155 Battle Of Dunkirk Facts: An Important Day In World War Two | Kidadl


155 Battle Of Dunkirk Facts: An Important Day In World War Two

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Dunkirk is located in northern France, near the Belgian-French border, on the North Sea's coastline, and just to the southwest is the Strait of Dover, where England and France are separated by only 21 mi (33.7 km) across the English Channel.

Between May 26 and June 4, 1940, more than 338,000 British and French soldiers were rescued from the French port of Dunkirk as part of Operation Dynamo, the Dunkirk evacuation. After Adolf Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, World War II began, Germany's aggressiveness against other European countries had gone unabated for years.

Years of international tensions and ambitious expansion on the part of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany culminated in the German invasion of Poland in 1939. The United Kingdom and France had enough. By declaring war on Germany, they came to Poland's aid. The Second World War had thus officially started. As British troops retreated through France under fire from an oncoming German army in 1940, a huge evacuation was launched to securely return the soldiers. In the spectacular Operation Dynamo, 338,000 troops were rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk, France, between May 26 and June 4, 1940.

The Belgian, British and French troops were besieged on the Western coast of France as the Nazis swept through from the east. England's safety was only around 21 mi (33.7 km) away, and it was almost swimmable. For the Allied forces besieged in Dunkirk, though, help appeared both close and from far away.

Also, check out our articles on Pearl Harbor facts and Cold War facts.

Facts About Battle Of Dunkirk

During World War II, the Battle of Dunkirk was a major conflict.

In the end, Dunkirk was a defeat, but it was a victory in terms of the influence it had on the country's spirit and national identity during the war, which was strongly affected by the British media.

It was a search and rescue mission. The German attack was highly unlikely. The element of surprise gained by Germany's invaders, according to General Erich von Manstein's idea of an invasion route largely deemed impracticable, was the primary factor for France's swift disintegration in 1940.

According to Manstein's plan, the main German column of tanks and motorized infantry would push through the Ardennes forests in southeast Belgium and Luxembourg—a thick, hilly woodland that was supposed to be difficult terrain for tanks, taking at least five days to cross, according to conventional wisdom based on World War I experience. The French and British thought that little had changed since the preceding battle, but Manstein and his colleague, General Heinz Guderian, discovered that a new arrangement of small, paved roads would allow just sufficient room for tanks and trucks to squeeze through, thanks to field studies and updated maps. As a result, the Germans were able to advance through the Ardennes into northern France in just two and a half days, cutting off hundreds of thousands of Allied forces.

Germany attacked France and the Low Countries on May 10, 1940, the German planes were dropping leaflets as well as bombs forcing the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and French and Belgian troops to retreat to the French port of Dunkirk. The Royal Navy organized Operation Dynamo, a massive rescue operation to get the men off the beaches and back to Britain. From May 28-May 31, 1940, as British and French troops retreated to Dunkirk, 40 mi (64.37 km) to the southeast, French soldiers in two corps of the French First Army staged a fierce defense against seven German divisions, refusing to surrender and mounting several attempts to break out despite being outmanned. Following Poland's quick loss, Western Europe had a period of passivity and stalemate.

The choice to equip its Ju 87 dive bombers with air-powered sirens that generated a screeching, otherworldly howl as the plane moved into the attack was one of many examples of Germany's wicked genius for psychological warfare. The Jericho Trumpet siren was designed to terrorize enemy troops and civilians on the ground, and it was successful. The Jericho Trumpet is one of the most well-known and terrible sounds of combat today. It was undoubtedly one of the most enduring memories of the Dunkirk evacuation for regular men trapped in the crossfire of German bombers.

The evacuation's codename was Operation Dynamo and was led by Admiral Bertram Ramsay. Before the war, Ramsay had retired, but he was called back in 1939. He and his team worked in a room deep within the Dover cliffs that had once housed a dynamo, an electrical generator that gave its name to the operation.

The evacuation began on May 26, and the 'Dynamo' commenced on May 26. Around Dunkirk, strong defenses were built, and the Royal Air Force dispatched all available aircraft to protect the evacuation. Over 800 naval vessels of all sizes and forms assisted in the transportation of troops across the English Channel. On June 3, the remaining British troops were evacuated, with French forces escorting them out.

The ships helped adequately. Large warships could only pick up soldiers from the town's East Mole, a sea wall that extended into deep water, or send their boats into the beaches to collect them due to the gently shelving beaches. The British Admiralty requested assistance from small boat owners in order to expedite the procedure. These were dubbed the 'tiny ships'.

More than 300,000 soldiers were rescued. Only 20,000-30,000 men were predicted to be rescued from Dunkirk by Churchill and his aides, but in total, 338,000 troops were rescued, with a third of them being French. 90,000 people remained to be captured, and the BEF had abandoned the majority of its tanks and heavy weapons. On June 4, at 9.30 a.m., all resistance in Dunkirk came to an end. It was an act of stubborn defiance by an island nation against Hitler’s blitzkrieg. It was a military success, a victory snatched from the jaws of defeat!

