

Nearly 200,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers were evacuated from the beaches on small boats and Royal Navy ships.

The operation, while not a victory, was seen as a brilliant rear-guard action.

The event is set to begin at 11am, with a parade which will set off from the Customs House in Regatta Quay at 2.30pm, leading towards University Campus Suffolk and finishing at Orwell Quay for the service.