The feature Page

Victor Power
2nd Bn Lancashire Fusiliers

(Taken down by me on 25/7/17 in Victors own words.)
I was born 30 June 1919 at Traford Park Manchester. My father was Henry Stephen Power and my mother Lillian Power nee Hays. They were both from Birmingham. My father had fought with the Worcestershire Regiment in the
great war and was an " Old Contemptible" having enlisted at the start of the war in 1914.
I was educated at Traford Park Council School and left at the age of 14.

My first job was working for Metro Vickers as a blacksmith striker. I had always wanted to work in the carpentry trade but could not find a
job in that area so at age 17 I attended night school twice a week and two years later started work as a carpenter.
In 1939 at the outbreak of war I joined the Lancashire Fusiliers and after basic training at Bury was posted to the 2nd Bn who were part of the BEF in France. On joining the Bn I was posted to D company. My
company commander was Captain Paterson and my platoon Sgt was Sgt Bottomly.
By 28th May 1940 we were in Belgium fighting a rear guard action
against the advancing German army. In the confusion of battle myself and six other members of the platoon were separated from the rest of the
company. We knew we had to make our way to Dunkirk to be evacuated but Dunkirk was a long way off. As luck would have it we came by a house with a garage.There was a car in that garage with a key in the ignition.
I was the only one in the group who could drive so we decided to (borrow) the car and drive to Dunkirk. It was only a small car so most of the lads were hanging off the sides or on the roof. It must have been
a funny sight but at the time no one was laughing.
Before we got to the beaches we were flagged down by the MP's at a road block and I was told to puncture the fuel tank with my bayonet and smash the distributor. I then made my way to the beach and took shelter in the
sand dunes.
During the day we were attacked by German fighters and dive bombers.We hit back as best we could with rifle and LMG fire and one of the dive bombers must have been hit as we saw it crash into the sea.
Later that day during another dive bomber attack I was hit in the side by a bomb splinter. A young guardsman who I had been talking to a few minutes earlier was killed.
By this time I think it was about 4th June there were not many left on the beach and I joined a line of men waiting to be taken off in small boats. The boat took us out to a small RN ship. When I got on-board I fell asleep and the next I knew we had arrived in Dover.
On rejoining the Bn I was put into the motor bike platoon but as my wound was giving me trouble I was put on light duties and later posted to a searchlight unit. Owing to my wound I was demobbed in 1943.I still keep the bomb splinters removed from my side in a small plastic bag. It reminded me how lucky I was to have survived.
By 1951 we had two children and decided to move to Australia for a better life. In Australia I worked in the building and mining industry .
Sadly my dear wife passed away in 1975.I moved to Brisbane over 20 years ago where I retired. And that my
friend is my story.

Victor has been asked to do a Q and A session with a group of local school children. He has also been invited to visit Sydney in September to meet with the director of " Dunkirk"

July 30 2017
Brisbane Times
'The first time I fired at my enemy I was crying': Dunkirk veteran relives war

The 98-year-old man served six months in the war and was on the beaches as German troops advanced into France in 1940, trapping Allied forces on Dunkirk beach.

Dunkirk survivor Victor Power.

"I don't like war, I hated what I did," he said.

"To pick your rifle up and go 'bang' and shoot a man down, that is not normal.

"The first time I fired at my enemy I was crying."

The former rear guard said he was the one of the last soldiers to be picked up from the "noisy, hectic" French beach, the setting for Christopher Nolan's latest film Dunkirk.

"We had to fight the Germans, stop, move on and fight the Germans as they followed us," he said.

"By the time I got to the beach I was close to the time for pick-up because there was hardly anybody on the beach.

"The majority of them must have got away before I got there.

"Everything was moving, even the tide was moving."

The British-born man was at New Farm Cinemas on Sunday for a screening of the film and he admitted he wasn't a fan of previous films about the evacuation.

"I have seen two other pictures and I called them rubbish because it didn't depict anything I had been through," he said.

"I speak to you in truth so why can't I see a picture that tells the truth."

Wearing a tanned suit weighed down with medals, the New Farm local spoke of the hardship of adjusting to life after battle.

"I couldn't do any jobs, my conscience was telling me to give it away all the time," he said.

"I was in training to be a builder, that was before the war, but afterwards I went back and I didn't like it."

Mr Power got married while he was at war and in the 1950s brought his wife, son and daughter over to Australia, where he has lived ever since.

"I had seven days' leave, I got married," he said.

