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World War II :The Battle of Dunkirk

The year was 1940, and World War II was intense. Hitler's army had overtaken Belgium and moved fast to France. England sent over 300,000 troops to aid the French army, but in spite of those great numbers, the German army was victorious, due to their advanced armaments, training, and organization. By late May, German troops had the mass of the allied forces surrounded, trapped in the northernmost corner of France across the English Channel from Dover. To the east was occupied Belgium; to the south and west, the advancing German army; to the north, the sea.

Operation Dynamo

Britain had already suffered rigorous casualties in France, and they knew this battle could not be won. Withdraw was the only choice, but all getaway routes had been blocked. Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsay, headquartered in the reinforced tunnels beneath Dover Castle, was put in charge of evacuating the soldiers. The rescue plan was code-named Operation Dynamo.

Unluckily, there were numerous major problems. Time was quickly running out for the cornered British troops. Ramsay believed he had a week at most to save the soldiers, who were packed onto the beaches and being shelled mercilessly. An evacuation by sea was the only possibility, but German planes had sunk so many ships in Dunkirk harbor that it was nearly impossible to navigate, and U-boats posed a constant threat. Farther to the west, where the beaches were, the water was so shallow that British destroyers and transport ships could not get any closer than about a mile (1.6km). As if that weren't enough, Britain had far too few vessels available to transport the hundreds of thousands of soldiers trapped on the beach, even under the best conditions.

Ramsay was deliberate and methodical in his preparations. He arranged transportation, food, and medical care for the troops that would soon be arriving in Dover. He sought out every available ship, and established a complex and efficient communications network. Logistics in place, Operation Dynamo was put into motion on May 26. But after the first day, the outlook was grim. Fewer than 8,000 troops had been rescued, and the most optimistic estimate was that a total of 45,000 might escape before Germany overtook the beaches-at the rate the operation was progressing; it would take 40 days to rescue all the remaining troops. Ramsay faced the possibility that the core of the British army would be decimated. At that time, conventional wisdom held that Britain would inevitably be invaded as soon as France fell, and with so much of its army gone, Britain's defenses would be in ruins.

In extreme anxiety, Ramsay put a public call for help: anybody who had any kind of boat was urged to help rescue the troops. The reaction was immediate and overwhelming. An improvised flotilla of 850 "Little Ships", yachts, lifeboats, fishing boats, and anything that could float rushed to the scene. Most of the boats were manned by British sailors, but in many cases the civilian owners risked their own gunfire and mines that produce 22-mile (35 km) passes. If possible, it is only small vessel used to transport troops to major offshore tool, but thousands of soldiers used them to transport all the way back to England. On the morning of 29th May officials estimated 2,000 soldiers each time was being evacuated. Nine days after the dynamo operation began, a total of 338,226 people, including about 95,000 French troops, were delivered.

Churchill called it a "miracle rescue," and "Dunkirk spirit" quickly became the stuff of legend. In retrospect, allied with time victory might well have thwarted Britain had lost hundreds of troops in serious condition. Nevertheless, could the great admiration hardly be considered a success. There is more to the story than the emotional story of heroism.

The Other Side of the Story

For one thing, drains not as clean as the media made it sound. While swarms of small boats were shuttling troops off the beach, more than four hundred Luftwaffe fighters attacked, dropping bombs and inflicting heavy casualties. Soldiers returning to England beaches described as littered with corpses. Total lost tens of thousands of people in serious condition.

Moreover, obscured much-publicized rescue of the fact that thousands of British soldiers still trapped elsewhere in France. Two weeks later, was the British ship Lancastria returning from a rescue mission when it sank off the Brittany coast. Half of the 6,000 people lost their lives, but nothing is mentioned in the press about the incident for weeks, it can dampen the mood is uplifted by the miracle of Dunkirk.

Meanwhile, France felt deeply betrayed. The British soldiers had apparently come to the rescue, but then fled the German army. Without hope, back from across the Channel, France surrendered to Hitler in three weeks. Despite the many French soldiers rescued in serious condition, and many of France resented what they regarded as British cowardice. It was not until 1944 that Britain redeemed himself when the British and U.S. forces cooperated in the operation D-Day, leading to the liberation of France.

Dunkirk Redux

In June 2000, the sixtieth anniversary of the Battle of Dunkirk, England celebrated the event with a massive celebration. A large number of small boats crossing the Channel made in serious condition. Although not nearly as many boats as there were in 1940, were some of the original craft restored specifically so they can make the journey again. While British television crews lined Bay Shore landings on the relay the happy crowds home, the French media as one might expect, gave little coverage to the event.

About 800 British and French veterans who have delivered in Dunkirk participated in a large procession past the town hall. Prince Charles gave a speech on Dunkirk Memorial in both English and French, praised the courage of all who have helped miraculous rescue. The remaining members of the Dunkirk Veterans Association, many in their 80s and 90s, chose the occasion to officially dissolve their organization.

Politics and media spin page story about the battle of Dunkirk inspires me a single reason: It shows ordinary people to unveil war propaganda the impersonal numbers and view each other as men. Fishermen are not row across the English channel to transport "troops", they risked their lives to save people with faces and names. The public to be short, keep their distinct habit of dependence on machinery management levels and take personal responsibility for another life-especially in war-is for me an overwhelming expectation sign. This is a step towards understanding that the soldiers bear different uniforms are people too. -Joe Kissel

1 comment :

Gerald said...

War is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

Your article is very well done, a good read.