The Battle of Dunkirk lasting from May 26th to June 4th. It was almost a massive defeat of the allied forces against the superior forces of the Nazi War machine. As a matter of fact, The Battle of Dunkirk became the defense and evacuation of British and Allied forces in Europe. Keeping them from total annihilation.
Winston Churchill took control as Prime Minister of Great Britain on May 10, 1939. On the 26th of May 1940; two weeks later the BEF, who was in France to bolster support for the French force. They were in full retreat under the onslaught of the German Blitzkrieg.
Two massive German armies flanked them. General Fedor von Bock‘s Army Group B was to the east and General Gerd von Rundstedt‘s Army Group A to the west. They succeeded to push the BEF and the French army back towards the English Channel. Therefore, the Germans then formulated their next move to destroy or capture the allied forces.
In one of the most widely debated decisions of the war, the Germans halted their advance on Dunkirk. The “Halt Order” as it was called was not given by Adolf Hitler, but by Field Marshals Gerd von Rundstedt and Günther von Kluge. As a matter of fact, they suggested that the German forces around the Dunkirk pocket should stop their advance on the port. Then they could concentrate their forces. Then they could avoid an Allied breakout. Hitler sanctioned the order on 24 May with the support of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW).
The army was to halt for three days, which gave the Allies sufficient time to organize the Dunkirk evacuation and build a defensive line. Even though the Allies’ estimate of the situation was not very bright. The British had no choice but to start contemplating a possible conditional surrender with Germany.
But it was not to be. The British press later exploited the successful evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940, and particularly the role of the “Dunkirk little ships”, very effectively. Many of these were private vessels such as fishing boats and pleasure cruisers. In addition, commercial vessels such as ferries also contributed to the force. To say nothing of some of these boats came as far away as the Isle of Man and Glasgow. The boats were guided by naval craft across the Channel from the Thames Estuary. In addition, the naval boats gave them protection from Dover to help assist in the official evacuation.
These smaller boats were able to move closer into the shallow waters near the beach much safer than the larger craft. These smaller ships were used as shuttles to and from the larger ships. There they lifted troops who were queuing in the water, many waiting shoulder-deep in water for hours. With the help and the resolve of the British people and the solidarity of the British people in times of adversity. They were able to rescue more than 330,000 Allied troops.
On June 4th the new Prime Minister of Britain Winston Churchill gave one of his Stoic speeches. Here is an insert of that speech in the House of Commons:
I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.
At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.
Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, 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 in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.
C N Trueman “Dunkirk.” 20 Apr 2015.- 25 Jul 2017 <http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/world-war-two/world-war-two-in-western-europe/the-attack-on-western-europe/dunkirk/>
Kennedy Hickman “World War II: Battle and Evacuation of Dunkirk.” June 06, 2017 <https://www.thoughtco.com/battle-and-evacuation-of-dunkirk-2361491>
EyeWitness to History “The Evacuation at Dunkirk, 1940.” <https://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2008)>
The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica “Dunkirk evacuation WORLD WAR II.” <https://www.britannica.com/event/Dunkirk-evacuation>
The Churchill Society “We Shall Fight on the Beaches July 30, 2017