Operation Dynamo
Overview
 
The Dunkirk evacuation, commonly known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, code-named Operation Dynamo by the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, was the evacuation of Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, between 26 May and the early hours of 3 June 1940, because the British, French and Belgian troops were cut off by the German army during the Battle of Dunkirk
Battle of Dunkirk
The Battle of Dunkirk was a battle in the Second World War between the Allies and Germany. A part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation of British and allied forces in Europe from 26 May–4 June 1940.After the Phoney War, the Battle of...

 in the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.
Encyclopedia
The Dunkirk evacuation, commonly known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, code-named Operation Dynamo by the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, was the evacuation of Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, between 26 May and the early hours of 3 June 1940, because the British, French and Belgian troops were cut off by the German army during the Battle of Dunkirk
Battle of Dunkirk
The Battle of Dunkirk was a battle in the Second World War between the Allies and Germany. A part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation of British and allied forces in Europe from 26 May–4 June 1940.After the Phoney War, the Battle of...

 in the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The evacuation was ordered on 26 May. In a speech to the House of Commons, Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 called the events in France "a colossal military disaster", saying that "the whole root and core and brain of the British Army" had been stranded at Dunkirk and seemed about to perish or be captured. In his We shall fight on the beaches
We shall fight on the beaches
We Shall Fight on the Beaches is a common title given to a speech delivered by Winston Churchill to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom on 4th June 1940...

speech on 4 June, he hailed their rescue as a "miracle of deliverance".

On the first day, only 7,011 men were evacuated, but by the ninth day, a total of 338,226 soldiers (198,229 British and 139,997 French) had been rescued by the hastily assembled fleet of 850 boats. Many of the troops were able to embark from the harbour's protective mole
Mole (architecture)
A mole is a massive structure, usually of stone, used as a pier, breakwater, or a causeway between places separated by water. The word comes from Middle French mole and ultimately Latin mōlēs meaning a large mass, especially of rock and has the same root as molecule.Historically, the term "mole"...

 onto 42 British destroyer
Destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

s and other large ships, while others had to wade from the beaches toward the ships, waiting for hours to board, shoulder-deep in water. Others were ferried from the beaches to the larger ships, and thousands were carried back to Britain by the famous "little ships of Dunkirk
Little ships of Dunkirk
The little ships of Dunkirk were 700 private boats that sailed from Ramsgate in England to Dunkirk in France between May 26 and June 4, 1940 as part of Operation Dynamo, the rescue of more than 338,000 British and French soldiers, who were trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk during the Second World...

", a flotilla
Flotilla
A flotilla , or naval flotilla, is a formation of small warships that may be part of a larger fleet. A flotilla is usually composed of a homogeneous group of the same class of warship, such as frigates, destroyers, torpedo boats, submarines, gunboats, or minesweepers...

 of around 700 merchant marine boats, fishing boats, pleasure craft
Pleasure craft
A pleasure craft is a boat used for personal, family, and sometimes sportsmanlike recreation. Typically such watercraft are motorized and are used for holidays, for example on a river, lake, canal or waterway. Pleasure craft are normally kept at a marina...

 and Royal National Lifeboat Institution
Royal National Lifeboat Institution
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is a charity that saves lives at sea around the coasts of Great Britain, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, as well as on selected inland waterways....

 lifeboats—the smallest of which was the 15 ft (4.6 m) fishing boat Tamzine, now in the Imperial War Museum
Imperial War Museum
Imperial War Museum is a British national museum organisation with branches at five locations in England, three of which are in London. The museum was founded during the First World War in 1917 and intended as a record of the war effort and sacrifice of Britain and her Empire...

—whose civilian crews were called into service for the emergency. The "miracle of the little ships" remains a prominent folk memory in Britain.

