"Dunkirk"-Hitler's Yellow Nosed Kids
Updated: Feb 19
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The other day, my sister Ann and I went to see the movie Dunkirk. I didn't know much about it except that the events portrayed took place during World War II. My son Casey had already seen it, and he told me he thought it was a good movie but a little confusing because it dealt with the British history of the war which he didn't know too much about. On the way to the theater, I asked my sister if she knew anything about the story. She said, "I think it's when the Brits used personal boats to go rescue their army."
As it turned out, she was right. The resolve of the British people to save their trapped soldiers was an amazing thing to witness. If this battle had been lost, the outcome of the war could certainly have been different. With so much hanging in the balance, the movie was full of suspense. I felt like I had been dropped in the middle of an inescapable battle, jumping at every bullet that hit metal, exhausted by the list of terrible things that was happening to the stranded soldiers. I was there, in the middle of it all. I couldn't help but think about my dad and the Rum Boogie Crew, and I walked out of the theater with a better understanding of the emotional toll of fighting WW II or any war for that matter.
Here's a link to a real life Calgary veteran who survived Dunkirk and caused a stir at the movie's premiere: http://globalnews.ca/video/3617683/calgary-veteran-who-survived-dunkirk-causes-a-stir-at-movie-premiere
The movie starts with 350,000 to 400,000 Allied forces (mostly British and French) surrounded and trapped by Nazi forces on the beach at Dunkirk. The town of Dunkirk is in France, approximately 47 miles across the water from Dover, England. The troops are sitting ducks on the wide beach as they wait to be rescued and are being attacked by the German Luftwaffe. The Luftwaffe had become one of the most sophisticated, technologically advanced and battle-experienced air forces in the world when World War II broke out in 1939. These were Hermann Goerring's best pilots, with at least 2,500 of them attaining ace status.
When the battle scenes in the movie began, I quickly asked my sister if the attacking German planes had yellow noses, and in the next scene, we saw that they did. As a kid, I can remember my dad talking about these specific planes and how they attacked, mostly when we watched a 1960's TV show called "12 O'clock High," which used actual WWII combat footage.
Al Neff's Oil Painting of Rum Boogie Presented to him 12/75
"ANK" for "Al and Kitty," his wife
In the late 1980's, when my dad wrote his story, "Raid on Paris," he remembered, "The flak will be thick and accurate, and when that stops, the yellow-nosed German fighters will come. These are the best pilots Hitler has, and they will shoot down some of us. These pilots are accurate and fierce. We strain our eyes so as not to miss the specks in the sky who turn out to be the yellow nosed kids of Hitler's Paris guards. They come from up above and below, ahead and behind, to confuse the gunners. They put their fighters in a barrel snap roll with their guns spewing death and destruction throughout the bombers as they flash through the formation." [For the complete story, go to the Alvin Neff crew page.]
As I watched "Dunkirk" the movie, I could only think of my dad. The sound in the movie was so real, and every time a bullet hit metal (which was a lot), I jumped in my seat. I couldn't even imagine what that sound would have been like in a B-17 where, as the tail gunner (as my dad was), you were the first line of defense as they came at you. In the movie, I watched the brave British pilots as they risked their lives, sometimes running out of fuel to wage war against those yellow-nosed kids. I was also reminded of the Raid to North Africa when the Rum Boogie, running out of fuel, had to try to stop somewhere to get more.
In the end, it really didn't matter to me that Dunkirk was about British history. It also didn't matter that sometimes the plot was hard to follow. I thought the movie demonstrated how a military force can survive an extremely difficult life and death situation with bravery and fortitude because it is right and just and necessary, just like the Rum Boogie Crew.