Dunkirk - Battle, evacuation, soldiers left behind and postwar evaluation and commemorations.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: British Nazis: Royal Fascists, British Isles during World War II, The Blitz, WW2 Flags.
The devastation of Dunkirk: Haunting images from German soldier's photo album seen for first time
These photographs are part of a collection of WWII photographs taken by a German soldier in the aftermath of Dunkirk. The pictures show the lifeless beaches of northern France littered with thousands of allied vehicles left behind following the evacuation. Others show the devastation inflicted on the town of Dunkirk following days of fighting that saw the Allies pushed back to the beaches. The Battle of Dunkirk raged between May 26 and June 4 1940 but in one of the most debated military manoeuvres of the war, the Nazis halted their advance.
From Dunkirk to Belsen: The Soldiers' Own Stories by John Sadler (book review)
During the World War II, one British "band of brothers" saw action in every major land campaign from France and Italy through to the horrors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The Durham Light Infantry was not a regiment of professional soldiers but men drawn from civilian life, what General Montgomery called a "Citizens' Army". "From Dunkirk to Belsen" uses the personal and eyewitness accounts of the conscripts and volunteers who were pitted against the Wehrmacht.
German soldier's photo album reveals the devastation at Dunkirk, meeting Hitler and Mussolini
Rare WW2 photographs taken by an unknown German soldier of the beaches of Dunkirk after the evacuation have been discovered. The pictures were taken after 330,000 British and French soldiers - defeated by the Nazis - were rescued by an armada of little ships. The amazing photo album was later seized from a German house as a WW2 keepsake by Corporal Frank Smith. The collection - 200 photographs and postcards - includes pictures of the Nazis surveying a huge pile of rifles left behind, a British warship with a huge hole, the wreckage of downed aircraft, and scores of damaged or abandoned tanks and trucks.
Dunkirk: "It was a defeat. You could only look at it as a f*cking defeat. We were all terribly depressed."
British World War II veteran George Kay travelled back to Dunkirk for the first time in 70 years. It was a journey that he last made when he was one of 198,229 British soldiers who crossed the Channel under attack from German Stuka dive bombers and Messerschmitt fighters. "To me, it was a defeat. You could only look at it as a f*cking defeat. We were all terribly depressed because we thought we had failed. We knew we had f*cking failed, even if it wasn't our fault... [French] collapsed and left us in the lurch. We were let down by our allies."
Dunkirk veterans travel back to site of evacuation to mark the 70th anniversary
World War 2 veterans will make an emotional journey across the English Channel to mark the 70th anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuation. The former troops will attend a ceremony at the French port to mark the historic British rescue mission. 50 of the original "little ships" which took part in the evacuation - many of which were private fishing or pleasure boats - will also set sail for Dunkirk. The Dunkirk evacuation, called Operation Dynamo, rescued 338,000 troops from the beaches of northern France between May 27 and June 4, 1940. Wartime PM Winston Churchill described the operation as a "miracle of deliverance".
Dunkirk evacuation in maps
See how the evacuation of 340,000 troops from Dunkirk under "Operation Dynamo" unfolded 27 May - 4 June 1940.
Battle of Arras: How two British battalions stopped Rommel's panzers on their way to Dunkirk
Raymond Atkinson fought in a battle which is often ignored because of the event which followed it - Dunkirk. The 4th and 7th battalions of the Royal Tank Regiment fought a David and Goliath battle to stop the German advance to the Channel in May 1940. It was an uneven encounter. Rommel had 218 panzers, while most of the 74 British tanks were slow and poorly armed - lacking air or artillery support. But they still managed to stop Rommel in his tracks - and make German infantry flee. Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt called it "a critical moment". Military Illustrated magazine described it as "Rommel's Bloody Nose".
David Mowatt recalls horrors troops faced after being left behind during the Dunkirk evacuation
After Britain declared war on Nazi Germany, David Mowatt saw his call-up as an adventure. What came instead was a bloody introduction to combat, followed by a 5-year fight for survival as a WWII POW. By January 1940, David's battalion was in France with the British Expeditionary Force and straight into intense action: raw recruits against the battle-hardened Wehrmacht. While holding out against the Germans, David and his comrades were still expecting to be evacuated. But then Churchill gave orders that they were to fight to the last man, keeping the Germans at bay to enable the Dunkirk evacuation. [Documentary film Dunkirk: the Forgotten Heroes]
Dunkirk: The Men They Left Behind by Sean Longden
It was a major moment of World War II in which 200,000 British troops were saved from death or capture after being defeated by the Germans. And now the story has came out of Scottish soldier David Mowatt who escaped, was recaptured and avoided execution by the SS after the intervention of a Wehrmacht officer. Amid the euphoria over saving the troops, few focused on the soldiers left behind who had fought with the French Army. In June 1940, the 51st Highland Division was encircled and forced to surrender. For Mowatt, who joined the local Territorial Army battalion 2 years before, captivity came as a shock.
The Medway Queen could be sunk: The most famous of the Dunkirk 'Little Ships'
For 6 days and nights she defied Luftwaffe to save 7,000 servicemen from the beaches at Dunkirk. Her heroics made her the most famous of the "Little Ships" that plucked 330,000 men from the hands of the Germans in 1940. Her crew win 4 awards for gallantry after facing 20 attacks. But now the Medway Queen, one of the oldest paddle steamers and one of the most important vessels in Britain's maritime history, could be lost unless millions can be found to restore her. As the British Expeditionary Force was beaten back to the Dunkirk beaches, she was part of the flotilla of Little Ships which answered the call to go to the rescue of the troops.
