Was Dunkirk a Triumph or a Disaster? Why?

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Dunkirk battle could be called a failure or success depending on the viewpoint. From 27th May to 4th June the British Expeditionary Force with the remainder of the French and Belgian armies were attacked from behind by the Germans while waiting for a ‘ferry service’ back to Britain.

After their defeat at Calais, in May 1940, the British army were ordered to retreat from the area and get to the coastal area of Dunkirk no matter what. There they would be rescued by the British naval forces. However, the Brits were left waiting until the 27th of May. Whilst the German Luftwaffe was bombing them from above and the land army was shelling them from below, the Allied troops waited and took the best cover possible. All they could do was wait.

Dunkirk was a failure in a number of ways. Firstly, there was no real ‘battle of Dunkirk’. The word implies that there was an engaging of armed forces in combat. However, at Dunkirk, there was a German offensive yet no Allied defensive. This means that, because the ‘battle’ did not actually take place, it can be described as a failure. There were also many casualties in this ‘battle’. 68,000 of the British Expeditionary Force perished during the barrage, along with about a quarter of the remaining French military. The casualties were described in a disturbingly accurate manner by a gunner officer at the time: ‘Lines of men waiting forlornly in queues…a horrible stench of blood and mutilated flesh pervaded the area’. This perfectly illustrates the horrendous conditions in which the Allied troops escaped, thereby displaying the failure of the Battle of Dunkirk. Along with the loss of vital lives came the massive losses of equipment. Overall, nearly 40,000 pieces of equipment were ‘surrendered’ to the enemy, including 17,000 machine guns, 12,000 field guns, 2,800 anti-aircraft guns and 475 tanks. This was one of the worst losses of equipment ever sustained by the British military. These are obscene numbers of equipment lost, and...
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