Few episodes in warfare are as famous as the evacuation of the British expeditionary force and many French troops from Dunkirk. It was a very British success, pulling something of a victory from the jaws of defeat – a triumph in the face of catastrophe.
In May 1940, as France collapsed in the face of the German blitzkrieg, the British army and some French forces fell back on the Channel coast. The advancing Germans pushed them back and then briefly paused, confident that this cornered remnant of the allied forces was trapped. Yet the German command had failed to appreciate just what sea power could do to deny them the full fruits of their apparent victory; at short notice an evacuation was improvised which, it was initially thought, might if all went well last two days and rescue 45,000 men. The heroic rear guard action of the troops ashore against the renewed German advance, the ability of the RAF to provide just enough air cover, the tireless efforts of naval crews and those manning the priceless ‘little ships’, and the organisational genius of Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsay saw Operation Dynamo succeed beyond all realistic expectation: two days became nine, and over 338,000 men were saved. Operational disaster in the Battle of France did not become strategic defeat in the war, and albeit at great cost to the Navy, the British army survived to be rebuilt. Above all, Britain could continue to fight.
This volume reproduces the complete text of the Battle Summary written shortly after the war by the Admiralty historical staff, comprising a detailed and authoritative account of these dramatic events. This is accompanied by a comprehensive introduction, newly written for this volume, that explains the context for the operation as well as an overview of further reading on the subject.
This is the third volume in Helion’s new series, ‘Naval Staff Histories of the Second World War’. The series aims to make available to a broad readership these indispensable studies of the key operations of the war.
This is custom tab. You can add custom tab as an attribute for entire products, or for each categories. You can add CMS content such as sizing guide or videos to enhance product detail.