"It was just like I was there again," 97-year-old Ken Sturdy told reporters after watching the movie, Dunkirk

By Char Adams
July 23, 2017 05:02 PM

A 97-year-old vet who survived the battle of Dunkirk spoke through tears after watching the premiere of the new Christopher Nolan movie.

Ken Sturdy, a native of Wales who currently lives in Calgary, Canada, donned a suit jacket adorned with medals when he headed to Calgary’s Westhills Cinemas on Friday to watch the World War II drama that he lived through nearly 80 years ago.

“I never thought I would see that again,” Sturdy told Canada’s Global News. “It was just like I was there again.”

The film tells the story of the historic battle that took place between Nazi Germany and the Allied forces. The nine-day battle saw the evacuation of British and Allied forces from the beaches of the namesake French town as the Nazis continued their advance on the opposing forces. In the end, 338,226 men escaped, but thousands also perished.

The evacuation of Dunkirk 1940
| Credit: Fox Photos/Getty

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Sturdy was just 20 when he worked with the Royal Navy to help stranded soldiers surrounded by the advancing German army.

“I was in those little boats picking them out of the water,” he told Global News. “I had the privilege of seeing that film tonight but I’m saddened by it because of what happened on that beach.”

Ships carrying evacuated troops from Dunkirk in 1940
| Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty

Thousands of soldiers died or were captured during the battle, and Sturdy said the film took him back to those harrowing days.

A still from Dunkirk
| Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

“Watching the movie, I could see my old friends again and a lot of them died in the war,” Sturdy said. “I went on convoys after that in the North Atlantic. I had lost so many of my buddies.”

“Don’t just go to the movie for entertainment,” he continued, his eyes filling with tears. “Think about it. And when you become adults, keep thinking.

“Tonight I cried because it’s never the end,” he said. “It won’t happen. We the human species are so intelligent and we do such astonishing things. We can fly to the moon but we still do stupid things.”