Miracle of Dunkirk - "Operation Dynamo"

During late May and early June, of 1940, French, British and Canadian troops were trapped between the English Channel—near Dunkirk, France—and advancing German forces. 

Not just a disastrous defeat, the situation was a catastrophe-in-the-making because there appeared no way to quickly evacuate hundreds of thousands of stranded Allied troops.

As depicted in the following still-shot from Divide and Conquer—the third film of Frank Capra's Why We Fight series, produced for the U.S. government—troops stranded on Dunkirk's beaches remained under German air fire (from attacking Stukas) even as they waited for evacuation vessels.

Winston Churchill called the events in Northern France the greatest military defeat in centuries.  He warned that "the whole root, the core, and brain of the British Army" was stranded (and likely to die) in Dunkirk. 

Then ... Operation Dynamo was put into motion to rescue men who seemingly had no means of escape.  Using every available ship, including the smallest vessel, Britain undertook what Churchill called a "miracle of deliverance."

By the time the last boat left Dunkirk harbor, about 338,226 soldiers (198,229 British and 139,997 French) were evacuated by a fleet of 860 boats.

This video clip, of historical footage, explains why Allied troops were forced into the bottleneck situation ... in the first place ... then depicts how they were ultimately saved.

There's a reason why the evacuation was dubbed "Operation Dynamo." 

During World War One, Dover Castle was powered with electricity by a dynamo located beneath the castle.  Used as naval headquarters during World War Two, the dynamo room is where British Vice-Admiral Bertram Ramsay planned the Dunkirk rescue mission. 

It is also the place where Ramsay briefed Churchill while rescue efforts were underway.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Mar 17, 2014

Updated Last Revision: Jun 01, 2020

Media Credits

Historical footage online, online courtesy BBC.



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"Miracle of Dunkirk - "Operation Dynamo"" AwesomeStories.com. Mar 17, 2014. Jun 02, 2020.
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