Sunday, June 4, 2006

Dunkirk spirit...

"...When is a defeat not a defeat? When it is the retreat from Dunkirk. Perhaps no single operation in the whole of the Second World War captured the popular imagination in Britain as did the transport of the remnants of the British Expeditionary Force back to England in the summer of 1940. The evacuation has even entered the language: everyone knows what is meant by the "Dunkirk spirit".

Yet the retreat was also a humiliating defeat. The object of British and French forces was to hold back the German attack, sit in France and Belgium as they had done during the Great War, and wait until the battle of attrition took its toll on German resolve. What actually resulted was the smashing of French and British resistance in a few weeks, and Britain's expulsion from a continent she had no hope of re-entering again unaided. With almost all their equipment lost and their organisation in disarray, the British armies that returned to southern England were scarcely a fighting force..."