Operation Dynamo took its name from the dynamo
Dynamo
- Engineering :* Dynamo, a magnetic device originally used as an electric generator* Dynamo theory, a theory relating to magnetic fields of celestial bodies* Solar dynamo, the physical process that generates the Sun's magnetic field- Software :...

 room in the naval headquarters below Dover Castle
Dover Castle
Dover Castle is a medieval castle in the town of the same name in the English county of Kent. It was founded in the 12th century and has been described as the "Key to England" due to its defensive significance throughout history...

, which contained the dynamo that provided the building with electricity during the war. It was in this room that British Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Vice admiral is a senior naval rank of a three-star flag officer, which is equivalent to lieutenant general in the other uniformed services. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral...

 Bertram Ramsay
Bertram Ramsay
Admiral Sir Bertram Home Ramsay KCB, KBE, MVO was a British admiral during World War II. He was an important contributor in the field of amphibious warfare.-Early life:...

 planned the operation and briefed Winston Churchill as it was under way.

Evacuation

Due to war-time censorship and the desire to keep up the morale of the nation, the full extent of the unfolding "disaster" around Dunkirk was not publicised. However, the grave plight of the troops led King George VI to call for an unprecedented week of prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

. Throughout the country, people prayed on 26 May for a miraculous delivery. The Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

 led prayers "for our soldiers in dire peril in France". Similar prayers were offered in synagogues and churches throughout Britain that day, confirming the public suspicion of the desperate plight of the troops.

Initial plans called for the recovery of 45,000 men from the British Expeditionary Force
British Expeditionary Force (World War II)
The British Expeditionary Force was the British force in Europe from 1939–1940 during the Second World War. Commanded by General Lord Gort, the BEF constituted one-tenth of the defending Allied force....

 (BEF) within two days, at which time it was expected that German troops would be able to block further evacuation. Only 25,000 men escaped during this period, including 7,000 on the first day. Ten additional destroyers joined the rescue effort on 26 May and attempted rescue operations in the early morning, but were unable to closely approach the beaches, although several thousand were rescued. However, the pace of evacuation from the shrinking Dunkirk pocket steadily increased.

On 29 May, 47,000 British troops were rescued in spite of the first heavy aerial attack by the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

in the evening. The next day, an additional 54,000 men were embarked, including the first French soldiers. 68,000 men and the commander of the BEF—Lord Gort—evacuated on 31 May. A further 64,000 Allied soldiers departed on 1 June, before the increasing air attacks prevented further daylight evacuation. The British rearguard left the night of 2 June, along with 60,000 French soldiers. An additional 26,000 French troops were retrieved the following night before the operation finally ended.

Two French divisions remained behind to protect the evacuation. Though they halted the German advance, they were soon captured. The remainder of the rearguard, largely French, surrendered on 3 June 1940. The next day, the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 reported, "Major-General Harold Alexander [the commander of the rearguard] inspected the shores of Dunkirk from a motorboat this morning to make sure no-one was left behind before boarding the last ship back to Britain."
Date Troops evacuated from beaches Troops evacuated from Dunkirk Harbour Total
27 May - 7,669 7,669
28 May 5,930 11,874 17,804
29 May 13,752 33,558 47,310
30 May 29,512 24,311 53,823
31 May 22,942 45,072 68,014
1 June 17,348 47,081 64,429
2 June 6,695 19,561 26,256
3 June 1,870 24,876 26,746
4 June 622 25,553 26,175
Totals 98,780 239,446 338,226


Little ships

Most of the "little ships" were private fishing boats and pleasure cruisers, but commercial vessels also contributed, including a number from as far away as the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
The Isle of Man , otherwise known simply as Mann , is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is...

 and Glasgow
Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

. Guided by naval craft across the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 from the Thames Estuary
Thames Estuary
The Thames Mouth is the estuary in which the River Thames meets the waters of the North Sea.It is not easy to define the limits of the estuary, although physically the head of Sea Reach, near Canvey Island on the Essex shore is probably the western boundary...

 and Dover
Dover
Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent's administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings...

, these smaller vessels were able to move in much closer to the beaches and acted as shuttles between the shore and the destroyers, lifting troops who were queuing in the water, some of whom stood shoulder-deep for many hours to board the larger vessels. Thousands of soldiers were also taken in the little ships back to Britain.

