The Battle Of Dunkirk May 26-June 4, 1940

 

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
London”.<http://www.churchill-society-london.org.uk/Dunkirk.html>

 

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Winston Churchill, The Rock of England

Winston Churchill
1939, London, England

Winston Churchill, the beginning

Winston Churchill was born into the family of the Dukes of Marlborough, a branch of the Spencer family. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a charismatic politician who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer and his mother, Jennie Jerome, was an American socialite.

Winston Churchill as a Child
Winston Churchill as a Child

As a young child, Churchill grew up in Dublin, Ireland, where his father was employed by his grandfather, the 7th Duke of Marlborough, John Spencer-Churchill. There he entered a formal school and Churchill proved to be an independent, uncooperative and rebellious student. He did poorly at his first two schools and in April 1888, he was sent to Harrow School. This was a boarding school near the city of London. Within weeks of his enrollment, he joined the Harrow Rifle Corp and this put him on a path to a military career.

A Military Career?

 

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill lThe Fourth Hussars

Churchill enjoyed a brief but eventful career in the British Army. He joined the Fourth Hussars in 1895 and served in the Indian northwest frontier. Also served in the Sudan, where he saw some action in the Battle of Omdurman in 1898. In addition, while in the Army, he did some work for some newspapers. He wrote some military reports for newspapers The Pioneer and the Daily Telegraph. In addition, Churchill also wrote two books on his experiences, The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1898) and The River War (1899).

Churchill left the army in 1899 and went to work as a war correspondent for the newspaper the  Morning Post. Then he was sent to South Africa to report on the Boer War. There he receives vast recognition for his courage when he was captured by the Boers and was imprisoned.  Only to escaped and started the long trip to the Portuguese territory in Mozambique. Not to mention that it was a three hundred mile trip. 
Politics
In 1900, Churchill became a member of Parliament in the Conservative Party. This move helped him follow his father’s career in politics. Churchill was a strong supporter of social reform. But he quickly felt that the Conservative party wasn’t working hard enough to change some of the social reforms that needed to be changed.
So In 1904 Churchill switch political parties to the Liberal Party. He also followed his father’s sense of independence, becoming a supporter of social reform. Unconvinced that the Conservative Party was committed to social justice, Churchill switched to the Liberal Party in 1904. He was elected a member of Parliament in 1908 where he was appointed to the Prime Ministers cabinet as president of the Board of Trade.  That same year, he married Clementine Ogilvy Hozier, after a short courtship.
Modernizing The Military
He quickly moved his way through the political maze. Churchill helped to modernize the British navy when he served as the First Lord of the Admiralty. He was a strong supporter to promote air crafts for the Navy starting up the Royal Navy Air Service. Churchill resigned his position after Battle of Gallipoli ended as a disaster. Even though he was not personally involved he felt responsible for the mess.
He then joined the British army where he commanded a battalion of the Royal Scots  Fusiliers on the Western front. There he saw a little action in the famous no-man land that was infamous of the First World War.  In 1917, he was appointed the minister of munitions for the final year of the war. He oversaw the production of tanks, airplanes, and munitions. From 1919 to 1922, Churchill served as minister of war and air and colonial secretary under Prime Minister David Lloyd George.
Rebellion
Britain got itself into another skirmish with its empire when the Kurdish tribesmen became rebellious in Iraq. Churchill ordered his new airforce to squash the rebellion. He even suggested that they use poisonous gas to crush the rebellion. The idea was under consideration by the British government but was rejected.
Churchill rejoined the Conservative Party as fractures in the Liberal party caused the defeat of Churchill. Only to see the Conservative party lose in 1929 which left Churchill out of work and out of the government.He was branded a right-wing extremist and totally out of touch with the people of Britain. He spent the next couple years writing and publishing
 A History Of English Speaking Peoples.

World War II

Though at the beginning Winston Churchill like the rest of the world did not believe in the threat of Adolf Hitler.

Winston Churchill
1939 Winston Churchill First Lord of the Admiralty

His beliefs changed by 1938 of the little German corporal (Adolf Hitler) that he had no intentions of stopping his aggressions against the rest of the world. Germany started to invade and swallow its neighbors. The Prime Minister at that time was Neville Chamberland who strongly believe the strength of diplomacy. Churchill became a strong critic of the Prime Minister because he felt that Hitler’s hunger for power was never-ending.

(Sounds familiar, our ex-president Barack Obama was a strong believer in the strength of diplomacy with Iran, Russia, and North Korea. How is that working for us? Not very good is it. I believe very strongly with President Theodore Roosevelt philosophy of ”speak softly and carry a big stick”)

Churchill had suggested that England occupies not only the vital Norwegian iron mines but also sea ports. Not to mention that Chamberlain refused only to see Norway invaded by the Germans later that month.

On September 3, 1939, the day that Britain declared war on Germany. With this in mind, Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty and a member of the war cabinet. In addition by April 1940, he became chairman of the Military Coordinating Committee.

Prime Minister Chamberlain was replaced by Churchill on May 10, 1939, by King George VI. After Chamberlain had a vote of no confidence in the Parliament he steps aside.  Within hours, the German Army began its Western Offensive, invading the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. As a matter of fact two days later, German forces entered France. Britain again stood alone against the onslaught of the German invasion.

Working as Prime Minister

Winston Churchill moved quickly to a coalition of labor leaders from the both the Conservative and Liberal parties. He also organized and placed competent, intelligent, and talented men in key positions to help Winston Churchill. Under those circumstances, on June 18, 1940, Churchill made one of his iconic speeches to the House of Commons, warning that “the Battle of Britain” was about to begin.

With Winston Churchill leadership he led a non-ending fight against Germany. He spoke to the British people every day via radio.  Winston Churchill succeeded to keep the moral of the people high. He also organized a relationship with the USA and with a strong friendship with President Franklin D Roosevelt during the 30’s. Winston Churchill gets vital United State aid through the Lend-Lease Act. Now Winston Churchill is able to get war goods from the United States that is badly needed for the war.

After the United States entered World War II, in December 1941, Churchill was confident that the Allies would eventually win the war. In the months that followed, Churchill worked closely with U.S. President Roosevelt and Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin to forge an Allied war strategy and post-war world. In meetings in Teheran (1943), Yalta (February 1945) and Potsdam (July 1945).

Churchill collaborated with the two leaders to develop a united strategy against the Axis. He helped craft the post-war world with the United Nations as its centerpiece. As the war wound down, Churchill proposed plans for social reforms in Britain but was unable to convince the public.

Winston Churchill

The Last Mile

Churchill lost the general election July 1945. During the next six years, Churchill became the leader of the opposition party and continued to have an impact on world affairs. In March 1946, while on a visit to the United States, he made his famous “Iron Curtain” speech, warning of Soviet domination in Eastern Europe.

Sir Winston Churchill died on January 24, 1965, England.  Queen Elizabeth II granted him the honor of a state funeral, not to mention they saw one of the largest assemblies of world statesmen in history.

History is a fascinating subject. I’ve given links to some books that will give you a broader understanding of the different events in Sir Winston Churchill’s life. Enjoy!

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