Operation Dynamo

The Evacuation from Dunkirk, May–June 1940

Tim Benbow

Date Published :
June 2016
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Naval Staff Histories of the Second World War
Illustration :
4 color maps, 3 tables
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781910294598
Pages : 302
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Available


Few episodes in warfare are as famous as the evacuation of the British expeditionary force and many French troops from Dunkirk. It was a very British success, pulling something of a victory from the jaws of defeat – a triumph in the face of catastrophe.

In May 1940, as France collapsed in the face of the German blitzkrieg, the British army and some French forces fell back on the Channel coast. The advancing Germans pushed them back and then briefly paused, confident that this cornered remnant of the allied forces was trapped. Yet the German command had failed to appreciate just what sea power could do to deny them the full fruits of their apparent victory; at short notice an evacuation was improvised which, it was initially thought, might if all went well last two days and rescue 45,000 men. The heroic rear guard action of the troops ashore against the renewed German advance, the ability of the RAF to provide just enough air cover, the tireless efforts of naval crews and those manning the priceless ‘little ships’, and the organizational genius of Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsay saw Operation Dynamo succeed beyond all realistic expectation: two days became nine, and over 338,000 men were saved. Operational disaster in the Battle of France did not become strategic defeat in the war, and albeit at great cost to the Navy, the British army survived to be rebuilt. Above all, Britain could continue to fight.

This volume reproduces the complete text of the Battle Summary written shortly after the war by the Admiralty historical staff, comprising a detailed and authoritative account of these dramatic events. This is accompanied by a comprehensive introduction, newly written for this volume, that explains the context for the operation as well as an overview of further reading on the subject.

This is the third volume in Helion’s new series, ‘Naval Staff Histories of the Second World War’. The series aims to make available to a broad readership these indispensable studies of the key operations of the war.

About The Author

Dr Tim Benbow took a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Brasenose College, Oxford. He then moved to St Antony's College, where he completed an MPhil and a DPhil in International Relations, concentrating on strategic studies. He also spent a year at Harvard University as a Kennedy Scholar and a year at King's College, London. After being awarded his doctorate, he remained at Oxford, conducting a post-doctoral research project and teaching International Relations and Strategic Studies at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including one year as tutor in Politics at University College. He spent two years teaching at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth (and also taught at the University of Exeter, where he was an Honorary Fellow), before joining the Defence Studies Department at the JSCSC in 2004. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2008.

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