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History Coursework Introduction Who could have ever imagined 'Dunkirk' a word containing only a few letters, a word which caused immense havoc, annihilation, death and suffering could signify something so powerful, a word of great reverence, a word of saviour, hope and spirit for the British. Was Dunkirk a defeat or victory? There are countless views on Dunkirk, some say its defeat, other say it was a victory or perhaps even both. Either way the price that troops, civilians and even nature had to pay was unforgettable. It is fair to say that the root causes of Dunkirk started from the effects and result of World War I Germany resented Britain, America, and France because of Treaty of Versailles German had to receive. The main thirst of Germans cruelty was their hunger for revenge and expansion. World war II was announced on 3rd September 1939, by 20th May of 1940 the Germans effortlessly (due to a powerful new method of attack-Blitzkrieg) managed to trap the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) and French troops in northern France. Dunkirk was a seaport located in northern France, on the English Channel and was the allies' only hope of survival. The evacuation was from May 27th-June 4th 1940. The beaches and harbour of Dunkirk was used for the life saving operation. The story of Dunkirk begins here. Defeat It is fair to say that some people may view Dunkirk as a Defeat for the British. There are numerous definitions of defeat, it could be the fact that the evacuation was of a disordered nature and the sheer amount of panic presented, the loss of equipment and troops. The demoralization of troops and civilians, etc. We know that on the first day of the evacuation, only a few thousands of troops were managed to be rescued, and vast amount of panic and disorder was present. This is suggested by source 7 a solider recollecting what happened on the beach of Dunkirk on the night of May the 27th. ...read more.


From my knowledge I know that boats, ships and other vessels were in aid for the evacuation, making it as sufficient as possible. Sources 5 (i) by Major L.F Ellis, history of the WWII, source 16, J.B Priestley a popular speaker during WII and source 21 by General Sir Harold Franklyn, his experience of Dunkirk, they all suggests that the evacuation was calm and well -improvised. Although there are many weaknesses in the reliability of these sources, source 5(i) was written by a major and the tone is very upbeat and patriotic so it shows Dunkirk in the best possible light. Sources 16 and 21 are biased in the sense that they don't fit in with my knowledge of what happened in Dunkirk. Source 16, was a radio broadcast at the time of the incident, probably used to boost Churchill's leadership and certainly used as a piece of propaganda to boost the spirit of the British. But overall these sources are well informed, source 16 was from a speaker so the knowledge must've been detailed and source 21 was an eyewitness account. Source 5(i) was an official account of the war, and it is specific to the incident and it shows the spirit of Dunkirk been created 'family affair' Linking with this the heroic side of Dunkirk was the spirit and the morale created throughout the whole evacuation, even when the Luftwaffe was bombing the beaches. The spirit and morale of the people are shown evidently in sources 2, a photograph showing the beaches, with equipments to facilitate the evacuation, source 11 from Churchill's memoir published 1959 and source 14(i) Charles Lighttoller, retired sailor, took his yacht Sundowner to Dunkirk. Its interesting to see that Source 2 shows the spirit the most, as the photos were probably taken by the Germans, to be used as a piece of propaganda. It indicates although low in resources, the troops trapped on the beach made the most of their equipment, building trucks to facilitate the evacuation. ...read more.


The success in Dunkirk also meant that USA would have been much more prepared to enter for what was essentially an European war. Although Germany claimed that Dunkirk wasn't of much significance to them, as their target location was France, this incident proves how people through sheer spirit and determination could escape from the Germans, it proves that defeating Germany later on was possible, and it was. This powerful message created was an inspiration for the rest of the world; this is why I know of Dunkirk, if Dunkirk wasn't important why is it common knowledge? From my knowledge and the sources I've studied, ask yourselves what was achieved by Dunkirk? Boost of Moral to the nation, American support - this process captured Americans sentiment, from my knowledge I know that they lent Britain material aids to recover, it made Churchill a best time War leader afterwards, had long-term effects on Germany and could be seen as the beginning of the end for Germany, use of propaganda, the involvement of the nation making it a family affair united the nation if the evacuation failed and Britain surrendered, Churchill with a quarter of a million men in captivity would have had to sign a peace treaty, and without the army, how would have Britain recovered? And most importantly, not the government estimation of 40,000 men saved but an actual total of around 340,000 Was it a Victory or was it a defeat?. Dunkirk did have its advantages, an amazing amount of troops were saved, spiritual boost to the nation, the fact that it might have contributed to the later defeat of Germany etc. But the reason why the French and British troops were trapped at the first place meant that this was a rescue mission, yes and luckily it succeed, but success with a price a phenomenal loss of military equipment and lives. And like Churchill said: - 'We must be very careful not to assign to this the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations' ...read more.

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