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Of course, even in this early stage of the Second World War, ethnic minority British citizens show enormous courage – one of the bravest ARP men during the Blitz was black, although we have yet to see a film about him.
Disgracefully, the post-war Moroccan and Algerian governments declined – until very recently – to honour their soldiers who fought in the French army against the Nazis.
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Even in this early stage of the Second World War, ethnic minority British citizens did show enormous courage – one of the bravest ARP men during the Blitz was black, although we have yet to see a film about him In my mother’s family scrapbook, there is a tiny box camera snapshot of a very young Robert staring at the Luftwaffe-smashed “mole” leading out to sea from the port of Boulogne – sixteen years after British troops evacuated under fire in May 1940 as their comrades stood on the beaches of neighbouring Dunkirk.
In the photograph, the right-hand side of the Boulogne jetty remains, in dilapidated, post-war France, just as it was when British soldiers scrambled aboard the last ships to Britain, the concrete, right-hand side of the mole collapsed into the sea, just a few old hawsers showing where it stood.
I remember that when our car ferry docked from Dover, passengers still had to “walk the plank” across a bridge of duckboards suspended above the water with ropes on each side to cling onto above another bombed-out part of the jetty.
A day later, my father drove our Austin up to Dunkirk to see the famous beaches.
It was a grey, cold day and the sand was grey and there was some unrecognisable, rusting junk along the promenade and several of the old beach hotels were still under repair. History had passed this way and the Brits had returned to other beaches 250 miles further west four years later and Hitler killed himself and we dropped atoms bombs on Japan and, by the time I reached Dunkirk, we’d lost soldiers in Korea and the poor old French were just starting their doomed war to hold onto Algeria.