Victor Power has tears in his eyes as the credits fade: the 98-year-old veteran never thought he’d return to Dunkirk.
He was just 20 in 1940, when he found himself trapped on the beach as German troops closed in; a sitting duck for a deadly air assault.
He was among the last of about 338,000 men to be evacuated in Operation Dynamo — a mass rescue made legendary for the bravery of hundreds of civilians who sailed their small boats across the English Channel to come to the soldiers’ aid.
At a special Brisbane screening of Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed film about the evacuation, Mr Power was taken back to the beach he escaped 77 years ago.
He hadn’t been nervous before the film — “I’ve seen it all before”, he joked to the ABC — but after, just for a moment, his smile faded away.
“The picture isn’t exactly the truth of myself, because there’s some parts I wasn’t part of. But the part that I was in was enough to remind me of what I was doing at that time,” he said softly.
“I’m a little bit touched about everything. I lost a lot of great mates.”
Victor Power says Dunkirk was a “good picture” that told the truth of what happened to him. (ABC News: Monique Ross)
His trademark grin quickly returned.
“I will say too, that there was more aircraft in that film than there ever was on the beach! I didn’t recognise anybody,” Mr Power laughed.
Mr Power says the film makes one thing clear: we must avoid returning to war, at all costs.
“Remember: no more wars. We don’t want any more,” he said.
“If [young people] want to join the Army, OK, join the Army. For a sense of purpose, for an education, yes. But not to go to war.”
Constant fighting, hunger and fatigue
Mr Power was born in Manchester, and had been a carpenter before being conscripted to World War II, where he served for six months.