Pearce, John (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 7101
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 80, Number Of Items 3
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British writer served aboard HMS Whitfield, 1938; served as leading seaman aboard HMS Wolfhound during evacuation of Calais and Dunkirk May-6/1940

Content description

REEL 1 Family and educational background. Reactions to outbreak of war, 3/9/1939. Recollections of evacuation of Calais and Dunkirk, 5/1940-6/1940: firing at German tanks on coast; duties as quarter-master; German dive bomb attacks; bodies on quayside; encounter with British troops; 'Cassandra dartboards'; refusal to embark Belgian troops; embarkation of landing parties at Dover; Stuka attack whilst re-crossing English Channel; indiscriminate Luftwaffe attacks on Dunkirk area; disembarking landing parties; loss of port screw. REEL 2 Continues: German air attacks; orders to evacuate troops from beaches; control of motor boat; deserted beach; transference of wounded soldiers to ship; shuttle service from beach; problem with phosphorescence; method of embarking troops; overcrowding; problem with steering; German air attack; kit and equipment left on beaches; deaths of wounded during trip; repairs to ship; appreciation of gravity of national crisis. REEL 3 Continues: discovery of shell aboard ship; lack of briefing for ratings; method of embarking troops; condition of troops; beached French destroyer. Recollections of courts martial whilst writer aboard HMS Whitfield, 1938: duties as writer; consciousness of need for security; loss of book giving details of fleet's movements; conduct of trial; result. Discipline, court martial.

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