Battle Honour DUNKIRK 1940

Saturday, 1 June, 1940
2 RUR Dunkirk
2 RUR, Dunkirk.

The Battle Honour DUNKIRK 1940 is emblazoned on The Queen's Colours of The Royal Irish Regiment. The distinction was awarded to The Royal Ulster Rifles for its 2nd Battalion’s actions in holding ground and defending the perimeter of the embarkation area during the period 26 May-3 June 1940, when 338,226 troops were evacuated from Dunkirk.

During the last two weeks of May 1940, the 2nd Battalion The Royal Ulster Rifles, along with dozens of other units, closed on Dunkirk. Having received its orders for the final withdrawal to the beaches and embarkation, the Battalion remained in its position until 0230 hours on 1 June 1940. The first stages of the withdrawal went according to plan, but as the Battalion approached the beaches, it was clear that confusion was rife. No one could find the reception centre and the movement control staff had ceased to exist. Many men became lost in the dark and made their own way to the waiting ships.

Lieutenant Bredin and D Company 2 RUR found an Isle of Man steamer, the Captain of which announced that he could not take the whole party; however, he was persuaded and all embarked. Later, Lieutenant Bredin entered the saloon, found a steward and asked, 'Have you any beer?' 'Yes, but you cannot have it until we are three miles out - you can have some tea though,' was the astonishing reply, as bombs fell around the ship.

(Below; 2nd Battalion The Royal Ulster Rifles awaiting evacuation from the beach at Dunkirk. (image © - from the collection of The Royal Ulster Rifles)).