The Surrender of Dunkirk, 4th June 1940

Discussion in '1940' started by Drew5233, Apr 10, 2010.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I seem to remember reading that Paul Reynaud chastised Winston Churchill at a meeting in France that more BEF were being evacuated than French troops- Winston Churchill disputed his claims and when he was told the actual figures Winston Churchill hit the roof and ordered that the evacuation should be one for one, I think he even apologised to the French Premier. Even after that there is a hint in many a book of Staff Officers giving prority to British troops over the French and in some cases Masters refusing to take any French troops claiming they were only here for the British or words to that effect.

    If I remember correctly its quite well documented in one of the Assignment to Catastrophe volumes (Vol. 2 I'd guess) by Maj Gen Edward Spears who was Churchills personal liason to Paul Reynaud (Spears Mission).
     
  2. Thunderbox

    Thunderbox Member

    I think that one of the problems is that many people - including politicians at the time - read too much into events that were actually just driven by circumstances on the ground. Whilst the evacuation did indeed start as a British-only affair, it was inevitable that more British would get away even after all the allies were involved: the British had had several days to get their staff work sorted out, and thus had an efficient pipeline delivering priority units to the evacuation points. The British Army in general and the BEF in particular had a long experience of "packeting" troops for embarkation on ships, and thus would have been able to fill the incoming transports efficiently. The mainland French army lacked this experienced, and probably took 2-3 days to organise their own unit queuing system. Likewise, its perfectly understandable that some ships' masters initially stuck to the "British Army only"; after all, most of them were operating on orders and briefings that were three or four days old, and many of them had little or no military communications equipment - it probably took some of them a day or two to find out about the new orders.

    Many historians also highlight the fact that reports from Dunkirk often got fairly distorted by the time they'd passed all the way to Paris; the French government was very quickly mollified once French liaison officers were brought into the Dynamo organisation in Dover and able to tap into the accurate data being gathered by the RN.
     
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I don't blame crews for not wanting to take French troops-I would have done the same thing even if I was ordered. Infact I'm not blaming anyone one. I just say it as I've read it.

    The Royal Naval data isn't that accurate-We've proved that in the 'Ships that refused to sail to Dunkirk' thread and you can see numerous inaccuracies in the Royal Navy's Historical Account called The Evacuation From Dunkirk by Naval Historical Branch MoD.

    The infomation that Reynaud was receiving about the evacuation was coming first hand from Admiral Abrial at Dunkirk IIRC.
     
  4. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    For a dispassionate account it is well worth reading Rhiannon Looseley's dissertation on the subject of the rescue of French troops from Dunkirk and their subsequent treatment. This used to be on the Franco British website: www.francobritishcouncil.org.uk/data/.../Dissertation-French%20soldiers.doc - but seems to have been removed. Ms Looseley has her own blog, I think that it is on there, but I have ploughed through several months of the archive and have not yet found it! I have a copy, but it runs to 80 widely spaced pages.


    Roy
     
  5. leccy

    leccy Senior Member

    For a dispassionate account it is well worth reading Rhiannon Looseley's dissertation on the subject of the rescue of French troops from Dunkirk and their subsequent treatment. This used to be on the Franco British website: www.francobritishcouncil.org.uk/data/.../Dissertation-French%20soldiers.doc - but seems to have been removed. Ms Looseley has her own blog, I think that it is on there, but I have ploughed through several months of the archive and have not yet found it! I have a copy, but it runs to 80 widely spaced pages.


    Roy


    The diserstion can still be found on the site

    Le Paradis Apres L'enfer: The French Soldiers Evacuated From… · Books · Franco-British Council

    It is down the bottom as a download on this link http://www.francobritishcouncil.org.uk/data/files/reports/Dissertation-French%20soldiers.doc
     
  6. Roy Martin

    Roy Martin Senior Member

    It is also worth remembering that 140,000 to 150,000 members of the BEF were still in France on 4 June 1940 - they made their way westwards an were mostly saved by merchant ships who embarked them in north western French ports during the following three weeks.

    The two exceptions were the 51st Highland Division who could not be saved from St Valery - and were ordered to surrender, and the 3,000 or more who drowned when the liner Lancastria was bombed and sinK
     
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    74 years ago today :poppy:
     
  8. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    Interesting that two seminal WW2 events are so close in dates , 2 days until the D Day comemorations.
    In my area Green Howard Stan Hollis is getting a lot of publicity , as his was the only VC awarded on D Day and I believe he was also at Dunkirk.
     
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    75 years ago 'Today'

    9 minutes ago
     
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    76 years ago today ;)
     
    dbf likes this.
  11. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Often overlooked, or conveniently ignored, about the evacuations from the Dunkirk beaches is that some Belgian troops were also evacuated. Along with other Belgian nationals who managed to escape the occupation and then joined either the Belgian forces or the resistance, the Belgians evacuated from Dunkirk were later awarded the Escapees' Cross 1940 - 1945.

    The Belgians evacuated from Dunkirk led to the foundation of what became the 1st Belgian Infantry Brigade (the Belgian Army in exile) under General Victor van Strydonck de Burkel. Other Belgians evacuated from Dunkirk served with distinction in the Air Force or Navy.
     
  12. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  13. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    You've probably all seen it already, but in case you haven't the day-by-day World War II series has reached the evacuation stage:

     
  14. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

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