Charles Esmond de Wolff, always know as Wolffy, is surely ‘the’ character of Dunkirk to D Day. He left two volumes of memoirs ‘not to be published’; I have honoured his wish but drawn on his memories, not least those that had been published in the RAOC Gazette.
His grandfather served in the French cavalry, but, by the time Wolffy was growing up, his family lived in Wimbledon. On leaving school, Wolffy trained as a solicitor attending evening classes at Birkbeck College in London
In WW1, Wolffy served in Selonika suffering damage to his ears which would require him to wear a hearing aid, a rather cumbersome device.
At the end of the war he was posted to Russia to liaise with White Russian forces. It was then that he rescued a Russian princess, for which he was awarded a CBE
He was one of the Class of ‘22, and shared a house with Bill Williams on whom he played a celebrated practical joke, of which I tell in the book.
In the interwar years he served in Malta, the island where he would eventually retire. With his deteriorating hearing, he considered moving to a civilian job We can thank his boss, Basil Hill, for taking a different view and giving him the job of creating 'Woolwich in the country' safe from enemy bombing, a project Wolffy himself had conceived.
At COD Donnington, Wolffy commanded some twenty thousand people, gaining a reputation for effective and sensitive management. He had a most wonderful collection of stories many of which I tell in Dunkirk to D Day
Wolffy with the Queen on a visit to COD Donnington