Research by Albert Gavagan

AS THE white cliffs came into view, Stanley Tyrer couldn’t believe his luck.

He’d been wounded in the race to reach Dunkirk and had managed, somehow, to hop aboard a boat that was taking him home.

He was soon on his way back to Darwen for a brief spell of leave – and to see, for the first time, his few-week-old son, Leslie, and his wife Mona, before heading off to one of the quietest corners of Great Britain for treatment and some very welcome R&R.

And it was there, among the safety of the craggy cliffs and sandy edges of Cornwall, that his luck ran out...

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen:

Stanley, 24, was a milk roundsman and lived in Blackburn Road at Lynwood. When war broke out he joined the RAOC and was soon fighting in France. As the Germans closed in, he and his unit edged back to Dunkirk.

The scenes at ports along the south coast must have been chaotic as boats large and small disgorged their cargoes of exhausted and wounded men, turned round and went back for more. Well over 300,000 British and French soldiers escaped in just a few days.

Stanley found himself on a train heading North clutching a short pass and pitched up in Darwen where he saw little Leslie for the first and only time before heading back for a spell down in Cornwall at the remote Army camp at Penhale, between Newquay and Perranporth.

It was a rehabilitation and training centre and three years later would house US Army combat engineers as part of the build up to the D-Day landings.

Exactly 80 years ago today, Stanley who had been there for about three weeks, was expecting a call to rejoin his regiment. It wouldn’t be long. But on that sunny Sunday afternoon he and his pals were given the option; an afternoon of football on the nearby beach – or staying in camp.

Not many things would have been more enticing than the long sun-drenched beach. But a big game of cards was on the boil and Stanley and several of his pals stayed put.

The game was getting heavy when the sound of an approaching aeroplane caused several lads to run outside. It didn’t sound like “one of ours.” It wasn’t. The plane, possibly a Dornier fighter-bomber, dropped a stick of four bombs and blasted the camp to pieces.

Stanley and another 21 soldiers, all of whom had escaped from Dunkirk, were killed. Many more were wounded.

It was reckoned that the pilot was looking for St Eval airfield a few miles south, but he must have thought an isolated camp full of soldiers would do instead...