I told all of my friends to go see the movie Dunkirk because that history was unbelievable, then and still is all these years later. The movie told a lot of the story. However the “miracle” of Dunkirk was poorly shown or told.
The Germans were driving the combined British and French forces toward the English Channel and the Port of Dunkirk, into an ever decreasing area.
Britain had over 400,000 soldiers there in the Dunkirk area. They were in need of rescue. The situation was desperate. King Charles VI called for a day of prayer. Prime Minister Churchill said he wanted 30,000 rescued but preferred 45,000. The navy’s ships had no way to rescue them. Their big ships could not come into the shallow waters of Dunkirk. So a plea went out for all private boats to bring their army home. Any boat, fishing, pleasure, any boat that could carry soldiers out to the large boats in the deep waters in the Channel. Over 800 came! They made trip after trip. Between May 26th and June 3, 1940 – 8 days. These little boats were able to rescue 338,226 soldiers. Also rescued were 140,000 French, Polish and Belgian soldiers. Over 200 boats were lost in the rescue operation.
Meantime the German bombers and fighter planes were carrying out attacks all day, every day. The British Royal Air Force planes were busy with the battle in the sky. Many pilots flew in battles until they ran out of fuel while protecting their brothers in arms on the ground and in the boats. The French army, during this time, was holding off the German troops so as many British soldiers could be, would be saved.
I had to go to Google for help, for I knew the history of Dunkirk but not all the numbers you see here. It was a miracle of monumental proportions. The movie failed to give the number of men, the magnitude of the number of boats, or the length of time it encompassed. All of that truly made up the miracle of the Battle of Dunkirk.
Joyce Kolbus, Mattoon