The Breakout from Cassel

The Breakout (part 1 of 2)

The Breakout from Cassel, Wednesday 29th - Thursday 30th May 1940 The Cassel garrison's withdrawal began under the cover of darkness at 21:30.  Vehicles and equipment were smashed, and the wounded were collected together and left with food and water.  Groups of able-bodied survivors, including men of the 140th Regiment, assembled between Cassel and the...

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The Breakout (part 2 of 2)

Thursday 30th - Friday 31st May 1940 As the columns of 145 Brigade men crossed the Belgian frontier during 30th May a further 53,823 men were being evacuated from Dunkirk. Bois St.Acaire The flat and relatively featureless Flanders landscape had provided little in the way of natural cover for the escaping soldiers.  As morning broke,...

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Breakout- East Riding Yeomanry

  East Riding Yeomanry Regiment's Breakout Diary The East Riding Regiment's War Diary provides a graphic account of the  Breakout from Cassel and is quoted here verbatim: - 29th May 1940: 21:30 hrs: Withdrawal of 145 Brigade [Somerforce] commenced Order of march:- Advanced Guard – 4th Ox & Bucks. Light Infantry; Brigade H.Q Staff, Royal...

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Watou and the Temporary Burial Ground

  Watou The Belgian frontier village of Watou is about 10 miles to the East of Cassel and straddles one the main evacuation routes towards Dunkirk.  In the First World War it was behind the lines of the British held Ypres Salient and many British soldiers were billeted here.  During May 1940, Watou was in...

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Breakout Walk to Watou

Using the War Diary and other accounts, I recreated a 'Cassel Breakout Walk' in 2019.  Although it isn't possible to walk directly over farmland, the flat landscape gives a good impression of the features that the Somerforce soldiers would have used to dead-reckon their way towards the Dunkirk beaches. Starting Point I used the newly-created...

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Battle of Cassel- a Virtual 80th Anniversary Reunion

May 2020 was the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Cassel.  Our intention was to commemorate that anniversary by visiting Cassel and the route of the Breakout.  That visit had to be cancelled because of the travel restrictions imposed during the SARS-COV-2 pandemic and so a decision was made to replace it by holding a ...

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367 Battery- ‘The Ones Who Got Away’

A tiny number of 367 Battery at Cassel managed to escape to Dunkirk (five Battery members, only three of whom survived the war). One further member of  367 Battery (Gunner William Martin) managed to escape from captivity at Cassel, but sadly, he did not survive the war.   BEF Troops arriving in England from Dunkirk...

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Breakout – Prisoners of War

The following sixteen 140th Regiment Officers were recorded as Prisoners of War in a Roll of Honour in ‘Grand Party’: Lieutenant-Colonel C.J. ODLING T.D. (wounded at Cassel) Major N. CHRISTOPHERSON M.C. (wounded at Cassel) Captain H. WESTLEY Captain C.A. HOOD Captain C.L MacDOUGALL (on the run in occupied France until July 1940) Captain F.N. SIRKETT Lieutenant R.N....

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