WENSLEYDALE’S last remaining Dunkirk veteran quietly remembered the 80th anniversary of the evacuation.

Now 101-years-old, David Evans previously of Leyburn, lives at Bainbridge and is the area’s last remaining ex-soldier to have been evacuated from the beaches at Dunkirk. He was rescued under the noses of the advancing German Army by the flotilla of small boats ordered there by Prime Minister Winston Churchill in May 1940.

Joining the Army in 1936 as a regular soldier and training as a cavalryman, Mr Evans transferred to a mechanised unit, the 13/18 Royal Hussars. Amongst the first to go out to France in September 1939 with the BEF, he did make time get married to Violet first, although he is now a widower.

Mr Evans saw action against the Germans in both Belgium and Holland in a Bren gun carrier team. Arriving on the beaches he waited three days to be evacuated and vividly recalled the period when interviewed some years ago.

He said: “The whole area was a mass of rubble, I remember the constant shellfire and the Stukas; they were just like birds dropping from the sky.

“I travelled across on one of the small boats, I climbed down, got on board and fell straight to sleep and woke up in Dover.”

After landing in back in Blighty, Mr Evans had a well-earned week’s leave before returning to his regiment. The British Army was hastily regrouping, as it was feared Hitler would attempt to invade the country at any time.

Later sustaining a serious injury to his leg, Mr Evans was told he would never walk again. He was transferred to a top-secret base in Cumbria and made a full recovery. After the war he joined the police in Kent, retiring as a sergeant and moving to the Dales.

Still a member of the British Legion, Mr Evans attended the 50th and 60th anniversaries of Operation Dynamo. The final parade for Dunkirk veterans took place at St Michael’s Church, Spennithorne in 2010. He was the guest of honour unveiling Lt Col Joe Jordan’s project for a lasting memorial at Catterick Garrison in 2018 and read at last year’s Remembrance Day parade at Leyburn. He was disappointed VE Day celebrations had to be cancelled.

The evacuation from the beaches and harbour at Dunkirk lasted from May 26, to June 4, 1940. In total 338,226 British, French and Belgian troops were saved. For every seven soldiers taken off the beaches one was taken prisoner.

In a final reflection, Mr Evans said: “The skippers and crews of the small ships were the real heroes of the Operation, saving all those lives.”