What A Dunkirk Veteran Made Of Oscar-Winning Film

Alfred Smith, who survived the evacuations, told Forces News what he thinks of the military blockbuster 'Dunkirk'...

98-year-old Alfred Smith served in the Royal Army Service Corps, driving trucks with supplies out to the front lines throughout the Second World War.

On the 24th May 1940, Alfred was given his map coordinates to deliver to like any other day.

However, it wasn't only his 21st birthday, it was also the day he came under German fire.

He drove on through the attack, eventually making it to a broken bridge where he met an English Officer who told him, they were entirely surrounded by German troops.

"The only option was to, head for the beach."

Upon arriving there, the Brits were told to dynamite their loads so none of their ammo or equipment could be used by the Germans who were closing in on them from every direction. They then had nothing to do but wait.

They had no supplies, no water, and perhaps worst of all, no cover.

Ships of varying sizes from fishing vessels to steam paddlers arrived to try and rescue the men, only for many of them to be sunk themselves by a barrage of German bombs.

In Alfred's own company, 107 men made it to the beach. Just 31 made it home.

In what Winston Churchill called a 'miracle of deliverance' some of the men did manage to make it off the beach and back home. Alfred was one of them… and then went on to serve in the D-Day Landings.

Alfred went to a special advance screening of 'Dunkirk', the Second World War epic blockbuster based on the story of the evacuations he lived through.

So Forces News went along to meet him and found out about his own memories of those days on the beach… and what he made of the Hollywood version:

Royals In Attendance

Prince Harry rubbed shoulders with pop royalty, former One Directioner Harry Styles, at the world premiere. 

The royal walked the red carpet accompanied by three army veterans who served in Dunkirk, Kosovo and Afghanistan respectively, after hosting a reception at Kensington Palace.

The aim of the gathering was to highlight the lasting impacts of war on the mental health of servicemen and women.

The Dunkirk evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo is one of the most memorable rescue mission from World War Two.

Christopher Nolan wrote the story from three different perspectives - land, air and sea - as 800 boats, many being civilian boats, rushed to help the 400,000 British, Belgian and French soldiers trapped on the beach by the Nazis.


Dunkirk was filmed on location in France, Holland, the UK and Los Angeles, and showcases an A-list cast of many familiar faces including Peaky Blinder Cillian Murphy, the Revenant villain Tom Hardy and Harry Potter's Kenneth Branagh.

Whilst the film was in pre-production Christopher Nolan met up with veteran Vic Viner, who was one of the last remaining survivors of Operation Dynamo, to share his personal experience of the evacuations

Mr Viner passed away late last year, but Ian Gilbert former commodore of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, said:

"I think it was a fairly amazing experience for Christopher – less so for Vic, who was completely unfazed by anybody."


The film score impresses with Hans Zimmer composing the original soundtrack.

It is also Christopher's shortest feature film since the Following - which was only 70 minutes long - with a run time of just 1 hour 47 minutes.

Former Royal Marine Cassidy Little, who was blown up in Afghanistan, also watched the military blockbuster and had his say.