Friday, August 5, 2016

The Battle of Dunkirk

Please Note: I was told for years that our Great Uncle, Jack Prince, Grandmother's brother, was killed during WW II at The Battle of Dunkirk. Through research I found that not to be true. He did die in World War II, but not in this battle. That doesn't mean he didn't participate in this battle, but I have found no proof of that. Therefore, my research on the Battle of Dunkirk does not belong in my book. I had already written about it so I will share it here. 

The Battle of Dunkirk was the defense and evacuation of Allied Forces from May 26th through June 4th, 1940, during World War II. The code name for the Battle of Dunkirk was "Operation Dynamo." Dunkirk, or in French "Dunkerque," is on the coast of France on the Strait of Dover.

German forces continued to advance into France and General Viscount Gort, commander of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France believed the Germans would overcome the BEF and the French Army. He knew that he needed to evacuate France or they would be annihilated. He ordered his commanders to retreat to the Port of Dunkirk.

It seemed unlikely that the evacuation would work. The British Army, French and Belgian troops would have to fight their way to Dunkirk and defend the town from German attack. This all needed to be done until the ships from England could rescue them from the beach.

On May 24, 1940, Hitler ordered his forces' tanks to stop pursuing the retreatiing allied troops. No one knows why.

In England, a call was put out for any and all ships to help with the evacuation and rescue. On May 26, an armada of ships, boats, fishing boats, yachts, barges and ferries made their way across the English Channel to rescue the now weary troops.

As the eclectic flotilla made its way, they battled the treacherous waters and German attacks. The beaches were covered with soldiers who were under constant attack from German fighter planes, bombers, and artillery. Some of the men on the beach waded out to the rescuers in water over their heads.

What these soldiers were dealt is unimaginable. The town was burning, bombs were being dropped, one of the troop ships was bombed and exploded. These men had been retreating for three weeks. They were without orders, food, water and sleep.

At battle's end, Operation Dynamo was responsible for the rescue of 340,000 British, French and Belgians. Forty thousand were left behind, killed or captured. All total 900 vessels participated in Operation Dynamo.

On May 28, sixteen thousand men were rescued on that day alone, but the Royal Air Force lost 177 planes and the Germans lost 137 over Dunkirk.

Five nations took part in the evacuation from Dunkirk: Great Britain, Belgium, France, The Netherlands and Poland.

This battle and rescue made a profound impression on me. If you'd like to know more about it, there are many sites available with information online. 

Ta ta for now,

No comments:

Post a Comment