From: angelpilot
Date: Sunday, October 12, 2003 14:27:30
To: Pete Porter
Subject: STALAG 8B


My father would never talk about the war days to me, he felt humiliated in that he and his comrades were abandoned. Here is a letter my fathers Brigade Commander wrote to the Daily Telegraph Feb 1948. My father was captured at Hazebrouk.



In Dunkirk's Grim Days

From Brig. the Hon. N. F. Somerset to the Editor of the Daily Telegraph

19th February 1948

Sir - I notice that in his memoirs of 1940 Mr. Churchill observes that "After the loss of Boulogne and Calais only the remains of the port of Dunkirk and the open beaches next to the Belgian frontier were in our hands."

At the time I was commanding a brigade group holding a sector from Cassel to Hazebrouck. We were heavily attacked by German armour on May 27. At Cassel the Germans were repulsed with the loss of over 20 tanks. At Hazebrouk our force there was surrounded and did not finally capitulate until the evening of May 28.

Not knowing that the B.E.F. was embarking for the United Kingdom we hourly expected a vigorous counter-attack by British and possibly French troops to restore the situation. We hung on at Cassel until the night of May 29, and then tried to reach the Dunkirk bridgehead. German operation maps at the time showed Cassel and district still occupied by the enemy, and leaflets were dropped calling on us to surrender, as "your generals are gone"!

I feel it is fair neither to myself nor the troops under my command to let this stand pass from mind, especially as so many gave their lives, and most of the remainder of us spent five years in captivity. Incidentally, by holding on at Cassel we not only deprived the Germans of one of the main roads to Dunkirk, but enabled many British detached units and individuals to reach the bridgehead.

All these facts appear to have utterly escaped the notice of the authorities at the time owing to the indescribable confusion, and I feel that an opportunity has now been afforded me of bringing them to light.

Yours faithfully


Heathfield, Sussex