OLIVER SPRINGS (WATE) – The movie “Dunkirk” has made many people wonder about the story’s inspiration. However, for one East Tennessee couple, the story hits close to home.
“Three-hundred thousand or so British troops who were there were left on their own, with no support,” said Colin West. “They had to retreat, which they did towards the coast where they could’ve been picked up and brought home. They arrived at the coast to the place called Dunkirk.
This event started in May 1940. After Germany’s Blitzkrieg, the British retreated to the coast at Dunkirk. To save British and allied soldiers, naval ships of all kinds were called into action to rescue these soldiers.
Suzanne and Colin West moved to Tennessee forty years ago. Colin began work as a physicist at the Oak Ridge National Lab. His father, Alec West, was a Major in the British Army, rescued from the coast of Dunkirk in 1940.
“Eventually my Dad was taken off by a destroyer called the Icarus and brought back to England, safely. Along with 350,000 other people,” said West.
West has a wedding photo of his father and his mother, Margery, at his home. They were married during a period West says is best known as the “phony war”. There was no serious action in France at the time so his father was able to get time off.
“My father, who was one of those troops, had the opportunity and the time to come home and get married to my mother.” said West.
Major West oversaw a regiment of nearly 150 soldiers during World War II.