France, 1940. Introduction.
The evacuation owed everything to the unstinting bravery of the French troops fighting at the Dunkirk perimeter. It was their sacrifice, as well as that of heroic British units right on the Dunkirk perimeter itself that allowed so many to be taken off the beaches.
The German Luftwaffe has spent the last week making life hell for those trying to leave Dunkirk. The RAF lost some 60 pilots in these actions and many more planes. The feared dive-bomber, the Stuka, would have done a lot more damage had it not been for the Spitfires, the Hurricanes and the Defiants. The German bombers would have had a field day with the massed ranks of Allied soldiers on the beaches if they hadn't had Fighter Command to deal with.
Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, addressed the House of Commons and reminded the gathered Members of Parliament that, "We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations."
But it would always be known as ‘The miracle of Dunkirk’. The nine days of Dunkirk stopped what was a disastrous campaign becoming a tragedy of epic proportions. If the army had been lost there then so too could have been the war. Britain could in time replace the huge amount of equipment lost but not her professional army. Left behind on the beaches of Dunkirk were some 2,472 guns, 84,427 vehicles of all kinds and 657,000 tons of ammunition.
These few pages only scratch the surface of the Dunkirk evacuation. They cannot convey the danger, exhaustion, heroism and sacrifice of all who were there. One book that comes nearest is "The Miracle of Dunkirk" by Walter Lord.
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