Thirty-nine Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 coaster
Coastal trading vessel
Coastal trading vessels, also known as coasters, are shallow-hulled ships used for trade between locations on the same island or continent. Their shallow hulls mean that they can get through reefs where deeper-hulled sea-going ships usually cannot....

s—which had escaped the occupation of the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 by the Germans on 10 May—were asked by the Dutch shipping bureau in London to assist. The Dutch coasters—able to approach the beaches very closely due to their flat bottoms—saved 22,698 men for the loss of seven boats.

Nineteen lifeboats
Lifeboat (rescue)
A rescue lifeboat is a boat rescue craft which is used to attend a vessel in distress, or its survivors, to rescue crewmen and passengers. It can be hand pulled, sail powered or powered by an engine...

 of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution
Royal National Lifeboat Institution
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is a charity that saves lives at sea around the coasts of Great Britain, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, as well as on selected inland waterways....

 (RNLI) sailed to Dunkirk. Those from the lifeboat stations at and Margate were taken directly to France with their usual volunteer crews, but the others sailed to Dover where they were requisitioned by the Royal Navy, which provided the crews. Some of the RNLI crews remained behind in Dover and set up a workshop to repair and fuel the little ships. One lifeboat—The Viscountess Wakefield—was lost after it was run onto the beach at Dunkirk. The Jane Holland was holed when a motor torpedo boat rammed her and her engine failed after being machine gunned by an aircraft. She was abandoned but later found adrift, towed back to Dover and repaired. She returned to service on 5 April 1941.

The lifeboats included:
  • The Cyril and Lilian Bishop (RNLI Official Number 740) a 35 in 6 in (10.82 m) Self-righter from Hastings
    Hastings
    Hastings is a town and borough in the county of East Sussex on the south coast of England. The town is located east of the county town of Lewes and south east of London, and has an estimated population of 86,900....

    .
  • Jane Holland 40 ft (12.2 m) Self-righter from Eastbourne
    Eastbourne
    Eastbourne is a large town and borough in East Sussex, on the south coast of England between Brighton and Hastings. The town is situated at the eastern end of the chalk South Downs alongside the high cliff at Beachy Head...

    .
  • The Michael Stevens (ON 838) a 46 ft (14 m) from Lowestoft
    Lowestoft
    Lowestoft is a town in the English county of Suffolk. The town is on the North Sea coast and is the most easterly point of the United Kingdom. It is north-east of London, north-east of Ipswich and south-east of Norwich...

    .
  • The Viscountess Wakefield (ON 783) a 41 ft (12.5 m) Watson Class from Hythe
    Hythe
    Hythe may refer to a landing-place, port or haven, or to:Placenames in Canada*Hythe, Alberta Placenames in England*Hythe, Essex *Hythe, Hampshire...

    , Kent
    Kent
    Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

    .
  • Thomas Kirk Wright (ON 811) a 32 ft (9.8 m) from .
  • Unnamed ON 826, a 35 ft (10.668 m) newly built Self-righter. She was repaired then entered service in 1941 at Cadgwith
    Cadgwith
    Cadgwith is a village and fishing port in Cornwall, United Kingdom. It is situated on the Lizard Peninsula between The Lizard and Coverack.-History:...

     with the name Guide of Dunkirk.
  • Mary Scott Launched in 1925 , length 46ft 6ins, beam 12ft 9ins, draught 3ft 3ins. Then at Southwold, the Mary Scott was towed to Dunkirk by the paddle steamer Empress of India together with two other small boats. Between them they took 160 men to their mother ship , they made a journey with fifty men to another transport vessel. She was abandoned on the beach, recovered and returned to service with the R.N.L.I. at Southwold.
  • Dowager Launched 1933, as the Rosa Woodd and Phyllis Lunn. length 41ft, beam 11ft 8ins, draught 3ft 6ins. Based at Shoreham she made 3 trips between Dover and Dunkirk.
  • Stenoa Launched 1929, as Cecil and Lilian Philpott. length 45ft 6ins, beam 12ft 6ins, draught 4ft 6ins. Then at Newhaven, she saved 51 persons from the beach at Dunkirk. Then returned to R.N.L.I. service at Newhaven.

