History - Dunkirk

  • Created by: Dan_23
  • Created on: 31-05-21 09:01
  • Theatre: France
  • Dates: 26 May to 4 June 1940
  • Location: Dunkirk
  • Outcome: Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of around 350,000 British, French and Belgian troops from Dunkirk, enabled the Allies to continue the war and was a major boost to British morale.
  • Players:
  • Britain: Viscount Gort's British Expeditionary Force (BEF) comprising 13 infantry divisions
  • Germany: 19th Panzer Corps, under General Heinz Guderian; 41st Panzer Corps, led by General GH Reinhardt

As France fell rapidly, the Allies' northern and southern forces were separated by the German advance from the Ardennes to the Somme. The Allied armies in the north were being encircled.

By 19 May 1940 the British commander, Viscount Gort, was considering the withdrawal of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) by sea. But London was demanding more action and on 21 May, Gort launched an attack from Arras.

This attack lacked the necessary armour and General Heinz Guderian's tanks continued past Boulogne and Calais to cross the canal defence line close to Dunkirk, the only port left for an Allied withdrawal from Europe.

On 24 May, just as Guderian was expecting to drive into Dunkirk, Hitler gave the surprise order to withdraw back to the canal line. Why the order was given has never been explained fully.

One possible explanation is that Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, head of the Luftwaffe, assured Hitler that his aircraft alone…


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