1. ITV Report

Dunkirk - a veteran remembers

A still from the film Dunkirk - an operation remembered vividly by 97-year-old Garth Wright. Credit: Warner Bros

The film Dunkirk is about to hit our cinemas. One of the stars is One Direction's Harry Styles. It's hoped that his casting will bring the dramatic story of the evacuation of more than 300,000 soldiers to a new audience.

  • Watch the trailer of Dunkirk, the film, which remembers the sacrifice of so many:

One man who doesn't need reminding of the significance of Operation Dynamo - is 97-year-old Garth Wright. He was one of those rescued from the beaches of France.

Garth Wright sharing his memories with ITV's Jeff Welch. Credit: ITV West Country

Garth, who was brought up near Tavistock but now lives near Plymouth. has been sharing his memories with ITV News reporter Jeff Welch. The film can do much to portray the horror but he was actually there.

Comrades in arms - Garth Wright is bottom right. Credit: Garth Wright

Garth Wright joined the Territorial Army along with four friends in 1939. When war broke out in September of that year they were part of the British Expeditionary force sent to France.

He told ITV News, "Every shovel full of earth you took up those days had some memento of the First World War, buttons, badges, bits of bone."

Credit: British Pathe

After what's known as the phoney war Garth and his regiment were forced to retreat towards Dunkirk where one of his friends Ken Stevens was killed.

Ken was leading the column into Dunkirk with a fifteen hundred weight behind it and they made an attack on the head of the column to try and stop the retreat.

– Garth Wright, Dunkirk veteran
Credit: British Pathe

When he got to the beach it was being attacked by enemy aircraft every thirty minutes. He says he'd given up hope of surviving.

I thought: Oh for God's sake let the next one be mine. I'm not going to get away from here. It's a gone in job. There's no getting away from it. Christ sake let the next one be mine.

– Garth Wright

After two days a call was put out for stretcher bearers. He volunteered, helping move the injured onto boats.

Went in, put the boy down. Went to go back again and got to the gang plank, the skipper said all right you can stay on board. I could not believe it. I couldn't believe my luck. Christ there's light at the end of the tunnel after all. Couldn't believe it.

– Garth Wright
Garth says finding love helped him get over the horrors of Dunkirk. Credit: Garth Wright

Garth went on to see action in Africa and Italy. Of the five friends that started the war only two survived. He says finding love helped him deal with the horrors he'd experienced.

She took me around London, London in the spring with Olive it was lovely. It was a new world.

– Garth Wright
Garth is proud of his service and has attended many commemorations over the years. Credit: Garth Wright.

Garth will celebrate his 98th birthday next month.

Memories fade with time but he will never forget his experience of Dunkirk while others will be learning about it for the first time when they head to the cinema this summer.