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. The immediate context of the Dunkirk evacuation was Germany’s invasion of the Low Countries and northern France in May 1940. Trump's Presidency Divided Families. He finally was rescued in April by Allied forces as the war was drawing to a close. Newly fortified, British soldiers fought against advances in North Africa and the Middle East by the Axis forces. The remaining obstacles that could have blocked the advance were not manned in time. Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest . Please try again later. On May 10 the German blitzkrieg attack on the Netherlands began with the capture by parachutists of key bridges deep within the country, with the aim of opening the way for mobile ground forces. A third of a million British soldiers were facing annihilation but just days later the majority had been rescued. The 1940 evacuation at Dunkirk — the subject of Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed new film — remains one of World War II’s most striking episodes. The RAF had stood up to the Luftwaffe and won. After Neville Chamberlain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939 Western Europe entered a stalemate period which became known as the “Phoney War”. The French were further hampered by a lack of strategic clarity. Overview of the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, 1940. But you took it because it was part of life. When was Dunkirk and what happened? The wounded were jeered at. 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. By evening more reassuring reports had come from the Aisne, and Reynaud broadcast a denial of “the most absurd rumours that the government is preparing to leave Paris.” At the same time, he seized the opportunity to replace Gamelin and for that purpose summoned Gen. Maxime Weygand from Syria. Hulton Archive/Getty. Together with the civilians who aided the Royal Navy, they saved countless lives. 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. Nazi Germany invaded northern France and the Low Countries in May 1940 during the early years of World War II. The British transformed the Dunkirk evacuation into a moment of national pride and perseverance. Queen Wilhelmina and her government left the country for England on May 13, and the next day the Dutch army surrendered to the Germans. He began currying a relationship with U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, who signaled his intention to assist the British in any way he could. Premier Paul Reynaud favored a Dunkirk-like evacuation to North Africa, where the army could be protected by the French Fleet and the Royal Navy while it reconstituted itself, gathered additional forces from the French colonial empire and took delivery on a fleet of planes from the U.S. It was redemption. Within Reynaud’s cabinet, there was an appeasement faction, coalescing around Deputy Premier Marshal Pétain, which was considering a potential deal with Adolf Hitler. Dunkirk is filled with fictional characters, but it's based on the true events of that week in the summer of 1940. You are fighting to keep alive.”. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Soon, as Churchill predicted, the “tide of the world war” would shift toward the forces of freedom. They had fought the battles to ensure the successful evacuation of over 300,000 fellow soldiers. The Dunkirk evacuation moved about 340,000 British, French, and Belgian (Allied) soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk, France, across the English Channel to England. The Battle of Dunkirk (French: Bataille de Dunkerque) was fought in Dunkirk (Dunkerque), France, during the Second World War, between the Allies and Nazi Germany.As the Allies were losing the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation to Britain of British and other … By signing up you are agreeing to our. None of this might have happened but for the miracle of Dunkirk. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our. Even if the French had been able to mount a counteroffensive, they would not have found it easy to crush the invader. The harbor at Dunkirk was bombed out of use, and smaller civilian vessels had to ferry the soldiers from the beaches to the warships waiting at sea. German planners realized that if two or three armoured divisions had been available for a concentrated counterstroke, the German advance might have been dislocated. The crimes began as Dunkirk was being evacuated. The following is an excerpt from TIME-LIFE’s new special edition, World War II: Dunkirk, available on Amazon. 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 … This Is What Happened After the Rescue. All Rights Reserved. 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. Their sacrifice had brought the salvation of the British nation. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook . The evacuation of the British Expeditionary Forces from the beach at Dunkirk, France, 26 May to 4 June 1940. German dictator Adolf Hitler’s blitzkrieg strategy depended on maintaining concentrated forward momentum in its invasion of France and Belgium; Germany had overrun the region by May 1940. By the time they arrived on May 27, the Belgian centre had cracked, and there were no reserves to fill this fresh gap. With their country overrun and their backs to the sea, in a small strip crowded with refugees, the Belgians were driven to sue for an armistice that evening. Meanwhile, the French military was in tatters and seemed poised for defeat. From the day of the German invasion on May 10 through the evacuation of Dunkirk, France had lost 24 infantry divisions, including six of seven motorized divisions. On May 16 Giraud found that the forces for such an undertaking were not available, while the Germans had advanced in strength far beyond that line. 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