By F.H. FISHER, United Press Staff Correspondent
AT A SOUTHEAST ENGLISH PORT, May 31, 1940 (UP) -- An estimated half of the British Expeditionary Force, with Belgian and French comrades in arms, was reported back in England today, safely out of a "hell on earth."
The survivors have been pouring in for three or four days and today they still were coming between lanes of warships and under big squadrons of bombing and fighter planes.
I watched the troops pouring in this morning and saw trainload after trainload go out. At one time seven ships docked in less than two hours and the troops disembarked and entrained for their bases in England within a half hour.
The men were cheerful.
"Man for man, the Germans are not so good," a soldier said. "They've only got a little bit of France even now. We'll go back and have another crack at them."
Many of the survivors had been on the beach near Dunkirk for three or four days under aerial bombardment and machine gunning by the Germans. Before embarking they had marched seven miles along the sand under continuous shellfire.
One soldier said that the Germans had dropped leaflets saying: "Don't believe that we hurt our prisoners. Come over and see for yourselves."
The leaflets carried a rough map of British positions and said the Germans knew where the British were and that they should surrender, since they were surrounded.
Commanders were enthusiastic in their praise of the conduct of their men under fire. They said that the troops, while waiting on the beaches for their ships, played cards and even football and became so used to German planes that they stopped their games only when it was obvious that the attackers were diving straight for them.
Ships of every sort, even coal barges towed by tugs, brought the troops back.
Many of them were temporarily deaf after days under constant fire. Some of the wounded had walked 30 miles a day to reach the channel coast. And some of these, after being embarked, had volunteered to man the guns of ships which had suffered casualties under German plane fire.
Squadron after squadron of German planes flew over the channel beaches, bombing and machine-gunning. They flew half way across the channel to attack ships bearing the troops to England. According to all reports, they too, paid a price. "I saw so many German planes brought down that I lost count," one man said.