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Defeat, deliverace or victory? Which of these best describes Dunkirk?

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Defeat, deliverace or victory? Which of these best describes Dunkirk? Background - Once the German Panzers reached the Chanel coast, and the Belgin army surrendered, it became clear that a swift evacuation was needed in order to prevent the BEF from becoming trapped and destroyed completely. The 20th of may saw churchill give his approval to Operation Dynamo which was the evacuation plan of lord Gort - the commander of the BEF. On may 23rd when Gort heard of the defeat of the Belgian army, he odered the BEF to retreat to the Channel ports towards perimiter around D unkirk. However, the German advance was so swift that Calais fell to the Germans on the 26th of may, leaving Dunkirk as the only remainin port. On the days following, the Admiralty began to amass a fleet of ships whith which they would evacuate the BEF and allied fores from France. They gathered a fleet o ove 700 civilian and royal nay craft including fishing boats, barges and ferries. These ships were able to evacuate the BEF largley due to the 'halt order' issued by von Runstadt (Commander of Army group A), and agreed with by Hitler on the 24th of May. This order was rescinded on the 26th May. Another factor which greatly contributed to the sucessfull evacuation of a large number of troops, was the bad weather present at the time of Operation dynamo. This prevented the German Luftwaffe from sucesfuly bombing the beaches and ships. Due to the complex nature of the events at Dunkirk, there are many views about the positive and negative aspects. Some historians believe that the negative factors eg. the loss of morale, the disorderly nature of the evacuation and the severe loss of euipment far outway the positive aspects, these include; the large number of people safely evacuated, the boost that occured in he morale of the british people and also the phsycological and strategic setback to Germany. ...read more.


The figures that are given however are very vague and only roughly fit in with my own knowledge of the true events. He writes that "more than 224,000 officers and men came back from Dunkirk and its neighbours towards the end of may and early june, and ultimatley another 144,000 from ports further west" this does not fit in with my knowlede of events, as i know that 338,226 troops were evacuated in total. This leads to doubt about the credibility of this piece of evidece. Although he has no reason to lie, and being a popuar historian he would want to protect his reputation and give as balanced a view as possible. This leads me to the conclusion that he was misinformed. If the information he is using is flawed, and largely untrue it means that his deductions cannot be entirely trusted. However although his information is not accurate, there is no reason to assume that the evidence is unusefull. It provides us with his own insight into the events, and because the information is close to the truth, it is probable that his deductions will be valid. The details he brings up, are hghly useful as they provide new insight into the situation after the war. The second paragraph describes the situation caused by the deficiency of arms and ammunition, writing "equipment must be provided or replenished largely from new production". This source increases the importance of the loss of arms by the BEF as it puts strain on the manufacture industries. They wil hav to replace a vast amount of equipment in a relativley short amount of time, as the BEF was forced to abandon 2,472 guns and 90,000 rifles. Another aspect of defeat might be the demoralisation of troops and civilians. We know that a large number of troops and many civilians were demoralised by the events at Dunkirk. We know that the French soldiers who returned to Britain with the BEF were severley demoralised. ...read more.


The evidence to suggest that Dunkirk was a Deliverance and to suggest it was a defeat are both strong and conflicting. It is however quit clear that it was not a victory. The BEF was forced in the decision of evacuating at Dunkirk, and only just managed to do so, "Wars are not won by evacuations". The huge number of British and Allied troops landed in Britan was more than was expected by even the most optimistic of predictions. Dunkirk was not in my opinion, a complete defeat, as a large part of the BEF and french army remained. Whether they were forced to retreat or not, in the end, Britain is uch easier to defend than France, and this allowed the British time to recover and regroup. The extra security of the troops evacuated allowed Britain to be held for long enough that Hiter was severley disadvantaged and did not have the forces he needed available to him o defeat the Russian armes. The great escape of the troops from Dunkirk provided a morale boost, without which the Americans would not have joined a mostly European war. Great amounts of ammunition and supplies were lost, but this was relativley unimportant, asproduction in Briain was working extremely fast, and Hitler stepped down production expecting an easy victory. Dunkirk was a deliverance which facilitated the continuation of Britains participation in the War. The evacuation was quite panicked at first, but order was quickly regained and the removal of troops began swiftly. The overall efect of Dunkirk on the general public was a great boost in morale which united them behind a common goal. Dunkirk gave a great boost to Churchill's leadership, due to his intelligent descisions he managed to salvage as much as possible from what could have bee a catastrophe. The bravery of many of the soldiers at Dunkir has been an inspiration to soldiers ever since. "The tale of the Dunkik beaches will shine in whatever records are preserved of our affairs." ...read more.

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