Watching the sky of Dunkirk

‘In Dunkirk we witnessed and tried to cope with one of the most sensational artillery exploits in
history. The little cars of the Americans often ran those empty streets, and
pursued those deafening detonations, alone. In Dunkirk, we shared the life of a
town under sporadic, but devastating, bombardment.

The blessés arriving
at Dunkirk by hospital trains from Belgian villages were unloaded in this
freight-shed and then carried to the hospitals in the city and in the neighboring

Our first incident of an exciting nature
came at the station; we were quietly waiting for the next train, when high up
in the air appeared first one, then three, and finally seven graceful
aeroplanes. We watched, fascinated, and even more so when we learned that they
were Taubes. It seemed hard to realize that we were to witness one of the
famous raids ever made in Dunkirk. Explosions were heard on all sides and the
sky was soon spotted with puffs of white smoke from the shells fired at the
intruders. The rattle of the mitrailleuses and the bang of the
“75’s” became a background of sound for the more solemn boom of the
shells. A few moments later there was a bang and we were
showered with bits of stone. We stood spellbound until the danger was over and
then foolishly jumped behind our cars for protection.’

WW1, Dunkirk, France – American ambulance driver’s notes – History of the American Field Service in France – Photo: WW1 French observation post at the top of the Beffroi, a landmark tower in Dunkirk.