Allied forces gathered all the forces from Dunkirk beaches and settled the 338,000 troops into small boats. The 1940 mission was also called “Operation Dynamo.”
While the forces were being loaded into boats, the Germans were attacking with air raids, forcing some troops to take cover. One rifleman, 20-year-old Bill Lacey, gracefully let an injured man take his seat.
To do so, he got off the boat and onto the beach. As he turned, he saw the boat leaving without him. He attempted to take a raft to catch up with the boat, but the raft had two bullet holes rendering it useless.
German troops were firing, and leftover British troops were being taken prisoner. As Lacey watched all of this unfold, he decided to run away from the Germans and attempt to make it on his own.
He headed south in hopes of finding British troops. However, he went into the woods and ended up further into German territory with no viable way home.
Lacey was very smart and resourceful. He changed out of his uniform, hid his gun, and worked on blending in with the locals.
He did just about anything to stay alive, including eating straw with margarine and drinking out of streams. Lacey did not speak French as the locals did, so he would just nod if anyone talked to him.
He went on like this for four months. Eventually, he figured out a way to go home, a fishing boat off of a small pier.
Commandeering A Boat
At dark, he climbed aboard the boat and headed toward England. He landed by Dover, England.
The soldier was arrested and interrogated. But, unfortunately, the men at the Army base did not believe his crazy story.
The intelligence officers eventually checked French papers and found stories about a British soldier stealing food from farmhouses. They also found the report about the stolen fishing boat.
Lacey was released after he proved his identity. For his resourcefulness, he became a part of the British special operations division. He retired in his early fifties.
Lacey died at the age of 91, leaving behind a magnificent legacy.