My grandfather, Bill Barraclough, celebrated his 40th birthday in May 1940 in France. He was part of the British Expeditionary Force and, just a few short weeks later, was part of Operation Dynamo, one of over 300,000 soldiers evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk.
So the one big film of 2017 that I’m looking forward to is Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, which chronicles that period – a moment that changed the course of World War 2.
I’m less interested in the eclectic cast – Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Harry Styles – than I am in the milieu and atmosphere.
It’s been done before. John Mills and Bernard Lee starred in Dunkirk, and there have been TV adaptations of the story and many documentaries.
But I get the sense that Nolan will do justice to the story on a grand scale. And the backdrop will be authentic and, for those of us who have a personal connection, no matter how distant, rather poignant.
Bill Barraclough died in 1948, aged 48. His wife (my grandmother) always said it was due to him swallowing the filth that filled the waters of the English Channel during the Dunkirk evacuation.
I wrote a little about his experiences a few years back. You can read it here.