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Dunkirk: the Battle & Evacuation


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Caleb
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« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2008, 04:41:28 am »

Before the operation was completed, the prognosis had been gloomy, with Winston Churchill warning the House of Commons to expect "hard and heavy tidings". Subsequently, Churchill referred to the outcome as a "miracle", and the British press presented the evacuation as a "Disaster Turned To Triumph" so successfully that Churchill had to remind the country, in a speech to the House of Commons on 4 June, that "we must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations." Nevertheless, exhortations to the "Dunkirk spirit" a phrase used to describe the tendency of the British public to pull together and overcome times of adversity are still heard in Britain today.

The rescue of the British troops at Dunkirk provided a psychological boost to British morale which ended any possibility that the British would seek peace terms from Germany, since they retained the ability to defend themselves against a possible German invasion. Most of the rescued British troops were assigned to the defence of Britain. Once the threat of invasion receded, they were transferred overseas to the Middle East and other theatres, and also provided the nucleus of the army which returned to France in 1944. Several high rank German commanders (e.g. Generals Erich von Manstein and Heinz Guderian, as well as Admiral Karl Donitz) considered the failure of the German High Command to order timely assault on Dunkirk and destruction of the British Expeditionary Force to be one of the major mistakes the Germans have made in the Western Theater, others including the failures to capture Malta and Gibraltar.

The more than 100 000 evacuated French troops were quickly and efficiently shuttled to camps in various parts of south-western England where they were temporarily lodged before being repatriated. British ships ferried French troops to Brest, Cherbourg and other ports in Normandy and Brittany, although only about half of the repatriated troops were deployed against the Germans before the armistice.

In France, the perceived preference of the Royal Navy for evacuating British forces at the expense of the French led to some bitter resentment. The French Admiral Darlan originally ordered that the British forces should receive preference, but Churchill intervened at a May 31st meeting in Paris to order that the evacuation should proceed on equal terms and the British would form the rearguard. A few thousand French forces eventually surrendered, but only after the evacuation effort had been extended for a day to bring 26,175 Frenchmen to Britain on June 4th.

The very significant loss of military equipment abandoned in Dunkirk reinforced the financial dependence of the British government on the United States.

The St George's Cross flown from the jack staff is known as the Dunkirk jack, and is only flown by civilian ships and boats of all sizes which took part in the Dunkirk rescue operation in 1940. The only other ships permitted to fly this flag at the bow are those with an Admiral of the Fleet on board.

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Caleb
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« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2008, 04:42:41 am »



Rescued British troops gathered in a ship at Dunkirk, 1940.
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Caleb
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« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2008, 04:43:44 am »



 
Dunkirk rescued French troops disembarked in England.
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