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Dunkirk to D-Day (Hardback)

The Men and Women of the RAOC and Re-Arming the British Army

WWII D-Day & Normandy P&S History Dunkirk

By Philip Hamlyn Williams
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 232
Illustrations: 40 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526794307
Published: 13th May 2021

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At Dunkirk, the withdrawing army left behind most of its equipment, yet only four years later, on D-Day, troops would wonder at the efficiency of supply. This book looks at the lives of some of the men who led the monumental effort which led to this result.

The story begins in Victorian south London. It goes out to Portuguese East Africa and then to Malaya, before being caught in the maelstrom of the Great War. Between the wars, its leading characters work at Pilkington, Dunlop and English Steel; they serve in Gallipoli, Gibraltar and Malta; they transform the way a mechanised army is supplied. They supply in the desert and the jungle. They build massive depots, and relationships with motor companies here and in the USA. After the war they work for companies driving the post-war economy: Vickers, Dunlop and Rootes. Many died, exhausted, years before their time.

As featured in

Shropshire Star

This book is basically a look at the supply of British Troops during World War II, from the disaster at Dunkirk when so much equipment and vehicles were left behind in order to get as many men back to England. What was needed was a group of men and women who would work hard, knew what needed doing and could get the job done correctly and in time. This group consisted of Brigadier Charles de Wolff, Major Gen Bill Williams and his wife (the author’s parents) and General Riddell-Webster to name a few, but probably the leading lights of a great group. Most of the people in this group had vast experience during the Great War, and it was thought and hoped that these people had the ‘knowledge’ of what needed doing and how to get it done. These people who basically ran the RAOC which consisted of 15,000 troops, 3,200 women, 360 officers and 2,000 Italian prisoners of war. This book shows how RAOC worked together as a group and supplied the British army to enable the success of winning. This is a good book, probably not one that would appeal to everyone, but it is my belief that if you want to know a story you have to learn about the background of the story. It’s a good read and one I would more than happily recommend.

Read the full review here

UK Historian

In his new book 'Dunkirk to D-Day' Philip Hamlyn Williams shines the spotlight on the key personalities, who had the common bond of being forged and shaped by their experiences in the Great War, who formed the supply team that made victory possible.

South Shropshire Journal

Vital wartime role of stores base that supplied the army

Telford Journal 19/08/21

'In his new book "Dunkirk to D-Day" Philip Hamlyn Williams shines the spotlight on the key personalities, who had the common bond of being forged and shaped by their experiences in the Great War, who formed the supply team which made victory possible.' - Full article here

The Shropshire Star

"[Bill's] story, and that of his wife, friends and colleagues, so brilliantly set out for us by Phil in `Dunkirk to D-Day` is history, but I commend it as much for it's relevance to us all, military or civilian alike. Bill's portrait hangs in the RLC Headquarters' Officers' Mess. I have walked past it countless times since I was commissioned into the RAOC in 1973. I wish I had known then what I know now, about Bill and his family, his work and his colleagues, but above all of their accomplishments. I would have been better prepared for my chosen profession if I had."

"We are allowed to enjoy and share Phil's discovery that alongside his father, there were a group of people, many in the `Class of '22` as Phil calls them, most of whom, having served as young officers in World War I went on to have significant roles in supporting the mechanised Army of World War II. As he puts it, “In my research the same names kept reappearing”. What intrigues us as we read is that this group are a bridge in time from one World War to the next. We feel we get to know them as people; loyal, committed, open to change, driven by a sense of duty and nicely old fashioned."

Major General Malcolm Wood Major General (Retired) Malcolm Wood CBE – President of the RAOC Council

About Philip Hamlyn Williams

Phil Hamlyn Williams’s father, Major-General Sir Leslie (‘Bill’) Williams, was head of the RAOC in WW2. His mother, Major-General Williams’s secretary and later wife, kept albums, diaries and recollections which recorded the work of the RAOC in remarkable details. Now a historian, Phil has written War on Wheels and Ordnance on the history of the RAOC in the first and second world wars.

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