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The Untold Truth Of Dunkirk

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In the film, Mark Rylance portrays Mr Dawson, one of the many British civilian seamen who have volunteered his ship to ferry troops from the beaches of Dunkirk to the English coast. Rather than have the Royal Navy commandeer his ship, Dawson pilots the ship to Dunkirk himself, aided only by his son (Tom Glynn-Carney) and her teenage hand (Barry Keoghan). While the characters in the film are fictional, they are closely based on real civilians who helped with the Dunkirk evacuation – with Rylances Dawson filling in for Charles Lightoller, a naval veteran and officer who served on the Titanic.

In 1912, Lightoller embarked on the Titanic for the ship’s maiden voyage. When the ship struck an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean, Lightoller remained at his post, guiding scores of passengers to the few lifeboats and strictly following the ship’s “women and children first” protocol. Lightoller and a handful of survivors narrowly avoided drowning in the wreckage of the Titanic and managed to stay afloat on an overturned lifeboat before being rescued.

He was later given command of a torpedo boat by the Royal Navy during World War I, with Lightoller receiving the Distinguished Service Cross for his efforts during the war. During the Dunkirk evacuation, the retired Lightoller piloted his private ship, the Sundowner, to France with his eldest son and a teenage Sea Scout. While the ship itself could only accommodate a maximum of 21 passengers, Lightoller took a total of 130 British soldiers on board and brought them back to England.



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