21 Royal Scots soldiers executed by SS Totenkopf Division at Dunkirk
According to an officer's war diary 21 soldiers from the Royal Scots, were massacred after surrendering to SS troops in May 1940. The men were part of a rearguard trying to buy time for the evacuation of the British army at Dunkirk. It had been believed that 97 members of the Royal Norfolk Regiment were the only victims of the Waffen-SS Totenkopf Death's Head Division. Now Hugh Sebag-Montefiore has found evidence that civilians later dug up the Scottish troops, all shot through the neck. It verify a claim from a German dispatch rider, that he had been told that 17 British soldiers were captured, taken to the SS battle HQ, and that "they all had to bite the dust".
Long-lost journal tells dramatic evacuation of Welsh troops from France
A largely forgotten evacuation of Welsh troops from WW2 France has been revealed by the discovery of a wartime brigade diary - found by historian Hugh Sebag-Montefiore. It sheds light on how the Welsh Guards escaped by sea from Nazi forces advancing on Boulogne in May 1940, 48 hours before the evacuation of Dunkirk. 4,500 people, Welsh and Irish guards, were evacuated from Boulogne on British ships. The incident has been overshadowed by the escape of 338,000 Allied troops. The evacuation was ordered at 6pm on May 23 as German Panzer tanks approached nearby hills. The diary reveals that the ships and those waiting, were bombarded by shells, sniper fire and Luftwaffe.
Sailors renact the Battle of Dunkirk on Melbourne beach
Hundreds of sailors are re-enacting the Battle of Dunkirk, described as the greatest seaborne rescue of all time, on Melbourne's beaches. Civilians set sail from Britain in a flotilla of 800 boats to rescue 338,000 Allied troops from the advancing Germans stranded at Dunkirk. The mammoth operation took place over 9 days in May 1940 and delivered the troops back home to help defend against a Nazi invasion. Flyovers by historic aircraft, a gunshot dinner and music by a Glenn Miller tribute band added to the atmosphere. George Shaw said as a "war baby", he had grown up with stories of Dunkirk and felt the re-enactment was a fitting way to mark Anzac Day.
Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man - Debunking the myth of Dunkirk
The uniqueness of historian Hugh Sebag-Montefiore's book lies in the attempt it makes to tease out the core of the Dunkirk myth. The book does not try to refute the claim that the evacuation was an important act. Adolf Hitler's meddling in military matters, Sebag-Montefiore argues, may have compromised the fighting abilities of the German army; however, he does not believe that the decision to stop the battle tanks from storming Dunkirk offers any proof of this. The period of rest was imposed by the German generals. Hitler accepted their decision and issued the order, but only after the army had already halted without any such command from Berlin.
Tribute for Dunkirk hero - Admiral who saved thousands of soldiers
Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay who saved thousands of soldiers at Dunkirk has received recognition in his own country - finally. He had already been honoured by the Russians, French and Germans for his efforts. A plaque has now been placed in St Paul's Cathedral in memory of his contribution during the war. His family have welcomed the recognition of his vital role in helping win World War II. As well as the evacuation at Dunkirk he also planned the Normandy landings later in the conflict. "After Dunkirk we asked Churchill for a medal but he said we couldn't have a medal - it wasn't a victory, it was a defeat."
Dunkirk - Separating myth from miracle in WWII battle
On May 10, 1940, Nazi Germany invaded France, ending the Phony War. France was cut in two, and the forces in the north (incl. British Expeditionary Force, BEF) were isolated from the French army and trapped by the Wehrmacht. On May 26, the British War Cabinet met. The only hope of repulsing an invasion was the RAF, much of which was with the BEF. Lord Halifax proposed accepting Germany's domination. Churchill opposed, preferring to fight it out until "each one of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground." In "Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man " Hugh Sebag-Montefiore focuses the men ordered to hold the line and keep the pocket around Dunkirk from collapsing.
The youngest Canadian to get the Distinguished Service Cross
War hero Robert Timbrell was commander of Canada's last aircraft carrier, HMCS Bonaventure, rescued hundreds of British troops on the beaches of Dunkirk, and became a rear admiral and the head of Canada's navy. On his first trip across the Channel, his boat was strafed by Luftwaffe fighters. He was able to repair the boat, make two more trips and carry more than 300 men to safety. At one point, he was shipwrecked on the Dunkirk beach, and pulled to safety with the help of an army tank that drove as far into the water as it could before the engine quit. He later helped sink two German submarines.
Canadian Naval hero Robert Timbrell rescued British troops
Robert Timbrell, who became the first decorated Canadian naval officer of the WW2 for his bravery in rescuing British troops in 1940, has died. He skippered a ship that was commandeered to evacuate as many troops as possible from a 16-kilometre stretch of beach at Dunkirk. Thousands of allied troops had been pushed back to the Channel by a powerful German army and were in danger of being captured. A call was made for all vessels that could float to make their way to the French coast. 800 private boats commandeered by the British navy with the help of 222 warships, rescued more than 338,000 Allied troops from the clutches of the German army.