Was the battle of Dunkirk a triumph or success? A question with no simple answer and probably a question we will never know the true answer to. In the 70 plus years since the battle, a variety of medias, for example textbooks, diary logs and newspaper articles have continued to influence peoples different interpretations on whether or not the events at Dunkirk deserve to be remembered as a triumph or in fact a failure for Britain and its people. In the month of May 1940, Hitler's army was winning against France, despite Britain sending over 300,000 troops to help them out. Most of the allied forces had been surrounded and trapped by the fast-advancing German Army onto the beaches around Dunkirk. Despite countless severe casualties the British troops could not retreat as their escape routes were all blocked; they were sitting targets for the Germans. At this point there was a real danger that the entire British Army could be wiped out before the War had really got under way. On 27 May the British government, now led by Churchill, put into action a plan called ‘Operation Dynamo’. The plan was to evacuate all the troops to Britain by ship. On the end of the ninth day a total of 338,226 soldiers had been rescued from the beaches in an assembly of around 800 different boats; yachts, fishing boats and small ships were just a few that were privately owned and sacrificed from the people back at home. “The escape captured the minds and hearts of the British people at a time when it looked probable that we too would soon be invaded.” Source B1.The people of Britain really were becoming united and proud to Be British; although they were down they were not out. Dunkirk was called a “miracle” by Winston Churchill and how Britain were still up, back and ready to fight another day many see as a triumph in itself. An example of this is Source B2, a cartoon by British artist David Low, published in the London Newspaper on the 8th of June 1940. The cartoon shows the great range of boats sent by the people back home to rescue the soldiers from the coast, sacrificing their livelihood to do their bit for the war effort. British people gained massive amounts of pride from seeing this and even though their chances were questionable, they were, as the cartoon caption says, ready to ‘fight another day’. This type of cartoon was put in the newspaper to raise morale. The battle of Dunkirk was hugely important as it allowed the allies to keep a considerable military force which later went on to become part of the allies advance during the D-day landings. Opinions on the success of Dunkirk strongly rely on what you believe to be true and what you see as being for the use of propaganda. Despite British casualties amounting to 68,000, a massive 338,336 men, 71 heavy guns and 595 vehicles were rescued, Source B3. Britain’s navy and RAF, which shot down three German planes for every British plane lost, remained intact showing how powerful and effective they both were in helping the British Expeditionary Force. At this point British morale was sky high, mainly due to the image portrayed by the newspapers. On 31st of May the battle of Dunkirk had reached front page of the British Newspaper, The Daily Express. “TENS OF THOUSANDS SAFELY HOME ALREADY”,” Many more coming by day and night”, “unbeatable”. The propaganda used immediately in the headline shows it was a miracle to get the British and their allies evacuated off the beaches, heavily under-attack by the German. Mentioning all the kind of ships that took part in the evacuation highlights that Churchill’s statement about the involvement of the civilians had had an impact. Source B5.
In every battle there will always be actions to criticize and in the battle of Dunkirk’s case there was understandably a fair few. Yet Anthony Eden, a senior army officer and later British Prime Minister wrote in his book of World War II memoirs about his surprise when visiting camps of returned BEF troops, Source B6. He...
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