Stanley Patrick HMS Wakeful Survivor

Operation Dynamo was the code name given to the evacuation of more than 330,000 British and Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, in 1940.

The evacuation was described by Churchill as a 'miracle of deliverance" and spawned the phrase 'Dunkirk Spirit' used to describe the British ability to rally together.

Stanley Patrick was a 21-year-old driver with the British Expeditionary Force and one of the soldiers on the beach, and his incredible story of survival has been passed down to his daughter Lesley who joined Richard Hatch and Verity Geere in the BFBS studio with her husband Geoff.

Lesley and Geoff spoke about Stan's frightening experience at Dunkirk, what kind of person he was and how she felt when a Channel 4 documentary told her that her Dad was the only surviving soldier out of 640 when HMS Wakeful was sunk by a torpedo.

Dunkirk Interview Part One

PART 1: #Dunkirk survivor Stanley Patrick was 21 when he scrambled onto the doomed HMS Wakeful. He was the only survivor. #hatchandgeere spoke to Stanley's daughter Lesley and son-in-law Geoff about his miraculous escape.

Posted by BFBS Radio on Tuesday, 18 July 2017


"They were ushering everybody down below and unfortunately Stan was told to stay on deck to stand guard for a while... just himself. He just leant against the wall of the ship, lit a cigarette and just stood there."

"He's on top of the deck, pitch black, one almighty bang and the next thing he knew he was sliding down the deck. HMS Wakeful broke in half, went down in a V and apparently it sank within 15 seconds."

"And of course everybody below deck was trapped and couldn't get out"

Dunkirk Interview Part Two

PART 2: So what happened to 21 year old Stanley Patrick after HMS Wakeful was sunk by torpedo just off the #Dunkirk? #hatchandgeere

Posted by BFBS Radio on Tuesday, 18 July 2017


"Eventually he was picked up by a smaller craft and put on HMS Calcutta."

"He said to the member of the crew 'oh thank goodness for that, I'm on my way back to home' and the crew member said 'sorry mate, we're on our way to Dunkirk'."

"So he had to go back into hell to come back again."

Interestingly, there is a moment in the movie Dunkirk when Cillian Murphy's character, a drowning soldier, gets rescued from sea and has this conversation with his rescuer:

Soldier: "Where are we going?"

Mr Dawson: "Dunkirk"

Soldier: "I'm not going back"

Mr Dawson: "There's no hiding from this son, we have a job to do"

Soldier: "If we go there we'll die"

You'll be able to watch Dunkirk at Forces Cinemas from the end of July >

Listen to #HatchAndGeere every weekday morning from 6:30am on Forces Radio BFBS. Catch them on FM, online or via the free app - Apple > or Android >