Some people have the view that the events at Dunkirk in 1940 deserve to be remembered as a triumph for Britain and its people. How far do the sources support or contradict this view?
May 1940. Germany had attacked France, Belgium and Holland. Within six weeks all three countries had surrendered. Germany’s success lay at the feet of a new and successful war technique: Blitzkrieg. This was the fast and overwhelmingly successful invasion of a country using tanks, air craft, artillery and infantry all working together communicating by7 radio. The BEF (British Expeditionary Force) was sent to help in France in 1939 at the start of the war, but was caught up in disaster, retreating from the German Front back to France and eventually the beaches of Dunkirk. On the 27th of May Winston Churchill (PM) ordered the Royal Navy to retrieve and evacuate as many of the BEF as they could. For seven days the British soldiers waited on the beaches of Dunkirk. It was believed only 30,000 would return. However thanks to small boats from the British public, by June 4th Navy was able to rescue nearly 338,000 men. It was described as “A miracle of deliverance” By Churchill himself. These men would be core in the army for the next five years and help to win the war. Without them all would have been lost. Therefore the evacuation itself could be argued a triumph. However as Churchill said “wars are not won by retreats no matter how glorious” and the amount of equipment and men left behind was enormous. And for those reasons it has been argued either side since 1940. In this essay I’ll be evaluating sources that support the interpretation that Dunkirk was a triumph and sources that contradict that statement. First of all sources that support this interpretation. Source B3 is taken from a modern GCSE text book written by Teacher Ben Walsh. “Modern World History” published 2003. The source lists positive outcomes of Dunkirk, emphasising how many men were rescued and how much of a “powerful leader” it made Winston Churchill. The source tells me that Dunkirk was a triumph because it says “340,000 men” were rescued who would be the bulk of the British army and be key in winning the war. As well as that “71 heavy guns and 595 vehicles” were brought back, also helpful to win the war. Also that the RAF were successful by shooting down “three German planes for every British planes lost” meaning some victories were found. Not only did it “inspire British civilians to make sacrifices “ boosting morale, but also helped Winston Churchill to come through as “a powerful leader who could unite the country” helping Britain pull together and fight the hard times the war brought with it. Also Britain’s navy and air force remained intact useful in fighting and ending the war. This source is useful as it is filled with facts about Dunkirk and tells us exactly why Dunkirk was a triumph. However I also know form my own subject knowledge that during the evacuations many soldiers died and much artillery and other equipment was left behind. Although this is a reliable modern text written by an historian with all the facts and the benefit of hindsight it is one sided argument and must be read with all the facts in mind.
Source B4 is an oil painting of the scenes a Dunkirk titled ‘the evacuation of Dunkirk’ painted by Charles Cundall on order of the British government to produce an official painting of the scenes at on the beaches. The painting was completed soon after the evacuations. This source is an unrealistic and heroic view of the actual events that took place with smoke billowed in the background while daring little ships brave the waters for their soldiers; with one small German plane not yet attacking. This Image tells me that Dunkirk was triumph because of it’s because it shows small and large ships working together to get the British men home. Also that against the Germans aircraft and bomb men came home safe, against the odds Britain triumphed. This source...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document