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68,111 men of the BEF were captured or killed during Blitzkrieg, retreat and evacuation


40,000 French troops were taken into captivity when Dunkirk fell

126 merchant seamen died during the evacuation

1,000 Dunkirk citizens died during air raids on 27 May


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The London Gazette published the despatch that was submitted to the Lords Commissioners of the  Admiralty on the 18th June 1940
by Vice-Admiral Sir Bertram H. Ramsay K.C.B., M.V.O., Flag Officer Commanding, Dover.

Acknowledgments to:
The London Gazette and the National Archives.

Open Government Licence
for public sector information




Click here to see a BBC animation about Dunkirk

Churchill's edited speech in the House of Commons on June 4th 1940





Images of the Dunkirk Evacuation


In the early hours of 29 May the destroyer Wakeful was torpedoed and sank in 15 seconds with the loss of 600 lives

338,226  Troops where evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk from May 26th to June 4th 1940.

making their way to Dunkirk

98,780 men were lifted from the beaches; 239,446 from the harbour and mole (a wooden breakwater protecting the harbour) at Dunkirk

933 ships took part in Operation Dynamo, of which 236 were lost and 61 put out of action

47,081 men embarked from the mole during the devastating air raid of 1 June

The early part of the evacuation used a wood harbour come jetty (Mole) but this was bombed by the Luftwaffe. The problem was how to get the troops on to the the Navy destroyers as these could not get in close to the beaches.

The answer was  a fleet of small vessels that where able to get in close to the beaches and pluck the British (and French) troops to safety and home. These vessels where commandeered by the Navy and consisted of all kinds of small craft from river launches and  pleasure boats to Thames barges and tugs These vessels were to become known as : The Dunkirk Little Ships

Vice admiral Ramsay, who was in charge of Operation Dynamo only expected to evacuate 30,000 troops In fact over 300,000 troops were saved.


The BEF left the following equipment behind in France, much of it to be recycled by the German Army -
2,472 guns
63,879 vehicles
20,548 motorcycles
76,097 tons of ammunition
416,940 tons of stores

The number of little boats that sailed on their own initiative will never be known