1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers (British Army)
23/05/1940 (Killed in Action)
Fusilier William (Billy) Slaine was the son of William & Elizabeth Slaine, and husband of Annie Slaine, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone. Fusilier Slaine was part of a reserved demolition guard defending the La Bassée Canal, near Bethune over which friendly forces were retiring. Royal Engineers blew the bridge as German groups attempted to storm it. This action resulted in significant loss of lives on both sides including that of Fusilier Slaine who was killed in this action on 23rd May 1940 aged 35.
The town of Dunkirk is located in the department of Nord in the extreme northern tip of France approximately 12 kilometres from the Belgian border. During the First World War Dunkirk was a major port of debarkation for the British Expeditionary Force in September and October 1914. Throughout WWI it was a seaplane base and later an American Naval Air Service base. The town was also a French hospital centre and the 8th Canadian Stationary Hospital was there from November 1918 to April 1919. Although an estimated 7,500 shells and bombs fell on the town during the war, ship building and other port activities continued. During the Second World War, Dunkirk was the scene of the historic evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from France in May 1940.