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Harry Garrett, 96, tells of the moment the White Cliffs of Dover came into sight after the war

By Victoria Chessum

The White Cliffs of Dover have always been an iconic part of the coastline. For war veteran Harry Garrett they were a symbol of hope and salvation.

Mr Garrett, 96, is taking part in a film that features poems written by soldiers of the Eighth Army who fought in the Western Desert campaign in North Africa in 1942.

The former veteran of Dunkirk and El Alamein has been chosen to read two poems, A Soldier – His Prayer and White Cliffs.

Former veteran, Harry Garrett looks out from the White Cliffs of Dover
Former veteran, Harry Garrett looks out from the White Cliffs of Dover

White Cliffs is about the cliffs as a symbol of England, and one that Mr Garrett could relate to. He was evacuated from the horrors of the Dunkirk beaches to Dover with his brother, Ken, on the destroyer HMS Wolsey.

Mr Garrett, from Sevenoaks, recalled: “The whole harbour was alight with ships burning, bombs going off and shelling.

“Everybody was looking for a haven to hide.

“We were being bombed and shelled all day, you didn’t have a moment’s rest. We had nowhere to go on the beach.

“To see that ship that came in to pick me and my brother up, it was a most fantastic sight." - Harry Garrett

“Shells were coming over and nearly knocking it out. You knew this was the chance to get home and you kept praying, please God, let us go, get us out, get us out of this mess back to England.

“To see that ship that came in to pick me and my brother up, it was a most fantastic sight.

“We saw dog fights up in the air, hoping nothing would happen to us and we saw one or two terrible sights.

“Then somebody said, there’s Dover, that was when we saw the White Cliffs, the atmosphere was terrific.

“From hell to heaven was how the feeling was, you felt like a miracle had happened.”

“When I got into Dover we jumped out of the ship, and down on the ground, and I said, ‘Ken, kiss the old country, come on’, and we kissed England.”

The film will be released to coincide with the anniversary of the end of the Second World War in 2015.

For more information or to arrange a screening contact britaininpoetry@gmail.com or visit the Facebook movie page: Poems from the Desert.

The film will soon have a website: www.britaininpoetry.org.

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