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How Dunkirk Paved the Way for Allied Victory

How important was Dunkirk to the outcome of World War II? Why was this evacuation considered a key moment in the war?

What is it about this event that would inspire a feature film almost 80 years after the fact?

The retreat of the British army in what Prime Minister Winston Churchill called “a colossal military disaster” seems an odd cause for celebration at first glance. Christopher Nolan, in his latest highly acclaimed film, portrays the evacuation of Dunkirk with stunning intensity.

The individual stories of this film take on greater significance when we consider what was going on at the time of the Dunkirk evacuation.

It is no exaggeration to say that had the evacuation of Dunkirk failed, Britain may well have fallen to the Nazis or surrendered rather than face invasion.

Against all odds and in large measure due to the courage of those involved in the evacuation effort and the steadfast leadership of Churchill, Britain held out against the threat of the Third Reich.

The situation in June 1940 was dire. Belgium had been overrun, and the Belgians agreed to an armistice on May 27, the second day of the Dunkirk evacuation.

The Soviet Union was friendly to the Germans, and the two totalitarian states had collaborated to expand their territories in Eastern Europe.

Meanwhile, the United States, mired in stubborn isolationism, was reluctant to agree to Churchill’s urgent requests for the provision of old American destroyers to bolster the defense of Britain.

Meanwhile, the Allied defense of Western Europe had turned into a military catastrophe. The British Expeditionary Force, the core of the British army, along with the French 1st Army had been driven back to the beaches of Dunkirk and surrounded by the German army.

The initial expectations of the evacuation were dismal. Churchill and his military leaders expected to save around 30,000 men, with the rest of the nearly 400,000-man army falling into the hands of the Third Reich.

Yet against all odds, the Royal Navy, aided by a fleet of over 700 civilian fishing boats, yachts, and commercial vessels, managed to carry over 338,000 British and French soldiers across the English Channel to safety.

As a combined fleet of warships and civilian boats ferried thousands of men across the English Channel, Churchill and his Cabinet members flew to Paris to bolster the French resistance. Yet it soon became apparent to Churchill that France could not be expected to stand firm against the German advance.

The leaders of the French government had resigned themselves to surrender and defeat. Indeed, within two weeks of the Dunkirk evacuation, the French government surrendered. The British Isles were all that remained against the menace of Nazi rule.

Furthermore, at the onset of the Dunkirk evacuation, when all seemed lost, some members of Churchill’s War Cabinet favored entering into peace negotiations with the Germans, with former Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain saying that the British government should be willing “to consider decent terms if such were offered to us.”

Churchill, in contrast to his French counterparts, refused to entertain the idea of surrender.

Speaking to the House of Commons on June 4, the final day of the Dunkirk evacuation, Churchill declared Britain’s commitment to fight to the bitter end—“if necessary for years, if necessary alone.”

He understood the grave threat that his nation faced, but he also understood that the fortunes of the British Empire and Western civilization itself depended upon the outcome of this battle.

He ended his speech with a bold declaration of Britain’s unyielding resolve:

We shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

The deliverance of the men at Dunkirk and the stirring words of Churchill inspired the British people to continue the fight. Their courage in the face of the Nazi bombing effort proved to be a turning point in the war.

Adolf Hitler threw his forces against this lonely island nation, yet Britain stood fast until America came to join the fight and ultimately liberate a continent.

None of this would have been possible but for a flotilla of little boats at Dunkirk and the leadership of one man who clearly saw the challenge of tyranny and inspired a nation to rise to its finest hour.

In times of crisis, leadership makes all the difference. The spirit of Dunkirk, personified in the steely fortitude of Britain’s greatest leader, is a timeless example of patriotism and duty that rightfully deserves praise and imitation in our age, and every age.

The post How Dunkirk Paved the Way for Allied Victory appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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Filed under: Government Corruption, Government Waste, Main Stream Media Bias, Political Campaigning, Politics, Problems of Big Government, Restoring America

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