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WWII: Dunkirk Evacuation | How the 'little ships' helped rescue the Allied troops

About this collection

At the end of May 1940, at the government's request, thousands of boats set sail to rescue almost a quarter of a million Allied troops who had retreated from Hitler's forces onto the shores of Dunkirk. It was a time when Britain faced the possibility of defeat.

This collection includes personal accounts from some of those who took part in the mass evacuation, codenamed Operation Dynamo, that exemplify the 'Dunkirk spirit' and documents showing the government's control over which stories reached the airwaves.

WWII: Dunkirk Evacuation Collection

Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Churchill's First Broadcast as PM

BROADCAST 1940
2 MINUTES

Winston Churchill makes his first prime ministerial broadcast.

Boats used in the Dunkirk evacuation.

News

An appeal for boating skills

BROADCAST 1940
25 SECONDS

An appeal for Dunkirk recruits on behalf of the government.

Allied soldiers disembark from ship.

News

Dunkirk Evacuation

RECORDED 1940
4 MINUTES

Bernard Stubbs reports on the returning troops.

Hurricane Fighter.

News

RAF fighter planes dispatched to Dunkirk

BROADCAST 1940
1 MINUTE

Ed Murrow reports on his visit to a fighter airfield.

Rt Hon Anthony Eden.

Broadcast to the Nation by the Rt Hon Anthony Eden

RECORDED 1940
8 MINUTES

Rt Hon Anthony Eden recounts the events of the 'battle for the ports'.

A British soldier during the evacuation of Dunkirk.

Dunkirk Evacuation

BEF Experiences

RECORDED 1940
10 MINUTES

Four members of the BEF describe their retreat to Calais and Dunkirk.

House of Commons interior.

News

Ed Murrow Sees Churchill in the Commons Giving News of Dunkirk

RECORDED 1940
1 MINUTE

Reporter Ed Murrow hears Churchill's speech in the Commons.

JB Priestley.

Postscripts

JB Priestley

BROADCAST 1940
3 MINUTES

JB Priestley pays homage to the small boats of Dunkirk.

BBC Microphone, 1942.

News Postscript

Minister of Shipping Ronald Cross

RECORDED 1940
6 MINUTES

The shipping minister recounts the past few days at Dunkirk.

British and French troops queue on Dunkirk beach for boats

Charles Martin Describes Dunkirk

RECORDED 1940
47 SECONDS

A Pathe news cameraman describes Dunkirk.

The launching of a Margate lifeboat, 1942.

Dunkirk: A Personal Perspective

Margate Lifeboats

RECORDED 1950
1 MINUTE

The role of Margate's lifeboats in the Dunkirk evacuation.

The crew of a Thames tugboat, 5 June 1940.

Dunkirk: A Personal Perspective

Thames Tugboats

RECORDED 1950
2 MINUTES

A Thames tugboat master describes how he helped with the Dunkirk operation.

A bystander waves to those on board the 'Royal Daffodil'.

Dunkirk: A Personal Perspective

The Royal Daffodil

RECORDED 1950
1 MINUTE

The captain of the Royal Daffodil recounts being bombed.

Lightoller's boat, 'Sundowner'.

Dunkirk: A Personal Perspective

CH Lightoller

RECORDED 1950
5 MINUTES

Commander Lightoller is interviewed by Charles Gardner.

The coastal operations room, located underneath Dover Castle.

Dunkirk: A Personal Perspective

BROADCAST 1950
29 MINUTES

Memories of Dunkirk by those who were there.

Ships carrying members of the BEF leaving Dunkirk.

Dunkirk: A Personal Perspective

HMS Malcolm

BROADCAST 1950
5 MINUTES

A member of the crew aboard HMS Malcolm recounts the evacuation at Dunkirk.

Lt General Sir Brian Horrocks.

Men in Battle

Dunkirk

BROADCAST 1956
27 MINUTES

A senior officer's account of Dunkirk.

Men wait to be hauled out of the sea during the Dunkirk evacuation.

Dunkirk Evacuation

Sgt John Bridges

RECORDED 1960
21 MINUTES

A former sergeant speaks about his dramatic escape from Dunkirk.

British troops look back at the Dunkirk coast from a steamer.

Dunkirk: Twenty Years After

BROADCAST 1960
59 MINUTES

Recollections of those who took part at Dunkirk on shore, in the air and at sea.

Paul Reynaud.

Dunkirk Revisited

BROADCAST 1965
5 MINUTES

Former French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud is interviewed about Dunkirk.

A wounded soldier on a rowing boat during the Dunkirk evacuation.

Yesterday's Witness

One Man's Dunkirk

BROADCAST 1970
29 MINUTES

One man relives the darker moments of Dunkirk.

Dunkirk war memorial, France.

Dunkirk: Forty Years On

BROADCAST 1980
27 MINUTES

Dunkirk veterans from north-east England remember the evacuation.

Poppies.

Week in Week Out

Last General

BROADCAST 1994
29 MINUTES

Survivors share their memories of the Wormhoudt massacre.

Richard Holmes.

War Walks

Dunkirk

BROADCAST 1997
29 MINUTES

Richard Holmes tells the story of Dunkirk as he walks its beaches and breakwaters.

A Panzer.

Dunkirk

What If...?

BROADCAST 2000
29 MINUTES

...Hitler had not halted the Panzers?

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