This weekend marks the 70th. anniversary of the epic withdrawal from Dunkirk, in which 330,000 allied troops were plucked from the beaches after the collapse of the British Expeditionary Force’s campaign in France and Belgium. Many British soldiers did not make it home. One of them was my mother’s fiance, Martin Preston, nephew of the poet Robert Graves and an aspiring poet himself. He was killed in action on May 28th – the day before the evacuation – in Hazebrouck, on the French-Belgian border, as his regiment attempted to hold back the Germans so that his fellow British troops could be rescued. In 2004, as I was going through my mother’s effects after her death, I found a cardboard chocolate box full of his letters to her; and a handful from her that were returned after Martin disappeared. These extraordinary, and moving, letters will form the basis of my next book, The Very White of Love ( the title is a line from a poem by Wrey Gardner that they refer to several times in their correspondence). So, here’s remembering all those who fell in that fateful year, 1940.