Essay The Battle of Dunkirk: A Tactical Defeat

Essay The Battle of Dunkirk: A Tactical Defeat

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The Battle of Dunkirk happened in Northern France between May 26 and June 4 1940 and was a major battle of the Second World War which occurred between 1939-1945. The Second World War was very different to the first with rapid movement covering huge amounts of land in very little time. This was due to the German Army’s speed which used “Blitzkrieg” or “Lightning war” tactics.
Prior to the invasion of France there had been 7 months of “Phoney war”; However the French had anticipated the attack and established “The Maginot line” which was a line of defence designed to hold the German army back. Despite this the Battle of France began on the 10th May 1940 when German Army group B subdued Holland and advanced rapidly westwards through Belgium.
Just a few days later Army Group A attacked the Ardennes and continued West before turning North towards the English channel and the Ports of Dunkirk and Calais.
These sudden but effective attacks by the Germans left the Allies on the retreat a series of counter attacks including the Battle of Arras couldn’t stop the German advance and left the Allies trapped between the enemy and the English Channel.
The British Government knew that they could not allow these troops to be massacred as it would leave South-East England within the grasp of a German invasion. So on May 27th 1940 Operation Dynamo was put into action to evacuate the troops through Royal and Merchant Navy vessels.
The evacuation of 338,000 troops from Dunkirk was greatly exploited by British Propaganda and gave rise to the “Dunkirk Spirit” and the story of “The little ships” is now a story told all over Britain and represents the solidarity of the British in times of great adversity. Dunkirk is now part of British Culture an...


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...so greatly in the rescue is certainly a unique factor to this battle; without the public help the number of troops rescued would be significantly lower.

Dunkirk can also be considered to be a disaster as it was a tactical defeat followed by a rescue that the Royal Navy couldn’t carry out effectively by itself.
The number of evacuees is a momentous factor in people’s decision to view Dunkirk as a miracle. The losses of men, munitions and supplies are a significant part of people’s view that Dunkirk was a disaster. The very fact the troops needed evacuating in the first place also contributes to the negative aspects of the battle.
In conclusion I view Dunkirk as a disaster due to the consistent failures from the Maginot line to the evacuation itself. “The Dunkirk miracle” is just a cleverly fabricated myth and is a tribute to the power of effective propaganda.

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