70 years ago yesterday, British citizens answered the calls of allied forces stranded on the beach at Dunkirk. With their own boats (over 700 of them, many pleasure craft and non-commercial vessels) and of their own will, they made their way across the channel. Over 9 days more than 300,000 men were rescued and moved to safety on English shores. Yesterday, a flotilla of more than 100 boats set off from Ramsgate to Dunkirk yesterday in remembrance of the amazing feat.
Paul Gallico wrote about this event in his precious story, The Snow Goose. His main character, a disabled lighthouse keeper and lover of geese, is one of those brave boat owners who sets off across the sea to rescue the stranded soldiers. It's his chance to redeem himself and contribute to the war effort which he is otherwise prevented from contributing to due to his disabled status.
This is the second time within a week that I've been reminded of The Snow Goose. On Sunday, BBC 4 radio had a program about favorite and overlooked classics of British literature. The Snow Goose was the winning book. In the show, the authors background was discussed and excerpts were read, but also a trip was taken to a listener's house who claimed to have something of interest. What he had was the lighthouse. Peter Scott was the illustrator for the book and the lighthouse was his. The listener had purchased it on a whim and fixed it up. There was talk about blurred lines between what were Scott's ideas and what were Gallico's. That's not a discussion I care to get caught up in. What I know is that Scott wasn't opposed to illustrating the text so he couldn't have been that upset about it if it was in fact his idea. The other thing I know is that this book is delightful. It's fairy tale for grown ups and well worth a read.
Snow GooseThe Snow Geese: A Story of Home