On the 26th of May 1940 Operation Dynamo commenced ~ the Miracle of Dunkirk
History provides many examples of the British Army being asked to operate under appalling handicaps by the politicians responsible for British policy….. Major General Mason-MacFarlane 15 May 1940
In six weeks from May 10th 1940 the Germans invaded western Europe, defeated the then allied, armies and conquered Belgium, France, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. This was the Battle of France.
Because of the supine performance of the Belgians, and subsequent pathetic surrender of most of the French, the British Expeditionary Force, (BEF), found itself beleaguered and cut off from its supply routes, then pushed back into a pocket around the French port of Dunkirk.
The campaign in France and Flanders was lost in Whitehall and in Paris before it ever began….. ~ Montgomery
In stark contrast to the craven Belgian and French generals, who were prone to bursting into tears at times of crisis, the British behaved with courage, fortitude, and stoicism during that most difficult of military operations, a fighting withdrawal while still in contact with a superior enemy.
One cannot belittle the steadfastness of the soldiers of the BEF, their discipline and morale under the most testing circumstances ~ of retreat, uncertainty, and the ever present scourge of the Luftwaffe. ~ Julian Thompson
The BEF fought on as a fantastic plan was hatched to evacuate as much of the army as possible back to England. This evacuation from Dunkirk was given the code name Operation Dynamo.
With the support of the RAF, (Royal Air Force); the Royal Navy, the Merchant Navy, and the immortal Little Ships, the bulk of the men and women of the BEF were lifted from the shores of defeated France and brought safely home to England.
All in all, 338,226 British and Allied troops were landed in England from Dunkirk between 27th May and 4 June 1940. 239,555 were lifted from Dunkirk harbour, and 98,671 were plucked directly from the beaches.
Almost all of their equipment was lost, but the men and women of the BEF were rescued, and that allowed Great Britain to fight on, alone against the Nazi scourge.
We shall go on to the end….. we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and the streets, we shall fight in the hills, we shall never surrender….. Churchill
The Army would not return to France in force for another 4 years and 2 days. Without the Miracle of Dunkirk, Britain would have been defeated by the Nazis, and then D-Day ~ Operation Overlord could not have happened on June 6th 1944, and all of Continental Europe would have spent decades under the sadistic boot of Hitler, and then, after Herr Hitler’s inevitable demise, Europe would have suffered that even worse monstrous dictator, Stalin.
This only proves that English determination, steadfastness, stoicism, and sheer bloody-mindedness are better than Gallic passion ~ on a any day of the week.
An Englishman, a Briton, will never surrender to tyranny from Europe.
Coronia, previously HMS Watchful, one of the Little Ships at Dunkirk, currently undergoing restoration in the marina at my home town