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Peak Dunkirk liberal idiocy: Robert Fisk in the Independent

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 7 August 2017

Marie Claire showed commendable liberal idiocy for its take on the film Dunkirk. USA today was almost on a par. But the winner of the liberal metropolitan elitist idiot commentator on this war movie depicting an actual historic event is Robert Fisk of the Independent, a man who has real form when it comes to being a stranger to the truth. It is thanks to Robert that we have the phrase "to Fisk" meaning to go through a newspaper article to discover the series of statements from the post fact era.

Fisk slates Dunkirk because it is a "whitewash version that ignores the bravery of black and Muslim soldiers". Fisk says that by 1940 there were many troops from the empire fighting for Britain, notably Pakistani Muslims and also heroic black folks from Britain serving King and Country. Well up to a point. As I noted a few days ago the black population of the UK in 1939 was tiny. The BEF comprised ten divisions from all parts of the country and most came from areas outside those areas where black folks congregated in parts of London, Toxteth Liverpool and St Paul's here in Bristol. Thus of the c350,000 BEF troops sent to France in late 1939 it is inconceivable that more than 30 or 40 were black.

As for Fisk's assertion that there were large numbers of Muslim troops from the Indian sub continent at Dunkirk again this is sheer fantasy. Troops from the Indian armies were almost all retained in India in 1939 to fight the Russian threat in the North. You will remember that at that point Russia was allied with Germany in carving up Poland. The British were also mindful of the Japanese threat. In total four mule companies from the Indian armies were shipped with their beasts to Dunkirk. So perhaps 500 men from the Indian sub continent of which maybe a quarter might have been from modern day Pakistan fought with the BEF.

Make no mistake these men showed enormous bravery. Three DSMs were handed out and one clearly went to a Muslim, Jemadar Maula Dad Khan. But the hard fact is that the number of Asian and black soldiers fighting in a BEF which totalled 350,000 men was no more than 600. Or put another way less than 0.2%. The failure of the makers of Dunkirk to make a song and dance about the presence of ethnic minority soldiers in the BEF is simply a reflection of fact. Fisk's assertions are sheer fantasy.

Fisk points out that among the French troops fighting to protect Dunkirk, some of whom were saved in the end, were a number from French North Africa who would have been Moslems and this is not shown in the film. The French soldiers protecting Dunkirk were those who had evaded German capture and were from the French First Army. There were clearly some Moslems from North Africa but in the heat of battle with faces covered in oil, sweat, dirt and blood maybe Mr Fisk can sniff out a Moslem at 50 yards on the big screen but most of us cannot. I can't, despite having worked alongside Moslems from North Africa in a hot restaurant kitchen over vseveral year .The Moslem North Africans in the First French Army would have worn the same uniforms as Froggies from France and as it happens most ( c85%) of those in North African regiments were Europeans who just happened to be colonists
Millions of Black, Asian and Moslem soldiers did fight heroically for the right side in WW2. Very few, but it should be noted including 30,000 Indians, also fought for the wrong side. We should honour the bravery of our heroes but by making up untruths as Mr Fisk has done you honour no-one at all.

Fisk ends his piece by noting that Nigel Farage likes the film " No wonder Farage urged us to watch Nolan’s movie. The Brits in 1940 were, at last, alone. It took another generation to create a Europe in which there would be no more international slaughter. 72 years of peace. And now we are committing Dunkirk all over again". Whatever. Britain was not alone in 1940. The Indian army was more than a quarter of a million strong by then but it was NOT at Dunkirk. To pretend otherwise is just a lie. As is pretending that it is the EU that has brought "peace in our time" and that it is Brexit that threatens that.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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