Major Harold Slade went to France to join the British Expeditionary Force in January 1940. He was in the Royal Army Service Corps attached to the 44th Division and responsible for supplying provisions to the troops. His particular responsibilities included the petrol supply across Northern Europe and he was in charge of some 14,000 men. In May, as the BEF fell back towards the coast, it became increasingly difficult to find and transport the stores required and they had to rely on a mix of local purchases and requisition where purchase was not possible. Major Slade kept a diary of which his family have kindly provided excerpts recording his experiences following the German invasion on May 10th. He tells of falling back under fire, of roads clogged with refugees and expeditions to find food for the troops.
On May 28th he moved off in the direction of Dunkirk. He visited advanced divisional HQ with supplies early in the morning, assisted some refugees and motored to Bray docks. On the 29th he arrived on Dunkirk beach at 6.00am. There were tens of thousands of troops there. He arranged, late in evening, for all troops to embark but found they had been sent in direction of Dunkirk (?). The next day he saw troops off during the day hampered by a shortage of small boats. Little food was available. “Jerry shelled beach at 17.00hrs. No damage done by bombers. Spent night wading through water looking for boats.”
On the 31st May they found a boat at 3.00 am and boarded the Medway Queen with officers of signals and other regiments. They were landed in Ramsgate and moved on to Shrewsbury by train. “Great reception en route. With KSLI (Kings Shropshire Light Infantry)”.
On the 1st June he walked into Shrewsbury to the cinema where he saw “If I had a million”.
Major Slade was later promoted to Colonel and awarded the OBE
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