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HARRY Munn, one of the soldiers ordered to stay behind and fight while the bulk of the British Army retreated to Dunkirk, was born in Hereford.

Author, Hugh Sebag-Montefiore, has pointed out that his story and the story of all the men who kept the Germans away from the corridor leading to Dunkirk has been left out of Christopher Nolan’s latest blockbuster film.

Here the historian, who has written a book about those who stayed behind, describes the part Harry Munn played by referring to the Hereford man’s personal account.

The torment endured by British soldiers who kept open the security zone, or corridor, leading to the French coast so that the bulk of the Army could retreat to it and be evacuated is one of the glaring omissions from Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan’s latest blockbuster movie, Mr Sebag-Montefiore writes.

One of the British soldiers holding up the Germans on the southern side of this corridor, in the village of Cassel, 17 miles south of Dunkirk, was Harry ‘Wally’ Munn, a 23-year-old gunner who was born during the First World War in Coningsby Street, Hereford.

During the 1940 campaign he was serving in the 209th Battery of the Worcestershire Yeomanry, renamed the 53rd Anti-Tank Regiment.

This was one of the most important parts of the defence force since its two pounder guns represented one of the army’s best means of neutralising the German tanks.

In the course of their defence of Cassel it was the gunners operating the 15 guns of the Worcestershire Yeomanry, and 145 Brigade’s nine 25mm anti-tank guns which led to the destruction or putting out of service of 40 tanks.

The post action account written by Munn reveals his reaction when he saw no less than 24 tanks bearing down on them.

"I gave the order:- ‘Take post!’, and we manned the two-pounder. The next order was ‘fire!’ The two-pounder shell had a tracer base, and this enabled you to see where it went. Our first shot went straight and true for its target, but at almost the point of impact, the tank dipped into a small trough in the ground, and the shell passed in front of the turret.

“From our point of view, this could not have been worse. The tracer base enabled the German tank commander to know he was under attack and from what direction. His gun turret turned in our direction, and he opened fire, missing us by some 50 yards.

"Our next shot hit the tank just below the turret, and failed to penetrate the armour, but went up into the air like a rocket. We continued our duel with the tank. We fired, they moved, halted and fired back. After some 15 shells had been fired, Bill Vaux, the loader, who could not see what was going on, but knew from the lack of movement of the gun we were still engaging the original target, enquired: ‘When are you going to hit the bloody thing?’

"By now the tank was less than 100 yards from our position, and we still could not penetrate its armour. The only thing I could think of was that the wheels that propelled the tank tracks were unprotected, and so I shouted to Frank:- “Hit it in the tracks, Frank!” The gun muzzle dipped slightly, and just as the tank moved, we fired, hitting the track propulsion wheels. The tank halted abruptly, swinging to one side. Still full of fight, they turned their gun in our direction, and fired again hitting the bank in front of the gun. Our next shell must have disabled the turret, as they opened the escape hatch and ran for their lives back towards their lines.

“The other two tanks that came through with the one we had just stopped were on the right and left of our position. I decided to engage the one on the left as it was close to the outskirts of the town and firing at a target in our lines. It was a perfect target silhouetted against a small hillock. I gave the necessary commands. Frank pressed the firing pedal, and this time the shell penetrated the armour, exploded inside the tank and blew it into small pieces, as its own ammunition went up. There were no survivors.

"The third tank had not moved from the point where we had first sighted it, and its turret moved slowly round searching for our gun. Frank was following the tank, which was traversing left and right as it searched for our position. Frank talked to himself as he followed the target. “Keep still!,” he said, and as the tank paused for a second he fired, completely destroying this one, as we had the previous one.”

Thanks in large part to Munn and his fellow gunners, Cassel was held until the bulk of the BEF had reached Dunkirk, but unfortunately the message giving the garrison permission to retire was delayed, and by the time they attempted to break out they were surrounded. When they finally attempted to leave Cassel, most of the soldiers were either killed, or like Munn, captured. He spent the rest of the war as a prisoner, making back to England at the end of the war. He died in 1997.

The paperback and a new audiobook of the updated version of Hugh Sebag-Montefiore’s Dunkirk: Fight To The Last Man are published by Penguin. The paperback of his book on the Battle of the Somme will be published in November.