He was moved from place to place and kept prisoner on a farm in Poland and forced to work the fields with Nazi guards watching. In the film (based upon true events) the British army has fallen back to Dunkirk and is trapped there until a flotilla of small boats helps remove 350,000 troops mixed British, French, Belgians armies. Tennant observed that evacuating troops directly from the beach would be an arduous and potentially costly process. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. Paris fell on June 14. He described his two forced marches, one when he was captured in 1940 and the second in 1945, in his book, Survivor of the Long March: Five Years as a POW: “[The first march] was in hot weather and I was still wearing my greatcoat but I was in good physical shape. Please attempt to sign up again. To remedy this, he directed the soldiers to board rescue ships from a 1,400-yard (1.3-km)-long breakwater to the east. You are fighting to keep alive.”. The evacuation of the British Expeditionary Forces from the beach at Dunkirk, France, 26 May to 4 June 1940. 19 Jan 2021. You didn’t have time to analyze yourself. It was redemption. By the time they arrived there, the position had been undermined by the cutting of their communications. As the days proceeded, Rommel simply directed his Panzers around the remaining Hedgehogs, and the French were unable to mount an effective counterattack. When it ended on June 4, about 198,000 British and 140,000 French and Belgian troops had been saved. The British transformed the Dunkirk evacuation into a moment of national pride and perseverance. Dunkirk evacuation, (1940) in World War II, the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and other Allied troops from the French seaport of Dunkirk (Dunkerque) to England. Even before the German military forced Belgium’s surrender on May 28, 1940, the British government had been quietly preparing for an evacuation of its ground forces and other Allied troops under the code name Operation Dynamo. The Dutch defenders fell back westward, and by noon on May 12 German tanks were on the outskirts of Rotterdam. The scene on the pier in Dunkirk. However, once you know what happened in Dunkirk, it all makes sense. Dunkirk. An evacuation is the process of moving people away from where they are in danger to a safer place. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership. They were forced to drink ditch water and eat putrid food. As the film depicts early on, pilots had to carefully conserve fuel on the Channel crossing and, even then, could only operate for less than an hour over Dunkirk itself. Hulton Archive/Getty. Beginning on May 26th and ending on June 4th, the plan was to evacuate at least 45,000 troops -- the number thought to be needed to protect England from invasion -- but in the end more than 300,000 … William Tennant with its tactical oversight. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The prevailing confusion was increased by Weygand’s arrival to take over supreme command. Just 20 when he was captured, Wagstaff and his fellow POWs were threatened by their Nazi captors. What Happens to Them Now? Gen. Paul Ludwig von Kleist surprised the Allies by advancing through Luxembourg and into France over the course of five days. On May 20 they swept on and reached Abbeville, thus blocking all communications between north and south. To lower officer morale, the Nazis told British officers that they would lose their rank and be sent to the salt mines to work. After the last rescue boats left Dunkirk harbor on June 4, 1940, the Germans captured some 40,000 French troops who’d been left behind as well as at least 40,000 British soldiers in the Dunkirk vicinity. Corrections? This Is What Happened After the Rescue. The French were further hampered by a lack of strategic clarity. The Allied armies in Belgium wheeled back to the line of the Scheldt. From May 26 to June 4, over 338,000 British and French troops were safely evacuated from Dunkirk. Omissions? Within Reynaud’s cabinet, there was an appeasement faction, coalescing around Deputy Premier Marshal Pétain, which was considering a potential deal with Adolf Hitler. When, on May 15, French commander-in-chief Maurice Gamelin received an alarming report that the Germans were crossing the Aisne between Rethel and Laon, he told the government that he had no reserves between that sector and Paris and could not guarantee the security of the capital for more than a day. Fall of France The Dunkirk evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo and also known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, was the evacuation of Allied soldiers during World War II from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, in the north of France, between 26 May and 4 June 1940. As described in Dunkirk: The Men They Left Behind, by Sean Longden, some were summarily executed. * The request timed out and you did not successfully sign up. However, Hitler exercised restraint at Dunkirk, halting his panzer tanks short of the seaport only days before the evacuation. The immediate context of the Dunkirk evacuation was Germany’s invasion of the Low Countries and northern France in May 1940. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Churchill was having none of it. Soon, as Churchill predicted, the “tide of the world war” would shift toward the forces of freedom. Gort argued that such a long-range drive in reverse was not practicable, either tactically or administratively. What happened at Dunkirk? This weakened German side made it possible for the Allies to rescue 30,000 men, w… Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our. The Dunkirk evacuation represented massive losses in materials and equipment for the British army. On August 20, as the aerial conflict entered its most intense stage, Churchill took to the airways to pay tribute to the courageous pilots of the RAF: “The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world war by their prowess and by their devotion. This was happening all the time. Dunkirk's timeline is so intricately woven that it would take a whole other article to fully explore, but to explain the ending we do need to have a strong grounding of everything that's happened thus far, so here's a quick recap.. 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