S: The Battle Of Dunkirk
1: Lord Gort made the decision to evacuate on May 25, 1940, & the last troops departed France on June 4.
4: On the night of May 9/10, 1940, German forces attacked the low countries.
5: In the early 1940, during the 1st year of the World War II, The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was positioned alongside French forces on the Belgian border.
6: Surprised & outflanked, allied troops fell back to the channel ports.
7: A makeshift escape plan was hurriedly put into effect by the British. Between 26 May & the night of 3/4 June, approximately 340,000 men were picked up by some 900 ships, many of them small, privately-owned vessels.
8: Demoralised, starving & exhausted, the men waiting on the beaches of DUnkirik endured days of fierce bombardment, while many of the boats that came to their rescue were sunk, with heavy loss of life.
9: Six days later they reached the Channel. When he heard the news, Winston Churchill ordered the implementation of Operation Dynamo, a plan to evacuate of troops and equipment from the French port of Dunkirk, that had been drawn up by General John Gort, the Commander in Chief of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF).
10: Although a large number of these ships were taken across the channel by navy personnel - many were also taken over by their owners and other civilians, all eager to help in what had become a catastrophe. The British, French and Belgium governments had seriously underestimated the strength of the German forces in their equipment, transport and fire power - which was far superior to much of our outdated armoury. Consequently the British Expeditionary Force, as well as the French and Belgian forces, found themselves defending positions against overwhelming odds.
11: Hundreds of thousands of troops were rescued from the German advance in the nick of time.
13: Before long, with the Germans effectively cutting off nearly all of the escape routes to the channel, the BEF found itself desperately retreating to the harbour and beaches of Dunkirk. Vice Admiral Ramsay - who was in charge of Operation Dynamo - had sent destroyers and transport ships to evacuate the troops, but they only expected to have time to lift off about 30,000 troops. | However, before long, the harbour became partially blocked by ships sunk in consistent attacks from enemy aircraft. It became necessary to take the troops off the nearby beaches as well - something that was thought to be an almost impossible task because of shallow water.
14: Evacuation began on 26 May and gained urgency the next day, when Field Marshal Walter von Brauchitsch, the German Commander-in-Chief, persuaded Hitler to rescind his orders and German tanks again advanced on Dunkirk.
16: Heavy German bombing had destroyed Dunkirk's harbour, and there were hundreds of thousands of men on the beach, hoping to be rescued. The Luftwaffe attacked whenever the weather allowed, reducing the town of Dunkirk to rubble. | On 29 May, the evacuation was announced to the British public, and many privately owned boats started arriving at Dunkirk to ferry the troops to safety. This flotilla of small vessels famously became known as the 'Little Ships'. The contribution these civilian vessels made to the Dunkirk evacuation gave rise to the term 'Dunkirk spirit', an expression still used to describe the British ability to rally together in the face of adversity.