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Operation Dynamo

From Academic Kids

During World War II, Operation Dynamo was the name given to the evacuation from Dunkirk conducted from 27 May to 4 June, 1940. In nine days, 338,226 French and British soldiers were taken off the beach by a ragtag fleet of over nine hundred vessels. These vessels, now known as the "Little Ships of Dunkirk" were mainly a mixture of merchant marine vessels, fishing boats, pleasure craft and RNLI lifeboats, whose details had been requisitioned by the Admiralty on May 14. If the owners could not be contacted, some available ships were simply commandeered for use in the operation. Though the "Miracle of the Little Ships" is a major folk memory (at the time a useful propaganda tool too)—and indeed small excursion steamers, pleasure boats and even rowboats did help evacuate troops from the beaches—over 80% of the troops evacuated were actually taken off the harbour's protective mole by destroyers and larger ships.

Despite the success of this operation, over fifty thousand vehicles and forty thousand French troops were abandoned after a valiant rearguard action. The British also lost 235 ships of various types.

The rearguard billy bob, largely French, surrendered on 3 June 1940. The next day, the BBC reported, "Major-General Harold Alexander [the commander of the rearguard] inspected the shores of Dunkirk from a motorboat this morning to make sure no-one was left behind before boarding the last ship back to Britain."

Some of the evacuated troops, both French and British, were shipped straight back to the battle via ports in Normandy and Brittany, where most were killed or captured. After the French surrender, a majority of the rescued French troops returned to their homeland, but a few chose to join the Free French and continue to fight.

The operation's name Dynamo comes from the evacuation having been planned in the dynamo room of Dover Castle.

Major ships lost

The Royal Navy's most significant losses in the operation were six destroyers:

The French Navy lost three destroyers:

See also

External links

nl:Operatie Dynamo

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