Losses

Men and material

Despite the success of the operation, all the heavy equipment and vehicles had to be abandoned. Left behind in France were 2,472 guns, almost 65,000 vehicles and 20,000 motorcycles; also abandoned were 416000 ST (377,388.9 t) of stores, more than 75000 ST (68,038.9 t) of ammunition and 162000 ST (146,963.9 t) of fuel.
30,000-40,000 French troops were captured in the Dunkirk pocket.

Naval losses

Six British and three French destroyers were sunk, along with nine large boats. In addition, 19 destroyers were damaged. Over 200 of the Allied sea craft were sunk, with an equal number damaged.

The Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

's most significant losses in the operation were six destroyers:, sunk by on 29 May;, sunk by air attack off the east pier at Dunkirk on 29 May;, sunk by a torpedo
Torpedo
The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...

 from the Schnellboot (E-boat) S-30 on 29 May;, and , sunk by air attack off the beaches on 1 June.

The French Navy
French Navy
The French Navy, officially the Marine nationale and often called La Royale is the maritime arm of the French military. It includes a full range of fighting vessels, from patrol boats to a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and 10 nuclear-powered submarines, four of which are capable of launching...

 lost three destroyers:, mined off Nieuport
Nieuport
Nieuport, later Nieuport-Delage, was a French aeroplane company that primarily built racing aircraft before World War I and fighter aircraft during World War I and between the wars.-Beginnings:...

 on 30 May;, sunk by the Schnellboote S-23 and S-26 on 31 May;
  • Le Foudroyant
    French ship Foudroyant (1929)
    The Foudroyant was an Adroit class destroyer of the French Navy. She was laid down on 28 July 1927, launched on 24 April 1929 and commissioned on 10 October 1930....

    , sunk by air attack off the beaches on 1 June.


The Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 claimed the destruction of 35 Luftwaffe aircraft from ships' gunfire during the period of 27 May-1 June, and damage to another 21 aircraft.

Air losses

Winston Churchill revealed in his volumes on World War II that the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 (RAF) played a most important role protecting the retreating troops from the Luftwaffe. Churchill also said that the sand on the beach softened the explosions from the German bombs.

Between 26 May and 4 June, the RAF flew a total of 4,822 sorties over Dunkirk, losing just over 100 aircraft in the fighting. Fortunately for the BEF, bad weather kept the Luftwaffe grounded for much of operation thus helping to reduce the losses.

The RAF claimed 262 Luftwaffe aircraft destroyed over Dunkirk. The RAF lost 177 aircraft between 26 May and 3 June, while the Luftwaffe lost 240 aircraft during the same time frame. Fighter losses from units based in France and Britain from 10 May-4 June were 432, while total RAF losses from all causes during all of May and June were 959, of which 477 were fighters. However, most of the dogfights took place far from the beaches and the retreating troops were largely unaware of this vital assistance. As a result, many British soldiers bitterly accused the airmen of doing nothing to help.

Aftermath

Before the operation was completed, the prognosis had been gloomy, with Winston Churchill warning the House of Commons to expect "hard and heavy tidings". Subsequently, Churchill referred to the outcome as a "miracle", and the British press presented the evacuation as a "disaster turned to triumph" so successfully that Churchill had to remind the country, in a speech to the House of Commons on 4 June, that "we must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations." Nevertheless, exhortations to the "Dunkirk spirit", a phrase used to describe the tendency of the British public to pull together and overcome times of adversity, are still heard in Britain today.

