There’s no shortage of World War II movies, and there’s no shortage of twentysomething critics pontificating about their “accuracy.” Whether a film like Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk—a thrilling chronicle of the escape of Allied troops over the English Channel from the tip of France in 1940—is “accurate” is probably best determined by someone who was, you know, actually there. Luckily, that someone exists: His name is Ken Sturdy and Global News caught up with him in Calgary as he was leaving a screening of the film.
With emotion in his voice, Sturdy, a 97-year old veteran who served as a signalman with the Royal Navy during the Dunkirk evacuation, expressed admiration for the film. “I never thought I would see that again,” he said. “It was just like I was there again.”
It’s impossible not to be moved when he talks about being “saddened” by the film, saying he “could see my old friends again” before lamenting how he “lost so many of my buddies.”
“Tonight I cried,” he continued, “because it’s never the end. This human species, we are so intelligent, we do such astonishing things. We can fly to the moon, but we still do stupid things.”
Sturdy got deeper into his own experience in an interview with The Calgary Herald. “There was a real sense of loss,” he said. “There was a great sense of misery amongst the men. I can’t easily put it into words—we went across there to save Europe and we lost.”
While the reviews for Dunkirk have been mostly positive—ours sure was—to hear someone like Sturdy say that the film captured the chaos and sense of loss of the ordeal is an endorsement all its own.