Elleston Trevor was born in Bromley, Kent in 1920 and died in Arizona in 1995.
During the second world war he joined the R.A.F as an engineer working on Spitfires. When he had a break he took to writing and saw his first novel published in 1943. He wrote several crime and detective novels under the name of Trevor Dudley-Smith.
His first best seller did not come until 1955 when Wm Heinemann published 'THE BIG PICK-UP'.
The Big Pick-Up is a realistic novel of the British retreat to Dunkirk and the epic evacuation told through the eyes of a handful of ordinary British Servicemen.
Hungry, weary and dazed Corporal 'Tubby' Binns and his men are cut off from their unit and left without transport and food.
At the start of the book they are prone and about to be dived bombed by Stukas and Binns' fear of death seeps through the words.
For the next few days they foot slog across a devastated landscape with no idea about where they should go or what to do.
In a telling scene they stop off at a deserted farmhouse and as night comes down they see a distant orange glow. For a moment they pity the poor people caught up in the air raid - they have no idea that glow comes from their destination - Dunkirk.
As they head north-east they pick up more stragglers some of whom die, while others leave or continue to live.
There are moments of humour - some grim, sometimes touching and there are times when it all comes naturally but none of it comes with that 'British stiff upper lip'.
The small group arrive on the beaches of Dunkirk during the lull in the bombing and they are elated, at first, but then they see just how many men there are on the beach. The long, straggling lines of men up to their necks in the sea waiting to be lifted off by the armada of little ships.
Then the bombers arrive - and all hell breaks loose.
To me The Big Pick-Up is the definative novel about the retreat to Dunkirk and would recommend it to anyone.
In 1958 (I think) there was a movie called 'Dunkirk' that starred John Mills, Bernard Lee and Richard Attenborough. It was made up with material from two books of which 'The Big Pick-Up' was one with John Mills taking on the role of Corporal Binns. The material taken from the book was faithfully reproduced in the film.
Trivia: Elleston Trevor also wrote as Simon Rattray and as the 'Quiller' creator Adam Hall.
Elleston Trevor also wrote a novel about the Battle Of Britain called 'Squadron Airborne'