Thursday 2 May 2019
A chilly and overcast morning meant an admin start, sorting stuff in the van. I explored the town in the drizzle; not unpleasant, I am in France after all.
As forecast, the afternoon brightened up so I jumped on my velocipede and rode to Dunkirk.
I thought I’d just get my bearings and visit the sites tomorrow, but finding myself at the doors of the 1940 museum that recounts the events of Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Dunkirk (I’ve not seen the film) I decided to go in. It was closed for refurb until June. Oh well, never mind.
Nearby was FRAC, a stunning six storey contemporary art gallery seemingly encased in a gigantic version of the large cell bubblewrap found in deliveries.
Upon trying to buy a ticket, I was told they were installing new exhibitions but I could visit floors 1 & 5 free. I had a wander around. What was on show wasn’t up to much but the building was fantastic and gave a great view of the beach.
I decided to head home but the cycle path passed a cemetery.
It was for the nearby Fort des Dunes, and it was open! Originally built in the late 1800’s, it was part of Operation Dynamo and subsequently used by German forces.
It is a Fort built into the dunes. On the beach, the German fortifications still stand, decaying and graffitied.
One bunker has been decorated with broken mirrors.
I returned to Bray-Dunes and headed for the seafront as at low tide two wrecks are exposed, the dark smudges on the shoreline below.
The ‘Devonia’ lies on the right, the ‘Crested Eagle’ to the left; 300 died on the ‘Eagle’.
Seeing the beaches where such a significant event in our history occurred, and where so many died, has given me much to think about. Almost half of those rescued were French and Belgian, but those who escaped did so because of the sacrifice of French and Belgian forces who held off the German advance as long as they could. Lest we forget.