The rescue of the British troops at Dunkirk provided a psychological boost to British morale; to the country at large it was spun as a major victory. While the British Army had lost a great deal of its equipment and vehicles in France, it still had most of its soldiers and was able to assign them to the defence of Britain
British anti-invasion preparations of World War II
British anti-invasion preparations of the Second World War entailed a large-scale division of military and civilian mobilisation in response to the threat of invasion by German armed forces in 1940 and 1941. The British army needed to recover from the defeat of the British Expeditionary Force in...

. Once the threat of invasion receded, they were transferred overseas to the Middle East and other theatres and also provided the nucleus of the army that returned to France in 1944.

German land forces might have pressed their attack on the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) & allies, especially having secured the ports of Calais and Boulogne. For years, it was assumed that Adolf Hitler ordered the German Army to stop the attack, favouring bombardment by the Luftwaffe. However, according to the Official War Diary of Army Group A, Generalfeldmarshall Gerd von Rundstedt
Gerd von Rundstedt
Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt was a Generalfeldmarschall of the German Army during World War II. He held some of the highest field commands in all phases of the war....

 – the Chief of the General Staff, disconcerted by the vulnerability of his flanks and supply to his forward troops, ordered the halt. Hitler merely validated the order several hours after the fact. This lull in the action provided the Allies a few days to evacuate by sea.

Several high-ranking German commanders—for example, Generals Erich von Manstein
Erich von Manstein
Erich von Manstein was a field marshal in World War II. He became one of the most prominent commanders of Germany's World War II armed forces...

 and Heinz Guderian
Heinz Guderian
Heinz Wilhelm Guderian was a German general during World War II. He was a pioneer in the development of armored warfare, and was the leading proponent of tanks and mechanization in the Wehrmacht . Germany's panzer forces were raised and organized under his direction as Chief of Mobile Forces...

, as well as Admiral Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz was a German naval commander during World War II. He started his career in the German Navy during World War I. In 1918, while he was in command of , the submarine was sunk by British forces and Dönitz was taken prisoner...

—considered the failure of the German High Command to order a timely assault on Dunkirk to eliminate the BEF to be one of the major mistakes the Germans had made on the Western Front
Western Front (World War II)
The Western Front of the European Theatre of World War II encompassed, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and West Germany. The Western Front was marked by two phases of large-scale ground combat operations...

 in WWII.

More than 100,000 evacuated French troops were quickly and efficiently shuttled to camps in various parts of southwestern England where they were temporarily lodged before quickly being repatriated. British ships ferried French troops to Brest, Cherbourg and other ports in Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 and Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

, although only about ½ of the repatriated troops were deployed against the Germans before the armistice. For many French soldiers, the Dunkirk evacuation was not a salvation, but represented only a few weeks' delay before being made POWs by the German army after their return in France.

In France, the perceived preference of the Royal Navy for evacuating British forces at the expense of the French led to some bitter resentment. The French Admiral François Darlan
François Darlan
Jean Louis Xavier François Darlan was a French naval officer. His great-grandfather was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar...

 originally ordered that the British forces should receive preference, but Churchill intervened at a 31 May meeting in Paris to order that the evacuation should proceed on equal terms and the British would form the rearguard. A few thousand French forces eventually surrendered, but only after the evacuation effort had been extended for a day to bring 26,175 Frenchmen to Britain on 4 June.

For every seven soldiers who escaped through Dunkirk, one man was left behind as a prisoner of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

 (POW). The majority of these prisoners were sent on forced marches into Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. Prisoners reported brutal treatment by their guards, including beatings, starvation, and murder. In particular, the British prisoners complained that French prisoners were given preferential treatment.Longden 2009, p. 367. Another major complaint was that German guards kicked over buckets of water that had been left at the roadside by French civilians. Many of the prisoners were marched to the town of Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

, with the march taking as long as 20 days. Others were marched to the river Scheldt
Scheldt
The Scheldt is a 350 km long river in northern France, western Belgium and the southwestern part of the Netherlands...

 and were sent by barge to the Ruhr
Ruhr
The Ruhr is a medium-size river in western Germany , a right tributary of the Rhine.-Description:The source of the Ruhr is near the town of Winterberg in the mountainous Sauerland region, at an elevation of approximately 2,200 feet...

