From Dunkirk to D-Day

Why the flags were out

Sevenoaks men home from Dunkirk

When Guardsman James Berry reached his home at 146 Seal Road, Sevenoaks, on Saturday he was greeted with fluttering Union Jacks and a streamer on which were the words: “Welcome Home.”

Guardsman Berry, aged 21, who is the son of Mr. and Mrs. James Berry, was among the thousands of troops who were successfully evacuated from Dunkirk. In this memorable achievement, he, like the rest of that weary force, pays just tribute to the magnificent work of the Royal Navy. “I don’t think we would e er have seen England again had it not been for the Navy.” he told a “Sevenoaks Chronicle” representative.

Guardsman Berry mad light of a shrapnel wound he received in his left leg, and said he was ready and anxious to get back and have another crack at the Germans. He said it would be impossible to describe the scene while that vast assembly of men waited on the beaches for boats to come and take them off. Having been concerned in the final rear-guard actions, he was among the last troops to leave, the men being bombed incessantly while they waited to be rescued.

When finally they were marched through the town to the beach Gurardsman Berry said they were told to “muffle” their boots so as to make the minimum of noise on the broken glass which was strewn everywhere. “When we got to the beach those of us who could swim were told to swim for it. I managed to swim to one of the boats, and came away with only my coat and trousers.”

One of the first things Guardsman Berry did after reaching home was to visit Lieut. Gerald Micklem, of the Guards, who is lying wounded in hospital. Lieut. Micklem is the son of Mr. Hugh Micklem, of Bitchet Wood.

A few doors away from Guardsman Berry’s home lives his friend, Harold Homewood, of the West Kents, who reached Sevenoaks

on Monday morning. Pte. Homewood was also in the evacuation rush and considers he had a lucky escape. Like the others he had taken off all his equipment, and when a German bomber came over he left this lying on the beach while he rushed for shelter. When he returned there was only a hole where his belongings had been. Both he and Guardsman Berry expressed confidence as to the outcome of the conflict, but regretted the loss of several chums.

harold homewood
Harold in Egypt, about 1942

And so reads the Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser of 14 Jun 1940, about Harold Alfred Henry Homewood, our 2nd cousin 1x removed. Born 8 Jan 1920 at Sevenoaks, Kent. Harold married Elizabeth May Green in 1941 at Tonbridge, Kent. Unfortunately, Elizabeth died in 1944.

sevenoaks-chronicle-and-kentish-advertiser-09-june-1944.jpg

Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser 09 Jun 1944

ElizabethGreenElizabeth May Green

The flags were flying again in 1945 for Harold’s brother Ernest, born 31 Oct 1914 in Sevenoaks, Kent, as related in the Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser of 4 May 1945:

Trooper Homewood

Flags were flying to welcome Trooper Ernest Homewood when he arrived at his home, 152 Seal Road, Sevenoaks, on Wednesday night following his rescue from Stalag 11B (Hanover) by the “Desert Rats.” Tpr. Homewood, who is the second son of the late Mr. Homewood and Mrs. G. Homewood, was taken prisoner in October last at Waspick, Holland. He joined the Army nearly five years ago and took part in the invasion of Normandy, landing a few days after D-Day. Trooper Homewood said that when one of the German guards saw the first British tank break through into Hanover he threw up his rifle, went and told the prisoners and “seemed as pleased as Punch.” A native of Sevenoaks Trooper Homewood attended Bayham Road School and was later employed by Mr. Wm. Daws as a builder. His younger brother, Pte. John Homewood, recently returned to Italy, where he has been serving for the past three years, after a month’s leave.

Trooper Homewood
Trooper Homewood of the 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Yeomanry and The Royal Armoured Corps

Ernest Frederick M Homewood, Trooper 13030096, had been listed as Missing believed Prisoner of War on Casualty List No. 163  from 30 Oct 1944. Stalag 11b was Fallingbstel and he was POW No. 119287.

So there we have three sons of George William Homewood and Elizabeth Mary Goldup (our 1st cousin 2x removed) serving in World War Two from Dunkirk to D-Day and after.

Dunkirk photo is from The Scotsman 06 Jun 1940.

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