allies in Northern France are in retreat, overrun by the Nazi blitzkrieg
and making their way to the coast.
Navy has organised an improvised evacuation but expects only to
be able to lift 45,000 of the third of a million men in France.
the War Cabinet, Churchill is advised to make peace with Hitler
before the entire army is lost. He resists and orders the evacuation
only way the Army can make it to the coast is by holding open a
corridor down which to retreat.
of the units charged with this is that of Alf Tombs, which successfully
resists the German advance for 48 hours allowing thousands to escape,
but it ends in their own capture.
faces down the threat of a split within the Cabinet in order to
allow the evacuation to continue.
the beaches Captain Tennant, the man in charge of the operation
on the ground, discovers he can evacuate men more quickly from a
flimsy wooden pier.
as the weather changes the pier and the beaches are heavily attacked
by the Luftwaffe, resulting in heavy losses of both men and ships.
Army has now made its way back to the coast but there are far too
many men to evacuate in the time that's left before the Germans
are expected to take Dunkirk.
boats are needed so the Admiralty begins to requisition a fleet
of small craft including cockle fishing boats from Leigh-on-Sea.
The crew of The Renown decide they will sail their boat themselves.
fleets of naval ships are continuing to lift as many men as they
can from the beaches and the pier.
French, who until now have been kept in the dark about plans for
a full scale British evacuation, learn that their allies are leaving
order to allow the Anglo-French alliance to continue, Churchill
orders that French troops be lifted 50/50 with the English, doubling
the number of men to be evacuated in a single stroke.
Leigh boys, who set out knowing little of what to expect, find themselves
sailing into a scene of desperation and mayhem, but in spite of
the dangers they begin to lift men off the beaches.
the tide makes their work there impossible, they too begin to lift
men off the pier. As the strain on the little boat begins to tell
the engine fails.
tow on their way home they hit a mine and are killed. They are among
the first civilian casualties of the war. Their community mourns,
realising the cost of the successful evacuation, and the country
is left to face the threat of invasion.
has now become a siege town. While a large number of the Army has
been evacuated, many tens of thousands still remain.
or not they survive depends on how long men like Lieutenant Jimmy
Langley can hold back the final German advance.
fighting buys time for the men to get away but Lt Jimmy Langley
is injured and taken to a casualty station where Major Newman has
been trying to evacuate his wounded patients. His repeated efforts
are frustrated and no hospital ships arrive.
evacuation slows to a snail's pace as daylight sailing is suspended
and the crews of the naval ships, who have been working for nine
days without rest, are exhausted.
finally the British Expeditionary Force is evacuated, further political
pressure requires these crews to make one more trip in order to
lift as many of the French rearguard as possible.
no provision can be made for the wounded and Major Newman and Jimmy
Langley are left behind to face the Germans who arrive in Dunkirk
on the same day as Churchill makes his now famous speech to the
House of Commons vowing never to surrender.
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