"Seven days went quickly, you didn't feel like you got married, then I went back, back in the uniform.

"Time goes so quick, I didn't think I was going to live this long ... this is all new, but I love it."

This is from ABC news

Dunkirk veteran says Christopher Nolan film a reminder that we must avoid another war

Victor Power has tears in his eyes as the credits fade: the 98-year-old veteran never thought he'd return to Dunkirk.

He was just 20 in 1940, when he found himself trapped on the beach as German troops closed in; a sitting duck for a deadly air assault.

He was among the last of about 338,000 men to be evacuated in Operation Dynamo — a mass rescue made legendary for the bravery of hundreds of civilians who sailed their small boats across the English Channel to come to the soldiers' aid.

At a special Brisbane screening of Christopher Nolan's acclaimed film about the evacuation, Mr Power was taken back to the beach he escaped 77 years ago.

He hadn't been nervous before the film — "I've seen it all before", he joked to the ABC — but after, just for a moment, his smile faded away.

"The picture isn't exactly the truth of myself, because there's some parts I wasn't part of. But the part that I was in was enough to remind me of what I was doing at that time," he said softly.

"I'm a little bit touched about everything. I lost a lot of great mates."

Veteran Victor Power closes his eyes as he reflects on Dunkirk.

Photo: Victor Power says Dunkirk was a "good picture" that told the truth of what happened to him. (ABC News: Monique Ross)

His trademark grin quickly returned.

"I will say too, that there was more aircraft in that film than there ever was on the beach! I didn't recognise anybody," Mr Power laughed.

Mr Power says the film makes one thing clear: we must avoid returning to war, at all costs.

"Remember: no more wars. We don't want any more," he said.

"If [young people] want to join the Army, OK, join the Army. For a sense of purpose, for an education, yes. But not to go to war."
Constant fighting, hunger and fatigue

Mr Power was born in Manchester, and had been a carpenter before being conscripted to World War II, where he served for six months.

By the time he made it to the beaches of Dunkirk, he already felt lucky to still be alive.

Mr Power, an infantryman, was with a platoon in a defensive position at Brussels when the German advance ensnared Allied troops. On May 28, 1940, he was given the order to retreat to Mons, and then to Dunkirk.

"I hadn't slept — we were on the move all the time, fighting all the time," he told the ABC.

"I was buggered. I didn't know whether I was coming or going."

About 10 kilometres from Dunkirk, he broke into a garage and found a Peugeot with the keys in the ignition.

Under constant fire from the Germans, he and a few mates drove as fast as they could to the beach.

Nine days after he began the fraught journey from Brussels, Mr Power was at Dunkirk. There, the fight for survival began all over again.

He had a gun, but it was useless against attacks that came from bombers in the sky.

"My bullets wouldn't reach them. We couldn't use my rifle, except maybe as a battering ram," he says.

"We had no food. We couldn't do anything. We just had to [wait] to get off the beach."
'A miracle of deliverance'

On June 4, 1940, he was rescued — but not before he was ordered by military police to make sure the Peugeot could never be of any use to the Germans.

"I had to dismantle that car by putting my bayonet into the petrol tank," he said.

"They made me smash the distributor."

In total, some 338,000 soldiers were rescued from the beach — an evacuation hailed by then-British prime minister Winston Churchill as a "miracle of deliverance" in a "colossal military disaster".
Review: A thrilling spectacle

Christopher Nolan's powerful 10th film brings the evacuation of Allied troops at Dunkirk into sharp relief, Jason Di Rosso says.

Mr Power remembers wading deep into the water to reach a small rowboat that took him to a larger ship.

"I wouldn't say we were swimming, but we were close to it," he said of the "bloody awful" start to the journey home.

While he didn't suffer "shell shock" like so many others, he did find it hard to adjust, and struggled at first to hold down a job.

In the 1950s he brought his wife, son and daughter to Australia, where he has lived ever since.

For the past 20-odd years, he has called the inner-Brisbane suburb of New Farm home.

"I did everything I was supposed to do. I was game for anything," he says of his time in the war, his voice trailing off.

"But I'm happy. I've always been a happy person. Probably that's helped me through my life."

And as for Nolan's film, which he watched at the local cinema?

"I will admit, it was a good picture, a much better picture than the other two," Mr Power said.

"They were rubbish, because they didn't tell the truth of what I know."

Victor's Ordre National de la Légion d’honneur

Spike Macey Victor Power and Bill Duffy