Morale was boosted by the evacuation; the evacuation of Dunkirk was a crucial event for the Allies. If the BEF had been seized, Britain's only trained forces would have been lost, and the Allied cause would have crumbled. The successful evacuation boosted civilian morale and gave birth to the Dunkirk spirit, which aided Britain's fightback in the summer of 1940.

Historical Facts About Battle Of Dunkirk

The Phoney War lasted eight months after Neville Chamberlain declared war on Nazi Germany on September 3, 1939.

On May 10, 1940, this all changed when Hitler's German army attacked France and the Netherlands. The Germans' devastating Blitzkrieg tactics had ripped through the allied lines and severed the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from the French soldiers within days.

The BEF and their allied troops appeared to be doomed, stranded in a narrow corridor in north France.

Hitler, sure that his army would smash his foes, decided to pause the advance of the German forces. A 48-hour halt order was issued by Hitler to the advancing German troops allowing the British army just enough time to plan an evacuation. He boasted that air power alone could destroy the helpless Allied forces at Dunkirk. This was considered one of the cruel dictator's most terrible mistakes and one of the main turning points of the battle.

On May 27, 1940, Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk, began. Only 7,669 Allied troops were saved by the besieged British fleet on the first day. However, a plea for smaller private craft to join the rescue campaign was a huge success, with over 400 tiny ships contributing to the attempt by May 31. Over 180,000 allied troops were brought back from France in three days during the peak of the heroic evacuation.

By the end of Operation Dynamo on June 4, 338,226 British and French troops had been rescued from Dunkirk. At first, Prime Minister Winston Churchill estimated that just 30,000 men would be able to return home. The remains of the French First Army assisted the Royal Navy, who bravely fought Nazi forces in Lille until the end of May when 35,000 famished soldiers were forced to surrender.

On June 22, the French government, which had been in crisis for weeks, signed an armistice. The agreement divided France into two halves, with the northern half under direct German control and the southern half under Pétain's puppet authority.

The Dunkirk evacuation instilled a sense of national pride in the British people.

Facts About Battle Of Dunkirk's Significance

On June 5, when the German army finally took Dunkirk and the remaining 40,000 allied troops surrendered, Hitler declared the fight a magnificent, definitive triumph.

Overall victory in World War II would have been unlikely if Britain had not been able to evacuate such a large portion of its military force. Instead, Churchill would have been compelled to make peace with Hitler, who had no desire to invade Britain, allowing the Nazis to ravage Europe and Russia unchecked. The battle, particularly the participation of the 'small ships', instilled immense pride and patriotism in the British population, in addition to guaranteeing the nation's survival.

Indeed, the expression 'Dunkirk Spirit' has come to represent British people who have shown extraordinary bravery and togetherness in the face of hardship. Churchill's famous speech, delivered on June 4, served to set the mood of the British government. The bravery of the British forces on the Dunkirk beaches was not ignored by the rest of the world.

Facts About Countries Involved In The Battle Of Dunkirk

The Dunkirk spirit and the pride felt by the British forces after the successful rescue of the country's men had their own victims. The importance of the French army had been forgotten. The Royal Air Force (RAF), which had been criticized for failing to adequately cover the troops on the beach, had really suffered massive losses, as did the British and French Navies. The number of German blunders that permitted the escape particularly the aforementioned halt command – cannot be overstated.

Although Dunkirk has become the main point for this period of history, there were other rescue attempts that are less well recognized. Between May and June 1940, nearly 558,000 British, French, Polish, and Czech personnel were rescued from the beaches of northern France, with an additional 220,000 evacuated from Dunkirk.

The German forces captured 40,000 French troops who had been left behind, as well as at least 40,000 British personnel in the Dunkirk area, when the last evacuation boats departed the harbor on June 4, 1940. Large numbers of these prisoners of war (POWs) would be tortured and abused for the next five years, until the war's end, in violation of Geneva Convention norms controlling the sick, wounded, prisoners of war, and civilians. Some were summarily executed, according to Sean Longden's book 'Dunkirk: The Men They Left Behind'. Food and medical care were also denied to the POWs.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 155 Battle of Dunkirk Facts: an important day in World War Two then why not take a look at Battle of Bastogne facts or Battle of Gallipoli

Written By
Megha Sarkar

<p>Megha, currently studying fashion technology at the National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi, brings a unique blend of passion and dedication to the table. Beyond her academic pursuits, Megha engages in dance and photography as her hobbies, both of which fuel her creativity. As an active member of her college's dance society and photography club, she continually hones her artistic abilities while also contributing to her college community.</p>

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