An album of poignant photos showing the trail of devastation in the wake of Operation Dynamo have been consigned to Dorset auction house Duke’s.
They were taken not long after 330,000 Allied troops had been rescued from the beaches by an armada of little ships, having been defeated by the Germans.
Among the black and white snaps are scenes of German soldiers surveying the wreckage of destroyed ships lying in the surf, grinning officers stood in front of a fleet of burnt-out British army trucks which would have been used to off-load the thousands of the retreating troops days before, and the sand strewn with mechanical debris and a soldier walking past the axle and wheels of a large military vehicle destroyed by the German guns.
Several photos also show the extensive damage caused to seafront buildings in Dunkirk and the neighbouring Belgian towns of Ostend and La Panne.
And one grim image of the body of a dead British soldier washed up on the beach is also in the album.
Mystery surrounds who took the photos, but it is likely that they were captured by a German soldier. They were consigned to Duke’s of Dorchester by a private collector of militaria from Dorset and are expected to sell for around £100-200 on October 13.
The album contains about 50 images overall, with 20-30 focusing on the Dunkirk aftermath. How it ended up in England is unknown, but it was probably acquired towards the end of the war as a souvenir by a British soldier. It is thought it was owned by a Private E Davies who served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) - the women's branch of the army during the Second World War.
Hidden among the photos in the album is a tongue-in-cheek menu card for the Christmas dinner of 1943 enjoyed by the men and women of the 571 Mixed Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery. The card has the stamp of the ATS on it and the name Pte E.O Davies with her service number.
The menu gives a nod to the lack of some food that was unavailable at the time due to rationing. For example the menu starts with soup and written beneath it is brackets are the words 'not this time'.
There is also a greetings card sent with an image of two cats dressed as ATS women with the message W.A.T.S the use of worrying?
Tim Medhurst of Duke’s says: “Pictures taken behind-enemy-lines during the war showing what was going on, especially after a battle, are quite rare to come up for auction. Although some of the pictures capture horrific scenes of damage and destruction, they provide a very important snapshot into the aftermath of one of the most pivotal battles of the war.”
Despite sporadic attacks from German planes, Hitler failed to order a full-scale attack on the beaches, withhis Panzer tank crews primed and ready to annihilate the enemy.
In his memoirs, Field Marshal Rundstedt, the German commander-in-chief in France during the 1940 campaign, described Hitler’s decision as his first fatal mistake of the war.
The new film has a strong connection to Duke’s home county. Scenes were filmed in nearby Weymouth Harbour and the Swanage preserved steam railway.
One of the stars is former One Direction singer Harry Styles, making his acting debut. Styles also happens to be an antiques fan – he has been pictured in the past buying furniture at the Kempton market.