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Dunkirk - Defeat, Deliverance or Victory?

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Introduction

Dunkirk Defeat, Deliverance or Victory? Defeat Hitler's troops had captured Sedan and had started charging at 60 miles a day across France to the English channel. Churchill realised a speedy evacuation was needed to save the British Expeditionary Force, Operation Dynamo was put into action after, the allied troops retreated to Dunkirk where the Germans had pinned them in. Historian's views on Dunkirk are divided some feel that Dunkirk was a defeat because Britain lost a lot of ground, machinery, lives and morale in the forces and the British public was severely damaged. But then other historians feel Dunkirk was a victory due to the amount of men saved, the heroism of the air force, soldiers, navy and the British public who sailed their boats across and also the fact that the B.E.F was saved In many ways the defeat of Dunkirk can be defined in 3 ways, natural, military and morale defeat. A natural defeat is the number of soldiers killed in action and if there was wide spread panic. The other form of defeat is military this is the loss of craft(planes, ships, motor vehicles) and weaponry(tanks, ammunition, guns). A defeat in morale is a visible decrease in morale in the armed forces and in the public. There are many sources that back up Dunkirk was a natural defeat. Source 7 informs us of how men panicked while being bombed, it also talks about men queuing for boats up to their necks in water. When a boat did come men were fighting to get aboard them, this shows the panicked nature of the evacuation. This source came from a British Private, it is primary evidence and therefore would be biased towards allies, however this source is very negative towards Britain, this would suggest that it is reasonably reliable. This source is also only one-person's account of the evacuations, he may have a different opinion to what panic and fighting actually is. ...read more.

Middle

He comments on "How in the midst of our victory, glory came to the island people". I would expect this source to be reliable because the Prime Minster has all the facts available to him. But Churchill may be biased towards the allies this source is also a part of a propaganda piece, so some relevant points may be left out. This source is primary evidence and Churchill may have wanted to boost his reputation Source 16 comments on how Britain snatched glory out of defeat and also the bravery of the public who made an excursion to hell on holiday steamers and came back victorious. This source is primary evidence and was extracted from a speech from J.B. Priestley a very highly respected radio presenter. His show was broadcasted every Sunday. J.B. Priestley was British so he could be biased towards the allied forces. Also his speeches were a main source of propaganda to keep the British public thinking that the Allies would be victorious. So his speeches may leave out information that the forces are doing badly in the war. He may also exaggerate the good aspects of the British army. Source 17 is a speech from the British Prime Minister. He states that whatever happens in Dunkirk victory or defeat Britain will fight on. He also comments on a "over powering white glow which has ran through the country from end to end." This speech kept the spirits high of fellow politicians and the British public. This source has been extracted from Churchill's memoirs published in 1959 but written during the war; therefore this source is primary evidence. I would expect this source to be reliable because the Prime Minster has all the facts available to him. However he will probably be biased towards the allied forces. This is because he does not want to create public concern. Also his speech is propaganda so facts would be left out or exaggerated. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is not clear why the tanks halted but without question that delay increased the number of soldiers saved. Another factor that helped the evacuation was the cloud of smoke from burning wreckages this offered the ships cover from the Luftwaffe, 47,310 men were saved because the smoke hindered the nazi attacks on the evacuating boats. Sources that have helped me come to this conclusion that Dunkirk was natural victory are source 5 part (I), and source 10 this sources informed me of the number of allied troops saved and the effectiveness of Operation Dynamo. Operation Dynamo lasted nine days and saved 340,000 soldiers and this is why is think Dunkirk was a natural victory. I also think that Dunkirk was a morale victory because of the up-beat mood of the nation through out the country during the evacuation. Propaganda made the public that Britain would become victorious no matter what the outcome of Dunkirk. Churchill had a big part to play in keeping the spirits high with optimistic to the public and to politicians. The propaganda machine encouraged people to help in the war effort. Hundred of people gave their boats to help evacuate soldiers off the beaches of Dunkirk. So brave Britons also sailed there boats across the English Channel some with no military experience and help save the lives of their fellow countrymen. These acts of braveness were acknowledged by some of the top figures. J.P Preistly stated on one of his radio broadcast. "How little holiday steamers made an excursion to hell and came back glorious" Sources that back up my view are source 16,and 17 these sources are examples of the propaganda machinery that kept British people believing that they would win the war. So overall I conclude that Dunkirk was a military defeat but also a success because of the way the country contributed to the war effort and also the extraordinary amount of soldiers who were saved from imprisonment or death. Dunkirk Defeat Deliverance or Victory 1 ...read more.

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