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52nd Lowland at the Docks

52nd Lowland at the Docks

In the dark days of the summer of 1940 and the mass evacuation of British and French troops from Dunkirk it is often forgotten that other British units stranded elsewhere by the collapse of their French allies had little choice but to make good their escape to England from other ports.

On 7th June 1940 with the battle for France still in full swing and AFTER the Dunkirk evacuation the 52nd {Lowland} Infantry Division landed at Cherbourg to support our French allies. Soon part of the 52nd, troops of the 157th Infantry Brigrade were clashing with forward units of advancing German forces at Le Mans, but the next day on hearing of the French plea for an armistice they had no choice except to disengage the enemy to avoid capture and the brigade withdrew back to Cherbourg where remnants of the retreating 51st {Highland} Infantry Division were already being evacuated.

The painting shows the scene at the dockside with the troops embarking in good order and even vehicles, among them Austin, Ford and Morris Commercial, awaiting loading for the return to England, unlike at Dunkirk where hundreds of vehicles and valuable equipment had to be abandoned on the beach to be captured by the German Army and used by them against Allied forces. A dispatch rider waits to deliver a message to the two officers talking to the military policeman in the centre of the picture while in the right foreground a sergeant loads a Bren gun into its box.

Four years later the 51st and 52nd divisions returned to Europe and fought their way with bravery from the Normandy beaches to Germany and final victory in 1945.

This painting, 48″x36″ on canvas, now hangs in the officers mess at Colington barracks Edinburgh home of the 52nd Lowland.

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