. The prisoners were then sent by rail to POW camps in Germany. The majority (those below the rank of corporal) then worked in German industry and agriculture for five years.

The very significant loss of military equipment abandoned in Dunkirk reinforced the financial dependence of the British government on the U.S.

The St George's Cross
St George's Cross
St George's Cross is a red cross on a white background used as a symbolic reference to Saint George. The red cross on white was associated with St George from medieval times....

 flown from the jack staff is known as the Dunkirk jack and is only flown by civilian ships and boats of all sizes that took part in the Dunkirk rescue operation in 1940. The only other ships permitted to fly this flag at the bow are those with a Royal Navy Admiral on board.

In popular culture

  • The Snow Goose
    The Snow Goose
    The Snow Goose: A Story of Dunkirk is a short novella by the American author Paul Gallico. It was first published in 1940 as a short story in The Saturday Evening Post, then he expanded it to create a short novella which was first published on April 7, 1941.The Snow Goose was one of the O. Henry...

    , a 1941 novel by Paul Gallico
    Paul Gallico
    Paul William Gallico was a successful American novelist, short story and sports writer. Many of his works were adapted for motion pictures...

    , related the story of a lonely artist who participates in the evacuation at the cost of his life. It was made into an award-winning 1971 film starring Richard Harris
    Richard Harris
    Richard St John Harris was an Irish actor, singer-songwriter, theatrical producer, film director and writer....

     and Jenny Agutter
    Jenny Agutter
    Jennifer Ann "Jenny" Agutter is an English film and television actress. She began her career as a child actress in the mid 1960s, starring in the BBC television series The Railway Children and the film adaptation of the same book, before moving on to adult roles and relocating to Hollywood.She...

    .
  • The Academy Award-winning 1942 movie Mrs. Miniver
    Mrs. Miniver (film)
    Mrs. Miniver is a 1942 American drama film directed by William Wyler, and starring Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, and Teresa Wright. Based on the fictional English housewife created by Jan Struther in 1937 for a series of newspaper columns, the film won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture,...

    has Mrs Miniver's husband taking part in the evacuation. Robert Owen Wilcoxon, brother of actor Henry Wilcoxon
    Henry Wilcoxon
    Henry Wilcoxon was an actor born in Roseau, Dominica, British West Indies, and best known as a leading man in many of Cecil B. DeMille's films, also serving as DeMille's associate producer on his later films....

     who played the vicar in the film, was killed assisting the evacuation.
  • Katherine Kurtz
    Katherine Kurtz
    Katherine Kurtz is the author of numerous fantasy novels, most notably the Deryni novels. Although born in America, for the past several years, up until just recently, she has lived in a castle in Ireland...

    's thriller Lammas Night features a character caught up in the evacuation.
  • The 1949 novel Week-end à Zuydcoote
    Week-end at Zuydcoote
    Week-end at Zuydcoote is a 1949 novel by French author Robert Merle. It won the 1949 Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary prize. The novel was adapted to film in 1964 called Weekend at Dunkirk . It was first published in English in 1950....

    by French author Robert Merle
    Robert Merle
    Robert Merle was a French novelist.-Biography:Born in Tébessa in French Algeria, he moved to France in 1918. A professor of English Literature at several universities, during World War II Merle was conscripted in the French army and assigned as an interpreter to the British Expeditionary Force...

     tells the story of a French soldier during the evacuation. It won the Prix Goncourt
    Prix Goncourt
    The Prix Goncourt is a prize in French literature, given by the académie Goncourt to the author of "the best and most imaginative prose work of the year"...

     that year. It was adapted to film in 1964 by Henri Verneuil
    Henri Verneuil
    Henri Verneuil was a French-Armenian playwright and filmmaker, who enjoyed a successful career in France.-Biography:...

