Key Anniversary for 70th Brigade
As we have done previously, the NEWMP Project marks, in remembrance, the 20th of May as the Anniversary of the disaster which overtook the 70th Infantry Brigade while in service with the British Expeditionary Force in Northern France in 1940.

The Brigade despite being only minimally equipped and partly trained was requested by the French Command to take over a ley area in the defence of the this part of Northern France against the onslaught of the German Panzer Divisions.

The Brigade consisting of three local Battalions of Territorial Infantry 10th and 11th of The Durham Light Infantry and the 1st Tyneside Scottish, the Black Watch (formerly 12th DLI) -was in the process of moving from their location to new positions some miles away and had halted overnight, having been briefed by higher Command that the German advance had slowed, so a brief rest pause in the march could be taken. When that intelligence proved to be totally inaccurate the Brigade was, as a result, ambushed on the morning of 20th May by Panzer columns while spread over several miles of French countryside and several villages Wancourt, Mercatel and Ficheux.

That major error of tactical appreciation and intelligence cost the Brigade dearly with the major part of the force killed, wounded and captured, though it was later confirmed by German sources that they held the advancing enemy by some five hours rifles against tanks - a sacrifice which helped materially in the retreat of other troops towards Dunkirk.

The evidence of that sacrifice lies; in the War Cemeteries such as Bucquoy Road, in the PoW records of Camps, such as Lamsdorf, and on the War Memorials of the County Durham towns and villages from which the men were recruited.

The records of this period can be found in the War Diaries of the Brigade held on this Website with details of the men who fought against such impossible odds.