    .
  • The story was the subject of Dunkirk
    Dunkirk (film)
    Dunkirk is a 1958 British war film directed by Leslie Norman and starring John Mills, Richard Attenborough and Bernard Lee. It was based on two novels: Elleston Trevor's The Big Pick-Up and Lt. Col. Ewan Hunter and Maj. J. S...

    , a 1958 Ealing
    Ealing Studios
    Ealing Studios is a television and film production company and facilities provider at Ealing Green in West London. Will Barker bought the White Lodge on Ealing Green in 1902 as a base for film making, and films have been made on the site ever since...

     film (made in collaboration with British MGM).
  • In the 1981 BBC television
    BBC Television
    BBC Television is a service of the British Broadcasting Corporation. The corporation, which has operated in the United Kingdom under the terms of a Royal Charter since 1927, has produced television programmes from its own studios since 1932, although the start of its regular service of television...

     miniseries
    Miniseries
    A miniseries , in a serial storytelling medium, is a television show production which tells a story in a limited number of episodes. The exact number is open to interpretation; however, they are usually limited to fewer than a whole season. The term "miniseries" is generally a North American term...

     Private Schulz
    Private Schulz (TV series)
    Private Schulz was a BBC television comedy drama mini-series starring Michael Elphick in the title role and Ian Richardson playing various parts...

    , the title character (a reluctant German spy) escapes Britain by sailing one of the evacuation boats to the continent.
  • The evacuation was featured prominently in Ian McEwan
    Ian McEwan
    Ian Russell McEwan CBE, FRSA, FRSL is a British novelist and screenwriter, and one of Britain's most highly regarded writers. In 2008, The Times named him among their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945"....

    's novel Atonement
    Atonement (novel)
    Atonement is a 2001 novel by British author Ian McEwan.On a fateful day, a young girl makes a terrible mistake that has life-changing effects for many people...

    (2001) and the film adaptation of the same name
    Atonement (film)
    Atonement is a 2007 British romantic suspense war film directed by Joe Wright. It is a film adaptation of the 2001 novel of the same name by Ian McEwan. The film stars James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, and Saoirse Ronan. It was produced by Working Title Films and filmed throughout the summer of 2006...

     (2007). The film version contains a 4.5-minute continuous shot of Allied troops stranded on the beach of Dunkirk waiting to be evacuated (filmed on Redcar
    Redcar
    Redcar is a seaside resort in the north east of England, and a major town in the unitary authority of Redcar and Cleveland in the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire. It lies east-northeast of Middlesbrough by the North Sea coast...

     beach, North Yorkshire).
  • The evacuation and the Battle of Dunkirk were re-enacted in the 2004
    2004 in television
    The year 2004 in television involved some significant events.Below is a list of television-related events in 2004.For the American TV schedule, see: 2004–05 United States network television schedule.-Events:-Debuts:-1940s:...

     BBC television
    BBC Television
    BBC Television is a service of the British Broadcasting Corporation. The corporation, which has operated in the United Kingdom under the terms of a Royal Charter since 1927, has produced television programmes from its own studios since 1932, although the start of its regular service of television...

     docudrama Dunkirk
    Dunkirk (TV series)
    Dunkirk is a 2004 BBC television docudrama about the Battle of Dunkirk and the Dunkirk evacuation in World War II.-Awards:*BAFTA Awards 2005**Won: Huw Wheldon Award for Specialist Factual: Robert Warr & Alex Holmes...

    .
  • The novel Dunkirk Crescendo (2005) by Bodie Thoene features the miracle of Dunkirk starting in the beginning of May, before Churchill becomes Prime Minister, and ending on 4 June, when the evacuation ends.
  • The evacuation is featured in the Doctor Who
    Doctor Who
    Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor who explores the universe in a sentient time machine called the TARDIS that flies through time and space, whose exterior...

     novel The Nemonite Invasion
    The Nemonite Invasion
    The Nemonite Invasion is an exclusive to audio Doctor Who story, produced as part of BBC Books' New Series Adventures line, and the third entry in the series to be produced. Read by Catherine Tate, it is the third non-televised Doctor Who adventure to feature the companion Donna Noble. It was...

    (2009).
  • In Connie Willis
    Connie Willis
    Constance Elaine Trimmer Willis is an American science fiction writer. She has won eleven Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards. Willis most recently won a Hugo Award for Blackout/All Clear...

    's 2010 novel Blackout
    Blackout (novel)
    Blackout and All Clear are the two volumes that comprise a 2010 science fiction novel by American author Connie Willis. Blackout was published February 2, 2010 by Spectra. The second part, the conclusion All Clear, was released as a separate book on October 19, 2010...

    , Mike Davies, one of the story's time-traveling protagonists, intends to observe the evacuation as an historian, but is unwittingly drawn into participating, causing him to worry he may have done something to alter the course of history.
  • Television historian Dan Snow
    Dan Snow
    Daniel Robert Snow is an English television presenter. He has presented and appeared in many popular history-related programmes for the BBC and is the "History Hunter" for The One Show.-Early life and background:...

    's efforts to rescue Britons stranded in France following the air travel disruptions due to the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption
    Air travel disruption after the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption
    In response to concerns that volcanic ash ejected during the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland would damage aircraft engines, the controlled airspace of many European countries was closed to instrument flight rules traffic, resulting in the largest air-traffic shut-down since World War II...

     was described as re-creating the Spirit of Dunkirk. French police in Calais halted their effort.
  • In Nancy L. Hull's 2008 young adult novel On Rough Seas, 14-year-old Alex Curtis takes part in the Dunkirk evacuation.
  • In Dorita Fairlie Bruce
    Dorita Fairlie Bruce
    Dorita Fairlie Bruce was a British children's author, most notably of the Dimsie books published between 1921 and 1941. Her books were second in popularity only to Angela Brazil's during the 1920s and '30s....

    's Toby of Tibbs Cross, Miles Haydon takes his boat to Dunkirk to help with the evacuation. The book was published in 1942 and is interesting for a contemporary fictional account of the evacuation.
  • The video game Secret Weapons Over Normandy
    Secret Weapons Over Normandy
    Secret Weapons Over Normandy or is a World War II-based arcade flight simulation video game released on November 18, 2003. Published by LucasArts and developed by Totally Games, the game is composed of 15 objective-based missions set in 1940s European, North African, and the Pacific theatres of war...

     focuses on the Dunkirk evacuation during the mission Aldertag.
  • In the video game Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII
    Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII
    -Restrictions:The PC version is not suitable for use on some laptops. Attempting to play the game on laptops can result in a large black circle appearing in the middle of the screen.- See also :*Secret Weapons Over Normandy - The game that inspired Blazing Angels....

    , two missions focus on the evacuation.
  • The evacuation is a major plot point in Foyle's War
    Foyle's War
    Foyle's War is a British detective drama television series set during World War II, created by screenwriter and author Anthony Horowitz, and was commissioned by ITV after the long-running series Inspector Morse came to an end in 2000. It has aired on ITV since 2002...

     episode The White Feather.

See also

  • Battle of Dunkirk
    Battle of Dunkirk
    The Battle of Dunkirk was a battle in the Second World War between the Allies and Germany. A part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation of British and allied forces in Europe from 26 May–4 June 1940.After the Phoney War, the Battle of...

  • Operation Cycle
    Operation Cycle
    During World War II, Operation Cycle was the evacuation of Allied troops from Le Havre, France at the end of the Battle of France. From 10 to 13 June 1940, 11,059 British and Allied forces were evacuated....

     – the evacuation of 11,000 troops from Le Havre
    Le Havre
    Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

    , beginning on 10 June
  • Operation Ariel
    Operation Ariel
    Operation Ariel was the name given to the World War II evacuation of Allied forces from ports in western France, from 15–25 June 1940, due to the military collapse in the Battle of France against Nazi Germany...

     – the later evacuation from Normandy and Brittany
  • Battle of France
    Battle of France
    In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...


External links

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